So I know you've been, like, waiting with bated breath for this week's edition of "Stuff I Like" Sunday, scheduled for tomorrow - but I regret to inform you that you'll have to wait another week. Why? Because right now I can't think of anything I like enough to merit pecking out an entire post on my iPhone. Except for you guys, which is why I'm doing it right now. (And I'll have you know that this teeny paragraph? Has taken me like ten years.)

The reason I'm iPhoning-it is because we're headed out of town for a few days to attend Curtis Aunt Betty's annual post-Thanksgiving shindig. Which means seven delicious hours in a vehicle packed with kids and luggage and the steamy smell of dog breath.

Awww yeah, lucky me.

I would've written a real post, from my actual computer, but I was too lazy busy before we left, getting the offspring ready and whatnot. Besides, what else do I have to do for this long car ride?

... Besides saying, "Don't touch your brother," and "Get the dog back, he's drooling on the baby," and "If you're going to throw up, use that Wal-Mart sack," and other such delightful things.

*sigh* It's going to be a long trip. See you guys in a couple days.

What a Tree-asco

Two days ago, Curtis was gonna put up the Christmas lights outside. "Gonna" being the operative word here. I realize it's not even Thanksgiving yet, but you see, we live in the weather-crazy midwest. It snowed on October 10th of this year. So you never know when we're going to get slammed with a big slick snowstorm and then boom - no Christmas lights on the house.

(Plus, like, most of our neighbors have already done theirs and we didn't want to look like the slackers.)

The day was sunny and even on the verge of warm. But as much as I nagged  bitched  helpfully reminded him that he'd said he was going to do it, and that the weather was perfect, he procrastinated. I can't say I really blame him, since he's worked literally every day this month, but still. The damn lights aren't going to hang themselves. So he promised - SWORE - he'd do it the next day.

The next day (yesterday) rolled around, and Curtis woke up ready to do the lights. But there was one problem.

It was raining.

After a spirited round of "I-told-you-so," I decided we decided to do the next-best thing: put up the decorations in the house. After all, we're going out of town for Thanksgiving; wouldn't it be nice to have everything all pretty when we get back?

Yes. Yes it would.

We have an artificial tree, and it's a pain in the ass to assemble. So last year, geniuses that we are, we decided to just take the decorations off, leave it together, and store the whole thing in the storage room in our garage. That way we could just bring it into the house ready-to-decorate this year. Oh, the foresight!

Except Curtis brought up a good point. "Think I should rinse it off?" he said. "It's been sitting in storage for a whole year, and there might be mice or spiders or something hiding in the branches."

Mice or spiders? Horrors!

So he hosed off the tree, just in case.

*Normal* people would have let it drip-dry for a day or two. But us? Nobody ever said we were normal. And I was excited, dammit. So we figured it was okay to bring it into the house as long as Curtis shook it off really well first.

... Which is how we ended up doing this:

While Curtis stood there with the hair dryer and complained dried the tree, I got into the box of ornaments and lights to get everything ready. And in doing so, noticed a extra piece of ribbon. It wasn't long enough to go around the tree, but it was long enough to do something with. First I tried twining it around the bannister, but it was too short. So, with Curtis making fun of me the entire time because I just had to use this little piddly piece of ribbon, I hung it in our front window like so:

See? I'll give you a moment to marvel at my mad decorating skillz.



Anyway, when the tree had stopped dripping all over the carpet, it was time to put on the decorations. We started with a beaded garland - just lovely. Then we went to put on the lights. Except ...

I swear Christmas lights need to come with a "we-only-last-one-year" disclaimer. Because our tree lights, that we purchased one year ago, had apparently failed to muster up the strength to last for a second year. So we had enough lights for, like, half the tree. What was worse - Curtis had to go to work, and I wasn't about to venture out in the pouring rain with three kids ages 4 and under to get replacement lights. We couldn't put on the rest of the decorations, of course, without putting the lights on first. So we ended up with this:

And that, folks, is how our tree looks right now.

To add insult to injury, we've got two kids who won't stay out of it no matter how many times I threaten  ask them to. And there's this:

It's hard to catch her agile little behind in a photo, but trust me when I tell you that's a calico head peeking out. Yep, Ava won't stay out of the tree either. I think Thurman (our other cat - and yes, he's named after Thurman Merman, the fat kid in Bad Santa) would climb it too if he weren't so ... hefty.

Anyway, that's the story of our ill-fated Christmas tree.

I'm thinking we ought to be Jewish this year ...

There's No "Me" in "Pee"

I'm sleep-deprived. That's natural for someone with a two-month-old, right?

But what's not natural is that it isn't the two-month-old who interrupts my sleep on the regular - it's my four year old.

