Book Review: Yes, Please by Amy Poehler

I need to read more. The trouble is when. I know, I know. I’m on airplanes all the time, surely I could read then. But if I did, when would I catch up on all my TV and movie watching? Seriously, when would all that solitaire playing get done.

Truth is I love to read, but at the current break neck pace at which my life seems to be moving, I am either too exhausted or too distracted to concentrate. The good news is that my book club is back on track and someone (very gratefully) suggested that we read Amy Poehler’s new autobiography, Yes, Please. Come to think of it, it might have been my idea. See… Distracted.

I am a fan of Amy Poehler, I’m not going to lie. So chances are I was pre-destined to love this book even if it was a piece of shit. The good news is, it’s most certainly not a piece of shit and I did love it. Not only is she funny, self-effacing and candid (all qualities I admire), she is completely relatable. As a busy working mom, you will recognize her struggles with chasing a happening career all the while beating herself up about being a good enough mom to her two kids.

As a card carrying member of the business of show, I like to read her stories about building her career. The dues paid and the hardwork. I also appreciate her position as a woman in the business and how she navigates through gender issues and glass ceilings.

Her approach to her relationships and her strong and realistic account of what it’s like to be a 40-something woman in this world, caring for a family and navigating business is compelling. It’s a good read. A quick and easy read with great anecdotal stories.

All moms should read it!

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Airport Observations

Air travel can reduce us all to the lowest common denominator. I mean, where else are we held in a small confined place, behind armed guards at the mercy of major multinational corporations? It’s quite gross when you really think about it like that.

Sitting in an airport, sharing the experience with thousands of other people can really bring out the worst. Slimy washrooms, shitty food, long line-ups and the reality that you have zero control over how this experience is about to go down can be a real trial of patience.

I’m sitting at the gate watching the various people carry their literal and metaphoric baggage around with them. From the guy sleeping in the middle of the floor, blocking an entire bank of seats. The woman applying a full face of make-up. The kids crying. The cheapskate who is bound and determined to avoid bag check fees and has wandered to the gate with a roller bag, a duffle, a garment bag and a back pack. Or how about the girl with the blanket and full size pillow?

Ahh the charm and glamour of it all. No, it’s all about bad coffee, farts and pissy people everywhere. People say enjoy the journey. I’ll just wait til I get there if that’s ok with you.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

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If I were independently wealthy, I would be an inventor. Like Doc Brown in Back to the Future, I’d have a nifty little workshop out back of my house. Just no crazy hair or kooky glasses. I mean, I’d be an inventor with style. But seriously, I could invent so many things. Having kids creates so many needs for things. I could win the Nobel Prize for Awesome Gadgets that make a Mom’s life easier.  For instance:

A Burnt On Marshmallow Remover for the Glass on Your Gas Fireplace
Right? Do you feel me? How the f%$k am I supposed to get this burnt on sugar off the glass after #2 thought it might be a good idea to try and roast marshmallows on our fully enclosed glass gas fireplace. And that sh#t is just burning on more and more every time we turn the damn thing on. I went at it yesterday for a half an hour with a cloth and it is cooked on.

Stuffy Detector
Imagine this. Its bedtime. Teeth are brushed, PJs are on. Shorty is sufficiently tucked. But wait, something’s missing. Something vital and crucial to a successful bedtime routine. Insert super cute and/ or weird name for your Shorty’s favorite cuddly toy. Its not in the bed, not in the toy box, not in the overflowing stuffy basked (or whatever vessel you choose to store those God forsaken dust collectors). Terror strikes. Where is it??? You frantically retrace your steps of the day. Is it in the car? In the back pack? At the daycare? Or worse… is it completely lost? Some parents are smart enough to have back-ups of the favorites but not with my kids. The favorite changes every few days. How the hell am I supposed to remember who the crowned favorite is today? They all need a geo-tracking device. Then all you need to do is boop boop on your smart phone and the thing starts pinging on a map. I mean, it wouldn’t get you into the daycare at 9:00 in the evening. But at least you’d know where it is. We can start a whole daycare break-in service just to save exhausted parents the trauma and spring those waylaid toys and get them home before you can say “Go the f$%k to sleep.”

