Frogs on Facebook

www.facebook.com/FIMFormula

ABOUT ME

About me: I'm 42 and added another gherkin to our pickle party of a family. My husband Chuck, our 9-year-old Junior, our 6-year-old Everett, our toddler 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.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Tackling the tantrums one drink at a time

I'm fried. There's no other way to put it. If you have children, they kick your ass; not because they're horrible but because they are little people with needs, wants and endless energy and because you are old, tired and don't feel like it.

Ok fine, I'm old.

This is Junior and Everett's last week of school. Last year at this time I was a wreck, unsure of how I would balance work while keeping three kids happy enough. I say enough because I don't think it's my job as a parent to lead a non-stop happy parade. I believe boredom is good. But hey, it's summer, there have to be some popsicles and pool time.

This year I'm not such a wreck. Cam is almost two and a half, so it should be easier to travel, unless it's during nap time, in which case it will still be hellacious. I have a new, not pregnant babysitter. Chuck has three weeks off instead of five days. There are no more lunches to pack at 6:45 a.m., no more homework, spelling tests or nightly reading quotas.

And honestly, I'm thrilled to get a break from the kids' schools. The schools in Mulletville Lite expect a daunting amount of parental involvement. A steady stream of flyers came home announcing fundraisers, rallies, poetry readings, fun days, spirit days, crazy hat days, balloon twisting days and of course, everyone wants the parents to participate, but what the hell, all the events were held at 1:30 in the afternoon. Don't forget to bring a baked good!

If you didn't see the flyer announcing the event, no worries, there were 10,000,000 other ways the school communicated with you: there was Facebook (separate accounts for each school); the PTO's Facebook page (separate accounts for each school); Twitter (again, separate accounts); Twitter for separate school departments, such as the library; a weekly digital newsletter; the school system's website; emails from the teachers; a weekly printed newsletter from the teachers; and of course, good old fashioned letters sent home via the school's mascot, an old horse named One-eyed Hank.

(Ha! Just checking to see if you're still with me.)

It felt like a full-time job, and I wasn't even on the PTO. (How do they do it?)

I asked my mother if she had felt this way when I was in school. She snorted and said, "If they couldn't reach you on the phone the only other choice they had was to mail you a letter, so no."

That sounds delightful and a lot more reasonable. Somewhere along the way, from my childhood to my children's, more of EVERYTHING became preferable. But it just doesn't feel good. So that's where I'm at right now, with summer around the corner. Less is more. Less screen time. More staring at the sky time. Less involvement. More meandering. Fewer toys. More homemade creations.

Fewer tantrums would be nice, but we're not there yet. I guess the good news is that once school is out, the tantrums can take place in the comfort of our home instead of say, in an auditorium. The even better news is that I can oversee said tantrum with the aid of a cool beverage.

Frick. It always comes back to the tantrums and the vodka, doesn't it?

I'm okay with that. I have to be. For now.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

I bet Chuck knows all about $%#*& magnets

Sigh.

I really wanted my teepee to look beautiful (can you hear me woefully sniffling?). The whole family did, I think. My six-year-old even told his kindergartner teacher about it—and she let him work on a special art project for it.

I can just imagine their conversation:

Everett: My mom is making a teepee. In our yard. We can't go in it.

Teacher: A teepee? Why?

Everett: I'm not sure. She mentioned vodka and needing to run away...

Teacher: Hmmm. Nothing a homemade butterfly can't fix. Grab your markers!

My plan on Saturday was to prepare the sheets, adorn the floor with pillows, and hang flowers from the top. I even dragged some old tree stumps to the front for alcoholic beverages, cheese and crackers and more flowers.



As you can see, things didn't go exactly as planned. I wrapped two sheets around the sticks and used pushpins to keep them in place, but as Chuck so snickering-ly informed me, my teepee suffered from improper construction at the top and no amount of pushpins, flowers or alcohol would fix it.

