10 Reasons My MIL Is One of My BFFs

This piece first appeared In the Powder Room.
It’s long been fashionable to bitch about the MIL. And it’s sad, really, that women should have such a contentious relationship because they’re connected by a man they both (ostensibly) love. I had no reason to believe that I’d be exempt from falling into that hostile connection. At times, I am potty-mouthed and opinionated. And in my early twenties, when I met my future husband, I was even worse. I was narrow-minded, offensive, and not great at holding my liquor. I had (and have) good qualities, but still, I was rough around the edges and likely not what most women would hope for in a daughter-in-law.
Fast-forward fifteen years. My mother-in-law is, no doubt, one of my best friends. Here are ten reasons why:
10. She’s Dynamic. My MIL is a generous, positive, inspiring force, and a shameless flirt. Her energy is contagious. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s true: she makes the world a better place.
9. She’s Flawed. She’s scattered, disorganized, and rushes when she’d be better served to slow down, which she doesn’t know how to do. One must be watchful when she’s using an oven, and it’s best not to leave important documents in her care. I’m grateful for these flaws, because perfection is annoying.
8. She’s Badass. At the age of 64 she kayaked the Colorado River for twenty-two days with twelve thirty-year-olds. She parties in short dresses and go-go boots, and won’t say no if you offer her a shot of something.
7. She Cares. About everything and everyone. She cares deeply and sincerely and she acts upon her compassion. She cares enough to put the needs and wants of others before her own. Sure, it can be awkward when she starts massaging the shoulders of someone she just met, but she means well.
10 Reasons My MIL is One of My BFFs by A. K. Turner via In the Powder Room6. She’s Ripped. She’s a retired physical education teacher. At her current age of 68, my MIL rocks a bikini and teaches Zumba. And what’s even cooler than that is that she doesn’t try to make me like Zumba.
5. She Entertains. She misuses supposably and thinks dwelve is a word. She tries to tell my kids about the story of “Johnny and the Beanstalk.” She begins or ends every sentence with “at this juncture.” Example: At this juncture there’s supposably an event we could go to, or we can dwelve into that later.
4. She Laughs at Herself. When we dwelve into important topics, like whether we have enough wine on hand at this juncture, and I begin laughing at her malapropisms, she laughs right along with me. And then we stock up on wine.
3. She’s Always Game. She’s happily accompanied me to luncheons of no interest to her and which could only have bored her to tears. She’ll join me in taking the kids to float the river or see a movie she’s had to sit through many times before. We once went to a drag show. She’s game for anything. And that’s just how we roll.
2. She Has Endless Energy. In the past five years, my daughters have asked her to play hide-and-seek, blow bubbles, read a story, play Candy Land, watch them stand on one foot, and take them to the potty. They have asked her each of these things approximately 80 billion times. She accommodates them with enthusiasm. Every. Single. Time.
1. She’s Tolerant. I’ve mellowed somewhat in the past fifteen years, but my inner bitch still rages on occasion. My mother-in-law doesn’t bristle or take offense or cluck her tongue in disapproval. She looks for ways to help and relieve stress, even when I don’t deserve it.
I’m sure there are plenty of MILs out there who fit the stereotype. And I feel for the DILs who grit their teeth and self-medicate their way through every family gathering (I would, too). But I’m one of the lucky ones. Our family gatherings are a blast. Instead of resenting my mother-in-law, I happily raise my glass to her, in cheers and thanks.
Want more family stuff? 
Check out The One Thing I Force on My Kids

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Vagabonding with Kids

In the past year or so, I've been consciously moving the focus of my life and work toward travel. It's been increasingly important to me (and my husband) to experience the world with our children. We are intrigued and drawn to the logistical puzzle of figuring out how to live and work in another country for two months or more, and with limited resources (it's amusing when people assume we're rich because we returned from Australia and are heading to Brazil; the reality is that we go wherever we have a free place to stay and our diet often consists of pb&j and ramen).

So I'd like to introduce my new baby...

This site will have all past and future travel blogs, with everything from staycations in your hometown to homeschooling in another country. If you have any interest in traveling, family vacations, or the digital nomad and lifestyle entrepreneur movements, I hope you'll check it out.

