Thursday, April 27, 2017

Happy birthday. Now go to sleep and...

My 3rd eldest child turned 5 today. Today was my anniversary of giving birth for the second time. That time 5 years ago when I had the horrible messed up epidural that hurt so bad I vomited. And then still needed to get local anesthetic before I was stitched because even the "fix it" epidural after the "stabbed you in the spinal cord and it's going to hurt like the dickens for the next 11 months" epidural still didn't do that fun numbing thing that epidurals are supposed to do. Oh and I know, I know. You wanna tell me how you gave birth naturally like God intended. And it was beautiful and helped you bond more with your unvaccinated holy child. But personally, I barely get a haircut without a hit of Vicodin, so if it's cool with you, I'm gonna do things my own way. Even if it means I sometimes get stabbed in the spinal cord.

Boy Child. With Star Wars.
We did school today (May the 4th. Don't give up on your goals.) But we ripped it off like a bandaid and moved on with our lives. Then, we Star Warsed. Because it is what my 5 year old loves. I mean really. 
He loves it so hard that it seems the Force had Awakened him at 2:30am this morning to see if the Empire had Struck Back in his home. He also woke up his sisters, because somehow they always knew. But No, their Father showed up at shortly before 3 to tell them to get their butts back in bed. They would NOT be going to Tosche Station to pick up some power converters. But at 6am, Birthday Child woke up again. With a New Hope. And we gave up and made coffee. Which helped the Jedi Return.*

So yeah, we Star Warsed the heck out of today. We played with Star Wars toys. We played Star Wars video games. We turned cardboard boxes into Star Wars themed space ships. We watched the Star Wars Movie with the Snow and the Big Walker things because Birthday Child can't remember the name of his favorite movie. And I exercised, so that I don't turn back into Jabba the Hutt.**

So, Star Wars existed before I existed. And it was a dork thing. Personally, I know a little about dork things. Because, as it turns out, I lived the "having of zero friends" life.  And my loner loser self learned a few things for you. 

When I was a kid, re: when I was a chubby unpopular nerd person, reading was not, in fact, considered cool. Hot chicks in leggings and oversized glasses and messy buns didn't sit around all day with their books. They didn't talk about being AWKWARD and how they'd rather stay in and read than go out on dates. They went out. They got invited to parties. They had friends. And frequently, they made fun of me, for being such a face-attached-to-books dork.***

In my experience, being a book enthusiast was a little less like this:

And a little more like this:

On one hand, this new nerd-fetishism makes me aggravated. Because cultural appropriation. Because stolen valor. Because you didn't live my humiliating child, Hot Girl. Stay in your lane. With your bubbly laughter and your gaggle of friends and your boob shirts. You can have most things in life. Sure. Knock yourself out. But you can't have books. Dang it man. Leave me the friggin books.

But on the other side of it, I have kids now. And my kids are dorks, probably. Because of homeschooling. And because of their parents. And because, for some reason, at some point, Star Wars became really fracking important to their lives. But it's cool. Because it seems the world has changed. And everyone wants to be a "total nerd, tee hee hee". Which pretty much means, congratulations, kids. You're going to be the New Awesome. And you come by it naturally.

So when my son falls because he was running and then he tripped over nothing, he can have 17 bandaids. Because these days, he's not a clumsy dork. He's a health-conscious nerd-person. Tee hee hee.

And I'm going to keep up my end, too. I'll push the books. And the science fiction. And the way too many bandaids. Because not only are dorks the coolest? They're also like, better and more interesting people. Pretty much. So yeah. You're welcome, Offsprings. Cuz you got yourself, like, the dorkiest mom in town.


Alright. That's enough for tonight. The Dorks finally went to sleep, so it's probably time for me to go finish off the cake. Because all the geeky stuff aside, like I said, this is my anniversary. And I frackin deserve it.

Nighty night, Weirdos! The Force be with you.****

*Test my Star Wars dorkiness sometime. It's a little bit astounding.
***I'm talking now about Junior High and below. So if you are reading this and you knew me from high school or college, obviously I didn't get made fun of for reading then. That was a different time. I got made fun of for different things.
****And also with you. Church Joke. You're welcome.

