Keeping it Real … My Mother’s Day Wish List

Back in the day with the two who call me “Mom.”

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day — or as I call it, Sunday. In my world, there will be no breakfast-in-bed served or brunch reservations made. No homemade cards with glitter and still-wet glue to read or towering piles of extravagant gifts to open. No bouquet of fresh flowers to smell or surprise facial and much-needed massage booked at my favorite spa. And there definitely won’t be any sappy slide shows showcasing my most loving mom moments while Bette Midler’s song, “Wing Beneath My Wings,” plays in the background. Nope, not here … And I am perfectly fine with it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d happily accept any of these gifts or gestures. But as the mother of two moody growing boys (a tween and teen whom I simultaneously cherish and want to strangle on a daily basis) and the wife of a more pragmatic than romantic man (whom I love dearly, despite his shortcomings), I just don’t expect such things …. And I really am okay with it. Really.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t confess to having a few lofty wishes, but I’m too much of a realist to think they’ll come true; I know how to lower the bar and set my expectations accordingly. So what’s on my Mother’s Day wish list? I wish to sleep until noon, but I’ll settle for 7AM. I wish to be smothered with hugs and kisses all day, but I’ll settle for a single, unforced hug and kiss from each of my boys. I wish for a full day of zen and blissful relaxation, but I’ll settle for a peaceful hour of gentle yoga and unforced help planting my vegetable garden. I wish my husband and kids could read my mind and get sh*t done without me, but I’ll settle for them doing what I ask when I ask and how I ask without attitude. I wish for world peace and human kindness, but I’ll settle for a single day without eye rolling, arguing or back talk.

Bonus points if someone buys me flowers. I prefer tulips or peonies (hint, hint).

Preach!

Happy Mother’s Day!

– LJDT

Playing Hooky, For Kid’s Sake

Friday was a warm, sunny day here in Pennsylvania — the perfect day to play hooky. Being the super awesome mom that I am (read sarcastically), I surprised my younger son with a day off from school and took him and a buddy to the NFL Draft Experience in Philadelphia as an early birthday present. My soon-to-be-11-year-old is a football fanatic, so this was a dream come true for him. Was I the coolest mom, or what? Yeah, I was … until I wasn’t.

Skipping school to attend the NFL Draft Experience … Life is good!

If you know anything about me, you know this type of event is not my thing. Far from it. Here are just a few reasons why:

  • I like my routine (morning workout, breakfast, errands, shower, lunch, writing, etc.). This was not my routine.
  • I am an introvert and need alone time each day to recharge. I did not get down time on Friday.
  • I despise crowds and have a mild case of social anxiety. Reported crowd size: 100,000 people.
  • I have too many food allergies to eat from a concession stand and outside food was prohibited. I subsisted on a bag of almonds I snuck in.
  • I drink a ton of water and pee a lot. Port-a-potties are my nemesis (I peed down my leg twice trying to avoid touching the hole/seat).
  • I get very swollen ankles when I stand for too long. Nearly 12 hours at the NFL Draft Experience = Fred Flinstone feet.
  • I am childishly impatient. Every activity had a line and every line was l-o-n-g-g-g-g!
  • I love the hot sun when I’m sitting on the beach. Philadelphia is not the beach.
  • I would do anything to make my kids happy. Case in point.

Needless to say, this was not my ideal way to spend a Friday playing hooky. I’d rather be relaxing at a spa or sitting on the beach, reading a book. But this wasn’t about me. It was about my child. Yes, I did have one or two (or maybe even three) meltdowns along the way, but I sucked it up and stuck it out for his sake because that’s what parents do; We make sacrifices for our kids, big and small. We do things we may not want to do to make them happy. Seeing my son’s face after completing the mock combine drills, hearing him talk about meeting Le’Veon Bell and watching him cheer as they called the next draft pick was pure happiness. And that was what this day was all about. So while I’d rather stick needles in my eyes than do it again, I’m glad I was able to give him an experience he’ll brag about for days and cherish for years — even if I did bitch a few times along the way.

