P&G Wants ... ME?

You know how you feel when someone waves at you, and you wave back, only to realize it was actually meant for the person behind you? And then you feel like a total goober? Yeah. I spent the majority of Thursday and Friday feeling like that.

It was because I got an invitation from the peeps at Procter and Gamble - yeah, P&G, the same company that makes like every single household product I use - to attend their "Love the Pet, Not the Mess" conference in Cincinnati. I mean ... me? I openly admit on the Internet that I pooped during childbirth. And they wanted my presence at their event?

I've never been invited to such a thing before, especially not someplace as exotic as Ohio, so I cordially and professionally accepted their invitation. But inside I was like OMGOMGOMG! Because y'all. AWESOME.

They sent a car to pick me up and take me to the airport. A CAR. As in ... a car that isn't a taxi. With a driver who opens your door for you and black leather seats that are more comfortable than my bed. And they put me up in a beautiful, ultra-hip hotel with a modern art museum built in. Which explains the strange experience in the shower that I've recreated for you in the photos below:

Not gonna lie: I touched it.

First up was a cocktail party. It was at a park, though, and pet-themed (it was called "Yappy Hour") - so I was pretty unsure of what to wear. I thought I needed something middle-of-the-road: an outfit that wasn't a dress, but was still classy. So I looked at Pinterest because if people are pinning something then it must be cute, right? And I found out that nude pumps are a staple of any decent wardrobe (apparently I am the last woman on earth to know this) and so I bought some. They fit weird, and I'm like completely unaccustomed to heels. I am a firm believer that you shouldn't wear heels if you wobble around like a newborn giraffe in them. But I was desperate to look like I'm this fashion-forward person and so I walked around all night with my butt cheeks and toes clenched in an effort to steady myself. I was going for "I'm super-confident in these heels" but I think mostly I just looked super-constipated.

Also I had to walk really slow. I debated getting drunk since I probably already looked that way, but decided not to compound the problem.

Compared to all the other bloggers there, I was a little fish in a big sea. Small potatoes. I met lots of amazing people ... who were talking about their photo series that the Huffington Post picked up on, and the events they had to go to over the weekend, and their new book deals. (Meanwhile I was feeling less and less proud of the twenty Instagram "Likes" I once received on a picture of my dog.)

The conference was the next morning, held at the Cincinnati Zoo. Breakfast was delicious, and I managed to refrain from scarfing down like three heaping plates even though I wanted to. P&G had a lineup of experts to teach us about - and demonstrate - some of their pet-related products: not only for the pets themselves, but to clean up after them. I learned a lot from pet trainer extraordinaire (and fantastically nice person) Andrea Arden about using positive reinforcement to train your animals ... like rewarding them when they do something you want them to do. Really, when you think about it, most of her tips were good for people too. I can totally use them on my kids.*

*Or myself. Like giving myself a snack every time I resist the urge to snack.**

**Oh wait. That's not really how it works, is it?

Seriously, check her out if you've got pets. I loved her positive approach to animal training, which centered on getting cooperation instead of trying to be dominant. She pointed out that we sometimes reinforce our pets' undesirable behavior without even realizing it - like when Josie barks incessantly at me and I tell her to shush; she's asking for attention, and I'm giving it to her. Even though it's negative attention, she's technically getting what she wants, so she keeps up the bad behavior.

Hmm ... wonder if I could teach her to WANT to wear this wig on a regular basis? Because I was kind of amused.

Well. Anyway.

The IAMS presentation by veterinarian Dr. Amy Dicke was kinda like being in a class. (Seriously, I think my IQ might have gone up a couple of points.) I had no idea there was so much science behind the development of pet food - the chemistry and ingredient ratio of each formula is very specific. For example, the blend of carbohydrates in puppy food is designed to provide lots of readily-available energy for more active dogs, whereas the carb blend in senior dog food is designed to provide a slow release of sustained energy. And the Hairball Control formula for cats uses a very precise mix of fibers to promote the, er, smooth passage of hairballs through the intestinal tract - and lots of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to make for a healthier coat that doesn't shed as badly in the first place. Clearly, the IAMS peeps take pet nutrition very (very very) seriously. A lot goes into each type of food they make.


(Personally, I'm still waiting for them to develop a dog food formula that eliminates the need to poop altogether. Get on it, IAMS.)

