Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Writer's Workshop Wednesday ~ My Life is NOT a John Hughes Film, by Tanjia

Welcome to Writer's Workshop Wednesday!  This is my way of paying it forward to all the people out there who want to start writing, but don't have their own blogs yet, or who are established writers that are looking to appeal to a different audience. I have also opened this up to those who would like to post anonymously about topics that are too difficult to write about publicly. Each week, I will host one or two posts by different writers.

I hope that you enjoy this series, I hope you find some new writers to follow, I hope this helps them out and I hope we can all learn something from them.

This piece comes from a good friend of mine, and someone who is brave enough to spend a week at a time in the forest with my son and husband as a Scout leader. Anyone who'd sign up for a week with pubescent boys who don't shower deserves a medal in my opinion.

Interestingly, we grew up not very far from one another, then both moved out here to meet one night while we were both playing bunco drinking.  I've known for years that she is hilarious...but this here was something unexpected. I had no idea what a talent she had as a writer. She asked to submit something, and after reading this, I immediately asked her what I needed to do to help her set up a blog of her own. Give this brand spanking new writer some love. And a beer. 

Without further adieu, I give you Tanjia

My Life is NOT a John Hughes Film
For those of you that are a certain age you might know the name right off the top of your head. But for those of you who might be scratching your head wondering...he is the genius behind such great 80's movies as Weird Science, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Pretty in Pink, Breakfast Club....just to name a few.
There is a beautiful simplicity to 80's movies that I do enjoy. Basically in a nutshell there is some teenage angst, some hijinks and then an easy resolution that makes the main characters happy.
Yeah and my life is nothing like that....hijinks aside, there have been very few easy resolutions in my life.
Now if you look further into the movies, you see the fragility of the characters. The inner turmoil. Most of the characters just want to be seen and appreciated for who they are.
I think most of us could relate to this. I know I can.
God I cannot tell you how many years I waited to be seen by my EX. All of the things I did to get him to see me and to acknowledge my needs.
Unlike a John Hughes film, he didn't come to a radical moment of clarity upon he simply "got it". It just never happened. So what was the resolution? Divorce.
And it isn't easy, but then neither was being invisible emotionally in my marriage. It is a horrible feeling, being invisible. And one that can not only destroy the confidence that you have in yourself, it can also destroy pieces of your heart and soul.
Now though, it seems to have created a new life issue. I spent so much time being invisible that now I sometimes seem to go in the opposite direction.
Now I find myself being a bit neurotic about the most benign crap you can imagine. Like if the toilets are cleaned. How soon the kitchen is cleaned. What shampoo I use and if the boys have on clean socks.
I get that this new-found neurosis is my mind trying to make sense out of the shenanigans that is my current life. It goes deeper as well. Like who sees me cry and how much I laugh. Who I let into my world and whom I trust. Because after being invisible for so long, the other tragic victim is the ability to trust.
Most especially yourself.
Talk about bad habits. This isn't an easy way to live. To be so guarded that what you put out to the world is so superficial as to be worthless in creating real relationships in your life.
I push many people away as I try to find new normal. As I work with my trust issues and work about not feeling invisible.
I don't have a brilliant writer to help shape a better plot twist.
So I guess as the writer/director of this crazy thing called my life, I get to be in the driver's seat of the shenanigans. So maybe I have something I can do about it.
Of course being bat shit crazy is always an option. bwaaa haaa haaa
But maybe I just need to keep working on that faith and the hope that my new normal is just around the corner. That I will get a handle on my trust issues and learn to live easy again.
And maybe, just maybe one day, I will get that awesome moment of a dramatic, romantic music scene or a fist pump, just like the movies.
Yeah...I just might.

Writer's Workshop Wednesday ~ Sarah from The Sadder But Wiser Girl

Welcome to Writer's Workshop Wednesday!  This is my way of paying it forward to all the people out there who want to start writing, but don't have their own blogs yet, or who are established writers that are looking to appeal to a different audience. I have also opened this up to those who would like to post anonymously about topics that are too difficult to write about publicly. Each week, I will host one or two posts by different writers.

I hope that you enjoy this series, I hope you find some new writers to follow, I hope this helps them out and I hope we can all learn something from them.

Today's piece is by fellow blogger/mom/ADHD queen, Sarah Almond. She writes over at The Sadder But Wiser Girl. I can't even tell you how many times she's posted a blog or a status and I'm sitting over here nodding my head because I get it. Oh my do I get it. She's funny and genuine, she's kind and considerate, she's quirky and awesome. 

You can find her on Facebook here and on her blog here. With love and respect, I give you Sarah.

I'm Tired-A Guest Post By Sarah Almond 

As movie buffs, we watch a lot of movies in our house. We often catch ourselves quoting certain movies often throughout the day, as well as singing songs from some of them. One song in particular that I find myself singing lately is from the movie Blazing Saddles. 

Madeline Kahn, one of my favorite funny females, gets up to sing her number. She sings about being tired. Why is that? While I’m not tired in the context that she sings about, I find it hysterical. 

As a mom, wife, and female, I can so relate to this. 

Right now it’s 11:45 in the morning and I can’t even keep my eyes open! 

No, I’m not a new mom. I don’t have babies keeping me up half the night. I’m not chasing after an active toddler. I have two children-one is an eight year old boy with ADD and numerous other issues and a five year old girl who has an iron will. 

I certainly don’t like to complain. And I certainly don’t say anything to my husband. He always manages to turn it into a contest “I bet I’m more tired than you are…” He works 65 hours a week these days, but I think I’m still allowed to feel sleepy now and then. 

That’s right, I am TIRED. 

I’m tired of everything not being quite good enough. I’m not good enough for anyone to hire me. I’m not a good enough housekeeper. I’m not a good enough Mom. I’m sure even the pets have their two cents worth to put in here when it comes to rating my goodness. 

I’m tired of arguing. My son can turn anything into an argument. Even breakfast: 

Me: “What do you want for breakfast.” 

Son: “Cheerios. No milk in the Cheerios. And orange juice.” 

Me: “We’re out of orange juice. You can have milk, apple juice, or water.” 

Son: “But I want orange juice.” 

Me: “We don’t have any orange juice. I gave you your choices.” 

Son: “Well can’t you go get orange juice?” 

We live in the middle of nowhere, and I’m standing in front of him still wearing my pajamas and unshowered. Me: Um, no.” 

Son: “MY LIFE IS RUINED! THIS IS THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE! You are so mean to me!” 

