A Bright Eye-dea

With the help (and I use that term loosely) of the kids, I got my Christmas decorations put away yesterday. Well, except for the tree, which is just standing in the corner of the living room, looking all naked and patchy and pitiful and shedding faux needles all over the damn place. I'm waiting for Curtis to do his itty-bitty job of stashing it somewhere until next season. But, much like the rest of the (10,226) itty-bitty jobs I've been waiting for Curtis to do around this piece, it remains on the honey-do list. Anyway, it'll be gone before New Year's Eve, because I have this weird thing about going into a new year with last year's decorations still up. I wouldn't exactly call it a superstition; it just gives me an icky feeling. Like turning to a fresh sheet of paper in a notebook, only to find someone has already written stuff all over it. I like FRESH beginnings, y'all. Not having to deal with last year's crap. Ideally, not only would I have my Christmas decor gone by New Year's, but also my house scrubbed (like spring-cleaning spotless) and immaculate.

Maybe if I were single and childless, which I am like so not.

... Which is probably also why I have zero plans for New Year's Eve. *sigh*

Does it seem like no one is reading blogs this time of year? I guess we're all too busy counting down the days until school starts again enjoying the holidays. I kinda feel like I'm talking to myself. Or addressing an empty room. I would be off the Internet enjoying the holidays, too, except for reasons I won't go into it's been a little bit (okay, a lot) of a craptastic week. Suffice it to say, when Colin woke up this morning with pinkeye in not one but both eyes (yay!), it didn't help matters.

However ...

Have you ever talked to, like, your grandma or something and just marveled at the stuff she knows? All the folk remedies, the tips and tricks, the handy knowledge that old ladies seem to amass throughout a lifetime of raising babies and taking care of households - if you've ever had the privilege of talking to a granny-type about that sort of thing, it's actually kind of mind-boggling. (My grandma grew up in the backwoods of Arkansas and I swear she'd probably be able to clean a floor with a chicken carcass and cure measles with a pair of pantyhose and a lemon slice and fix a broken window using only sawdust, lard, and a sprinkling of celery salt.)*

*I'm going somewhere with this, I promise.

Anyway, I always wanted to feel like a knowledgeable old granny, full of awesome tips that make people raise their eyebrows in surprise like, "Does that really work?!" Old ladies were at a disadvantage because they had to rely on years of life experience and word-of-mouth to learn these things. We, however, can get our "old lady" on much earlier in life thanks to the wealth of knowledge that is the Internet.

Which is how I learned one of my most favorite granny-esque tips EVER: breast milk cures pinkeye.

Oh yes it does. Really and truly.

Weird, right?

For the most part, I'm really (really, reeeeally) over nursing. I mean, Coby just turned two a couple of months ago. Considering all the struggles I've gone through (not least of all the fact that my boobs sadly resemble Stretch Armstrong), I didn't think I'd still be doing it at this point. Problem is, he still wants to nurse at rest time, a habit he flatly refuses to give up no matter what I try. (If anybody has any granny-tips on weaning, fire away!) Anyway, most of the time this kind of irritates me - but when someone wakes up with pinkeye, I'm all, "YESSSS! I have breast milk!"

I stumbled upon this cure by accident while looking up info about pinkeye, and was seriously skeptical at first. I mean, I'm by no means one of those all-natural holistic moms - I'm all about some antibiotics. But when one of my kids gets pinkeye, the others inevitably follow suit, and sometimes even Curtis and I fall prey to it, and then we have a gooey, crusty, oozy, itchy epidemic. That's a lotta prescription eye drops and doctor visits, y'all. So I figured - I've got a pretty much endless supply of milk, and it's all-natural, right? What's the harm? And I tried it.

I was totally amazed when their pinkeye started to clear up within just a couple of doses - even faster than the prescription antibiotic drops! All I do is squeeze some into a clean cup (I use the little plastic measuring cups that come on top of kids' medicine bottles), saturate the end of a cotton swab, then drip one or two drops right into each eye, using a clean swab for each kid. Do this three times a day, and voila! No more pinkeye! It's easy, free, and it works. As a bonus, they don't scream and flail around like an electrocuted octopus, because it doesn't burn. Aw, yeah. I even drop some in the eyes of whoever doesn't have pinkeye as a preventive measure - and oddly enough, it seems to keep it from spreading.

So that's what you'll find me doing today: sitting huched over a little tiny medicine cup, then chasing my kids around with milk-soaked Q-Tips. Fun times. But the best part? Someday they'll be thoroughly grossed out by the fact that I ever did this ... which just makes it even better.

Dreadful Christmas and a Stainy New Year

So ....... Christmas.

I vaguely remember writing about it last year: that temporary insanity that takes over a parent's brain during the holiday season. You know, when your kid wants something so bad, and you get these grandiose visions in your head of being the most awesome parent evah! and of their sparkly little eyes and joyful little faces and squeals of glee when they open the present. You get these visions, and they take over, throwing your common sense right out the window. Like, it doesn't even register that said present is going to stain/cause squabbles/trigger explosions. Nooooo. All you can imagine is your child's excitement, and that's enough to blind you to what happens after that.

Like when they actually get the gift, and use it, and the consequences make you want to "accidentally" pitch the thing into the trash, no matter how much you paid for it or how brand-new it is.

Let me just show you what my - er, "Santa's" - moment of insanity consisted of this year:

Yeah. The Dr. Dreadful Zombie Lab. Complete with ten bazillion different kinds of sugary powders to mix into disgusting-looking edible concoctions that turn pink and blue and green and gummy and jellylike and sticky and oh my Lord ... my carpet ......

Sorry, where was I?

Oh yes. Hang on, let me wipe my tears away.

Colin started asking for this thing months ago. The first time he saw the commercial on TV, he flipped the eff out and pretty much never stopped. Every time it would come on, he would dance around shrieking, "Mommy! Mommy! The Dr. Dreadful Zombie Lab! Look! You can eat the brains! It barfs! You can eat the skin! Mommy! Mommy! Look!" (or some equally grating variation). 

So when I started looking for his Christmas present, I didn't really entertain any other options. Because this is what he really, really wanted. And y'all know, whatever our little darlings have their precious hearts set on, that's what we strive to get. Right? So that's why, on Christmas morning, Colin found a Dr. Dreadful beside his stocking. And, just as I had fantasized about, he melted into sheer joy.

And it was awesome.

And then? We opened the box.

So was Colin's reaction worth it? Let's see:

- My sink looks like a jellyfish exploded in it
- My carpet is stained pink in no fewer than four places
- Everywhere I walk in the kitchen, my bare feet come in contact with some kind of stickiness and/or powder
- I found a quivering pink heap of jellyish substance on my bathroom floor
- There's a macabre-looking one-eyed zombie head in my dish drainer
- Curtis and I have been forced to drink/eat/slurp up a number of mixtures that, while they may taste sweet and fruity, have a stomach-churning texture that only children would fail to notice
- Colin asks to drag the thing out and make stuff no fewer than 1,267 times a day

But ... he loves it. And his face lights up into the biggest grin, missing two front teeth and all, every time he spoons into the bubbling brains, or makes the zombie barf into a cup, or gobbles up a gummy bug that he's made himself. And despite the fact that I've used up like four rolls of paper towels and a whole bottle of solution for my Swiffer in the past couple of days, his happiness makes me happy.

I'd say I'll be glad when the powders are gone and I can be like, "Well, sorry! Can't mix any more concoctions - don't have any more powders!" ... but do you know else my holiday insanity made me do?

Buy a refill pack.


It's going to be a looooooong few months.

Oh, (s)Nap!

What were you doing at six o'clock this morning?

I was sitting on the toilet trying to pee. I say "trying" because urination can be difficult when there's a pug nesting in your pulled-down pajama pants, a whimpering two-year-old clawing at your lap, and a six-year-old poking at his shrieking three-year-old brother with the handle of a plunger.