We got to experience a few product demonstrations too, like Febreze Allergen Reducer. It reduces up to 95% of allergens by forming an invisible, flexible "net" over whatever soft surface you spray it on, which traps allergens and keeps them from becoming airborne. You can even use it on jackets to keep from bringing unwanted irritants into the house. Genius.


Then there was the demonstration of the Swiffer Sweep & Trap, which picked up an impressive amount of Cheerios and some other random crap. (In my house, you never know - it might literally be crap.) As the mother of four mess-generating hooligans sons and the owner of four fur-shedding, kibble-scattering terrorists pets, I was completely sold. She was picking up some heavy nuts and bolts in this part of the demo:

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If it picks up Legos? This thing is my new bestie.

All in all, my first conference experience was amazing. I didn't embarrass myself, I met some awesome new people, I learned all sorts of interesting things about Procter and Gamble products, and I got a night in a hotel bed with no one snoring, poking me with elbows, laying on my hair, or waking me up in the predawn hours saying, "Mommy? I peed."

Hey P&G? If you ever want to invite me to another of these things? I'm totally in.

To Dye For

I just finished dyeing my hair, y'all. Yes. I did it myself. It probably looks like crap because I didn't let a stylist do it, but all my money lately has been thrown into the endless cauldron of need called "children." It turned out way darker than I intended, but at least the grays are gone. I swear I'm getting them at an irritatingly rapid pace lately. Like the Gray Hair Fairy is just visiting me overnight. And since each one so far has been the crinkly texture of a pube, I'm not too optimistic about how my head's gonna look when I stop coloring and just let it happen.

... If I let it happen.

I think I'm getting so many grays because I have, like, four little boys. And as though that in itself weren't enough, Corbin is going through the "terrible twos." Problem is ... he won't actually be two until June. I know I have always said that three is the new two when it comes to attitude, but that was before I birthed this strong-willed, temperamental mini-dictator.




He's sooooo ridiculously sweet though, enough to (almost) make up for the volume of frustrating behaviors he exhibits on the daily. He reminds me of those Sour Patch Kids commercials  - you ever seen those? They sum him up pretty well. His sweetness is probably just a biological mechanism to prevent me from choking him out.

He's also in the beginning stages of potty training, which is awesome.*

*And by "awesome" I mean "good Lord, I have to go through this again?"

The other day, I thought he was innocently playing in the bedroom. About two minutes before I had to walk out the door to pick Coby up from preschool, I went to get Corbin - but he had closed the door. And locked it. And remember this key? It was locked in with him.

I started to panic with the realization that my toddler was alone in my room, with full access to my bathroom, and I was stuck on the other side of the door. But miracle of miracles: when I said sweetly, "Corbin? Unlock the door, please," he actually complied and was able to unlock the door by himself.

My relief was short-lived, though, because I realized that the reason he had locked himself into the bedroom was to take a dump in his diaper. Which I now had to change. Literally two minutes before Coby would be waiting in the lobby of the school, brokenhearted because his mommy wasn't there to pick him up.

I got it done, though, and I actually wasn't the last parent at preschool pickup that day. So there's that.

He's also into whipping his diaper off as soon as he poops in it. Good times.

Possibly another contributing factor to my granny-hair is that I'm forced to wipe with toilet paper that looks like this:


Yeah. Seriously. Every single roll. I went under the sink to grab a new one the other day and I was like, WTF.

Watch the video clip below and I think you'll see why. (Fast-forward a couple seconds because at the first he's just kind of sitting there but I'm too lazy to edit.)

( ... Okay, so I just couldn't figure out how to crop the video. Whatever.)

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Don't take your smooth, un-gnawed toilet paper for granted, folks. Or your full boxes of Kleenex, for that matter.

I think I ought to just start buying hair dye in bulk ... along with my paper products.



PS - It's getting to be the season to DO stuff with your family - and I found a place to get cheap tickets to events and attractions nationwide! Click on the "Giveaways & Reviews" tab to check out my experience with ScoreBig.com!

Share? No Fair!

I hate to share my food.

If I were a dog, I'd be one of those obnoxious ones that growls every time someone gets close to its bowl. Because y'all? If I'm eating something, I want to eat it. All of it. Not you. ME. Mine. You wanna borrow the shirt off my back? Fine. Some money? Hey, if I've got it, it's yours (although seriously, don't hold your breath on that one. And on that note, you might not wanna borrow the shirt off my back either since it's probably from a clearance rack).

