Auld Lame Syne


It's almost time to say buh-bye to 2012. I'm neither particularly happy, nor particularly sad, to see it go (not like the end of 2009, which I wanted to drop-kick as far away from me as possible). This has been a pretty normal year for me: you know, one involving pregnancy, childbirth, those lovely first few months postpartum, and struggling with baby weight. That has literally been the recurring theme in my life for the past, oh, eight years or so ... no matter what else accompanies it.

But this coming year is going to be different. There are no more babies to be had. No more baby weight to be gained (yet a whoooooole jiggly bunch of it to be lost. Ugh). Now I can direct all my maternal focus on ensuring that the ones I've already got grow up to be halfway-decent dudes. Like, seat-putting-down, manners-using, no-criminal-record-having, real-job-holding, non-two-timing men. Who have good personal hygiene and clean up after themselves around the house. And who are not, generally speaking, selfish assholes.

In the (not-so) grand tradition of the past few years, Curtis and I have absolutely zero plans for New Year's Eve. In years past, our celebrations may have included copious amounts of alcohol and a thumping beat and motel rooms and other such fun and exciting things. Once, we even spent it running through weird backstreets of Heidelberg, Germany while dodging airborne firecrackers and beer bottles (true story!)*

*But don't ask me to tell the rest ... my mom reads this blog, yo. 

Yes, in the past eight years we've gone from firecrackers and beer bottles to graham crackers and baby bottles. From being out until dawn, to struggling to stay awake until midnight. And on most days I'm totally and completely fine with that. But on New Year's Eve, I'm always kinda like, :( ... because even if we did have plans, and we did go somewhere and party it up like a couple of twentysomethings, the fact remains: we're actually thirtysomethings. With four kids and a mortgage that we didn't have a decade ago (not to mention a lower tolerance for both alcohol and all-nighters).

So I'm thinking that New Year's Eve 2012 will go pretty much like this: we'll tell the kids they can stay up until midnight, maybe crack open a bottle of sparkling grape juice and let them drink out of something that isn't plastic, and when they pass out draped over various spots on the couch at like 10:30 we'll carry them, limp and drooling, to their beds. Then Curtis and I will sit on the newly-vacated couch together and eat something that will go straight to my thighs and watch something ridiculous on TV (I hear there's a Honey Boo Boo special on) and pretend we're not nodding off like total oldsters. And then we'll count down to midnight, share a New Year's kiss, and then, grateful that it's all over, we'll go to bed. Because no matter how late we're up, the kids will start out 2013 at the crack of dawn ... just like they do every other day of the year.

But I guess how we usher in those first few moments of 2013 isn't important - it's what we do with the rest of the year that counts. And I'm not imposing any strict resolutions on myself, because I'll just feel bad when I don't get half (okay, three-quarters. Or more.) of them accomplished. So I'm just going to do my best to improve where I can; not to be perfect, but to be the best version of me.

Happy 2013, y'all!

A Very Frumpy Christmas

I've been looking over the blogs I read and now I feel kinda bad. Because most of them featured posts wishing their Christmas-celebrating readers a happy holiday. And, well, my blog didn't feature any such post. But it was because I was busy.

First I was busy getting woken up in the pre-dawn hours. We had told the kids not to get out of bed before it was light out, but you know how that goes. At about five o'clock I heard Colin in his bedroom trying to rouse his brother - in the next room. "Cameron," he hissed. "Are you awake? ARE YOU AWAKE YET CAMERON?" In the process he managed to wake both Cameron and myself. And my ensuing irritated Shhhhh woke the baby. So there's that.

Then I was busy telling the kids they had to put pants on because I wouldn't be able to post any pictures on Facebook if they were naked. I put them to bed wearing pajamas, I swear!

Then I was busy fumbling with the camera and saying, "Hold on a minute! Just a second!" while the Christmas morning excitement commenced, largely un-photographed, around me.

Well, I did get a few pictures ... like this one:

It's blurry (told you I was fumbling!), but I looooove Cameron's face.

After that, I was busy shuffling through wrapping-paper rubble with a trash bag in one hand and the baby on my hip. Because I couldn't put the baby on the floor due to said wrapping-paper rubble, and he refused to sit in his fun little exer-saucer because he apparently has an allergy to entertaining himself. And I couldn't ask Curtis to hold him because Curtis was doing what 90% of fathers do on Christmas morning: assembling various Christmas goodies. So I was picking all this stuff up, only I had to sift through it all first because heaven forbid I toss out a crucial cord, or piece, or accessory to something because it was hidden in all this paper.

Then I was busy cooking eggs for breakfast that nobody ate because they were busy with their respective toys and games and gadgets. And bacon that my weak-stomached cat Thurman ate, and, well, you can pretty much guess what happened after that.

Then I was busy mediating squabbles of "So-and-so won't let me see his such-and-such!" and "It's my turn to play with the (fill in the blank)!"

Between all that, I was busy messing around with the awesome tablet my sweet husband surprised me with. Because as much as I don't need another technological time-sucker, I sure do love them.

Oh yeah, and stuffing my face with all the leftover dessert food from Christmas Eve dinner, just because it was there and I had a mouth available. And not getting dressed, and sitting on the couch like a lard, and ordering in Chinese because I didn't feel like cooking dinner.

So you see? I'm sorry I didn't post a nice holiday wish for y'all, but I was just so busy doing a whole bunch of nothing except having a wonderful Christmas.

I hope you were doing the same!

Five Things I Hate About the Christmas Season

If you're reading this, I can come to one of two conclusions: a.) either the Mayans were wrong and the world did not in fact end on December 21st, 2012, or b.) you are the last person on earth and have chosen to read this blog instead of pillaging and looting and surviving and things because it is just that awesome.*

*I'm guessing that "a" is probably the correct answer, but whatever.

