Suck It, Old Man Winter!

Some people love winter.  I am not one of them.  I despise being cold, don’t enjoy winter sports and resent being inconvenienced by school closings and slow driving conditions.  I am not made for winter so needless to say, I did not welcome Jonas last weekend.  It was just too much.  Too much snow, too much work, too much forced togetherness.  The Blizzard of 2016 was literally a pain in my ass (and back), thanks to an entire day spent shoveling nearly three feet of snow!  I know I shouldn’t complain because until last weekend, our winter was actually pretty mild.  But I’m good at complaining, so I will.

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Being snowed in because of the blizzard sucked.  I will admit that it was kind of nice at first.  Nowhere to go, nothing to do … although I was a little miffed that I couldn’t get to boot camp.  The boys had fun sledding, there was football on TV and we had a fridge full of food.  Life was good … until it wasn’t.  Quality time together quickly dissolved into a forced imprisonment.  Too much togetherness (one day is nice, but five?) and too much work (an entire day spent shoveling and snow blowing almost 3 feet of snow is back-breaking work!) killed all the joy that could have been.  And don’t get me started on the mess!  From piles of wet clothes everywhere to white rock salt stains on the hardwood floors, I was not a happy camper.  So after a weekend of digging out from the storm, I went a little over the edge when the robo-calls came in announcing school closings for Monday and Tuesday and a 2-hour delay on Wednesday.  Let’s just say that a few colorful profanities were used to express my displeasure.

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I know it could have been worse.  We never lost power (thank goodness) or ran out of food, and the boys finally put on pants for the first time all winter (at least while they were outside sledding).  Jonas created a beautiful landscape that reminded me of why I love living in Chester County, but unfortunately, the beauty is now gone.  What’s left is a pile of dirty snow, filthy floors and lots of laundry.  Plus, I’m still sore and very cold.  So I say suck it, Old Man Winter.  It’s time for you to go because I am officially done with winter.  Anyone else ready for spring?

– LJDT

Calgon, Take Me Away!

Yesterday, I read in the February issue of Prevention magazine that washing dishes can lower your stress level by 27% (according to a recent Florida State University study).  If this is true, then I should be in a complete state of zen 24/7 … but I’m not.  Since I practically live at the kitchen sink and am still perpetually stressed, I’m calling bullshit on this study.

Apparently, the trick is to focus on the sensory details — the sound of the water, the smell of the soap, etc. — instead of the tedium of the chore itself.  Really?  I usually wash dishes for three basic reasons:

  1. They’re dirty.
  2. No one else is doing it.
  3. No one else does it well, or at least not the way I want it done (Okay, that’s not fair to my husband — it’s really just my kids who do a crappy job).

I do not wash dishes to relieve stress.  I do not wash dishes to feel good.  Washing dishes is a household chore, like folding laundry and taking out the trash, that just needs to get done.  That said, I will admit that some nights I relish the time it takes me to clean the pots and pans because it means I don’t have to supervise the kids’ nighttime routines.  Plus, the sound of the running water drowns out their voices so I can’t hear their bedtime protests or brotherly squabbles.  So maybe FSU is on to something … It’s really all about perspective.

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Unfortunately, as positive as this study may be, I doubt dish soap will be replacing wine any time soon for most moms I know.  But as someone who doesn’t drink, maybe I need to start viewing my sink time as “me” time.  Dawn dish soap can be the new Calgon … take me away!

– LJDT

To All the Pantless Mad Hatters: Stay Warm!

More than a year ago, back on November 20, 2014 to be exact, I posted about how my boys and many of the boys in our area were wearing shorts in the winter, despite sub-freezing temperatures.  [QUICK SIDE NOTE:  For the record, my post on this topic came out two months before that other blogger had hers published in The Washington Post (dream!) and even appeared on a TODAY Show segment (bigger dream!) to discuss it … Not that I’m jealous or anything.]  Fast-forward 14 months and I am happy to report that the Tarr boys are nothing if not consistent.  Here we are on January 14, 2016, and my boys (and nearly all their friends) are still wearing shorts on a daily basis, regardless of the temperature.  Granted, the weather has been milder than usual so far this winter, but it is still winter and it is still cold.

