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‘Family Life’ Category

  1. I went to Home Goods and all I got was this lousy f’ing fruit basket

    March 6, 2016 by admin

    FruitBasket

    “Get your coats on kids! We’re going to Home Goods!”

    I say this to my two youngest children with as much unbridled enthusiasm as possible, because I really want to go to Home Goods. We’re going to peel through the Dunkin’ Donuts drive thru for munchkins, and then I am going to coast into Home Goods on a coffee high and shop the shit out of the storage section. I am ready to change my life.

    Bins. Bins. Hooks and shelves and bins. And baskets. Lots of freaking baskets. I want it all. When we bust out the double doors, our cart full of plastic and engineered wood and rattan – give me all the f’ing rattan you have – I know that our lives will never be the same. I just feel it way down deep in that twisted place in my heart, the part of me that truly understands that the perfect hook rail will make be a better person. In fact, I will be a better mother for spending $200 on things to put all my shit in and hang it on.

    And so when the automatic doors slide open, and I look out into the sea of colored glass and throw pillows, mass produced art, and things – all sorts of wonderful things – to put on my shelves, a wave of optimism washes over me. A fake seashell display calls my name. My son points to a giant wooden buddha up ahead and laughs. And I know we’ve already won. But up ahead in the distance, my mecca, the storage aisle, beckons. It is there I will find my salvation.

    I take out my list, eager to check off all of the items that will transform my home from the frumpy mess it is to the exalted shrine of order it was meant to be. I scour each shelf with a sense of excitement. I can’t wait to buy buy buy. Buy more things to put my other things in. I touch each organizational item with a sense of wonder. The anticipation builds. The possibilities are endless!

    It doesn’t matter that I was here in this very place two days ago. It feels like an eternity. I see things I didn’t see before. Laundry baskets with French words stenciled on them. L’Hotel Des Grandes Laundry. (Oh. MyGODI’ll feel so f’ing European when I am washing shit stains out of my kids’ underwear!) Wire baskets with mini chalkboards, so I can write down what’s inside. So I’ll know what’s inside! The people that think of these things just know. They. just. know. It’s like they can see into my soul.

    I’m loading everything into my cart. My baby is covered in a heap of canvas life force. I’m barking at my 4-year-old to grab anything and everything with mail dividers. The power of clean compels you!

    On the way to the cashier, sweaty, breathless, I begin to take a second look at my bounty. Passing by a wall of inspirational word art, the objects in my cart begin to shape shift before my eyes. The canvas seems senseless. A stack of mini acrylic boxes seems radical. No. That won’t quite work. $29.99? That’s outrageous. Rubbed bronze? What was I thinking?

    And all the promise with which we entered that big box of retail hope is fading. I see that I haven’t checked off a single thing on my list. No organized canned goods. No row of neatly hung princess dresses. No visually stimulating laundry center. Two and a half hours from the moment those double doors opened and my kids and I walked brazen into those florescent lights, I walk to the cashier and hang my head in shame. But not before my eyes desperately scan the shelves lining the check out line for an item that might redeem this trip. A journal with a floral cover, perhaps? NO! A scented candle? I bought three last week. A set of crystal drawer pulls? There must be something, SOMETHING I can do with those! A cheese knife in the shape of a mermaid? No! No! No! As I near the head of the line, I turn and look at the shelves, hoping my eyes will catch something I’ve missed. But there’s nothing.

    “I remember you from the other day,” the cashier says.

    I don’t ask her, out of all the (mostly) women that come to Home Goods searching for order, why she remembers me.

    Instead I smile, and silently hand her my purchases:

    This:

    FruitBasket

    A wire basket with chalk board. So I can write down what’s inside!

    And this.

    Frame

    A picture frame. Isn’t it ironic?

    Until next time, Home Goods. Until next week.


  2. Kitchen Hacks for the Un-Resourceful

    March 2, 2015 by admin

    I am not necessarily known for my resourcefulness in the kitchen. But I have a lot of lofty ideas. I look up recipes that require obscure ingredients and then I buy said ingredients.  For example, I might buy a whole bag of Chinese mallow. Then let it rot in the vegetable drawer of my fridge. Because I run out of time. Or energy. Or both.

    Just kidding. I’ve never bought Chinese mallow. I don’t even know what that is. Or if it’s technically edible. Or legal. But you get the idea.

    The point is, a lot of times I buy an ingredient for a specific meal – like a bunch of basil or scallions when I only need one leaf or bulb – but then never use the rest.

    But tonight, while looking up recipes I probably won’t make, I ran across these kitchen hacks in one of my favorite cookbooks: Cooking Light’s Dinnertime Survival Guide. (Because that’s usually the mode I am in: Survival. One strand of culinary-challenged DNA away from having my Mom of the Year status revoked). Anyway, I thought these hacks they might help someone else too. Maybe we can all save our moldy cheese and cold coffee together.