Meeting Le’Veon Bell (Pittsburgh Steelers) — how happy is this kid?

With the Vince Lombardi Trophy #footballgoals

Today is my son’s actual birthday, so I’m letting him skip school again. This time, he wants to go to the movies and out for lunch. Now that’s more my speed.

Happy 11th birthday, O!

– LJDT

My Reflection on Lent … Nailed It!

Okay, so the title of this blog post is a little misleading. Maybe even a lot misleading. Okay, it’s a total lie. I didn’t exactly keep all my Lenten promises for the full 46 days, or even for the more traditional 40 days. I know, I know, I’m a bad Catholic … But some good did come of it, I swear.

If you recall, I gave up social media and pretty much all food for Lent. A lofty goal, but I was determined to suffer and atone like all good Catholics do during the holiest time of the year. Besides, if Jesus could pray and fast in a desert for 40 days and then make the ultimate sacrifice, surely I could give up Facebook, Twitter and Instagram while following a Whole 30 diet for 46 days, right? Apparently not. I was pretty good with the food part, as long as you don’t count that one time I accidentally ate something “non-Whole 30-compliant” because I didn’t read the label closely enough, or that other time when I deliberately ate a spoonful of cookie dough while my son and his girlfriend were baking cookies together (I paid for that one within minutes, trust me!). But my social media fast proved much harder than my food fast. A few times (and by few I mean 7 or 8 times), I cheated and went on Facebook … But only for 10 minutes and I didn’t comment on anyone’s status, like any posts or wish anyone a happy birthday, I swear! I also felt guilty about it, so that should count for something, right?

I may have been less than successful in keeping my Lenten promises, but I did learn a few things. Notably,

  • I’m not very nice when I’m inconvenienced, hungry and information-deprived for 46 days. (My apologies to all those I encountered over the past month and a half.)
  • Following a strict Whole 30 protocol is hard, but having food allergies/sensitivities makes clean eating a little easier. (Perhaps my autoimmune disease is a blessing in disguise?!?)
  • Sugar is the devil, as proven by the cookie dough incident. (Lesson learned — the hard way, of course.)
  • Social media is a huge time suck and I’m more productive without it — on most days, anyway. (I still found ways to procrastinate.)
  • I didn’t really miss much without Facebook and Instagram. (Sure, I forgot a few birthdays, skipped a couple of product launch parties and didn’t see those new selfies, food photos or family vacation pictures that people posted, but I survived.)
  • Lofty Lenten promises are hard to keep, even if you’re not in the desert. (And especially if you don’t really want to keep them.)

Clearly, I am not the good Catholic I set out to be. If human salvation rested on my shoulders, we’d all be damned. But I tried, and I will keep trying because it’s not about giving up food or Facebook; It’s about being accountable, learning from mistakes and making improvements. Knowledge is power, so I consider my Lenten experience a (minor) success … Even if that is a bit of a reach.

– LJDT

The End of the Innocence

Anyone remember that late ’80s song, “The End of the Innocence,” by Don Henley? I don’t even like that song and, to be honest, I’m not even a big Don Henley fan (except for “The Boys of Summer”), but the chorus of that song has been stuck in my head for the past few weeks because it’s reflective of my world right now. You see, we are entering a whole new stage of life with both my boys — puberty for my youngest and dating for my oldest.

My 5th grader, who is a little more than a month shy of turning 11, has been learning about the body systems in school and is currently studying the reproductive unit. Luckily, his cool, 32-year-old health/PE teacher keeps it pretty basic and PG-rated. No Miracle of Life videos or graphic textbooks, but he does teach hand signals to help with the vocabulary. My personal favorites are the forceful fist punch up in the air to represent ejaculation and a military salute for semen. Needless to say, dinner conversations at the Tarr house have been rather lively these past few weeks, filled with scrotum stories and unbridled laughter from my pint-sized penis-talker.

