The 'Craft

I'm so tired of hearing about Minecraft.

Like, seriously.

Creepers and endermen and griefing and trolling and zombies and pickaxes and redstone and mobs and mods and spawning: these are all words that get peppered into normal dialogue in my house. My nine-year-old has an astonishing talent for turning any conversation at all into one about Minecraft. You comment on the weather; he tells you how in Minecraft you can change it from rainy to sunny by typing a command (then he tells you the command - /toggledownfall or some such nonsense - as if you'll ever use it). You mention that a friend is pregnant; he informs you that in Minecraft animals can only breed when they're in "love mode" and little hearts are flying everywhere. You hear a commercial for a jewelry store on the radio; he tells you how it's really hard to mine diamonds in Minecraft but he has done it and now he has diamond armor and a diamond sword and did you know that diamond pickaxes can break all types of block and by the way they make toy diamond pickaxes made out of foam and can we please get one?

Add in the fact that he's a serious computer geek, so we also get to hear about servers and admins and IP addresses, and the different versions of Minecraft like Indev and Infdev and Alpha, and the smallest nuances between each version. I have really had to perfect my "trying-not-to-glaze-over" look. I nod my head until I get a cramp in my neck.

Oh, and when he isn't playing Minecraft? He's watching other people play Minecraft on YouTube. Apparently this is a huge thing, because there are tons of videos of people playing (yawn) while offering up a running commentary (zZzZz), which is about as fascinating to me as watching paint dry. And when he's not watching other people play, he's making his own tutorials on YouTube like the ones he watches (find his channel here if your kids are into that sort of thing). You have to be careful with YouTube - remember how Cameron learned the word "gay?" - but Colin's videos are all kid-friendly. Adult-boring, maybe, but kid-friendly.

We have Minecraft on our computer, our XBox, and our tablet. We own a Minecraft playset that Colin got for his birthday, with figurines that cost a ridiculous sum for a little piece of plastic. They wear Minecraft t-shirts and have Minecraft hoodies and Minecraft books on their Christmas wish lists. They beg to go to MINECON (not a chance, when I've never even been to a blogging conference). I'm thinking that our financial support is a big part of the reason that Notch - the creator of Minecraft, didn't you know? - is probably sipping champagne and being fed strawberries on an island somewhere.

... But look at that face!

Colin wants to work for Mojang (the studio that developed Minecraft, naturally) when he grows up.

At least he'd be surrounded by people who love to talk about it as much as he does. Because around here? He's out of luck.


Yearning (or Yawning?)

Dearest Husband,

You want to fulfill my fantasies, right? Satisfy all my desires? I thought so, big guy. That's why I'm going to cut right to the chase and let you know exactly what I want: no guessing games, no playing coy, just straight to the stuff that will make me melt. I'll be putty in your hands.

First, I want you to take me to the bedroom and order me to get on the bed.*

*Because you know I have too much to do to actually initiate a nap on my own.

Then I'm going to take off my bra ...*

*Who can sleep comfortably with one on? I mean really?

... and my pants.*

*In my fantasies this is, like, a serious nap ... and everybody knows pantsless is the way to go.

I want to feel your hands on my body. ... Lower ... lower ...*

*Because a foot massage would be an epic way to kick off this nap.

I want you to whisper in my ear about all the dirty things you're going to do while I'm lying here.*

*Like mop the dirty floor, wash the dirty laundry, scrub the dirty toilet, bathe the dirty children ...

Then I want you to give it to me. Nice and slow.*

*I mean the pillow. The fat one. And fluff it first.

Oh, yeah ... I'm all hot and bothered right now.*

*But that's probably because there's a human-radiator of a toddler using me as a jungle gym, which is definitely bothersome. 

So let me know the next time you want to participate in this ... adults-only activity.*

*Seriously, don't let the kids see me trying to nap. They'd never allow it.

Take me to heaven, honey. I want it so bad. I ache for it.*

*No, I mean it, I ache. Did you see the size of that last load of laundry I carried up the stairs? Sheesh.

I'll be waiting. Don't make me beg.



There are lots of questions we ask ourselves when we're wondering if we're ready to become parents. Am I financially stable? Am I the right age? Do I have a supportive partner? Am I ready to settle down?

Those are all valid questions, of course. But there's another equally important thing to ask: am I good at doing things from the toilet?

