ABOUT ME

About me: I'm 40 and just added a gherkin to our pickle party of a family. My husband Chuck, our 7-year-old Junior, our 4-year-old Everett, our new baby and I live in a town in Connecticut I affectionately call Mulletville Lite (aka my childhood hometown). My friends call me Nutjob, and they're right. In my husband's spare time he dresses up as a Viking and chases ghosts (and I'm the nutjob?). When I'm not busy working as a graphic designer, I lie in a ball in the corner.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

What to do when your children want to eat in the bathroom

Overheard in the bathroom:

Junior: Look, cheese!

Everett: Cheese!

Junior: This is mine. Get your own.

Everett: No fair, I want some.

Junior: I found it. It's my cheese. Go ask Mom for more.

Everett: I found it!

Junior: No you didn't. You always do this. You always try to take things from me. I found it.

Everett: Give me the cheese!

Junior: I told you, I found it. It's mine! Moooooom!

Everett: Moooooom!

Junior: Moooooom, Everett's trying to take my cheese!

Everett: Moooooom, I want cheese too!

Me, bursting into the bathroom: What the heck is going on in here?

Junior: I found this cheese. It's mine!

Me: What cheese? And we don't eat in the bathroom.

Junior: This cheese.




Me: Uh....

Junior: I found it, it's mine.

Everett: No, I did!

Me: Uh, guys, GUYS! That's not cheese.

Junior: What is it?

Everett: Yes it is! I want cheese!

Me: It's...it's....um....something you can't eat.

Junior: Why not?

Me: It just is.

Junior: What is it? Mom why can't we have it?

Everett: I want cheese! No fair!

Me: Guys, GUYS! Take a deep breath. If you want cheese I will get you some...from the refrigerator. Now please, hand over the...cheese.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Soon it will overtake my mouth and engulf my head and I'll be able to lick, like, 300 lollipops at once

I went and hired myself a babysitter. Right now, she's downstairs listening to Junior and Everett wax on (and on and on and on) about Lego Ninjago. I can hear her Oh, wow-ing and neat-ing them as I type. She's also squealing excitedly at baby Cam's coughs, coos and hiccups.

I appreciate her enthusiasm. She's only 23, you know; her brain cells are ripe for the challenge. Unlike mine, which have parachuted out of my head in search of more relaxing places, like the toilet bowl.

I also appreciate her for allowing me to do exciting, me-time activities, like going to the post office and a doctor's appointment without three children in tow. I just came from the ear, nose, and throat doctor, in fact. He shoved a mini mirror down my throat and told me, with no obvious sign of concern, that my larynx is eroding and that my tongue is enlarged due to acid reflux.

When he gave me the diagnosis and subsequently prescribed me a protein pump inhibitor, I couldn't stop envisioning my poor little larynx and tongue. I thought about what they go through on a daily basis as my children wax on (and on and on and on) about Lego Ninjago and I say "Oh, really?!" five thousand times a day—

"Oh, really?!"
"Oh, really?!"
"Oh, really?!"
"Oh, really?!"
"Oh, really?!"
"Oh, really?!"
"Oh, really?!"
"Oh, really?!"

 —and how when baby Cam coughs, coos and hiccups and I say "Sweetie!" five thousand times a day—

"Sweetie!"
"Sweetie!"
"Sweetie!"
"Sweetie!"
"Sweetie!"
"Sweetie!"
"Sweetie!"
"Sweetie!"

I don't have a degree in medicine, but isn't it obvious? My swollen tongue isn't caused by GERD. My children are the reason my tongue has swelled up to the size of a large bakery roll—and if I'm not careful, by the time they're in their teens it will be the size of a minivan.

And do you know who'll be thrilled? Who'll be looking at me like, Oh, baby where have you been all my life? Yes, Chuck.

Men!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I'm starring in the new Stephen King book!

After Chuck and I had been dating for a few years but before we had kids, family excursions consisted of me, Chuck, my younger brother and my father. This worked out well for my father. Chuck is a fellow history buff so when we'd do our guided tours of dusty, historic homes/plantations/mills/settlements, Chuck and my father would listen intently to the tour guide and try to drink in as much knowledge as they could.