I just. Wanted. To PEE.

I swear I'm going to start sleeping in my kids' beds, because they must hold the secret to a fabulous night's sleep from which you awaken refreshed and revitalized. ($100 mattresses from Sam's Club ... who knew!) I can't figure out what else it could be. Seriously, every morning they bounce out of their room with so much energy you'd think they'd spent all night getting an IV-drip of caffeine. Whereas I toss and turn all night, wake up repeatedly when Curtis's alarm goes off a million freaking times starting at like 4-something. Then when it's finally time for me to (reluctantly) peel myself from between the sheets, I hobble to the bathroom (do anyone else's ankles feel stiff and sore when they wake up in the morning, or am I just old?), and only then do my eyes start to open ... but only because I get a jolt of fright from seeing my hair in the mirror. Yikes.

I'd love to know exactly what it is that makes my boys energetic enough to sword fight and pretend to be race cars and monsters and policemen and superheroes as soon as their little feet touch the floor. I guess it's because when they sleep, they sleep ... unlike me. They don't lay awake with their brains running a mile a minute, worrying about work and balancing bills with paydays. They don't sleep with one ear trained to hear the slightest cough/whine/barfing sound from the other room. They don't get up a bazillion times a night to pee (thanks, fetus) ... and even if they do, they aren't distracted by a blinking green light on their cell phone and stop to check their email - and then Facebook - at like 2 am.

I'm pretty sure I haven't gotten a solid night's sleep in the last seven years. And that's starting to take a toll on my ravishing beauty, y'all.

Most days, I have the opportunity to take a nap. Theoretically, I mean. Colin's at school, and I have the two little ones on the same nap schedule so that I've got about two hours of (sweet, valuable) "kid-free" time. So yes - technically, I could use that time to catch some ZzZzZs.


Here's the thing about grown-up naps - or grown-up naps in my world, anyway - they kind of suck.

First of all, I feel guilty for even taking a nap in the first place. Because there's soooo much I really should be doing instead, while I've got a chance to do it without "help" from the boys. Laundry. Dishes. Writing. Cleaning the toilet. On the rare occasion that I get past that guilt, my nap almost always turns disappointing. Like ... my phone rings. Or people text me. And if I turn my phone off, or silence it, I inevitably miss an important call - like the school nurse's office saying, "Your kid is sick, come pick him up," or some other minor emergency. Or I'll lay there thinking for so long that by the time I actually start to nod off, one of the kids is awake - and there goes my chance.

Barring all that, on the once-or-twice-every-six-months that I do actually get an actual, sleep-filled nap, I always wake feeling like crap. I don't know if naps have the same effect on anyone else, but I can almost guarantee that I will awaken in two states: grumpy and hungry. And before I've fully come to, I've snapped someone's head off and inhaled half the contents of my fridge. Plus I always feel ... behind. Like I'm scrambling to catch up with the stuff I should have been doing instead of napping.

People tell me that when my kids get older, it'll be easier to sleep. My sisters, whose children are grown and almost-grown, can nap with the best of 'em. So that means I'll start to get some decent sleep in, oh, about .....

... twelve years. Damn.

Wonder what nearly twenty straight years of shoddy sleep will do to a person?

I guess I'll find out ...

Coupon Moron

So y'all know by now that I'm cheap ... uh, frugal. I've shared my favorite money-saving tips many times before (remember this post? Or this one? Or this one? How about this?).

You want a clear illustration of just how che - um, frugal - I am? Check this out: I recently acquired two bras. I say "acquired" because I didn't buy them ... oh no. They were hand-me-downs from my sister.

...Who got them at Walgreens.

... Like ten years ago.

I know.

Anyway, you'd think a penny-pincher such as myself would do anything, absolutely anything, to save a buck - right? But. There's one thing I just can't do.


I don't mean the easy-to-use type of coupons. Like if I come across one in my mailbox or something that says, "Buy one such-and-such, get one doohickey free," I'm all, "WHOOHOO! I NEED A NEW DOOHICKEY!" and run out to the store to get my free on. I love those types of coupons: straightforward, simple, un-confusing. One coupon, one discount, one happy Rita.

But anything beyond that? I'm a couponing doofus. I think it's just because I'm seriously too lazy to do the required research and legwork. You'll never find me spending hours thumbing through newspapers (I don't even subscribe) or circulars clipping anything out. I've never been able to get the hang of organizing massive stacks of coupons by product, store, or expiration date. I do not keep an inventory, mental or otherwise, of stores who honor other stores' coupons or do price-matching or whatever. I don't keep a running tally of who's got what on sale this week. Don't ask me what "double coupons" are, because I have no friggin' clue. I don't seek coupons out; they practically have to fall into my lap for me to use them.

It amazes me, the people who love to do all that. They'll be like, "I found a coat in-store for sixty percent off and waited until Sunday between 5 and 7 pm when they dropped it another 5% and used my 30% off coupon from their mailer and doubled it with a coupon code from their website and used my store points to cover the rest and I ended up getting the coat and money back!"

And I'm jealous, because we all want a new coat with money back, but inside I'm secretly thinking, "Dang. I'd rather pay for the convenience of just going in and straight-up buying the coat."

I want to be one of those ladies who has an arsenal full of groceries that I picked up for mere pennies, or an awesome wardrobe that I scored for a fraction of retail cost, or stories of the glorious family vacation we went on using only accumulated travel points and pocket lint. But when it comes to doing what it takes to become one of those ladies, my ambitions fall short.

I guess I'll just keep on being cheap in the best way I know how. Like wearing decades-old bras.

Betta the Second Time

I forgot to tell you my after-Thanksgiving story. And yeah, I know it's a smidge late for an after-Thanksgiving story (although in my defense, I didn't specify how LONG after Thanksgiving). But I was just reminded of it because I'm sitting here freezing my (fully-clothed) tuckus off like I'm blogging from an igloo in the middle of the Arctic and not from the warmth of my 72-degree kitchen. The last time I felt this cold ... well, let me just tell you the story.

We went out of state for four days over Thanksgiving. When we got back, we walked in the house and it. Was. FRIGID. I was like, "What the eff?" because even though I always lower the thermostat a little when we're gone, I don't turn it off or anything. Yet this time, the heat clearly hadn't been on in, like ... a really long time.

(Also, on an unrelated but still crappy note? There was water all over our kitchen floor because somebody hadn't closed the freezer properly and the ice had melted and leaked out all over the place. Good times!)

So anyway, I was praying the furnace hadn't taken a poop and died while we were gone. I checked the thermostat, and lucky for us, nothing was broken: it was just that someone - who totally wasn't me because I would never do such a ridiculous thing - had turned it to cool instead of heat. So the heater never came on, of course, and it was like 47 degrees up in this freezy piece.

Our poor kitties, Thurman and Ava, had been in here for all this time with no heat. Good thing they have nice warm fur coats, and access to our beds, and each other to snuggle with. But then my thoughts turned to someone who wasn't nearly so lucky: our poor little betta fish, Bluey. He looks kinda like this:

We had another Bluey before this one, but he died. Who knew it wasn't a good idea to keep a fishbowl on top of the microwave? Anyway, I digress. I raced to Bluey's bowl and sure enough, there he was, lying on his side at the bottom of the tank, unmoving, unbreathing. I dipped a finger in, and the water was downright icy. I poked him. I scooted him around the tank a little bit. But no response; he was still. Dead as a door-nail. Poor little Bluey.

So I submerged my hand in his frigid bowl and scooped him out (I'm too hardcore to use a fish net, y'all), prepared to commit his lifeless carcass to that Big Fish Bowl in the Sky. Or, you know, the sewer.

But then ... I thought I saw the tiniest flicker of a gill. So I held my breath and stared at him really hard, like I could will him back to life through the sheer power of my magic eyes. And ...

... nothing happened.

I made my way to the toilet with him.

I poised him over the bowl, ready to drop.

