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One Man Who Sees and Appreciates the Beauty of Women

February 28, 2015

Sometimes a dude talks to a woman just to talk to a woman.

We watched the kids on the playground years ago. Idle talk. How old’s yours? That’s a fun age. Yeah. Mine’s older. That’s her. Yeah, the one hanging by her toes and singing Pink songs. Sure, I’m proud, and surprised. It was an AC/DC day this morning.

My toe-hanger managed to sneak off the bars and amble to my elbow.

Standing breathless, hands on hips, like an Olympian waiting for the judges’ reaction. Then she sizes up the young mom at my side, “Gee dad,” she proclaimed as she galloped back to havoc, “you have tons of girlfriends. Gabi, Shelley, Kesha…"

Thanks kid.

Never mind that Gabi’s a 2004 Pontiac Grand-Am. Or that Shelley’s my sugar-voiced GPS. And that Kesha’s just one of my musical crushes. (So are Diana Krall and Basia. Jules Day and Norah Jones. Cher Lloyd and Ingrid Michaelson._

It’s a wide range. But see, that’s the beauty of a woman. (Check out more work here, and look for the hashtag #BOAW.)

Boys learn this in increments. If you learn it right, it might begin with Judy Jetson and Cinderella. You graduate to your kindergarten teacher’s aide and Brooke Shields. It evolves into prom dates, and the women we’ll marry and our one-day daughters. As long as you draw breath, it grows.

When you’re 4…

The beauty of a woman begins with mom. It starts the day you were born. It’s in Snoopy sheets and bedtime stories. It’s the warmth of home and security of love. It’s your favorite colors on your birthday cake. Mom’s is the first beauty in a woman you’ll experience.

When you’re 11…

The beauty of a woman shows in a teacher who believes in you. It’s in the little sister you’ll pick on and tease, and will always stick up for. You’ll even throw crab apples at bullies. It’s the way your pulse races when your crush sits next to you in a reading circle. If your knees touch, it’s magic.

You find it in the first girl you kiss. When you ask the boys at lunch who’ve been there, and some who haven’t… how does this work?

It’s there when you dig a girl enough to ask her to be your girlfriend. It’s there when you can’t understand why she breaks up with you the same day. It’s learning that a teenager should spend his recess with his arm around his girl. Not playing football. Girls mystify. For years and years.

Even when you’re 19…

It’s an art appreciation teacher with wavy hair in a hippie skirt. You’d wind up in an art museum on a Saturday afternoon for extra credit. Also, just so you could hear her speak about art. It’s sneaking into a concert for a glimpse of your favorite, soulful, jazz singer. It’s finding yourself under the spotlight as she sings to you and holds your hand.

That’s the beauty of a woman you notice at age 19. It’s that rush you remember five years ago when the swimsuit issue arrived. It’s different, though. It’s lingering on the eyes for reasons you can’t understand.

By the time you’re 26…

You recognize the beauty in a woman’s eyes and it compels you kneel and propose. You hear it in your first-born daughter’s cries. They’re so overwhelming you cover your mouth with both hands the moment she’s born.

It’s there as your baby’s cries subside. When her tiny hands find your finger and your familiar voice soothes her. It’s seeing her mother’s beauty in her. It happens again in a second daughter born just as your world seems to crumble around you. Your heart expands with the rebirth.

The beauty of a woman, by age 32…

It’s in the nurses who work at Duke Hospital. In the women who let you stay beyond visiting hours. It’s the one who, after you decide to turn off life support, returns to shave his face one last time – with tears in her eyes.

It’s in the daughter, born three months after dad dies. It’s in her blue skin after birth which comes alive in healthy pink in an instant. It’s in her mother’s fight through complications. It’s in the light a brown-eyed baby can bring to a man’s darkened heart. It shines brighter in a man’s third daughter as she grows and thrives and loves… even as he reaches 40.

A man’s eyes will falter and crow’s feet will wrinkle his face. He still sees the beauty of a woman, though.

It’s on the soccer field when girls fight through adversity and doubt. It’s there through injury and first goals and championships and heartbreak. He sees it as they hook their soul on the pride of team. It’s clear to him with wins and losses, goals and gaffes, ebbs and flows. It’s a goalkeeper with head held high and tears flowing after a state playoff loss.