My brother and I, on the other hand, would usually mock the tour guide—discreetly, of course—make lewd comments about our fellow tourees—again, discreetly—and/or escape the guided tour via an open window so we could make a run for it.

Like I said, my father was in heaven when Chuck came along. Until he'd had a comrade, he'd literally pass out from the exertion of trying to listen intently to the tour guide while simultaneously expressing his disgust at our juvenile behavior. Our trips usually ended with him throwing his hands up in the air and swearing at us under his breath.

Things changed as my brother got older. Chuck seemed cooler to him, I guess, so our family excursions began to feel more like "sausage and cheese" trips, with me starring as the cheese who stands alone (I'd certainly rethink that trip to France).

Then Junior came along—and there was more testosterone.

Then Everett came along—Ibid.

Then I found out I was having another boy. And I kid you not, when I turned 40 this winter and they all stood there singing me happy birthday—Chuck, my brother, my father, Junior and Everett—and I rubbed my 8 month pregnant belly—which contained another sausage—I felt like I was in some crazy Stephen King book in which every woman on the planet, save myself, had been eaten and I was the lone survivor of Womankind.

I wish this blog wasn't anonymous because I took a picture of all of them standing there and it's a lot of dudes.

Late at night, when the house is quiet, I think about why it is that I'm surrounded by men. Is my astrological star aligned not just with Orion but with his 25 brothers? Was I a tragic wannabe football player in a former life and so the universe is making amends by giving me my own team, so to speak? Or am I part of a psychological study conducted by Thomas the Train, in which researchers try to gauge the exact moment a mother's brain will explode after a decade of exposure to Percy, Edward and Gordon?

Of course, there is no real answer. I love all the men in my life and that's the only thing that matters. And I'd worry that our future family trips (with me, Chuck and our sons) are going to feel like "sausage and cheese" trips part deux, but hell, why start worrying now? Cam is only four months. By the time our boys are tweens and interested in spending weeks playing Laser Tag or camping, I'll be ready—to fly myself to a swim-up bar with some girlfriends.

Until then, I just need to remember to keep my hand out of my pants. Must...not...assimilate...

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Just a day. Alternate title: We need a new diaper bag

"Two p.m. deadline?" I ask my boss. "No problem."

It's 7:45 a.m. Two p.m. feels like next week.

I pack lunches for Junior and Everett. I drop Junior off at day camp, then schlep Everett and Cam to Everett's preschool for a 9:30 drop-off. (Side note: I still dislike the pre-school teacher who, after eight months of greeting my child with a somber "Heeeeeey buuuuuddy' seems to be a better fit for a convalescent home.)

I say good-bye to Everett then schlep Cam to a 10:15 a.m. doctor's appointment because he's been waking up the last two nights screaming and has now developed pink eye. Am I cutting it close to my deadline? Yes, but I can do this. I can.

We finish up at the doctor's. It's an ear infection. I get back out to the car and rifle through my bag for the keys. I don't see them. Nooooooo. I put Cam's car carrier down and empty the contents of the diaper bag onto the trunk. Empty wrappers. Diapers (clean, thanks). Matchbox cars. Old crayons. Chapstick. A maxi pad. Squished granola bars. DSW coupons.

No keys.

I bring Cam back inside and ask if I left my keys in the office. Nope. Cam is getting fussy. He's not going to make it much longer without eating. I ask if I can feed him in one of the rooms.


While I feel Cam, I tear apart the car carrier, hoping the key slipped behind a cushion. Nope.

I call my brother. Can he grab a spare house key from my neighbor and meet me at the doctors with the spare car key? Yes. But no one answers at the neighbor's. I call Chuck. He offers to drive the hour home and bring me the spare key. I tell him that's crazy. I call AAA and schedule assistance. They tell me it'll be an hour.

I finish feeding Cam. It's 11:45. I empty the diaper bag one last time. No key.