    Who am I kidding?

    I’ll never do any of this crap, but maybe you will.

     

    BeResourceful


  3. My Totally Lame (but Mostly Achievable) Parenting Resolutions for 2015

    January 9, 2015 by admin

    Ok. So there are a TON of articles floating around the Interwebs about New Year’s resolutions for parents. I’ll sum them up for you right here: Be more present. Act more patient. Don’t yell. Make more Pinterest crafts. Be a better wife/husband. Cook healthier meals. Keep a clean house. Set aside more “you” time. Stay off of: social media, your phone, your computer, your tablet and every other digital device. Say “yes” more. Be stern. Be kind. Be everything. To everybody.

    As a parent, I want to achieve some of these things too, but…I don’t see me staying the course. And failure, my friends, is not an option this year. So, I am instituting some of my own, more reasonable and achievable – albeit lame – series of New Year’s Resolutions. I may not win any Mom of the Year Award with any of these, but if I can stick to them, my life will no doubt become infinitely better than it was before. In 2015, I resolve to:

    1. Apply my age-defying eye cream.  Every. Damn. Day. 

    Husband says it’s a gimmick. I say I’ll never know if I don’t use as directed.

    2. Take a shower every morning. 

    If you have early risers like I do, either you get up at the butt crack of dawn to take a shower. Or, after you’ve had your first cup of coffee and nervous breakdown, and you send off whomever is of school age, you sit the rest of them in front of the big magic box while you pull yourself together and clean up your act. Generally I shower every day, but not always in the morning. Why? 1) because I don’t like butt cracks and 2) I like to pretend that I don’t use TV as a babysitter. Sometimes, showers happen right before husband arrives home from work to show that I do indeed have some self-respect. Other times, 5 minutes before I need to pick up the boys from the bus stop so the driver doesn’t think I’m a total loser. But a shower in the morning – now THAT is a game changer. It not only provides some motivation to not be a total slug, it also stops the UPS guy from cringing when he delivers my jumbo box of Pampers Sensitive Baby Wipes from Amazon.

    3. Have fewer PJ days. 

    Having the occasional pajama day is great, but we’ve been having WAY too many around here. So many, in fact, that when I ask my children to put on daytime clothes, they look at me incredulously and ask “Why? WHY!?” Why indeed, I say. But it’s time to show that we too conform to societal norms.

    4. Not to cry over spilled milk. 

    Literally. I cry (or yell) when my children spill milk. Or anything else for that matter. My husband is famous for telling this story from when we first started dating about how he spilled a glass of water on the rug in my apartment and I went into panic mode, racing into the kitchen like I was on fire and returning with a cloth to start sopping up his mess. He claims to this day that I even yelled, “Water on the rug!” as if I was screaming “Fire in the hole” to a line of marines. And still, he married me. Lucky guy.

    5. Keep my kitchen island clear of things which do not belong on a kitchen island so we may actually use it for its intended purpose. 

    KitchenIsland

    No one can sit here.

    6. Serve frozen chicken only once per week. 

    LMAO.

    7. Stop lamenting my advanced maternal age. 

    I can no longer say I’ll turn 40 someday. It’s happening. This year. I have four children: ages 9, 5, 3 and 6 months, and there are times, usually when I am applying my age-defying eye cream, that I torture myself by calculating what my age will be at certain stages of my children’s lives. Sure, I’ll only be 48 when my oldest graduates high school. But for my youngest? I’ll be f’ing 57 years old. That’s way more than halfway to dead, people. These are usually the times when I turn to my husband and ask: What the hell have we done? Then I look at the young, innocent faces of my beautiful children and think, we better get that Last Will and Testament notarized. But I have to stop this. Have to. Forty is the new 20, right? In that case, I’ll only be 38 when my youngest graduates high school. Sweet!

    8. Stop lying to my kids

    Oh I’ll still lie about the big things: like Santa Claus and the overall quality of their artwork. But it’s the little lies that really count. Like when we all sit down in the dining room for lunch and they ask why I have potato chips and they have carrot sticks. “I ate my carrot sticks just now in the kitchen.” Lie. Or when I tell them they’ll get sick from a bite of my chocolate protein bar because it is specially formulated for adults. Lie. Or when I tell my three-year-old that no, you absolutely can’t watch Doc McStuffins – AGAIN – because she, her big freakin’ book of booboos, and cast of freak toy friends are on vacation. Bold. faced. lie. It’s got to stop.

