ABOUT ME

About me: My husband Chuck, our six-year-old Junior, our three-year-old Everette 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, March 4, 2014

In my pajamas. With a metal shovel. In the observatory.

My lord, I wrote my last post more than a month ago (sorry) and the title is still appropriate. We're still puppy potty training and we're still suffering from the arctic blows of winter.

Damn.

Two silver linings: The dog can make it almost eight hours without an accident and, thanks to the frigid temperatures, the gross puppy turds freeze right into the snow and are super easy to scoop.

That's what I happened to be doing this afternoon, actually—scooping frozen turds with a metal shovel and hucking them into the woods—when I was struck with the idea for this blog post. See, I've been home sick with the stomach bug for the last few days and I happened to be out in my pajamas and winter coat around 2 p.m., scooping and hucking, while Nellie did her business and Everette napped (workaholic, who, me?) when my cell phone started exploding.

I ripped off my gloves, grabbed my phone and saw that my neighbors had started a group text about moi.

"Hey, Mrs. Mullet! Diggin' the plaid jammies!"

"Scooping poop again?"

"Is that a metal shovel in your pocket...or just dog shit?"

I ignored the texts at first—and my impulse to text back, Don't u people have anything better 2 do??—but they kept coming.

The thing about my neighborhood is that we're a close-knit group of families with young children, which is lovely, but collectively we spend way too much time looking out of our windows. And even though everyone has as least half an acre of tree-laden property, everyone seems to be able to see everything. (I don't want to say the B word but I think I have to. Rhymes with pinoculars?)

The epidemic is called Side Street Syndrome (go on, Google it). It's when life on a slow street gets way too small and you start tuning into your neighbors' lives with a ferocity you once reserved for Survivor.

Eighty-year-old Mr. Heckenspeck's cleaning his gutters on a rickety ladder? Must.Watch. Ruth the nurse has a blue truck in her driveway even though her husband drives a green one? Must.Watch.

Speaking of watching, it's contagious. If someone gets a sofa delivered, suddenly the whole neighborhood knows.

"Oooooh, did you see so-and-so had a Raymour and Flanigan delivery?"

"I did! Teal, no less!"

And yes, even though everyone works, no one ever seems to physically be at work. Which is why my damn phone was exploding at 2 p.m.—a perfectly reasonable time of day to expect to scoop dog poop in peace—over me, a pasty, middle-aged woman wielding a metal shovel and wearing plaid flannel pajamas, a furry hood, and enormous snow boots.

"Come scoop my yard, baby!"

"Shouldn't your husband be doing that?"

The clincher was when my neighbor Don drove slowly past, rolled down his window and called out "Scoopin'?" (I can't lie, I immediately thought of my gawking co-workers. Yes! For frick's sake I am scooping dog shit!")

I grabbed my phone and texted what I'd wanted to from the outset: Don't u people have anything better 2 do??

I got seven "nos" and one "your pajamas complete me."

I guess at the very least, if you're going to be watched, it might as well be by crazy people who love you.

I think?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The polar vortex + potty training = miserable, insatiable hell

I'm having a crappy day. This -10,000 degree weather is really taking the enjoyment out of once enjoyable activities, like shoveling and salting the steps and standing outside at 2 a.m. telling the puppy to GO PEE, GO PEE, GO PEE!

Yes, right, those activities have always sucked.

I've been spending a lot of time lately thinking about how similar having a puppy is to having children. Admittedly, I'm not the first to reach that conclusion (duh) but really, the similarities are downright eerie.

There's the lack of sleep, although I never had to take a whining baby outside in the frigid night to empty his bladder.

There's the "what the hell is this in my pocket?" factor; this time the kids' errant elastic bands/superhero figurines/lollipop wrappers have been replaced with tiny dog biscuits.

There's the vying for attention factor. When I first brought Everette home from the hospital, Junior would climb over him to sit on my lap. Now the puppy climbs over the hissing cat to get to my lap and neither are happy until I've spent an hour scratching their heads—simultaneously.

Then the kids climb on. You should see me—I'm as flat as a pancake.

Thankfully we've made a lot of progress with potty training and the only thing that's been chewed beyond recognition is a plastic toy cupcake. And a homework folder.

