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Catch and I are in Vegas right now in an upgraded suite with a jacuzzi tub.

Pre-Charlotte, I really wasn’t a fan of Vegas. I honestly find the strip to be pretty depressing. I hate the smoke-filled maze of dark hotel casinos that haven’t seen the light of day since they opened.

The last time I was here was for a marketing conference several years ago, and after 2 nights, I was clawing at the walls wanting to escape. Unfortunately, I was stuck for 5 nights, and 5 nights in Vegas is just way too many nights for me. Or at least, it WAS.

This time, we’re here because Catch had a conference to attend. That means I’m in this giant room with hours of free time to do anything I want. Mostly that involves sitting in the jacuzzi tub, giving myself a pedicure, knitting, reading, and staring blankly at Facebook.

Last night, we enjoyed a sampling of wines and cheeses at a wine bar and then caught a showing of Ka because the conference was offering discounted tickets. (Definitely my least favorite Cirque show by far–I love Cirque du Soleil, but was really not a fan of this one.) On the way there, we enjoyed some obnoxious banter with a cab driver who was incredibly displeased that we were paying with a credit card because no one ever tips. He made a point of letting us know that cab drivers get to see all of the shows for free, and when asked what his favorite show is, he responded, “Zombie Burlesque… because boobs.” We are assuming based on his thoroughly enjoyable personality, greasy, unkempt hair, and the body odor of the cab that he returned to his mother’s basement to play dungeons and dragons shortly after he dropped us off. I tipped him 30%. Honestly, 15 minutes in a cab with him was more entertaining than Ka.

At lunch today, I met Catch in the casino after her session, randomly won $80 on a wheel of fortune slot, and then we grabbed some cocktails by the pool and laughed at @pleasehatethesethings on Instagram for a bit. In a little while, I’ll head down to the pool and Catch and her work bestie will meet up with me for a late afternoon swim and (more) cocktails. (When in Vegas…)

In the meantime, Charlotte has been at my in-laws’ house since Monday and she is seriously having the time of her life. Apparently, she asked my FIL if she could stay at their house forever. They’ve been to the beach twice, a children’s museum, spent countless hours at the pool, and she’s been driving her power wheels jeep all over their property. She basically doesn’t give a rat’s ass that we’re gone, and as much as we miss her, we are THRILLED (and relieved) that she’s so freaking happy without us.

I feel like I have so much to tell you about, but the pool is calling to me. Or maybe a nap. Heck, maybe a nap by the pool.

We leave tomorrow and I’m 99% certain that it’s the first time I’ve ever been disappointed to leave Vegas behind.

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If you follow me on social media, it’s probably no surprise that while we were in Colorado, we started thinking very seriously about moving there. Why? Because we feel like we’d be able to give our daughter a better life in Colorado.

We are so lucky to be able to take stock of our current situation and say, “You know what? This isn’t what we want for our kid. Let’s change it.”

There are so, so many families with children crossing the border into the U.S. right now and they are desperately trying to do exactly what Catch and I are sitting here casually contemplating. They just want a better life for their families. Except for them, it’s a matter of life or death. For us, it’s a damn luxury.

And that right there is privilege. An abundance of it.

You know what else is a privilege? Knowing where my kid is.

I can’t even fathom how that isn’t a basic human right, but it’s not. This administration has made knowing where your child is a privilege afforded to only those of us who are lucky enough to have a social security card. (White skin probably helps, too.)

I am so ashamed of my country’s leadership right now. (If you can even call it that.) The actions of this administration are unconscionable.

“Liberty and justice for all” should not require a disclaimer.

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I had lunch with a friend (former coworker) on Wednesday and he asked me that question, to which I replied, “Um… stuff?” with a shrug of my shoulders.

Not working for the past 6 weeks has been nothing like what I thought it would be. I imagined luxurious lounging, tons of writing, exercise, knitting/crafting, photography projects, meal prepping, a spotless house… you get the idea. Basically, I imagined that the 6-ish hours Charlotte spends at preschool each day would be like some magical time warp in which I could Get Shit Done.

Surprise! It’s not like that at all!

I’ve done a lot of cleaning and organizing since we’ve been home the past few weeks, but it feels like that’s all I do. That and run errands. And of course the laundry…. so many loads of laundry.

Catch keeps telling me to take some time to just be, but every time I try I think of ten thousand other things that need to be taken care of and I know I’ll feel better if I just do them. It’s a vicious circle. I also have this neat new tendency to open a drawer/closet/cupboard and decide that moment is the exact moment that it all needs to be cleaned out and reorganized. Tuesday was the junk drawer. Wednesday was the baking drawer and the Tupperware cabinet. Thursday was the pantry.

