Resolutions Vs. Reality

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Though I normally don’t partake in the whole “New year, New me” philosophy, last year I actually wrote a New Years Resolutions list. I just came across it and decided to share a few of them along with updates on how well I fared.

RESOLUTION #1: I will begin an exercise regimen that includes strength training and aerobic activity.

Strength training:  Well, I didn’t exactly lift dumbbells or do, like, a push-up or anything. But I recently had a very bad cough which gave my abdominal muscles quite the work out. I’m waiting for my six-pack to show up any day now.  Also, if you count moving the dead weight of a sleeping 75 pound Labrador from my spot on the couch every night to his blanket, then I did awesome on this one.

Aerobic Activity:  I signed up to run a half-marathon last spring. Paid the fee and everything. Unfortunately, I did not actually run the half-marathon. Or show up at all. But it was months of great fun imagining I was going to do it. In November I did go on a walk. There was a hill and I got tired. Does that count?

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RESOLUTION#2:  I will go to Costco and buy only ONE item. I don’t know if this is humanly possible, as I have never been witness to this feat, but I will try.

REALITY:  I totally did it! In October I went to Costco and purchased only a tub of mini coffee cakes. I know, you’d think my one item would’ve been something more essential, like toilet paper, but honestly, I needed those mini coffee cakes more. And I’m not counting the 14 samples I scarfed down while proudly strolling through Costco with my one item because those were all FREE.

RESOLUTION #3:  I will part with my maternity sweatpants (hey, I just had a baby 9 years ago) even though they are perfect for Thanksgiving and PMS days. Also, it is the only article of clothing I own that used to be too small and is now too big. Sigh. 

REALITY: They’re gone. It was bittersweet. However, my maternity pajama pants were not part of the deal. Those stayed and will stay until they cause me physical harm. I say this because I was wearing them yesterday morning and they nearly did cause me physical harm. You see, the bottoms are all ripped and somehow they got caught in part of the vacuum cleaner and I kind of had to fight my way out of a crazy situation. But I escaped unscathed and we’re still good, me and my shredded pajama pants. Just need to be a little more careful around household appliances, that’s all.

RESOLUTION #4:  I will not charge anything on my credit card that costs less than $3.00.  ***Except when in the vicinity of a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop or other similar emergency.

REALITY:  I am unresoluting this resolution. I hate using cash. I hate cashiers giving me a handful of potentially virus ridden coins and warm dollar bills that were just stuffed in somebody else’s pants. A little family background: my grandfather washed his money. Not in the “money laundering” sense. In the literal sense, with the clean bills hung up on a clothesline to dry. When I was a child I’d go to his house and see the crisp money hanging there in the basement. I remember being like “Wow, that’s so cool”.  Then, as I got older, I was like, “Wow, that’s a little weird.” But the guy had a point…cash is gross.

RESOLUTION #5: I will conquer my fear of spiders, lice, flying, sharks, vomiting, and public restroom door handles. Also, items on the top shelf of the grocery store, which I cannot reach without a full-scale climbing mission. Also, my fear of paying full-price for something because I forgot my coupon. Also, people with really clean cars, I fear them a little. New iPhone updates…so scary, I just keep hitting “Remind Me Later”. You know, this list is getting a bit overwhelming so perhaps I should just enlist the help of a therapist to determine why I have so many damn neuroses.

REALITY:  I have conquered nothing. I am still terrified of every single thing on that list plus let’s now add the aggressive, giant raccoon that shows up every night at our back door to eat our feral cat’s food. Living in the woods ain’t no joke, people.

Screw hiring a therapist…I may now have enough issues to actually become one.

RESOLUTION #6:  I will stop making excuses to justify buying Groupons that I will never use. Am I really going to go on a Segway tour of my local city? Which, upon further thought, would involve a rental helmet and a high-risk lice situation? Hell, no. 95% off tattoo removal? Such a great deal but first I would have to A) get a tattoo and B) grow to hate my tattoo. 75% off a storage unit rental? Fabulous, I can use it to store all my unused Groupons. 

REALITY:  In January of this year I simply clicked “Unsubscribe” and kicked this resolutions ass!

Well, I hope you fared a little better with your New Year’s Resolutions than I did with mine.  Best wishes for a great 2018!

