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About me: I'm 42 and added another gherkin to our pickle party of a family. My husband Chuck, our 9-year-old Junior, our 6-year-old Everett, our toddler and I live in a town in Connecticut I affectionately call Mulletville Lite (aka my childhood hometown). My friends call me Nutjob, and they're right. In my husband's spare time he dresses up as a Viking and chases ghosts (and I'm the nutjob?). When I'm not busy working as a graphic designer, I lie in a ball in the corner.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Forget bedroom eyes, take II. The proof's in the...thing on the dish rack?

There's been a Spock ear on the dish rack for two weeks now.

I don't know how it got there. I mean, I know I had a brainstorm last September to throw Chuck a Star Trek-themed surprise birthday party (he's been told he's part alien, remember) and that I had the idea way too close to his actual birthday to actually pull it off but that I tried anyway.

And I know that I ordered 20 Spock ears from Party City way too late for them to arrive on time but that I paid $25 in expedited shipping on the off chance that the force would be with me—oops, wrong star thing thingie—and that they'd come in time for the party.

They didn't. The party was on a Saturday. The box of Spock ears came on Monday.

Then things got busy and the box of Spock ears got pushed to the side. Eventually under something. Somehow the receipt got separated from the box and by the time I was able to remarry the two, the window had passed to return the damn ears.

"Fine," I told the kids. "You can each have two pairs. But we're saving the rest for another occasion."

That immediately earned an enthusiastic nod from Chuck, who I know was imagining us having kinky Vulcan sex.

Mums the word on that, but I will say that the Spock ear extravaganza lasted for all of five minutes—I don't mean you, Chuck!—and that soon there were lone Spock ears all over the living room.

How this one migrated to the kitchen is beyond me, but I'm leaving it there. My reasons are simple:
1) I really hope the mother ship beams me the eff up so I can get out of doing the dinner dishes
2) If I don't move the damn ear, will anyone else?
3) If Chuck really was the die-hard fan of this blog that he proclaims to be, he'd remember pony-tail- means-sex girl and he'd snatch up that ear and start sending me signals

I wonder which will happen first...

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Love bestowed and love denied: the toddler years

My husband Chuck held Junior, Everett and Cam constantly when they were babies. He fed them bottles. He slept with them on his chest all the time. (Seriously, the man logged more nap time than anyone.) He changed their diapers—sort of. He has this annoying habit of pretending to be grossed out by bad smells, so diaper time sounds like this:

"Oh God, it's—gaaaag—horrible, it's—gaaaagg, haaackkk—hand me a wipe I'm going to—gaaaag—omigod I'm going to throw—gaaaaggg, haaackkkk—up—gaaaaggg—oh, it's everywhere I'm really going to—haaaaack—vomit" 

and after listening to this overly dramatic gagging enough times I usually just grab the baby and shout, "Oh Jesus, give me the kid, I'll do it!" 

Even though Chuck was always hands-on—he was a stay-at-home dad with Junior, for Pete's sake— something tragic happened after the kids turned two. They suddenly wanted nothing to do with him and everything to do with me. If Junior caught me talking to Chuck he would scream, "Don't talk to him!"

Everett wouldn't let Chuck brush his teeth or put him to bed. Everett would stand at the top of the stairs and scream bloody murder if he even saw Chuck coming up the stairs at bedtime.

With both boys Chuck would try different tactics. He would tickle them or ignore them or try to make them laugh, but nothing worked. They would always run for me. Chuck would throw his hands up in the air and say, "I'm done" and skulk off. I was left holding a crying toddler, feeling like absolute scum.

I had hoped things might be different with Cam. Chuck never had a daddy's little girl; maybe Cam would be the one who preferred Chuck to me. I hoped and hoped and...

Myah. Nope. Nope. Triple nope. As Chuck puts it: "It's like he suddenly hates me."

Cam will actually point to Chuck and yell, "Not you!" If Chuck tries to sit next to Cam, Cam will climb off the couch and sit on the floor. It's kind of heart breaking. 

Junior and Everett are happy to come to the rescue. They jump into Chuck's arms and say, "Dad, we love you!" That makes it better, but it's still hard for Chuck. He knows that Cam is an affectionate child. Cam showers me with affection. He grabs my face and kisses my chin. He smooths my hair and coos "Muhma" as he gazes into my eyes.

