Thursday, December 29, 2011

I may be a pervert


But there is something about this Scooby-Doo Chia pet—a gift to Junior from a co-worker— that makes me want to:

a. reach for a razor
b. tell my child to look away
c. make inappropriate comments about male parts

The longer I look at the box, the worse it gets. And we haven't even grown the hair yet—I mean ferns. Whatever the hell it is that comes out of that paste packet.

Ch-ch-ch-EW.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

We're having pizza and store-bought cake. Because Mommy loves you


Everett is turning one this week. I know, I know, plenty of people have children who turn one and yes, they've probably already blogged about it, but did you hear me?

Everett is turning one!

Somewhere in the last month I stopped referring to him as Diddlydoo, the nickname I so lovingly gave him in utero so people would stop badgering me about what I was going to name my child—people are so greedy for information, aren't they?

He's started crawling and babbling; the name Diddlydoo started to feel...piddlypoo.

My own birthday hits this time of year as well. As anyone with a birthday in late-December/early January knows, it's the worst time of year to have a birthday. Presents and cards are an afterthought, if they even come.

Plus, there's something downright shitty about clocking in another year against the backdrop of naked, barren trees and stiff brown grass. Reflecting on your life as you watch signs of life die around you doesn't do much for making light of crow's feet and laugh lines.

Gray, lifeless sky = ample tears about gray, lifeless hair.

I know, boohoo. Boohoo.

I'm not the only one who is doing some end-of-year reflecting. Junior's been doing some too, although it's aloud.

Me: "Junior, Everett's going to be one. Can you believe it?"

Junior: "I wish he was back in your belly. We had more fun playing when he was in there."

Me: "But soon you can play with him! All the time!"

Junior: "He'll probably still slobber on my toys."

Nothing sucks the life out of a happy preschooler like a younger sibling. I can literally feel the malaise settling in.

To celebrate Everett's birthday, we're having pizza and cake with some of the neighbors and their kids. It'll be a much smaller affair than Junior's first, for which we commissioned a damn cake and threw a 100-person bash.

Huh? Wha? Post-Christmas, pre-New Year's birthdays what again?

Oh right. Suck.

And ok, it's not just the time of year. I'm learning that everything you do for your second (or third or fourth) child is with much less fanfare.

But! It is not for a lack of love. Oh, no. I couldn't possibly love that high maintenance, diva-like, giggly, precious, precocious, daredevil of a boy any more than I possibly do. I can't kiss him enough. I can't tickle him enough. There are days that I literally want to eat him.

And really, amazingly, I don't even know him yet.

Happy birthday, you little stinker. Next year Mommy will bake some cupcakes.

Maybe.

Monday, December 26, 2011

I'm not sure what just happened



I think we celebrated Christmas, but I can't quite be sure. Everything after Friday afternoon is a bit blurry.

See on Friday, somewhere between my car and my office, I wrenched my back. Badly. In fact, the only way I could get comfortable at work was to stand. I sent some emails hunched over my keyboard, then decided I wasn't going to make it. I hobbled down the hall (while dragging my leg behind me) and out the door, straight to the doctor's.

(Side note: My co-workers are rallying to have me banned from the building. My water broke at work; I was pushed down the stairs at work; I have worn a thumb brace to work; sported a neck brace to work; hobbled around with a knee brace at work; slammed my toe in the door at work; and my ass has prevented me from working. If I showed up at work one day holding my head in the crook of my arm I doubt that anyone would be surprised.)

After driving to the doctor's my back felt even worse. The only way I could get comfortable in the waiting room was to kneel on a chair with my ass in the air. A nurse had to walk me down the hall. Then, while I waited for the doctor, the only way I could stop the pain from shooting down my legs was to assume the oh-so-attractive kneeling + ass in the air position again.

When the doctor came into the room, he took one look at me and promptly wrote me a prescription for muscle relaxers.

Bless his heart.

In my glazed over state, I spent the holiday weekend nodding demurely at whatever conversation was taking place. No one got on my nerves. No one!

I wasn't allowed to lift Junior or Everett or the 100-pound diaper bag or the Christmas presents. I didn't even lift the fruitcake.

I was so pliable that Chuck was even able to whisk me away to a holiday party. (The hosts were an engaged couple. She's Jewish; he's not. If their kids come out anything like their decorative bathroom towels, I think we know what religion they'll be:



Mazal Tov!)

So there you have it: Christmas 2011 was hazy and blurry and full of good cheer. I was physically unable to overdo it. Plus, my ass was in the air a few times.

Really, what more could you ask for from a long holiday weekend?

Friday, December 23, 2011

I have a tree


My friends have been very good friends to me. Before Chuck and I had children and moved into my childhood home in Mulletville Lite, my father lived here. He did not decorate for the holidays, even though he held Christmas Eve here.

The one decoration that hung was a felt elf that covered a whole in the wall he hadn't plastered over. It hung all year long.

Every December I begged my friends to join me on a tree cutting excursion for my father, the quintessential bachelor. In my mind, I did it for him (wouldn't a decorated Christmas tree make the house feel more like a home?).

To enlist their aid, I bribed my friends with alcohol and food. Mostly alcohol. And they came.

They drove all the way to Mulletville Lite, helped us pick out a tree—often trekking through snow-covered farms as the sun went down—then came back to the house to untangle lights, locate the ornaments in the basement, de-rust the tree stand, and finally (!) to decorate tree.

The ornaments were the half my father got in my parents' divorce settlement. It always struck me as odd that they divvied up the ornaments. Then again, ornaments were always a contentious issue, particularly their placement on the tree.

As I sit here this afternoon looking at our tree, I can't help but be thankful for my friends. Year after year they helped me erect a beautiful tree, which brought me a sense of happiness and completeness.

I'm also thankful for moving back into this house, and for my own family's tree, which is now decorated with new ornaments.

For a long time, sad memories were a constant in this house. The tree went up, and as happy as that was, the tree was still tethered to the past. It was the tree of my childhood.

I am thankful for new beginnings and the chance to heal this home. I am grateful for my little family.

I don't want anything for Christmas. I have everything I need.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday. See you next week.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ay, Tuesday!

There's one holiday commercial I'm going to miss:



Cracks me up every time.

Know what else cracks me up? This book:



If you're looking for a last-minute gift for a mother, this book will make you laugh out loud.

I'm off to work now. And you! Quit scratching your ass and get baking those cookies.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ay! Monday

I took off half a day so I could go to Junior's holiday party at nursery school. The last time I took off half a day for something at Junior's school, we visited the Mulletville Lite firehouse. The fire chief took one look at our large group and remarked, "I've never seen so many parents on a kids' field trip."

That line is a good segue into an article I read over the weekend. I think it's one of the best articles I've read on parenting in a while.

I've got more to say about it (of course), but I've got to run. Turkey rolls are expiring on the counter.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

In 20 years je me still souviens why I left

Tonight I'm going out for milk and I'm not coming back. I thought I should tell someone. Since I can't tell my friends, co-workers or immediate kin (sssshhhh, I don't want them to find me), you're it.

If anyone asks, I left because I have been sick for the last five days, and I have had to care for two sick children. One has clung to me nonstop, like a koala bear, and wants to sleep curled under my neck. The other begs me to sleep next to him, but really what he wants to do is play with the little hairs around my ears.

They can't make a NyQuil strong enough to help you sleep through shit like that.

My shirt is covered in mucus. It's not mine. I know that because I have only been able to sneeze onto the tops of children's heads.

I'm going to go to Canada. Every blogger I've met who lives in Canada seems really nice. I bet they'd take kindly to a homeless crazy woman covered in phlegm.

I won't be back until after Christmas. I haven't done a lick of holiday shopping, and I can't take the guilt. I started off strong when I bought that bag of Lindt truffles for the babysitter, but since we got sick and told her to stay away, her gift no longer exists.

So mum's the word, ok? I mean, eet eez ok?

Monday, December 12, 2011

An apple a day my fricken ass

The grand finale of Junior’s fever and stomach complaint wasn’t a pukefest...it was a double ear infection.

For that I am eternally grateful.

Vomiting was such a routine part of my own childhood that I kept a sleeping bag in the bathroom. No parent wants to add “sleeping bag” to her child’s Christmas list because she sees him following in her footsteps. There are things to be sentimental about.