I’m pretty sure I’ll find the proper balance of things right as it’s time to go back to work… and even though I’m floundering a bit at the moment, I can honestly say that I would be THRILLED to never have to work again. It won’t happen, but damn it would be nice.

In other news, Charlotte will be 3 in about 2 months and she is completely psycho. I mean that in the most loving way, of course. This is a challenging age. She is pushing limits, challenging rules, and just generally stubborn and difficult… except when she isn’t, and in those times she is basically just the most amazing kid ever. Basically, we have a Jekyll and Hyde thing going on. We just never know which one we’re going to get. It’s exhausting.

She peed in the potty three times last night without any fight at all, so at least that’s giving us a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. I think I’ll maybe go hard core potty training boot camp on her next weekend.

On June 1st, we’re headed off on a major road trip. We have yet to figure out exactly where we’re going, but the ultimate destination is my SIL’s ranch in northern Colorado. We’re thinking we’re going to make a huge loop that will take us to the Grand Canyon, then SIL’s, then Tahoe, then home. Catch needs to be home on the 16th so she can teach a workshop that week, but otherwise, we are free as birds and can go where we want for as long as we want. Mind you, we’re doing it with a dog and a potty training almost-3 year old, so you know… we’ll see. We have high hopes, but reasonable expectations.

(Side note: I will gladly take allllll of your tips for road trips with a young kid!)

Tonight, Catch and I are chaperoning her school’s grad night at Universal Studios (HARRY POTTER WORLD HERE I COME!) and the kiddo is spending the night at Grammy’s house without us for the first time. (The previous 2 overnights were at our house while we stayed at a hotel.) I have no idea how I’m going to manage to stay awake until 3 am, but I imagine it will involve at least a gallon of coffee. I’m excited, though. I kind of hope this opens doors to more grandparent overnights in the future.

Anyway, here’s a few pictures from the last few weeks… it’s been a whirlwind!

Getting crafty for Catch’s birthday. Charlotte painted paper plates with shaving cream and food coloring and I got a little carried away with the rest.

Please tell me there are other kids out there around her age that still make this big of a mess when they eat?

I attempted to make bath bombs a few months ago and they were a total disaster. I followed a different “recipe” this time and they turned out great! Charlotte loooooves bath bombs, but they’re so dang expensive–now I know how to do it much cheaper!

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Tonight as she was falling asleep, Charlotte rolled over to face me, stroked my arm softly and whispered, “You’re so beautiful, mama.”

Motherhood is complex. It’s exhausting and exhilarating and depleting and fulfilling and too much and not enough and… well, fill-in the blank with any number of things and it’s those too.

There are moments when I wonder what we were thinking bringing a child into this world. Like when her full plate of dinner has gone untouched and she is begging for a pre-bedtime snack. Or when she’s on the floor screaming because she wants to wear gingerbread man knee socks with her shorts and tank top and I tried to put on plain old white ankle socks. Or when I look at her and ask her not to _______ and she gets that look in her eye like some invisible force has double dog dared her to do it anyway and then she does and all hell breaks loose.

And then there are moments like that one tonight when it all feels so right.

I can imagine my life without Charlotte in it. A life where I am well rested and have disposable income. A life where I get to sit on the couch with my wife in the evenings and watch a few shows while we enjoy a bottle of wine. A life with less laundry and more happy hours. Sometimes, that life is so tempting.

But then my little girl whispers, “Snuggle me, mama,” and her little fingers reach out for mine and her presence fills every bit of space I have inside me. She makes me whole in a way that all of the disposable income in the world never could.

Catch is sick, so tonight, I am going to crawl into bed with my little girl. She will dig her heels into my rib cage and lie perpendicular on the mattress so that I only have about 2 inches of space at the edge of the bed, but I will savor every last second of that closeness.

My baby girl.

I am so incredibly lucky to be her mother.

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(I wrote this on Monday morning but forgot to hit publish!)

This morning, Twix and I dropped Charlotte off at school, went for a good long walk at the park, and now we’re sitting outside at Corner Bakery drinking coffee and eating bacon. (Coffee for me, bacon for her.)

I can’t even remember the last time I got to take Twix out for breakfast alone. It probably sounds silly that I’m talking about going out for breakfast with my dog, but I am thoroughly enjoying it. It’s nice to have company, and it’s nice to have the time to enjoy the company.

