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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.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Yep, that third kid is so amazingly easy going

"Cam, please pick up your cars now."

"No!"

"I'd like you to pick up your cars."

"No."

"Would you like a time-out?"

"No time-out."

"Then help pick up your cars."

"Mom, w'as dat?"

"That's a car. A car to pick up."

"No pick up cahs."

"One more chance. It's time to pick up cars."

Looks at me with disdain, then slowly picks up one car and throws it in the basket.

"Let's not throw cars. Let's place them gently."

"No gently."

"Yes, gently."

"Mom, w'as dat?"

"That's the dog. Keep picking up those cars, Cam."

"No tell. No cahs."

"Ok, time out."

Slowly picks up one car and places it in the basket.

"Great job! Keep going."

"No say gweat jaaab."

Slowly picks up another car and places it in the basket.

"Mom, w'as dat?"

"That's the garbage truck."

One more car. Then another. One by one. 

"What a good listener you are."

"No good wist'ner."

"You're not a good listener?"

"NO GOOD WIST'NER!"

"You're almost done. Then we can go outside."

"No done. No 'side."

"No really, you're almost all done."

"No all done."

Puts last car in basket.

"Hooray! You did it. Let's go outside."

"No hooray." Throws self on floor.

Under breath: "Fine, that was craptastic and we're never going outside again. Is that better?"

My father always said that patience is learning to wait without complaining. My entire childhood—that's all I heard. I'd like to amend that so it's more appropriate for today. Patience is NOT learning to wait without complaining. It's learning to parent a toddler without swearing, drinking, screaming, running away or chewing on glass.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

And then there are the double digits...



Junior turned 10 this week. He's my first kid to hit the double digits. His feet are larger than mine. I constantly mix up his underwear and Chuck's. I find myself looking straight across when I talk to him instead of down. He will not leave the house without deodorant.

It's all very disconcerting.

Where did the baby go? The toddler? The pre-schooler? The kindergartner? I mean, what the hell?

Junior is the reason I have this blog. Back in 2008—!!!—motherhood felt lonely, like a party I wasn't invited to, and I needed an outlet. I'm so grateful I have it. It's so easy to forget all those little moments (the syrup post is still my all-time favorite). Sigh. In some ways it feels as if a lifetime has passed. In others, mere days.

Junior's name has been massacred by two younger brothers now. He's been Jager and Say-ga and Jeta and Saya. He's used to having younger brothers jump out at him and karate chop him—frisky puppies playing with the big dog. Just the other day he was lying on the floor reading, minding his own business, when Everett and Cam both pounced on him, then rolled off.

Junior sighed and calmly turned the page.

They're damn lucky he's the oldest. He's got more patience than I ever did. When he talks to his brothers—"We don't cut lamp cords with scissors, Cam. And how did you get scissors? Everett, did you not put your scissors away again?"—I can imagine the kind of father he'll be someday.

If he's not too traumatized by having siblings to procreate.

When Junior is sick and he groans like an old man from the couch, then hobbles to the bathroom so he can clutch his stomach in front of the mirror and say, "I need a bland diet today," I pray that his spouse will be a patient person with a sense of humor.




There are subtle changes that accompany the double digits. Junior still has his stuffed dog, but it doesn't follow him everywhere anymore. It doesn't even leave the house for sleepovers. In fact, it only comes downstairs if he's sick on the couch.

And there's an awkwardness that wasn't there before. Sure, he and Everett will snatch my bras from the clothes basket and put them on their heads, then run around pretending to be coneheads, but Junior pauses now before he hugs me, aligning himself so our chests don't touch. He's convinced he has two armpit hairs. He wants to know about puberty. (Chuck, that's all you.)

For as much as I might lament the passing of time, I am really happy about all of this. Junior is a stand-up guy. He's compassionate and empathetic. He's bright and charismatic. He makes me believe in a brighter future. Sometimes I look at Chuck and think, holy hell, we didn't fuck this up! Other times I look at Junior and think, holy hell, you're going to tower over me someday! Then Junior catches me watching him and asks, "What, what, what, WHAT, WHAT?" a million times because the kid cannot let anything go.

Anything (and again I pray that his spouse will be a patient person with a sense of humor).

Happy birthday, Junior. I love you to Jupiter and back. The moon just isn't far enough.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A momentary pause from the Holiday Road series to tell you that I've met my soulmate

My brother Ted brought Chuck a bottle of whiskey for the fourth of July, which they quickly cracked open (here, guys, let me just get that pesky toddler out of your way). While they were oohing and aaahing over its smoothness, my eyes rested on the box in which it came.

The world suddenly fell away.

