Five Pitfalls of the Potty-Trained

In the wee hours of the dawn a couple mornings ago, I was sound asleep.*

*And by "sound asleep" I mean sound asleep in the "Mom sleep" sort of way, which is the deepest sleep you can be in while still keeping your ability to snap awake at the first sound of someone barfing or having a nightmare.

Suddenly, so close to my face that I could feel breath, came a whisper of, "I need help wiping."

Y'all? I've started my mornings in better ways than being startled out of my skin by such a heinous request. I dragged myself out of bed, stumbled to the bathroom, squinting against the sudden onslaught of light, and tiredly but dutifully removed fecal matter from the tiny butt of a four-year-old who has trouble doing it himself.

And that got me to thinking. I've potty-trained three kids now: some successfully, some not so much. And I'm always excited about it. Like it's this huge breakthrough. Like it's the end of all the messes I'll have to clean up, ever. Like, no more diapers! I'm freeeeeeee!

Somehow I never consider that "no more diapers" does NOT mean "kid uses the bathroom with complete independence and requires no assistance whatsoever EVER EVER AGAIN." Because even when they're "potty trained," there are several factors to contend with, which in my experience can take literally years to overcome. For example:

The "Uh-Oh, Mommy!" This is what happens when the kid knows how to use the toilet but doesn't always grasp the timing of getting there. It's what daycare centers and kindly moms refer to as "accidents," and what I refer to as, "Damn it! I don't need any more laundry!" They haven't yet learned to read their body's signals, which often results in either soiled pants or an unsavory trail of something all the way to the bathroom. And even when they're a little older, they sometimes get too engrossed in playing or tormenting their siblings or something and bam: Piss City. (Or Diarrheatown, if you're particularly unlucky.)

The Clothing Conundrum. This is when the kid's out of diapers, but still sucks at maneuvering clothing up and down and snapping and zipping and stuff. Sometimes you have to help them pull their pants down. Sometimes you have to help them pull their pants up. Sometimes you forget that they can't pull their own pants up which leads to them waddling pantsless into the living room where you are entertaining company. Sometimes they take their shoes off in order to get their pants down, which then must be put on again. And most of the time, there are buttons and zippers to contend with.

Bonus points if your kid feels he must be completely naked in order to poop.

The Aim Game. This might be a moot point for mothers of girls, but for those of us with kids of the dudely persuasion, it's definitely an issue. Because even when your kid is able to use the toilet, it takes a long damn time (in some cases, a lifetime) for them to learn to use it successfully. When boys pee, the goal is simple: just hit the water. You'd think this would be an easy task, but no - because there are apparently things to do while you pee that are more important than aiming. Like looking around and messing with the flusher and the towel on the rack above the toilet and peeing all over the place in the process. This is to say nothing of the fact that you must remind them on a constant basis to PLEASE. Put. The seat. Down. 

... For like six years. Possibly longer if you aren't consistent.

The Hygiene Hassle. As illustrated by my tale above, they will need help wiping after they poop. They'll need your assistance (heh heh ... ass-sistance) for so long that you start to envision yourself wiping their butts as you send them off to college. You'll wonder, "Does my child really need help or is he just being lazy about it?" And then your question will be answered when your kid tries to wipe himself and ends up with poop smeared all over the toilet and down the backs of his legs and in between his fingers. Yes. They need help. For years. And you'll pay dearly if you don't drop everything at once to attend to said butt-wiping - because either they will have made a mess with it, or the poo will have started to dry (it happens fast, trust me) and it will be a spackled-on situation that only a box of baby wipes can handle.

The Perils of Public Peeing. Or pooping. Either way, once your kid realizes that he can use the toilet, the public restrooms of the world become his personal playground. Shopping at Target, the grocery store, at the mall, the park, the zoo, the doctor's office, the hardware store, Taco Bell, church ... it doesn't matter where you are. If you're away from home, he's going to want to check out the "facilities" - guaranteed. The problem is, you can't just send a barely-potty-trained little person in by themselves and hope for the best. You have to stop what you're doing and accompany them. Not only that, but they don't get how nightmarishly disgusting public toilets are, so they're putting their hands all over them and you're cringing and saying, "No, don't touch that!" and "NO! Don't touch that!" and then of course you have to wash their hands, which means hoisting them up to a sink they can't reach and getting their sleeves all wet and water all over the place and hoping they don't touch anything with their clean hands while you're fetching paper towels.