I said a few kind words, like "Sorry I killed you with my thermostatic ineptitude. Amen."

And then?

I saw his fin move. And then his gill. I saw it for sure this time!

And within a few seconds, there he was, flopping all around like ... well, a fish out of water! Our Bluey! Our poor, "dead" Bluey! It was like the warmth of my hand had revived him. (Either that or my total awesomeness; I like to attribute it to that.)

"He's alive!" I shrieked, running back into the kitchen where we keep him. Hurriedly, I used a cup to dip a little bit of the cold water from his bowl and added some warm to even out the temperature, then slid him in, where he swam around like he always does. Then I rushed to remedy the temperature in his regular bowl. Once I had it suitably warmed up, I returned him to his home and fed him a little bit. He ate. All was well. It was weird.

Even so, I wasn't too optimistic. I was sure that he would kick the bucket by the next morning, just due to the sheer stress of his ordeal. But here we are, two and a half weeks later, and he's still around, acting normal. It's like we never almost-froze him to death.

Truly a miracle. I'm thinking of renaming him Jesus.

... Or Zombie.

The Business of Being Boss

Yesterday my husband and I got into a friendly debate* over who's the boss around here: him or me.

*I use the term "debate" loosely because we both totally knew it was me.

He called from his office on speaker phone with one of his colleagues listening in, and said, "Hey, Todd wants to know who's the boss in our house?"

I didn't want to crush his manly visions of king-of-the-castle-ness, especially not in front of his friend. So in my sweetest voice, I just said, "Who do you think is the boss, Honey?" Which made him laugh. And everybody knew without it being said.

I'm no raging feminist. When we had Career Day in my Kindergarten class, I wore my Mary Lou Retton leotard and legwarmers (it was 1985, people) and carried my Cabbage Patch Kid: my career of choice was "aerobics instructor and mom." When I was in high school, I was smart, and my teachers encouraged me to do big things, apply for scholarships, accept internships ... but I met Curtis during my senior year, and only managed to hobble through two years of college before doing what I'd wanted to do in the first place: becoming his wife and making a home for our family. And during our relationship - even though I have shaped a freelance writing career and am actually the "aerobics instructor" I once dreamed of being (minus the leotard and legwarmers) - my primary role, at least in my own mind, has always been keeping this house in order, and everyone in it clean, healthy, and happy. (In fact, I wrote about it a couple of years ago in this post.)


Despite what some might see as a rather archaic outlook on my domestic role, I do not - nor have I ever (not even for one tiny iota of a millisecond) - perceived my husband to be my "boss." I mean, I like to provide him with a nice clean home and a good relationship and a comfortable life - because I love him and I want him to be happy - but not because he expects it, or because it's something I "have" to do. If I'm exhausted (which happens a lot lately), you'd better damn well believe I'm going to sit on my arse and let the laundry and dishes pile up around me, and if I don't feel like cooking, well, he knows where we keep the ramen noodles.

I don't mind calling him the "head of our household." He deserves that title. He works very hard, is the primary breadwinner, and certainly plays a part in making major decisions for the family. But I've never heard my philosophy explained better than by a line in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where the mother says, "The man is the head, but the woman is the neck. She can turn the head any way she wants."

So true, y'all. So true.

Last night, though, while thinking about it further, I realized something: we can debate it until the cows come home, but I'm not really the boss. And neither is Curtis. We may make the financial decisions and keep this joint running smoothly, but there's no doubt who truly runs the place.

The kids.

Sure, we set the ground rules: no snacking before dinner. Bedtime at eight. Use an "inside voice." Don't forget to put the toilet seat down. And speaking of toilets, only certain things go in there. But it's borderline amazing when you think about the vast amount of restructuring and accommodating we, and every other parent, do for our rug-rats.

We have to wake up when they wake up, and can't go to bed until they're asleep. We cook with what they'll eat in mind, and we eat when they're hungry. We have to provide them with clean laundry and a decent meal, no matter how tired we are. Our hobbies and entertainment have to wait until they don't need anything. Every aspect of our lives is structured around their naptimes, their appointments, their preferences, their schedules, their extracurricular activities. They often dictate down to the smallest detail, like when we go to the bathroom - because if you've ever left a small child unoccupied for a few minutes while you take care of bidness, you know that bad things can happen.

So the debate can rage on. You can argue with your significant other all you want about who wears the pants in the family. But when it comes right down to it, the one who wears the pants is the one who wears the diapers.

... Or, you know, the little printed undies.

PS - I'm getting ready to have a GIVEAWAY, y'all! Anybody who likes scrapbooking is gonna love this: a MyMemories Digital Scrapbooking Suite! Just in time to get all those embarrassing holiday photos together.

My Chocolate Inspires Me ... to Eat More.

Last night, on a whim, I bought a bag of (holiday edition, snowflake-shaped) dark chocolate candies. My intention is to stash them in my cabinet and pop a heaping handful one in my mouth every time a craving hits. (Although if we're being honest - I'll probably end up eating most of the bag in one sitting at some point when I'm really bored. Or stressed. Or tired. Or celebrating. I'm an equal-opportunity pigger-outer, y'all.)

They're nice-quality chocolates. Not the cheap waxy kind that I give my kids because they don't know the difference. They're very tasty. I would purchase them again.


They're wrapped in this foil that contains ... inspirational messages on the inside. And they drive. Me. CRAZY. I try not to read them, but it's like cracking open a fortune cookie and not reading your fortune: virtually impossible.

I have nothing against uplifting words or good advice or whatever. But the way these are presented makes me feel like I've landed in the middle of a douche commercial. They're so ... foofoo. Here are a few examples:

Joy to ... you.

Promise yourself a peaceful moment this holiday season.

Make "the season to be jolly" last all year long.

The best holiday decoration is a smile.

Feel the promise of a warm day.

... And so on. In my head I picture them being read by a soft and breathy female voice, while a woman in a fluffy sweater stares out a window into a snowy wonderland while taking a little-bitty bite out of her piece of chocolate (like anybody does that) and then closes her eyes to savor said little-bitty bite with a self-indulgent smile. Thinking about her girly chocolate and her fresh-as-the-snow vagina. You know?

It makes me want to shovel like three pieces into my mouth and chew with it wide open. And then burp without saying "excuse me."

I can't pinpoint exactly why these bug the ever-living crap out of me. Whatever it is, it's along the lines of the way I feel about soap operas (ridiculous), romance novels (cringe-worthy), and any chick-flick involving love stories (predictable and tedious). It's like ... borderline insulting. Like, don't talk to me "that way" just because I'm a woman; some women don't fit that stereotype. I would respond better, take these to heart more, if the same basic messages were phrased in the following straightforward ways:

Don't be a bitch.

It's okay to lock yourself in the closet for some peace and quiet as long as you're not there for over fifteen minutes.

'Tis the season to be jolly, but that doesn't mean you can be a bitch for the rest of the year.

If you smile, no one will notice that your tree looks like crap because the cat won't stay out of it.

Just find a heat lamp and pretend you're in the Caribbean.

And a commercial for this kind of candy would involve an average mom, hunched over a piece of candy trying to open the wrapper as stealthily as possible so shrieks of, "I want one!" and "Can I have a bite?" won't interrupt her mission which is to get the chocolate down her gullet as soon as possible because OMG, she can't wait until the kids go to bed, she has to have it right this minute!

Because to me? That's more realistic. More applicable.

Besides, I don't even own a fluffy sweater.

My Cat Could Write a Better Title

So my cat Thurman sat on my keyboard and began this post with "llllllllllllllnnnnnnnnn," but I erased it in favor of something more eloquent. Although now that I have, I can't really think of a better opener.*

*I mean, if your name is Ellen, my cat's opener is actually pretty awesome.

I also can't find a relevant picture for this post, but I find this one hilarious. You're welcome.

