Confessions of a Spray-Tan-Aholic.

Confessions of a Spray Tan-A-Holic.

Hello. My name is Jill and I’m a spray tan-aholic. It’s been six days since my last spray. And I’m not gonna lie, its been a hard six days.

It started out as something I just did for fun. You know, a once-in-a-while kind of thing. I was going on vacation in the middle of winter to somewhere warm and I thought I’d feel so much better in my swimsuit if I had a little color, right? (Everyone knows tan looks better in a swimsuit than pale does.) I told myself I’d just go once so that I’d feel more comfortable. I figured it was better than going to a tanning bed, and this way I could stay out of the sun, but still have a little healthy glow. I convinced myself it was a good thing.

And I liked it.

I liked it so much that I started looking for reasons to go back in and get my glow on. I’d go if I had a special event coming up like a wedding or a fundraiser. I’d look for strapless dresses in order to justify the need for a tan. My post spray glow would last for nearly a week and I loved all the compliments I got. People said I looked healthier, my teeth looked whiter – they said I looked thinner and younger. Ah! Music to my vanity! I knew I was going a little more frequently, but I told myself I had it under control. I could stop any time I wanted to.

But then, I started to need a spray before any social event. Pampered Chef party? Better get a spray! Kim’s turning 40? Better get a spray! Teeth-cleaning coming up? Better get a spray! I started thinking if a little spray looks good, maybe a lot of spray would look fantastic!

Before I knew it, I’m signed up at MagicTan for the unlimited monthly package and I’m on the stuff once a week. Sometimes twice a week. Year round.

All my white sheets are ruined. My sweat looks like iced tea. I don’t even appear to be the same ethnicity as my children anymore (despite the fact that I am). The compliments have stopped and I can’t help but recognize the look of pity in people’s eyes when they asked if I’ve just come back from the equator, and I am forced to say no. No, I haven’t. People won’t even discuss the movie Charlie and The Chocolate Factory in my presence. It’s as if they fear a stray reference to an Oompa Loompa would be hitting too close to home.

I tried to cancel my monthly package at MagicTan, but the person working there talked me out of it with a cunning and well-placed, ‘It makes you look younger by at least 5 years!’  I know I should stop. I know it. I tried weaning myself off of it by using the at-home Banana Boat, but it’s not the same. I go back to the good stuff every time.

I’ve been told the first step on the road to recovery is to admit that there’s a problem. And my mirror confirms that there is a problem. A big, orange problem. And it’s time to do something about it. Maybe there is a 12 step program for people like me (Snooki, any suggestions?) Or maybe I should just start hoping beyond hope that pale comes back into fashion like it was in 18th century Victorian England. Powdered wigs. Now, there’s a trend I could get behind…

And maybe one day, I can embrace my unique shade of cadaver-white skin and truly become proud to be pale.

And The Award For Best Dramatic Performance by an Abandoned 8 year-old Girl Goes to…

Today the Oscar nominations were announced. It was pretty much a roundup of the usual suspects: Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Woody Allen, etc. An impressive and deserving lot. But every year certain people get overlooked. I’ve recently seen a performance that would rival any of those that were nominated today. It was a performance so penetrating, so nuanced, so expert – that I can hardly believe it wasn’t in contention for the industry’s top honor. And it was carried out by my own flesh and blood, the fruit of my loins, the apple of my eye… my daughter Ellie, 8.  She wrote, directed and starred in this performance of a young girl’s struggle after being cruelly abandoned by her parents. For 7 days.

I know it’s tacky when parents take credit for their kids success, but in this case I believe we truly were her inspiration. You see, each year my husband and I go on a week’s vacation sans kids. And it was this event that proved the catalyst for her performance, so wounded was she by the betrayal.

It is a tale as old as time: Parents go away for a little R&R, kids are sad, parents come back, kids are happy. But to a dramatic genius (as she is being called by some industry insiders), this tired plotline was elevated and imbued with new life! Armed with nothing more than an iPod Touch and a free text messaging app, the young Miss Orr delivered a visceral, haunting portrait of a girl left behind by her parents with nothing but the love of her grandparents, her house, all her clothes & toys, more than enough food to eat, at least one shopping trip to Toys r Us, and more than one outing to McDonald’s. It’s a wonder she survived.

Here is a look (actual transcript):

i am crying i miss u. when I hear your voice it makes me eve sadder i am crying in bed and nobody knows it i am crying and i don’t want anybody to know and i am under my covers I really miss u and wish u would come back soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo badly. i am so upset i could scream out Loud in tears. and its not funny. fletcher is not showering and papa says its ok. i am not having a good time. i having a horrible terrible time and i will the whole week. i wish you never left.

