Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Play With Me

I really, honestly, enthusiastically enjoy playing with my children. I like to play games, I love to read to them, I will roll around on the floor and wrestle forever. I will even do my best Valley Girl voice and play Barbies and Polly Pockets (although I can rarely resist the temptation for making my Barbie say borderline inappropriate things).

Crafts? Bring it! Baking? Hells yes! Play Doh? I don't even care if they mix the colors. But there is one activity that I despise with every fiber of my being, and I am ashamed to admit it: I hate the park. Katie spends her time at the park moping because she's bored, Julia spends hers yelling at me to push her on the swing or "WATCH THIS!" (which usually involves some twisty twirly move that she'll repeat 8,000 times, each time yelling "WATCH THIS!"). And Henry...Henry eats mulch and falls and climbs things he shouldn't and runs with sticks and generally drives me insane.

The kicker is, my kids love the park. Well, the little ones do. They love running and playing and going down the slide. They would happily swing for at least 5 minutes, which is a kind of record for a little kid. They don't seem to mind that it's 8,000 degrees outside and I have sweat running down the crack of my ass and despite my industrial strength deodorant, I smell like a bag of Fritos. They don't care if I am incapable of finishing a conversation with another mom because I'm running at breakneck speed across the playground to catch Henry, who's decided to hurl his small body off the highest point of the play structure.

The good thing about the park is that it is a fabulous photo opp. This morning, we met a friend of Julia's, her little brother, and her lovely mom. In between mulch eating and profuse sweating, I got a couple of great pictures.

He is so super cute, but the boy has an enormous melon. It's a planetoid!

And then I got this one:

I was backing up to get a picture of Henry going down the slide when I tripped over the end of the slide and went ass over teakettle and fell in the mud. Another reason to hate the park.

I suppose I should enjoy this time when they want to play outside. Even if it means I have to get down and dirty, too.

(I should mention that I am not ignoring my eldest child by not taking pictures of her! She is at camp this week.)

Monday, June 27, 2011


At Ten: 
Katie honey, you need to clean up your room.
Awwwwwwww! But why? I was just getting ready to play. Oh my GOD. Why can't I do it later? Why do I have to do EVERYTHING around here? It's like I'm your SLAVE! I just cleaned it! But why? WHY? You don't understand my life!

At Four: 
Julia sweetie, let's pick up your room.
I don't need your help! I can do it! I know how to do it! I know evvvverything about cleaning my room!

At One: 
Henry bubby, let's clean up! Clean up! Everybody! Everywhere!
AAAAACCCKKKK! *Throws toys and hits me with a golf club. A plastic one, but still.*

It is probably the most difficult aspect of parenting for me right now - dealing with three children in such different stages of development. What works with one rarely works with another, thanks to their ages and personalities. And they keep doing new shit, so I'm constantly caught off guard. Just when I think I have this parenting gig figured out, one of them does something completely random. It's like they're conspiring with each other.

Katie: OK, you guys. This week, I am going to freak out about bras. Julia, develop a fascination with your butthole. Henry, bite some kids.

It's hard sometimes to remember that you can't reason with a one year old, nor can you trust a four year old, or expect a ten year old not to be a hormonal lunatic. As if to illustrate this very point, I just now glanced up to see the baby has used a kitchen chair to reach his high chair, and is standing on the tray. Instead of jumping up and running to get him down, I say, "You better think about what you're doing, boy!" Then, remembering that one year old boys are not known for their reasoning skills, I jumped up and ran to get him down.

Last night we all went out to dinner. It was freakishly awesome - no one screamed or threw food or vomited on the table. We left the restaurant in the sanctimonious glow of people with well behaved children. As we walked to the car, I said "Honey, this is the best time of our life. One day, the babies will be grown and gone and we'll be lonely. We'll remember this, and miss it."

I believe it. You know why? Because right now, it's easy. As hard as I think it is, it's a relative breeze. Right now, they're still little. They've yet to experience loss, or have their hearts broken, or realize that sometimes people just plain suck. The worst problem I've dealt with today is the fact that Henry thinks every piece of furniture is a gee-dee jungle gym. I'll take that any day over sitting with my child after their first breakup.

It's something I try to remember on those days when switching gears between the three of them seems impossible. This is a very brief window in our lives, when all three of them are small, and so are their problems.

And so are mine.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Five Books That Rocked My World. When I Was Ten.

I was digging through a box of books in the attic, looking for something that Katie might like to read. There, under the Nancy Drews and Oz books, was tucked a very well worn, very much loved, copy of Judy Blume's classic, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. I gasped and ran down to the stairs and shoved it in Katie's hands.