Here are the links...

I'll maintain my existing site and social media, because I still need an outlet for my foul-mouthed, inappropriate self, but I hope you'll consider following this new site, as well. 


Family Vacations: Taking "Kidfluence" Into Account

This piece first appeared on The Huffington Post
A recent survey from HomeAway looks at how much "kidfluence" comes into play when families plan their vacations.
HomeAway, the world's leading online vacation rental marketplace, has found that kids, or "kidfluencers," wield a growing influence on vacation planning.
Their findings come from surveying over 2,800 kids (ages six to 18) and their parents in the U.S. and Europe. I think it's wise that they didn't take into account the input of children under the age of six. We took our children to Australia last year and have a trip planned for Brazil later this year. In both cases, when we told our daughters the news, my five-year-old's first question was, "Do they have snacks there?" I assured her that snacks are a worldwide phenomenon. I also now know that when it comes to travel, she's as happy with 7-11 as South America.
The vast majority of parents (85 percent U.S., 76 percent UK, 86 percent France, 95 percent Germany, 94 percent Spain) give their children some say in deciding where they want to go on vacation. Millennial parents in the U.S. are most likely to give kids full control of where they want to go on vacation.
Full control seems awfully risky. Especially if your kids still believe in Santa, because you know the North Pole is going to top the list. When I asked my eight-year-old where she would go if she could go anywhere in the world, she gave it a careful minute or two of consideration before declaring "Bowling." The study continues with statistics on how important traveling with pets and extended family is to both children and their parents, as well as what percentages of children want to stay in castles and tree houses. The most important accommodation feature to both kids and adults is a pool, though they also noted that the kids wanted a water slide, too. But why stop there? If you want to stay in a castle with access to a pool and water slide, why not go ahead and throw in a ferris wheel? Perhaps a unicorn petting zoo?

This is an actual vacation rental. You can view it here.
Among younger kids in the U.S., theme parks reign supreme, but older kids are more likely to choose international travel for their next family vacation.
My daughters are still under the age of ten, but we're trying to bypass theme parks altogether. I know that I've had positive theme park experiences, but they don't come to mind when I hear the words "theme park". Instead my throat tightens with a vague sense of panic. I think of crowds, lines, sweating, and maxed out credit cards. And yet, I have a friend from high school who takes her family to Disney World three times a year. She assures me that the experience is above and beyond that of a regular theme park and is as fun for the adults as it is for the kids. I was unconvinced until she mentioned exceptional food and wine. Now I'm considering it.
59 percent of parents say an important factor is having plenty of beds, so the family doesn't have to share.
Wait. Only 59 percent? And what do you mean by share? Because the idea of my family of four sharing one big bed gives me worse palpitations than half-price day at a water park. Maybe the 41 percent of surveyed parents unconcerned with enough beds have destinations in mind so exotic and phenomenal that they're willing to sacrifice a decent night of sleep, because there's no way you're having a pleasant night's rest with a six-year-old kicking you in the back. On the other hand, if the sharing only requires my daughters to co-sleep with one another, then I'm all for it, because they actually view that as a perk. The survey concludes with how children rank the embarrassment level of their parents' clothing. Swimsuits top the list, followed by the fanny pack. Most of us have accepted that when it comes to how we look in our bathing suits, it is what it is. But maybe we should let a little "kidfluence" in and retire the fanny pack. Click here for the full HomeAway press release.

For more on traveling with kids, check out On Returning Home

"Look at the view! Look at the beach!" we demanded, but they were more excited about finding a big stick.

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5 Things on the Internet You Shouldn't Give a F**k About (and 5 Alternatives to Consider Instead)

Don't get me wrong. The internet ROCKS! It makes delightful connections like this - you and me right here and now - possible. That said, it's too easy to find yourself drowning in someone else's crap. And let's be honest, that's just not a tasty place to be. 

Think of what you absorb as akin to grocery shopping. Consider what you allow into your person (insert dildo joke here). Don't default to the internet version of a giant jar of cheese balls. That's a decision detrimental to your health! Choose the fresh fruit platter instead. You'll feel better, have no regrets, and it's yummy in its own right. 

