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Archive for January, 2011

Personalize This!

So you know I’m not a “giveaway” blogger right? It’s not that I don’t get asked but A) I’m lazy and B) I don’t really like to spend time figuring out how to upsell a product that chances are I don’t use. But here’s the thing: Anna from AJ’s Collection sent me this hand stamped necklace which I’d been coveting already for some time. Originally I couldn’t decide between this one or the one I’m wearing. You’ll see there are a ton of options, but I’m really in love with this one which is called the Three Name with a link chain.

Just about every mom I know has one of these and although I try not to be too trendy (like not getting a tat ((for now)) even though I seriously want one), there’s something so delicious about having your kids’ names around your neck that I can’t resist. I just kept putting off getting myself one because either they were too expensive or I couldn’t figure out which one I wanted etc. etc. Well, this one from Anna is actually cuter and exactly what I’d been looking for. I haven’t taken it off since I got it.

She also has great gifts for guys right in time for Valentine’s Day like these personalized guitar picks. I mean don’t some of your husbands or boyfriends pretend like they can actually play the guitar? Sure they do! My best Valentine’s Day was when I showed my boyfriend (now husband) a picture of the Tiffany Heart Charm bracelet our first Valentine’s Day together and he bought it for me. I was never ever the type to straight up tell someone what to get me but he really wanted to know so he wouldn’t have to guess. I loved it and he felt like a hero. So do your dude (or lady) a favor and show them this website and tell them straight out what you’d like. My worst present was when a boyfriend at the time -at least I called him my boyfriend he might’ve called me Stalker – brought over three loads of laundry for me to wash for him and no gift at all. “He forgot” it was Valentine’s Day. Fucker.

Okay so let’s do a giveaway! Tell me in my comments the worst gift you’ve ever received for Valentine’s Day and I will pick a winner on Friday at random to win a necklace like mine.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on January 31, 2011 7:10 pmUncategorized86 comments  

Don’t Get Drunk Friday: Tara’s Story

So here we are again. It’s Friday and you know what that means: Don’t Drink! The brave woman sharing her story this week is Tara who blogs at The Act of Returning to Normal. Please visit her blog or come see us at the Booze Free Brigade if you’re looking to talk to people who “get it.”

“When I first quit drinking, I wanted to figure out how much time I’d wasted in my addiction. By all calculations, I figured it had been about four years. And it was four years of serious, hard drinking…four years of not having an “off” switch… four years of always feeling the pull to drink. Now, from the vantage point of nearly five months of sobriety, I can see my own decent more clearly. The truth is I drank alcoholically from the first. I wasn’t always a daily, excessive drinker, but the roots of addiction were always present.

Because I grew up in an alcoholic home, I managed to avoid the pitfalls of teenage drinking, but by twenty, I felt like I was missing out on all the fun. My first forays into the adult world of alcohol were few and far between, limited by opportunity. As a student, I was too poor to buy wine and never thought to drink at home, but several times a month I would go out dancing with friends, drinking shots until I was unsteady on my feet and unable to speak coherently. At the time I thought this was the pinnacle of cool.

This pattern progressed over the next few years until I was not only drinking at home, but getting drunk whenever I went out. This led, inevitably, to regrettable couplings and embarrassing moments. One night stands out. After class, I went to the university pub with a few of my students, drank too much, and then was loud and obnoxious to a woman I’d never met before. My intent had been to shock my companions by showing them how “cool” I was outside of the constraints of the classroom. The next morning I recoiled in horror.

It was at this point I realized that every bad thing I’d done occurred “at the bottom of a bottle of gin”. I vowed to show more control.

I moved to San Francisco, sick of drinking. And for a few years alcoholism was held at bay. I did not drink at all when I was pregnant and rediscovered my “off switch”. It was after this, when I was home alone with two small children that the pull returned. I wasn’t all that bad…for a while. I would occasionally drink in the afternoon to mellow out, but not every day and not too much. I went back to work, relieved to be rescued from the temptation to drink during the day. But work got stressful and I began to unravel.

