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How To Write A Blog Post In Just 32 Short Steps.

To mark the 6 month anniversary of me starting Hold Me, Don’t Hold Me, my wildly mildly popular parenting blog, I thought it appropriate to share my secrets to success, namely how I generate my incredibly unique and extremely relevant topics to write about. Now, don’t kid yourself, kids, writing a blog is a tough business. But with a little work, even you can become an internet sensation force your spouse and parents to read things you write.

With that I present to you: How To Write A Blog In Just 32 Short Steps.

  1. Think of amazing topic during an inopportune time, like at 2am, in the shower, or in the middle of a conversation with your very nice, but odiferous neighborhood homeless gentleman.
  2. Forget topic completely.
  3. Remember topic! Sit down to write. Get text from friend. Start texting. Check Facebook. Check NPR. Check Facebook. Get hungry. Make awesome joke to friend that reminds you of original topic idea. Decide to eat something, then write.
  4. Eat something. Decide to clean the kitchen to hide evidence of second breakfast, and first and second lunch.
  5. Sit down to write. Notice battery on compy is low. Stand up and plug compy into outlet at counter. Applaud yourself for standing and working because it’s better for your back. Sustain multiple attacks directed at your bare ankles from cat who doesn’t like you standing at counter because he is an angry asshole cat.
  6. Think of major downfall of once amazing topic. Decide you can no longer write about that topic. Wonder if you will ever think of another good topic.
  7. Think more about it and begin to question if you’ve ever written anything worth reading.
  8. Think more about it and convince yourself you’re a crap writer who has only ever written crap.
  9. Think more about it and decide you shouldn’t ever write anything again.
  10. Wonder if there is any way to completely delete everything you’ve ever put on the internet.
  11. Feel temporary sense of relief at prospect of no longer blogging. Wonder what you will do with all your free time.
  12. Consider taking up new hobby, like crocheting, or perhaps becoming the world’s leading expert on baby corn.
  13. In the midst of contemplating the origins of baby corn THINK OF BEST IDEA YET.
  14. Decide not to give up on blogging.
  15. Sit down on the couch, far from the reaches of angry asshole cat, with partially charged computer to write out first few lines of BEST IDEA YET.
  16. Reword them.
  17. Reword them.
  18. Reword them.
  19. Think of major downfall of BEST IDEA YET.
  20. Completely give the fu*k up. Delete everything.
  21. Shut off compy.
  22. Get in shower.
  23. Think of ACUTAL best idea yet.
  24. Get soap in your eye.
  25. Yell to husband to come in the bathroom so you can dictate the ACTUAL best idea yet.
  26. Husband doesn’t hear you.
  27. Become horribly frustrated with husband, and in a fit of eye-burning rage, think of 67 other topics you could write about.
  28. Realize ideas come and go. Feel strangely at peace with this.
  29. Get out of shower. Write whole post.
  30. Wonder if new post is crap. Wonder if you have a broken crap-gauge.
  31. Make husband read post while analyzing his every facial movement. Ask him repeatedly if post is funny. Ask him if your crap-gauge is broken. Ask him where baby corn comes from.
  32. Decide to just post it at the risk of further diminishing your chances of ever making friends, or obtaining any kind of real job where someone may look up your internet paper trail and decide you are stark raving mad.

And that, my friends, is how you write a blog post in just 32 short steps! Easy as pie. Now get to work!

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Get to work, but just don’t try to work anywhere near me…

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Parenting in five words or less: #1

 A new feature where I sum up my thoughts on parenting, in, well, 5 words or less. Please join in if you feel so inclined!