She's a good puppy.

But (and I've been wanting to write this post for awhile now): I went through months of legwork to get this dog and at times felt like it would have been easier to adopt a child.

Labs4rescue wants $400 just to apply for a dog. There's a 50 page questionnaire. After you get the dog they want to come to your home to do a site visit. Say what?

I logged hours on petfinder.com, emailing various shelters in Connecticut and inquiring about particular dogs, only to fill out an application and be told we weren't a good fit because we weren't "active" or "young" enough (I guess hiking, biking and running aren't considered exercise and 40 isn't the new 25). Or I was told that the dog was from Tennessee (or Arkansas) and was en route to Connecticut and wouldn't be available to meet for a few months. 

Tick, tick, tick.

I was about to give up hope when we noticed an adoption event at a nearby Petco. So we piled the kids into the car and went. It was chaos, absolute chaos (people crammed into a corner of the store, poking at drowsy puppies, dragging them into the aisle, trying to decide if they're THE ONE) but that's where we found her.

Sweet, soft Nellie.



And yes, this is the part where I write that it was all worth it—the preparation, taking her home, setting up her bed, pressing my face against hers as she snored, wondering aloud What have we done? We don't know what to do with a puppy. How could they just have given us a puppy?

Exactly how I felt after I brought Junior home from the hospital.

Exactly.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The chubs-style standoff

We got a puppy. A six month old puppy! A bouncy, slobbery, giddy-as-all-hell puppy!

Why, you ask? Why now?

Well, because the recovery from having family, guests, and neighbors at our house for the holidays just wasn't easy enough. Because potty training a puppy alongside potty training a toddler sounded fun. Because celebrating Christmas, Everette's birthday, New Years and my birthday all in a row just wasn't enough to celebrate. Because who doesn't want to get up at 2:30 a.m. and stand outside in -9 degree weather while saying (saying, not shouting, oh no, never shouting) "Go pee pee! Go pee pee!"

And finally, because we really, really, reeeaallly wanted to piss off the cat.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas epiphanies (the toes knows)

My husband's mother Joyce has terrible taste. Well, maybe terrible is too strong of a word. It's just...drastically different than mine, which doesn't make it terrible it just makes it...

Ok, I hate it.

Her backyard is full of pink flamingos and hand painted cows. She has ceiling-high palm trees in her bathroom (when I go in there to pee I usually burst out laughing — will a coconut knock me out while my underwear's around my knees? It would be a horrible way to go). She jingles when she walks. Her clothes leave specks of glitter everywhere.

And her living room. It's full of fluffy balls and nautical-themed decor. Picture it: a lighthouse strung with a fluffy ball, strung with a buoy, strung with another fluffy ball. They say interior design can transport you, but to where, Joyce? Just where are you trying to take us?

When Chuck and I first started dating I skeeved Christmas presents from her. She always gave me stuff she would like, which seemed diametrically opposed to the spirit of gift giving. Isn't the premise of the holidays to give people stuff that they'd like, not the other way around?

Still, I was marrying into the family. And I knew, deep down, that her gifts came from the heart. She saw me as a little stuck up, and she saw herself as a woman spreading much needed glittery, jingly, pink fluffy cheer into my life.

So, each Christmas, I cheerfully accepted the Santa socks with beard trimming. The Christmas tree earrings with real working lights. The elf hat. The snowman socks. The penguin socks. The candy cane socks. The reindeer socks.


Each Christmas. For the last 15 years.

The next day the socks and chotchkies went right into my dresser, blissfully forgotten.

Until—yes, you guessed it—I had kids. Did you know kids go ape shit for tacky stuff that's over the top? They feed on it, and I should have seen it coming. I mean, if kids were into subtle, Chuck E. Cheese's would be nothing more than a quiet reading room with pastel walls (pssst, that's the only way I'll ever go to one). Kids are the embodiment of over-the-top tacky. They love Joyce's yard. They love playing with the bells on the bottom of her pants.

And when I wore the Santa socks yesterday?

Everette's head practically exploded.