I don't mean simply reading a book or playing with your phone. Ohhhh, no - anybody can do that. But when you're a parent, there's barely a limit to the things you'll find yourself having to do while you're trying to ... well, doodoo.

See, little kids do not grasp the concept of privacy for a very long time. (And even when they do, they seem to think that it somehow does not apply to Mom and Dad.) This means that things like taking a dump become public domain. From the time they realize they can reach their chubby little fingers under the door, you can bet that it'll be years before you enjoy a solo trip to the crapper.

What's more, there seems to be some unwritten kid-rule that everything occurring while a parent is on the toilet is urgent and therefore MUST BE ADDRESSED IMMEDIATELY.* Your brother stole your toy? You want some fruit snacks? Your shoe is untied? Just barge into the bathroom and demand a quick resolution to the dilemma.

*Ironically, things that are actually important - such as the baby drawing on the wall with a Sharpie - typically go unmentioned until you flush.

Eventually, as a parent, you realize that unless you want to spend huge chunks of your life yelling, "Just give me a minute!!" you have to just go with the flow and learn to address situations directly from the porcelain throne. Because often, that's your only chance to have at least one or two minutes of peace while you're there.

So for those who may be asking themselves the question, here's a sampling of the actual things I have found myself doing from the toilet since having kids:

- Opening various food packages
- Buttoning/zipping/tying (or dressing the child altogether)
- Nursing a baby
- Mediating arguments
- Burping a baby
- Fixing broken toys
- Removing splinters
- Singing songs
- Helping with homework
- Making a snowman out of play-dough

Oh, and also? You can add "eating my breakfast" and "brushing/flossing my teeth" to the list of toilet-bound activities, because parenthood also brings the occasional time crunch which makes such things necessary.

So if you know someone who's wondering if they're ready to have kids, tell them to just sit on the toilet and try to do a million and one random things while still "handling their business."

Because if their idea of multitasking is talking on the phone while they jog or balancing their Starbucks without spilling it all over their tablet, they're in for it.

Dear First-Time Moms ...

Dear First-Time Moms,

I have a confession to make. It's something I'm not proud of, but here it is: sometimes I think you're silly for being so uptight about your kid.

It's not that I haven't been in your shoes. I remember when I, too, had just one. I wanted so badly to be a perfect mom. To have a perfect child. To do everything by the book. I read all the studies ... disciplined the way this expert suggested and potty trained the way that expert suggested and only bought organic hormone-free food with extra DHA and AHA added for brain development and served it in a BPA-free dish because that's what those experts said I should be doing. I was so, so afraid to mess up - like one little misstep would send my son hurtling toward a future of misfortune, all because his mother let him watch one too many minutes of non-educational TV or fed him too much processed food which irrevocably altered his mental chemistry.

But then I had another kid. And another. And another. (Yes, I know how these things happen.)

Having multiple children - in my case, four - changes your grand parenting plan. Dramatically. You realize that you can actually trust your own instincts, and that not every expert opinion is right for your kids. You start to relax in your approach to parenting. For example, when you see your toddler heading for an electrical outlet ...

First-time mom: (gasp) No no, sweetie! We don't get within five feet of an outlet! Those plastic covers are there for your safety!

Mom of more than one kid: I wouldn't touch that outlet if I were you. Or at least put down that fork you were running with first.

Okay, so perhaps I'm exaggerating a smidge, but you get my drift. When I just had one child, I'd have called the doctor in the middle of the night for a sniffle; now I battle raging flu viruses at home without blinking an eye. I've always thought that first-time moms and their ambitious parenting styles were sweetly amusing, yet secretly relished my own level of experience, thinking, I'm so glad I'm not like that any more.

Until I realized something the other day, watching my eldest son walk uncertainly into his fourth-grade classroom and into a new year of firsts.

No matter how many kids you have, you're always a first-time mom. Because as your oldest child grows, there are challenges you've never faced. Things you've never thought of. Times when you feel paralyzed with fear that you'll do something wrong. Any time you have to make decisions on behalf of your child, you agonize over whether you'll make the wrong decision - especially if it's a situation you've never been in before. Every year, every age, brings some element that you didn't expect, and you parent by trial-and-error. But you ask around first. You do research on the best way to handle a situation. You read articles. You make your best guess. You lose sleep.