I'm glad there are only a few more days left until Christmas. I love the holidays and all, but the truth is, they exhaust me - especially now that I have kids. Things that didn't bother me pre-children are coming out of the woodwork to bug me now. Here, in no particular order, are the top five:

The threatening. I get tired of saying "no" all the other months of the year, so in December I switch it up to, "Remember, Santa can see you being naughty." But even with the switch, it still gets old after saying it 3,042 times a day. It's even worse since Coby, every time he does something wrong, has taken to wailing dramatically, "Now I'll never get Christmaaaaaaas!"

The Elf on the Shelf. I'm sure you've seen it by now. It's this cheeky little fellow:


Apparently he's poseable and your kids are supposed to find him making mischief in a different way each morning, like he was up to no good while they were sleeping. And that's all fine and dandy if you're the kind of mom who can keep up with that for a month straight, but, well ... I'm not that kind of mom. I know, horrible. It kind of makes me feel like crap because every day on Facebook I see no fewer than four photos of clever little elves arranged in adorably mischievous situations (making flour "snow angels" on kitchen counters, gift-wrapping the toilet, lounging in a dollhouse bathtub full of marshmallows), and all I can think of is how tiring that would be, year in and year out, and how I don't need any more things to clean up because I have a surplus as it is. Look, if you're the Elf on the Shelf kind of mom, I'm not knocking you. I'm just jealous because you're talented at making wonderful holiday memories for your kids and I'm not. And sad that my kids are probably going to end up on Jerry Springer because of my pitiful lack of holiday engagement. It's pretty much just a kick in my elf - er, self-esteem.

Christmas cards. I enjoy getting them because they make the front of my fridge all festive, but on some level, they're another holiday reminder of how much of a slacker I am. Especially the kind with the "yearly update" letters inside. They are always glowing reports of a wonderful year, and angelic kids. Mine would be like, "... and Coby is well on his way to learning not to wipe his butt with his brother's toothbrush! ... We hope." But I don't have to worry about what to write because I don't send Christmas cards. Never have. Never will. What's the use? I am the type of person who means well, but never manages to finish. Case in point: the twenty-plus handwritten, addressed-just-not-stamped thank you notes I have yet to send ... from my baby shower in April.

Pinterest. This is a brand-newbie on the list, since I just discovered Pinterest this year. I have a love-hate relationship with it. I love getting new ideas, but hate it when they remain just that: ideas. And it seems like around the holidays, there's all kinds of awesome Christmas-themed things to make and do and display. If I were as awesome as I feel like I should be, and actually did all the stuff I drool over on Pinterest, I'd have a Martha Stewart-y Christmas feast complete with like six scrumptious desserts and decor that looked straight out of the pages of "Perfect Home" magazine. Instead, I'm cooking up my Walmart ham and hoping my dinner guests don't mind scalloped potatoes from a box and shooing cats out of my pitiful, saggy Christmas tree.

The Salvation Army kettles. Now before you go clutching your pearls in horror at how stingy and Scrooge-ish I am, let me say this: I myself have been one of those volunteers, stationed in front of the store with my little red Salvation Army bucket, ringing the bell to solicit donations. It's a great cause. But see, here's the thing. They come out right after Thanksgiving and are around until Christmas. And I swear they are at everysinglestore, at least in my area. And every single store entrance and exit, times the number of trips I make in a month, equals ... a whole lotta donations. At first I try to drop something in the kettle every time I pass one. Then after I've given like fifty bucks in quarters, I realize that hey, I've still got a budget to stick to. So then I start passing by the kettles without dropping anything in, and that's when I feel like the world's biggest asshole because OMG, who could just walk right by? Especially when the bell-ringer is all, "Merry Christmas!"

So there you go: some of the things that bug me about "the most wonderful time of the year." But it's all good, because despite the way it sounds, I really do love Christmas time for the most part.

As long as I don't have to, you know, do much.


A Whiff of Wonderful!



No one, and I mean no one, can create a stanky funk like a houseful of dudes. And my dudes are still little with the exception of Curtis whose socks are literally crusty when he takes them off, so I can't imagine what it's going to be like when they throw sweaty adolescent feet and pits into the mix. Right now it's just this weird, dirty, "I've-been-outside" smell. Kinda like a dog. Speaking of dogs, Josie and Destiny don't do anything to make this house smell sweet, either. Neither do the three cats and their infernal disgusting litter box that I must obsessively keep scooped. And oh yeah - let's not forget the diapers from the six-month-old who hasn't potty-trained yet. Slacker.

So because I'd rather my house have a fragrance than an ODOR, I'm constantly fighting to keep things smelling fresh. And not too long ago I got a sample of this stuff called Downy Unstopables. They're, like, these little fragrance beads for your laundry - you just toss a capful of 'em in your washer with your regular detergent. Of course I was all over it since I'm totally down with anything that's supposed to make stuff smell better. I put it in when I washed my sheets (there are three scents - Fresh, Lush, and Shimmer - and I had the Fresh).

Y'all? I'll be the first to admit that when I get a sample, it only leads to me actually buying the product about 40% of the time. It has to really impress me. Mainly because I'm a total tightwad, and to be honest, spending money on laundry products isn't generally at the top of my list.

BUT.

My sheets smelled soooooo goooooood. You know that yummy feeling you get when you snuggle into soft, clean, freshly washed bedding? Yeah - multiply that times a hundred once you take a whiff of how a-MA-zing this stuff makes your laundry smell. It even made my whole bedroom smell good when I put the sheets on. I kept walking back there and inhaling as deeply as I could. It was like my "fresh linen"-scented air fresheners only this was real fresh linen! Ahhhhhhhh.*

*(That "ahhhhhh" was a sigh, not a scream. Sometimes it's hard to tell in writing. I wasn't like, "Ahhhhh!!! My sheeeeets!!!")

Anyway, after that first sample, I was hooked. And I've been buying Downy Unstopables ever since (even though I can't break away from the Fresh scent to try the others). At first they were on the grocery list I call my "Extras List" - things that I don't really absoLUTELY need but that would make my life a teeny bit better, like cat litter deodorizer. But now I just buy them. I don't use them in every single load (because with as much laundry as I have to do, I'd have to buy them by the case) but I love them for my towels and bedding and workout clothes. They're also fantastic for the times when a load gets forgotten in the washer and starts to stink and has to be rewashed.