I blame the Girl Scouts. Remember, I once wrote that "the Girl Scouts failed me in my youth by making us knit Jesus crosses while the Boy Scouts learned practical, fundamental skills," and I stand by that! How else can I explain my snooty Boy Scout of a husband's smugness?

Waaaaahh.

While I am disappointed, a funny thing happened as I stood looking at the teepee. I had an internal debate, which is pretty typical for me, between my Type A side and the Other Side (I'm not sure I actually have a Type B side, so I'll just call it that) but for once, it didn't end as it usually does.

It went like this:

Type A: Put more moxie into it you ass! With enough hard work it can still be amazing.

Other Side: Look at your kids jumping on the trampoline in the sunshine. They want you to jump.

Type A: No thanks. It's not good for my bladder. We need to fix the teepee! You wanted to run away from them, remember? Not spend more time with them.

Other Side: Look at them. When did they get so big?

Type A: We constructed a structure to get away from them! Roll up your sleeves and get to it.

Other Side: Maybe some other time. Now I just want to jump.

So I jumped. Not for long, but long enough to feel the sun and tickle the kids and trip them and launch them and huck beach balls at them. And when I climbed down, I felt a sense of contentment (mixed with nausea and bladder failure, of course).

Sometimes, the stars align and my time with my kids is free of bickering and badgering and it's just good, clean fun—and I fall in love with them all over again. Somehow the Universe knows when I need a dose of that. Maybe it saw me building the teepee and knew. Or maybe it saw me buying a case of vodka. Whatever tipped it off, just watching the sheets of my teepee blow in the wind was enough. Just knowing I can escape if I want to.

Until I became a parent, I was never simultaneously so repelled by and attracted to someone as I was to my children. It's as if you embody both sides of a magnet and your kids are magnets too. Wait. Does every magnet have both sides? Maybe it's like you only have the opposing side and your kids have just opposing. No, that's not right either. Do attracting sides attract or do you need an opposing?

Curses! I bet the Boy Scouts covered magnets! I told you the fucking Girl Scouts fucked me. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A scandalous discovery the day after Mother's Day

Chuck is cheating. The slimy RAT. I was on Facebook when I saw this exchange:





There's a good reason I'm not going to strangle him. A very good reason: The Facebook account belongs to me—or rather, Helen Mullet, my angry alter ego.




Myah, sorry. I guess that's not very scandalous. 

I had to create a NEW account because my last Frogs in My Formula Facebook account was hacked by some chick, and it's really pissing me off. I tried contacting Facebook about it but—shocking—because I had registered the original account under a fictitious name and with a cartoon drawing for a profile photo, they couldn't verify it and so they locked the account.

If my cartoon version of myself ever finds the hacker I'll give her a big piece of my cartoon mind and you know I will. Just look at Helen—propositioning a married man!

I'm, um, sorry if you were looking for something more salacious than that. Chuck did send Helen Mullet a photo of himself...blowing a kiss, but it's tame, I know, and you came here looking for scandal.

Hey, I know: Maybe a drunk neighborhood dad will wander into my backyard tent this weekend. Maybe he'll be inebriated and we'll wake up to find him splayed across our air mattress buck naked!

I know, I know, improbable.

Hmmm, where can you find scandal. Where oh where is there something scandalous going on....

Oh I know. Read the news. Any news source. Left, right, balanced, objective. Really doesn't matter these days.

You're welcome (or not).

Monday, May 15, 2017

A little yellow dress...for the woods?

I went to the mall with my mother on Saturday. That might sound banal, but the most important detail is that I went without any children.

