You Too Can Make Cute Meatloaf!

Recently I watched my oldest son at a Chinese buffet, happily sucking the eyeballs out of a crayfish (I KNOW. *gag*), and reflected on something: my kids may have flaws aplenty, but they aren't picky eaters. Sure, there are a few things they don't like, but considering that one of them eats paper products (he's ... special, that one), I'd say their tastes are pretty varied.

I think this is mostly because I've always tried to expose them to lots of different flavors, textures, and ethnicities where food is concerned. From the time they were babies, I've given them everything from sushi and spaghetti to Russian syrniki, Thai yum woon sen, and Carolina shrimp and grits. I guess you could say it's for kind of a selfish reason: I love chicken nuggets and fries and other beige foods as much as the next girl, but I don't want to live on those things. And I'm not cooking separate meals just because one of my kids doesn't like the dinner option - ain't nobody got time for that. So they had no choice but to learn to like lots of stuff. Eat it or starve, basically.

The bottom line is, you save yourself a lot of mealtime headaches when your kids aren't picky. When it comes to helping your child develop a diverse palate, there's no better time than when they're little. And there's no better resource than an arsenal of healthy, wholesome, kid-friendly - and most importantly, freaking delicious - recipes. And there's no better arsenal of such recipes than this book right here: What a Good Eater!


This cookbook is co-authored by two real, down-to-earth moms, one of whom - Alessandra (Ali) Macaluso - happens to be a friend of mine. She was kind enough to send me a copy of the book to review (as well as a sweet Vidalia Chop Wizard and an Infinity Jar to help with food prep and storage). I told her I'd gladly do it as a favor - but then when I looked it over, I realized that she was actually doing me a favor. Because y'all? These are some seriously kick-ass recipes.

The book is geared predominantly toward families who want to introduce their babies and toddlers to herbs and spices and flavors. (There are sections conveniently broken up into recipes appropriate for 6 months+, 8 months+, 10 months+, 12 months+, and 15 months+ ... plus helpful tips and healthy snacks, too!) But honestly, my kids range from 4-11 and they all raved about what I made: mini basil meatloaves. See my beautiful, artfully arranged ingredients? I mean I'm practically a food blogger now. You can't even tell that my basil was kind of old. Yeah, I feed my family old basil.

The recipe called for red bell pepper but I only had green. DON'T JUDGE ME.

The meatloaves were cute, for one thing: individual-sized servings baked in muffin tins, just perfect for eating with your hands or tucking into a roll and eating as a slider. Kids like eating cute things. But even better, they tasted phenomenal. And they were easy to put together, which is a huuuuge bonus.

I took photos of them in the muffin tins, but reconsidered when I realized just how gross and old my muffin tin actually is. It might be older than at least two of my kids. And that would be like posing for a lingerie shoot in my stretched-out, used-to-be-white-but-currently-gray Target bra. So this photo is from the book, but let's pretend I took it myself, mmkay?


Nom nom nom! Here's how to make them ...

MINI BASIL MEAT LOAVES - What a Good Eater!

INGREDIENTS
¼ tablespoon unsalted butter
1 egg, preferably organic
1 1/3 pounds ground beef, preferably organic and/or grass-fed beef
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
½ cup panko bread crumbs
¼ yellow onion, whole
2 cloves garlic, whole
½ red bell pepper, seeds removed, roughly chopped
7 medium-size fresh basil leaves
Approximately ¼ cup of water

STEPS
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2.Thoroughly grease the bottom and sides of a muffin pan with butter to prevent sticking. In a medium-size mixing bowl, add the egg and lightly beat it with a fork. Add the beef, salt, pepper, oregano, mustard, and bread crumbs to the mixing bowl. Mix with clean hands to combine the mixture. Set aside.
3. In a blender, add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, basil leaves, and the minimum amount of water needed to puree (preferably not more than ¼ cup). Puree until smooth. Slowly add the puree to the meat. Thoroughly mix all the ingredients with your hands. Fill each of the 12 muffin containers to the top with the meatloaf mixture using an ice cream scoop. Then, use the back of the ice cream scoop to compress and even out the top of each mini meat loaf.
4. Bake for approximately 23–26 minutes or until the center of the mini meat loaves registers 160 degrees with a meat thermometer. Allow them to cool slightly, then gently run a knife along the circumference of each meat loaf to loosen it. Gently remove them from the pan, and serve bite-size pieces appropriate for your baby.
*You can also try serving these as mini meat loaf sliders between two whole wheat buns with ketchup or mustard. If at first your toddler seems hesitant, try melting a little cheese on top, or serve the meat loaf with your child’s favorite dipping sauce, such as ketchup, honey mustard, or barbeque sauce.

If you'd like to see a few more of Ali and Amy's wonderful recipes from What a Good Eater!, click on over to their website here. And/or, just do yourself - and your fam - a favor by clicking the link below to buy the cookbook from Amazon (it's an affiliate link, just so's ya know). It's a beautiful book, seriously. Visually appealing and full of good stuff that everybody will love. (Pssst ... it also makes a fabulous gift for holidays, baby showers, or for that friend who's constantly struggling with dinner.)


You can also join in a few more fellow bloggers and check out their thoughts on the cookbook with the What a Good Eater! "Virtual Dinner Party"...

Sammiches & Psych Meds
Stay-at-Home Panda
The Filled Lantern
Family Footnote

Happy making-your-kids-not-picky!

Older ... and Actually Kinda Wiser.


Today is my 36th birthday, which means that I'm officially closer to forty now than thirty. I swear I woke up with a new wrinkle, but I also woke up with a pimple which is clearly my body's way of reminding me that I'm still practically a teenager! Right? ... Right?

*ahem*

I can't complain about getting older, though - because as they say, "it's a privilege denied to many" and I absolutely refuse to take that for granted. Would I like to look twenty again? HELL YES. I miss my taut, unlined skin and my firm, un-stretchmarked body and my pre-baby boobs and ... what was I saying? Oh yes. Even though I'd like to look twenty, I would never want to be that age again. Because while I may not have the physical assets I had at that age (emphasis on "ass"ets), I have traded them for something much more important, much more personally valuable: a knowledge of who I am.

