The Secret Project

by Leslie

If you follow me on Twitter or you’re my friend on Facebook, you know I’ve been mumbling about The Secret Project. And you’re probably completely annoyed with the, “I’m unveiling The Secret Project tomorrow!” messages I’ve been posting for the past ten years or so. But the wait is over. Finally. For real this time. I’m really ready to share it with you.

Of course, you should know the project isn’t finished. This is a sneak peek. A limited release. Because it’s a work in progress and there’s still a lot of work to do. But this is the kind of thing where I set my own deadline, so if I wait until it’s “ready,” I’ll work on it forever. Like Axl Rose and the Chinese Democracy album. Did they ever release it, by the way? I don’t even know.

You see, I think I need the pressure of an audience and their expectations to drive me forward. That’s the thing. But I’m scared to death of failing. Good Lord, my heart is racing right now!

Okay. So, The Secret Project. It’s a partnership with my very good friend Susanne. We’ve created a website. I’m the designer. It’s my first ever full web design and it has been one of my most challenging endeavors. Because I’m no web designer. Everything I know, I’ve learned from trial and error. So, for every ONE THING that looks good, I can assure you I screwed it up at least three times first. But it’s been very rewarding, too. I tear up a little when I look at our logo and think back to the day Susanne and I sat on her couch and cooked up a crude little sketch of our vision for it. And now, it’s a real thing. And if you ask me, it’s gorgeous.

I designed the site from nothing. I started with a blank screen and typed every character of code. I designed my own WordPress theme. Is it good? I don’t know. But I’m still enormously proud of what I’ve learned. And I’m immensely grateful for a brilliant and creative partner that’s been bursting with fresh, exciting ideas and her ability to be patient with me when I know she was thinking, “Leslie, you’ve been working on the navigation bar for three weeks now. When the hell is this going to actually be a website?”

I’m excited and hopeful about the potential this site has to impact our community. But even if it doesn’t, my experience working with Susanne has already made this endeavor worthwhile. It’s deepened our friendship and trust for one another. I look forward to every day we work together. It’s invigorating! I don’t think I’ve been this excited about a project since my friend Mauna and I vowed to start a rock band in 5th grade. We’re a great team. And we’re just getting started.

And so, here it is. Our website.

My OH! Momma

Won’t you please click and visit? I’d love to know what you think.

Sisters Pool



we got the pool out
for the first time this season
summer’s almost here!

So, my house is out of control – inside and out. The yard looks sloppy – it’s mowed, but not trimmed, there are weeds in the flower beds, my butterfly garden looks like the jungle and, well, we have a lot of cats, so imagine what they do to a yard. Here’s a hint: THEY SHIT ON IT. Inside, it’s complete chaos and it’s driving me insane! I’m drowning. I have to watch Hoarders to keep from microwaving my own head for being the worst housekeeper in the entire world. I simply cannot keep up right now.

Here’s the thing: I have a lovely friend who keeps offering to come over and help me with housework since I’m pregnant and placenta previa and blah blah blah. I absolutely, under no conditions, can accept this offer. I care way too much about what my friends think to let them clean up after me. My mess is my responsibility. And, consequently, the responsibility of the other five people who live in this place. But, with the possibility of bed rest looming in my last trimester, I’m getting worried about how I will manage. I’m not really managing now!

So, I’d like to know:

Online Surveys & Market Research

And please, please tell me I’m not the only person that has ever had things get so far out of hand it’d inspire your neighbors to say, “They have such a beautiful house. It’s too bad they don’t take better care of it!” Because I’m sure that’s what they’re saying. It’s what I’m saying, anyway.

Sunday morning, Lucy sat up in my bed, put her hands on her head, gasped and shouted, “Oh no! Piggy tails! GONE!” She’d been so tired Saturday night, she didn’t remember that I took them out at bedtime.

And so began my computer-free, work-free day. I hadn’t planned it in advance, but it was something I needed.