    9. Buy myself something. Anything.

    A pair of underwear. A tube of mascara. A jar of body glide so I’ll start running again. The bar is low here. But no, a stock pot from the local discount home goods store doesn’t count. Even if it is stainless steel.

    10. Drink more. 

    I’m not talking about water. Wine. Yummmm. Alcohol. Delicious. More beer! I haven’t imbibed much since the baby was born almost 7 months ago. This needs to happen.

    11. Wash my kitchen floor once a month. 

    This would be a huge improvement. HUGE.

    12. Exercise twice a month. 

    As long as I eat…nothing, this should help me achieve my fitness goals. Bonus resolution: I will not post the details of my workouts on social media.

    ResolutionBlog

    13. Make tons of evening dentist appointments. 

    Sometimes it’s more pleasant to have my teeth scraped with a sharp, metal instrument than deal with bedtime.

    14. Throw away the Play Station.

    Honest. I think that’s all it would take. Just one little follow through on one of my big. empty. threats. In 2015, I am going to give away all their stuff to little kids that clean up and take care of their things. Or, I really will leave them home alone if they refuse to put on their shoes. Or throw out the Play Station if they keep bickering. Or make them take an ice cold shower if they don’t leave hot water for anyone else. Or put them in the dark basement send them to bed with no dinner eat all their candy make them sit in a naked timeout. Wow. I am really f’ing mean. (Note to self: I can resolve to be nicer in 2016.)

    15. Make fewer trips to Target. 

    I love to buy bins and baskets and then put stuff in them. Mostly kids crap that I don’t want them to use anymore but crap I don’t want to throw away either. I am like a moth to the fire in the storage section at Target. So I just can’t go.

    16. Cook the food that I buy or buy the food that I cook

    Two nights ago, I put a package of frozen, thin-sliced turkey cutlets in the refrigerator to thaw. They are still there. And every time I open the refrigerator, I look at them and think “WTF am I going to do with thin-sliced turkey cutlets?” Kids aren’t going to eat those. In two more days, I will throw them away.

    17. (Step 1) Write things down on my calendar. (Step 2) Look at calendar to see what I’ve written down. 

    Step 2 is new for 2015 and will hopefully help me improve my attendance record.

    18. Finish painting our kitchen. 

    We started in 2004.

    19. Find the cause of my husband’s snoring. 

    Then, eliminate it.

    20. Sleep through the night at least once a week. 

    I haven’t slept in 9 years. And when you have 4 kids, someone is always awake. Please let 2015 be the year of sleep. Sleep will make me a kinder, gentler more normal person.


  4. A picture’s worth a thousand words – and this one says, “The shit’s about to hit the fan.”

    October 23, 2014 by admin

    Look closely at this picture, and it pretty much tells you everything you need to know about this weekend’s Christmas Tree tagging adventure. First, there’s never a dull moment around here. Second, the Griswold’s have nothing on us. Nothing.

    This is what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown: waiting for the shit to hit the fan.

    Because among the dozen or so photographs I have on my phone of all of us smiling and posing in front of a picturesque field of evergreens, is this little beauty. And this little beauty tells the real story.

    TreeTagging

    See in this photograph, one of my sons is smiling, the joy and excitement of the upcoming holiday season almost too much to keep inside. (A Christmas tree! A Christmas tree! I haven’t even worn my Batman costume yet and we’re tagging our Christmas tree!) Nevermind that I pulled him away from a brawl with his brother and demanded through  clenched teeth that he smile and stand still for just one damn second so I can document how much fun we’re having. He’s doing it.  But then over there on the left, do you see?  Do you see my other son, the one who’s wearing the look of an ape about to attack? If he looks like he’s about to whack the smiling son upside the head, spit in his ear, plant his face into the pines or sucker punch him with a balsam branch, that’s because he is.

    These boys. They are always at each other. Always. And it can be – and usually is – so. freaking. exhausting. Stop hitting. Stop throwing your brother to the ground. Stop calling him names. Stop tripping him. Stop tackling him. Stop making annoying noises in his ear. Stop. Stop. Stop! Sometimes, just sometimes, and only in the darkest recesses of my mind, I wish I could do this:

    409_michonne_pet_walkers-the-walking-dead-michonne-decides-rick-and-carl-unite

    I know. I know. That’s disgusting. Abhorrent. But Jesus, come on! I really don’t wish to cut off my son’s arms or carve out their mouths. But I do wish sometimes that I could make them obey, follow me around like a couple of mindless little yes men. Yes, mom. We’ll listen. Yes, we’ll behave. Yes. We’ll do whatever it is you want us to do. Yes. Yes. Yes.

    But that’s not real life. The above photo of my two sons, however, is.