Evenings began to shape themselves around my drinking and over the course of a few months I went from almost never having a hangover, to nearly always having one. I began to drink at lunch to cover the tremors and dizziness. For a while I believed I functioned better with a few shots of vodka than without and thought my drinking went unnoticed. My life shrunk to a small point. In the final, desperate last months of my drinking, I awoke daily at 5am with intense panic attacks and an overwhelming sense of self-loathing. I no longer wanted to drink, but I simply could not imagine my life without it…without that rush of good feeling that came with the first few glasses. After all, it was the only time I ever felt good.

Daily promises to “take a day off” were revised by early afternoon to “take it easy and not get too drunk.” Whatever happened, I always found an excuse to have “just one” and felt increasingly out of control, hoping for something that would rescue me.

It came, and it didn’t. One night I came out of a blackout in our darkened kitchen with a knife in my hand. I cut myself twice because I was at a crossroad where I just couldn’t continue as I was, but I couldn’t stop either. When I saw the blood, I panicked and swore that I’d never drink again if only I didn’t die. Try as I might to keep the horror of that night at the forefront of my consciousness in order to stay sober, within a week or two I found a reason to start again. I was convinced that I’d learned my lesson and would be able to moderate. Within days I was back where I’d started.

A month into my relapse, I finally fell to my knees and admitted I was an alcoholic and couldn’t control my drinking. Instead of feeling guilt and shame about it, I felt peace for the first time in as long as I could remember. The compulsion to drink was lifted and I was out of excuses. The early days were hard. I slipped twice and it took forever to reach 30 days. But even in those early days I began to change, slowly, but markedly. I began to notice, really see, my children. I could look in the mirror without wincing. I learned that while I thought I “lived” for others, the truth was I couldn’t get out of my own head long enough to see the world from someone else’s perspective. I realized just how unmanageable my life truly was – that step one applies to so much more than our drinking. I had ups and downs. I learned that emotions are temporary. Now, I barely recognize the woman who lived within the small confines of the bottle.”

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on January 28, 2011 3:18 pmDon't Get Drunk Friday,Uncategorized14 comments  

The Truth About My Pants

I spend an inordinate amount of time in yoga pants. Not because I ever actually do yoga but because my ass has outgrown all of my jeans. Rather than deal head on with the sad state of my muffin top, I prefer to just buy black Old Navy yoga pants in bulk and pray that the look is somehow fooling people into believing that I look the same as I did ten pounds ago. I’m hoping people assume that I have plenty of pairs of jeans that I could wear if I chose to but that I wear yoga pants because I’m on my way to the gym!

The main downside of wearing exercise pants exclusively is that it’s very difficult to look “put together.” I can’t exactly dress them up with earrings or a necklace and really what shoes are you going to wear besides flip flops? So now I’m in yoga pants and flip flops or my New Balance running shoes which still look brand new because they are not used for running, and it seems awkward to have a face full of make-up. If I have no make-up on then what good does it do anyone for me to make an effort with my hair? And if I’m not going to blow dry my hair then it hardly seems like a worthwhile endeavor to shower. When I do shower it’s often at night and then I sleep on my hair which let’s just say does not make for a good look come 7 am.

And this is how I’ve come to resemble a borderline vagrant three quarters of the time. It’s sad that I’ve gotten almost used to not looking presentable. The other day I had a little gig for Headline News and I was forced to shower and put on camera make-up and a cute top. Of course I still sported my Target fake Ugg boots since I wasn’t going to be seen from the waist down. When I picked the twins up from school, the teachers freaked out at the sight of me looking the way other moms look on a normal day.

