The Y


We joined the YMCA.

As you might recall, I dislike exercise greatly, so you may be wondering why I would pay money for a thing that is mostly made for doing such dreadful things. Good question. Good question. The answer is a full two words long: child care.

The friendly woman that gave me the pre-membership tour pointed out a group of people in a large room with appropriately large windows sweating, gyrating, stretching and kicking while an enthusiastic instructor led them in their heart-pumping movements. “We have over 50 group classes each week,” she noted, to which I replied, “Well that sounds horrible.” (Though I admit “Chair Yoga” sounds intriguing.)

Eventually, I got around to my *real* concern: “Is it acceptable to drop my kid off in child care and then sit in the cafe for two hours?” The answer: yes.


We tested the Y out with a five day trial, which included some entertaining my girls in the splash pad, a lot of dropping my 2-year-old in child care, and a bit of “exercising” so as not to be discovered as an impostor.

After officially joining, I began to feel a little uncomfortable with my café camping plan. The café is really quite small—just a few tables and chairs in the foyer, in fact. I started to feel a little like I would be the resident lazy weirdo which, because of my anxiety around perceptions of me, didn’t seem great. It was time to assimilate. Kind of. With limited movement or sweating.

The plan was to walk. Just walk like I’m taking a stroll through the forest with a blue bird chirping happily from where it’s perched on my finger. At a glance I’d look I was doing a cool down, or doing some of that interval running, but you happen to just see me in the slow times. I’m just like you, fellow exerciser. Yessssss. Yes I am.

To kick it up a notch, I’d listen to audio books, because if you really let yourself get lost in it it’s almost like sitting. I saw one guy reading while pedaling his heart out on a stationary bike, which lands him squarely in the category of unbearable show-offs. No thank you, Kyle. (That was probably his name.) I instead chose to listen to the dry voice of David Sedaris squeaking the stories of Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls in my ear. It did not disappoint.

The amount of sweat pouring from my fellow Y members is remarkable. Sometimes you can see where droplets flew from their former homes onto the sides of treadmill. Can you imagine what would have had to occur to make your body start spurting sweat out like an old-fashioned sprinkler? *shudder* All around me, dedication to health and wellness beats out its call in the thump, thump, thump of fancy running shoes. And oh! their faces. They’re working so hard, friends. So very hard.

The other day, a fragrant man in his 50s climbed onto the treadmill next to me as I was executing my morning exercise saunter. He had a mustache and old brown 70s prescription eyeglasses. Surely he was one of my kind.

He started out slow enough; a reasonable pace. But then I saw him grasp the top of the machine, arm stiff, while his other hand cranked up the speed. I assumed he’d soon let go and start pumping his arms like all the rest of us (especially me at my break-neck speed), but he didn’t. He held on tight with both hands now, while the treadmill belt whizzed beneath his feet, each step a genuine surprise to his legs. It was exactly the scene I’d imagine seeing if a man was accidentally pulled across the snowy tundra by a pack of disciplined sled dogs. He wished with all his heart to stop, but had forgotten the German words for “Stop dogs, I beg of you.” I laughed out loud as David told me all about the too-gay items in his shopping cart at Costco.

After a few days I decided it was time to branch out a little. I spotted the rowing machine. A rowing machine! I’ll take my blue bird for a boat ride. Perfect.

Friends, aside from its close proximity to Kyle (*eyeroll*), the rowing machine is glorious. I closed my eyes and listened to David, my mind shouting “weeeee!” as I pulled the imitation oars to my chest. It’s the closest you can get to taking a nap while still burning calories at a decent clip.

In fact, my leisurely strokes around an imaginary lake burn 200 calories in 30 minutes. The treadmill, however, burns roughly 1 calorie for each .01 mile. Which means that if I walk at a comfortable 3/mph, 30 minutes will result in burning a paltry 150 calories. So you’re looking at 6.66 calories per minute on the row/nap machine, or 5 calories per minute on the sweat-inducing walking contraption. A 30% improvement! For all of you kids wondering what you’ll do with math when you grow up, this is it. You’ll figure out which exercise machine burns the most calories with the least amount of effort. Don’t be a fool; stay in school.