    Life is not perfect. It’s flawed. And yet we still try and capture the moment as if it was all unicorns and rainbows. So we can post our picture-perfect escapades on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and get just the right photo for our holiday cards.  That is also exhausting. And disingenuous. And so boring.

    So instead of deleting the memories which may not be so idyllic, I’m going to keep them. Because the scenes of us all smiling and posing in front of a field of evergreens – while much more presentable and acceptable – don’t tell the whole story. They don’t tell our story. Yes, of course, there were moments of family harmony, but many of them came after the clenched-teeth experiences of parenthood. And I don’t want to forget those either.


  5. Why I feel like a crappy parent #3,716

    August 27, 2014 by admin

    10464394_10152668250239761_1411529712801795413_n

    Yesterday, my five-year-old lost his first tooth. It had been loose for weeks. But yesterday, somewhere between eating Orange Leaf frozen yogurt for lunch and later, Goldfish crackers for a snack, it was gone. I know what you’re thinking about my food choices right now and that’s your prerogative, but it’s not the point.

    The point is my five-year-old was practically crapping his pants with joy that the tooth fairy would come, as she had so many times for his older 9-year-old brother.

    I am responsible for Tooth Fairy duty, a noble job. Only, it seems that I am not very good at it. I could blame it on the newborn, who doesn’t sleep and induces extreme exhaustion, but that wouldn’t explain this little episode, in which the “Tooth Fairy” forgot for not one, but two nights in a row, to put something under my oldest child’s pillow.

    So when I hear the heavy footsteps of my 9-year-old climbing down from the top bunk, then the light clicking on and the scolding voice, “Moooommmmm, Colin didn’t  get anything,” my heart simply sank.

    Half asleep, Colin sleep-yells from under his covers, “The tooth fairy didn’t come!”

    F*ck. F*ck F*ck F*ck.

    In my defense, last night I did buy a pack of Pokemon cards, the coveted item my son had hoped the Tooth Fairy would bring, and this morning, in a moment of desperation, I thought maybe I would sneak them under my pillow and yell from my room that the Tooth Fairy had made a mistake, his present was under MY pillow.

    But then, what type of self-respecting Tooth Fairy would fly in, see a couple of sleeping adults, and think to herself, “Yes, this must be the place.” At least not one that services an area so far north of the Mason-Dixon line.

    My only saving grace was that my son had swallowed his tooth and, because I wasn’t here to supervise, had not written a note explaining his predicament. I assured him this morning that if he writes a note today, the Tooth Fairy will surely come tonight. But really, isn’t that a little anti-climactic? Isn’t that like Santa Claus bringing presents after all the post-holiday sales have started? Like the Easter Bunny leaving rotten eggs?

    Husband thinks I am being too dramatic about the whole situation, but these are the types of things that pull at my heartstrings.

    This morning, I am the world’s crappiest parent.


  6. Waiting for #4

    June 19, 2014 by admin

    Baby#4

     

    In just 5 days, I’ll give birth to my fourth baby. So close, and yet it seems so far away.

    With each subsequent child, there’s been less time to think about the next, new, tiny human being that will soon become part of the everyday fabric of our lives. Less time to worry about the what-ifs. (What if breastfeeding doesn’t work out again? What if the baby has colic or (insert the name of some illness or disease first-time parents might worry about incessantly) What if we are mistaken for Walking Dead extras because this baby has no room of his own and must bunk up with us indefinitely and we aren’t. sleeping. at. all.) Less time to think about creating the perfect nursery or buying the perfect going-home outfit or even making sure you have the barest essentials at home. That reminds me, this kid really needs some diapers.

    Less time for everything.

    The past few weeks, my world has been filled with the end-of-school madness that occurs every June. The mad dash for teacher gifts and volunteering for this or that, or feeling guilty when I can’t. Of making sure my oldest has clean pajamas for pajama day, a hat for hat day and is signed up for the adequate number of weeks of summer camp once school ends. Of making sure my middle guy doesn’t feel left out. Of making sure my youngest knows she’s still my baby even though someone is coming to supplant her. Of trying to let my husband know how much I appreciate him pulling double duty when he gets home from work. Of trying to squeeze in some last minute freelance work and making progress on my manuscript and ridding our home of extraneous things because it improves my feng shui and makes me less grouchy (usually). Of trying to counteract my back pain and heartburn with a body pillow and Zantac. Of life.

    Let’s face it, the more people in your family, the busier life gets.

    But this is not a bad thing. And I don’t mean to make it seem like I am not excited for this new little person to arrive and become part of our family. But it’s not like the birth of your first child, when you’d have the time to daydream about how life was going to be so much fuller.  Or the second, when you’re giddy with anticipation over a sibling for your first-born. Or even the third, when you ponder with keen curiosity how the dynamics of your little family might change.