And that was not even the highlight of the performance. Realizing her pleas were not having the desired effect of us hoping on the next flight home, she dug down deeper to produce an even more compelling portrait of a girl slowly unraveling:

Nobody knows i am crying but tears are dripping down my face and i feel soooooooo sad i love you ☹ ☹ ☹ My hair is wet from tears i’m so sad. WHY DID YOU LEVE. What time is it? sniff. It is 9:24 here. Bye i will cry to fall asleep Oh i wish you were here. i can’t fall asleep. Me and flootch are both crying waaaaaaaaaa. Wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwyyyyyyyyyyyy????????????? Still sad…… u said u would call us No Please Answer the phone i am waiting for u to call. Ddaad. i am so sad your having a good time and we are having a horrid time

And my favorite part, was toward the end of the performance, when – spurred on by our claims that maybe talking to us on the phone was making things worse, her desperation reaches frenzied heights and she responds with:

i am as sad as a hippo that stayed awake for 70 years. can you answer your face time. Please. i am calling you. i am in your bed and i don’t smell anything that smells like you and. i’m sooooooo sad . can’t you just come back

i miss u so much

i am balling

It is poring

Now if that isn’t an Oscar worthy performance, I don’t know what is…

Fitted Sheets & The Human Genome Project

My parents raised me to believe that I could do anything I set my mind to. As it turns out, however, this is not true. In reality, there are lots of things I can’t do. A few that spring to mind are: the splits (Chinese or regular); making out the hidden image embedded in one of those 3-D art posters; and properly folding a fitted sheet. Since I am neither a member of Cirque-du-Soleil nor a collector of 1990’s mall art, the first two don’t cause me much consternation. But as the keeper-of-linens in my house, it really chaps my ass that I can’t fold a fitted sheet no matter how hard I try. And believe me, I’ve tried.

In an effort to shield my delicate ego from this particular failing, I have developed a hypothesis that allows me to absolve myself of any responsibility for it. I have concluded that the ability to fold a fitted sheet is a genetic – something as out of my control as the color of my eyes or being able to roll my tongue into a hot dog. One can either do it, or not. No amount of practicing is going to help. Have you ever seen someone who doesn’t have the gene try to hot-dog their tongue? It’s just sad (and by sad, I mean hilarious). It’s the same with fitted sheets.

As with so many of my shortcomings, it is comforting when I can deflect responsibility and blame my inferior genetic wellspring (and by inferior genetic wellspring, I mean my Mom and Dad). My mother, who theoretically is responsible for at least half of my genetic material, can force a fitted sheet into a crisp, perfect rectangle just by giving it a stern look. She is the Darth Vader of folding fitted sheets.  So obviously my problem can’t be her fault. My defect must come from my father who, as far as I know, has never even attempted fold a sheet -fitted or otherwise. This scientifically (and by scientifically, I mean arbitrarily) proves my hypothesis that the FFS (folding fitted sheet) gene must be recessive, passed down through the father’s side. Kind of like baldness is on the mother’s side.

If you have been genetically blessed with the FFS gene, you are probably thinking that I just haven’t tried hard enough. Or that I’ve just never had someone teach me how to do it. But I assure you this is not the case. I’ve been given at least a dozen lessons by my mother, plus I’ve watched countless helpful women on YouTube (and by helpful women on You Tube, I mean pretentious ninnies) who make me feel bad about myself by suggesting ‘it’s so simple everyone can do it!’ in their upbeat voices as they swish, flatten, and press their fitted sheets into folded perfection. Dutifully, I follow each step. But in the end, my sheet looks like something I’m using to smuggle contraband into the linen closet (and by contraband, I mean my pride).

But now I don’t have to feel bad about myself anymore. Knowing (and by knowing, I mean blinding believing) that properly folding a fitted sheet is a genetic trait, takes away all the guilt and shame that I’ve felt for years. And now when I open the door to my linen closet and it looks like a three-fingered pirate wrapped his booty in old sheets and stored it in there for safe-keeping, I am comforted by the fact that it isn’t my fault. After all, I am only a collection cells encoded with pre-determined genetic material. In other words, I am only human (and by human, I mean a superior being capable of rationalization). (And by a superior being capable of rationalization, I mean a person willing to believe my own bullshit.)

