You're Breaking Up

Yesterday I suffered a profound loss.

It started out as a regular morning: I scrambled to get the kids ready for school and out the door on time. My husband took them. But he had only been gone for a minute before he called my phone.

"Coby forgot his glasses," he said. "I'm coming back to get them. Can you bring them to the garage?"

"I'm already on it," I told him, glasses in one hand and phone in the other. And when the garage door opened, I was waiting. I handed the glasses through the window and waved as they backed down the driveway.

But I waved with my phone hand. A little too zealously, I guess.

It was like slow-motion. I watched as my month-old iPhone 6 - a gift from my husband to replace my old phone that ran like a turtle - launch from my fingertips and sail through the air. I watched it land flat on its face on the cold, hard garage floor. I heard the sickening crack of electronics against concrete.

I picked it up, hoping against hope that it was awesomely shatterproof. But alas, when I turned it over, this is what I found.


My mind flashed back to the day I got the phone. "You should probably get a case," Curtis had suggested, knowing full well I'm a clumsy-ass not always steady-fingered. But I'd scoffed, preferring instead the sleek feeling of the case-less (and therefore unprotected) phone. I'm like the dude who refuses to wear a condom because he doesn't like how they feel, only to end up with an STD: one sorry mofo.

In the grand scheme of things, my life could be exponentially worse, so I'm chalking this up to a lesson learned and trying to move on. In my privileged first-world bubble, though, it still sucks.

I think my fingertips might be permanently shredded. But it was my turn on Words with Friends, so what choice did I have?

I'd better win this round.


Crappy Anniversary!

So in case you missed yesterday's post ... it was my fifteenth wedding anniversary. And after work, my husband had promised to whisk me off to a romantic locale.*

*And by "romantic locale" I mean the movie theater to see Paul Blart Mall Cop 2.

In anticipation of our evening out, I spent the afternoon wrangling my hair into submission. If you don't know about my hair - well, it's naturally terrible. Thick and frizzy and not even cute.


Old picture, but same hair. UGH.

The only time this hot mess looks decent is when I deep-condition and blow-dry and straighten it, which takes forfreakingever. But yesterday was a special occasion, so that's exactly what I did. And it looked great.

About an hour before Curtis was due home, my toddler ran past me and I caught a whiff of something rank: namely, a diaper full of doodoo. He's in the process of potty training, and he has the pee thing pretty much down pat - but the poop thing, not so much.

When I managed to catch him, he had it smeared all down the insides of his thighs. I don't know how toddlers produce man-sized poops, but mine must have bowels the size of King Kong's. It was the kind of mess that only a good wipedown and then a bath can remedy.

As I was drying him off after his bath, I realized that I could still smell poop. I checked him all over to make sure I'd gotten him clean; I had. I looked at my clothes, my shoes, my hands; all spotless. I re-traced my steps to the bathroom to make sure it wasn't on the carpet somewhere. Nope.

And yet ... the unmistakable stench didn't seem to fade. Frustrated, I ran a hand through my hair, as I tend to do when I wear it down. That's when my fingers got inexplicably tangled in the front of it.

In a crusty patch.

In a crusty patch of dried feces.

IN A CRUSTY PATCH OF DRIED FECES IN MY FRESHLY CONDITIONED AND BLOW DRIED AND FLAT-IRONED ANNIVERSARY DATE NIGHT HAIR.

I didn't have the time, nor the desire, to re-wash and re-wrangle my hair. So I desperately grabbed a baby wipe and swiped at the patch in the hope that it would remedy the problem without having to go to such lengths. I could still smell the poop, but I thought maybe the scent was just seared into my nose hairs or something, so I got a second opinion.

"Cameron, quick!" I hissed at my seven-year-old. "What does my hair smell like?!"

He leaned in, sniffed, then recoiled so hard he nearly fell out of his chair.

"Why does your hair smell like poop?!" he choked.

Ugh.

So there was no choice but to wash it. I didn't want to do my whole head, so I pulled most of it back into a ponytail and just washed the poopy part.


Then I blow-dried and straightened it. But I had forgotten to condition it. So it was all static-y and weird and it clung to my skin like a full-face beard.

So then I put some "anti-frizz serum" in it. And accidentally made it oily.

So I had one oily section of hair. Right in the front.

... But at least it didn't smell like poop any more.


Fifteen

It's not Throwback Thursday, but I'm about to post a picture of my nineteen-year-old self.

