A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Tag: blogging (Page 2 of 2)

Semi-Wordless Wednesday: The Free Advertising Edition


the bearded iris found a free source of advertising
Yes, it’s true. Not only do my children provide me with a wealth of blog fodder, but they come in pretty handy for advertising too.

And speaking of Advertising, I am busting my hump over here trying to learn more about ad networks and stuff this week. Let’s just say it’s not my forte. When you say “above the fold,” I picture the Shar Pei-like flesh-apron swinging in the breeze below my navel.



Back to the Google. (CPM? CTR? CPC? FML.)

Yours truly,
Leslie (aka “Iris”)

PS – I originally shared this photo on Instagram last week (come hang out with me, I’m “BeardedIris” there).

Jam on Your Mother’s Day Gift Giving!

I hardly ever do product reviews or giveaways.

Actually, I’ve never done a product review or giveaway.

And I’ve been blogging for nearly 4 years, so that’s a lot of free shit I’ve turned down.

Nothing against bloggers who do these things on a regular basis, it’s just not my thang. For starters, I’m pretty lazy. Secondly, I’m in a life-or-death battle against clutter; the last thing I need is MORE stuff in my house to sample and review. And thirdly, I am very picky. Honestly, for my first sponsored review, I am holding out for something epic like a Showcase Showdown prize package on The Price is Right. (Wish me luck.)

Sure, I’ve named a few products out of the goodness of my heart over the past few years that I love, like thisthis, and this. And there was that one time I accidentally offered free sex in exchange for some unbroken taco shells. Actually, I got some coupons out of that hot mess, so that was cool. (Hi Jeff. Call me.)

Also, one time? (At Band Camp?) Because I was naive? And didn’t realize it was a slimy thing to do? I let some guy slip his link into one of my old posts for 50 bucks. It felt as dirty as it sounds. Oh well, live and learn.

But I’m getting to the point in my blogging career where I’d like to try different kinds of writing and maybe even eventually earn some fun money to support my addiction-du-jour.

So today, I’m going to attempt my first ever product review and giveaway! I’m doing it for a friend, fo’ free, because I need the practice, I love her, and she’s willing to be my guinea pig.

Meet Emily.

Isn’t she lovely?

She’s really funny too. If you follow her on Twitter, you already know this.

Emily makes jam.

But this is not your grandma’s jam. Oh no no no.

Emily has her own company called Emily G’s Jam of Love. She makes badass jams, sauces, and seasonings.

Jalapeño Raspberry and Strawberry Chipotle are my two favorites so far.

I like to serve the Strawberry Chipotle over a brick of softened cream cheese with crackers for an easy appetizer that is slap-yo-baby-good.

And you haven’t really lived until you’ve tried a Brie Quesadilla with Jalapeño Raspberry jam.

Emily sells her unique jams at retail locations all over the USA. She also partners with chefs and restaurants who want to use Jam of Love in their menus. Because FYI, jam isn’t just for PB&J sandwiches anymore! (*eye roll and tch-sound*)

With just a few basic ingredients, you can turn one of Emily’s jams into a sophisticated sauce that will liven up any dish. And she’s got a whole page of recipes and cheese pairings to make it easy for you.

Twice now, I’ve made Emily’s Salmon with Wine and Mustard recipe. As if a jam made with Cabernet Sauvignon could be anything BUT lick-the-plate worthy. This is my new go-to salmon dish…so easy, but so gooooooood. Even Bucket Head gobbled it up, and he tends to only eat paste-colored foods as a general rule.

Emily G's Salmon with Wine and Mustard, served with roasted broccoli and rice.

Check out the professional grill marks. My husband rocks.

So get this. Emily has offered to send one of my readers a custom gift box of three full-sized jams! Look how pretty:

This lovely gift box is valued at $29.99 and would make a fabulous Mother’s Day gift! Emily will even ship it directly to whomever you’d like, including a card if it’s a gift.

To enter the giveaway, just leave me a comment below (one comment per person, please). If it were any easier, you’d need a washcloth and a cigarette afterward.