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Welcome to the Thunderdome: When The Bedroom Turns Into A Post-Apocalyptic War Zone

It had to happen. I knew at some point I’d break down and write about the “S” word, because the utter lack of it is a theme common to most (all?) new parents. It’s absence hovers over us, a constant grey cloud, reminding us of a time when things were much more simple, a time when it wasn’t so hard to obtain. For 16 months and 11 days I’ve waited patiently, obsessing over my desire for it. I’ve tried everything to bring it back into my life. I’ve read books, spent countless dollars on specialty clothing, purchased hours of tailor-made music designed to help set the mood. Recently I’ve taken to incorporating aromatherapy into the bedroom, out of sheer desperation to find something that works. Each night, I go through the same routine, hoping that this night, this one night, it will happen, because I need it. “Oh please, please little baby. Please just sleep.”

Truthfully, I’ve been on the fence about writing anything regarding sleep. When you are so sleep deprived it takes you 30 seconds to figure out which end of the shampoo bottle shampoo comes out of (true story), it is hard to put anything together that doesn’t just sound horribly whiny. Also, there are already people who have done it, and done it very well (for those of you who don’t already know the blog How To Survive A Sleep Thief, check out the post I’m referring to here; it is brilliantly funny, and perfectly sums up everything I wish I could say about living with a kid who doesn’t sleep, but can’t because it took me 30 seconds to figure out which end shampoo came out of).

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In case you were thinking, “maybe her shampoo bottle is confusing?” let me show you a picture of my shampoo. Not exactly a brain buster, under normal circumstances.

So what made me do it? Well, for starters, I’m delusional. With tiredness. Because the last time I slept through the night was back when the words “North West” and “One Direction” referred to parts of a map, rather than a bagillionaire toddler, and a handful of post-pubescent weasel boys ruining music. And lately, little Baby 1.0 has decided that getting up 2-3 times in the night wasn’t enough, and has increased it back up to 5 times. 5. Times. A. Night. Little reminder, she is 16 months. Being plunged back into the thick of what is essentially newborn level of sleep deprivation, I am reminded of a few things:

one-direction-24v

Pick One Direction, and head that way, away from me, forever.

1. Removing regular sleep from your routine changes who you are on a fundamental level. For example, I turn into a crazy asshole when I don’t sleep. Like, seriously, a totally crazy asshole. Case and point? This morning, after another absolutely brutal night, I spent no less than 12 minutes hunting down a fruit fly who landed innocently on my arm, and when I finally got it, I smashed it with a smile on my face, like some kind of insect serial killer. Did I have to invest 12 minutes of time in hunting down a solitary fruit fly? No. Did I have to smile when I killed it? Big time no. But No-Sleep-Emily is currently the captain of this ship, and she is a scary asshole.

joker

This is me, the morning after another sleepless night.

2. When I don’t sleep, my mind turns into a garbage disposal of thoughts which A) immobilize me, preventing me from completing any kind of task,  further perpetuating my garbage disposal tendencies, and B) keeps me from falling back asleep. Usually, somewhere around 3am after Baby 1.0 wakes up for the umpteenth time, my mind does this: I need to go to the store and get dinner food. We need to eat healthier. I need to buy more vegetables. I need to buy organic. Organic is too expensive. I need to get a job. I don’t want to have someone raise Baby 1.0. I need to socialize Baby 1.0 more. I NEED TO STOP THIS. I will count until I fall asleep. 1, 2, 3, 13, purple, I need to email every single person I know, urgently. I need to clean out my email inbox. I need to vacuum. I need to clean out the litter box. I need to order cat litter. I need to order cat food… AND IT GOES ON AND ON.

Charlie's_list

This is my brain at 3am.

3. Being horribly, hideously, sleep deprived makes me feel like I have the worst hangover of my life, but nothing makes it go away. Well I can’t say nothing, because I have a sneaking suspicion a couple of vodka tonics would do the trick, but I haven’t entered that territory since my bachelorette party where I peed (basically) in the doorway of a Walgreen’s, while leaning up against a newspaper box. My head aches, my eyes burn, my muscles are weak, my stomach hurts. I can’t help but wonder if hardcore sleep deprivation is used against spies and terrorists to break their spirit. Let me just say, I would tell someone anything they wanted to know if that meant I could start sleeping through the night again. Update: just this morning there was a news story about how the CIA used sleep deprivation against suspected terrorists. I’m not condoning torture in any way, even though I am being tortured, and misery loves company.