Monday, April 24, 2017

They may take our lives, but FREEDOOOOOOM!!

The end is nigh, my homies. The end is freakin NIGH.

In case you were worried, no, I haven't joined some creepy apocalyptic cult. I have neither drunk the Kool-aid nor donned the Nikes.


Okay, we're back. Because I am a mind-blowingly amazing mother, I do in fact set all of you aside to listen to my children's mostly totally inane stories. At least the first 15 times. Because even awesome parents have their limits.

RIGHT. So yes, the end is here but it isn't the apocalypse. It's the end of the school year. Guys. IT'S ALMOST THE END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR ZOMG I CAN'T BELIEVE WOWIE WOW WOW WOW!!

I'm becoming annoying. In fairness, I may have always been annoying. But I'm becoming more specifically annoying, so it's different. About a month ago... maybe longer, maybe shorter, I'm losing my mind and have lost any concept of time... about a month ago, I actually sat down and calculated out our attendance for the year (I had it recorded, but had never counted the days), and I learned that we are set to hit our annual minimum on May 4. Now a couple of notes here:

1) Apparently homeschoolers in California don't have to hit a minimum number of school days. We are just required to keep a record of whatever days we choose to attend.

2) I choose to aim for the same required minimum of public/charter/private schools in California. 175. In case you're curious, it's 166. Tick tock.

3) I choose to only count days that for us either involve us sitting down for rigorous academics, or field trips. To the zoo. Or the mountains. Or the children's museum. Because real schools do feild trips so OBVI they totally count as school.*

4) We are involved with a program** that meets 1 day a week for 24 weeks each year. That program ended last week. So pretty much no one's the boss of me anymore.

So all this adds up to mean that, by my standards, our school's standards, and the standards of our glorious state government, THE END IS NIGH AND WE ARE ALMOST FREE!!

Okay. Even as I'm saying all of this, I feel like I need to apologize. I can hear how weird I've gotten. I can see it in other peoples faces.

    "Hi, I'm Ashley, and our school year is almost done."
    "Yes, I know who you are. Plus, you've told me the school thing every day for the last month."
    "Ummm..." ::Suddenly receives a phone call no one else can here::

I think it makes life easier that people found me off-putting to start with. Keep those expectations low, my friends.

Part of the reason for my stupid amount of excitement is last summer. Wherein I had exactly zero days off. Lying, obviously. I had like, two days off. It was an exhausting summer.

Plus then this school year? We didn't bail on Friday, (like we may or may not have done frequently last year. Plus the year before that). And we didn't observe national holidays. Because seriously, who even cares about the presidents. Or Cesar Chavez. Or the veterans***. We just schooled. And schooled. We schooled like it was going out of style. We kicked it old school and new school and in the middle school. AND NOW WE ARE ALMOST DONE.

Lastly, our 175th day of school, as I said, happens to land exactly on May 4th. And as it turns out, this is a fabulously geeky Star Wars obsessed bunch. So May the 4th be with us, and we're ending the year with a Star Wars party instead of taking our annual trip to Chuck E. Cheese. Because really. It's the right thing to do. 

So the story here tonight is: Homeschool your kids. Because then you can be done with the year a full on month before the rest of the world, and it will be the coolest. The. Coolest.

Oh and hey... have I mention our school year is almost done?

*It is distinctly possible that this spring had a hefty number of field trips.
**Classical Conversations. And if you're curious, I'll explain exactly why it's the greatest thing to ever happen to education since forever. Also? Please don't ask it makes me seem creepy.
***Super sorry about that. Hail to the veterans.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Are homeschoolers still Weirdos? Story at 11.

"How many of you Homeschoolers can acknowledge that you're Weirdos?"

I heard this question posed recently. The lead up was that, years ago, all homeschoolers dressed weird, acted weird, and were, stated simply enough, a big group of Weirdos. But the problem the Asker had was that, all these years later, no matter what we say about it, the weirdo-ness seems to persist. Homeschoolers are not normal. Homeschoolers are still creepy Weirdos.

For those of you that don't fit in my particular demographic, there's something you need to know here. We homeschoolers love, love to talk about how cool we've gotten. We dress better. We act better. And we like to sit around and discuss exactly how much homeschooling has changed over the years. "Well you see, back in the day, homeschooling was strange. Once upon a time, only Weirdos would homeschool. But now, it's gone totally mainstream! I mean, look at us! We're not weirdos."