Automatic Toilet Cleaner
This is almost self-explanatory. I’m not talking about those lame blue pucks you put in the back of the toilet. I mean a real scrubbing experience because with kids everything goes everywhere. For real. A proper toilet cleaning requires more than simply some disinfecting water swirling around. From the handle to the pedestal and if you have boys then everywhere else in a 5 foot radius needs a proper scouring to be truly effective. And while we’re at it, lets throw in a splash guard for little ones learning to use the potty and need to work on their aim. This could be fabulous for boys and girls. Think about it. I need this. You NEED this!

Morning Kid Mover
This device would be able to detect what parts of the morning routine that your kids have not yet completed. It would make an announcement to remind each kid of what tasks they need to complete before its time to leave for school. I hate mornings. The nagging, the pleading, the begging, the yelling. I would gladly give this task to a machine so I can just be the good guy delivering breakfast. Imagine:

8:15am “First born child. Please pay attention. You must complete the following in the next 15 minutes. Eat breakfast, Brush your teeth, get dressed, pack your school bag, put on your coat and shoes. Please note that it is -15 C, so I recommend that you wear a warm coat, earmuffs and mittens.”

8:20am “First born child. You have not completed any of your morning tasks. You must depart for school in 10 minutes and I calculate that it will take 9 minutes, 30 seconds to complete all necessary tasks.”

8:25am “First born child. You cannot wear pyjamas to school. Your eggs are getting cold. You only have 5 minutes before you must depart for school and you are now in danger of being tardy.”

How awesome would that be??? I would LOVE not having to be the one doing the nagging.

Ahhh yes, I would be the stylish inventor creating to tools to make all of our lives a little easier. A girl can dream, right?

D-BAD: Grocery Store People

D-BAD aka DON’T BE A DOUCHE.  Each week I get to call out someone/ someplace or something for being a total DOUCHEBAG.  Its when I get to vent and take out my frustration on whatever makes me nuts each week, are you in?  Feel free to share your D-BAD’S anytime!

Dear Grocery Store People:

This is all pretty simple.  Every week we get together, always at your place.  I bring piles of cash that I give to you in exchange for a lot of stuff.  I ask for very little in return except for just a couple very small obvious things…

1. Please don’t sell me food that is rotten.  Sure, it could be like a party game – did I get the lucky box of strawberries that’s all moldy in the centre?  I mean sometimes this happens and you don’t even know.  But when you have to forensically inspect every lick of produce before its in the cart, we kind of have a problem.

2. Hand sanitizer.  Please put it EVERYWHERE.   At the very least keep it around the raw meat – but everywhere would be preferred.  I mean, there is nothing more repulsive than picking up a pack of chicken dripping with bloody chicken juice.  I know I’m a germaphobe – but I am pretty sure I’m not alone in this.

That’s it.  That’s all I ask.  So listen Grocery Store People.  Get your shit together and DON’T BE A DOUCHE.

Love,

The R&R Mom

The Cans and the Cannots

My sense of personal style can be easily divided into 2 categories when it comes to keeping up with the latest fashion trends.  The Cans and the Cannots.  Its VERY simple.  As a young minded 40-something, there are looks I know I can pull off and some that, quite frankly are a stretch.  The latter are those looks that either (a) I simply cannot wrap my head around, or (b) look completely ridiculous on me.  There are lots of trendy fashion statements that I love (ie: the boyfriend jean – don’t ever quit me, the small leather backpack, fabulous over-the-knee boots) that I hope NEVER go out of style.  But there are some trends of late that I just CANNOT DO:

1. Ankle Boots with a Skirt – I want to do this.  SO. BAD.  But this is simply a case of not being able to wrap my head around it.  I love to see this look on other people or in magazines but when its my turn I just can’t do it.

2. High Waisted Jeans – well, this is a given.  To wear these you have to follow the 25 rule.  You cannot be over 25 or wear anything larger than size 25 jeans.