Vomit isn’t one of them.

Junior’s health has been a bit of a bumpy road this past year. The craptastic relationship we had with his pediatrician didn’t help matters. The list I made for “Top 10 signs you should switch pediatricians” was accurate, sadly. To say the doctor sucked would be an understatement.

Why didn’t I end the relationship sooner? I didn’t listen my gut, and I was blinded by the pediatrician’s reputation at Mulletville Hospital. To many folks, he walks on water. I kept believing that the next visit would be the one where I witnessed his magic.

Dumb, dumb, dumb.

This summer I finally listened to my gut. A mother I met at the library raved about a doctor in Mulletville Lite. Her children were grown, but she said Dr. Blahblahblah had treated her children like family. If your kid was really, really sick, she saw you on the weekend (everyone knows that kids get sick at 5 pm on Friday—everyone). She was also good at diagnosing illnesses other than colds.

Since Junior suffers from an as-of-yet diagnosed stomach problem, I was sold.

We joined Dr. Blahblahblah’s practice. During our first visit, I noticed a lovely picture of Dr. Blahblahblah in the waiting room. She had an ethereal look to her—healing incarnate. I couldn’t wait to meet her.

Over the next few months I took the kids in for check-ups. For colds. For shots. I met with the staff to talk about a procedure for Junior at the Hartford Children’s Center.

Still no Dr. Blahblahblah.

I peeked in the windows. I peeked in the Record’s Room. I peeked in the bathroom.

Still no Dr. Blahblahblah.

I kept believing that the next visit would be the one where I met this damn doctor. Soon! Soon it would be our turn!

Then, this past weekend Chuck and I had to take Junior to the Mulletville Hospital ER. His stomach was acting up. We wanted to get to the bottom of it.

As I was filling out the paperwork, the doctor asked who Junior’s pediatrician was.

“Dr. Blahblahblah!” I said.

I waited for him to say, “Wow! That doctor is amazing!” Instead he laughed and said, “Really? Dr. Blahblahblah’s been dead for at least a year.”

“Dead?” I said. “She’s dead?”

“Cancer. Terrible thing.”

I suddenly understood the picture in the waiting room.

It seems I "suddenly" understand a lot these days.

Please, learn from my mistakes. If you're looking for a pediatrician, it's great to ask for recommendations, but make sure to visit the office first yourself. Google him or her and read up on ratings, if there are any.

Call the pediatrician's office and ask:

1. What hospital the doctor(s) is affiliated with
2. How common it is to be seen that day
3. If they have a weekend answering service
4. If the pediatrician(s) has any particular specialty
5. How many doctors vs. nurses the practice has and if you'll be seen by an RN or LPN more often than not
6. How many years of experience the pediatrician has

And finally,
7. If the pediatrician is alive

Did I miss anything?

P.S. Lest you think I am a total idiot, Dr. Blahblahblah's practice still answers the phone "Dr. Blahblahblah." So you see...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

There are a few things I have learned


From my meager four years of parenting.

This is one of them: If your child has a fever and says he feels sick to his stomach right before going to bed, you grab that Tupperware container! You grab those suppositories! And you get your ass to bed.

Even if it's only 8:30 pm. Even if you're not tired.

Because what lies ahead is probably a horrific pukefest filled with tears and moaning (sometimes your own). What lies ahead is a child (or children) who wants to puke on you, despite your best attempts to usher him to the bathroom.

Despite your within-reach Tupperware container.

Never before in my life have I viewed the night time—what is supposed to be a time of repose and blissful slumber—as a vehicle for bodily battle and yet, as I type this, I can't help but think that I am arming myself and preparing to wage war.

Things will probably fly out of orifices. Simultaneously. I will probably get slimed. I will probably change pajamas and linens with the fervor of maid on crack. And, saddest of all, it will probably be 5:30 am before I am finally able to slither back into my bed, my hair matted to my face in a wet, crusty shellack of puke goo.

But godammit, I am smarter. I am faster.

And I am not tempting fate any further.

Goodnight.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

When couples talk and fall down

Chuck and I had a conversation tonight.

Imagine that! You can be married forever and still converse.

We discussed the details of me possibly taking a part-time job. He's been at his new job for a whopping two weeks you know. (Can you tell I want to get off the pot?)

Elements of our conversation felt oddly familiar. Like when Chuck said, "It'll be okay. We'll figure it out" then slammed 10 shots of tequila. And again when he clutched his heart, croaked, "We'll find a way to make it work" and then slumped to the floor.

Yes. That's when it hit me that we'd had this conversation before. As I stood over his trembling body I recalled how last year, almost to the day, Chuck and I were agonizing over the details of my unpaid maternity leave. Could we make it on his freelance income? What if no one wanted to buy his body parts? What's the street value of a complete Thomas the Train set?

I suddenly felt awfully grateful. If I take a part-time job and we land in the poorhouse, at least it's a conscious choice. And if it's going to happen around the holidays, at least no one will bitch when we give them hand-drawn pictures of the kids (hey, photo paper is expensive).

I jest. I don't know what the hell to do. In this economy. In this recession. In this maelstrom of foreclosures and lay offs and budget cuts.

Fuck.

I think I need to consult a fortune teller or call one of those psychic hotlines.

Maybe I'll ask her why one of us always seems to be lying on the kitchen floor. Start off simple.

Yes, simple would be good.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Anyone wanna trade grannies?

I’ve been wanting to write a post-Thanksgiving post for a week now and finally, seven days later, I have the chance.

Must...act...quickly...

At Thanksgiving dinner, I sat down next to my grandmother and I said, “Grandma, this is your ninety-fourth Thanksgiving. Tell me: Out of all 94 years, what sticks out as your happiest holiday? What is your favorite Thanksgiving memory?”

I sat back and smiled thoughtfully. Her white-gray tendrils curled around her glasses. She was sharp as a whip, God bless her. Three marriages and four boyfriends later, she was still a looker.

She thought and she thought. I waited patiently. She thought some more.

I imagined she was mentally sorting through years of warm holiday memories. That could take a while, right? Sifting through 94 years of Thanksgivings?

Heck, she'd spent 36 Thanksgivings with me. Maybe one of those had been her favorite. Maybe she'd regale me with a holiday memory I didn't even remember. Maybe I'd done something endearing, like—

—“I don’t have one,” she said.

“You don't have one favorite happy holiday memory?” I asked.

“Nope. None of them were very happy.”

She shrugged and took a bite of pie.

I shouldn't have been surprised. Just a few months ago she had handed me a pile of letters and cards I’d sent her as a kid and said, “Here, I found some of the junk you sent me and since I’m not going to be around much longer you can have it back."

I swear, when she finally kicks it and is laid to rest the grass is going to curdle and spit her back out.

(Seriously, if you ship me your sweet grandmother for Christmas I'll kick in a cashmere sweater. And some sappy cards signed by yours truly. Sappy, thoughtful, homemade cards. *Sniff, sniff*)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The one thing I can't stop doing before bed

I have a post-Thanksgiving post that I want to post (pippity, poppity post!) but before I do that, I need to come clean about something.

I have an addiction. It’s something I can’t say no to (duh), and it’s cost me thousands of dollars over the years. From the content of my Thanksgiving post, you might assume I’m talking about alcohol.

Well, you’re wrong. I love to drink, but I can say no to it whenever I’d like—which isn’t very often, but you get the idea.

No, my addiction is to something much more benign: face soap.

Gasp! Yes!

Washing my face before bed is a ritual I cannot live without. Truly. If we’re camping and there’s no running water, I’ll walk in the dark to find a stream so I can wash my face. If I have too much to drink at a party, come home and pass out on the bathroom floor, I will stand up to wash my face.

My mother doesn’t wash her face. Sometimes when she sleeps over I daydream about creeping downstairs in the middle of the night and...washing her face.

It started in my teens, when I began battling pimples. Since then I have tested practically every facial cleanser on the market.

I've used all the Neutrogena products. Neutrogena in the bottle (too thick!), in the bar (too slippery), Fresh Foaming (meh), the Deep Clean line (too ointment-y), Oil-Free Acne Wash (makes your skin smell like a band-aid), Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit products (the citrus smell gets old real fast), and Visibly Even face wash (zzzzzzz).