"We're not weirdos."

"For serious, believe me, we're not weirdos."

And sometimes I look around and think, um.... yeah. You definitely are. The weirdest weirdy Weirdos I've ever seen. You Weirdos.

Super sorry if that's insulting, but yes, you are weirdos. Your husbands are weirdos. And your kids are definitely, definitely weirdos.

And that got me thinking. Holy buckets. Maybe I'm a weirdo too.
Math lessons. Weirdos in Pajamas. Pajamas forever.
Technically speaking, the definition of Weirdo is: Someone that I personally find to be socially unacceptable, outside of the norm, and generally different and strange. And unpleasant. And gross.

That's the truth. Check Webster's.*

Anyway, the point is, we typically decide someone is weird when they don't look "normal" to us. And the problem with that is, I literally always look normal to myself. In fact, I am, by definition, my entire standard of normal.

But then I thought about it some more.

I was a chubby and awkward young child. I was best known at my school for always having my nose stuck in a book**. I was good at school and bad at sports. In short, I was a dork. A friendless, chubby, obsessive, rule-following little dork.
Ashley, age 10. Shape of: Potato.
And the dork found a boy who was also considered a little odd. And they got married and then made some follow-up humans. And then they decided to avoid letting the follow-up humans go into the child-rearing factory that is the, ehem, "SCHOOL SYSTEM", so they got to spend more time with their weirdo parents and less time learning how to dress and act and be like all the other kids their age.

Fun story? That is not a great way to make normal people. And we didn't make normal people. We made this:
My children. Middle of the school day. Getting lots of knowledge.

And I think... I don't know what I think. My kids aren't going to be normal. That much is true. They are different. They are different from me. They are different from each other. And staying in our dorky homeschool bubble means they'll probably keep being different.
My 3 year old with his little friend, petting a rabbit and explaining the
meaning of life to the kind fellow who works at the Discovery Center.
So in the end? Crap yes we're a bunch of Weirdos. We're different people who have made a different choice. The fact that we've kept our children out of school means that they will grow up to reflect their own personalities... and the eccentricities of their own terrifying families, instead of working so hard to emulate their super cool peers.

So yeah. They will dress like weirdos. They will act like weirdos. They will be weirdos. But really? Who gives a crap. Because normal is boring. Because cool kids are bungholes. And because personally? I really hate boring bungholes. 
Sister Friends.
So you do you, my crazy bunch of Weirdos. Dress stupid. Learn Wisdom. Follow Jesus. And you know what? Be funnier than the pretty kids. Because guys? That's how you're gonna rock this world.


*Don't check Webster's.
**Which on more than 1 occasion, caused me to accidentally walk into the wrong classroom. Or bathroom. HINT: If you want friends in elementary and junior high school, don't become so engrossed in books that you walk into the wrong bathroom. Just don't. In fact to be safe, don't even learn to read. Reading is for Weirdos.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Old news. Fun news.



So.  So so so.  It would seem that, once again, I have gotten myself all pregnant.  If you are a supremely observant person and have noticed that I have used the word "again", or you have read this blog for more than 3 weeks, or you are a member of my immediate family,  you will have come to the knowledge that this is not my FIRST pregnancy.  And you have some questions.  So here are your answers.


About 6 weeks.


3 1/2 years, and 11 months, respectively.

18 1/2 months.

No, we were not.

3 or 4, but eventually.  Maybe in another year from now.

Math is hard.  I know it because I can see it in people's eyes when they slyly try to calculate when I am due, how old my son is, and what that spread looks like.  It's not a very big spread, I'm the first to admit to that.  It's the kind of spread that has me thinking oh holy hang gliders, I'm becoming one of those crazy people that pops out new offsprings every five minutes or so.  THEY SHOULD GET ME MY OWN SHOW ON TLC.  But I've seen other people do it, and none of them look like they want to kill themselves, so I'm feeling pretty confident.

Now we get to the fun part.  The How We Found Out About It part.