You MUST read this.
Oh, okay.
No, really. Start now. Just read the first page.
I'll read it when I get back from camp, I have one to read now. 
OK, but just read the first page. READ IT!

She looked at me like I had two heads, but obliged, then sat it on the counter to wait a week for her to return. I am so anxious for her to read it, because I remember so clearly being 10, and on the edge of puberty, and reading that book and feeling like Judy Blume could see into my very soul. Because for the first time, I was reading a book about a girl my age that wasn't a little kid book. It was a frank and honest and open look at exactly what my friends and I were going through every day. It made me realize that books could not only be an escape, they could be this totally relevant, totally topical way of dealing with my own, very real, life.

Stumbling across Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret made me think of all the books I read in my preteen years that had such a tremendous impact. So here's a list of my Formative Five - the 5 novels (including the Judy Blume) that blew my 10-12 year old mind.

5. Pet Semetary: OK. No 10 year old has any business reading Stephen King's horrifying novel of an Indian burial ground that brings pets - and people - back to life. Not only is King the master of scary, he is a really, really excellent writer. The last line of the book - "Darrrrrling." gave me nightmares for weeks, and sticks with me more than 25 years later. Anyone that can have that effect with a single word is a pretty amazing.

4. Princess Daisy (Judith Krantz): One of the downsides to keeping all your books on a communal shelf is that your 10 year old has access to the kind of soft porn that made Krantz so popular with suburban housewives in the early '80s. It is a filthy book and, coupled with Sidney Sheldon's A Stranger in the Mirror, it taught me more about sex than 5th grade health class, "the talk" with my parents and Porky's, combined.

3. The Choirboys (Joseph Wambaugh): Another one off of my parents' bookshelves. Is it any wonder I am so cracked? Wambaugh's fictional look at the off duty lives of the boys in blue showed me that everyone is human, everyone is stupid, and sometimes, even the good guys are bad boys.

2. Bridge to Terabithia (Katherine Paterson): Occasionally, I even read age appropriate books! While I was not an unpopular kid, I always had a sense of being different. This book celebrated those differences, and put such a tremendous value in creativity, and friendship, and loyalty. It is a beautiful story, and probably the first one that elicited a powerful emotional response from me.

1. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret: On behalf of two generations of prepubescent girls, and our boobs - thank you, Judy Blume.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


In my ten years as a parent, I have picked countless boogers, wiped umpteen butts, been spat upon and shat upon, bled on, snotted on, and had my personal space invaded by the bodily fluids of others in the most unpleasant ways. Once, one of the babies even barfed in my mouth. That is a special kind of fucking gross.

Yet none of that skeeves me out quite as much as sharing a drink with one of my children. Particularly a drink with a straw.

Here's the way it generally goes:

Child: Can I have some of your drink?
Me: No, it's Coke. You can't have soda.
Child: But I'm FIRRRRRSTY.
Me: No. It's Coke. It's bad for you.
Child: Please? Please? PLEASE?
Me: OK, fine. FINE. Stop yelling. Chew and swallow your food. 

Now, this is the important part. Because the child will make a big show of chewing and swallowing their food, but they actually pocket a small amount of food in those cute, chubby little cheeks. They are like little drink-ruining squirrels, holding on to their nut until they get my drink into their grubby little squirrelly hands and their mouths around my straw and then proceed to shoot that nastiness down through the straw and into the cup.

Except unlike squirrels, it's never a nice big acorn, it's always something like mushed up boloney or french fries or cheese....oh lord, CHEESE is the worst. I weep thinking of all the beverages I've had ruined by a wad of spitty cheese.

They take their big, great, sucking swallows and the cheese is traveling up and down the straw and all the time I'm fighting the urge to throw up. And then they release the straw and hand it back, except it's still attached to them by the longest string of spit in the world. And I find myself saying -

Go ahead. You can finish it. 

I remember seeing a clip of Kate Gosselin denying her kids a drink from her water bottle before they went on the Today show. Everyone was up in arms. What a bitch! Won't even share her drink with her poor, thirsty babies! Questionable ethics and hair extensions aside, I totally identified with her at that moment. If ever I find myself seconds before appearing on national television, the last thing I want is the distraction of floaties in my drink.

So, Kelly - tell us about your new bestselling book!
Huh? I'm sorry, I...uh...what the hell? Is that cheese?


Friday, June 24, 2011


According to the Farmer's Almanac, the high temperature on June 24, 1995 was 81 degrees.

The Farmer's Almanac is bullshit.

