Go Ask Your Father

Photo credit: KarmenRose


Sometimes Curtis and I like to just pile the boys in the car and go for a drive. Usually, Colin and Cameron just chill and look out the window (which is totally the point kind of an appealing aspect of the ride). But last evening's spontaneous drive was a different story - for our unusually inquisitive four-year-old, that is.

After stating to Daddy that he needed to hurry and buckle his seatbelt so he wouldn't be breaking the law, Colin started in with, "What's the law?"

"A set of rules that everyone has to follow," I said.

"What's jail?"

"A place to punish people who break those rules."

We enjoyed a few golden seconds of silence. Then: "What's bald?"

"Bald is when you don't have any hair," I said.

"Are policemen bald?"

"I suppose some of them are, yes."

"The one who gave Daddy the speeding ticket was bald," he blabbered. (And he was right - I swear, the kid has a memory like a steel trap. So glad he remembers stuff like that.) "What are handcuffs?"

I explained what handcuffs are and why they're used.

"Do they squeeze your hands really tight?"

"I wouldn't know - I've never had them on," I said, then nudged Curtis. "Except those black fuzzy ones we had," I hissed with a sly smile. "Remember those?"

"What black fuzzy ones?" Colin chimed in from the back seat. (Damn his supersonic hearing!)

I pointedly ignored him.

"WHAT BLACK FUZZY HANDCUFFS?" he demanded.

"Nothing, nothing," I said dismissively, pointing to some imaginary point in the distance. "Oh wow, look at that." Thank goodness, no more was said regarding the fuzzy cuffs; psychological scarring averted. (For now.)

I thought perhaps the question-and-answer session had come to a blessed end. But then: "What makes you throw up?"

"When you eat something that doesn't agree with your stomach."

"Like when you eat poop?"

"I would think that eating poop would make you throw up, yes."

"How does the throw-up come out of your stomach?"

I rolled my eyes. "Your stomach pushes the undigested food back up through your esophagus. Can we please talk about something other than vomit?"

"Why?"

"Because it's gross."

"Oh. ... Then let's talk about penises!"

And so it went. On and on and on. I won't elaborate further, but suffice it to say that our "relaxing" car ride - which went on for a good half-hour more - was the most mentally taxing thing I did all day. I explained topics ranging from the legal system to Venus fly traps to just how much a vagina has to stretch in order to accomodate the passage of a baby (and Mommy, did your vagina stretch really big too?) By the time we got home, I was debating which would be more effective: tape for his mouth or earplugs for myself.

If I weren't pregnant, I'd have probably just opted for a cocktail.


Gimme Some Mow


I love to mow my yard. I couldn't tell you exactly why; maybe it's because I've been doing it since I was about ten, thanks to the slave driver who had me so she wouldn't have to do such chores my mom. Maybe it's because it gives me a rare opportunity to be alone and blast my iPod (during which I fantasize wildly about being skinny, getting a boob job, and inking book deals). Maybe it's the sense of satisfaction when I look back over the green expanse of freshly cropped grass. Or maybe it's a combination of all these things. Whatever it is, Curtis likes it - it's kept him from having to mow the yard all summer long, because I insist on doing it myself.

The problem is, we have over an acre of land ... and a push mower. Mowing our yard isn't a quick buzz around a little square patch; it's a monumental and time-consuming task. That in itself doesn't dampen my enthusiasm for the chore. Being eight months pregnant (and HUGE) does. Not because I can't physically do it - I'm fine as long as I pace myself, and the exercise does me good - but because of the increasingly horrified looks I'm getting from people passing by.

It's bad enough that I get gawked at in disbelief every time I waddle awkwardly walk through the grocery store. But those looks are nothing compared to the rubbernecking that goes on when someone passes a freakishly-pregnant chick hunched over a lawn mower. (It's probably because they initially mistake me for a blimp trying to get off the ground.) When I didn't look so "ready to pop," people would casually check me out and then go about their merry way - but now, they'll actually slow down to stare.

Even my neighbors cast worried glances out their windows and peep from their open garage doors to monitor my progress. I'm sure they all think Curtis is some abusive tyrant who forces his poor, uncomfortably pregnant wife to mow the yard because he's too lazy to do it himself. (In reality, of course, nothing could be further from the truth - he's always volunteering to take over the job, and bringing drinks outside.) I need to get him a T-shirt printed up that says, "I'd Mow it if She'd Let Me."

... On second thought, maybe I won't. That sounds a little pervy.


Children Are a Serious Condition

If you've known me for long, you probably know that I'm a sucka for a free sample. (My obsession falls just short of hitting up the grocery store sample tables multiple times in different disguises. ... Yeah. I know.) Anyway, yesterday when I was online filling out a form to get a sample of cereal ... or was it Metamucil? ... I came across this question and HAD to get a picture of it. Priceless.



When I think "conditions," I think diabetes ... autoimmune disorders ... things where your skin flakes off. Parenting doesn't automatically come to mind.

But thanks to whoever wrote this, it will now. :)

5 Things No One Tells You About Pregnancy

When I was pregnant with my first baby (and before, because I was weird like that), I'm pretty sure I read every.single.book geared toward expectant mothers. I learned about all the pregnancy-related medical conditions, the mood swings, the heartburn, the boob leakage. I thought I was prepared. But there were a few things that none of these "informational" tomes prepared me for. So, dear readers, if you are currently/have ever been/or ever plan to become pregnant, you may want to take a gander at the shocking side of incubating a human being, according to me. Because, y'know, I'm like this renowned expert and stuff.

#1: You Might Grow a Beard. Yeah, you're laughing, but I'm dead-ass serious about this. When I was pregnant for the first time, I sprouted a few coarse black hairs on my chin. (I didn't notice them until late in my third trimester, which makes me wonder how long I unknowingly walked around in public as "The Bearded Lady.") The bad thing? They didn't go away. Worse, with my second pregnancy, a few more hairs popped up - that also stuck around like a bad habit, even after Cameron was born. And now - you guessed it - I've amassed even more chin pubes with this pregnancy. Yes, I'm admitting it here: I have a beard. Not that I don't use an arsenal of hair removal methods to take care of it - the title of my blog is "Fighting OFF Frumpy," not "Helplessly Succumbing to Hormonally-Induced Ugliness" - but still. I'm pretty sure that if I let it grow, I'd end up looking something like this:

Hmm, not so bad ... I think a beard makes me look more intellectual. This could work for me.

#2: Your Feet May Get Bigger. This one sucks big-time for girls like me whose feet were already, oh, not on the dainty side. Before I had children, my feet were a size nine. Not a bad size, mind you, but still a little large. Since I've had kids, though? Yeah. Size ten or better. CLOWN FEET, people. The worst thing about this is the choice in shoes. Number one, nobody stocks cute shoes in size Sasquatch. And number two - if they do stock cute shoes in that size, they're not so nice once you get them on. The shoes that look good on a size six or seven foot look like pontoon boats on a size ten-plus. Damn it.

I'm waiting to miraculously wake up someday with my decent-sized feet back, but alas, it hasn't happened yet.

#3: Pimples Can Pop Up in Weird Places. Unless you're some flawless-skinned freak of nature (in which case, I hate you; get out of my blog), you've had a zit on your face at one time or another. And you can most likely identify with finding one on your chest or back every once in a while. But when I'm pregnant, I find pimples in the strangest places - like inside my ears. Just under my jawline. On my neck. On my inner thigh. WTF, body? Haven't you punished me thoroughly enough? Oh yes: and a bonus weird pregnancy-induced (at least for me) "thing?" Skin tags. Example:

They're just harmless little flaps of skin that appear in random places, but ugh - who needs 'em?

#4: Your Butt Could Possibly Expand, and Become Stuck That Way. ... Because mine did. Even after I lost the baby weight I gained with my first two, my hips and ass were always wider than before. I guess that's what they mean by "childbearing hips" ... but I think "pear-shaped" more accurately describes it. At one point I weighed less than I had pre-Cameron, and still couldn't fit into my old jeans without a massive and embarrasing muffin top, much like the one featured in this picture:

(Photo credit: jonlarge)
#5: Your Nose Could Grow, Pinocchio! I guess "Pinocchio" isn't a really accurate description because your schnoz doesn't really get longer ... it just gets ... fat. And I have no idea why, unless it's some cruel cosmic conspiracy to make me look even more awkward and unkempt and chubby. (As if the pimples and chin hair weren't enough.) It looks something like this*:

*photo-edited exaggeration ... but not by much, I swear

Thank God it doesn't stay big, like your feet do - but why it has to get big in the first place remains a total mystery to me.

