10 Things Boys Should Know About Being Men

Right now I may be raising boys, but I gotta keep my focus on the big picture - because I'm also helping develop them into men. Men who will be boyfriends and lovers and husbands and fathers and coworkers (or bosses or CEOs or doctors or the President).

There's no shortage of posts containing thoughtful and heartfelt advice from mothers of sons in exactly this scenario. Mothers who want to teach their boys that they can be strong and powerful, yet sensitive and tender. BUT. This isn't that kind of post. Sure, it's ten key pieces of advice that I want my boys to know, but this is more practical, less profound. I'll leave the sappy stuff to a more eloquent blogger.

#1: You're supposed to be scented, not suffocating. I'm talking about cologne and body spray. Please, by all means, use it - because it's far better than Eau de Armpit. But don't layer it. Don't bathe in it. Don't douse yourself with it until people can smell you before you enter a room and for ten minutes after you leave.
Smelling great is a definite plus, but making people's eyes water with a cloud of manliness is not. Use basic hygiene first to make sure you smell good (soap! Toothpaste! Deo-for-your-B.O.!) and use the cologne as a light enhancer, not a funk-cover-upper.

#2: Flowers are ... okay. It's nice to bring your significant other some flowers. I never received a bouquet of flowers and threw them down in disgust (and incidentally, if someone ever does that to you, kick that heifer to the curb). HOWEVER, flowers take precisely zero thought. They're something you can grab at a gas station checkout, for goodness sake. If you really want to make an impact, buy something that shows you know what she enjoys. I'd be a lot more impressed by anything zombie-themed or, like, a six-pack of delicious cupcakes. Which brings me to the next point ...

#3: Expand your recipe repertoire. Ramen noodles and frozen pizza have their place in life - when you're in college and broke (and speaking of college, don't ask me to send you money if you're gonna spend it on beer). But as you become a man, branch out a little bit. Learn to cook something. It doesn't have to be beef tenderloin with porcini mushroom and smoked onion saute and a pea salad with creme fraiche and herbs ... mmm ... wait, what was I saying? Oh yes. It doesn't have to be fancy, is my point. Have a good recipe for lasagna and some sort of casserole and learn to roast a chicken and bake cookies. (Especially cookies.) It's not rocket science, but it's definitely a skill that will serve you well.

#4: If it's overflowing, take care of the problem. If your toilet runneth over, you fix that crap without hesitation, right? Right. So the same should hold true for overflowing trash cans and sinks full of dirty dishes. If you ignore the problem, you're part of the problem.

#5: Be nice to your waiters and customer service people. How you treat the people who are there to help you speaks volumes about, well, whether or not you're a jerk. Be patient and gracious and if you have a problem, understand that it isn't their fault. Work with them, not against them, and you'll get much further. Plus: you won't be an a-hole, which is pretty much the biggest takeaway from this tip.

#6: Hormones, schmormones. Sometimes, women are in a bad mood. Sometimes, there's very little reason other than a bunch of small back-to-back annoyances. When that happens, you should try to be understanding - and if you can't be, then just step back and give them some space. What NOT to do is accuse them of PMS'ing or being hormonal. Just ... no. While hormones do indeed cause some mood swings at certain times of the month, they are not the cause of every grumpy mood. Women have legit reasons for being pissed off that have absolutely nothing to do with our internal workings - we're not delicate creatures who are at the mercy of estrogen fluctuations. However, that being said ...

#7: Periods suck. There's no two ways about it. I don't know one single woman - except for those in, like, maxi pad commercials - who is enthusiastic in ANY manner about the monthly visit from Aunt Flo (unless she's had a pregnancy scare, but even then, the joy is short-lived). So what can you do? Be sympathetic. Be manly enough to buy tampons and Midol, and while you're at the store, pick up some ice cream. I guarantee you'll be the biggest baby in the universe when you come down with a case of the sniffles, so remember how nice it is to be taken care of when you're feeling like crap.