June 24, 1995 was hotter than blue blazes, a fact the men in our wedding party can attest to. They were all in mourning suits, standing in the backyard of a bed and breakfast in Old Salem, under the midday Carolina sun. Art Garfunkle (or his twin brother, at least) played a Casio keyboard under an oak tree, my lace covered Keds kept sticking to the rice paper runner, and my baby faced groom waited at the end of it.

21 years together.
16 years married.
3 states.
9 addresses.
3 children born.
3 pregnancies lost.
18 cars. (!)
2 dogs.
2 cats.
Births and deaths and losses and gains too numerous to mention.
1 man whom I will love forever and ever.

(Unless he doesn't put the child latches on the cabinets this weekend, in which case I will kick his ass and spit in his food.)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Non-Biblical Lessons from Vacation Bible School

You may remember a month or so ago when I smoked a bunch of crack and volunteered to run the nursery during vacation bible school. Well, the crack-fog has cleared and the week is here and I have already learned several important things.

1. A Friend Will Save Your Ass: At zero hour (seriously, like walking down to the nursery on Monday morning) it occurred to me that I was in charge of four 2 year old girls and one 16 month old boy (my own) and I was not going to be able to pee for 3 hours. I passed my friend K- who said "Oh, they don't need me, I'm going home." to which I replied "Oh, no you're not." I would be curled up in the corner of the nursery while the babies pelted me with Veggie Tales DVDs if it weren't for K-. Thank you, I owe you big time.

2. Two Year Olds Aren't Interested in the Curriculum: I had a lesson plan. A LESSON PLAN! Monday we were going to talk about God's animals. I squatted down in front of a little girl and said "What is your favorite animal in God's kingdom?" and she said "Bitch, please!". Okay, she really said "So fwee!" but everyone knows that is bitch, please in toddler talk.

3. Most Little Kids Are Going to Cry: When mommy drops them off with a strange lady, even when the lady is in a room full of awesome toys. Sometimes they cry a lot, and they produce massive amounts of liquid that seeps out of their heads, onto you. Some of this liquid is gross. Other kids' liquid is always somewhat grosser than your own kids'. Go figure. Also, all the things that comfort your own children? Yeah, they terrify other kids. 

4. Two Year Olds Are Interested in Nothing: For more than 2 minutes. Except maybe snack. My fabulous idea of sidewalk chalk held their attention approximately 1 1/2 minutes before one of them was drawing on the building, another was trying to get back inside, another was trying to escape, and one was eating mulch. And speaking of eating mulch -

5. Two Year Olds Will Eat Anything: Play Doh is especially popular. And if they don't eat it, they 'pretend' to eat it. Except when you're two, 'pretend' means lick it, and roll it around in your mouth before you spit it out into your hand, then give it to me.

6. If A Kid is Lying on the Ground Crying, and Another Kid is Lying on Top of Them, Check for Bite Marks: Especially when the kid on top is your own, sweet, precious, special snowflake. Who would never, ever take a big bite out of a little girl, when you're supposed to be watching them. It was only slightly mortifying.

And it's only Tuesday! I have to admit, the kids are very sweet and fun and two is a great (if exhausting) age. I'm glad to help out. And absolutely positive I'll never be a preschool teacher.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


My father taught me many lessons. He taught me how to be brave, and how to work hard, and how to be as stubborn as a mule. He taught me how to bait a hook and how to throw a ball and how to put someone in a figure four leg lock. But most importantly, he taught me what kind of man I wanted to marry and be a father to my children.

A man who loves his wife, is loyal and true, and speaks highly of her to others.
A man who is capable and strong, yet gentle and kind.
A man who hugs and kisses his children and tells them he loves them, every day.

Lucky for me, I found that man. Our kids adore him, and so do I.

To my husband, who is such an amazing father to our children -
To my father in law, whom I love so much, and have such a soft spot for -
To my brother, who is in all the best ways the kind of man our father was -
And to Daddy, whom I miss so terribly -

To all daddies, teaching their sons and daughters how to live and how to love,
Happy Father's Day.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Trifling Matter

There are few things more disgustingly wonderful than a bunch of wickedly sweet things of varying textures layered in pretty bowl, all smooshed and gooey and delicious. And few things are as easy and endless in variety (Moon Pies, anyone?) as the trifle.