I think part of the reason I can't come up with anything is because my brain is still on the edge of a turkey-(and-other-things)-induced coma from Thanksgiving. I can still technically wear one pair of my pre-pregnancy jeans, but occasions such as holidays call for stretchy-paneled maternity pants. So I busted those suckas out and ate until I fell asleep and then woke up and repeated the whole thing. For like three days straight. (Maybe not quite, but that's what it felt like.)

And then there are the boys, who are constantly draining my energy just by being dudes. Yesterday morning, I was getting ready to leave the house to teach my nine o'clock Zumba class - with only a couple of minutes to spare, mind you - when I realized I hadn't seen Cameron for a few minutes. And the bathroom door was closed. With a sinking feeling, I opened it.

And there he was.

Completely naked, even though I had just dressed him - down to the shoes - moments earlier.

With his bottom half covered with poop.

And a toilet-paper-wrapped turd wedged between his butt cheeks.

And poop smeared on the toilet seat.

And when I staggered backwards out of the bathroom in shock, I just happened to spot his clothes.

Which were laying in a pile on the floor.

Next to two wayward turds, just chillin' on the carpet.

WHAT. the EFF.

Needless to say, I was not happy, and even more unhappy when his only explanation was "Colin was using the toilet and I couldn't get on."

"But we have two toilets!!" I shrieked. My reaction was met with a blank sort of stare.

Anyway, that was a great way to start my morning. And then, after I had cleaned up Cameron and his mess, I was putting coats on everyone when I caught a whiff of another rank smell. Yep, Coby had taken a dump in his diaper. Impeccable timing, that one.

Thank goodness the ladies in my class were understanding when I was like five minutes behind schedule.

Colin, my six-year-old, has been another source of worry altogether. Last Wednesday, he woke up fine - but within a couple of hours, had a low-grade fever. I gave him some Motrin and his fever went away, and stayed away, so I didn't think much of it. Thursday, he was completely fine. When he woke up Friday morning, his face was a little bit swollen, but we were visiting family out-of-state so I thought maybe he was allergic to something there and gave him some antihistamine. The swelling went down for the most part, and he seemed fine. He was fine Saturday. Sunday he complained in the afternoon of not feeling well, but we were in the process of driving home and he sometimes gets carsick, so I chalked it up to that. When he woke up Monday morning he was fine - but just before the end of the school day, I got a call from the school nurse saying he was in her office with a fever. I picked him up and brought him home, and as soon as he laid down on the couch his face started to swell again. This time it didn't go down.

So the next morning, Curtis took Colin to the doctor to get to the bottom of all this weirdness. There were blood and protein in his urine. After extensive testing, the official diagnosis was post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis. Basically, he had - at some point unknown to us - a strep infection that went untreated, and it ended up affecting his kidneys. He's on antibiotics and a diuretic, and being closely monitored by his pediatrician (three visits this week alone), and the prognosis for complete recovery is good.

But OMG, y'all. Don't I feel like Mother of the Year ... my poor baby had a strep infection and I didn't even frickin' know. And even when he was exhibiting the first symptoms of his post-strep glomer-whatever-it-is, I kept brushing them off or attributing them to other things. Ugh. (Take a moment to feel awesome about your own parenting. I'll wait.) Thank goodness the damage to his kidneys isn't permanent, or I would never forgive myself. Now I'm going to be one of those moms whose kid sneezes and I'm all, "Uh-oh, let's make you an appointment."

Oh yeah: and this evening, between bath time and diaper, Coby peed ... in the heater vent.

Anyway, that's what I've been up to: honing my fabulous maternal skillz. And going insane, one brain cell at a time. What have you been doing lately?

Giving Thanks for my Guys

I'm thankful for my dudes. Not the legions of them lined up outside my door hoping to get a glimpse of my smokin' hotness (oh wait, that's the trash man and the meter reader), but the ones that are presently destroying my house in the process of simply being themselves.

Right now, one is naked except for a hooded hippopotamus towel and a dragon hand puppet, and he's running around the house calling himself "Super Hicko."

One is using coffee filters (swiped stealthily from the kitchen cabinet) to draw and write on. Things like, "Leishmaniasis is caused by a parasite" and pictures of mountains with smiley faces and unibrows. He's using the coffee filters because he has already used up every other available scrap of paper in this house. He is also naked.

One is wearing a diaper on his butt, an oven mitt on his hand, and a stainless-steel mixing bowl on his head, bellowing "I fire-man!" through a tube-shaped vacuum attachment.

And all of them have painted toenails, because while I was painting mine the other day, they asked if they could have theirs painted too. Although they insisted on blue because "it's a boy color."

They're a mess: literally and figuratively. And I gripe ... a lot. Because sometimes - okay, most of the time - being their mom is a dirty, exhausting, and largely thankless job. I deal with poop and clogged toilets and flooded sinks and "experiments" gone wrong and squabbles and knock-down drag-out fights and embarrassing questions and crumbs and stickiness and smudges and mud and unidentifiable crusty smears on my clothing.

But I'm thankful. So thankful. As hard and as frustrating as it can be, I wouldn't have it any other way. The richness and color they bring to my life is immeasurable, even at their most mischievous. And the joy I feel seeing them just being brothers - or watching the love and pride in my husband's eyes as he interacts with them - far surpasses any feelings I ever had before they came along.

I'm thankful, too, for the new life growing inside me. Yes, it's going to be even more crazy and hectic around here - but this new little person is also going to add another layer of happiness and love. Another facet to the sparkling jewel of family.

So here's to the catastrophic clutter and monumental messes. The tattling tales and the super-exaggerated stories. Because they're just a by-product of something special that, no matter how much I complain, I wouldn't trade for anything.

Now that I'm finished being sappy (hormones, maybe?), it's time to break out the stretchy pants - 'cause I'm fixin' to do the other thing that preggos do best: put away some mass quantities of food! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


So this morning I was in a hurry to get the kids ready so we could take Colin to school. I am always more than half-tempted to just take the little ones in their PJ's, but then there's that little voice in the back of my head that says, "The day that you don't properly dress your kids will be the day that the Jeep will break down and you'll have to walk or something." So I dress everyone, complete with shoes and coats, every single morning.*

*Never mind that I myself am usually wearing pajama pants and a ratty T-shirt and unbrushed hair and forget my bra at least 50% of the time.

Curtis's alarm had gone off at 4:30 this morning. But instead of hitting snooze (like he normally does no fewer than 1,267 times) he just turned it off. Which meant he actually got out of bed at like 6:30 ... thirty minutes before he is supposed to be at work ... which is a twenty-minute drive away.

So consequently, he was all, "I'm sorry, but could you take the dogs out since I'm running late?"

And I was like, "Sure, I'll take the dogs out. It doesn't matter that I have an hour to prepare breakfast and make sure three children are fed and dressed and at least the school-aged one is publicly presentable. I'll be glad to stand outside in the cold rain waiting on the dogs who have to sniff for at least fifteen minutes and then turn in a hundred circles before they decide on a place to pee."

Okay, so really I was like, "I guess so," in a pointedly huffy voice, but that's what I was thinking.

Anyway, my point is, I was strapped for time this morning. So when it was time to leave, I hurriedly ushered the kids into their coats. I'm a stickler for them hanging their coats on the rack every time they take them off, yet Colin's was on the floor. It seems like he's the only one who ever has an issue with forgetting to hang his; even Coby, my two-year-old, has picked up the habit. So I launched into my normal tirade about how Colin's coat isn't where it should be. He scowled as he scooped it up off the floor and put it on.

"Why is it wet?" he complained.

"Because it was on the floor, that's why!" I groused. "It's raining outside, and I'm sure when I came in this morning from taking the dogs out, I probably stepped on it with my wet shoes or something. If it had been on the hook, where it's supposed to be ..."

"But it's pee!" he whined.

"Colin. It is not pee. I'm sure it's rainwater. Now grab your backpack and come on!"

"But Mommy ... it's pee!" he whimpered, squirming.