#8: Remotes are made to be shared. We all have shows we like to watch. Fine: watch your shows or your sports or whatever. But if you're asleep? The remote is fair game. Don't doze off while clutching it tightly and then snap awake with a testy, "I was watching that!" when someone tries to change the channel. Seriously. When all you're watching is the back of your eyelids, let someone else have a turn with the TV.

#9: Hole-y does not equal holy. You'd think those tattered underwear were priceless relics, the way you cling to them, but seriously: when your boxers or briefs develop more holes than a piece of Swiss cheese, it's time to chuck those babies in the can and purchase some fresh. I mean, there is literally no point to a pair of undies that is essentially nothing more than a waistband with some strips of tattered fabric attached. When your junk is hanging out the front even when you're not peeing, give them up. New underwear is cheap. Getcha some.

#10: No socks while sexin'. I've come to the conclusion that most mothers don't mention this to their sons because they don't want to think about their darlings doing "the deed," even when they're grown men. But I'm putting it out there because it's important. Do you know how silly - how utterly ridiculous - a man looks when he's completely naked except for socks?? I don't care how cold your feet are. If you're getting ready to "get down," then please, for the love of all that is sacred: TAKE. THE SOCKS. OFF.

These may not be the wisest, most valuable pieces of life advice my sons ever receive, but they're important nonetheless. If I can send a few less men out into the world in holey boxers and a cloud of cologne, well, I've done something right.

Gym. Coffee. Shove It, HauteLook.

Advertising is a part of life. Largely annoying, but necessary to fuel the consumer-driven society we live in. I barely pay attention to ads, until there's one that drives me bat-crap-crazy ... like the one where Extra gum is called "a snack" (in whose world?) and the one where Eva Mendes says she was "dared" (instead of, I don't know, paid a ton of money) to use Pantene shampoo.

But no commercial - NO. COMMERCIAL. EVER. - has bugged me to the insane, nails-on-a-chalkboard, seething-with-irritation degree as the one that keeps playing for HauteLook. It's apparently an online shopping site where you can get the latest fashions for your home and wardrobe (and your man, who according to the commercial, is unable to dress himself).

It mentions that you can procure said styles for fifty to seventy percent off! Oh reeeeally, HauteLook? That must be how the girl in your commercial does absolutely nothing but shop all day every day! She says it herself: her daily routine is gym, coffee, HauteLook. What a grueling schedule. It's a wonder she doesn't fall into bed exhausted every night from, you know, sitting in the peaceful silence of her clean, fashionably-appointed apartment doing all this online shopping (and then admiring her model-skinny self in the mirror while wearing her latest haul). The poor thing. Her life is so hard that her man probably doesn't even have a car service to take them to dinner - they have to drive their own and then valet. I'm just guessing. Oh, the humanity.

Keep on playing this ad, people, because real women like me can soooo identify. Am I right?! I mean, I go to the gym a lot too. But, oh yeah, that's because - in addition to my day job - I work there. You know, to make a little bit of money so that I can buy clothes and shoes. Oh, but not for myself: for my kids, because they're always tearing up and/or outgrowing their stuff, the little ingrates. But I can totally identify with the modeling in front of the mirror part - because every six months when I am able to buy my very own outfit from, like, the clearance racks at Target or Old Navy, I like to stand in front of the mirror myself (I mean, it's usually to frown disapprovingly at the way something doesn't quite fit my thighs or accentuates my muffin top, but whatever. I guess I don't drink enough coffee). My home isn't exactly as trendy as the one on the commercial - I was going to buy some new decor but my air conditioner broke and my cat needed antibiotics and we had to make yet another payment on the toddler's fractured wrist. But hey! I've only had the same wine/grape motif in my kitchen for a decade. And since HauteLook's stuff is so deeply discounted I might be able to afford their home goods one of these days. Or, okay, one of these years.

