Wednesday, June 8, 2016

When Lularoe turns on you: how I lost my skirt in the front yard

When the new year rolled around, I couldn’t have imagined that 2016 would find me standing in my front yard without pants. But that happened. I blame Lularoe, really.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Lularoe, it’s a clothing brand, and the strategy is pure genius.

1. Sell something women want (comfortable, cute clothes)
2. Make them fight for it.

Lularoe is sold in “Pop-Up Boutiques”, either in someone’s home or online. A consultant has just a few styles, prints and sizes (this is where the “make them fight for it” component to the strategy comes into play). During a Facebook Pop-Up, the consultant posts pictures over the course of a few hours. If your friend, let's call her "Brittani", is faster than you are to comment “SOLD” on that adorable size small “Irma” top with the purple lightning bolts, that’s just too bad. Now you’re going to have to grit your teeth and compliment her every time she wears it, even though purple is your thing. Dang it, Brittani.

An online Lularoe Pop-Up is also a great opportunity to psychoanalyze your friends, which is super fun. Who’s an impulse buyer? Who’s indecisive? Whose husband is going to be super ticked when they see they spent $200 on leggings? Like I said - genius.     

My story starts on a snowy Thursday morning in March. Snow is so much less exciting in March than it was in November, but I didn’t mind. I was headed to a meeting, and I was reaping the benefits of being very prepared for the morning. The kids were packed and ready to go to Gramma’s house, and we even had a few minutes to spare. The car was warming up in the driveway, and I was wearing my very first Lularoe maxi skirt for the very first time. The seven-year-old was in the car already; the four-year-old was gingerly tiptoeing toward the car, taking great care to not get a single bit of snow in his shoes. I carried the three-month-old outside and closed the locked door behind us.

It’s important to note that, first, the keys were in the car, which was running in the driveway, and second, the door was locked when I closed it. So, when I tell you that I woefully underestimated the length of my fun new maxi skirt and closed it in the door, you’ll have a good mental picture of my predicament. There I was, surrounded by snow, baby carrier in the crook of my arm, 100% stuck in the locked front door. My keys were ten feet away in the running car.    

I laughed out loud, not too worried, because I knew my two big boys would be able to open the garage door and help me.

It would be the last laugh of the morning, because this is how the longest 18 minutes of my life unfolded.

7:25 a.m. - I close my skirt in the door, then urge middle child to hurry to the car and get his brother
7:27 a.m. - Middle child prioritizes “keeping shoes snow-free” above “immediate, unquestioning obedience”. Takes a full two minutes to reach the car door.
7:28 a.m.  - Middle child realizes car door handle is covered with ice. If there is anything worse than walking in cold snow, it is touching even colder ice. He insists that I come open the door for him.
7:29 a.m. - I coax him to open the door himself. No deal. He starts crying.
7:30 a.m.  – I begin to holler oldest child’s name, hoping to catch his attention
7:31 a.m. – Oldest child slowly emerges from the car, not unlike a sleepy bear coming out of hibernation. It doesn’t matter. At this moment, he is a serious contender for “favorite child” status. Not that I would ever rank my children in the privacy of my mind.
7:32 a.m.  – I instruct favorite oldest child to open the driver’s side door and retrieve the garage door opener.
7:33 a.m. – Oldest child suddenly forgets all shapes and colors. He is completely unable to identify "the gray rectangle" of a garage door opener that is sitting exactly right in front of him.
7:35 a.m.  - My coaxing escalates to almost-yell volume
7:36 a.m. – Oldest child begins sobbing great, heaving sobs.
7:37 a.m. – I am struck with a realization - my children are the types of people who are useless in a crisis. This is a good thing to know.
7:38 a.m. – I am every bit as stuck as I was at 7:25. Baby begins to cry

I’m sure you realize I had a decision to make in this moment. Should I give the skirt a good yank and just tear it free? This was not a Target clearance rack skirt type of situation. No disrespect meant to Target’s clearance rack, but this fabric was so soft it almost definitely was weaved from clouds by baby cherubs. If you wondered why you spent $45 dollars for those leggings with the cats-playing-pianos pattern, it was not markup to pay consultants. Do you expect cherubs to work for minimum wage? Do you think clouds come cheap? NO MA’AM on both accounts.    