Colin has never been what you'd call a good sleeper. He only sleeps through the night once or twice a week. That would be fine if he just got up and silently wandered around for a little bit, or went into the living room and turned on the TV or something - but nooooo. He gets up and whines. Sometimes he has an all-out middle-of-the-night hissy fit over nothing in particular, and I'm pretty sure he's not even awake - but *I* sure as hell am.

Probably the most frequent nighttime occurence, though, is his announcement that he needs to go pee.

The child has been completely potty trained for two years. He wipes his own butt. He can reach the light switch by himself. It's not like he needs one iota of bathroom assistance. And during the day, he goes. By himself. Without fanfare. But at night, for some reason, it's a different story.

"Mommy!" I'll hear him call. "I need to go pee!"

"Well then go!" I hiss back, trying not to wake anyone up. And he does ... and then gets back into bed ... all by himself. Problem solved.

I've tried over and over and OVER to change this behavior. "Colin. If you have to go pee in the night, just go pee," I say. "You won't be in trouble for getting out of bed. There's no need to tell Mommy first - just go." And he nods and tells me he understands. But nothing ever changes.

... Until last night.

I heard him get up, then saw the bathroom light in the hallway. Heard the lid close and the toilet flush. Bathroom light turned off. Then nothing. Silently I rejoiced - maybe my relentless lecturing had paid off! Maybe I had finally gotten it into his head that he didn't need to bother me! I relished visions of a full, peaceful night's sleep.

Until Colin appeared at my bedside. In the dark I could faintly see his face, and he was beaming.

"Mommy, I went pee without even telling you!" he said proudly.

*sigh* That's great, son.


Poor Parenting on Parade

This past weekend was our town's holiday ("it's-not-PC-to-say-Christmas") parade. And let me tell you, there's nothing like a parade to make me feel like the worst. Parent. EVER.

Fail #1 was the kids' attire. The sun was shining. It was supposed to be in the low 60s. Nice day, right? I even stepped outside myself to gauge the temperature before I dressed the boys - and granted, I'd been hurrying around and was kinda warm, but the weather felt really nice. So I put them in T-shirts with long-sleeved shirts over them.

But then we got downtown (where we parked, like, eighteen miles away from our actual destination - and realized Fail #2: we forgot the stroller). People were flocking to find a seat. People in parkas. And coats. And scarves. And gloves. And hats. And here we were, with our poor unprotected-from-the-elements children. I could almost hear the disapproving tsk sounds the other mothers were surely making. I found a thin jean jacket in our Jeep for Cameron, but it was nothing compared to the puffy winter-weight coats everyone else's kids seemed to be wearing.

So, stroller-less and coat-less, we made the trek to the parade route to find a seat. Cameron weighs like 31 pounds, so by the time we got there, I was huffing and puffing. And immediately noticed Fail #3: we hadn't brought anything to sit on. Most people had chairs. Or, at the very least, blankets to pad the cold concrete curbs. But did we have such foresight? No. So now, not only was I "the Mom who didn't put coats on her kids" - I was "the Mom who made those poor coatless kids sit on that cold sidewalk."

Which brings us to Fail #4: no thoughtful, warming pre-parade treats. The mom on one side of us was offering her beaming (bundled, sitting-on-blankets) kids hot chocolate from a Thermos. Did I have any such thing? No. Of course not. My kids' only sustenance was the Marshmallow Mateys that they'd eaten - from a plastic baggie - for breakfast. (Which, now that I think of it, could probably be constituted as Fail #5 - but hey, I'd been in a hurry.)

And then there was the matter of Cameron. Almost-two-year-olds do not do so well when they aren't strapped into a stroller. Thank God the parade hadn't started when he broke free from my grip and hurtled himself into the street, where I had to chase him down.

Finally, to pin the Worst Mother of the Year award firmly in place, came Health-Conscious Mom and her germ-free, appropriately dressed kids. They sat down next to us, and even though I wasn't exactly putting out the "let's talk" vibe, she kept talking to me.

"I wonder how many of these kids are going to be sick tomorrow?" she wondered out loud, gesturing vaguely. "I mean look. They're not even wearing coats!" Then, with a sideways glance at my coatless kids, she quickly added, "And they're in short-sleeved shirts!"

Then: "Have you gotten your kids vaccinated for that H1N1 yet? I got mine done right away. They're having a clinic on Monday, you know."

Then, when a guy came around selling cotton candy: "Oh that's great, get all these kids high on sugar, that's just what they need."

... So I bought my kids some cotton candy. I don't know if that's why she decided to get up and move or if it was some other reason entirely, but I wasn't sad to see her go.