I was depressed.  Like, nobodylovesmeandmaybeIshouldjustgoDIE, weeping at the steering wheel on my way to the grocery store, kind of depression.  It seemed to come out of nowhere, and had grown over the span of 24 hours.  And all this, even though I'd slept (a good night's sleep is normally enough to quell my occasional crazies).  So I'm driving home with my tear-drenched groceries, and I get to thinking: The last time I felt so crazy-sad.  It was the last time I was pregnant.  So I went home, found an old test under the counter, and once again, saw a little bonus-line intent on changing my life.

I told husband.  We laughed maniacally for about 10 minutes, and husband drifted into the stage where you walk around the house flailing your arms, ranting about how you've become your parents and you don't want to drive a minivan and you're GETTING A FREAKING VASECTOMY RIGHT NOW THANKYOUVERYMUCH.  I calmly reminded him that maybe this wasn't the very best day to make that kind of decision, and he agreed, and put the knife down.

So no, we weren't trying, per se.  We were using protection, and my cycle has been a bit erratic, which the doctor said once meant that I probably wasn't ovulating, and I was told by THIS PERIOD APP that I was on a no-fertility day.  And so once we didn't use protection.  And now I am pregnant.  With my son, we tried for about 5 months.  But now, I am pregnant.

Side note:  That app will be getting a VERY strongly worded 3 star review from me later.  It wins points for being aesthetically pleasing and easy to use, but loses them because now I am pregnant.

We've decided to name this child Accidente Miller, because it's both descriptive and exotic.  Also, I think it works really well for a boy or a girl, so that's an added bonus.

That's all I've got for now, folks.  Hope all your accidents are this happy, and remember: absolutely ignore your smartphones.  They are trying to take over the world.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

It's time to stop caring so much about your children.

Shocked? Angry? Offended? ...Relieved?

How do the words of this title make you feel? Did you think about calling CPS and letting them know that this writer is a garbage parent? Because 1) you're definitely right, but 2) this isn't actually evidence of that.

First, let's get through this part: I am a mom. And yes, I'm one of those rare (?) moms who really loves my kids. In fact, I frequently think they are hilarious. And I think they are adorable. And I think they are smart. Or at least, smart-adjacent. And I don't care how cute you think your kids are, I firmly believe mine are cuter. It's just science. And math. I LOVE my kids. And I CARE about my kids.

When I was in high school, a teacher of mine emphasized the importance of loving your spouse more than the kids. Since then, I've mentioned that to dozens of people, and had dozens of people completely disagree. Some have argued. "Well sure.... you say that. But you're never going to mean it."  Others have simply told me that was wrong. That was bananas. The kids are first. The spouse can take a hike.

And you know what? A lot of their spouses did take a hike. A lot of those marriages fell apart. A lot of these people found themselves in divorce court not too long after. And those kids they loved so much, loved so hard? Those kids are learning independence in a world where the two people they rely the most on wish each other dead.

But marriage isn't the only reason we need to stop caring about our kids. I'm learning this with discipline as well. Generally speaking, I don't want to punish my stupid kids. I want to give them a warning, then I want them to change their crappy attitudes and get their behinds in gear so we can move on with our lives. I don't want to leave a kid home from sports games or movies or parties or other functions. I hate it. But here's the thing I've learned: When I care too much about my kids to punish them, I'm not actually loving them at all. 

When I care too much about the punishments, when I am too worried about the outcomes, they don't even have the chance to care. There’s just no room for it. The instruction, the warning, and the consequence, these all belong to mom.

Last Halloween, one of our daughters refused to do her schoolwork. She flailed. She cried. She whined. She sat in time out and stared at her fingers. For hours. It was enough. I let her know that if she didn't get finished, she would NOT be going trick-or-treating with the family.

And she didn't care.

And I lost my ever-loving mind.

Ya see, I cared. I wanted her to come with us. This was a silly fun special day. I'd bought costumes. They'd been looking forward to this day for probably 2 straight months. And I was LIVID. And she didn't care. I cared. My head exploded I cared so hard. And then I realized. I had to stop. I had to be okay with the fact that this consequence was going to happen. She wasn't going to come, but she wasn't going to die. It would be a bummer. But it would be okay. We made plans for her to stay home. I got the other kids ready. I stopped caring. I started loving. 