And let’s make it interesting, m’kay? I want your comment to include a line about a time that your mom helped you out of a jam. (See what I did there?) If you can’t think of anything (for whatever reason)…

…you can tell us of a way that someone else helped you out of a jam.

Okay fine, just tell us about a jam, any jam. Keep it clean. Kidding. Go for it. Whatever.

I’ll start.

My mom sent her boyfriend to get my car out of an icy ditch before the cops could arrive and discover I was an underage driver.

That’s a true story, by the way. My mom’s boyfriend eventually became my step father, and the two of them have been regularly helping me out of jams for the past 27 years.

Okay, your turn!

I will randomly draw a winner on Friday 5/4/12 at 12:00 EDT. I will then notify the winner via email. If said winner doesn’t respond within 72 hours to said email, I will randomly pick another winner, rinse, and repeat. Don’t make me work too hard. Emily and I have things to do, people.

Garsh, did I mention this is my first giveaway. I hope I don’t muck it up too much. Please be gentle with me.

Oh yeah, there are rules:

  • No duplicate comments.
  • No purchase necessary.
  • Void where prohibited.
  • Always wipe from front to back.
  • This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Do you know how hard it is to ship food out of the country? It’s hard. Sorry. Get over it.

Please note, I have NOT asked you to “like” The Bearded Iris on Facebook as part of this giveaway. It is my understanding that the FTC frowns on such behavior. But it wouldn’t kill you to show people how you feel. Be a mensch. It’s two clicks. And take a sweater; you never know.

with unconditional motherly love,

-Leslie (aka Iris)

 This is not a sponsored post. I have received no compensation or goods in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own. Yes, they are real, and they are spectacular. 

To blog, or not to blog, that is the question.

“Mom, some of the kids at school know about your blog,” my 12 year old son sheepishly told me after school on Monday.

“WHAT? Are you serious? How? How do you know that? What did they say to you? Are you okay? Are you embarrassed? Do you want me to take it down?” I verbally vomited all over him.

“NO Mom! Don’t take your blog down! I don’t care if kids know about it. I’m really proud of you.”

(OMG – my son is proud of me! SWOON! But holy crap, his friends know about my blog.)

Nature Boy and Iris, 2011.


This is quite a predicament.

When I started this blog as a hobby nearly four years ago, I did it anonymously. I never showed my face or my children’s faces, I didn’t use anybody’s real names (still don’t), and I never worried about potential risks.

But blogging anonymously wasn’t a good fit for me. Not having my face connected to my words made it easier for me to write things that weren’t really my truth. I felt like I was living a lie and eventually I quit.

I missed it though and I decided to give it another shot in January of 2011. But this time I wanted to do it with more authenticity and more skin in the game: I would show our faces and I would blog not just as a place to express myself, but as a way to entertain and serve others with ideas, tips, recipes, and hopefully, laughter. Maybe if I was good enough at it, I could turn it into a career.

Yes, it was a risk. The Internet is a scary place.

But the gamble paid off. My readership and opportunities grew exponentially when I started showing our faces. Was it easier for readers to connect with my family when they could really visualize us? Did my writing improve with time and practice? Or was it because I was suddenly putting more thought into each post knowing that my face was out there? I don’t know.

Every mom blogger worries about their children’s safety. We worry about stranger danger and accidentally handing Internet predators the keys to our lives. So we use code names and limit information about schedules and geographic details.

But is that enough to protect our families from the dangers of blogging?

There has been a lot of online dialogue lately about mom bloggers oversharing about their kids lives.

I am torn.

What would the mom blog genre be without REAL stories about ourselves and the crazy shit our kids do?

Frankly, I never dreamed that I would ever have enough readers to make blogging about my family an issue.

And I certainly never imagined there would ever be middle school peers of my kids reading my stories. My kids are not allowed to read my blog and they know why. It is unconscionable for 12 year olds to know about some of the very adult themed issues I’ve shared here. I write for mature audiences. I use language and discuss content that is inappropriate for children. 

I have always tried to keep my school/church life pretty separate from my personal/blogger life. But I have always feared that if my blog got into the wrong hands, it could cause problems for us. I’ve read horror stories about some of my blogging heroes like Cecily Kellogg who have gotten into hot water over their blogging.

