ABOUT ME

About me: My husband Chuck, our six-year-old Junior, our three-year-old Everette and I live in a town in Connecticut I affectionately call Mulletville Lite (aka my childhood hometown). My friends call me Nutjob, and they're right. In my husband's spare time he dresses up as a Viking and chases ghosts (and I'm the nutjob?). When I'm not busy working as a graphic designer, I lie in a ball in the corner.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Woohoo. Another sandwich

I finally did it. I hard boiled eggs for Easter. There were some, um, casualties, but without your egg-pertise (da dun dun) I wouldn't have had this lovely bowl of...eggs.



Or this:



Next up: Figuring out what the fuck to do with leeks. I mean really. What end do you even use?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A lesson in cats and potatoes

Did I ever mention that we took Junior out of preschool before Diddly was born? My maternity leave started in December and I wanted him home with me and his new brother.

Taking Junior out was a welcome relief. He never really took to preschool; drop-offs continued to be a disaster, even after five months. And holy hell, the price tag for three days a week could have provided food for a small continent.

Besides all that, Junior was going through a phase where he wouldn't go to the bathroom without first removing his pants. When I picked Junior up at school, his pants were always on backwards. Always. When I asked the teacher about it, she said he wanted them that way, and who was she to stand in the way of his personal expression?

Personal expression my ass. The truth was she didn't want to help him put his damn pants on. I know that because Junior told me as much.

For what we were paying, his pants should have been washed and pressed and on correctly.

Since he's been home with me, Junior and I have spent a lot of time together (obviously). I've loved it. I really have. Having said that, caring for two small children has been incredibly challenging and look, I'm no saint. Sometimes I lose my patience. Sometimes I raise my voice. Sometimes I just can't say "Please stand still so I can brush your teeth" one more time in a nice, soothing voice because honestly? I'm going to lose my shit if I have to say it again.

So, there's the first part of the equation: Lots of time together (A) + Mrs. Mullet isn't a saint (B).

Now for C.

As a general rule, Chuck and I try not to bicker in front of Junior. But it happens. One minute you're slicing into your baked potato and the next you're exchanging words over whose turn it is to drag the 25-pound cat to the vet.

(It's Chuck's.)

Because I'm a weirdo, I often stop mid-spat and ask Chuck—jokingly—"Do you even like me?" It's a silly question, but it usually works. He'll soften and say of course. Then he'll forget what we were arguing about. Cue kissing and making up. Eating of baked potato. Voila.

I knew little ears were listening (I love that expression—it makes those nosy preschooler ears seem so sweet and benign, like something out of Goodnight Moon) but the other night, something happened that opened my eyes to how much they were absorbing.

Chuck was working a freelance job. It was the end of a long day full of meltdowns and tears. One of those days when everyone was off their game. Junior wouldn't stay in bed. I was trying to get Diddly to bed. Every time Diddly nodded off Junior would jump out of bed and race down the hall.

"Mommy! I need water."

"MOMMY! I have to tell you something! MOMMY! Where's my water?"

Diddly would start wailing.

Lather, rinse, repeat. I was shot. I kind of lost it.

I yelled.

Loudly.

Junior winced and skulked down the hall and as he did I heard it—a whisper:

"Do you even like me?"

I died a little. Right then and there. The arrow flew down the hall and pierced me in the heart. I put Diddly down, let him cry, and gave Junior a big hug. I told him I loved him.

It's moments like that (and that infamous winter hike) that render me completely and utterly humble. I realize how the commitment to my children is as expansive and demanding as the universe, and how just when I think I'm doing a decent job, life shows me I can do better. I can take deeper breaths, count to 10.

I can accept that some nights are going to be harder than others, but lowering the decibel of my own voice needs to be part of the equation.

Is that D? Yah, I guess so.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Was the invisible jet just a vehicle for ogling?

I'm not quite sure what happened. Life is suddenly on fast forward.

Now that we have a large yard and spring is showing signs of life—real buds on the trees!—we're outside playing. Running and jumping. Chasing robins. We never sit down.

Diddly is four months old and had his first taste of rice cereal. And Junior? He's finally showing interest in something other than the Island of Sodor: superheros. He literally woke up one morning and demanded we tell him everything we know.

Chuck's been able to regale Junior with tale upon tale of superhero triumph but me? My superhero knowledge is rudimentary at best. All I know is that as a child I wanted to be Wonder Woman. More than anything. I didn't care about the other superheros. I had the Wonder Woman bathing suit and underoos and whenever I could, I spun around my room in them, happy as a pig in shit.



I told Junior as much as we Googled "Wonder Woman" so he could see what she looked like. His eyes practically popped out of his head.

Suddenly "Mommy wanted to be Wonder Woman, Junior" sounded more like "Mommy wanted to have big hooters and a little waistline so everyone would lust after her, Junior." The fact that Wonder Woman had an invisible jet and a magic lasso didn't seem quite as impressive as her cleavage; even Junior seemed to get that.

Ah, we give little girls such heights to aspire to.

I digress.

