Awk-Word


It's probably a good thing nobody warned me about how many awkward situations come with having kids. Because if they had, I'm pretty sure my sons wouldn't exist. Yeah, it's worth it and all that, but there are just some times when your kid says or does something so mortifying that you wish you could just disappear.

My five year old, Colin, has been the perpetrator of all the uncomfortable scenarios so far. I don't know if it's because he's just got a knack for doing embarrassing things, or if Cameron and Coby just aren't old enough yet. But for whatever reason, Colin's always been the one behind those curl-up-and-die moments. Like the time he was confused about our waitress's gender. Or the time he asked me to define "whore." Or when he very vocally called us out on a little white lie (I guess that was technically our fault, but still).

So when the phone rang the other day, and the caller ID said "School," I started to get a little nervous. Because we all know that a call from the school in the middle of the day doesn't indicate anything good. Whether it's a sick kid or a heinous misbehavior, it's gonna be something you didn't want to deal with. So I'm sure there was more than a bit of trepidation in my voice when I answered. "Hello?"

It was Colin's teacher, Mrs. L. "Colin had a good morning," she said. "He listened attentively, followed procedures, lined up when he was supposed to ..."

I waited for the bomb to drop. Because y'all? Teachers don't call out of the blue, during school hours, to tell you how good your kid is doing.

"... but then we had a little problem with centers this afternoon," Mrs. L. went on. She explained that Colin had chosen the art center, and he and two fifth-grade helpers had been playing a spelling bee game: writing words on a chalkboard. "Everything was going well, until Colin asked Christina to spell ..." Mrs. L. paused briefly.

I squeezed my eyes shut. Please don't say penisPlease don't say penisPlease don't say penis.

"... Penis," she finished, a slight tinge of embarrassment in her voice.

Hmmph. How ever did I guess.

What are you supposed to say in a situation like that? I mean, really? "Wow, sorry my kid said penis. At least he didn't call it a d*ck, right? Har har har."

"I had a talk with him to let him know it was inappropriate," she said.

Um, thanks? Did she think I had neglected to tell him that little tidbit before? I've had the same conversation with him. It's not like I let my kids go out into the world without teaching them some sense of social propriety - it's just that some of the lessons don't actually stick until they're older. And unfortunately, this was one of those lessons.

I apologized about the incident, but let her know that I was sure there was nothing perverted or harrassing about it. It was innocent. I mean, Colin comes from a house full of boys. There's penis talk galore around this piece. Look to the left, you see a penis. Look to the right, you see a penis. I spend a substantial portion of my day fielding questions about them, troubleshooting issues with them, and/or providing gentle reminders not to play with them unless it's behind closed doors. It's just natural. Plus, Colin is an anatomy buff - and that includes reproductive anatomy (one of the videos on his YouTube favorites is this one, a medical animation of childbirth. And yes, I allow him to watch it. Why shouldn't I?).

But, since it was a call from his teacher, I felt obligated to assure her that my five year old isn't some perv in the making. Only instead of calmly and rationally explaining his probable reasons, I stammered through the whole thing. Because, hello, awk-ward. I'm sure she hung up thinking, "Man, it's no wonder the kid is messed up with a mother like that."

When he got home, I didn't even scold him. I knew he'd already gotten a talking-to at school, and that was enough for what I considered a very, very minor infraction. I casually mentioned that maybe next time he was playing the chalkboard game, he could think of a better word to spell.

... As long as it's not "vagina."   






Gone Fishin' ...

Sometimes you get asked to do things that you're not really excited about doing. Like working overtime. Or wiping someone's butt. Or taking the dog outside because she's begging even though you just took her like an hour ago and you just painted your nails, damnit.

But sometimes ... some times ... you get asked to do something that you're actually glad to do.

And for me? That was doing a guest post at one of my favorite blogs - for Travis over at I Like to Fish:



I Like To Fish


So head on over to Travis's place, where I have written about why gourmet restaurants and ignorant country bumpkins don't mix. (And check out some of his stuff while you're over there, because this guy is hilarious, y'all.)

I Like to Fish ... and so should you.








PS - Tomorrow's blog post: the incredibly awkward phone conversation I just had with Colin's teacher!

No Taking the Cake

I told Colin that if he got a good report at school for the rest of last week, I'd make doughnuts on Saturday morning.

Yeah, doughnuts. Like ... from scratch. With yeast and everything. (And before someone says something uppity about rewarding my kid with junk food? Yeah. It's terrible. I get it. Don't be all judgy.)