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Typical school outfit, even in January (photo taken 01/14/16).

I’ve repeatedly stated on this blog and in real life that I do not fight the wardrobe battle with my kids.  Of course I suggest pants on cold days (as any good mother would), but I do not force the issue.  If they get cold, they’ll figure it out.  My boys tend to prefer learning lessons the hard way.  So be it.  But here’s what I find most interesting … As soon as the temperature dips below 60-degrees or so, both my boys don a knit hat.  Not a baseball hat.  Not even just the hood on their hoodie (which, according to my boys, is the same as a coat).  I’m talking full-on winter knit and/or wool hats, ranging from beanies and skull caps to pompom hats and even trappers.

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My boys have always loved wearing hats, even as babies (Photos taken c. November 2003 and November 2006, respectively).

So what’s with the hats?  When I asked my kids, I got two simple answers: (1) Knit hats are part of “their look” (i.e., style) and (2) knit hats keep their heads warm.  Duh!

First the style point.  I’m not really sure wearing a knit hat with shorts is a “style,” but it is a look, for sure.  Some women have an abundance of shoes or jeans or handbags.  For my boys, it’s knit hats.  To say they own more than a few hats would be an understatement.  Plethora is the word that comes to mind.  The style du jour is a team pompom hat for each of them (Philadelphia Eagles for my middle schooler, Golden State Warriors for my fourth grader), but since my boys frequently misplace things, other hats do make it into the rotation until the coveted pompom ones are found again.

As for the warmth issue, this one I get.  It’s the same reason why both kids stop cutting their hair after their annual Back-to-School head shave … to stay warm.  In our house, September through April is a period known as the “Winter Hair Months.”  Despite their best efforts to grow Don Cornelius-worthy afros, by December/January all they really have is a head full of dark curls that get flattened out and matted down underneath those winter hats they love so much.  Not the best look, but hair and hats are two more battles I choose not to fight.

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Don Cornelius of SOUL TRAIN fame, rocking a 1970s afro.  I wonder if he wore a knit hat in the winter?

So I say hats off (or on, in this case) to all those silly boys still wearing shorts in January.  I hope your knit hats are keeping you warm enough.

– LJDT

2016 Will Be “Good Enough”

Happy New Year, everyone!

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Yes, I know I’m over a week late, but it beats last year when I posted 17 days late.  That’s progress, people.  The 2015 me would have been disappointed, resentful and even pissed that other obligations kept me from writing these past two weeks (thus my lack of postings).  But the 2016 me says, “Whatevs!” … Okay, “whatevs” is probably a stretch, but this year I am setting more realistic goals and cutting myself some slack when I slip up.  It’s all part of my new approach to life:  I am embracing my slacker side, letting go of the guilt and declaring 2016 the year of “good enough.”

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Don’t get me wrong — It’s not like I’m going to become a full-fledged slacker, throwing the color-coded family calendar/schedule in the trash and serving TV dinners every night.  However, my recent realization that I’m more of a Type A-minus personality than a Type A has allowed me to let go of some of the ridiculous standards that I held and the anxiety that it caused me.  It’s liberating, really.  I don’t have to be perfect.  I don’t have to do it all.  And I certainly don’t have to do it all perfectly.  It’s taken me 43 years to catch on, but I think I get it now.  Good enough is my new perfect.

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Despite my new slacker love, I still like to set personal goals for the new year.  Thanks to my new outlook, my goals will be more pragmatic and attainable this year.  For example, I know I won’t actually stop yelling, cursing and complaining (it’s in my DNA, like it or not), so instead I resolve to scream, swear and bitch less in 2016.  See?  Much more practical.  It’s all about balance.  Some days I’ll be good and some days I won’t, but whatever happens, it has to be good enough.

Case in point:  Tonight, I fed the kids pizza and salad for dinner so I could finish writing this post.  It wasn’t the usual healthy, clean meal I prepare from scratch most nights, but you know what?  It was good enough.

– LJDT