Friday, December 30, 2011


I don't know why Simon Le Bon didn't marry me. Sure, sure - he was an international pop sensation and married to a supermodel and I was a 12 year old gap toothed kid in the middle of Nowhere, North Carolina, but we were soul mates. I knew it. I knew it every time I kissed his picture above my bed, as soon as my mom had turned out the light and moved a safe distance down the hall. I made out with a picture of Simon Le Bon while the Dallas theme song played in the living room.

At least, until the paper where his mouth was had worn completely away and he looked like a victim of some horrible mouth-erasing accident. I kissed a piece of paper so much that I effectively ate it away. That is kind of embarrassing.

Something similar happened with the 21 Jump Street-era Johnny Depp.
And Rob Lowe.
And Christian Slater.
And Val Kilmer.
And Kiefer Sutherland.
And, God help me, the lead singer of the country music supergroup, Alabama. At least it wasn't an Oak Ridge Boy.

Katie is just getting to the age where she's showing interest in teen idols, and I promise to never tease her about them. And if I find a picture with a hole where the mouth used to be, I'll just look away.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dumb Old Mom

The Husband has earned the nickname 'Captain Fun' with the kids, and rightfully so. He is the one who will jump up and shout, 'let's go for ice cream!' or let them stay up late, or play Guitar Hero with them when they should be cleaning their rooms. He is Captain Fun, and we love him for it. He's also The Voice, the one they listen to after they've been arguing with me. The one that shouts LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER RIGHT NOW from the living room and, magically, they do.

Henry, who will scream and yell and cry when I try to brush his teeth, will sit there passively, mouth wide open, while the Husband brushes.

It pisses me off.

He had plans to take the girls to the movies this afternoon. All morning, I moped around the house. I haven't left the house in five days. I guess I'll do some laundry. Maybe Henry and I will go to the grocery store. Finally, he looked at me and said, 'Why don't YOU take them to the movie?'

Immediately, Julia yelled 'Nooooooooo! Not Mommy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!'

Because where he is sparkle and glam and jazz hands, I am mashed potatoes and toilet brushes and giant panties. He is awesomeness, I am utility. He is Captain Fun, I am Dumb Old Mom.

I get it. I get that I am here all the time, and take care of all the awful stuff, like homework and baths and cleaning. I get that The Husband retains his novelty by working more than full time. I get that he makes the sacrifice of time away from them, and why shouldn't he be their preference when he's here? I should be thankful that they love him so. And I am.

But that doesn't mean I don't sometimes feel like a whiny baby because I want to be number one! I don't want to be dumb old mom with her rules and practicality and green vegetables.

The Husband has to remind me that there are times when they want only me. When they are sick. Or scared or lonely or tired. When they require tenderness. As Katie gets older, I've noticed a slight shift back to me - dads don't understand what it's like to be a tween girl. When Henry wakes up in the middle of the night and yells MAMA!, I take smug satisfaction in it. When Julia throws her little arm around my neck and squeezes tight and says 'you are the best mom, ever!', I believe her.

Sometimes I need to let them be irresponsible. I need to loosen up and relax and stop worrying about the stupid housework and if everyone's getting to bed on time. I need to take a lesson from Captain Fun, and shake things up a little.

I don't have to be Dumb Old Mom, at least not all the time.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

If Clothes Make the Man...

I rarely argue with my children about their clothing choices. As long as it (pretty much) fits, is clean, and is mostly weather appropriate, I'm down with it. There are a few exceptions - church, formal events, visiting dignitaries. But, generally, if it covers your business, you're good.

As a result, I have indulged tutus and creative coordinates, costumes as every day wear and repeated wearing of a favorite shirt. (Though at one point last year, I did suggest to Katie that if she continued to wear a certain shirt over and over again, she would become 'that kid', and it would be weird.) I am a big believer in expressing your individuality through your clothing. I'm the girl that wore green satin shortie pajamas to school my junior year (though I insisted they were 'lounge wear', and not pajamas. They were totally pajamas.)

The Husband does not share my couture liberalities. He had to run to the Large Home Improvement Store yesterday, and decided to take the two little ones with him. Julia ran off to get dressed, and I took Henry to his room to help him. They ran into the kitchen a little while later, and the Husband took one glance and said "They are not going anywhere like that."

Henry was in regular pants and a shirt, accessorized by his Batman/Superman cape (Batman side out, to better coordinate with his shirt). Julia was wearing a Minnie Mouse t-shirt, black capri leggings, and red cowboy boots. That light up.

They looked adorable.

And he must have known it, too, because he just sighed and walked them out to the car.

Our kids are not button down kids. They are not quiet or neat or matchy matchy. They are crazy and loud and fun, and everything they wear is a reflection of who they are. They are not polo shirts and oxford shoes. They are red cowboy boots, and they light up.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Linguist

My mother is a really fun person. She's the one who'd let us eat pizza for breakfast, or go without making our beds, or eat a bunch of candy then go to bed without brushing our teeth. She was the counter, in many ways, to my ball buster father.

But chances are, if you have a mom like that, she's also a little cracked.

One of my mom's most endearing quirks is her cadre of accents. Speaking normally, she has that flat, midwestern accent reflective of her Oklahoma upbringing. Every now and again, a bit of my dad's West Texas sneaks in. But having a normal conversation with her, you would not pick up a discernable accent.

Unless you are, say, a Mexican. Because then she starts talking like a Mexican, or at least how some middle aged white woman from Oklahoma who has difficulty pronouncing 'agua' would talk like a Mexican. More accurately, like an Oklahoman Mexican who was raised in Germany. "Ya?" she'll say "Can I get the car-nay asad-ya, with a side of hallepeynos, homes?"

