You guys. Something absolutely amazing happened to me over the weekend.

Something I fantasize about on a daily basis, and dream about at night.

Something that has never happened before.

I caught up on my laundry.

I. Caught up. On my laundry.

*stands on a mountaintop with arms outstretched* I CAUGHT UP ON MY LAUNDRY!!!!

Just let the enormity of that sink in for a minute: every single piece, washed, dried, folded, and put away. Washer and dryer and hamper and basket ... empty.

It's a practically mythical phenomenon around these parts, since there's a grand total of six wardrobes in my house to keep clean. I have yet to figure out how my kids go through so many clothes, since they're naked every time I turn around - but as most of my fellow moms can attest, kids have an unparalleled knack for filling up a hamper.*

*And by "filling up a hamper" I mean "throwing the clothes down wherever the hell they happen to take them off.

Washing isn't the problem. I could wash clothes all day. We generate so much laundry around here that I have to do at least one load daily, sometimes two.*

*Especially if I try to take a day off and accidentally leave a load in the washer and it starts to smell funky so I have to wash it twice. Oops.

And drying it? Simple. Transfer clothes from washer to dryer. Easy-peasy. I don't mind at all.

But there's no magic laundry fairy who takes your clean clothing from dryer to drawer. And when it stops being easy, I start being disinterested in doing it. So once the laundry is actually dry, it sometimes sits there wrinkling in the dryer. And then I'm like, "I'll just throw this next load in on top of it and dry the whole thing together." And then that sits, until finally my dryer is too full to accommodate anything else and then I'm left with this ...

... a.k.a. the unfortunate reality that a ton of laundry-folding is in my future. Blah.

And then once it's folded, it has to be put away. Most of my kids are old enough to put their own stuff in their own drawers, but their handiwork tends to look like this ...

 This is their pajama drawer, where I don't care if anything is folded or not.

So when it matters whether their stuff is wrinkled, I put it away myself, which is why their shirt drawer looks like this:

This is a very smart method of putting clothes away (thank you Pinterest!). Number one, you don't have to sift through stacks of shirts to find the one you want. And because your kids don't either, it stays organized a lot longer than normal.

Man, I love Internet wisdom.

Anyway, yesterday I did ALL the laundry and put it ALL away and stood back and just stared in awe at the beautifully empty laundry room. I swear there was a Hallelujah chorus.

And then? I went upstairs and found an entire outfit crumpled behind my kids' bathroom door.

And on my way to throw it downstairs, my husband was like, "Oh, you're on your way to the laundry room? Take this dish rag because it's starting to smell musty."

And then my oldest son was like, "Ewww, who threw their dirty socks in the toy box?"

It was like the universe said, "Caught up on laundry, eh? We'll just see about that."

At least I don't have to, like, beat it on a rock and hang it on a clothesline. It could be worse.

Stuff Prospective Parents Should Probably Know

We know "what to expect when we're expecting" ... but then what about afterward? Is parenting harder because we don't know what it's actually like? Before parenthood, we can only speculate about what raising a child will entail - and usually, the idea and the actual experience are vastly different. Like how I once swore I'd only give my kids a perfect, healthy diet, yet now I find myself looking up things like "do pickles count as a vegetable?"

Parenthood is full of the unexpected.

So I thought about things I wish I had understood about having kids before I had kids. Things that might have brought me a little insight, a bit of clarity, made the journey a little easier. Things such as ...

You're not as knowledgeable about kids as you think you are. Before I was a parent, I smugly considered myself an expert on kids (I know ... if I could time-travel, I'd slap me). I have more nieces and nephews than I can count on both hands. I started babysitting by the time I was ten. In college, I took child development and child psychology classes. I volunteered at the campus child care center, and after that, worked as a preschool teacher. Kids? Oh, yeah. I knew all about kids.

Only, I didn't.

Books can tell you a lot. Babysitting can teach you how to change a diaper or mediate an argument over whose crayons are whose. But the experience of having your own child, whom you love with every fiber of your being, is completely different. You are acutely aware that every parenting decision you make can directly affect them for the rest of their lives. You are bombarded with advice from every angle - some decent, some ridiculous - and it's your job to determine which is which. Throw in the worry, the pride, the frustration, the all-encompassing love, and the different personalities and circumstances of each individual child, and it's like you're playing  a ranked chess match while someone throws basketballs at your head. No matter how much you think you know, you have no freaking clue. Parenthood is largely trial-and-error; go in with flexibility and an open mind. You're going to make mistakes, so allow yourself to feel okay about that, because everybody does it. And anyway, as you'll find out ...