"GRAB your BACKPACK," I bellowed. "We're going to be late!"

"But smell it!" he implored.

Exasperated, I yanked the coat right off him and sniffed. And OMG! He was right! It was wet with pee!

I don't know who decided to take a whiz in the middle of Colin's coat. It's rather a mystery, much like the time someone peed on my pillow. Coby is a distinct possibility, as he has taken to whipping off his diaper and running around half-naked. If I were a betting woman, however, I'd say it was probably our pug Destiny, who has this terrible habit of holding her pee for hours, not going when we take her outside even though we wait forever, and then peeing somewhere in the house. And when she does pee inside, she pees on something: a blanket on the floor, a piece of the kids' clothing, a stuffed animal. Then of course there are the cats, who I don't think pee anywhere but their litter box, but then ... animals are freaking stealthy.

Anyway. Colin's coat was saturated with piss, and we were on the verge of lateness. Fun!

Luckily, he and Cameron are close to the same size, and so he wore Cameron's coat to school (which he didn't mind one bit, because he's always griping that he likes Cameron's coat better anyway). And now the disgusting pee-coat is in the wash.

Maybe he'll hang it up from now on ...


It's almost Thanksgiving, and I am like literally counting down the hours until I'm able to partake in the turkey-day feast at my parents' house. I fantasize about Thanksgiving dinner the way obsessed Twi-hards fantasize about sparkly vampires: relentlessly, unceasingly, so-much-it's-kinda-creepy. 

I love my family's Thanksgiving in part because it's so varied. We have the traditional turkey - a 25-pound behemoth my mom gets up at 4 am to put in the oven - and the necessary trimmings: homemade noodles, gravy, rolls, stuffing, green bean casserole, and all that. I'm making my specialty, sauteed Brussels sprouts with caramelized onions, bacon, and cranberries (don't make that face, it's DELICIOUS, y'all). And speaking of cranberries, there's always the requisite can of congealed cranberry jiggle (aka "cranberry sauce") that inevitably gets forgotten in the fridge until after dinner is over.

On top of all that, though, my big brother Steve just happens to be married to a wonderful woman (and a wonderful cook) named Arunporn, who just happens to be from Thailand, and who just HAPPENS to contribute the most scrumptious and yummy Thai dishes to our feast every year. Because really, what Thanksgiving without some Asian food on the table? This year she's making tom yum (a spicy and sour soup), som tam (spicy papaya salad), and egg rolls.

We'll eat, talk about poop and zombies and make fun of each other, and spend the rest of the afternoon a.) huddled around someone's laptop looking at dumb videos on YouTube, b.) lounging in a food-induced stupor on various couches, chairs, and beds, and/or c.) engaging in a rousing game of Garbage Catch, wherein we throw things to each other as hard as we can in hopes that the catcher will fumble and drop whatever item it is: i.e., a "garbage catch." (Last year it was a stuffed bus that said "Office Depot" on the side and honked on impact.) 

My family is, like, sooooo cultured and cosmopolitan.

I can't wait.

The only thing that bugs me about this time of year is all the magazine and news features I'm reading about tips to avoid overeating on Thanksgiving. 


I appreciate the need to be healthy and skinny and all that, but y'all? Thanksgiving is for overeating. Isn't it? Have I been wrong all these years? I fully plan to eat until I groan about how stuffed I am, then throw some stuff at my siblings until I digest a little bit, then eat some more. Thai food, traditional Thanksgiving food, I want it all. IN. MY. BELLY.

Anyway, gotta load up on energy for Black Friday shopping, right?


Just Change Your Own Diaper!

I can't wait until my kids are old enough to, like, get themselves ready and make their own breakfast and stuff. Right now, I have no choice but to jump right out of bed in the morning. Not only are the boys not old enough to (sufficiently, without a fiasco) take care of their own basic needs, they can't even really be trusted to hang around the house while I lounge around half-asleep for a few extra minutes. Because when that happens, there are almost always incidents with toilet paper or permanent markers or forks or pretzels. Or all of the above.

This has been especially difficult lately because I've had some issues with morning sickness. Nothing too severe, but enough to make me feel like not getting up the second my eyes pop open. As a result, I've been feeling insanely jealous of people whose kids are of an age where they can wake up and fend for themselves. You know, at least fix their own cereal and whatnot.

Yes, I realize that Colin is six years old, and that he could probably - if I'd let him - pour his own cereal. The problem is, I know that would involve climbing on the counters and scaling the front of the fridge to get a gallon of milk that will inevitably be too heavy for his scrawny little bird-arms to manage and it would result in a milky mess all over my floor and at almost $4 a gallon, milk is too expensive to risk wasting like that, y'all. Plus then that would mean that not only would I have to get up, but I'd have to get up and mop. And make the cereal anyway. And even if Colin could successfully manage to get himself some cereal, there's the issue of his two little brothers who, at three and two, are NOT nearly old enough to obtain their own breakfast. But they would think that since big brother did it, they surely should be allowed to do it too. Which would equal an automatic disaster.

It's not even just that, though. Do you ever fantasize that your kids are old enough to, like, be left at home while you just run somewhere real quick? The other night we ran into Curtis's boss and his wife without their kids and they were all, "We just snuck out for a while and left the kids at home, tee hee" and I was secretly harboring some INSANE jealousy because their children are old enough for that to be an option. I don't remember the last time I just went somewhere with Curtis, by ourselves, without having to pin down some childcare first. And usually? It's expensive.

Also? It would be so nice to, say, run to the store without having to ensure that three (soon-to-be four!) children are properly dressed and acceptably clean, with shoes, and herding them into the car and buckling them into carseats and booster seats and listening to Veggie Tales CDs (thanks a bucket, Chick-Fil-A) all the way to the store and then getting them out and piling them into a cart while threatening them within an inch of their lives if they misbehave and managing them all throughout the store and fielding "I wants" and "can I haves" left and right and then doing it all over again - only with groceries - on the way home.  

Of course, all this is a moot point ... a pipe dream ... a fantasy that will not see the light of reality for, oh, another eight or ten years at a minimum. (Well, the "leaving them home" part, anyway). At least I have the ray of hope that within the next three or four years, I won't have to wipe anybody's butt any more.

I know everyone says I'll miss it when they actually are old enough to be independent (perhaps not the butt-wiping, but their little-kidhood in general). But man, it sure does sound awesome from here ...

It's Not a Party Without Jell-O!

At two o'clock this morning, I was standing in front of the open refrigerator in my pajamas, shoveling canned pineapple chunks into my mouth as fast as I could. With my fingers.

I know ... sexy.

Anyway, I was reading the back of the pineapple can and the many glorious serving suggestions it offered, like "Try a deliciously easy fruit salad!" and "Make it special with pineapple kabobs!" (whatever "it" is).

And then there was this:

It says, "Entertain the crowd with gelatin desserts."

If you ask me - which nobody did, but I'm giving my opinion anyway -  gelatin desserts aren't exactly entertaining. I mean, I've never recieved an invitation that read, "Come to Suzy's gelatin-dessert-poking party! We'll watch gelatin jiggle all night long!" I've never seen someone walk up to a buffet table, gasp at the gelatin dessert and say, "There's pineapple in it!" and proceed to call all their friends over for a look at this amazing phenomenon.

The pineapple peeps could have worded it a little better. "Please the crowd," perhaps. Or "Tickle the crowd's taste buds." Or even "Liven up your gelatin desserts."

But entertain? That's stretching it. The only way gelatin desserts could possibly be classified as "entertaining" is if there were nudity and a pool involved.

But that's a whole other blog post.

I'm Sew Clueless

So ... I have a sewing machine now.

It belonged to my grandma. My grandma who sewed my wedding dress without a pattern, just by looking at a picture from a magazine. My grandma who supplied countless years' worth of doll clothes and Halloween costumes for me. My grandma who, unfortunately, did not seem to pass her mad sewing skillz on to me.