Finally the parade started, and the boys settled down for like fifteen minutes to watch.

Then in his excitement, Colin grabbed some lady's butt, thinking it was me.

Needless to say, I was glad when the parade was over. I didn't have the greatest time in the world, but I learned a valuable lesson: you can never be too prepared. And next year, I'm putting my kids in snowsuits and earmuffs, bringing the stroller and some comfy chairs and some blankets, and installing a damn capuccino-and-cocoa machine next to us.

That ought to do the trick.

"Stuff I Like" Sunday: Un-Smeary Eyes

When I think of my mom, several things immediately come to mind:

- The phrase "Just look, don't touch," which I heard everysingleday of my childhood and, while annoying as hell back then, I find myself using with my children.

- Jergens lotion and cherry Chap-Stick, which is what she smelled like when I was little.

- Her relentless and unwavering campaign to make damn sure that I never, ever went to bed with makeup on my face. Especially my eyes.

I'm sure that last one is a big part of the reason that my mom, though in her early sixties, still has beautiful skin with minimal signs of aging. She looks way younger than she really is, so I can't help but take her advice because I don't want to look like a crocodile handbag when I'm her age. Therefore I ALWAYS remove my eye makeup before I go to bed, no matter how tired and zombiefied I am. If I don't, my eyes feel gritty and irritated when I wake up - not to mention I've got smudges underneath them to rival those little black smears a football player puts on. (What the hell are those for, anyway?)

Needless to say, I am a total eye makeup remover SNOB. I've cycled through many different brands and have actually ended up throwing some away without even using the whole thing. They're either too oily or too ineffective, removing the mascara from my lashes but leaving a residue underneath my eyes (or deceiving, where it looks like I've gotten all the makeup off until after I shower). But then I found the "holy grail" of eye makeup removers, and I swear to you I will never ever ever use ANYTHING except this:

Photo from

Mary Kay Oil Free Eye Makeup Remover. (There's a reason why this is a Mary Kay Bestseller, folks.) Trust me when I say that my loyalty to this product is unprecedented - because I'm a total beauty product whore sampler. I jump from brand to brand with everything else I use. In fact, I can't think of any other item I consistently buy one brand of. But this stuff is just that good. It removes makeup easily and completely, without that surprise post-shower smudging. And it isn't all gross and greasy - no "I just dipped my eyes in an oil slick" feeling.
The only way I'd like it better is if it came in pre-moistened pads, because I'm lazy like that, but oh well.

I wish I could say that the peeps over at Mary Kay Cosmetics hooked me up with, like, a truckload of remover for pimping out their product. But alas, it is - as is EVERY edition of "Stuff I Like" Sunday - just an un-sponsored unprompted plug for, you know, stuff I like.

If you've ever had trouble with undereye smears, you'll like it too. I promise.

Close Encounters of the Weird Kind

When you buy your groceries at Hy-Vee *cue mysterious voice* strange things happen.
(Okay, maybe I'm being a little dramatic. Today I bought my groceries at Hy-Vee. And something strange happened.)

Curtis and the boys and I managed a relatively smooth trip there this afternoon. I swear, we're still struggling with the logistics of this "three little kids" thing - so sometimes I'm exhausted and short-tempered by the time I even get them all dressed to leave the house - but we had a pretty easy day today (insert Hallelujah chorus here). Anyway, we completed our necessary shopping and made it out of there for under $30 (woot!). I was putting the groceries in the back of our Jeep while Curtis got the kids buckled into their seats, and when I turned around to grab the next bag, I nearly jumped out of my effing skin - a woman had appeared out of nowhere and was standing thisclose to me.

She was an older lady, I'd say mid-sixties. (Yes Mom. I just referred to someone a smidgen older than you as "an older lady." But remember that I once also thought 30 was old.) She was round, her brown hair streaked with gray, styled into a fluffy puffball of curls atop her head. She had on some sort of grandma-esque embroidered sweater that buttoned up the front, and her cheeks were flushed. Rosy. She reminded me of, like, a cross between my high school home ec teacher, Mrs. Haynes, and Mrs. Claus. As in Santa's wife. 

I don't have a picture of Mrs. Haynes for reference so you'll have to, you know, use your imaginations and stuff.

Out of the blue, the lady spoke. "I used to work here for two years, and I liked being out with the people," she said.

Right away when she spoke I thought she was either drunk or doped up on painkillers or something. Her speech was just a little too slurred. And my eyes gravitated instantly toward her teeth, which were varying shades - some pearly white, some buttery yellow, in no particular pattern. Like this:

Mmm, coooorrrrn.

Anyway, despite thinking WTF?, I just nodded and smiled politely. Then she went on: "But I don't think my back can handle lifting the heavy stuff. It's iffy."