When your second or third or fourth or fifth child is in the same situation, you know what to do already. You've been there, done that, figured it out.

But when it's your oldest ... your firstborn ...

... we're all first-time moms. Forever.

Picture Perfect

Ah, the start of a brand new school year. A time when parents everywhere are laying out clothes, packing lunches, loading school supplies into backpacks, and shrieking, "Stay out of that mud with your new shoes!"

Like every other parent on the planet with access to a camera, I lined my kids up for the requisite first-day photo. The "final product" turned out like this:

Say it with me: awwwwww.

But that was approximately the three-thousandth photo I took. Here's how it went down.

Me: Boys, get up there on the steps so I can take your picture, please.
Boys run around the front yard yelling at the neighbor kids who are also heading to school.
Me: Boys! On the steps. NOW.
Boys slowly make their dawdly way toward the steps.
Me: Stop scuffing your new shoes on the pavement! GET on the STEPS!
Boys finally arrive at the steps I told them to get on, like, five minutes ago.
Me: Okay. Good. Now stand beside each other. ... No, get on the same step.
Boys: He's pinching me!
Me: Stop pinching your brother. Now scoot closer together. ... Closer! ...CLO-SER. I can't get you all in the picture if you're a mile apart.
Boys: But his backpack is touching mine!
Me: It doesn't matter if your backpacks are touching. Let's just get this picture taken so we can get to school. Okay, now smile!
Boys look like this:
Me: Seriously! Stop looking all crazy and just smile!
Boys put on forced smiles resembling constipated chimpanzees.
Me: Can you just - can you please look a little more natural? Just think of something that makes you laugh.
Boys: Farts!!
Me: Whatever. Okay, smile! (I plaster a wide grin on my face hoping they'll imitate.)
Boys get sidetracked by neighbors pulling out of driveway.
Me: Boys! Look over here! Look at me. Right here. ... No, right here. Look. At. The Camera. Please.
Boys: Are we done yet, Mom? The neighbors are leaving.
Me: We'd have been done ten minutes ago if you'd just stand up here and smile normally and look at the camera like you're supposed to and can we PLEASE! JUST! GET! A PHOTO!
Boys sigh grudgingly.
Me: Good. Now say "cheese!"
Boys: Can we say "dirty buttholes?"

And then my head exploded.

At least we weren't late on the first day ...

PS - Only one more day to enter the Belli Skincare giveaway! Just click on the "Giveaways & Reviews" tab at the top of the page to check it out!

Caution, Clean Freaks!

Are you a clean freak? A neatnik? Do you like your things arranged just so and spotless right down to the last nook and cranny? Then I have some advice for you.


*Unless you are financially equipped to hire a full-time maid and/or ship the child off to boarding school so that he or she can mess up someone else's stuff.

Like, seriously. Rethink the whole "becoming a parent" thing. Because if you're a person who likes everything tidy and sparkling, all the time, you will live for the rest of your life (or, you know, the next eighteen years or so) in constant psychological torture at the state of your carpet, your mini-blinds, your ... everything.

I keep this photo of my laundry room floor in my phone to prove that it was actually clean once.

It's bad enough that you can literally never have all your rooms clean at one time. You're cleaning one room while the kids are trashing another in that special, destructive way that only kids can. You finish vacuuming and when you come back two minutes later it's like the Goldfish Cracker Fairy has deposited a magic sprinkling of crumbs. It's a miracle! (Either that or a mental breakdown waiting to happen.) While it is a necessary evil, cleaning the house while there are children in it is like building a sandcastle and letting the waves wash it away ... every day.*

*Or if you're me, then a couple of times a week, maybe.

But what's worse is that in addition to the things everybody has to clean - floors, counters, toilets, etc. - there are things you have to clean when you have kids that you rarely - or never - had to clean before. Things that would never have been touched except during an annual deep-cleaning or something. For example:

Your chairs. Eating is not a difficult activity: utensil to food, utensil to mouth, repeat. But when you throw in talking with your mouth full, gesturing so wildly that you spill your drink or tip your bowl, picking out the "squishy" mushrooms or the "gross" peas, and grabbing everything within a two-foot radius with sticky/greasy/saucy fingers, it's a recipe for a mess. Most people can just wipe down the table after dinner and be fine - but when you've got kids, you've got to wipe down the chairs, too. And not just the seats: I don't know how many times I've scrubbed dried milk-splatters off the chair legs.