I can't explain why I wanted the sewing machine in the first place. Me having a sewing machine is like a remote Amazonian tribesman having a cell phone: neither of us know what the hell to do with this contraption. But I have this vague idea in my head that I'm going to, like, sew stuff. Like maybe ... a baby quilt? Or ... a placemat? 

Okay, I've got to be honest. I actually have fantasies ("fantasies" being the key word here) about discovering some kind of latent talent buried deep within, and whipping up all these fancy things. Being as crafty as my bloggy friend Kim and making awesome stuff like this.

But in reality? I'm the girl who got a D in my high school Home Economics class. I once tried to hem up the legs of a Halloween costume for Colin, and he ended up with cow-print capri pants. I also tried to hem a plaid skirt, and ended up with a hoo-ha baring schoolgirl number that looked like something I picked up from an adult store. And in the process of sewing up a hole in Curtis's jeans once, I accidentally stitched part of the pocket shut. So you see? I don't know what I think I'm doing, but I'm pretty sure it's going to be disastrous. At least initially.

Right now, the sewing machine is still intimidating me from its box. But soon, I'll get the courage to get it out and take it for a test-sew. Any advice from you crafties out there? Where should I start?

I hope I don't sew my finger to something. That would really suck. But it would also be unsurprising.

When Mom's Away ...

So last night when I came home from the gym, the first thing Colin says to me is, "Mommy, Coby pooped on the floor!" He pointed to a dim corner of the living room, where there appeared to be a lone turd just chillin' on the carpet.

I couldn't say I was surprised (which is actually pretty sad when you think about it), but I was irritated. After all, it's not like I'd left them here to fend for themselves. There was an adult present. So where was said adult while all this carpet-pooping was going on?

"Where's Daddy?" I demanded.

Before I could get an answer from the kids, Curtis came strolling casually out of our bedroom.

I pointed accusingly at the turd from across the room. "Uh, Coby pooped on the floor?" It was posed as a simple question, but really, it was "where the hell were you when all this was going on and why in the name of all that is holy did you wait for me to come home and clean it the eff up?"

Curtis just glanced at the turd and let out a chuckle and a shrug. "Heh. Well, he was running around without a diaper for a few minutes." And then, instead of being like, "Sorry about that - I'll clean it up," he just walked in the opposite direction. Like he wasn't going to do anything about it.

Time for a tirade.

"So you were aware of this, right?" I shrieked as I headed for the paper towels. "I mean, I'm sure Colin said something, didn't he? So you just ... left it for me to take care of?" I angrily yanked a few off the roll. "Because Mom takes care of all the nasty stuff, right? I can't believe that nobody in this house but me is capable of cleaning up messes." I stomped indignantly over to the poop. "It's one thing for you not to prevent it in the first place, but then to just leave it here for me ... to ..."

Wait a second. Something was weird.

I switched on the lamp.

The hysterical laughter from my boys and my husband alike confirmed my suspicion: it wasn't poop at all! It was a toilet paper tube, dampened and torn up and pressed back together into a turd-like shape.

Apparently, when there are a bunch of dudes alone in your house, they watch videos like this on YouTube:

... And then decide to test it out on poor unsuspecting Mom.

Why do I have the feeling it will only get worse from here on out?

The Poo-Shoe Blues

I just drove Colin to school. Late. With poop all over my shoe.

We were late because I had trouble getting out of bed, because this "morning sickness" thing - which is actually more like "morning-and-then-whenever-the-hell-else-it-feels-like-striking" sickness - is kicking my ass a little bit lately. And it seems like on the mornings when I try to jump out of bed the second my eyes pop open, my stomach is all, "Oh no you don't!" So I try to wait and just lay there a little bit, because sometimes - occasionally - that seems to help.

So this morning was one of those difficult mornings. Thank goodness it isn't a day when I have a 9 a.m. Zumba class to teach ... those are the hardest. Ick. Anyway, I managed to crawl out of bed almost twenty minutes behind schedule. When that happens, I only have time to get the boys ready, which means I drive to school in my pajamas, praying the whole way that I don't get in a fender-bender or have car trouble of some sort.

I was so behind this morning that I didn't even have time for shoes and socks. So I slipped on my mowing shoes, which were on standby in the garage. They look pretty much like these:
Except picture them, like, old. And covered with grass stains. And caked with dried poo. Because yesterday, when I mowed my yard for probably the final time this year, I stepped in the granddaddy of all piles. I mean seriously. I think it was pterodactyl poop. And while normally I can avoid stepping in poop while mowing, or at least just graze the perimeter of a turd, I wasn't so lucky yesterday. I stepped squarely in the center of this massive dump, and it squished up on both sides of my shoe. Yes, I spent the next fifteen minutes dragging my foot on the grass in an attempt to clean it off (I probably looked like Quasimodo mowing my lawn), but there's only so much cleaning grass can do. Then by the time I finished, I had to get in the house because Curtis was heading to work, so I didn't have time to give them a proper poo-purging.

So anyway. Here I was, loading the kids into the car, in my pajamas (a thin gray Adidas t-shirt and highwater workout pants and grungy mowing shoes, no socks). I got everybody buckled in and pulled out of the driveway. And then it hit me.

The smell.

Even dried dog poop stinks to high heaven, apparently. And when you're already battling morning sickness, and even normally-pleasant smells can send you into a fit of nausea, the aroma of poop is not your friend.

"What's that stink?" Colin demanded.

"I ... think there's ... poop on my shoe," I said, my throat constricting into a series of gags.

Please don't throw up please don't throw up please don't throw up please don't throw up

I gagged all the way to the school and back, y'all. When I pulled up to drop Colin off it was all I could do not to boot him out of the Jeep while it was still moving (and tell him to take my poopy shoes and deposit them in the nearest trash can). Thank goodness I managed to hold it together and not hurl all over my steering wheel.

Next time? I'll just be late.


American Picker

There are sooooo many places on the human body that little boys can put their fingers into, y'all. And except for a few (very) rare circumstances, nearly all of those places are socially unacceptable. And finger placement in pretty much 100% of those places requires a ridiculous amount of hand washing/hand sanitizer.

Lucky for me, my kids do not put their fingers in their pants in public. (The story is different at home because, well, they hardly wear pants when they're here - I'm inadvertantly raising nudists, I swear.) But my three-year-old, Cameron? His finger has taken up permanent residence in his nose.

Well, when it's not traveling. To his mouth.


He's always been more of a natural nose-picker than the rest of my kids, even as a little bitty thing. But lately his index finger is almost perpetually rooted knuckle-deep in the recesses of his schnoz. See following photos for confirmation:

Attempt #1 at a decent picture of myself and the dudes ... 

... and attempt #2. Mission FAIL.

So what's the logical thing to do when someone's picking their nose? Hand them a tissue, right? Right. But if you've been reading the Frump for long, you know that if you give Cameron a tissue ... he'll eat it. Obviously that isn't the best solution here. Consequently, I've admonished, reminded and scolded until I'm blue in the face. Threatened. Pleaded. Bribed. Made up some fantastically elaborate tale about how your fingers put germs in your nose and the germs attack your blood cells and make you contagious and then you make the whole town sick just by picking your nose so if you stop doing it you'll prevent the germs from spreading and thereby that makes you, like, some kind of superhero.

Or something.

But regardless of the 1,247 methods I've tried to get the nose-mining to come to a halt, NOTHING IS WORKING. My ineffectiveness is pathetic. Cameron is the most persistent picker I know, as though it were a career and he's climbing the corporate ladder. I only hope his dedication to work is someday as strong as his current dedication to acquainting himself with the inside of his nose.

I'm thinking about taping his index and middle fingers together so they're too big to fit in his nose.*

*I'm just kidding. **

**I think.

Is your kid (or, hell, yourself) a reformed nose-picker? I need a surefire way to break this habit before he's walking across the stage at his high school graduation with a finger in his nostril!

Am I Up "Four" the Challenge?

