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.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Free beers for all my readers!

I know it's been awhile since I've been here but I have a really, really, really good excuse: We bought a pub in Mulletville Lite. And we're opening it up to the public.

That second statement might seem obvious but you see, if you've never opened up a pub before, there's a lot of shit to do beforehand and there are times during said shit that you might look around and think, Gee, maybe we should just convert this space into a toy storage site. Or put a lot of couches in it and let our respective in-laws sleep here instead of on the couches at our house.

Really, who doesn't yearn for some extra room(s)?

But no, my brother is eager to open up the place (he's going to be the head chef) and Chuck, well, he's eager to open it so he'll have somewhere to go after work instead of to the basement (he's been really bad lately!). And me? I have to admit, I'm excited. Scared as all hell but excited nonetheless. I may never have to cook dinner again.

So, forgivable reason for not blogging, right? Right?!



Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Giving rides in the dressing room. Alternate title: Doesn't that elderly couple look relaxed? Sigh


I rarely take the kids clothes shopping. I'd rather order 50 different sizes of 150 different pieces of clothing online and pay $50,000 in shipping costs to exchange it than drag a three year old and six year old to the mall to try on clothes or footwear.

(To the overly enthusiastic mothers who were on Shark Tank recently to pitch an app that measures your kids' shoe size then links you to different online shoe stores, your idea is genius.)

I ran into a snag this week, though. My 75 year old father is getting remarried this weekend and I guess you could say I've been struggling to digest it (a new step-mom and step-brother? At the age of 40?). Because of my gestational difficulties, I realized yesterday morning that I'd waited until just four days before the wedding to figure out what the hell the kids are going to wear.

For whatever reason, I woke up feeling ballsy. I'm no rookie, I thought. I have almost seven years of practice at motherhood. I can do this.

"I'm taking the kids to the mall to try on dress clothes," I announced to the cat (Chuck had already left for work). She meowed and licked my hand; the kids, on the other hand, moaned. "Listen!" I said. "If you're good, you may each pick out a toy for under $10 at the end of the trip. But ONLY IF YOU'RE GOOD. ARE WE CLEAR?"

(Part of my parenting mantra is that I clearly define expectations and outcomes at the beginning of each outing. See? The boardroom does prepare you for parenthood.)

Off we went to the Mulletville Mall. I won't go into all the grueling details of the try-dress-clothes-on-a-thon except to say that at one point, somewhere around hour two, I glanced over at myself in the dressing room mirror and saw this: myself, on my hands and knees, dripping with sweat, yanking down Junior's pants while he picked his nose, and Everette, sitting on my calves with his fingers laced around my short's buckle loops, yelling "Giddy-up."

Truthfully, this did constitute "good" behavior. Junior was nicely lifting his legs out of his pants, like I'd asked, and when I told Everette he couldn't ride me, he politely climbed down.

Their congeniality fueled my brazenness. Even though we hadn't eaten or had anything to drink in hours—and even though Everette had only napped 15 minutes in the car—I announced that they were going to try on shoes.

"We're in the homestretch!" I said cheerfully.

Two pairs of loafers later, we were.

And that's it. They each picked out a toy and we left. I don't ever want to do it again (the image of myself on all fours, getting ridden while Junior dug for gold, is one I don't want to revisit any time soon) but it's good to test your kids' tolerance for misery. It's good to get down into the trenches with them, to park them on the floor, rip off their shoes and tell them to try on three more pairs. THREE MORE. NOW!

I jest. Mostly.

Now what the eff am I going to wear??

Monday, June 9, 2014

Raising "that guy"

There goes Junior. Running up the bus line.

He begged me to drop him off at school again. The 40 minute bus ride makes him bus sick unless he eats a bland breakfast (his words), but lately that isn’t even helping. It’s nerves, I know. The end of school. The possibilities of summer. The uncertainty of second grade.

I relent. Yes, I tell him, I will drop you off. He and Everette settle onto the couch, to eat a banana and English muffin (appropriate items on Junior’s bland food list) while they watch Curious George.

“Everette, it’s a new episode!” he says with the same overdone enthusiasm a parent might use as he or she exclaims over the slide or a small feat at the playground and I can see Junior already as he might be someday with his own children. At almost seven he has mastered the nuances of relating to a small child, of slowing down to help his brother navigate the world. He ties his brother’s shoe laces. He explains his bad dreams. He lets his brother use his Legos (“Just don’t take the character’s hat off again, ok? Ok, Everette? Because then it gets loose and falls off and I’ll lose it. Ok, Everette? Just don’t take if off again.”).

He won’t even take a sticker from the doctor’s office unless he can have one for his brother too. ("My brother might be disappointed if he can't have a sticker too," he'll tell the receptionist.)