For Father's Day, I've made the husband's favorite - Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup. Here's how:

The Ingredients
1 small box Cook & Serve Chocolate Pudding (because it's better than instant)
1 recipe chocolate cake (your own or box, I don't care. I use a box mix for this because it's fast, cheap, and good)
1 pint whipping cream + 2 T sugar + 2 t vanilla (I make my own because it's easy, and Cool Whip is greasy)
1 jar hot fudge sauce (go ahead and make it if you must, Martha)
8-10 or so Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (or, as they're known in my neck of the woods, Reesy Cups)
1 cute assistant (optional, but helpful)

The Recipe
1. Prepare cake according to directions, cool, and cut into 1/2" by 3" strips. I bake it in a 9 x 13 pan, because it makes it easier. I use 1/2 of the cake for this recipe, and wrap and freeze the other half, to use in another trifle. Or for a cake emergency.
2. While the cake cooks, prepare the pudding according to package directions and allow to cool. Feel free to eat the pudding skin, I did.
3. Have Cute Assistant unwrap the Reesy Cups, and cut into bite sized pieced. To clarify: Have assistant unwrap, you cut. I don't know about yours, but my Cute Assistant has no business with a deadly weapon.
4. Prepare whipped cream (mix ingredients together, beating on high until it looks like whipped cream).

The Assembly!
1. Line the bottom of a trifle bowl (really, any bowl will do. A trifle bowl just looks pretty.) with cake pieces, making additional cuts and smooshing as necessary to get a nice bottom layer. I am in the habit of going up the sides on this bottom layer, making a little bowl for the ingredients. It doesn't look as nice, so I don't know why I keep doing it. 
2. Layer 1/2 of the fudge sauce over the cake. 
3. Sprinkle on some of the peanut butter cups. 
4. Spread on 1/2 of the pudding.
5. Spread on 1/2 of the whipped cream. 
6. Repeat layers, ending with whipped cream and a sprinkling of peanut butter cups. 
7. Cover and refrigerate. You can eat it right away, but it's even better if it sits in the icebox overnight. 

It is so good you will eat it until you are as full as a tick and you have to half-roll, half-drag yourself over to the couch and pass out in a sugar coma.Then you will wake up and go have another bowl.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Everyone's a Critic

I have a very hard time taking criticism. I am ridiculously thin skinned, overly sensitive and I take everything personally.

When my husband says something like "Wow, the baseboards need to be cleaned." Do I say "Oh, you're right. Maybe we can do that this weekend."? NO! I say "Well, I am so sorry I am not keeping the house up to your standards! It's not like I cook and clean and raise three kids! It's not like I don't pick up after you people all the time! When the hell would I have time to clean the freaking baseboards?"

Yeah. A little sensitive.

Even when faced with helpful criticism (the dreaded 'constructive criticism'!), my instinct is to do one of two things: argue it, or take my ball and go home.

That blog entry was a little harsh. 
Really? I don't think so!
Well, you know, there may be people who would be offended by that. Maybe if you led with...
Oh, please! It's hyperbole! It's for effect! People know that. They're not offended! YOU DON'T KNOW!

Can you even imagine what I might do if I ever wrote something for someone else, and they tried to edit it? My GOD! Did you edit my ellipsis? Did you FUCK WITH MY ELLIPSIS!? What is wrong with it? It's grammatically correct! It's for effect! What are your credentials? You call yourself an editor! WHY DON'T YOU LIKE ME?

Or, I simply bull up, start crying, and issue ultimatums.
I will never use an ellipsis again.

If I were an armchair psychologist, I might say that it's because I am my own worst critic, and that I rely on outside praise to bolster my self worth. When I am criticized, I feel devalued. But that sounds like bullshit, so we'll just go with I am kind of a brat and in this very specific way, I need to grow up.

It is hard sometimes to separate a person's opinion of your actions with a person's opinion of you. I say it to my kids all the time - I love you, but I don't like what you are doing. If they can look at me, and trust that what I am saying is the truth, why can't I manage to do the same? If my husband says the ceiling fans are dusty, why can't I say "oh, indeed!" instead of being convinced he thinks I'm a horrible housekeeper? If someone makes a lighthearted joke about my love of italics and parenthetical commentary (it's awesome!), why do I think they're saying I'm an awful writer?

Taking criticism is kind of like taking a compliment. Sometimes it's best to just smile and say "Thank you." I'll have to work on meaning it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Snobby Bitches

We joined a new pool this summer, and while I know some of the weekday women who hang up there (and am friends with a couple), overall we haven't really 'clicked' yet. Part of the reason is that I am sometimes relegated to the baby pool, which makes me an instant social pariah. When we manage to get out to the main pool, I am so busy chasing after Henry and yelling at Julia and trying to hand signal to Katie from across the pool to pull her bathing suit out of her butt, that I undoubtedly come across as a loud, sweaty, screamy mess with uncontrollable children.

