Being the badass that I am, it's only natural that I'm all tatted up.*

*By "badass" I mean the kind of person that avoids confrontation at all costs. And by "all tatted up" I mean I have two tattoos, each barely bigger than the size of a quarter.

In the "after picture" I recently posted, someone noticed the top of one of my tattoos and asked if it was a cat. No, it isn't (thank goodness) but it's something pretty similarly cheesy: a butterfly. Here's a photo of it ... keep in mind that it's blurry because I took it myself and, well, have you ever tried to take a pic of your own boob with a phone?

... Don't answer that.

I have several problems with this tattoo. Number one, it's a damn butterfly, which is about the most generic ink you can possibly get. It means nothing significant to me, I just chose it out of the big book at the tattoo place because I thought it looked neat. I got this tattoo when I was sixteen and I thought it'd be cool to be able to show my boob a little bit.

... I know. Don't judge.

The second problem is that at least part of it shows whenever I wear something even a teeny bit low-cut. That was cool when I was an unruly boob-flashing teenager; not so much when I had to make sure my wedding dress was high enough to conceal it, or when I want to wear a V-neck to my husband's company dinner, or things like that. I mean, there are times when I don't mind showing it, and times when I do. The older I get, it seems the more I mind.

And that's probably due to the third and biggest problem. When I got the tattoo, I barely even had any boobage, so the butterfly was in perfect shape. But now, after three children, breastfeeding, years of cheap unsupportive bras, and literally hundreds of pounds lost and gained? Yeah. My once-cute little butterfly is now more like a pterodactyl. I predict that by the time I'm eighty, its wingspan will reach my belly button.

My other tattoo is pretty much equally stupid. It's a shamrock on the inside of my right ankle that I got at the ripe old age of eighteen. You know, when I was a grown-up.

I got it on the inside of my ankle as opposed to the outside because it was fleshier, and I was thinking it would hurt less. The shamrock is to celebrate my Irish heritage. Which, as I found out years later while doing some genealogy research, should have been a big bratwurst or something because my heritage is far more German than Irish. It's like telling everybody your hair is blonde just because you have a few highlights. So now if anybody asks, I just say it's for good luck.

Don't get me wrong. I like tattoos. I would actually like to get another one now that I'm really, legitimately adult ... something meaningful that I won't regret, like my children's initials or something. Although I'd be hard-pressed to find a few inches of easily-concealable-yet-un-stretchmarked skin on which to put it.

I just wish my own personal tattoos were, like, different. Or something. These are things that will mark my skin for life, y'all, yet they're the kind you could get out of one of those 25-cent fake tattoo dispensing machines. They look like doodles from my high school notebook, except I doodled 'em right onto my skin. FOR-E-VER.

Oh well. At least I didn't get sleeves.


It all started with a drawing for some Taylor Swift tickets.

There we were, sitting at Texas Roadhouse waiting for a table, with this innocent-looking raffle box perched beside us. "WIN TAYLOR SWIFT TICKETS!" it proclaimed. Now, Colin loves him some T-Swift, and he loves him some blank paper. So since the intriguing little box combined the two, he started writing on the entry form. Curtis helped him fill in the proper info, they tucked it into the box, and then we were called to our table and I forgot all about it.

Until we got a phone call.

We had made it through the preliminary drawing for the Taylor Swift tickets, the caller told Curtis. The drawing for the actual tickets isn't until May, but our names had been chosen to win a $40 gas card (woot!). There was another prize, too - and this is where the details started to get hazy.

"The contest is sponsored by some fire safety thing," Curtis said. "I think she said the fire department. Anyway, they're sending a fireman out to our house to go over a fire escape plan and stuff. He'll be here on Monday at six."

I don't know about your husband, but mine - and I suspect guys in general - sometimes don't fully listen, or glaze over important details. So because I got my details from him, I was expecting something along the lines of this:

He's certainly not very well-protected, is he?

Okay, maybe not (hey, a girl can hope). But I at least expected this:

Not necessarily the truck and the whole nine yards, but from what Curtis told me, at least a member of the fire department. Who would, like, come in here and teach us how to protect ourselves in the event of a fire.

But what we got (a day late, mind you, because he was a no-show on the first night) was more along the lines of this:

I mean, the guy was more decently dressed and slightly less schmoozy (is that a word?), but he was still a salesman for a company called DeTech.  He began his presentation with a spiel about how it was purely for educational purposes and there was "nothing for sale today," but that if we were interested we could set up another in-home meeting so he could demonstrate his company's fire suppression system. Then he mentioned that if we were interested, we too could become schmoozy salespeople.