Here are five things on the internet from which you should digitally recoil, and alternatives to gleefully download into your virtual open arms.

Just Say No: Kanye & Gwyneth

These two seem like a really good pair. One behaves like a douche and the other encourages you to steam your vagina. See the connection? If people with a ton of money want to make fools of themselves, that's their right. But it doesn't mean you have to stand there and watch.

The Healthy Alternative: George & Zooey

I'm convinced that having George Takei and Zooey Deschanel on your Facebook feed results in a happy, healthy, positive mood. As far as I know, he's never crapped all over what was supposed to be someone else's moment in the spotlight, and she won't ever tell you what you should be doing with your vagina. 


Just Say No: Dark Shit 

Twice I've been sucked in by creepy headlines like "20 of the Most Disturbing Images in History" and then I'm ruined for days. I'm not saying you should put your head in the sand regarding horrific things that happen in the world, but there are better ways to educate yourself and make the world a better place than by gawking at tragedy.

The Healthy Alternative: Upworthy

Their tagline is: Awesome, fun, interesting videos and graphics about stuff that matters. 

If you don't agree with Upworthy on what matters (like, you know, women being seen as full human beings) then find a comparable site that gives you positive information on what matters to you. 
Just Say No: Haters 

Life is too short. Don't engage with these assholes
Pity them; their lives must suck. 

The Healthy Alternative: Cute Animal Videos

If watching a video of turtles helping turtles (or a sloth yawning, a pig playing at the beach, baby goats frolicking - you get the idea) leaves you with a sense of peace and compassion, then your time has not been wasted. Think of how much better the rest of your day will be if you choose this over reading an article's comments section in which angry people spew their ugly all over the place.

Just Say No: 
Other People's Politics

If you can engage in a rational, respectful debate of politics on the internet, more power to you. Sadly, most positive interactions regarding politics take place when everyone involved in the discussion is already politically like-minded. But opposing views are not often expressed with logic and respect when you're typing behind the shield of your laptop and someone ends up feeling like this:

The Healthy Alternative: Community Events

Give a little shout out to good things happening in your world. Chances are there are good things happening around you, good things about which not all of your friends might be aware. At IndieGogo you can search by category or location. My current personal favorite is an expansion project of our local, independent bookstore

Just Say No: 
The Facebook "Experiment"

We've all seen it. Your "friend" writes: I'm going to do a little experiment to find out who my true friends are. If you read this, please take a moment to write two words in the comment section describing when we first met. 
For the love of all things sacred, I honestly would rather read a status update detailing what you had for breakfast (but please spare me the picture) than to see you cut and paste this chain mail bullshit about finding your real friends. We're either friends or we're not. 
Figure it out.

The Healthy Alternative: Meaningful Interaction

You want to connect with your friends? Send them a message, pick up the phone, be totally reckless and get together with them in person! Let them know you value their friendship. If you want, you can even spend your time telling each other what you had for breakfast and reminiscing about when you first met. 


Did you bristle at all of the four-letter words in this post? 

If so, read The One Thing I "Force" on My Kids (it's clean, I promise).

This is like a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure!

If not, read Swear Thee Well.

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Motherhood: The Dream versus The Reality

Does anyone else remember the mom they were planning to be when they were pregnant and laugh a loud, hollow laugh? The media perception of the perfect mom is bullshit: we're not supposed to drink or swear or lose our tempers. Come on people, we're not magical. (If you like four-letter words as much as I do, check out Swear Thee Well). The reality is that
motherhood is its own special kind of crazy 
shaped by the people we were before we started popping out kids. Here are five ways that the dream of motherhood is completely different from the reality...

My Space Will Remain My Own
I was only planning on having one toy box and then filling it with beautiful wooden toys. While I worked at my desk, junior would stack his wooden blocks neatly at my feet without making too much noise. Instead I’m typing from my crumb covered sofa and staring out at an ever-growing sea of plastic crap. I swear these plastic toys are procreating and duplicating before my eyes. And that space I wanted to preserve just for me? It's been puked on many, many times. Children take over your whole house with their myriad of belongings and pile after pile of stuff. I figure I’ll just embrace the madness now and redecorate when they go to college.