The only trouble I had was the day I forgot my earbuds. Without something to keep my mind focused on the goal of not really exercising, I got confused and thought I was there to do the stuff the other people were doing. So I ran for a mile. A whole mile. Like a mad person. I realized the error of my ways when I stepped off the treadmill and my heart slumped over with its hands on its knees sputtering, “What…*pant pant*…was that?”



“$%# you.”


Aside from that little slip up, I love the Y and want to kiss its face. It shines like a beacon in my otherwise choppy days. It embraces me with its child care, its air conditioning, and even its occasional free, horrible Colombian coffee with powdered creamer. Oh, YMCA, you sexy beast you.

image cc-by-nc 2.0 IvanClow at Flickr

The Y

A Royal Decree from Princess Chubbila Stinkerton III

Crown baby booties

Hear ye! Hear ye! The following is a Royal Decree from her Majesty Princess Chubbila Stinkerton III on her first birthday. Should any deviation from this decree occur, her Majesty’s discontent will be made known with a loud wail.

  1. Toys are no longer accepted in the presence of the princess; only trash, or items of formidable danger, preferably those shaped like the windpipe. Do not attempt to remove items from the hands of the princess at any time.
  2. Anyone who attempts to remove excrement from the princess’ nether regions shall have their murder plotted forthwith.
  3. Tasks of any importance that do not revolve around the pleasure of the princess shall not be tolerated.
  4. If the princess desires what you have, you shall relinquish it.
  5. The princess desires what you have.
  6. The princess shall utilize the magic of a forest troll to detect any sense of relaxation. Such senses will be vanquished.
  7. The princess’ pinky nail shall never be trimmed under any circumstances. The caretaker shall receive the shame of others who do not allow their charges to look as if they have a drug habit.

If you succeed in holding up these tenants, you will be rewarded with signs of affection. They will be hug-like and kiss-like in nature, and they will be coated in thick slobber and food remnants. Do not offend the princess by wiping said slobber from your face in her presence.

 p.s. Happy birthday Princess Stinkerton. We’re exceedingly blessed by your ridiculous self. Love you to bits.  

Photo credit Funky Shapes on Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Buy these booties & other cute stuff at the Funky Shapes Etsy Store


A Royal Decree from Princess Chubbila Stinkerton III

Mother of a Broken Heart

Yesterday, my 4-year-old and I went to an appointment with her cardiologist.

Now, if a 4-year-old has a cardiologist, then you know something rather craptastic happened at some point. For reference, here’s a summary of our crapisode:

Heart EKG painting photo by Leo Reynold

When our first daughter was 2 weeks old, she screamed all the time. She had a hard time eating, and then she started breathing really rapidly. She also looked pretty pale, but we are very white, Casper-esque people ourselves so maybe it was normal…? Being first-time parents, it was impossible to know which things were normal crazy baby things, and which things we should flip out about. Being the judicious people we are, we went ahead and had a tiny bit of panic about most everything.

When the breathing thing started though, we asked ourselves, “Is this crazy crazy, or normal crazy?” Having received no answers from each other’s blank, sleep-deprived stares, we called the advice nurse.

After a couple of “it’s probably fine,” phone conversations, we still weren’t totally convinced and my husband decided he would feel better about going back to work if we had someone look at her again. So in we went.

Enter the Life-Threatening Holy Moses Circus, starring our 15-day-old baby.

Nurses and doctors and EMTs materialized in the exam room. I heard a call to the ambulance. A nurse prodded my daughter’s head with a gigantic needle, commenting, “This looks scary, but it’s okay.” Then they smothered her face with a bag of ice noting again that it looked scary, but it was okay. Somewhere between that, the crash cart, the intubation, the swollen liver, and the blood transfusion I got the distinct feeling that things were not, in fact, okay. We had left the realm of normal crazy, and landed squarely in the vast terrain of crazy crazy.

The next few days were spent with nurses monitoring and logging our daughter’s frequent episodes of tachycardia, while a bunch of doctors tried to figure out why the heck she was having them in the first place. About the fourth day, they figured out that she has an accessory pathway in her heart, which was throwing it off, and rocketing her heart rate to 230+. The fifth and sixth days were spent finding the right cocktail of medications to help her heart regulate and regain strength, and help her body get rid of the extra fluid that had built up under all that stress.