3. Really Low Waisted Jeans – for two very simple reasons.  #1 – I have a high butt crack.  This requires no further explanation.  #2 – I have a mommy belly that comes from birthing 2 live humans.  So suck it.  That is all.

4. Overalls – that old adage that you should never wear a trend twice is true.  By the time something like overalls comes back in the picture, it’s been 20 years and we are now far too old to pull this off.

5. Cut-Off Jeans – couldn’t do it when I was 15, couldn’t do it when I was 25 and I SURE AS HELL am not doing it now.  PS – why are they SO short this year?  I mean, I’m not a prude but to quote my grandmother “You can see everything she owns.”  Under NO circumstances is it ok to reveal labia.

Grandma's version of a perfectly acceptable outfit.

Grandma’s version of a perfectly acceptable outfit.  Elbows covered please!

6. Denim on Denim – aka The Canadian Tuxedo.  I feel like this is just TOO much denim.  It looks like a mistake.  “Everything else was in the laundry.”  Maybe I’m old school and since this used to be a fashion faux pas, I just can’t get into it.  Which is even more bizarre since I am clearly ok with my purse and shoes not matching, and I think mixing gold and silver jewelry is cool.  But for the record, I do struggle with white after Labor Day.

7. Hats – because, well if you read this you would know.

 

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

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Last year, I wrote this post about how much I hate Labor Day and how it mockingly heralds the end of summer.  But this year, there’s a bit of change a foot.  For the first time in my – ahem – forty-something years, I’m actually starting to count the days.

Its been an extra long summer due to the old teacher’s strike (which is highly likely to carry on into September) and Shorty #1 is bored!  We’ve tried to keep her well programmed with summer camps and what-nots but she is done.  She misses her routine and she clearly missed the vibrant social life that the classroom offers.  I’m ready for her to go back to school.  I’m ready for her to get back down to the business of learning.  And I’m ready for her to get settled into a routine.

I’m also ready for everyone to finish their freaking holidays and get back to work.  The summer slowdown this year has seriously cramped my style.  Everything upon everything I’ve been working on has been on hold while the masses are on summer vacation.  HONESTLY, if I get one more out-of-office email, I’m going to puke.  Yes, yes, you’re away for the next 15 days.  Quit bragging that you will only have “limited access to email.”  We all know that’s total bullshit.  Unless you’re spending your holiday at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean or in my kitchen (which is a cell black out zone for some bizarre reason) – you only have limited access to email because you don’t WANT to have access to email.  Just be honest:

“Please be advised that I am now on vacation with people that I love.  I don’t love you because we are merely business associates so I have no plans to respond to your annoying message until I am back in the office and have had at least one full day to complain to everyone about all the email I need to catch up on.”

Yes!  Bring on September and lets all get back into the swing of things.  Besides, Christmas break is just around the corner.

 

D-BAD: Social Media Trolls

D-BAD aka DON’T BE A DOUCHE.  Each week I get to call out someone/ someplace or something for being a total DOUCHEBAG.  Its when I get to vent and take out my frustration on whatever makes me nuts each week, are you in?  Feel free to share your D-BAD’S anytime!

Dear Social Media Trolls:

Way to go for trolling on a poor, grieving woman’s social media pages and sending her photoshopped negative images of her recently deceased father.  I’m sure it must give you such a feeling of satisfaction knowing that an already devastated human being is even more unimaginably broken by your actions.  Good for you!

No, not good for you, you little weasel.  How small of a human being do you have to be to treat someone with such utter hatred and disrespect?  Just because her father was a beloved public figure who suffered from a terrible illness, doesn’t give you the right to make what must be her most hellish days even worse.

Someone should kick you hard and square in your “bathing suit” area and knock you in the head to try and put some sense in there.  Or better yet, when you experience your darkest day someone should mock and belittle your tragedy.  Maybe then and only then can you know what true suffering looks like and why as a real true member of the human race, your actions on this day are so deplorable.

Love (because you must really need it),

The R&R Mom and probably every other human being on this planet with any sense of decency at all.

