Category: parenting

img_0100

I’m not sure where you find yourself reading this, but over here in Oregon, we are still smack dab in the middle of a Snowpocolypse.

img_0095

And after 23 days of straight togetherness with my little people there are only two things I have to say about this:

  1. Oregon, you are beautiful to look at. Stunning, even. You are such a show off with your wild mysterious rivers, your wide open prairies, and your jutting snow-capped mountains. I love you. You’re gorgeous.
  2. But if you don’t calm down with the snow and the cancelled school days I am going to move away and never look back. I hear Texas is real nice this time of year. I’ll do it, I swear.

Read More…

image

By the time you read this, some of you have already enjoyed weeks of your littles being back in school.

It’s okay. It’s fine. I am not jealous of you.

It’s something I’ve learned to deal with, living in our time zone over here in the Pacific Northwest. The views are stunning, the air is crisp and clear, the rivers are wild and mysterious. But living life on some kind of delayed loop from the rest of the world really bites sometimes.

It seems that %80 of humans get to experience most of life a solid 2-3 hours ahead of us Oregonians. When it comes time for anything really important, like election coverage, the Bachelor finale, or one of the precious few new Game of Thrones episodes, I’ve learned the hard way to STAY OFF THE INTERNET. Otherwise it all gets spoiled.

Also, don’t judge me for putting the election in the same category as junk TV. This is where we are in 2016.

Adding insult to injury, everyone and their Aunt Fay also gets to be on a school schedule that is roughly an entire semester ahead of us. Every single May I see pictures of my internet friends’ kids doing cannonballs into pools with Hasthag-FirstPoolDay while I am counting down the 17 lunches I still have to pack with Hasthag-DoUncrustablesCountAsLunch?

Every single August, when we are finally finding our summer groove, everyone else is posting pictures of their littles holding tiny chalkboards with their new grade written on it, or pictures of their own feet on a charming brick path next to the one maple leaf that has managed to dislocate itself from it’s home and fall to the ground, indicating that Fall has indeed arrived.

What’s the deal with that anyways? Everyone needs to calm down already with all this “Fall in August” talk. August is not Fall! August is definitively a SUMMER month. Can we please sort this out, because it seriously messes with my head and gives me a severe case of FOMO.

Just when I think that I am truly enjoying the days at home with my littles, and patting myself on the back for ‘counting my blessings’ and ‘soaking up the moments’, I see a picture of some first grader with a backpack on and I start sweating and rethinking my whole angle. Read More…

image

Well the third annual Road-trip is officially on the books and I can honestly say it’s been the best one so far. Which is saying a lot, because we spent more time in the car than any other year.

32 accumulative hours, to be exact.

Not that I’m counting or anything.

As I told you guys last week, Amber and I decided to go big this year and brave the 12 hour drive to Disneyland. Which was really more like a 16 hour drive because CHILDREN. We spent 4 eight-hour days in the car (round-trip) and I’m happy to report that the kids handled it amazingly well. There was no melting down. There was no fighting. There weren’t even any complaints of hogging air-vents, or “she won’t stop looking at me!” like we’ve experienced in years past

And bonus: we listened to the entire Hamilton musical on the way, because what the heck else are you supposed to do in a car for 8 hours? Now, I should pause here to admit that I have been extremely resistant to all of the hype surrounding Hamilton. I had no intention of getting sucked in. I had no intention of caring at all. I certainly had no intention of becoming one of those people who are always blithering on about a musical and insisting other people listen to it.

But you guys.

It’s so good.

It really is incredible.

I had chills more than once listening to it.

It was kind of like that one time I thought I’d casually watch just the first episode of Scandal, and the next thing I knew it was 3am and I was in too deep to ever turn back. I’m afraid that Hamilton, much like Scandal, is a polarizing trend. You’re either in, or you’re out. There is no gray area. Read More…

image

Well I don’t want to jinx anything by saying it out loud, but I do believe things are finally quieting down around here. Our schedules have been so busy for the last two months that I’ve landed in July and I’m not even sure how I got here.

I’m entirely disoriented but I only have 5 days to get my bearings, because the most important week of summer (as far as the kids are concerned) is almost upon us.

