Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas epiphanies (the toes knows)

My husband's mother Joyce has terrible taste. Well, maybe terrible is too strong of a word. It's just...drastically different than mine, which doesn't make it terrible it just makes it...

Ok, I hate it.

Her backyard is full of pink flamingos and hand painted cows. She has ceiling-high palm trees in her bathroom (when I go in there to pee I usually burst out laughing — will a coconut knock me out while my underwear's around my knees? It would be a horrible way to go). She jingles when she walks. Her clothes leave specks of glitter everywhere.

And her living room. It's full of fluffy balls and nautical-themed decor. Picture it: a lighthouse strung with a fluffy ball, strung with a buoy, strung with another fluffy ball. They say interior design can transport you, but to where, Joyce? Just where are you trying to take us?

When Chuck and I first started dating I skeeved Christmas presents from her. She always gave me stuff she would like, which seemed diametrically opposed to the spirit of gift giving. Isn't the premise of the holidays to give people stuff that they'd like, not the other way around?

Still, I was marrying into the family. And I knew, deep down, that her gifts came from the heart. She saw me as a little stuck up, and she saw herself as a woman spreading much needed glittery, jingly, pink fluffy cheer into my life.

So, each Christmas, I cheerfully accepted the Santa socks with beard trimming. The Christmas tree earrings with real working lights. The elf hat. The snowman socks. The penguin socks. The candy cane socks. The reindeer socks.

Each Christmas. For the last 15 years.

The next day the socks and chotchkies went right into my dresser, blissfully forgotten.

Until—yes, you guessed it—I had kids. Did you know kids go ape shit for tacky stuff that's over the top? They feed on it, and I should have seen it coming. I mean, if kids were into subtle, Chuck E. Cheese's would be nothing more than a quiet reading room with pastel walls (pssst, that's the only way I'll ever go to one). Kids are the embodiment of over-the-top tacky. They love Joyce's yard. They love playing with the bells on the bottom of her pants.

And when I wore the Santa socks yesterday?

Everett's head practically exploded.

"You wearin' Santa? You have Santa on your feet? That Santa? I have those? I have Santa? You give me Santa? Those your socks? You give those to me? I have Santa? I HAVE Santa? Please? Please you give those to me?"

Don't even get me started on the earrings.

Bananas. Fricken bananas.

So Joyce, it seems you were on to something. Perhaps your little living room fluff balls are actually mystical fortune telling globes and you knew that someday all those horrible socks finally would be welcomed with the squeals of delight they had given you. Perhaps you were right: I was a little uptight and your injection of glitz was just the dose of humor I needed in my otherwise banal existence.

Now can you call off your coconuts?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The caloric perspective of a snow day, from your somewhat jiggly ass

A snowy weekend, by the numbers:

9 AM
Calories burned from vacuuming the downstairs in attempt to suck up the entire bucket of popcorn that your kids and their friends overturned the night before: 180 calories/hour

10 AM
Calories burned from making pancakes and washing all the dishes: 160 calories/hour
10:45 AM-11 PM
Calories burned from saying "Not yet!" as your children incessantly badger you with "Can we go outside, can we go outside, CAN WE GO OUTSIDE???": 10,002 calories/hour

11 AM-1 PM
Calories burned from running through the snow, pulling kids on sleds, pushing kids down sledding hill, wiping runny snot from kids' noses, building jumps on sledding hill, carrying 35-pound toddler back to house: 346 calories/hour

1 PM
Calories burned from lifting 3 mimosas to mouth: 50 calories/hour (oh come on, it has to be true)

2:30 PM
Calories burned from running wet snow clothes downstairs to dryer and shaking out sopping wet children and their gloves/hats/boots/sleds: 145 calories/hour

2:40 PM
Calories burned from realizing you have undressed a neighbor's child alongside your own because hell, they all look the same in their floppy hats and snow coats: Only 2 calories/hour but...

2:45 PM
Calories burned from running wet snow clothes upstairs from dryer and redressing neighbor's child and returning him home: 145 calories/hour

3 PM
Calories burned from helping husband shovel after round #2 of snow (anything to stop the man bitching—anything): 408 calories/hour

4:30 PM
Calories burned from lifting 2 rum and hot ciders to mouth: 150 calories/hour (hey, it's true!)