See what I mean? I don't know why I get so excited about my kids being out of diapers. Because when I think about it, I'd rather spend 45 seconds changing one (I'm a pro at this point) than do most anything else I just talked about. Yeah, they're out of diapers, but so what? I'm still a virtual slave to their bodily functions.

I think I'll just invest in some huge diapers and encourage my kids to use the toilet less. At least until they learn to do it all by themselves.

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Night Owl, Morning Buzzard

Isn't it pretty awesome* how the older you get, the more sleep deprivation sucks?

*And by "awesome" I mean "stupid and unfair."

There was a time in my life when three or four hours of sleep was the norm. In my college days and early twenties, I could party study all night and still make it to class or work the next morning, fresh-faced and relatively unfazed. But these days when I get three or four hours of sleep, I wake up looking like something that's been dead for like a month. And I feel even worse: like I'm hung over. Only without having so much as a drop of alcohol. Which is also "awesome."

Still, I'm a glutton for punishment. Because I can't. Seem. To stop. Staying. Up. Late.

It's just ... the irresistible allure of quiet time. You know? Those precious hours after the kids go to bed. When nobody is bickering, or shouting to be heard over his brothers who are also shouting. When nobody is asking for a drink or help with wiping or the umpteenth snack of the day. When my TV is not monopolized with video games or Nickelodeon. When I'm not yelling things like "Stay out of the window! You're naked!" and "Go put some pants on!" and "You cannot possibly still be hungry!" and "Stop hitting your brother!" When I'm free to do basically whatever it is I want to do, privately, uninterrupted. Whether it's a shower wherein I actually have time to shave, some solo toilet time, or watching stupid videos on the Internet, I can indulge without hearing, "Mommy, I want ..." or "Mommy, can you ..." or "Mommy, he's ..." a hundred times.

But then the next morning, when my alarm goes off just after six, I feel like I spent the previous night clubbing and slamming down shots instead of sitting on the couch in my fat pants watching Teen Mom and eating ice cream. My eyes are scratchy and dry. My head is pounding. I'm disoriented and groggy and do things like accidentally serve my kids frozen waffles that are still frozen. No wonder the butter didn't spread right.

Sometimes I feel all indignant about it. Like, if I'm gonna feel this way I might as well be out having fun first. But then I realize that at this point in my life, lounging on my couch with a snack and some cheesy TV and a few precious, uninterrupted moments to chill is fun. Much more so than stuffing my poor boobs into a pushup bra (okay, rolling them up and lifting them in with heavy machinery) and going out to a crowded club and forking over my hard-earned cash for overpriced drinks.*

*Which is another problem I never used to have, because dudes are generous when you're young and cute, but that's a story for a different post.

So tonight I'll stay up until I realize I'm drooling on myself, and then tomorrow morning I'll wake up like, "Why? Whyyyy?"

But it's okay. Because one thing is still the same, even after all these years: sometimes, a little fun is worth it.


Even though there are days when I feel (and, okay, look) about a hundred, I'm really not all that old. I mean, I'm 33. Which is obviously the oldest I've ever been so it's old in my personal experience, but in the grand scheme of things, I'm still what the kids call a "spring chicken." *

*Okay, so the kids don't call it that. I'm pretty sure your grandma doesn't even say that any more. Must brush up on new phrases.

You know what makes me feel the oldest, though? It's not finding a silvery, pube-textured hair (or six) in my normally-brown locks. It's not the creases across my forehead that make me look like I walk around with my eyebrows raised all the time. It's not my long boobs, or the spider veins on the backs of my legs, or my joints creaking and popping when I get out of bed in the morning.

It's watching my kids master technology.

Or maybe, more accurately, it's struggling with it myself when it seems so easy and natural for them. I distinctly remember my grandparents puzzling over "the machine" ... i.e., the microwave we bought them for Christmas in the early '80s. My mom perpetually had trouble operating our VCR, and has only recently gotten the hang of texting. For years, texts from Mom - a woman with a degree in English, mind you - looked something like this:

I hate to admit that I'm like that about certain things, but I am. The other day, I was trying to put a new Zumba song onto my iPhone and ended up accidentally deleting my ENTIRE playlist from both my phone and my computer just a few hours before I was supposed to teach a class. On the other hand, my nineteen-month-old son can put his grubby little hands on my phone and in just a few seconds, with a couple of casual swipes, start playing a song, turn on the flashlight function, and send out a couple of random texts. He does these things as though he were born knowing how to do them.