Anyway, it just goes to show that I'm willing to do almost anything so that Colin's days improve, after the problems we've been having lately. Because, y'all? Doughnuts are for breakfast. And the particular recipe I used? Called for them to rise for two hours. Now, my kids are early birds. Even on the weekends, they're up before seven - and clamoring for food literally the minute they roll out of bed, like they've been crossing a mountain range on foot with no supplies instead of sleeping.

So that's why, after staying up until nearly midnight watching a movie, I found myself rolling blearily out of bed at 5 a.m. in order to go Betty Crocker it up in the kitchen.

I don't know about you, but when I make a new recipe - especially one that involves tricky stuff like proofing yeast - I need to be able to, like, think. And when it's still dark outside, and I'm running on five hours of sleep, let's just say thinking is not my strong suit.

Therefore, merely reading the recipe went something like this:

Stare blankly at recipe on computer screen until words blur together. Blink and squint. Try to memorize first few ingredients and steps so I don't have to keep running back and forth to the computer. Fail. Need caffeine. Rub eyes. Blink, squint. Scalded milk? Like, I have to heat it and then cool it again? Why?? Two packets of yeast. I only have a big jar. Google "how much yest is in two packets." What, Google? Oh yeah ... I did mean to type "yeast." Two tablespoons, got it. Add yeast to milk and sugar and shortening and ... damn. How much water did I need again?

You get the idea.

In the past when I've used yeast, it's dissolved in plenty of water, so that it's a liquid I can pour into the flour or whatever. But in this recipe there was much more yeast than water, so it ended up in this weird yeasty paste that was all over my fingers (ewwww, that not-so-fresh feeling) as I tried to push the muck off the spoon. Even in my barely-awake haze, I could sense that this doughnuts-from-scratch thing was potentially disastrous.

I'd been trying my best to keep quiet, but my kids are light sleepers; I swear they'd wake up if a chipmunk farted in the woods out back. So by this time, Coby was crying. And, for reasons unknown to me, Colin was crying. Which caused Cameron to wake up crying, saying, "What's going ooooooonnnnn?" Which caused Curtis to wake up. Luckily he was not crying, and was actually (surprisingly) helpful considering the chaotic circumstances. I guess he really wanted doughnuts.

So I mixed everything up, yeast-muck be damned. I was confused because the recipe called it batter, but when I think of batter, I think of, like, runny stuff. Pourable consistency. This was definitely more doughlike. I felt a little skeptical, but was comforted by the fact that they are indeed called doughnuts and not batternuts.

Approximately two hours of rising time, umpteen thousand "Are they done yet"s, and only one failed frying attempt, we had doughnuts. And may I just say ... they were AWESOME! They rivaled the fresh Krispy Kremes that we used to be able to get around here (before some jerk closed down the Krispy Kreme, only to turn it into a Chick-Fil-A. Ugh!).

Bolstered by my doughnut triumph, I decided to whip up some kind of delicious dessert on Sunday for our Easter dinner with the neighbors. Yes: the neighbors I once attempted to impress with poop-topped cupcakes. This time, I was going to make something really yummy and Easter-y. A lemon cake.

No. I haven't forgotten what happened the last time I made a lemon cake. But I learn from my mistakes, y'all. This time, I would be using a storebought cake mix. And I bought some lemon extract. And a zester. Of course, I had to add some extra flair. In my mind's eye was my grandma Sibyl's delicious orange cake: two layers of moist citrus-flavored cake, with a creamy filling sandwiched neatly in between. Only mine would be, you know, lemon.

Everything turned out perfectly. I baked the layers of cake. I whipped up the filling, creamy and lightly infused with lemon. I made a lemon buttercream frosting that was to die for. Now all that was left was to assemble it.

I waited (impatiently) until the cake was completely cool, then spread the filling over the first layer. Success! Until I put on the top layer, that is. It slid off.

I tried to keep putting the layer back into place, but it slid this way and that on its bed of creamy filling. I tried to frost over the whole thing, but I ended up mixing the filling into the frosting, and couldn't keep the top layer still, and, well ... it was an ugly disaster. Here's a picture; Curtis had already cut into it by the time I took it, but you get the idea:

Talk about Cake Wrecks!
       
Yeah. So anyway. It was absolutely delicious, but needless to say, not a showpiece. At least not enough to take over to the neighbors' house for Easter dinner.

I mean, they're probably still traumatized from those cupcakes. 