"You wearin' Santa? You have Santa on your feet? That Santa? I have those? I have Santa? You give me Santa? Those your socks? You give those to me? I have Santa? I HAVE Santa? Please? Please you give those to me?"

Don't even get me started on the earrings.

Bananas. Fricken bananas.

So Joyce, it seems you were on to something. Perhaps your little living room fluff balls are actually mystical fortune telling globes and you knew that someday all those horrible socks finally would be welcomed with the squeals of delight they had given you. Perhaps you were right: I was a little uptight and your injection of glitz was just the dose of humor I needed in my otherwise banal existence.

Now can you call off your coconuts?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The caloric perspective of a snow day, from your somewhat jiggly ass



A snowy weekend, by the numbers:

9 AM
Calories burned from vacuuming the downstairs in attempt to suck up the entire bucket of popcorn that your kids and their friends overturned the night before: 180 calories/hour

10 AM
Calories burned from making pancakes and washing all the dishes: 160 calories/hour
 
10:45 AM-11 PM
Calories burned from saying "Not yet!" as your children incessantly badger you with "Can we go outside, can we go outside, CAN WE GO OUTSIDE???": 10,002 calories/hour

11 AM-1 PM
Calories burned from running through the snow, pulling kids on sleds, pushing kids down sledding hill, wiping runny snot from kids' noses, building jumps on sledding hill, carrying 35-pound toddler back to house: 346 calories/hour

1 PM
Calories burned from lifting 3 mimosas to mouth: 50 calories/hour (oh come on, it has to be true)

2:30 PM
Calories burned from running wet snow clothes downstairs to dryer and shaking out sopping wet children and their gloves/hats/boots/sleds: 145 calories/hour

2:40 PM
Calories burned from realizing you have undressed a neighbor's child alongside your own because hell, they all look the same in their floppy hats and snow coats: Only 2 calories/hour but...

2:45 PM
Calories burned from running wet snow clothes upstairs from dryer and redressing neighbor's child and returning him home: 145 calories/hour

3 PM
Calories burned from helping husband shovel after round #2 of snow (anything to stop the man bitching—anything): 408 calories/hour

4:30 PM
Calories burned from lifting 2 rum and hot ciders to mouth: 150 calories/hour (hey, it's true!)

4:40 PM
Calories burned from laughing out loud when your husband moans that he needs a massage: 10 calories/hour

4:45 PM
Calories burned from running snow clothes upstairs from downstairs dryer so kids can have one last hoorah in round #2 of snow: 145 calories/hour

4:55 PM
Calories burned as you wave to your husband and children from the warmth of your couch: Who cares, you're not outside

6 PM
Calories burned from bathing two squirming children and doing all their subsequent grooming (i.e., chasing them down the hall, wrestling them to the floor, slathering them with moisturizer and shimmying them into their pajamas): 144 calories/hour
  
7 PM
Calories burned from passing the eff out and sleeping until 7 the next morning: 95 calories/hour (it's true, Google it)

Grand total of calories burned: The mother load (I hate doing math). But really, after reading that, don't you feel like you can give the gym the middle finger for like, a whole week and eat some extra Christmas cookies? Don't you?

Monday, December 9, 2013

I'm not raising little Christmas assholes, thank you very much

While scrolling through my Facebook feed this afternoon I came across an article from GMA, "Christmas Wish List From 1915 Will Make You Feel Materialistic".



It details an endearing little Christmas list written by an endearing little boy in 1915; he's so endearing he wished for nuts and candy.

As the title promised, I did expect to feel materialistic as I read the list because really, that's what everyone assumes these days: that every parent over-indulges their kid and that by consequence every child is a whiny, selfish brat, more intent on acquiring the latest gadget than on taking a moment to appreciate the fact that he or she actually has it pretty good. 

I mean, because my husband and I have enough money to get our children more than they need to survive, I should feel materialistic, right? If my kid has 15 things on his Christmas list instead of one (and one of them isn't nuts or candy) I've failed somehow, right GMA?

Wrong. 

Plain and simple, this article is stupid. 

You cannot effectively gauge the merit of someone's character by what's on his or her Christmas list. My father grew up wearing cardboard in his shoes and as he tells it, his Christmas list was 10 pages long because there was so much more he dreamed of having—clothes, toys, food and a better house. And he asked Santa for all of it. 