Remember these? The iconic Fisher-Price phone that everybody had as a kid? Yeah. My kids don't recognize it as a phone. They think it's a car. I mean, why would they identify it as a phone when they've never seen a rotary dial, or a handset you have to pick up?

They're never going to know what it's like to not have a phone accessible at all times (do public pay phones even exist any more?) - or, better yet, to be tethered to a wall when you talked on the phone at home. They'll never know a time when phones were just phones, without apps or special functions. They'll never have to go to the library and use an actual card catalog to look things up, or master the Dewey Decimal System. They'll never know boom boxes or Walkmans (uh, Walkmen?) or cassette tapes.

In the meantime, I'm going to be the mom my kids make fun of for fumbling with their new-fangled contraptions. I mean, at the rate things change, who knows what kinds of gadgets we'll have access to by the time they're teenagers! Jet packs, maybe?

The world has already switched to Blu-ray while I'm still in DVD mode. And I can't even work our DVR.

Things aren't looking good for me, technologically speaking.

When Fans Attack

Yesterday, I was ruthlessly attacked in my own living room.

I was sitting on the couch, minding my own business, completely unprepared for the impending assault.

And then it happened. The first bomb dropped.

Gray, fluffy, and at least three inches in diameter, it landed squarely on my lap. And before I even had time to register what it was, the air around me was suddenly filled with them. They rained down from above, liberally scattering themselves all over my couch, my carpet, my dog, my hair.*

*And my mouth, before I remembered to close it. Pttthhh.

Dust bunnies, y'all. Sprinkling from my ceiling fan like dirty, annoying snowflakes.

I don't know why it happened. Number one, no one was doing anything to the fan to dislodge that much crap. I mean, it was spinning, but it had been spinning for a while. Number two, I have cleaned it recently. And by "recently" I mean like a month ago. But still! My house may not be the most immaculate joint in town (case in point: this), but I have a hard time believing that it's so incredibly dusty that my fan blades were all, "Man, we can't even spin under these seven thousand pounds of dust! Let's throw it all over the living room in protest!"

Things like that are like salt in a wound, you know? I mean, it's bad enough that we have to pick up toys and clothes and crap and keep things tidy. Then on top of that we have to wash dishes and laundry and bedding. And on top of that there are toilets and carpets and bathtubs and sinks and counters. It sucks to keep up with all that as it is - and then you add things like ceiling fans and high-up knickknacks and curtains and grout and window sills and baseboards and dryer vents and walls and the insides of dishwashers. And a whole bunch of other stuff that, as proven yesterday, may actually assault you if you do not clean them with satisfactory regularity.

I mean, seriously, when you think about it ... everything is dirty. And once I get started cleaning the "unnecessary" stuff, I never know where to stop. I'm wiping yogurt off the wall (what??) and suddenly I see a handprint so I wipe that off too. And then the spots I've wiped look clean compared to the rest of the wall, so I think maybe I need to clean the entire wall. While I'm cleaning the wall I notice that the doors are also smudged with dirt. And then the door frames are dusty. And, oh, speaking of door frames, look at the tops of those picture frames! And those light fixtures! And that space where the carpet meets the wall in everysingleroom! 

Fantastic artwork by the inimitable Allie Brosh of Hyperbole and a Half. Go right now. It's hilarious.

Madness, I tell you.

To protect my own sanity, those are the kinds of things I only clean when they are like totally filthy (or when they fall onto my head while I'm parked on the couch). Because if it doesn't pose an immediate threat to my family's health and/or my ability to be considered a "fit mother" - or make someone gasp in horror when they enter my house - I'm not overly concerned about it.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who may or may not be growing colonies of strange organisms behind my refrigerator ... do you clean ALL the stuff ALL the time?


Six years ago, Curtis and I went temporarily insane took a huge leap of faith. We packed up our stuff and moved to an entirely different state, halfway across the country, with a.) no jobs in place and b.) nowhere to live once we got there. And oh - did I mention I was seven and a half months pregnant with our second child?

