Save the Laughter for After

I try to be an adult, to have poise and maintain composure and all that. It's just that sometimes, my inner twelve-year-old makes herself known - and recently, she made herself known so loudly and clearly that Adult Me wanted to shrivel into nothingness right there on the spot.

As you guys know, we moved to Ohio from Iowa a year ago, and we've been renting our house here while our house in Iowa sold. But earlier this month, we finally bought the place we've been living in: it's officially ours.

When you buy a house, the last step is closing, where you sign a bunch of paperwork. It's super-official. For our closing, we went to the title company, which was all poshly decorated and fancy: rich, ornate woodwork everywhere, plush carpeting, a polished table where we conducted our Very Important Business. My husband and I dressed nicely. Our Realtor met us there, along with the title company lady (title officer? I'm sure she has an actual designation, I just don't know what it is). They were dressed nicely too. We were all on our best, most grownup behavior.

Basically me, trying to be on my best, most grownup behavior.

It started out well. I sat in my chair with my hands folded primly in my lap, raising them only to scrawl my signature on document after document after document. Seriously: SO MANY PAPERS. And that's precisely why things went downhill.

The title lady had all the paperwork in front of her, a huge stack that apparently even she was impressed by. Because as she scooted the stack toward my husband, she said to him ... and I quote:

"You have a large package."



It was a totally innocent, totally non-pervy comment. But that's when twelve-year-old me showed up. And she came cackling out of my mouth in the form of a loud snort/guffaw/totally inappropriately-timed laugh. Right in the middle of our Very Important Business.

I was mortified. The title lady blushed and let out a nervous little titter. My husband gave me some serious "I-can't-even-believe-you-right-now" side eye. Our Realtor sat, stone-faced and stoic, like somebody hadn't just TOLD MY HUSBAND HE HAS A LARGE PACKAGE. I knew I had to rein my ridiculousness in, and fast.

Only ... I couldn't.

You know that feeling when you're trying your absolute hardest not to laugh? That feeling when you know you have to hold it in, but it comes bubbling to the surface - totally involuntarily - anyway? Yeah. It was like that. I clenched my hands between my knees. I bit my tongue. I gnawed on the inside of my cheek. I looked down at my lap, up at the ceiling, anywhere but at the title lady handling my husband's large package. I TRIED SO HARD. But my shoulders were convulsing with barely-contained hilarity. My eyes were welling up with the kind of tears that only hysterical laughter can produce.

As the meeting proceeded around me, I managed to regain my composure. But it took me a good five minutes, much to my embarrassment.

We wrapped things up and were officially homeowners again. We shook hands and thanked everyone politely and left the office. And as soon as we got into the car, my husband said with his voice what he had been saying with his eyes: "I cannot believe you." But now, he was laughing too.

I guess he's better at waiting until the right time.

Lordy Lordy, I Suck at 40!

In eleven days, I'll officially be married to a FORTY-YEAR-OLD. That's right: Curtis is gonna be celebrating the big 4-0.

It's funny 'cause we've been together long enough for me to remember him turning the big 2-1. I gave him underwear (two pairs of Tommy Hilfiger boxer shorts, because it was the '90s) and took him to Red Lobster (because when you're practically a child and you've grown up in a rural area, that counts as super fine dining). Then he went out with his friends, undoubtedly to drink, and I went home because I HAD TO GO TO SCHOOL THE NEXT DAY OMG I WAS SUCH A BABY.

I mean I was a senior in high school, but still.

This is a photo (okay, a terrible photo-of-a-photo) of us on our very first official date:

Seriously! Look at my little baby face!

And here we are as we look now, nineteen years (and four kids) later:

Geez, just typing that sentence made me feel like driving 20 mph to the store for some Depends and some Geritol. 

Anyway, there have been a lot of birthdays between then and now, and I'm ashamed to say that none of them have been more remarkable than underwear and Red Lobster because a.) we've been poor as shit for many of them and b.) I suck at birthdays.