So thanks a bucket, HauteLook, for making an ad that I can relate to. Except for the not having to work part. And the doing nothing but shopping all day part. And the affording the latest styles complete with accessories at all times part. And the dressing your man part. And the spotless, stainless, childless environment part. And the skinny and blonde part.


I guess I'm more of a "Ship My Pants" type of girl.


My house is inhabited by six people. Four of those are little boys who - for example - think nothing of wiping boogers in random places and emptying the entire contents of the junk drawer while looking for AA batteries. One is my husband, who is unfamiliar with the new-fangled concept called "a clothes hamper" and who has an uncanny ability to let an overflowing trash can go completely unnoticed. And one is yours truly, who tries valiantly to keep at least my own messes at bay, but let's face it - everybody gets a little lazy from time to time, am I right?

*cricket, cricket*


Houses with six people in them (plus two dogs, plus two cats) are not going to look like they were ripped from the pages of Better Homes & Gardens magazine, or Pinterest (remember the My-House-vs.-Pinterest comparison poem?). Unless you have a maid, which I do not, despite asking God and Santa and the universe in general for at least the past ten years now. Hmmph.

I might have random, unknown substances dripping down my kitchen walls ...

I'm not tasting it to see what it is, but one of my kids might.

... And orange Cheetos (Cheeto?) residue adorning my bathroom light switch ...

They'll definitely lick that off.

But despite the cluttered chaos that reigns 90% of the time, there's one thing that I - and from my experience, most moms - pride myself on: the ability to locate anything. No matter how long-buried or obscure. And it's a good damn thing, too, because nobody else in my household seems to know where anything is, ever. (These are children who will yell that they can't find their shoes when said shoes are literally three feet away from their lazy, non-looking eyes.)

Moms have an amazing mental inventory of every single item that has come through the doors of the house. Ever. This includes, but is not limited to, the contents of the refrigerator and freezer and storage boxes in the garage. I think it's a trait that has evolved out of necessity, to save lost-item meltdowns (and therefore preserve maternal sanity).

Kid wants to know where his Minecraft t-shirt is? Easy: check the bottom of the laundry basket (what? It's only been wrinkling in there for like three days). The Ninja Turtle figurine is missing his weapon? Last I saw, it was (inexplicably) riding in the bed of the remote control truck. Where's the remote control truck? It's under your brother's bed. That plastic disc launcher thing that came out of a Happy Meal like four years ago? That's in the closet, in the bin marked "Vehicles" even though it has nothing to do with vehicles whatsoever.

I know how many chicken breasts are in my freezer, how many rolls of toilet paper are under my sink, and where my husband's old Air Force uniform is. I can tell you that the high school yearbooks are in the third plastic tote in the stack against the wall of the garage, and that there's a bag of bottles, pacifiers, and breast pump parts stashed in the storage room under the stairs. (I'll never need them again, but I just can't bear to throw them away ... yet.)

It's an amazing Mom trick. Like the Five Things Moms Do Better than Ninjas. We just come naturally equipped with these skills. I can't remember how old I'm going to be on my next birthday (note to self: 34), but I know that there's a Transformers DVD under my TV stand and a supply of Halloween and Easter buckets on the top shelf of my closet. With extra Easter grass stored inside.

I may not put my cleaning supplies to the best - or most frequent - use ... but at least I know where they all are.

... Which is more than I can say for my husband.

It Could Happen to You

Note: This post is a tiny bit of a departure from my usual funny stuff, but it's important and I needed to get it off my chest. If you want funny, how about this confession about how I faked my first period? You're welcome.

I once failed to notice a six-foot-tall naked woman rampaging through our neighborhood in full daylight, breaking into people's cars, yelling, unrolling my garden hose and winding it around every bush/tree/rock in our front yard. Complete with police helicopters circling overhead.

I was awake. Sitting at my computer, no doubt doing something relatively unimportant, while my very own yard looked like an episode of COPS. And yet - I somehow missed the whole debacle. I only heard about it from my stunned neighbors and, like, the six o'clock news. (In my defense, it was when we lived in Las Vegas, where that could pretty much be considered a normal afternoon.)