 

Me Love You Long Time

Eleven years ago today, I was standing at the altar - at the ripe old age of nineteen.
I was of age, I promise.

It was a gorgeous April day; the weather was perfect. The church was decorated with Easter lilies and smelled heavenly (which I guess is an appropriate way for a church to smell). I was wearing a dress that was made by my grandmother's hands, the product of hours of work, a labor of love. And most importantly, I was standing next to the man I wanted to be with forever. 

There are parts of my wedding that I'd definitely do over if I could re-plan. (I mean, my colors were pastel blue and yellow. Ick.) And the reception had zero entertainment. ZE-RO. And Curtis popped a huge mint Lifesaver into his mouth seconds before walking down the aisle, which clacked loudly in his teeth while he said his vows.

But it isn't the wedding that's important: it's the marriage. And I'm relieved to be able to say that, eleven years later, our marriage has been a lot better than our wedding. Sure, we've had our ups and downs (way way ups and way way downs, to be real) but we have managed to weather every storm that has been tossed in our direction. We're boring and get on each other's nerves sometimes, but when it comes down to it, Curtis is still the first person I want to talk to when something goes horribly wrong or joyfully right. I still get excited when I hear his car pull into the garage (and not just because that means he can get the kids out of my hair for a few minutes). Yeah, so I might've secretly videotaped him slipping out a huge fart and then posted it on my blog (which he has since made me remove or I would TOTALLY link to it), but I love him. Like, immeasurably. He truly is - wait for it - my best friend. *insert groan at totally-overused-but-true-in-this-case cliché

So here's one link I will post: an anniversary slideshow. I made it last year, for our tenth anniversary, but just replace the ten with an eleven and you're good to go - the sentiment is still the same.

Happy anniversary to the man who gave me a husband, a family, and some of the greatest blog fodder ever!

 


Pee-asco


A word to the wise: if you ever come visit me, you might wanna call first. Because if you drop by as a surprise, I can almost guarantee that a fair percentage of this household will be naked.

If you've been reading here for a while, you know that my kids have a penchant for running around in the buff. It started with Colin, and now has continued with Cameron. It's probably influence, but it could also be genetic: I do have memories of my grandma Collier striding down the hall after bathing, in all her wrinkly flappy nakedness - regardless of who was in the house - and lifting up first one long boob and then the other to dust the undersides with Shower to Shower powder.

... You're welcome.

Anyway, the point is, the only people that are usually dressed in this house are Coby (I'm guessing that's only because he's still too little to take his clothes off), Curtis, and myself. (And I can't even guarantee that I'd be wearing a bra, but whatever.) Colin strips his clothes off within minutes of walking in the door after school, and Cameron ... well, Cameron feels the need to be completely nude when he uses the toilet. Number one or number two, it doesn't matter, he just needs to feel the air on every inch of his skin while he does his bidness in the bathroom.

So all this nakedness means I dress my kids twice a day. At least. Once in the morning, when we all get ready and drop Colin off at school, and then once again in the afternoon when we venture out to pick him up. And I have it down to a science: it takes me about eight minutes to get everyone fully clothed and shoed. (Shod? Whatever.)

Yesterday, I was running late leaving the house to pick Colin up, which rarely ever happens. I think it was because it was Wednesday, and Wednesdays throw me off because Colin gets out of school at a different time than other days. So I was hurrying to get the kids dressed, and as I was stuffing Coby's uncooperative feet into a pair of almost-too-small shoes, Cameron announced that he needed to pee.

Of course he does. Because to just leave the house without a hitch would be far too simple, wouldn't it?

I put on my most warning tone. "Okay," I said, "but do not under any circumstances remove ANY of your clothing. Do you understand me?"

"Yes!" he called on his way to the bathroom.

A minute or so ticked by. I started to get uneasy. Then I saw him emerging from the bathroom and - lo and behold - his clothes were still on, from his shirt to his shoes! I was rejoicing in the Hallelujah chorus when, as he came closer, I noticed that his hair was wet. Dripping.

And so were his sleeves ... up to, like, his elbows.

And his shirt was supposed to be white, but the sleeves were stained a pale yellow. And with horror, I realize what had happened.

"I fixed my hair!" Cameron said proudly. "And Mommy, I left all my clothes on!"

Indeed.

I wish he had just gotten naked ...