Yeah. It was a teeny bit stressful.

We put our stuff into storage and lived in a Ramada Inn for a couple of weeks. By that time I was so pregnant that I actually had trouble finding a doctor who would see me. But lucky for us, some wonderful things happened while we were hotel-ing it. Like serious miracles, y'all. My husband got the job he'd been hoping for, and we bought our very first house. And then, less than three weeks after we closed on the house - just in time for the paint to dry in the nursery - came the most awesome blessing of them all.

A big, burly baby with massive shoulders and impressive muscle tone, covered in enough hair to make a toupee jealous.

We named him Cameron. And I was instantly in love.

Today, that burly baby turns six years old. And I'm so proud of the little man he's becoming (even though it's happening entirely too fast OMG somebody make it stop! *sniff sniff*). He is a Kindergartner who reads at a middle school level, an imaginative, Lego-loving, lively, funny dude, and a certified no-training-wheels bike rider.

... Not to mention a sweet big brother.

He's becoming quite wise in his old age, too. Yesterday morning he came up to me and said, "Mommy, can I give you a little advice before school?"

"Sure, buddy," I said. "What is it?"

He looked at me with big, serious gray eyes and said, "Never run from the police."

I'm pretty sure I looked kinda like this afterward, minus the mullet and facial hair.*

*Okay, minus some of the facial hair.

But as quickly as Cameron is growing and maturing, he's still my baby. Especially as long as he continues to make faces like this when girls are chasing him:

The ladies love him, but so far he isn't interested.

And that's fine by me.


I may not be the most patient mom, or the most crafty and creative, or 100% attentive 100% of the time (I mean ... Facebook and Pinterest ...). But like most moms, I try my hardest to make sure my kids know that I love them. That they're never far from my mind. That they're always in my heart.*

*And my stuff. They're also always in my stuff. I can't have anything nice.

One of the ways I do this is to write lunch box notes. The boys' lunches are far from fancy - you won't find, like, California rolls and soybean crisps and organic crinkle-cut carrot slices neatly arranged in a bento box or anything like that. It's more like a PB&J and some kind of fruit and a tube of yogurt and a juice box. But the special thing about their lunches is that, every single day, no matter how short on time I'm running, I always tuck a little note into each one.

Yeah, they're cheesy. Sometimes they're little poems. Sometimes I write them on a banana with a Sharpie. Sometimes I draw pictures.

Sometimes I write them on their sandwich baggies, like I did yesterday.

So when they got home from school, I was cleaning out their lunch boxes and throwing away all the trash that they neglect to pitch at school (they somehow manage to throw away things like permission slips and informational newsletters from the teacher, but bring home sticky granola bar wrappers and half-eaten yogurt tubes. Go figure). Anyway, Cameron - my kindergartner - was like, "All my friends wanted to see the note on my sandwich bag."

Immediately I puffed up with pride and mentally patted myself on the back. I knew it: my kids' lunch notes were awesome. Woo hooooo!

But then came the rest of the sentence. "I was embarrassed," he said.

... Oh.

Then it got worse when Colin chimed in: "Yeah. My friends say it's babyish."

Y'all? I could not have been more surprised. They may as well have kicked me in the shins and said, "No more lunch notes, bitch!" I went from feeling like a fabulous, caring mom to envisioning my kids being bullied and ridiculed and growing up to be colossally dysfunctional adults and talking about it on the Jerry Springer show all because of my stupid notes.*

*Okay, so I might tend to be a little bit dramatic.

I didn't let the kids see my eyes well up with tears. I mean, I expected these sorts of things to happen - like someday they'd stop wanting me to kiss them goodbye at school drop off. Key word: someday. Not now. Not when they're in Kindergarten and third grade. Were they seriously too cool for my sweet gestures? Already?

But I tried to play it cool, even as I was dying inside. "Okay," I said, shrugging casually. "No more lunch notes, then."

I think they may have caught on to my distress despite my best efforts, because Colin said, "Well, you can still put notes in. You know, if you want."

"Yeah," added Cameron. "I don't care what my friends think anyway."

"Does it embarrass you guys?" I asked. "Honestly?"

"Yes, but it's okay. Keep putting them in there."