I hadn't even grown into my big head yet. Awwww.

Yep: I was a teenage bride. I'd love to know who was sitting in the church pews fifteen years ago today, thinking, "I give this six months." I'm sure that was the general consensus, seeing as I was practically a baby (and my husband was newly twenty-three). I mean - what do you really know about marriage at that age? About relationships?

Curtis put an oversized Wint-o-green Lifesaver in his mouth just before we said our vows, and it clacked noisily against his teeth as he promised to love me forever. We stared awkwardly at each other when our unity candle ceremony didn't last nearly as long as the song accompanying it.


Curtis was sporting the fashionable blindingly-white forehead of a construction worker.

We had no idea what we were in for.

When you're that age, you haven't even become the person you truly are. You're still figuring yourself out, still learning how to navigate the world as an "adult" (and yes, that word is totally deserving of the quotation marks). And now we had to figure ourselves out as a married couple. We were both selfish. We were broke. The odds were stacked against us.

But.

We were in love, and we were determined. So against those odds, we built a life together.

I'm not going to be one of those wives who claims that every day, every month, every year has been beautiful and happy and sunshine and turtledoves. Unicorns didn't sprinkle magical anti-divorce rainbows over our union; it's hard work. At times, it's been an absolute shitshow. It's been his fault and my fault and a few runs of crappy luck that are nobody's fault, but still a struggle to get through.

And yet, when I think of all the hands we've been dealt in the last fifteen years, I know with complete certainty that there's no one I'd rather have experienced it all with. We grew into adulthood together and muddled through the growing pains that come with it. We've had some truly amazing adventures (like the ones I talked about in one of my favorite posts, An Anniversary Letter to a 17-Year-Old Me). We went from partners to parents. We have less hair and more muffin top, but we've gained a sense of permanence. We are each other's safe harbor, because we know this thing we have is hard to destroy. And we know from experience, because we've both tried to destroy it.

I can't say much about my wisdom at nineteen years old, but I will say this: I knew Curtis was the one for me when I realized I was more excited for the marriage than for the wedding. And our future still excites me.

(Mainly because we have this retirement dream of spending our days eating at ALL THE RESTAURANTS.)

So happy anniversary to the dude who drives me crazy in the best and worst ways. I am eternally thankful to him for so much - the fact that he didn't smash cake in my face at our reception, for one thing.

And the "Ugliest Cake Topper Award" goes to ....


Here's to the next fifteen ... and the next ... and the next!


Gum-De-Dum-Dum

This morning, as my kids piled out of the van at school like entertainers from a clown car, I snagged my Kindergartner by the elbow.

"Coby, are you chewing gum?" I asked sternly. "You can't have that at school, you know. And besides, I already told you that you weren't allowed to have any this morning." After you and your brothers begged and pleaded and only succeeded in pissing me off.

His brown eyes widened sheepishly. "It's from yesterday," he shrugged, spitting it into my outstretched hand. "I stored it in the cup holder."

... Gross.

As I stared at the sticky lump in my palm, trying not to imagine all the disgustingness festering there, I vowed for the umpteenth time never to let my kids have gum again. EVER.

I don't know what it is about gum, but it's the thing I hate above all other confections. Probably because it ends up everywhere except in their mouths where it's supposed to be. Like this:

 It wasn't so cool when he realized it was stuck in the hairs on the back of his neck.

Is it just my kids? Is the proper chewing and disposal of gum too advanced for them? I mean, the ones who chew it are school-aged. They are relatively intelligent. They're fully aware of the locations of each trash receptacle in our house. Is it so far-fetched to think that they're capable of chewing it for a little while, then spitting it out in the proper place?

Apparently so. 

Because yesterday afternoon they got some gum (from Dad, naturally) ... and this happened.




... And gum in the cup holder of my van. Of course.

Is there an age where kids magically start chewing gum in the way it's supposed to be chewed? Or are my kids just developmentally delayed where gum is concerned? Give it to me straight, people: are they "gum-dumb" or are your kids the same?

Inquiring minds need to know. For the sake of my sanity ... and my carpet.


The Surprise-Egg Scramble

I may be decent at Trivia Crack, but don't let that fool you - there is a lot of stuff that I don't understand. Like, for example, how Kanye West can have that much ego. Or why certain brands of pickles say a serving size is half a pickle (go ahead, check your fridge, I'll wait). Or anything involving "the maths." Oh yeah, and Spam - the "meat product," not the email kind ... although I don't understand computer spammers, either, come to think of it.