So anyway, there you have it: a little glimpse of the grosser side of pregnancy. If you're lucky, you're one of those skinny-armed skinny-legged basketball-under-the-shirt pregnant girls who "glows" and has beautiful hair and remains un-stretchmarked. If that's the case, you probably won't fall victim to these weird afflictions. (And if you are one of those girls, you know what to do. And if you're unsure, read the sentence in parenthesis under heading #3.)

Do tell, my friends: what weird fates have befallen your body in its pregnant state?







How to Get in My Pants

Word to the wise: don't ever surprise me a.) during a nap, or b.) in the middle of the night. Because chances are, I won't be wearing pants.

There's just something irritating about sleeping in pants, the way they tangle around my legs and cause me to feel all hot and smother-y. So, at least until my boys are old enough to be irreversibly traumatized by the sight of my dimply bum, I take them off whenever I'm in bed. (The exception is when Curtis works nights; I'd hate to waste the time covering my bottom half when I'm solely responsible for evacuating the house in case of an emergency.)

Anyway.

I indulged in the luxury of a family nap today. Curtis and the boys were laying down, so I thought why not? I peeled off my jeans and hoisted my huge self into the bed (side note: I'm officially 8 months pregnant and soon to be in need of a crane).

When we got up, I decided that since we wouldn't be going anywhere for the rest of the day, I'd just throw on my beloved stretchy black pants. Ahhh, comfort.

I peed, got a cookie, chased Cameron around for a couple minutes, and then went to go sit in the living room. When I flopped onto the couch, I felt a pinchy, itchy feeling on the back of my left thigh. I stood up to see what I'd sat on, but there was nothing there. So I put my hand down to scratch the itchy spot and felt something ... inside my pants.

WTF?

Whatever it was, it felt kind of hard and nuggety. (My immediate thought was a little piece of granola or something. Hey, you never know what you might find - anywhere - with kids around.) I rolled it around in my fingers for a second, then pulled down my pants to further inspect.

????

OMG OMG OMG OMFG - it was a SPIDER!!!!!!

I jerked my pants the rest of the way off like they were on fire, with a scream so high-pitched that it's a wonder the neighbors didn't call the cops. I couldn't believe that, not only had I been walking around with an effin' spider in my pants, but that it had bitten me - an itchy little puncture wound proved it.

"I'm going to die!" I wailed dramatically, dancing around the living room naked from the waist down. (In front of the window ... you're welcome, neighbors.) Curtis sat at the computer, seemingly unconcerned that his wife had probably just been bitten by a black widow or something.

"Come get this spider out of my pants so we can see what kind it is!" I whined, hopping from one foot to the other. I envisioned myself mere moments away from keeling over in intense pain, sweating and foaming at the mouth, and succumbing to death by spider bite.

Sighing as though it were some kind of imposition, Curtis dragged himself reluctantly from the computer and picked up the offending pants, giving them a shake.

"Don't shake them so hard!" I shrieked, clambering onto the couch with surprising agility. "I don't want him to fly out of there!"

Gingerly, he reached into the leg and turned it inside out. Nothing. Then he did the same with other leg ... and nothing. He looked at me skeptically.

"It was there!" I insisted. My eyes frantically searched the floor because I just knew the freaking spider was lurking down there somewhere, waiting to exact his revenge on the people who had ousted him from "his" pants. And sure enough, I spotted something moving along the carpet. "There he is!" I screeched, pointing.

"This isn't a spider," Curtis said.

I looked. Okay, so maybe it wasn't a spider. And I wasn't going to die (thank the Lord!). But it was a BEETLE! Some sort of gross beetle with pinchy mouth-parts. It was almost as scary as a spider ... almost.

This story comes with a valuable lesson, kids: always know who's getting in your pants, or it could bite you in the ass.

Me vs. Mom-Me

I'm not saying I didn't have obligations before I had kids - but back then, when I wanted some "me time," I pretty much just ... took some. Simple. Now, though, it's a whole different ballgame. Let's look at a few scenarios and compare the reactions of the "old me" and the "Mom-me."

I want to read a new book I've been hearing a lot about.
The old me ...
buys it from the bookstore and settles onto the couch with a bottle glass of wine, and devours it in one sitting (the book. ... And, okay, the wine).
The Mom-me ... checks it out from the library because I feel guilty spending ten bucks at the bookstore when the kids need (fill-in-the-blank). Thinks maybe I'll read it during the kids' naptime or after they go to bed. Ends up reading the first few chapters one paragraph at a time, then letting it sit until I have to pay an effin' overdue book fee. When the book is made into a movie - years down the road - orders it from Netflix when it comes out on DVD. Because going to the movies to see it would require another supreme effort.

My nails are looking like crap.
The old me ... goes to get a manicure. Duh.
The Mom-me ... can't bring myself to fork over the cash, nor do I have the time (or the babysitter) to get a salon manicure. Waits until the kids are in bed and spends an hour doing it myself. Sits up half the night, losing valuable sleep while waiting for nails to dry. Is woken up at the crack of dawn, and nails have sheet-prints anyway. To add insult to injury, they're chipped all to hell by that evening.

I need to hit the gym.
The old me ... goes to the gym. Duh.
... Then maybe stops off at the mall to browse cute new outfits for my trim and smokin' bod.
The Mom-me ... waits until Curtis's day off because a.) it costs $2 to take the kids to the gym's daycare (on top of my gym fees - WTF, you meatheads?) and b.) they hate it anyway. Leaves Curtis with a long list of "what to do if ..." solutions to avoid "hurry up and come home" calls and texts. Gets them anyway. Reflects gloomily on the hurried drive home that exercise does not remedy extra skin and stretch marks.

I want to watch a TV show that I've been dying to see.
The old me ... makes sure my evening schedule is clear so I can plop my ass down on my cushy couch with the remote and a box of cookies. Turns off my phone for maximum uninterrupted watching.
The Mom-me ... strategically plans the kids' naptimes so that they're tired earlier in the evening, which may or may not work. Hurries through dinner, so that I can hurry through bedtime, pajamas, tooth brushing, and stories. Usually hits a variety of time-consuming snags (such as a rare evening poop in what was to be the last clean diaper of the day). Ends up missing the first fifteen minutes of the show, or watching from a standing "I'm-about-to-do-something" position while the kids take advantage and run amok because I haven't gotten them into bed yet.

It's crazy how my kids have changed "me time." Not only have they made it more difficult to come by, but even the very definition has been altered. Before, it was doing something strictly selfish. Now "me time" is defined by taking a dump by myself with the door closed (bonus if there's no one banging on it or trying to look underneath), or unloading the dishwasher without constant interference help. The old me would have seen these things as everyday occurences, and balked at the idea of them even remotely counting as luxuries. But the Mom-me realizes that, when there are other human beings relying on you for nearly everything, you've got to shift your priorities - and you can't take anything for granted.

But although there are times when I would kill to have an afternoon at a spa/a long, uninterrupted nap/the option to go to the bathroom alone, the Mom-me has a clear advantage.
The old me ... undergoes painful and intrusive fertility treatments, then returns to an empty house with an empty room that's supposed to be a nursery. Enviously watches moms interacting with their kids and cries from deep inside, wondering if I'll ever get that chance.
The Mom-me ... Looks at my kids, these bright, beautiful, miraculous human beings, and enjoys the way my heart swells with love and pride. And gratefully realizes that, though I bitch incessantly complain sometimes, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Baby Seeds

(Sperm credit: bethannshannon)
As if the whore question wasn't bad enough, Colin came at me with another tough one a couple of days ago. Two awkward questions in less than a week? What kind of bad parental karma is that?
He's asked me plenty about Coby (impending baby #3) during my pregnancy: what he's doing in there, when he'll come out, how he'll come out. But lucky for me, he hadn't asked the one question that I most dreaded answering ... until I reached my eighth month of pregnancy, and then it apparently dawned on him.