We are like puzzles, and we're given a piece or two each year, each one further completing the big picture. Aging is looking at a photograph of yourself that comes into sharper focus as time goes on, so that you notice more and more details. When I was twenty, I didn't realize that I still had so much changing to do. The gift of getting older is being able to see those changes and acknowledge that they're still happening, and to embrace them, knowing that I'm turning out okay.

The self-assurance that comes with age is better than smooth skin or lustrous hair. (Because when you're young enough to have those things in spades, you don't appreciate them anyway.)

I'm gonna rock 36. Aging like a fine wine over here.

Blecch to School



My kids went back to school on Wednesday. Not that I was happy about that or anything.

... I mean, "thrilled" is probably the word I'm looking for.

Seriously, I love the shit out of them, but I was on the verge of dropping them off a few weeks ago with a backpack full of food and clothing and being like, "Okay kids, just wait here. School will be opening in ... a little bit." And then burning out so fast I left skid marks on the pavement.

It's just that those last few weeks before school starts are like the last few weeks of pregnancy. You're like, "THIS HAS BEEN JUST FANTASTIC BUT FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY CAN WE PLEASE BE DONE WITH IT NOW?"

I do miss them during the day, I have to admit. And their first day back at school, the silence in this house - despite the fact that my four-year-old is still home for now - was almost overwhelming. So much that I was actually relieved (for probably the first and only time in my life) to hear his usual call of,  "Hey Mom, can you wipe my butt?"

While I love the laid-back timeline of summer (read: I basically let my kids eat and sleep whenever they want to because I'm lazy like that), I kind of enjoy getting back into an actual routine, even though it's more difficult to keep up with. So overall, I'm glad they've gone back.

But even three days in, there are things that I'm suddenly remembering suck so hard. I mean, you tend to forget about that stuff over the summer because it seems so far away. Then school starts and the crappy parts about it come crashing down like, "Happy fall! And by 'fall' we mean what you're going to do when we slap you back into that School Year Reality." Crappy parts like ...

Waking them up in the morning. Dear Lord. Give me strength. (Or make it acceptable to get drunk before 8 am - whatever works.) There is just something inside every mother that screams nooooo! when it comes to waking peacefully sleeping children. And then when you do wake them it's like this:

via GIPHY

Yet on weekends when they could actually sleep in, they're all:
via GIPHY

And then after that there's ...

Getting them ready and out the door on time. When their friends show up at the door in the summertime wanting them to play, they're ready in less time than it takes me to yell, "Shut the door, the air conditioner is on!" (Although this may be because they leave the house in strange ensembles such as a plaid shirt and Pokemon-print shorts and a pair of Crocs.) But on school mornings it's as slow as a retirement home around here.

Keeping the laundry done. One thing about sending them to school is that you've got to send them in something that looks at least halfway decent, or at least not like you rummaged it out of a dumpster somewhere. I don't know about your kids, but mine only have a handful of respectable-looking wardrobe items between them, which means I have to do a nightly load of laundry to keep on top of those things, lest they be forced to wear the aforementioned Pokemon shorts.

Keeping up with their crap. With four kids, my poor brain is already on overload (and let's be honest, it didn't even function all that well before the kids). But now I have to remember and manage who needs a daily snack. Whose planner or folder I need to sign. Who turned in what permission slip. Whose lunch money balance is low. Who has a test and when. Whose class is having a competition to collect boxtops. Who is supposed to wear red and gray for "school spirit day." The dates of early dismissals and parent teacher conferences and canned food drives and birthday parties and - BOOM! Sorry, that was my head exploding.

HOMEWORK. Oh. Mah. Gah. I can count on one hand the number of times my kids have done their homework willingly and without complaint. The other times - so like 98% of evenings - it's like I asked them to eat a frozen turd. I have to stand there like I don't have a bazillion other things to do and make sure they stay on task, and then if they've half-assed an answer I'll make them write it again (I KNOW, MEANEST MOM EVER). But the worst is when they bring something home that they need help with and you literally have zero idea how to do it. For me, that's always math. I am so terrible at math that "terrible" isn't even a sufficient word. Nothing makes me feel more brilliant (snort) than staring at an upper-level elementary math problem and feeling my eyes glaze over.

The evening routine. It's pretty much like the morning routine, except that instead of trying to pry them out of the bed, I'm trying to coax them into it at a reasonable time. Which means that everything else - homework, dinner, bath, teeth brushing, etc. - has to fit into a certain schedule in order to be done before it's time for bed. I feel like I need to run around with a cattle prod or at least a well-trained sheepdog. Because it's like spilling a bowl of marbles onto a concrete floor and trying to get them all to roll into the same place at once.

The sickness. I know it's inevitable and I dread the day one of my kids comes down with a fever. Or a sore throat. Or the worst of all: THE STOMACH VIRUS. They haven't been sick at all for the entire summer - not so much as a sniffle between the four of them. But now that they're sharing germs with all the other kids in town, I guarantee it's not long before someone carries home some sort of nasty bug - and then generously shares it with the rest of the household. Ugh.

So yeah, I'm glad the kids have returned to school, but - just as there were things about summer that I could have lived without - there are things I don't exactly cherish getting back into. I just have to keep reminding myself of the good parts: like the fact that my kids can actually ride a bus in our new town (Hallelujah!) so that I don't have to get myself ready in the mornings too.

Because seriously, if I had to put a bra on in the midst of all the morning craziness it might be the one thing that sends me completely over the edge.

The Belligerent Butt-Wiper


Now that my kids are growing up, it's harder for me to blog about them. Primarily because - while they don't care what I wrote about their toddlerhood shenanigans - they don't want the world to know what their older selves are up to (spoiler alert: mostly video games). I can't imagine why they wouldn't want their mother to publicly spill the beans about their every adolescent issue, but they don't seem too keen on the idea. Bunch of blog-derailing spoilsports, is what they are.*

*Side note: is anyone else totally thankful that social media didn't exist when we were kids? Because OH MY GOD THAT WOULD BE SO EMBARRASSING.