I’ve used Aveeno’s Foaming Cleanser Clear Complexion, Positively Radiant Cleanser, and Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser (collective yawn); all of Olay’s cleansers; all of Loreal’s cleansers; and all of Revlon’s cleansers. Sure I liked some of them, but I didn’t love them.

I’ve tried countless department store brands as well. Like Estee Lauder. And Clinque. And philosophy (talk about over-hype). And The Body Shop (Tea Tree Oil soap? Too medicine-y. Natrulift Softening Facial Wash? Humdrum).

Life Goes On Kellie Martin once claimed she couldn’t live without Origins mint face cleanser. I tried it, and I could. Ditto for all the non-lathering soaps. I hate Cetaphil, Clinque’s Cream Cleanser, and The Body Shop’s Vitamin E Cream Cleanser.

Hate, hate, hate cream cleansers. They’re like washing your face with Vaseline.

I’ve asked myself on more than one occasion, what am I looking for? What?

It comes down to a few things. Smell is a big one. I still have the cleanser I used a mere 15 years ago, when Chuck and I started dating because I love the way it smells. Loreal reformulated the scent in 1999, which broke my heart. I would have used that face soap for the rest of my life.

Texture is another draw. During the winter I crave a silky, creamy texture, like Shiseido’s Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Extra Creamy Cleansing Foam. During the spring and summer I’m drawn to something light and fluffy, like LancĂ´me Creme Mousse Confort Comforting Creamy Foaming Cleanser (hello mouthful).

Can I afford these products? No. But if have some extra money, you can bet I’m treating myself to some foam.

The reason I’ve confessed this novel is because someone really, really important asked me to review some facial products, and I thought you’d like to know about my credentials.

That person is none other than Jessica Simpson (’s beauty products editor). Yes, I know. I’m big time, baby.

Simpson’s line is called BeautyMint, and it’s all about customized skincare and using “patented technology ... to protect ingredients so that they can remain structurally sound and supremely functional.” I’m not sure what that really means or how you’d even go about proving it, but it sounds impressive, yes?

The products’ packaging is sleek and simple, in a Proactiv kind of way.



When I got the paraben-free cleanser I greedily opened it up and took a big sniff. Major blow: It was unscented. For a smell-a-holic like myself, I couldn’t get past that.

I squirted out some gel and tried to make some lather. Nada. Because it doesn’t have any harsh lathering agents—which is actually better for the environment—it doesn’t suds up. Still, it rinsed well enough and I had the sense that my face was clean.

Now for the serum, which was also unscented. The press kit claims, "Our revolutionary serum is comprised of an incredible 50% marine collagen, targeting visible and future signs of aging from every angle" and "Our patented technology delivers a power-load
of actives to skin."

I’d never used serum before so I wasn't sure how much to use. The bottle read: “Massage over face and throat.”

I did that, albeit too generously. That night my face stuck to the pillowcase.

The next night I used it just around my eyes and laugh lines. And the night after that. And so on. And so on.

After using the products for close to a month, here's what I've decided: The cleanser isn’t drying, but it also isn’t terribly refreshing. I think my fine lines have diminished, but I can’t be sure. My skin doesn’t feel taught, per se, but it also doesn’t feel weighed down.

Therein lies the appeal (or not) of the BeautyMint products: They’re something without really being anything. If you’re a minimalist, these products are made for you (and in that case, BeautyMint has an offer for you).

If you’re like me and you like a few bells and whistles (and foam) you’ll be left looking for more.

Sorry, Jess.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

If you were in line tonight at a liquor store, I am thankful for you

I had to go to the grocery store after work today to buy stuffing and diapers. Mmmm. I'd expected pandemonium. Thankfully it was just congested, not quite chaotic.

Next I hopped over to the liquor store to buy red wine (loving Sangre de Toro for $9.99 by the way. Wine plus a free plastic bull!).

Therein lay the pandemonium. Lines of people snaked through the store. They were out en masse.

As the shoppers clutched their beer/wine/vodka/nips (not unlike someone might cling to a favorite stuffed animal), I stepped back and smiled. I felt all warm and smushy with kindred spiritness.

Can we be honest? Lots of people talk about how thankful they are at this time of year but really, there are some things (like wacky relatives) we just can't be thankful for because they're too weird for words.

Alcohol helps.

Immensely.

Case in point, my father called me at 9:45 last night to tell me he was hosting Thanksgiving. Nine-freaken-forty-five. One day before the holiday. Our family plays the holidays like a hand of poker.

"Whatcha doing for Thanksgiving?"

"I don't know. What are you doing?"

"I'm not sure. Why don't you tell me what you're doing then I'll tell you what I'm doing."

We dance this little dance because deep down, we don't really get each other and would rather that everyone forgot about the other and went about their own decking of the halls. Except that a day or two before the actual holiday, someone has a case of the sentimental warm fuzzies—"Remember that Christmas we all stayed awake and watched TV together?"—and picks up the phone.

"Whatcha doing for Christmas?"

"I don't know. What are you doing?"

"I'm not sure. Why don't you tell me what you're doing then I'll tell you what I'm doing."

It's quite bizarre. I blame it all on my 40-year-old cousin who still lives at home. The same scantily clad women of 1970 (think "Help Me OB1 Kenobi, you're my only hope") are still affixed to his wall on posters. My other cousin? Her mouth is a fire cracker of swear words, Marlboro Reds and Budweiser.

So here's what I want to say on this eve before Thanksgiving: I am thankful—for all the people in line at the liquor store who need to throw back a few to make their day with the relatives more tolerable. Family members are crazy. A drink or two can be a curing salve to an open, Princess Leia obsessed wound.

One that can talk only about Nascar and the Food Channel, which you'd think would be mutually exclusive interests and yet at the end of the night, race cars, Parmesan Roasted Butternut Squash* and chicks swirl together in a beautiful display of colors.

I told you booze helps.

Happy Thanksgiving!

*No, he doesn't bring any of this shit to Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Shouldn't you be making turkey hand puppets anyway?

I have some sad news. Because of budgetary constraints, Mulletville Corp has decided to axe the Thanksgiving gift basket. Even more crushing, the Gift Basket Committee has been disbanded.

Indefinitely.

I know. That gift basket brightened the days of many employees.

Remember Robert, who needed a bus pass so he could get his turkey home? Carrying his bird up a fire escape was such a treat. Then there was Steve and his dead wife and cat Fang.

(Update on Steve: He recently told me that I reminded him of one of the "girls" from Scooby Doo. "Don't worry," he told me, "I don't mean the fat one with the glasses." Thank you, Steve.)

Yes, the shitty economy is hurting everyone, even cartoon characters.

If you're hurting and need a good laugh, you can read about my dear Aunt Burty, the woman who had so much holiday love to give, she couldn't keep her hands above the table. It's a hoot.

Oh, shut up. I told you this was a shameless repost! Gheesh!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The most compelling turkey story you'll ever read


I am so excited. After three months of trying I, Mrs. Mullet, have finally gotten my name on the fucking snack sign-up sheet at my son’s nursery school.

Three months.

Aren't you excited for me?

I’m bringing in turkey rolls, to be exact, to be eaten by the little darlings after their Thanksgiving skit. Delicious, condiment- and cheese-free turkey rolls. Mmmmm.

You would think that the desire to contribute snacks is one that would be easily appeased, but getting on that sign-up sheet has been absurdly difficult.

You see, of all the nursery school moms, I am one of two that works.

Oh, shut up. This isn't going to be an us vs. them post. It's about turkey, for Pete's sake!

I wasn’t being stereotypical when I mentioned that my eye candy is limited to stay-at-home moms in yoga pants. Literally, there’s a yoga class held next door to the nursery school during class time; they all walk over together and work out.

(Who, me, jealous?)

During morning drop-off, I bring Junior into the school, kiss him good-bye, then look at my watch and realize I have 10 minutes in which to make a 20-minute drive. At the exact moment I make that realization, the teacher reminds everyone that the upcoming week’s snack sign-up sheet has just been posted on the bulletin board.

As the other women amble over to the board and casually discuss whether they’ll bring in cupcakes or graham crackers, I trip my way out the door, over children and over more women in yoga pants. By the time I make my way back to the sign-up sheet at the next day’s drop-off, there are no empty slots. Not even for sliced fruit!