  





PS - Thank you all SO MUCH for the wonderful, supportive advice you gave me on yesterday's post. I appreciate it more than you could ever realize. I knew I could count on you! :)

One Stumped Mother


Do you ever just feel like a complete failure in the parenting department? I do. Right now, in fact. I feel like if the phrase "clueless mother" was in the dictionary, there'd be a picture of me beside it. Probably one that somebody took when I was caught off-guard so my mouth would be hanging open in an unflattering fashion.

It's Colin, y'all. My Kindergartener. I don't know what to do with him. (And I can't imagine, if it's this difficult now, what it's going to be like when he's a teenager. I don't even wanna think about that.)

He's been getting more and more bad reports from school. As in, Colin isn't following procedures. Colin isn't practicing active listening. Colin had to miss recess today. Colin is now sitting in a separate desk because he wouldn't leave so-and-so alone.

Each day he brings home a notebook with an update on his behavior. And every day, when I open it desperately hoping to see a smiley face, I see the same sad face and a note. Please remind Colin of the procedures when lining up outside. ... Colin didn't finish his work in the allotted time today; please have him complete it at home. Every day I feel like I'm the one being scolded, like, "Make your bratty son behave already!"

I just want to run into the school and yell at the top of my frickin' lungs, "I DON'T UNDERSTAND THIS!!!!" Because I don't. At all. Obviously I don't claim to be a perfect parent - I'm far from it - but I can't identify one single thing that could be causing this behavior. He always has a balanced breakfast before school (I know, I sound like a cereal commercial). He goes to bed at 8 o'clock every night, and gets plenty of sleep. He has rules, and when he breaks one, he faces the consequences. There's no upheaval at home to speak of that would be making him act out - Curtis and I aren't, like, fighting in front of him or going through a divorce or anything. It's pretty boring around the Templeton household, really.

We've had this problem before. Near the beginning of the year, he was doing the same type of thing. We determined that he was bored, and after a few curriculum changes (working one-on-one with the TAG teacher instead of in a group setting, for example) he seemed to be doing better. For a while, anyway.

I don't know what else we can try to get him to behave - "make better choices," as his teacher puts it - at school. Curtis and I have talked to him until we're blue in the face. We've taken away privileges and favorite things as a punishment. (We always say, "In trouble at school, in trouble at home.") I have tried to bribe him with the promise of something fun: "If you get a smiley face every day this week, you can pick any experiment out of your Big Book of Science Things to Make and Do this weekend."

But ... nothing. None of it is working. And I feel like we've tried everything. Whether threats or promises, positive ("I can't wait to see the smiley face in your planner this afternoon and hear all about your great choices!") or negative ("You'd better not have a frowny face today, Colin, or you'll be in big trouble when you get home"), it all seems to fall on deaf ears. 

I don't want my kid to be the bad seed. I don't want him to be the one his teachers dread seeing. He's so smart, y'all, and so inquisitive ... I don't want all that to go down the toilet because all the focus is on his behavior. I hate that they don't see the sweet boy, the bright shining light that he can be ... instead he's just the disruptive one who won't follow procedures. He says he still likes school, but how long could that possibly last when he's getting in trouble on the daily? It makes me really, super, down-in-the-dumps sad.

I'm at a loss. I feel like I have somehow failed him. Like there's something I should be doing, something that would alleviate this problem, something that I'm not seeing.

Is there? Does anyone have any advice for this floundering, frustrated mama? 


The Kids' Shoes Blues

There are some amazing inventions out there, y'all. Modern science and technology astounds me. They can make microscopic cameras, create new organs, concoct lifesaving medicines, extract DNA from creatures that have been dead for millions of years. Some of the things I read about sound like they came straight from some futuristic sci-fi novel.

So I'd like to know: with all this astonishing technology at the world's disposal, how come anybody hasn't been able to invent some shoes that will stand up to a little boy?

Case in point - Colin's second pair of school shoes this year:


His S-E-C-O-N-D  P-A-I-R. I mean, seriously? He still has until June to wear them to school. And this is not a "you get what you pay for" type of situation, where we bought some cheap shoes and they wore out within a couple of months. These are name-brand (K-Swiss, to be exact); the first pair he destroyed were Nike. This picture doesn't even show the extent of the raggedy-ness - I took this picture after I wiped as much dirt off as I could with a baby wipe, like I do every morning before school (and would you believe that I bleached those shoelaces just last week?).

I don't know what he does to literally wear the toes out of his shoes. I imagine that as soon as he gets to school he starts walking all slothlike and drags the tops of his feet. Or, like, crawls everywhere. How do you even do that to your shoes? Not only that, but when he takes them off, they're like ... misshapen. Stretched out or something. They look like they wouldn't even fit snugly around his ankles. It's crazy what the child manages to do to his footwear.