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This would work… but probably not a sustainable solution.

4. I hate nighttime. The more sleep deprived I get, the more I dread going to bed. It’s one thing to bump along during the day, feeling crappy, but having things to distract you from the crappiness, and another to be forced out of bed for hours of the night trying, in vain, to convince another human to do something they have no interest in doing. It is frustrating on a level I still can’t wrap my head around, and more depressing than watching one of those science programs that always shows the baby deer being hunted by a wolf. Stop with that. We get it. Wolves eat baby deer.

deer

Stupidly, very stupidly, I just googled “wolves hunting deer.” Bambi with a butterfly on his butt is better.

5. Lastly, this has served as a reminder that this is hard. This is hard, man. Not always, but sometimes, and sometimes for long chunks of time. It is hard to be patient and kind when you feel like a rabid raccoon. It is hard to be empathetic and understanding when all you can think about is the burning behind your eyes, and the heaviness in your limbs. Forget being the perfect mom. When you are bone tired, it’s all you can do to remember to put on two shoes that maybe match. So the next time some little turd kid rips a toy out of my little dumpling’s hand, and their mom just stares blankly ahead, I will try to give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she’s just tired. I get that.


Image credits: Cover, ShampooOne Direction, Joker, List, DrunkBambi

Random Review #5: Curious George and the Puppies

Kids books. It blows my mind what people will publish, and it’s even more confusing what becomes popular. In this weekly segment, we will randomly review a book Baby 1.0 picks off her bookshelf. It should be noted that these reviews are highly sarcastic, and in no way, shape or form should be taken seriously. I appreciate the effort anyone puts into writing a book, unless of course you’ve written a terrible book, in which case I will shame you publicly.

This week we are reviewing a book from the old classic Curious George series, Curious George and the Puppies. While I’m not sure about the popularity of this specific book, I can say it’s pretty popular in our house because it has pictures of dogs, which Baby 1.0 is currently absolutely obsessed with. Case and point, the following picture of Baby 1.0 walking her plastic dog at the park yesterday.

Fi at the park

Nothing to see here. Just a girl and her dog.

Curious George and the Puppies appears to be by Margret and H.A. Rey, although it was copyrighted in 1998, two years after her death, and 20 years after her husband’s death. I don’t know, maybe they had a ghost writer (get it, a ghost writer? Okay, I’ll stop)?

The book is your typical Curious George outline: Clueless man in strangely large yellow hat takes George out to do something mundane, forgets he is hanging out with a MONKEY, and trusts him to do something totally ridiculous. This begs the question, who is this man, and why is he treating this monkey like a child? A little googling will tell you George was captured by the man with the yellow hat, and taken across the ocean to go live in a zoo. Obviously, somewhere along their trip, the man with the yellow hat must have started feeling exceedingly guilty, hence his proclivity to let George now do whatever he wants, allowing him to behave like an ill-mannered tyrant completely unchecked. Typical modern day parent if I’ve ever seen one.

hat

Considering he trapped him, and basically kidnapped him, the man with the yellow hat should feel guilty.

In this particular adventure, George and the man with the yellow hat go to the park and find a kitten. They decide to take the kitten to the animal shelter, which fits the typical pattern of behavior for the man with the yellow hat; find animal, put it in a cage. They bring the kitten to the shelter, where they are greeted outside by the director of the shelter like they are bringing a six-figure donation, rather than a single kitten. Because if there’s one thing animal shelters need more of, it’s kittens, said no animal shelter ever.

The man with the yellow hat tells George to hang out, alone, while he and the director “sign some paperwork” in her office with the door closed. Obviously they are boning. There is literally no other possible explanation.

