The Left Side

Did you know the expression, “waking up on the wrong side of the bed” originates from the Roman times? They actually believed that getting out of bed on the left side was bad luck, and if you vacated on the wrong side, you were in for a bad day.

I have to wonder from which perspective this bed-exiting occurs? Is it the left side of someone facing the bed, or the left side of the person lying in bed? Regardless, I DID it. I woke up on the wrong side of bed, and boy, did I have a bad day because of it!

I can blame the bed for my behavior, right?

I literally woke up grumpy. And not the- just waking up and eventually I will feel happy mode – like my husband does every day, but the- cursed left-sided waker, in it for the long-haul, gonna have a bad day- kind of deal.

I was tossing and turning all night from allergies and from precious little stinkers who woke up at random nightly intervals. Needless to say, the morning was less-than-inviting. I moved from the bed, to the table for breakfast, then to the couch where I plopped down for some mid-morning wallowing. You can’t really wallow as a mother with the hundred inquiries from energetic and impatient children, within the span of five minutes. But I tried.

Mommy, can you get me a snack? No.

Mommy, will you play dolls with me? No.

Mommy, I have to go potty! That’s not a question.

After being rejected, time and time again, my five-year-old pulled out, what we have coined “the Hair Basket” and bravely asked, “Can I do your hair?”

My mouth started to form the word NO, but after considering it said, “Sure.”

Moving from the couch to the floor, my daughter pulled out the spray bottle and begin spraying and brushing my hair. It didn’t take long to feel like I had just stepped out of the shower but she was giggling and enjoying herself. Somehow the three-year-old got involved and started playfully ripping the hair from my scalp with a plastic torture comb.

Of course, if you give a mouse a comb, they are going to want to give you a makeover! Out popped the eye shadow and lip gloss. I told my silly girl to keep it to the light colors since we had to go grocery shopping. The little guy either missed the memo or was ignoring me because suddenly I felt the makeup brush down the length of my nose as he excitedly said, “Mommy, you Tiger!”

The kids spent twenty minutes yanking my hair until my eyes watered, smearing lip gloss all over my cheeks, and drawing cat whiskers. But it dawned on me- sometimes parents feel so much pressure to spend money or plan elaborate activities to build special memories for their family, but all kids really want from us is to be present in the moment. Even on the days when those darned Romans curse the bed. Even when the moment includes the most painful hairstyle of all time. All they really want is Mom. (Or Dad.)

And I can give them that.

By Krystle Ricks


I once knew a lady with nine kids. Nine. She had motherhood down to an art. I remember going to her house and witnessing a perfectly organized playroom with labeled toy bins, and a militant schedule of cleaning for her children. I always admired her tenacity, although I never wanted to be “Officer Mom”. My dreams aimed a little less drill sergeant but equally as organized.

I am not that lady.

Generally, my house is chaos. Whenever I hear the doorbell ring, my stomach drops and I crack the door open as thinly as possible, hoping to hide as much of the background mess as possible. Sometimes the laundry room has barfed its unwashed contents into the living room. Sometimes, the newspaper has been unfolded by little hands and scattered all over the front hall. Dirty socks sometimes miss the laundry basket by twenty feet or so.

Sometimes, people comment on how cute my girls look, and I realize it’s because these people rarely see both of my girls with brushed hair. Sometimes, people comment on how nice I look and I realize it’s because for the first time in a month, my hair isn’t in a ponytail. Half the time my children resemble cavemen. Half the time their shoes are on the wrong feet. If they’re wearing shoes.

The other day my daughter wore pink Hello Kitty Overall shorts with a rainbow skirt on top, a white shrug, some chunky heels, and a knitted purple hat… and I let her go out in public like that.

Sometimes, my kids eat popcorn and Fudgecicles for dinner, also known as “snacky dinner” because I forgot to thaw the roast. Again. My three year old has played so much “Super Smash Brothers” on the Wii U that he associates all colors by the character it matches. (I hold up a red crayon, he calls it “Mario!” I hold a purple crayon, he calls it, “Bad Mario!” Green: “Luigi!”

Sometimes I feel so discouraged by how much I am not the mother I dreamed I’d be, with the masterfully cleaned house, the perfectly done up children with matching outfits, the perfect rationing of t.v. time of less than 30 minutes a day… but I am not that lady.

But sometimes, I remind myself: My kids are alive. They are healthy. They are smiling (when they’re not arguing.) I’m trying. I’m improving. And for today, that’s enough.

by Krystle Ricks



Movie Review: The Book of Life


My husband and I snagged the cartoon movie, The Book of Life as a fluffy family flick for Family Movie Night. I admit, with most cartoon movies, I hold the lowest of expectations; there are a WHOLE lot of disappointing films out there. Films which could have been really good, but the writers generally had the comedic range of an elementary-aged school-boy. As we popped in the DVD, I prepared myself for a few hours of fart jokes and adult innuendo, with lots of bright colors for the kids. But the experience was surprising.

    The central plot of The Book of Life is between three childhood friends: Manolo, Joaquin, and Maria. From their childhood, both boys pine for the beautiful and spirited girl and naturally, they all evolve into stunning, perfectly-formed adults. But, the most stereotypical of all rom-com tropes, the Love-Triangle, was not so stereotypical in this movie. The love which the characters felt was deeply affected, in a way, from their upbringing, especially in the case of Manolo. The relationship with his father is strained, due to the Father’s dreams of his son becoming a legendary bull-fighter.
    Through the themes of the Mexican celebration, “Day of the Dead,” we are also introduced to Manolo’s ancestors, all of which were proud bull-fighters. As he comes to meet various ancestors, he learns that most of them had other dreams in life, but carried on the family tradition of bull-fighting. And this struck me. Most struggles and challenges portrayed in movies and other media are always: parent versus child. But it’s deeper than that. Manolo’s father was obstinate about bull-fighting because it had been drilled into his head by his father, who was indoctrinated by his father, and on and on the system moved through the family tree. This movie depicted the unknown influence our ancestors have on us, the living. Not only do we carry the mysterious genetics of people we’ve never met, but we might be passing on their traditions, beliefs, mannerisms, even their psychological disposition without realizing the effect it has had on an entire family line!
book of life
   The other characters also had the pressure of living up to their family’s standards, and I found myself deeply contemplating my own role as a parent. Deep thoughts I was not expecting to have from a cartoon, whose trailer showed an obese mariachi band belting the Rod Stewart lyrics, “If you want my body, and you think I’m sexy, come on baby let me know!” But the thoughts came. Am I raising my kids with detrimental expectations? How is my parenting affected by the way my parents raised me and how were my parents affected by their parents? Are my children destined to be bitten by metaphorical snakes and die (metaphorically) because they are afraid they aren’t living up to what they believe I expect from them?!? 
     Despite the aneurysm I was trying to conjure by over-thinking my parenting abilities, The Book of Life was able to portray the most beautiful message of all: love. Not the romantic kind, but the kind of love that goes beyond the grave and ties you to a line of imperfect human beings. The love that enables you to forgive those who raised you with piles of unintentional baggage. The kind of love that sacrifices, that puts others first. It was a message that made me want to scoop my children up and tell them I loved them because they were precious, and not because they were ticking off a list of accomplishments. It made me want to learn more about my family line and see what kind of hereditary cocktail is swirling around in our gene pool. And, thankfully, its message  made me believe my children will forgive me for the baggage I inadvertently dump on them. I never would have thought that a movie starring the guy from Magic Mike could be such a wonderful experience for my entire family. But it was magic.