I Won’t Feed My Kids Junk Food
Before I had kids I decided that good moms didn’t feed their children junk food. My kids were going to eat healthy and nutritious snacks, and I was going to home cook their organic dinners from scratch every night. They would love eating vegetables and laugh in the face of kids who were allowed to eat McDonalds: after all, my food tasted so much better than burgers and fries, right? Right. Now? If I have a deadline to meet without childcare and I think that a cookie or a cracker will keep them quiet for just five damn minutes then they can have the whole box. (I'm still not budging on McDonald's). For more on that, check out I've Got Mad Kitchen Skillz and My Kids Want Ramen.

I’ll Nap When They Nap
Whoever first said that you should nap when your baby naps is cruel. And a liar. What actually happens is that when the baby naps you will have your first shower in days and change into clothes that don't feature crusted snot as an accessory. You’ll pick up toys, start the laundry, and try to eat that cold piece of toast you were planning on eating for breakfast. Five hours ago. Then, when you finally decide you should try to have a nap your baby will wake up and the cycle will start all over again.

We'll Make Our Own Gifts
I once fiendishly stalked Pinterest looking for exciting craft activities for kids. I imagined we would make all our own Christmas gifts and impress the family with their incredible toddler skills and my mom prowess. Reality didn’t shape out quite like that, because Pinterest is damn liar. If you've been addicted to failing at Pinterest, you might need addiction recovery inspiration to get you through, because the truth is, crafting with small kids sucks. Glitter is the devil and little people lose interest in the whole activity after five minutes anyway. It's a stressful mess. They spend longer in front of the TV while I clean up than they do trying to make anything in the first place.

I’ll Get Right Back in Shape
I've run four half-marathons. I have a gym membership that I actually use. But the abuse my body took through two pregnancies, a c-section, and breastfeeding can never be reversed. My body is simply shaped differently now. And the amount of wine I consume keeps an eternal layer of insulation covering everything. Kudos to the women who do get back in shape. They deserve to flaunt all they want, because I'm sure it wasn't easy. But if that's not you and you want to chat and knock back a bottle or two of wine, I'm your huckleberry.  

Reality came in and took a big crap on the dream of motherhood. And yet, I wouldn't change a thing. Parenting is a sticky, poop covered reality, but it's also a hell of a lot of fun.

For more on getting smacked in the face with reality... 

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How to Marry Your Favorite Cartoon Character

When I was little, I was majorly in love with Aquaman. Superman didn't do much for me, but Aquaman? Yeah, I had it bad. It didn't matter that he was a cartoon. That was a minor impediment to our lifelong happiness. Much like I'd hear adults dismiss relationship obstacles with phrases like "age doesn't matter," I'd tell myself that we wouldn't let trivialities like reality get in the way.
Our love would transcend that bullshit.

For a time I worried about the fact that he is Aquaman and I hate water. Again I stole snippets from adult conversation regarding relationships and latched onto "absence makes the heart grow fonder." He'd have his aqualife and we'd rendezvous when he'd come up for air. I had it all worked out.

Fast forward thirty years. I'm married to this guy. Who is constantly obsessed with figuring how we can spend more of our life at the beach, despite the fact that we live in Idaho. He grew up on the water, rowed crew in college, and is addicted to buying me bathing suits. Every time we go out to eat he orders the salmon. Coincidence?

Incidentally, when my husband was younger he had a major thing for Lisa Loeb. So we both got what we wanted, because I basically am Lisa Loeb with a little added insulation, as I like to call it. 

Lisa Loeb and me. We're the same, except I can't sing and have more neck than she does. But if you drank a bottle of tequila and squinted real hard, you wouldn't be able to tell us apart.                                       
When I Googled Aquaman recently, which I do on occasion because I'm still obsessed with that sodden, aquatic hunk, I was surprised to learn that a new Aquaman movie is in the works. My husband hadn't told me that anyone had contacted him about starring in the film, which was perplexing. Instead they've cast Jason Momoa. You may know him better as Khal Drogo.

Aquaman? Seriously?
I just want to let the studio know that if Jason backs out, my husband is available, and probably better suited for the role. Here's the proof...

For more on how to marry your favorite cartoon character, check out Off-White.

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