It’s in the woman who can somehow spot beauty in him when he feels his most dim.

It’s in a community of women writers who support his work and comment and share the love.

It covers the expanses of time and the fissures between it. It’s as grand as Amelia Earhart’s courage, and as minute as a favorite rock. It’s rich and it’s true. It’s in the women we adore, and yes, in the child who calls you out on the playground for your widespread adoration.

Sometimes, a dude just talks to a woman. He can see the beauty of her, everywhere.

When he’s not coaching and playing dad for his three fierce diva daughters, Eli Pacheco writes a blog called Coach Daddy. Follow him on Google+ and Twitter.

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Are the "Mean Girls" Always Mean Girls? Or Can They Change?

February 27, 2015

Remember them from high school? Every school had ‘em (and they still do).

Maybe you were one.

Or perhaps you were bullied by them.

I’m sure the decision to partake in the former was often an attempt to avoid facing the latter. A tough choice; an outcome of desperation, perhaps, or fear?

Fear that they’d be shunned by their group- left, without friends, to fend for themselves when, in fact, it could have been their chance to create some genuine friendships with other people.

Well, maybe…

Unless, of course, they’d made too many enemies during their reign as a Mean Girl in which case, staying where they were was likely the safest option, even if it did lack security and substance.

I don’t know what went through their minds. I wasn’t a Mean Girl. Well, not in my teen years anyway. I was a bossy little brat as a kid, though. Mostly toward my friends. I’m not quite sure why but I’m inclined to blame it on OCS (Only Child Syndrome), whereby any way but my way was deemed unacceptable by me. Yeah, ME: the person whom the world was meant to revolve around.

I’ve been really lucky though. My friends chose to stay around long enough for me to discover that other people deserve to get their way too, and that powerful things happen when you’ve got each other’s backs and best interests at heart.

In fact, these friendships, along with others that I’ve made through the years, are a sacred source of strength, support and laughter.

I can’t help but wonder if the Mean Girls from high school have been able to have friendships like that? I also wonder if they ever think about the isolation and sadness that they made people feel back then or of the long-term consequences of their cruelty. Do they regret the pain that they caused? Are they embarrassed? Ashamed? Remorseful? Will they be open about it with their own kids? Or are they unaware of the cruel role that they played?

It’s possible that they’ve carried on as they were and are now the bitchy moms at the soccer game, checking to see if your yoga pants are lululemon while mothering daughters who are destined to be the next generation of Regina George and Co.

I wonder if the Mean Girls ever meet up with their high school crew and if so, do they slip back into old behaviours in each other’s presence? Whereby they start randomly incorporating “like” into the conversation with their noses stuck in the air and their heads cranked to the side in a bid to maintain hair placement. Do they still make fun of people? Or have they moved on from this, and each other, with the intention of becoming kinder, more genuine people?

I’m also a bit confused by their smiles when I see them at the grocery store. Is it their way of apologizing for the things they said and did back then – a signal that they are no longer mean?

When I hear people say: “they’re nice now,” should I not be skeptical? Because, I am…

I don’t know.

I almost need to see them wearing a t-shirt or a badge that says: “I was a Mean Girl and I’m Sorry…”

I’d like to know that they acknowledge the way they were and the hurt that they caused before I accept that they’ve changed for the better. I hope they can at least be honest with themselves and use their experiences to help their kids make better choices. Maybe they’ll even reach out and apologize personally to the people that they belittled and bullied?

I have more questions than answers when it comes to Mean Girls and bullying in general but I know this: if I ever found out that any of my daughters were bullying or picking on people, I’d be deeply saddened. Firstly, I’d look into why it was happening, and then, I imagine, we would go straight to the victims and hopefully work together to find a way to make it up to them. But, I really don’t know how I’d react.

I’d be inclined to drive my daughter to school, park right out front, windows down with Tom Petty’s Free Fallin’ playing full blast. I’d then hop out of the car, with my nose held high, while revealing my best Mean Girl outfit (circa 1990), including a tucked in sweater. With an orange face, big hair and a crooked neck so it hangs just like so, I’d shout: “Have a great day honey!” And off she’d go, knowing what it feels like to be humiliated.