It’s here, you guys.

It’s time for The Annual Ambers Road-trip. Read More…

image

If you know me well at all, you know that there’s nothing I love more than sleeping in. Maybe that makes me sound like a lazy, slothful woman but I may as well own it because it’s the honest-to-God truth. If you ask Husband about how much I love my sleep and he’ll shake his head and mutter something about how he’ll “never understand.”

Husband could never possibly understand though, because he has the terrible misfortune of being physically incapable of sleeping in. On the rare occasion that he can manage to keep his body down for more than 7 hours, it punishes him by waking him up with a terrible headache that lasts for half the day. He may actually be allergic to sleeping in. It’s the saddest thing I’ve ever seen.

He’s not only up with the birds each day, but adding insult to injury, he also wakes up with the sun shining out of his butt. I mean, really. He’s relentlessly cheery in the mornings. Don’t ask me about it or I’ll just shake my head and mutter something about how “I’ll never understand.” Read More…

image

As you guys know, Husband and I have deemed this our Summer Of Fun.

Sounds amazing, right?

Don’t we sound like such cool, carefree parents? (Don’t answer that. It was rhetorical.)

Well it’s officially our first day of Summer break over here, and if I’m being honest I should tell you that we’re already playing it fast and loose with our definition of “fun”. If you count getting woken up by an early-riser (why, God?), putting out a fight over who gets the last of the Frosted Mini Wheats, answering 47 questions about the plan for the day in a way that does not dash all hope but also can’t later be misconstrued as “you promised!”, and paying bills all before 9:30 am as “fun”, then YES, we are having so much fun already.

The thing is, we did deem this the Summer of Fun, but we don’t exactly have a mile-long list of riveting activities to keep the children entertained for the next 85 days. (I like to call them “the children” every now and then, because it makes me feel fancy.)

Other than a couple trips to the beach, a camping trip with friends (in a trailer, because air-conditioning and coffee pots), and the annual road trip that Amber and I take with our kids, we don’t have much on the calendar.

And you know what?

THAT is fun.

The lure of freedom and all the possibility it represents is the most thrilling thing in the world to me right now.

///

For us, The Summer of Fun is mostly about choosing to consciously find and appreciate the fun in regular-life moments. There will be lots of swimming and Popsicles, outdoor movies and late bedtimes, family game-nights and spontaneous picnics in the park.

I guess what I mean is that we will not be standing on our heads and dancing like monkeys in an effort to keep the kids happy. Because everyone knows that ‘keeping the kids happy’ is the biggest booby-trap in the entire world. They would ride that wave until we are fully capsized on the Sea Of Parents-Who-Died-Trying. Read More…

image

There aren’t many things I’d say I’m an expert at. In fact, if we’re counting, I have precisely two areas of expertise:

1) How To Order Taco Bell. (There is a right and wrong way. There are Taco Bell food groups. There is a system and it works. Ask me how I know.)

2) How To Have Zero Chill.

We’ve already discussed my first and real passion (tacos and burritos) so I think it’s time we dive into the other. I don’t mean to brag or anything, but I’ve been publicly wrecking myself for years so I have a lot of hard-earned knowledge to share with you.

This one’s for you, dear reader. All of you nervous-talking, big-feeling, over-thinking, off-beat, sensitive, hilarious souls. I got you, boo.