Which may be accurate.

One day last week, Henry decided to nap at the pool, allowing me a brief period of quiet observation. Time to scope out the other mommies. Why are they all so good looking? Why are they all in super cute bathing suits? Why are they all wearing jewelry? Huge, dangly earrings, people! Who the fuck wears huge dangly earrings to the pool? 

Snobby bitches, that's who.

I will be the first to admit that I am a judgmental cow. I look at your dangly earrings and cute bikini (and how the shit after multiple children you can have a stomach that does not look like a pumpkin that's sat on the porch for a month after Halloween, I have no idea) and - are you drinking a mojito? - I have you pegged. Your kids are always clean and wear boutique dresses and you monogramm everything. You shave your legs frequently, and have your brows waxed before they look like Andy Rooney's. You read Nicholas Sparks. Oh yes, I know all about you.

I am a little bit jealous.

Recently, an acquaintance said something to me along the lines of "You're always so put together." I actually looked around, thinking maybe someone else had come up behind me. "What?" I laughed. "You know," she said, "You always look nice and your house is clean and your kids are so well behaved." My kids? You do know who my kids are, right? Then I realized - she thinks I'm one of them! She thinks I'm a snobby bitch! How is this possible?

I LOVE RAMEN NOODLES! I want to shout. I have chronically bad gas! I actually suggested to my husband this very evening that he just strip the baby down and hose him off in the backyard, in lieu of a bath! I am the very antithesis of a snobby bitch (except maybe when it comes to books, because there is simply no fucking reason anyone should ever read Nicholas Sparks. Ever.).

How can someone have such a hugely wrong impression of me, based on seeing me a handful of times - times when I have actually managed not to have food on my shirt? Ohhhhhh, I think. Have I given the snobby bitches a fair shake? Have I given them a chance? I may be right, they may be petty and small and want nothing to do with me. But the least I could do is pull up a chair, and give them the opportunity to prove me wrong.

I draw the line at dangly earrings, though. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Last Day of School!

Huzzah! I am jazzed, because I have had my fill of packing lunches and homework and other craptastic school-year chores. Friday was the last day of school, and Awards Day for 4th and 5th grade. When I asked Katie if she was getting an award, she shrugged her shoulders and said "I dunno. I think for Odyssey of the Mind." So I went to the (very long) ceremony and sat on the butt numbing bleachers and watched her get her certificate for Odyssey of the Mind.

And then, she got one for making the Honor Roll all year.

And then, she got one for Most Outstanding Science Student. (Most!)

And then, she got one for Bus Rider of the Year for her bus (hollah, Bus 134!).

She's amazing, and humble, and I am hugely proud.

I took pictures of the ceremony, but again - lots of kids who did not sign a waiver to be featured on my moderately popular blog - so none posted here. However, here is Katie waking up on the last day of 4th grade (she is such a peach first thing in the morning), and having her last day of 4th grade breakfast with her new Nook. She had such a great year, we got it for her an an end of the year gift. She loves it!

Princess Pajama Party

A few weeks ago, Julia said to me "I want to have a Princess Pajama Party." I was in the middle of doing something really important (like whipping Sean's ass in Lexolous) and said something like "Oh, yeah. That sounds like fun."

"So when can we do it?"
"Oh, I don't know. One day."
"What about Saturday?"
"Well, not Saturday. We'd have to plan it and send out invitations."
"OK! Let's make invitations!"

And the next thing you know we are having a party for six or so four year olds, for no other reason than my own four year old is a master manipulator.

It was a blast. Everyone came in pajamas (that was the pajama part of the Princess Pajama Party). They dressed up and had their nails painted and had a very pink tea party and danced and squealed and screamed. Sean took Henry to the hardware store and Wal-Mart and cooked meat in the smoker, in an attempt to balance out the estrogen overload.

This morning, I asked Julia if she liked her party. She said "Yes! Next time I want to have a Princess AND Prince Party, so I can invite the boys, too."

"Oh, yeah? That sounds like fun."

"What about Saturday?"

*In the interest of privacy, I'm not posting pictures of the other girls. Trust that they were there, and adorable. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Now that I no longer smoke, and rarely drink, and don't whore around with random strangers (not that I ever did that, but I could have), I have no good vices left to me.

Sloth is not an option with three kids. Covetousness? Bitch, please. I am living the Life of Riley here, what do I have to be jealous of? Gluttony - I have been known to throw down on some chow, but with pre-pregnancy weight in sight, I'm not even doing that. Lust - yeah, no. Too tired. Greed? Despair? Wrath? (well, maybe when someone doesn't replenish the damned toilet paper roll!) Pride?