After Junior's introductory superhero tutelage was complete, Chuck and I asked him which superhero he'd like to be. He said Superman. Not 10 minutes later I got an email asking if I'd like to review a costume. Did they have Superman? Yes. They even had a Superman costume with muscles (aka the Deluxe Kids Superman Muscle Chest Costume).

Sweet serendipity, Batman! And holy six-pack:



Junior loves his built-in muscles. He zips around the house fighting evil (hence why all the pictures are blurry):



He gnarls fierce gnarls:



He's a quick study, although he can't seem to remember that Superman sometimes fought alongside the Incredible Hulk, not the Incredible Troll.

It's a great costume, really. Hand-washable. Affordable (under $30). Sturdy. Bendy. Comfortable. Comes with a cape (which can be worn by itself) and belt. The one problem? Superman has spent a lot of time itching his neck:



It's easily solved with a turtleneck underneath, but for now, it's enough to make Junior eager to hang up his cape.



And return to the Island of Sodor.

Sigh.

(If your kid's into superheros, check out these. There's even a Wonder Woman costume. Built-in cleavage not included.)

Monday, April 18, 2011

They won't shut up

I can hear them from the closet.



Morning and night...



Bitching and moaning...











...

...



I guess I can't blame them. If I'd sat in a basement in Mulletville Lite for 30 years, waiting for liberation, and it came in the form of a trip to Mulletville, then a trip right back to Mulletville Lite, I'd be pissed too.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Making mountains out of mud puddles

One of the biggest perks of living in Mulletville Lite (besides not being robbed by crackheads) is that the park and playground are within walking distance—assuming, of course, that you want to walk.

Today I did; Junior did not. Halfway there I had to piggyback him—uphill—while pushing the stroller.

I now have a kink in my small intestine.

But we made it.

It has rained all week and I'd assumed the playground would be dry. It was, except for a few deep puddles under the slides.



Guess where everyone wanted to play, even though there was a playground of swings, slides and monkey bars?

Ding! Ding! Why, in the mud of course.

After being at the playground for a few minutes I could see it was divided into two camps: those who were letting their children play in the mud, and those who were not. As Junior stood at the puddle's perimeter and watched to see my expression, I realized I had to choose a camp.

Everyone was watching.

I stepped back and weighed the pros and cons.

The puddle was deep. Junior would be wet up to the knee. But it was a nice day. He'd be warm. The non-mud people seemed annoyed by their children's gravitation toward the puddle, despite their threats of "We're going to leave if you step foot in that puddle." Did I want to spend the next hour yelling? No.

A girl was making mud stew. Maybe Junior would like to play with her. But his shoes. They'd be caked with thick brown mud. That non-mud mother who told her son he couldn't get dirty because he wasn't wearing his mud boots might have a point.

Wait, what the hell? You can only play in mud if you're wearing mud boots? That kid was definitely going to have issues later in life.

But yuck. Who knew how long the puddles had been there. Don't bacteria grow in stagnant water? Is that why that other mom told her kid she couldn't drink her juice box if she put her hands in that mud? Is that why she was dousing her with hand sanitizer?

Oh, Jesus. I'd never gotten sick from playing in the mud. Junior wouldn't. Mud was fun. Playing in mud was fun for children. What kind of mother did I want to be? One who worried about the consequences of mud or one who let her child explore and get dirt under his nails?

"Go ahead Junior. You can go in the—"

I looked up. Junior was ankle-deep in the muck, pretending to feed grass to a pit of alligators. I can't be sure, but I think 45 minutes had passed since I'd embarked on my inner Tour de Mud journey.

He.Was.Covered.

Some might call my soul searching freakish, but I wanted to write this post for myself. I want to remember to let go of the "nos" and "don'ts." I don't want Junior to need special boots to play. I want to remember that Junior is a young boy who needs to connect with nature in a tactile way and who needs to relish the cool splattering of mud on a spring day.

I want to remember, always, that this is the good stuff. The letting go. The freedom.

The mud streaks on my shirt as I piggybacked Junior home and his shoes and pants gripped my waist.

Ah yes.

Glorious ^%#&ing mud.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Did they ever determine how many licks, dammit?


I haven't been to my blog for a week, and I can't even say where I've been exactly. Somewhere between my elbow and asshole I guess.

Caring for two children has turned my brain to absolute mush. I don't chew my food. Cutting my toenails feels like a luxury. I can't speak anymore. My brother Ted and his girlfriend Angela come out "Ed and Tangela." I tell Junior to wash his teeth and brush his face. I wake up with clenched fists.

Wait, no, that's wrong. I don't wake up—because I never sleep. Coordinating nap times between two kids is a feat I haven't been able to accomplish. And on the mornings Junior sleeps until 8 am, Diddly is up at 6:30 am, and vice versa. Or the nights that Diddly manages to sleep a 7-hour stretch, Junior wakes up screaming five times because his stuffed bear is tangled up in the sheets and HE CAN'T FIND IT PLEASE MOMMY WHERE IS MY BEAR?

You know that famous question, How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop? So over that. I like to ask How many layers of concealer does it take to cover Mrs. Mullet's freaken under-eye circles?

How many?!