Is it so wrong that I want a turn to slice the damn fruit?

Then, this morning, in a cosmic occurrence similar to that of Mars aligning with Saturn, the teacher announced the sign-up sheet posting as I was walking in. Heavens to Betsy!

I shoved Junior out of the way, ran over and wrote in my name. In big letters. Huge letters. Turkey rolls: MRS. FRICKEN MULLET. YES! I WILL BRING IN TURKEY ROLLS. MRS. MULLET WAS HERE. 2011.

I turned around, immensely satisfied. I’m not sure what I expected. Applause? Nods of approval that yes, working mothers can feed children too?

No one cared. And really, it’s silly of me to expect them to.

But I care. And that’s all that matters.

Now step away from the sign-up sheet.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'm cutting short my introspective (and self-indulgent) clogfest

So I can share some exciting news: My husband Chuck got a full-time job, and he's starting at the end of this week!

He's been a stay-at-home dad/freelancer/TV personality (ok, ok, it was just one episode) since being laid off in 2009.

Fricken 2009, man.

I'm happy for him. Getting laid off takes its toll, particularly in this crappy economy.

I'm also happy for myself (we can finally afford fig newtons again). But. I'm also sad. He'll be away a lot. The job entails travel and long hours. The kids are going to miss him. And I'm going to miss him in his Mr. Mom role—even if he didn't have a stuff drink waiting for me when I got home from work, nor was he wearing something sexy.

He never quite got that aspect of our role reversal.

It's going to be a big change. I'll be managing two kids and a full-time job all by myself. Taking out the garbage. Doing laundry. Cooking dinners. Bathing the kids.

Five days a week.

All by myself.

Oh, God.

See, dammit. I knew those ugly-yet-buttery-soft clogs were a good purchase. (Thank you, T.J.Maxx.) If only they came with super powers.

But enough about me: Congrats, Chuck!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

For a nanosecond it was the year of the nose ring

I drove to Assachusetts yesterday so I could spend Saturday night with my dear friend Sandy. Because she is so wonderful and because she understands I don't get out much these days, she met me at the door with a pitcher of diet ginger ale and Early Times whiskey.

I love her (remember how she visited at the height of the flea infestation? Now that's a friend).

After tailgating at her place, we walked around Northampton and tried in vain to find a bar where we could sit. We finally settled on a pub where one of us could sit.

As soon as my ass hit the stool, I got lost people watching. In Mulletville Lite, my people watching is limited to a) Chuck and the kids, b) my parents, c) the neighbors, and d) the moms who drop off their kids at the nursery school (i.e., a blur of yoga pants). No one has tri-colored hair. No one wears red lipstick. No one dresses up.

The room was full of eye candy. Pure eye candy.

Dressed in my black sweater, jeans and black boots I felt hopelessly generic in comparison. Not in a bad way. More in a I'm-36-and-live-in-Connecticut-so-I-have-no-pep-or-originality kind of way.

Ok, ok. I guess I can't blame it all on Connecticut. Having two children has made dressing a completely utilitarian effort. Putting on a shirt correctly is good, never mind if it's funky and/or flattering.

Then there's Chuck. He bought me a Vera Bradley handbag for Christmas last year and, in the midst of a homogeneous hiccup, I started using it.

So there I was at the bar. Drunk on whiskey and pretty lights and somewhat pretty people, I contemplated a drastic makeover for myself. Bangs. Lipstick. Textured tights. A ferret hat. Something different. Something that would set me apart from the yuppy Mulletville Lite crowd.

Sigh.

If only I hadn't stopped at that store on the way home from Assachusetts today and bought these:



Clogs. Fucking clogs. Sucked in by their comfort and functionality, I didn't have a chance.

And, honestly, I kind of knew this day was coming. I just didn't think it would follow such quick suit after "I'm gonna zip and zest my hump, my hump, my hump. My lovely lady lumps (lumps)." There are worse travesties, I understand, but for a few drunken hours I really did think I'd return home and infuse my life with unique and dazzling glamor.

(Myah, that last line just made me burst out laughing.)

What about you? Do you feel like you pay hommage to your inner diva or are you subsisting on comfy schlepwear?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Perplexing and vexing all at once: 4

At four-and-a-half years old our first son, Junior, isn't quite so junior anymore.

Lately he's been throwing us for a loop. He can do it all by himself. NO, HE NEEDS HELP. No, he can handle it. NO, MOM I NEED YOU. One minute he's beating his chest and declaring, "I'm brave! Braver than Dad!" In the next breath he's whimpering up at me, pleading with me to pick him up and carry him.

At close to 50 pounds, that's no small feat.

He loves nursery school, so much so that he gets into the car before me and yells to me to hurry up. Yet he won't tell us what he does at nursery school. We're able to piece together some of his activities based on the sheer volume of crafts he brings home, but I'm convinced he took an oath of silence the day we registered.

He uses the word "like" a lot. He got that from me, which means I'm a valley girl who doesn't know it.

He's musically inclined. I prefer it when the performances take place after 8:30 a.m., but I realize that's not always an option.



Junior has my temper and I'm sorry for that. When I watch how Chuck handles him at his finest, I see how lucky we are to have such a patient man in our lives. When they cuddle on the couch, I see how lucky Junior is to be so loved.

When I asked Junior what he was doing the other day and he replied, "Not kicking Everett," it made me realize that when Everett is big enough, Junior's probably going to have a few black eyes.

Junior's been seized by the jealousy bug—to the point of counting seconds on hugs and kisses and claiming that Everett's lasted longer. He's also been seized by the "NO, EVERETT! DON'T TOUCH THAT, EVERETT!" bug.

He has no idea what his brother is going to do to his toys.

It's best that way.

I miss the malleable mini man Junior was at three. Some days I don't recognize the little giraffe who is racing around the house, demanding that I watch "the coolest move ever." He is quick to say no and even quicker to offer a bargain. I had no idea that four-year-olds were such used car salesmen.

But I love Junior at four. I love his "Mom, I sneezed and tooted does that mean I snooted?" I love his crazy self-portraits.



Most of all, I love the fact that even though I have known him his whole life I am still finding out who he is.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

None of my friends have long fingernails

When I was a kid, my parents dropped me off at my aunt's house for the day. I was four or five. Or six.

I can't recall it was so long ago.

My aunt had 10 cats, a creepy husband, and a daughter (my cousin) who had so much metal in her mouth her lips had track marks. (You whipper snappers who bitch about your clear plastic "braces" don't know how good you have it!)

The creepy husband liked to watch creepy movies. My cousin and I liked to sit behind the couch and pretend we were playing with Barbies, but really what we were doing was sneaking peeks at the horror movies he was watching.

Because listening to the blood curdling screams wasn't enough.

That fateful day I happened to catch a creature of some kind walking down a hall. A little girl was sleeping in her bedroom. The creature wrapped his fingers around the door frame and peered in on the girl.

To this day I remember those fingers and fingernails: long, bony fingers and talon-like nails. Slowly wrapping themselves around the wooden frame of the door.

Then, the creature's head. Sloooowly peering in.

My parents paid dearly for that day of freedom. As I lay in bed that night I stared at the door frame, convinced I could see the tips of the creature's fingernails. Convinced that the second I closed my eyes he would peer in on me and eat me.

I told them as much.

Night after night. Month after month.

"I can see him!" I'd scream. "He's going to get me!" Sometimes it was right at bedtime. Sometimes it was in the middle of the night.

I believe my mother entitled this phase "We hate you" in my childhood scrapbook.

I remembered all this as I stood next to Junior's bed tonight. We let him watch Cars 2. As he lay there, his stuffed animals tucked sweetly underneath his armpits, he said, "My mind keeps seeing the mean cars. I don't want to close my eyes."

My first thought was, I so feel his pain. It was in his very bedroom that I'd slept as a child and given myself all those panic attacks. I knew exactly what he was going through.

Poor kid.

My second thought was, Please don't let this fuck up our sleep. Please. I just want to sleep.

Or maybe that was my first thought. During the opening credits.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Everyone knows about the melons

But what people really need to know about is the sweet potatoes. Think of it as "before" and "after."

Before kids:



After kids:



And yes, the girls are pointing straight at a bottle of tequila. Can you blame them?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The things we chant when we're overexcited

It's hard to get in the mood for this:



When the outside of your home looks like this:



And your child is chanting, "Yah! Santa's coming! Santa's coming!"