I take Cam outside to wait for AAA by the car. I search my pockets. I scan the passenger seat for something glinting in the sun. Nothing. I decide to empty the bag one real, real last time. I feel something square shaped way down in the lining, way over on the side. Holy shit. It's a set of keys I thought I lost two years ago. I shove my hand deeper, pushing my way past crumbs and broken crayons and there, I find the car key.

Thank you, I say aloud, even though it's now 12:15. 

I call AAA and cancel the call.

"It will still count as one of your service calls," the woman tells me.

Bite me, I think.

I call Chuck and tell him the good news.

"I always hated that diaper bag," he says.

"We got it when Junior was born," I remind him. "Seven years is a long time to hate something."

"It's trimmed in pink. Can we get one that's cooler? More...manly?" he asks.

"With, like, boobs on it or something?"

"Sure," he says.

I drive home. I haven't eaten anything all day, so I shove an old granola bar from the diaper bag into my mouth. Cam misses his nap. I miss my deadline. I'm almost late to pick up Junior. But I'm giddy about a diaper bag with breasts on it, if only for its functionality: Nipples would make damn good key ring holders.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Yoga is for sissies

I forgot about this thing. Everett was four when we had Cam this February; the most taxing thing about getting him around was stopping mid-grocery shop to get him to the bathroom.

I've been carrying this thing around for three months now. My back hurts. My neck hurts. These damn carriers are heavy and there's no easy way to carry them when you're walking. You can't exactly throw it over your shoulder like a handbag. If you lean to one side, you pull all your glueteus sideus muscles. If you lean forward you chance kicking the carrier with your knees as you walk.

They're such a part of your baby's life though, you can't get around it.

I'm wondering, why the fuck don't more hospitals incorporate these into their Intro to Birthing workshops? No, really. Instead of wasting your time breathing and writing birthing plans, why aren't women (and men) wrapping up watermelons, placing them into the carriers and then doing sprints around the hospital parking lot? Mastering that is a tangible skill.

Yes, that would be the first class: Intro to Your Aching Back. Class II, Intermediate Pains: Your Back and Your Thighs, would focus on getting an even larger watermelon and bouncing the damn thing in the carrier on your knee for 20 minutes (yes, you can use doorwells for support).

That's all. I just wanted to vomit my ire at the dreaded &*^#%^#&*%@ carrier. Happy Friday!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Having three children is kind of kicking my ass

Which is why I haven't posted since, um, winter.

It's not the kids themselves who are giving me a good ole ass whoopin' (they've actually been dolls), it's all the stuff that goes along with them: the lack of sleep, packing lunches, the laundry, the mud pies, the LEGOs, the baths, reminding them not to wipe boogers on each other...you get the drift.

Never mind the dog that needs walking, the cat that needs petting (all 25 pounds of her) and the husband that's looking at me like Hey, remember when we used to use our bed for things other than storing clean laundry?.

On top of it all, Chuck was away for work in April when I came down with a sinus infection, upper respiratory infection and double ear infection. At night, when I fed Cam, I'd shove tissues into my nostrils to stop my runny nose and I'd let the tissue drape down over my mouth so I didn't cough on him. Genius, ey? I was doing pretty well with that until I got pink eye and had to watch him eat with the one eye that wasn't glued shut.

I believe my exact words to my mother the next morning were PLEASE COME HELP ME.

But that's behind us now. Now, three months after Cam's birth, I finally feel like I'm getting my sea legs. I'm back to work (from home), I interviewed some sitters (love you, Care.com), the sun is shining—well, it was this weekend—and instead of making myself miserable all summer by wearing maternity clothes, I treated myself to some forgiving tops that I can hide under until I lose that last 10 pounds (thank you, billowy Bohemian look, for being in style right now).

Ok, it's 15. I forgot how much I hate the lumpy post-baby body.

The only thing that's kind of terrifying me right now is the end of school. Yup, just me, the kids, the pets and the garden hose.

And vodka. Lots of vodka.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Deep thoughts from the trenches of sleep deprivation

Last year at this time, I was taking our then 3-year-old, Everett, to the hospital to visit my 96-year-old grandmother on a daily basis. She had cancer and was admitted when she could no longer stay on her own. I would pack Everett snacks and coloring books and we'd spend a few hours sitting in the chairs in her room, whispering and visiting with other family who stopped in.