... Not that I would know that from personal experience or anything.

*cough*

Clearly I should be purchasing forehead wrinkle cream in addition to my laundry products. 

Okay, so this T-shirt is from high school, but it smells fabulous!

Anyway, yes, this post is sponsored. But I cross my heart, you guys, this is honestly my opinion. When they asked me to post about a product, I chose this one from a huge list because I actually do love it and I don't want to lie about loving something when I don't. And because I love it (and because this is a sponsored post, but mostly because I love it), I'm going to steer you in the direction of the P&G e-Store - where not only can you score yourself some Downy Unstopables (at a discount!), but you can get some awesome perks:

- 15% off on a first-time order from a new customer, using promo code: A9Z-MN5-KY3-ISA
- Free Shipping on orders over $25
- Free Samples with every order

You can get TONS of other stuff at the P&G eStore too so check it out by clicking here. Or on any of the other bazillion links I have liberally peppered throughout this post for your clicking pleasure.

And then tell me how much you love your laundry. Because even if you can't make it disappear (I wish!), at least you can make it smell like awesome.

Wrong Hole, Dude!


Most weekends, Curtis and the dudes and I have a family movie night - during which we always, without fail, eat popcorn. And recently we've discovered the joys of Jiffy Pop. You ever heard of it? It's this stuff:


It's like a flat little skillet of popcorn kernels that you put on your stovetop and once it starts popping, the foil expands into this big bubble, and I kind of can't help standing back with my "flinch face" on because I keep envisioning a huge explosion of scalding popcorn. But keep in mind that I can't even open a can of biscuits without reacting in basically the same manner*, so whatever.

*Seriously, does the biscuit-can pop make anyone else nervous?

Anyway, when we were popping our Jiffy Pop over the weekend, we realized that the heathens kids had tampered with it and it wasn't holding together properly. This was especially evident when, during the middle of the popping, the bottom of the foil came loose and approximately two bazillion unpopped kernels spilled all over the stove.

Oops.

But we had a movie to watch, and (half) a bag of popcorn to eat. So I figured I'd just pick up all the damn kernels when that was over. Thus, movie night commenced as usual.

Fast-forward a couple of hours; I was getting the boys ready for bed. As my three-year-old, Coby, was undressing, I noticed an abnormally large amount of snorting and sniffling.

"Is your nose snotty or something?" I asked, hoping he wasn't getting another cold because OMG, y'all, I am seriously sick of sickness around here.

"Nope," he replied casually. "There's just a popcorn nut in it."

A ... what? No way. Surely my ears had just deceived me.

"A ... popcorn nut?" I repeated.

Coby wrinkled his nose. "Yep. A popcorn nut. From the stove."

I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Surely he didn't actually shove something up his nose. Surely he knew better. Maybe he was just messing around. After all, Cameron came up to me the other day (while eating a Kleenex, no less) and complained that it felt like there was a corn dog in his nose. So maybe ... maybe ... Coby was just being silly.

I was almost afraid to look, but I had to. So I sat him down and shined a flashlight up his nostril. And sure enough, I could see - embedded deep within - the shiny amber curve of an unpopped kernel.

"You have got to be kidding me," I sighed, staring in disbelief. "Coby, I need you to blow out through your nose, okay?"

He blew. Through his mouth. So I demonstrated: "No, buddy, like this ..."

He blew again. THROUGH HIS MOUTH, again.

Getting a little kid to blow through their nose is like getting a fish to poop in the toilet: virtually impossible. I was starting to panic a little bit. I knew the kernel was too far up for even my pinky finger to reach, and I didn't want to risk shoving it even further in. My mind raced. What if I, like, put my mouth over his nose and sucked as hard as I could? But that's so gross. But what if it works? Oh, but what if I suck too hard and the kernel comes flying out and lodges in my throat and I choke or something ... 

Curtis was out at the store getting milk, so I was at least temporarily on my own. Should I rush Coby to the emergency room? Should I Google "what to do when your kid shoves a popcorn kernel up his nose?" I tried to squish it down by pushing on the outside of his nose, but all that did was elicit a big fussy fit.

So I did the only thing I could think to do: just kept saying, "Don't sniff! ... DON'T! SNIFF!"

I heard Curtis come in the front door and practically attacked him. "OhmygawdCobyshovedapopcornkerneluphisnoseandhewon'tblowitoutandI'mnotsurewhatweshoulddooooo!" I hissed, trying (and likely failing) to hide my utter freaked-outness from the kids.

So Curtis, being the non-hysterical type of dude that he is, calmly surveyed the situation. "Yep, it's definitely lodged in there," he murmured. Then, cool as a cucumber, he said, "Get me a Placker."

Ever heard of a Placker?

It's this:

They're these dental floss picks that Curtis always chews on in a really gross old-man kind of way that we always have. And there's this fold-out toothpick thing.

So I got Curtis a Placker. And he flipped up the fold-out toothpick like a gang member with a switchblade: like he meant bidness. And with me assisting by holding the flashlight, he inserted that thing into Coby's nose. Confidently. Steadily. As though he picked noses with plaque-removal tools every day.

I held my breath.

Coby was like, "That tickles!"

And finally, after a little bit of finagling, pop! Out came the offending kernel. And I started breathing again.

And so did Coby, since, you know, his nostril wasn't blocked by popcorn any more.

I hope he learned his lesson. I know I learned one thing ...

... I'll never stop buying Plackers.

(Library) Booking It

So this morning, as I was standing at the counter eating from a pan of lemon bars with a fork cleaning up after breakfast, I realized that Cameron had forgotten to take his library book to school.