I have these grandiose fantasies of doing something amazing to commemorate his fortieth, like renting out a room at a winery (he loves himself some nice red) or giving him a wonderful present like the motorcycle I told him he could get when he got promoted to Staff Sergeant in the Air Force ... a decade ago. (He's not even in the Air Force any more. But still motorcycle-less, poor guy.)

The problem is, we share a bank account, and I'm too scatterbrained to remember to secretly squirrel away money here and there - snacks I can totally hide, but money, not so much. So that kind of rules out doing anything expensive or impressive.

He's not a sentimental type of guy (I get him a sappy card, he reads it once, smiles, and leaves it on the counter until I throw it away), so a "through-the-years" type photo book or something would literally be opened once, on his birthday, and then collect dust somewhere. Meanwhile I'm over here still hanging onto the Cheesecake Factory receipt from February 12th, 1999, the night he proposed to me ... ahem.

So I don't know what to do. I just know I have eleven days to come up with a not-completely-terrible birthday celebration idea for the guy I adore more than chocolate itself. Sure, this is a man who accidentally pepper-sprayed our entire household. Who followed me around Target in farty-sounding shoes. Who reported our poor innocent neighbor to the police. Who wore fake Halloween teeth around for a year like it was his freaking job.

But he also sent me on a girls' vacation and even wrote a guest post for me while I was gone. And he didn't stay mad for long when I accidentally called him a fat-ass, or got him a present addressed to "Mr. Simpleton," or when I overshare to the entire Internet about things like our failed attempt at "getting it on."

I need to do something wonderful for his fortieth birthday. WHAT THOUGH?!

He likes ...

- Red wine
- Meat. Like whatever kind of meat. Even nasty meat like bull testicles and weird gamey things
- Motorcycles, even though he doesn't have one
- Country music (gag!)
- Restaurants
- Clothes and shoes, because even though he likes a lot of stereotypical man-things he's oddly refined
- Watching the Outdoor Channel (and then doing the things he sees on there like hunting and fishing)
- Foot massages
- Meeting new people - he is totally outgoing
- Vowing to start working out, and then not

He's not so into ...

- Sitting through movies
- Sappy things
- Sports (he likes them, just isn't one of those rabid fans who has to watch games all the time)
- Reading (boohooo!)

He works A LOT because he loves his job and has a very strong work ethic, but also complains of being worn out. He doesn't smoke. He's generous to a fault. He's a fantastic, devoted dad and loves doing things with the boys. He is pro-level excellent at billiards and fairly average at golf, but he enjoys them both.

Any ideas, y'all?


Yesterday as I glanced at the mirror in our downstairs bathroom, I noticed something weird. No, not the forehead wrinkles dominating the upper half of my face (although I noticed those too, the assholes). It was a weird mark on the glass. A splat, of sorts. Whatever it was appeared to have slapped wetly against the top half of the mirror (which, for the record, is taller than me), leaving splatters, and then been haphazardly wiped semi-clean. But there was definitely evidence left.

I mean, there's all manner of ill smudges on my walls. Boogers. Dirt. Straight-up handprints. Footprints, even. So a smeared-up mirror didn't exactly raise alarm bells, but I did wonder what had gone on to leave it that way.

Fast-forward to last night. Now that our oldest son is middle-school aged, we let him have a smartphone. I make him leave it unlocked, and I go through it periodically to make sure he isn't, you know, being totally irresponsible with it (other than leaving it lying around all over the place). He hardly uses it for regular phone purposes like calling or texting - but what he does use it for is videoing everything. And last night, when I had gone through his search history and all his text messages - because whether it's an invasion of privacy or not, he's my kid and I need to know what he's doing - I decided to look through some of his videos.

There were a few random shots of his brothers doing flips (on the couch, grrr) in slow-motion, a clip of the boys playing basketball with Uncle Steve, a video wherein Colin pretends to teleport from the linen closet to Cameron's bedroom via the use of some creative editing ... and then something so weird I didn't know whether to laugh or be angry. He wouldn't let me post it (sigh) so I'll describe it to you. Keep in mind, it wasn't one continuous video, just a bunch of short back-to-back snippets.