He has been up for five minutes…It makes for one long tiring day of arguing. I’m tired of being a mediator and saying sentences like this 1000 times a day: “I’m sorry he breathed on you to try to support his hypothesis, and I’m sorry she tried to lick your nose. Just get along.” 

I’m tired of being broke. I’m tired of my hair not cooperating. What’s a girl got to do? I do an awful lot of work to get my hair to look this bad.

I’m tired of crabby husbands who can’t take a little time each day or even just once in a while to say a kind word and show a wife a little appreciation and love. 

I’m tired of other human beings in my household not eating the food I cook. I wonder why I bother to even attempt to make meals much of the time. 

I’m tired of my phone not staying charged long enough. And I’m tired of forgetting to charge it. 

I’m tired of people not getting that what I do is important, not only as a mom, but as a writer. Just once I’d like someone to say to me “You write? Tell me more!” instead of acting like he or she did not hear what I just said. 

I’m tired of kids television programming, even if it is educational. 

I’m so tired that I don’t sleep. I have to take stuff to help me sleep, but even that has its caveats. It either takes forever to work, or I fall asleep sitting up at my laptop, which I can assure you is not the most restful kind of sleep that you can get! 

So yeah, I’m tired… 

So Moms, I know you love your kids and your husbands, but we’re all allowed to be tired. What makes you tired? What are you tired of? 

Sarah Almond is a freelance writer and blogger who pens the wildly unpopular humor blog The Sadder But Wiser Girl. 

She also is the mother of two adorable future Nobel prize winners and the wife of an Evil Genius. You can read all about her adventures at Bring chocolate, lots of chocolate.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the unfriendly skies, polluted water and egotistical wiener edition

I'll warn you people. I'm in a mood today, and it's not a good one. It's a good thing it's Tuesday.

Off we go.

The Unfriendly Skies
It generally takes a lot for me to say wow these days, but this story did just that. This one is going to piss you all off too, so you might want to sit down before you read it.

Baraka Kanaan is the head of a non-profit organization and used to be a college professor. He's also in a wheelchair due to injuries sustained in a car accident over a decade ago.  Last summer, he took a trip from Hawaii to Massachusetts, as many disabled people do every day in this country. He verified with the carrier ahead of time that there were accommodations for his wheelchair and that there wouldn't be any mobility problems.

When the plane landed in Massachusetts, though, the Delta Airlines employees told him that they had no way to get him off the plane. Under the Air Carrier Access Act, airlines are required to provide assistance with ramps, lifts or other devices, but Delta's employees claimed they had none of those items. This man was forced to crawl down the center aisle, down the stairs and across the tarmac to reach his chair.

On his return trip, the employees at the airport said that the equipment was still unavailable and that they had no way to get him back on the plane. Forced to crawl again, this time the employees offered to place cardboard underneath him so he wouldn't get as dirty.

He obviously complained, and all Delta offered him was a $100 trip voucher and points. He declined their offer, and filed a lawsuit in federal court instead.

Does this really surprise anyone?
Halliburton lied and destroyed evidence about the oil spill in the gulf in 2010, in an attempt to keep blame focused on BP. This isn't an accusation, by the way, it's an admission. They said they did it.

For those who aren't sure of the connection between Halliburton and the spill, they were the ones who made the cement used in the deep water rig set-up. BP didn't use the recommended number of stabilizers, and Halliburton promptly threw them under the bus resting all liability for the spill at their feet, when Halliburton knew that the lack of stabilizers likely didn't contribute at all to the spill. They did this all while quietly destroying evidence that the number of stabilizers was irrelevant, of course.

Their punishment?

This is the part that'll piss you off, I promise.

They are to plead guilty to one count of criminal conduct, pay a $200,000 fine and be subject to three years of probation.


That's it.

Of course, this admission will complicate any pending litigation, as they truly share a larger portion of the responsibility for the spill than anyone was aware.

Seriously, get off the phone
In Spain last week, a high speed train derailed, killing 79 people and injuring hundreds more. The video is horrific, and I highly recommend you don't watch it if you can't handle that kind of stuff.

Not only was the train conductor known for speeding as he drove the train almost twice the speed limit for the curve when it derailed, he was on the phone AND reading documents at the same time.

79 people are dead because he liked to go fast, dead because he wasn't paying attention. 79.

Carlos Danger is in danger
Oh, Anthony. The mayoral candidate has slipped to fourth in the polls this week in the wake of his latest sexting scandal. I highly suspect that the information that has come out recently isn't everything, and wouldn't be surprised one single bit if there is more.

Here's the thing. No one really cares how you get your freak's the fact that you lied to everyone about it, swore it was over and done with, posed for that picture of your wife and baby, all while you were still sending dick pics to girls you met online.

It's not the sexting that bothers me, truly, though in this day and age it's pretty moronic for someone who's already been caught to do it again knowing full well that it's probably going to come out. Once you post that stuff online or send it away in a message, it's going to live on forever. You can't delete it, you can't wish it away, you can't pretend it never happened because you involved other people in your sordid crap who will toss you under the bus and make that shit public the second you piss them off.

It's the lying.

The lying to everyone, that is the issue. Anthony, if you want to be a shitty husband and your wife wants to put up with that, it's absolutely your right and hers to decide that. It's fairly obvious that y'all don't have an open marriage and that she's not okay with what you do, but you keep promising not to do it anymore, then you do it again. If she wants to tolerate that, for whatever her reasons are, it's not my place to judge. In fact, I'll defend her right to try and save her marriage until the cows come home. What I won't do, though, is defend you.

You lie to everyone, including those voters you claim to care about. What you do on your private time isn't necessarily a reflection of your abilities as a politician, but it is indicative of your ability to fudge moral codes, to stand there before your constituents and portray yourself as something you aren't, to display a lack of remorse and to prove to the world that your ego is writing checks that your press conferences can't cash.

You aren't winning this race, I can tell you that much.

You'd be better served getting your house in order before you attempt anything in the public spotlight again. Lord knows people in this country have short memories when it comes to this stuff, so if you are truly as capable a leader as you claim to be, they'll forgive you.

You truly just have to stop sending dick pics first.

Seriously. No one wants to see that shit.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Wonder(ful) Women - Lynda Carter, Irena Sendler & Dina Fentiman

Welcome to the third edition of Wonder(ful) Women! This is my newest, and most fabulously kickass series yet, because I'm featuring real-life female superheroes every week. My hope is to bring awareness to stories in the news, and make the women I know in real life realize how much they inspire me and everyone around them.

Off we go.

Lynda Carter
This woman single-handedly made me believe that I could be a superhero. She inspired an entire generation of under-roo clad little girls to truly think that they could fight for truth, freedom and justice. 