I got a sinking feeling, because the last time he forgot his library book, I thought I'd never hear the end of it. "I didn't turn in my boooooooooook so I couldn't check out a neeeeew ooooooonnnne!" he had bawled, almost unintelligibly, as soon as he got home. I'd felt so bad for him. He loves library day at school and was really disappointed when he didn't get to check anything out. And if I didn't get the book to him, it was going to be the same scenario this time.

I looked at the clock. Eight-thirty. Cameron's in preschool, which only lasts until ten o'clock, so I knew I'd have to get a serious move on if I wanted to catch him before his class went to the library.

I was still in my dropping-off-the-kids uniform which is basically a t-shirt and loungy pants. I wear those because I don't actually have to get out of the car (unless someone runs into me, I mean). Taking the book to Cameron would mean going into the school - which would mean, like, looking at least halfway presentable. Not only that, but it would also mean going into the school with both Coby and Corbin in tow.

But if I didn't drop off the book, poor Cameron would have to miss out on one of his favorite activities of the week. And if you're a parent, you know that the thought of your child being disappointed hurts your heart in a way that nothing else does.

So.

I hustled along, slapping on some makeup, putting on some clothes, trying to coerce my morning bedhead into a respectable 'do. Hurry, hurry. Grabbed the book off the kitchen counter. Hurry, hurry. Rounded up Coby and Corbin, putting on shoes, leading Coby out the door (and y'all? A sloth could beat Coby out the door). Hurry, hurry. Got everyone in the car and buckled into seats. Tried not to speed (too fast) to the school.

When I got to the school, run-walking as best I could while lugging Corbin in his heavy baby seat and practically dragging Coby's dawdling behind, I took the book to the secretary in the lobby. "I need to return this book to my son," I said breathlessly. "He's in preschool, and today's their library day, and he won't get to check out a new one unless he turns this one in." Pant, pant, wheeze.

The secretary smiled brightly. "Okay! Do you want to take the book to your son's classroom?"

I blinked. No! I wanted to scream. I have just busted my ass to get ready in a fired-up hurry and readied two uncooperative children and dragged them into and out of the car and schlepped them into the school lobby and it was like pulling two mules up a hill and my arm is aching from carrying this carseat and if I go back into the preschool room Coby will have a fit because he'll want to stay and I'll have to listen to him gripe about it for much longer than I care to and can't you just have someone deliver the damn book to the library?

But since I couldn't say that, I just said, "...Sure."

So I walked. With both kids. Down the hall. Into the preschool room. Fielded Coby's inevitable whines of, "Mom, can I stay? Can I?"

And finally, finally, dropped. Off. The book.

Whew.
All this for Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets.

When Cameron got home from school, I was hoping for a little gratitude. "So, Cam, were you glad that Mommy dropped your book off for you?"

"Yes, Mommy," he said.

"Great! So did you check out another book?" I asked.

"Yep!" he said proudly. "Look!" And he pulled out of his backpack ....

THE SAME BOOK HE'D JUST HAD ... ONLY IN SOFTCOVER THIS TIME.

The same book he had forgotten. The same book I had nearly run myself ragged in an effort to return to him. The same book that he could have just kept all week and I'd never have had to make the extra trip to the school.

He's lucky I love him ...


Merry Maturity!

There's been some kind of early Christmas miracle around here, y'all.

My kids are getting ... older.

Now, I'm not saying that they're suddenly so mature that nothing crazy happens around this joint. After all, it was just a few weeks ago that I discovered a water gun full of PEE stashed in their closet. And I still have trouble keeping any of them dressed. And their favorite thing to play lately is a little game they call, "Surprise, You've Got Tetanus!" No, there's no shortage of shenanigans here.

E-VER.

But lately there have been little developments that let me know they're - gasp! - approaching independence. Colin, for example, has been taking his own showers. And he enjoys letting his brothers in there with him. So he's been bathing himself, Cameron, and Coby everysingleday for the past two weeks or so. Which frees up at least twenty minutes of my evening! .....

... to do more laundry, or clean up from dinner, or something else equally exciting. But hey.

And you wanna know the second sign of independence? The one that really says something?

They've left. The Christmas tree. ALONE.

If you've been reading The Frump for a while, you know that I struggle with this every holiday season. I'm all picky about my Christmas tree - and for what? Within less than 24 hours it looks like an elephant tried to hide in its branches, thanks to my kids, and my dogs, oh and my cats too. See for yourself.

But this year ... this year ... the tree has been up for five days so far, and everyone has actually stayed out of it!


... Well, except for Meeko. (Which you would already know if you followed me on Instagram.)

I suppose I should enjoy it while it lasts, because this time next year Corbin will be a year and a half old and terrorizing the tree all by himself. But maybe just one pair of curious little hands won't do too much damage.

Hey, a girl can hope.


Anony-miss


I've had this blog for like three years now, and in that time I've gotten tons of anonymous comments. Sometimes they're from people who have a perfectly nice and valid comment, but just don't put their name for whatever reason. Once, and only once (knock on wood), it was something hateful about how I'm a terrible mother (what? Just because I nearly break my kids' fingers and accidentally lock them in the house and snip their ears when I cut their hair and sometimes almost get them drunk? Geez). But 90% of comments left by "Anonymous" read like this:

When some one searches for his necessary thing, thus he/she desires to be available in that detail, therefore that thing is maintained over here. Also visit my web blog ...

... and then there's some spam link.

I can indeed be gullible sometimes. My brother may or may not have convinced me when I was like fifteen that Michael Jackson had moved to our tiny rural town. (He said it was to escape the paparazzi! Sounded legit to me!) But does some spammer out there really think I'm dimwitted enough to read a comment that's poorly written in my own native language and then click on a totally unrelated link, like for penis enlargement or cigarettes or kayaks or tribal tattoos?

I used to be referred to the blog via my cousin. I am now not sure whether this publish is written by him as nobody else know such distinctive approximately my problem. You're amazing! Thanks! Visit my weblog ...

Not only do they think I'm going to click on it, but that my readers are going to see it and click on it as well. Like, "Hey, this person wrote such an awesome comment, and I really am interested in 'watch nfl streaming live free!'"