- Shot of half a hamburger bun on the kitchen counter
- Hamburger bun on floor, closeup of Colin's foot stepping on it
- Hamburger bun balanced on Colin's bare thigh
- Hamburger bun used as a hat for our cat Zoomer
- Hamburger bun tossed into living room
- Shot of the downstairs toilet
- Hamburger bun being forcefully thrown into toilet water
- Colin's foot inserted into toilet, rapidly squishing hamburger bun into said toilet water
- Colin's foot closing the toilet lid
- Colin's hand opening the toilet and fishing out the soggy toilet-bun
- High-pitched giggle

/end scene

A lovely still shot of my son's ... cinematic masterpiece.

Since he has recently been allowed to stay home alone for short periods of time, I can only imagine that this happened while we were at the grocery store or something. And I'm glad to see he at least tried to clean up after his ridiculous shenanigans.

... But let me just tell y'all: He's pretty damn lucky I didn't catch the live version.

When in Doubt, Ignore Your Grout

I've talked a lot on here about my son's ADHD, but there are days I swear I know where he got it: me. I have never been formally tested or diagnosed or whatever, and I'm pretty sure I don't have the "hyperactive" component (I mean, couch-sitting is my favorite), but my brain is always trying to convince me to do twelve hundred things at the same time, and I get very easily distracted.

Which is why the other day when I was doing laundry, I started poking around in the upper cabinets where the previous homeowners left a few house-related things: product warranties and user manuals, samples of paint colors, and, hmm, what's this? My fingers closed around something toothbrushy. As I pulled it out of the cabinet I realized what it actually was: a grout brush, for cleaning between tiles.

There's a ton of tile in this house, y'all. My kitchen and the attached (very spacious) dining area. The large front entryway. And three (3!!!) bathrooms. We've lived here for a year next month, and I clean these big-ass floors every. Single. Saturday. But the grout itself has never been touched. In fact, I've never cleaned grout in my life. So when I found the toothbrushy grout-cleaning apparatus, I was curious. Like Curious George. And we all know how shit turns out for Curious George.

I really just wanted to see what the grout brush did. Like, how effective it was at cleaning. So I crouched in a corner of my kitchen and scrubbed between a few tiles.


When I stood up and looked at my handiwork, I was shocked. My gray grout was actually ... not gray. Which meant I now had a few lines of sparkling white grout that stood out like a peacock at a chicken farm.

I tried to ignore it. Seriously. But it was literally impossible - it's all I could notice, the glaring discrepancy between the nice clean grout lines and the grubby ones. And I was like DAMN IT. Because I had two choices: either I could be driven slowly insane by the differing grout colors, or I could indulge my inner neat freak (that asshole) and scrub every last line of grout until they were all the same shade of clean. So you can probably guess what I did.

It took me a SOLID WEEK to finish it all. I literally wore through the grout brush and had to buy more. I had bruises on my knees and blisters on my hands. I was a dumb-dumb and used Comet, which left a white powdery residue that I had to rinse off, adding yet another layer of work. And then, because I had put so much effort into cleaning it, I wanted to seal it. So I did that, too. LINE. BY. LINE.

If you're considering it ... don't.

Is it nice to have brighter grout? Of course. My floor looks clean, whether it really is or not. BUT. I am officially ignoring it for the rest of my life no matter how dirty it gets. And if we ever move, or build a house, I'm specifying NO SPACES BETWEEN THE TILES BECAUSE GROUT IS THE DEVIL.

When it gets grungy again, I'm just going to pretend it's supposed to be gray. Gray is in, anyway.


Hi, my name is Rita and I have terrible boobs.

We've never had a great relationship, my boobs and I, but we've had our ups and downs - especially throughout my childbearing/nursing years. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you've heard me praise their practical uses back when they were, you know, functional; you've heard about their unfortunate mishap during Zumba; and you've heard me complain about my babies stretching them out like freaking Silly Putty.