Fortunately, I still have one left - one newly-minted four-year-old - who doesn't give a flying fig what I say about him. And so I'm going to say this:

I am so. So. SOOOOO TIRED OF WIPING HIS BUTT.

As we all know, getting your kid officially potty-trained is far from the end of your toilet troubles. It's not like you're off the hook as soon as they can make it to the bathroom. So, while Corbin has been potty trained for over a year now, he still has trouble in one key area: namely, getting himself clean.
When a kid wipes, it isn't a neat process. They smeeeeeeear. Then it ends up everywhere - their fingers, the toilet seat, the backs of their legs, and whatever they happen to touch. Before you know it your bathroom looks like a turd massacre. It's poopocalypse up in there. And, oh, your crapper is now clogged because they use approximately 3/4 of a roll of toilet paper (while making an even bigger mess. Oh, the irony!).

So yeah. I wipe my kid's butt until he gains the fine motor skills or whatever skills are required to not make a freaking disastrous mess while doing it.

If he pooped once a day like a normal person, it wouldn't bother me so much. But here's the issue we're running into: the kid refuses to poop more than one little rabbit-turd at a time. Do you know how many little turds make up one giant poop? Like, twenty. Consequently, he's in the bathroom a bazillion times a day. And I hear the question that haunts my dreams: "MOM, CAN YOU WIPE MY BUTT?"

I have tried patiently explaining it to him. "Hey buddy, can you sit there a little bit longer? Because if there's one piece of poop, that means there are more waiting to get out."

And he'll sit. And he'll sit. And the poop will dry onto his butt and require a chisel and a belt sander to remove. And still he'll say, "Nope! No more poop!"

... Yet ten minutes later: "MOM! CAN YOU WIPE MY BUTT?"

Y'all? It's driving me certifiably crazy. We are going through toilet paper like we're eating it (and it's actually not Cameron this time). I've purchased enough flushable wet wipes to pave a damp, squishy, fresh-scented path from here to Australia.

No matter how important a task I'm doing, I can almost guarantee that it'll be interrupted by the request from the bathroom. I keep trying to remind myself that this is a phase ... but the question is, how many more times can I drop everything and buff his booty-hole before I GO OFF THE DEEP END?! You may be witness to my descent into total madness.

Hopefully it will at least make for some good blog posts.


Yo, Y'all.

Hiiiiiiiiiiii! (do me a favor and read that in that voice you use when you haven't seen somebody forever and you run into them in the grocery store and you're like, "Oh shit, I should have given them a call or something.")

I seriously have missed you guys and judging by the LOADS* of concerned emails I've been getting, you've been wondering about me, too.

*And by "loads" I mean that one concerned email about whether I'm able to satisfy my partner without buying these herbal penis enhancements. Oh. Wait.

Ahem.

Anyway, I'm going to do a rundown of randomness right now because you've obviously been dying to know what I've been up to. And then you tell me in the comments what YOU'VE been up to, and we'll be caught up.

BUT FIRST. Just in case you do want to chat on a more regular basis (BECAUSE WHO WOULDN'T?!), you can follow me on Facebook here, on Twitter here, and on my personal favorite - Instagram - here, where I will follow you back if you're not set to private. Or just go to all these places and search for "@fightingfrumpy" if you'd rather. I'm not here to tell you how to live your life.

Okay. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, brace yourselves for the Bullet Points of Complete Randomness:

- The reason I have been writing less frequently here because I'm now an official staff writer for Scary Mommy, which has been one of my personal favorite blogs since, I don't know, FOREVER. (Jill Smokler - the Scary Mommy - commented on this post waaaaay back in 2009 when my third son was born and I nearly pissed myself.) So the chance to write for the site on a regular basis has been, as you can imagine, a dream come true. Read all my stuff here because it makes me look extra-valuable as a writer, mmkay?

- Speaking of nearly pissing myself. A while back I had the honor of being interviewed by a site called Thread M.B. (and you can read the interview here because it's awesome. I know ... links! Links everywhere!) Anyway, I subscribe to the Thread M.B. email updates and this is what I saw in my inbox when the interview went live yesterday:


And I totally squealed because HELLO THAT IS ME RIGHT BESIDE CHEF ROBERT IRVINE FROM THE FOOD NETWORK. He was interviewed by Thread M.B. too. I am in love with his shows and even my picture can't help but fangirl. See? (Fun fact: this photo was taken at the Center of Science and Industry, where I had literally just gotten shocked by a machine.) Anyway, I was so excited. BECAUSE ROBERT IRVINE.


There. Fixed it.

- Okay. So. It's summertime and I have four children home with me all day erry day and I'm trying to work and they're trying to be kids and it just doesn't mesh. (They are also apparently aiming for a world record at food consumption because OMFG.) I love them but I will be soooo glad when school starts in a few weeks. Holla if you hear me.

- As you know we recently moved to Ohio and our town is right on Lake Erie. Having spent the majority of my life as a landlocked Midwesterner, I don't have much experience with beaches. Now that we live close to one, my kids want to go there all the time. The first time we went I was WOEFULLY unprepared for the situation (wouldn't be the first time, heh!). I put sunscreen on them - they went into the water - then they rolled around in the sand. So sand was clinging to their bodies like sugar clings to a really good doughnut. But did I remember to bring towels? NO. And sand just doesn't brush off, apparently. So I made them strip down naked behind the door of our van and tried to use their clothes to get the sand off. And then their clothes were sandy. So they had to ride home naked and run from the driveway to the house naked and got sand all over the place. The moral of this story is that I hate sand and I hate the beach. The end.

- Also. I have been interrupted two separate times during the writing of this post by my newly-four-year-old, who is in the habit of pooping ONE. TURD. AT A TIME. Like eight times a day. Instead of getting it all out at once, he likes to stagger it and then yell - inevitably, from the upstairs bathroom - "MOM CAN YOU WIPE MY BUTT?" At least I'm getting a lot of steps on my Fitbit. Gotta look on the bright side. But I'm tired of wiping asses so pleeeeeease remind me of this the next time I so much as think briefly about having another baby. K?