I've never felt so loved by a toddler—and so guilty for it.

But I'm no newbie to this parenting gig. I know this is a phase. Just as it passed with Junior and Everett, it will pass with Cam, and soon enough Chuck will have three sons who are up his ass to go fishing and camping and video game buying.

And then where will I be? Huh? All alone, that's where.


Saturday, April 1, 2017

I can't believe I'm pregnant AGAIN

Nine years ago, pre-children, if I'd sent a text to everyone with this image attached, my phone would have exploded (wait, were we texting nine years ago?).

Now it's met with "Wait, didn't you get fixed?"

The short answer is yes, I did get neutered. The long answer is that I'm saddened that my April Fool's joke doesn't work anymore. I have to find something new, and until I do I have to endure my children's attempts at April Fool's jokes, which include:

"MOM! Everett just threw up!" followed by Everett spewing mouthfuls of water into the toilet.

And "MOM! Cam just pooped on the floor!"

And "MOM! The cat left diarrhea on your favorite blanket!"

And "MOM! I got a detention in school because of my chronic gas!" This assertion was even accompanied by a handwritten note. Too bad I recognize Junior's handwriting.

It's nonstop chuckles.*

*April Fool's.

Monday, March 27, 2017

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

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

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

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

Yet he keeps on smiling. And taxing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For some reason that makes it hurt that much more.

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

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Graphic scenes from a night table

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We took such lovely photos.

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

Mmmm. Beer.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Skunk hair, deer, twerking, and broken glass. Aka, just another day. Aka, can't we just have sex?

What the hell? How did a month pass since my last post?

Oh right...

Chuck threw out his back. Then he had a kidney stone.

Junior came down with a cold. Then he gave the cold to Everett, who gave the cold to the babysitter, who gave the cold to Cam.  

Then, as I was carrying Cam upstairs, I tripped over a shoe box someone had left on the stairs. I fell against the railing, twisted into a sadistically unnatural position, fell into the wall and then fell on my ass (toddler safely in my arms). That wasn't actually what threw out my back. Nope, I threw out my back the next day when the dog bumped into me as I was slouched over, helping Cam get his shoes on, and I fell forward. I didn't want to fall on top of Cam so I spread my arms out, but I twerked the wrong way and face planted onto my cheek and shoulder.

Oh, and my hair! I went in for subtle highlights and came out three hours later looking like a skunk. My sweet brother said I looked like the bride of Frankenstein. It took a box of brown at home plus more brown at the salon to cover up the white streaks. Great news! I have black-ish hair, but it's all one color.

Did I mention that the babysitter, after getting a cold from Everett, told me she couldn't come back for awhile because she's newly pregnant and doesn't want to run the risk of getting sick? Hello again,

Work. There was and is so much work to do! When I wasn't plugging in the heating pad for Chuck, the humidifier for the kids, the hairdryer for myself (surely if I dry my hair enough the black-brown will lighten) or the vacuum (why the hell do the dog and cat shed so much?), I was plugging along, trying to finish all of my work.

My mother visited a bunch too. She was supposed to be my back-up sitter because of the prego babysitter but oopsie, my mother decided to move back to this dreadful state, so she had to leave early to look at houses. Which meant I was plugging away into the wee hours of the morning.

Then the snow. The mother effin snow. I ran outside to cover all the little sprouting plants in my garden with small glass vases--just to shield them--and now I have to find them under the snow before my children do. (Look for my upcoming post: Stupid shit not to put in your yard when you have three children who like to jump in the snow.)

Speaking of things I'll probably forget to do, our water filter, which has been attached to the kitchen sink faucet for five years, decided to crack open one morning, just as I was leaving for work. I forgot to tell the sitter, who was doused in water when she turned it on to get a drink. I also forgot to tell my mother, who came to relieve the sitter and who was also doused in water when she went to get a drink.

I also forgot to tell Chuck, but he was standing next to me when he was covered in exploding water. I laughed so much I had to change my clothes as well, but that's just a shitty side effect of having multiple children and forgetting to clench when you're bowled over laughing.