But you wanna know the latest thing I don't get? Like, at all?

SURPRISE EGG VIDEOS.

Unless you've prohibited any and all screen time for your child (I bet you feed him kale chips, too, don't you?), you've probably seen these. My younger kids - five and nearly three - adore the crap out of them. They think they're egg-cellent and will scramble to watch them (heh heh. I got jokes). And my question, typically met with a shrug from my children while they stare, open-mouthed and fascinated, is this: what in the actual hell is so awesome about these videos? There are thousands of them, and they are all pretty much the same ... which is to say, close-up videos of people's hands  opening up plastic and/or chocolate eggs with little toys inside. Kind of like these, except usually a little more fancy, with brand names and characters on them.


Some of them are long ... like half an hour. Some of them have narration (my youngest's favorite features a guy who sounds suspiciously like Jim Bob Duggar). All I know is that my kids watch them like they're viewing some kind of riveting, Oscar-worthy performance. And they act like I've insulted their grandma when I dare to question their taste in YouTube videos.

What's the appeal? Is it the element of  not knowing what's inside the egg until - ta-da!! - it's cracked open and revealed before their very eyes? I'm pretty sure there are a lot of other things that could be equally surprising, and yet they wouldn't be so excited about those. Like watching somebody open birthday presents for an extended period of time. Or watching someone put together a 1000-piece puzzle. (Yawn.) Or for that matter, watching closely while someone poops: will it be green? Soft? OH, THE SUSPENSE!

Actually now that I think about it they would probably like that last one. Boys are gross.

My point is, the apparent amazingness of these surprise egg videos continues to escape me. But I'll say one thing for this baffling trend: it buys me some time to hit up the bathroom in peace, which is pretty much invaluable. (Hey, I'm not in a book called I Still Just Want to Pee Alone by accident.)

I think next time I give my kids chores to do, I'll write them on slips of paper and put them inside plastic eggs. Maybe it will minimize the whining.

... Ah, who am I kidding? Not even surprise eggs are awesome enough to do that.

The Great Pull-Up Letdown

Sometimes I think how much I'd love to have another baby. I look at Corbin, my two-year-old, and get this deep mournful sadness that he's, like, getting really tall and talking in clear sentences and stuff, and that the pudgy little baby days are pretty much in my rear view mirror.

But then something happens and I think ... babies? Nah. I'm good.

Case in point: the poop disaster of epic proportions that I had to contend with over the weekend.

You would think that after potty training three boys already, I'd be a pro by now. But I am a notoriously ineffective potty trainer. I hear people say, "Oh! Boys are so easy to potty train!" and I'm like, "Sure. It only took me ... over a year."

Right now I'm potty training a kid for what is supposed to be the last time. (I say "supposed to be" because until my husband gets that vasectomy he's been promising to get for the last two years, anything is possible. He doesn't believe me when I threaten him with the scissors.)

Corbin is in the frustrating stage where, like his brothers before him, he will do just fine if he's naked from the waist down - he runs to the toilet every time. But when he's wearing anything on his lower half, be it diapers or underwear, it's like he's never seen a toilet in his life. I don't get it.

So over the weekend I thought I'd see how he did with some Pull-Ups. I figured they were a nice compromise between underwear and a diaper: easy enough to pull down, but absorbent in case he peed (like he does within five minutes everysingletime I put undies on him).

He seemed excited to wear them. But after a few minutes I noticed he looked a little ... bow-legged.

"What's wrong?" I asked him. He just looked at me, wide-eyed, so I beckoned him over. He obliged ... waddling.

When he approached me, I gingerly pulled open the back of the Pull-Up to peer down toward his buttcrack in the universal "did-you-poop?" move. And when I did, it was like some sort of seal broke, because a cascade of liquid crap began to pour down his legs like a fountain, puddling at his feet.

It was like this. Only it was poop.

"DON'T! MOVE!" I shrieked.

There were two problems with this: number one, you try telling a toddler not to move. It never works. And number two: the person who was supposed to be moving, me, was completely frozen to the spot. Like, I was paralyzed with indecision. I stood there open-mouthed, gaping at the diarrhea deluge spreading across my floor, having literally zero idea where to start in my cleanup efforts. Should I try to take the Pull-Up off first? Clean his legs and feet off and then worry about the Pull-Up?