Flying Frequently?

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I’m on airplanes.  A lot.  The experience of jet travel has slowly declined since its inception.  The days of the glamorous jetliner where guests dressed in their finest and were seated in the lap of luxury are now long long gone – unless of course you can fork over the cash to upgrade into business class (or better).  For the majority, the experience is nothing better than a flying Greyhound bus – perhaps worse as you’re often trapped in your miniscule seat for hours and hours with no chance for escape at the next stop.

From the start, the whole concept of flying is completely backwards from any other consumer experience we face today.  Think about it – in what other industry do you pay hundreds, often thousands of dollars to submit to a strip search and then be held hostage behind guards until you board the plane.  Not to mention if you’re delayed – to be kept completely in the dark with misinformation or worse lack of information with little to no regard for your comfort or schedule.  Imagine if this happened when you went shopping for a big screen TV?  God forbid if you become frustrated or angry at the lack of regard for your needs after spending all that money, then you can be branded difficult and then denied to take the trip at all?  I mean come on.

In the airline business, the customer is no longer a customer.  You’re merely someone who paid a lot of money to 9 times out of 10 be treated like shit.  And we still submit to this every single day.

On a recent trip out of New York, I arrived at the airport ahead of a flight to Nashville only to find out that not only had my flight been cancelled, but that the airline had graciously booked me on another flight just 36 hours later.  No consideration, compensation or EVEN accommodation was made for the inconvenience.   All day I checked online to make sure the flight was on time and only learned of the cancellation when I tried to check in.  It turns out the flight was cancelled due to Air Traffic Conditions.  The airport was too busy to accommodate all of the flights it had confirmed for the day.  Right.  Ok.

As a result of the cancellation, I had to pay to get myself back to Manhattan, lose a deposit on the Nashville hotel and pay for another night in my NY hotel.  Since my trip to Nashville was only for one night, it meant that entire leg of my trip was now off and I was forced to re-route home.  When the dust settled, the airline had the nerve to charge me a change fee and refused to refund for the leg of the trip out of Nashville that I couldn’t take due to their cancellation.

When (and if) you get on board the plane, the fun doesn’t stop.  Why on earth are they making the seats smaller and closer together?  I mean, I get the concept of cramming more bodies on that metal tube so the airline can make more money, but really?  I worry that the likelihood of deep vein thrombosis increases exponentially everytime the person sitting in front of me, reclines their seat.  Dude, I am quite sure that the extra 3 inches of space you gained in front of your nose must make you so much more comfortable.  The last time I flew a new “tourist class” airline, I had a rather intimate relationship with the seat back in front of me, it was that close.

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Should we talk about the food?  Like why?  Why try and be fancy when that really stopped the day they replaced the silverware with plastic.  At this point, can we just simplify things?  Nice fresh sandwiches.  Cheese and crackers.  Fruit that’s not served with some kind of strange dip.  Keep it simple if it can’t be fancy.  Simple and good would be just fine.

And Wifi.  Really, I would pay for wifi on an airplane EVERY TIME I FLY.  Did you hear that?  PAY REAL MONEY.  Its not hard to do, some airlines are on the case with this.  For those of you airlines that haven’t jumped on this bandwagon yet – WHY THE HELL NOT?  I know lots of people that would very happily pay for wifi on a flight.  Lets just do it, ok?

The real question here is why does the airline industry seem to not get these things.  Why have the basics of customer needs fallen so far by the wayside?  And why do we as the consumers continue to allow the bad service and crummy experiences to happen over and over again?  Why?   What can we do about this as an unhappy consumer?  Go with the competition who are no better? Write a letter.  HA!  What good does that do?  Oh, here’s a voucher for $50 for future travel with the offending airline.

I guess as long as we want to travel as much as we do, the experience will continue to, for the most part, completely suck.  At this point we are so used to the dramas of air travel as commonplace that a good flight, with good experience is something to get excited about.  So for now, I guess we celebrate the good days when they happen and commiserate together the commonplace occurrence of yet another travel day horror story.