I don't mind the snow, I'm just a little surprised by it. The last time it snowed before Halloween it was 1996. I was at college in upperstate New York. I remember it distinctly because I'd been walking home from a Halloween party with a group of friends and I fell into a snow-covered shrub.

My costume had been Shooting Star; my weapon had been a toy gun full of vodka—cheap vodka—that I'd refilled all night and shot into people's mouths. (If you're going to a party and don't know many people, I highly recommend this costume as a way to quickly make friends.)

As I lay in the shrub, one of my friends shouted, "Fallen star! "Fallen star!"

Drunk people are so funny.

They pulled me from the shrub. When we got to the next party and I discovered I had pieces of shrub stuck between my teeth, someone was even nice enough to floss my teeth with strands of my hair.

Hey, I didn't have to tell you I fell face-first.

What about you? Are you looking out your window as the snow falls, reminiscing about your favorite Halloween costume? Or are you lying on the beach drinking a Bahama Mama?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Appreciating the small things: When your grief harmonizes with the season

I want to thank everyone for their kind emails and words on my last post (in which I sniveled all over my keyboard about the passing of my cat.)

In all seriousness, I expected a few snarly comments along the lines of "Get over it, it's a cat!" mainly because I had said that very thing to my college roommate when she described the passing of her beloved childhood cat.

(So now you know, when I was in college I read poems like "Having it Out with Melancholy" and laughed at other people's pain. Child of divorce? Who, me?)

For the last few days Chuck and I have been curled up on the couch with the cat that's, um, still alive.



It's been comforting to hold her but I won't lie, for one passing nanosecond I did ask Chuck what his thoughts on taxidermy were (I couldn't help it, Martha said everyone's doing it).

Chuck looked at me like I was crazy.

Rightfully so.

It's going to take some time to get over this loss. After curling up with this



for the last 10 years, I find myself somewhat obsessed with all things soft and knitty. I've been searching my house—in vain, of course—for substitutes. I keep wrapping myself up in sweater coats. I bought myself some chunky knit gloves at H&M:



I guess I should be grateful it's not mid-July.

Junior's been handling the loss of our cat quite well. After the dead-cat-in-the-trunk episode, I worried he might need therapy. Or at least a therapeutic session with a hand puppet. Nope, he looked at our Calico on the couch and said, "I'll watch animal shows because she likes them. But if she begins to like PBS Kids, that'd be great."

Ah yes, television. Saving the lives of cats and preschoolers one household at a time.

(Could someone knit me a cat for Christmas?)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Late Sunday night post. Sigh

This weekend was a very sad weekend. We had to put down one of our cats.

It was this guy:



Aka the Butter Thief. Aka Fatass. Hairball. The Jerk.

I had terrible names for him and often (read: always) hated the amount of vacuuming I had to do because of him (despite using the Furminator), but nothing could have prepared me for the profound loss I feel.

In January, when the Mulletville Lite vet removed a cancerous tumor from his side, he said the cancer had metastasized. He gave him six months to live. I should feel grateful he lived five months longer than he was supposed to, but I don't. He was only 10.

My heart is broken.

So is his sister's. She's been staring at the yard, waiting for him to come back for dinner.



Before I had children, I would spend entire Sundays curled up on the couch with the cat. He was warm, fluffy and malleable. When you are in your mid-twenties and have a day to spend on your couch watching movies, nothing compares to having 25 pounds of purring fur stuck to your side.

Years later, after Chuck and I got married, he would spoon Chuck in bed. I'd literally wake up to find the two embraced like lovers.

In the last two months, the cat's health went downhill quickly. Once plump and lazy, he became thin and lazier. On Saturday, it was clear he was in a great deal of pain. I crouched down next to him. Pet him. Said good-bye.

Chuck came back from the vet an hour later. With the cat in the trunk.

That was...unexpected. Especially when Junior wanted to see what the big deal was. (Ever try to say one more good-bye to your dead cat in the trunk while your four-your-old is yelling, "Can I see? Can I see?" If you have, please email me. I'd love to hear how you handled it.)

We buried the cat at the edge of the yard. We said a prayer. The stone we chose as a marker looks like a crouching gray cat; over the last few days I've looked out the window quickly and tricked myself into believing it's him.

I want to hold him again. I want to have a whole Sunday to curl up with him. I want to take back every time I shooed him out of the kitchen because he wanted to eat again (who cares if he was fat?).

I want to lay my head on his belly and hear his deep purring.

Now that you're thoroughly saddened (or laughing at me for bawling uncontrollably about a cat), I want to share a piece of a poem I have loved since college. It's by Jane Kenyon, and it's a stanza in a poem entitled "Having it Out with Melancholy." It reads:

6 IN AND OUT

The dog searches until he finds me
upstairs, lies down with a clatter
of elbows, puts his head on my foot.

Sometimes the sound of his breathing
saves my life -- in and out, in
and out; a pause, a long sigh. . . .

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Things that hurt. A lot



When your 9-month-old has teeth, he will probably bite you.

It will hurt.

When your 4-year-old sees that your 9-month-old bit you and did not lose bed time story privileges or endure a time out on the stairs, he may bite you as well.

That, too, will hurt.

You may look down at your naked shoulder and, seeing the teethmarks, liken it to a gnawed-on ear of corn. You may be bemused by that, as you marvel at the never ending body slam that is motherhood (my flesh? My braincells? My sleep? But of course. Please, take it all).

Or you may just be pissed.

Either or.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

If you need to tell the world about your potatoes, who am I to write a blog post about it? (I'm Mrs. Mullet, that's who!)

When I read back over some of my older blog posts, I'm struck by how much bitching I do. (Shut up, Chuck.)

I'm tired. I'm late to work. My husband doesn't clean up as much as I do. I hate the witch-cat I hung by the mantel.

Wah wah.

Granted, my complaints are legitimate. I work full-time and have two children under the age of five. I am tired. I don't lay out my clothes the night before, nor do I pack my lunch in advance. I am late.

And Chuck. Even though I tell him on a daily basis that I need/want him to do more around the house, his idea of doing is very different than mine. For instance, when he says he'll do the dishes, what he really means is he'll do them in a few weeks.

Know what? I don't have a few weeks. I need to make my lunch for work and I need a clean knife. One.Clean.Knife.

See? Legit.

Still, I've been thinking a lot about my outlook. Mostly because Chuck and I have a friend—let's call her Shits Rainbows—on Facebook who has made it her mission to sprinkle her 400+ friends with healthy doses of I'm-so-happy-to-be-alive-I-need-to-profess-it-on-Facebook.

She's so sugary happy that Chuck and I actually call each other during the day to snicker over her status updates. Stuff like:

"Just baked fresh muffins, my friends. The smell of apples is in the air. A bird is chirping outside my window. The sunbeams are illuminating my foyer. Savor each moment!"

GAG.

And: "My six-month-old little prince and I are off to the grocery store! Cooking dinner tonight for the love of my life. Lighting candles. Baking fresh bread and garlic mashed potatoes. Great end to the weekend. Life is good!"

BLECH.

It never seems to end.

Many times I have thought about canceling her updates. I just couldn't take her singsong enthusiasm for the most banal of activities. Grocery shopping with a baby? Shoot me. And why the hell did people need to know she was making garlic mashed potatoes? Why weren't regular spuds good enough?

(I swear, this is the shit that keeps me up at night.)

After a few months of having her sunshine in my feed, though, I noticed something happening. I noticed that her sunny outlook was making me think about small moments I'd had that I could kinda sorta maybe be more appreciative of. Not on Facebook, per se, but in my own consciousness.

Moments like tickling Diddlydoo after his bath. Like hugging Chuck—really hugging him—and feeling like he is still my best friend. Like loving my mother because she does my dishes and vacuums even while she's calling me an asshole because I tell her not to do so much.

Was I stopping to appreciate the small, happy moments enough? Was I sharing enough of the good stuff, or was sarcasm blinding me to the beauty of my sunbeam-lit foyer?

More importantly, what would happen if I started blowing my happy chunks all over my friends on Facebook?

I set to task one day and wrote this:



I won't bore you with the responses I got, except to say that they ranged from "Who are you?" to "No really, who are you?"