You know what? She started to believe me. She panicked. She screamed and cried a bunch, but then she got her crap together, and finished her work. 5 minutes before we left the house, she threw on a costume, and apologized.
Turns out we were able to terrorize the neighborhood as a family this year!
The thing is, I don’t think it helps my kids to care about them that much. I love my kids, but I don’t need them. My kids are my dependents. They need me. I teach them. I train them. I guide them. And of course, I have some fun with them. But my husband is my partner. He is the one I chose, the one who chose me. For life. Till death.

The kids love me, sure. Or they hate me. Depends on the moment. But I don’t care. In a few short years, they will find me mortifyingly embarrassing*. I don’t care. Then they will move out and move on and find life partners and directions of their own. I don’t care. They need me, yes. But they need me to be strong enough that I don’t need them back. They need me to be strong enough to handle the times when they don’t love me. And I will love them. I will love them enough to stop caring.

*I'm working out some dance routines to all of the 90s rap I've memorized over the years. So yeah. You could say I'm ready.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

My Kids: The World's Onliests Sinners.

So I'm on some Facebook groups these days, stuff about homeschooling and adoption and things that pertain to me as an individual, because I've heard it's important to speak exclusively with others who have similar lives and interests to my own. So yeah. Groups.

Sometimes these groups are helpful. Sometimes these groups are like, BANANAS levels of insane. Por ejemplo, I read a really in depth discussion about whether any self-respecting mother would ever, EVER feed their child ramen noodles. Obviously, the answer is no I'd rather die a slow and painful death but maybe that's just because I love my kids, you crazy bunch of heathens. You get the idea.

But it's cool, because helpful or insane, I deem it all fabulous.

A few days back, another mother, someone in distress, shared the behaviors she was experiencing from her 4 year old son. Disrespect. Anger. Meltdowns. Does anyone else's kid go through this? Has anyone else survived?

And I'm sitting here like, Oh girl. Have I got some stories for you. Pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee. We're going to be a while.

Because for starters, my eldest child slapped me in the face before she was 2. I know, right? She was mad at me for whatevertheheck, and I bent down while helping her get dressed. She slapped me. So I slapped her back, because MOM OF THE YEAR. She slapped me again. I slapped her again. She raised her hand to slap me a third time, and then growled in frustration as she thrust her arm back down to her side. Because I win this round, Turd Face. Because I am the bomb and you still poop in your own pants. 

Also? She told me she hated me. Like several thousand times, basically. She stomped off to her room for time out, or when she was asked to pick up a toy, screaming I HATE YOU MOMMY!!! with every breath she took.

Good times.

Oh but I am not done. My second oldest went into timeout screaming OWIE!! STOP!!! HEEEEELLLLP! When I had never once touched her, because I guess she thought it would be fun to watch Mommy get arrested. So that's cooooooool.

So I tell this discouraged woman a couple of my horrifying stories. I encourage her to stay calm. To stay consistent. To fight the good fight because good news, it pays off. It seriously gets better. And some day, some glorious day, you may even like your children. As it turns out, I'm even learning to love mine.

Nicer than they were. Still gross and weird.
But then some other people commented. And I learned some things. Because as it turns out, my kids are the onliest sinners in the whole world.

So here for your enlightenment, are the reasons other people's kids are sometimes naughty:
- They watched the demon television and it made them evil.
- They went to their grandmother's house, and SHE made them evil.
- They have a medical disorder and now they're evil.
- They have been exposed to sugar, which is already evil.
- They have been exposed to wheat, which is probably more evil.
- They have been exposed to Red Dye 40, which is the exact synthetic color of the devil.
- They haven't eaten so their tummies are evil.
- They require medication which will magically stop them from being evil.
- Society failed them and so obviously, now they are evil.

And I'm sitting here like... wait. What happened to behaviorism? To the Christian belief in a sin nature? To ALL OF PARENTING SINCE THE HISTORY OF EVER??

Imperfect Angels.
Guys, I don't know if you know this, but apparently, kids aren't even bad any more. Kids are perfect little gifts from heaven. It's you. You're the problem. You gave them the sugar and let them watch the TV and exposed them to the villainous grandmothers. You, it seems, are the only reason why your kids do anything bad ever.