Later, as I was putting their washed and dried lunch containers back where they belong, something told me to open the bottom zipper section of Colin's. I never pack anything in that section, so it's hardly ever open. And this is what I found:

Yep. A collection of lunch notes that Colin has saved. He's had this particular lunch box for two years now, so some were from last year and some were from this one. Tears sprang to my eyes again, but for a totally different reason this time. He considers them valuable enough to save them. To actually put them in a separate section of his lunch box and keep them.

So this morning as I was packing their lunches, I wrote a note on their sandwich baggies again. But this time, I wrote it smaller, more discreetly, across the bottom. Because no matter how "embarrassing" and "babyish" it may be, my boys still like to be reminded of how much their mom loves them.

And besides, if your mom doesn't embarrass you, who will?

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Baby(less) Mama

I'm pretty sure I'm coming down with something. Something major. Something invasive. I've had it before, so I'd recognize the symptoms anywhere.

The inability to pass by newborn-sized clothes at the store without stopping to wistfully finger their blanket-soft fabric and emit an involuntary, "Awwww!"

The mental rearrangement of rooms ("Well if we put these two kids in a room together, that would free up some extra space ... or maybe we could convert the basement ...").

The twinge of jealousy at the endless parade of pregnant women and the Facebook posts relating to their ultrasounds, showers, doctor visits, cravings, and birth stories.

Yep: I'm talking about baby fever.

In my experience, it rears its ugly head when your "baby" starts doing not-so-babyish things. Like singing "Gangnam Style." Or, you know, just sitting there looking especially mature - like after your little boy gets his hair cut and even though it was just to get rid of the mullet it actually succeeded in making him look way older and you can't help but sob Where did my baby go?! and he wears a confused expression as you weep into the top of his head.*

*Or that may just be me.

It's that squishy, unsettling feeling inside when you realize that you don't have a baby any more, and that you might never have a baby again. Which then leads into unprovoked reminiscence of the warm weight of a newborn cradled in your arms, sleeping peacefully; the first smiles, gummy and beaming and joyful; the awe-inspiring delicateness of those impossibly tiny fingers and toes.

And therein lies the danger of baby fever. It causes you to recall only the wonderful and lovely moments of parenting a newborn. I think it's, like, some kind of biological mechanism to ensure that we'll forget all the crappy stuff - because if we didn't, the human population would be a lot more sparse. Do I ever think about the nights when I don't sleep more than two hours at a time? The leaky boobs? Being sprayed by a projectile poop? Well, sometimes. But the thing about having baby fever is that you can think about that stuff and still finish the thought with "... but, babies!"

Had my husband gotten the vasectomy he so generously agreed upon, right after the birth of our fourth son like he proposed, I'm not sure I'd be in this baby-craving boat. Because at that point, I was done. It was still fresh and I was like, "Yep, I'm good, our family is complete, let's stop." He went to the urologist for a pre-surgical consultation and everything.

But then? The guys at his work started swapping horror stories of their own vasectomies. You know how when you're pregnant, everyone feels the need to share the most gruesome and terrifying aspects of their birth stories in explicit detail? Yeah. Apparently it was like that. Because now it's nineteen months later and nothing ever came of the consultation we paid the doctor fifty bucks for.

He says he's leery of the whole procedure because "the guys at work said it feels like someone pushing down really hard on the top of your head." And I never get around to asking him what the hell the top of his head has to do with his testicles because I'm too busy yelling "Did you not see what childbirth did to my vagina?" Third-degree tearing, pooping in front of strangers, and one emergency C-section - and don't even get me started on the preceding months of pregnancy - and he's worried about some weird sensation at top of his head.

Top of his head, indeed. Hmmph.

In the meantime, our youngest baby is growing up. He'll be two this spring. And the yearning for another baby, the one that I thought was gone, is slowly reappearing - like an iceberg melting, exposing things long considered lost. And even though my husband is completely and totally opposed to having another baby, we're still technically able. And let me tell you this: for someone like me, who struggled with infertility, being able to have a baby and not doing it is almost torturous. It's a huge, nearly-irresistible temptation. It's like dieting, I tell him - when there are no cookies in the house to eat, then you don't eat cookies. But having cookies in the house and not eating them is a whole different ballgame. If he were properly vasectomized (that's got to be a legit word, right?), and I knew we couldn't have any more babies, I'd probably accept it better. But he isn't. And it doesn't appear that he will be, any time soon, because of the weird feeling on his pwecious wittle head. *insert eye roll here*

And so here I am, craving another baby like those cookies I just mentioned. At first I could temper that with reasonable arguments: namely, kids cost a lot. But now, as is always the case, my disease has progressed and is affecting my logical thinking. Now it's more like, "Kids cost a lot. ... But who needs money when you have love?"