George takes this opportunity to wreck shop. He ignores his instructions to “stay here and don’t be too curious,” and opens up a cage with 11 puppies, who then escape and terrorize all the animals. This interrupts the man with the yellow hat and the director, who emerge from the office with genuine looks of surprise to discover a monkey, left alone in an animal shelter, has caused mischief.

Director

This level of surprise is only acceptable for things that are actually a surprise. Like opening a bag of candy and finding a fruit bat, or maybe falling in a sink hole.

In the end, George is the hero because after he let all the puppies out, they led the director to the missing puppy, which I haven’t mentioned until this moment. There was one puppy who was missing. Spoiler alert: they found it. Then, perhaps being inspired by the true story of Koko and the Kitten, George adopts one of the puppies.

koko

If you feel like being VERY SAD, read the story of Koko and her kitten. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

So there you have it. Baby 1.0 loves this book, and can sit through most of it most of the time, which says a lot because it’s 24 pages. I may be kind of a sucker for dogs, too, so I’m going to give it a 3.1/5.

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Image credits:

Trapped George: http://mentalfloss.com/sites/default/legacy/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/hat.jpg

Surprise!: http://user.xmission.com/~daina/ebola/Curious%20George%20and%20the%20Ebola%20Virus18.jpg

Koko: http://www.lifewithcats.tv/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/koko.jpg

Cover image: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51%2BFpR8zkhL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

On Being Thankful

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not exactly the sentimental type. It’s not to say I don’t appreciate things, but I’ve never really been the type to ooze emotion, even when the situation would call for it (like, say, at our wedding, or the birth of our baby). But today, when pondering what I would write for my next post, a really crazy idea came into my head. Maybe I should try to write about something I’m thankful for, but in a way that lacks the emotional ooze. So what am I thankful for? Baby naps popped into my head immediately, for without the blessed 45 minutes Baby 1.0 graces me with most days, I would not only lose my mind, but I also wouldn’t be able to write. Or shower, or do anything for myself in a semi-relaxed way. Squeezy food pouches were a close second, but it seemed like maybe I’d be a little light on material. It wasn’t until Baby 1.0 was dozing peacefully, and I was in the shower, that the idea to write about my parents came to mind.

Wedding photo

This is me, in classic form, being very unserious at my wedding.

Now this idea to write about my parents was a surprising enough revelation that it made me stand there, mouth slightly agape, left eyebrow arched suspiciously, head cocked to the side like a confused puppy. “The parents?! But they are divorced and there are many of them,” my brain said with dismay. “Yes. The parents,” repeated the heart, “all of them.” “But maybe we could just be thankful for cheese?” suggested my brain. “No cheese. Parents,” insisted the heart. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea, for however weird, different or challenging I perceived my childhood to be at times, it was actually pretty great, thanks in large part to my parents.

It wasn’t until I became a parent myself that my view on my childhood fully shifted, and allowed me to see my parents for what they are: People. People who love, and people who care. People who make mistakes, and people who struggle. Just your run-of-the-mill, everyday people, living their own lives while simultaneously trying to be responsible for somebody else’s. Reconciling this new title of “people” with their previous titles of “Mom” and “Dad” has been paramount in appreciating the incredible effort they put into raising good kids, and continue to put in as we ourselves become parents.

Of course nobody is perfect, and this is hardly meant to be some brag about how I came from a modern-day Donna Reed family. That wasn’t the case at all. But now that I am a parent, it is much easier to look back, and not only cut them some slack, but also feel appreciative for the lessons they taught us, even if they were tough lessons to learn.

Thanks to my parents, and their openness about their less than perfect relationship, I have been able to use their missteps as a guide, and their victories as goals. Use good communication. Work hard. Practice transparency and honesty. Be supportive, loyal and kind. These are all invaluable lessons I am thankful to have learned from people who I love and respect. Perhaps the best lesson of all, they have recently shown me the importance of forgiveness, as they embrace friendship once again, and relish in their roles as new grandparents. This, the forgiveness, has strengthened my own relationships, and also allowed me to permit myself the same courtesy as I stumble through new motherhood.