"How did Coby get in your belly, Mommy?"

*gulp*

I should have been prepared to answer. I should have known he would inevitably ask, and I should have rehearsed something in my head. But "should have" is no help, and so I floundered. All I could think of is what not to say to him: "It all started when Mommy did that thing Daddy likes ..."

Therefore, the whole debacle went something like this:

"Um ... well, son ..." (I clear my throat, and repeat the question to stall for time.) "... You want to know how he got in there?"

Colin waits patiently ... for probably the first time in his entire life.

"Well. Then. A mommy has eggs inside her body. They're very small, and they're part of what it takes to make a baby."

He looks at me skeptically. "Eggs?"

"Yes, they're very small," I repeat. "Not like ... not like chicken eggs. And Daddies have ... seeds. And when the eggs and the seeds are combined, that's what makes a baby, and it grows in the Mommy's tummy."

Colin stares. "Where are the seeds?"

"They're, um ... well, they're in your testicles. You know, your balls?"

Since he's pantsless, as usual, he reaches down for a squeeze. "I don't feel any seeds," he says accusingly, as though I might be lying.

I sound like a total moron, I think to myself. I usually offer much better explanations than these, but this one caught me totally off-guard. "Well, Colin, the seeds ... you only have them when you're a grown-up man. And even then, they're too small to feel with your fingers."

"Can I see the seeds when I'm a grown-up man?" he asks.

"Um ... well, sort of," I say, desperately trying to block an image of all the cringe-worthy stuff he'll start doing as a teenager. (Ew, ew, ewwwww!) "But to really see them, you'd need a microscope."

"What's a microscope?"

Ahhhhh ... thankyousweetJesus ... a diversion!

I explain to him, in lengthy detail, what a microscope is - hoping that it will put an end to the conversation at hand. But I should know him better than that. More questions ensue, including a few where I cop out and tell him he'll have to ask Daddy (bwahahaha). Then the discussion blessedly culminates with this:

"Mommy, I want to make a baby with seeds."

"Someday, sweetheart," I tell him. "When you're over 25 and have a steady job and your own place and a woman who is worth reproducing with."


Fighting Off Frizzy

Reason #184 why it's so hard for me to fight the frump: I was NOT blessed with good hair - but by golly, I have a ton of it. Think I can ever rock this look in style?

... Yeah, me either. (Damn it.) Thank goodness for my amazingly fantastic magic wand straightening iron. It's just too bad it takes me, like, an hour to take my 'fro from "before" to the much more presentable "after."


So you see why I can't be bothered to do it on the daily? I've got other important issues to attend to: like wiping butts. Cleaning mysterious smears off of things. Saying stuff like, "If you don't stop that ..." and "Dogs don't like pancakes - eat them yourself!" If I straightened my hair every day (not to mention took the time to put on makeup ... I hope these pictures didn't frighten you), I wouldn't be able to do those things. And then where would my kids be?






Fat and Flatulent

One of the hardest things about having more than one child is giving them adequate one-on-one time. (Wow, did I just use the word "one" four times in the same sentence? That's gotta be some sort of record.) Anyway. I think it's important to spend some time with each of them alone - but that's much easier said than done. So when Colin and I got to sit in the driveway together last evening - just the two of us - and write with sidewalk chalk, it was really nice.

... Well, sort of.

First of all, I was sitting on the pavement. My big heavy pregnant self + hard concrete = discomfort in a major way. My butt may be totally fat padded, but not enough to keep me comfy.

And another thing making me uncomfortable? Gas. (I like to blame it on the baby.) So when Colin moved a little further down the driveway to find a blank spot, I thought I'd take advantage of his distance to quietly let one slip. But no. It wasn't as quiet as I had anticipated ... and, consequently, neither was my son; he cracked up.

"Mommy, you farted!" he shrieked through his laughter, to the neighbors, the people walking their dog, the kids playing in the street, and the dude riding his bike rightinfrontofmyhouse. And oh yeah, anybody with their windows open, which on a day like today was everybody. WHY do four-year-old voices have, like, a ten-mile radius? Seriously?

*cringe*

Then Colin drew a family portrait, even including as-yet-unborn Coby. Awwww, how sweet. "Can you tell me what everyone is doing in this picture?" I asked, all preschool-teacher-like, so he started describing.

"Daddy's balancing with his arms out, like this," he said, demonstrating. "And Cameron's putting his hand on his face ..."

"And what's Mommy doing?" I asked brightly.

He looked at me as though I should already know. "Eating," he said ... like, duh, what are you always doing?

Nice. "And what am I eating?"

"Chocolate, like you always eat! ... Look at that chocolate around your lips."

Sure enough, there was a faint pastel smear around the mouth of the "Mommy" stick figure (whose legs, coincidentally, were sprouting from that same mouth).

I have to admit, his perception of me was a little disturbing. When a therapist somebody years down the road asks my son what his mother was like during his childhood, he'll probably answer that I was fat and ate only chocolate and farted all the time.

Fantastic!




My Mom is ... So-So

One of Colin's favorite books is My Mom is Great (by Gaby Goldsack, in case you want to rush right out and buy it).

It isn't a bad book. It isn't exactly one of those that I dread reading - you know the ones. (He has several that make me wonder if I, too, could get a book deal by taking a dump on a few blank pages.) But it's a book that, sadly, makes me feel like a lazy piece of crap slightly inadequate as a mother.

When I bought the damn thing, I thought, "Awww. A chance for the overworked, underappreciated title of 'Mom' to get the attention it deserves." I was hoping that maybe, throughout years of reading it, it would make my sons reflect on how lucky they are to have a wonderful mom like myself.

Then I actually read it. And damn you, Gaby Goldsack, for making me pale in comparison to the mom in the story. Let's take an in-depth look:

The first page has a picture of a yawning, frizzy-haired, pajama-clad Mom (OMG, that's ME!). The text says, "Every morning, her magic begins when she disappears into the bathroom. She changes from morning Mommy ... into daytime Mommy!" And the picture shows the Mom emerging from her morning toilette, fresh-faced, hair combed, and fully dressed right down to the shoes.

Um, dressed? ... Shoes? At my house, "morning Mommy" IS "daytime Mommy." It's why I wear pajamas that, in a pinch, could pass for workout clothes or something. Or I can always lie to any unexpected guests, saying I look like this because I've been cleaning house. But then I'd have to keep a straight face ...

The second page goes on to say, "After that, Mom is ready to tackle anything ..." and shows a picture of the Mom with a feather duster, swiping it underneath the child's bed.

I'd hate to see what's beneath my bed. At best, it's Dust Bunny Central; at worst, it's possibly a portal to hell. Which is why I'm not looking under there, thankyouverymuch.

"My Mom's not afraid of anything," the third page boasts, as it shows the Mom climbing onto the roof to coax the family cat down (with a whole fish, no less).

When we're gardening, and I come across a worm, it's all I can do not to hyperventilate.

Skip ahead to page five: "Then, for her next trick, Mom fixes my Mr. Wobbly." Super Mom is - you guessed it - sewing the leg back onto a stuffed toy.

I tried to hand-hem the legs of Colin's Halloween costume once; they ended up four inches too short, and I had to find a last-minute replacement. (Same with a miniskirt I tried to hem in college ... although I didn't find a replacement for that, because I kinda liked looking slutty.)
Did I mention I got a "D" in Home Economics?

The next page is a doozy. It shows Mom in what appears to be a mechanic's jumpsuit (or is it the suit from her side job at NASA?), fixing a car. WTF? "In fact," the text says, "my mom knows how to fix just about anything."

I can unclog a toilet. Sometimes. Does that count?

"My Mom always knows when I've done something wrong," page seven declares, "but she never stays angry with me for long." The illustration shows an absolutely trashed room; the kid has strewn toothpaste, soap, and mousse all over the place and is blow-drying his teddy bear. And what's Mom doing? Standing there, one hand on her hip in mock-sternness, with an understanding "kids-will-be-kids" smile on her face.

The other day the kids decided to make our dog some "cereal" by filling his water bowl with dog food. I shut myself in the bathroom for a minute until I could deal without screaming bloody murder.