It's serious, y'all. A certifiable case of baby fever. Too bad I can't give it to my husband.

Vacation: All I Ever Wanted?

Like many of you, I was recently trapped in what everybody's calling the "polar vortex." When it's super-cold outside I usually say it's "cold as balls out here" (because I'm such a lady), but this kind of cold was literally indescribable: no off-color phrases come to mind, which doesn't happen very often. It was just lung-burning, skin-chapping, bone-chilling, nose-hair-freezing cold. (So it's probably a good thing that my leg hair is nearing man-like lengths. Extra insulation, right?)

I don't know how people live in subzero temperatures, like, all the time. Because even though I'm a midwesterner and relatively accustomed to some pretty harsh winters, this positively sucked.

(If you follow me on Instagram - I'm fightingfrumpy if you're on the mobile app - you'd have already seen this picture. Plus photos of things like penis snow graffiti and a downright freaky picture of my toddler and a Barbie with a 'fro and my cat in a lamp. You know, amazing stuff like that.)

Anyway, this extreme temperature caused a school cancellation. Which was on the heels of winter break. Which meant twenty-two straight days of total togetherness with the boys.

It goes without saying that I (usually) adore my kids. I'd do literally anything for those little maniacs. But y'all? I'm pretty sure that if I had been forced to endure one more day of "vacation," my uterus would have voluntarily vacated my body like, "If your husband isn't gonna get that vasectomy then I'm preventing another child my-damn-self."

The time dragged by. When I look back on it, it's pretty much a blur of nude wieners, Ninja Turtle paraphernalia, tattling, wrestling, knock-down drag-out fights, more tattling, video games, tattling about the video games, an appallingly messy house, and me saying, "Put on some underwear!" and "Don't hit your brother!" and "If I hear someone whine one more time ..." and "Don't jump on that!" and "Don't jump off that!" and "You're not really hungry so STOP EATING!"

Because that's another thing. The little hoodlums practically ate us out of house and home. Boys are "snacky" by nature, always pilfering the fridge five minutes after they pilfered it the first time. Combine that with boredom and it's a recipe for a grocery bill that rivals the national debt. And it's like a chain reaction: they could be perfectly occupied with something else, but once one of them decides to get a snack, suddenly the other three are clamoring for the same thing. Even if they're still picking the last snack out of their teeth.


Finally, blessedly, school has started again. Two of the boys are gone all day, one is in preschool for two hours, and the baby - well, he's pretty manageable all by himself. All I have to do now is pack lunches, get four children up, fed, dressed, and out the door before eight o'clock, make sure everyone is appropriately bundled up and has everything in their backpacks, load them all into the van, drop two of them off at school, come home for an hour before driving back to the school and dropping my preschooler off, for which I have to walk him inside (and wrangle the baby in and out of the car seat in his puffy winter coat), drive back home, do my household chores for two hours, drive back to the school to pick the preschooler up (again with the baby and the car seat), drive back home, wait three and a half hours, drive to the school yet again and fight the traffic to pick up the oldest two ... in the cold ...

What was I saying again? That vacation from school was terrible?

Maybe I'm ready for spring break after all.

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Sew Depressing ...

I'm typically a happy kind of chick, but like everyone else, I'm not in an awesome mood all the time. Sometimes things just make me unhappy: bloating, inconveniences, stepping in dog poop. But the most depressed I've been all week happened just a couple nights ago - and it was all because of some pants.

See, I love the cargo pants I wear for Zumba. LOVE. They're comfy and forgiving and sturdy. I got them when I was skinny and wore them when I was nine months pregnant and everywhere in between. They're hand-me-downs from a fellow Zumba instructor, so I have no idea how old they actually are, but I wear them a lot. Wash and wear, wash and wear, wash and wear - sometimes twice a day, but always a minimum of three times a week. And I Zumba in them, so that's a lot of movement. A lot of booty-bouncing and hip-swiveling going on in those pants.

