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.


... 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.

My Little Bro-ny

Things that are hard:

- Explaining nuclear fission
- Baking a souffle
- Finding a damn My Little Pony shirt that doesn't have ruffles or bows

My three-year-old, Corbin, is obsessed with My Little Pony right now. Obsessed. It's his favorite show. He has a My Little Pony book that we absolutely must read every single night - I could probably recite the thing in my sleep. For Christmas, my mom made him a fleece My Little Pony-print blanket, and he got a stuffed pony from Build-a-Bear (Applejack, whose jaunty little cowboy hat that I paid $7 extra for was trampled to irreversible flatness within ten minutes).

So like any sucker parent who wants to see their child smile, I wanted to find him a My Little Pony t-shirt. It should be pretty simple, I figured. I've noticed them in passing by the girls' clothing section in almost every store - they're all over the place.

I started at Walmart, because cheapness is my jam.

At first, I was encouraged, seeing all the traditionally "boyish" stuff geared toward girls. Ninja Turtle shirts with pink capes! Superhero shirts with ruffles! Surely this meant I wouldn't have a problem finding a My Little Pony shirt that was good for boys, right??

Sure enough, I found the mother-lode of MLP merchandise. But wait - what was this? My enthusiasm dampened as, sifting through t-shirt after t-shirt, I failed to find a single one that didn't have any feminine detailing, like lace or ribbons or pleats. Even the most unadorned shirts were still cut for girls, with curved-in waists and cap sleeves.

I left, frustrated and shirtless. (Well, I mean without buying a My Little Pony shirt. I myself wasn't shirtless. You're welcome, general public.)

Here's the thing. When my son is older, and is able to understand that judgmental people can be (and usually are) wrong, he can wear whatever the hell he wants. I don't care if he chooses to strut his stuff in a pink sequined My Little Pony tutu and a pair of sparkly platform shoes, as long as he knows to expect - and take with a grain of salt - any (inevitable) criticism of his style choices.


Right now, he's just a baby. And people are jerks. And one remark of, "You know that's a girl's shirt, right?" or some similarly unhelpful, unnecessary comment can color his perception of his own choices. I don't want him to feel bad or wrong for wearing what he likes. I want him to be proud that he's wearing his favorite characters - no matter who those characters may be. He would love to wear ANY shirt featuring My Little Pony, and honestly, he'd probably be thrilled by the rhinestones or ruffles. But at what cost? I don't want anybody even giving him side-eye, let alone saying something demeaning his style in his presence. So I seek out the plainest Pony tees.

I just want him to be able to wear a My Little Pony shirt and feel awesome in it. Even if it's the pinkest, laciest, sparkliest shirt on the rack. 

It's endlessly frustrating - not just from the perspective of an all-male mother, but from the perspective of a feminist. Girls can go into any store and shop in whatever section they choose - because when they wear "boy clothes," they're lauded as strong and confident. But a boy who shops in the girls' section is virtually guaranteed to be the target of ridicule. Isn't this contrary to the very gender-equality we're trying to achieve? The traits we assign to girls wearing boy clothes are far preferable to the ones we assign to boys wearing girl clothes: soft. Weak. Lesser somehow. When we stop associating femininity with these traits, we can move toward being a truly gender-equal society.

... And little men like mine can wear whatever they feel like wearing, and still be seen for who they really are. 

Doing WHAT on a WHAT Now?

English is crazy, and my hat's off to anyone who has ever had to learn it as a secondary language - because if I didn't already know it, I'd probably just use flailing arms and hand gestures and exaggerated facial expressions in hopes of getting my point across. We have some confusing rules: like the plural of "mouse" is "mice" but the plural of "house" isn't "hice" - it's "houses." Every word has like ten bazillion meanings: "tissue," for example - it can be the thing you blow your nose on or the thin paper you wrap stuff in or the muscles and fat that make up our bodies. And if you drop a letter, a word can completely change - as in, "slaughter" becomes "laughter," which are entirely unrelated. Unless you're a deranged murdering lunatic.

Anywho, it's that last bit of English-language weirdness that led to a recent misunderstanding with my six-year-old.

He got a skateboard for Christmas, and as luck would have it, it was warm enough here so he could go outside and play with it. He's super into skateboarding right now, and is versed in all the skater terminology; I, on the other hand, literally can't even stand on one without falling (seriously, I busted my ass so bad), so I'm not hip to the lingo. Which is why, when he came bursting through the door, glowing with excitement and smelling of winter, I nearly fell over because he said this to me:

"Mom! Guess what?! I was out there grinding on a ho!"

He's SIX. And outside of a questionable Justin Bieber video I made him turn off one time, I don't think he's ever seen any kind of dancing that could be considered "grinding," let alone know what it was called. And I was positive he didn't know the meaning of "ho" (and would know far better than to use that word even if he did). Still, I was flabbergasted. Kids can pick up choice phrases from anywhere, and fast. They don't hear "pick up your dirty underwear" but the second someone says "bitch" or something they're all over it.

I wasn't sure what to say, but standing there with my mouth agape wasn't solving any problems. My mind flashed back to the time I accidentally taught my son a less-than-choice word for male genitalia, and I didn't want to make the same type of mistake, so I just repeated him for clarification. "You were ... grinding? On a ... ho?"