Oh, Pride. I almost forgot about that one. Pride is a hard one, isn't it? Of course I have pride in my children. I take pride in making my home comfortable and clean and appealing. I am proud of my husband, for being such a hard worker and good father. But pride in myself is tricky - how to be proud while straddling the line between vanity and humility?

Writing this blog has been a hard and fast lesson in self promotion. It is something I'm both uncomfortable with, and alarmingly astute at. I post on Facebook, I have it in my signature at my long time message board, I printed it on calling cards, I write for other blogs. When people mention it, I try to be appropriately self effacing while at the same time encouraging them to share it with others. It is a lot of fucking work.

When I entered that contest at Circle of Moms (remember that? When I asked you shamelessly, over and over again, to vote for me?), I was a little surprised that I made it into the Top 25. I had to answer a short interview and send in a picture that will be published to their membership. I worked on the questions for an embarrassing amount of time, and took close to 20 pictures to get the right one. And then, I still had to run it all by a panel of friends for approval.

Which picture is better? Is my chin too pointy in that one? I should have colored my hair. What about that shirt? Does that shirt look weird? Are my nostrils two different sizes? Oh God, my nostrils are two different sizes!

All of this for a paragraph and a wee picture that will barely get any notice.

That is pride.

Pride is not knowing your assets, pride is wanting other people to know. Which makes the entire concept of a blog a practice in pride. Because if I didn't want you to read it, if I didn't want you to comment, if I didn't want you to keep coming back and sharing it with your friends, well - I'd keep a diary, wouldn't I?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Inside, Outside. It's All Work.

I struggled with working mommy angst for Katie's first three years of life. The day I quit my job, I very literally jumped for joy walking through the parking lot. Never again was I going to miss a milestone in my daughters' life. I would be there for every first, every field trip, every party. It was going to be so awesome, so perfect. I would be there, for everything.

All day.
By myself.
With a three year old.

It didn't take long for the novelty of staying in my pajamas until noon to wear off. Frankly, I didn't know what to do with her - or myself - all day. Staying at home was so completely different and I found myself lost and floundering. I was used to constant adult interaction at work, then a frenetic pace trying to get dinner and housework and quality interaction with my husband and child when I got home. What I had been squeezing into 2 hours, I now had 10 hours to to do.

I was bored. And lonely.

My entire adult life, I had relied on my job as my social network. Friendships were formed based on mutual like or dislike of the workplace, and cemented over drinks after work. When I stopped working, I no longer had much in common with those people, and phone calls became more strained and less frequent. "So, we're getting ready for this big meeting on Monday and trying to get the TPS reports ready." "Oh, yeah? Well you should have seen the POOP my kid had today! Hahahaha!"

Eventually, they stopped calling.

I felt like I lost my identity. I went from being someone who was kind of important to someone who was a slave to a toddler. My boss went from being a tyrannical 60 year old man to a tyrannical 3 year old girl. At least the man didn't require me to fix his lunch or wipe his butt. I was "just a mom." At the same time, I didn't know how to break into those mommy circles. Those women at the park with their well packed diaper bags and monogrammed lunch boxes and conversations about consignment sales and girls night out. I wanted to be one of them, but I just didn't know how.

Then I met G. She invited me to a church playgroup event. And another one, and another one. She kept calling me and introducing me to everyone she knew. She'd always say things like "Come with me" and "Meet me", always making me feel like I was there with her, not someone who just wandered in by myself. She made me part of the group. The women she introduced me to in those first few months are today, 7 years later, my best friends.

Like any major change, going from working mom to stay at home mom is not an easy transition. Even after meeting G, it took considerable effort on my part. Every mom knows the challenges of just getting out of the door with a kid, and how sometimes it's just easier to stay at home. Getting everyone dressed, fed, changed, snacks packed, strollers, jackets...the endless list of items required for travel with a young child. But I had to do it, or I'd spend my days in the basement playroom playing Candyland and eating fruit snacks.

My best advice to moms making the switch - meet other moms. Whether it be through a MOPS organization or a church playgroup, hanging by the pool or at library storytime. Search out events and go, even when you don't think you want to. Invest in personal calling cards and hand them out liberally. Embrace being "just a mom", and recognize all the rewards that come with it. And if you're a seasoned stay at home mom and you see a woman at the park looking lonely and lost, go introduce yourself. You might be just the friend she needs.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Day in the Life

Many of you (okay, two of you) commented that you'd like to see a glimpse into an average day in SFC land. The truth is, our schedules change based on the girls' activities, school year vs summer, blah blah blah. So I've done the best I can by giving About half way through the day, I kind of started hoping that someone (other than Henry) would shit their pants, so I'd at least have something funny to talk about.