I mean, seriously?

It's going to be ending of mine day, however, before end I am reading this enormous piece of writing to improve my experience. My web site: .....

Joke's on them, though. Because all my comments have to be approved before being posted, for exactly this reason. So the only one who sees them, ultimately, is me.

Hello my loved one! I want to say that this post is awesome, great written and come with approximately all vital infos. I would like to see extra posts like this. My page: .....

Great article! That is the type of information that are supposed to be shared around the Internet! Disgrace on the seek engines for now not positioning this submit upper! Come on over and consult with my website .....

Actually no matter if someone doesn't understand then its up to other users that they will help, so here it takes place. Also visit my site .....

The funny thing is, most of these comments are left on one post: the one where I accidentally taught Colin a very bad slang word for male genitalia.

I guess if you're gonna be one and try to spam my readers, then that's an appropriate place to comment.


We Be Trippin'

Photo credit: Chrissi Nerantzi

So tomorrow we'll take off on the annual four-hour trek to Missouri to spend Thanksgiving with our extended families. That means right now, at this very minute, I should totally be catching up on laundry and packing suitcases instead of writing this blog. But ... you know. Whatever.

It's okay because by this point, I have packing down to a science. I'm pretty much the only person who packs our stuff. Curtis is capable of packing his own, but sometimes the dude needs some guidance because he is the hugest diva when it comes to suitcases. Seriously.

Here's how the contents of each suitcase - a mere weekend's worth of stuff - would lay out if everyone were left to pack their own:

Curtis - A couple pairs of jeans. Four or five t-shirts. Three pairs of shoes. No socks, because he always forgets them, resulting in him wearing the same crusty pair for the entire weekend. A pair of khaki pants and a button-up shirt and a tie "just in case." Make that four pairs of shoes because if he's gonna bring a nice outfit, he needs his dress shoes. And another button-up shirt or two in case something happens to the others. Two or three pairs of underwear which are totally pointless because he wears them until they're literally just some tattered fabric hanging from an elastic waistband, but you didn't hear that from me. Toothbrush, hair brush, cologne, body spray, toothpaste, mouthwash, razor, shaving cream, deodorant, dental floss, hair gel, contact solution, tooth whitening kit, eyebrow wax. Phone charger, alarm clock, some toothpicks, and whatever other randomness he can grab and toss in that bad boy. And now that he's grown facial hair, he'd probably pack every beard-and-moustache-trimming apparatus in the house. (Apparently even lumberjack-esque appearances require upkeep.)

Colin - Three pairs of underwear, but ONLY the Spider-Man boxer briefs because the other kind result in squirmy dances and indignant howls of, "My peeeeniiiiiis!" A pair of jeans or two, a few of the shirts that he always wants to wear to school but I won't let him (i.e., the basketball shirt that he outgrew two years ago, or the one with a huge stain). Pens and Post-It notes. His mini-stapler. A notebook or three. As many rolls of Scotch tape as he can get his hands on. His suitcase would look like a portable Office Depot ... with underwear.

Cameron - His favorite Super Mario Bros. pajamas. His Mario figurines. His laminated Luigi paper doll. Every other bit of Super Mario paraphernalia he can rummage out of the toybox. And whatever paper product he happens to enjoy eating (yes, eating) at the time.

Coby - His cowboy costume from Halloween. Cowboy boots. Cowboy hat. If he has those three things, the buckaroo trifecta, he's satisfied.

Corbin wouldn't pack anything, because like ... babies can't pack.

So yeah. That's why it's all up to Mom when it comes to gathering necessities into suitcases. I not only have to remember everything everybody needs on a daily basis, but also prepare for a variety of potential catastrophes by bringing "incidentals" like extra Pull-Ups and Super Glue (because y'all remember what happened last time). It's a good thing I have mad packing skillz.*

*Except for recently when I forgot to pack any socks for the baby. Oh, or the time when it was like thirty degrees outside and I forgot the kids' jackets. Sometimes I forget things, okay? *

*Except for my stretchy fat-girl pants. I'd never forget those. Especially at Thanksgiving.

Guess I'd better get to it. Happy turkey day*, everybody!

*Or turducken. Or tofurkey. Or whatever you're eating.

Rita and the Crappy Carpet Caper


I'm more than a little frustrated with my boys this morning. In fact, I'm downright furious.

They woke me up an hour early.

Now normally, waking me up an hour early wouldn't be (too) big of a deal. Would I be a little irritated? Yeah. A little grumpy? Sure. But not furious.

It's why they woke me up an hour early that's got me seeing red. Or, more accurately ... brown.

Picture this: the dark sleepiness of predawn. I had heard my two oldest (7 and 4) up wandering around, but didn't think much about it - they usually just play around if they're up before we are. But here came Colin.

"Mommy! Cameron did something really, really bad!" he shrieked, dancing from one foot to the other.

For a few seconds, my bed had never felt more warm and comfortable, and I had never wanted to go back to sleep so badly. It was like my whole being was revolting against the inevitable ugliness of the "something really really bad" that I was about to encounter.

But really really bad things generally do not resolve themselves. I should know.

So grudgingly, I got out of bed.

And freaked. The eff. Out.

Apparently our nuisance of a chocolate Lab, Josie, had pooped on the living room floor at some point during the night. And apparently Cameron stepped in it. And apparently Colin was all like, "Hey Cameron, since you're already poopy anyway, why don't you just carry the HUGE PILE OF DOG CRAP back to our bedroom and SMEAR IT ALL OVER THE FLOOR?" Which apparently made perfect since to Cameron since HE DID IT.

How's that for a "crappy" wake-up call?

Poop was, like, ground into what I swear was at least half of the carpet. The fluffy loops of their blue hooked throw rug were so caked with poo that there was no salvaging it - there was no way I was putting that shit, pun totally intended, in my washing machine.