- I'm going to be doing some giveaways in the near future - stuff to make you beautiful, because this blog is called "Fighting off Frumpy," after all - so keep yo' eyes peeled.

All right. I know it's hard to handle this much epic literary genius at once (links! Turds! Sand! Robert Irvine!), so I'm just gonna step back now and let you take it all in.

See y'all on Instagram!

The Perilous Pee-Hole

I am almost thirty-six years old with a deep, abiding love for carbohydrates and have birthed four children - the last one via an emergency C-section, which left me with an unfortunate flap of skin hanging over my scar. CUTE. Needless to say, my figure over the years has transmogrified into something less "girlish" and more "girthish." Not like when I was twenty-one and could pinch a one-inch roll of extra skin and thought it was fat.

*goes back in time to slap 21-year-old self*

So recently I had the pleasure of attending my best guy friend's fancy-schmancy black tie wedding. And after I consulted the Internet to make sure I did not, in fact, have to actually wear a black tie, I chose my dress. A floor-length, form-fitting dress. A dress that, while gorgeous, was not especially forgiving when it came to exposing my various lumps and bumps and flaps. So I did what any lumpy, bumpy, flappy thirtysomething would do: I bought a pair of Spanx.

Now, I've had shapewear before. But it was always cheap, like six-bucks-from-Walmart-cheap. And I've heard Spanx are on a whole other level when it comes to flesh compression. This fancy wedding called for some fancy underthings, y'all. So here's what I got.

Image via Kohl's.

(Side note: DOES THIS WOMAN EVEN LOOK LIKE SHE NEEDS SPANX?! There's, like, nothing to spank. It's like she's pushing her stomach out to make it appear as though she has something to hold in. Or is that a hipbone? Anyway ...)

I got the big, boob-height ones because I wanted to make sure all the fat didn't squish up and make some sort of weird roll around my rib cage.

When you buy fancy fat-squeezing pants, you apparently get extra amenities that knockoff Spanx lack: namely, A PEE HOLE. A convenient opening, right in the crotch, which would apparently enable you to pee without having to wrestle the Spanx down like a walrus in a wetsuit. I was intrigued. (Also: fresh air to the lady-parts. Thank you sweet baby Jesus.)

The day before the wedding, I shimmied (okay - more like grunted, tugged, and heaved) my way into the Spanx for a test run. I wanted to see how they felt - but more importantly, I wanted to see if the pee hole would make it easy to "go" while encased in my shapewear sheath. I briefly canvassed the Internet for tips, but oddly, there's a huge lack of advice out there for successful peeing while Spanxsed. Go figure.

I squat-straddled the toilet, widening my stance as best I could, and gingerly held one side of the pee-hole out of the way with a crooked finger. But something told me even that wouldn't prevent me from soiling my Spanx, so I wadded up some toilet paper and held it against the edge of the pee-hole just in case. As my bladder did its thang, I tried to adjust my position accordingly. One hip lifted, then the other; shoulders hunched at odd angles; neck craned awkwardly so I could see what was going on down there. Tilting this way and that, trying to aim the stream as best I could without a ... a ... what's that apparatus people use to direct their pee flow? Oh yeah. A PENIS.


I felt kind of like this, except, you know, not graceful or athletic. And on the shitter.

So here I am, hovering over the toilet in some weird contorted position, trying to keep the pee-hole pee-free, when all of a sudden ...

I felt a searing pain in my lower back, like someone was jabbing my spine with a cattle prod.

Yes, you read that right: I INJURED MYSELF TRYING TO PEE THROUGH A HOLE IN MY UNDERGARMENTS.

At that point I didn't care if I shit in my Spanx - I was in pain. So I finished up peeing and wiped without giving a damn and waddled out of the bathroom, still bent over and calling for my husband.

"Currrrtiiiiiiis?" I whimpered.

I couldn't see his expression when he discovered me there, hunched and hobbling, but I can only assume he was marveling at how amazing his wife is and reflecting on his incredible luck.*

*No, you're delusional.

Anyway, once he quit laughing he massaged my back until I was able to straighten up again. And after a few stretches and a fistful of ibuprofen and a whole bunch of whining, I was right as rain. Or at least able to walk normally.

I learned a valuable lesson during my trial run of the Spanx: peeing through the hole can be more trouble than actually de-Spanxing and peeing like a normal person. It might take a couple minutes longer (and you might end up out of breath) but at least you can walk upright when all is said and done. So that's exactly what I did throughout the reception whenever the alcohol - I mean, urine - needed to make an exit.

... Until I took those bitches off and twirled them around my head and wobbled in all my Spanx-less, gussied-up glory to a 7-11 at 2 a.m. and ending up sharing convenience store pizza with a bunch of homeless people across from Boston Common.

But that's a story for another time.

Dear Kids: Stay the Hell Out of the Fridge



Dear Children,

... Or should I say, "dear starving undernourished waifs?" Or perhaps "plague of famished locusts?" Because that's precisely what I think of when I open the refrigerator and it echoes. It's as empty as my wallet - the one I JUST OPENED TO FORK OVER MY LIFE SAVINGS TO THE GROCERY STORE CASHIER.

I know. You're hungry. I know this because you are always hungry. You were hungry five minutes ago, you're hungry right now - probably with your mouth full - and you will be hungry five minutes from now. This is a state you seem to perpetually inhabit, despite the fact that I provide you with three more-than-adequate meals a day. (Which you are ironically "not hungry" enough to eat, yet five minutes after the dishes are cleared you're rummaging for a snack.)

When you're not in the fridge, you're in the cabinets. Or the pantry. Or the freezer. Or trying valiantly to find my hidden stash of emergency chocolate like you don't value your life.