Also, if your kids run around naked, this goes for every other chair in the house too. Because little naked butts may be cute but have you ever seen how well kids wipe? Ick.

Your computer. I don't even let my kids eat or drink near the computer, but for whatever reason, my laptop's keyboard is perpetually crusty. Or I'll be scrolling through Facebook and freak out that a girl I went to school with has a mustache ... and then realize it's just some dried-up gunk on the screen. I'm not sure what gets all over the laptop, but I've seen where my kids' fingers end up sometimes, so I keep a lot of Clorox wipes on hand.

Your trash can lid. Throwing crap away: again, not a difficult process. Unless you're a kid. Because then it's like, "Let's not throw this half-eaten container of yogurt away without dribbling it all over the lid first and then walking away to let it dry."

Your appliances. When there's nobody touching, say, the front of your dishwasher, it remains pretty pristine. But when children are around, appliances - all of them, even ones you have no idea why your kids are touching - gather smudges, smears, and spots faster than you can say, "How is there a footprint on the refrigerator door?" And speaking of ...

Your doors. Kids don't just grab the knobs. They somehow dirty up the area around the knob, too. Oh, and the side of the door. Oh, and the bottom, because apparently once they've wiped both their grimy hands on the knob and surrounding areas, they use their feet to push the door open or closed. Or something.

Your light switches. This is the orange pseudo-cheese from either Cheetos or Doritos ... who knows which, but it's crusted all over the bathroom switch. Of all places.

Your walls. Prior to having children, I never would have thought about cleaning my walls. But now I have to clean them on a regular basis. And I don't mean a couple of times a year: I mean, like, weekly. I almost never see anything being actively smeared onto my walls (except for boogers, occasionally, because I have boys and boys like to do that), yet it looks like ground zero of an epic food fight in here. (Or toothpaste, depending on the room.) Add in the random handprints and the scribbles courtesy of toddlers with ill-gotten crayons, and your walls are like a big blank canvas to paint with kid-yuck. Sometimes it's mysterious drips of an unknown substance in an area that's taller than any of your children ...

... and sometimes it's far more sinister.

Yes. That's exactly what you think it is. How it got there - or how it adhered so remarkably - is anybody's guess.

So you see? If you value a clean house, and have obligations outside of scrubbing and wiping and sweeping and sanitizing for approximately twenty hours per day, you may want to put serious thought into becoming a parent. Because under the clutter will be dirt - and not just standard dirt, but dirt in places you never thought would be dirty. And you will look at your carpet and you will cry.

Trust me.

(PS - Don't forget to click on the "Giveaways & Reviews" tab at the top of the page - I've got a giveaway going on!)

Goats Are Jerks (and Other Summertime Lessons)

Have you ever read something and felt an instant connection to the writer? That's how I felt the first time I encountered something written by Hannah Mayer. I want to stalk her be BFFs. She makes me laugh to the point of hoping that all the ab contractions give me a six-pack. And her super-hilarious blog, sKIDmarks, features the word "shart" on the front page ... so we're obviously kindred spirits. I'm insanely excited that she's guest-posting on my blog today, because I know you guys will love her as much as I do. (And PS - after you're done reading this, click on the "Giveaways and Reviews" tab at the top because I've got a brand-new giveaway going on! Yay!)

Fed Selfish Goats Who Are Jerks And Only Think Of Themselves 
(and other things I did this summer break)
by Hannah Mayer

When I was in elementary school, day one was usually kicked off with a “What I Did On My Summer Vacation”-type essay.

We might as well have been assigned to stand in a line and kick each other in the balls.

Forcing already depressed kids to painfully recount how their days spent reveling in carefree bliss are a thing of the past and it's going to be nine long months until they see a playground again is just straight up cruel. It's like forcing someone to write a 300-word essay on everything they loved about their arms right after they had to be amputated.

Oh, you rode a roller coaster? Played baseball until dark? Went to the beach on vacation? That sounds like it was tons of fun! Now we're going to talk about math for three hours.

I was always embarrassed to tell the truth about what I did on my summer vacations – stay up late watching Critters and eating Bacos - so my essays were a pile of embellishment, turning boring everyday activities into fascinating adventures to try to justify the value of my own life, become popular and (if I got really lucky) make friends.

And lo, a blogger was born.