Thanks to Mr. D and 5th grade health class, I’ll never be able to look at this Halloween photo the same way again!

This isn’t my first journey through puberty with boys and, generally speaking, it takes a lot to shock me. But I have to admit, it’s a little unsettling to hear my 10-year-old discuss nocturnal dreams when he still sleeps with a stuffed animal and wants to be tucked in each night. Talk about a dichotomy! Thankfully for me and my music selection, he’s still pretty naive and sexual innuendo mostly goes over his head. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for my oldest … Cue the clean version of my playlist.

Speaking of my oldest, my 13-year-old 8th grader is officially a man-child. At 5’8″ and over 140 pounds, he has long surpassed me in both height and weight. Add an additional two inches for his “winter hair” (a.k.a., the faux ‘fro) and he’s almost as tall as my husband. But it’s not only his size that amazes me. Like many typical moody, hairy, smelly teenage boys, he’s now girl crazy. While he’s still fully absorbed with his buddies and playing lacrosse, football and basketball, he’s now equally obsessed with texting and FaceTiming his new girlfriend. Yes, you read that correctly. My first-born baby has his first-ever girlfriend. I don’t like to think about it, but those nocturnal dreams my younger one is learning about may be more of a reality for my older one. [Shutter] All I have to say is, thank goodness he does his own laundry so I don’t have to find out.

My man-child even has lip fuzz … or is that dirt?

The teen dating scene is new to me (and him) so I’m sure there will be many more posts about it in the coming weeks. I know this is just the beginning and right now it’s all still very innocent. They are still very innocent. Thankfully. But my boys are growing up and experiencing things earlier than I remember. On the school bus alone they are exposed to everything from elementary school kids dropping the F-bomb and telling racial jokes to middle schoolers talking about blow jobs and sexting. For real! I can’t home school them (none of us would survive that catastrophe) or keep them in a bubble, so all I can do is talk to them (repeatedly and incessantly) to ensure that my polite, honest and respectful boys mature into polite, honest and respectful men.

In a few months, my boys will start middle school and high school, respectively. Life will get even more complicated, I’m sure, so for now I’m going to relish the hand gestures and giggles … and even the constant texting.

– LJDT

It’s Lent … Proceed with Caution

Today was the first day of Lent, and like a good Catholic, I got my Jesus on. I went to mass (the “lunchtime express” was a mere 20 minutes!), got my ashes (which, sadly, drew attention to my forehead wrinkles) and successfully made it through day #1 without breaking my 2017 Lenten promises … at least as of 10PM, as I was writing this post.

And I though the “Lunchtime Express” service at my church was great … Ivanhoe Church in Ohio offered drive-thru ashes!

I usually give up chocolate or cursing for Lent and fail miserably by day #3 . Last year, I switched it up and gave up negativity with an “at least” clause. But this year, I really need to get my shit together, so it’s back to tangible sacrifices. This year, I’m going big. This year, I’m going all in … which means I will either fail miserably by day #3 again and feel guilty about it for the following 43 days, or I will be a hot mess for the next 46 days. Either way, you’ve been warned.

So what exactly am I giving up that’s going to be so bad? Basically, food and life. For the next 46 days, I am giving up social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and following the Whole30 eating program, which requires me to give up nearly every food group except for meat, fish, vegetables, nuts and seeds. As an added punishment sacrifice, I’m giving up homemade almond butter (my weakness) and my favorite sort-of healthy, go-to sweet fixes of dark chocolate covered almonds, dates, figs and dried apples. This may not sound like much of an indulgence to you, but it is for me. As I said, the next 46 days won’t be pretty, and for the record, I’m blaming Jesus.

Two birds, one stone?

Lent is a time of sacrifice and reflection, but it’s also a time for self-improvement. Because I’ve been lax on my clean eating habits lately, I’m hoping the Whole30/46 gets me back on track. I’ve even enlisted the help of my bestie to keep me honest. She’s giving up sugar (read: all sweets) for the entire month of March and texting me daily for support. She’s not exactly getting her Jesus on (she is Jewish, after all), but she is giving up Cadbury Eggs, which is a huge sacrifice for this girl … That’s love, people!