They aren't as fragile as the Internet makes them out to be. When my oldest was born, I hunched protectively over him at the slightest gust of wind. Hauled him to the pediatrician if he coughed. Eased him ever so gently into his crib and his car seat and his bath tub. Followed him around obsessively as he took his first steps so he wouldn't bump into the coffee table.

By the time my fourth son came around, I brought him home from the hospital, plopped him into a beanbag on the living room floor, and let his brothers pummel him for about ten minutes while I laid on the couch staring tiredly at the ceiling. Okay, maybe not pummel, but they got all up in his face and poked at him a lot. And it was okay. He still loves them, and he's not missing any eyes, so there's that.

Horror stories abound on the Internet. Take them with a grain of salt (and stop Googling everything because that is the fastest route to a freakout). Relax and let your kids be kids and use your intuition. If you listen to your gut, it will tell you a lot more about what they need than any book or website.

You will miss your pre-parental life ... and you will feel guilty about it. It will happen when you're elbow-deep in baby poop and knee-deep in toys and your childless friend calls up like, "Oh yeah, I just left the salon and now I'm heading to dinner and then we'll probably hit the club after that. Give me a call tomorrow. Oh but not too early because I'm planning to sleep in." You'll look at your poopy, cluttered surroundings with the Dora theme song playing in the background, and you'll want to cry because you wish you were somewhere - anywhere! - else. And then, like a knife twisting in your heart, you'll feel like crap because oh my gosh what kind of terrible parent am I?! 

News flash: it's okay to miss those things. It's normal to miss those things. You can love your kids and want to be away from them at the same time. And trust me, no matter how much you love the little darlings, you'll fantasize about doing things by yourself again. Because ...

Kids can be dictators and jerks. You'd never work for a boss who woke you up in the middle of the night with ridiculous requests, or demanded that you shape your personal life around his schedule. If he asked you to wipe his ass or threw his lunch all over the room and expected you to clean it up, that'd be a deal-breaker. Yet that's basically what you do as a parent. Thank goodness you adore your kids, because they can be like tiny little tyrants. You will find yourself, for example, frantically searching for things - no, the red cup! - nooooo, the red cup with the picture of Mickey Mouse! - Nooooo, not milk, juiiiiice! - while your own breakfast scorches in the skillet. Oh, and also?

You will go without things you never currently go without. I'm not saying you should neglect yourself for your kids' sake. In fact, it's more important than ever to take care of yourself, because a happy mom is a happy household. BUT. If you're used to weekly manis and pedis, or getting your hair trimmed religiously every six weeks, or regular massages, or buying a bunch of new clothes every season ... you might want to realize that kids are freaking expensive. And unless you are rolling in expendable income, your "me" budget will dwindle to virtually nothing because of stuff like bills from the pediatrician, school lunches, clothes and shoes and backpacks that will keep wearing out, and the "whatever-toy-is-currently-being-shown-on-TV-a-million-times-a-day" that they just have to have.

Case in point: the photo you see here. These are my actual shoes. That is a hole big enough to stick my finger through. The hole appeared four months ago, yet I still wear the shoes three times a week when I teach Zumba. If you're wondering why I haven't just gotten new shoes, re-read the previous paragraph. And then read this: kids. Are. Not. Cheap.

Follow me on Instagram @FightingFrumpy to see more breathtaking photography such as this.

Nobody cares as much about your kids as you do and it will piss you off. I distinctly remember my first experience with this phenomenon: my first son was about six months old and had just learned to wave. We'd go to the grocery store, and he'd wave at everyone he saw. Sometimes, people waved back - but other times, they'd just look at him and walk on. And I wanted to be like, "He's waving at you, you big jerk!" I mean, how could you be waved at by an adorable baby and not even bother to wave back? Ugh.

There are entire websites devoted to ridiculing parents who talk about their kids too much. The sad but harsh truth is, no one will ever think your child is as cute or as smart or as witty or as amazing as you do. The only exception: their other parent, and their grandparents, and maybe their aunts and uncles if you're lucky. Find one of these people to brag to when Junior chooses peas over pudding or uses the toilet for the first time - because even though you'll want to shout it from the rooftops, other people don't care, and it will make you feel disappointed inside.

