Win a $110 Target Gift Card for Your #SummerHappy


I work Monday-Friday, 7:30-4. I leave home at 6:55 for the 7:03 bus, then get on the train. I’m usually there by 7:25. The office is miserably cold; I’m wrapped in a blanket most days — an actual blanket, that I bought with the express purpose of using in the frigid igloo office. The running joke last year was coworkers were going to buy me a Snuggie for my birthday or Christmas. Both of those gloriously fantastic days passed without my receiving a backwards fleece robe. I guess they were joking. I wasn’t.

We’re losing space at work, so I’m sharing a desk and have to telework two days a week. I am not complaining about this. Working, from home, rarely getting dressed, while possibly eating all the kids’ snacks because what else does one do when one is home and in pajamas with Chopped on in the background and there are snacks?


But, now that it’s summer, it’s slightly difficult to concentrate what with the arguing and the whining and the begging for snacks I’ve already eaten. It’s been raining a lot too, which doesn’t bode well for telling them to just go outside already.


At least it’s warm.

I keep saying I’m going to go to the library for the quiet, but I never do. There’s the whole getting dressed aspect, but then there’s just missing all of this. I complain about them being loud and bothersome, sure, but really, otherwise I’d be at the office freezing, watching the clock angry that it’s only four minutes since the last time I looked. As usual, I add the caveat that this is not how I feel all the time; sometimes I’d RATHER be at the office because conversations like this are not conducive to an editor’s ability to edit:

This is hard too. I can’t type like this, y’all.


On days that I telework, I still do 7:30-4. When I come downstairs around 7:20, I tiptoe. There’s a pattern you have to walk on the stairs in order to miss the creaky ones. And yet, he wakes up 11 minutes after me, without fail. And he joins me. And I feed him first breakfast. There’s no electronics use for them until 10, so he plays alone until his sisters get up. We didn’t do camps this year, so the days are long free-for-alls. He also talks, incessantly, about the most random things. It doesn’t aid my concentration, but come on, where else am I going to be asked jokes like how did the elephant skate in the street? Because he had on purple underwear.

Some days are busier than others and I absolutely have to put my foot down and say no, I’m working. And then other days, I tend to listen to, then laugh at, the jokes. After all, it’s summer. And he’s Spiderman.


The entire Happy Mamas Team is encouraging happy summer adventures by asking you to share your #SummerHappy with us on Instagram.


You can enter ONE photo each day with the hashtag #SummerHappy via our favorite photo social sharing app, Instagram, between now and August 1st for a chance to win a $110 Target gift card.

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Turn Yourself ‘Inside Out’ with Pixar’s Newest

Happiness is expected. That’s my takeaway from “Inside Out.” Or, fake it ’til you make it. Pretend to be happy. You should be happy, there’s nothing to be unhappy about, and even if there is, look on the bright side. Sometimes the bright side is covered in muck. And sometimes, that’s not all bad. Feeling what we feel, not pretending it doesn’t exist, not trying to tamp it down because it’ll make others uncomfortable or worried, is what “Inside Out” is all about: sadness and joy can coexist, or at the very least, not beat each other to a pulp for ruling our minds.

We start with Riley and her parents having moved to California from Minnesota. She’s had to leave her friends, her school, at a point in her life when her hormones are in flux. Ungood. We get to see first hand how our emotions, at that age, are vying for control. At her new school, Riley KNOWS she wants to play it cool, but because sadness has run amok in her mind, she’s unable.

I can’t remember if that was the first time I cried.

I polled my kids, ages 14, 11, and 5, on their favorite part (I also asked my husband, but he was all, animation and symbolism and voices and comparison to other Pixar movies and OK, THANKS, I’LL COME BACK TO YOU). The five-year-old is almost always unclear with his movie assessments and criticisms. This time was no different. He liked the colors.

The 14-year-old didn’t have a specific favorite part. She liked the whole thing. Please stop trying to force her into giving a real answer. “It was sweet.”

