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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.

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.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The truth about the stingrays in Connecticut (warning: this may be upsetting to young children)

I'm about to complain so if you're having a super fantastic Monday please come back tomorrow.

Here's the thing: Connecticut kind of sucks. The weather is questionable. Our mountains are more like pimples. Our lakes are puddles. Our state capitol is shady and on the verge of bankruptcy. Just 36% of the shoreline is publicly owned. If you don't have a rich aunt who owns beachfront property, don't try going to a public beach on a Saturday—the parking lots are often filled to capacity before noon.

Our dipshit, asshat governor Dannel Malloy is trying to tank the state. He taxes every breath we take: auto, income, property, pension, you get the idea. People are leaving the state in record numbers. His approval rating is in the toilet.

Yet he keeps on smiling. And taxing.

People from surrounding states use Connecticut highways to get to their vacation destinations, which means you can't drive on the highways during the summer because essentially they're parking lots. The state's transportation committee is talking about implementing tolls. You'd think that for once Malloy would cut state residents some slack and just charge out-of-staters but oh no, empty that wallet!

I despise the man. If my family and friends didn't live in Connecticut Chuck and I would be long gone.

Knowing all this—that we have our incomes sucked from us every day that we rot in this craptastic state—you can understand that I try to save money at every turn. Especially because I work part-time. I don't usually go to costly venues with my toddler during the week. Ditto for when we have all three kids home on the weekends.

But sometimes you need to leave the house. Sometimes it's gray and rainy and 30 degrees and your toddler is looking at you like If we don't see some new scenery I'm going to freak the eff out.




So on Friday I made plans with my mom friend to go to Mystic Aquarium. She just had a baby and is new to the whole trying-to-leave-the-house routine with an infant. We were supposed to leave from my house at 10 a.m. but instead ("diaper explosion!" and "he's hungry!" and "he's screaming!" and "he's tired!") she arrived at noon.

We got to the aquarium at 1 p.m. We needed to leave by 3 p.m. to get my older kids off the bus. The admission for adults was $34.99. Half of the aquarium's exhibits are outside (no thanks—it was 30 degrees). I'm no mathematician but the short tally is that I paid $17 an hour to watch things swim in a tank. I was never so glad to not have my two older boys with me. At $24.99 each I would have paid $85 for all of us. Not including food. Not including the 4-D theater.

Here's where I really get pissed off. Most of the staff looked like they LOATHED CHILDREN. Except for the cheery older woman who stamped my overpriced ticket, every person working (in particular the morose teenager manning the touch tank) looked as if they had just smelled a shitty diaper.

And maybe they had. But if you pay $34.99, you shouldn't have to deal with glowering staff. I can get that for free at the grocery store. No, for that kind of money I want sunshine blown up my ass from the minute I walk in the door. Yes, children yell and run and splash (it's a fucking water table, toddlers are going to splash), but if you don't enjoy children why do it? 

I have to confess that certain aspects were fun. Like when my friend followed me into the women's bathroom and our strollers got caught in between the two sets of heavy doors leading in. It was like a scene from the Human Centipede. Fun, right? Automatic doors for mothers with strollers would be so un-fun!

Should I have gone on a sunny day for an entire day? Sure. Will I do that next time? Absolutely. But as we drove home I couldn't help but think that life in Connecticut feels like this all of the time:




It seems as if the stingrays are in on it too.

For some reason that makes it hurt that much more.

(For reference, New England Aquarium costs $27 for an adult ticket; Long Island Aquarium, $28; and Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, $13).

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Graphic scenes from a night table


If I had the time, I would love to write a book about night tables. Wait, wait, before you fall asleep at the thought of that (oooohhhh night tables), think about all the night tables you've had throughout your life and the shit that's been on them.

As a child, my very dusty pink AM/FM radio sat atop my night table, along with several Sweet Valley High books (remember that book that can save your marriage?). In college, there was beer, some books, more beer, and Lord knows what else. Nothing illegal, mind you, just nothing I'd want my mother to know about.

Chuck and I didn't have a night table in our first apartment. The mattress was on the floor and I pushed a book case against it so we had a spot for our glasses—we're both blind—beer and books. (Notice a theme here?)

If I thought hard I could probably remember all the tables in between "then" (carefree, childless, spontaneous, relaxed) and "now" (childful, stressed, exhausted, borderline joyful) but to me, no photo speaks more to the person I have become as a 42-year-old mother of three small children than this photo:



I took it after Christmas, when everyone had the barf bug. Gone are the beer and books. Now there's the Lysol. I believe we went through three cans. The Advil. The liquid Tylenol. My favorite, the suppositories. The cracked heel and Eucerin creams (because even though you're covered in puke you still need to moisturize). Nail polish and cuticle cream (I foolishly thought I'd be doing something for New Year's Eve that warranted nail polish—joke was on me). My night guard case (who me? Three kids and a jaw clenching affliction?). Lip balm. A lighter and two packs of matches just in case I needed to light a candle for the horizontal time Chuck and I would have in between puke sessions (I believe this is when I officially began my pilgrimage to become a Born Again Virgin).

And there, smack in the middle, is the Wonder Woman pin Chuck got me for Christmas. Junior had balked at it when I opened it. "Why does she need that?" he wanted to know. I understood that his question was more of a She isn't into superheroes like we are, Dad, so why would she want that? and not a She wants beer and books, Dad, don't you know that from sharing a night table with her for the last 20 years?

Chuck had answered Junior with a very thoughtful "Because Mom is OUR Wonder Woman, that's why"—all that sentiment and I still didn't get any sheet time!—but the kids had already moved on to gift unwrapping. And vomiting.

We took such lovely photos.

Anyway. Yes. A book of night tables. As you can see, it's practically writing itself.

Mmmm. Beer.