Your tolerance for grossness will increase because it absolutely has to. So you're a little squeamish? Don't worry - because having children is the best remedy. Being squeamish isn't an option, and parenthood is like a crash course in getting used to disgusting things. Luckily it starts out with smaller, easier-to-manage messes: the occasional newborn diaper blowout, a little spit-up here and there, some drool. By the time you get a few months of practice with the rookie-level grossness, your child gets older and ups the ante with man-sized dumps, and vomit (which, until they learn to sprint to the toilet, means that you get to clean it off of beds, out of couch cushions, your hair, or wherever), and six-inch smears of snot on the thigh of your pants. They'll play in their poop.

... Told you.

They'll urinate in weird places (such as inside a water gun, which they will then stash in the corner of their closet for a month until the pee turns rancid and you make a most unpleasant discovery when you tip it over onto your foot). They'll bring you boogers the size of Brazil (or just wipe them on the wall). When they get older, they will come crying to you with blood-dripping injuries - but by that time, you'll be such a seasoned pro that the first thing out of your mouth will be, "Don't bleed on the carpet!"

By nature, parenthood is surprising - and this is just the tip of the iceberg of things you'll discover when it happens to you. But I figure the more we can take the mystery out of it, the better equipped new parents will be to handle the challenges their kids throw at them.

... Until you spill a water gun full of rancid pee on your foot. Nothing can really prepare you for that.

Trust me.

Dear Boys: a Lesson in "Fart-iquette"

Dear Boys,

As a parent, it's my job to teach you the fundamentals of manners and self-control, so that you don't embarrass the piss out of me in public grow up to be fine, upstanding, respectful young men.

We've already talked about the ins and outs of groping your boy parts, so I think it's time to move on to another topic that you seem to need a bit of help with: flatulence. Or, as you like to refer to it (as loudly and as often as possible) - farts. This also goes for burps, and any other gaseous emission that you can muster up.

So here, Boys, are a few kindly reminders. Please refer to these often, as my words on the subject sometimes seem to go in one ear and out the ... undies.

- Believe it or not, it's possible to fart quietly. Make use of those butt muscles you've toned through countless hours of fending off your brother's attempted wedgies. A little clenching can go a long way in muffling even the most heinous anal acoustics.

- From the very first diaper-bound rumblings, I've said, "Excuse you!" in order to teach you the correct thing to say afterward. And yet, to this day, you still seem to think it's a gleeful announcement of, "I farted!" Just say "excuse me." Seriously. You're still calling attention to the fact that you farted, I'm not mortified by your lack of manners, we all win. Sort of.

- Just because you need to fart doesn't mean you should. There are times when you should just hold it in; I know you're capable. If you're in a confined space where the air won't immediately carry it away, do us all a favor and refrain. Forcing others to inhale your poop-scented air when they can't escape elevates you from merely rude to total jerk.

- Everybody loves a light breeze in their face - just not the kind that comes from your anus. Likewise, no one welcomes a blast from the ass while you're sitting on their lap. If you've got to fart, fine, but keep it in your own space.

(PS - you're not very sneaky, because when you run over "for a hug" with that devilish grin on your face, I know exactly what you're planning to do.)

- I don't care if it is your sibling: your response to someone else's gas-passing should ideally be silence, not "Your voice has changed, but your breath still smells the same!"

- Farting is not part of the Olympics. People are not winning millions of dollars in cash and prizes for farting (at least I hope they aren't). Do you know why? Because it's not a competition.  So when your brother farts, that doesn't mean you have to follow up with your own. Especially if you have to force it, which brings us to my last (and possibly most crucial) reminder ...

- One of these days, you're going to try too hard and crap your pants. And even I will laugh. And you'll never, ever, ever live it down. Just saying.

So in summary, Boys, bodily functions are normal and healthy, but there's a time and a place for the proper expulsion of your various gases - and a proper protocol to follow afterward. I just hope you learn this by the time you start to date.

... And then remember it when you're married.


Turtle-y Awesome

Over the weekend, my third son - Coby - turned five. He's the one I was pregnant with when I started this blog, so if you've been reading me for a while you're probably like, "No way. He's five?!" Because I know that's how I feel. My little baby is a Kindergartner now, but it seems like just yesterday that I was writing this blog post about his birth (which, coincidentally, is the first time I ever addressed the "pooping during childbirth" issue on the Internet. Did I or didn't I? You'll have to read to find out. You know you're curious).