And the last great guilt trip is on page ten. "She's a fantastic cook," the text says. "She makes me the yummiest meals." Two pictures portray this: in the first, Mom is standing in the kitchen beside two bubbling pots. In the second, she's wearing a chef's hat and unveiling her culinary creation - complete with a lemon-and-parsley garnish.

I burned a frozen pizza yesterday ... so badly that it was stuck to the oven. I guess cooking it directly on the rack really DOES make it crispier. Especially if you leave it in for like ten minutes too long.

To add insult to injury, the very last illustration shows Mom picking up toys at the end of the day. I stumble over them every night sometimes on my way to bed.

So you see? The book I hoped would exalt my status really just makes me look like a tool among SuperMoms. The moral of this story: don't judge a book by its cover. At least skim over it first!

"Mommy, What's a Whore?"

(Photo credit: alistercoyne)


My four-year-old asks incessant questions, and I try my best to satisfy them all. I've managed to address things like, "Does Jesus have a butt to sit on?" and "What does 'dead' mean?", and sufficiently explain why the cream cheese in the center of a cheese danish is not the same as the cream cheese in the middle of a crab rangoon. But a few months back, Colin asked me something that - no matter how hard I tried - I could not seem to come up with an answer to.

If you're familiar with the classic nursery rhyme "Little Boy Blue," you'll know that it says, "Little Boy Blue/come blow your horn/the sheep's in the meadow/the cow's in the corn ..." My mom used to sing it to me when I was little; I don't know if she made up the tune or heard it somewhere, but consequently, I sing it to my kids all the time.

The problem? Colin thinks it's, "Come blow your whore."

When we get to that part, Colin always bellows that line ... like the neighbors need to hear it. But once after singing it, he stopped abruptly and said, "Mommy, what does 'whore' mean?"

"It's horn," I told him, carefully enunciating, as I have done at least a thousand freaking times before.

An impatient look. "Yes, but what does 'whore' mean?"

And therein, as my brain began to search frantically for a suitable answer, my dilemma started.

I make it a point to always explain things to Colin as thoroughly as I can. I don't believe in giving him vague answers that don't answer anything, or saying "You'll find out when you're older." He's asking because he wants to know, darn it - and how frustrating it would be to always receive a glossed-over, dumbed-down version of the truth! He is insatiably curious and loves to learn, and so when he asks me a question about something, we usually look it up on the internet. I think I've passed my love of research on down to him, and usually - usually - this is a great thing. We've looked up volcanoes, vermouth, and Venus fly traps, the urinary and circulatory systems, and how harmonicas work - and those are only the ones I can remember right now; we look up so many crazy things. But whores? I didn't know what to say.

When I was a freshman in high school and babysitting two little girls, and one of them asked me what a condom was, I was relieved to be able to say, "You can ask your mom when she gets home." But now, I am the mom. And as much as I believe there's a kid-friendly, age-appropriate explanation for damn near everything, I just don't think there's a workable way to define "whore" for a child that age. Of course, my obvious hesitance to answer made it an even bigger deal, so he pressed on.

I called my mom for advice. "Colin is wanting to know what a W-H-O-R-E is," I stage-whispered into the phone.

"Tell him it's a word for a lady who isn't very nice," she suggested.

It was so simple - the perfect answer - until I envisioned him getting mad and saying it to someone based on that definition. Especially to someone like ... my mother-in-law: i.e., "Nana, you're a whore!" Which, inevitably, would happen. Because there's some unwritten law dictating that children must say the most embarrassing things at the most inopportune times. (To the most un-receptive of people; my mother-in-law would probably attempt to have him exorcised for that.)

Despite my mom's wisdom, I hung up feeling no more sure of my answer. Luckily, the crisis had been at least temporarily averted; while I was on the phone, Colin had lost interest and moved on to the next big thing.

Anyway, if someone's got a good way of explaining a whore to a small child, please feel free to chime in with your best advice. Otherwise I guess I'll just resort to picking up the phone every time I need to skirt an issue, since it seemed to work the first time. Watch out - it may be you I call!

Weight-ing for Baby (or "Yes, I Know I'm Huge")

I think, from now until I give birth (and for long enough afterward that people won't think I'm still pregnant), that I'll just become a hermit and stay locked up in my house. Seriously. Because I've got two more months to go, and my huge freakshow of a belly is already inciting questions, comments, and looks ranging from sympathetic to scowling. It has happened with all three pregnancies, but I think this is the earliest yet. Ugh. While I was making my glacial way walking through Wal-Mart yesterday, a lady actually stopped me.

"Oh Honey, you're due any day now, aren't you?"

"Actually, I have until September," I answered politely.

She looked stunned, as though I had told her I was on my way right that minute to give birth in the housewares section. "Well you don't look like you'll last that long," she said. "I'm ready to boil water and tear up sheets!"

Heh. Meet me in the housewares, lady.

Yeah, I'm big. Yeah, I've got to hold my shirt down when I waddle walk, because even shirts of the maternity variety aren't large enough to cover my mountain bump. Yeah, I do look like I should have given birth, like, six months ago - or that I'm pregnant with a toddler. Does this mean you need to point it out, people? Does it require a statement that only serves to highlight how gargantuan I am?

No. No, it does not. I know people mean well, but damn.

If I venture out, I need to just start wearing a huge sign that says the following:

1. The baby is due September 14th.
2. Don't worry, I'm not going to give birth on this floor.
2. Yes, I'm sure there's only one in there.
3. No, I probably couldn't get much bigger. Thanks for noticing ...
4. (... you asses)

Sun-Scream

Usually, I'm not dealing with a minor crisis by 7 o'clock in the morning.

... Usually.

But today? It's been a different story.

My kids woke up at the crack of dawn - around six. I've been trying, to no avail obviously, to persuade them to sleep later ever since one of my friends told me that her kids sleep until like 9:30 or 10. Heh ... must be nice! (In my best "Napoleon Dynamite" voice: "Lucky!")

I went to bed unusually late last night, and drooled so much that I kept waking myself up (WTF?). Needless to say, I wasn't exactly alert and chipper when I dragged myself out of bed this morning. So when my boys went into Colin's room to play, I decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth - they were being quiet, they weren't squabbling, and the house wasn't on fire, so whatever they were doing in there was good enough for me. I came into the dining room to make my morning "rounds" on the computer while they were sufficiently occupied.

WHY do I NEVER remember - or always choose to forget - the Golden Rule of Motherhood: if your kids are being quiet, they are probably up to something they shouldn't be.

I should have known something was amiss when Colin yelled, "Mommy, I'm using the clippers as tweezers!" I should have put two and two together. The fingernail clippers go in the hall closet. Colin had the clippers - therefore he had to have been in the hall closet. But it was early, and I was tired, and I didn't even give it much thought.

"Where did you get the clippers?" I asked.

"I don't know," he called. "Texas Roadhouse or something."

(For anyone unfamiliar with Texas Roadhouse, it's a restaurant.)

It was one of those Mommy "whatever" moments. You know, when your kid has something you really don't like for him to play with ... but you're getting a few moments' peace, so whatever.

I went back to my computer.

In a couple minutes, I heard Cameron crying. This in itself isn't unusual, especially when he's playing with his brother. But it sounded especially urgent. I had just gotten up and started back there to investigate when he came running toward me, bawling ... and reeking of ...

... sunscreen?

Yep, that's what it was. Colin had somehow managed to climb to the upper shelves of the closet and retrieve the bottle of spray-on sunscreen. And he had sprayed it in his baby brother's face!

Poor Cammie was crying, his face and right eye red and splotchy, his hair plastered to the side of his head, snot and spit running out of his nose and mouth in a river. I felt terrible, like the worst, least vigilant mother on the planet. I immediately rushed him to the sink and started dousing his face with cool water, soothing his hysterics as best I could while I was practically drowning him.

But then I realized - the sunscreen was waterproof. The water just beaded and rolled off his skin. So if water didn't work, what on earth could I use?

This is why, at 7 AM, I was standing at the kitchen counter wiping my baby boy's face ... with Tucks pads. You know, the ones you use to soothe hemorrhoids? Yeah. The hospital provided them to me when I gave birth, and they've just been sitting there unused - until this morning. But I figured they'd be perfect: they're soaked with witch hazel, which is an astringent, but which is also gentle. And it worked. As for his eye, I just flushed it out with water ... I didn't have much of a choice.