    No, the 4th is just different.

    It’s like date night with your spouse. You’re psyched it’s going to happen. But you also know exactly how the evening will proceed. You’ll make reservations and dress up. Wear heels, maybe. You’ll have a pre-dinner drink. Eat. Order dessert. A couple more drinks. Talk and laugh. Yawn. And by 10pm, the novelty has worn off and next thing you know you’re complaining about how loud it is, how tired you are and how you wish you were home watching a movie together in your PJ’s, but you agree to stay out at least a half-hour more so the baby-sitter doesn’t think you’re a couple of total lame-o’s.

    It’s like that.

    And I’m ok with it. Because I know that as soon as the nurse puts that baby in my arms, I’ll look down at him – at his perfect little face and the familiar button nose that graces the faces of his three siblings – and, even though I’ve been here three times before, it’ll suddenly feel new again.

    I’ll wait patiently for my three kids to come visit their new brother and revel in their reactions to his tininess. I’ll hug them all as if I haven’t seen them in weeks and remark how big they look even though it’s only been hours since I’ve seen them last. They’ll take turns holding the baby, walking down the hall to get some italian ice from the snack room and ask me a thousand times to tell them how the baby got out of my belly. And then? Then we’ll begin the swift but sweet transition to a family of six. And there you have it.

    Everything will be familiar and new, weird and wonderful all at once.

    Life will stand still for a few days. But then it will go on, slightly altered, but not drastically different. Soon, we’ll be rushing off to karate class and hockey practice. To music class and playdates. But in between the big things – stolen moments in the middle of the night or early morning – I’ll realize, little by little, just how profoundly this new baby has changed our lives, how he’s changed me. And yes, while life will go on, it’ll be infinitely better.


  7. Can I Get an Amen?

    May 15, 2014 by admin

    I love seeing things like this, especially when I’ve had a day when the reading on the Mom Guilt-O-Meter is pretty high.

    Alive

     

    I mean, seriously, isn’t this sometimes enough? Sometimes, when my husband comes home at the end of the day and sees me, ragged and beat down, I want to point out that we’re all still breathing, that we made it another day.

    Take today, for example. For starters, our toddler is refusing to nap or stay in bed at night. So out of sheer exhaustion and, because we’ve all been up late watching playoff hockey (RIP Boston Bruins, you bastards), we’ve just let her stay up until the girl is acting like a teenager after her first beer: loopy, drooling and babbling nonsensical phrases into a toy microphone.

    So, there’s that. Then today began with a total meltdown – screaming, crying, the whole shebang – in which my 5-year-old was pissed beyond belief at the mere sight of the shirt I had picked out for him to wear to school. After 10 minutes of arguing, and stressing about the fact that we were late for school – again (though I think it’s been quite some time since they’ve expected us at the required hour) – I sent him into his room to put on whatever the heck he wanted. He comes out 10 minutes later in Transformer pajamas. I still heart my little a-hole, but no. So, I manhandle him into a green polo shirt, in which he is squirming and screaming and crying and declaring at the top of his lungs that everyone – EVERYONE! – is going to laugh at him for wearing something that is only green in color.

    WTF.

    I tell him through my teeth that he looks very handsome in his green polo. He yells something unintelligible. His face is red and tears are rolling down his cheeks. Then I look at the clock. School has already started. I am at my boiling point. I tell him I don’t care if everyone laughs at him. He is wearing the green polo.

    I leave the room and come back. Faster than goddamned Clark Kent in a telephone booth, he has changed into the original shirt I had left out for him, the one that started the whole meltdown in the first place. I start to interrogate him about his logic. This, of course, doesn’t go well. I usher everyone into the car and we leave for school. On the drive, I start to calm down and start feeling like mother of the year for not remaining calm and showing my son how to remain calm while simultaneously being frustrated. Basically, I feel like the a-hole.

    “Can we all just calm down a little bit?” he asks me.

    It’s like a wrecking ball to the stomach, because I know what he really means is, “Can YOU calm down, mom?”

    I apologize for flying off the handle, suggest that HE lay out his clothes at night, so that when he wakes up in the morning he can put on what he has picked out and maybe, just maybe, we won’t be late for school. He agrees to this plan. It’s only taken me most of the school year, multiple wardrobe malfunctions and many mornings of stress and anger to figure this out.

    But what can I do now, but move on and learn from the experience?

    For starters, I can boast the fact that the children are all still alive. Hallelujah, the children are still alive and well. Bring on #4!