Long story short, the hourlong "fire safety education" was a mixed bag. There was some helpful information, and it definitely underscored the need for fire safety awareness and prevention. BUT. I was extremely, extremely put off by the obvious scare tactics this company was using. Article after article about children dying in fires. Stories about how so-and-so didn't have a DeTech system and lost everything. Photos of destruction, along with one of some charred sheets clearly showing the outline of a little girl. A video centering around a family who had lost their eight-year-old daughter in a horrific inferno; footage of burned-out cribs and smoke-saturated toys.

I know that when you talk about fire safety, you have to talk about the bad stuff. Fires do cause death and destruction; it's a reality, for sure. But I didn't just fall off the turnip truck, y'all, and I didn't appreciate the DeTech guy trying to frighten me into buying his stuff. The facts could have been presented in a much less macabre way, and still would have been relevant.

I lost my two-year-old niece, Sarah, in a house fire. So I know what fire can do. The effects that it can have ... forever. I'm not one of those bullheaded people who thinks it'll never happen to them and is irritated with the DeTech guy for "bringing up the uncomfortable truth." I'm just irritated that they thought they could use fear as a marketing tool. Irritated that it actually works well enough for them to continue. And I couldn't help but think of the family of the little girl who died in those charred sheets. Did they know that the picture of the place where their daughter died was being used as a sales tool? It sickened me.

Still, after we had told the guy exactly what we thought of his scare tactics and sent him packing, we got to talking about how fire-safe our home is. We have hard-wired smoke detectors in every room and in the hallway, and we recently changed the backup batteries (they say to do that when you change your clocks for Daylight Savings Time, and then test them monthly). We've told our kids what to do in the event of a fire, but we decided we needed to show them instead - so we had a fire drill.

And you know what? It was fun. We had the kids lay in bed as if they were asleep, and then Curtis pretended to be the smoke alarms. We timed the boys as they belly-crawled to both the front and back doors. They kept wanting to beat their best times, so we practiced over and over. Even Coby, who is 18 months old, wanted in on it, so we let him crawl too - and you know what? He was to the door, from his bedroom in the back of the house - crawling and unassisted - in just over thirty seconds. Pretty impressive for such a little guy. I had no idea he'd even catch on, but he seemed to.

Anyway, point is, fire safety is so immensely important. And I - even with a traumatic experience with fire in my background - needed a reminder of that. So in that way, I'm glad the DeTech guy came out. I just think he could've used a lot different sales tactic and been much more effective ... with us, at least.

Fire drills are going to become a regular thing around here. And I found these tips to drill into my kids' heads share with my kids. One tip that I didn't see mentioned, though, was brought up by a firefighter friend of mine (thanks, Doug!): tell your children never to hide from firefighters, even if their outfits make them look or sound scary.  

If you're reading this today, do me (and your family!) a favor and make a fire escape plan. Have a fire drill. Teach your children what to do, and then have them demonstrate it so that it really sticks.

... Or I'll come to your house and scare you into doing it. :)

I Have a Small Deck

I'm going to pretend like we're not expecting snow flurries today, and talk about something that excites me. Warm weather is coming (those of you who are already sporting shorts and flip flops can bite me. And I mean that in the nicest way possible).

But the one drawback to the warm weather is that it serves to highlight the inadequacy of one certain thing.

That's right folks. I'm admitting it to the world: I have a small deck. And during a season when everyone's flaunting their nice, sizeable decks ... it's hard for me, because my tiny little deck isn't impressing anybody.

Yeah, I know. It's not the size of your deck that counts - it's what you do with it. Right?

I can't help but feel, though, that my small and unremarkable deck has left more than one person feeling ... well, rather unsatisfied.

I've thought about enhancing it. I've even thought about taking more drastic measures and enlarging it. Lord knows I could take advantage of all the spam emails I get about making it bigger and stronger (at least I think they said "deck"). But all that is, you know, expensive. And potentially risky.

I mean, you don't want just anyone touching your deck.

To make matters worse, not only is my deck small, it's - (whisper) kinda discolored. And sort of ... dirty looking. And I KNOW nobody enjoys a dirty deck. I mean ... ugh. It's probably due to the fact that it just hangs out, all exposed and unprotected.

Yeah, I know. I don't need a lecture.

Anyway, this season I need to step it up. Do something about my dirty little deck. I may not be able to make it bigger right at this moment, but I've got to make the most of what I'm working with. Because y'all? I want my deck to make people gasp with delight.

So right now, I'm going to show you a picture. Prepare yourself.

You can gossip about it with your friends later, but don't laugh at its pitiful inadequacy in front of me.

I couldn't get it all to fit in the picture, but don't let that fool you. You can still tell it's small. And grungy.