She isn't just Wonder Woman on tv, she fights for all those ideals in real life too, speaking out as an advocate for pro-choice legislation, LGBT rights and women's cancer research. She revealed publicly that she has struggled with alcoholism as well. 

She personified the character we grew up loving, and she's who we automatically associate with the role. She is smart, strong and beautiful. She is still unbelievably gorgeous today, and turned 62 last week.

Thanks for proving that women can kick just as much ass as the men, even in heels.

Irena Sendler
We have all heard the story of Schindler's List and the man who helped to save the lives of over 1200 Jews during the Holocaust. Irena Sendler, the woman who saved close to twice that many Jewish children by smuggling them out before they could be shipped to concentration camps. Some were snuck out of orphanages, others away from families who would be taken shortly.

Her story was not widely known until her death last week at the age of 98 and has never received the attention and adoration of Schindler's. When she was caught by the German authorities, she was beaten, tortured and set to be executed, but somehow survived.

She was humble until the day of her death, insisting that she hadn't done anything out of the ordinary, and that any good person would have done the same.

A member of an underground group of exiled Polish government officials, she constructed a complex secret network to get the children to safety, hiding them in ambulances, in coffins, in suitcases and more.

She kept detailed records on where each child was from and where they were sent, hiding them in glass jars buried next to a German base. They were never discovered, and when the war ended, she turned the information over to authorities so that surviving family members could attempt to find their children.

She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize last year.

This woman is a hero. No doubt in my mind.

Dina Fentiman
Through my lifetime, I've come to know too many people who can call themselves suicide survivors. Someone they loved, someone near and dear to them, someone they weren't ready to live the rest of their life without, chose to go anyway.

Dina is one of them. She is also the voice behind The Plucky Procrastinator.  You can find her on Facebook here and on her blog here.

Her husband and the father of her children took his own life in 2009.

She is one of the strongest people I know, truly.

Instead of letting this event destroy her, instead of allowing herself to be a victim, she has become a force to be reckoned with in the world. She is a vocal advocate of mental health in general, and specifically advocates for awareness of depression and anxiety as they often contribute to suicide.

Every Monday on her Facebook page, she hosts Mental Health Mondays, offering support, information, hotlines, and more. Today she has featured a few pieces on children of suicide.

She is making a difference, a real difference, in the lives of individuals and their families every.single.week. because of what she does.

Dina also happens to be one of the kindest, most genuine people in the world. Thank you, Dina, for sharing your journey with it and for using it to help others.  I am blessed to call you a friend. xoxo

Saturday, July 27, 2013

You Hate The Fact That You Bought The Dream When They Sold You One

You know...I'm getting really tired of people making such a big deal out of Princess Kate's round post-partum belly.

Don't misinterpret my words here.

I think she is beautiful. Just from the short amount of time that she spent in the hospital, it's fairly obvious that she had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery. She walked out of the hospital the following day, and while the entire world seemed to be focused on her abdomen, I was eyeballing her ankles, which weren't sloshing around at all like mine were right after giving birth.

She really is gorgeous, and they make a beautiful new family.

What is bothering me is the fact that it's such an enigma for a woman in the public eye to be seen out and about with a round belly after giving birth.

It shouldn't be a big deal.

This is what new moms look like.

It takes six weeks for a uterus to shrink back to normal size after birth. For anyone's uterus to shrink back. Being famous, being rich, having personal trainers and chefs, having all the binders and wraps in the world can't change basic biology. 

It takes six weeks for it to shrink down, and that's just your uterus. It's often said that it takes about a year for your entire body to get back to what it was before pregnancy.

Except we live in a world full of celebrities that refuse to be seen publicly until their stomachs are flat again. Who refuse any kind of public appearance until they are thin again. Who believe that we'll somehow think less of them if they, god forbid, look like they just had a baby.

They did just have a baby. They aren't supposed to be back in their skinny jeans the next day. Honest.

The polar opposite of Kate's perfect public post-partum pooch is Kim Kardashian, who actually refused to be photographed again after the baby until she was "photo worthy", presumably because she thinks she has some image to uphold. Some false, house arrested, shut-in-until-perfect image.

It's not real.

It's no great wonder that so many women, myself included, beat ourselves up for looking like we just had a baby when we did just have a baby.

In other words, looking like we are supposed to at a time in our lives when we are supposed to look that way.

But we reject it. We push it away. We tell ourselves we are fat and sloppy. We see this artificial image that Hollywood throws at us, in this imagined world where every new mom hides in her house until she's runway worthy again and compare ourselves to it. Never mind the fact that we aren't rich or famous, don't have personal trainers and chefs and binders and wraps. We still compare ourselves.

We need to stop.

Real life isn't like that.

Real new moms have to go to doctor's appointments and grocery stores. They might even leave the confines of their houses to take older kids to school, to have coffee with friends. And they take those still-round bellies with them.

Kate, I applaud you for wearing a dress that didn't hide your mommy belly.

Kate, I commend you for making all us commoners feel normal.

Kate, I thank you for portraying real motherhood for all the world to see.

Kate, I appreciate you for proving that motherhood is beautiful, even and especially when it's still round.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Writer's Workshop Friday - I am not my mother's daughter, by Anonymous

Welcome to Writer's Workshop Wednesday!  This is my way of paying it forward to all the people out there who want to start writing, but don't have their own blogs yet, or who are established writers that are looking to appeal to a different audience. I have also opened this up to those who would like to post anonymously about topics that are too difficult to write about publicly. Each week, I will host one or two posts by different writers.

I hope that you enjoy this series, I hope you find some new writers to follow, I hope this helps them out and I hope we can all learn something from them.

I know that it's not Wednesday, but this submission just came in and I didn't want to wait to share it with you all. 

This one is anonymous, from a daughter of a mother who has spent most her life questioning everything, who sees things more clearly now, but still doesn't understand. 

With love and respect, her story.

I am not my mother's daughter
Technically, I am, of course. There's no denying the fact that we are genetically linked and that for a time when I was a child, she was the center of my universe, the one person that I was supposed to be able to look up to, the one who was supposed to love me unconditionally. 

Except that looking back now, I'm not sure that ever really existed. I'm not sure that any of my memories of my childhood are real the way that I remember them. I know now that so much was tempered by someone else, someone who isn't here anymore.

I know that most of my life was a competition. She took things from me because she could until I realized what she was doing and drew a line in the sand. She still tries though.

