Now it Matters

It never mattered before.

It’s always been a stupid holiday for stupid people in love, it was never for me. I never had a boyfriend on Valentines Day or even a date. I was never anyone’s Valentine. No pity parties allowed because never receiving a gift means never having to buy one. My glass is always half full- with booze of course.

Being forever alone wasn’t THAT bad.

My Mom bought me gifts as a child but that doesn’t count. It’s like taking your cousin to a dance. No one may know you’re cousins but you know and it’s enough to make you feel like a loser.

My Mother has always been an amazing gift giver. Every present from her is perfect,  it’s exactly what you never knew you wanted, and you have no idea how you ever lived without it. I loved her gifts but yearned for more from the boys at school.

By the time middle school rolled around other girls were getting gifts from their boyfriends. Small boxes of chocolates, cards, balloons and some were even lucky to get stuffed animals. But that wasn’t me.

Even in high school I didn’t have many boyfriends. There were more friends who were boys than there were boyfriends. I wasn’t a complete loser but I never had a guy lined up on Valentine’s Day.

My ex-husband bought me a gift once. I can’t remember what it was so therefore it doesn’t count. The gift was overshadowed by him spending the previous night at a strip club in Tijuana. I was infuriated that my gift may have been accompanied by herpes. In lieu of the events leading up to the present exchange, his gift is irrelevant. In fact, let’s just consider the whole marriage null and void.

One disappointment after another.

But it all changed for me in 2009.

That was my first Valentines Day with Brandon. Jaelyn was 14 months old and I had been dating Brandon for about 9 months.

We lived together, we worked together, we had the same days off, so we spent all our time together. Love was in the air.

Brandon could have given me the prize out of a Cracker Jack box and I wouldn’t have cared. My expectations of the holiday were at an all time low. I braced myself for the worst.

But It’s still one of my most favorite holidays we’ve spent together.

Brandon gave me flowers. The roses were hot pink with veins showing through on each petal giving them a zebra print  pattern. I walked by similar roses a millions times in the stores and commented on the pattern. The hot pink flowers were always my favorite.

Brandon listened to me.

The chocolate was in a frilly red heart. Ferrero Rocher a personal favorite.  What’s not to love about a delicious little ball of chocolate filled with a wafer,  creamy chocolate and a hazelnut? They melt in your mouth with just the right amount  of crunch. Its amazing.

Brandon gets my love for hazelnuts.

The card was sweet. His personal message on the inside brought tears to my eyes. Such sweet and innocent words from a man declaring his undying love for me. No one had ever wrote sweet words to me and about me before. My heart smiled  for days.

Brandon knew what I needed to hear.

The actual gift was perfect. A pair of white gold open heart earrings from Kay Jewelers. I had been admiring them on the commercial for months. I love everything the Open Hearts Collection stands for.

“If you leave your heart open,  love will always find a way in.”

Brandon understands how important sayings like that are to me.

It wasn’t the gifts that meant so much to me. It was the meaning behind each one. They all held special place in my heart because of the hope they carried. Hope that I found someone who understands me, listens to me and wants to give me everything I want.

Brandon gave me hope, hope of a sweet forever spent together.

That year started a tradition. We ordered a pizza and watched a movie because that’s the kind of people we are. Neither of us need a fancy restaurant or expensive gifts, we just need each other.

We have spent every Valentines Day since, eating pizza and cuddled up on the couch watching whatever movie sounds good that particular night.

On that Valentine’s Day in 2009 I knew every year for the rest of my life I needed to be his Valentine.

I need to know someone understands me, listens to me and loves me- besides my Mom.

It never mattered before but it matters now because I’m one of those people who are stupid in love.

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The first Valentines Day card from Brandon.

 

Unsolicited Parenting Advice

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I expected to take a cute selfie with the kids. 

Here’s one piece of solid advice for all parents. 

 

Lower your expectations. 

 

Then, just when you think they’re low enough, lower them a tidbit more. 

 

Turn on Uncle Kracker and follow me, everything will be alright. 

 

1. Wake-up time “The kids will sleep-in, they had a tiring day yesterday.” 

 

Are you crazy? Kids have everlasting energy, they can go days without sleep. Get over it because sleeping late is gone, it’s never coming back. When it does you’ve already hit the age when getting up early is cool. 

 

Go to bed the night before knowing your kids will be up before the sun. Stop playing with your own emotions. You can sleep when you’re dead. 

 

2. Breakfast time “Mommy’s making pancakes and bacon for you! “

 

Just stop right there. Don’t you dare make them shit. A bowl of cereal will be sufficient and even that’s too much. That way when they throw it at each other or you -that’s a possibility- you’re not as heartbroken. Don’t waste your time on a cooked meal, save your energy for the real catastrophes that are sure to follow.

 

Breakfast is usually rushed. Just throw a banana at the kids as they run to the bus stop and they become someone else’s problem. 