It's not my first rodeo when it comes to cleaning up poopy messes (remember this? Or this?), but now that the majority of my kids have outgrown that stage (THANK YOU SWEET BABY JESUS) I'm kinda rusty at it. So when I was able to move, I ran straight into the bedroom, where my husband was sleeping. "Curtis!" I wailed. "I need help! Corbin has diarrhea and it's all over the place and I don't think I can take care of this mess alone!"

Curtis got blearily out of bed and trudged behind me to where Corbin was whimpering down at his poop-covered feet.

"What the ..."  he whispered.

"I'll get a plastic bag," I said, dashing toward the kitchen cabinet where we keep like ten bazillion of them in a crumpled stash. But every one I pulled out had a hole in the bottom, and a hole is not the best thing when you're trying to clean up a mess of dripping poo.

"Just grab two and double-bag it!" Curtis hollered.

He held the bags open underneath Corbin's crotch to catch the Pull-Up, which I carefully ripped down the sides to avoid having to pull it down his legs. But the bag wasn't open wide enough so some of the poop dribbled down the sides.

Two old towels, a bunch of cleaner, a roll of paper towels, a load of laundry and a bath later, the crisis was resolved. But needless to say, I was traumatized, and swore off Pull-Ups for the rest of the weekend ... just in case. Because clearly I'm no longer at the top of my poop-crisis-handling game.

Someone remind me of that the next time I start blathering about another baby.



PS - DON'T FORGET I'VE GOT A GIVEAWAY GOING ON! IT ENDS TODAY, SO HURRY AND LEAVE ME A COMMENT - JUST CLICK ON THE "GIVEAWAYS & REVIEWS" TAB AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE!

Put Away Your Princess Pity Party!

I have a ton of stuff to do today. A list that, if I wrote it all out, would probably be taller than my giant toddler. I wasn't even planning to write a blog post. But then, during my morning Facebook rounds (which is totally on my to-do list ... *cough*), I saw the video I've posted below. And I had to say something.

(Spoiler alert: it's a mom of six boys, finding out that her seventh baby is a girl. But I'm sure you know that already if you've been on social media at all today.)


It's a sweet video - the mom screams and falls out like she's won the lottery, and everybody seems thrilled. And I say, if they wanted a girl that badly, good for them!

But this video also makes me sad in a way that only parents of either all boys or all girls can understand. Because it helps perpetuate the thought that everybody and their dog seems to have: you MUST have children of both genders to feel fulfilled. "A GIRL IS FINALLY ON THE WAY!" and "SEVENTH TIME'S THE CHARM!" the accompanying headlines trumpet. Did I miss something? Were the first six times not charming? Was there a problem with the all-boy thing?

As you know, I have four boys. And as hard-to-fathom as it seems to be, I like it this way.

Do I complain about them? You bet your ass. In fact, if you've "liked" my Facebook page, you probably saw that I just posted a poem about how my sons pee all over their toilet, and I suspect this wouldn't happen if they were daughters. But when I gripe about stuff like that, I'm just being a mom - not a mom who is disappointed that I only have a houseful of dudes.

Some of the most heartbreaking moments I've experienced have been during my pregnancies - especially with Corbin, boy #4 - when people acted disappointed that I was having another child of the same gender. Like, literally looked visibly crestfallen. I got that reaction from friends. From family! I may as well have told them I had cancer, or that my dog just died. And it was always followed by a reassuring pat on the shoulder, and the inevitable: "Well, maybe next time you'll get your girl. You are going to try again, aren't you?"

No. We're not going to try again. And do you wanna know the biggest reason why?

It's because I don't want to risk having a girl at this point. I don't want anyone - let alone my four precious, amazing, wonderful boys - to think that we just kept trying because they weren't good enough. I hear that all the time, right in front of my sons ... that I must be somehow incomplete because I haven't birthed a child of the female variety. That people feel sorry for me. That I neeeeeeed a little girl. Why? Because my sons aren't good enough? How must it make them feel to hear that? Do they sense people's pity that I have all these "icky" boys and not a single princess in the house? Because it's palpable.

Don't pity me, people. Don't pity anyone with a houseful of boys (or girls!) and assume that they walk around with some kind of deep-down void.

I may have wrestling, jeans-ripping, furniture-destroying dudes, and a toilet that requires a hazmat suit to clean, but believe me when I say this: I love it. I love them. And I can assure you, nothing is missing.

... Except maybe people who understand that.