The 11-year-old. Yeah. She’s still talking. I’ve left the room, backed away slowly, but she’s still going. How long has it been? Why is she still talking? Is she still talking to me? I don’t know anymore. Maybe she’s talking to her imaginary . . . OHHHHHHHHHHH. Bing Bong.

She is who I thought of when Bing Bong disappeared. She doesn’t have imaginary friends now, per se, but she does still do a LOT of imaginary play. Here’s to hoping that lasts a little bit longer, amid her desires to have a phone and Skype with her friends like Riley.

The suggestion that sadness ruins things is prevalent throughout the movie; just look at when Joy makes Sadness stay within a circle on the floor lest she destroy more core memories. Riley’s parents constantly try to get her to cheer up (she does the same with them when their moving van is late, starting an impromptu indoor hockey game. I catch myself doing the same with my children. I want to be in control. I want to feel like I’m providing everything for their happiness. Yet, I’ll probably never be privy to ALL that’s going on inside their heads, let alone be able to control it).

The overall theme, again, is that sadness and joy can live together without one being in control all the time. Sadness has a place in all of our psyches, as does joy, fear, disgust, and anger. Each plays a role; sometimes one is in charge, but “Inside Out” shows us that no one emotion should be (or can) work alone.

Separately, the short at the beginning of the movie, Lava, is adorable. What I love about animation, movies period, is the way they can be symbolic, yet wholly indicative of real, current, life.


I received screening passes from Allied, but all thoughts/words are my own.

There Is No Room for Your Buts About McKinney

Photo from

I see you. You’re on Twitter or Facebook calling yourself the voice of reason because everything isn’t racial, Arnebya, stop making everything racial.

I love that dress, but . . .

When you add but, you qualify your statement. You also negate the statement’s intention. How would it feel to simply say what comes after the but? It’s still true for you, but you want to couch the true sentiment in fake agreement or compliment.

I love that dress, but you look like Morticia Adams in it. Wouldn’t it be easier to say, you look like Morticia Adams? If that seems rude, then say the former part, and leave it at that.

The word but is a conjunction. It ties both parts of your sentence together, even if you’re attempting to separate them; you mean well, but your statement, at its base, is flawed and rudely, seemingly purposefully, ignorant.

The officer seemed out of control, but . . .

But what? I’ve heard a few endings:

. . . there were so many of them

. . . they weren’t listening or leaving, and some had the audacity to back talk

. . . they didn’t belong in that neighborhood anyway

. . . they ran

. . . let’s wait for more details

. . . he doesn’t deserve to lose his job over this

So many of them. Them, who? The teens who were invited guests to that announced pool party? Oh. The sea of Black faces. Too many. In your space.

Not listening or leaving, and then, by golly, the nerve — back talking. Gasp. Everyone has the right to ask questions. Being silent is allowing something to happen to you against your will, something you disagree with. Disagreement is allowed. Questions are allowed.

Not belonging in that neighborhood. I counter this with “invited.”

Running. As much as I wish it weren’t, running is a natural reaction when coupled with fear, yes, of police, even if one has done NOTHING wrong.

By details you mean what? Let’s wait to see what the kids did to provoke this reaction, right? What did the kids do to make them be handcuffed and slammed to the ground, with a knee in a back, with a wail for a mom to be called. That’s what you mean, right?

Job loss. Income loss. Livelihood loss. You think he doesn’t deserve anything that detrimental to happen as a result of this. You think it shouldn’t affect his future. No one was shot, after all. But don’t you see? He immediately assumed every Black child there, especially the boys, were up to no good. He tried to recover from tripping by going into a tactical maneuver barrel roll because that made sense against teens in swimwear. He slammed a teenager to the ground then put his knee in her back. And you think he deserves to remain a cop? You think he deserves no adverse actions against him? He was just protecting after all.

But protecting whom?