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Still Expecting To Receive Our Family Christmas Card? Don’t Hold Your Breath

Don’t worry, it didn’t get lost in the mail. It didn’t get returned to sender because I forgot to put stamps on. You didn’t get axed off my list. I simply (gasp!) didn’t do one. Let me explain…

I should have remembered to take a photo of my three kids together when my oldest came home from college at Thanksgiving. But in the hubbub of hosting a dozen people that weekend, I just plain forgot.

I should have brought my camera when we were all together in early December at the Corgi Ugly Christmas Sweater Parade (yes, it’s a real thing). But I didn’t. I took pictures on my phone in horrible lighting and one was worse than the next.

I could have used a photo of my three kids from a vacation we took in January of this year. But…January? Why send out a photo of what my kids looked like LAST Christmas? That seemed silly.

My next thought was to do a card with three recent individual photos. Until I realized that I didn’t have a single picture of my 15 year old son by himself in all of 2017. I was going back through the months of pics and began to panic when I hit March and still no photo of Jack. I thought about cropping him out of a group pic, but really, that’s just sad. Middle child syndrome is REAL, people. Sorry, buddy.

At that point it was around December 20th and we were leaving for California and I had a million other things to do. And I realized that for the first time in about 20 years, there would be no Dutt family Christmas card.

And I felt like a bad mom.

For like, three seconds.

You know, in the “olden” days (i.e. pre-social media) you really didn’t see a picture of people’s kids for a whole year. You had to wait for that card to come in the mail to ooh and ahh over how big they had grown. But now? Well, if you’re reading this on Facebook, just scroll through my page if you want to see what my kids look like. I’ve posted entire conversations between my kids. I have a blog where I drone on incessantly about my kids. Really, you should be quite sick of my children already.

But all those excuses aside, here is the reality.  Moms do a lot. I mean, we pretty much do everything, especially around the holidays. My husband is a great guy, the best, but if I heard him say, “Hmm, I wonder what I should send Great Aunt Mary in Connecticut for Christmas?”, I would probably call NASA to report a possible alien body snatcher.

I decorated. I shopped. I wrapped. I baked. I shipped. I packed. I made sure the “Santa” gifts were wrapped in a different paper from the others, lest my already suspicious 9 year old take notice. Sometimes, you just can’t do it all. I may not have done a Christmas card. But I did enough. And I’m good with that.

3kidsP.S.  This photo? That blond girl is now in college. That little boy towers over me. That little girl..well, she’s still kind of little, thank God. And that sweet puppy now has arthritis. No, the photo isn’t recent, but it may well be my favorite…and it’ll do for today.

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Dear Holiday Shoppers…


Dear Holiday Shoppers,

Seriously? How could you? Honestly, I have never been so disappointed in a collective group of people in my life. My faith in humanity may never be the same.

My day started out to be an epic one. I received a random $62.50 refund in the mail from my dentist for an over-payment due to an insurance error. Getting money from my dentist felt like winning the freaking lottery. Another win? I didn’t receive an invitation to anything…no holiday gift exchanges, no school volunteer sign-ups, no awkward ugly sweater soireés. As if that weren’t enough, my husband was home with our children and I had four (FOUR!) blissful hours of kid-free Christmas shopping ahead of me.

I headed to the mall and started out at my favorite place, the bookstore. The bookstore is always my first stop for two reasons. One, I am a life-long book lover. And two, I have somehow been biologically programmed with the need to, shall we say, “use the facilities” within minutes of stepping foot in any given bookstore.  Which, let me tell you, really puts a bit of a spring in my step for the rest of the afternoon.

Now, when something occurs like what happened as I left the bookstore, you assume that people will say something. You believe that people will say something. You can’t imagine that people will just ignore it. But ignore it you all did. And so I continued on, unaware of the trail of destruction in my wake.

From the bookstore, I headed to the young, hip, clothing shop for my daughter. And ok, maybe I get why YOU guys didn’t say anything. I mean, you’re all basically in high school and you probably didn’t look up from your phones long enough to notice me. And even if you had, the awkwardness of the situation would have been too much for your teenage brains to process.  So if I was going to forgive anyone, I guess it would be you guys.

Next, I headed to the kiosk selling personalized items. And Mr. Personalization, I spoke with you directly. We had a five-minute, friendly, conversation. You seemed like a nice man. The kind of person who would help out a stranger. I even told you my children’s names. I mean, it was for the personalizing and all, but still. You should have told me. You should not have let me walk away like that.