The filter is still on there. 

Somewhere in there the cat vomited all over the rug and the dog pooped on the floor. Somewhere in there I saw the dentist, whose stupid, perky hygienist told me I was doing a super duper job with my home care, but she could tell by my profusely bleeding gums that I am not flossing. I believe this was after my dye-job but before my babysitter woes, so I still had the wherewithal not stab the hygienist with the sharp thing she'd been scraping my gums with and not to shout I DON'T EVEN HAVE TIME TO POOP SOME DAYS NEVER MIND FLOSS.

Somewhere in there, Junior forgot he had to design a diorama for school and I found myself at Micheal's at 8:30 p.m. looking for miniature white-tailed deer. We settled on brown-tailed deer and shellacked their asses white with Whiteout. Then there were school conferences and I got to bring the deer home.

I bet they'll look cute in the garden next to all the broken glass and dead plants.

And sex. Chuck and I have been trying to get horizontal for a long time. But as you can see, a few things have gotten in the way. I thought tonight might be the night, but he just sent me this text:

So yah, I guess it's official. At 42, I'm a born again virgin. Which means my babysitter is getting laid more than I am.

Seems about right.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Packing up, moving out and moving on: When your baby isn't a baby anymore

When my sons—there's three of them—were newborns and sleeping in a bassinet in our bedroom, I kept a little plastic tub at the end of the bed. I filled it with everything I'd need when they woke up in the middle of the night: diapers, wipes, onesies, bibs, footie pajamas, pacifiers, diaper rash cream, extra nipples, gas drops. It saved me from having to search frantically for things when I was half asleep and they were fussy.

I never really emptied the tub in between kids. I just pushed it to the side (and eventually under the bed) and refilled it when I had the next kid. I know it might sound weird that it contained items from nine years ago—when Junior was a newborn—but it was a comfort thing. Like look, I don't have any more babies but I have this little tub of newborn stuff and that's kind of the same.

Further down that thought train was this: When I have time to sit and cry and reflect on the fact that I no longer have a baby in my life, I will empty it.

Then last night, my best friend let me and Chuck babysit their two month old while they went to dinner around the corner. The kid was a piece of cake, but my friend was gone from 7:30 to 11:30, and I'd forgotten how all consuming a baby can be. Cam plays by himself now. I don't have to carry him everywhere. He feeds himself. I don't have to burp him or rock him to sleep.

Simply put, I have a bit of freedom in my life again. More of me.

This baby...he wore me out. Chuck too. After my friend picked up her baby and said good-bye, I felt wonderful. I grabbed Chuck and said, "Thank you for agreeing to have a third child, but I officially know that I am done with babies. I don't have baby fever. I don't long for a baby. I am ready to move on with my life."

I went upstairs to grab the heating pad from the closet for my shoulder—holding a baby for four hours hurts—and that's when I saw it: the little plastic newborn tub. It was sitting there on the shelf. For the first time in nine years it was empty. 

I ran downstairs with it. "Where did everything in it go?" I asked Chuck.

He told me that barf pans were getting scarce when we all had the puke bug and that he had dumped the contents of my little baby tub onto the floor in a moment of barf pan desperation and let someone yack into it.

I waited for the pang of sadness. I had had ceremonious plans for that tub! I had planned to sit down and go through all the leftover newborn items and have a good cry. That act was supposed to be my official good-bye to babyhood.

But the truth is that every day that Cam, Everett and Junior have grown is a step in the good-bye to babyhood direction. And the good-bye isn't just a one scene act. It's a process—one I had unknowingly started a long time ago.

I remembered what I had said to Chuck just minutes before.

I don't long for a baby.

I went upstairs and put the empty tub back into the closet. I stared at its...emptiness. The Universe had confirmed what I knew in my heart—I am ready to move on with my life—and even better, the Universe had let my husband do the dirty work of emptying it.

I went back downstairs and lay down next to Chuck. We were asleep in five minutes.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Yes! This is EXACTLY what it's like

If you're thinking of having a baby, or if you already have children and you think you may want more, I want you to click on the image below and watch the video.