On the eighth of some of the longest days of my life, we were sent home with three bottles of medicinal magic, thus ending the tour of the Life-Threatening Holy Moses Circus. We were not sad to see it go. We administered a slightly complicated schedule of elixirs for six months, and then it was like it never even happened. No medication. No heart beating straight out of a tiny chest. No Significantly less panic.

What do I want to say about all of this anyway?

As I read “Normal,” on the EKG printout, and heard her doctor say to himself, “Perfect,” and, “Strong,” as he listened to her heart, I knew I wanted to write something about this whole wild thing we experienced. But what?

I could talk about how the NICU is strangely frightening and comforting and lonely and communal all at the same time. About how all the parents share fears and hopes and unspoken sadness. How you see parents go home with their babies and you feel such happiness for them, along with a deep pang of jealousy. How you scrub your arms, up to the elbows, for the full three minutes every time you enter the room because each baby feels like the thinnest glass, and you don’t want whatever germs you carry to be the thing that shatters them. How NICU nurses are pure gifts. How when you hear those NICU nurses held your baby in the middle of the night, you want to weep because it wasn’t you.

I could talk about exactly how devastating it is to get a rejection letter from an insurance company while your baby is intubated and unconscious from the morphine, because she—at 15 freaking days old—has a “pre-existing condition.” About how pre-existing conditions are absolute bullshit, and if eliminating their use by insurance companies is all the Affordable Care Act does successfully, it’s still a huge win for all of us. How insurance premiums, and co-pays, and exorbitant charges feel like ransoms when you realize you’ll pay any amount of money to see your kid live another day. And how that—that is just plain immoral.

I could talk about how the gratitude that lives in my bones, in my heart, and in my soul doesn’t keep me—on those normal crazy days that are unbelievably hard—from wanting to run from my family and live in a small wooden cabin in Canada.

I think what I really want to say, though, is that I love her. I love her, I love her, I love her. And her perfect, strong, normal heart brings me to my knees with joy. She is precious, and sacred, and funny, and crazy, and I love her.

Holy Moses.


Photo credit Leo Reynold at FlickrCC-BY-NC-SA 2.0
Mother of a Broken Heart

Keepin’ it Real for Mother’s Day Again

Every year around Mother’s Day, I wonder why I don’t see any cards that I relate to. Cards that speak to me. Cards that praise the everyday accomplishments of mothers everywhere.

Like calling poison control and discovering that the thing your kid ate is non-toxic. Or answering 204 questions in the span of an hour and a half without giving yourself a concussion just for the peace and quiet. Or getting anything—really, even one. single. thing—done while children are in your care.

So, because I’m a giver, I’ve whipped up some e-cards that really capture the spirit of Mother’s Day.

Happy Mother’s Day, mama! Here’s hoping there’s a mimosa coming your way. - The swears in your frustration rants are barely even audible. Mom, you're just the classiest. - Read more amazing things at - Your voice is always so calm—even when you get that look in your eyes. Thanks for thinly veiling your cracking spirit, Mom. - Read more amazing things at - Mom, remember that one time I snuggled sweetly on your shoulder? Sorry I threw up on you after that. - We're taking a family vacation for Mother's Day! LOL. Just kidding. We bought you a real present. - Read more amazingness at - I don't love you THAT much, Mom, but I AM afraid of that stranger. Thanks for being better than that stranger.


Can’t get enough? Check out Keepin’ It Real for Mother’s Day (2012) and Happy Motherhood Survival Day (2013). And while you’re at it, go ahead and share your favorite everyday accomplishment. Kid didn’t eat an eraser today? Brag on that business, mama. 

Keepin’ it Real for Mother’s Day Again

Things You *Really* Shouldn’t Say To Your Kids

I just read this blog post over at Abandoning Pretense in which Kristen Mae gives the thumbs down to all those “Things You Should Never Say to Your Kids” lists floating about, and I was like, “Whew! Thank God someone is letting me off the hook.” I’m all for people pursuing positive parenting with patience and aplomb (sorry, got a little carried away with the alliteration there), but never? NEVER?

“Never” reinforces this sort of oops-you-did-this-BUZZ!-now-you’re-a-terrible-parent vibe that I’m basically totally sick of. Like, I’m barfing guilt already, people. Let’s take it easy. Kristen sums up my feelings at the end:

Most of us are working really hard at being the best parents we can be, and we’re doing a pretty bang-up job of it, too. We are good parents.