I moved on to the bath and body store. A store full of women, of fellow moms, for God’s sake.  I am perhaps most disappointed in you. The lines were so long. I waited and waited and how many of you were behind me? Twenty? Thirty? But none of you approached me, not one. It would only have taken a small gesture on your part to save me any further shame.

And so I continued on my way, clueless, through the packed mall, on my glorious four-hour kid-free Christmas shopping spree. And when I was done, I loaded my shiny bags into my car and drove home, never the wiser.

I walked in the door to my house and my husband came over to greet me.

“Hey J…” Suddenly, he stopped and stared.

“Oh. My. God.” he whispered, his eyes wide. “NO! You didn’t! All through the mall? Oh my God.”

And now, dear mall shoppers, let me give you a little piece of friendly advice. When someone has spinach in their teeth, it is good manners to discreetly tell them. When someone’s pants zipper is down, they would appreciate you letting them know.

And when someone is walking around a crowded mall in December WITH A TWO FOOT TRAIN OF USED TOILET PAPER HANGING OUT OF THEIR ASS, you should definitely, absolutely, unconditionally, f***ing tell them, OK??

Second only to my amazement of not a single person alerting me to this horror, is the fact that there is a brand of toilet paper out there so incredibly strong that it can handle intense mall crowds as well as getting into, driving, and getting out of a vehicle without so much as a tear. Damn bookstore and their fancy triple-ply paper.

And that is why, dear people, you will not find me Christmas shopping at the mall again anytime soon. No, I will be shopping online, in the comfort of my home, with no risk of public humiliation in sight.

And with that, I bid Happy Holidays to all and to all a good night.

Dear Santa


Dear Santa,

So it’s been a few years since I’ve written.  I believe my last letter was in 1978 when I asked you for a Barbie Dreamhouse. I found it under the tree on Christmas morning. That elevator on a string was just magical.  I remember you brought my brother a Stretch Armstrong, which was the most fun toy to fight over. It was a banner Christmas that year. Anyway, you came through for me then, and I’m hoping you’ll come through for me now.

Santa, every year I stress and shop and spend countless hours trying to come up with the perfect gifts for the people in my life. From my husband, to my kids, teachers, the UPS driver, you get the picture. And every year, when someone asks me what I want, I say “Oh…nothing”.

But you know what? There are some things I secretly want. Things that cannot be bought at the mall. Things only you, the Big Guy, could possibly make happen. So for the first time in my adult life, I’ve got a list and I was wondering if you could help me out.

1.  I’d like someone, anyone, in my family to load the dishwasher the correct way. In other words, my way. I got so sick of people throwing the dishes in all willy-nilly and then expecting a medal for “helping” out that I banned them all from the task. I would like that ban to be lifted.

2.  I want my kids to self-regulate their screen time. I want them to think, “Wow, I’ve just watched four Netflix episodes in a row, perhaps I should turn off the TV and get some food or air.” Maybe even (gasp) read a book. Since I’m probably kidding myself to think that would ever happen, I’d like you to send someone to come to my house and yell at my kids to get off screens. That could be, like, an actual job, right?

3.  I would love for my daughter who is away at college to call me for some motherly advice sometimes, instead of just calling because I changed the Amazon password. (Which, by the way, is a very sneaky effective way to get your college kid to call home).

4.  I’d like to fit into my regular jeans. Not my “skinny” jeans, I’ve long given up on those, just my regular jeans. Maybe the same person you send to yell at my kids can also follow me around and slap my hand away every time I reach for the candy I have stashed in the pantry.

5.  I want my dog to find a good spot to pee in under two minutes. I would like my children to be able to get their shoes on in the same amount of time. I feel like I spend half my life waiting for the dog to pee and the other half waiting for people to get their shoes on.

6.  I’d love to drive around in a car (even briefly) with no food wrappers, empty water bottles, articles of clothing, forgotten homework, or mysterious odor…just a really, really clean car that smells lemony-fresh. With a full tank of gas and no weird service lights on.

7.  I want to be able to write more than three sentences without being interrupted by people asking if they can have a snack. Every five minutes.

8.  Not to be mean, but is there such a thing as a Kardashian filter? You know, something that would block me from ever having to see, hear, or read about them ever again? Because that would be really, really cool.

9.  I want to remember to move that ridiculous Elf every night. It’s no fun starting my day off feeling like a total loser because my kid wants to know why Pablo is still in the same spot. Again. Really, I’m running out of excuses as to why our Elf is so lazy.