Now, as an adult with three little kids, the beginning of school signifies the opposite of what it used to – the return of my personal freedom. Reading what I did over my summer break is like reading the Declaration of Independence. Reminding myself of the hell I went through to get to the fall makes shopping by myself at TJ Maxx while the kids are in school all that much sweeter.


Visited a Petting Zoo

My summer was kicked off with the gusto and enthusiasm of a robin chasing a locust, partly as a result of being cooped up from the long and especially cold winter and partly because Skinny Girl Pina Coladas were on clearance at the drug store the whole month of May.

Our first week together I took my kids to a petting zoo. We bought little baby bottles filled with milk and excitedly entered the goat pen. Despite the fact we were holding their life endowing sustenance, they turned against us. A stampede ensued and we were trampled by dozens of tiny cloven hooves. I grabbed my 2-year-old and used my 5-year-old as a human shield. My 3-year-old was left behind to fend for herself. She had been throwing a fit earlier and I was already mentally prepared to cut ties with her.

We finally were able to break through the herd and make a narrow escape, though not unscathed. My 3-year-old is going to need therapy and my Ann Taylor (Loft... Outlet... but still) shorts were burned after we arrived home.

De-Flowered At A Water Park

“Go down the speed slide,” They said.

“It'll be fun,” They said.

There are certain events in your life so profound, so important, that they actually become mile markers for your memories.

-Marriage or divorce
-Birth of a child
-Death of a loved one
-Beginning or ending a job

For me, I can now add “incident on the yellow speed slide” to my monumental life list.

Wanting to demonstrate my bravery and overall awesomeness to my kids, and everyone around, by being the cool 37-year-old Mom to go down the speed slide among the droves of teenage boys, I agreed.

I hit the water like a bullet. A bullet with its legs splayed wide open, simultaneously giving myself an enema/episiotomy combo upon contact with the pool.

Also the water hit me so fast that it tore through my nasal cavity and rocketed straight to my brain.

“Ooooh!! SOMETHING... RIPPED! AND WHAT'S COMING OUT OF MY BUTT?” I yelled at the teenage lifeguard standing before me as I grabbed my crotch with one hand and my nose with the other, hobbling off to the bathroom like a monster escaping an angry mob.

I sat in the stall, seeing double, attempting to repair my front and back doors the best I knew how as my husband yelled nervously from the doorway, “Ummm... everything okay in there?”

No. No it wasn't.

The end.

Hosted A Neighborhood Garage Sale

Garage sales are a great way to rid your home of unwanted clutter while making a little bit of spending cash. I worked around the clock for three entire weeks cleaning out closets and basements and garages, and stickering hundreds of items in the sweltering summer heat of my garage.

The day finally came for the big sale. It started at 7; I set my alarm for 5:15 to make sure I was ready for the crowds to descend and spend large quantities of money on all of my unwanted trash.

I stepped outside and it was pouring rain. After five hours I made $66. Which, after the classified ad, signs, balloons, stickers, and Starbucks netted a total of -$4.56. I also had some woman in my garage who told me I was a cat in my past life. She may still be out there.

Never. Ever. Again.


In conclusion, the summer of 2014 was filled with lots and lots of time (some quality, some 'other') with my awesome kids. And, despite it being really hard and a lot more work than I'm usually willing to invest in anything, I know there are only so many we get to spend together before they're off into the world.

Thank god.

Check out Hannah's blog, sKIDmarks, and make sure to "Like" her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter so you won't miss a bit of the awesome.

Snip Tuck

So a few weeks ago I got an email from a local salon saying they were looking for hair models. I sent in my photo, of course, because what salon in their right mind wouldn't want a model who looks like this?

Yes. This is seriously what it looks like when I don't straighten it. Be jealous.*

*PS ... If you're following me on Instagram (@fightingfrumpy) you can see pictures like this one. And of my cat in a sack. And me kissing a cow. And a blood-splattered T-shirt. You know, awesome stuff.

That's not the actual picture I sent in - my eyes were much less googly and my hair was much more wrangled into submission flat-ironed. Even so, I have to admit that I was totally surprised when they emailed me back and asked me to come in for the open call so they could check out my 'fro in person.