I’m all talk though, I’d never publicly embarrass my daughters… not unless it was absolutely necessary.

There won’t be any Mean Girls in this family, though- hell no! And if any come around anywhere near my girls they’d best keep an ear out for Tom Petty in the distance and be very, very afraid.

This post has been inspired by, Tara Wilson, who writes over at Don’t Lick the Deck. We’ve become friends recently, through BLUNTmoms. Please go and read her heartbreaking story of the suffering that she endured in high school. It’s called: Losing my Ticket and my Trust.

Shannon Day is wife to one gorgeous, yet slightly overbearing Brit, and mom to three little ladies. Once a teacher, now a story maker and occasional cocktail shaker, she shares her tales, martini recipes and her shenanigans over at Martinis & Motherhood. Shannon is a regular contributor for BLUNTmoms and is co-founder of Tipsy Squirrel Press. You can also find her on Scary Mommy, Mamalode, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Stop Procrastinating Pull Up Lovin' Parents and Potty Train!

February 26, 2015

If you’re a parent that’s using Pull Ups… STOP. Just STOP right here. You don’t need to read on. Because you’re obviously scared. You’re obviously putting off the P-O-T-T-Y because you don’t want to deal with the disgusting, ugly, filthy, stinky truth about Potty Training.

You’ve heard the stories from other parents. Horrible, epic stories about kids pooping and peeing all over pristine houses. I’m here to tell you – the stories are all true. (Except for that story about Susie, who was soooooo smart that she was completely potty trained by 19-months old. That one is bull).

Potty Training will scare the $h!t out of you (pun intended). You will be cleaning up bodily fluids for days. You will smell. Your kid will smell. You will go through gallons of bleach, loads of laundry and bottles of vodka. This is all true. But, maybe, just maybe, spelling out the rewards of potty training will motivate even the most procrastinatin’, Pull Up lovin’ parents out there.

Here are the reasons why potty training is rewarding:

1. Hundreds of dollars will miraculously appear back in your pocket. Diapers are like what, $25 a box? This gets you about 58 diapers which lasts maybe a week. That’s $100 a month! Get your hair done mama! For gawd sakes get a massage! Daddy – go get that dapper jacket you’ve been eyeing. These are your “Diaper Dollars,” your “Massage Monies,” your “Booze Bucks.” Spend it on you – you’ve earned it after the hell you’ve gone through.

2. No more brown streaks on your hands. That’s right… I’m talking about that fecal matter that rubbed off on the top of your hand while you were wiping your kid. Yeah… no more of that.

3. A child that can independently go to the bathroom. You will never have to waste two more minutes of YOUR time changing a diaper. Hell, you can answer e-mails, take a drink of your coffee, and tweet all while your kid is peeing or taking a poo…IN THE POTTY.

4. You won’t have to search for a baby changing table in every grocery store, restaurant or Starbucks again! Or, for that matter, you won’t have to change your kid’s diaper on the floor of some germ-infested bathroom again (because the facility you are visiting was too cheap to install a damn changing table).

Have I convinced you to come to the other side? If yes, let’s talk Potty Training Boot Camp.

Before I proceed, pull out the booze. Whatever your booze of choice is – make sure you have enough for three straight days. If you don’t drink, God help you.

Potty Training Boot Camp Directions:

1. You will not be going anywhere for 2-3 days. Nowhere. And why would you want to? By the time you’re done you’ll look and smell like you’ve been locked in a Porta Potty for a year.

2. Get a gallon of bleach ready to go (along with rubber gloves, a mop and paper towels).

3. Rip off your child’s diaper.

4. Put the potty out in a visible place. If you haven’t at least introduced the potty to your child, you’re not ready for this. It’s not time for the potty training boot camp. Wait until your kid knows what a potty is. Wait until your child has done either #1 or #2 in the potty a few times.

5. Be prepared for several false alarms. Your kid will tell you they have to go potty. Only, really, you’ll be sitting next to them while they “go” on the potty reading books every 10 minutes.

6. Let your child get wet (and poop) numerous times. It’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it. That person is you. No one likes the feeling of being soaked in human waste. No one. Not even your toddler. Let them feel how disgusting it is to pee and poop all over themselves. It sounds barbaric, it sounds extreme! It works.