I am so thankful to have the parents I have. My mom, my dad, my step-mom, my in-laws. Every one of them brings something incredible to the table. I could go on and on about the individual traits each person shines with, but then I’d be oozing emotion, and that makes my skin a little itchy. So today, I say thanks. Thank you for your love, your support, and your kindness. Thank you for your mistakes and your quirks. Thank you for above all else, sharing your imperfection, and in your imperfection, being beautifully human.

Random Review #3: Good Dog, Carl

Kids books. It blows my mind what people will publish, and it’s even more confusing what becomes popular. In this weekly segment, we will randomly review a book Baby 1.0 picks off her bookshelf.

This week Baby 1.0 picked another one of her all time favorites, Good Dog, Carl, by Alexandra Day. This is another oldie but goodie (we seem to have a lot of those), with the first edition being published in 1986. Surprisingly, there is no teal, and the mother in the book is tastefully dressed and suspiciously lacking a bang wave. This clearly indicates she must be French or something, because no average American mother in 1986 didn’t have either a bang wave or a sweet perm. Or both.

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It’s an almost bang wave, and a bangin’ perm. Gotta love the ’80’s!

Let’s start with the title, Good Dog, Carl. Can we just sort of touch on what a bizarre name choice “Carl” is for a dog? After working in the veterinary field for nearly a decade, I can honestly say I didn’t come across a single animal named Carl. Or even any people named Carl, for that matter, except the kid on the Walking Dead, which I think we can all agree should be named something more realistic, like Walter. Odd name choice aside, you see Carl smiling from the cover, as only a Rottweiler can, with big jowls and squinty eyes, his big pink tongue hanging out of an open mouth that contains no teeth. With all this talk about breed discrimination, nobody would be scared of Rotties if they all looked like toothless Carl.

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Suspiciously missing all of his teeth, but smiling none the less.

Fun fact about this book, it only has 12 words total in it. This being a book from my own childhood, I did not remember this, and the first time I went to read it to Baby 1.0, I thought maybe we had a received a book that was accidentally printed without text. Apparently, this is just one of those stories you have to narrate yourself, which is something I’m getting considerably better at each time I read it 15 times a day.

The book starts off with the mom telling Carl she’s taking off, and he’s on baby duty. This seems like an extreme form of whatever the opposite of attachment parenting is, but again, maybe this is the French way of teaching your kid how to be resilient? I know there was a popular book floating around a year or so ago about how the French raise their kids, but I didn’t read it because T.V.

Mom leaves, and right away Carl is like “Hey Baby. How about you and me go do some crazy shit?” which of course the baby is totally down with because he thinks his mom is boring. Whether or not she is boring should probably the least of his concerns considering she left him with a dog as a babysitter, but whatever, I’m not judging.

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“Climb on Baby. Let’s go live a little”

The baby crawls onto Carl’s back and they go and jump on the bed. This doesn’t bother me so much because even with the popular cautionary tale “No More Monkeys Jumping On The Bed,” we still sort of jump on the bed from time to time. After jumping on the bed, they put on makeup, which also seems pretty harmless. I think this is where Carl is trying to win the baby’s trust, like “It’s cool, Baby. See? I know you think this is bad, but aren’t you having fun?”

Then things get serious. Carl puts the baby down the laundry shoot, which could go wrong in so many ways, but lucky for the baby, his mom doesn’t ever do laundry so the bin is full, and provides him a soft place to land. Carl retrieves him and in an attempt to one-up himself, puts the baby in a fish tank to either teach him to swim, or give him salmonella.

laundry shoot

“Down you go Baby. Try not to die.”