At the salon, a lady with a clipboard pursed her lips, narrowed her eyes, and sifted through my hair a bit. I felt scrutinized, like some sort of livestock at a county fair judging station. She explained that the hair models were being used to teach their stylists a new "French hair cutting" technique and that a fancy-schmancy European guy (I'm paraphrasing a little) who was a world-renowned celebrity stylist would be overseeing each cut.

"Are you open to any style, any length?" Clipboard Lady asked.

"Sure," I said. "I mean ... I teach Zumba so I'd prefer to be able to pull at least some of it back, but it doesn't matter too much."

She looked me over again. "Well, this particular hair technique matches the style to the client's body type. For example, we don't go much below shoulder-length on larger people." When she said larger people, I felt like her eyes zeroed in on my hip-and-thigh area. It was like she was saying, "Well, basically you don't have to worry about a short haircut since you are a fat-ass heifer."


Anyway, they accepted me. Yeah, I'd be a guinea pig, but it was a free haircut! I'm a sucker for anything free. I once got a sample of caulk in the mail and acted like it was my birthday.

So yesterday was the big day. Does anybody else feel like a dork when they enter a decent salon or is it just me? I always feel like the school nerd trying to sit at the popular kids' table in the cafeteria. I prayed they wouldn't notice my mediocre-at-best home dye job, which was the result of a OMGSOMANYGRAYHAIRS freak-out the night before a wedding last weekend. They shampooed me and then I sat in the chair with the black cape around me. I swear those things make me look like I have no neck.

The fancy-schmancy European guy came over to talk about my hair with the stylist, and y'all? I saw the waistband of his underwear as he was waving his hands around explaining something and it looked more expensive than my entire outfit. He was impeccably dressed, his hair was perfect, and he had an accent that made me want to ask him questions just so he'd keep talking. They got out a ruler, discussed the angles of my face and the unfortunate double-cowlick that keeps me from ever having bangs, and then started snipping.

My stylist was nervous with this dude overseeing her work. She told me that he charges $300 per haircut at which point I might have fainted a little. It takes me, like, six years to spend $300 on my hair. But she did a great job, and he pitched in with a few snips, and before I knew it I was done and out of there. FOR FREE.

I drove home feeling as sexy as my minivan would allow, and made sure that the vents blew my bouncy new 'do back like a shampoo commercial.

And then I took like a hundred selfies, because of course.

Being scrutinized by a fancy European salon guy (that's his technical title, I'm sure) was a little nerve-wracking. But a free haircut? HELL YES.

I Put the "ME" in "Punishment"

Yesterday, as the morning sun sparkled through my bedroom window, I was gently lured into wakefulness by the sweet, melodic chirp of a bird.

Haaaaaa! We all know better than that, right? Let me tell you how it really went down. Yesterday, as the morning sun was still creeping through the trees because it was barely up, I was rudely woken by the sound of someone shrieking my name. Or more accurately, "Mommy," which is what these little heathens call me when they need something, which is all the time.

If you want to get technical, it wasn't just any kind of shriek. It was the tattle-shriek. You know, the one that rises a few octaves at the end, like a plane taking off? It sounds almost like a question: "Mom-mmyyyyyy?" And then it's most commonly followed by something really random and stupid, like, "Cameron won't stop sucking on my hair!" (Yes, this was an actual tattle in my household. Feel glad you don't live here.)

Anyway, I catapulted onto my feet from the midst of a deep sleep, because that's what happens when one of your children is screeching.*

*Unless you're like a certain dad I know. Ahem.

They were squabbling - at top volume - over a video game. At barely seven o'clock in the morning. So I did what any freshly-woken mother would do: hobbled stiffly into the living room with bleary eyes and Medusa hair and croaked in the loudest, grumpiest voice I could muster, "That's it. No more video games for the rest of the day! Find other things to do!"

They didn't even complain at that point. They turned the XBox off and scattered into blissful silence.

... For about five minutes.

It didn't take long to become clear that I should have thought harder before doling out this punishment. Because the "other things" my kids chose to do involved wrestling too hard and then whining about it, giving each other wedgies and then whining about it, chasing each other around the house and then whining when they collided into a massive heap in the hallway. Arguing about who would play which role in their game and then arguing because so-and-so wasn't abiding by whatever arbitrary "rules" they imposed. They played zombie and took it too far, resulting in teeth marks and tears. I don't know if they were grumpy about their punishment or what, but they were squabbling like someone was paying them to do it.

