If Moms Had 3D Printers

A shortened version of this originally ran on Scary Mommy. Here is the link.

Supposedly, 3D printing is The Next Big Thing and has the potential to change the world. Without getting too technical, 3D printing is a process by which you design an object in a software program, send the data to what is essentially a robot in a box, and watch in awe as the robot builds your object layer by layer using various materials, such as liquid, paper, powder or metal.

At this point, most of what I have read focuses on how 3D printing promises to revolutionize the shipping industry. For example, a captain piloting a giant ocean cargo liner across the Atlantic today is SOL if an important part in the engine fails, but once he has a 3D printer on board, he can print an exact replica and be back up and running in 12 to 24 hours. In the medical field, researchers are trying to figure out how to print internal organs and body parts using a patient’s own cells, and aerospace engineers are hoping 3D printing can lower some of their manufacturing costs.

That’s great, but has anyone given any thought to how 3D printing could help all the Moms out there? I mean, collectively, we are an enormous group–there are probably more Moms in New Jersey than there are shipping captains, thoracic surgeons and aerospace engineers in the whole world. If I were trying to sell 3D printers, the first group I would target would be Moms for sure.

Seriously, think of the possibilities. Off the top of my head, here are 10 things I could make with a 3D printer:

  1. all the missing Legos
  2. clean soccer uniforms
  3. a gift for the birthday party that starts in 10 minutes
  4. wine (duh)
  5. coffee
  6. AA Batteries
  7. the missing TV remote
  8. the sock monkey we lost on vacation in 2012
  9. Super Nanny
  10. dinner for five

Years ago, when my children were babies, I would have set the 3D printer on fire by using it so much. Here are 10 things I wish I could have printed back then:

  1. a clean binky
  2. diapers (duh)
  3. the rubber thing that attaches to the underside of the sippy cup lid so it won’t leak
  4. socks that stay on chubby infant feet
  5. a nursing bra that fits properly and provides support
  6. ear plugs
  7. scratch-proof DVDs
  8. a reliable birth control method
  9. a refrigerator lock my kids can’t beat
  10. amoxicillin

How great would it be if Moms could have all the above at the touch of a button? I can’t wait until the technology improves even more so that I can print a few other things I desperately need, like:

  1. eight hours of uninterrupted sleep
  2. some patience
  3. a clue
  4. a life
  5. focus
  6. motivation as it pertains particularly to folding laundry
  7. energy
  8. perspective
  9. some fashion sense
  10. a moment of silence

 

 

 

 

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Marshawn Lynch as a Turkey

Recently, my last child, who is six, brought this home:

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In case you don’t know what that is, it is a naked turkey that my son I am supposed to dress in a disguise so that he won’t be cooked for Thanksgiving. I cannot even explain it, but the first time I saw this craft on display at a local elementary school I was BLOWN AWAY by how AWESOME it was. The hallways were lined with turkeys hiding out as ballerinas, Santa Claus, Derek Jeter, Buzz Lightyear and Paddington Bear. I didn’t have anyone in elementary school at the time, and I was bummed because I had so many of my own AMAZING ideas.

Fast forward a few years and as luck would have it, my kids I have had the good fortune to disguise three turkeys thus far: one was a black belt we I made using an authentic $38 American Girl doll karate gi, one was Hercules (we named him Tercules, here is a photo:)

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and I totally can’t remember the other one. This year, my son wanted to disguise his turkey as Marshawn Lynch, a super tough Seattle Seahawks running back known for his “Beast Mode” who loves Skittles almost as much as he loves football. In his eyes, my little guy is Marshawn Lynch just without all the arm tats and so naturally that is the only disguise he considered for his turkey.

Normally, I keep my competitive tendencies under control when it comes to crafts made by kids parents, but the turkey project brings out the worst in me. I ignore the laundry and the cooking and devote myself to researching, printing, and purchasing all kinds of things to help my son me win the turkey project which is technically not a contest but it might as well be. My oldest will be huffing and puffing all over the place because her favorite sweatshirt is still in the wash and there is no food in the house, but I won’t care because this is going to be the best turkey that school has ever seen–I can feel it in my bones!

I will start to assemble the turkey, relying a great deal on Google and my football-obsessed husband for the details and talking calmly but firmly whenever my son has the audacity to come up with his own ideas. Inevitably, I will suffer a crisis of confidence when we all start bickering and the reality of what we are assembling does not match our unattainable vision. I will start to get angry and not care at all what the turkey looks like, but then I will hear my son tell his own flag football O-line how they are going to love his turkey, and I will get sucked in all over again.

I am proud to announce that it took us only 6 days and $2.26 to create our Marshawn Lunch turkey this year, and I think you will agree that it simply kicks ass will do just fine. My son told me one of the girls in his class disguised her turkey as Elsa, so we were pretty much screwed from the get-go. Oh well. Anyway, ladies and gentlemen, here he is: Marshawn Lynch as a turkey.