I have to think the baby expressed some sort of grievance about nearly drowning, because after that Carl backs off on the risky behaviors. He puts some music on and dances, and then takes the baby into the kitchen for a little snack. He fills the baby up with all kinds of goodies, including chocolate milk, cookies and grapes. The baby is obviously dirty as all hell now, and probably smells like a fish tank, so Carl takes him upstairs and bathes him. He drys him off with a hair dryer, and dumps him back in his crib. Then, like a good dog, he cleans up the messes they made and plops himself down next to the crib just as the mom returns.

Good-Dog-Carl-blowdryer

Show me a dog who can bathe and blow dry a baby, and I will show you a rainbow of joy leaping out of my, um, ears.

It seems obvious to me now, after writing all this out, that this book clearly is not about a dog at all, but rather her deadbeat husband named Carl, or her crazy Aunt Edna who smokes Menthols. Regardless, we both really like the book. I give it a 4/5.

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Image credits:

Cover photo: http://www.beyondthecarseat.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Good_Dog_Carl.jpg

80’s Mom: http://i.imgur.com/1Ai0vQ5.jpg

Laundry: http://i037.radikal.ru/0909/8d/d6b3760e77f3.jpg

Crib escape: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_AjI3qIR27fU/TGXtXD-oUSI/AAAAAAAAEqk/_bGoigFVFUs/s1600/2b6fe9e8ff01.jpg

Blow dryer: http://amybronwenzemser.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Good-Dog-Carl-blowdryer.jpg

Random Review #2: Tiny Tot’s Puppies and Kittens

Kids books. It blows my mind what people will publish, and it’s even more confusing what becomes popular. In this weekly segment, we will randomly review a book Baby 1.0 picks off her bookshelf.

This week Baby 1.0 picked yet another one of her go-to favorite reads: Tiny Tot’s Puppies and Kittens. You can say to her “Baby 1.0, go get Tiny Tot’s Puppies and Kittens” and she will drop whatever she is doing and find it. Part of me thinks this is a clear indication that she is a genius, but it could also be she just likes it that much.

This book doesn’t even have an author, presumably because all told it only has 44 words in it. I say more than 44 words to myself in the shower on days that I shower. The book does, however, have an illustrator named Kathy Wilburn, who absolutely nails the pictures, in a 70’s elementary school kind of way.

This book is another oldie but goody, first published in 1987. It’s a Golden book, and is part of a series that includes some other riveting reads such as Tiny Tot’s Busy Day and Tiny Tot’s Toys. I haven’t read the others, but feel strongly that this is the best this series has to offer.

The book opens with the observation that “puppies are soft and cuddly.” It follows that up with “so are kittens.” Being someone who has worked with puppies and kittens for nearly a decade, I feel it’s my civic duty to inform you this is not always true. I’ll give you soft, but cuddly? I have some scars on my arms that would beg to differ. But whatever, let’s just chalk that one up to more lies we tell our kids. It’s in good company with Santa, the Tooth Fairy and why Gary the goldfish had to be released into the wild via your toilet.

photo

The book goes on to show some mischievous kittens and puppies wrecking shop in someone’s house. Again, we have young animals playing with a ball of yarn, just like in Goodnight Moon. No yarn, people! I’ve seen those strings pulled from the intestines of your precious pets. It’s not a pretty sight!

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After causing an indoor ruckus, the puppy and kitten go outside to terrorize the insect world. The kitten sets its sights on a delicate butterfly while the puppy goes after a beetle. Probably a stink beetle. The kitten is prancing around with a blue ribbon around its neck, which makes me wonder, did our good friend Kathy the illustrator ever have a cat? You put anything around a kitten’s neck and they will turn into a tornado until they get it off.

photo 1

The book finishes up with an idyllic scene where four kittens are playing with one puppy. This is Baby 1.0’s favorite page because this is where I get to say “Yip! Yip! Mew! Mew!” which she thinks is the best thing in the whole world, which in turn makes me think this book is the best book in the whole world.

photo 2

So there you have it. I actually love this book. It’s simple as can be, with dorkus drawings but I guess that what makes it so endearing. I give it a 3.72/5.