You know what they say about desperate times.

I peeked around to see if any neighbors were strolling around. When it seemed the coast was clear, I STEPPED OUT OF MY SKIRT, leaving it in a pile of snow, and I ran to the car.

Without my skirt.

I cannot emphasize enough the degree to which I was pantsless. In my front yard. In broad daylight.

The garage door opener was, oddly, right where I said it was. I darted through the garage, retrieved my skirt, and emerged to two wide-eyed little boys. The tears they had been crying over ice and rectangles still streaked their cheeks. They silently stared at me in awe and bewilderment.

My voice was calm, quiet, and terrifying. “Get. In. Your. Seats. DO NOT MAKE ME TELL YOU AGAIN.”

Those little boys scampered into their seats in record time. They didn’t make a peep the entire car ride.

If you were wondering, I made it on time to my meeting, where I was a guest writer on the topic of "Awesome Families".

The irony was not lost on me.

Update:  I mustered the courage to buy a second Lularoe item. A knee-length dress, just to be safe. Take THAT, Brittani! 

Note: As I am the owner of only two Lularoe items, I am not an expert, and it is possible that my perspective of their business model is not completely accurate.

Except the part about the cherubs. That's true.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Awkward Family Photos - Easter Edition

Nothing says, "Jesus is risen!" like father/son matching ties, am I right?

It's a family tradition, and it's deeply embedded in my genetic makeup that Easter morning be celebrated by coordinating outfits and extra effort into the family's overall hair presentation. This effort deserves to be immortalized in pictures, so, each year, after roughly seven hours of church, we haul our hangry, rumpled children out to stand in front of a nearly-dead tree in Gramma's yard for pictures. This strategy has been pretty successful, as you can see…

  The year we tried to pretend it was warm and we were happy. It wasn't. We weren't.                                     
The year they blinked at the same time for every picture
  …except this one...
The discipline moment that has been captured forever
    The loving iron grip on the child crawling out of the shot

The year Easter pictures made Carson question everything

And may we never forget "The Year of the Boot"

This year, though, I had an epiphany. What if we took Easter pictures before Easter? Is that allowed? We do have an impressive six-year stretch of someone LOSING THEIR STUFF on film, maybe we shouldn't mess with tradition? I decided to let Sister-in-Law Kym decide. I texted her,

"Is there any chance you would take some Easter pictures of us, like, before Easter?"

Being the dear she is, she cheerfully agreed. This was GOOD NEWS because she's a photography wizard, and I'm reliably awkward and require some degree of mystical photoshopping.

There are so many variables on the day you plan to do pictures. Hair, weather, nap time - all of them uncertain. There's this one universal truth, though, and and all mothers know and fear it. On picture day, someone will maim themselves in a glaringly obvious way. Littlest boy proved this once again when he ran headlong into the iron table that has been in the same place on the patio since we moved here. In his defense, he is three and doesn't pay much attention to table placement. Also, he may have inherited some of the exquisite grace that allows me to trip on my own feet from time to time.

Other than that, it was smooth sailing. We went to the park, we took pictures, and, most importantly...