But food, for reasons unbeknownst to me, is a whole different story. Like recently I went out to lunch with two of my best friends, and couldn't decide between two sandwiches, and my friend Denni suggested that we each get one kind of sandwich and then share and I was all, "...No?"

It's completely unfair because I'm always asking my kids to share their food with each other while simultaneously setting a bad example for them. "Hey. Give your brother a bite of that cookie. What? You want a bite of mine? Well ... no."

Okay, so it's not quite that bad. I always come up with a good excuse. Like, "Oh no, honey. This is a diet cookie. You wouldn't want this one."

It's just that every single time I set out to eat something, somebody begs. It doesn't matter if I'm hiding in the closet or holed up in the garage. It doesn't matter if I've backpacked for six days through remote and dangerous jungles and hiked to the highest peak in Bhutan. Somebody would show up and be like, "Bite?" And when I do offer them a morsel, they either end up a.) taking a huge portion of it, b.) taking the bite I wanted, c.) slobbering all over it, d.) making a mess with it, or e.) all of the above. So you see? Sharing might be caring, but let me show my kids I care by reading them a book or clapping for them or smiling at them or whatever. Geez.

If it's not the kids? It's these two beauty queens.

Puggy and Josie: the reigning household champions of "puppy-dog eyes."

This phenomenon is not limited to the times I'm trying to eat sweet and delicious treats, either. It's standard, boring stuff: my yogurt in the morning. A banana. A piece of cheese. I could prepare my children a huge breakfast that they scarf down like nobody's business and proclaim themselves full - but if I try to eat some dry toast or a pickle or something within five minutes after they're finished, they're on me like white on rice. Even the baby, who lately has perfected the sweetest look EVER, followed by an equally sweet-sounding inquiry: "A biiiiite?"

I need to find some new hiding places to eat in peace. So if ever you hear a noise outside in the middle of the night, and discover me hunched behind your trash can with some beef jerky or a candy bar, just go back to bed. I'll throw the wrappers away when I'm done.

One Minute at My Crib

I was going to write a proper blog post (as if any of my blog posts are ever "proper"), but three of my four little boys playing in the living room were making it so loud I couldn't hear myself think.

Considering that, and the fact that people always say they'd love to be a fly on the wall in my house, I thought I'd do something a little different: show y'all a video. It's exactly one minute long, an unedited snippet of what a typical afternoon looks like around this joint (except sometimes - okay, most of the time - it's more naked). Cameron and Coby are playing some kind of game that contains lots of punching, kicking, and arresting, and the baby (Corbin) is standing on the ottoman singing the "Spongebob Squarepants" theme.

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Add in some incessant talking about Minecraft and a few strange smells and you've pretty much got an accurate picture of my life. At least where the boys are concerned.

Happy Saturday, everyone! And if you happen to come across some peace and quiet, savor it for those of us in the midst of loud craziness.


Pillow Talk


My favorite time to talk to my husband - and let's face it, sometimes the only time I get to - is when we go to bed. Even when I'm not tired, I almost always go to bed when he does so that we can chat a little.*

*I'm not sure he actually likes this, but whatever.

We talk about anything that's on our minds, but mostly about how weird our kids are. Until he says, "Sweet dreams, my love," which is Husband for, "Shut up so I can go to sleep." That's my cue to lay there messing with my phone until I fall asleep and drop it on my face, or until I have to put it down to assault Curtis for snoring, whichever comes first.

Last night, though, I was really tired - so when we went to bed, I actually just laid there quietly and tried to sleep. It was working, but then?

I was cruelly wrenched from the embrace of slumber by a fart so heinous it nearly blew the covers off the bed.

"Curtis! Gross!"

Disgusted, I turned my back to him. Apparently that wasn't a good enough barrier because when the stench hit me I swear my nose hairs were singed. My eyeballs burned.

"What the -? Ohmygawd."

Curtis started laughing. "I know. Wow."

The conversation was over, at least I thought. But after a couple of minutes, Curtis said into the silence, "Do you want to know what I had for lunch?"

"Um ... yes?" I answered hesitantly.

"Testicles."

(... WTF?)

"You ate ... testicles?"

"Yes."