4:40 PM
Calories burned from laughing out loud when your husband moans that he needs a massage: 10 calories/hour

4:45 PM
Calories burned from running snow clothes upstairs from downstairs dryer so kids can have one last hoorah in round #2 of snow: 145 calories/hour

4:55 PM
Calories burned as you wave to your husband and children from the warmth of your couch: Who cares, you're not outside

6 PM
Calories burned from bathing two squirming children and doing all their subsequent grooming (i.e., chasing them down the hall, wrestling them to the floor, slathering them with moisturizer and shimmying them into their pajamas): 144 calories/hour
7 PM
Calories burned from passing the eff out and sleeping until 7 the next morning: 95 calories/hour (it's true, Google it)

Grand total of calories burned: The mother load (I hate doing math). But really, after reading that, don't you feel like you can give the gym the middle finger for like, a whole week and eat some extra Christmas cookies? Don't you?

Monday, December 9, 2013

I'm not raising little Christmas assholes, thank you very much

While scrolling through my Facebook feed this afternoon I came across an article from GMA, "Christmas Wish List From 1915 Will Make You Feel Materialistic".

It details an endearing little Christmas list written by an endearing little boy in 1915; he's so endearing he wished for nuts and candy.

As the title promised, I did expect to feel materialistic as I read the list because really, that's what everyone assumes these days: that every parent over-indulges their kid and that by consequence every child is a whiny, selfish brat, more intent on acquiring the latest gadget than on taking a moment to appreciate the fact that he or she actually has it pretty good. 

I mean, because my husband and I have enough money to get our children more than they need to survive, I should feel materialistic, right? If my kid has 15 things on his Christmas list instead of one (and one of them isn't nuts or candy) I've failed somehow, right GMA?


Plain and simple, this article is stupid. 

You cannot effectively gauge the merit of someone's character by what's on his or her Christmas list. My father grew up wearing cardboard in his shoes and as he tells it, his Christmas list was 10 pages long because there was so much more he dreamed of having—clothes, toys, food and a better house. And he asked Santa for all of it. 

When I was a kid, I sat down beside the Christmas tree with the Sears catalog—which in 1980 was about 500 pages thick—and dog earred 200 pages of it. In my working class household, it was a gift in itself to imagine that Santa might bring me everything my heart desired. Circling those toys was magical because I got to live in a few moments of "what if?" Much like we feel when we play the lotto. What if I had enough money to buy anything I wanted? What if there was no limit to my desires?

I imagine that a lot of children—many of whom have seen parents laid off, their hours at work reduced or their health benefits reduced—have eagerly sat down with the Toys "R" Us catalog and felt the same way.

This isn't to say that some children aren't overindulged. Clearly, that's a given. We've gotten too good at pacifying our children with stuff instead of giving them what really matters: our quality time, our undivided attention and the word "no." But to proclaim that you should feel ashamed because your child has an extensive Christmas list, well, that's just bullshit. 

Here's Everett's list (he's three; my six year old, Junior, drafted it for him):

He wants apple juice, milk and a Lego set. And Junior? He would also like a Lego set, as well as some surprises. They're good kids. In fact, for Junior's "What I'm thankful for" list for Thanksgiving, he wrote that he is thankful for life, freedom, animals and his parents. 

So listen here GMA: Not all kids are greedy assholes and not all parents are doing a shitty job raising their brood. There are a lot of families struggling to keep the magic of Christmas alive despite the natural disasters, the lying politicians, Obamacare, the lay offs, the cost of gas, the Kardashians, climate change and the high divorce rate. We're fighting against everything you feed us and expect us to digest. 

Don't admonish us as we do it, ok?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Kiss me! No, never again!

Yesterday was Junior's last day of kindergarten. It's been a long year, full of lopsided attempts at writing and sentences that made me laugh out loud. The teacher was big on having the children keep a journal and sound out their words, so I saw a lot of stuff like "brte" (birthday), "prizit" (present) and my favorite, "My gremee is heer."

So endearing. And yet so visually atrocious.

The year was also full of bus strife, which I'm happy to see end. Junior shared a seat with two girls, also kindergartners, who were merciless in accusing him of having morning breath.

(I can just imagine the morning conversations these girls must have overheard between their parents:

Mother: "Kiss me, darling!"