It's an Easter miracle. Now on to the REAL reason for the season.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Gas Station Sushi and 50 Shades of Grey

We used to live near a gas station that sold sushi. Regularly, around the midnight hour, I would waddle my large, pregnant self past the displays of shriveled hot dogs and waxy-looking pizza. I wasn’t there for those, stop judging me. I was there for a half-gallon of the most perfect little ice pellets known to man. I would hand the overnight cashier the .59 cents-plus-tax, take my precious ice pellets home, and crunch away in bed until they were gone.  For four solid months, I was addicted. I spent roughly $17,000 on small pieces of frozen water, and I’m convinced there is a landfill out there exclusively filled with half-gallon Styrofoam cups from months 5-9 of my second pregnancy. But, I digress. Each night, as I would make my way back to the register with my personal vat of ice, I would pass the sushi. I’d muscle my way past my gag reflex and wonder, how desperate and confused one would have to be to consume sushi from a gas station? Did those people not know that there was a nice grocery store on that very street that sold actual sushi, not a scary, questionable version of it? Did one develop a tolerance for it? Had anyone ever died from gas station sushi? I’m obviously very contemplative at midnight when I’m pregnant.

I respect my teeth and the earth too much to continue my ice habit, and I had kind of forgotten about my midnight liaisons with the ice machine… until this second wave of 50 Shades promotion hit.  Ever since the book came out, I’ve had some things I really want to share with you women around me. I love you like you're sisters, and I want to see you experiencing loving, life-giving relationships. I’ve hesitated, though, because I want to share my story, yet honor those whose stories intersect with it.

What seems like a lifetime ago, for a long chunk of unhappy years, pornography had a large and unwelcome presence in my life. It was parasitic, leeching away time and innocence, trust and dignity. I learned that it is a two-faced and nasty houseguest. It whispers hateful lies and far outstays its welcome. It demoralizes the mother in the eyes of her son - she is obviously not enough, doesn’t measure up, is less than… It wraps tendrils of deceit around the heart of the young daughter, presenting an alluring but unattainable standard of beauty and worth. It delights in entrapping people in private shame and ambushing them with public disgrace.

Porn, in all of its varieties, is a lot like gas station sushi. Best case scenario, it’s an icky, cheap substitute for something awesome. For some reason, it seems mommy porn in book form has been granted a higher moral standing. To me, that seems as logical as taking a rancid portion of that sushi we've been talking about, putting it on a pretty plate, and saying, "Guys - this is actually pretty good!" You can dress it up, but it's still bad. I've been married for almost nine happy years. Compared to some, nine years isn't very long, but it's plenty long enough to tank a marriage. I'm more than grateful to be married to a man who has spent nine years building a porn-free marriage with me. Pornography is a great way to begin a slow and painful breakdown in love, trust, security and a marriage in general. 

Like most other humans, I’ve seen the trailer for 50 Shades. I actually saw a display in Target of 50 Shades kits for lovers. Um, guys. Can we take a minute? I literally walked across the aisle and put a taco kit in my cart.  The very thing that is being promoted to spice up our sex lives is reducing it to a kit.

I want to inform them - the faceless entity that's marketing 50 Shades to us - that we are smart and discerning, not the weak-willed, silly women they seem to think we are. Personally, I loathe being marketed to like I’m a vapid, desperate housewife. Beauties, they expect that this month we will show up en masse. That we will give them our money, file into a dark room, and let them feed us 100 minutes of gas station sushi. What if, instead, we went on dates or celebrated Galentine’s Day? What if we skipped the cheap substitute and, oh, I don’t know, stayed home and had actual meaningful, awesome sex with our husbands? I completely believe that how we allow them to market to us today is how they will continue to market to our daughters tomorrow. Why don’t we go ahead tell them where to go? (They can go back to the drawing board to try again, where did you think I meant, silly?)

Last, but certainly not least, I am a daughter of God, and that is a position of dignity. If you are a Jesus-follower, you’ve been given redemption and hope. Jesus took your shame and replaced it with grace and dignity. Dignity, even if your husband has cheapened and tarnished your marriage by bringing porn into it. Dignity, even if there is sexual shame in your past. Dignity, even if pornography is something you struggle with.

God’s grace is free to me, but cost Him everything. I want to live a life of gratitude and love, and I am making a choice. I will not squander that grace on gas station sushi.

New blog!

After a change in domain name, I'm starting a fresh new blog. I'm looking forward to transferring some of my old posts that I had the most fun writing. Much love!