Color Me ... Something!

The American Heritage Dictionary defines "frumpy" as the following:
1. A girl or woman regarded as dull, plain, or unfashionable
2. A person regarded as colorless and primly sedate

Dull? Colorless? If that's the case, I'm no longer fighting the frump - I'm miserably immersed in it. I can illustrate this point with a photo I took yesterday of my personal stack of laundry.

So why is this pile of clothes so unusual, you ask? It's just a stack from the "dark load," right?


Even though my mama taught me better (sorry, Mom), I don't separate my laundry by color - or even by lights and darks. No, this depressingly drab pile is just ... my clothes. It's just what was dirty and I washed and folded and bam, there it was, looking like it had been raided from Johnny Cash's closet. I knew I had a lot of black stuff, but damn - I didn't realize I look like Morticia Addams in mourning.

In my defense, a lot of it is because my glasses look like this:

LOL - yes, that's me eating a pickle (and surprise surprise, wearing black!) - it was just the first one I came across in my most recent folder of pictures. Anyway ... my glasses. They're black. And black goes with black. Right?

Man, I didn't make much of a case for myself after all.


If you call me, be warned: I will inevitably spend most of the conversation getting after my kids. Don't take it personally. It isn't because I don't want to talk to you. It's because there's some unwritten rule that says children, no matter how well-behaved normally, will act like heathens on a rampage once their mother is on the phone. You can do everything in your power to ensure they're distracted beforehand - but it never works for long.

It's a problem as old as the phone itself. Did Alexander Graham Bell have kids? If so, they probably acted up while he was on the phone with his assistant. History books tell us the first words ever spoken on the telephone were, "Mr. Watson, come here - I want to see you." If Mr. Bell had children, I guarantee those words were followed by a menacing hiss of, "You stop that right now or I'll ..."

I pity the mothers of the pre-cordless phone era, who were helplessly tethered to a wall while their kids went haywire. These unfortunate moms had only two choices:
- Waggle their fingers in the international "no no" gesture, or wave their hand in a threatening spanking/smacking motion
- Put the phone down, repeatedly, while they chased after the perpetrators
Seeing as they were restricted by the cord, they had no choice but to nervously glance toward the splashing sounds coming from the bathroom, or scowl menacingly at a child running by in hopes that the one look would say it all. (By the way, I've tried that. All it really seems to say is, "I'm not going to come after you, so do your worst.")

Modern moms, while still vexed by the age-old problem of such misbehavior, are lucky; we can investigate strange noises (or suspicious silences, which are usually more threatening) and remove children from undesirable situations, all without having to put the phone down. But until someone comes up with a better solution - or my kids outgrow it, whichever comes first - my phone conversations will be peppered with "no" and "stop" and "get out of that" and "shh!" ... And numerous apologies to the caller, who by the end, probably wishes he or she hadn't called at all.

So if we don't talk on the phone very often, you never have to wonder why I don't call. It isn't because I don't enjoy our chats - it's because e-mail, where you can't hear me griping every 2.5 seconds, is better for us both. Trust me.


With the realization of having a third child on the way came the realization that our Jeep won't accomodate the necessary car seats. Colin, of course, is out of a "car seat" - but he has a booster seat which, per state law, he has to ride in for the next two years or so. Which means Cameron and Baby 3 still have a loooong time to be confined to some sort of safety-sitting-apparatus. For the next five years - and that's if Baby 3 is the last little Templeton to slide from my va-jay-jay - we'll need a roomy vehicle. Which brings us to the subject I never wanted to broach, the two words that no coolness-retaining parent ever wants to say:


(Or is that technically supposed to be one word? Oh well. Whatever.)

The point is, I swore I'd never drive one. Even if my family grew to be Duggar-sized (that's eighteen kids, for those of you unfamiliar with Michelle Duggar's Ridiculously Prolific Uterus) I would attempt to find something to drive that didn't make me look like, well, a professional mom.

Don't get me wrong - there's nothing wrong with devoting your life to your kids. But for me, that has included almost completely sacrificing my trendy look, my "me" time, my spontaneity, and on occasion, my personal hygeine. Must I sacrifice my vehicle as well? When I'm driving the Jeep - unless someone peers really closely through the tinted back windows and sees the car seats, toys, and stale French fries littering the floor - I'm still just a chick in a Jeep. No labels, no judgments. It doesn't scream "MOM," and that's fine by me.

Now, however, we're in a different category. Practicality dictates the need for something larger, more family-oriented. Something with lots of seats (easily washable, in case of vomit, spilled drinks, or the like) ... cool, kid-friendly features like backseat DVD players and cupholders. Room for kids and groceries! Namely, a damn minivan.