"Yeah!" he chirped enthusiastically. "In the garage!"

Only then did my poor caught-off-guard-Mom-brain begin to put two and two together. Garage. Gardening tools. Hoes.

Thankfully, my son demonstrated, hopping on an imaginary skateboard. "We don't have any rails to grind on so I used the handle of the hoe. It worked great!"

I was flooded with relief. Yes. A grind is a skateboarding trick, not just dance-floor humping. And he was saying HOE, not HO. Crisis averted.

... Damn confusing English language.

Comin' Back and Movin' On

It's 2016, which sounds like I should be writing this from a colony on Planet Zebulon X86 while people whiz by my window with jetpacks on. Doesn't it? TWO THOUSAND SIXTEEN. I remember when I was like seven and I thought 1999 sounded so far away and now here I am, in 2016, still thinking about how 1999 is so far away but in the other direction this time. Ugh.

Anyway, I've decided to make a blogging comeback this year. And by "comeback" I mean "write a new post once in a damn while." For years, I posted regularly here. Some posts were gold, some were absolute crap, but there was always something. And then a series of events happened and apparently I am not good at handling the unexpected. First I wrote this little post that went suuuuuuuper-viral - on my site initially, then again on Scary Mommy. I still count that among one of the best experiences of my entire life, ranking right up there with the birth of my children and the time I scared the hiccups out of my sister. I had never had anything go viral before, and it was thrilling. The response was almost entirely positive: no hate mail, no threats, no ugliness, just people laughing along and saying, "I can relate!" which was the whole reason I started this blog in the first place.

But the positive response was also a bad thing, because it set an unrealistic precedent for me. Because the next time one of my posts went viral, thanks to The Huffington Post picking it up, things got downright ugly. I cried for two days. I took that shit personally. I didn't realize that this was more along the lines of "normal" - that usually, when a post grows legs, they stomp all over you. The citizens of the Internet can be mean, y'all, especially because people don't hold back when they're speaking to your computer screen and not your face.

Having gone through all this, I figured it meant I was professional enough to go to a real blogging conference with other actual bloggers. And I loved it - on a personal level. I met tons of amazing people, many of whom I'd been reading for years. I met, for the first time in real life, someone who instantly felt like a bestie: Hannah Mayer of sKIDmarks (who you should check out right now, if you enjoying laughing so hard you dribble pee). The conference was awesome. I felt inspired! I was gonna grab the blogging world by the balls!

And then I came home. And tried to process all the information I had learned. And was totally, completely, utterly overwhelmed. So I more or less began a slow process of shutting down (although not before writing a pretty sweet post with tips on pooping in a public restroom. Because this blog is nothing if not informative). You know how sometimes when you have a huge task in front of you, all you want to do is sit and eat cookies and ignore it? Yeah. It's been like that.

But here I am, in 2016 (zoom! Bleep!) and I have decided that numbers don't matter. Mass appeal doesn't matter. If I can write things that a few people find funny or relatable, then fantastic! Hit me up and let me know you feel me! If I write a bunch of garbage-y gobbledygook, whatever - at least I'm writing. I like writing too much to not do it.

Anyway, I've got a lot to write about. For starters: I GOT NEW CARPET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If you've been reading for a while, you know that I've been complaining about my carpet for years (and you know some of the heinous things that have happened to it). Because it was horrible when we moved in and four boys and a veritable Noah's Ark of pets made it even more horrible. See for yourself in this lovely side-by-side comparison photo I took:

See that torn spot, where the sub-floor is peeking - okay, gaping - through? That's not just a casualty of the carpet-layers, something that happened while the new carpet was going in. Oh, no. That torn spot had been there for like three years. Plaguing me. Taunting me. A daily eyesore on the way into our bedroom. And it wasn't the only spot: the carpet was ripped, frayed, and stained everywhere else, too. I tried constantly to deep-clean it and keep it vacuumed and strategically place rugs over the worn spots, but, well ... you can't polish a turd.

Now, though - oh, happy day! I have a carpet I can be proud of! A carpet specifically designed for lots of wear and tear and kids and pets! A carpet I can lay down and writhe around on like I'm making snow angels and sniff deeply and know that I'm inhaling nothing but cleanliness (okay, and maybe some carpet fibers, but at least they're clean). If you had told sixteen-year-old me that I'd ever be this level of geeked about home improvements, I'd have wailed in anguish that I never wanted to grow up and be that lame. But here I am. Laming away ON MY NEW CARPET.

And then???

Less than one month after the glorious arrival of my new carpet, my husband was offered his dream job. In Ohio. Which, for the record is seven hours away. Which means ...

We're moving.

We're moving away from our home here in Iowa, that I love. Our friends. Our neighbors, who are also friends. AND MY NEW CARPET.

To add insult to injury, we have to put in new kitchen and bathroom flooring before we can sell the house. So basically, we'll be doing everything I have wanted to do for eons, but just so someone else can use it.

Y'all are going to have to help me through this. Good thing we'll be chatting on a more regular basis now. :)


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