Although I was never exactly "well-endowed" in the cleavage department, I absolutely did not appreciate what I had. They may have been on the smallish side, but at least they were, like, closer to my collarbone than to my bellybutton. Now, post-children, they've said, "Our work here is done!" and decided to lay down for a permanent nap.

This is a dramatization for illustrative purposes. They weren't quite that nice before kids, but you get the idea.

What's depressing is that my older sister, who is an actual grandmother, has an infinitely better (all-natural) rack than mine. Let that sink in: somebody's GRANDMA has better boobs. I can hoist mine into a bra with all the uplift and padding in the world, and they'll just crumple and fold into the cup. It's like trying to hold up Jell-O with scaffolding. Or remember that movie Weekend at Bernie's where they tried to prop the dead guy up all the time? It's a similar situation. Only with boobs.

To add to the problem, I have a huge barrel-like rib cage. So once I find a big enough band size, it's nearly impossible to find a small enough cup size. Because apparently women with a large rib circumference aren't allowed to have teeny-tiny ta-tas. 

I've never felt my boobs were worth spending money on, so they've spent their lifespan clad in raggedy discount bras. But desperate times call for less cheapness, y'all. It's time for me to stop being a titty tightwad. So recently I was browsing Facebook when an ad popped up for a site where you can answer a bunch of questions about your boobs, and issues you have with your current bra, and they'll custom-fit a bra based on your answers. I eagerly started answering the questions, but couldn't stop laughing when it told me my breast type was ... wait for it ... relaxed.


I mean, when I think about it, I've got to admit that description sums 'em up pretty well. "Relaxed" is the opposite of "uptight" and my boobs are certifiably neither up, nor tight. 

It almost makes me want someone to say, "Calm your tits!" so I can reply, "Oh, they're calm. They're calm as shit. In fact ... they're relaxed.

The Super Soaper

Confession: I never use a washcloth when I shower. Or a loofah, a pouf, a sponge, a piece of steel wool, a cooperative hedgehog or whatever else someone might use as a mechanism to enhance their cleanliness.

To me, this is not weird. I guess it's the way I grew up, because I never remember using a washcloth except in the bathtub as a kid, although my mom uses them so who knows? Anyway. I've had this conversation with a few people in my lifetime, and it always seems like people think it's odd. I literally own two washcloths and they're, like, twelve years old.

Anyway, when I soap myself up - using only my hands, obviously - there is very little lather, maybe just a couple of random bubbles here and there. I'm saying this because it's an important detail in the story I'm about to tell you.

Bright and early yesterday morning when my eyes popped open, I realized my husband (Curtis) wasn't in the bed beside me. Then I heard the shower running in the bathroom. I thought about waiting until he was done to go in and pee, but I mean, we've been together for almost nineteen years so I figured it didn't much matter. And besides, I was about to piss myself.

I went in and sat down on the toilet in the steam-filled room. Seeing as I'd just woken up (and was, you know, on the toilet), I wasn't exactly in conversation mode, so I did my business without saying a word. But as I sat there, I couldn't help but listen to the sounds coming from the shower. And I couldn't help but raise an eyebrow at what I heard: a rhythmic, squishy sound, one that I don't make when I shower.


Call me pervy, but I suspected my husband was, eh ... really enjoying that shower. You picking up what I'm laying down? Good. The sound continued, and I could tell by the way it ever-so-slightly changed - more bubbly somehow - that the volume of lather had increased due to all that enthusiastic skwap-skwapping. I debated. Should I quietly slip out and pretend I hadn't even been there? Should I yank open the shower curtain and point and laugh? Should I make like the spontaneous chick I was when we were dating and slip in there with him for some good clean fun? Decisions, decisions.

Finally I tiptoed over to the shower. "Need some help in there?" I said coyly, easing the curtain open to reveal Curtis energetically stroking his ...

... armpit? Oh.

Skwap-skwap-skwap. "Geez, you startled me," he gasped, lowering his arm, copious amount of lather running down his side. Looking like he had one of those foam machines in there.

"SERIOUSLY, WHO SOAPS THAT VIGOROUSLY?" I said. For crying out loud.