Yeah. So take that, internet jerks.

That said, there really ARE some things you probably shouldn’t say to your kids. I’ll list them out, in case you’re just about to say any of this. It takes a village, after all.

Word Graphic - Things You Really Shouldn't Say to Your Kids

Things You *Really* Shouldn’t Say to Your Kids

1. Finish your cocaine or I’ll feed you to my shark.

2. I regret letting the aliens drink your blood every night. Tuesdays? Yes. Every night? Too much.

3. Sometimes I watch you sleeping at night and just cry. Oh, no…not in the good way.

4. Heads up: I’m gonna be real drunk at this parent/teacher conference.

5. Wanna take the cinnamon challenge?

6. Take the cinnamon challenge or I’ll feed you to my shark.

7. Hold this land mine real quick.

8. I wish you were more like your sister, if your sister was like someone else’s kid.

9. Hey! That stove is hot! Ehhh…go ahead. We have insurance.

10. Feed my shark or I’ll feed you to my shark.

If you’re saying any of those things, you probably are a terrible parent. Take your internet shame, you! Take it and like it!

p.s. you’re subscribed to Abandoning Pretense, right? Because you should NEVER tell your kid not to subscribe to Abandoning Pretense.

Things You *Really* Shouldn’t Say To Your Kids

The Parent Olympics Storified (& Stanley Broke the Internet)

First things first; The Parent Olympics were awesome. I think most of you were out having Pho and planning your gubernatorial campaigns, so live viewing was a touch on the skim side. Not to worry though, folks; I storified it. Now that you have a full belly and a clear campaign strategy, hop over to and check it out.


My favorite moment? This one:


Plus all of this awesome stuff:

Seriously, go see the whole shebang. Good times. Jerrod was an amazing co-host, and made the event that much better. Really that’s a compliment for me—I make awesome decisions. High five, me.

Less awesome were the antics of Stanley, the horribly obnoxious internet drunk. Oh, Stanley, I could just punch you in the mouth.

See, what happened readers—and you may have noticed this last night—is that Stanley hopped on my computer while I was participating in my own Parent Olympics. And wow—can that dumb guy screw stuff up. In the process of posting and unposting the Storify version, posts were pushed to the blog, and then pushed to Facebook, AND Twitter, AND LinkedIn, AND (I assume) Barack Obama got copies of them. Because the internet is tricky, drunken Stanley published a couple of posts with just a link, some with some jibberish-looking code, and one with a selfie of him after he abandoned his pants. (Gross, Stanley.)

The lesson? Don’t let a drunk/angry/possibly imaginary old man get his hands on the internet. You know he’s just gonna break it.

So sorry for that, you all. Stanley is terrible and we should ALL punch him in the mouth. I may have bore the tiniest bit of responsibility in the whole debacle, so please accept my apologies as well. But mostly let’s get really angry at Stanley.

p.s. When I was all stressed about the social media cacophony emanating from my blog, I did what any reasonable person would do: watched internet videos of cats. It was almost worth the stress and frustration to come across these gems. (ht Cute Overload)

The Parent Olympics Storified (& Stanley Broke the Internet)

The Parent Olympics

Two weeks ago the winter Olympics opened with great fanfare, and athletes from all over the globe gathered to have their skills tested and their hard work put on display. They squinted their eyes as their grit and determination pushed them toward medal podium. They held their breath, wondering if it was worth sacrificing so much for the love of the games.

Simultaneously, another Olympics carried on, the opening ceremonies for which are held daily as tiny feet march down the hall, ready to break even the strongest competitor. The competitions are held in living rooms, bedrooms, family vans, and playgrounds. These games have no end, and no real winner—only survivors. They are…

The Parent Olympics

Tonight at 5 PST/7 Central, Jerrod from Never Had One Lesson (@jerrodkc) and I (@HelloMelanieC) will bring you live coverage of the games on Twitter. So stay tuned for such events as:

• The Bedtime Sneak-and-Crawl

• The Get Anywhere on Time, and

• The 30-minute Clean Shirt Event

Are you a parent warming up for your next event? A relative watching a brutal tumble? An innocent bystander now covered in ice cream after a mini mall meltdown? Join us: #ParentOlympics

See you in the arena.

background image in graphic by John Keogn via Flickr licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic

The Parent Olympics