10 Ways To Have Zero Chill


  1. Have no mystery. This is the first and most important rule of having no chill. You may not be coy. You mustn’t allow your thoughts and feelings to remain safely beneath the surface of your calm demeanor. They should be written all over your face. And on the rare occasion that they’re not, you should just go ahead and blurt them out at the first hint of an awkward silence. This way everyone will basically know your whole deal at all times. And side bonus: you won’t have to suffer through uncomfortable lulls in conversation, which are obviously a trigger for you, so win/win! You might feel like you’re living life as an exposed nerve, but that’s actually perfect because it brings us to our next rule.
  2. Regularly suffer from cold sweats, a nervous stomach, trouble controlling the volume and pitch of your voice, and an involuntary crimson blush that starts at your neck and doesn’t stop until it reaches your hairline. Your body will betray you at every turn but that’s okay because YOU ARE A PERSON WITH ZERO CHILL, remember?
  3. Be insufferably hopeful/ constantly worried. This is a double-edged sword because you will genuinely want the best for yourself and others but because you care so much about everything and everyone you live in a constant state of anxiety about how everyone is doing. Including yourself. Have very high standards in choosing your close relationships because you need people who get you. Worry that most people don’t get you, and handle it by replaying every conversation from all angles, wondering what people are thinking, and spending a lot of time inside your own head. But remain ever hopeful, always assuming the best things in life are just around the corner and headed your way. This will be equal parts endearing and exhausting for your significant other, so remember to choose wisely there. You’ll need someone with a little extra chill to balance you out and bring you back down to earth occasionally.
  4. Nerd out whenever you encounter someone you admire. Say the first thing that pops in your head and just keep rolling with it until you run out of words. This may take a while because you’re a nervous talker, so you know, really ride that wave. Ignore that fact that your face is getting hot which means you’re blushing that telltale shade of magenta, and just keep talking. Say all the things! That way you can replay it in your mind afterwards and have lots of instant remorse.
  5. Oh wait, we didn’t mention that yet? Accept that Instant Remorse is your Siamese twin. Get used to her. You know your own mind but you also share a body, so let’s just say it’s complicated. Instant Remorse is always there, whether it’s when you order the wrong thing at Taco Bell (hypothetically speaking, because I would never actually do that), or when you buy the wrong color Mossimo top at Target. Sometimes you will be able to arrive at the right decision a half second before Instant Remorse, but other times she’ll beat you to the punch. The good news is that it’s a constant power struggle. Yay!
  6. Think everything is funny. This is actually the best kept secret about having zero chill. You get to have lots of fun. Sure, you feel all the feels and you worry a lot, but you also know how to cut loose. This is probably God’s way of making sure you survive. You will laugh when you’re happy, laugh when you’re nervous, and you’ll laugh at inappropriate times. You can laugh at yourself, at everyone else, and sometimes you even laugh while you cry. You are able to find the humor in any situation. Laughter is how you cope, how you show affection, and how you suck all the marrow out of life. This is part of your charm. It also comes in handy when finding your person. Odds are, they’ll be a person who laughs a lot too. You can bond over it and then one day decide that you want to laugh about the same things together until one of you dies. Then you can start focusing on number 7.
  7. Embarrass your children. Your kids will adoringly mimic every single one of your quirks, which will take you from pride to dismay and back again 100 times in a day. Don’t worry, this is normal. They will think you are pure magic and a hero until around the age of 9, when in the presence of their friends, they will suddenly think your very existence is an embarrassment. This means you’re right on track. It’s all part of the plan, (more or less). At the very least, it’s a chance for you to teach them not to take themselves too seriously.
  8. Lose your mind every time you see, touch, or smell a puppy. Go cross-eyed, make guttural noises, and get weird. This one is self-explanatory.
  9. Discuss everything with your people. You are the kind of person who needs to talk things through. It helps you to process and sort things out for yourself. But remember to really let it all hang out. Don’t hold back. Don’t be chill or casual about it. Have a general sense of urgency about figuring life out. You may even want to go a step further and discuss everything with the whole rest of the world. Start a blog so you have your own place on the worldwide web to share your inner monologue and really make sure you have no mystery. It is rule #1, after all.
  10. Lastly, (and this one is crucial): OWN IT.  Go ahead and be your full, unadulterated self. Don’t try to edit who God made you to be. You do you. It’s okay. It’s kind of cool, actually.

Last week I left Melissa a 5 minute audio text all about how I’d reached out to an author I admire and how she, in all her gracious awesomeness had actually responded to me. So then then I did the obvious next thing, which was to ruin everything by writing her back with A FREAKING NOVEL all about what I thought and how I felt about writing a book. (refer to rule #4).

“Blurg! Why do I always do this? Why do I always wreck myself?” I wailed into my phone.

She responded with all caps, saying, “STOP TRYING TO BE CHILL. You’re not chill. You will never be chill. You weren’t made to be chill. It’s cool. Be you. You’re amazing. It’s what makes you Amber… And I like that you don’t have chill and say what you feel. It’s real. The world needs more real humans.”