A friend forwarded the link a few days ago with the message "So cute!" but when I watched the video all I saw were squirming toddlers. And then suddenly I was everywhere I'd ever been trying to hold my very mobile toddler, Cam (who now weighs almost 30 pounds). My older son's karate class; the mall; the grocery store; Mystic Aquarium; the driveway.

Just watch it—and remember: Your baby will turn into this. Without the fur or snout. Obviously. And you won't be wearing a mask or gloves. Unless that's your thing. Because I don't judge. But I do offer free birth the form of baby pandas.

Just watch it!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Can love trump vomit?

Minutes after I wrote my last post in early January, Chuck ran upstairs and said he felt sick. He covered his mouth with his hand—for dramatic effect of course—and sprinted to the bathroom.

One man down. (Loudly and with much fanfare, I might add).

Minutes after that, toddler Cam raced into the room and started doing a weird hiccup + half burp thing. I knew from experience that it meant one thing: toddler spew.

Second man down.

Two days later, Junior came home from school and said he wasn't feeling right. He'd already had the bug (around the time of my birthday), so I wasn't too concerned. Then he dashed to the bathroom and yep, you guessed it, yacked.

Third man down. 

One day later, Everett got off the bus looking positively green. He'd already had the bug (on my birthday), so I didn't pay much attention to it. Then he grabbed the puke pan from Junior and proceeded to vomit.

Fourth man down.

That left me, the cheese, standing alone. I ran to the bathroom (what else was there to do?) and started jogging in place, humming the theme song to Rocky. I punched the air. I bleached the toilet. I did jumping jacks. I Lysoled the cat.

"You can do this! This bug won't take you down!" I shouted.

I called Chuck and boldly announced that "I am the one person who has not gotten this bug! I am woman!"

I had earned my bragging rights. I've had three children vomit in my bed on several different occasions. They've breathed on me. Whimpered onto my shoulder. I've laundered their soiled clothing. Fed them Jello through straws. And so on. And so on.

And then on inauguration day, I felt decidedly queasy. I texted Chuck an SOS while he was at work. Junior, Everett and Cam looked on (yes, everyone was home from school) as I finally got intimate with the puke pan I had so meticulously been cleaning for the last six days.

On television, the inauguration made for an interesting backdrop to my yack attack.

"Mom!" Junior and Everett cried. "Are you okay?"

I looked up over the brim of the pan and watched Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (see also Anita Hill) swear Mike Pence into office as Bill Clinton (see also Monica Lewinsky and/or impeachment) stood rows away smiling like a Cheshire cat. It was almost time for Donald Trump (see also lewd comments) to descend into the stands. 

No, I definitely wasn't okay.

My three sons gathered around me. 

"Get her ice!" Junior shouted to Everett. 

"Yes! And she needs a popsicle!" Cam raced around their gangly legs, thrilled to be part of the action. When he saw his brothers pull the blanket over my feet, he threw me his stuffed bear.

"We'll get you water!" Junior and Everett shouted as they went to the kitchen. "We'll take care of you now."

And they did. With kindness, thoughtfulness and tenderness.

I may have been deathly sick but what I realized is that these little men have more class and dignity than some of our fearless leaders. It makes me proud. It makes me want to scream again that I'm doing my part. It makes me believe in all the reasons I ever had for wanting to become a mother. 

Most of all it makes me sad and embarrassed. We have every damn right to demand better from them...and from ourselves. But hey, silver lining: No one's been sick in a week. Small victories, right? 

I'll take them.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

You can lie down with me if you want (I told you, I'm a pervert!)

A good friend of mine loaned me this book before Christmas:

Normally I shy away from "self-help" books because they tend to be heavy handed and bossy, and I hate when other people tell me what to do ("Hi, my name is Mrs. Mullet. I'm a first-born and a Capricorn").

But I picked up the book and started reading, and some of the content really struck a chord, specifically her chapters on how productivity can be a compulsion for some people ("Hi, my name is Mrs. Mullet. I'm a first-born, a Capricorn and a Type A").

Until I read this book, I generously patted myself on the back for my productivity. Because of inconsistent childcare as of late—oh, the things I'd love to tell you—I've basically been managing a full-time freelance graphic design job during my toddler's nap time and after bed time. I also work a part-time, on-site job and I handle all the housework, grocery shopping, meal prep, clothes shopping, homework and transportation tasks for three children. Oh, and we have a cat and a dog.