I don't like to - and try very hard not to - lose my temper. But y'all? I yelled. Like, loud. I've cleaned up more than my fair share of poopy messes in my day (see here or here or here or here or here for some prime examples. Yeah. I know. And that's not even all of them). But this one ... this one was baaaaaaad. Six o'clock in the morning, and I'm sitting there in the middle of the boys' bedroom floor, throat raw, head pounding, tears coming down, crying "This is gonna take a steeeeeeeeam cleeeeeeeaneeeeeerrrrrr!"

My initial thought was to make them clean it up themselves. But a.) they seem to actually enjoy playing in poop, and b.) it was gonna take an expert hand to clean up that carpet, not two little boys scrubbing the mess in deeper.

After 45-ish minutes, I had the situation pretty much remedied. But I was right: it's gonna take a steam cleaner. Y'all know how much I hate my carpet anyway. It's beige, which is like THE most impractical color when you've got four children two dogs and three cats. And whoever bought it forgot to get the nice stain-resistant kind because I'm not kidding when I say that water stains it. WATER. Needless to say, there's a good chance the kids' floor will be permanently poop-smudged. Like a ghost. A poop spectre looming up at me from the carpet every time I set foot in there, cruelly reminding me of the time I had a mommy-meltdown in the middle of all that feces.

After all that? I got to resume my usual morning tasks of getting everyone fed, dressed, and ready to school. Yay Monday!

The boys are grounded from their Wii and their computer for a week. That just doesn't seem like enough, though, considering the enormity of the mess I had to clean up. Any suggestions?

Weigh to Procrastinate!


Even though I taught six Zumba classes a week well into my ninth month (not to mention regularly push-mowed my own huge yard and literally chased after three kids), I still managed to gain fifty pounds during pregnancy.

I know ... that takes some mad weight-gaining skillz. Try not to be jealous.

So after I had Corbin in June, I was all fat and stuff, and then I lost a few pounds. Like maybe twenty. But if you're good at numbers, you'll realize that still leaves around thirty extra pounds somewhere in the vicinity of my hips and thighs and upper arms and chins and back boobs. I started upping the exercise and watched what I ate and lost like ten pounds in a week, but then I got overconfident and gained it back.

Mass consumption of cookies will do that to a person. Who knew??

I'm still teaching Zumba, but only two classes a week now. And I'm sure my class is weary of seeing my big dimpled ass, encased in stretchy-yet-clingy pants, jiggling all gelatin-like in front of their faces. So it's time for me to drop a few more pounds.

I actually decided that in October, but then it was, like, Halloween candy season. So I figured, hey, I'll just eat the Halloween candy and then be good - dietarily, I mean - until Thanksgiving. Because who can just know there are Kit Kats and Milk Duds and Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkins lurking around their house and not eat them? I mean, really, who?

So I was totally going to be good after Halloween. But then it, like, got cold. And I mean ... cold weather demands that I bake, and make soup, and stuff my face with carbs. It's prime comfort-food season, y'all. And I'm a good cook, dammit.

So since I've come this far, I might as well wait on the diet - er, lifestyle change. Right? Because like ... Thanksgiving is next week. And I've got not one, but two delicious Thanksgiving dinners to attend. Featuring deep-fried turkey and homemade hot rolls and desserts and such.

What I'll do is, I'll splurge on Thanksgiving and then watch what I eat until Christmas. When of course I will have to bake cookies for Santa and eat the contents of my children's Christmas stockings and cook a ham with all the trimmings because hello, Christmas dinner?

After that, I'll seriously start in on losing these love handles and other wobbly bits. Okay, so maybe after New Year's because everybody knows that I can't pass up a good cocktail and some hors d'oeuvres.

But come spring, it's on!!!

... Until Easter, of course.

Born This Way?

I always said I wouldn't be upset if one of my sons turned out, you know ... that way. I have to admit, though, it's a little unnerving. It's just that I didn't really expect it to happen.

Some people say it's a choice. I used to think it was a lifestyle that people entered into consciously. But I'm almost positive my three-year-old, Coby was - in the immortal words of Lady Gaga - "born this way." And though I might not always understand it, I love him regardless, and I respect who he is.

You see, my son is ...

... a country boy.

A cowboy boot-and-hat-wearing, shotgun-and-racecar-loving, hunting-and-horses obsessed, tractor-truck-and-tool-tinkering, sweet-to-his-momma country boy.

This wouldn't surprise me so much if we lived, say, in the country. Or on a farm or something. But we live in an area with like 400,000 people. With, like, museums and theaters and malls and traffic jams. And aside from the times when we visit rural Missouri, where Curtis and I grew up, Coby has had very little "country boy" influence from the people around him.

My own origins, and Curtis's, are from an area where people ride horses to bars. With their kids. Where you go to Walmart (in the next town over because yours is too small for even a stoplight) and it's perfectly normal to see an Amish buggy parked in the lot. Where a traffic jam means there's a slow-moving piece of farm equipment up ahead, and every boy's first summer job is hauling hay. Where, at least in my school, a hunter safety education course was mandatory starting in the sixth or seventh grade, and opening day of deer season is treated like a national holiday. But despite being steeped in that sort of upbringing, Curtis grew up to be an eloquent guy who grasps the concept of "manscaping" (thank. Gawd.) and loves a good Merlot.

The type of men I grew up around are genuinely good people. They'd give you the (flannel) shirts off their (hairy) backs. They're just a bit ... rough around the edges.

I always thought that country boys were the way they are because of their upbringing and their surroundings. But then I had Coby. And one day when he was just a wee tiny lad, barely old enough to form sentences, he grabbed a watergun, stalked around the house, and announced that he was "shooting deers." I was absolutely floored, because at that point he'd had ZERO exposure to anything hunting-related. He'd never been around anyone who did it; Curtis hasn't hunted in years. And I'm a bleeding heart who would rather feed deer than shoot them, so he certainly didn't get it from me.

As he got older and his interests developed, his inclinations became more apparent. Fishing. Horses. Four-wheelers. Racecars. Tractors. Perpetual hat-wearing. Outdoor chores and a strong work ethic, even at this age. Cowboy boots. And a level of innate sweetness and politeness that I've only ever seen in a country boy.