Love is … giving up chocolate for Lent for your best friend, even though you’re Jewish (photo: April, 2016).

I’ve also been lax on my writing, wasting too much time each day on Facebook and Twitter, so I’m hoping my social media sabbatical will help me procrastinate less and become more productive again. For the next 46 days, don’t be offended if I don’t wish you a happy birthday on Facebook, like your photo on Instagram or R.S.V.P. to your Stella & Dot/Pampered Chef/LuLaRoe party … It’s Jesus’ fault. [By the way, my blog posts are automatically uploaded to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, so I’m not cheating.]

I should probably also mention that I anticipate cursing and yelling even more than usual during the next 46 days, due to my expected hangry and isolated state. Again, you can thank Jesus. But to counteract my anticipated crankiness, I plan to engage in one act of kindness every day throughout Lent, adding on to my Facebook birthday promise to spread the love as many times as I received birthday wishes. If I don’t skip any days, I think that means I’ll be paying it forward through the end of the summer … and isn’t that what Lent is really about?

– LJDT

How Do I Love Thee? … An Honest Valentine To My Husband

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. I’m generally not one for sappy sonnets and generic, grand gestures, but I do like to tell my husband how much I love and appreciate him on this day. He’s not perfect — far from it, actually — but he’s prefect for me in many ways and for many reasons. So despite the fact that he is a rather private person, I am dedicating this Valentine’s Day post to him.

A note to my husband: Remember, there’s always room for improvement (said lovingly, of course!).

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways …

I love how you make our bed every morning … but I wish you wouldn’t leave your shoes in the middle of the bedroom floor.

I love how you carry the folded laundry upstairs for me … but I wish you’d put it away sometimes (just your own stuff would be fine).

I love how you always put the toilet seat back down … but I wish you’d remember to always flush, too.

I love how you fill my gas tank after you borrow my car … but I wish you’d move the seat back so I can reach the pedals.

I love how you handle waking our oldest in the morning (waking a teen is like waking a bear!) … but I wish you’d remind him not to take a 20-minute shower.

I love how you put our youngest on the school bus a few days each week so I can get to the gym earlier … but I wish you weren’t still in bed when I left (I’m jealous!).

I love how you call me each day to check in … but I wish you could meet for lunch sometimes, too.

I love how you call me each night before leaving work to ask if I need anything brought in …but I wish your timing was better so you didn’t interrupt dinner.

I love how you eat whatever I cook … but I wish you’d eat more vegetables.

I love how you help clear the dishes after dinner … but I wish you wouldn’t leave your glass on the counter all day/night.

I love how you follow my insane “everything has a place, so put it away” craziness … but I wish you wouldn’t leave your coat on the back of the bar stool each night.

I love how you are passionate about sports … but I wish you weren’t so passionate about sports.

I love how you joined the gym for me … but I wish we could go together more often .

I love how you love me despite all my flaws, idiosyncrasies and nagging … but I wish you’d tell me more often just how imperfectly perfectly I am for you (okay, this one’s a stretch — but it’s okay because I already know it’s true!).

We may not always be on the same schedule and we may not always see eye-to-eye, but you are my lobster. My voice of reason. My North Star. I will always love you because you make me a better person. Happy Valentine’s Day!

My hubby and me … I guess opposites really do attract.

– LJDT

2017, Take 2 … or 12, But Who’s Counting?!

If you read my last blog post, then you know that at the beginning of the year I wasn’t exactly feeling the whole “New Year’s resolution/new year, new me” thing. Despite having just returned from a relaxing vacation in Jamaica, I was feeling stuck. While everyone else was posting inspirational quotes and memes on social media, I was whining and complaining about pretty much everything. I knew my negativity was spiraling out of control, so I gave myself a pass and claimed the first few days of the year to be a mental detox week. Then, after a week of outrageous bitchiness, I declared January 9 the new January 1. Finally ready to tackle the new year, I pushed the reset button and started over again … and then again … and then again. It was bad. I couldn’t string together more than two days at time when I didn’t lose my shit over something trivial. Pretty much, I was a hot mess most of January.