So far, we haven't tiptoed into that territory. ... Yet. We're mostly looking at SUVs with third-row seating. But though neither of us will admit it, both Curtis and I have sneaked glances across car lots at the shiny new minivans and secretly wonder if we're headed in that direction. And wonder if, should we happen to bite the proverbial bullet and buy a Grand Caravan or a Town & Country, would our last shreds of coolness be slipping out their child-locked windows?

I Know, I Know ... "No No!"

You know how they make those pedometers that count your steps? I think somebody needs to invent some little gadget for moms that counts the times in a day we say "no" (or some variant of it: nuh-uh, not right now, mm-mmm, stop, don't, etc.).

If I had such a gadget, I would surely set a record today. Either that, or said gadget would be lying on the floor with springs popping and smoke pouring out from gross overuse. I seriously feel sorry for Cameron, my one year old, because in the three and a half hours that he's been awake, I have told him "no" more often than I've said anything else to him ... so much so that he's walking around repeating, "No no no!" in his tiny baby voice. Poor little guy. He's probably thinking, "Damn, isn't there anything I'm allowed to do?!?"

So far I've had to get him out of/off of the following, most of them multiple times:
-The DVD drawer
-The DVD player
-The kitchen cabinets ... where he has figured out the "childproof" latches
-The trash can
-The recycle bin
-The toilet
-The heater vent
-The utensil drawer
-The computer desk
-The kitchen table
-The back of the couch
-The stairs

(So why am I not, like, a size 5 by now? Surely I burn off mega calories retrieving him from such situations!)

That says nothing of the times I've denied Colin of something this morning: no cookies for breakfast. No unattended surfing of YouTube (he likes to watch videos of praying mantises and Venus fly traps). No running around minus underwear. No using the discs from my cookie press as pretend currency. And on, and on, and on ... (or more appropriately, "and no, and no, and no ...")

I swear if someone were to come up to me right now and say, "Hey Rita, do you want a million bucks?" I'd probably say "no" simply out of habit.

... Or maybe not. :)


I cannot WAIT to have this baby.

I'm only fifteen weeks pregnant at this point, so I haven't even hit the halfway mark yet. But as I was doing step aerobics today (after which I guzzled down a ginger ale, ate a Jethro Bodine-sized bowl of chili, and baked a batch of cookies, thereby negating the whole workout plus some), I was watching one of those birth shows on the Discovery Channel. And as I watched the various mothers bringing new lives into the world, I reflected on what a cruel waiting game pregnancy is. It's like carrying around a much-anticipated Christmas present for nearly a year, nonstop, without getting to open it.

I'm so excited for the day when the wait is over, and I can finally see my baby's precious face. Yes, that day comes with the unpleasantries of needles and catheters. Yeah, it involves a paper-thin gown that makes me look even more grotesquely bovine than I already do at nine months pregnant ... and the fear of taking a dump on the delivery table ... and a roomful of virtual strangers ogling (and/or probing) my nether regions. Sure, I could do without the contractions, and the post-birth mega-super-maxi pads (diapers, more accurately), and the painful squishing of my uterus by sadistic nurses who swear they're "just helping it return to normal size." But every poke, prod, push, and pinch, and all the long, arduous nine months preceding them, become so worth it the minute I see that little face for the very first time.

Until then, though, I'll just have to tote around my little "Christmas present" (fitting, since he or she was conceived on Christmas Eve!) and count down the days. I need one of those advent-type calendars ...

Dear Husband: An Anniversary Wish List

Dearest Husband,

Our 9th anniversary is coming up next month. To make things easier on you, I'm writing this letter so that you'll know exactly what to do to sweep me off my feet ... or at least make it easier to get me in the sack.

I know, I know. It used to be so simple. Before kids, all it took to seduce me was a well-placed caress or two (or hell, let's face it, a sideways glance). That was before I was perpetually exhausted, covered in food/snot/spit, and elbow-deep in other people's excrement countless times a day. These days, it takes a little extra "push" to get me started. But don't worry - it isn't like I'm asking for a diamond ring (I'd just take it off while doing some messy chore and then leave it somewhere, anyway), or a pricey meal at a restaurant that doesn't have kids' menus (do those exist?), or a romantic tropical getaway (although ... don't count that one out. Seriously).

No, my tastes have changed over the last nine years. Wine and roses and candlelight are nice, but what really turns me on now are much more practical things. I'll lay out a few examples ... things you can do that will score major points in the romance department:

-Scoop out the litter box. We have a three-year-old who still needs help getting completely clean when he wipes, a one-year-old who poops out more than he takes in - and, a few months from now, will be adding a newborn's neverending eat-sleep-dump cycle to the mix. I deal with too much poo as it is ... so take two minutes to sift the cat turds out of the litter. Please.