Kids, let me share a little something about the refrigerator, and about modern packaging in general: it is used to preserve food. That means when I purchase something at the grocery store, it does not have to be eaten within a matter of hours in order to avoid spoilage. That's right: IT WILL STILL BE THERE, AND STILL BE EDIBLE, TOMORROW! There's no need to plow through it like a roving band of wild dogs through a meat packing plant. No need to shovel it in like a swarm of stoned sumo wrestlers. I buy enough stuff to last for, like, a week. Maybe two. Maybe three!

I understand that you're growing and that an abundance of food is necessary to sustain your (ridiculous, excessive) energy levels. Maybe try sleeping more? Let's see how that works.

If you'll excuse me, I'm off to donate plasma and then heading to the bank to take out a second mortgage - gotta find a way to fund your insatiable appetites somehow. If I'm late for dinner, there's food in the fridge.

Oh wait. No there isn't. BECAUSE YOU ATE IT ALL.

(Seriously, stahhhhhp.)

Love,
Mom


A Rare Buble-Corn Sighting

I was going to put together a well-thought-out, nicely composed blog post today. Seriously. But then I was browsing Facebook first (because, you know, priorities) and I was like WHOA. BACK THE HELL UP. STOP THE PRESSES. Because I spotted a trending topic that I just had to write about.


OMG YOU GUYS LOOK AT THIS! A rare Bublecorn sighting! It's trending - trending, y'all - so it must be important, right? MICHAEL BUBLE EATING CORN. Imagine that. Celebrities: they're just like us.

Okay, so after I quit laughing (I'm lying: I still can't quit laughing) I delved a little deeper into the Michael-Buble-eating-corn phenomenon and realized that it all stems from a photo taken of him where he appears to be eating an ear of corn from, like, the end.

Image: Reddit

Which as we all know is completely weird, but hey, he's Canadian and maybe they eat it differently there? Or maybe he was just trying to nibble off those little bitty pieces at the end because they're delicious? Or maybe he has literally never eaten corn before and the paparazzi just happened to snap a pic of him awkwardly losing his corn-eating virginity? Or maybe he's just trying to be a trendsetter because NOBODY TELLS MICHAEL BUBLE THE RIGHT WAY TO EAT CORN?! Bottom line, nobody should be judging poor Michael Buble based on the way he chooses to chomp the mother grain.

... But they should definitely keep photoshopping the picture because that shit is hilarious. Check some of them out here.


Is There a Doctor in the House?

Let me preface this by saying that this is NOT a sponsored post. Nobody paid me or gave me any free services to write my opinions - I just found something awesome and wanted to tell somebody about it. So, the Internet. Because I have a blog, that's why.

Anyway.

My first-grader, Coby, mentioned before school last week that his throat was a little bit sore. By the end of the school day, the nurse called for me to come pick him up because he was running a fever. So I brought him home, put him on the couch, gave him some ibuprofen and some warm tea with lemon and honey, and figured he had a cold.

But by seven o'clock that night, he was barfing - he couldn't hold anything down, not even water. I looked at his throat, and it was swollen and riddled with tiny, angry-looking red dots. His fever was on the rise. The poor kid was totally miserable. We just moved here, he has no pediatrician yet, and the nearest urgent care facility was about to close. I had to do something for him. There's always the emergency room, but the last thing I wanted to do (for me OR him) was drag my poor, feverish-yet-shivering, puking-every-ten-minutes kid to the hospital where we'd inevitably wait for hours to be seen. (Not to mention be exposed to everybody else's yuckity germs.)

So out of desperation, I got on my phone and Googled something random like "online doctor visit." I had zero idea whether anything like that actually existed - so I was surprised when my search resulted in me finding something called Amwell.

Now, let me be the first to say that I was totally skeptical. I mean, I've crossed over to the world of ordering pizzas online and am pretty impressed with that technology. But a real, legit doctor visit?

Still, what did I have to lose? My kid was suffering. So I downloaded the app. (I have an iPhone, but I believe it's also available on Android; you can also do it via their website.)

It took me less than ten minutes to provide my personal info and get set up in their system - and that included adding all ten gazillion (okay, four) of my children. The ease of use didn't really help with my skepticism, but I pressed on.


As you can see from this lovely screenshot I took today (and yes I am the type of person who lets her phone battery run down to ten percent - don't judge), they offer a bunch of services. TWENTY FOUR HOURS A DAY. So no matter what time your kid starts barfing/coughing/generally waking you up from an otherwise-pleasant sleep, you can see a doctor without even putting a bra on.

Anyway, the app lets you know which doctors are available and how many patients are waiting to be seen. In order to help you choose, you can tap on each doctor and their bio comes up - including not only personal details about them, but other things like languages spoken, specialties, education, and how long they've been practicing medicine.


Once you've chosen your preferred physician and are waiting in the queue, you get the opportunity to tell them a little bit about your problem - it's just like sending a text. I even snapped a photo of Coby's poor horrible-looking throat and included it so the doctor could see. Then you can choose your preferred pharmacy. It even gives you a map so you can see which ones are closest to you.

With three patients ahead of us, we waited for about forty minutes. But I didn't care because number one, I was sitting on my couch watching my TV in my pajamas, and number two, that is SUBSTANTIALLY less time than I would have spent at an E.R. or urgent care facility. And Coby could continue his throw-up-and-fall-asleep cycle in ... well, I don't wanna say peace, but you know.

When we finally saw the doctor, I was very impressed - it was a live video chat, pretty much just like Face Time. Dr. Myers was warm and friendly and knowledgeable, and I felt like she was thorough in her questions and explanations. She looked at the photo of Coby's throat and said she had never seen such a textbook case of strep, even finding a similar photo on the Internet to show me how classic it was. She prescribed him an anti-nausea medication and an antibiotic, and both were called into my local pharmacy right away. (I couldn't pick it up until the next morning, but that's only because we have moved to a town where there doesn't seem to be a 24-hour ANYTHING.)

The best part was, it only cost $49 - and they work with a lot of insurance companies, so it may cost even less. (In contrast, my mom went to an urgent care clinic a few weeks ago and her bill was over $200.) Not only that, but the next day I got an email from Amwell with a coupon code for a FREE visit because we had to wait so long. And I was like, "Whaaaaat?" because I thought our wait time was very reasonable, and besides - COUCH AND PAJAMAS. But hey, you guys know I'm cheap, so I'm all over that coupon code like Axe body spray on a teenage boy.