Anyway, just in case some children's shoe designer is out trolling blogs looking for inspiration (ha!), I'm going to describe my perfect shoes. For my kids, that is. (My perfect shoes would make my feet look small and my legs look sexy, but that's beside the point. Also, unrealistic.)

#1 - I want them to be white. Yes, I know, it's harder to keep clean - but white goes with everything, whether it's a sporty T-shirt or a collared polo. My kids have these shoes ...

... and I love them as far as durability is concerned (they're mostly made of this rubbery-feeling stuff), but - they're black. And blue and red. And police-themed. And they light up. And they don't go with everything. Maybe it's just me, but I have this "thing" about seeing a kid in a nice button-up shirt and, say, some cartoon-character-themed shoes. Is it too much to ask for some durable white shoes?

#2 - They can't have a lot of cloth on them because even if you wash it, even with bleach, cloth always gets all dingy-looking after a while.

#3 - I'd like them to be Velcro because none of my kids can tie their shoes. And yes, I know that at almost six years old, Colin is getting to be shoe-tying age ... but even when he does learn to tie, I'll still have two little kids who can't. And if you've ever gone through the rigamarole of loosening the laces, tightening them back up, and then tying - multiple times - when you're in a hurry, you know the value of Velcro.

#4 - They should be easy to clean. Like, toss-them-in-the-washer easy. And keep their shape.

Is this too much to ask? I mean, if my kid needed a prosthetic limb or something, they could make one that looks and acts like the real thing. So I hardly think the ideal shoe is out of the question.

With three boys, I think I'm gonna have to resort to panhandling in order to keep my dudes' feet covered.

Do your kids wear shoes out like this? Have you found the "holy grail" of children's footwear? Let me know if you've found an awesome pair of shoes.
     



Playing can be Pricey

I feel like I'm talking to myself here ... nobody reads on a Saturday. Probably because everybody else is out, like, doing stuff. But not me: it's cold and rainy here today, and Curtis is out of town (lucky him!), and my kids are playing in the baby's bedroom.

When I say "playing," it's probably more along the lines of "doing things I would disapprove of just because I can't see them." But it's quiet in here, y'all. You understand. Nine times out of ten, there's a price for quiet - you just have to pray it's a small price, and not some monumental fiasco capable of rendering you temporarily speechless. (Like this.)

The other day after a fifteen-minute stretch of "playing," I went to check on them and found that they'd dragged the old baby bathtub out of the closet. Colin had apparently instructed Cameron to pee in it. Thank goodness they had lined the bottom of it with paper towels first. ... A whole roll of paper towels.

Then there was the time they deconstructed the empty diaper pail and somehow got the baby stuck in it.

Oh, and the time they unrolled a brand-new roll of toilet paper, in its entirety, because they wanted to get the spring out of the toilet paper holder. (Apparently it was a necessary component to their "latest invention" - Lord only knows what that would've consisted of!)

There are sometimes surprises like this:

A Wow Wow Wubbzy toy and a smoke alarm. IN MY TOILET.

Or unfortunate uses of hair gel:


Sometimes it's absolutely devastating:

This would be - or used to be - the flat-screen TV in our bedroom.

And then there's the occasional mess so complicated that it requires some creative thinking, a rubber spatula, a bunch of plastic containers, and a shovel to clean up:

The contents of a brand-new bottle of laundry detergent. Apparently it was an accident, but still ...

Consider yourselves lucky I spared y'all the photos of poop tracked all. Over. The bedroom. And hallway.

So yeah. "Playing" isn't usually the quiet, well-behaved, building-a-tower-out-of-blocks-and-minding-their-own-business type of affair I desperately hope it is. But every time, I manage to delude myself into thinking that's exactly what they're doing ...

... at least until my blog post is finished. 


PS - For those who are curious? Today's "playing" consisted of a tipped-over rocking chair, the baby brandishing an ill-gotten gravy ladle, and Cameron standing in the window ... completely naked. 

Spring-a-Ding-Ding!


It's spring, y'all: my favorite season. It's like nature is waking up. People are suddenly in a better mood (or is it just me?). Everything is bright and beautiful, and my winter funk (I seriously think that's a condition) melts away with the last of the snow. But as much as I enjoy it, spring and I have kind of a love/hate relationship.

I love spring because ... the world slowly turns green again.
I hate spring because ... the world slooooowly turns green. Like, come on, leaves. Be leafy already.