I was trying to make a slide show for the blog, with all these sweet pictures of him, but y'all? My tech-savvy must be broken this morning, because I was seriously struggling. So I finally just said screw it and decided that I would link you to my favorite Coby-centric post, because even though I wrote it two years ago, it's still true - even more so today, as he grows and matures. And if, years down the road, he reads this and wonders why I didn't love him enough to cobble together a mediocre little birthday slideshow, well ... none of his brothers have had one for the past year or two either. So, you know, everyone is even.

Coby (and practically every other little boy his age) is currently obsessed with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He is also obsessed with a YouTube channel called Nerdy Nummies, where a charming young lady named Rosanna Pansino (whom I suspect Coby has a bit of a crush on) whips up all kinds of fun treats based on video games and book characters and stuff. And it's where - unfortunately for me - he found this tutorial for Ninja Turtle cake pops.

He turned those huge, soulful brown eyes upon me with longing and was like, "Mommy, can I please take some of those to school to share with my class for my birthday?"

And I was all ...

Because you guys. How could I not be? Just look at this face!

So despite the fact that I had never before made cake pops, I promised to make twenty of them for his class.*

*And then I freaked out inside because OMG WHAT HAD I DONE????

Let me give you a couple of important things I learned about making cake pops, in case you, too, have a child with pleading and hypnotic eyes who sweetly begs you to make cake pops.

- I didn't use cream cheese to hold the cake balls together, like she does in the tutorial - I used frosting. (I only like cream cheese in savory applications, like crab rangoon or something.) The frosting worked just fine and was delicious.

- The fondant (for the turtles' bandannas) sounds scary but it was surprisingly, refreshingly simple to make ... and MUCH cheaper than buying it. You literally just melt mini-marshmallows with a teeny bit (I'm talking a couple of dribbles) of water and then knead it with some powdered sugar. I used this recipe ... and even though I only made a half-batch, I had leftovers. Make sure you grease every surface it touches liberally with shortening. And when you color it, use gel or paste coloring because the liquid kind changes the texture and makes it all sticky. Trust me on this one.

- I used Wilton Candy Melts in green for the coating, which apparently she uses in the tutorial. I bought one bag, and had just enough for the twenty pops.

Although where hers were nice and runny and perfect for dipping, mine were kind of the consistency of toothpaste when I melted them. So make sure you heat them slowly or they'll get stiff. You can thin it out with a bit of shortening if necessary, which it totally was for me. Keep a little bit of extra on hand because I had a couple of cake pops that cracked, and I just smoothed some extra coating over the cracks with my finger.

- I guess you could make your own eyeballs out of frosting or something, but I bought these:

Because making your own eyeballs, I'm guessing, would be ridiculously tedious. And ain't nobody got time for that ... especially when you're already making cake pops. The pre-made ones were easy and stuck to the fondant bandannas just fine, no extra adhesive needed.

- I went out and purchased special food-writing markers for the mouths. I thought they'd be perfect. But guess what? They didn't work. I guess the coating on the cake balls was too waxy or something. So I went with my emergency plan B and used a little softened butter, some powdered sugar, a couple drips of water and some black gel food coloring to make a black frosting, which I then (painstakingly, cursing under my breath the whole time) dabbed onto the cake pops in the shape of a mouth with the end of a skewer. Blah.

- Buy a cardboard cake pop stand. Seriously. They are only like two bucks but they give you a place to put them while the coating firms up. Once it's hardened, you can lay them on a tray or something without damaging them - but when they're wet, you need a place to put them. Unless you just want to stand there holding them until they harden, which I did not.

- Everything can be made in advance. I made the fondant two days before and stored it in plastic wrap in the fridge. I made the cake balls the day before, and kept those in the freezer (keeping them cold makes them MUCH easier to work with). All I had to do on Cake Pop Day was assemble them - not that it isn't a lot of work, mind you, but at least I didn't have to bake the cake and everything all at once.

I ended up making a huge mess and slightly lumpy cake pops.

But they tasted great, and most importantly, the kids LOVED them. Seriously, they freaked when I brought them into the classroom. And Coby was beaming with pride, which made up for all the work.

And the fact that my fingers, four days later, are STILL stained various colors from tinting the fondant. Which brings us to my last tip ... buy some damn latex gloves.

Happy cake-pop-making!


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