"I don't blame you," I said after a brief hesitation, which totally did not make sense but I was just too caught off-guard to think of anything coherent. (And anyway, judging by this lady's behavior, she wouldn't have known "coherent" if it came up and bit her in the ass.)

After letting her weird-old-lady gaze rest on me for a few seconds longer, she turned and headed toward the store.

Curtis closed the car door and grinned at me. "What was that about?" he asked.

What, indeed?

I'm still wondering.

All I Want for Christmas is My Beard Removed

When I was pregnant with my first child, I wasn't surprised by the stretchmarks. I wasn't surprised by the weight gain (well, until it reached eighty pounds and I was all, "Um, wasn't this supposed to have stopped like sixty pounds ago?"). I wasn't surprised by the swollen feet. I expected all this, at least to some degree.

But you wanna know what did surprise me about my pregnant body?

The beard.

I grew a beard.

Not one stray chin hair. Not two or three. But a straight-up beard.

As you know if you're a reasonably educated person, the scientific equation goes like this:

Woman + fetus(hormones) = beard - attractiveness = (O)mG(w)TF?

( ... Or, you know, something.)

Even after the pregnancy, the beard lingered. I would remove the hairs, they would keep coming back - like those people that keep showing up on different reality shows. And then like a karmic kick in the teeth, I sprouted new, equally stubborn hairs with each pregnancy.  I added to my family, and my beard did the same. Take the above equation and multiply it by three, and the answer is "one bewhiskered bitch."

I keep it at bay - I don't walk around looking like the lost member of ZZ Top or something - but I swear: every second I spend in front of the mirror, removing the hair from my chin, chips away at my femininity. I mean, how much more dude-like can you get than a beard? What's next, a thicket of chest hair a la Robin Williams? ... A penis?

That's why when I make out my Christmas list this year - which it's almost time to do - I'm going to ask Santa Claus to bring me a certificate for some laser hair removal. (He'll likely understand, as he himself has a substantial beard.) Because when I lean into Curtis for that New Year's kiss to ring in 2010, I'd like to do it without scratching his face all up with stubble.

Anybody had experience with laser hair removal? Anything I should know before the beard goes bye-bye?


Curtis and I have this ongoing ... butter battle, for lack of a better explanation. See, I love me some REAL butter. Not margarine. Not canola spread. Not I-Can't-Believe-It's-a-Yellowish-Semi-Butter-Like-Concoction-in-a-Plastic-Tub. But real, honest to goodness, comes-from-a-cow butter.

"It doesn't spread," Curtis always complains. And I'll grudgingly admit that he does have a point there - I mean, straight out of the fridge, butter isn't exactly the right consistency to slather on a piece of bread. But real butter is just soooo much better that who even cares about that small and insignificant detail?

My husband does. Apparently enough to gripe about it every. single. time we have biscuits or toast or whatever else requires butter. So -  to a.) avoid having to hear it, and b.) take away his chief complaint, therefore proving that butter is indeed superior and that I WIN - I always lay out a stick to soften if I know we're going to need it.

Except for the other night.

I made chili and cornbread. And forgot to lay out the butter to soften beforehand. And everybody knows that if you try to spread cold butter on cornbread? It will totally disintegrate. Curtis would have reason to snark, "See? Told you we should have bought the spreadable kind." It was our last stick, and I didn't want to risk putting it in the microwave and inadvertantly melting it - but dinner was nearly upon us. What to do?

My lightening-fast intellect came up with a solution. This. 

You got a better butter-softening tool, I'd like to hear about it. I mean, come on. This is PERFECT! Portable, accessible, and the butter gave way to a nicely spreadable consistency in minutes.

Again: I WIN. 

This got chalked up as totally normal in my book. But Curtis had to take a picture, and insisted I blog about it to show the world what a ridiculous weirdo I actually am. Hmmph. He may call it weird, but I call it ingenious.

Potato, po-tah-to.

Little Liars

I'm getting kinda tired of being conned, y'all.

I realize it must be fun for Cameron to see me dance like a puppet at his beck and call. He jerks the strings - "Pee-pee, Mommy!" - and I stop whatever I'm doing, no matter how important, and frantically rush him to the nearest toilet.

... And then wait for fifteen minutes while he leeeeeeans first this way, then that way on the toilet, dangling his feet, with a coy smile on his angelic little face. Fingers at the toilet paper. Picks at the genitalia. And ultimately produces no "pee-pee." Then, not only have we wasted valuable time that could have been spent updating Facebook  looking at Twitter doing something more productive, but now we have to struggle with the logistics of washing his pudgy little hands. He's not tall enough to reach the sink, even with a step-stool, so I end up squashing him against the counter and kind of pinning him in place with my front while I guide his hands under the water, usually soaking my own sleeve in the process. This debacle in itself takes, oh, about three to five extra minutes.