So yeah, I can be oblivious sometimes. And that might be a tiny bit of an understatement.

But when it comes to the safety and protection of my kids, it's a different matter entirely. I pride myself on being a vigilant, responsible mother, always keeping their needs at the forefront of my consciousness. Or, you know, so I thought.

Last summer, when my youngest son Corbin was barely a year old, we were having a cookout to celebrate my mom moving here. I decided it wouldn't be complete without some of the sweet corn Iowa is famous for, so I told my husband that Mom and I were going to run to the grocery store. He was busy preparing the grill while all four of the kids played in the yard.

"Take the baby with you," he suggested. "I don't think I can keep a good eye on everybody out here."

I loaded Corbin into his car seat and we headed to the store. On the way there, my mom and I laughed and joked - it was so nice to have her around on a regular basis. Usually when the two of us were together, it was just for a short visit, but now she was living right down the street.

We pulled up at Hy-Vee and went into the store, still laughing at something all the way across the parking lot. I fumbled with my phone to see what time it was. My mom rummaged in her purse for Chap-Stick. When we walked in, we made a beeline for the produce section right at the front - but were disappointed that their selection of sweet corn was really picked-over.

"This is Iowa in the summer!" I griped to Mom. "How can they not have good corn in stock? Let's go to another store."

So we walked out.

We got in the car.

I started driving.

After a few seconds, I heard my mother gasp. She had a horrified look on her face. And literally the instant I looked at her, the horrible realization dawned on me, too: we had left the baby in the car.

I seriously have trouble typing that phrase. My chest feels heavy and panicked when I think about it, even a year later (which is why I'm just now getting the courage to write it down). It's hard to admit that I FORGOT. MY BABY. IN THE CAR. Not only that, but so did my mom. If somebody had told me that two experienced, loving, protective mothers would make that critical mistake, I'd never have believed it - but somehow, that's exactly what happened. We were both preoccupied with our conversation. I wasn't used to having only one child with me; it was always either some or none. Corbin had been quiet as a church mouse the whole time, not making a single peep - not a babble or a fuss to remind us of his presence in the back seat. So we left him, in the summertime, in the hot car with the windows up. It was at least ninety degrees that day.

It was a miracle that we were only in the store for literally enough time to walk in, spend a few seconds checking out the corn, and walk out. A complete miracle. What if we had actually been shopping? What if their corn had been decent, and after carefully selecting the right ears, we had decided to wander to the other side of the store and get some ice cream ... and then some chips ... and then some barbecue sauce? A child's body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult's. Not only that, but a car can reach one hundred twenty-five degrees in just minutes - even if the window is cracked.

My baby could have died. He would have died. On average, there are thirty-eight child deaths per year from being trapped in hot cars. I'm so thankful that Corbin wasn't part of that statistic, because he was certainly set up to be.

I'm writing this not as a confession of what a horrible mother I am, but as a statement that I'm actually a good mother (you know, for the most part) and this still happened despite it. It's a warning that this can happen to anyone. I'm going to say it again and put it in caps: THIS COULD HAPPEN TO ANYONE.

You don't have to be a negligent parent or grandparent or caregiver, or stoned or drunk or stupid - just being human is enough.

*All statistics from KidsandCars.org

Appreciation Procrastination

I know, I know: cherish every moment of your kids' childhood. They'll never be this age again. You'll miss it when they're older. Watch them, listen to them, let it all sink in, because it's precious and you blink and it's gone.

It's obviously good advice, seeing as I've heard it from virtually every older mother in the Western hemisphere. I get it. I do. I even pinned this sign to my Pinterest yesterday to remind myself, and then literally ugly-cried for ten solid minutes because OMG MY BAAAAABIES ARE GROWING UUUUUUUP!!!

(Credit to Etsy seller RusticPineDesigns ... you can buy it here.)