However, I have always been willing to share my real life online because I have seen the benefit that it can give to others. Parenthood, marriage, life in general can be so difficult at times. Knowing there are others experiencing the same (or worse) challenges can really ease the burden. And after all, isn’t that what we are all called to do? Ease each others’ burdens?

But I have no control over who reads my work and what they do with the very personal information I have shared.

So now I have a choice to make.

Here are some of the options I’m considering:

A. Shut The Bearded Iris down and walk away from blogging.

B. Shut it down and start over anonymously somewhere else.

C. Go back through the blog and unpublish any posts that I am particularly uncomfortable with children reading.

D. Say screw it and stay on my path.

E. Embrace my new audience, increase the fart jokes, decrease the vagina talk. Or increase the vagina talk as a PSA to boys in puberty who need to learn about the traffic patterns down there sooner or later.

F. Other: _____(Please advise me in your comment below.)_____

This is not an easy choice for me. I have worked so hard to create years worth of original content. I have potential business opportunities in the works that are dependent upon my current status in the blogosphere. For the first time in my working life, I absolutely LOVE what I do. I don’t want to walk away. But I don’t want my kids’ friends to know anything about my genitals either. That’s not cool. Not cool at all.

Ack! Blogging. What a double edged sword. I totally picked the wrong week to give up sniffing glue.

What say you?


When social awkwardness, sobriety, and blogging collide…

So about that video I posted last Friday

Over the weekend, it hit me like a ton of placenta teddy bears that I spend WAY MORE TIME online than anyone else I know in real life.

And when you combine my ginormous Internet-based catalogue of bizarre tidbits with the fact that I am not currently drinking, you have the makings for some pretty darn awkward cocktail conversation. We’re talking, “Hey, does this mole look weird to you?” banter. Eeeek.

Rest assured, this will not be much of an issue moving forward because I am either going to become a complete shut-in or I am going to start drinking again just so I can remotely begin to tolerate myself.

But in the meantime, it has dawned on me that some of my readers probably didn’t get the pop culture reference I was trying to poke fun of with my video last week.

Yes, that video was actually a parody (or rather an attempt at a parody) of several recent news stories that caught my eye.

Maybe if I take a step back and explain the background, the video will make more sense.

(Although, in my humble opinion, if you have to explain why something is funny, it really isn’t that funny. And now I’m explaining it, even after that explanation, which is just weird. Ew. Don’t look at me, I’m hideous.)

But here’s the background story just in case you want to know more about why I would ever do such disgusting things (for free…with children…and food…on camera. Oh God, I should be in jail, shouldn’t I).

About two weeks ago I caught a quick teaser on The Today Show about how actress Alicia Silverstone had a “unique way of feeding her baby.”

Oh those morning news show producers are so clever, aren’t they? They always manage to trick me into staying tuned for what promises to be the most unbelievable story EVER!

And for once, I can honestly say, I was NOT DISAPPOINTED!

They actually showed footage of Alicia Silverstone pre-chewing her 10 month old baby’s food and feeding the baby from her own mouth.

It was truly shocking. And also, it was mom-blog GOLD ON A STICK! I couldn’t WAIT to Tweet it, and Facebook it, and blog about it, oh my!

Listen, I do some pretty gross things. My version of “the 5 second rule” is more like “meh, this is from today right?”

And yet, even I was disgusted by Alicia Silverstone’s parenting style.

But I think I was less put off by the physical component of passing masticated food from mouth-to-mouth and more revolted by the notion of doing something for a healthy child that they should do for themselves.

On top of that was another recent news story on NPR about an Easter Egg Hunt in Colorado that was cancelled due to parental aggressiveness.

Swear to God, couldn’t make it up if I tried: parents hopped a rope fence and swarmed the field determined to get their kids a plastic egg.

Normally, I try to model a “live and let live” attitude about parenting. Who am I to judge?

But more and more I’m confronted with examples of egregious “Helicopter Parenting.” This is the popular name given to parents who hover over their children and are super controlling about every element of their lives.

Outlandish scenarios like these are the stuff that humorists dream of. Sure, it might be mean, yes, it might be gross, but oooh-la-la…is it ever good material!