Father: "No! Your breath is rancid!"

Mother: "Don't you love me?"

Father: "Yes, but your morning breath makes me want to vomit! I'm leaving you."

Or something along those lines.)

Junior was heartbroken over it: "Mom, I'm such a nice guy! And I brush my teeth! And I don't have any cavities! Why won't they leave me alone?!"

I spoke to the bus driver. Junior switched his seat. Then he switched back because he was lonely. Then he switched again.

Finally, we nailed it: As Junior waited at the bus stop he chewed mint gum. He had a napkin in hand so when the bus pulled up he could spit it out. As soon as he sat down, he exhaled into the faces of the little girls and exclaimed, "Ah, minty fresh."

The teasing stopped for awhile, but every so often it would rear its ugly head and we'd have to return to the gum-at-the-bus-stop routine. A First World problem, yes, but when your kid's in tears and he hasn't even gotten dressed for school yet—"I hope they leave me alone today, Mom"—you quickly find yourself consumed by it too.

Ah, the sticky world of adolescence. Whether it's a lisp or tartar, some brat will point it out. But—but!—summer is here now. Popsicle breath is en vogue. Ice cream breath is en vogue.

In all fricken flavors.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

What getting to "sleep in" really sounds like

6:41 a.m.

Pitter-patter of little feet down the hall.

Junior: Mom? MOM? I'm awake.

Me: It's still early, Junior. Try to go back to sleep.

Junior: Okaaaaaay.

Pitter-patter of little feet back down the hall.

Chuck: Why must they get up at the ass crack of dawn? Why? [Immediately falls back asleep]

Me: I'm soooooooo tired.

Chuck: Zzzzzzzzzzzz. Huh? You sleep in. I'll get up with the kids. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

6:52 a.m.

Everett: Moooooooooom! Daaaaaaaaaaaaad! Waaaaaaaake!

Me: Damn them!

Chuck: Huh? I'll get up. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Pitter-patter of little feet down the hall. 

Junior: Mom? Everett's awake. Can I get up?

Me: It's still the, um, middle of the night, Junior. Go back to sleep.

Junior: But Everett's awake. And I can see the sun.

Me: Just try, okay? Both of you.

Pitter-patter of little feet back down the hall. 

Chuck: What time is it?

Me: Not even 7.

Chuck: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

7:04 a.m.

Cat: Meow. Meow. Meeoooooooooow.

Everett: Meeoooooooooow! Kitty! Meow! Kitty! 'Mere, kitty!

Me: Damn that cat!

Chuck: Huh? I'll get up. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Pitter-patter of little feet down the hall. 

Junior: Mom? The cat's keeping me awake.

Me: Guys? It's still really early. Everyone please try to rest for just a little more...

Pitter-patter of little feet back down the hall. 

Cat: Meow. Meow. Meeoooooooooow. Meow. Meow.

Everett: Kitty! 'Mere, kitty! Meow, kitty!

Me: That mother fucking cat!

Chuck: Huh? Go back to sleep, honey. I'll get up. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

7:13 a.m.

Everett: Knock, knock!

Junior: Who's there?

Everett: Banana!

Junior: Banana who?

Everett: Knock knock!

Cat: Meow.

Me: Sigh.

Chuck: I'll get up. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

7:26 a.m.

Pitter-patter of little feet down the hall. 

Junior: Mom? Is it morning yet?

Me: It just turned morning. Like seconds ago.

Junior: My clock says 7.

Me: That's really early.

Pitter-patter of little feet back down the hall. 

Everett: Knock, knock.

Junior: Who's there?

Everett: Knock, knock.

Me: Chuck, remember you said you'd get up?

Chuck: I am. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

7:31 a.m.

Everett: Down! Downstairs!

Junior: Ssssssssh, Everett. Quiet!

Everett: Downstairs!

Me: I'm coming, Everett.

Chuck: I said I'd get up. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Me: Honey, you're not even awake.

Chuck: I am. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Everett: Down, now! Downstairs!

Junior: Everett. It's still night!

Everett: Downstairs!
Me: I'm soooooooo tired.

Junior: Everett's keeping me awake! Moooooooom!

Me: HONEY??????????

Chuck: Huh? Right. I'm getting up. Right now.

Plodding feet down the hall.

Everett: Dad!

Junior: Hooray!