Thanks for all the well-wishes on the last post, y'all! It feels weird to be pregnant again, because I honestly thought that my chances for another baby were slim to none, and getting slimmer as time progressed. (Don't tell my husband, but I was actually getting used to the idea of just having my three dudes.) It had gotten to the point where I'd actually encouraged Curtis, multiple times, to call for an appointment to get the big "snip-snip" per our earlier agreement. If I had a dollar for every time I said, "If we're done having kids, you'd better schedule that vasectomy" ... well, we could afford a fourth child. Hehe.

It's good, though. I'm so over-the-top excited! So is Curtis, which helps. He might have sometimes acted like another kid would be nothing short of a crisis, but the way his face lit up in a smile when he heard the news, I can officially and undeniably say he's happy about it.

I can't help but wonder, though, how in the HELL I'm going to adjust to FOUR CHILDREN. I kinda remember feeling this way when I was pregnant with Coby, but that was three and this is four. F-O-U-R!!!!! I have my doubts because sometimes - okay, most of the time - I feel like I'm halfway inept at handling the ones I already have.

Like yesterday morning, five minutes before I was scheduled to leave the house to make my nine o'clock Zumba class on time. I was putting my shoes on in the bedroom when apparently Cameron and Coby decided that our fish were hungry, and therefore needed the entire bottle of fish food dumped into their water. So with absolutely zero time to spare, I was forced to remedy the situation via the most frantic fish-water change in the history of the world. I probably still smelled like fish when I showed up to Zumba.

I'm almost positive sometimes that the kids and the pets secretly conspire to drive me insane. Last night was a prime example. Number one, I was jolted from sleep by the sound of our pug, Destiny, licking her lips repeatedly - which can, in my experience, only mean one thing: vomit. I thought she was getting ready to hurl, so I tossed her off the bed (where she feels entitled to sleep) and crouched next to her in the dark, holding a piece of dirty laundry under her mouth. (Hey, better that than the carpet, right?) She stopped the lip-smacking, though, so I thought I was wrong. Until I got back into the bed and laid right on top of something cold and squishy. Yep: she'd barfed BEFORE I threw her off the bed. And I? Was touching it.

There's nothing like middle-of-the-night laundry.

Incident number two happened roughly an hour later, when Cameron - who is completely potty-trained by day and only occasionally pees during the night - wet the bed. He'd been wearing a Pull-Up when he went to sleep, but had mysteriously removed it at some point. And of course, it was after that point when he decided he needed to pee. All over the sheets and comforter that I had just washed the day before.

More middle-of-the-night laundry.

And speaking of pee, The Fetus is definitely in on the conspiracy even at this young age. Because he or she is directly responsible for why I need to wake up an extra 2,177 times per night to go to the bathroom. But I guess it's only going to get worse from here on out for a while: first the huge uncomfortable sleeplessness of late pregnancy, and then the mind-numbing, did-I-just-drool-on-myself fatigue that accompanies a newborn.

With stuff like this happening on a regular basis - finding a whole (soggy) roll of toilet paper clogging up the bathroom sink, discovering a frozen-solid Elmo toy in the freezer (which means he was wet when he went in, and I don't even want to know why), taking my two-year-old to the emergency room because he was climbing on the counters and fell off and hurt his elbow, realizing that someone pooped but didn't wipe - I'm pretty sure I'm more than slightly in for it once I add another little mischief-maker to the mix.

I lost three blog followers when I announced that I'm expecting #4. They were probably like, "Damn, this is gonna be a train wreck. I can't bear to watch!"

Adventures in Never-Land

We've all got one: a list of things we swore we'd never do, yet ended up doing anyway.

I clearly remember thinking that boys were so gross and that I would never in a million years kiss one. I didn't care what the grownups said ... kissing was disgusting. And then poof - I was in first grade and getting in trouble at recess for chasing my crush du jour down, tackling him, and laying a big wet smooch right on his smacker. What?? I've always been a girl who knows how to get what she wants by use of excessive force.

I said I'd never be a neat freak like my mom. Because *insert teenage girl voice here* like, ohmigawd, I wanna have a life and not be all anal about how clean the house is all the time. *eye roll* Yet here I sit, a real live adult, staring with dismay at a sink full of dirty dishes and an overflowing laundry basket and only wishing I wasn't psychologically tortured by their presence.

I said I'd never wear big underwear. And though I won't elaborate (you're welcome), sometimes big underwear is a necessity.

I swore I would never try grits because ewwwww. And then I tasted a teeny bit of them and seriously? I swear that at this point cheese grits are singly responsible for at least seventeen pounds of weight gain. Heaven on a spoon, y'all.

I vowed that after potty-training a two-year-old, dealing with an infant in diapers, and housebreaking a puppy - all at the same time - that one dog was enough. And then Destiny intervened ... literally.

Before I had kids, I had a whole repertoire of superior parenting skills mapped out. They'd eat nothing but organic, well-balanced meals. I'd limit their TV. I'd only use positive reinforcement. But right now? My kids are crusted with brownie batter and watching Ratatouille. For the second time today. Because I'm too tired to yell at them.

Yes, sometimes there are things that just ruffle your best-laid plans. But, you know, in a good way. If I had stuck to my guns about kissing, I'd be in like a convent somewhere. If I hadn't tried grits, I'd be seven pounds lighter never know the pleasure of a hot, comforting bowl on a cold day.

Which is why, although I said I was never going to have more than three children, I can't be upset about this:

Yep. It's a pregnancy test. A positive pregnancy test - one of a million that I've taken just to be sure. (And no, I'm not dirty, that's cocoa powder on my fingers. Don't ask). Baby #4 is due June 8th, 2012 ... the day after Colin's seventh birthday. We are totally surprised (for a hot second I thought I may have gotten pregnant from a toilet seat or something), but completely happy.

Never say never: it's more than a Justin Bieber song.

Well Isn't That Thumb-thing?

For my birthday, Vince, my male BFF - which I guess makes him my boyfriend although not in an extramarital way - gave me a mandoline slicer. He knows I'm a nerd lover of kitchen gadgets, and also a person who is unreasonably anal very particular about the uniformity of my vegetable slices. He probably chose this particular gift because he volunteered to slice up some onions at my place over 4th of July weekend and I stood over him like a drill sergeant and was all, "A little thinner. No no, not that thin." I'm sure it was at that moment when, in his head, he was probably like, "Eff this. I'm getting her a slicer for her birthday."

Anyway, my birthday slicer looks pretty much like this one:

I am not kidding when I say that I use this thing nearly every day. I'll find an excuse just to use it. And aside from slicing veggies, I've gotten a little more creative with it - like trying to shred up cooked chicken breasts and stuff.*

*Note to self: some things work better than others.

Anyway. You know how you know better than to do something, but you do it anyway because you've done it before and so far have never experienced any ill effects from it? Like putting the bottle of nail polish beside me on the carpet while I'm sitting on the floor painting my toenails. Or letting my kids carry my iPhone around even though I know they're, like, using it to videotape the toilet flushing and stuff. Logically I know that there will someday be consequences to these irresponsible actions: a big polish stain on my carpet or a crapper full of Apple. But yet I continue to flirt with danger.

(Yes, I'm totally going somewhere with this. I promise.)

So do you see the little doohickey (that's the technical term) on top of the mandoline slicer, the thing that looks like a hat? Yeah. It's a thingy that you pierce into the veggie you're slicing, so you don't have to hold it with your hand and risk slicing more than the veggie. But I? Don't use it very often. Because clearly I am an advanced user of kitchen gadgets with no need for extra protection. I don't wear a floaty when I jump into a pool, and I don't use the slicer-hat when I use the mandoline slicer. I'm hardcore, y'all.

Except for yesterday. When I was slicing up this one onion.

It was crooked. And I was trying to get it straight. And I thought I had enough onion between my fingers and the blade. But apparently my mad culinary skillz took a temporary leave of absence. Kind of like this: slice, slice, slice, slice, slice, slice, sliiiiiice.