So do I have any readers that have a genius touch when it comes to handling decks? Can I get some advice about turning mine into a deck that will be pleasurable for anyone who sits on it? Or maybe there's someone else who's ashamed of the size of their deck and can commiserate.

Either way, by the middle of this summer? I'll be showing you my deck again.

And next time you'll like it. I promise.


A Post Full of Poo

It's Monday. I'm STILL kind of sick. I've been sick since, like, Jesus was a little kid. Sore throat, rattling cough, general feeling of blah. I'm so tired of snot and yuck and ouch and ugh.

So you know what that means?

A rabbit-turd post.

Let me explain, for those of you who haven't been around here long. Most of the time I can construct a reasonably well put-together and coherent post. With, you know, a point. But sometimes my brain boycotts anything that resembles a logical train of thought, and the best I can come up with is random little bullet-point thoughts that often have nothing to do with one another. They remind me of rabbit turds: simple, small, yet numerous. (You're welcome for the mental image.) So anyway, here you go.

- Seriously, if I have to yell, "Get out of the toilet!" one more time today, you're going to read about the resulting epic meltdown in the newspaper.

- Against my better judgement, I gave the baby a small spoonful of peanut butter earlier. I just found the spoon ... spotless. Yet the baby has no peanut butter on him, not even around his mouth. I have the sinking feeling it's smeared on a wall or a mattress or the carpet somewhere.

- I can't smell. ANYTHING. I didn't realize how much I rely on my sense of smell until an unfair amount of snot took it away. Now by the time I discover that Coby is poopy, either a.) he's managed to squish it out the sides of his diaper, or b.) it has dried a little and there are spots that could best be removed with the help of a sander. Plus? We were away for the weekend and even though I promptly cleaned it out, I'm still paranoid that my house smells like cat box.

- Colin followed me into the bathroom the other day (what's new?) and after a brief silence, told me with the most solemn look: "You know, you could probably pee standing up if you'd just hold your vagina." .... ??? Thanks for the tip, son, but I'm pretty sure you have a lot to learn about the female anatomy.

- It's March. Like LATE March. And we're supposed to get snow tomorrow? WTF??? Where are my warm temperatures and my flowers and everything green? I want green! *goes outside to shake fist angrily at sky*

- My brother Steve, the same one who recently requested a mullet at his barber, was wearing a plaid hoody and plaid shorts (mismatched, naturally) and black socks with black shoes over the weekend. God I love that dude and his flippant attitude toward fashion.

- I complain about the weather, but I also realize that if we don't hurry and replace our torn grill cover (like, now) ... this will happen again.

- It is now day ten of Colin's spring break. (DAY. TEN.) We have six more days to go. (SIX. MORE. DAYS.) Did I mention that Colin and I butt heads like baby goats only not so cute and too much time together drives us both crazy?

- I just read through this post and realized that for the most part I sound like a whiny biatch, so I'ma end it on a positive note for y'all: this is the end. There's your positive note. Mwah!

- EDITED TO INCLUDE ONE LAST RABBIT-TURD: I totally forgot to tell you guys that I was interviewed on the 1Dental.com blog for the Mom's Guide to Caring for Little Teeth. Find it here!

I'm Missing a Foot

So something huge happened to me last weekend.

I cut off a foot. Chopped it right off.

And there it lay on the floor, and I was all, "Damn!"

And the stylist was like, "I know! I'd never have expected you had that much hair!"

Okay, so technically I didn't chop off the twelve inches of hair, but the end result is the same: this girl's head is much lighter than it was a week ago. I swear, y'all, I could've collected the huge pile of hair and made enough of a weave to turn an ordinary elephant into a woolly mammoth. I would've donated it, but I was told that it was ineligible for donation since I'd colored it like a year ago.*

*In all actuality they were probably like, "No one would want that frizzy mess on their head."

Anyway, you can't get a major haircut without before-and-after photos, right? So without further ado, here you go. First up: the "before" pic. (Please ignore the fact that it was taken in my bathroom where the lighting is crappy and the mirror is flecked with toothpaste. And the slightly crazed look in my eye. And that I was wearing no makeup. Just concentrate on the hair, y'all.)

And before anybody comments, "But your hair was so pretty!" let me just say that it was slightly damp in this picture and therefore not as huge as usual (it normally looks more like this). And that the ends were so rough and dry that I could've etched glass with them.

Anyway, here's the after:

The only bad thing is that I have to straighten it for it to look any sort of decent. But on the upside, it takes about 5 minutes to straighten it now, as opposed to the 30 it took before. Win!