Colin, in the meantime, had been banished to his bedroom until I could deal with the situation at hand and figure out a proper means of punishment. Once I had Cameron settled down and (reasonably) cleaned off, I went in there.

First things first. "Did you spray it anywhere else besides on your brother?" I asked.

After a bit of hesitation: "Yes."

"Where?"

No answer.

"Where, Colin?"

"... On my penis."

*sigh*


You Like Me! You Really Like Me!

Oooh! Oooh! Guess what?!?

I've received my very first blog award - from not one, but TWO awesome fellow bloggers! It has taken me a bit to post about it (because I'm slow like that), but I am proud to present ... the Honest Scrap Award! It's for bloggers who show candid honesty within their blogs. (And as much as I talk about poop, fatness, and other unpleasantries, I think "candid honesty" is a decent description of The Frump!)

I'm flattered to have received this award from two lovely ladies, and you can transport yourself to their wonderful blogs simply by clicking on their names: Charisse and Emily. Thank you so much, girls!

The rules dictate that the award recipient is to pass it on - and that those who recieve it should link back to the giver.

Ever the rebel, I'm changing those rules up a little bit: I'm passing the award on, of course - but girls - please, PLEASE don't feel obligated to link back to me unless you genuinely want to. If you don't, I totally won't be offended! I linked back to Charisse's and Emily's blogs because I like them and I think my readers will, too. If I give you this award, it's because I honestly enjoy your blog and think you deserve it - it's not merely to drive extra traffic to my own blog.

That being said, let's get on with my personal list of "Honest Scrap" recipients!

I hereby nominate:

-Jennifer at Sunny Side Up
-Dumb Mom at parenting BY dummies
-Holly Noelle at Domestic Dork
-J-Ko at Perfectly Disheveled
-Shelly at that girl blogs

Thank you all for brightening my days with your hilarious observations of life!

In My Dreams ... or Not!

Well, I think it may have finally happened: my pregnancy has entered its traditional celibacy phase. There's no certain day or time or event that indicates the entrance of this phase - but when it takes a calendar and more than ten seconds to figure out when you last, um, did the dirty, it's a pretty safe bet that you've hit a dry spell.

This phenomenon seems to occur around the 7-month mark in each of my pregnancies. I can't blame my husband, because I've got to be honest: if he suddenly packed on 70+ pounds, like I do every.single.time, I wouldn't be all that attracted either. After all, this is a man who has seen my 5'8" frame at a svelte 130 pounds, complete with muscle tone and a cute belly button ring. And God love him, this same man has also seen my 5'8" frame at (gulp) 253 pounds - my heaviest weight ever - with a pregnant stomach riddled with stretch marks and a droopy flap where my "cute" belly ring once was. He has also seen two babies (and, erm, some poo once) emerge from "down there" during childbirth, and knows it's imminent again ... so I have to cut him some slack. I have no doubt that he still loves me - he just doesn't want to looooooove me right now, if you catch my drift. *nudge nudge*

(Plus he works 12-hour days, so it's not all shallowness.)

Anyway, it is during this last trimester that my mind generously offers assistance in the form of some pretty nice dreams. They usually involve Eminem, who is someone I would not fantasize about while I was awake - or Johnny Depp, whom I most definitely would have waking fantasies about.




(Or wait. Honey, are you reading this? If you are, I'm TOTALLY kidding. ... Ha. Ha.)


.... *ahem*

But there's a fundamental problem with this: the more children and pets I accrue, the more likely these dreams are to be interrupted. It happens nearly every time now. And we all know that an interrupted erotic dream is like ... well, an interrupted erotic experience: whether it happens in your mind or in real life, it's never cool, and it almost always leads to some degree of grumpiness.

That's how it was in the wee hours of this morning. I was leaning into Mr. Depp (who, coincidentally, finds me sexy when I'm fat and hormonal) for some dream lovin' when I heard the following from Colin's room:

"MOMMMMMMYYYYYYYYYY! I can't sleep with all this pee in my bed!!!!"

Fan-effin-tastic.

So like the dutiful mommy that I am, I slowly and clumsily heaved myself got up out of bed and went to see what the problem was. Luckily, what Colin was calling "pee" was actually just a spot of drool on his pillow. Whew. I flipped it over, problem solved, and I went back to bed - hopeful that I could pick up where I left off with Johnny.

But you wanna know what I dreamed about instead? My tomato plant. Yeah. Nothing sexy about that ... damn it.

"Children": another word for "take that, libido!"

10 Truths About Motherhood

From the moment you triumphantly wave that positive test under everybody's nose, people are eager to share their experiences with pregnancy and birth. But there are a few things nobody told me about motherhood. So for anyone reading this who may not be a parent yet, or who's a new parent, brace yourself for a few critical truths.

Your kids will get on your nerves. I hate to say it, because nobody wants to admit that there are days when they actually second-guess their decision to ditch the birth control. It may not happen for the first few months, but trust me: once they start demanding, whining, and being impossible to reason with - which they will - you'll be like, "Whoa ... what was I thinking?" For this reason, you need breaks from them. It's important. You'll appreciate them a lot more if they're not shoved up your rear end 24/7.

You'll feel guilty because your kids get on your nerves. We all know at least one of "those" moms: the type who seems to endlessly enjoy her children's company, who never seems bothered by the incessant questions, who patiently explains everything, all the while gushing, "Aren't they just precious?" And because of her, you'll feel like a crappy mom less-than-adequate on those days when you really, reeeeeally wish you could pack your kids off to Grandma's for a little vacation. News flash: even "SuperMom" gets tired of her children at times - you just aren't around to see it. I struggled with infertility for five years before finally having my first son, and it was always painful to hear people complaining about their kids when I couldn't have any. "If I have kids, I'll never do that," I vowed.
Ha. Hahahahaha.

You'll constantly wonder if everybody's kids go through this, or just yours. By "this," I mean any of the hundreds of phases they'll go through: the picky eating phase. The "I-refuse-to-wear-pants" phase. The whining everything phase. And it never fails - while your kid is going through these phases, it will seem as though everybody else's kids are acting perfectly normal, causing you to wonder if some catastrophic "wrong turn" in your parenting has made your offspring this weird. But don't worry. It hasn't. All kids do this ... whatever "this" may be!

Every tragic story will nearly make your heart stop. Suddenly those starving kids in Africa seem so much more human. Hearing about the toddler across town who got hit by a car will cause you to fly into a near-panic, thinking, "That could have been my baby."

You'll miss your old life. Before you have kids, you can't possibly fathom the amount of personal sacrifice that it takes to raise them. It's like trying to imagine being a celebrity or something: you can picture it vividly, but until it actually happens to you, there's no way of knowing what it's really like. Once you have kids, you'll pine for the days when you could just spontaneously decide to take a roadtrip, read (or sleep!) for hours uninterrupted, go to the bathroom alone. Everything, from loafing to shopping, becomes different - and there will be plenty of times you'll miss those days when you could be as self-centered as you wanted.

You'll want everyone to think your kids are as awesome as you think they are. But they don't. I remember distinctly when Colin, my firstborn, learned to wave; he would wave at random people in the grocery store or whatever. Some would wave back, but some would just look at him and walk past. I wanted to punch those people and yell, "He was waving at you, you jerk! Return the gesture!" I mean, how could they not see how adorable this little guy was, and take the time out of their busy shopping schedule to acknowledge him? And now that he's four, things like this are still going on. If we're out somewhere and he's acting all whiny and crazy, and people are casting judgmental sideways glances, I get the urge to explain. "He's not always like this! He just hasn't had a nap today! He's normally so sweet ... you should see him sing lullabyes to his baby brother ..." The bottom line is, nobody - except for the other parent, and certain family members - will ever see your child for the gem he or she really is and praise him/her accordingly.

Your life won't be easy with just one child, but it's a heck of a lot easier than having two or more. When we only had Colin to worry about, Curtis and I had a little more freedom. It was only necessary to accomodate one nap schedule, one feeding schedule ... to get one child dressed and put on one pair of shoes. We could be a little more flexible - and heck, when he was really little and slept all the time, we could even still go to "grownup" restaurants. Then Cameron came along, and it got a bit more tricky. Now we've got to consider the (ever-changing) needs and schedules of both kids and work around two instead of one. I can't even imagine what it's going to be like adding our third baby to the mix in a couple of months!