“Wow, you look so fancy!” “Oh my God! Where are YOU going?” “You look…so nice!” These are just a few of the comments I received which made me realize how far down the “no effort” rabbit hole I’ve fallen. Sometimes I wish I had a job outside of my house so that I was forced to interact with people besides other parents at drop off and the people who run the classes at “My Gym.” But then I think, if I can barely take a shower now, how the hell would I pull it all together every single day? So, I pose this question to you moms who go to work on a regular basis, “How do you look nice? And is there any hope for me to get my shit together?”

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on January 27, 2011 7:10 pmUncategorized45 comments  

“Are You Going To Try For One More?”

Here’s something unpopular to say: I’ll never be pregnant again and I’m so glad! Los Angeles is simply littered with pregnant women who could not be more excited to be knocked up. Surely every state is crawling with pregnant women but I just find that in Los Angeles it’s less a normal state-of-being than a major fashion statement. Everywhere I go (and admittedly I go a lot of places where there are children; and where there are children there tend to be women who produce children) I see bulging bellies with tight tank tops clinging to them and well manicured hands rubbing said bellies in tiny “I’m pregnant! I can’t keep my paws off my baby” circles. Sometimes they rub their lower back in a “my back hurts cause I’m pregnant!!” motion. I used to get a little spark of irritation at those women mainly because those “LOOK AT MY BELLY” women are usually also the ones who don’t show anywhere but their belly. I had the misfortune of gaining the majority of my baby weight in my ass so there was probably some residual jealousy. But lately I don’t find myself feeling anything but ecstatic that I’m not the one having a baby. I know. I’m an asshole right? Who wouldn’t want a beautiful little brand new baby? That would be me.

I couldn’t be more excited that my “babies” aren’t babies anymore. Just as soon as I had my kids I couldn’t wait for them to turn three and now that they are it’s every bit the relief that I thought it would be. I know that it goes by quickly and I know that when they’re all graduating from college I’ll wish they were little again. Little, but not babies. Apparently I’m not a baby person. It’s not that I didn’t want to love and nurture them as infants and of course the infant time is important for bonding…blah blah blah but if it weren’t for that I would’ve totally adopted a three-year-old. Of course now that Elby is six I want to freeze time I love this age so much.

Quick story: when I was pregnant with the twins and before we knew anything was amiss with the pregnancy, my OB asked me if I wanted to have a tubal when she did my C-section. There was a legal document which I signed so fast you would’ve thought it was releasing my lottery winnings to me upon signature. When I was actually having my twins, it was an exceptionally dramatic event. As you probably know, I delivered at 33 weeks so the operating room was packed with people including two teams of NICU staff waiting to receive my babies. Once they were out and breathing and I’d kissed them both on the nose before seeing them whisked off to intensive care, my doctor popped into view to tell me that even though I’d signed the release, I didn’t need to have the tubal right then if I didn’t want to. All I could think was, “I’ve just been through the pregnancy from hell, I’m looking at a solid year of no sleep, not to mention the fact that I already have a toddler at home oh, and I’m FORTY ONE! You are on crack if you think I have any interest in trying to do this again.” So I said, “Did you already sew me up?” and she said, “No.” And I said, “Get back down there woman and tie those tubes.”

I guess my point is, there are few things in life that you get to feel truly settled about but this is one of them. So to all my pregnant friends or hoping to be pregnant friends, I am done so you don’t have to ask me if I’m “going for one more” but I’m happy to come over and hold your baby, cook you a turkey lasagna or just listen to you cry. Just try to gain a little extra weight in your ass.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on January 26, 2011 12:25 amUncategorized29 comments  

I Don’t Care Whether or Not Chinese Parenting is Better

You know what? There has been a bit of backlash against parenting blogs in the past few years and I kind of get it. Now that I have a six-year-old, and my twins are three, I don’t feel the need to read about parenting constantly. I sort of get how to do it at this point and I don’t feel the pressure as much to be perfect. I also don’t feel the need to argue over whose parenting style is better. Is The Chinese Parenting Way better? I don’t care! Not only do I not care but I don’t have a parenting style to argue about even if I wanted to argue about it. Which I don’t. Despite the fact that I do sort of enjoy arguing.