My grandmother was in and out of consciousness but she'd wake every once and awhile and see us and smile. It was the most congenial I've ever seen her. As I've written before, she wasn't the nicest grandmother. In all fairness she lived a rough life, but she never sugar coated anything. You never knew what was going to come out of her mouth, but you could bet it was something...prickly (fond holiday memories? Nope, none here!)

When things took a turn for the worse, I brought both kids to say good-bye. We didn't make a big production of it, just a gentle hand squeeze and soft good-bye. As we stood there, she opened her eyes and said, "Would it really be so terrible to have another?" It might seem obvious since I was standing there with the boys that she meant another child, but at the time I didn't understand what she was referring to.

"Another what?" I asked.

"Another one," she said, looking at Everett and Junior. 

I shrugged. Having another baby was the furthest thing from my mind.

She died two days later.

Now, a year later, as I'm dragging my tired ass out of bed at 3 a.m. to tend to Cam, I hear her question again and again. And I hear my answer when I snuggle up to his delicious babyness, feel the warmth from his head under my chin. No. It's not terrible at all, in fact it's quite wonderful. 

It is the best thing she left me.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

So, holy shit, I had a baby

And jumping jack crackers, there aren't enough hours in the day. Breakfast with three kids is a shitstorm of breastfeeding, cereal, packing school lunches and trying to remember what day it is. Dinner is even worse. Before Chuck gets home? When it's just me and the three kids and the dog and the cat? Forget it. We've had more "breakfast" dinners than I care to admit. But at least people are eating.

I keep calling the baby, whom we named Cameron, Evron (Cameron + Everett, our middle son's name). There's enough laundry in the basket to topple a small building. I'm afraid that if I sit down in the shower I'll never get up.

There just aren't words.

But, remarkably, I've never been happier. In the middle of the night, I can't get enough of Cameron.  Even though it's 2:35 a.m. and I've been up for an hour and I know he'll be awake again at 4:15, I know it won't be like this forever. (Right, right??) He's our last baby. I know that with 100% certainty—this really is it. So there's a bittersweet sweetness to it all.

Know what else is sweet? Having a drink at my own fricken bar. Hell ya.

I wish I could write more. I miss everything this blog used to be but the sun is out and the snow is melting and it's time to get back out into the world.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

When Christmas decorations go bad


I love the look of white "candles" in the windows at Christmastime, don't you? Unfortunately, even though I taped the candles to the windowsills, they'd inevitably fall off and the bulb would break on the floor. (And by inevitably I mean that the children would race head-first into the couch, slamming it against the wall and knocking the damn candles to the floor. Lather, rinse, repeat.)

Enter my mother, who was very excited to tell me about the bulb pictured above. It's made of rubber and has a lovely bendable flame. It's practically unbreakable and emits a lot of light.

"Do you want some?" she asked. "You need some. I'll bring you some."

And so, there was light.

And for many days, my candles took a beating and still worked. All was well in Mulletville Lite. Come dusk, the house was awash with the warm glow of rubber whiteness.

Contented sigh.

Then, one morning, I heard the kids giggling as Junior waited at the window for the bus.

"You try, Everett. It goes up all the way."

I went into the living room where I caught them perched on the couch, each with a candle bulb up their nose.

"It tickles!" Junior announced happily when he saw me—as if I too would delight in the newfound purpose for my Christmas decor.

"Junior," I said calmly, "would you please take the candle out of your nose?"

Even as I spoke the words I knew it was too late: My children had started a new Christmas tradition. A new hysterically-funny-to-them, gross tradition. Because that's what children do. They take something seemingly benign and assign it a new purpose: coveted coffee mugs catch slimy bugs, crazy straws collect bodily fluids, and so on. For the rest of that object's life you'll look at it and think, Ew.

I accept that. If I didn't, I'd never survive as a parent.

There is a saving grace, at least for the candles. During Christmas vacation there's no need to perch at the window and kill time catching boogers because the bus won't be coming.

See? It always works out.

Merry Christmas! Health, wealth and boogers to all in 2015!