You will change your mind. When Colin was born, I said I'd breastfeed exclusively. I said he wouldn't watch much TV, and when he did, it was only to be educational stuff. I said I'd never spank him. I said when he started eating "big people" food, it would only be organic and low-sugar. Apparently, I lied, because each and every one of those goals has fallen by the wayside. It happens, and sometimes not by choice.

You'll never feel completely confident. I just blogged about this a couple of days ago. You will second-guess almost every parenting decision, no matter how small (and if it backfires, you will relentlessly blame yourself). With every new baby you bring into the family, you'll feel almost as clueless as you did with the first ... unless maybe you're, like, Michelle Duggar or someone with an equally huge number of children.

Despite all this, you'll love them more than you ever thought possible. Even if you've had the mothering day from hell, and your kids are driving you to the brink of insanity, you'd still go to any lengths to protect them if they were threatened. You'll look at them while they're sleeping, or during a rare quiet moment, and your heart will melt. And this, my friends, is the magic that makes motherhood the best experience of your life ... no matter how much the hours and vacation days suck sometimes. :)

LOL, Y'all

Sometimes my brain can't seem to form a single coherent thought, let alone string them together into a coherent blog. So for days like this, I stockpile photos that make me laugh ... amusing things I've encountered that just beg to be made fun of in a public forum. I took each of these pictures myself. Some are poor quality, others are just poor taste, but they all give me the giggles.


First up we have these tacos: whoever made them was generous with the cheese. If by "generous" I mean "ridiculous." Seriously, seven little shreds of cheese? Who does that? "I hope you're not too full from those tacos ... here's your half-tablespoon of ice cream and three sprinkles!"
Next up, an actual search performed on my computer ... by Cameron, my one-year-old. Perhaps he was searching for Mr. Mackey from "South Park," mmkay? (For those of you who can't place Mr. Mackey, here's a helpful photo.)
And here's the search:


Then there's this dollar that Curtis found. If you can't read it, it says "not for drugs" in red ink right there by George Washington's face. I was really disappointed - that's totally what I had planned to use it for. Because, you know, what crack dealer doesn't want a whole dollar?


I surreptitiously snapped a picture of these sweet white loafers with my camera phone. You can't tell by the photo, but they were some sort of reptile-skin texture. Sans socks, naturally. And they were worn by a dude with a serious Donald Trump-like comb-over, which made the overall impression even more awesome.


Hehe. I'll take one of these ... to go.

And finally, though it's completely out of season ... this is a picture of my boys with Santa last year. I'm convinced that this was no mistake: that not-so-jolly old elf was doing this in EVERY.SINGLE.PICTURE that we took. It's a total "I'm stickin' it to these parents" incognito flip-off. I'm so onto you, Santa.

Just wait 'till you see what I'll be leaving you on Christmas Eve this year instead of the traditional milk and cookies. Jerk.



Epic Fail?

In two more months, I'll become a mother for the third time. And I've got to admit, I'm a little disheartened. I mistakenly assumed that I'd be some sort of parenting expert by now - that I'd be one of those knowledgeable moms who has been through it all and has an answer for every phase and stage of development. (I know, right? I'm completely delusional sometimes.) But the truth is, I feel like a serious newbie most of the time. And my poor kids ... well, there are times when I feel like they're just glorified guinea pigs, and I hope to God I don't irreversably screw them up through my various experimentations.

Take breastfeeding, for example. I tried nursing both my boys. Colin lasted about seven months; Cameron, a mere two or three weeks at best. I just couldn't do everything I needed to do with a baby perpetually hanging from my boob - and it was making me feel increasingly frustrated, irritable, and at times downright incompetent (like, "Why can other women do this and I'm just not with it?"). So I made the switch to formula and started feeling like myself again. But then there were these articles about how formula-fed babies get sick more often ... and are more likely to be obese adults ... and blah blah blah. I guiltily pictured a grown-up Cameron, fat and unhappy, racking up huge doctor bills and falling into horrible debt due to a faulty immune system - all because I didn't follow through with the breastfeeding thing. Ugh.

And this potty training method that I just tried: we're five days in, and this morning - no matter how much I insisted I wouldn't - I caved and put Cameron back into a diaper. I hate to admit it, but I just don't think he's ready. Sure, he pees about 70% of the time when we actually put him on the potty, but he's no closer to initiating its use by himself - like, he doesn't just run to the potty chair when he needs to go, or indicate it to us in any way. I don't think he could pull pants up and down if he had them on. And frankly, the past five days of constant trips to the potty, confinement to the house, and cleaning up countless messes has been exhausting. I can't do anything that needs more than a minute or two of my attention, for fear that I'll miss the next opportunity to plop him on the pot. But true to form, before I made the decision to put the diaper back on him, I Googled "putting toddler back in diapers." And what result did that bring me? A website for - I'm not kidding - adults who have a diaper fetish.

... Yeah. I know. And they were all, "My fetish started when I peed my pants and my parents put me back in diapers," or similar stories ... so what do I picture now? Grown-up Cameron, of course, parading across the stage at the Jerry Springer Show in a diaper ... or maybe just creepily sitting at his computer in some crazy adult-baby chat room, wearing a pair of urine-saturated Depends. I mean, who knows, maybe diaper-wearing adults are perfectly functioning members of society ... but I'd like to keep my kids as close to "normal" as possible, thanks.

Logically, I know that most of my parenting choices - even those that go awry - aren't going to lead to such dramatic consequences. But on a serious note, it scares me to think that people can come from perfectly average households and two-parent families and still battle with drug addictions ... deviant or self-destructive behaviors ... emotional problems ... you get the picture. Is it the "luck of the draw," so to speak? Some inborn trait that just naturally predisposes people to that stuff no matter what their parents do? Or is it the parents' fault? Could one tiny little parental slipup, even a seemingly insignificant one - like my putting Cameron back in diapers, for example - have some sort of ripple effect into adulthood?

I guess my biggest question is this: will I ever stop questioning my parenting choices and feel like a mom who actually knows what she's doing?

Fecal Matters

Disclaimer: This is another blog regarding poop. If talk of poop grosses you out, go read something else. Like perhaps this lovely selection, complete with a photo of yours truly eating a pickle.



OMG, you guys.

I am so so so so so (so, infinity) tired of cleaning up stuff that's come out of other people's butts.

As you know - and if you don't know, you can start here - I've just attempted the "three-day potty training" method with Cameron. Long story short: it works ... sort of. Cameron isn't nearly potty trained, per se, but he's made a lot of good progress. I can definitely see the merits of the program - though, for us anyway, it's going to take more than three days. If you're interested, I wrote a detailed play-by-play of our experience.

Anyhoo, I've been so focused on Cameron's toilet habits that I didn't even stop to think how Colin would react to his little brother's potty training. Which is why the following scenario took me completely by surprise. He was playing quietly in his room (note to self: that is nearly always a precursor to some sort of huge mess). When I opened the door, I almost fell over - it reeked of poop in there.

"Colin!" I exclaimed, hooking my shirt over the end of my nose to shield my poor nostrils from the stench. "What is that smell?"

"I farted," he said, with a look that told me he was clearly lying.

I knew he was lying, anyway. I don't care if a brontosaurus farted - it wouldn't smell that strongly. The problem was, I didn't see any piles, smears, or otherwise.

"Is there ... poop in here?" I asked (oh pleasepleaseplease don't say yes).

He immediately started crying. "Don't spank me!"

I promised him I wouldn't spank him as long as he told me the truth - so he nodded an affirmative, that yes, there was indeed a pile of poo located somewhere within his bedroom.

Bracing myself, I asked the next logical question: "So ... where is it?"

"Don't spank me!" he pleaded again through his tears, more emphatically this time.

"I won't," I said. "Just tell me, right now, where you've pooped."

He pointed at this:
(No, there's not an extra baby living in Colin's room ... this is just the example picture I used from the Little Tikes website.) See the little dishwasher part with the green door there? ... Yeah. Full of poop (and pee!). And let me just say that, at four years old, it isn't baby poop any more - but a big, man-sized dump.

I ... didn't ... know ... what ... to ... say.

????????