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Gobble Gobble! Ready, Set, Hike!

The Switch Over

IMG_3277My ineptitude as a Mom is never so apparent as when the seasons change, especially when fall turns into winter and it becomes too cold and probably illegal for my kids to wear shorts and t-shirts. I feel lost, like someone pulled the rug from the underneath me, and I get panicky. I have trouble remembering what we all wore the year before, and I fear my kids will legitimately freeze before I find the time and courage to begin what I call “The Switch Over.”

The Switch Over is really just me swapping out all the summery clothes for the wintery ones and buying some new clothes to fill in the gaps. I know it doesn’t sound all that bad, but it causes a stress avalanche that consumes me until Christmas. It’s a good thing that the Christmas season is so calming and relaxing because otherwise I would be headed for a mental breakdown.

The Switch Over has six distinct steps:

Step One: Identify the summery clothes that are too ripped, stained, small, or out of style to be accepted by the kids next year, and either throw them out or donate them. Sometimes this step feels cathartic–purging is after all one of my greatest pleasures–but other times it hits a really sensitive nerve, reminding me that my kids are growing out of their childhood right in front of me and that the day is coming when they won’t let me cup their little buns in the palm of my hand.

Step Two: Haul three 25-gallon plastic bins containing the winter clothes up from the basement. Here is where the panic should start to subside, but it doesn’t, because half of these clothes are also too ripped, stained, small, or out of style and again I have to withstand a flood of emotions that make me wish for a time machine so that I can always hear my last and youngest child mispronounce the word “suppose.” Anyway, the half that remains is not enough to get me through the entire winter, which leads to Step Three.

Step Three: Shop for new clothes. This step used to be easy and almost enjoyable. I would throw a kid or two into a stroller, hit Gymboree, GapKids, and The Children’s Place and emerge with a ton of super cute coordinated outfits. Now that they are older, my kids don’t want to look like Winnie-the-Pooh but Lebron James and so I am not allowed to shop at those stores anymore. My kids want me to shop at The Sports Authority and/or Dick’s Sporting Goods, but OMG have you seen those prices? Sweatpants at the Sports Authority are $65 each, and a single football jersey costs more than $100. Also, nothing really fits my kids because these stores are generally geared toward teens and older.

Step Four: Conduct peer interviews. If you have kids and you run into me during the month of October, I will probably grill you with regard to how and where you shop for your kid’s clothes. I need a reality check. “Am I doing this right? Do you really shop at The Sports Authority? What size pants does your son wear?” It’s amazing how clueless I am compared to everyone else. Most other Moms in the northeast expect the weather to turn colder in the winter and know how to handle it, but I am shocked, confused, and frankly, offended. If you are reading this from Florida or southern California, please know how lucky you are.

Step Five: Suffer rejection. So eventually I will enter The Sports Authority with the right coupons and verify with the salespeople that the clothes I have chosen are something Lebron himself would indeed wear, but my children will almost always reject the first round of winter clothes I bring home for them. It’s true that I might avoid this by bringing them with me, but then I would have to bring them with me. I would much rather make several trips alone than drag even one cranky kid with me in that small sliver of time we never have available.

Step Six: Finally restock the drawers and lug 75 gallons’ worth of summer clothes back to the basement. Step Six takes several weeks to conclude as I finish up the returning and exchanging process at The Sports Authority and slowly work through the laundry, continuing to identify and store those items that are meant for summer. One day around Thanksgiving I will realize it’s all over and that I survived another year. Relief will wash over me, until I hear that first Christmas carol on the radio and then I will wish for the easy breezy days of The Switch Over.

I won Harry Styles at the Tricky Tray

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I have a confession to make. I love One Direction. Mostly for their music, which I know is not considered good by anyone with any musical taste, but I don’t care. Their songs, “Steal My Girl,” “Kiss You,” and “One Thing” put me in a good mood when nothing else will, and on those mornings when my kids will not put their shoes on or stop beating the crap out of each other, One Direction saves me.

Beyond their music, One Direction ain’t bad to look at, especially the one named Harry Styles. Harry is 20 but somehow this doesn’t register with my 43-year-old brain. He is without question the most beautiful human walking the earth right now, and has this unmistakable Mike Jagger/Jim Morrison thing going on that makes everything else in my life meaningless.

I’ve been here before, obsessing over a member of a British boy band. I was a more appropriate 15. The band was Duran Duran, and even though I was truly in love with the bassist, John Taylor, my friend claimed him first so I had to choose the next best which was really hard, but I had to pick, and so I chose keyboardist Nick Rhodes. Never mind that he was super feminine and wore more makeup than my Mom, he was perfect. And he was mine.