My husband Chuck helps when and if he can but he works more than an hour away and easily logs 50-85 hours a week, which means that during the week I am essentially a single parent. And I almost forgot—we also help run a family restaurant.

(Good Lord! Does anyone else need an energy drink?)

Like I said, I've been cranking along, applauding myself for my ability to be busy—and be successful at being busy—when along came this book. It really blew some fresh air under my skirt.

There's one passage that, if I can be crass for a moment, blew not just fresh air under my skirt but a rip-roaring, cow-tossing tornado. And not just under my skirt but into my unmentionables ("Hi, my name is Mrs. Mullet. I'm a first-born, a Capricorn, a Type A and a pervert"). It reads:

"Burnout is not reserved for the rich or the famous or the profoundly successful...If you're tired, you're tired, no matter what. If the life you've crafted for yourself is too heavy, it's too heavy, no natter if the people on either side of you are carrying more or less."

Here's why that hit me: I realized that because I am no longer working full-time in an office, I have been overcompensating with extra work and duties—because I feel guilty. I feel guilty for my flexible schedule. For grocery shopping during the day with my toddler. For not slugging to an office every day at 8: 30 a.m. Even though I'm making more money freelancing than I did I Mulletville Corp, I try to skimp on childcare when I work from home to save money.

Not only do I feel guilty, but that guilt feeds my need for productivity. No one's going to tell me I don't work a full-time job! I do x,y and z and I work.

But I'm tired and it's not fair. I mean, what asshole would try to cram a full-time workload into a two hour nap time? What asshole is looking for a merit badge from her friends, family and husband when all those people are looking at her sadly and saying, "Slow down. Be easy on yourself"?

Me, that's who. ("Hi, my name is Mrs. Mullet. I'm a first-born, a Capricorn, a Type A, a pervert and a woman who is not very nice to herself.")

After I finished the book and put it back onto the bookshelf, I found this book, which my mother gave me six years ago:

When I wrote a blog post about it, I had scoffed at the idea of needing someone's permission to nap. I get now what I didn't get years ago: I don't need someone's permission. I need my own. Resting is not for the weak. It is for those who enjoy closing their eyes and replenishing their spirit.

It is especially for those who have been awake all night with puking children.

So here, for 2017: "Hi, my name is Mrs. Mullet. I'm a first-born, a Capricorn, a Type A, a pervert and a woman who used to be not very nice to herself."

Now where is that vomit covered fuzzy blanket of mine?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Happy birthday to meeeee, happy birthday to meeeee, happy birthday dear mooo'ooom, now where's the suppository? And many mooooore....

"Happy birthday, Mom!"

The tired, somewhat haggard mother looks lovingly at her children, who are aglow in the soft, warm, yellow light of her birthday candles. It's been a long month, but it's her birthday. It's finally her turn to celebrate. She's got big plans. A new bottle of wine. Fuzzy slippers. The promise of a movie that she likes instead of that damn curious monkey or that creepy blue engine again. She opens her mouth, makes a wish and starts to blow out her candles. She stops. Freezes is more like it. Something catches her eye. What is it? The shiny glow of a new birthday car parked in the driveway? A roomful of presents? An envelope containing a one-way ticket to Paris—her Golden Ticket out of town!?

No, it is a child clutching his stomach, whimpering, "I'm going to be sick."

Suddenly there is vomit everywhere. Not on her cake—whew!—but on the floor, the chair and the sibling next to him. Even the dog is covered in it.

She stands up, sighs and says to her husband, "Every year. On my birthday. There is puke."

She is right.* 

January 2009: My first birthday as a new mother "blew serious chunks."

January 2010: Junior's stomach bug came on "like a mini storm front"—hah!

January 2011: I may or may not have drank too much vodka.

January 2012: I may or may not have drank too much vodka.

January 2013: There was so much vomit, I mused about my family's puke personalities.

January 2014: I may or may not have drank too much vodka.

January 2015: I may or may not have drank too much vodka.

* Kind of right. But wtf.