I finally asked him why. He told me, essentially, that he wanted a "special" place to go, like Cameron's little potty chair - to which I answered that the only reason Cam has a potty chair is because he isn't a big boy yet and physically can't use the toilet.

Then I threw his little kitchen set away - because I'm sorry, but I wasn't about to clean that mess up, y'all (it's a spare anyway; he got a nice new kitchen set for Christmas) - and made him go to bed a half-hour early.

... And even though I was mad at him, I couldn't help but laugh when he asked me - very seriously - for an air freshener. :)

Saturday Sing-Along!

In lieu of a "real" post, I'm presenting you with this little gem today. (Hey, I'm busy with the potty training thing: update to come, possibly tomorrow.)

Honestly, if I see that someone has a video on their blog, I usually don't watch it. Just as I don't forward every joke and cartoon that I get in my e-mail. I just don't want to waste anyone's time, ya dig? But I PROMISE that this video - "The Mom Song" - is worth watching. I personally find it hilarious, and I hope you do, too. If you are a mom or HAVE a mom ... which encompasses pretty much everyone ... you'll like this.

Jumpin' On the Potty Train

I'm soooo tired of this:
No, we didn't get a new puppy - that puddle is Cameron's doing. It's one of many that I've had to clean up in the last couple of weeks. Why? Because he's gotten into the habit of taking his diaper off. And no matter how many times I replace it, or try to secure it under a pair of hard-to-remove pants, he manages to wriggle out again and inevitably pees somewhere - gleefully announcing, "Pee-pee!" in his chirpy little voice as it soaks into my poor carpet.

I'm confused, really. He's only 18 months old, and not quite showing all the signs of readiness that the experts traditionally suggest. But I can't deny that his behavior lately is a pretty clear indication that he's ready to move beyond his diapers (and plus, I think some of the so-called "expert advice" I read is bogus). So I was happy to find this article about potty training younger kids - in three days, on average! Pretty interesting stuff! It wouldn't work too well if you're not a stay-at-home Mom, but it's perfect for us: Curtis is working for the next three days, so we won't be going anywhere anyway.

So last night we introduced Cameron to the potty chair. He seemed to enjoy sitting on it, but no matter how much we waited in eager anticipation - looking for that first drop to fall so we could dance around like fools and praise him to high heaven - nothing happened.

And then he got off the potty chair and pooped on the floor while we were putting it away. Ugh. One step forward, one step back ...

Anyway, today officially marks Day One of our odyssey into three-day potty training. I'm optimistic: the baby comes in a mere ten weeks, and I'm willing to try anything that increases my chances of NOT having two kids in diapers at the same time.

Three days of urine-and-feces-soaked fun. (Can you tell I'm being completely sarcastic here?) I hope I can handle it.

Do Not Attempt While Pregnant

I don't know about you, but I have a hard time buying stuff for myself. If somebody were to give me $100 and tell me to spend it on clothing, there's a 99.9% chance I'll come out of the store loaded down with outfits for my kids: it's just the way things are. There's only so much money to go around, so if it's going to be spent on clothes, it'll be spent on their clothes. Mine may not be haute couture, but at least I know I won't outgrow (or wear out, tear up, or irreversably stain) them as fast as my children do theirs.

Unless I'm pregnant - specifically in the third trimester, when I look like I'm incubating a baby beluga whale (okay, twin baby beluga whales). By that time, I'm always so big that people literally stop to gape at me like I'm about to give birth on the floor of the gas station/library/Wal-Mart or wherever I happen to be. Therefore it's imperative that I buy something that fits, so that I don't walk around looking like even more of a freakshow with my stretched-out belly exposed.

There are several problems with this, though:

1. When I'm not pregnant, the maternity section of every store is practically overflowing with cute outfits. But when I am pregnant, the cute outfits are mysteriously replaced with shapeless, tentlike masses of fabric with weird bows and knots.

2. It's the same with plus-sized clothing, which often suffices size-wise, but falls pitifully short in the trendiness department. Everything seems to be stretchy polyester with some sort of loud, gaudy print and flapping sleeves - things that even my unfashionable ass wouldn't be caught dead in if I wasn't pregnant. Is it some conspiracy to keep big girls from looking cute?

3. The maternity clothes that actually are decent cost, like, an arm and a leg. Call me cheap, but I'm not paying that much for something I'm going to wear for the next month or two.

4. Dressing rooms aren't made for pregnant women. Especially a pregnant woman that is the size of Brazil. Especially when that pregnant woman is trying on pants. (Note to self: next time you lose your balance and fall into a dressing room door, find one that latches securely - the whole of Target nearly saw your jiggly ass today.)

5. In the event that I do find something that looks cute on the hanger, it inevitably does NOT look as cute on me, leading to an all-out hormonally-fueled dressing room meltdown. Like this afternoon when I tried on these cute capris ... which painfully highlighted the fact that my ankles now blend into my calves. Ugh.


So you see? Shopping while pregnant is torturous, unless you're one of those women who remains stick-thin everywhere but the belly (in which case, get out of my blog and go eat a sandwich. Kidding, ladies, I'm just bitter).

I will end on a bright note, though, and share with you the one purchase that I have gotten TONS of good out of, the absolute best maternity pants ever, hands-down:

(Yes, I jacked this picture from the Motherhood Maternity website. But I figure if I'm endorsing their pants - unprompted - they won't care too much ... right?) Anyway, these are the most awesome pants - I've linked you to the details here. They're stretchy, swingy and flattering, and the belly is so forgiving that I've been able to wear them in every trimester (no matter how gargantuan I get) AND after giving birth - even after losing much of my baby weight. They're so basic that I wear them with everything from dressy tops to T-shirts. I know it sounds like an infomercial, but I just wanted to share the ONE item of maternity clothing that I've actually loved and worn to death. You know, in case anyone else is in my same boat.

To sum things up: yay for good pants. Boo for all other aspects of maternity shopping. I'd rather pass a 9-pound baby through my ... oh wait, that's going to happen anyway, isn't it?

A Sticky Situation

My kids were GOOD this morning. I'm talking "waking-up-without-announcing-it-to-the-household-and-playing-quietly-together-in-Colin's-room" good. As I lounged in bed with one ear open, listening to the sweet sound of my boys actually cooperating, I reflected that maybe this was karma's way of making up for yesterday's rocky start. It was so nice to just lay there, without urgent demands being heaped upon me.

And then I smelled ... pancakes or something? WTF?

As much as I hoped that my kids had developed advanced culinary skills and decided to make me breakfast in bed, I knew that was pretty much impossible. And Curtis was still snoring beside me (it's his day off), so I knew it wasn't him. That smell couldn't possibly be pancakes - yet it was still suspiciously maple-y. Like ....


.......ohmigod. Like syrup. That was syrup I smelled, for sure.

I bolted out of bed and into Colin's room, which reeked of Mrs. Butterworth. One sticky four-year-old looked guiltily up at me, and his equally sticky little brother - who didn't know any better - continued to play in the "volcano" they had concocted. It was a piece of foil bent into a funnel shape, sitting on a Frisbee (thank the Lord, or it would have been all over the carpet), dripping with syrup "lava." As was the plastic pitcher to his kitchen playset, which he had poured the syrup into before drizzling it over the foil.

So much for an uneventful morning. Oh well ... it was nice while it lasted.

How Not to Go Crazy

I woke up this morning to a kick in the face (from Cameron, who sleeps sideways), an empty toilet paper roll that I failed to notice until after I had peed, and a glance in the mirror which revealed that, yes, I am indeed fatter than I was yesterday. And from then on, kids - despite my best efforts to put on a happy face and muster up a positive 'tude - it's been "one of those days."

You know the kind of day I'm talking about: when every crappy little thing happens to you, and you can't help but remain in a constant state of irritation.

My morning didn't get much better after I emerged from the bedroom. Cameron's first order of business was to take an enormous, diaper-filling dump. Colin was demanding breakfast immediately, placing orders like I was a waitress at IHOP: "An omelet, Mommy! With the circle cheese, not the square kind. And some chocolate milk!" In the meantime, he asked for a spoonful of Goober - you know, the disgusting peanut-butter-and-jelly all mixed up into one jar? - to curb his apparently-ravenous hunger. And while I was getting it for him, in hopes of shutting him up for two seconds, I dropped a huge glob onto my computer keyboard - which jammed up (hehe, no pun intended) several of my keys. These are the keys that were not already stuck from the sweet tea Cameron spilled on them, for the second time, a couple of days ago.