I'm not complaining. I'm really not. I just never imagined it would be this much work. When one kid's pooping, the other is falling off the couch. When one is hungry, the other needs his hand taken out of the light socket.

And we haven't even started solids yet. You know what happens when you introduce the butternut squash and peas.

Pan-de-mo-ni-um.

I do manage to get a break here and there, between Chuck, my mother and the mailman. But getting a break feels very much like the time between boxing rounds when your trainer shoots you in the face with water, wipes away the blood and shoves you back in the ring.

Get back in there! Now!

And sometimes getting a break actually makes things worse because you step off the ride for a day and whoah, all those brain cells that started to regroup and heal get rocketed back into the frying pan and suddenly it's all exploding pops! and snaps! and you can hear them screaming "Omigawd we're dying all over again."

...

...

...

Maybe I should, um, go to bed now. Go pet my withered, fragile brain cells while I have a few minutes of quiet.

There, there. There, there.

...

...

...

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzdroolzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzdroolz
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzdroolzzzzzzzz
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Monday, April 4, 2011

Who doesn't love Yahtzee?!

Well. I feel much better. Here I was, worried that people would leave me scathing comments about my lack of hard boiling ability when in actuality, I got a diverse range of instructions on how to hard boil the perfect egg. Yes, they all involved submerging eggs in water (shocking), but boiling times ranged from zero minutes to 15.

That's, like, half a sitcom of discrepancy.

I still felt lost. And frightened. So very frightened. So I decided to call my 94-year-old grandmother and ask for her advice.

Now, I don't really like my grandmother. She's not a very nice woman. I once told her I went rock climbing and she said, "So you're not dating men anymore?" And because she hails from a time when you not only cooked your own chickens, you strangled them yourself, plucked them yourself and shellacked their clawed feet into a pretty comb, she gets snarly when I giggle over my domestic inabilities.

In her eyes, prepared frozen dinners are the antichrist and anyone who relies upon them is Satan's minion.

Plus (and I hope you're not eating as you read this), she has weird a fixation with afterbirth. She swears it can fix anything, from curly hair to gout. I was born with a precancerous mole and for years she told my father that if he'd only rubbed afterbirth on it, it would have gone away on its own.

Who needs board games when you can sit around rubbing afterbirth on each other? Who?

I digress.

After calling my grandmother and listening to her tear me a new one for not visiting more, I asked, "Grannie, how do you hard boil the perfect egg?"

Do you know what she told me?

Pretty much what everyone else told me. It was really anticlimactic. And now I have to visit her on Wednesday. With the kids. And I'm sure you can guess what she's going to say when she sees Diddly's dry skin...

Yahtzee!

Kudos to NH Girl for having the most efficient remedies to my ailments. Seriously. She told me to call Chuck Norris about my baby's scales, take karate to tone my rear, use said karate to kill Chuck (not the Norris guy, the other Chuck) and then to cook the eggs on my smokin' ass. All in a day's work.

Yahtzee!

Friday, April 1, 2011

I need help. No fooling

Can you share your infinite wisdom with me? I'll publish the best answers. You'll be famous.

Sort of.

1. How do I lube my lizard?

I'm a terrible mother. I haven't taken a lot of pictures of Diddlydoo because he is... hopelessly flaky. Everywhere. His head. His cheeks. His back. The people in the Head and Shoulders commercials have nothing on him. And I hardly bathe him. I worry if I submerge him in water, he'll dissipate.

At Chuck's urging, I took him to the pediatrician.

"He's so crusty!" I told the doctor.

The doctor examined him. "I'd say he's more scaly, actually. He's got the skin of a 90-year-old man!"

(That's one for the baby books.)

So I ask you, what do you do for seriously dry skin? The doctor said to slather Diddly in moisturizer, but is there a mega moisturizer out there for babies that you swear by? Baby oil hasn't worked, except to make Diddly flaky and greasy.

2. How do I tone my tuckus?

I can finally get into my pre-pregnancy jeans. If I stand still, I actually look halfway decent (ok, one-third). The problem is, as soon as I move, everything globs and bobs around. I feel like a shape-shifting sausage link. And forget muffin top. I'm haulin' the whole fricken bakery above my waistline. I have to do something about it.

I'd love to start jogging with Diddly but what do I do about Junior? He hates to walk, but he's too big for a stroller.

So I ask you, how do you exercise with a baby and a 40-pound pre-schooler? Do I piggy-back him while pushing the stroller? Is there some kind of hat he can sit in atop my head?

3. How do I kill Chuck?
Instead of helping me feed Diddly in the middle of the night, Chuck rolls over, rubs his eyes and asks, "Is there anything I can do?" It's not actually a question; it's more of a mid-snore afterthought. The lack of initiative is what enrages me most. I've considered clobbering him with the baby bottle, but that's messy.

So I ask you, what's the quickest and easiest way to off a loved one?

And finally:

4. How do I boil an egg?

I'm, uh, serious here. My lack of egg boiling ability has prevented me from making egg salad (gasp, no!) and from celebrating Easter in typical fashion. Junior has to dye raw potatoes. I know it should be really, really easy to hardboil an egg, but the eggs always crack, or they're not cooked thoroughly.

Please, can you help?