Stampede down the stairs. 

Chuck: Guys, guys, quiet down. Let's let Mom sleep.

Me: [to cat] You let out one fucking meow and you're toast.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

On the hunt for sexy beets

I miss this blog. I really, really do.

Last year at this time I made the switch from being a full-time working mother to a part-time working mother, and I thought I'd hit the jackpot with that most precious of commodities: time.

More time with the kids, more time with the groceries and laundry (ah, domesticity), more time with my failing brain.

Then my husband, Chuck, got laid off and I started saying yes to every freelance job that came my way. And now here I am again, a full-time working mother except now I shove Cheerios into my kids' mouths so they don't scream during conference calls. Now I ask them if they want to watch TV —"Don't you?! Don't you?!"— so I can sit down at my computer and type furiously—furiously!—to the backdrop of Curious George.

I'm not complaining. I swear I'm not. The flexibility of this new life is priceless. I rue the day that this routine becomes the norm and I stop appreciating the extra time I have with my children.

And Chuck. Yah, he's freelancing too, so we're driving all over the state of Connecticut (and sometimes New York) and our fucking monthly health insurance payment is a mortgage but we're both home more.

I can't lie, there are a lot of days that feel pretty damn good in Mulletville Lite.

But I mean what I said: I miss this blog. I miss all the shit that's happened that I haven't been able to write about. I miss my old job at Mulletville Corp if only because I would spend entire days writing blog posts.

I want to get back here, physically and literally. I want to get back to blogging and to that delightful place where I had time to reflect.

(And breathe. Breathing is good.)

Except it can't be now. I have to find photos of beets and broccoli for a magazine spread. If, after you finish reading this post, you stumble across a hot beet picture, could you send it my way?

Thank you.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

And where the heck are the chickens?

"Chuck, honey? I'm in the mood for barbecue chicken. Can we fire up the grill?"

"I don't think—"

"Don't tell me we're out of propane!"

"No, we—"

"I'm dying for it. Please?"

"It's not really—"

"Fine! I'll just light the grill myself."
 "Suit yourself."

"Um, Chuck? Where is the grill? Chuck?"


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The post flu nightmares, care of Disney

My gawd we're finally better. It took almost two weeks but we've all joined society again. For the first time since I've had kids, I actually was thrilled to get out of bed (usually I'm clamoring to get back into it) and put on actual clothes.

We let the kids watch a disgusting amount of TV while we were sick. I'm usually super vigilant when it comes to limiting TV time, but I was too ill to care. From the confines of our bed (seriously, we just laid on each other, whimpered and slept), life was a steady stream of Curious George, Thomas the Train, Arthur, Martha Speaks, and more Curious George.

Oh, and we did let the kids watch a few movies on Netflix. Yes, after scrolling through the "So you're fucked up from watching cartoons and need a movie with real people" category, we decided on Santa Paws, a G-rated movie with this description: "Magic dogs and an elf team up with two children to rescue Santa who has lost his memory." It had this cover:


I assured Junior it would be just as fun and happy as that stupid monkey and the talking dog. I promised him, "It's a happy movie about puppies and Christmas. Fluffy puppies, Junior!"

Fluffy puppies indeed. The movie opened with a little girl getting dropped off at an orphanage.

"What's an orphanage, Mom? Why is she crying? Her parents are dead? She doesn't have a mom?"

"Hang on," I said. "It gets better." Chuck shrugged his shoulders.

We turned back to the TV. After getting dropped off, the little orphan girl learns that the mean woman who runs the orphanage hates toys and dolls—and that if she catches any of the children with toys or dolls she will burn them in the basement's incinerator. Guess what the newly orphaned child is hiding in her pocket? A stuffed angel given to her by her mother.

Even Junior could see where this was going.

He clutched his puppy and cried, "No! Turn this off. Please!"
"Just give it a few more minutes," I said. "It has to get better. It's a G-rated movie from Disney. There's a puppy in it. A happy little puppy." I looked over at Chuck with a what-should-we-do look but he was comatose again.

We carried on. A few minutes later, the mean woman who runs the orphanage finds out that one of the children has a doll. She confiscates it and puts on the incinerator's conveyor belt. We watched in horror as it fell into the fire and burned to a crisp.

"Noooooooo!" Junior cried."Turn it off!"

