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 ...


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