 

3. Play time “We can make a craft, then the kids can play by themselves for a bit.”

 

No you can’t. Crafty people expect entirely too much out of life. Delete your Pinterest app. If you’re feeling crafty just spill glitter on the floor, slap paint on your yoga pants and glue your hand to a table because that’s the end game. You aren’t walking away with a cute homemade craft. You’re doing the Pinterest walk-of-shame when you post craft pictures on Facebook.

 

Kids don’t play by themselves. If they do, they’re up to no good and you need to investigate immediately.

 

4. Lunch time “Maybe I’ll take the kids to McDonalds for lunch, playtime and free wifi.”

 

You’re fucking crazy. Nothing in this world is free. That “free” wifi has a hefty price tag. One that can only be paid for in dignity. Climbing to the top of the play area and back down with a screaming child is not worth it. Don’t go inside McDonalds without a proper escape route and even then expect it to fail. It will fail.

 

Skip going out to lunch all together. It’s disastrous, no matter what restaurant you pick. If you give your kids peanut butter and jelly every day for lunch, when you give them Ramen Noodles, they’ll thank you for a hot meal. 

 

5. Nap time “I’m going to nap with the kids today.”

 

Great idea, if they napped. Everyone needs to stop trying to make naptime happen. Even if it does, you have approximately 30 minutes. Take this time to make an afternoon cup of  coffee and check your email. That’s about all you have time for. 

 

If by some sudden stroke of luck you get more time, don’t clean. It’s a waste of time and energy. Kids are filthy animals who can destroy a clean house in 4 seconds. 

 

6. Dinner time “Im going to make a homemade pot roast with all the fixings so we can have a nice family dinner.”

 

The only way that homemade pot roast is going to work is if you tossed it in the slow cooker before breakfast. As for the “fixings,”  plain elbow macaroni with a slice of American cheese on top will do.

 

Be prepared to attend this “nice family dinner” donning riot gear because shit is about to get real. At this point, just order a pizza and pray for the best. 

 

7. Bed time “The kids should go to bed without incident tonight, they had a tiring day.”

 

You had a tiring day. They have energy stored for weeks. See number 1 for an explanation, go to bed and stop having such high expectations. 

 

You’re welcome. 

Nailed It

I was excited when Jaelyn asked for an Easy Bake Oven. I was even more excited when his Grandma bought him one.

After Jaelyn opened the gift, he started promising everyone delicious treats. “I’ll bake a cake for Jenna, brownies for Jace and I’ll bake Mommy cookies!” Do you see why I was excited? Cookies get me everytime.

The first thing he said to me this morning was, “can we bake using my Easy Bake Oven today?” I never turn down cookies.

I opened the box and pulled the oven out. It was so cute, much cuter than my old Easy Bake Oven. Jaelyn and I read the instructions together. Every new step brought a new level of excitement. I think in his head he was screaming,  “lets bake these cookies, bitch!” I know I was. 

We went to work. Preheated the oven, measured out water, formed dough balls, flatten said dough balls, and slid them suckers in the oven. The instructions said to bake the cookies for 9 minutes. We set a timer.

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The instructions and manufacturer end result picture.

 

During the 9 minutes of bake time, Jaelyn was clearly on edge. He kept checking the timer, talking about the cookies and saying how he couldn’t wait to bake cakes. “Do you think it will have frosting? I like frosting, they should have frosting.”

When the timer went off he flew into the kitchen screaming, “COOKIES ARE READY!” I had to remind him they needed to be pushed into the cooling chamber for a 5 minute cool down period. He wasn’t impressed and Mommy wasn’t either. I was ready to eat my share of heat lamp cooked cookies but directions said we couldn’t. My old Easy Bake Oven didn’t have a cooling chamber, why did this one need it? Whatever.

When the 5 minute timer went off he was more excited than before and so was Mommy. We got our little purple wand and pulled the tray of cookies out….

“What the heck happened?” Jaelyn asked.

I replied, “I don’t know, we followed the directions.”

Jaelyn and I had a good laugh, compared our final product to the picture. I declined my share of cookies and gave them all to him.

He sat down at the kitchen table and started to eat his creation. I heard him talking to himself,  “oh boy, what did I get myself into? The cake will be better, I never really liked cookies anyway.”

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Our end result.

 

Paper, Rock, Scissors

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Every one knows how to play paper, rock, scissors (PRS) right? Best way to determine whose the lucky one, on any given crappy situation. Winner determines who does what. Some times the win gives a good reward, other times it saves you from being the grunt.

 

 

When Brandon and I first moved in together and it was just the 3 of us, (Jaelyn, Brandon and I) PRS determined everything from shitty diapers to who gets to sleep in on days off. I remember complaining about having to be the one to get up at 8 am. I would give my left boob to sleep till 8 am now a days. (Not the right one, that one gets a lot of loving from Brandon, can’t give that up)

 

I remember the look our coworkers would give us when we PRSed for a task at work. Some would laugh, others would roll their eyes. We always had fun at work. We were getting paid to do a job but we got to do it together. We were having the time of our life and everyone around us knew it. That made the majority of the people we encountered feel good and enjoy being around us. Every one has haters, Brenny (us) was no exception to that.