We moved back into our house on Saturday morning after 4 weeks at my mom’s. The bathroom isn’t quite finished, but the basics are all working great. The new shower is AMAZING. We are so used to showering in a 30″ square (seriously–that’s how small our shower was) that the new shower feels absolutely luxurious. We have a rain shower head with a separate handheld shower that we can use for rinsing Charlotte’s hair when we bathe her (among other things), and it’s a total game changer. I will do a separate post all about the bathroom when it’s completely finished because it deserves it. I am crazy proud of our design choices. Everything came together better than I could have hoped.

This week, I’m going to focus on getting our home life put back together. 4 weeks of construction plus moving in and out has created a ton of chaos and mess. We’ve also been sanding/painting the guest room doors, so I really need to get that finished. There are some parts of the house where you could legit make snow angels in the construction dust.

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When we brought Twix home as a puppy 12 years ago, I had no idea what we were in for. I’d never had a puppy before. I was so excited to have this chance to bond with a dog from puppyhood. I was sure it was going to be monumental.

It was monumental. Monumentally disastrous.

That little dog did so much damage. Nothing was safe. We were sleep deprived and constantly on alert lest the puppy discover another stash of our roommate’s weed. It was exhausting.

Back then, I swore that if having a puppy was anything even remotely like having a baby, we were never going to have kids.

Ha.

Ha.

Hah.

The thing is that 10+ years take their toll on both your factual memory and your emotional memory. I look at Twix now and man–I love this dog like I never thought I could love a dog. She is my pal. All of that trouble was SO worth it. It was worth every chewed shoe, lost rental deposit and disappearing dinner plate.

After Rolo died, we discussed what would come next. Twix hates puppies, and we knew we couldn’t bring a puppy into our lives while Twix was with us. Still, we really wanted Charlotte to have the opportunity to bond with a puppy like we did with Twix. We decided that we’d get a puppy when Twix dies. (Um… never, right?)

In the meantime, my parents came home with Penny–the cutest ball of golden retriever fluff you’ve ever seen. We swooned. Oh, how we swooned. I mean really, baby animals are pretty much the cutest things ever.

Then, we moved in with my parents for our bathroom remodel. We’ve now spent about 2.5 weeks with a 4-month old puppy and I’d like to share what I’ve learned:

  1. Puppies and 2.5 year olds do not mix.
  2. Take your typical two year old tantrums and amplify them by 100 because the puppy is chewing on their toy/food/diaper/sock/book/ponytail/etc.
  3. Now factor in that the growing puppy has no concept that she weighs almost as much as the toddler and knocks her down every 10 seconds causing more screaming and hysterics. “Penny pushed me over! WAHHHHHHH!!!!!“
  4. Charlotte talks in her sleep pretty regularly. Sometime around 4 this morning, she yelled, “No, Penny don’t take that it’s miiiiiiiine!” Puppy thievery has even invaded the poor kids dreams.
  5. Puppies are annoying as hell.
  6. I do not have the patience for the antics of both a puppy and a small child.
  7. I do not want another puppy.
  8. Even my parents regret getting this puppy. (Don’t get me wrong–they love her–they just haven’t had a puppy in 40 years, so you know… they forgot. She’s a lot for them.)
  9. Puppies basically kind of suck.
  10. They’re still cute though.

I absolutely cannot wait to return to my puppy-free home. I will thoroughly enjoy visiting the puppy. I just don’t want to live with her anymore.

So, if you’re contemplating adding a puppy to your life, consider what My Perfect Breakdown has been going through and then factor in my little list. Do you value your sanity? Can you handle listening to your child whine about the puppy every 30 seconds for the next 6 months?

If you need something fuzzy and warm to cuddle with, wrap a teddy bear in an electric blanket. It’s a much better option.

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I have not been unemployed in 18 years. With the exception of maternity leave, I have never taken more than 2 consecutive weeks off from work, and I am 99% positive that I only did that once—for my wedding & honeymoon.

I have spent years sitting at my desk daydreaming about the things I would do with my day if I didn’t have to work. I would write. I’d cook and clean and fix everything that needs fixing around the house. I’d meal prep and coupon clip and be the most magical mama ever.

Reality check… not happening. (Yet? I hope?)

We are approaching the 2 week anniversary of the day I threw my job to the wolves, and I have much less to show for it than I imagined. That may partly be due to the fact that we’re still living with my parents while our bathroom is under construction. It’s hard to feel that sense of owning your life when you’re living with your parents. There’s about a week left of the bathroom renovation, and I am counting the minutes.