But 2017 is the year of the #nastywoman, as well as the year of the rooster (the most highly motivated animal in the Chinese zodiac), so I am not giving up.  I am resetting the 2017 button yet again and going to finally be that better version of myself. I know, I know … You’ve heard me say this before. But this time, I’m older and wiser. This time, I’m more dedicated and enlightened. This time, I have a plan because a goal without an action plan is just a wish.

Step one: Declutter my life. Get rid of whatever doesn’t bring happiness. For me, that’s everything from old files and outdated clothes to bad memories and toxic relationships. Score one for me and the local consignment shop.

Step two: Practice mindfulness. Slow down and breathe. Meditate every day. Listen better and react more rationally (less emotionally and selfishly, as per my usual M.O.), like a real adult.

Step three: Stay connected. I’m a better version of myself when I’m in synch with my husband and when I get time with my girlfriends. More of that in 2017!

Step four: Forgive quickly. Shit happens — Get over it and move on. Cut myself more slack when I mess up (daily) and give people the benefit of the doubt more often (hopefully, people really aren’t all assholes).

Step five: Try something new. Step out of my comfort zone and take a few risks (like zip lining in Jamaica). Push the limits and challenge myself, even if it’s scary.

Step six: Don’t back down. Say no without guilt. Fight for what I want and push back when needed, without being an asshole about it.

I’m going to attack this plan like I do my gym goals — with patience, practice, hard work and determination. Some days I’ll kill it and some days I won’t. But I’ll keep trying because where you focus your attention is where you focus your power. Hopefully, each day I’ll get a little closer to becoming that badass, zen chick I know I can be. I just have to take it one day at a time.

Okay, enough of this sappy, inspirational crap. Next post, it’s back to sass and sarcasm … You’ve been warned!

– LJDT

Putting 2017 on Pause

Happy New Year! It’s January 3 and I’ve spent the better part of the past few days contemplating what I should post. I wanted it to be inspirational, original and profound. I wanted it to be funny, sassy and smart. I wanted it to be great. Instead, what I’m giving you is simply timely, truthful and probably a bit lame.

The thing is, I’m not really feeling the whole New Year’s Resolution thing this year. At least not yet. I know I want to be calmer, kinder, and less uptight. I know I want to more patient, more forgiving and a better example for my kids, but I’m just not feeling it. At least not yet. If I wasn’t post-menopausal, I’d say I was PMS-ing this week because I’ve been cranky, moody and downright mean. We are only three days in to the new year and I’ve already failed all my resolutions — Not good. Should I throw in the towel already and admit defeat on day 3? I don’t think so. I’m changing the rules instead. I’m pushing the pause button on 2017 and labeling this my detox week. For one week, I’m giving myself permission to continue writing 2016 on my checks and bitch, curse and scream guilt-free to clear my system. Then come January 9, I’m getting my shit together and staring anew. 2017, here I come … just a week late.

I know, I know — It sounds like a load of crap. A weak excuse to complain and not stick to my resolutions. Maybe, or maybe I’m on to something. Who says resolutions have to begin on January 1st? Every day is a new day, right? I’m a realist. I’m not in the right mindset yet to act on my resolutions, so I’m letting this negative streak run it’s course and I’ll start fresh next week. If 40 is the new 20, than January 9th can be the new January 1st.

My 2017 do-over starts next week … who’s with me?