 

 I always lost at PRS. I don’t know if im just predictable or if Brandon is just that good. Either way after a while PRS was discouraging.  Brandon could see it in my eyes. After a win he would still end up doing the task because he felt bad. So was I really losing at PRS or was I just using what my momma gave me, to get me out of a few poopy diapers? The world may never know.

 

It’s a good thing we’re more of a bargaining or “pay me to do it” kind of couple now. That sulking crap gets exhausting over time. Now we either just blatantly ask the other one or we sweeten up the deal. By sweeten up the deal I mean there better be a sexual favor or a money exchange involved for it to be considered. Those are usually reserved for the, “I know you really don’t wanna do this, but I really don’t wanna do it MORE” type of things.

 

Brandon once paid me 50 bucks to run up to the gas station. Technically all money in our possession is OUR money but him giving that to me was a “no questions asked were this gets spent,” gesture. Heck yeah I rolled up to the gas station, giddy as all get out.

 

We also used to play thumb-war all the time. I was over that method fast though. For as tiny as his hands are (think the guy with the small hands on the Burger King commercial) he sure has freakishly long thumbs. It’s pure bullshit. I got short, stumpy, little sausage thumbs. They’re no match for his thumbs. Screw thumb war.

 

I sure do miss they PRS days; but they’re long gone. We can’t use that method anymore. There’s always more than one task to complete.

 I consider myself lucky now a days if Brandon’s home to help out. So instead of being a full-time jerk and declaring PRS for every task. Probably would lose them all anyways. I say “this or that.” You either do this or you do that, your choice. He always picks the easy task. That’s ok though, especially if it could result in a huge mess. I’ll do it because its harder to complain if you’re the one who made the mess.

 

I miss playing PRS, but I don’t miss loosing all the time. Maybe when the kids are a little older we’ll start playing again. You know, when there’s not so many shitty diapers riding on it.  Maybe then Brandon will be too incoherent to cheat. Boom, the ether. YEAH I SAID IT.  Brandon was a PRS cheater.

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Family Fun Day

Every couple of months Brandon and I try to set aside a full day of family fun.

We decided to spend the morning hours at the park and after nap we would go to this little carnival that popped up in a parking lot nearby.

We never learn our lesson, we shouldn’t tell the kids until we’re all loaded up in the car. Their minds run wild with questions while mine throbs from repeating everything 20 gazillion times.

Jaelyn thought going to the park meant no carnival that afternoon and Jenna couldn’t understand why we weren’t just putting our shoes on leaving, nappy haired and braless. Usually I don’t care about my attire but I try to dress nice on family fun days. I was even going to wear Spanx, but I couldn’t find them. They must be hiding from me; they can’t take all this sexiness at once. I understand, it’s a lot of pressure. 

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Bearded J’s at the park.

 

We bribed the kids with Dairy Queen in order to leave the park without a scene. It was a mutual win, Brandon and I enjoy Dairy Queen just as much as the kids.

We got the kids their food and after the longest battle with Jenna over a vanilla milkshake or a cherry arctic rush, it was nap time.

After nap time it was carnival time. In essence it all sounded like so much fun. In reality it felt like hell it was so damn hot outside and all the carnies were screaming to get our money. Maybe not hell, maybe a strip club?

We had to wait until a

 certain time for wristbands so we decided to go ahead and grab some food. The kids were upset; they can’t eat at a time like this, there’s rides to be rode and games to be played.

They barely ate their food so Brandon and his mom took the older 2 around to play some more games and buy us time.

I stayed on the bench feeding Jace and enjoying the whole reason I go to carnivals, the food. I love their pork tenderloins and lemon shake ups.

The kids couldn’t wait any longer so we ended up buying tickets for them to ride the carnival rides. We bought Brandon tickets because the kids wouldn’t ride alone and there was no way my big ass was getting on any of the rides, look who assembled them. Fuck around and break a carnival ride? That’s a whole new level of fatness that I am not willing to hit.

The look I got from Brandon everytime he realized he would have to ride along with the kids was hilarious. Especially the dragon roller coaster, that look was a personal favorite. I will not lie; watching him struggle to get into that tiny spot made me feel good. I have leverage now! I’ll never have to sit in another booth again!

With every ride Jenna’s excitement grew; she was having the time of her life. With every ride Jaelyn’s anxiety grew; his smiles were beyond forced. Jenna was grinning ear to ear while Jaelyn was practicing his lamaze breathing.

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Bearded J’s at the carnival.

 

When we left, it was late and the kids were grimy from sweat and dirt. I’m not proud of this but the only one who got a bath was Jaelyn. It was only because he had school the next day and I refuse to let him be the stinky kid in class.

When I laid in bed that night I realized family fun day should happen more often. I love my family and cherish every moment spent with them.


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