My mother is mentally unstable. What exactly is wrong with her remains a mystery because she refuses to believe that anything could be wrong.  She won't get help. She refuses evaluations. She insists that she is fine and always finds someone or something else to blame everything on.

I've been thrown under that bus too many times to count, blamed for things that couldn't possibly have been my fault because it was easier for her to do that than to admit that her choices had hurt other people, and had hurt herself.

I think that maybe she doesn't really have a choice in the truest sense anyway, that maybe whatever is going on inside her mind is too far gone for her to even be capable of deliberate choice. There are many who have said that it's possible that she has borderline personality disorder, and I know that it's certainly possible. 

I know that it's probably more than possible. I know that it's probable.

She lies. She manipulates. She mimics whatever tragedy affects someone else and attempts to one-up them. It's like a sick game where the biggest loser wins. It always has to be about her. It always has to be worse for her. Bigger. More painful. Everything always has to be about her. 

She uses people for whatever she wants to use them for until she tires of them. She will tell anyone who will listen about how many times those who are supposed to love and support her, namely me, have betrayed her. She will sway their opinions, make them hate me, set them on me like a pack of rabid dogs insisting that I should be ashamed of myself for the things she said I did.

Except none of it is ever true. Not in whole anyway. There may be tiny pieces of truth that have been contorted to suit her, but never full truth about anything. Everything is always spun to make her out to be the victim, because that's what she wants. Everything is spun to lay fault at the feet of someone else.

All the time.

She doesn't want help. She wants sympathy. She wants someone, anyone, to feel sorry for her, and she will go to extreme measures to get it.

Once people start to get close enough to actually ask questions, to wonder why things never get better for her, or start to care enough to take an active role in her health conditions, she turns on them, just like she did to me and to so many others.

Again, she doesn't want help. She wants sympathy. 

She doesn't want to get better. She wants attention.

She plays to her audience perfectly. And they fall for it, new people, all the time.

I've given up trying to warn them. I have a hard enough time dealing with the aftermath that affects me, I can't try to save everyone else too. Besides which, it doesn't work, my warnings. Already manipulated by her, they are already conditioned to hate me, to automatically distrust everything I say. They'll learn eventually. 

They always do.

They can run away from it. They can learn the lesson and move on with their lives. I can't.

I can't just ignore her. I am her daughter. 

But I am not like her.

And I never will be.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Thursday Nerdsday - Family Cosplay (we really are those people)

Since Comic Con was last week in San Diego, and we dressed up for the one here in Denver, I thought I would write a little about our family cosplay.

Also, I need to write this so that I will get on costume planning for the year because it takes months to assemble it all. MONTHS.

We start planning a year in advance.

And no, I'm not kidding.

I have had children for 12 years, and for half that time, I have done themed group costumes with the kids. It started out innocent enough, dressing just the girls alike for a few years, first as dueling Tinkerbelles, then witches, then bees. I laughed when people finally got the play on our last name, which is pronounced "da-bee".

The boys were forced to play along in 2008 for the first time, as cowboys and cowgirls.

Then I got serious.

2009 will go down as the year the crazy began. The Wizard of Oz is one of my all time favorite movies, and the kids love it too. I mentioned something about how it might be fun to dress like the characters for Halloween one night, and our fate was sealed.

The Scarecrow, Dorothy and Toto, The Tin Man, The Cowardly
Lion and a Flying Monkey.
The Wicked Witch took the picture.
In 2010, I the kids decided they wanted to be characters from Toy Story. My oldest had a deep love affair with Buzz Lightyear, so that was a no-brainer. Little boy was a LGM (little green man) because he was still tiny and it was adorable. Freckles wanted to be Little Bo Peep. Mini-me wanted very specifically to be the version of Barbie that wears the teal leotard. It was the first year that I roped my mother-in-law into helping assemble the costumes too. Trust me when I say that you will find some very interesting things if you search for leotards online. 

Buzz, Barbie, LGM, Little Bo Peep
2011 was another movie themed year, this time with Alice in Wonderland. It got interesting when Freckles broke her foot, but we just worked the cast into the theme.

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum
The Queen's cast
The White Rabbit, Alice, Mad Hatter, Queen of Hearts
Last year, tired of me dressing him like a flying monkey and Tweedle Dum, my husband took over planning. (and she rubbed her hands together laughing manically). He wanted superheroes, specifically DC superheroes. So this happened.

Superman, Wonder Woman, Robin, Catwoman, Batman and Batgirl

It's to the point now where we have a reputation to uphold. No one is told of our costume plans before we reveal them at the school party the Friday night before Halloween. It seems like every year we step up our game even more, and every year I think we'll never top this theme.

At Comic Con this year, most of our family dressed up again.

My Clark Kent and tiny Batman
He made this one himself.
Wonder Woman and Supergirl
You'll just have to wait to see what we dress as this year. It's going to be good....and super geeky, that much I can promise you.

There may even be some steampunk crossover, possibly even a corset. ;)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Perfect Parents Don't Exist, No Matter How Much They Believe It

Yesterday I wrote a guest post for the crumb diaries about my girls, both of which have ADHD. They have different types, different symptoms and are entirely different people to begin with, which means that how we cope with their conditions is also completely different.

I knew that writing it would most likely elicit some negative feedback, but I'm at this place in my parenting tenure where I really just don't care what someone else thinks about my choices. They don't know my kids or my situation, they don't understand the complexity of our issues and can never fully grasp what we contend with in this house because they don't live it.

Of course, that will never stop others from condemning the choices we make for our kids.

Which is fine. Honestly.

I just don't care.

The thing is this, though: I used to. I have a lot of friends and family members who care an awful lot about what other people think about how they are raising their kids. Society is full of new parents, nervous and unsure of their skills and decision making, being thrown to the wolves of the judgmental people out there who will proclaim that everything they are doing is wrong.

The parenting industry is huge and thriving, full of books and classes and more, all of which will tell you the one best way to do it all.

It all relies on our insecurities, and it's a billion dollar industry.

I have this theory about those who tell everyone else how to raise their kids. It's that they want so badly to believe that they are doing it all right, that they make the best decisions, that they are the most deliberate and thought out, planned parents, that their children will be just fine, that anything that deviates from how they've chosen to raise their kids is incompatible with that illusioned perfection.

That's just what it is, though.

An illusion.

No one is a perfect parent.

No one is a perfect person.

We all make mistakes. Yep. Even you.

We all adapt to our situations. We have to.

You can only ever be the best parent you can to the children you were given.