Mainly though, I am exhausted. My bones ache and my eyes burn and I just feel so damn tired. It’s entirely possible that this level of weariness has been caused by sharing a bed with a windmill who talks in her sleep for the past 2+ weeks, but I also sort of suspect that my body is doing a sort of cleanse—recovering from the years it spent in that toxic work environment.

So far, I am struggling to get a grip on anything. I spend my days running around town accomplishing very little. I return to my mom’s house in time to cook dinner for everyone. I spend my parenting time trying to keep Charlotte from throwing one tantrum after the next. The changes of the past few weeks have been really hard on her. She misses home and our routine, and my parents are struggling to understand that this 2 year old who screams and cries at the drop of a hat is not our Charlotte on a normal day. She’s just out of sorts. Add a toy-stealing, jumping, finger/hair/anything-nibbling puppy to the equation and things get even harder.

I have yet to decide how I’m going to pursue my education. There are so many factors at play and every time I start to think about it, I get overwhelmed and shut down. I’m thinking of starting a program that will get me a BA in communications, but I’m torn. I’m also considering education (english language learner studies, maybe? I do live in a “sanctuary city” after all). I can tell you for certain that I have absolutely NO desire to return to the corporate world, but I do desire reasonable financial stability, health benefits and retirement savings options. I keep saying I’m going to look into career counseling, but I have yet to even do a google search. I’ll get there… not today, but soon. As soon as my body feels a bit less like it’s been run over by a garbage truck.

Today, I took Charlotte to school, cleaned out my car, dropped off some things at Goodwill, and now I’m getting my car washed. It all seems so basic. So Saturday. But it’s still before noon on a Wednesday. I have a to do list next to me that includes (among other more responsible things) items such as paint nails, tweeze eyebrows, find new brown mascara (they stopped making mine), and research deodorant. Who is this person? Is this real life?

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It’s been a week since I quit my job. I’m still fielding daily questions from former bosses/colleagues who are trying to pick up the pieces after my abrupt departure, but honestly, I’m feeling pretty good about that. It’s nice to know that after 18 years there, it’s going to take longer than a week for someone to get a handle on what crosses my desk.

I was flying pretty high for the first few days after I quit. I mean, I was in shock, but I was also excited. So excited. I kept thinking that maybe this would be my chance to really do what I want with my life…

And it is, I suppose… or at least, it would be if I had any clue what I want to do with my life.

I casually mentioned opening a children’s play space to my mom and my cousin at lunch yesterday and they both looked at me like I was crazy. You’d have to deal with parents. Germs. Kids. Messes. Liability. I mean, yeah–but it could still be fun, right? No?

I could write the next Great American Novel. I like to write. Words are my friends. I have an acquaintance who quit her job to write romance novels and she’s actually starting to have some success. That particular daydream comes crashing to a halt at bedtime when Charlotte asks me to tell her a story and I get stuck after “Once upon a time…”

I like to make things, but something tells me I’m not going to make the same kind of money selling shit on Etsy that I did working a corporate marketing position.

I’m trying to focus on my strengths. What are my strengths? I mean, I am REALLY good at drinking coffee. Like, pro-level coffee drinking. Maybe even Olympic-level.

I’m also fantastic at procrastinating. Is there something that needs doing? I will find five hundred other things to do in the meantime. I am exceptionally great at that.

I’m great at making unrealistic to do lists. For example:

  1. Grocery store
  2. Dog food
  3. Car wash
  4. World peace
  5. Cure cancer
  6. Charlotte’s laundry

My mother thinks I should go into Human Resources. I think I would rather spend 40 hours a week cleaning up dog poop.

Catch wants me to go into teaching so that we can spend summers together. I actually think I’d enjoy teaching, but I don’t have enough time to get my education & experience to that level before I need to find full time employment again.

I can list a hundred things I don’t want when I go back to work, but I am really struggling to balance want with need. I want creativity, flexibility and teamwork. I need a solid paycheck and good benefits so that we can still afford our mortgage and preschool.

I’m going to attempt various self-inflicted challenges throughout this period of unemployment. First up is my writing challenge. I’m going to write for a minimum of 30 minutes at least 5 days a week. Maybe it’ll be a blog post and maybe it won’t, but I need to figure out what comes next, and while actual therapy is not in the budget right now, writing is free and almost as effective.

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I quit my job on Thursday in a blaze of fury. I went into a meeting with my boss and HR and realized as I sat there arguing with my arrogant, sexist boss about his inability to respond to emails that I was Done.