10.  Is it within your Santa powers to banish spiders from the earth? Or, if that would have too much of an ecological impact, can you at least make it so that I don’t run into any of them (or their webs)?

You know, Santa, in writing this list, something just occurred to me. This Christmas, my youngest child is nine years old.  And even though the kids at school tell her otherwise, and even though she has questioned the logistics of your Christmas Eve delivery schedule, she still believes in you and your magic. And that wonder, the anticipation, the racing downstairs on Christmas morning, I’m not ready to let go of that just yet.

So on second thought, you can forget the rest of my list.  Even the kid-yelling, diet-regulating assistant. What I really want for Christmas, the ONLY thing I want, in fact, is for that magic to remain in our home just a little bit longer.

Thanks, Santa….I really hope you can deliver.  Merry Christmas.


How An Episode Of ‘Chopped Junior’ Changed The Way I Parent

IMG_1191“Mom, can I bake something?” my eight-year old daughter pleaded as she entered the kitchen.

Of course she wanted to bake something.  Because I had just spent the past two hours prepping, cooking, serving and cleaning up from a dinner where I made six different dishes to please our family of five.  I sighed.

“Not right now, sweetie, I just finished cleaning up and it’ll be too much of a mess.”  As if it were the answer she was expecting, she wandered off, probably to watch another episode of some annoying laugh-track show on Disney Channel.

Looking back, I’m embarrassed to admit just how many variations of that conversation we had.  Don’t get me wrong, I often let my daughter help me in the kitchen.  I’m a pretty decent cook and an avid baker and I let her do things I deemed acceptable for an 8 year old.

Simple things like ingredient gathering, pouring, and mixing.  I didn’t let her crack the eggs because shells might get in the batter.  I didn’t let her wash the bowls because she didn’t do a thorough job.  I didn’t let her use the stove top or oven because she might get burned.

Or I would say, “I don’t need any help right now, but you can be the guinea pig taste tester when it’s done.”

And then one rainy night, all of that changed.  I walked into our den to find my daughter watching a show on the Food Network called “Chopped Junior”.  I sat down to join her and for the next 20 minutes I stared at the screen, stunned, as I watched kids the same age as my daughter work their way around a kitchen better than most adults I know.

These kids expertly chopped using razor sharp knives, they sauteed, they boiled, they pan-seared, one kid made a roux.  What the hell even is a roux??

I sat there wondering how in the world kids so young could be so skilled and knowledgeable in the kitchen.  And then I had an epiphany.  It was so simple.  They could do all of those things because somewhere along the line, somebody told them “YES.”

And I vowed right then and there that I would do an experiment.  The next time and every time, my daughter asked me to do something in the kitchen, I would say yes.

“Mom, can I bake cookies?”  Yes.
“Mom, can I make scrambled eggs?” Yes.
“Mom, can I make Mac n Cheese?” Yes.
“Mom, can I make a quesadilla?”  Yes.
“Mom, can I make homemade frosting?” Yes.
“Mom, can I use a bunch of your baking stuff and make up my own recipe?”  Ugh. Yes.

And so it went.  I’m not gonna lie…this was one insanely messy, time-consuming, experiment.  In the beginning, she needed a lot of help, learning how to work the oven, the gas range, the timers.  My countertops seemed to be permanently sticky for a while there…the sink never empty of the many bowls, pots and pans she used.

But I usually didn’t have to explain something more than once.  And the more I said yes, the more she asked to do.  Pretty soon she was looking up recipes online and following along on her own.  I became more and more hands-off and watched her capability, and her confidence, soar.

Fast forward to a year later and I will tell you that this is one of the best parenting decisions I have ever made.  And my children are 18, 15 and 9, so I’ve made an awful lot of them.

This kid could cook our family breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert if she had to.  She can crack an egg one-handed (I can’t even do that) and can saute’ broccoli with the best of ’em.  Her homemade chocolate cupcakes are the best I’ve ever had.

My daughter will have these skills, this confidence in herself, for the rest of her life.  And that to me, is worth all the wasted eggs, the spilled milk, the messy kitchen.

So fellow parents, I encourage you to really stop and think when your child asks to do something, not just in the kitchen, that might result in them learning a new life skill.

Because for all the time and energy you may have to put in up front, there is a huge payoff at the end.  I know this because tomorrow I have to bring in 24 cupcakes for a pot luck event.  And I’m sitting here writing this article.  Because guess what?

The cupcakes are being handled.  And if I’m really good, she might even let me be the guinea pig.


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