It’s really rather endearing.

But there’s exasperation too. Of course there is. I see it as we get ready to leave, after Curious George is over. Everette doesn’t want Junior to leave and Junior is suddenly ready for his day to begin.

“I’ll be home soon, Everette,” he tells him. “I’m six and I have to go to school. Ok?”

“I need a kiss!”

“In the car, Everette, we still have to drive to school.”

We drive. Junior reminds me to sign him up for camp (“You’ll have to go to a different camp, Everette. One for toddlers. Ok?”) He tells me he’s not really that "juiced" for the class field trip. Then there we are at the beginning of the drive-thru bus line.

“You can take off your seat belt, honey,” I tell him.

“The car’s moving a little, Mom.”

“Junior, you’re next. I can stop here. It’s ok.”

“I want a kiss!” Everette shrieks.

“Just a minute, Everette! I’m unbuckling!”

He leans over to give Everette a kiss, then climbs out of the car. I can see the right leg of his shorts is wet. His water bottle, which hangs on the side pocket of his backpack, twisted free of its cap and is leaking. As he runs up the lawn to school the water splashes on his shorts. He stops and looks at me, confused. He’s so overly in tune with the details he misses the obvious. He starts to run again and stops. He can’t figure out why he’s getting wet—he’s that in his brain.

I roll down the window. “Your water bottle is missing its cap!”

He slaps his forehead and gives me a thumbs-up sign.

I realize, with affection, that he's probably going to be that guy. The not-so-smooth one who trips on his sneaker as the girl drives off. The one in chemistry class who doesn't realize his science partner wants a kiss because he's too intent on his beaker.

But that's fine. I knew plenty of those guys. They were great guys.

His schoolmates have now bottlenecked around him by the front door. The teacher waves him in but he can’t go in yet. He needs to explain what happened. To her. To the kindergartners. To the first and second graders. To anyone who’ll listen, really. His head is full of words running a million miles a minute and God bless his tongue, so far it has kept up.

“I really love my brother,” Everette says as we pull away from the school.

“I know,” I say. “Me too."

Thursday, May 29, 2014

I want to remember today

Because this is what happened:

My mother and step-father drove down to Connecticut from Assachusetts to babysit the kids so I could go into work. They left Assachusetts at 6:30 a.m. (God bless them) so I could leave Mulletville Lite at 9 a.m. and get to New Haven by 10 a.m. (Chuck and I both have hour-long commutes, though mine is only a few days a week.)

Because my step-father had a doctor's appointment in New Haven—with a specialist—he stepped out of his car, said good-bye to my mother, and got into my car so we could drive to New Haven together. Before we left, my mother assured me she would remember to get Everette at pre-school at noon, one town over.

We drove to New Haven. (My step-father and I. Not my mother and Everette. Stay with me!)

When we got to my office, I got out and my step-father got into the driver's seat and drove to his appointment, leaving me without a car.

After my step-father's appointment, he drove to my uncle's house two towns over, to spend the day with him. I kept on working. Falalalala. My mother, still in Mulletville Lite, picked up Everette at pre-school and was home to get Junior off the bus when it came at 4 p.m. Falalalla. And Chuck, who also works two towns over from New Haven but in the opposite direction of my uncle, kept on working. Faalalalla.

Finally, it was 6 o'clock, quitting time. Chuck left his office, drove 30 minutes and picked me up outside my office. From there we drove to my uncle's house to pick up my car. We went inside to say hello, crammed a few slices of pizza in our mouths, said good-bye and made the hour-long drive back to Mulletville Lite, where my mother was waiting.

She said hello, gave me the run down on the day—"Homework's done, dinner is eaten, baths are done, dog pooped, kids pooped and are waiting for kisses"—said good-bye and got back into her car to drive an hour to my uncle's house, where everyone (my aunt, uncle and step-father) was waiting with pizza—and where she and my step-father were spending the night.

Every week we do this.

Every week someone gets dropped off or picked up. Every week my mother and I start with Plan A and end up on Plan L. We joke that one day, by accident, we'll drop off my step-father at pre-school or take Junior to work or put the dog on the bus or, because we're so damn tired and confused, one of us will end up in the Bronx muttering about the plan and how we forgot which plan was the plan.

Could we just hire a local babysitter? Yes, but then I couldn't work part-time and hello, all this driving and picking people up and dropping them off shit is fun. It keeps us mentally agile—and when you have parents in their 70s who babysit you need to keep those suckers on their feet.

Could we buy a mobile home and homeschool the kids on it and just transport everyone to and from New Haven all day? Yes, but Route 2 is so boring, I'd never subject the kids to that.

It's like they say: It takes a village. It just so happens that in our case it takes a few cars too. And a plan. A. Really. Foolproof. Plan.

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?