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Did you know that some people are actually born this way? Because I had no idea. It has been a revelation. I thought it was a product of upbringing, but this little urban dude has country running through his veins. It's just who he is. And I love watching it develop.

You can't spell "cowboy" without "Coby," y'all.

The Candy Bowl

 
The Halloween candy is almost gone, thank goodness. I'm glad because a.) I've methodically picked out my favorites and now all that's left is the stuff I don't like, and b.) I'm sick to death of finding wrappers and stuff laying around.

Like yesterday when I went into the bathroom. I discovered, much to my chagrin, a sticky pink lump stuck to the floor beside the toilet. It was some kind of chewy candy - a Starburst or something - that someone had apparently decided they didn't like. (Why it was beside the toilet is beyond me, but you never know where you might find a nasty surprise in my house.) I figured since I was going to flush in a minute anyway, I may as well just toss it into the bowl. So I did that, then peed, flushed, and walked out of the bathroom, not looking back.

A bit later, Curtis went to pee and he was all, "Honey? Is this ... candy stuck to the inside of the toilet?"

I explained the situation, adding that I had thought it would go down when I flushed. Curtis shrugged and decided to try to dislodge it with a stream of pee. (Oh, to have the ability to aim!) But no such luck. "I'm sure it'll go down when I flush," he said with a shrug. So he flushed. And then like me, a few minutes earlier, he left without checking.

Fast-forward a few more minutes: we were getting ready to leave the house, so I told the kids to go pee first. Cameron went into the bathroom. I heard him peeing. There was a brief pause. And then he came out ....

... chewing.

I got a sick feeling. "Uh, Cameron? What's in your mouth?" I asked, not really wanting to know the answer.

"Candy," he said, opening his mouth to show me.

It was pink.

OMG. "Did you get that ... out of the toilet?"

He nodded. And then swallowed.

Oh yes he did.

The child ate candy that had been chewed up, spit onto the bathroom floor, tossed into the toilet, peed on not once, not twice, but three times by three different people, and marinated in toilet water for at least a half-hour.

Cameron eats paper. I'm used to that. But most paper isn't, you know, soaked in piss and festering with a bazillion raging germs.

If he doesn't outgrow this, no one is ever going to want to kiss him ...


Snippets and Such

Right now I'm straining to beat the clock. Because at this moment - while I'm just sitting here staring and I can't think of anything specific to write about - the baby is happily cooing away in his little bouncy seat. But I guarantee as soon as I start to write something, he'll be all, "Waaaaaah!"

So I think I'll try to tempt fate by writing snippets instead of a regular blog post.

Snippet #1: My kids are home today because their school is a polling place. So if all the worked-up political posts on Facebook don't drive me crazy, my children will. They're already acting as though I laced their cereal with uppers.

Snippet #2: I just had to spend sixty bucks on new jeans for the boys. That wouldn't be so bad except we just bought them jeans in late August - which means that their brand new jeans lasted all of two months before falling victim to raging knee holes. I have yet to figure out how they do it. Are they walking around the school on their knees all day? Perhaps doing an excessive amount of groveling?

Snippet #3: Colin just asked me how to say "mad grandma" in Spanish. Then he ran away. Naked.

Snippet #4: Which brings us to reason #4,020 that I can't figure out the knee holes in the jeans: my children NEVER. WANT. TO STAY. DRESSED.

Snippet #5: Do any of you watch The Walking Dead? Because I'm kind of obsessed with that show. I've seen every episode multiple times, and read every issue of the graphic novel. And the latest episode? I won't post spoilers but ... OMGWTFBBQ!

Snippet #6: It's rainy and cold here in Iowa today, and I seriously have to bake. It's not like, "Oh, it would be a nice day to bake some cookies." It's like, "No kids, fix your own breakfast, Mommy is baking. You're bleeding? Deal with it yourself ... I SAID MOMMY IS BAKING!!!" Why am I this way? It drives me nuts.

Mmmm ... nuts. Walnuts. In chocolate brownies. With chocolate chips.

..... Wait, what? Oh yeah. I was writing a blog post.

Ahem.

Snippet #7: I've been trying to be more active on Twitter but sometimes I feel like I'm talking to myself. In public. Also, I've been tweeting to the cast of The Walking Dead (see snippet #5) and none of them has answered me which kinda makes me a huge dork. If you wanna follow me and make me feel like I'm having a conversation, find me here.

Okay ... this post lasted seven whole snippets before the baby started crying. I think that's pretty decent. So while I go get him, let's talk: what are y'all up to today?


Beware of Boogers

So Halloween is over for another year. And if my "fat-girl pants" could talk, they'd be laughing maniacally right about now, 'cause y'all? I have ingested enough Halloween-related calories in the past few days to negate my next seven hundred Zumba classes. Time to re-boot the lifestyle change.

... You know, like maybe after Thanksgiving or something.*

*Which will probably be closer to Christmas.

Anyway. At least it was fun. (Well, mostly for the boys since they were largely excluded from the cleanup and the laundry and got to hear people gushing about how cute they looked and ate candy without worrying about it going straight to their asses.)

The dudes hollowed out pumpkins ...

 I seriously had to make them all put on clothing first. 

 Colin was a little freaked out by the pumpkin innards.

Which I artfully carved ...

 ... using a pattern, but whatever.

Then came the trick-or-treating. Colin and Cameron were Mario and Luigi, Coby was Woody from Toy Story, and the baby was some sort of nondescript froggy-looking thing. Although he didn't go trick-or-treating because, hello, no teeth. He stayed home with my mom, who was visiting, and helped hand out candy.

Those aren't Christmas lights ... they're orange for Halloween.

I'm glad my mom was here to hand out candy while Curtis and I took the kids out into the neighborhood. Because as much as I enjoy seeing the cute little trick-or-treaters in their adorable costumes, I've definitely got a few Halloween pet peeves.