When I was a kid, I sat down beside the Christmas tree with the Sears catalog—which in 1980 was about 500 pages thick—and dog earred 200 pages of it. In my working class household, it was a gift in itself to imagine that Santa might bring me everything my heart desired. Circling those toys was magical because I got to live in a few moments of "what if?" Much like we feel when we play the lotto. What if I had enough money to buy anything I wanted? What if there was no limit to my desires?

I imagine that a lot of children—many of whom have seen parents laid off, their hours at work reduced or their health benefits reduced—have eagerly sat down with the Toys "R" Us catalog and felt the same way.

This isn't to say that some children aren't overindulged. Clearly, that's a given. We've gotten too good at pacifying our children with stuff instead of giving them what really matters: our quality time, our undivided attention and the word "no." But to proclaim that you should feel ashamed because your child has an extensive Christmas list, well, that's just bullshit. 

Here's Everette's list (he's three; my six year old, Junior, drafted it for him):


He wants apple juice, milk and a Lego set. And Junior? He would also like a Lego set, as well as some surprises. They're good kids. In fact, for Junior's "What I'm thankful for" list for Thanksgiving, he wrote that he is thankful for life, freedom, animals and his parents. 

So listen here GMA: Not all kids are greedy assholes and not all parents are doing a shitty job raising their brood. There are a lot of families struggling to keep the magic of Christmas alive despite the natural disasters, the lying politicians, Obamacare, the lay offs, the cost of gas, the Kardashians, climate change and the high divorce rate. We're fighting against everything you feed us and expect us to digest. 

Don't admonish us as we do it, ok?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Kiss me! No, never again!


Yesterday was Junior's last day of kindergarten. It's been a long year, full of lopsided attempts at writing and sentences that made me laugh out loud. The teacher was big on having the children keep a journal and sound out their words, so I saw a lot of stuff like "brte" (birthday), "prizit" (present) and my favorite, "My gremee is heer."

So endearing. And yet so visually atrocious.

The year was also full of bus strife, which I'm happy to see end. Junior shared a seat with two girls, also kindergartners, who were merciless in accusing him of having morning breath.

(I can just imagine the morning conversations these girls must have overheard between their parents:

Mother: "Kiss me, darling!"

Father: "No! Your breath is rancid!"

Mother: "Don't you love me?"

Father: "Yes, but your morning breath makes me want to vomit! I'm leaving you."

Or something along those lines.)

Junior was heartbroken over it: "Mom, I'm such a nice guy! And I brush my teeth! And I don't have any cavities! Why won't they leave me alone?!"

I spoke to the bus driver. Junior switched his seat. Then he switched back because he was lonely. Then he switched again.

Finally, we nailed it: As Junior waited at the bus stop he chewed mint gum. He had a napkin in hand so when the bus pulled up he could spit it out. As soon as he sat down, he exhaled into the faces of the little girls and exclaimed, "Ah, minty fresh."

The teasing stopped for awhile, but every so often it would rear its ugly head and we'd have to return to the gum-at-the-bus-stop routine. A First World problem, yes, but when your kid's in tears and he hasn't even gotten dressed for school yet—"I hope they leave me alone today, Mom"—you quickly find yourself consumed by it too.

Ah, the sticky world of adolescence. Whether it's a lisp or tartar, some brat will point it out. But—but!—summer is here now. Popsicle breath is en vogue. Ice cream breath is en vogue.

In all fricken flavors.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

What getting to "sleep in" really sounds like

6:41 a.m.

Pitter-patter of little feet down the hall.

Junior: Mom? MOM? I'm awake.

Me: It's still early, Junior. Try to go back to sleep.

Junior: Okaaaaaay.

Pitter-patter of little feet back down the hall.

Chuck: Why must they get up at the ass crack of dawn? Why? [Immediately falls back asleep]

Me: I'm soooooooo tired.

Chuck: Zzzzzzzzzzzz. Huh? You sleep in. I'll get up with the kids. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.


6:52 a.m.

Everette: Moooooooooom! Daaaaaaaaaaaaad! Waaaaaaaake!

Me: Damn them!