Seriously, Internet?

I mean, I love my kids. With a fierce and crazy love. I love them. But also? They're frequently buttheads. They can be selfish. They're liars. They're sneaky. They're mean. Not always, thank the good Lord above, but their instincts aren't healthy. Their instincts are crazy. And like, murderous. It's honestly terrifying. 

And I kinda feel like I shouldn't have to take credit for all of that. When 3 come crazy straight out of the chute, and one comes already pre-crazied from someone else's house, I mean, COME ON. It can't all be our lack of a 3 hour bedtime routine. It can't all be television. Or grandma's house. It just can't all be Red Dye 40, can it? Because truth, I've always been more of a Yellow 5 fan, myself. And that is the food coloring of angels, I'm pretty sure.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Here's a present to remind you that you're gross.

Friday afternoon I was sitting at the computer when there was a knock at my door. I answered it, and saw flowers. Lovely pink flowers. Wearing a tutu.

Beautiful flowers with tutu.*
Now, CONTEXT: this past Friday was February 24. Previously, occasionally, Husband has chosen to send me  flowers or do very special things on days that are close to but not exactly Valentine's Day. Because we don't really "do" Valentine's Day. Because Big Greeting Card. Also, because instead, what we "do" is have 4 kids. Plus lately, I have been spending every free moment in my life lately editing Husband's recently completed first novel. So I look at Flower Lady, and I think YES. Dang it, that's right. I deserve some freakin flowers. Smooth move, Husband.

So I was happy. Sure. It was sweet. I was being celebrated for the beautiful and amazing wife I was. Then the delivery woman opened her big dumb mouth. 

"Looks like someone just had a baaaaaby!" She exclaimed excitedly while she thrust the flowers at me.

Um, sidebar moment. Damn. No. I have not in fact just had a baby. I haven't done Have A Baby in over 3 years. She is confused. These flowers belong to someone else. Or maybe I look... what? But I'm certainly not above self reflection, so in that brief moment,  I took stock.

Giving birth. Earning flowers. 2017 style.
Yes, obviously, I have 20 pounds I'd love to lose. But I'm also pretty sure that this florist doesn't go into every slightly overweight woman's home and suggest that she's just given birth, because that really doesn't feel like a sustainable business model. That feels like, "no thanks for the flowers, my fat butt was just fine without the gifts and insults, thanks so much".

Anyway, back to reflection. I need to lose weight. And, okay sure, also, I'm wearing velour* sweatpants and an oversized t-shirt. Even though it's 1pm. On a week day. But I have an excuse for that, and that it's because my work appointments were all cancelled, and again, I've been spending all of my extra time editing my husband's novel. I've been working super hard. ...On the couch. And yeeees my hair is greasy and in a messy, tangled bun on top of my head, and sure I could really use a shower but... oh forget it. Fine. I look exactly like a person who just gave birth. Congratulations, Flower Lady. You win.

So I explained to the friendly flower lady that this was just how I looked, and then she very suddenly remembered that I wasn't getting flowers because I had given birth, but because we'd adopted. Not sure if flower lady knew the kid we adopted was six. Not sure if flower lady knew the kid moved in with us a year and a half ago. But let's just go ahead and ignore that stuff, because sometimes a thirty something year old homeschooling mom of 4 who has multiple jobs and a husband who needs help with his book and company coming over this weekend needs a break. Needs like, just a little grace.
The beautiful little excuses for my
horrifying appearance.

So forget it. Yes, flower lady. I did just have a baby. Or whatever. Please don't let me horrifying appearance send you home with nightmares about garbage people who don't practice proper grooming habits. 

Because those people don't exist.

I promise.

Hey also? Husband didn't buy me flowers. Which was fine before, but now, kind of feels like an insult. Forget you, Bro. How dare you let someone else send flowers to this house so that I think they're from you except they're not. That's bologna. You owe me presents.

* The flowers turned out to be from Tulare Community Church, and they are awesome. The flowers were arranged and delivered by Sweet Memories in Visalia, CA, also awesome. Just so we're clear, it is no one else's fault that I am a garbage person.

**So... did you know how to spell velour? Because "velour" was definitely not my first guess.