I love spring because ... the weather is finally above freezing.
I hate spring because ... it's that crazy in-between time when it's cool in the mornings and warm in the afternoons, and I'm always slightly unsure what to dress my kids in so I don't look like "the mom who doesn't care enough to dress her kids properly for the season." Jackets? Long sleeved shirts? T-shirts? I'm constantly checking the weather forecast.

I love spring because ... my dudes can finally play outside.
I hate spring because ... my dudes produce about ten times more laundry, extra grass stains, muddy footprints, and weird things in pockets that I inevitably wash (two days ago it was a big snail shell, which shattered into all these glasslike pieces all over the dryer).

I love spring because ... morel mushrooms come up. If you've never eaten a deep-fried morel, you are totally missing out.
I hate spring because ... my husband obsesses over morel mushrooms. See, the thing is, they pop up suddenly - literally overnight - and EVERYBODY hunts for them. Before you know it ... no more morels. Curtis gets all antsy this time of year, like, stalking the woods that border our yard to check for people that might be infringing on "his" 'shroom hunting grounds. Even though they're not even technically our woods.

I love spring because ... I can finally put out some flowers.
I hate spring because ... I can totally overspend on some flowers. With a quickness.

I love spring because ... it's time to mow the yard again (if you didn't know, I love to mow. I'm weird like that.)
I hate spring because ... a huge yard full of dog poop that's been buried under the snow all winter long is NOT that fun to mow.

I love spring because ... spring sunshine does something wonderful for the soul. And I can't even think of a flipside to that.

Happy spring, everyone!






Wordy & Nerdy

I have never done the "Wordless Wednesday" thing - in fact, I don't even know who to credit the idea to - but I'm jumping on the bandwagon today. Usually people post a picture with just a few words, if any at all, explaining it.

Of course, you know I can't be wordless. I mean, I have to make fun of myself, because I know everyone else will be. Because I'm posting this ridiculous and incredibly embarrassing photo of yours truly circa 5th grade ... just to give you a laugh, y'all (or, like, scar your eyeballs for life).

So here you go. Without further ado ... I present to you Rita, somewhere around 1990.

Can you stand the awesome?

Believe it or not, I was never once teased (at least not to my face) for my huge gappy teeth or my self-cut bangs (!!) or my horrible perm or my (gulp) magenta overalls and teal shirt with some sort of Asian characters written on it. Those characters probably said something like "OMG this girl is SUCH a dork."

And because I was just that cool, the ring on my finger was turquoise. TO MATCH. THE SHIRT.

It's just a good thing my feet aren't pictured in this photo. Blue and white speckled LA Gear high tops, y'all.

I suffered from a condition back then. It's called the '90s. Thank goodness it wasn't permanent.



The Checkout Blackout


I don't care who you are - man, woman, somewhere between the two - it's always nice to get checked out by a member of the opposite sex (or, you know, whichever gender you fancy). Even if it embarrasses you a little bit, inside you're secretly like, "Awww yeah. I still got it." It doesn't matter if you're married or otherwise romantically attached, because it isn't like getting checked out is gonna lead to the demise of your relationship (and if it does, there are some serious jealousy issues going on).

To be clear, I'm not talking about the gross kind of checking out. Like when it's not just a glance, but a slow and lecherous head-to-toe scan, perhaps with a "Daaaayum" thrown in for extra ickiness. Those kinds of checkouts leave you feeling like you should head for the nearest shower and scrub your skin raw with a loofah and then put on a turtleneck and a sweater. And grandma shoes.

The ones I like are the simple, no-frills, "I'm-looking-at-you-a-second-longer-than-normal-because-your-attractiveness-caught-my-eye" checkout. You know the type. The kind that buoys your self-esteem for a little bit, even if they were really just looking at you because you had a weird piece of hair sticking up. It's the kind of checkout I used to get all the time.

Key word here: used to get.

I can't tell y'all how long it's been since anyone close to my age has checked me out (the hundred-year-old man in line behind me at the grocery store the other day doesn't count). I don't get it. Yeah, I could stand to lose a couple of pounds, but I'm a pretty normal weight - it's not like I'm rolls-spilling-over-the-sides-of-a-motorized-scooter hefty. I have been wearing makeup. I've just had a haircut - I'm not rocking a 'fro or a crazy bouffant. I keep my eyebrows waxed ('cause if I don't, they look like mustaches growing in the wrong place). My face hasn't changed, it's still decently attractive. I don't get it.