And it never fails. Twenty minutes after the first ill-fated trip to the bathroom: "Mommy, pee-pee!"

I fall for it almost every time. Because the times that I don't? The diaper is inevitably whipped off, and there's a puddle on the floor, as soon as I turn my back for 2.3 seconds.

But it doesn't stop with urine. I know that because Colin recently went through this "I'm going to throw up" phase. And even though I knew that 95% of the time he was just bluffing, it was too much of a risk - especially when we aren't at home. Like, one time we were at a restaurant and just after our food came, Colin was all, "I think I'm going to throw up." I couldn't tell by his physical cues, since even when he really is going to throw up he doesn't whine or squirm or anything beforehand. And since I didn't want to risk a booth full of barf - not to mention public humiliation - I took him to the bathroom ...

... where he essentially inspected the toilet for ten minutes, pointed out that "Hey Mommy, there's writing on this wall!" and then sloooowly washed his hands. Meanwhile, back at the table, my food had cooled to a disappointing lukewarm. (Good thing I'm used to it, since it's always that way at home by the time I finish dishing out and cutting up everyone else's dinner.)

I guess these things are just a rare taste of parental manipulation, and they enjoy the fact that I'm pretty much at their mercy. But that doesn't make it any more pleasant.

I'll be sooooo glad when everybody in this house learns to control their bodily functions without help!

"Stuff I Like" Sunday: Moms by Heart

So have I mentioned that I ♥ a good bargain?

Oh yeah ... I guess I did that here. Um, and possibly here too. But can you blame me? The thrill of snagging the deal of the century is a delicious, delicious feeling. I swear I am still riding the high of the cashmere sweater I scored for practically nothing at Old Navy last year.

mmmm, cashmere ...

Anyway, I got that same "I-hit-the-jackpot" feeling when I came across this blog: Moms by Heart. I was seriously so excited that I got a squirmy feeling in my stomach.

Compiled by thrifty mother-of-five Lori, it's a veritable treasure trove of the best deals from eeeeeverywhere. She does her research, y'all. If there is a deal out there, she's got it - and ways to maximize it. There are lists of samples and freebies (and if you've been reading me for a while, you know that I also ♥  me some samples), online and in-store bargains, coupon matchups, fifty-cent or less shopping ... Good thing I'm typing and not really talking because I would like be totally out of breath by now from listing all this penny-pinching awesomeness. But that's just the tip of the iceberg, folks.

It is seriously a bargain. hunter's. DREAM.

And don't forget to follow Moms by Heart on Twitter, where a tweet can tip you off to a major find. Or at the very least, knock a few cents off your next tube of toothpaste.

Lest you doubt the credibility of my enthusiasm for this site, I'm telling you that this is in NO way a pre-arranged endorsement. Lori doesn't even know I exist and if she ever reads this she'll probably be all, "Oh crap, I've got a stalker." I just reeeeeeeally like her site ... which is, of course, the whole point of "Stuff I Like" Sunday.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to sit outside Lori's house peruse Moms by Heart for my Sunday savings. :)

And the Weiner is ...

I know you're all waiting with bated breath to find out WHO the giveaway winner is, right?


*cricket, cricket*

Anyway, without further ado, let me introduce you to the lucky lady: commentor #9 ...

Glitter Text -

Yay Christin! I'll put you in touch with the lovely Jennifer of jbpaperdesigns and you can choose which superamazinglyawesomerific set of holiday cards you'd like (visit her site, guys - she's got some beautiful things to offer).

Congratulations! And thanks a million, everyone, for making this giveaway a success. :)

I'm putting a poll in the right-hand sidebar regarding giveaways, reviews, etc. Give me your anonymous answer, pretty please! Let's sweeten the pot: if you answer, I'll show you my boobs.

All I'd have to do is untuck them from my pants.

PS - Wanna know how I picked the winner? I used the True Random Number Generator and based it on 19 entries (there were 20 comments, but one didn't want an entry). And here's the screenshot. (The first I've ever taken ... on purpose.)

Dear Laundry ...

Dear Laundry,

I get it. You're all wrinkled because it's some kind of protest for being left in the dryer too long, right? You're pissed at me because I had a bazillion other things to do and you had to sit there, getting cold, so you wrinkled all up to teach me a lesson? Well here's a news flash: you'll just have to be creased. Because if I can't transfer you from the dryer to the drawers in a timely manner, there's about a snowball's chance in hell that you'll get ironed. So really, the joke's on you.