Things I Sometimes* Wish I Never Taught My Kids

  1. To talk.
  2. To crack the eggs into the batter. (Pancakes are not supposed to be crunchy.)
  3. Sarcasm. I just love it when the kids do as I do, not as I say…
  4. To play games on my cell phone.
  5. To read. (If you’ve ever seen a billboard in the state of Missouri, you’re with me on this one.)
  6. To say please. (See When Good Words Go Bad.)
  7. To expect that meals will be prepared for them. Everyday.
  8. The words ‘mine,’ ‘no,’ ‘jiggly,’ and ‘bottom.’
  9. To tell knock-knock jokes. (And expect me to laugh.)
  10. To spell.  (It’s total b-u-l-l-s-h-i-t that my husband I no longer have a covert means of communication.)
  11. To listen to the radio. (Thankyouverymuch, Katy Perry, for teaching my seven-year old what a menage-a-trois is.)
  12. How to tell time. (I sometimes* ache for the days I could say “It’s bedtime!” at 5:30.)
  13. To use the word ‘really’ as a question.
  14. To use the DVR. (I now have approximately 97 hours of Phineas & Ferb available for my viewing pleasure.)
  15. That there is no such thing as a stupid question. (As it turns out, there is.)
* Varies by hormonal levels, how much chocolate I’m depriving myself of, and hours of sleep logged in any given 24 hour period.
Author’s Note: I apologize for the abundance of parenthesis in today’s post. (I guess I was just in a parenthetical sort of mood.)


Beyond Helicopter Parenting… How About Rickshaw, Limousine, and Ice Cream Truck Parenting?

We all know a Helicopter Parent when we see one. They’re the Moms and Dads obsessively bug spraying, sun-blocking, or hat-n-gloving their kids while shouting at them not to climb too high, swim too far out, or touch anything in the bathroom. However much we may judge these parents, (even when we see them in the mirror) we feel a sense of satisfaction being able to put a name to their neurosis. They are Helicopter Parents and we know this because a doctor and a parenting guru (Foster W. Cline, M.D. and Jim Fay) coined this useful term in 1990. Since then, the expression has been firmly entrenched in our vocabulary.

As far as I’m concerned, Helicopter Parenting is the best kind of term – descriptive, memorable, fitting, and kind of funny. But it’s limited. It only describes one parenting style. And since most of us employ multiple parenting methods throughout the years, perhaps even throughout the day, I feel the list of parenting metaphors can and should be expanded. So, though I am neither a doctor nor a parenting guru, I’ve taken a crack at it myself.

See if you can identify your parenting style in the list below. Or tell me if you know of one I missed. I’d love to hear which kind of parent you are because hearing about other parents not being perfect makes me feel better about being so alarmingly far from it myself. Plus, I love comments on my blog. Plus, I’m just generally nosy.

So, Are You a…

Tandem Bicycle Parent: These parents attempt to get their children involved in the parenting process with questions like, “What do you think your punishment should be?” and “How much do you think you should get for allowance?” Much like the tandem bicycle itself, this kind of parenting sounds like it would be fun, but isn’t. If you choose to parent this way, keep in mind that although the tandem bike may have two sets of pedals, only one person can steer it.

Carnival Cruise Parent: These parents want to have fun! They either can’t find a babysitter or feel too guilty to leave the kids at home, so they bring them along wherever they go. The parents continue to behave exactly as they would if their children were not there, stopping occasionally to feed and briefly converse with their offspring – usually uttering the words, “Not now,” and “When I’m ready to go.”

Rickshaw Parent (also known as Field Plow and Dog Sled Parents): These parents like to take it easy. They are perfectly comfortable to sit back and direct their children from afar. They tell their kids to take out the trash, rake the leaves, and make dinner – all from the comfort of the couch. This kind of parenting works best under a fear-based regime and only until the children grow weary and stage the inevitable coup.

Express Train Parent: These parents are in a big hurry all the time. Their constant refrain is, “Let’s go! C’mon! Let’s go!” They get things done. Lots of things.  They never sit still. They never chill out. They are always in forward motion. Their children often resort to lollygagging in a passive-aggressive form of protest, often causing the Express Train Parent to go “off the rails.”

Ice Cream Truck Parent: Almost everyone is guilty of being one of these parents at least once in a while. Ice Cream Truck parents get their child to do what they want them to do by promising them a sweet treat if they comply. Effective. To be used sparingly. (Admission: My daughter will do almost anything for a Hershey’s Kiss, so in my house this technique is grossly overused.)

Limousine Parent: These parents want to make sure their kids arrive in style. They want it known that their children are special and deserve to stand out. Limousine parents needn’t know the direction they are going, because they’ve hired someone to know for them. They only need to pony up the dough and sit back and enjoy the ride. Be aware: Kids parented in this way may become driven by a lavish lifestyle, but not know how to get there on their own.

Motorcycle Side Car Parent: These parents have a wild side. They like their adrenaline rush and want their kids to like it too. They travel in the fast lane and take the kids along as they bob and weave their way on down the road. These parents love high speeds and high drama. Note: This can also work in reverse, where the child drives and the parent goes along for the ride. Either way, best to buckle up. It’s usually a bumpy ride.

Southwest Airlines Parent: These parents are on a budget and know how to have a good time. So what if they’re not super-organized? Who cares if occasionally they take off without all of their passengers? They are fun! They are wild. They compose funny raps and make wry, witty puns about safety and cleanliness. They may not be the most refined parents around, but they get the job done and do it with a smile.