I stayed in bed as long as I could. I enjoyed a quiet breakfast with Lucy followed by a story-reading marathon. We played with Little People until Julia woke up and then we had second breakfast, because that’s what you do when you’ve already had breakfast and lunch feels very far away.

I actually sat at the piano with Julia while she practiced instead of checking in now and then while trying to massacre a flock of birds with my little stone. It was refreshing to stop and focus on one thing. All year, I’ve felt like we’ve flat-lined with piano. Julia hasn’t really progressed since she started Kindergarten and I started Kindermusik. We’ve just been treading water. I hate treading water. But I’ve been doing it in the motherhood department since September.

It became obvious on Mother’s Day. Dave had made me a beautiful slideshow, which I loved. But I couldn’t ignore the recent lack of photos and the feeling of “look at all the stuff we used to do.”

I know it’s a tired battle – where you have to be versus where you want to be. But the thing is, the place I want to be – at home – is the only place I have to be. Dave and I made that decision the day I told him, “I can’t let someone else take care of my baby. I can’t go back to work after Julia is born.” We agreed that having a parent at home was the single most important choice we could make for our family and that I was the best candidate for the job.

Thankfully, this was something we felt strongly about, because I needed that strength to deal with the people who denegrade the decision – you know, the ones who suggest that staying home is the easy choice. There’s nothing easy about cutting your income in half, especially when adding a new member (and all the expenses that come with them) to the family. There’s nothing easy about giving up your disposable income and breadwinner status.

So many people have told me, “Oh, I wish I could just stay home. I couldn’t afford it.” Well, neither could we. So, somewhere in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio lives a lucky man with a killer CD collection, a woman with my most-loved and cherished pieces of artwork and all my favorite movies and a slew of other people who gobbled up our non-essential possessions so we could afford to pay our oustanding bills and make the move to share a home with my parents. And if anyone believes THAT was easy, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. Or some other more contemporary phrase that means you’re a dumbass.

For almost five years, I’d taken those, “Oh, lucky, lucky, lucky you and your easy, easy, easy life,” comments in stride. But somewhere, sometime, I think it started to get to me. Hearing, “Just ask Leslie to do it. She’s a stay-at-home mom. What else has she got to do?” started to bug me. It hurts to be devalued – to have someone act shocked when they learn that you went to college, to have a small-minded, small-business man explain a concept to you like you’re a single cell organism, to be ignored in conversation, because, “You wouldn’t be interested. We’re not talking about diapers!”

I’m not even talking about the whole working mom vs. stay-at-home mom thing. What’s bothersome to me is the idea that nothing that you do is worthwhile, unless you’re paid for it. When I wore a business suit and designer sunglasses, carried a company cell phone and a laptop and could drop $300 on dinner, I was perceived as somebody. For doing nothing especially meaningful or relevant, but for earning money – a thing anyone can do (in varying degrees, of course). But now, now when I’ve put in some of the hardest working days of my life, when I’ve pushed myself farther than I thought I could, when I’ve dug deeper and given more of myself than I ever knew I even had, I get eye rolls and relegated to the “silly mom drama” category.

It sucks. And it distracted me for a while. It was the reason Lucy didn’t have a homemade cake for her birthday, but got some overinflated guilt gift. Because I didn’t have the time, but I was willing to spend the money, making me exactly what I didn’t want to be.

So, I am re-writing my personal mission statement. I am redefining my job description. I am a stay-at-home mom. Period. That’s my priority. Because I believe it’s worthwhile and valuable and important to my family. I will write my blog for me. I will teach Kindermusik so my girls will have the opportunity to participate in it and the other activities it affords us. I will trust my husband to uphold his end of our agreement – as he always has – and depend on him to provide for us financially, so I can uphold my responsibility as a wife and mother. I am done competing. I don’t need anyone else to validate me. Not anymore.

It’s Relevant

by Leslie

One of the fundamental differences between Dave and I is this: I give the girls their Happy Meal toy right away, but he makes them wait until they’ve finished eating.

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