Like I said - this isn't a sponsored post in any way, shape, or form. Nobody from Amwell was like, "Hey Rita, we love your blog, we'll pay you to write about it." (In fact, I hope their PR people are not embarrassed now that they're associated with such a prodigious teller of poop stories.) I just stumbled upon this amazing bit of technology and felt like sharing it with y'all because I had a good experience and thought it was awesome.

Not as awesome as not being sick in the first place, but hey. Sick happens. I'm just glad I don't have to put a bra on when it does.

Oh Hi, Ohio!

Okay. So, we moved to Ohio.

I know, I know. I said I was going to blog more often. I said I was going to keep you guys in the loop.

But I mean ... I also said I wasn't going to eat cake any more and we all know how that turned out.

It's just that I kinda underestimated the strain I'd be under. I can say this now, since the situation has changed - but for a couple of months, it was just me and the boys. ALONE. Curtis left right after New Year's to start work in Ohio, leaving the dudes and myself to pack up the house and take care of bidness. Naturally, I didn't want to get on social media and be like HEY GUYS I'M ALONE!!! so I didn't say anything about it.

There was plenty to blog about, but it would have been a steady stream of self-pity and rambling "hats off to single moms" posts. So I kept quiet, and focused on packing up my entire house and keeping my four children alive.

It mostly looked like this:


Because holy hell, you guys, it's been eight long years since we've moved and I am significantly less motivated these days. Plus, every time I thought about leaving my house, I got all sorts of depressed.

I kept plugging away, though. Day after day. Packing up all the boxes.

I mean, you have to keep things well-categorized.

In the meantime, I saw my husband like once a month, I was trying to pick a new home without actually seeing it in person, and there were a couple of disappointing times when someone beat us to making an offer on a house we liked. It truly did suck. In the grand scheme of things I should just quit griping because there are INFINITELY worse scenarios than moving, but for a while there my life was just a constant stretch of "ugh."


Puggy was a huge help, though. Obviously.

Anyway, we finally found a house in Ohio - and on a fittingly gray, depressing day, we left the Iowa home I thought we'd be in forever.

*sniff*

The next couple of days were a blur of hauling and unpacking boxes, as evidenced by this lovely photo (with some kind of whack filter) that my three-year-old snapped:


We eventually got all the boxes and furniture unloaded, and Curtis was able to return the U-Haul truck - but not before accidentally swiping the side of our van with it. BECAUSE OF COURSE.


As if driving a minivan weren't uncool enough.

Other than that, though, it's been great so far. The people here are really. Really. REEEAALLLY nice. Within the first forty-eight hours, one neighbor had brought us a spaghetti casserole and a sheet cake; one came bearing a huge bag of bagels and cream cheese; someone else brought a huge pan of sloppy Joes (plus buns and plates and forks and napkins), and a pan of macaroni salad, and cookies and a set of plastic cups bearing the name of the kids' new school. Since then, we've gotten MORE cookies and an invitation to a neighborhood get-together.

The kids have been at their new schools for a week now, and much to my relief, it's going great. I was really worried about Colin, my fifth-grader, because he's in a different building than his brothers - the "intermediate" school, where, for the first time ever, he has to switch between classes and have his own locker and all that. I literally cried myself to sleep the night before he started, haunted by visions of him in the future, sobbing on a therapist's couch that the day his parents moved him to Ohio was the day his life started to go downhill. But I guess I underestimated his ability to adapt, because he seems to be doing just fine. WHEW.

And the best part? THEY RIDE THE BUS TO AND FROM SCHOOL.

THE BUS.

And it stops at our house.

No more school drop-off induced road rage or minor fiascos involving me in my pajamas. Just me, blissfully pushing sending my kids out the door with a cheerful, "See ya later, suckas!" "Have a great day!"

So all in all, Ohio is pretty decent so far. I miss my life in Iowa terribly, and all the people I had to leave behind, but I keep reminding myself that I was new there once, too.

I just hope Ohio is ready for the Templetons.

Boy Moms Are Da Bomb

Ladies: are you ...

- Super-sensitive to the smell of urine?
- Fabulous at choosing durable items?
- Unfazed by leaping and tackling?
- Well-versed in fart jokes?
- Constantly saying, "Stop pulling on your penis!" and variations thereof?

Well then! If this is you ... you might be a boy mom.

To those who aren't, the condition sounds hideous. I know. I've been told on more than one occasion that the stories on my blog serve as great birth control. I'm not sure whether to be offended or proud, but it's true: boys are an adventure, especially when you yourself have never been a boy. And having multiple boys, like I do, four to be exact, is like having a bunch of puppies tumbling around all the time. BIG puppies. Big, starving, bold, opinionated, endlessly energetic puppies.

But it's amazing, more than anything else. And we should be proud, because it's a tough job, not for the faint of heart - which means boy moms are a unique breed. We have to be adaptable, good at understanding a male perspective and then offering up the female side. We have constitutions of steel, accustomed to finding creepy-crawlies and stinky socks, and tending to bloody injuries with the calmness of a medic. We're in the rare position of teaching our sons not only their self-worth, but the worth of women. We know that boys' hearts are big and soft and broken as easily as anyone else's, even if they show it differently - and we're their safe place to land when that happens.

We didn't choose the boy mom life; the boy mom life chose us. And we wouldn't have it any other way. (Despite the scads of perfect strangers who nosily ask us on the regular if we're going to "try for a girl.")


Being a boy mom is awesome. So awesome, in fact, that it deserves its own T-shirt - which is where Boymom Designs comes in! And it's your lucky day, because they're giving one of my readers their VERY OWN BOYMOM SHIRT, just like the one this stunning model is wearing below:


... Okay, so it's not a stunning model, it's just me. But cool T-shirt nonetheless.