I was able to touch the clothing. To wander around stores. To not have an agenda. To not stop and shove a granola bar in anyone's mouth to keep anyone quiet. I tried clothes on—for myself. I got the most gorgeous dress at Anthropologie (for the first time in my lifetime, everything in the store was 20% off):

https://www.anthropologie.com/shop/la-habana-dress?adpos=1o1&adtype=pla&cm_mmc=Google-_-US%20-%20Shopping%20-%20Brand-_-Dresses-_-42368597&color=083&creative=114547712724&device=c&gclid=Cj0KEQjwo-XIBRCOycL7hsuI_NoBEiQAuS6HtJaj2LcgoYmsT-UifEFmECbhoR-HLZf_7M185245vRYaAiiv8P8HAQ&matchtype=&network=g&product_id=42368597&size=S&utm_campaign=US%20-%20Shopping%20-%20Brand&utm_content=42368597&utm_medium=paid_search&utm_source=Google&utm_term=Dresses


I have no idea where or when I'm going to wear it, but it is soft, swishy and flattering. If I have to invent an occasion I will.

There's more: My mother and I went to a restaurant, where I sat down and chewed my food. I'd forgotten how wonderful it is to chew and swallow without jumping up to get water or seconds for someone or to answer questions with a mouth half-full of food. It was glorious.

When I got home, it was pouring. The kids were standing by the door.

"Come on! Come on!" they yelled. "We've been waiting for you!"

There, in the backyard, was our camping tent, set up just for me for Mother's Day. They'd decorated the outside of the tent with pink pinwheels.

"We couldn't make you a teepee because it was raining," Junior said. "So we made you this."

I crawled into the tent to find this, drawn on the back of a pizza box (I especially like the phallic tree hovering over my drawn tent—a subtle reminded that I am perpetually surrounded by male parts):


The cooler next to the air mattress was stocked with vodka and cups. I hugged them—the boys I mean. Thanked them. I curled up with the three boys and we listened to the rain. It was lovely. I poured myself a cocktail and snuggled deeper under the blankets. Something was missing though. I looked around. What was it?

Aha.

"Junior? Where's your father?"

"He, uh, hurt his back putting the tent up. He's on the couch with the heating pad."

Of course he was. Although mentally Chuck was prepared to give me a weekend of relaxation, his passive aggressive body had other intentions. If you don't believe me, this post from 2008 entitled, "I've had it with his damn organs!" proves my point nicely.

But whatever.

I had a tent—and I did sit in it. We might even sleep in it this weekend. I'm not giving up on my teepee either. Our backyard could soon be an oasis of repose and seclusion, decorated with twinkling lights, flowers, floral sheets, vodka bottles and decorated pizza boxes.

The perfect locale for a pretty yellow dress.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Smother's Day update: Building the escape pod

See! I was telling the truth. I've started to "build" my teepee's structure in our yard:



If there's one thing my family knows it's that when I set out to do something, I do it. If you remember, I'm going for this:



I've been wanting a teepee for a long time—actually, I've just been wanting a structure to hide in since I became a parent. I've attempted several igloos over the years, but the roof eludes me. The igloo becomes a large outdoor icebox for beer and vodka, which suits me fine, but it's harder to drink incognito while the kids are sledding if they can see you.

Actually, it's impossible.

Back to the teepee. I've had a secret stash of wood I've been stockpiling on the side of the yard. All (**all**) I had to yesterday after work was drag the long sticks across the yard and fashion them to the tree while the kids watched.

"Mom! What are you doing?"

"What are you building?"

"Can I go in it?"

"Building a teepee. A teepee. No."

Now I just need:
  • a tarp for the teepee bottom (it's supposed to rain Sunday)
  • decorative throw pillows
  • bug spray and tweezers (to pull off ticks)
  •  a cooler and ice
  • flowers to dangle above my head while I repose with vodka and a good book
  • a pretty sheet to wrap around the sticks

I'm not going to get weird about affixing the sheet properly. I'll staple gun or hot glue gun the sheet to the wood if I have to. One condition: I am not using one of my bed sheets. A) They're all solids and I'm not doing all this work to achieve a drab effect and B) that would remind me of my bed, which would remind me of laundry and if there's one thing I am not thinking about on Smother's Day, it's goddamn laundry. 

So, off to the store I go. Right after I finish working, dropping items off at the kids' school, making dinner, cleaning up and...

Sigh. Can someone FedEx me a pretty sheet?

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Just because it's made with love doesn't mean it's edible: Smother's Day is coming!