While we're being honest with each other, let me just lay it all out on the table: I'm getting downright sick of you. You have the audacity to demand washing and drying on a daily basis, when I don't even have time to wash and dry myself on a daily basis. And if I don't get to you right away, you get all spiteful, multiplying like crazy and starting to emit this smell. Are you in competition with the cat box, laundry? Like since you're both in the same room you've got to outdo each other in the straight-up stank category? Well don't worry - I notice your presence, even without your funk. How could I not? You go from a couple of socks and T-shirts to a pile the size of Mt. Everest in a matter of hours. I don't even know how that happens, unless it's some kind of miracle. And by "miracle," I mean big bogus load of crap.

Yeah, I know. You keep my family from being naked. And yeah, that's important. But that? Does not mean you need to repeatedly attempt a hostile takeover. You and your psychological tactics. You know there's nothing I can do but give in to your forceful presence, so you just keep pushing it further and further. Cluttering up my bedroom floor and creeping out into the hallway and stuff. Come to think of it, it's probably a conspiracy. You're probably in cahoots with the other mess-makers in my life - like the cat - and when I'm not looking, you're all, "Hey cat. Why don't you barf on me so she'll have no choice but to put me right in the washer? Bwahahahaha!"

You may think you have the upper hand, laundry, but I'm onto you. And someday, maybe by the time the kids are grown, you will no longer have the power to overwhelm me.

Remember that.

Grudgingly yours, for now -

Oh, the Irony!

Colin went to the dentist for a cleaning yesterday, and brought home stickers for his little brothers. If you can read the text on Coby's sticker, you'll be able to appreciate the irony of this picture.

Yeah. It says "I'm all smiles."

Obviously no one gave him that memo.

What is "It?"

Okay, somebody explain it to me. What is that thing that makes some girls look cute and trendy no matter what they wear? It's this subtle, imperceptible difference between them and the "normal" girls. In school, the popular girls all seem to have it; I think this is a universal truth. It's not a matter of facial beauty, it's something much less obvious. And if I could find out what it is, I would totally a. ) bottle that shit up and b.) become a bazillionaire selling it to every woman who's ever felt jealous of another woman's cuteness. Which is like 99% of women. Seriously, if you have never envied the way someone else looks you need to get out of my blog and go sell some self-help advice and make like motivational speeches or something.

I'm ranting about this right now because it's been on my mind since the other day when I was standing in the checkout line at Hobby Lobby. I was in the college town where my family lives (Columbia, MO ... holla!) and the girl in front of me was your typical cute coed. But I couldn't figure out why. She was wearing something that would normally be considered frumpy: sweatpants or some sort of workout pants sloppily tucked into some Ugg boots, and an oversized shirt with some advertisement on it or the name of a softball team or something. And her hair was literally just bunched up on top of her head and secured with a ponytail holder. But here's the thing: she looked good. Better than me on my best day. Guys were checking her out, and I guaran-damn-tee you they weren't nudging each other in the parking lot saying, "OMG, Jared, did you see that outfit? Total disaster. Does she not own a mirror? Crazy. Got any gum?"

I'll guaran-damn-tee you something else, too. If I walked into the Hobby Lobby wearing an identical outfit , even if I miraculously reverted to my decent pre-baby bod, I would look totally, completely, 100% frumpy. And no one - no one - would think I was cute. Why? Because I don't have that "thing." I've never had it. I started to realize that in high school, when I noted that Becky White's legs looked perfectly smooth and pretty, where mine looked stubbly even after I'd just shaved them. Why were those the girls who could look cute 24-7 - what did they possess that made their hairstyles cuter, their outfits trendier ... their body hair less noticeable? And wouldn't you know - they still looked like that at our class reunion. (I didn't look at Becky's legs, but I bet you they're still nice.)

I don't know what this thing is, but I'm tired of not having it. I don't think it's confidence, although I know that's a big part of how you carry yourself. I don't know what it is.

If you've figured "it" out, let me know what it is. And where the hell I can get some.

"Stuff I Like" Sunday: Biscuits, Y'All

Photo from

I'm dying dieting. It sucks, but it's what you have to do when you pack on 70 pounds of baby weight - and only 9 pounds of that is actual baby.

(So basically, I gained 61 pounds of jiggly new ass and thigh. Gawgeous.)

The worst thing about dieting is that I limit "bad" carbs like white flour and sugar. And for someone who could live quite happily on an all-bad-carb diet (cookies! cereal! white bread!), that can be exceedingly difficult. Especially when I am in possession of the tastiest most extraordinary biscuit recipe EVER.