I LOVE mine: it's so super-soft, pre-shrunk and wrinkle-free, and has a really flattering fit. If T-shirts aren't your thing (whyyyy?), Boymom Designs has a ton of different ways to display your pride - long sleeves, hoodies, bags, you name it. (AND there are Girlmom things too, so nobody has to be left out.) And pssst ... you can use the code 10105 at checkout and save 60%!!!

For a chance to win this awesome tee, all you've got to do is "like" our very generous Boymom rep Lynn Stewart on Facebook or follow her on Twitter, and then leave me a comment below telling me your FAVORITE thing about being a boy mom! Don't forget to leave your contact info so I can get in touch when I randomly choose the winner (by next Friday, February 18th!).


The (Un)Fairer Sex

I try to be a calm person - zen and all that - but I'm almost always irritated at school drop-off.

Maybe it's because I've just spent the past hour making sure that my four kids are fed and dressed in reasonably-coordinating, weather-appropriate clothing and not looking like victims of parental neglect. (And, like, yelling "PUT YOUR SHOES ON!" over and over until I'm hoarse.)

Maybe it's because there are a handful of assholes (ewwww, sorry for the visual) who insist on parking in the DROP OFF LANE which is the lane for DROPPING OFF and not the PARKING LOT where you are supposed to PARK.

Maybe it's because I didn't want to get out of bed due to being tired because I had to stay up late last night waiting to switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer. (And okay, watching some Netflix.)

But you know what irritated me today?*

*Besides perhaps a tiny smidge of PMS

How easy men have it in the looking-decent department. Especially men who are relatively attractive to begin with.

I was running behind this morning, so I essentially threw a coat on over my pajamas, stuffed my feet into a pair of boots, and ushered the kids into the minivan. Here's a bottom-half selfie:


Looking like Santa Claus's less-successful sister who has a painting business on the side. SMH.

The top half of me was wearing a disintegrating T-shirt from a gym that doesn't even exist any more, no makeup, glasses that are so loose they fall off my face when I bend over, and un-brushed hair skimmed back into a bun.

So here I was, dropping off my kids, praying there'd be no reason to get out of the vehicle, when I saw him in the crosswalk helping his daughter carry her Valentine box: Attractive Dad.

Ladies, you feel me. There's at least one at every school.

But this is what pissed me off: he was wearing sweatpants. Sweat. Pants. Yet he was still attractive. Attractive enough to garner furtive glances from all the moms in the drop-off lane. BECAUSE MEN DO NOT HAVE TO DO THE RIDICULOUS SHIT WE HAVE TO DO IN ORDER TO BE CONSIDERED ATTRACTIVE. And yes, I'm yelling.

Guys have a very small spectrum of appearance. From sweats to tuxedo is a narrow margin: basically only the outfit changes and the head stays the same. Sure, they can use gel or shave or get a trim or whatever, but those are minor tweaks that don't drastically alter their appearance. And to add insult to injury, some guys even look better when they let a little scruff grow on their faces (I'm talking five o'clock shadow, not Duck Dynasty).

It's not fair.

For women, there's a HUGE spectrum. On one end, you have sweats and no makeup and messy hair. On the other end, you have a dress and Spanx and hair dye and concealer and nail polish and all the other two hundred thousand appearance-enhancing things we're expected to make use of. Even if we're basically attractive as-is, we can still look like straight-up ass if we do absolutely nothing with ourselves. Men, on the other hand, are only as unattractive as their current outfit. They're like ... Ken dolls.

And nobody - NOBODY - has ever said to me, "Hey girl, why don't you let your leg hair grow out a little bit? A little scruff is sexy."

Hmmmph.

I know, I know, I know: we shouldn't care what we look like to others. If we dress up it should be for ourselves. But the woman who doesn't care what she looks like is a magical unicorn of not-giving-a-fuck. I want to be one of those magical unicorns; alas, I am not. I'm an "oh my Lord please don't let anyone notice that I need an eyebrow wax/am wearing pajamas/haven't brushed my hair since yesterday" type of person. I teach my sons to see the beauty in everyone, beyond their physical appearance, then lock myself in the bathroom and pluck chin hairs and cry over my deflated boobs.

Dudes will never realize how easy they've got it.




PSST - I'm about to have a giveaway from Boymom Designs! Stay tuned! :)

The Seeker of the House

House-hunting, man.

I thought it would be fun, but it was exhausting. I felt like one of those bitchy ladies on HGTV who veto everything and can't possibly live in a house that doesn't have a granite shower with dual massaging showerhead and skylight. Oh and a craft room.

Seriously, though - we looked at a ton of houses over this past weekend, but none of them felt ...well, like my house. Even though I don't want to move, I'm trying hard not to let that color my perception of my new home. I tried to envision myself, and my family, within the walls of each place. Some of them were easier than others. Still, I'm not completely in love with any of them. When we found our current house (*sniff*) I loved it immediately, so I figured it would be that way this time too.

... Apparently not.

I know in the grand scheme of things I'm still super lucky, and I shouldn't be complaining. I'M GETTING A HOUSE. I have choices. But some of those choices are harder than others ... like would I rather live in a place with faux-rock wallpaper in my bedroom or one with a dining room light fixture the size of a flying saucer? Sure, those things can be changed, but let's be real: we've been living in this house for eight years and 95% (okay, 98%) of the stuff we wanted to do it is still undone. Having a handy husband who is capable of doing renovations himself is great ... IF he actually did them.

This is pretty much Curtis's attitude toward home improvements.

Also, our new town is seven hours away. Which means that much of this has to be long-distance. Which also means that Curtis is working there and coming home on random weekends, while I'm here with our four boys, doing what needs to be done, desperately clinging to my last shreds of sanity holding down the fort.

Basically, the position I'm in is this: as long as our new house isn't leaking or haunted or infested by pests, we're good. I'm going to have to live with a few things that bug me (I mean, I already do: THEY'RE CALLED MY KIDS). All I really want is a sprayer in the sink, and light fixtures that don't look like they first illuminated someone's 8-track player.

Why can't this be easy?