(Note to self: do not allow food or drinks near computer. It's the smart thing to do.)

While I was cleaning up the Goober gunk, Colin was all, "Is my omelet done yet?"

Um, does it look like your omelet is done?

Anyway, I cleaned up the Goober, the baby poop, and whipped up an omelet for each of the boys (during which I got little pieces of shell in the egg, which NEVER happens, and it took like five minutes to fish them out). Then I fed and watered the cats and the dog, who were acting like poor mangy strays who hadn't eaten in weeks, and scooped the disgusting litter box. And then, finally, I was able to sit down at my computer for my morning routine of checking e-mail, social networking sites, the blog, the headlines, and everything else that's important.

But the peace didn't last long, as Cameron - who'd lost all interest in the omelet I had so diligently worked to provide him - decided he wanted to sit in the chair with me ("sit in the chair" meaning "crawl all over my back"). Which he did ... using my braless boob as an aid to help him climb. I know it hangs down like Rapunzel's hair and all, and it may look like a very convenient handle, but ouch.

In lieu of my own breakfast, I ate the rest of Cameron's omelet, which was cold and rubbery by that time ... just because I didn't want to waste it. Deeeelicious.

And now, I'm blogging. It may seem, since I'm sitting at the computer right now, that I've gotten the boys nicely occupied with something. But the truth is, they're emptying my kitchen utensil drawer: Cameron is poking at his brother with a pair of tongs, and Colin has a spatula, a potato masher, a cake decorating tip, and a reusable straw and is somehow pretending he's lighting fireworks.

It's a tradeoff. A few minutes of relative peace in exchange for a heinous mess - because, you know, I can't have my cake and eat it too. Just look what happened the last time I tried to blog:


Despite all this, I know that the type of day I have really depends on me ... no one else. And I know, too, that the better mood I'm in, the better my kids will behave. So in an attempt to salvage the rest of the day, I'm going to do the following:

-Smile even when it feels unnatural, because just the physical act of smiling can often work wonders.

-Put things into perspective and be grateful for what I've got. It could be EVER-so-much worse. For example: at least I have food to spill on my keyboard. And toilet paper to wipe with! And I may feel be fat, but it's because I'm growing a precious new life ... and because I have cookies to eat. Lots and lots of delicious cookies.

-Have fun with my kids, because their laughter makes me happy.

-Put on a bra. Because that "using Mommy's boob as a handle" thing is so not cool.

Wish me luck, guys!

Inde-Pantsless Day

I've lived in Iowa for over a year now, and have yet to figure out why they seem to celebrate holidays a day early. (Halloween, for example - the spooky spectacle that is trick-or-treating - happens on October 30th here, not the traditional 31st: go figure.) And yesterday was no exception, as our town held its big annual Independence Day fireworks show ... on the 3rd of July.

It worked out well for us, though, because Curtis was off (he has to work today, the actual holiday). So we had a barbecue at our house and invited a few friends over. Colin was taking a nap when they got here, but apparently their arrival woke him up, because he came wandering out of his room with no pants on (and no underwear, either, as is his custom) and casually greeted our guests with, "Hey, did you know we have sparklers?"

Embarrassment aside, I was excited to have people over. It gave me an occasion to do several holiday-themed things, because, well, I'm an over-decorating geek. So maybe Martha Stewart would have scoffed at my dollar-store plastic tablecloth and star garland ... but then again, she can afford cuter decorations. (Plus she's Martha-effing-Stewart, so her table would look cute even if she had to decorate it with trash bags and duct tape.) At any rate, I was pleased with the way things turned out.

I even made mini star-shaped sugar cookies (from scratch, from the best recipe EVER, which you'll find at the end of this post) and some deeeeelicious fluffy fruit dip (ditto to the last sentence in parenthesis).


And my toes got into the Independence Day spirit:
Yes, I know it's a small picture ... but that was deliberate. I didn't want the world to be able to scrutinize my feet too closely; it's been a while since my last pedicure, ya dig? Anyway, you get the idea.

We ate (and ate and ate) and then we all went outside for a while - which was fun for those who weren't chasing after Cameron (read: everyone but me). I spent my time waddling awkardly after him as he shuttled away, repeatedly, at top speed. How do those stubby little legs move so fast? And each time I went to retrieve him, I got this:

You guessed it: the "cry-and-go-limp" maneuver popular with small children the world over. The one where you take their hand and they just hang there, refusing to walk, usually accompanied by some sort of loud and whiny vocal protest. I dealt with this until I was sweating in places I didn't even know I could sweat, and then gave it up and brought Cameron back into the air conditioning.

After the festivities were over at our house, we went down to the riverfront for the big fireworks show. At first I had my camera on some weird setting, which made my pictures look like this:

Super Radioactive Neon Sperm, activate!

But then I figured out the setting and actually got a couple of decent photos.

I totally loved that smiley face! It's amazing what they can do with pyrotechnics!

All in all, we had a great Fourth ... even if it was on the 3rd. Happy Independence Day, everyone!


Oh wait ... I promised you recipes, didn't I? :)

You can find the sugar cookie recipe here. These are soft and chewy and drool-inducing and have garnered rave reviews from everyone I've made them for. They're good as-is or with frosting, and the dough is versatile enough to roll out and cut into shapes or just roll into balls (flatten them slightly first, as they don't spread much) and bake. (Hint: take them out of the oven even if they still look too light. If they look anywhere near golden brown on top, they're overdone.)


The fruit dip recipe came to me courtesy of my friend Subrina, and tastes too good to be this easy - but it is:


1 8-oz. package cream cheese, room-temperature
1 container of lime yogurt (I use Yoplait Key Lime Pie flavor)
1 jar of Marshmallow Fluff


Using a mixer (important, or it'll turn out lumpy!), blend the softened cream cheese and the yogurt until smooth. Then mix in the fluff. Serve with fruit; I like grapes and strawberries the best. You can easily double the ingredients for a pretty big batch.

Pardon the Interruption(s)

I swear there's some unwritten rule that says the more quiet and structure Mommy needs, the less she'll get. I don't know about your kids, but mine live by this rule.

On the days I don't have much to do, they'll happily occupy themselves. But on days like today - when I've got a couple of writing assignments (and a super-cool blog) to attend to, and need time and space to think - they're up my butt like a dental-floss thong. Take this particular post: I've restarted it twice, and erased entire sentences because of extraneous additions like "sdfak" and "l;;=p" (courtesy of Cameron, who will NOT stop climbing into my chair). I have also completely stopped writing it more times than I can even count, in order to:

-Fulfill a request for milk
-"... No, chocolate milk!"
-Fulfill a request for a pacifier
-Retrieve Cameron from downstairs
-Retrieve aforementioned pacifier from beneath the stove
-Change a poopy diaper (wait ... what's that smell? ... Ugh, make that two poopy diapers)
-Confiscate the tweezers from Colin
-Answer umpteen million "important" questions, such as "Remember when we had a fuzzy toilet seat cover?"
-Remove Cameron from pulling on the curtains ... six times
-Check my Facebook page , only because my concentration was broken anyway

I wish I had some bag of spectacular child-occupying tricks to pull out in times like these, but even things that have them mesmerized one time will have zero effect the next. Personally, I find that my most effective tips are these:
-Give them something they're not usually allowed to play with. In today's case, it's a piece of aluminum foil for Colin, and a big plastic tube from the vacuum cleaner for Cameron. Hey, whatever works.
-Wait until naptime or work after bedtime. I would say get up earlier than they do in the mornings, but with my kids that would mean getting up at like 4 a.m. And ... no. It's surprising the amount of stuff I can get done with an hour of peace and quiet, as opposed to two hours of near-constant interruption.

Until someone invents a magic child-repelling shield (wait, I think they already have ... it's called a condom), I'm just going to have to deal with - oh, hang on a sec.

Okay, I'm back. *ahem* ... I'm just going to have to deal with - ugh, wait just a second again, sorry.

Like I was saying: I'll just have to deal with ... gosh dangit, be right back.

You get the picture. ;)

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