In other news, remember how I told you the other day that I was sick? Yeah. I'm still sick. Not as bad, but whatever this is has been kicking my ass for nearly a week now. I did wake up today feeling about 60% better, so that's definitely a plus. But this coughing-up-a-lung thing is getting old fast. I haven't been to the gym in like eight days, yet my muscles are sore in places I didn't even know could get sore due to the incessant hack-hack-hacking. Plus I sound like an old man. You know how they sometimes do that cough-cough-chew thing? Yeah.

Anyway, now that I have less hair, it didn't get nearly as tangled and matted when I was laid out on the couch, feverish and sweaty, for days on end. Before the cut, it would've resembled a nest after going through that.

Gotta be thankful for the small stuff. 

Sick Sucks

I'm writing this post from what I can only presume is my death bed.

Okay, so maybe I'm being a little dramatic, but I am sick, y'all. And so are all three of my boys. Only they're not sick in the "let's-lay-around-and-watch-TV-snuggled-under-blankets-and-recuperate" way. Of course not. They're acting as crazy and rambunctious as always, with the addition of a whole bunch of extra whining and wheezing and irritability and about ten times more snot.

Which of course means that my house is falling to pieces around me. This is day two of the illness, so laundry and clutter and toys are piling up with a quickness. I swear, the heavens were conspiring to torture me when they made me a natural neat freak and then stuck me with three piglets boys and a husband who is somehow impervious to the psychological effects of filth. I swear, I could be a non-cleaning hoarder with a cat-poop carpet and he'd never notice. Fortunately for him, I'm not - but unfortunately for me, no one around here seems to care about neatness and order as much as I do. "Just let it go" sounds really good in theory, but the thing is, it's not like anyone would pick up my slack.

So that's why, ever since I opened my crusty eyes this morning, I've been a raging bitch a tad cranky. I woke up mad that Curtis, who is on call 24-7 for his job, could ditch our weekend plans without a second thought when his stupid work cell phone rings, but can't call off to take care of me when I'm down. (I know, that's a hateful thing to say, but that's how I felt this morning. Just keepin' it real, y'all.) Before I even got up, I was yelling (er, croaking) things like, "Leave your brother alone!" and "Do not throw that!" and "Leave. Your brother. ALONE!!!" Then I peeled myself out of the bed and staggered into the kitchen, wracked with chills and a raw, burning throat, only to be faced with the clutter left over from yesterday - including the bag of Chinese takeout trash from last night's dinner. Seriously? Curtis left for work this morning and couldn't even take the stinking bag down to the trash can on his way out?

Rita was not a happy camper.

What sucks is that I've spent two of the last three weekends sick. First I had strep. Then I had one clear weekend, and now this, whatever it is. Normally I only get sick like twice a year, so my declining health as of late has been a real bummer. But this is also the first year I've had a child in public school who I swear brings home every damn germ breathed into his general vicinity.

The kicker? He only gets mildly ill. For, like, half a day. His brothers and I, on the other hand, get the full effect.

Anyway, even though it turned into a fever-fueled rant, the point of this post originally was to tell y'all that I'll post something better tomorrow. Unless I am in fact on my deathbed.

Did anyone ever die of overexposure to clutter? 'Cause I just might be the first.


Salon Surprise!

I've had the same husband for eleven years next month. And in that eleven years (actually in the thirteen total that we've been together), I can count on one hand the times he's done something romantic. This doesn't mean he doesn't show me he loves me - it's just that, well, he's not that romantic of a guy. Grand chick-flick-type gestures aren't his "thing." And when he does try to add some romance to my life, it's often a little misguided, God love him.

But sometimes the stars align just right. Or maybe it's a wild hair. Either way, Curtis came home two days ago and took me completely by surprise, handing me a flat red box wrapped with a white ribbon. Inside was what I can only describe as the biggest romantic gesture in nearly a decade (seriously): a gift certificate to a salon and spa!

I nearly had to scoop my jaw off the floor with a spatula, y'all.

My mind raced. Was it my birthday? Our anniversary? Do people typically give presents for St. Patrick's Day or something? No. With amazement, I realized that this was one of those mythical "just because" gifts I've always heard about.*

*Although it may or may not have come on the day following an epic rant wherein I dramatically tipped over the laundry basket and moaned how much I hate it and how I spend all my damn time doing laundry and nobody even notices or cares so long as they have clean clothes and how it's such a crappy thankless task.

** Or maybe it's just his subtle way of telling me that I look funky and would I please please do something about it. Whatever.

Point is, it was incredibly sweet of him. So tomorrow - Friday - I have an appointment to get an awesome haircut, just like I was talking about the other day.

Except ... I'm not sure exactly what an awesome haircut is. Because I wouldn't know a trend if it came up and bit me.