7. Bribe your child if you have to. I said it. And I don’t care. I bribed my first kid with animal crackers. Every time she peed or pooped in the potty, she got an animal cracker. I’m bribing my 2-year old with Graham Crackers. And the deal is… big sister gets one too if little sister goes on the potty. (The older child will be on your team if you put something in the deal for them. They will be your little one’s biggest cheerleader). So bribe ’em both I say!

8. Do NOT yell at your child for not making it to the potty. This will discourage. Explain to them over and over and over and over (x’s 50 again), that they need to go pee and poop IN THE POTTY.

9. Take a swig sister. Take a gulp daddy. You’re almost there.

So if you’re even thinking that now is the time to potty train your child… what are you waiting for? Do it! The first opportunity you have to lock yourself in the house for 2-3 days, put it on the calendar and let ’er rip. Literally.

Screw the potty training sticker charts, the singing potty (that sings Dora songs as the pee hits the sensor in the potty bowl) and screw the book on potty training at Amazon that you looked up while reading this post.

Go old school. Go for the stinkiest route, with the longest lasting rewards.

And call me to hang out when your cleaning crew leaves on the third day. I’ll be happy chat it up with you about potty training hell. I’ll even help you drink the rest of your booze stash.

Sarah writes at Missguided Mama where gives her kids enough material to write a book about her one day, until then, they’re her material. Find her on Twitter at @missguidedmama.

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Photo by: Stacey Gill

Why Is Teen Fashion So... Ugly?

February 25, 2015

I recently spent some time at the mall. It’s something I vigorously try to avoid, but I have a teenage daughter and that complicates my efforts. It seems teenage girls’ life-blood springs directly from the mall… or they can buy it there or something. I don’t know. I try not to get too involved. I just know teen girls must go to the mall frequently or they’ll “die”. And, considering we were having mid-winter break (because two weeks of winter break apparently isn’t enough), and The Kid racked up a good amount of gift cards over Christmas, I agreed to take her.

I also had to go to the Mac Store, which was the true reason for the excursion, because my laptop appears to be dying a slow, painful and rather inexplicable death. I fear it’s going to crash and burn at any moment leaving me with nothing but the smoking, charred remains of my cumulative life’s work at which point I’ll have to stab myself repeatedly through the heart… so we went.

After running his clearly inadequate diagnostic tests, Julio at the Genius Bar told me there was basically nothing wrong with my Mac. However, I know my computer is possessed by a demon force and is about to blow, but Julio – no matter how genius he is (and I do believe he believes himself to be genius) – could not detect it.

So, we left and headed for that hallowed retail ground of teenage youth, H&M.

I don’t know what’s happened in the fashion industry in the past decade or so, but they seem to have abandoned all basic design principles. Like the clothing should look, well, good. While inside H&M – among numerous other stores my daughter and her teenage comrades frequent – I found some rather disturbing fashion trends. And they need to stop. Now.

My daughter pulled this little number off the rack and looked at me with pleading eyes. I said no. I wasn’t spending good money on something that looked like a little old lady with dated fashion sense playing shuffleboard on the Lido deck of a cruise ship headed to Puerto Vallarta might be wearing.

Then I saw this. I think Jan from the Brady Bunch wore this outfit when they went on their Hawaiian vacation.

Seriously, did they drag this outfit out of set storage from Fantasy Island? It’s straight out of 1970. And it didn’t even look good then. Have we learned nothing?

And then there was this, a throw back to my grandma’s wallpaper.

Now that we’ve taken a walk through the horribly misguided 70’s, we enter the 80’s.

My husband once had a sweater like the one on the left when I first met him, only in electric blue. I immediately made him get rid of it.

My eyes nearly broke when I saw this.

Is this meant to be ironic? Please tell me it’s meant to be ironic.

I don’t think it’s meant to be ironic.

Even if it is, it’s so hideous why would the fashion-conscious teenage masses want to wear it?!? Are they even aware it’s meant to be ironic? Most of the references on the clothing predates the kids. They have no idea what the hell a Furby even is. Or who The Rolling Stones or Jimi Hendrix or Pink Floyd, whose album covers grace t-shirts in teen stores, are for that matter.