Someone moved the Spock ear. I feel cheated yet somewhat relieved. Chuck and I barely have time for bedroom breaks these days, never mind complicated intergalactic rituals. Still...

I keep having flashbacks to a bowling trip I took around this time last year. I went with a single mom friend of mine who brought her five year old and toddler; I took Junior and Everett. Cam, who had just started walking, stayed at home with Chuck.

I spent most of the time watching my friend's toddler try to stick his fingers into and around the bowling balls. He would climb the stairs when she wasn't looking and race toward the arcade. He pushed all of the buttons on the vending machines.

He even managed to make it all the way to the end of one of the alleys—to the pins!—despite the fact that we were both watching him. Constantly.

I kept thinking, This is coming. Next year at this time, when Cam is two, this is going to be me. It made me sweat. It made my heart and head hurt because I knew from experience that it meant I wouldn't sit down for a long time. Nor would I have a chance to chew my food or actually converse with friends if we had a play date.

Simply put, I knew toddlerhood and I knew it would eat me alive.

It has. There's no other way to put it. Cam is hardly the easy-breezy-because-he-has-to-be third child. Rather, our family is the china shop and he is the bull that stormed through the door. We love him—obligatory blah blah blah—but sometimes after he goes to bed, the four of us sit down and slip into a shell- shocked daze. Like, What the hell just happened?

Cam is defiant. He's rambunctious. If he wants something, he helps himself to it—this includes beautifully decorated cupcakes that were lovingly arranged in the shape of a heart on a tabletop at a wedding we just attended (I'm sorry! Again!). If he doesn't like what you're saying he holds up a hand and yells DOP! DOP! (Stop!)

And he wants ONLY ME.

This is where I'm at the week before Mother's Day: frazzled and frantic. My energy reserves are on low—oh fuck, they're on E—and to be honest, I'm a little traumatized by some of our previous Mother's Day "celebrations" (if you're interested, search "crying in car" on this blog).

But wait!

I found this picture a month ago in an old issue of Country Living magazine (the British edition) and I've been thinking, THIS is where I want to spend Mother's Day. 



Alone in a pretty teepee. In my yard.

I've come up with some conditions: The kids can wave to me from the window of the house, but other than that I don't want any company. No, wait, let me clarify: I don't want any adolescent company.

I also don't want any kid-prepared food. Just because it's made with love doesn't mean it's edible. In fact, it probably contains bodily fluids of some kind. I'll take something store-bought or restaurant-made thank you very much.

And alcohol. I'll take a pitcher of vodka, some fresh limes and a big bucket of ice.

It's perfect, right? I'm home for Mother's Day but not really. I can accept gifts and trinkets but the children can be whisked away. If I drink too much I can walk home, and I have access to running water should I want to shower away all those ticks and mosquitoes.

You think I jest.

Tomorrow I'll take pictures of the teepee I've started to build.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Forget bedroom eyes, take II. The proof's in the...thing on the dish rack?


There's been a Spock ear on the dish rack for two weeks now.

I don't know how it got there. I mean, I know I had a brainstorm last September to throw Chuck a Star Trek-themed surprise birthday party (he's been told he's part alien, remember) and that I had the idea way too close to his actual birthday to actually pull it off but that I tried anyway.

And I know that I ordered 20 Spock ears from Party City way too late for them to arrive on time but that I paid $25 in expedited shipping on the off chance that the force would be with me—oops, wrong star thing thingie—and that they'd come in time for the party.

They didn't. The party was on a Saturday. The box of Spock ears came on Monday.

Then things got busy and the box of Spock ears got pushed to the side. Eventually under something. Somehow the receipt got separated from the box and by the time I was able to remarry the two, the window had passed to return the damn ears.

"Fine," I told the kids. "You can each have two pairs. But we're saving the rest for another occasion."

That immediately earned an enthusiastic nod from Chuck, who I know was imagining us having kinky Vulcan sex.