Is it because I'm thirty? Is thirty, like, the magical age where no one checks you out any more unless you're displaying some major cleavage or something? Or does my general appearance just scream "mother of three?"

I know ... I should be self-confident enough not to care. And if you are, more power to you - but I like a little outside validation once in a while. Who's with me?


Dear House ...


Dear House,

I think there are a few things we need to get straight. I appreciate you providing my family with warmth and shelter and all, but, well, we pay for that so it's kind of your job. Despite the fact that you essentially do what you're supposed to do, I have a little bit of an issue.

It's your personal hygeine.

The thing is ... I just cleaned you, like, last week. I spent an entire day dusting and mopping and spraying and wiping and scrubbing and buffing and vacuuming. It made me tired. I broke two nails. My hair got all frizzy. In short, I worked really hard.

Fast-forward just a few days, though, and here we are: you, looking like a hot mess - like you haven't been touched in months - and me, frustrated.

Now House. I know you don't have much better to do than just sit here, but just because it's boring being a house doesn't mean you need to pass the time by effing with the owners. It's not funny to keep re-dirtying yourself, or, like, otherwise deteriorating. Your front porch, for example. I spent for-freaking-ever repainting it last summer, yet it's chipping like a two-dollar manicure as we speak.

I realize it's my duty to help you out and keep you looking tip-top, but seriously, House, do me a solid and maintain a little bit. When you're clean, stay clean for longer than 24 hours, k? Because I'd actually enjoy sprucing you up a lot more if I could wait a little bit longer in between. (You're in good company with your friend Grass, who will be recieving a similar talking-to very soon.)

I'm going to be cleaning you today. Keep this conversation in mind, pleaseandthankyou.


Your Owner,   



Pit-iful

So I'm still doing Zumba. My neighbor Nicki and I try to go at least twice a week. And apparently so does everyone else on this end of town, because the classes are always packed. So unless you get there really early, you end up either a.) squished against the door at the back of the room, or b.) in the dreaded front row where your jiggling ass is in full view of the 96,000 other Zumba-goers.

And guess what? Last night we had trouble finding a parking space and didn't get there early enough. Class was already in progress when we walked in. "Welcome!" the instructor chirped from the front - into her microphone - as we tried to slip silently in. So of course, all the heads swiveled our way. And as my eyes desperately scanned the back of the room for a space to squeeze into, she said the words I dreaded hearing: "There's room up here in the front!"    

I know what you're thinking. I've been doing this for a while. I should be, like, a total expert. Everybody probably marvels at my mad Zumba skillz. Right? Well, not so much. I mean, I'm not terrible at it, but I'm not to the point of being comfortable in the front row either. Still, when the instructor practically orders you to stand up there - and there's no room in the back because of all the other people who don't wanna be on the front row - what can you do?

So that's how I ended up on the front row.

In front of a huge mirror.

In a glaring patch of direct sunlight.

Ugh.

When one is faced with an image of one's self doing Zumba, one can't help but look. And even though I tried to avoid glancing at myself in the mirror, it was hard considering every time I looked straight ahead, there I was. And when one is bathed in a stream of dazzling sun coming through the window, it tends to highlight one's imperfections.

There was a little too much midsection for my liking. A bit too much jiggle in the thighs. Even the occasional hint of - gasp! - camel toe. (Note to self: your gray workout pants ride up.) Oh, the horror!

To make matters worse, the instructor is one that I've only had once before. Her dances are different. She had a couple of new songs. So I wasn't exactly what you'd call sure-footed; it took me a minute to master each new move, during which time I bumbled around moronically, and by the time I'd caught on to one thing it seemed like she was on to the next. And then? She said something even more terrifying than her room-in-the-front-row comment: "Oh, here's our camera!"

I followed her eyes to the back of the room - and there, coming in the door, was a cameraman. A cameraman. As in, a guy toting video recording equipment. Seriously?

So there I was, bopping around in all my ripply, uncoordinated glory on the front row, being V-I-D-E-O-T-A-P-E-D. For what purpose I'm still not sure. I thought maybe I'd taken a wrong turn and accidentally ended up in hell instead of the 5:45 Zumba class.

Then it got even worse. Because the inevitable happened: I started to sweat.

When we do Zumba, Neighbor Nicki just glows. She gets this ... sheen. But I? Drip. Sweat comes from every pore. The ends of my hair drip sweat, it trickles down my back, down my neck, between my boobs - you name a body part, and it's sweating. Which leads to something terribly embarrasing: pit stains.