So here's my question: am I in some sort of weird, lather-less minority? Is it strange that my soaping isn't zealous enough to create, like, foam?

This is important research, people. Inquiring minds need to know.

The Frump is Still Fighting!

I'm tired of being away from here. When I started this blog back in 2009 when I was pregnant with Coby (son #3), it was my escape, and there were literally days when I had to stop myself from publishing two or three posts instead of just one. I wrote whatever the hell I wanted, not looking to impress anybody with my literary prowess because let's face it, I thought only my mom would read it. (She did. And still does. Hi, Mom!) It was my lifeline to an outside world that I'd lost touch with while I was drowning in a sea of spit-up crusted pajama pants and poopy diapers. Hearing from you guys, other parents who GOT ME, was incredibly therapeutic.

Fighting off Frumpy has always been a labor of love, but y'all? I'm pretty sure the electric company doesn't accept "alternative currencies." And as much as I love my blog, it pays zero bills. It couldn't even buy me a couple of (much-needed) cocktails. So like any working mom, I've had to go where the money is, which means I'm squeezing out the contents of my brain for other places that will give me a few cents of kickback in exchange for my efforts. Sigh.

BUT. I refuse to let this blog die a slow death from neglect. It's important to me, and it has helped me commemorate the crazy ridiculousness that is raising four children from scratch (like, remember this? Ugh). It served as a coping mechanism during the shit-soaked rollercoaster of my children's infant-and-toddlerhood, when I had to laugh or I'd cry. And now, it serves as a monument to motherhood, a funny and touching memory book that all of you have shared with me. I'm not going to give that up.

It might be more of a personal journal, like it was at the first - more a chronicle of my own life. I'll save the more widely relatable stuff for the paying markets. (*eye roll*) But I think that was my mistake in the first place ... trying to write things that appealed to everyone and getting away from my blogging roots, which were basically just me keeping an online journal that anyone could happen to read. That's what brought you here, and made this blog what it is, and that's what I'm gonna keep doing.

Anyway. Time for a quick update on the cast of characters that some of you have literally been following since birth. :)

- We moved to a very small town in Ohio. We've been here for a year next month. I like it (LOVE our neighborhood, thank goodness!) but it's still weird trying to get used to living in such a small place. I grew up in a small town, but it's been a long time since I've lived in one.

- Colin, our oldest, is now ELEVEN, y'all. Sixth grade. Skinny and big-footed and his voice is getting that scruffy edge to it that reminds me it's going to be deepening very very soon. We still struggle with his ADHD, although we're trying a new approach right now - online school here at home through a program called K12. The rest of the kids are still in public school and doing great, but Colin was having a lot of trouble concentrating and his grades were a disaster. He seems to be doing much better with this format so far, but it has only been a month, so we'll see if it continues.

- Cameron just turned nine and is smart and witty and outgoing and absolutely hilarious. The other day we went to our favorite Mexican restaurant, and when the waiter put the basket of chips in front of Cameron, Cameron said, "Excellent placement, Sir." That's just how he is, all the time.

- Coby is seven now. (Remember when he was born? Wasn't that, like, a year ago?!) He is into athletics and health and fitness. Much to my chagrin, he wants to enroll in all the sports that ever sportsed. I hate sports. But I love Coby. So, he's in basketball right now and will probably be in baseball and/or soccer during the spring. I'm officially a "sports mom." Did I mention I hate sports? Like, hate them?

- Corbin is four (remember when he was born? AGH!!) and in preschool. Here he is on his first day.

Isn't he ... precious?

This is what he used to do when you'd ask him to make "Spider-Man fingers." He isn't really that much of a juvenile delinquent. (At least not at this point.) In fact, he's a really good boy. He's definitely got a stubborn and bossy streak, but I guess that comes with the territory when you're the youngest. You've gotta make your mark somehow, right?

All right. Now that you're essentially up to speed, I'ma get off this computer and tend to my other responsibilities. I may have a "glamorous" job writing for major parenting sites, but these toilets aren't gonna scrub themselves.

Damn it.


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