Guys, I think Melissa is right.

It’s better to be real than to be cool. So if you, like me, are a person with zero chill, just own it. That way you get to tell the joke, not be the joke. And that, my friends, is where the magic is.

image

My life is full of imaginary brick walls. Some thick and looming, some crumbled and deteriorating, and still others that are bright red and sturdy, shielding me from outside winds.

But the walls are everywhere. 

I told you recently about the wall I’d been building between my husband and I. I confessed how I had picked up each brick one by one, felt it’s weight, and then foolishly set it down between us. Never looking up, I worked tirelessly at my wall. It wasn’t until I stopped to see it for what it was- a lie, that I had the sense to stop. The wall was a lie because I always thought it kept me safe, but it turns out that it really only kept me separate. You see, some walls need to be brought down.

Other walls are brought down by accident, by sudden impact, or even by neglect.

There’s a wall that I haven’t told you about. I don’t think I’m ready to name it just yet. Maybe it’s not even mine to name, but it shares my landscape. This wall has begun to crumble. At first I was all action- running in every direction trying to catch the bricks as they fell away, trying desperately to stack them back into place. But now…

Now I’m just paralyzed in the moment.

I feel myself standing there at the bottom, frozen in a dust cloud of smoke and rubble, watching it fall. I want this wall to be strong again, but I am helpless because it is not mine to labor over. Some walls represent shared spaces, and at the end of the day that is all they are. Shared spaces. I can help clean up the wreckage but I cannot build the wall. It doesn’t belong to me.

Which got me thinking…

I’ve spent too much time toiling over the wrong walls. There are other, more important walls, after all. My marriage, for instance, is a load-bearing wall. It shelters me, protects me, and holds me up. It not only deserves, but requires my constant care. I must abandon my habit of building walls between us and instead build the wall of us.

Because if a wall is truly strong, it cannot be easily brought down. Read More…

image

I make a lot of confessions here, but for a long time I’ve wanted to share confessions from the male perspective. Seeing as how that’s impossible to do myself, I’ve been waiting for the perfect chance to outsource. That perfect chance presented itself when out of the blue, my good friend offered to write a piece for me. He knew exactly what he wanted to write about and it was perfect for the blog.

It was a bit of a trick, actually, because after we worked out the details and shook on it he informed me this meant I would obviously have to do a bit of public speaking for him in return. Ah. So that’s what just happened.

Regardless of what I may have gotten myself into, I’m so excited to be sharing my space today with Brant Boersma. Brant is the kind of person who’s charismatic personality, passion for life, and positivity naturally draws people in and encourages them. His words below are an important reminder that part of being a human is overcoming fear.

///

My wife and I have three daughters, all significantly different, and all incredible. Teya Rose, Presley Shae, and Violet Wiley. My babies. I could carry on about how proud I am to be their dad, but if you have kids of your own then you already know what I mean. Parenting changes everything. You get that.

As a father to three girls, I keep hearing how I should be afraid of the coming teenage years. There’s stress over meaningless things, an unrivaled sassiness, a constant dissatisfaction and lack of gratefulness, and to top it all off: PUBERTY. Hormones kick in, periods happen, and things get awkward. And let’s not forget those effing teenage boys…

It’s true- all things considered, the teenage years do sound scary, but all in, life is just scary. Doubts, disappointments, uncertainty, failing, not being “enough”- these are all things that don’t depend on age or gender.

I’m talking about human things, I guess.  Read More…

image

I told myself I was going to take a week off- from writing, from cleaning, from constant “productivity”, from all of it.

“You’ve earned it!”, I told myself with real gusto. “Read! Watch TV! Lie around in your stretchy pants! Drink an extra cup of coffee and peruse the internet with zero guilt! Relish your freedom! Roll around in it like Demi Moore on the bed with all that money in Indecent Proposal!” (I like to talk to myself in all exclamation points, by the way. As a generally suspicious and sarcastic person, it makes me feel more positive about things and I like that.)

But here’s the thing: I can’t relax. I forgot how. It seems that the last 8 years of motherhood along with that burst of productivity in October really messed with my head. Read More…