Our children are each unique creatures that bring with them their own set of challenges and talents, struggles and skills. There cannot be one proper way to parent them all for the simple fact that they are all different. And they all come with a different set of parents, in a different situation, in a different culture, in a different income bracket, in a different birth order, and so on and so forth.

You could have a dozen children and you'd end up with a dozen very different people.

It's not just the kids who vary, it's us too.

Sometimes we are just in a different place with one child than another. Sometimes life gets complicated. Sometimes tragedy strikes. Sometimes mental illnesses show up. Sometimes marriages end. Sometimes new families merge.

Being a parent requires and demands flexibility in a way unlike anything else in life will, so why labor under the false assumption that there is only one way to do it right?

There isn't.

To all the people out there who preach to others about whatever path they've chosen, stop. Take a deep breath. Look in the mirror. Accept that you are flawed just as much as any other parent out there is, that what works for your family almost certainly won't work for someone else, and that's okay. Live your life and let everyone else live theirs without feeling like you're judging them from afar. Channel that energy into your own family instead of projecting it onto others.

Be strong in the conviction that you are making the right choice for you, but don't burden other people with the choices you've made as though they are the only possible correct ones.

If there is ever a time when the phrase well, I'd never _________ with my kids starts to come out of your mouth, snatch it up before you let it out. Maybe you wouldn't do whatever it is, maybe you would. Maybe you just haven't been in that situation yet. Maybe you have no idea who or what you are judging.

Just stop.

To all the parents out there who've questioned themselves, who've doubted themselves, who've cried out of frustration at 3am, who've sat in a parking lot and sobbed, who've read every book on whatever diagnosis their child has, who've done the absolute best they could, I say this:

I support you.

To the adoptive parents, to those who let their babies live with a chosen family instead,

to those who struggled to conceive, to those who didn't,

to those who had natural births, to those who had surgical ones,

to the parents who can kiss their children goodnight, to those who said goodbye too soon,

to those who breastfed, to those who used formula,

to those who home school, to those who send their children to school,

to those who are vegan, to those who love bacon,

to those who can afford lavish vacations, to those who cannot,

to those who work, to those who stay home,

to those who volunteer, to those who don't,

to those who are single parents, to those who are married,

to those who are divorcing, to those who are widowed,

to those who are bringing their first baby home from the hospital, to those who are sending their last to college,

to all of you, I say this:

I support you.

I support you. I don't know your life. I don't know your struggles. I don't know your children the way only you possibly could, and I will never presume to. I trust that you make the choices you do for the reasons you see fit.

Imagine the world where we built each other up as parents instead of insisting that we are right at the expense of everyone else.

Imagine a world full of children raised by adults who are okay with doing the best they can, who do what they think is right, not because someone else told them to, but because they followed their heart.

Imagine a world where we lived our lives for ourselves, not out of fear for what others would say or think about us.

Imagine a world where we accept. We accept.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - The 70 isn't the new 50 edition

Some Pictures Aren't Meant to Be Shared
Ladies and gentlemen, sometimes Twitter is great. The ability to share whatever is on your mind with all your followers around the world in a fraction of a second is mind blowingly awesome.

Sometimes Twitter is not so great, particularly if you have an inflated ego and impulse control problems. In other words, if you are Geraldo Rivera.

This happened.

His caption: 70 is the new 50.
He removed it after people started throwing up in their mouths a little all over the world, but as we try so desperately to teach our children, once something is on the internet, it lives on forever. You can delete it all you want, but I can promise that someone screenshot that shit or downloaded it already. You would think that he'd have at least a basic level of awareness of that.

Also. 70 may be the new 50, but that still doesn't mean anyone wants to see that. I hope his ego got a little kick in the nuts yesterday.

Oh hell, who am I kidding? It's Geraldo. He's pretty sure he's the best thing since sliced bread.

At least he didn't tweet a picture of his old man ass.

So what if I totally thought it was a girl and was off by over two pounds on the weight? As a doula I have seen itty bitty women squeeze out gigantic babies. I had to laugh when the Royal Correspondent for CNN said that Kate was "brilliant" for having a boy on her first try.


Because mothers have any say whatsoever about what the gender of their babies are.

Because being a smart royal somehow gives her control over William's sperm.

Because princesses have magic eggs that only allow in male creating swimmers.


Even my kids have a better understanding of genetics than this highly paid international reporter.

Speaking of Genetics
Apparently, scientists in Massachusetts have figured out how to turn genes off in utero, which would effectively cure a condition like Down's Syndrome.

As a student of bioethics, this troubles me.

For every mother who elects termination for a genetic abnormality such as Down's, there is one who would tell you how amazing her child is, and how she couldn't imagine her life without them. The idea of being able to eliminate health conditions and diseases may be wildly appealing in some ways, but for someone like me, it also throws up all kinds of red flags about manufacturing perfect fetuses.

In a society that already is fairly intolerant of anyone different, this is the kind of science that may only serve to exacerbate that. If those with ample resources can elect to eliminate diseases and conditions in their children, where will the line be drawn? Gender? Eye color?

Are we okay with the road this leads us down?

There are already doctors in Europe practicing reproductive medicine known as three person IVF, where genes deemed defective are swapped out with someone else's healthy genes. As if IVF wasn't expensive enough as it is, we now have doctors making designer babies. Is it the true privilege of the rich? Or is it just a way to avoid terrible diseases?

Time will tell, I suppose...and as with everything else, the law will lag behind the science.

Buh-bye NYC
So I wrote about global warming a little last week, about how island nations and low lying cities all over the world are in dire risk of being submerged because of rising sea levels.

This report just came out, giving the newest projections for sea level rise in the short term and long term future. It's not good news.

I won't go through the report and write all the findings here, because you really just need to read it. 

The Grammar Police
Normally, the grammar police bug me a little. Not too much because there are certain common mistakes that people make that send me jumping up and down and shaking my head. Generally though, if a person is capable of getting their point across, I'm willing to forgive some grammar errors.

I have terrible grammar, and I fully admit that, but at least I know when to use different versions of words that sound alike.

I have this thing about bad grammar though....ready?

Don't use it if you are going to be an asshole online. If *you're* hellbent on insulting someone with your words, do it right or *you're* just going to look like an idiot.

If you are calling someone out for being ignorant, make sure you can compose a coherent sentence first.

Someone had the nerve to call me stupid yesterday over something I wrote. I didn't know the guy, and a mutual friend of ours took care of it right quick, but it got me thinking.

If you're so dismissive of the opinions of others that you don't even actually process what they are saying, you've officially missed the point. If your response to something is immediately to say "fuck that", I'm going to have a hard time taking you seriously from here on out. If you tell me I'm stupid, I'm probably not going to engage whatever it is you want to argue with me about because you've already brought the conversation to a level I won't drop to.