Next month would have been my 18th anniversary with that company. Literally half my life climbing that corporate ladder.

In an effort to deflect my accusation that his unresponsiveness prohibits me from advancing anything requiring a budget or a contract because per company policy, I don’t have the authority to spend a single cent or make any binding decisions without executive-level approval, my boss said, “You’re the director of marketing! Act like a director!” I interjected that I am NOT the director of marketing. He looked to HR and demanded, “That’s her title, isn’t it?!” HR said, “No, it’s not.”

So basically I’ve spent the last few years working for a guy who couldn’t be bothered to notice the title on the signature of every email I’ve ever sent him.

Anyway, the meeting got ugly. It involved a lot of him telling me to stop being defensive and to “get that smirk off your face.”

It was long and intense and we barely even scraped the surface of my issues with that man. When I was done being his personal scapegoat, I left that office, returned to my own, and left a message for the president of the company to call me. He returned my call most immediately, and I laid everything out on the table for him as I threw 18 years of my professional life into boxes. He tried to convince me to stay. He offered to have me report directly to him and to keep the other guy as far away from me as humanly possible. It was tempting, but I held my ground, left my key card on my desk, and walked out of there without hesitation.

So now what?

Well, step one is going to involve giving myself a bit of time and space to breathe and heal. It has been a long, hard year. I need to find my sea legs.

Step two involves going back to school.

I don’t broadcast it, but I never finished my bachelor’s degree. I’ll write more about that another day. It’s not something I’m proud of, but I’ve built a life I AM proud of regardless of that missing piece. I just realize that I have an opportunity right now and I’m going to take it.

Step three will be using my hands. I am so much happier when I’m creating, building, or fixing. I’ve spent 18 years sitting at a desk and I’m ready to get off my ass and get dirty.

Step four will be figuring out what comes next. I have time for that. Not unlimited time, but enough time to find what I’ve been missing. Teamwork. Collaboration. Respect.

I feel like I could write forever about the next chapter of my life, but I’ll stop here for tonight. When I closed that door behind me on Thursday, a hundred windows opened and I have some breathing to do now.

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Most days, I forget that I’m not 25 anymore. I still feel 25.  I still feel like I should be in that carefree stage of my life where the world is my oyster and I have at least a decade to figure my shit out.

Sadly, I’m not 25 anymore. My current life of marriage, motherhood, career, home ownership, etc. requires a level of adulting that I was totally oblivious to at 25. Back then, I felt like I was ahead of the curve because I had a 401k. Today, I would gladly trade my 401k to be able to sleep like I did at 25.

Yesterday, a crew arrived at our front door at 7am on the dot to tear off our roof. At 25, it felt like getting a new roof was something your parents did. Turns out I was right, because almost immediately upon becoming parents, we needed a new roof. (Let’s do the time warp again…)

This morning, another crew arrived with a gigantic truck to haul all of the materials up onto the roof for the roofers. When I saw the truck out my living room window, my first thought was, “Hmm—the neighbors must be having some work done.” Maybe that’s just sleep deprivation talking, but it could also just be that I am currently acting as Senior VP of Adulting when in reality, my pay grade is more along the lines of Junior Adulting Clerk in Training most days.

On Monday, I’m taking Twix to the vet to have her teeth cleaned while Catch stays home to deal with the crew coming to tear our bathroom down to the studs. We’re moving in with my mom for a bit while all of that is happening. (It was either that or a Home Depot bucket with a toilet seat attached for a few weeks.) We’re hopeful that when we return to our house, there will no longer be two bathtubs in our back yard (long story) and I’ll finally have a shower I can shave my legs in.

In the meantime, my in-laws are occupying the guest room until Monday and I am nothing but grateful. Yes, I would have preferred to avoid their blatant racism as we relaxed in the back yard yesterday afternoon, but my MIL has been cooking our dinners and doing the laundry and my FIL cut and installed new molding for the guest room and has been dealing with the roofers. Most importantly, they’ve been occupying Charlotte so we have a bit of respite and heck if I haven’t reached a point in my life where I will trade 30 seconds of their racist commentary for a week of free babysitting. Like I said—this adulting business is totally above my pay grade and at this point, I will sell my soul for a bit of extra sleep.

I will leave you with the latest tidbit of happiness in our family. My parents just brought home a puppy, and she’s pretty much the cutest ball of fluff around. First her name was Emma, then it was Rory, and now it seems to be stuck at Penny. Meet Penny:

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