Or, you’ll say, “I’m just playing devil’s advocate.” Since when has the devil needed an advocate? He’s got enough pull to get shit done without you. You are only able to see “the other side” because you refuse to see anything else. Tehre is nothing open about your determined recitation of that officer protecting the community. There is nothing compassionate in your seeing the other side; you obliterate any chance to see or understand the side of the person pinned to the ground.

What if it was your child, I ask. And you seamlessly dismiss it. YOUR child would have been quiet when told to be. Your child would not have been there to begin with. But don’t you see? You have the privilege of ease and conviction in your answer. Your child is likely the one who says he felt invisible.

Before you go all “you’re so judgmental” on me, none of this should be taken as suggesting I am not without flaws. I am a flawed woman. One essential defect that comes immediately to mind is that I continuously try to hear you. I keep hoping that there is something you will say that will make me understand how you can condone this man’s behavior. (Are we really going to continue calling him a cop? I don’t think he deserves that distinction or that badge. The officers in my life have taken an oath to protect rather that act as though teens in bikinis and swim trunks pose a physical threat.)

In the same vein as dissecting behavior and how we word things, Josh Duggar was 14 when he says he inappropriately touched girls, siblings. He deserves our understanding rather than judging because 14-year-olds know not what they do. And yet the McKinney video shows a similarly aged teen being tossed to the ground and kneed to remain so. But, where is our understanding of her continuing to talk as she walked away? Where is our immediate suggestion or outright demand that she be dealt with, especially by an armed officer, according to her age? Where is the determined statement that she did nothing wrong?

It’s as though you won’t accept that one can refuse to condone the behavior of one cop (and the inaction of others) without condemning every officer that has taken the oath. This flawed reasoning can be applied to almost every profession: doctors, lawyers, teachers. People in general. Some are bad. All are not. Calling out the bad does not taint the rest unless you like to live in qualifyland.

Yes, I’m angry. Yes, I’m hurt. Yes, I feel for those teens because when will they feel safe again? When will they say yes to another pool party? When will they not cringe in fear of the police, even in situations where they’ve done no wrong? When will they visit friends in other neighborhoods and not be afraid that the racist neighbor won’t call the police? What upsets me most is the passive racism shown by the adults in the video. The cop’s behavior was acceptable. The teens were out of place and should have expected this. Black lives matter only when it’s convenient, only when we act right, aren’t mouthy, don’t give the impression of wrongdoing.


The teen girl who was thrown to the ground and the boys who were handcuffed were not seen as people. When someone doesn’t see you, that person doesn’t award you any kind of dignity, so treating you in an undignified manner doesn’t feel wrong. You aren’t a person anyway. Not a deserving of respect person. And teens tend to be less respected anyway, their thoughts and opinions rendered moot because of lack of experience. They will carry this a long time. It will be considered experience.


And if you want to know more about the history of Black people in pools, read this, which includes this: “I mean, basically it boils down to swimming polls being very intimate spaces, both physically intimate and also visually intimate. And so physically intimate, in the sense that you’re sharing the same water. And there has always been fears, in terms of using swimming pools, about being exposed to the dirt and the disease of other swimmers.”

That Time We Didn’t Have an Oven for Six Months

I can’t remember what I had in the oven. Chicken? Pork chops? I had the oven on broil. On high. And then there were fireworks.


No, not really. I turned the oven off, took out whatever I was cooking, and finished it on top of the stove. I didn’t think about what had happened because dinner and rushing and think about it later. Later happened the next day when I went to turn on the oven and ohhhhhhhhhhh yeah.

I told the guy who lives with me that the oven wouldn’t cut on. I assumed that meant the guy would fix it. The guy did not.

It’s not his fault, really. Not entirely. We were equally lazy about having it fixed. I called Electrolux and was told it was one of two things, but since our warranty had recently expired (of course it did!), we had to either buy one and see if it was that, then buy the other if it wasn’t, or call a repair person. We opted for the professional. DO YOU KNOW HOW FEW PROFESSIONAL APPLIANCE REPAIRMEN ARE IN THE DC AREA? Few. We even tried the underground circuit, friends of friends, and stopping people in the grocery store who we hadn’t seen since high school: Hey, Jimmy! How’s your mom? Do you have an ohm meter?