A couple months ago I decided to add another pair of Zumba pants to my puny wardrobe, so I splurged and bought some. Unfortunately, the peeps who make the Zumba wear have tweaked the sizes a bit since my old pants were made - so the new ones, though they're the same size as my old ones, are too tight.They actually give me a pretty unfortunate cameltoe (if you don't know what that is, just trust me: it's not a good look). And you know, I don't think the people who come to my classes would enjoy staring at all that for an hour.

As a result, I can't wear them until my jiggly behind gets about fifteen pounds lighter. Which - judging by the quickness with which my weight returned after my holiday diet and my eagerness to consume any carbohydrate within a sixty-mile radius - is gonna be a while.

Anyway, I was pretty bummed about the whole "too-fat-to-fit-into-my-pants" scenario. And it made me feel kind of old, because damn it, my metabolism just hasn't been the same now that I'm in my thirties. It's like the calories are all, "You're old now! We can settle right here around your belly! It's just what we do when you're old!" I gain a pound if I breathe in the air around a fast-food joint. It's just not fair.

But then it got worse: my Zumba pants that do fit got a hole right in the crotch. This constitutes an emergency situation in my book. So I did what any seamstress would do: whipped out a needle and thread. (Even though my sewing skillz are far from impressive. I can't glue stuff together right, let alone sew it.)

Only, y'all? I couldn't see to thread the needle. It was ridiculous. I know it's been a while since I sewed something last, but I don't recall having this problem before. Now, though, I was tilting my head back, looking down my nose, squinting, moving into better light, peering over my glasses, looking like somebody's grandma. LOL YOU'RE OLD AND FAT laughed the universe.

After what seemed like a freaking hour of getting progressively more pissed off at this extra-tiny needle, I finally got the thread in. Then it took me like twenty additional minutes to knot it on the other end. But I did it, and got to work sewing up the hole.

Only I accidentally sewed too much fabric. The hole was gone, but now there was a big puckered crease. And also? It started to unravel as soon as I snipped the thread.

I'm too chunky to fit into my new pants. I'm aging. And I suck at sewing.

Time to get back on the healthy eating habits. And in the meantime, get somebody who knows what they're doing to sew my pants.

PS - There's a new giveaway up! Click on the "Giveaways and Reviews" tab at the top to check it out!

I'm Never This Clever

If you're on Facebook (and who isn't? And if you are, have you "Liked" Fighting off Frumpy yet?), you've probably seen somebody sharing a post from Viralnova about 89 genius "life hacks." It's like all the ridiculously smart and embarrassingly simple tips you pin on Pinterest rolled into one illustrated post. Stuff like this:

Photo credits: Viralnova

Read the post in its entirety here. There are eightyfreakingnine of these ideas. Really super awesome tips, y'all.

Stuff like this makes me ponder my enormous lack of creativity. MacGyver I am most definitely not (I mean, just read yesterday's post for proof). That guy could defuse a bomb with a paperclip; I couldn't unlock a door with one. I can tell you how to do something in the most complicated way, but I'll be damned if I can figure out a way to simplify anything.

And what's worse? Not only can I not think of these crazy-genius ideas on my own, but I can't even remember them when someone else comes up with them. Because I guarantee you: I'll read through these tips a bazillion times, but the next time I microwave a bag of popcorn I'm gonna be like, "These damn unpopped kernels!"

Maybe I'll try to think more creatively this year. Come up with some awesome solutions to everyday problems. Things that make people go, "Why didn't I think of that?!"

... Or maybe I'll just let other people do it for me. That's what Pinterest is for.

Do you have any amazing tips? Do tell!


One thing about being a mother is that when you have to poop, you usually have to wait until a good time.

I say this only applies to mothers because - at least in my experience - dads just seem to drop everything when they need to "drop deuce," while we moms wait until the baby is occupied, until a meal is finished, until after school drop-off or pickup. I tell myself it's an attempt to minimize distractions while I do the deed, but I still end up with little fingers under the door or knocking or Mommy? What are you doing in therrrrre?