You Gotta Be Kitten Me

My kids are 10, 8 (in a few days), 6, and 3 - so they're getting to be wonderfully self-sufficient. For years, I couldn't even envision a time when I wouldn't have to change diapers or cut up food or just say, "Go take a bath" and have them do it themselves. But now, here I am. My three-year-old still needs help with a lot of things, but even that's a far cry from having an infant or a toddler to attend to all the time. It's actually very nice.

So to complicate my life, I had to get a kitten. Because our household of six people, two dogs, and two cats reeeeeally needed another new addition.

Okay, okay, it's because I'm crazy. And a sucker for pretty much anything with four legs and fur. And a sucker for my oldest son, Colin, who is the hugest cat lover with a soft heart for animals, just like me. When I was little and I would ask my mom if I could bring a stray something-or-other home, her head would spin around and she would growl about "her carpet" and "dirty animals" in a possessed sort of voice. Now that I'm an adult I understand, but if my kids brought home a needy animal, let's just say I'd probably have a different reaction.

Anyway. Enter Zoomer, our shelter kitten.


He had already been named by the shelter people when we got him, and we kept it because it was so fitting - this cat is hyper and bouncy. He's a little kitten still, so I have to watch him constantly, lest he slip quickly out a door or into a closet or cabinet or drawer while it's open. (The other day he spent twenty minutes under my bathroom sink because I had shut the door not knowing he had crawled in there.) He wakes me up around four o'clock EVERY MORNING by stomping all over me and purring and meowing. It's like having a damn toddler all over again, I swear.





And I still. Can't. Pee. Alone.

But for all his kitten-y shenanigans, I can't be mad at him, because he fits in so well. He gets along with the dogs ...


... and the cats. Well, mostly.


And? He's SO STINKING CUTE.



... Lucky for him.

Follow me on Instagram @FightingFrumpy to see more pics of Zoomer and the rest of my crazy bunch.


A Seedy Situation

Like virtually everyone else in the world, I have started my annual "this time it's permanent!" health kick.*

*And by "permanent" I mean until approximately Valentine's Day, when I will consume a bunch of chocolate and then pretty much fall off the wagon from there.

So when I went grocery shopping, I was perusing the health food aisles when something caught my attention. Chia seeds.


Naturally I bought them, because - being on a health kick and all - I've been hearing lots about the many benefits of chia seeds. I got a new blender for Christmas and the healthy websites I read while I'm healthing are all like, "Throw some chia seeds in your smoothies! They're an excellent source of protein and fiber and omega-3 fatty acids!"

Amazed and inspired by this superfood now in my possession, I went straight home and ate a spoonful right out of the bottle just to taste them. They didn't taste like much, so I could imagine them being decent when tossed with some kind of crunchy food. But as they absorbed more and more of my spit, they developed this gelatinous sort of coating - and lemme tell you: if you think poppy seeds get stuck in your teeth, chia seeds are worse. It's like the chia seeds said to the poppy seeds, "Oh yeah, amateurs? Watch this."

But whatever. I have toothpicks and a toothbrush and I always keep Plackers around ('cause you never know when you're going to have to dig a popcorn kernel out of somebody's nose). So I wasn't too bothered by the chia seed colony in my teeth because chia seeds are SO HEALTHY that I was sure they were, like, giving me megadoses of nutrients just by being in there. Like absorbing through my gums or something.

Later that evening, I decided that since I had done something great for my insides, I ought to beautify the outside too. I have always adored making my own do-it-yourself beauty treatments, so I got busy concocting a deep conditioning mask for my frizzy-ass hair. (Note the placement of the dash; I said frizzy-ass hair, not frizzy ass-hair. There is a huge difference.)

I warmed some coconut oil in a bowl. Threw in a glug of olive oil. Drizzled some honey on top. What else could I put in there, I wondered?

And then my eyes fell on my glorious bottle of gloriously healthy chia seeds.

I was thinking if I could use my fancy new blender to grind the chia seeds into a sort of dust, I could mix it with the oils and honey and make sort of a creamy conditioner. That's what it looked like in my mind, anyway. With all the benefits that they supposedly have, they had to be good for the hair too. I mean - OMEGA. FREAKING. THREES.

However. Chia seeds are tiny. So tiny that even my snazzy blender kind of just tossed them around instead of actually pulverizing them into the powder I had envisioned.

But by that time, my mind was made up; my homemade hair mask needed the boost of omega-3 fatty acids and other mysterious nutrients that only the chia seeds could provide. So I mixed them in anyway. Then I slathered the whole thing into my hair, threw on a shower cap and waited impatiently for half an hour, imagining the soft, bouncy, silky, shiny results. It would be my fabulous new beauty secret.

When I got in the shower and began rinsing, I made a startling realization. I should have thought about what those little S.O.B.s had done to my teeth - because as I ran warm water through my hair, each seed - and there were like a million - glued itself to a strand. And stayed there.

Y'all? I consider myself a reasonably intelligent individual. But putting the chia seeds in my hair was, without a doubt, one of the dumbest things I have ever done in my entire thirty-five years. I was so blinded by my fantasies of enviable, Kate Middleton-esque hair that I failed to consider the sticky nature of the seeds. And now there they were, glommed onto each follicle. It didn't help that they looked like lice eggs.*

*Go ahead, scratch your scalp, I'll wait.

I rinsed for like half an hour. The seeds were still in my hair - but now they were everyfreakingwhere else, too.






I rinsed until my hair was squeaking, which I'm pretty sure was the sound of it begging for mercy as the last of its natural oils went down the drain. It was still seedy, but I got out of the shower and dried it off. Chia seeds stuck to the towel. I ran a comb through it; chia seeds clumped in the teeth. I went to bed, depressed, and dreamed of waking up looking like this:

If I weren't lazy, I'd Photoshop my face onto this. Just use your imagination.

In the morning, there were a few scattered seeds on my pillow, and a few still clinging to my hair - but much to my relief, they brushed out fairly easily. And I didn't have a head full of green pube-y looking growth, so there's that.

But I also don't have deep-conditioned hair. In fact, it kind of feels like a broom. So I guess it's back to the DIY drawing board.

Maybe I'll try oats or something next time.


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