  8. I Feel a Little Like Chris Farley

    March 11, 2014 by admin

    Right now I am sitting at my desk, which is located in my dining room. The desk is stuffed in the corner of the room, about an arm’s length away from the dining table, which is covered in papers, school projects, magazines, miscellaneous craft items, wet wipes, matchbox cars and God only knows what else. I can’t move my desk chair without bumping into something: grocery bags, bins of more miscellaneous items and boxes of papers for one of my part-time gigs that I have no where else to put.

    This one room is a small microcosm of the rest of my world. Most of the other rooms in my house are, unfortunately, in much the same state. We are 5 (soon-to-be 6) people stuffed into a 1,134 square-foot, single-level (SINGLE LEVEL!) house. And I am about to go insane. Um. Correction. I am already there.

    Remember that old Chris Farley bit, Fat Guy in a Little Coat? That’s exactly how I feel. Like we’re always on the verge of bursting at the seams.

    Just when I think things are kind of, sort of in order, life happens and everything goes to shit. Crap everywhere and no one can get away from anyone else. I literally feel like the old woman who lived in a shoe. I hesitate to have friends over because most of the time that means piling up a bunch of stuff on my bed and closing the door so the rest of the house looks clean. Then, after the visit, it stays that way the rest of the day and I revel in my new, tidy living space. Until it’s time to go to sleep.  Then all the crap just goes back to its place in our disorganized universe.

    People with bigger homes – and most all of our friends have bigger homes (a whole other issue) – say that life in a house with more space is no different. There is just more crap to contend with. I don’t know if I agree. And I definitely won’t let that sway me from moving into a more spacious home someday, hopefully soon. Like ASAP. Yesterday.

    Because in our house, not only do we not have enough places to put things, but a lack of space just makes all the other little annoyances of life 10 times as worse.

    As I’m writing, my kids are pushing toy shopping carts around and around the dining room table and it sounds like a jack-hammer in the middle of NYC. They are dodging all the crap that’s piled everywhere and bumping into me and knocking things over and I want to stand up and scream my head off but I can’t because they are only children doing what they do. So I record this video, and surprisingly, it makes me laugh.

    OurCrazy  (To get the full effect, turn up your volume. All. The. Way.)

    Not to mention that a little while ago, I nearly lost my shit over a glass of spilled milk because, before I could get to the paper towels, it spread to all of those papers, projects and magazines on the dining room table, soaking them in a sticky, stinky mess.

    Family life in a small house means that every weekend, I am stomping around looking for places to put things and making Target runs to buy plastic bins. I yell to no one in particular (because really no one really wants to hear it anymore), “I’m getting organized!”

    It sort of looks like this:

    543939_10151967754250682_567007707_n

    I can spare you the rest of the gory details of our space-challenged domestic existence, but honestly, I don’t know what we’ll do between June 2014, when our 4th child will be born, and Spring 2015, when we will hopefully (because if we don’t, I may just need to throw all our personal possessions away) sell our house, which contains a lot of good memories, but just can’t harness all of our awesomeness. Yes. That is what I’ll call it. Awesomeness.

    Oh, BTW, did I also mention we have only one bathroom?


  9. Screw you, Kringle the Elf

    December 5, 2013 by admin

    I am sitting here looking at that stupid elf, curled up in one of my youngest child’s toys that I have somehow suspended from the ceiling with Christmas ribbon. Because, you know, these days you can’t actually just put him on a shelf. He has to be doing something spectacular because all hell will break loose if you have the lamest elf in the neighborhood.

    Kringle has his arms delicately wrapped around his shins and he’s wearing that annoying little grin that’s spread between two pleasantly plump little rosy cheeks. He’s looking at me with those bright blue eyes as if he’s the freakin’ savior of Christmas.

    But the truth is, Kringle, you suck.

    You have been here since Sunday, and I just haven’t seen the intended effect on behavior that I was hoping for this year.

    Dec. 1, Day 1:

    You arrive, wrapped lovingly around our Advent Calendar, bearing gifts of Christmas-colored loom bands for the older kids and a little plastic Mickey Mouse recorder for the youngest. Sweet. The kids are so excited, you might have thought that they just won a trip to Disney. You leave them a note telling them you are excited to be back for the Christmas season and reminding them to be good. And if they are, they might wake up to little surprises every day. Nice move. Holding gifts over their heads. How can that not work? Kringle, you and I are besties right about now.

    Dec. 2, Day 2:

    The older kids have misbehaved a bit since yesterday morning. You leave them a little note saying that Santa was a little sad at the report but…wait for it…he’s decided to give them another chance. If they are good all day, there might be a treat waiting for them when they get home from school. Smooth move, ex-lax. You know I can’t really see them at school, right? I am reliant on them to tell the truth. And not that my kids are big liars or anything, but unless there’s a note in their take-home folders letting me know that they’ve tried to burn down the school or started a fist-fight, I am sort of beholden to their version of the truth. Sure enough, when they get home from school, there’s mini stockings filled with chocolates and other treats hanging by the fireplace. I just want you to know that Papa Elf was disapproving of your methods. Me? I thought it might just work.