That's okay. It really is. People want me to grumble and kvetch. Their false assumption that my life is rusty nails and burnt toast provides their insecurities and inferiority complexes with sustenance.

Simply, I feed their broken inner child. And I'll continue to do so. I can spit snark while nuzzling my noggin. My newfound love for the daily slices of Heaven in my life can be my little secret.

As can the fact that I still have Shits Rainbows in my news feed—and that she makes me smile as much as she makes me throw up in my mouth.

Ah, Facebook.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Well, I did take my pants off...

So, um, about that exciting night I was supposed to have...without the two kids or my husband or the cats or...wait, is that everyone living at my house?

Yes, Mrs. Mullet, it is. Even though I hung this witch-cat by the fireplace and give myself a heart attack every time I walk into the living room because I think it is a person



it is not.

(Mental note to self: Take down the damn witch-cat already.)

You probably want to know what I did. Or maybe—hopefully—your own life is so balls-to-the-wall exciting you could give a flying tortilla about what I did with an entire night all to myself.

I'm stalling. Can you tell?

I'm stalling because I...

I...

I...

I used my Get Out of Jail Free card to buy two Mums at a local farm stand. Then I drove home and was in bed by 9 pm.

And you know what? I'm still friggen tired. When does the fatigue pass? When?!

Monday, October 10, 2011

What I'd really like to do is sleep...

By fucking gawd I made it through another Monday.

Getting through the day kind of felt like sliding down a metal pole on my teeth, but hey—hey!—tomorrow is Tuesday, and you know what that means...

It means that Chuck told me I'd better not come home right after work. He wants me to spend the evening doing something for myself. He's going to feed the kids and put them to bed and he doesn't want to see me until at least 9 pm.

I should be thrilled, but I have no idea what the hell to do. Borders went out of business, so there goes the ever-so-cliche idea of sipping a latte while browsing through stacks of books. The local watering hole is way too local. I don't like strangers touching my feet, so no pedicure. I splurged on some fall clothes last weekend, so no more shopping for me.

The movies are too expensive. Ditto for a cut and color. I'm not looking for random sex, so cruising the commuter parking lots along I-95 is out. And I don't like horses, so there'll be no horseback riding.

What.The.Hell.Do.I.Do?

What?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Woe is a hoe named me

I have been struggling.

I have been sick. I have had to call out of work. Chuck has been sick. I have had to call out of work. The kids have been sick. I have had to call out of work. My grandmother was sick and my mother, our lovely free babysitter, had to leave to care for her. I have had to call out of work.

Some mornings I misplace my keys, and I am late for work. Some mornings I realize I have spit-up and boogers on my shirt, and I am late for work. Some mornings I simply lose track of time.

I am late.
I am late.
I am late.

Where is Chuck? Working. Always working. Trying to rebuild his career. His run of being a stay-at-home father will be short-lived this time. He has been out of full-time work since 2008. He wants more. He wants to be back in the saddle.

I support him in that.

But really, the madness needs to stop. After a bad run of morning tardiness I sometimes hide my purse and coat in the bathroom nearest the parking lot so I can walk the long halls to my office as if I've been in all morning. Then, after I've unlocked my office and turned on the lights and answered a few emails I go retrieve my belongings.

It's all a bit nerve-wracking. And I didn't even tell you about the day my mother was babysitting the kids and driving around Mulletville with them so they'd nap, and how she looked back and saw that Junior's face was covered in blood from a bloody nose and how she drove to my office because she was so scared.

I missed a meeting that day. I met her in the bathroom of Mulletville Corp. Cleaned Junior up. Bought him crackers from the vending machine. Held him. Kissed Diddlydoo.

Ah yes, the secret lives of corporate bathrooms.

Not as riveting as how to poop in a corporate bathroom , but hey you're lucky I showed up for this post.

Or maybe I'm the lucky one.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Case Study #2: "Still pissed about garbage night."

Some of you may remember Case Study #1: Garbage night in which I suffered from ire-incited insomnia while Chuck enjoyed unperturbed slumber.

Two years of ire-incited insomnia later I'd like to present Case Study #2: "Still pissed about garbage night." Alternate title: "You call that a weekend?"

Yes, I'm referring to that sandy island I spent all week dog paddling to. I went to an island all right. An island of BVDs*.



I'd like to again quote the article "Chores Can Cause Conflict in Your Marriage" by Sheri and Bob Stritof: "...74 percent of men said the chores were shared; 51 percent of women said chores were shared. Twenty-six percent of men said one person did the housework; 49 percent of the women said the same."

Chuck, your 74 percent is giving my 51 percent dishpan hands, under-eye circles, a serious backache and a mean case of the where's-the-meat-cleaver-I-would-like-to-sledgehammer-your-slumber.

A male's perception of his share in responsibilities vs. the actual amount contributed is so skewed, I bet Sheri wrote the whole fucking article and Bob came along and signed his name and went and told everyone they wrote it together.

Nice job, Bob. Have some BVDs you need laundered?

Yah, that's what I thought.

(If this is the last time the term BVD was in fashion I'm pretty old, huh?)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sometimes the weekend feels like an island

I spend all week trying to swim to.

Yet despite all that swimming, my ass never gets smaller.

**Sigh**

(If you write a post about your patookis and Google "bikini butt" because you think a picture of a great butt would add to your post, be prepared to see a lot of pictures of Kim Kardashian's ass. Ca-ching!)

Monday, September 19, 2011

You can lie down with me if you want

A package was sitting in the mailbox today. For little old me. I raced back to the house and tore it open. I didn't even let Junior help me with the wrapping paper, that's how excited I was.

Inside I found this, from my mother:



I immediately started laughing hysterically. Both Junior and Chuck looked at me like I was crazy.

"Permission to nap?" I howled. "That's the funniest thing I've ever heard. Like what's standing between me and a good nap is permission." I fell to the floor and held my stomach. I was rolling around good.

"How about two kids? How about a flea infestation and working full time? How about a sink full of dishes, a washing machine full of clothes and a table full of empty dinner plates? Nope! That's not keeping me from repose on the couch. Permission is."

Chuck and Junior stood over me.

"Oh, that's good," I hooted. "That's really friggen good. Thank God she sent me that book. Everything is so much clearer. I now know what's keeping me from restoring my spirit."

I wiped the tears from my eyes.

"Need a hand up or are you staying on the ground?" Chuck asked.

"No, no," I said. "I'm fine right here. I'm giving myself permission to take a nap right here and now. 'Mrs. Mullet, you are free to sleep for as long as you need!' "

"You've lost it."

I placed a hand over my eyes. "If you need anything from the fridge, please step over me."



"Mommy! Get up!"

"Sssshhhh, Junior. I'm napping."

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I wouldn't even go for free booze

Hmmm, I'm going to file this under "Things I do not—under any circumstances—want to do after spending a week without power, refrigeration and hot water":



As I wrote before, thanks to Hurricane Irene I'm all set with the colonial era.

I have a few more things to say about my kids' pediatrician but for now it'll have to wait. The picture of that woman making candles "the old fashioned way" is giving me a serious case of the twitches.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Top 10 signs you should switch pediatricians

1. When feeling the lump on your kid's head that was caused by a fall off the bed, the pediatrician says, "NBD" then scoffs when you ask him to explain what the hell NBD means ("No big deal").

2. You learn more about your child's health after one visit with the on-call pediatrician across the street than you did in the eight months with your pediatrician.

3. You find yourself daydreaming about the on-call pediatrician across the street a lot—like every time you make an appointment with your own pediatrician.

4. Your pediatrician admits that he kept you waiting for 20 minutes because he was in his office watching the Tour de France.

5. Your pediatrician also admits that the only reason he stopped watching the Tour de France was because one of his staff made him feel guilty about keeping you waiting.

6. During office visits, one of your pediatrician's testicles bulges to the side because his tapered jeans are too tight.

7. One of the first things your pediatrician asks you during an appointment is whether or not you noticed his new BMW in the parking lot.

8. You find yourself trying to focus on the good times with your pediatrician instead of the shit that's pissed you off: "Well, he did laugh when I threw my underwear at him..."

9. After ranting endlessly to your husband about your pediatrician, he shrugs his shoulders and says, "Do what you have to do," which in manspeak is code for "You're right but I don't want to be the one to call the office and explain why we're leaving."