Alas, it was kind of a normal day. I don't have days when I clean house, I just kind of do it all the time. In addition to the maintenance stuff (kitchen, laundry, beds, general pick up), I try to do one or two "things" a day. That thing could be cleaning the bathrooms, or mopping, or cleaning out the icebox, or going to the grocery store. I can't do it all in one day, so I don't even try. Unless we're having company, I don't do anything but maintenance on the weekends. I will try to be parenthetically amusing so as not to shatter your illusions about my awesomeness.

6:00-7:30 a.m.: I'm up first, and with luck, 30 minutes before anyone else. I can have a cup of coffee, look at Facebook, and obsessively check my Blogger stats. Katie's up for school at 6:30, and Julia and Henry usually around that time as well. I make breakfast, prod Katie along, get everyone fed (bagels and fruit this morning), breakfast dishes cleaned up, first load of laundry started and Katie out the door to catch the bus. I get the little ones dressed.

A note about laundry: Laundry can kiss my ass. I usually do 1-2 loads a day, but when I skip a day (like yesterday), suddenly I have like 6 loads. That is bullshit.

7:30-8:30: My mom came over this morning and watched the little ones while I ran 4 miles, showered and dressed. She does this 2-3 mornings a week, depending on her schedule. Aren't I lucky?

8:30-9:30: I have my breakfast (egg whites with salsa - fascinating!), while the kids play. Play in this case was screaming and piano playing. I watered the plants on the patio and porch, then cleaned the inside of the living room and kitchen windows, where someone had licked them. A lot. I switched over and folded a load of laundry. The little ones like to help, and they make it kind of fun.

9:45-11:15: Some days we have playdates, some days we go do something fun, some days we run errands - which is what we did today. Dry cleaners, Target, the Dollar Store and craft store (the latter two for Julia's "Princess Pajama Party" this weekend. Just an afternoon party. For princesses. In pajamas. For no reason.)

11:15-11:45: Lunch for the kids and clean up, because Henry eats like a pig.

11:45: Henry down for a nap. While I nursed him to sleep, I checked and responded to e-mails.

11:50-12:00: Hey! More laundry! I found $5 in a pocket, which makes me giddy . Some people might call it a tip, some might call it a perk of the job, I call it a Grande Skinny Vanilla Latte, bitches! For the moment, I settle for another cup of SFC special brew.

12:00-12:30: Julia plays on the computer while I do some power chores. Made my bed, dusted the bedroom, put away laundry, cleaned the master bathroom. While cleaning, the word "sofrito" got stuck in my head, prompting the internal debate: Is it accurate to call sofrito the Spanish mirepoix? (I think so.) And would I be able to spell either sofrito or mirepoix without looking them up? (Sadly, no.) When I went to empty the trash, I found this. Someone has been in my postpartum giant maxipad stash! And yes, it was sitting atop the trashcan, just like this.

Clean bathroom! Ill fitting short shorts!
12:30-12:45: I had my lunch (2 slices turkey, salad, cantaloupe and a cup of Greek yogurt. Contain your excitement).

12:45: Someone screamed and loudly slammed the bathroom door adjacent to Henry's room, waking him from his nap. Fudge. (Because I don't cuss in front of my kids. I'm too classy for that.)

12:45-1:45: Play Play Play. We roll around in the floor and pull out everything in Henry's closet. Julia and Henry, most of the time, play really well together, and I like being in the middle of it.

1:45-3:00: We head out the back door to walk up to the grocery store for a few things. We spend 15 minutes or so chatting with our across the alley neighbors and friends, before taking the 1 mile (round trip) walk. Julia rides her bike and never complains, even though it's hot as hell and uphill on the way there.

We get home, put away groceries and get ourselves ready, because when Katie comes home at 3:10-

3:15-5:30: We go to the POOL! This is the time of day that is usually the busiest, with homework and activities and dinner making and various other bullshittery. But it's the last week of school and activities have been suspended for the time, so all we have to do is enjoy the sunshine and the company of friends. It doesn't suck. Pool aftermath:

5:30-6:30: Make dinner (BBQ chicken sandwiches, BBQ slaw, strawberries - easy, summery, and not very filling), eat, clean up the kitchen. Katie showers (hoorah for mostly independent bathing) while I make dinner, and she and Julia both set the table and clear it after dinner.