Here’s my parenting non-style (but not my non-parenting style): whatever works. I buy organic chicken at Whole Paycheck but I also buy Goldfish crackers in bulk. I used disposable diapers, formula fed when breast feeding left me feeling like a loser and let my kids watch plenty of TV. I keep a very regular bedtime routine. I don’t insist on a bath every night (and sometimes teeth brushing gets pushed off til morning) but story time is sacred. Maybe that’s my parenting philosophy: read! But I’m not going to have that embroidered onto a pillow anytime soon.

All three of my children are smart, beautiful, okay one of them may be a smidge sociopathic but other than that… normal kids. It’s working out despite not reading a million books on it or poring over parenting websites and articles about every little thing. I don’t believe for a minute that Asian women are superior mothers or that working moms suck or that stay-at-home moms are more blessed or that there is any magic answer to any of our age old parenting problems -except maybe sleep and that magic answer is Benedryl. But you didn’t read that here.

Do my husband and I worry about certain things? Of course we do. I absolutely get anxious about many of our decisions. I visited about fourteen different preschools before I found one I loved -not because it met the criteria I’d written out on a legal sized document but because it felt absolutely right. I still love this preschool and although Elby has moved on to Kindergarten (at a charter school after researching and sweating over my options for months), the twins are happily finger painting there as I type.

I’m certainly not advocating any sort of hands off style either. I was a latch key kid and I don’t glorify the time when beanbags were all the rage and kids fended for themselves. It wasn’t fine. I walked home from school every day by myself or with another latch key kid from the time I was in first grade. In third grade, after school, since I had no supervision, I used to go to a pizza place where the owner -a greasy guy in his mid-fifties – would invite me and my friend to come into the backroom and watch him spin pizza dough. He also enjoyed dry humping us from behind while we made ourselves cones from the soft serve machine. I think he may have done more than that with my friend. Good times. So just because someone else wants to Free Range it with their kids and it becomes the next big thing does not mean that I’m going to hop on that bandwagon. Hell I don’t let my kids play in the front yard unsupervised even though we live on a very low traffic side street. We have an enclosed back yard so why chance some weirdo snatching them up or Sadie wandering into the street when I don’t need to?

I care about things like how many cookies they eat or how much TV they watch but I temper that with being aware of how those factors are actually affecting them and not just base it on the latest scare study. They may love TV but it doesn’t seem to be giving them ADD or making them lose interest in using their imaginations. So, do they sometimes watch a shitload of it in one day? Yeah. And guess what -sometimes they don’t watch TV at all! You don’t know what I’m going to do next! I’m a crazy renegade! My mother only let me watch a half hour of television a day so I was forced to sneak. I ended up watching about ten times more TV plus I’d be stuck trying to figure out how to make the TV cool down so she wouldn’t catch me. I’m not the sweets police either; when Elby’s had a couple of cookies for dessert and she asks if she can have one more, I give it to her! Some may think I’m giving childhood obesity the finger but I’m just crazy like that.

I don’t discipline my children just for sake of having a “stance on discipline.” I let my kids’ personalities dictate which tact to use. Elby rarely ever needs a time out or for me to raise my voice. She’s eager to please, sensitive and easy to redirect. Matilda’s been known to have five time outs in one day. It works for her.

Let me bottom line my position on this: I absolutely love my kids and love parenting them. I also know I’m far from perfect. I had no idea how hard it was going to be and how many things people were going to want me to freak the fuck out over. So after freaking the fuck out at firstand questioning how every single decision could screw them up, I’ve learned what studies, schools of thought and parenting trends are worth my attention and what to just screen out. And in case you’re wondering, the Chinese Parenting article? Didn’t bother to read it.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on January 21, 2011 8:42 pmUncategorized35 comments  


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