It was cold, and I had bundled the boys up as well as possible without them having to cover up their costumes with coats, but their noses still got all runny. And in my grand tradition of being grossly underprepared, I forgot to bring any tissues. Candy wrappers aren't all that great for wiping snot. So when my three-year-old came up to me with a booger the size of Texas attached to his finger, I was at a loss. See, normally I'd tell him to wipe it on the grass or something but we were like in people's yards and they were like out there and they'd be all, OMG! That woman just told her kid to wipe a booger in our grass!

So I just told him, "Wipe it on your pants."

So he did. But it was one of those superglue-boogers that just sticks to your skin, and it didn't come off on his pants. Meantime, Curtis and the other boys were moving further ahead.

"Just wipe it on my pants, then," I hissed. And he tried, and again, it just stuck to him. So, cringing inwardly, I plucked the booger from his finger and told him to run on ahead and catch up with his brothers.

But then there I was, standing in the middle of the sidewalk with a booger - not even my own - stuck to my fingers.

When a crowd passed in front of me, I quickly bent down and tried to swipe it onto the lawn. But it didn't budge ... only collected a little booger-toupee of grass. So I forcefully wiped it onto my own jeans. And then spent the rest of the trick-or-treat time with a giant grass-covered booger stuck to my leg, like the hairy mole of a witch.

Fun times.

Since our trick-or-treat night is actually the 30th, we host an annual neighborhood bonfire on the actual Halloween holiday. It's always a good time.

I got exactly zero pictures of Coby without his mouth open.

 ... See?

Cameron told me he'd roast me a hot dog. Because I love mine burnt black and covered with ashes and dirt.

Nothing like a bonfire to make your buns freeze and your face burn. Unless you, y'know, turn around ... but then you have the opposite problem.

I had a nice Halloween, but I'm pretty glad it's over. Although now I have the next month to pretend I don't spend every waking moment daydreaming about going into my kids' massive candy stash and stuffing my face.

Did y'all have a good Halloween?

Repeata-Rita


What's up, y'all?

What's up, y'all?

What's up, y'all?

Oh, I'm sorry. I'm just stuck on "repeat myself" mode after getting the kids ready for school this morning. Does anybody else ever feel like you just say the same thing OVER AND OVER AGAIN AD INFINITUM like a broken effin' record? Just a minute ago, as a matter of fact, I asked my three-year-old to go down to the laundry room, open the door, and turn the light off. And it went something like this:

"Coby, can you please go open the laundry room door and turn the light off?"

Coby starts down the stairs. Is distracted by a piece of fuzz.

"Coby. Can you please go open the laundry room door? And turn the light off? Please?"

Coby, still rolling the fuzz between his fingers, finishes descending the stairs. Opens door. Walks into laundry room and starts inspecting the contents of the pantry therein.

"Turn the light off please!"

Coby drops the fuzz and grabs bottles of water from the pantry. "Mom, I got you a drink!"

"Thank you, but we have water in the fridge. Put those back and then turn off the light."

Coby puts the water back. Fingers longingly over a box of scalloped potatoes. "Can we have these?"

"Coby. It's 8 o'clock in the morning. We're not having scalloped potatoes. TURN. OFF. THE LIGHT and get up here."

Coby scrambles up the stairs.

"COBY! THE LIGHT!!!"

That's pretty much how my whole morning goes. Every morning. I swear my kids have a "Mommy's voice" filter in their brains that just selectively screens out anything I say unrelated to Mario Brothers, the playground, or Chuck E. Cheese. I guess they must be honing that special man-skill of tuning out the wife's voice later on in life. (Which by the way is equally annoying ... cough*Curtis*cough.)

Colin's shoes, for example. I had to tell him no fewer than six or seven times this morning to put them on. And it's like ... just put the damn things on already. Am I asking you to donate a kidney? No. Am I asking you to consider spending a year as a monk in the furthest reaches of Tibet? No. I'm asking you to put your shoes on. It's not something that takes a lot of thought, or preparation, or emotional readiness.

Now if I had asked him to fold a basket of laundry, I'd totally understand the procrastination. My clean laundry is working on day three in the basket as we speak.

But I'm the mom, dammit.

Gla(mom)orous

My husband went to New York on business. He does this type of thing every few months. And while he's gone, guess who gets to stay behind and single-handedly take care of every glorious household duty?

Yep. Me. The missus. The little woman. Suzy Homemaker.

It's, like, sickening how glamorous my lifestyle is sometimes.

When Curtis called yesterday, he was all, "I'm in New York! Boy, you should see this hotel. It's really nice. It's on the twelfth floor, and I have an incredible view. We don't have any meetings until tomorrow, so we're going to do some sightseeing. First up, Central Park!"

And then throughout his marvelous New York day, he texted me pictures like this:


... And this ...


... and this.


So I took pictures throughout my day. Like ...

... the crusty baby-cereal patch on my tres-chic elastic-waisted pants ...

... and the typical demeanor of the teething four-month-old ...

... and the unfortunate spilling of the peppercorns by a three-year-old who was getting into the cabinets to eat all the marshmallows ...

... and the dishes in the sink because the dishwasher was full ...

... and Cameron using bubble gum as a mustache and a necklace ...

... which led to me spending like ten minutes picking it out of his neck hairs while he whined ...

... and the state of the living room less than ten minutes after I vacuumed ...

... and the mysterious gash that happened while I was taking the dogs out to pee, that no one would claim responsibility for ...

... and more crying ...

... and the laundry ...

... ohhhhh, the laundry ...

... and bath time.

There were some things my little "day-in-the-life" photo diary didn't capture: like the eight hundred squabbles I moderated. Or when the dog ate an ill-gotten bag of pork rinds and then barfed them up all over the carpet. Or the screw I had to remove from Coby's ear. Or the leftover pork roast I reheated for supper. 

I didn't text any of these pictures to Curtis because I didn't want him to be jealous of this fabulous time I'm having here in Iowa, while he's suffering through New York City sightseeing and lobster dinners. 

Wife of the year right here, y'all.


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