I did. Immediately.

Then I fell out of bed and crawled to the hallway, where I cursed Disney from the safety of my floor (who can stand after puking for two days?). Shouldn't the movie's write-up mention a toy-killing incinerator on the cover? Surely Disney, who devotes millions of dollars to market research and focus groups, understands that the most coveted items of children in the G-rated age group are stuffed animals, lovies and other security items.

And there you have it: after going to two wakes for family members in December, seeing another beloved family member undergo open heart surgery, hearing about Sandy Hook and learning that innocent children died, and seeing our cat sick with a visible tumor, guess what's keeping Junior up at night?

Fucking Santa Paws. Junior won't put down his stuffed dog. I caught him whispering to it, "I would never let anyone take you." He needs the comfort, and the dog seems to need it too.

I don't blame either of them.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ping ponging your way through the flu

I remember it so well. It was the winter of 2005. Chuck and I were renting an apartment together ("shacking up" as my mother called it). Out of nowhere, I got the flu.

I spent the next week on the couch, swigging NyQuil. I slept. I watched talk shows and sitcoms. There was no Facebook, so I couldn't gross people out with my status updates—"Just hacked up a lung! Puked again!" No tweeting either.

How did we communicate?

When Chuck got home from work he would lift up the blanket and poke me, just to make sure I was alive. He may have tried to poke me in other ways, I can't remember. It was the sickest I've ever been and yet, looking back on it, it was bliss.

I've been thinking a lot about that week.

The kids both came down with the flu on Saturday. Over the last few days, Chuck and I have been sneezed on, puked on and coughed on. We've endured hours of Thomas the Train and Curious George. We've made Jello and toast and held the kids while they whimpered and moaned. We've tried to sleep while the kids slept on top of us.

Then, a glimpse of hope: the kids started to feel better. Then, reality. I started sneezing. Mother Nature is a sly devil. She keeps you healthy just long enough for you to nurse your kids back to health before whacking you with it. It's the bitch-slap of being a parent: you get slapped on the way in and you get slapped on the way out. 

I was fortunate to come down with it first. I told Chuck I was going to bed and I did—for almost two days. I swigged NyQuil. I slept. I watched talk shows and sitcoms. There is Facebook, so I could gross people out with my status updates—"Just hacked up a lung! Puked again!" 

Every time I heard Chuck sneezing and coughing from downstairs I furrowed down deeper under the covers. Yes, he was sending me SOS's—like letting the kids throw ping pong balls at the stairs and yelling "Kids, your mother is trying to rest!"—but for a few days I was blissfully untouchable. Like I'd been in 2005. Like any time, really, we're able to lie down and take care of ourselves for a change.

Alas, all good things must come to an end. This morning Chuck announced that he was going to bed. He has a fever; I can't contest a fever. I'm going to have to slog through until I'm better. I'm going to have to visit the Island of Sodor even as I hack up a lung. 

But I'll always have the sweet memories of my couch and bed. Of hiding and furrowing, furrowing and hiding. The proverbial good ole days.

Now where are those ping pong balls?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Free fun in Connecticut (yes, it's possible)

If your kid is into trains, the Connecticut Cellar Savers Fire Museum is a definite must-see. It's in Portland, Conn. and features an entire room of working model trains. Best of all it's free (and there's a bathroom on the premises). You can easily spend an hour there, but probably not much longer.

The man who sits behind the counter is really nice, which is a rarity for the area. Last time we went, he told Junior to hug me and then said, "You only get one mom, so hug her and tell her thanks!"

Melt my heart.

Bonus: Sometimes the next door neighbor's chickens and hens wander the parking lot and the kids can kill another 15 minutes trying to catch them.

It never stops raining fun in this state. Am I right?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Reaching that way cooler, even better "Not tonight, honey" place

I'll never forget one of my first days on the job at Mulletville Corp. My boss—a slim, golf playing, 60-year-old narcissist ("Don't you like my new outfit? Don't you?")—popped into my office and offered me some homemade cookies.

Normally I skeeve homemade foodstuffs, but I had to accept a handful ("Don't you like my banana nut cookies? Don't you?"). No sooner had I swallowed the last morsel than she said, "There's a hefty dose of flaxseed in the batter. So good for you!"

She hopped merrily away. 