I usually leave it in the capable hands of the stylist, but this time I wouldn't mind going in with at least some sort of idea of what I'd like. It's much like the rare occasion when I go to a bar and cryptically ask the bartender to "make me something fruity" just because I don't know what specifically to ask for: mildly dorky and embarrassing. Problem is, when I Googled "haircut trends 2011" earlier this morning, I ended up on a site that said things like this:

"A kindred fashionable half-updo filum testament engage you with the advisable accoutrement to hands your buckram or semi-formal attendance."

Um ...?

Anyway, I need some help from readers with good hair (you're looking awfully pretty today ...). Do you have a style that you love? Tips? Suggestions? Anything?

Help a sista - and her hair - out!

Autocorrect FAIL!

In between butt-wiping and laundry-doing, I write for a couple different magazines - and lately I've been pretty busy.

But, y'all? I'm not so busy that I don't stop to proofread the emails I send out. However, I'm glad that one of my associate editors is too busy to proofread when he sends stuff from his BlackBerry - otherwise, I wouldn't have gotten this little gem in my inbox yesterday, regarding the Goddard School. G-O-D-D-A-R-D.


I must say, getting this totally made my day. I laughed so hard I almost fell out of my chair.

This one's going to Damn You Autocorrect. (And if you don't know about DYAC, you should. But be prepared for some serious cackling.)

Happy "Goddard" Wednesday, everyone!

Does Not Compute

This morning while browsing Facebook, I noticed that someone had posted a link to a new study regarding children's Internet usage, along with a question: "Do your children 0-5 surf the Web?" In a nutshell, the study says that 80% of children under five use the Internet on a weekly basis.

Then of course there were the responses. "Our 2 year-old does not, nor does he watch TV," one mom commented primly (and then probably went to prepare an organic, sugar-sodium-and-preservative-free breakfast while reading her child passages from Leo Tolstoy). Another person said, "You have got to be kidding! What ever happened to parent-child interaction?" (and then probably got off the computer to spend a minimum of ten straight hours of quality time interacting with her little darling).

I was surprised at the number of strongly negative reactions to kids using the Internet. And then I was mildly pissed off that this is just another way for moms to be self-righteous and holier-than-thou. Because let's face it, y'all, we all know moms like that. Maybe you are one (in which case, you probably shouldn't even read my blog, because I know you'd hate me in real life).

I'll admit it: my kids not only use the Internet, they use it all the time. And because of that, they're whizzes at it. Seriously. My two older sons have been using a computer since before they could even purposefully direct the mouse. I honestly credit this game for helping them both learn their alphabet ... and this one for helping them learn shapes and colors (since all they have to do is push the space bar, even Coby plays these). Now that they're older, they can navigate the computer like pros. I've made it very clear which sites are acceptable for them to go to, and those are marked in a "Favorites" folder that they can access themselves. And if we're in a situation where I'm busy and can't monitor them as closely as I normally would, I let them go to a site like Kideos, which is kinda like a children's YouTube: everything is appropriate and kid-friendly. 

I really don't understand why everyone is up in arms about kids using the Internet. I mean ... it's the 21st century. Literally almost everything we do is linked to some sort of computer technology - and it's only going to keep advancing. Don't we want to encourage our children to be tech-savvy? It seems to me that it's a valuable skill that will serve them well as they get older. But then, I see the Internet as a tool for learning and information, not as (just) a useless time-sucker.

I guess I feel this way because my kids don't generally use the Internet for stupid stuff (although I'm not gonna lie, if I hear the "cat flushing the toilet" video one more time ......). Mostly they're playing educational games, or reading/listening to stories on Starfall. Colin, who'll be six in June, has a YouTube favorites list that includes videos about pipe organs, volcanoes, carnivorous plants, the occasional Taylor Swift song, and various medical procedures. (It's pretty bad when your five-year-old teaches you what a laryngoscopy is.) He has learned so much from the Internet. And Cameron, newly three years old, is right on his heels.

No, no, heavens-to-Betsy no, the Internet (or TV, or whatever) should never replace books. My kids and I still read multiple books a day, and if given the choice, they'd most likely choose story time over anything else. But what I'm saying is, technology is not our children's enemy. I wouldn't let them spend 3/4 of their waking hours in front of the computer, but then, I wouldn't let them spend that much time with their nose buried in a book either. It's all about balance.  

So what do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Are your kids allowed to use the Internet?  

A Little Easter Cross-Dressing

This blog post is dedicated to all you moms of dudes out there. Not that the moms of girls won't get a kick out of laughing at me, but you "boy moms" ... well, you'll have a special appreciation for today's subject matter.

And that subject matter is Easter dresses.

It's Easter dress season.

Y'all know what I'm talking about. Each year around this time, every store that sells clothes - even those farm-supply stores that usually sell only coveralls and thermal underwear - seems to put out some sort of Easter dress display.