Anyway, this morning I was cooking breakfast when I felt a dump come a-knockin'. (Now let me just pause this for a second to warn that if you're horrified by me saying this, you probably shouldn't read any further. But let me also remind you that everybody poops - Angelina Jolie, Channing Tatum, Kate Middleton, the leaders of the free world - and that the only difference is that they don't have blogs to talk about it on.)

Like any mother, I dutifully pressed on despite the impending poo. So by the time I got breakfast on the table, I really had to go. I made sure the kids were all set up, then hurried to the bathroom adjoining my bedroom to take care of bidness.

Except I realized when I got there, much to my chagrin, that the bathroom door was closed. And locked. From the inside.

Anger surged up inside me and I twisted the doorknob with a desperate ferocity that only a woman about to poop herself could muster, as though the sheer power of my frustration could will it open. "Who locked this door?!" I bellowed.

I barely heard the resulting chorus of "Not me!" and "It was my brother!" - because I was rushing to our other bathroom, the one the boys use, grateful with each step to have a two-bathroom house. Their door was standing mercifully open, the toilet blissfully unoccupied, a fresh roll of toilet paper (two-ply, ultra-soft) standing at the ready. Ahhhh. All was well.

...Until a few minutes later when I flushed.

And nothing went down.

And the water started to rise.

And I realized in horror that the only plunger was currently locked inside the other bathroom.

Typically I stash little key-thingies above each door frame for just such occasions. But wouldn't you know - they were nowhere to be found. I had no idea where any of them were, or even when they had disappeared. All I managed to unearth from the tops of the door frames was an embarrassing amount of dust.

So I scrambled to find a paperclip. I jammed it into the pinhole on our bathroom doorknob and jiggled it around.


I tried a bobby pin. A nail. A screw. A really dirty look. I tried unbending a wire hanger. All the while, thoughts of the other toilet, perched precariously on the edge of an overflow, filled my head. Because while little boys are always happy (and anatomically able) to pee in random receptacles, there's only one place they can feasibly poop. (Because if it's not in the toilet, it's a problem. Remember this?)

I even let my four-year-old attempt it on the off chance that he was in fact a master lock-picker.

But ... he wasn't.

My hand was starting to hurt. Nothing was working. I was running out of ideas, and probably running out of time - after all, my kids' breakfasts were digesting.

And then for some reason - divine intervention, perhaps - I had a thought.

When I find something important laying around, I automatically stash it in my drawer. Maybe, just maybe, I had found one of the keys on the floor at some point and put it there. Brimming with new-found hope, hands trembling, I opened the drawer. And ...

*cue Hallelujah chorus*

I inserted the key into the door and popped that sucker open on the first try. Like a boss.*

*If you don't think about the ten million times I failed to open it with the other utensils.

And once again, all was well. The toilets in my house were plentiful and flowing.

If this ever happens again, I'm holding it. After all, moms are used to that.

Resolutions: a New Year's Poem

It's now a new year - a fresh start - a clean slate
A chance to ditch habits and start being great
It's time to improve, so I'm gonna list here
All the things I'm resolving to do in this year.

I resolve to stop shrieking and lower my tone
I resolve to stop playing so much with my phone

I resolve to drink water instead of sweet tea
I resolve to be selfless: more "you" and less "me"

I resolve to eat less and resolve to move more
I resolve to keep dirty clothes off of the floor

I resolve to shave more than "once in a while"
I resolve to return every scowl with a smile

I resolve to pinch pennies and save every dime
I resolve to arrive everywhere right on time

I resolve to take care of my poor, cracking heels
I resolve to cook fresh, wholesome, nutritive meals

I resolve to stop using pajamas for pants
I resolve to remember to water my plants

I resolve to be kind
I resolve to be thin
I resolve to pluck every last hair from my chin

I resolve to be patient
Resolve to be wise
To whittle my waist and slim down my thighs

To stop eating sugar
To stop drinking wine
To grow my own produce
To be more refined

To always look perfect!
To donate to charity!
To go through my budget
And catch each disparity!

To volunteer more!
To criticize less!
To not lose my cool when my kids make a mess!

To eat less red meat!
To sharpen my mind!
Prioritize, organize, clean, and streamline!

... Ah, who am I kidding?
All these resolutions
Are more wishful thinking
Than real-life solutions

So I'll ease up a bit on the New Year routine
And just try to be awesome in 2014!

Happy New Year everyone! Here's to a great one! :)


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