Finally, I give you this.

Why, teenage girls? Why?

Stacey Gill is an award-winning journalist and mastermind behind the humor blog, One Funny Motha. Her work has appeared on such sites as The Huffington Post, BlogHer, Scary Mommy, and Mamalode. In 2014 she was named one of the Top 10 Funny Parent Bloggers of the Year by VoiceBoks. Perhaps most importantly, she is the proud founder of the Detached Parenting Movement, a child-rearing model she single-handedly developed without any guidance or advanced degrees in child psychology. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Why Adult Men and Women Can't Be "Just Friends"

February 24, 2015

When I was a teen and in my 20s, I had a few close guy friends. Had you asked me then if men and women could be friends, I would not have hesitated to answer: abso-f#@king-lutely! After all, those were the days when we thrived on complication. It was the time to blur those lines, to dive into the unknown and to entertain the what ifs and why nots as we so fancied. Those blurry-lined friendships were a rite of passage. They educated us on the kinds of relationships we’d have throughout our lives.

Looking back, there were catagories for these types of male/female friendships:

  • The “Just Friends” Friend: You know the ones. You’d spend hours on the phone or hanging out talking about whatever. You may have even messed around once or twice just to test the waters, but nothing serious. You were never “a couple”, always “just friends” with a few elements of couplehood thrown in there. But when one of you was in a relationship, things got a little weird, but you still remained friends.
  • The “It’s Complicated” Friend: Male/female friendships might have appeared simple back then, but chances are they weren’t. One side always wanted more while the other likely relished in the adoration. Typically, one of the two was “keeping their options open” without giving up the attention, while the other kept hoping that one day they’d be more than friends.
  • The “Socially United” Friend: Now don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of friendships that didn’t have the above mentioned elements, but they were more social unions within groups. These male/female relationships were not complicated at all. They consisted of fun times in social settings. They didn’t extend to late-night phone calls nor did they consist of any soul-revealing conversations or one-on-one “just friends” time together, which is why they remained uncomplicated… but also, were you really friends?

Now that I’m older and married, I have only one true male friendship, my husband, because I honestly believe that men and women cannot just be friends; not close ones, anyway. Of course I have some male “friends” – they are the “Socially United” kind. There are no private text messages and deep conversations. These men are my husband’s friends or my girlfriends’ partners. These friendships aren’t even remotely complicated, but then again, are we really friends or just friends of convenience?

Do you disagree? Perhaps you’re sitting there rolling your eyes thinking: who is this narrow-minded idiot? Maybe you have a more open approach to relationships and boast a close friendship with someone of the opposite sex (who isn’t gay) that totally disputes my point-of-view. If this is the case, I really would love to hear what you have to say. But before you comment, please have another quick read of “It’s Complicated” to ensure that your friendship doesn’t, in fact, fall into one of the described scenarios. It’s easy to justify a friendship where you’re the one being adored. And also consider if you’re a part of another doomed formula like, you-used-to-be-a-couple-but-now-you-are-friends, for example. I just don’t believe that a close friendship, within those circumstances, can be a genuinely platonic and positive experience for everyone involved.

Are you starting to see my point-of-view yet? If your friendship does happen to slide into one of the above scenarios, and you are in a long-term relationship, be honest with yourself. What is the point of your friendship? Where is it heading? And wouldn’t your time and energy be better spent within your own intimate relationship?

Life can be complicated enough, so when it comes to the topic of male/female friendships, I choose simplicity. If you’ve been in my heart or my pants (or you’d like to be) then you shouldn’t be in my life or even on my Facebook for that matter.

So go ahead- de-clutter! Purge those uneasily defined friendships from your life and then head over to your Facebook and your Twitter and do a quick, well intentioned, cleansing there too. Unblur those lines. And just love the one you’re with.

Shannon Day is wife to one gorgeous, yet slightly overbearing Brit, and mom to three little ladies. Once a teacher, now a story maker and occasional cocktail shaker, she shares her tales, martini recipes and her shenanigans over at Martinis & Motherhood. Shannon is a regular contributor for BLUNTmoms and is co-founder of Tipsy Squirrel Press. You can also find her on Scary Mommy, Mamalode, Facebook, and Twitter.

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