-And speaking of poop, occupy the kids while I "drop deuce" in peace and quiet. I can't tell you how long it's been since my #2's have gone unobserved by one or more pairs of little eyes. I'm tired of guarding the toilet paper so it won't get unrolled, holding the cabinet doors and drawers closed with my foot, and answering questions about why my genitalia and/or poop looks "different." I just want to sit and do my bidness by myself. I never thought that, of all things, would be a luxury ... but it is.

-Get out the vacuum cleaner, unprompted, and sweep the floors. This includes the kitchen and bathrooms - yes, you can vacuum floors that aren't carpeted. (I know you've never done it, but you've got to trust me on that one.) Bonus: learn to use the attachments. You can even dust with them ... hint hint!

-Give me the blessed gift of some uninterrupted time to read something that doesn't involve talking animals, shapes and colors, or the numbers one through twenty.

-Throw on a load or two - or three! - of laundry. You and the boys burn through clean clothes like you're eating them, and I'm always overrun with seemingly endless piles of dirty stuff. It's like a magic replenishing hamper ... if by "magic" I meant irritating. And by the way: doing laundry doesn't mean washing the clothes and then leaving them in the dryer/laundry basket to cool and wrinkle until *I* fold them and put them away. It means doing it all, from washing to hanging in the closet.

Why am I even being so specific? Mop, clean the toilet, scrub the bathtub, make dinner, pick the toys up, do the dishes, whatever. I'm so easy to please - really! Just think of something I usually have to do, and then do it. (Or better yet, pick a few things!) Anything you can take off my to-do list - anything at all - is great with me. And if you do this while telling me (sincerely!) that you still think I'm beautiful, fighting the frump and all, after almost a decade ... I'll be putty in your hands.

I hope this assists you in your annual anniversary gift-giving endeavors.

Helpfully Yours,
Your Loving Wife

Hello, My Name is Mommy

Once upon a time, not so long ago, I was cute and stylish.

Then, this happened ... twice:

Which brings me to the current me. My name is Rita, but the people I talk to most call me Mommy. And this isn't even totally representative of how I typically look (I'm wearing makeup in this picture) but I must retain the teeniest shred of my dignity:

This is why I'm here, blogging about my neverending struggle with "the frump." Because somewhere within me - beneath the ponytail, and the pajama pants you can still find me wearing at 3 p.m., and the crusted food from breakfast, and the smear of baby snot on my shoulder - somewhere, that girl in the curve-hugging Calvin Kleins and cute but uncomfortable boots is begging me not to forget that she exists.

It has been soooo easy for me to fall into the frump trap, though. I'm a freelance writer, so I can work from home. I do interviews over the phone, where no one has to see that I'm barefoot and have a Backyardigans sticker stuck to my butt. My husband works a ridiculous schedule with long hours: he works all night, twelve to fourteen hours at a stretch, and therefore sleeps all day. We're like two ships passing in the night sometimes - and I almost never leave the house when he's not off work. I don't need to, and it's much more difficult to run errands with two kids in tow. So I figure if I'm not going anywhere, why should I spend half an hour fighting my unruly hair, putting on a face, and grudgingly squeezing myself into jeans that are quickly getting too small?

In truth, I know why I should be doing all that. Because I deserve it. Because my husband deserves it. Because the girl I was, the girl he married, was the kind of girl who wouldn't be caught dead at the store sans makeup in a rummage-sale sweatshirt. Because I spend so much time taking care of everyone else that I should, above all, realize the value of taking care of myself.

But I've got an almost-four-year-old, a fourteen-month-old, and a baby due this September. And though my husband, bless his heart, is wonderful and attentive when he's home ... he's usually off making a living so that I can afford to stay with the kids and, well, be frumpy. So it sometimes (okay, often) feels like I'm a single mother with a sugar daddy. Even the simple act of showering becomes a monumental task when you've got to work around two little boys. During the day, they can't be left alone while I'm in the bathroom; at night, the shower inevitably wakes one, who cries and consequently wakes the other. So that leaves me to shower ... when the cosmos perfectly align and I seize the tiniest opportunity. And shaving? Forget it. I look like Sasquatch's sister. That includes "down south," where I once meticulously maintained a neatly trimmed little landing strip - which now, unfortunately for my husband, looks more like an open field.

By September, when the baby's born, I will have had three kids in four years. I have gained and lost a grand total of 170 pounds of baby weight (I'm not one of those cute pregnant women with the tiny, out-in-front bump; I look like I've got a baby stashed in each thigh, and my stomach makes people gasp audibly). I have gone from sipping champagne backstage at a Snoop Dogg concert to pre-ordering tickets for Dora the Explorer Live!. It's madness.

I'm not ungrateful for the life I have. In fact, it's what I always dreamed of doing - I just didn't dream I'd be wearing an outfit I'd be embarrassed to answer the door in.

So welcome to my neverending fight with frumpiness. If you can relate, holla!


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