Easter - Oh, Boy

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the only time I ever wish I had a little girl, just a tiny bit, is at Easter. I mean ... the dresses! The hair bows! The cute ruffly tights and shiny shoes! I can buy my boys dolls and watch Sofia the First and whatever, but putting them in Easter dresses is a recipe for a future trip to The Jerry Springer Show.

(Not that I haven't considered it.)

This Easter, perhaps more than any, it really hit home that not only do I not have girls, but I have boys that are no longer babies and therefore into general boyish shenanigans - religious holiday or not.

We are so fortunate to have a wonderful neighborhood with the absolute best neighbors in the world (and I mean the ones beside us, and the ones across the street - like, literally everyone in our block is amazing). We celebrate lots of holidays together, and this year, we figured that my backyard would be the perfect place to have an Easter egg hunt.

We have a big yard with a creek running through it, and aside from a little bit of drama happening there one time, it's pretty awesome.


Until now, the boys have pretty much stayed away from it. But like I said - they're getting older. And of course, they're gravitating toward the creek ... because CREEK. It's very shallow, so sometimes I allow them to play in or around it as long as I'm around to supervise. (Because MOM.)

My neighbors have boys, too, so we had a grand total of six little dudes running amok in our backyard, finding eggs. And of course, once the eggs were hunted down, where did the boys end up? The creek, naturally. I probably would have stopped them, but I was busy stealing their candy and chatting with the neighbors supervising my toddler and they just kind of sneaked down there. Boys have a tendency to do that.

These two are a couple of mine. I just love how they look like there is nothing at all wrong with immersing themselves in disgusting stinky creek-mud with decent clothes on.


I just kept repeating silently to myself, "I have stain remover and a washing machine."

It was all fun and games and Easter memories being made ... and then this happened:


Yes. That's a shoe, minus the kid who stepped out of it and walked through the mud in his socks. I'm sad to say, it was a total loss. (Much like my motherly sanity at that point.)

Uggghhhhhh.

But the boys weren't the only thing that got into the creek and came out covered in mud.


Luckily, I am not above eating muddy candy.

The celebration was capped off by a huge wrestling match, wherein six little boys attempted to dogpile our neighbor Robert.

It looks harmless enough now, but trust me, it escalated quickly. 

When I think of Easter, I think of freshness and renewal, pristine clothing and clean children. But our holiday culminated in a ton of extra laundry, muddy footprints all over my floor, and a seriously heinous dirt ring around my bathtub. 

I guess that's life with boys, though ... even on Easter.



PSSSST .... I've got a new giveaway going on! If you need some extra pep in your step (or you just ate too much Easter candy - not that I'd know anything about that), you're gonna want to click here or check the "Giveaways & Reviews" tab at the top of the page! 

Mr. Simpleton

I've been with my husband Curtis a long damn time. And in those years, I've called him a lot of things. Mostly "honey" and "sweetheart" ... although there have been a few, uh, more colorful monikers thrown in. Like the time I was worried my son had overheard me use some very bad slang. Or the time I called Curtis a fat-ass - although to be fair, it was my voice's fault.

(And before you get to feeling too sorry for the Mister, may I remind you that he once compared me to a silverback gorilla. Ahem.)

Anyway, the other day was his birthday, and I had the perfect present in mind. He's always - like, erry day - asking the kids to massage his feet. No: "asking" is probably not a strong enough word. Begging, pleading, bribing, cajoling, more along those lines. And the kids are all, "No, Dad, ewww!" unless there's a dollar involved, at which point they pretty much just flex his toes back and forth for approximately sixty seconds and then collect payment.

He asks me to do it, too, but as much as I love the man ..... I can't even. I mean, I wash his socks, and they can practically stand up by themselves.

I'd like to thank Britney Spears for perfectly summing up my feelings on the matter.

So my mom and I decided that for his birthday, we'd enlist the help of a professional to get him the foot massage of his dreams. After wading through a sea of dodgy prospects (you can get some pretty sketchy results when you Google "foot massage," y'all), I found a place that looked awesome. So I called them up and ordered him a gift certificate.

"Who should I make it out to?" chirped the receptionist cheerfully.

"Curtis Templeton," I told her.

The certificate came in the mail the next day:


Bahahahaha!!!!! I laughed so much that my abs are sore. Clearly I should have enunciated better over the phone. Of all the mispronunciations of our relatively-simple last name (I was once addressed as "Mrs. Templento"), this is a new one. And of all the things I've ever called him, this hasn't been one.

.... But it is now.


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