We found five “professionals” and called all. Two of them had quotes high as a giraffe’s ass. The others never even responded. Over the next few weeks I became a master of the crock pot.

Child 1: This Hawaiian crock pot chicken tastes just like the orange crock pot chicken.

Thanksgiving was approaching and there was NO way I was going to be without an oven (a turkey! Biscuits!). We called Sears. There was a base fee for coming out, then if you chose them for service, they deducted the initial fee from the total. We scheduled service for the Monday on the week of Thanksgiving. The window was 9-12. I called at 11:00 to make sure we were still on the schedule. We were. At 1:30 the repairman called to say he was on his way. Um, no. We rescheduled for the following week. Do you know what that meant? No biscuits. No turkey. Not prepared by me, at least. I can’t remember what we took to my sister-in-law’s for Thanksgiving. IT WASN’T BAKED, THAT’S FOR DAMN SURE.

Child 2: Everything from the crock pot tastes like it’s from the crock pot. There is no texture.

The Sears person never showed up that next week. We took our chances ordering the part. $90 and an installation later, it didn’t work.

The children are starting to turn on us, whining that everything from the crock pot tastes the same. This goes on for weeks because lazy and money and a purchased crock pot recipe book.

We order the other part, $100+, with express shipping, and pray to the gods of dessert treats.

Child 3: My sisters don’t like the crock pot.

Electrolux guy: Ma’am, that part was on backorder, but it’s your lucky day. It’s in the warehouse now, received today. It will go out tomorrow since it’s already after 3 pm.

Next day:

Me: Hi, I’m calling to get a tracking number for my order.

Her: Do you have an order number?

Me: Yes. (gives number)

Her: Oh, that hasn’t left the warehouse yet. It doesn’t look like it’s moved past the arrival scan. That means someone needs to scan it and put it on the shelf so it reads as officially in stock, even though I can tell it’s there. Give a call back tomorrow.

(Repeat scene for three days.)

Following week.

Me: Hi, I’m calling to get a refund on express shipping.

(Gives order number)

Her: Oh, well, since it’s on backorder —

Me: It’s not. It WAS, but the day that I ordered, it had been delivered to the warehouse, so it’s available. That’s why I did express shipping.

Her: Well, you were told it was backordered, so I can’t refund it.

Me: It wasn’t on backorder when I ordered it. It was sitting in the warehouse waiting to be scanned. That’s what I was told when I ordered, that it had just been received off backorder. That’s why I ordered express shipping, to get it that same week. I’ve also been told that I would get a refund.

Her: I can’t issue a refund on the shipping because the notes say you were told it was on backorder. You knew it when you ordered, so I can’t just refund something that you were aware of just because you didn’t get it when you wanted it.

Me: Those notes are inaccurate in that yes, I was told it HAD BEEN on backorder, but was not anymore. The social care person I spoke with emailed that I’d receive a refund. Is there a manager I can speak with?

Her: Can you forward me the email?

Me: Sure.

(Minutes pass on hold)

Her: OK, because you were told you’d get a refund, I’ll issue it. This is only because they overstepped and put that in writing. Because since you were told it was on backorder, you really shouldn’t be getting a refund on the faster shipping.

Me: Bitch, I’ma find out where you live and come steal every box of Bisquick, all the flour from your area, YOU WON’T HAVE BISCUITS FOR YEARS, I HATE YOU AND SO DOES YOUR MOTHER.


Tthe part arrives. I sit quietly as my husband disassembles, then reassembles, the part of the oven that died. When I hear the familiar beep and click of the oven turning on, I lay my head on the table and weep. For the biscuits.

You find religion real fast as you tell everyone about your new-found fortune: The oven works. HE IS RISEN, AMEN.

That night, I handed the kids their plates. And then in the middle of the table I sat a heaping plate of bread.

Child 1: Are those . . . JESUS IS REAL.

I have yet to select broil on the oven since.