To deal with the emotional turmoil of loving someone I didn’t know and couldn’t have, I retreated into fantasy and wrote elaborate stories of us being romantically involved until my mother confiscated most of them. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was writing what’s now called “fan fiction” or “fanfic” and today it flourishes on the Internet. The most popular fanfic website, fanfiction.net, has more than two million registered users who write about their favorite characters from books, television, film, or music in all sorts of combinations and situations. Most fan fiction is absolutely dreadful, but some of it is so dirty entertaining that it is actually discovered and developed by Hollywood. In fact, the wildly popular book 50 Shades of Grey that drove many a suburban Mom into a tizzy back in 2012 began as a piece of fanfic someone imagined between Twilight characters Edward Cullen and Bella Swan.

So, I had this idea to write some fan fiction of my own but from the perspective of a 43-year-old married mother of three who must conduct herself properly, especially in front of her 11 year old daughter. I call it, “I won Harry Styles at the Tricky Tray.”

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“Sorry I’m late girls, I burned dinner again.”

“Oh my god, you better hurry up. They are collecting the baskets now.”

“What? What time did it start? I thought it started at 7!”

“No, 6. It’s OK, just dump all your tickets in the mystery basket and get yourself a drink.”

For the love of Pete, I can’t believe this is happening. I studied the basket list for three days straight with a highlighter and had a bulletproof strategy for winning something really good this time. Ugh. Oh well. There’s always next year, unless the fundraising committee arbitrarily decides never to have Tricky Tray again and instead has Bingo but that would be so stupid I’m sure it’ll never happen.

I frantically tore each individual ticket at the perforation and dumped all of them into the mystery basket bag while apologizing to the committee member who patiently stood over me. We all had a nice dinner and then the drawing began. I applauded for but secretly loathed that one Mom who kept leaping to her feet triumphantly waving a matching ticket for what seemed like every basket. OMG, I am never that Mom! When is it going to be my turn? *sigh* I need more wine that stuff the committee is trying to pass off as wine.

“Congratulations again to Jenny Sue! How many baskets is that, Jenny? 12? You must have the magic touch.” Laughter. Wine.

“OK everyone, the moment you have been waiting for is finally here! It’s time for the mystery basket! For maximum drama, we are going to announce the winner first and then we’ll tell you what’s in the basket. Are you ready? Here’s the number: 19683753.”

“196..837..53? Wait a second…196…837…53? Oh My God! It’s me! Yay! What did I win?”

A hush fell over the crowd. “Gina Randall, you are never going to believe this, but you and a guest have won a VIP dinner in New York City tomorrow night with Harry Styles of One Direction!”

There were a few groans from around the room, but I could have fainted I was so excited. Everyone crowded around me, people were taking pictures, it was like a dream come true. Who’s got the magic touch now, Jenny Sue? Bow to me, all of you, and I will tell you my Tricky Tray secrets.

The next day was filled with excitement as I interacted with dozens of One Direction staffers and shopped for something new to wear–something that didn’t scream, “Mom who studies the basket list in advance of a Tricky Tray” without going anywhere near “Cougar,” “Puma,” or God forbid, “Jaguar.” A car came to take me and my daughter to a small, unassuming restaurant in SoHo. We waited a good 45 minutes and then, he arrived. All 5 feet 11 glorious inches of him. Like Carly Rae Jepsen, I could hardly look at him and the words I couldn’t seem to find were falling out of my mouth anyway one after another until they were piled on the floor like laundry that needed to be folded. In contrast, my daughter, who at 11 was supposed to be nothing if not awkward, was extremely poised and in control.

I don’t really remember much from our dinner. I’m sure there was food. I remember him asking my daughter a lot of thoughtful questions, and her answers were absolutely adorable. I was so proud of her. There were a few paparazzi and one of them promised to send me a shot via email. When it came time to leave, we hugged goodbye, and he slipped me his cell phone number complemented me on raising such a wonderful kid. I wanted so badly to just follow him out of the restaurant and spend the rest of my life trying to look right at him baby, but I had to settle for a single night out in SoHo. Or did I?????

 

The Six Types of Kids in the Lunchroom

Holy crap you guys! Today, a piece I wrote called “The Six Types of Kids in the Lunchroom” is on Scary Mommy!!!! I’m so excited, and totally freaking out. For those of you who don’t know, Scary Mommy is a hugely popular and very funny website for less than perfect Moms (and Dads) that averages 30 million page views a month. To compare, my little blog–which at 11 weeks old has only recently learned how to smile and is starting to babble–averages about 850 page views a month. I am thrilled for this exposure, and so happy to be part of a community that celebrates those Moms who aren’t afraid to admit they don’t have all the answers, mostly because they can’t even hear the questions over all the noise in the house.