6:30-7:30: As mentioned, it is the last week of school. Which means Katie brought home the contents of her desk, otherwise known as Katie's Cavalcade o' Shit. I went through it all (including some really good poetry, and a writing piece that was a stunningly accurate example of dialect. Seriously, it was impressive.). I folded another load of laundry, and bathed Henry and Julia.

7:30-8:00: WRESTLEMANIA! Katie is a big wimp, so she mostly does things like hide under the bed and yells "Be careful! Be careful!" Julia is a beast, and Henry is a biter. Sean takes the worst of what Julia has to offer, while I just lay there covering my head and hope that no one draws blood. It's good fun.

8:00: CHILDREN! TO BED! Katie stays up and reads until lights out at 8:30. Weekend and summer bedtimes are far more lax, but everyone needs this schedule during the school year.

And after that...after that, I blog, and sit, and talk to my husband, and get ready for the next day, and thank God. My days are what I make them, and that's an enormous gift. Even when they're boring.

Hey! Congratulations to Merlot, who won my FABULOUS PRIZE giveaway for my 100th post! Details of the actual prize will be posted soon!


Sunday, June 5, 2011


One of the suggestions I received for a post was to share something about myself that I wouldn't normally share.

This rules out any talk of bodily functions, wardrobe malfunctions or screaming banshee children. I have very few personal boundaries, so in order to tell you something I wouldn't normally, I have to get painfully honest. That doesn't sound like much fun.

When I started writing this, I had decided to tell you how much I hated answering the question - "So, where did you go to college?" Because, of course, I didn't. I had intended to take a year off, then go to a performing arts school and have a life in theater in some capacity. But I never went back, and for the past 20 odd years, I have waved it off with the comment, "Life happens."

The truth is, I was scared. I never went because I was afraid someone was going to sit in front of me and tell me what I already knew - that I was good, but not good enough. That I could work hard and practice and devote my life to theater and it would never be enough to make me into something I wasn't. Unwillingly to fail, unwillingly to be mediocre, unwilling to try, I gave up.

While I would never change the path my life has taken, not trying remains my greatest regret.

It's a problem for me, the not trying. No sooner do I commit to something than I start planning my exit strategy. If ever I'm presented with a challenge, there is always a reason I can't get it done. Rather than take the chance, I expend all my energy on getting the hell out. It is so much easier, the well traveled path. I love my rut - it is cozy and warm and safe, and I know well and navigate with ease the little bumps it contains.

There are things I want to do, but just typing this, just thinking about it, my throat is lumpy and my eyes are hot with tears. If I fail, will my family stop loving me? Will my friends desert me? Will my life change in any measurable way? No. So why do I find it so hard to just stop with all the bullshit and take the first step? I am comfortable with who I am, and hopeful of who I could be, and so very unsure of getting there.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Battles Won, Battles Lost

I just deleted a hugely boring, whiny, long and rambling post about a marginally sucky day.

Instead, let me say this: Sometimes kids are jerky. Sometimes they are even super jerky. It is in those times, when parents are the most stressed, the most flustered, the most angry, that we tend to make stupid decisions.

For instance, if your kids are tired and cranky and teething and hungry, taking them out to a restaurant is probably not the best idea. Even when they say 'Please oh please! We'll be good! But we really want to!', and they wear you down in that most annoying but extremely effective kid way. Because they know you are tired and if they just keep at it, you'll cave.

Don't cave. If you do, you will be hauling a screaming baby and your to go order out of that joint before the first basket of chips and salsa has gone adios. 

On the other hand, if they want to sleep on the air mattress on the floor of your bedroom, and are willing to go to bed half an hour early to do it - Jump all over it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


WOOT! IT'S SFC's 100th POST!

It is shocking to me that I have managed to find some bullshit to talk about 100 times. Even more shocking is that there are people who continue to read it. And a lot of you aren't even related to me! To celebrate this ginormous milestone, I am going to have a FABULOUS PRIZE GIVEAWAY!

(cue the dancing girls and farting elephants!)

Here's what you have to do to enter - just post a comment telling me either a) your favorite SFC post to date or b) a topic you'd like to see me write about. Please make sure to include your e-mail so I can get in touch with you. And while this isn't required for entry, do me a solid and tell your friends to come over, read and comment. I will pick a winner on Monday, June 6.

Here's what you win - SOMETHING FABULOUS. I can only promise that it will be awesome and cheap, much like me.

Thank you for reading and following and encouraging me to talk about my fascinating life of poopy diapers, granny panties and pit sweat. I love you guys, in a fake internet way that carries no real emotion. XXXOOO