But y'all? It's so hard sometimes. And then I feel like an epic failure as a mother because I'm unable to fully appreciate every last ounce of cuteness and sweetness in the face of the irritating things they subject me to on the daily.

Take, for example, this saucy scenario from yesterday's lunch, where I thought it'd be a great idea to give my toddler his very own bowl of Beef-a-Roni:

People are always asking me why I take pictures of stuff like this ... of foody kids and poopy smears on my wall/sink/floor and messes of such gigantic proportions that you just have to stand there and stare at it and let it register for a minute. Why do I take pictures of these things?

So that I can appreciate my kids. Later.

Because in the moment, "good, conscientious mothering" dictates that I should chuckle and say, "Awww, look how adorable he looks with all that food smeared across every square inch of himself!" But let's be real: that's not what happens. What happens is that "reality mothering" kicks in. The part responsible for the cleanup and the extra work involved that, frankly, I'm not looking forward to doing. The nostalgic and emotional part of me recedes softly into the background while the rational part bursts onto the scene like, "Damn it!"

I can't help it: that's just how it happens. It's an involuntary reaction to such things.

Instead of thinking how sweet my baby looked with Beef-a-Roni oozing from his ears, and enjoying the moment because in the grand scheme of things it's so fleeting, I was thinking the following:

- What did you expect, ya moron? You gave him his own. Bowl. Of Beef-a-Roni.
- He has to have a bath now. At lunchtime. He'll be dirty again by this evening.
- His shirt. Geez. I hope I have enough stain remover.
- I need to get that right in the laundry. After the bath, I guess. Ugh.
- It's going to take me forever to scrub all that off of his high chair.
- And off of him, for that matter. I'm gonna be fishing chunks out of the tub.
- I hope he doesn't touch me. How am I going to get him out of there without him touching me?

But deep down, that nagging voice is saying, "You should be enjoying this. He's growing up so fast. It won't happen for much longer."

And so I take pictures, so that later - when the emotional-Mom side ventures out - I can look back on it and smile. Someday, I imagine, I'll have albums upon albums of photos like this one:

... Because poop is slightly less disgusting in black and white.

I'll look through them and laugh, and remember all the ups and downs of my kids' littleness.

And probably congratulate myself on not completely losing it between now and then.

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Dear Boys: A Penis Primer

Dear Boys,

There are a few things I think you ought to know about the penis. You know, the dangly appendage that occupies your thoughts and/or your hands for a large percentage of the day? As a concerned mother, I feel it's my duty to enlighten you.

Now, never having been in possession of one myself, I can't be considered an outright expert ... but I'd like to think that my experience raising sons counts for something. After all, I've seen enough nakedness around this piece to rival any nude resort. And in that time, Boys, I've learned a few things about the male anatomy that I'd like to share - bullet-pointed for quick reference and easy memorization. *hint hint*

- Relax ... it isn't going anywhere. It will stay right there in your pants (provided you're wearing any), so you can stop clutching it while you watch TV and falling asleep with it in your fingers. In fact, it will be with you for the rest of your life, so maybe you should think about being a little less rough with it.

- One exception: having a firm grip on it is encouraged - and preferred - when using the toilet. It's floppy, and when you don't have it under control, you spray like a leaky hose.

- Keep it in your drawers, mmkay? (This is a piece of advice that will have a different, but equally significant, meaning during your teen years - so don't forget it.) There's really no need to lay it on your brother's arm. Or dip it in your chocolate milk. Or poke it through the hole of a DVD. Or wrap it around your eating utensils. Or your pencil. Or your brother's pencil.

- It might not hurt you when you stretch it out ten miles long like it's made of rubber, but it hurts me just looking at it, so stop.

- On rare occasions, you may actually let go of it in order to grasp something else. Like a sandwich, or your brother's face. In the event of such occasions, hand-washing before you touch anything else is the courteous (and sanitary) thing to do.

- It's not the end of the world when it's facing the wrong way or bunched up in your underwear. No need for a meltdown.