Apparently someone brought them to work. Goat and sheep testicles, with Cajun seasoning. And only a few people would even try them, but Curtis ate two (a whole sack, you might say). And they taste kind of like - gag - chicken livers.*

*PS, if you like chicken livers and other vile disgusting organ meats, I'm not sure we can still be friends.

Then I started laughing. "You do realize that means you had someone else's balls in your mouth today, right?"

"Not someone's," he protested. "Something's. There is a huge difference."

"Whatever."

Silence and sleepiness once again descended upon me. And once again, Curtis's voice broke through.

"You know what made me think of that?" he asked. "... That fart. It smelled like testicles."

I rolled my eyes. "Sweet dreams, my love."

Aprilfoolery

So yesterday was April Fool's Day. Also known as the day when everyone on Facebook falsely announces that they're pregnant. Tricks, pranks, jokes, stunts, whatever you want to call them - everyone's trying to b.s. everyone else on April Fool's.

Personally, I think lots of pranks - especially the ones people deem worthy of videoing - are pretty mean. My husband loves them. He'll watch those ten-minute-long prank compilations on YouTube and laugh like a hyena while I stand behind him going, "Ohhh noooo!" in a disappointed voice. He makes fun of me, but I just feel bad for the people involved. I mean - if there's a mess, somebody's got to clean it up. If you make somebody think they've won a large sum of money or something, they're ecstatic - only to get it ripped out from under them. People laughing at other people's expense just doesn't make me feel happy. BECAUSE I AM NOT AN ASSHOLE.*

*Most of the time.

I'm not above laughing at little harmless tricks, though. And I do love screwing with my kids. Which is why yesterday I decided to do a little April fooling of my own.

I secretly made strawberry Jell-O, but instead of pouring into a bowl, I poured it into the cups they usually drink from at dinner and let it solidify in the fridge. To further convince them, before the Jell-O set up, I poured myself a little glass of it and started sipping. I knew the boys would ask for some because that's what happens every time I try to eat or drink something they aren't eating or drinking. Sure enough, they were all like, "Ooooh, what's that kind of juice, Mommy?"

"It's a new kind of juice I just bought," I said. "You can have some with your supper."

Hook, baited.

At dinner time, I stood by the table and pretended to be checking email on my phone while Curtis and my mom served the boys their food and drinks. Here's how it went down.

Yes. Colin is indeed pantsless. But he did have underwear on, so there's that.

They had less of a reaction than I expected, but they were all greatly amused by it and - more than anything - pleased that stodgy old Mom had gotten in on the April Fool's Day trickery. 

And I got to mess with my kids in a way that won't require therapy when they get older.

Win!

Poop is the New Black

Poop is a huge part of my life. From changing diapers to assisting the preschooler's wiping to flushing the turds that my older boys like to leave chillin' in the toilet (surprise!!) to scooping the litter box and cleaning up after the dog who gets pissed off (er, pooped off?) when we leave the house without her, I'm always elbow-deep in excrement. It's been this way for, like, almost nine years now. I've been contending with jaw-dropping messes like this (and this, and this, and this, and omgthis) for so long that I can hardly remember when I wasn't. And I'm - dare I say - used to it. So if a poop-hardened veteran like me finds herself marveling at anything fecal, you know it's bad.

What, you ask? Well. If your kids watch TV (and if they're not allowed, you're probably on the wrong blog), you've no doubt seen this:


"This dog food tastes like shit!"


Or perhaps this:
"Oh yeah?! Well I poop ... poop."

And to the toy companies, I must ask this single, burning question: WTF?

Like, seriously? What is suddenly so freaking awesome about poop that even Barbie jumps on the bandwagon? I understand the appeal of a little pet for your doll on a leash and all that. Throw in a brush for its hair and a little dish and some fake food or something. Fine. I get it. But like ... when your toy comes with turds? It's a bit weird.

There have always been the odd poop toys out there. Fake piles of dog doo and stuff. But now it's like poop has gotten a PR makeover and is trendy. Poop is the "it girl" of the toy world. Poop is the new black.

And as a mother who finds herself overly, involuntarily involved in the pooping habits of nearly an entire household, I just don't get why someone would want more poop in their life. I mean, if someone feels they're lacking in that department, they're more than welcome to come by my house for a while. Although they might be in for a surprise, because nobody here poops glitter or jewelry or candy.

... Unfortunately.


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