Yep: I love me some biscuits, y'all. And the first time I tried to make them from scratch, I figured they'd be moist and fluffy like the ones from the can - because normally I'm a damn good cook. But they turned out like hockey pucks. So I tried a new recipe, with the same results. For years, literally years, I tried method after method for making biscuits, but they were never very good. I'm talking hard, dry, crumbly, dog-wouldn't-even-eat-them results. I thought I just wasn't very good at making biscuits.

Until I found THE recipe.

It's called "J.P.'s Big Daddy Biscuits." I don't know what it is about this recipe, but it makes the best. Biscuits. EVER. They're huge and tender and mouthwatering. And before I start to cry because I can't have them, I'll pass the recipe on to you. (You can find the actual link to the recipe, with reviews and stuff, here).

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/3 cup shortening
1 cup milk

1.Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
2.In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Gradually stir in milk until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.
3.Turn out onto a floured surface, and knead 15 to 20 times. Pat or roll dough out to 1 inch thick. Cut biscuits with a large cutter or juice glass dipped in flour. Repeat until all dough is used. Brush off the excess flour, and place biscuits onto an ungreased baking sheet.
4.Bake for 13 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges begin to brown.

Now, I've made this recipe more times than I can count, and so have experimented with it a bit. I've found that I get the best results when I make sure that I ...

a.) Use half shortening/half butter

b.) Keep all the ingredients SUPER-cold

c.) Handle the dough as little as possible - overhandling will make the biscuits tough

d.) Bake at 450 instead of 425 - but that could just be my oven.

Seriously, people - if you've ever been disappointed by your own efforts at biscuit-making, or are just looking for a recipe that will blow you out of the water, this is it.

Now I'm off to eat my diet-y breakfast. Yum.

Don't Read This if You're Eating

So I'm attempting to potty train Cameron.

... Again.

Why is it that he seems so ready - taking off his diaper and saying, "Pee-pee, Mommy!" and actually peeing in the toilet every time we sit him down - but then when we actually start, it's like he has no friggin' clue what he's supposed to do. I tried Pull-Ups; he just treats them like diapers. I tried underwear; he has no qualms whatsoever about soiling them and then just chillin'. Like he's not even uncomfortable with that at all. Like, "Yeah, I shat myself ... so?"

Seeing as Colin is already naked 99% of the time anyway, I figured another little bare heinie wouldn't hurt. So I've just been letting Cameron go without a diaper and making sure to get him to the toilet before he pees wherever he happens to be. There have been accidents, of course, but I'm usually vigilant enough to catch him before he leaves a puddle or a pile.

... Usually.

So yesterday evening, we were sitting in the living room. Colin and Cam were playing, and I was holding Coby and getting sucked into the latest issue of Marie Claire. Cameron climbed up beside me in the recliner and was sort of squatted there, watching TV. This was nothing unusual.

It was also nothing unusual when he stood up and I felt something bounce off my thigh. It could have been anything: a dropped pacifier, a Lego, you name it. So I didn't pay much attention - until I heard Colin joyfully announce, "Cameron pooped!"

And there was Cameron. Squeezing absentmindedly on a piece of poo, which was caked all over his fingers and smeared on his chest and stomach, while he watched his show. Little rabbit-turds all over the floor. And the thing that had hit me in the leg when he stood up in the chair? A turd. I saw that now. It was just sitting there, perched precariously on the arm of the recliner.

I was flooded with that really bummed-out feeling that you get when you realize you have an overwhelming mess to clean up. First things first: I took him in for a bath. You don't realize how waxy and water-resistant poo really is until you're trying to remove mass quantities of it from someone's skin. Yuck.

After his bath, armed with a roll of paper towels and carpet cleaner, I went to face the offending turds.

But they were gone.

WTF? Had they suddenly become mobile and hopped away? (Hmm - that would explain the mysterious poop tracks.) Or had the Fecal Cleanup Fairy come to visit? Then it dawned on me: it was our very own Fecal Cleanup Fairy ...

... Andy. Licking his chops and looking expectantly at me like, "Well, you gonna give me some more little nuggets of deliciousness?"

As if his breath wasn't heinous enough in the first place ...

You're Getting Carded

I can't believe it's November already! Time to start sending out the holiday greeting cards! Or if you're like me, filling them out and addressing them and then laying them in a prominent place because you're like totally going to get some stamps like tomorrow or the next day and then oops it's January 15th or 31st and the stack of cards is still there. Unsent. Gettin' all dusty and shit.

(What can I say? Martha Stewart I am most definitely not.)