Because they were sentenced to a full day without video games, I was sentenced to a full day of listening to them boss each other around and bicker and tattle. I mean, it's not like they play video games all day every day, but at least I would have gotten a little reprieve - because their worst arguments while gaming are not as bad as the constant barrage of disagreement I had (unintentionally) subjected myself to. It brought new meaning to the classic parental phrase, "This hurts me more than it hurts you."

It was a long day. And at the end of it, I caved and told them they could earn their XBox privileges back if nobody argued for one solid hour.

It worked ... just in time for me to do my evening round of laundry and dishes.

At least I got to do them in relative silence.


So I'm on Bloglovin' now because apparently that's where all the cool kids are. Which explains why I'm about a year late in getting there. Anyway, if you want to get all my blog posts in one convenient feed, click on the link below to follow me. Now back to your regularly-scheduled blathering.
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I drive a minivan, which is bad enough. (Don't get me wrong - I love the thing - it just takes the last little bit of my pre-mom awesomeness and stomps it into the ground.)

But what's worse than driving a minivan is driving one with a bunch of kids inside. You know, on account of the stale french fries and crumpled school papers and wrappers and spills in the back seat that nobody mentions until you climb back there where you can actually see it weeks later and you're like, "WHAT in the HELL?"

And the worst part of all that is the bickering.

It's like there's some unwritten rule: when kids sit close enough to touch one another, they will. Especially if the sibling whines about it. Apparently in kid language, a cry of, "Mooooom! He's touching meeeee!" translates roughly into, "Please keep annoying me because I don't think we've driven our parents crazy enough."

When you have few enough kids, you can seat them so that there's space in between, and everyone is fine. But when you have lots of kids or some extra passengers, and you have to rearrange the seating so that people are actually sitting shoulder-to-shoulder? All hell breaks loose. Commence rapid-fire, high-pitched complaining about the following:

- Being breathed on
- Being looked at
- Being touched by an elbow or knee
- Being leaned on
- Being touched by more than one millimeter of someone else's clothing
- Being too close to someone so "disgusting" and "stinky"
- Being hot
- Being stuffy

But that's not all. Because kids seated in close proximity to one another can take the smallest of things and snowball it into a complaint so fast that the previous complaint has barely had time to escape their lips. Like "He's coughing without covering his mouth!" or "He's putting his feet on me!" or the all-encompassing king of complaints, "He's bothering me!"

Like many parents, I try to keep my cool when this situation arises, but y'all? My "cool" lasts somewhere around two minutes before I morph into the kind of mom that only such bickering can bring out. My head swivels around like an owl's and I snarl at them through gritted teeth to knock it off, following up with whatever threat sounds the most ominous. If I don't already have a headache from the incessant arguing, I get one from threatening too hard. It's a no-win situation.

So I came up with a solution. I think next time we take some sort of trip where they're forced to sit too close, I'm going to buy a few of these - you know, those boards you use for science fairs and such?

I'm calling it a "Carbicle." It's like a cubicle, only in the car. And like a cubicle, it would separate one person from the rest. As you can see below, I've created a very precise and scientific drawing as an example of how it's going to work.

My theory is that if they can't see each other, they won't argue.

Well, not as much, anyway.

Well, at least until someone tries to peek or breathe or poke their fingers around the perimeter of the Squabble Buffering Zone.

... Well, crap.

Hat Tricks

Once upon a time, I bought a hat that I never wore.

It was a big, floppy sun hat. The cheap kind that you can fold up and toss into a suitcase. I bought it to take to Cancun with me, but decided I looked like a dork and ended up getting the top of my head burnt to a crisp instead. (Seriously, I didn't even think about my scalp sunburning where my hair parted, but OUCH.)

Anyway, I hadn't thought much about that hat until last night when I started looking through old pictures. That's when I noticed something.

I may not have ever used the hat, but my kids sure did. Apparently it was the perfect accessory for lounging around the house, eating dinner, tooth-brushing, squirrel-watching, nose-picking, pretending your dad is a horse, and a whole host of other activities. (Most of which I couldn't post on the Internet because - while my boys may be nicely accessorized - they're usually missing the most important component of an outfit: namely, the outfit itself.)

I'm convinced that if you give a kid a hat, and maybe a cape and a big pair of boots ... you're giving him the world.

And even though I never wore it myself, I'm pretty sure got my $7.99 worth.


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