10. You write a post entitled "Top 10 signs you should switch pediatricians."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I could buy a lot of wrinkle cream

I'm pooped.

Pooooooooooooooooped.

I get home from work at five. We take the kids for a walk. Make dinner. Do baths. Pajamas. Teeth brushing. Searching for lost stuffed animals. A better night light. Bed time stories.

Then there is the after dinner clean-up. Bottle washing. Sippy cup sudsing. I put laundry away. Sort bills. Make my lunch for the next day. Pick my nose. Straighten up.

Sometimes I remember to wash my face and apply wrinkle cream. Sometimes I remember to brush my own teeth. Junior told me my teeth are yellow, so I've been swishing with a teeth whitener.

Sometimes I get lost in thought and forget what I'm swishing. I find myself staring in the mirror and I think, What the hell is in my mouth?

I get into bed at 10:30 p.m. Then I lie there. My body has grown so accustomed to children robbing it of REM, it won't let me fall asleep.

They'll call for you the minute you close your eyes, it says. Don't even bother. Just lie here and obsess about things you can't control.

Ok, I answer. What shall it be tonight?

How about world hunger?

Great, I say.

At 3 a.m. the nurse next door slams her car door after working the night shift. I realize I've again had the dream where I'm dating Jack Nicholson and he gives me $1,000 cash to spend at Sephora.

What does it mean? I wonder.

I don't fucking know, my brain answers. But now you're awake and Diddlydoo will be up at 5:30. Why don't you just get up and start your day?

At 5:45 a.m. my little creep of a nine-month-old awakes. Because I am working and because I want to spend time with him, I crawl out of bed and give him a bottle. I kiss him. A lot. He falls back asleep.

I get into the shower. Shampoo my ass and soap up my hair. Chuck hands me a cup of coffee. I drink it in between shaving and yawning.

Then comes the drive into work.

My commute consists of 20 minutes on a small highway. The ride faces the sun. If I'm especially tired, the ride gets hazy and I imagine that I and my fellow commuters are moths drawn to a flame. Mindlessly heading toward that which will kill us (or at least singe our brains): Corporate America.

(You come here for the deep thoughts, admit it.)

And then. Then I arrive at work and spend a good part of the morning wiping spit up off my shirt and wondering why the hell I'm having a reoccurring dream about Jack Nicholson.

Oh shit. I just realized I'm still swishing.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Apparently memory lane is lined with dogs and crazy bosses

It's Thursday night. I've been slurpin' the vino. Getting all misty about how quickly time is passing.

So I decided to play the blog game of "Where was I on September 8th of 2010, 2009 and 2008?"

Here's what I found out:

On this day in 2010, I let my male coworker cry on my shoulder and designed a college course. In 2009, I was worrying that Junior could see dead people. In 2008, I shared my lack of knowledge about foreign dogs (Earth shattering, I know).

It hit me: Without this blog I'd have no recollection of where I've been for the last three years.

No recollection.

I'm going to need a moment to ponder whether or not that's a good thing.

Slurp, slurp.

Oops, I spent that moment guzzling.

Ooopsie.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bug-eyed, batty lovey goodness



Junior drew this person. I love it because it looks exactly how I feel lately: on the verge of losing my shit. (If you're new here, I recently went back to work after an extended maternity leave, we've been dealing with a flea infestation and lack of power due to Hurricane Irene, and I'm out of wine.)

I also love the drawing because it's a little glimpse into the inner workings of my four-year-old son's mind. Everyone shits rainbows over babies and yes, they do smell nice after a bath, but to me this is one of the most beautiful times in my child's life. In my life.

Junior picks up the guitar and makes up songs. He tells knock-knock jokes. He tells me he wants smicken smocken smooken for breakfast. He draws freaky ass people with bug eyes.

He makes me laugh.

I never told my younger brother this, and I probably should have, but the only reason I survived my parents' divorce was because he made me laugh. He farted with his armpit. Incessantly. He'd play the cello from the closet while everyone was trying to sleep. He'd stealthily mock the tour guides on the horrible museum visits on which my father dragged us—to the point that my father would abandon us for another group.

They were the best of times, they were the...

Oh, right, you know how it goes.

So that's it. I'm in love with Junior and his drawings of people with bulging eyes. I want to freeze time. I want a guarantee that I'll live to be 100 so I can spend the next 64 years marveling at his accomplishments, the man he'll grow to be, and the glorious gift of creative expression we've all been given.

Can you do that for me?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Mama needs meat

Power. Praise be, we have power again.

Now there's just the small matter of this:



A trite matter considering but still, a matter. Thank gawd I churned all that butter when the storm hit.

I mean really, thank gawd.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thank you, Hurricane Irene, for making me hate the colonists

I suppose I could try to be positive about Hurricane Irene, given that my home wasn't flooded or obliterated by a downed tree and the fact that I've been able to escape to my father's house during the day and enjoy the creature comforts of his electricity.

But I just don't want to.

We haven't had power in Mulletville Lite since 7 a.m. Sunday morning. I think the storm hit at what, 6:55 a.m.? To say it's been the longest week of my life would be an understatement. And it's only Wednesday.

If you read my last post, you'll see my household was battling a flea infestation. An infestation made liveable by incessant vacuuming and laundering of linens.

Guess what you can't do without power?

Yep. Vacuum and laundry.

Do you have any idea what it's like to try to monitor a flea issue by candlelight and flashlight? It's making me batty.

On top of the lack of power, the lack of hot water with which to wash Diddlydoo's bottles or to bathe, and the not-so-quaint activities of living like you're camping indoors (peanut butter and bread for dinner, anyone?), the kids have double ear infections.

Guess what kind of medicine the doctor prescribed?

One that requires refrigeration. I've got the kids' medicine in a cooler by the bed, and I've been monitoring the cooler's temperature like it's holding organs.

Ice cube by ice cube.

And how bout those candles? If we ever hear of a hurricane approaching again, unscented candles will be at the top of the list. My house smells like the fucking Yankee Candle Company.

Though it does mask the smell of rotting food in my refrigerator well.

Between the pine-scented and holly berry-scented candles and the battery-operated window lights we've been using to keep Junior from wailing "I can't seeeeeeeeee!" during the night (God I miss nightlights), it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

Except for the lack of snow, of course. Keeping the windows open and enjoying the cool nights was a real blessing.

Until the neighbor bought a generator.

Do you have any idea how loud a generator is? It emits an obnoxious gutteral rumble that literally shakes your brain. You lie awake at night dreaming of blowing the thing up. Or accidentally pushing your neighbor onto a downed wire.

Sleep? What's that?

Yes, I hate Hurricane Irene. I hate living without power. I hate the pitch black darkness of nighttime and the Holiday Wreath scent of my home. Most of all, I hate that every time you start to talk about how miserable you are, someone pipes up with "It could have been worse" or "At least you're safe."

You want to know what I'm grateful for? I'm grateful I was never a goddamn Pilgrim. If this is what life was like, it must have sucked. And we don't even have livestock.

I'm so soured by this brush with rusticity I'm banning all things colonial from our lives. We're never going on a family trip to Plymouth Plantation or Colonial Williamsburg. Never. I won't even chaperone a school field trip.

Historic Jamestown can bite me.

Right after the fleas are done.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Honey, this foreplay just isn't working for me

Ha! Thought this would be a post about sex, ey? Well, it's not.

It's a post about fleas.

Our damn cats got one from the windowsill again or someone came into our home with a straggler and the damn thing leaped off his leg and multiplied like crazy.

For the past two weeks life has been a hellish marathon of vacuuming, laundry and extreme paranoia: “What’s that? Oh, God, it is one? IS IT????”

I am a woman consumed. I have nightmares about fleas. I Google flea-related issues obsessively. It’s all I talk and think about. I’ve retained so much information I could teach a godamn panel about fleas.

And when I say life has been a hellish marathon, I mean life has been a hellish marathon:

• I’ve sprinkled our rugs and furniture with baking soda and salt (which dehydrates the fleas), then Fleabusters. Chuck and I have vacuumed every surface twice a day. We’ve put baking soda, salt, Fleabusters and flea collars in our vacuum bags then thrown them away.

• Our cats have been treated multiple times and banished to the outdoor porch.