VW Bug Parenting: These parents don’t believe personal space; they like to be super-close to their kids.

EuroRail Parent (aka, Tour Bus Parent): These parents want their kids to see it all, do it all, and experience it all. They take their children from museums to galleries to monuments (whether they like it or not). These parents have a constant talk-track going about what they are seeing and why it will improve their kids lives. Note: Kids generally absorb only 5 – 7% of this information. Even less when they have access to an iPhone or a Nintendo DS.

Bulldozer Parenting: These parents know where they want their children to go in life and they will flatten anyone who gets in their way (including the children themselves). Best to get out of the way when you see a Bulldozer parent if at all possible.

Slow-Boat-to-China Parents (aka, River Boat and Barge Parenting): These parents believe that kids grow up too darn fast these days. In many ways, they are the opposite of the Express Train parents. They believe that all good things come to those who wait and that homemade fun is the best kind of fun. Their children don’t watch TV, eat microwave meals, or play with electronic/tech based toys.

Private Jet Parents (aka, Maybach Parenting): These parents want their kid to know that they have a lot of money and that they aren’t afraid to spend it.

Four-Wheeler Parents: These parents are looking to recreate the kind of fun they remember having when they were kids. Often times, they are remembering things from when they were an older child. But in their zeal, Four Wheeler parents will forget this and attempt to relive all their childhood memories when junior is about five years too young. You see them with their one year olds at DoraLive! Or off for a hunting trip before the kid can even read. Or with their American Girl whose face has been colored on with a sharpie. (Note: A mutation of this kind of parent is the GoKart Parent, which is the deep-fried version of the Four Wheel Parent. They function the same way, but are frequently drawn to guns, roadside fireworks, and yes, GoKarts.)

Wonder Woman’s Invisible Jet Parents: The worst kind of parents. These people have kids, but no one ever actually sees them parenting anybody.

Liar, liar, Mom Jeans on Fire!

I’d be lying if I said I always tell my children the truth. And while I’m sure it doesn’t make me a lock for Mother-of-the-Year, (that ship undoubtedly sailed the morning I served fruit rollups for breakfast) I don’t think it makes me unfit either. The truth is that telling a few well-intentioned white lies can actually be a fairly effective parenting strategy. And to be honest, sometimes it just gets me through the day.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not encouraging inventing vast networks of lies that you need a spreadsheet to keep track of. But our kids don’t need to know everything. Nor can they handle everything. Obviously, you adjust what you choose to share with your kids as they get older and more mature. My kids are 7 and 10, and by this point I’d say 99.9% of the time, I tell my children the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. They both know where babies come from. They both know that nobody lives forever. And they both know Mommy’s hair doesn’t necessarily grow out of her head this color.

The lie one chooses to tell, ultimately depends on one’s motivation. More often not, we fib to either keep our kids safe (“If you go outside with wet hair, you will catch cold,”) or to simplify a complicated situation (“The mechanical horsey is broken,” when you have one quarter but two children). Below are some of the various lies, half-truths, fabrications, and otherwise un-true things I have told my children at some point during their relatively short lives. Sadly, I can no longer get away with most of these.

I have lied in the best interests of my children:

  • The car engine won’t turn on until your seatbelt is buckled.
  • Eating spinach will give you big muscles.
  • College is mandatory by law.
  • You’ll love this new kind of chicken (otherwise knows as Tilapia).

I have lied to save my children’s feelings:

  • Yours was the best pinch pot in the whole class.
  • The shot will only hurt for a second.
  • That bunny in the road is just sleeping.
  • That is a hilarious knock-knock joke.

Then, there are the lies I’ve told for completely and utterly self-serving reasons.

  • Only one Reeses peanut butter cup comes in a pack.
  • Santa won’t come until you’re asleep.
  • We’re out of batteries.
  • Mommy and Daddy are taking a nap.

Of course, there are the societal and seasonal lies (think: holiday friends and dental darlings). These are things we tell our kids in the spirit of preserving their innocence and creating a sense of magic. The adult world is appallingly un-magical and since they have the rest of their lives to live in it, I feel no guilt whatsoever in inventing a bit of wonder and joy while they are young enough to believe. Besides, these lies have an internal expiration date (usually between six and ten, depending on older siblings and know-it-all classmates). I believe these are victimless lies and very rarely do they cause a child to feel betrayed when the truth eventually comes out. In fact, most kids play along long after they’ve stopped believing because they enjoy the charade so much.

Undoubtedly, there are some parents out there who never, ever tell their kids even the smallest of fibs. (They are probably the same people who use cloth diapers, eat only organic foods, and drive electric cars.) If you are one of these parents, then good for you. I admire your resolve, your integrity, and your discipline. But for the less virtuous among us, there are some instances when stretching the truth – or circumventing it entirely -can sure come in handy. Believe me. (Or maybe not, given what I’ve just confessed.)