Because I am a master at-work pooper (it's true, I wrote a poop manual), the flax seed injection wasn't the harrowing experience it could have been. Others weren't so lucky.

Fast forward to this morning's breakfast.

Last night, after reading the latest issue of Healthy Living magazine (is it just me or is everyone and their dog detoxifying?) and slugging back three—ok sevenish—glasses of wine (it's been a rough couple of weeks) I decided I had to make homemade granola bars.


I found some online recipes (like these and these) promising homemade granola bar nirvana. Seriously, based on the number of sites I found extolling the titillating pleasures of homemade granola bars, I don't think anyone who is anyone is actually having sex anymore; I think they're all in their kitchens making homemade granola bars.

Anyway, I used the recipes and tweaked. Slugged and tweaked. Tweaked and slugged. At one point Chuck stumbled in and, seeing all the seeds and nuts on the counter, begged me to add chocolate chips.

"Of schlourse, Schluck!"

As the bars sat in the fridge overnight, hardening and congealing and shit, I lay in bed, nightdreaming. I could see it all before me: At neighborhood picnics I'd pull a granola bar out of a baggie. As it caught the light, someone would ask, "Where did you get that granola bar?" and I'd smile sheepishly and admit, "I made it." I'd offer them a bite and they'd eat it, oohing and ahhing.

Word would spread. The PTO would call. Then the principle—"Bake enough for the next school function? Why, of course!"—then, the mayor. Next up? Why, Shark Tank, of course.


Fast forward again (or is it rewind?) to this morning's breakfast. Ta da!

They look good, don't they? Well, don't let 'em fool ya. They're a crumbly mess of poop-inducing flax and dried fruit. As in, seeds are still stuck to your teeth and gums even after you swallow. As in, "Mom! I have to poop again! What's going on?! Mom!" and "Honey? Do we have any more toilet paper in the downstairs bathroom?"

As in, Miralax would kill for this recipe.

No, it's not quite the product I was hoping for but hey, Rome wasn't built in a day. I'm going to make another batch, this time sober. An even better batch! And, after I've tweaked the recipe to perfection and I've finally reached that elusive summit of homemade granola bar nirvana—"Oh gawd, yes!"—I can proudly say...

"Not tonight, Chuck. I made granola bars." And he'll understand.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Getting all the shit out of the way early

So here we are. It's been about three weeks since I last logged into this blog. I've been thinking about it and how I want to write something (and respond to the thoughtful comments about Sandy Hook), but life has been a bit of a roller coaster—and not the good kind that tickles your stomach, but the kind where you cover your eyes, scream the entire time and then hurl as soon as you get off.

(I never did like roller coasters. I get nauseous driving down steep hills in the car.)

Since December 16, we've had two deaths in the family, Christmas and its accompanying windfall of wrapping paper and house guests, an open heart surgery, New Years, a friend with an illness, a cat with a tumor, a birthday for Everett (#2!), a birthday for me (closer to 40) and a radio that's been playing itself at night (more about that in the next post, I promise). 

And now we have the stomach bug.

But listen, I didn't sign onto this blog to share all my Debbie Downer moments of late. In fact, one of the reasons I miss blogging so much is that it gives me the chance to remember the funny moments interspersed in all of life's muck.

Like this morning when, after puking, Junior wobbled down the stairs and said, "I'm kind of shaky, Mom. I think I should lie on the couch and get my strength back." His voice cracked with concern. All I could picture was him at 50 in his flannel bathrobe and slippers, puttering down the stairs after having the flu or whatever and telling his wife the very same thing. There's an old soul in there—the most cautious, worried, tentative of souls.

It makes me smile, that I get to tend to this gentle man-boy.

Then there's Everett, who had puked just days earlier. The kid literally opened his mouth, vomited, and went back to playing. I can hear him calling Junior on the phone when they're adults (my God, by then they might be able to teleport to each other's homes) and telling him to suck it up; stop being such a grandpa. He's a little shithead, but Junior's going to need someone like that in his life.

I love watching these two grow. I love every day of learning more about who they are. I love this gift.

And now if you'll pray for me: I really, really, really don't want to get the puke bug.

Make laundry fun — and punishable

I don't know why there's so much effing laundry. Yes, there are five of us, but we aren't going anywhere. Part of me feels ...