- It's handy and portable and all that, but just because you can pee anywhere doesn't mean you should.

- If you're gonna stretch/dangle/pull/twist/twiddle or otherwise manhandle (boy-handle?) it, please do so in your room and spare us all a little awkwardness. Please.

- I've seen it a million times, Boys, so there's no need to waggle it in my direction after your bath, nor make it dance and jump around by thrusting around like Elvis with a hula hoop. (This also goes for your dad, so pass that tidbit along.)

I'm hoping this letter will serve as a handy reference to the proper penile etiquette, and that you'll start having a little ding-dong dignity. You'll thank me later - or at least your wife will.

Lots of love,

Five Spectacular Summertime Perks

Summer break is in full swing, y’all. And even though I worried about losing my ever-loving mind, it hasn't been that bad so far. Sure, there’s been bickering. Sure, I've duct-taped everyone’s mouths shut made threats. Sure, I've seen more nudity than a clothing-optional resort. But in the grand scheme of things, I kinda dig the more relaxed, “it’s-summer-so-don’t-worry-about-keeping-a-tight-schedule” vibe.

Here's why.

Not having to hold your poop. Okay, so I’m venturing into the realm of TMI here, but this is a legit reason to be excited about summer break. Because if you’re a morning pooper with children in your household, you have more than likely had to postpone a poo or two. Urge hits you at 7:50 a.m.? Too bad, sucka! You've got to get the kids out the door and drop them off at school on time – otherwise you’ll have to actually walk them in which means you’ll have to actually look publicly presentable. And then the kids will be counted as “tardy” and resent you for placing your bowels at a higher level of importance than their education and will probably end up in therapy some day because of it. And you might get a speeding ticket on the way home because, well, sometimes a dump just doesn't like to wait. But in summer, you don’t have to worry about any of that. Oh, you want breakfast? Sure, I’ll make it. RIGHT AFTER I POOP. (And wash my hands, of course. Because ew.) And speaking of the morning meal …

Not having to wait to eat breakfast. This is yet another thing I postpone for the sake of my kids. On school mornings, I make them their breakfasts and then while they eat, I run around laying out clothes and finding stray shoes and packing lunches and checking backpacks. When they’re done, I supervise hair-fixing and shoe-tying and toddler-dressing and tooth-brushing and find socks that I just laid out like five minutes ago so how far could they have possibly gone? Then, of course, it’s time to haul everyone into the vehicle and make sure they’re strapped in and schlep everybody to the school. After all that – after I’ve been out of bed for like two and a half hours and run around like a madwoman and made sure everyone else’s needs have been met – I finally get to eat breakfast. By which point my stomach feels like it’s gnawing on itself. To add insult to injury, when my two-year-old sees me eating, he suddenly thinks he’s hungry again … and just like that, half my long-awaited breakfast is gone. But in the summer, I can actually eat with the kids, and when everybody has their own stuff I don’t have to share. Boo-yah.

Not having to find decent clothing. During the school year, I prefer to have children who don’t look like a hot mess, which is why I insist that the clothes they wear be a.) free of holes, rips, stains, excessive wrinkles, and visible dirt, and b.) coordinating: no striped shirt and plaid shorts, for example.  This creates some extra work for me, though, as I not only have to make sure such clothing is laundered and un-wrinkled, but actually locate said clothing each morning (is it in the dryer? The drawer? The closet? The laundry basket? Oh crap, did I leave it in the washer?). Summer time, though, is a free-for-all. When I actually get my kids to wear clothes, they can put on whatever the hell they want most of the time. Spaghetti-stained t-shirt and size 3T pajama pants that look like capris? Okay.

Not having to deal with homework. This one is a universal favorite among parents and needs little explanation. You don’t have to stand over your kids and nag them to keep going while they lay their heads on the table like they're exhausted and whine about doing their homework. No frustrated “I can’t dooooo iiiiit!” meltdowns. No surprise bedtime reminders of “Oh, by the way, I'm supposed to bring an empty oatmeal box, fifteen clothespins, and a blank poster board to school tomorrow.” Just sweet, blissful freedom.