• Chuck bombed the basement twice. Then he sprayed. Then I Fleabustered the rugs and vacuumed.

• I’ve washed all our linens, cushions, clothes, stuffed animals and towels in hot water. Then I washed them again.

• I’ve bathed Junior in lemon-scented Dawn (Dawn is known to kill fleas on contact), then sprayed his ankles with bug spray. I’ve put white socks on the two kids so we can see if any fleas jump onto their feet.



• I’ve put shallow pans of water and dish soap on top of sheets of white paper and under desk lamps (fleas are naturally attracted to the light and the color white and will jump into the bowl of soapy water).



Still...they have lingered.

Adding to the craptasticness of the situation is the steady stream of company we’ve had. My mother visited from Assachusetts. She slept on the couch before we realized it was a flea motel. She went back to Assachusetts—with my grandmother. Then my mother found two fleas in her bathroom. My grandmother has a bee-hive hairdo that’s shellacked to her head. Do you know how many fleas can hang out in a beehive hairdo if one penetrated the wall of hairspray?

She may very well have brought enough fleas home to infest the entire senior center.

Chuck’s mother and step-father came for dinner. They swore their scratching was psychosomatic, but pizza just wasn’t the same.

My friend Sandy came down for the weekend. Here she is spraying Off onto the bottoms of her shoes.



She kept her clothes in the car. She showered with Dawn. She held Diddlydoo and played cars with Junior while I vacuumed. We sacrificed Chuck to the couch so she could sleep flea free in our bed.

We spent a good portion of our visit—which was supposed to be luxurious girl time—staring at each other’s ankles and crying, “Was that just one? Was it? Oh, God, no!”

My mother returned for Tour de Flea part deux. I read her diary (I am not overbearing!). She called me at work all day:

“I think I saw one. Nope. Just a mole on Junior’s leg. No, wait. There’s one. Oh, nope. Just lint. Oh wait! There’s one right there. Oops, no, it’s a grain of sand. I can’t stop itching! I haven’t seen one but I keep scratching. Oh wait! What’s that by the door?”

So we vacuumed again. I bought a family-size tub of Dawn. My mother kept her clothes in the car in a plastic bag.

Finally—FINALLY—we couldn’t take it anymore. Chuck and I called an exterminator. Mike from Petrin’s Pest Control. Dear Mike. Bless his heart, he talked to me about fleas for half an hour. He empathized. He listened. He said he’d be there the next day.

Before he could come, however, Chuck and I needed to get everything up off the floor. As for the basement, where the problem was the worst, he suggested I go to Home Depot and buy Tyvek suits—

"No need for the headgear, heh, heh..."

—so Chuck and I could get to work without getting attacked.

Ladies, you want a hot steamy night with your hubby? After you put the kiddies to bed, don some Tyvek suits and move furniture for a few hours in an airless basement while watching fleas snap at your ankles.

How the sex industry hasn’t made a porno out of that is a mystery.

Now it’s been a few days since the exterminator came. Things were quiet over the weekend, but there’s been a resurgence. Apparently the adults have died but the next generation have hatched and need to die. For the next two weeks (eggs hatch out in two week intervals) we’ll still need to vacuum daily, to wash everything in hot water, to send our guests home with a party favor of Dawn and to examine our children and clothing with paranoid diligence:

“What’s that? Is it one? IS IT????”

As for the basement, where the problem is the worst, Mike the exterminator recommended that Chuck and I put on our Tyvek suits again, go down there and make some noise so the damn things hatch from their impenetrable eggs, drop onto the floor and die.

We may need to do that for as long as three months to finally be rid of the problem.

I can just see it now: “Oh Chuck...I’m not wearing anything under my Tyvek suit...yoohoo....Chuck...”

Just shoot me, ok? Wouldja?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Everything comes with a price tag

If your mother frequently babysits your children, you may happen to stumble upon her diary one day, which she may have left on top of some newspapers on your kitchen table while she ran to the grocery store.

You may happen to leaf through a few pages, against your better judgment. (Alas, old habits are hard to break.)

You may happen to scan the pages for your name and, in doing so, come across a page in which she describes you as over-bearing and too serious, both with her and your children. You may also notice that she called your husband detached and depressed. "Runs errands for hours, seemingly."

When your mother returns from the store you may have to shotgun a bottle of wine to keep yourself from strangling her. After she leaves you may find yourself muttering like a madman and doing things you don't normally do, like riding your son's scooter around the neighborhood as you curse.

But hey, it's free childcare, right? And no one loves your kids like your parents do, right?

Sigh.

It doesn't get easier, does it?

Monday, August 15, 2011

I've held better titles

After being home with the two boys for the winter, re-entry to Mulletville Corp has been a bit trying.

Granted there are some perks to re-entering the workforce. Like, I now know what day of the week it is. I have a reason to brush my hair and change my underwear.

I get to enjoy the wit of co-workers (e.g., after showing a colleague a letter I received in which the addresser wrote “Dear Mrs. Mullet, Director of Pubic Relations” I now get a lot of inter-office mail addressed to that title).

And (dare I say it?) the quiet calm of my office can be delicious. Some mornings I feel downright guilty leaving Chuck flailing in a sea of children’s tears. I don’t have to manage the meltdown over toast that wasn’t cut to a four-year-old’s specifications or the cranky fits of a teething eight-month-old.

Ah, peace and quiet.

But things have changed at Mulletville Corp in the seven months I’ve been out on maternity leave. There are talks of layoffs and cuts in health benefits. Company lunches have turned into no frills, pot luck get-togethers in someone’s car. No one is allowed to order copier paper or pens without senior approval.

You know times are tough when you need a secret password to get sticky notes.

Yes, people look grim—so grim that the Marketing Head has charged me, the Director of Pubic Relations, with a call-to-action to boost morale.

So I’ve been walking around the building a lot, asking people about activities we could plan that would help them feel better.

I don’t know if the economy has beaten people to such pulp that they’d confide in a tree stump or if people mistake my forced interest for introspective concern, but holy frick, people want to talk for hours—and they don’t want to talk about what they can do to boost morale, they want to talk about why morale is so damn low.

I’m starting to feel like a free shrink.



In the last week I’ve learned more about the personal tragedies of the people of Mulletville Corp than I ever dreamed possible. The weird thing is that everyone's confessional concludes the same way. They say, "Cherish every moment because it goes so quickly."

Some have even heightened the dramatic impact of their parting wisdom by clutching my hand or looking me pointedly in the eye (except for the guy with the lazy eye: he looked me in the boob).

The first few times I heard it, I walked away thinking, Yes, we should cherish each moment. The next few times I thought, Yup, I’ll try. The last few times I walked away thinking, For fuck’s sake okay, I get it.

Here’s the thing: I understand we need to treasure life because we don’t know when our number will be up, but you cannot possibly cherish each and every moment of your life. Your head would explode.

Besides, not every moment is worth cherishing.

Sometimes a drive in the car is just that. If you spend that car ride treasuring your personal freedom to drive and your financial success at owning a vehicle and your functioning ears that enable you to listen to the radio and your glasses that allow you to marvel at the beautiful scenery (sorry Connecticut-dwellers, that doesn’t apply to you), you might miss the turn.



To my co-workers who weighted down their wisdom with the “Children grow so fast, savor every second” stuff, I.Get.It. Ohmigawd do I get it.

I know in a blink of an eye my children will be teenagers. I know that too soon they’ll be grown with families of their own and I’ll be left with nothing more than an empty house full of memories but again, you cannot possibly siphon out the warm fuzzies from every second of your children’s youth.

Nor do I want to.

In fact, what I wish for my co-workers—and for myself after being accosted with all this dire seize-life-by-the-balls-right-NOW gook—is to banish the “cherish every moment” thoughts entirely. They are a direct impediment to the blissful state of just being, and it’s in that plain Jane state of just being that the aha moments come. The moments when the Universe gives you a beautiful gift that you hadn’t been trying to force. The moments when you realize that everyone surrounding you at that exact moment is the warmest, safest blessing.

The very moments you want to, you know, cherish.

In Colorado.

Go Colorado!

In defense of adoration—even in the deli line

The toddler was all over his mother. Cam and I were in line at the deli at Mulletville Lite's town grocery store, watching the lov...