Thank you to everyone for reading and sharing (especially for sharing). I dedicate this one to all the parents who give up their free time to volunteer at school, and particularly to the wonderful ladies of the CAS PTO. Here is the link:

http://www.scarymommy.com/6-types-kids-lunchroom/

 

10 ways to cope with winter

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Now that we’ve turned the clocks back, there is no denying that winter is coming. Since turning 40, I dread the cold. Last winter was so bad our town looked like the backdrop of that Morgan Freeman penguin documentary and my husband mentioned the movie The Shining a couple more times than I was comfortable. I’m afraid this year is going to be worse since the summer wasn’t really all that hot.

With anything I am dreading, I find having a plan helps me through. Here is how I intend to cope with winter this year:

1. Treat myself. I absolutely cannot face winter without a pair of Uggs. In fact, no one should have to face winter without a pair of Uggs. If I ever run for public office, that will be my platform. My Uggs from last year are just fine, so sadly I don’t have any reason to buy a new pair. Instead, I think I will finally buy myself a good pair of long underwear. Does anyone have any long underwear recommendations? Basically I need to make myself so hot and sweaty my body will think it’s still summer.

2. Amp up my reading. Books are an escape I can make this winter without my family having to go through the hassle of filing a police report. Here is what you will find on my nightstand this season: I Am Malala (I know, I’m embarrassed I haven’t read it yet), Food: A Love Story by comedian Jim Gaffigan, and Hyperbole and a Half by blogger Allie Brosh. Again, I welcome your recommendations.

3. Plan a vacation. This is perhaps the single most effective way for me to beat the winter, even if we don’t physically take the trip until summer when it warms up and I have no reason to go anywhere anymore. The problem with this of course is the cost. We have five people in our family, and almost every hotel I have researched online has a maximum of four per room, which means we either have to give one of our children up for adoption or pay double for the vacation. It is so frustrating, mostly because I can’t decide which kid should go.

4. Keep tabs on Florida real estate. During the winter I cannot conjure any reasons why we still live in New Jersey. I’ve been told that my husband doesn’t technically need to live in New Jersey to do his job. So why do we stay here? The pizza? The people? Yes to both of those, but are they really worth six months of frigid hell? No, I don’t think so. There might not be good pizza in Florida, but I know there are good people there. Clearly people are more important than pizza, right? I know, they’re not. Dammit.

5. Adopt a new distraction. Last year, I discovered My Fitness Pal and had so much fun tracking all of my calories and physical activity I almost forgot about the 14 feet of snow falling silently outside my window. This novelty has run its course, though, and I am in need of another distraction. Here are a few gimmicks I am considering adopting this year: a Blueprint Juice Cleanse, the 21-Day Fix, Jamberry nail wraps, a Fitbit, and maybe essential oils.

6. Fight the urge to stay inside by going out. Last year, my husband and I had tickets to see Jim Gaffigan in person but we got slammed by yet another n’oreaster. We couldn’t believe it, but the theater didn’t cancel the show, so we were forced to go even though we were exhausted from shoveling and building snow forts for our kids all day. We wound up having an amazing time; we had dinner beforehand and were so happy to find the restaurant was practically empty. So, this year, for us anyway, snowstorm = night out on the town.

7. Cook. A highly effective way to beat the winter is through food. I don’t care that you aren’t supposed to use food as a coping mechanism; this is a winter emergency. Here are three recipes I am going to make when the Polar Vortex invades New Jersey again: Ski Soup, Gnocchi Bolognese, and my mother’s Baked Macaroni and Cheese.

8. The Paramus Pilgrimage. When the winter blues hit particularly hard, I always try some old-fashioned retail therapy and it usually does the trick. This year, I will grab a friend and make the 30 minute pilgrimage to Paramus, NJ where my two favorite places on earth are located: Ikea and The Container Store. When I die, I will not be surprised to find my soul, free of its worn-out body, in Paramus opening and closing the drawers of an Ikea display kitchen. It is heaven.

9. Get Help. Last winter the one time my always-working-from-home husband was traveling I couldn’t even enjoy it because a storm dumped 24 inches of snow followed by six hours of freezing rain. The resulting material was like frozen cement and our 11 year old snow blower blatantly said no and actually gave me the finger. I did what I could, but it wasn’t much and for the next eight weeks the walk from the car to the front door and back again required an enormous amount of concentration. It’s a miracle none of us fractured a skull. This year, we are getting a quote from our landscapers for snow removal. Please think good thoughts.

10. Embrace it. When all of the above strategies inevitably fail, I am just going to screw it and go skiing again. We went skiing as a family three times last winter, and I have to admit it was really great to look winter in the eye and say, “Eff you,” until the third time when our last and youngest child froze solid on the chair lift and had to be gently pushed down a really long meandering trail every few feet while I kept him focused on the big bag of M&Ms waiting for him at the bottom. I really hope it goes better this year.