Not being a slave to the bedtime routine. When school is in session, I’m a stickler for a regular bedtime. No matter what, my kids are bathed, brushed, read to, and tucked in by 8:30. This sucks, of course, because we all know what happens when you try to get kids to do anything on a schedule: they dawdle, and you have to follow them around with a cattle prod constantly remind them to stay on task. But in the summer, evenings are a lot more relaxed (which is important, because you try explaining to your kids why they have to go to bed when it's still light outside while those hooligans from down the street are riding their bikes in front of your house). We didn't do much to get dirty that day? No need for a full bath - just take a baby wipe to the important areas and call it good. Fall asleep on the couch watching TV, I don't care. You wanna sleep on the floor tonight? Whatever. I don't mind if they stay up late, because staying up late leads to sleeping later ... at least some of the time. Which is totally okay because they have nowhere to be in the mornings for the next couple of months.

And I? Will be enjoying a leisurely poop. On my own schedule.

Just sayin'.

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Finders Weepers

I'm glad the typical visitor doesn't go poking around in my house. Because there's no telling what they'd unearth, for real. It might scar somebody for life.

I've found more than my share of surprises, many unpleasant: like rotting corn in the toy box, for example. Poop in a kitchen playset. A half-eaten PB&J sandwich, petrified, under the bunk bed. Sippy cups full of curdled milk. A water gun full of urine. A stuffed Elmo in the freezer. A blackened banana under the couch. Pee on my pillowPoop in the closet. A random pair of the boys' undies in my van. Pineapple chunks in my bathroom sink.

... The same sink that, coincidentally, is home to this:

Also a surprise, clearly. And totally stuck in the little overflow-hole-thingy forever. 

Not long ago, I kept seeing this nasty little thing lying around:

Any guesses? I found it laying around in several places - this one being the bottom of the boys' bookshelf. Given my history of finding incredibly gross stuff, you can imagine what I thought it was. And I had a momentary freak-out every time I laid eyes on it.

Turns out, it was just Mario's missing mustache.


I sewed it back on, but thanks to my lack of sewing skills, it now looks like Mario has a turd taped to the side of his face. It's a little crooked, y'all. But at least I don't have a mini heart attack when I encounter it in random places any more.

Yesterday, I found this:

My decorating abilities may leave a little to be desired, sure. But that flip-flop isn't actually supposed to be adorning my candle sconce. This is on the wall in my hallway, high enough that the kids can't reach, which means the shoe must have been flung there ... and then left.

I'm attempting to teach the boys that everything has a proper place. Thank goodness they're FINALLY learning that lesson when it comes to, like, poop. But I'm pretty sure my days of finding "surprises" are far from over.

What's the weirdest thing you've ever found somewhere?

Summertime Sadness

It's the first day of summer vacation.

Note the lack of an exclamation point after that sentence.

My kids were up just after six, because of course.

They have already asked for cupcakes for breakfast (no) and to play outside (no. It's raining. And even if it weren't raining, there's no way I'm gonna get dressed enough at this hour - never mind motivated enough - to supervise four children as they all try to escape in different directions).

They have already bickered over a blanket (there are two on our couch and apparently the red one is warmer/softer/more awesome) and over whose feet are touching whom. I have heard, "He's trying to wipe a booger on meeeee!" and "He says he's going to bite my scalp!"

I have already had to say, "Go put some pants on!" and "Stop being so loud!" and "Just LEAVE. Your BROTHER. ALONE." I've had to issue creative threats before my brain is even awake enough to be creative.

Throw in some whining about boredom and some random neighborhood kids knocking at the door and disturbing the baby's nap and a few heinous messes and a whole lot of this ...

... and you've pretty much got my summer in a nutshell.

Is it school time yet?

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