Chuck: Huh? I'll get up. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Pitter-patter of little feet down the hall. 

Junior: Mom? Everette's awake. Can I get up?

Me: It's still the, um, middle of the night, Junior. Go back to sleep.

Junior: But Everette's awake. And I can see the sun.

Me: Just try, okay? Both of you.

Pitter-patter of little feet back down the hall. 

Chuck: What time is it?

Me: Not even 7.

Chuck: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.


7:04 a.m.

Cat: Meow. Meow. Meeoooooooooow.

Everette: Meeoooooooooow! Kitty! Meow! Kitty! 'Mere, kitty!

Me: Damn that cat!

Chuck: Huh? I'll get up. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Pitter-patter of little feet down the hall. 

Junior: Mom? The cat's keeping me awake.

Me: Guys? It's still really early. Everyone please try to rest for just a little more...

Pitter-patter of little feet back down the hall. 

Cat: Meow. Meow. Meeoooooooooow. Meow. Meow.

Everette: Kitty! 'Mere, kitty! Meow, kitty!

Me: That mother fucking cat!

Chuck: Huh? Go back to sleep, honey. I'll get up. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.



7:13 a.m.

Everette: Knock knock!

Junior: Who's there?

Everette: Banana!

Junior: Banana who?

Everette: Knock knock!

Cat: Meow.

Me: Sigh.

Chuck: I'll get up. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.


7:26 a.m.

Pitter-patter of little feet down the hall. 

Junior: Mom? Is it morning yet?

Me: It just turned morning. Like seconds ago.

Junior: My clock says 7.

Me: That's really early.

Pitter-patter of little feet back down the hall. 

Everette: Knock knock.

Junior: Who's there?

Everette: Knock knock.

Me: Chuck, remember you said you'd get up?

Chuck: I am. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.


7:31 a.m.

Everette: Down! Downstairs!

Junior: Ssssssssh, Everette. Quiet!

Everette: Downstairs!

Me: I'm coming, Everette.

Chuck: I said I'd get up. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Me: Honey, you're not even awake.

Chuck: I am. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Everette: Down, now! Downstairs!

Junior: Everette. It's still night!

Everette: Downstairs!
 
Me: I'm soooooooo tired.

Junior: Everette's keeping me awake! Moooooooom!

Me: HONEY??????????

Chuck: Huh? Right. I'm getting up. Right now.

Plodding feet down the hall.

Everette: Dad!

Junior: Hooray!

Stampede down the stairs. 

Chuck: Guys, guys, quiet down. Let's let Mom sleep.

Me: [to cat] You let out one fucking meow and you're toast.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

On the hunt for sexy beets

I miss this blog. I really, really do.

Last year at this time I made the switch from being a full-time working mother to a part-time working mother, and I thought I'd hit the jackpot with that most precious of commodities: time.

More time with the kids, more time with the groceries and laundry (ah, domesticity), more time with my failing brain.

Then my husband, Chuck, got laid off and I started saying yes to every freelance job that came my way. And now here I am again, a full-time working mother except now I shove Cheerios into my kids' mouths so they don't scream during conference calls. Now I ask them if they want to watch TV —"Don't you?! Don't you?!"— so I can sit down at my computer and type furiously—furiously!—to the backdrop of Curious George.

I'm not complaining. I swear I'm not. The flexibility of this new life is priceless. I rue the day that this routine becomes the norm and I stop appreciating the extra time I have with my children.

And Chuck. Yah, he's freelancing too, so we're driving all over the state of Connecticut (and sometimes New York) and our fucking monthly health insurance payment is a mortgage but we're both home more.

I can't lie, there are a lot of days that feel pretty damn good in Mulletville Lite.

But I mean what I said: I miss this blog. I miss all the shit that's happened that I haven't been able to write about. I miss my old job at Mulletville Corp if only because I would spend entire days writing blog posts.

I want to get back here, physically and literally. I want to get back to blogging and to that delightful place where I had time to reflect.

(And breathe. Breathing is good.)

Except it can't be now. I have to find photos of beets and broccoli for a magazine spread. If, after you finish reading this post, you stumble across a hot beet picture, could you send it my way?

Thank you.