I walk into Walmart to buy some grapes and toothpaste and even though neither of those things are located in the children's clothing section, I somehow manage to find myself staring down a rack of little dresses. A sea of white and pink and pastel green, ruffly confections, bows and frills and flounces and flowers.

Then, as if to twist the knife in my heart, there are the shiny patent-leather shoes. The lacy little socks. The matching headbands and hairbows. The ruffly-butted tights.

90% of the time I'm actually glad I don't have a girl. For real. I would rather slick down a stubborn cowlick than fuss with a braid or a ponytail (I have enough trouble doing my own hair, thanks). I prefer Handy Manny over Hannah Montana. And it'd be hard to teach a girl much about being ladylike when I still laugh out loud when someone farts. 

But during Easter dress season, I can't help but picture myself holding a shiny, clean, sweet-smelling little girl in a beautiful white satin sleeveless dress with a full skirt (with a little pink rosebud print on the bodice. ...What?? I'm detailed). I trace my fingers lightly along the hems and the ruffles and the ribbons and pretend, for just a few minutes. "Coby's still a baby," I think to myself, the madness momentarily overtaking me, "and he's kind of sporting a mullet that could pass as long girl hair if I put a bow in it ..." 

The retailers try to make it up to us testosterone-overloaded moms by putting out a couple of little pastel-hued button-up shirts, maybe a little white suit with a light-blue vest and a few tiny little ties. They're all, "Aww, pity you don't have a girl to fancy up, but here's a small selection of clothing in some remotely girly colors." 

Pshaw, retailers. Pshaw.

You know what the real attraction is.

The Easter dresses, that's what. And all the girly accessories to go along with them.

Curtis wouldn't mind if our boys wanted to take dance lessons. He wouldn't bat an eye if they wanted to play with Barbies or baby dolls. He doesn't feel "threatened" that Colin's favorite color is currently pink.

But I think if I put Coby in a dress, even for just this one Easter, he'd have something to say.



Dear Hair: You're Cut Off

This is not me. I totally have more hair.
... In my armpits.

Dear Hair,

I'm cutting you off. No, really. I'm so over you.

We'd be cool if you weren't so problematic. If you gave me some kind of special powers, like Samson in the Bible, I'd let you hang around. Or if you were beautiful and obedient and fell gracefully around my shoulders like a silky, sweetly-scented curtain ... that'd be all right. Or if you were, like, awe-inspiring because you looked like a shampoo commercial and people were all, "Oh, I love your hair!" and I was all, "Thanks, I just wash and go!" and people were like, "Lucky biatch" but under their breath so I couldn't hear that they were like totally jealous. THEN you could stick around.

Sadly, though, that's not the case. Here's the thing, Hair: you're much (much much) more trouble than you're worth.

You're so long that I can't even twist you into a bun any more without it looking like I'm smuggling a small pumpkin on the back of my head. Pretty much all I can do is pull you into a (raggedy) ponytail. I can't wear you loose and flowing because you're the texture of an electrocuted sheep, and to flat-iron you takes like an hour and I get all sweaty because hello, straightening irons are super hot and thanks to your ridiculous thickness I have to turn it up all the way. Hmph.

And speaking of ponytails: I know mine is too long when it gets caught in my pits while I exercise. Seriously, Hair? Why you wanna flap around so much? I do a good enough job of looking moronic during Zumba without accidentally clamping my pits down on my own hair. There's enough in there already, thanks. (What?? If I shave every day, I get red bumps.)

While we're on the subject of how you can improve, Hair, how about looking a little less like you came straight off a horse's ass? The dry rough bristly ends just aren't doing it for me. If I were trying to cultivate my own paintbrush it'd be all good, but if I needed a paintbrush I'd just buy one at the store. And those little baby hairs that keep sprouting up along my hairline? Why is it that they never seem to grow long enough to not stick out, Hair? Is it some sort of a "let's consistently make Rita look like crap" conspiracy?

The only reason you're still around is because I don't know what to do with you. Because a.) you have a stupid swirly cowlick right in the middle of my forehead which pretty much negates the chance for cute sideswept bangs, which is what like EVERY cute style features these days, and b.) my face looks like a gumball and I'm trying to decide on a 'do that won't accentuate that fact.

So yeah, Hair, you could say I'm a little grumpy.

You might be getting a dye job too - just warning you now. Because ever since I hit the big 3-0, you're cranking out as fast as Charlie Sheen goes through hookers and coke and stupid sayings. And that, Hair, is not what I'd call #winning.

Thanks for keeping me a little warmer this winter. I guess.*
*Although I think it was mostly due to those short, stupid hairs on the back of my neck that make it look like my ears are trying to grow sideburns on the wrong side.