I feel like I might need an anger translator like Luther on Key & Peele. I'm far nicer publicly than I should be, than I want to be sometimes, because I have self respect. Luther is in my head though. And the jumping and the flailing and the clapping. For serious. Ask my husband what happens when I'm fired up.

Monday, July 22, 2013

A baby is coming

Princess Kate Middleton is in labor, as you'd likely know if you've turned on a television or been anywhere near Facebook this morning. I want to believe that the paparazzi will allow her and her husband this time with privacy and discretion, and I have to hope that the cameras won't chase them all over town when the baby emerges, elbowing each other for that first picture.

You have to wonder when being famous automatically meant that you consented to being followed by total strangers 24 hours a day, to having flashbulbs go off in your face at every opportunity, to relinquishing any sense of privacy.

Obviously, I make the argument that it shouldn't. I don't just make that argument, I also refuse to buy tabloids because when you buy tabloids, you are encouraging that very behavior.

Anyhow, I wish them calm and peace, joy and love on this day.

It also got me thinking.

I've been thinking a lot about babies lately.

I had a bit of a revelation in a therapy session a few weeks ago when it comes to my experiences with pregnancy, childbirth and parenting newborns.

My first pregnancy was a true miracle. I've never been so happy in my life as I was then, feeling as though the entire cancer diagnosis and all that had led us to this moment. Then it ended in the middle of the night in a medically forced labor two days after an ultrasound told me that the baby had died.

My second pregnancy, a miracle as well, but a cautious one now because the joy was gone, ended in shock and panic when he came too early and was whisked away to the nicu and intubated. The pregnancy had been easy, and he was an easy baby once we got past all that, but those were the scariest 9 days of my life.

My third pregnancy, mostly uneventful, ended in an anticlimactic birth in a room full of too many people and cameras, but with a baby girl who was healthy. She would soon develop nightmarish colic that would last well over six months.

My fourth pregnancy was hell, from the moment of conception. I knew I was pregnant immediately and was sick within days. I lost so much weight and was so dehydrated that I needed IVs more than once. Towards the end of the pregnancy, I developed an irritable uterus, which basically just meant that I had contractions almost constantly. For six weeks. Then I tripped chasing one of the kids and strained every ligament and muscle between my knees and my chest. In excruciating pain, contracting constantly, I was just happy when it was over. And she was the sweetest, easiest baby. I developed PPD that was almost border lining on psychosis. It lasted over a year.

At this point, my therapist stopped me, knowing that I still had one child to discuss, and she pointed out something that I had never considered.

You had to combine all four of them to get one good experience. To get the joy of pregnancy, an easy pregnancy, a good labor and a healthy happy baby, all four of them had to be grouped together. Something bad, very bad, had happened each time, and I had never really allowed myself to think about that way.

Instead, I always just sort of felt like something was missing but couldn't make sense of it.

Even though I am a doula and help other women work through their experiences all the time, my own weren't making sense to me.

I can see it now, though.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, my fifth pregnancy was easy. He was early and tiny, but perfect. He was a good baby, but he was also not planned, and that fact set in motion an entirely different set of events that would tarnish all the memories that could have been good ones. That should have been good ones. I've written before a little about how, purely as a coping mechanism, I don't remember most of it. What I do remember acts as a trigger for my PTSD. My own child, a trigger for something that he had no fault in.

I know that it may sound odd, but as a woman who has been pregnant five times and who has four children now, I don't have many good memories of those moments in my life. Just playing the numbers, you would think I should.

I became a doula in the hopes of helping other women build those memories, but every once in a while, I wish that things had been different for me.

This is the part where I ask you not to lecture me about being grateful for what I have, because I am. I'm fully aware that society, women especially, expect and almost demand that we only remember the good pieces, that we never talk about the bad experiences because they mistakenly think that it somehow diminishes our love of our children. It doesn't. It just makes our experiences as mothers more real, more genuine, more honest.

I wish and hope for other women to have what I didn't.

And as much as I hate to admit it, sometimes I'm a little envious when it all happens for them.

Good luck, Princess Kate. I hope another chapter in your fairytale comes true today.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

I'm officially married to my father, and that's not a bad thing

Not actually, of course.

Before this gets weird, I must remind everyone that the man I am married to bears absolutely no relation to anyone in my family except by marriage, and that my father died two years ago.

And yet, a few nights ago, when my husband took the kids upstairs at bedtime to help brush teeth and tuck them in, I heard my Dad.

Someone had left a window open for the sole purpose of air conditioning the outside.

Someone else had left all the lights on just to run up the electricity bill.

I laughed, because I grew up hearing the same things from someone else a long time ago. Posted a status to that effect on my Facebook page, which elicited many comments from people experiencing a similar phenomenon.

My 24th birthday - 2001
My Dad on the left, husband on the right.
At some point yesterday, my husband said something about how my comment upset him.

A bit confused, I asked why.

He assumed that any comparison between him and my father was bad.

I shook my head. Quite the contrary.

Then I looked him in the eyes and asked him a few simple questions, ones that he should be well equipped to answer having known me over twenty years, most of that time having my father as a presence in my life.

Have I ever acted like anything my father did was wrong? Have I ever talked about things he did in a negative way? Have I complained about him?

He replied that I hadn't.

Then I asked him another question. Then why would you assume it's a bad thing that you're like him?

He understood. Or at least I think so.

My father was a good man. He was far from perfect, this much is true. There were rough times in my childhood and adolescence with him. Sometimes he drank too much, sometimes he yelled too much, sometimes he wanted me to stay young and naive so badly that he tried to control me too much.

Looking back on it all now, with the knowledge and perspective I have now, not just as a parent myself, but with a fuller picture of how his life actually was, I understand. Considering all the things he had to deal with, not just in an episodic way, but on a daily basis, I understand.

He was actually quite remarkable once you put the pieces together, once you see everything he had to do, everything he had to live with from his past. The fact that he was able to keep it together almost all the time says something profound about who he was.

We never fought for long, him and I, not even when I was a teenager. We both had tempers, we both argued, we both fought, but we both would wake up the next morning knowing that it was a new start and that at the end of the day we struggled so much because we were so alike.

My father had a much greater sense of family,of duty, of obligation than I ever appreciated when he was still here. I see it now because of how much things have changed in this world without him.

I've had more than a few moments since he left us that I realized just how amazing he really was.

All the same could be said about the man I built my family with.