So my video last Friday was my own little way of contributing to the conversation and sharing my two-cents about how ridiculous helicopter parenting can be. Some of the scenes that were cut due to time limitations were of me doing my kids’ homework for them and me cutting my 12 year-old’s food and feeding him with a fork while cooing “open wide for the choo-choo-train!” It’s funny (to me) because it is so ridiculous and yet Helicopter Parenting is SO hot in the news right now.

And it’s not just eccentric celebrity parents either. I know one mom in my own suburban middle class neighborhood who goes online every afternoon, prints out her middle school son’s homework for him (as posted online by his teachers), and files the assignments into color coded hanging folders for him so that when he gets home from school (after she picks him up by car so he won’t be exposed to the dangers of public transportation), he can get started on his homework without delay.

I find this utterly ridiculous. I would no more do this for my son than I would pre-chew his food.

Is she going to go away to college with him and organize his daily workload there too?

I’m no model parent by any means, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to raise a bunch of helpless namby-pamby kids who can’t even chew their own food or find their own Easter eggs.

And that is all I have to say about that.

Now that you know more about the inspiration for my video last week, which was intended to be an over-the-top-parody of current events, perhaps it makes more sense and is (hopefully) more entertaining.

Or maybe it’s still as gross to you as it was last Friday, in which case, please have some pity for me. I’m definitely not right in the head.

sincerely yours and with even more social awkwardness than ever,


PS – does this mole look weird to you?

Blogiversary Gratitude

Hey, guess what? Today is my blogiversary! Three years ago today The Bearded Iris was born

It’s all Laura’s fault.

She’s the one who unwittingly introduced me to the blogosphere in July of 2008. Before Laura, I didn’t even know what a blog was. True story.

That’s when Laura and I became BFFs and she encouraged me to start a blog of my own as a comedy writing vehicle. We had big plans… I was going to get on Oprah and she would create a niche for herself as a photographer of gutsy women. We accomplished both in less than 6 months. It’s amazing what hopped-up housewives can do when we set our minds to it.

Unfortunately, Oprah was much more interested in my lifelong battle with clutter than she was in my dream to be the next Tina Fey. And Oprah’s producers wouldn’t use any of Laura’s fabulous photos because they wanted pics of me that represented “every frazzled mother.” Damn. Double damn.

Anyhoooo…that is how it all began, in case you were wondering.

I haven’t been blogging consistently for three full years. I had to take some time off in the middle to help one of my kidlets through a school crisis. And then there was that debilitating snapping turtle bite that took forever to heal. But I came back strong in January of 2011 and feel like I’m heading in the right direction.

So on this blogiversary, I hope you will indulge me while I express my deepest heartfelt gratitude. To Laura, for inspiring me and cheering me on while I was finding my way. To my husband, The Gatekeeper, for his unconditional support and encouragement. To my Mom and Stepfather for reading my blog every day and building my technology arsenal with their never ending generosity. To my friend Nora for being my social media mentor. And to Scott, my Fairy Geekfather, for his awesome technical expertise and support.

I am grateful to my beautiful, talented, and goofy kids who provide me with lots of forgiveness and a never ending supply of hilarious material.

Thank you to my old friends who humor/pity me with their loyal presence. And to all the new friends I’ve made on this journey, I thank you too. I can’t begin to tell you how much of an impact you’ve all had on me with your kind comments, emails, and deeds. I treasure your company with me here each day.  

Thrill of thrills, I got to meet one of my new blogging buddies last weekend while I was driving through Virginia. Megan from Declutter Daily and I struck up a friendship earlier this year through our mutual participation in the 52 Weeks of Organizing project at I’m an Organizing Junkie. She and her lovely family met my road-weary brood for coffee early Sunday morning and we had a wonderful time, as you can see…

God bless the Internet for bringing like-minded crazy people like us together, eh?

One more person I would like to thank today: loyal reader Maggie for nominating me for one of the Top 50 Mom Blogs at Babble.com (I’m currently ranked at #16!). If you would like to help others find my blog, please cast your vote for The Bearded Iris.

gratefully yours,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.