Vide-o de Toilette

You know how sometimes you would give almost anything, like, something important like your left boob (or for you male readers, the alternate body part of choice) just for a few minutes of uninterrupted time to get something done?

To be able to write/cook/take a dump without being poked, prodded, pestered, or otherwise Mommm-meeeeeeeee'd half to death?

Yeah, me too. Which is why I sometimes allow my five-year-old to play with my iPhone. Unattended. I just switch it over to airplane mode, so he can't send or receive texts or calls, and let him have at it. I know it's probably a moronic thing to do and it's only a matter of time before my iPhone dies an ugly death at the hands of my son. But ... quiet time. I mean ... I think you feel me on that one.

One of his favorite things to do is use the iVideoCamera app. He records himself performing video tutorials like the kind you'd see on YouTube. Only it's stuff like "how to knit," wherein he twiddles a piece of yarn between two toothpicks for eight minutes and forty-seven seconds. And then there are the times he just records random nothingness, which goes pretty much like this:

- Shot of carpet
- Camera travels up wall and stops on ceiling for a length of time
- Back down wall, then to carpet. I holler at someone in the background. Cat runs by.

I'm sure there's some really amusing stuff on there, y'all. But enough of those seemingly endless carpet-wall-carpet type videos have soured me to the thought of going through Colin's home-movie stockpile (seriously, there are like forty of them). Still, I got a warning message from my phone yesterday saying that my memory is almost full and that I should delete some photos or videos - so I reluctantly went to erase a few of his more boring uneventful recordings.

At first I just callously started deleting, left and right, without even watching them first. But then my "Mommy guilt" started gnawing at me, in the same way it does when I throw away even the most insignificant paper that Colin brings home from school. (I hate that!) So I decided to start watching at least a few seconds of each one, to try to determine if it was worth saving.

I pressed Play.

The video opened with a shot of Cameron, lounging on the arm of the couch, watching TV ... naked. It was followed by an extreme closeup of Colin's face, eyes and nose only. Then the usual dizzying swirl of carpetwallcarpetceiling (note to self: teach him to at least steady camera). My thumb hovered over the "Delete" option, but then the camera focused in on Colin's feet as they walked quickly down what appeared to be the hall ... and into the bathroom.

I watched nervously as the video captured the toilet lid going up, and then - ever so slowly at first - the trickle of a stream of pee.

Pee. And toilet water. Within the immediate vicinity of my iPhone.

Yeah, I use my phone on the toilet sometimes. If you have a smartphone, you know you do too. But I have been holding onto things for 25 years longer than Colin: that's a whole quarter of a century more experience. If either of us has come close to perfecting the art of not dropping phones into toilets, I'm pretty sure it's me.

Lucky for him, though, he was able to grasp it well enough to not only video himself peeing, but to flush and record the graceful swirl of water down the hole. *shudder*

Then it was back down the hall and back to Cameron, who was still watching TV, but draped over the top of the bookcase this time.

Still naked, naturally.

I'm beginning to think those videos of random nothingness might not be so bad after all.


Noah Isn't Here

Noah is a name that's been dropped pretty often around our house these days.

But we're not talking the Biblical Noah, or the kid in Colin's class by that name; this Noah is trouble, and when he comes around, somebody's in for it. Namely, me. Because "he" DRIVES. ME. CRRRAZY.

See, usually my kids do everything I say just tell me "noooo." The other day, though - out of the blue - Colin's usual whiny "n-with-infinite-o's" had a tag-along: uhhhhh. 

I blinked. "Excuse me?"

"Nooooooo-uhhhhhhhh!" he whiiiiiiiiined.

And right then it was like somebody had touched a raw nerve. Most whines roll right off me, like water off a duck's back - those don't deserve acknowledgement. But this particular type of whine, in this particular tone, just annoyed me to no end. I had to nip this one in the bud. But how?

Right then, as if by divine intervention, I got an idea. It was a light-bulb moment if I ever had one, y'all. I put on my best face of exaggerated surprise and ran to look (over)eagerly out the window. "Oh my goodness!" I trilled. "Noah's here?! How exciting!" 

Colin's reaction was priceless. He looked like somebody slapped him - then dissolved into a fit of giggles. Then asked me to say it again.

I'm not sure where he picked this irritating little addition up, but I don't like my "no's" with extra "uhhh." Hearing the abbreviated version is bad enough. All I know is that every time he slips up, I just have to ask if Noah's in the building and he instantly drops the whine - and, often, complies with whatever I'm requesting with no further protest (insert Hallelujah chorus here). I'm noticing, thankfully, that "Noah" is visiting less and less. And that's totally worth looking a little silly for.