And so, I hope that when I say something about how my husband reminds me of my father, he understands that it comes from a place of love and respect. It comes from a girl who misses her dad, and smiles when she hears something her father used to say to her come from a different voice. That the comparison can never, and will never be anything but a compliment.

It seems at times that I'm officially married to my father, and that's not a bad thing.

Not at all.

In fact, I'm pretty sure that somewhere out there, because of this, my Dad smiling right now.

Friday, July 19, 2013

This is why I don't camp

Hi. I'm not supposed to be here right now, but guess what? I am.

I'm supposed to be out there. In the wild. Sleeping on the ground and communing with nature and shit.

I have never been this happy to go camping. Ever.
Let me just say this before you read any further.

I'm not a good camper. I complain. A lot.

And yet, I found myself cursing Mother Nature last night, all night, because I was in a tent with five other people and 300 flies hoping that the wind didn't pick us up and drop us somewhere in Kansas.

I should explain.

The husband camps. He's a camper. He loves this stuff. He backpacks and hikes and fishes.

I like toilets and showers and air conditioning, plus I'm allergic to nature. Literally.

I'm seriously not kidding.
I'm allergic to nature.
This is my bubble.
In the name of teaching our kids to toughen up and love the outdoors more than their prissy mother (namely, me) does, we camp. We camp even though we have a horrid track record when it comes to ending trips prematurely because someone barfs in the tent.

The husband (who seriously wants to be a park ranger when he grows up) planned a camping trip for this weekend. One that obviously doesn't involve me sitting on the couch with my laptop and wifi.

In fact, he rejoiced and patted himself on the back when I lost service a few miles before we got there. He likes to unplug. I like the people. He likes to make me unplug and ignore the people.

We got out to the lake yesterday and it was hot, but nice. We went down to the sandy beach and swam and played. Then the blazing hot ball of fire in the air disappeared behind some clouds.

Goodbye sun. It was nice knowing you.
Afternoon thunderstorms are part of life around here, and they usually pass quickly. For the moment, we'll ignore the fact that I'd told my husband the weather was calling for rain and storms the entire time he planned for us to be there and the naysayer said nay. The naysayer was wrong.

The sun didn't come back out. Ever.

It started raining and we set up the table inside the tent figuring we would just wait out the storm, then make dinner. Checked my phone. No service. The last thing that came through before the service was gone was a flash flood warning for our hometown, which was West of where we were. Storms move from West to East, so I knew something big was coming, but had no radar to look at anymore.

The storm never ended, it just got worse and worse and worse. We ended up cooking hot dogs fast on the camping stove and telling the kids we couldn't cook anything else. Eat chips for dinner. Yes, Mom said it was okay.

I should tell you that I told the husband to buy an LED lantern this week, and he told me we didn't need one because we had a propane lantern.

I should also tell you that he should listen to his wife.

We huddled in the tent with one glow stick, a tiny flashlight and the kids' lanterns. And listened to the wind howl all night.

Rain. Thunder. Lightning all around us.


At some point, I peed in a cup because there is no way in hell I was going out there in it and hoofing it to the bathroom.

Incidentally, I realized this morning that pit toilets scare the ever-loving crap out of me. Seriously. Totally irrational fears in that little cinder block room.

The storms finally eased up sometime just before sunrise.  When we finally peeked our heads out of the tent, we saw that most of the other people in the campground had given up. Either packed up and left entirely or slept in their cars. I don't blame them. I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about it over a million times. It was still raining, but it wasn't scary storming anymore.

The husband was determined to salvage the trip and got up, re-set up the shade tent and started making coffee. Halfway through cooking breakfast, the raindrops started getting bigger and bigger and we knew it was time to call it.

So we grabbed everything as fast as we could, shoved it into the car with no rhyme or reason and started on home, with a van full of insect castaways.

Seriously. It's like we are taking part in a fly relocation program.

I should be floating around in a lake right now, or sitting on a beach and drinking a beer.

I'm home instead, running on almost no sleep, with a van full of muddy camping gear that still needs unloaded and dried out.

The camping gods were not pleased.

Clearly, I should stay indoors with my internet and air conditioning where I belong.

Hey! At least no one barfed.

That has to count for something.

Wonder(ful) Women - Malala Yousafzai, Jennifer Lawrence & Allyson Nyman

Welcome to the second edition of Wonder(ful) Women! This is my newest, and most fabulously kickass series yet, because I'm featuring real-life female superheroes every week. My hope is to bring awareness to stories in the news, and make the women I know in real life realize how much they inspire me and everyone around them.

Off we go.

Malala Yousafzai
Maybe you've heard about her. I hope that you have. If not, I'll tell you a little bit about this amazing young woman. She is 16 and from Pakistan. She is a vocal advocate for women's rights in one of the most oppressive areas of the world. The Taliban has banned girls from attending school off and on since they came into leadership in the area.

When she was 12, she wrote a blog under a pseudonym for BBC chronicling what she saw and experienced, as an oppressed female in a place where gunfire is accepted as part of life and those who rule do so with fear and intimidation. That blog prompted a documentary about her story the following year.

Last year, she was shot in the head and neck in an assassination attempt by the Taliban, but much to their dismay, she lived. She was sent to a hospital in the United Kingdom for rehabilitation. A petition in her name, titled I am Malala, has been written in the United Nations, calling for all children, male and female, around the world to be given access to proper schooling.

She was featured on the cover of Time's Most 100 Influential People in the World edition, and she certainly is an inspiration to girls everywhere. Thank you, Malala, for being strong and brave.

Jennifer Lawrence
Now, now, now....before anyone starts wondering how or why an actress made this list, hear me out.

I love this woman for a few reasons.

First, she's Katniss. Katniss is kickass. She's one of the strongest female lead characters maybe in the history of time (we'll ignore what happens by the end of the third book for now because it made me throw it across the room). She's also Tiffany from Silver Linings Playbook, who may be one of the characters I've related the most to ever on a screen. So there. (and, for serious, don't watch that movie if you've got rampant mental illness in your family without fair warning).

Second, she fights against every Hollywood stereotype. Though she's thinner than most women in the country as it is, the powers that be in Hollywood have chastised her for being too heavy. She's basically told them all to STFU about her weight, and for that I adore her.

Third, she doesn't take herself seriously at all. She knows that fame is fleeting and that she gets paid millions of dollars to stand in front of a camera and say words. She's humble. Truly humble. Something rare in this world, and refreshing. She laughs are herself. All. The. Time.