"What's up with her?" my brother asked.

"Dunno," grunted Chuck. "Mmmm. More drink."

What was up with me is that a woman was staring back at me—okay, she was staring off into the distance—and she perfectly captured the way I feel as a mother.  



This is me. Every day. Trying to look stalwart and steady while little people stand inside my brain and ravage it. And, yes, a little miffed, hence the slight upcurl at the side of the mouth. As if to say, "Really guys? Jumping off the sofa again? And did you really have to pour blue food coloring into the dishsoap? And why on Earth are there wet pieces of toilet paper stuffed into the light socket?"





This woman is my hero. My kindred spirit. My soulmate. I love her. Just knowing she's on that box, calmly selling whiskey while people trample her brain, makes me feel like maybe things are going to be okay.

(A few shots help too—that's where the hedonism part comes into play, because it's certainly not derived from raising children. Pleasure, yes. Hedonism, no.)

The company, Compass Box, explains that "The inspiration behind our whisky HEDONISM is just that – pleasure, enjoyment, a celebration of that ideal marriage" between distilled spirit and blah blah...but really, I wonder if there isn't more to it. I wonder if there isn't a little whiskey maker out there somewhere who was whiskey making while he watched his wife tend to their children and who said to his logo maker, I'll call the whiskey Hedonism because Brain Annihilation just isn't sexy enough but can you honor my wife somehow on the label?

And there she is.

My gawd I love her.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Holiday Road, part I

OK, here goes.

A few weeks ago Chuck and I threw the three boys into the car and drove down to Florida. We'd been thinking about going but couldn't commit to a set date because Chuck had a kidney stone he needed to pass. On Thursday morning I sent my mother a text (she and my step-father wanted to follow us down): "Chuck gave birth to a 4 mm stone! Trip's on!"

Bam! 21 hours? No problem.

The first day we drove 10 hours, stopping at 1 a.m. to check into a fleabag motel off the side of the highway. We moved rooms twice: once because the smoke alarm wouldn't stop beeping and again because an alarm clock wouldn't stop alarming. Finally, at 2 a.m., everyone was settled.

Due to lack of sleep and sore ass from the road, everyone was in a shit mood the next day but we made it to Savannah. Ah...Savannah. Lovely. Gorgeous. Complete with a walkable square full of stores, ice cream shops, horse-drawn carriage rides and live music. I slugged three drinks and chased Cam around the square while the older boys danced and laughed.



It was perfection (no really, it was perfect)--until the lack of sleep hit Cam like a thunderbolt.

I put him in the stroller and offered him ice cream but he knocked it out of my hand and onto a passerby's foot (an understanding passerby, thankfully). Then Cam kicked and wailed. People stared. He thrashed and yelled. People gawked. It's been awhile since one of the kids has had a full-on public meltdown. It sucks. I admit it: I panicked. I raced off down the street with him.

Humidity + stress + vodka  + Chuck yelling "That's the wrong street! You're going the wrong way!" as I sprinted off into the sunset = Junior waking up, sniffing the air and asking, incredulously, "Mom is that you that stinks?"

The next day we arrived at our hotel in Orlando--freshly showered. We had booked at the last minute at Floridays Resort, choosing it based on its pool, which appeared to cater to older kids and toddlers (read: I was not going to chase Cam around a deep-end-only pool for a week) and because it wouldn't break the bank.



I can't recommend it enough, despite the shitty, bouncy bed Chuck and I ended up on. (Side note: When you share a family suite with your kids and parents on vacation, the only reason your bed bounces is because of shoddy springs. Sorry Chuck!)

We hadn't booked tickets at any of the theme parks because we had family in the area, and that's mainly why we went to Florida, but we did want to attempt a park. Even though it was 95 degrees with 100% humidity. Even though we didn't have the stupid effing Fast Pass everyone said we MUST have. Even though we had a toddler...we spent the $20,000 and bought six tickets to Universal (hooray, Cam was free), mainly because Junior and Everett wanted to see the Harry Potter exhibit.



So there we were. Two 80-year-old grandparents. Two forty-something parents. A 10 year old. A six year old. A two year old.

Dun, dun, dun. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Mullet's Holiday Road

We did it. We upped and drove to Florida with our three kids. That's where I've been all this time--we got back last night after finishing a marathon stretch from North Carolina to Connecticut. I want to tell you all about it but right now my brain is foggy and gluey and hurts when I try to form complete sentences. I also have two weeks worth of granola bars, Fig Newtons (fiber!) and grapes (have you tried Cotton Candy grapes?) to exhume from my toddler's car seat.

Two words: Gross. Gross.

More later. I promise.

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.