What do your kids do that touches THAT nerve? 

The New Terrible Twos

This mule is jealous of the amazing stubbornness possessed by three-year-olds everywhere.

When my oldest son was two, he was downright angelic. So consequently I was all, "Haha, we escaped the terrible twos, probably due to my innately superior parenting skills." (In my head, of course.)

And then ... he turned three. And I got totally bitch-slapped by karma for being so cocky before.

So when my second son Cameron was two, and he was good, I didn't read too much into it. Because I knew he would be three soon enough. And my friends? If you've ever had a three-year-old, you'll know: three is the new Terrible Two.

They're defiant. They get an attitude. And it all happens, like, the day they turn three. That is totally not an exaggeration; just one of life's great mysteries. It's like magic, really.*

*And by magic I mean the kind of magic that some kind of scary voodoo doctor conjures to totally eff someone up.

But by far the most taxing part of the Traumatic Threes is the fierce independent streak that they develop seemingly overnight. If you're anything like me (read: totally impatient), the phrase "I can do it all by myself!" becomes the bane of your existence.

Let me give you a few examples of my daily interactions with Cameron: the "I-Can-Do-It-All-By-Myself" Edition.

Before: Mommy puts on his socks. Time: 5-7 seconds
Now: He can do it all by himself. Sock gets snagged on big toe. He tries again. Sock gets caught up. He pulls it off. It's inside out. Refuses help turning it right side out. Tries about a million times. Tantrum ensues. Finally sock is on ... with the seam running across the bottom of his foot. Painstakingly turns it around. ... Now for the other sock. Time: 5-7 minutes

Before: Mommy fastens his seatbelt. Time: 7-15 seconds
Now: He can DO IT all by HIMSELF. Tugs on seatbelt. It's twisted. Tries to untwist it; requires help. Tantrum ensues. Attempts to buckle. Misses. Tries again. Misses. Repeat five or six (or seven or eight or twelve) times. Grudgingly allows Mommy to finish the job. Time: 2 minutes

Before: Mommy zips his coat. Time: 2-4 seconds
Now: He can do it all by himself. Noooooo! By HIMSELF!!! Fumbles with zipper. Attempts to fasten the two sides together. Attempt unsuccessful. Tries again, repeatedly (see: seatbelt). Allows Mommy to get him started. Slowly pulls zipper up. Accidentally zips shirt into zipper. Tantrum ensues. Time: 1 minute

Before: Mommy brushes his teeth. Time: 3-4 minutes
Now: HE CAN DO IT. ALL. BY. HIM. SELF!! Wets toothbrush with far more water than is necessary. Squeezes toothpaste too hard. Glob of toothpaste falls off brush. Tantrum ensues. Squeezes more toothpaste onto brush. Inadequately brushes teeth. Refuses to let Mommy help. Finally agrees to letting Mommy finish the job after brushing the same spot for half an eternity. Spits toothpaste all over sink. Plays in water before rinsing mouth. Time: 7-8 minutes.

Trust me when I tell you that these are just a few examples - everything from feeding to dressing to butt-wiping has become a challenge. But since each daily routine is an opportunity for him to learn, I just grin and bear it.*

*And by "grin and bear it" I mean grit my teeth and roll my eyes and think horrible thoughts and go in my closet and scream.  

Come bedtime, though? "I can do it all by myself" mysteriously becomes, "Don't leave me in here all by myself!"

Ironic, isn't it?

I Actually Got Invited Somewhere!

I know. I know. It's been a hot second since I last posted - but I wanted y'all to have the chance to catch up on the posts I wrote while my feed was on the fritz (thanks to my unfortunate lack of mad technical skillz). But you know who finally fixed it? My husband. Curtis, who hunts-and-pecks with two fingers when he types, whipped out some hidden computer-geek talent and had my feed fixed before I could say, "WTF?" This is like a plumber who comes in to fix your toilet and ends up hemming your raggedy curtains before he leaves: totally unexpected, yet delightfully surprising. So Honey, I owe you one.*

*And by "owe you one" you can pretty much guess what that's probably going to mean. Yeah: a free afternoon at the golf course. What'd you think I was talking about, you pervs? 

Anyway, besides spreading awesomeness everywhere but the Internet, I've been busy doing something else: guest-posting for the fabulous and (seriously) awe-inspiring Michele over at The Professional Family Manager. You can find my guest post here, and while you're at it I totally suggest you browse her blog for a while: if there's anyone successfully battling the frump-monster, it's her. She'll make you proud to be a mother ... unless you're, like, a father or something.

See you back here tomorrow, when I post about daily life: the "I can do it all by myself" edition.


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