The Space in Between

So yeah, I totally agree with you. The way I anal-retentively carve and lovingly salt-water-bathe apple slices for my children every day is borderline insanity at its finest. But lest you think I’m that conscientious about all my mothering tasks, you should really take a look at this…

"Peek-a-boo!!!" {Eewwww!}

That’s a public restroom, folks. And those are two of my three beautiful children, joyfully exploring the space in between the stalls: that magic box that exists only in public Ladies’ Rooms.

The very box where we deposit our used feminine hygiene products so they won’t clog the toilet. The box that millions of women touch with hands that have been just handling their dirty pads and tampons.

"Mom! My head totally fits in this hole!"

I can’t think of a more pathogen-laden germ hole in a public restroom than this magic box that is sooooo appealing to children of all ages.

So yeah… about these pictures. Before you call D-FACS, let me explain. Two things are happening here.

One, I have three kids. The first kid is the “practice kid.” You’d wrap that child in a plastic bubble if you could. You make him wear a helmet… everywhere. As a baby, when his pacifier would fall to the ground, you would boil it. You probably also had a number of back up binkies sterilized in your high-end diaper bag just in case this happened when you were out and about at a “Mommy and Me” infant swim class or story time at the library.

By the time the second kid comes along, you are a little more laid back. You know the drill and you’re not as freaked out by every little thing. If that pacifier falls to the ground, you quickly rinse it in the sink. You have a back up binkie, but you can’t find it. And P.U., how long has this dirty diaper been in my diaper bag?

Third child? Fuhgetaboudit. You are so tired and overwhelmed all the time that your previously high standards are out the window. When that pacifier hits the floor, you pick it up and dip it in your 32 ounce Diet Coke to wash it off, then you lick it. Good as new. Diaper bag? What diaper bag? You have one diaper, a stack of Chick-Fil-A napkins, and a juice box in the bottom of your purse. It will have to do.

So yes, I’m tired, I’m jaded, and my hygiene standards are low.

And if you’ve ever taken a 4 year old boy into a public restroom, you know how revolting and exhausting it is. They crawl on the floor. They touch EVERYTHING. They put their heads dangerously close to the toilet bowl to see what’s in there.

Like George Costanza, my 4 year old son must completely disrobe to drop the kids at the pool. And where do those clothes go when he starts ripping them from his body before I can free my hands to catch them? The floor. My apologies to this nice man who is likely to have a seizure if he reads this.

Your gentle pleas of “Honey, that’s gross, don’t touch that please,” quickly morph into verbal assaults of “STOP IT!” and “NO NO NO NO NO” and “OH MY GOD, GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF THAT TOILET!” You fear that if you utter any version of “No” one more time, you will snap. You will. And it won’t be pretty. So you accept the things you cannot change and vow to give the kid the scrubbing of his life when you get home.

The second force at work here is the fact that I am a writer, a blogger, a digital expositionist. Bloggers see the world through a different lens. Suddenly everything in your life has an angle and a story to go with it. If you can capture an image of it somehow, even better. My friend Kate sums it up best in her brilliant post, A Beginner’s Guide to Blogging:

Get used to disapproving looks from other mothers when your child falls in the street and you scramble for the camera instead of picking her up.

Guilty as charged. Who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth like this:

"I see you! Wait...what's that smell?"

Hey, at least the box was empty, right? I like to believe that even I would have put the kibosh on this rousing game of Peek-a-Boo if it was happening above the rising fumes of a freshly deposited maxi pad.

There is a very wide space in between the mother I was 11 years ago and the mother I am today. Just like the wide space between my over-the-top apple prepping standards and my apparently lacking maternal instinct to shield my children from blood-borne pathogens. And frankly, I enjoy that space. There is a lot of wiggle room there. Room to breathe and to make mistakes. It’s a good thing.

So please, know that the mom who buys a special cleaner to wash potential poo off the kids’ apples, also lets her kids stick their FACES in the dirty tampon receptacle… and photographs it. Awesome.

The space in between… clearly enormous and inconsistent, but also somewhat  entertaining in a trainwrecky sort of way, no? Next time you are beating yourself up for a parenting sin, come on over. I’ll wrap you up, {deposit you in a metal bin}, and make you feel better.

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

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