I slather on anti-perspirant before each workout. I've even tried the "clinical strength" kind. It's not like I intend to look like a sweaty fat guy by the time Zumba is over. But it's just the way my body works. Here, check it out:

Me playing Just Dance on the Wii. Note the ferocious pit stains. I get down, y'all.  

Exhibit #2: me jumping on my bed (don't ask). Ignore the huge gaping mouth and focus on - again - the pit stain of epic proportions.

For whatever reason, that's what I look like when I exercise. Only picture it like five times worse during Zumba. I was sweating like a whore in church, y'all. And what baffles me is that I'm the only person in the entire class who gets such heinous pit stains - or any pit stains at all, for that matter. I know because I spent the last five minutes of class discreetly checking out every single person in the mirror. There were big girls, girls with fitted shirts, you know, people you might reasonably expect to have sodden armpits like mine. But I didn't see a single spot of dampness on anyone else.

And yes, I shaved, so excessive hair isn't the problem.*

*Although that might be a contributing factor in the winter time.  

Anyway, last night's Zumba class wasn't the carefree rump-shaking fun-fest that it normally is when I've secured a spot at the back of the room (and when I'm not being, you know, videoed). I felt like I was under a microscope the whole time. Me and my pits. And my camel toe. And my spare tire.

I'm getting there half an hour early next time.
 

A Freak of a Week

I’m pretty sure today is going to set some kind of record as far as weirdness is concerned. Because it’s barely 9 a.m. and it’s already been a doozy.

I was up and down all night because Cameron kept wanting drinks. First he woke up and asked for milk, then less than an hour later he requested ice water. After that … more ice water. He wasn’t complaining of anything but thirst, so although I thought it was a little strange, I gave him what he wanted.

Then, around 5:30 – about an hour after I’d given him the last cup of water – I heard the unmistakable sound of a monumental mess being made (moms can hear this type of stuff from the very first gurgle, even from a dead sleep) followed promptly by Colin shrieking, “Cameron threw up!”

Indeed he had. All over his bed and his pillow and himself. So before it was even light outside, I was dealing with the disgusting cleanup that comes along with such a fiasco. And before I was done cleaning up said mess, Cameron had made another mess – this time from the opposite end. Poor dude.


Of course, this all had to happen just as Curtis was leaving for work. And on Colin’s first day back to school after over two weeks of spring break. And it kept happening, so throughout trying to fix breakfast for the two non-sickies and getting Colin ready for school, I kept having to pause to clean something or direct Cameron toward the large metal bowl I'd given him (because there's no way I trust a newly-three-year-old to make it to the toilet in time). And then of course I'd wash my hands practically raw. I think they're actually cracking as I type this.

Anyhow, lucky for me, he managed to stop barfing long enough for us to drop Colin off at school. Colin got out as usual, and as I was getting ready to pull away from the curb I noticed two little girls giggling and gesturing toward the back of my Jeep. I didn't think much about it, because I wasn't even sure they were talking about me. But then as I picked up a little speed and started down the long, curved driveway of the school, I heard a weird, rhythmic noise.

I looked in my rearview and couldn't see anything, but the noise persisted. Then, just as someone honked to catch my attention, I happened to look out the side mirror and noticed there was something flapping. I thought something had gotten closed in the back door, until I realized that Colin had climbed up in the front to get out. When I walked around to the back tire, I saw that it was a shirt. A purple maternity shirt (or so said the label), reeking of perfume, so caught up in the fender that it ripped when I pulled it out. I hadn't noticed running anything or anyone over, so who knows how it got there?

Anyway, after the shirt thing, I continued the very short trip home. Normally it's pretty uneventful because I don't have far to drive. But not today. Because within about a minute, I started hearing a wind noise. And then I was all, "Wow, where is that air coming from?" And then I noticed that - holy effing crap - the right rear door was hanging wide open!

Now, my Jeep notifies me of everything. It even beeps when my windshield washer fluid is low. So you would think that it would, I don't know, notify me when I'm driving with the door open. But it didn't. I don't even know how the door managed to come open in the first place, since Colin got out the front.

Door closed, I warily finished the drive home, and made it with no more freak incidents. Now I've got to deal with the lovely stomach virus and all that it entails, and hope and pray that it stays confined to just Cameron. Even though I just realized, with a sinking feeling, that I had Colin drink out of Cameron's cup in the middle of the night when he asked if he could have some water too. Ugh.

Is it the weekend yet?    

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