Mama Bear is PISSED

In most situations, I tend to ride down a tempered path when it comes to my reaction to life as a mom.  I prefer to to see both sides of the story before I react, working to keep the peace and introduce calm when things get hairy.  Taking things with a grain of salt and compassion.  But today I’m mad and the Mama Bear in me is ready to roar.

Mama Bear is Pissed Off!

Mama Bear is Pissed Off!

Regular R&R Mom readers and those who live in our neck of the woods are aware of the fact that we’re in the midst of a teachers strike.  Its been a crazy couple of months as we parents sit helpless, watching events unfold with our kids’ education hanging in the balance.  Embattled educators are caught between a raging government that claims to put families first (but does the exact opposite) and a Union that is doing a terrible job of delivering their message.  Salary bumps and benefits aside, the teachers have some serious concerns about how our public education system runs and we have seen first hand how those shortcomings have effected our kid in the classroom.

Through this whole situation, I’ve felt helpless.  What can I do?  I’m just one person with one kid in a system of thousands.  So I wrote a letter to my MLA, the Premier and the Head of the Teachers’ Union.  But they don’t really care what I think and they made that abundantly clear in the form letter each of them sent in reply.  The Head of the Union told me that I need to stand beside the teachers and write to my MLA.  The MLA wrote about how its all the Premier’s fault and that her party were liars and cheats.  And the Premier, well of course, she never responded.

So now I feel helpless AND REALLY pissed off.

The common response around here when we discuss this situation is to put our kids in private school.  For many reasons, that’s not in the cards for us right now.  So we continue to sit and wait with our Shorty merely a pawn in the political posturing and rhetoric.  Helpless and now steaming mad.

 

A Love Letter…

…to my iPhone.

I remember the day you came into my life...

I remember the day you came into my life…

Dear iPhone:

I feel compelled to tell you how much you mean to me.  You with your white shiny case.  Your warm touch against my cheek.  The way you glide from one screen to the next.  The way you beep and ping to tell me what’s new.  The way you steadfastly carry all of my most treasured apps.  The way you sit in the charger every night, waiting for the day to begin so we can be reunited again.

I love you iPhone and I would be lost without you.

Its true.  I would.  I have never been more attached to a thing in my whole life.  Almost daily I feel that panic when digging through my colossal handbag and I can’t find you.  Blood pressure slowly rising, sweat breaking on my brow, only to realize you’re in my back pocket.  Phew, a sigh of relief.  What would I do without you, my beloved?

I would have no idea which Harry Potter character I was or what the weather forecast would be for tomorrow.  I would not be able to check how I did when I challenged J on that QuizUp game or if there was a new level to crack on Angry Birds.  How could I possibly know what Princess Kate wore yesterday or if Jimmy Fallon created something even more awesome, let alone be able to share these things.  My Instagram would remain fallow and without news of delicious food I had cooked myself or cute things the Shorties had done.  I wouldn’t be able to creep on Facebook to see how much cooler my old classmates are.  It would be a disaster.

Let alone, how would I check email?

Yes, dear sweet beloved iPhone.  You are my everything.  I really really love you.  A lot.  Do you love me as much as I love you?  Really?  Because I think you are so amazing and awesome and I really really hope you never leave me.  You won’t ever leave me, will you?  Right?  You won’t, right?  Promise me we will never be apart.  PROMISE!!!!!!!

Maybe this relationship is a little unbalanced.  Is it possible that this isn’t healthy?  Maybe its you that’s causing the carpal tunnel syndrome in my wrist and thoracic outlet syndrome in my shoulder.  Maybe its you thats keeping me up at night.  Maybe you’re the reason my eyesight is starting to fail.  Maybe you and all your “radioactive” airwaves are fogging my brain.  Maybe you’re the problem and not me.  I think maybe we should break up.  But I do love you, I really do, you’re just so bad for me.

We won’t ever break up.  That’s the truth.  I can’t quit you iPhone.  But maybe we should see other people.  Get some hobbies outside of our relationship.  Its not you iPhone, its me.

Love,

The R&R Mom