Anyway, if you're one of those punctual do-gooders that actually sends their cards on time (I hate you) then you're in luck. Why? Because it's my FIRST-EVER GIVEAWAY, that's why. Because I could be giving you these tidbits of handcrafted amazingness:

The lovely and insanely creative Jennifer of jbpaperdesigns (check out her stuff - it's soooo pretty) has whipped up these gorgeous holiday cards exclusively for one lucky reader! The winner of this giveaway may choose either the "Holiday Doodles" set (shown in the first two photos) or the "Twine Before Christmas" set (featured in the bottom two). Each set comes with sixteen cards and envelopes. And the cards are blank inside - so if "kiss my arse" is your sentiment this holiday season, well, that's what you can jolly well write.

So how do you enter? It's as easy as Paris Hilton pie. Follow this blog, and leave a comment on this post. Ta-da! You're entered! Of course, it'd be nice if you'd tell a few friends to come and enter. Or tweet about it on Twitter. Or go up to some random person at the post office and be all, "Hey, Rita's doing her very first ever giveaway on Fighting Off Frumpy and she would totally love it to be a successful event so maybe you should go check it out. Because I see that you're a person who loves mailing things which means you won't leave your holiday cards sitting out on the counter for months." And then pick a piece of lint off their sweater with a smile to cap off the creepiness.

... Or not.

I'll randomly select a winner from the commenters next Wednesday, November 11th. So remember: follow. Comment. WIN!!!! :)

(And yes, Mom, you're allowed to enter. Seeing as you, like, gave birth to me and stuff. Sorry about those 60 pounds.)

One Good Thing and a Bunch of Crap

Hrrrrrrnnnhh. Hrrrrnhhhhhh!

Hear that? That's the sound of my brain, straining and grunting and not producing anything ... at ... all.

Damn mental constipation.

So until I can put together a decent post that's truly worthy of all ten of you my brilliant readership, here's a list of things that may or may not be contributing to my overall level of mind-numbing craziness:

- Halloween. We traveled four hours to visit our families so the kids could spend the holiday with their cousins. In the car on the way to the neighborhood where we do our begging trick-or-treating, Colin screamed "My peeeeniiiiiiiis!!!" over and over and over again because his costume was "bothering it" and apparently causing it to "waggle around" (sound familiar?). Never having had one myself, I couldn't sympathize. Especially not when he was having such a fit. But when we got out of the car? Yeah - it was miraculously okay.

- Illness. The day after we arrived at our travel destination, Cameron came down with something that looked frighteningly like the swine flu: fever, cough, rattly chest, stuffy nose, the works. So we spent three hours in the nearest convenient care clinic for a nurse practitioner to tell us that it "probably wasn't" the flu and that Cameron "might" have an ear infection and that he's "probably not" too much of a threat to his six-week-old baby brother. (All this wishy-washiness pissed me off a little - can you tell?) He was prescribed an antibiotic and a nebulizer for breathing treatments. Two days later, he came down with hives - and a visit to the pediatrician revealed that, surprise! Not only did Cameron not have an ear infection, he was having an allergic reaction to the antibiotic that the quick-care clinic had given him for ... you guessed it ... the ear infection. Lovely.

And now Coby has these little white spots on his tongue. I'm thinking it's thrush. What do you think?

They're just on his tongue, nowhere else. Weird. One more thing to deal with.

- Potty training. Yes, I decided to try it again. WHAT am I THINKING, you guys?!? It's like when the glorious vision of only one child in diapers appears in my mind, I miraculously gloss over the dirty details of getting to that point. And with all this other stuff on my proverbial plate right now? Ugh. I am kicking myself. But potty training isn't the type of thing you can just take lightly. It requires commitment. And unfortunately, my dumb ass committed to it before my brain could say, "Wait! What are you doing? Noooooooo!!!!"


- Comments. I have seriously fallen (hard!) from the "I'm-going-to-respond-to-every-comment" wagon, folks. (*insert sad puppy-dog face here*) That's not to say that I won't still be giving it my best effort, but when I said I would reply to everyone, I grossly underestimated the time that would take. And between wiping butts and noses and cleaning up messes and administering medication and preparing food and doing laundry and ... well, I'm sure I don't have to explain it, as the majority of you are in the same boat. I'm disappointed in myself, but that's the way my cookie seems to be crumbling these days.

Okay. Now you're up to speed on what's going on in Frumpy-land right about now. But I've saved the best for last.

I'm excited to announce that I'm going to be having some awesome GIVEAWAYS!!!!!!!!

*jazz hands and general fanfare*

That's right! Just in time for the holidays, the amazingly talented Jennifer of jbpaperdesigns has generously donated a fabulous prize for one lucky winner. So check her out, and I'll post the details of my very first giveaway tomorrow. :)

Now off to clean up some sort of mess. I've got plenty to choose from.


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