Fourth, she's freaking hilarious. She has a wicked sense of humor, she can throw just about anything back at anyone, she photobombs other celebs all the time and she flipped off the paparazzi at the Academy Awards after she tripped going up the stairs to receive her award. What's not to love?

I have hope in my heart that there are more little girls who will grow up to be like Jennifer. She is a role model for girls who want to do what they love, without being required to fit into a certain size or behave a certain way.

That, and she could probably kick your ass. In heels.

Allyson Nyman
I didn't start this series intending to include a blogger each time, but it may end up going that way for the simple fact that there are so many of them with amazing stories to tell.

Allyson told one of those stories yesterday on her blog, the crumb diaries. While she almost always shares the funny and the quirky, the anecdotal and the hilarious, life isn't always funny when you've been chosen to be Logan's mom.

Sometimes it's hard.

Sometimes it's really freaking hard.

She works harder than most people I know, she loves that boy with every ounce of her being. She has chosen to share him with us all, not just because she's open, but because she wants people to understand that there are families out there different than they ever imagined they would be. More determined to do right for their children. More vocal in their advocacy because they have to be. More patient because life demands it of them. 

She is all those mores and more.

She doesn't just do all that, no, no, no.

She works full time. She writes. She sews slombies too, which are pretty much the cutest handmade monsters ever. A project that she started to work with Logan on, it's become something much more than that, with slombies now being sold on etsy (but good luck getting one, they sell out almost immediately). She also donates them quite often to be auctioned for charity, because this is how amazing she is.

She's been working on having Logan's art transferred from paper to tattoos, which is so awesome that I can't even put words together to make sense about it. Just believe me when I tell you that I love, love, love this idea to the moon and back.

She is a supermom if ever there was one, and I'm proud to call her a friend.

In the highly unlikely event that you aren't a fan yet, go check out her Facebook page and her blog. You will be inspired. Every. Single. Day.

Ally, I'm so glad that Logan chose you. He's a lucky kid.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thursday Nerdsday - How to Survive Your First RPG Experience

So, someone asked you to play an RPG game, eh?

First, let me commend you for being willing to entertain the idea. For the vast majority of my life, I dismissed all gaming of this style for being too nerdy, too geeky, too dorky.

If you aren't sure what a RPG is, watch this. Just be warned that they swear a lot and you might suddenly want to go get some Funyons.

And it is nerdy and geeky and dorky, don't get me wrong...but that doesn't mean it's not also fun.

Get on in here. Dim the lights and draw the curtains shut. You don't want people to know this is happening.

In preparation for my first adventure, I quickly realized that you have to learn a lot of stuff in a hurry if the game is going to make any sense at all. Study your character well, know your abilities and your weaknesses. Know when you have modifiers to your abilities and attacks. This is important stuff, and there's a lot of it, all specific to your character.

If you want to dress like your character, go for it. I'm going to laugh a little, though, for sure.

If you want to talk in some bizarre Lord of the Rings-esque accent, more power to you. Make sure you use the word thwart as much as possible.

Your first, and maybe biggest decision, will happen before you ever begin play. You must choose a character. We play Pathfinder in this house, which is really D&D, they just call it something else these days. So yes, I play Dungeons and Dragons. Get that giggle out of your system because I'm about to drop some knowledge on you.

Pathfinder, as with most RPGs I know of, are collaborative games, which means that you are journeying together as a team. You do not play against one another, but with each other, working towards a common goal. This becomes important when situations arise where you don't have an ability but someone else does, and it's essential to your survival.

When choosing a character, you have two primary options. You can go with a pre-generated character, or you can start from scratch. Being that I have no idea what I am doing, I chose the pre-generated wizard dude because wizards are rad. His name is Ezren.

Ezren is pretty badass, or at least the picture looked good. And I wanted powers and shit. Of course, Ezren would have been more kickass if he was a chick, but whatever. I had no idea what I was doing.

I didn't realize that before we could actually play anything, my husband (aka the dungeon not that way, get your mind out of the gutter...geeks don't have sex, wink, wink) had to set up the game. As in, he had to decide what the journey would be, where the enemies would hide, what treasure we would find, everything. The beginner sets have a few adventures, but once you get past those, it's up to the creativity of the dungeon master.

Every good dungeon master should have a wide repertoire of voices and sound effects at his or her (really, who am I kidding with the her?) disposal.

My oldest was determined to build a brand new character from scratch, which took a long time. By the time we were ready to actually sit down down and play, I was already tired of my kitchen table being covered in the stuff. It had been two days.

I caught on pretty quickly that any time anyone wants to use an ability or fight a bad guy they have to roll for initiative or do a skill check. The 20 sided die will become your best friend. Most starter games only come with one set of dice, and if you're sharing, this game will take you f.o.r.e.v.e.r.  So get extra sets of dice for however many players you have. Yes, they sell these separately and you have to go to game stores to find them. I may have my eye on a pretty green set, if anyone wants gift ideas for me. Hint, hint.

Also, one of the best ways to turn this into a drinking game involves requiring people to take a drink anytime you face an enemy and everyone has to roll for initiative to determine the battle order. Not that I attempted to turn this into a drinking game or anything.

Of course not. That would be wrong.

Any time you roll for initiative or a skill check, you want big numbers. Always check to see if your number rolled is modified by your ability or on attack. Anything under about an 8 basically means you failed. Between that and high teens means it's up to the discretion of the dungeon master (and their rolls at times) to decide if you can use your abilities or if you hit your opponent or not. 19 or 20 generally is a slam dunk. Your abilities are good or you hit your target well enough that you might be able to kill them, depending on your damage roll...which is another die and will vary depending on which weapon you are using.

I prefer the quarterstaff, by the way. No idea why. It just sounds cool.

If you use a pre-generated character, the damage will be on the sheet already. If you generate your own character, you've got to figure all this out before you start playing or the dungeon master will whip you publicly.

Much of the game rests on the dice, obviously. Sometimes you roll well, other times you roll terribly. Once it took us over 30 minutes to kill a dragon because no one could hit anything and the dragon was a dud.

You aren't just trying to kill your enemies, they try to kill you too, and sometimes they succeed. You lose hit points every time you are injured, unless you have a high enough armor class to protect yourself. Wizards don't have armor by the that wasn't a great call on my part. I've already been killed off and brought back from the dead twice.

So now I'm a zombie wizard. Like a boss.

Don't worry too much though, no one ever stays dead long. There are potions and spells and shit that can revive you. Unless you'd rather die than play more Pathfinder, that is.

Grab a beer, get your dice and roll baby, roll.

Don't worry. No one is watching. ;)

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