– LJDT

Ten Things I’m NOT Thankful For This Thanksgiving

As the clock strikes 12, it is now officially Thanksgiving — a day to express gratitude for all that we have. Like everyone else on social media, I, too, am grateful for my loving (albeit sometimes frustrating) family, my lifesaving (but too far away) girlfriends, my (overall good) health and all my worldly (and mostly unnecessary) possessions. But at the risk of the inevitable backlash from those who can’t read sarcasm or appreciate my sass, I’m going to take a different approach to this week’s holiday. Instead of posting a long, sappy and, frankly, generic and expected, list of the things for which I am grateful this Thanksgiving, I am going to tell you about a few things for which I am not.

  1. I am not thankful for those stubborn 5 lbs. that keep finding their way back to me every few months … but I am grateful for my strength.
  2. I am not thankful for workouts that include thrusters, power cleans or manmakers … but I am grateful for finishing them.
  3. I am not thankful for food allergies and the digestive woes that accompany my autoimmune disease … but I am grateful for my newfound love of squash and eggplant.
  4. I am not thankful for teenage (and tweenage) moodiness … but I am grateful for glowing teacher reports (I guess they save their crappy attitudes just for me).
  5. I am not thankful for my husband’s long work hours … but I am grateful for his paycheck (and his dedication).
  6. I am not thankful for my twice (sometimes trice) nightly pee breaks … but I am grateful for a bathroom en suite.
  7. I am not thankful for always feeling cold … but I am grateful for hot tea and long sleeves with thumbholes.
  8. I am not thankful for hectic schedules … but I am grateful for carpools.
  9. I am not thankful for deadlines … but I am grateful for having paid writing and editing gigs (keep ’em coming!).
  10. I am not thankful for the far distance between my family and me … but I am grateful for them driving here to spend Thanksgiving with us.

I could go on about a dozen more things for which I am not thankful … prejudice, racism, long lines at the grocery store … But for every minor annoyance, I probably have two or three things for which to be grateful. Here are two of my favorites:

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Thanksgiving, c. 2008

Happy Thanksgiving … Eat, drink and be grateful!

– LJDT

My Country ‘Tis of Thee

I had planned on not posting this week because after Tuesday night’s election results, no other topic seemed relevant and frankly, I didn’t want to talk about it.  We have a new President-elect and while some people are celebrating, others are protesting.  Nothing I can say here will be different from what you’ve probably already read in your Facebook and Twitter feeds over the past few days, so I wasn’t planning on adding to the deluge of social media commentary.

There’s an old adage that says you shouldn’t discuss religion, politics or money with company because it’s impolite, not to mention uncomfortable, emotional and personal.  I generally follow that thinking and, as such, my blog is not a platform for political or religious debate.  Whether or not the toilet paper should come over or under the roll and if November 1st is too early to start preparing for Christmas — Yes, we can argue about that (although the correct answers are over and yes, respectively).  But who should be President?  No.  SIDE NOTE: I won’t be discussing my sex life or in-laws here either for two simple reasons: (1) My parents read this and if you ask my dad, he’ll tell you that I’ve had sex exactly twice, resulting in my two sons, and (2) my husband reads this and I’d like to remain married to him.

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Weird Al speaks the truth!

So back to the discussion at hand.  If the election is the only pertinent topic this week and I said I wasn’t going to discuss it, then why am I still posting today?  Because today is Veterans Day.  A day to recognize, honor and thank the men and women who serve (or have served) in the U.S. Armed Forces to protect our rights and liberties as Americans.  I will shamefully admit that I usually take this day for granted.  Other than not getting mail delivered, it’s usually just an ordinary day for me.  But this year, after all that’s transpired this week, it feels different.  Today, Veterans Day made me stop and think: This really is the land of the free because of the brave.  The land of opportunity, of democracy and of hope.  And my hope — the one that I shared with my children — is that human decency prevails.  That we start spreading love instead of hate.  That we treat everyone fairly and with respect.  That we fight for the people who can’t fight for themselves.  That we learn and grow from our differences.  And that we truly become “… one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

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My little guy speaking this morning to his school about the history of Veterans Day. Based on all those wrinkles, it’s clear I exercised my right not to iron.

– LJDT