    Dec. 3, Day 3:

    The children wake up to find you on top of the refrigerator hanging out of our hot chocolate pot holding a half-eaten chocolate lollipop. Get a grip, Kringle! It’s only Dec. 3. With every passing day you have to top your previous hiding place, otherwise, you’ll be labeled a cotton-headed ninnymuggins. I would have thought the hot chocolate pot would occur  closer to Christmas. But hey, you set your standards high. I like that. You’ll just have to stay up all hours of the night – every night – until Christmas, finding the perfect hiding spots. No biggie.

    Anyway, you come bearing gifts of toothbrushes. The kids are glad they got something, but Colin, my middle child, looks at me quizzically and asks, “A toothbrush?” In your defense, the boys got Star Wars light-up lightsaber toothbrushes (though one of them didn’t work – don’t you know to check before you buy?) and my little baby girl squealed with delight at her new Sesame Street toothbrush.

    But the day went downhill from there. There was lots of bickering. Lots of not listening. And well, I just have to say, you don’t hold nearly the amount of sway I thought you did, Kringle, and I am a little disappointed with your overall performance.

    Papa Elf strongly encourages you not to bring anything for the kids the next day.

    Dec. 4, Day 4:

    You arrive, as I’ve previously stated, curled inside a toddler’s toy and suspended from the ceiling by Christmas ribbon. In the kitchen, you have left this note:

    You’ll find me hanging around somewhere,

    Hanging around without a care.

    But a treat you will not find. 

    Until you try and start to mind,

    Your mom and dad and manners too. 

    Right now Santa’s feeling blue. 

    He wants to surprise you with treats and toys, 

    But those are only things for good boys. 

    So please try harder to behave,

    Or those treats and toys I’ll have to save,

    For some other children who are being good. 

    But I want them for you so be good, if you would. 

    – Kringle

    Brilliant! You must have spent ALL night writing this note. Kringle, you rock. This is sure to whip them back into shape! Outwardly, they seemed relatively unfazed by the lack of a toy or treat. But hey, I’m thinking maybe it’s just a few moments of quiet contemplation on the consequences of their actions.

    The morning went pretty well. The boys were able to perform basic duties like brushing their teeth and putting on their shoes. The day passed with little incident, because they were at school. For all you know, Kringle, they could have been raising hell, but you already set yourself up for that farce. There was no note in either of their folders, so I take this as an affirmation of their good behavior.

    The evening, however, was a different story. I won’t get into details here, Kringle. You were there. Or so you say.  I just have to point out that you really lost control of the situation tonight. There was yelling, things being thrown and a naked time out. Yes, a naked time out. It was ugly.

    I’m beginning to distrust those sparkling blue eyes of yours, Kringle. For all the pomp and circumstance of your do-gooder attitude, our arrangement really isn’t working that well so far. You may just have to stay up at the North Pole tonight. It’s not you. It’s me. Actually, it is you. I think we need a break. Please don’t show up tomorrow morning suspended from the ceiling or recovering from date night with Cinderella. I’m sure I’ll give you another chance, but lay low tonight, little dude. Peace out.


  10. Holy Crap, Woman, Calm Down!

    September 30, 2013 by admin

    Have you ever had one of those crappy parenting days when you thought to yourself, Jesus, I’ve finally gone and scarred my children for life? 

    No? Well, hooray for you and your perfectness. You might as well just stop reading now before your virgin eyes are burned by my stories of piss poor parenting.

    For those of you who have experienced your own episodes of PPP, you might know where I’m coming from, and you may know exactly how I’m feeling right now.

    Guilty. Like tomorrow-I’ll-pack-them-cookies-and-donuts-for-lunch-and-buy-them-a-puppy guilty.

    (Dear Mom, please refrain from commenting that I am the best mother in the world and allow me these few minutes of self-loathing.)

    I came home from my 10-mile run feeling great and kinda sorta invincible. The boys were  running around our tiny house like a couple of drunk college students, high off an apparently epic game of knee-hockey with Dad. Cute. I mean personally I don’t get how a game of knee hockey can get people so jazzed, but, hey, to each their own. They were having fun and owning it.

    But then my muscles started to tighten. A wave of nausea turned my stomach. And all the good vibes I ran home with began to disappear. My amusement at their antics slowly morphed into annoyance. And that’s when everything started to go downhill, I think.