Mums the word on that, but I will say that the Spock ear extravaganza lasted for all of five minutes—I don't mean you, Chuck!—and that soon there were lone Spock ears all over the living room.

How this one migrated to the kitchen is beyond me, but I'm leaving it there. My reasons are simple:
1) I really hope the mother ship beams me the eff up so I can get out of doing the dinner dishes
2) If I don't move the damn ear, will anyone else?
3) If Chuck really was the die-hard fan of this blog that he proclaims to be, he'd remember pony-tail- means-sex girl and he'd snatch up that ear and start sending me signals

I wonder which will happen first...

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Love bestowed and love denied: the toddler years



My husband Chuck held Junior, Everett and Cam constantly when they were babies. He fed them bottles. He slept with them on his chest all the time. (Seriously, the man logged more nap time than anyone.) He changed their diapers—sort of. He has this annoying habit of pretending to be grossed out by bad smells, so diaper time sounds like this:

"Oh God, it's—gaaaag—horrible, it's—gaaaagg, haaackkk—hand me a wipe I'm going to—gaaaag—omigod I'm going to throw—gaaaaggg, haaackkkk—up—gaaaaggg—oh, it's everywhere I'm really going to—haaaaack—vomit" 

and after listening to this overly dramatic gagging enough times I usually just grab the baby and shout, "Oh Jesus, give me the kid, I'll do it!" 

Even though Chuck was always hands-on—he was a stay-at-home dad with Junior, for Pete's sake— something tragic happened after the kids turned two. They suddenly wanted nothing to do with him and everything to do with me. If Junior caught me talking to Chuck he would scream, "Don't talk to him!"

Everett wouldn't let Chuck brush his teeth or put him to bed. Everett would stand at the top of the stairs and scream bloody murder if he even saw Chuck coming up the stairs at bedtime.

With both boys Chuck would try different tactics. He would tickle them or ignore them or try to make them laugh, but nothing worked. They would always run for me. Chuck would throw his hands up in the air and say, "I'm done" and skulk off. I was left holding a crying toddler, feeling like absolute scum.

I had hoped things might be different with Cam. Chuck never had a daddy's little girl; maybe Cam would be the one who preferred Chuck to me. I hoped and hoped and...

Myah. Nope. Nope. Triple nope. As Chuck puts it: "It's like he suddenly hates me."

Cam will actually point to Chuck and yell, "Not you!" If Chuck tries to sit next to Cam, Cam will climb off the couch and sit on the floor. It's kind of heart breaking. 

Junior and Everett are happy to come to the rescue. They jump into Chuck's arms and say, "Dad, we love you!" That makes it better, but it's still hard for Chuck. He knows that Cam is an affectionate child. Cam showers me with affection. He grabs my face and kisses my chin. He smooths my hair and coos "Muhma" as he gazes into my eyes.

I've never felt so loved by a toddler—and so guilty for it.

But I'm no newbie to this parenting gig. I know this is a phase. Just as it passed with Junior and Everett, it will pass with Cam, and soon enough Chuck will have three sons who are up his ass to go fishing and camping and video game buying.

And then where will I be? Huh? All alone, that's where.

THAT SOUNDS GLORIOUS.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

I can't believe I'm pregnant AGAIN

Nine years ago, pre-children, if I'd sent a text to everyone with this image attached, my phone would have exploded (wait, were we texting nine years ago?).




Now it's met with "Wait, didn't you get fixed?"

The short answer is yes, I did get neutered. The long answer is that I'm saddened that my April Fool's joke doesn't work anymore. I have to find something new, and until I do I have to endure my children's attempts at April Fool's jokes, which include:

"MOM! Everett just threw up!" followed by Everett spewing mouthfuls of water into the toilet.

And "MOM! Cam just pooped on the floor!"

And "MOM! The cat left diarrhea on your favorite blanket!"

And "MOM! I got a detention in school because of my chronic gas!" This assertion was even accompanied by a handwritten note. Too bad I recognize Junior's handwriting.


It's nonstop chuckles.*

*April Fool's.