I stopped slicing and had what is best described an as oh, shit moment: those few suspended milliseconds before the pain begins, when you know you've done something to yourself but you're almost afraid to look. Then I looked. And there was blood. Thank goodness I was standing right beside the sink because I was able to hold it over the basin just as it started dripping. Then I stupidly ran water over it, which brought the pain from virtually nonexistant to OMFGsonofabitch!!!!*

*Curse words are totally appropriate in situations such as these.

Y'all? I had literally sliced a piece off the side of my thumb. There it sat on the slicer, a sickly-looking shade of gray, ready to drop down into the onion pile. Blood was running down my hand and wrist and I was trying to rinse it off. I grabbed a few paper towels and pressed them to my thumb, although a dry paper towel on an open wound feels no better than running water. I immediately felt lightheaded.

Curtis makes fun of me. He says I'm a wimp. Maybe he's right - but I can't help it. I have busted my front teeth to powder. I have given birth to three children. I've donated blood. But never, ever have any of those things made me feel as yucky as I do when I cut myself.

It took forever to get the sliced spot to quit bleeding. It just kept bleeding through the paper towels, so I wrapped a Bandaid tightly around it, hoping the pressure and the non-stick pad would help. Then I watched as blood oozed over the top. Finally, after what seemed like forever, it seemed to slack off - and even though I was wearing a crusty bandage, I didn't dare remove it.

Fast-forward to this morning, when I woke up. I looked down at my thumb - which still hurts like a mo-fo, by the way - and the Bandaid was, like, black. Dried blood had crusted under my thumbnail. It just looked like a disgusting mess. "It's been long enough to have sealed over by now," I thought. "I'll just clean it up a bit."

So I peeled the Bandaid off. And the blood just started dripping. Dripdripdripdrip, like I'd turned on an effing faucet. Ugh. Seriously?? So I was making a mess all over my bathroom. And then came the inevitable feeling in the pit of my stomach - but it was much, much worse than yesterday.

Please please please please please don't pass out, I pleaded silently with my body. You're here alone with the kids. They'll be scared. Just suck it up. But my vision started swimming. My head felt light. I was dangerously close to throwing up. Suddenly, I was drenched in a cold sweat - like, my hair was literally plastered to my forehead and my shirt was damp. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and all the color had drained from my face - even my lips were nearly colorless. It was weird.

And my kids were all, "Mommy? We haven't had breakfast yet ..."

I wandered around the house, trying to breathe deeply and laying on any cool surface I could find. It was the only thing that helped. (Well, that and the vision of Colin running to get my neighbors, and them seeing my braless, hairy-legged, pajama-clad body all splayed out on the floor.) I was finally able to start feeling more normal, but my little episode had taken over twenty minutes out of my morning routine, so I was running behind. Then I had to help three kids get ready without the assistance of my thumb. You don't realize how often you use your thumb until it's out of commission. It was hard, y'all. Even so, Colin was only about three minutes later than usual arriving at school - but I was still braless and in my PJs, praying it would be an uneventful trip to the elementary and back.

Anyway, I managed to get another Bandaid wrapped around my thumb. Like the first one, it's saturated with blood, but I'm not taking the stupid thing off - at least not until Curtis is home. Because now Colin, the only one old enough to be halfway helpful if I lost consciousness, is at school. So if I passed out, Cameron and Coby would probably be like, "Whee! Mommy's on the floor, let's jump on her!"

If Curtis makes fun of me for being a wimp, I'll just stop trying to fight it and throw up on him and then faint. We'll see who's laughing then!

Anybody else get like this when you're injured, or is it just me??

What Do You Mean, "Mean?"

Credit to Adam Zyglis for this realistic depiction of mean moms everywhere.

Apparently I'm the meanest mother to ever walk the face of the earth. My boys are so abused that it's a wonder they function normally - at least according to them, and their latest (irritating) phase: "You're mean!"
Even the baby, in his two years of infinite life experience, has deemed me as such.

I hear it at least twenty times a day, and that's absolutely no exaggeration. We're out of fruit snacks? I'm mean. They have to wear pants to go outside? I'm mean. They can't make the dogs "cereal" by floating kibbles of dog food in the water bowl? I'm mean.

I understand that they get all pissed off when they can't stay up past their bedtime, or have dessert without touching their dinner, or eat four popsicles in a row. I get it. That's the injustice of being a kid, and I clearly remember being just as miffed at my mom when she vetoed certain activities. I guess when you've never seen true meanness, those are the types of things that seem horribly unfair.


When it rained the other day? I was mean. My rampant "meanness" gets blamed for a ridiculous variety of things. I had to wake the baby up from his nap in order to make it to pick Colin up from school on time - and what did Coby say? In his sleepiest voice, eyes barely open: "You're mean."


I suppose I should be thankful that my kids have little to no experience with honest-to-goodness mean behavior at this point. But y'all? If they keep this persistent "you're mean" business up for much longer, I may actually prove them right.

Smoke Signals

If there's one thing I can't stand, it's cigarette smoke. The taste, the smell, the general yuckity grossness. Unfortunately, I live with a smoker. Yep, you guessed it: the baby. Coby smokes like a fiend, kinda like that Indonesian toddler Ardi Rizal (remember him?).

Ahahaha! I'm just kidding, y'all. Of course the baby doesn't smoke. He's too busy clogging up the toilet with random non-toilet-friendly items, and filling up diapers with stuff that actually SHOULD go in the toilet.

I do live with a smoker, though. Curtis has smoked at least a half-pack a day throughout the entire fourteen years that I've known him. Back when it was just the two of us, he'd tell me that as soon as I got pregnant, he'd quit smoking.

... Um, hello? Three kids later? Still lighting up. Granted, he does it exclusively outside now, but still.

I'm not on too much of a high horse here. I've tried smoking, myself. First when I was like nine, and my cousin stole some of her dad's cigarettes and we "smoked" (i.e., pretended to inhale a la Bill Clinton) on the way to school. (Yes, Mom and Aunt Judy, this is probably the first time you've heard about this, but don't freak because we turned out okay. Right? ... RIGHT??) I tried again in high school, when my BFF Betsy smoked and was like the coolest person EVER and I wanted to be just like her right down to the Marlboro Lights. Only they made me lightheaded and gave me a sick, dizzy feeling - and who can look cool while they're trying not to hurl all over their best friend's car?

I just never got the appeal of it. And now that I'm all grown up and a certifiable nonsmoker, I'm glad. I'm not burdened with a habit that is expensive stinky, expensive health-harming, expensive teeth-yellowing, and expensive!! restrictive. I don't have to go crazy on a long flight or car trip because I'm craving a cigarette. I don't have to search for a section in a restaurant where I can smoke, or spend forever looking for a "designated area." It's pretty nice, y'all.

All these reasons are why I hope my kids never take up the habit. But even at this age, they want to be just like their daddy - and they mimic him every chance they get (like the other day when Coby was fussing and Cameron told him to "lock it up").

So the other evening, after our older boys had gone to bed, Curtis went outside to sit on the front porch and have a cigarette. Coby wanted to follow him, and it was nice out, so I let him go. I peered out the window to witness the sweet bonding session between Daddy and his baby: just the two of them sitting on the steps, talking, pointing at things. But then I realized that while, yes, Coby was bonding with his dad, he was also watching his unhealthy habit. Absorbing everything like a sponge - and I don't just mean secondhand smoke.

Which was more important: the two of them having a "moment," or Coby not seeing Daddy smoke? It was one of those impossible toss-ups, but I ended up letting Coby stay outside. It's rare that either of us get many quiet moments with just one of our boys at a time. Still, it almost felt like their bonding came at a cost. Maybe I'm being overdramatic, but hey, I'm a mom. We're good at that.

Do you smoke - or does your significant other? Do your kids see it?  



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