    Dinnertime came and the nonsense wouldn’t stop. Potty talk – complete with sound effects – at the dinner table. Boisterous laughter. Playing with their food. A general lack of decorum. I just wanted them to eat. their. dinner. I was looking forward to a calm and peaceful evening and an early bedtime, and I could see my vision was being shattered right before my eyes. Poor husband did what he could to fend off my impending bad mood, but when he left for his weekly pick-up hockey game, the slow slide downhill suddenly turned into more of a supersonic ice luge. And there was no way I was climbing my way back to the top of that.

    When SOMEONE threw a ketchup-covered french-fry against the wall, I lost it.

    I raised my voice (okay, I yelled – loudly) and told the offender to clean up his mess. Then I threw his dinner away and sort of nudged him into the bathroom. No. Nudged sounds sort of sweet and playful. It wasn’t a nudge. But it wasn’t a push either. Something sort of in between, I guess. Let’s just say he knew I wasn’t going to be running him a luxurious bubble bath. I turned the shower on, put him in it, and told him I’d be back in a few minutes.

    To calm down, I decided to start to tackle the huge mound of dishes in the sink, because nothing creates inner peace like scrubbing two-day-old hamburger grease off indoor grill plates.

    Ok, I can come back, I thought. I‘ve got this. French fry against the wall – no big deal. 

    So I make my way to the bathroom and open the door to hear my four-year-old whining that he has soap in his eye. And no wonder! He’s pumped about half the colossal-sized bottle of California Baby Shampoo and Wash all over his head and body. Jesus Christ, the CALIFORNIA BABY SHAMPOO! The crap that costs about $20 a bottle! I am out of my mind that he has done this. Why couldn’t he just crush the cheap bar of Irish Spring right there in the plastic soap dish and fling the pieces at the bathroom ceiling like his brother used to? And I *know* it’s an overreaction, but I can’t stop shouting over his whining. Why did you do this? Why? Why? Why? This stuff costs $20!  I am interrogating him.

    I yell out to my oldest child that he needs to to keep his little sister occupied because I’m going to be a while cleaning up slick rick in the shower. He responds, “Okay, no problem, Mom,” because he is trying to be the “good boy” now since his brother is in a sh*tload of trouble. Five minutes later, I emerge from the “Calm” scented bathroom to find my oldest practicing his recorder in the dining room while my toddler daughter is in her bedroom rubbing my Body Glide stick all over her face. Calm, my arse. This stuff is not meant for babies’ faces. It’s meant to be applied to my body parts that AREN’T supposed to rub together when I run, but do. Or, what my best friend refers to as “Chub rub.”

    Oh. You thought Body Glide was something WAY more exciting, didn’t you? Sorry.

    So I start raising my voice again. I start talking to (okay, yelling at) my son about responsibility and doing his part to help out around the house. But it’s all going over his head because all he really wants to do is play another round of Hot Crossed Buns on his recorder. I can tell because while I’m talking, he’s sneaking looks at the shiny Hohner out of the corner of his eye.

    Everyone’s going to bed, I yell. No books. No snuggling. Bed. My voice sounds strangely German.

    So now I’m on a rant about the potty talk and the french fry and the California Baby Shampoo and the Body Glide and Hot Crossed Buns. I’m so worked up that I’m not thinking straight. I’m so worked up that I’m not looking at my kids’ faces as I’m going on and on about crap that, in the grand scheme of things, really doesn’t matter – at all.

    Realization starts to set it.

    Holy crap, woman, calm down. This is what you signed up for. Not just the irresistible, sweet-smelling newborns that once looked up at you with great big eyes like saucers, content to be wrapped in a soft blanket on your lap. But also the 2-year-old who is mimicking everything you do, the 4-year-old who is still so innocent but learning right from wrong, and the 8-year-old who looks to you to model calm and rational behavior.

    I’ve f’d up again, I think.

    Not for the first time, I apologize to them for overracting. I’m tired. And human. And I make mistakes, just like you. I hug them and then put my daughter to bed and ask the boys to pick out one book. They bicker for a bit, but then climb up into my bed with “Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You,” by Nancy Tillman and I can’t help but wonder if they are trying to send me some sort of message.

    We all snuggle in bed and I read them the story about a child who trails a string of stars – his mother’s love – in every picture. Wherever he goes, whatever he does, her love will find him. Maybe it’s an exhaustion-induced sentiment, but my eyes begin to well up while I’m reading. We finish the story and then I close the book and just lie there, the boys starting to get sleepy next to me. And I hope, despite my  shortcomings as a parent, despite my irrationality and periodic flareups and displays of anger, that my kids know that’s their absolute truth too. That wherever they go, whatever they do – throw french fries at the wall or use all the California Baby Shampoo –  my love will find them.