(My mom can also never order straight off the menu. She always has to get something substituted, or on the side. She's never ready to order when everyone else is, and she always has a question about the menu. She is like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally, but with a Mexican-German accent.)

She is a verbal chameleon, unconsciously picking up the accent of the person she's talking to.

Living here in the south, particularly the rural south, the accents tend to get a little thick. Even more awesome than listening to my mom at a Mexican restaurant is hearing her go all Reba McEntire on someone. "Laws, y'all! I done told them young 'ens to keep outta that fishin' hole!" (That might be a slight exaggeration. I don't know that I've ever heard my mom reference a fishin' hole.) She's a hairdresser, so chances are she'll have to switch accents four, maybe five times a day, depending on the nationality and/or regional dialect of her clientele.

Do you know what kind of skills are required to go from Southern to Mexican to Yankee to German, all in the course of a single day?

She is no ordinary woman. She is wunderbar. And loco, yo.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Sometimes it is difficult to figure out where a phobia begins. Other times, not so much.

It was just a small hole. Down by the baseboard in my bathroom, to the left of the toilet tank, right next to the shut off valve.

"What did you do to the wall?" my mother asked.
"Nothing!" I swore. I was telling the truth. Eleven year olds don't always do that. My mother gave me the side eye, but let it go.

The hole got bigger.

"Mouse." my father declared from bended knee, peering at the hole and poking at it with one of his thick fingers. "I'll put out a trap."

I didn't like mice. I hadn't liked them since the nights I'd spent with my grandparents, listening to them run across the roof of the greenhouse, looking for bits of food and birdseed. I didn't like the idea of one in my Miss Piggy themed bathroom, with it's lavendar walls and pictures declaring "There is no one on the planet to compare with moi!" It was obscene, a rodent. It was gross.

It was attached to my bedroom.

My father put out a mousetrap. Every night, I would lie awake, waiting to hear the telltale SNAP. I would lie there, a barrier of stuffed animals surrounding my body, just in case the mouse should decide to come into my room and into my bed. I would lie there awake until the house grew silent and my eyes itched from sleep. I could hear the tick tick tick of the grandfather clock and it became the scritch scritch scritch of the mouse slowly eating its way through the wall.

I was certain I would never fall asleep, but of course I did. And when morning came, I would creep slowly into the bathroom, peeking through my fingers, trying to discern the shape of mouse beside the toilet. Morning after morning, the sight was the same - an empty trap.

And the hole grew bigger.

My father decided to switch tactics and get a 'humane trap'. It was a metal box, half the size of a loaf of bread. The mouse would enter to get the bait (it was always Velveeta cheese, the cheese known by people everywhere to be the choice of discriminating rodents), and then find itself unable to get out. Fully encased, unharmed, unseen.

The next morning, I walked into the bathroom without my hands over my eyes. The trap had been moved across the room.

My father began referring to the mouse as Willard. And the hole grew bigger.

One morning as we went about the business of getting ready for work and school, my mother came breezing through the kitchen on her way to the bathroom. "There's cupcakes in the pantry." she said. I had a special weakness for Hostess Cupcakes. As I took one from the pantry and put it into my lunchbox, I heard my mother scream.

She had gone into the hall bathroom, where my father stood at the sink shaving. She sat down on the toilet and reached across to the wall opposite where the toilet paper holder was mounted. A towel had fallen across it, and she tossed it aside and came face to face with Willard. But Willard was no mouse.

Willard was a rat. A giant, hairy, motherfucking rat.

My mother screamed and ran into the kitchen, her panties still around her ankles. My father soon followed, slamming the bathroom door behind him. My mother had jumped up on the kitchen table and I, knowing that the cause could only be Willard, joined her.

"OH MY GOD OH MY GOD MICHAEL! DID YOU SEE THAT? DID YOU SEE THAT FUCKING RAT?" my mother is screaming. My brother, who was no doubt off lighting something on fire or selling pilfered cigarettes to the neighbor kids, came running in.

"OH WOW? A rat! A rat! Douche!"

Sometime around kindergarten, my brother decided that 'douche' was another word for 'cool'. My mother never bothered to correct him.

My dad leveled his stare on me. "Get my boots."

I ran downstairs to the bedroom and grabbed his heavy, steel toed work boots. He shoved his feet in them and then rummaged under the sink and pulled out a plunger. He stood before us in all his glory, our hero. My father, the rat slayer.

This would be a good time to mention that for my entire childhood, my father slept only in his underwear. This is forever my image of a capable man - wearing work boots, plunger in hand, shaving cream on his face, clothed only in tighty whities.

By this time, my brother has joined us on the kitchen table and my mother has stopped screaming. But with the first whack from the bathroom, Willard starts. The sound of the heavy smack of the plunger followed by the scream of the rat, interspersed with the curses of my father, was sickening. At some point my mother reached across to the kitchen counter and turned on the old radio she kept there. She cranked it as loud as it would go, and Emmylou Harris singing 'Pancho & Lefty' filled the room. All the Federales say... SQUUUUEEEEEE...they could have had him any day...SCREEEEEEEEEEE...

It seemed like an eternity, but I'm sure it couldn't have taken more than a few minutes. My father came out of the bathroom and got a black trashbag. My mother turned off the radio. My brother and I went to school and when I got home, there was a fresh piece of sheetrock over the hole in my bathroom. It was sanded and painted by the weekend and it was if it had never happened.

I have had the nightmare ever since, less frequently in adulthood, more frequently in times of stress. I am in my bed and, though the room is dark, I know that my Miss Piggy bathroom is only a few feet away. I can't move, and I can't see them, but I can hear them. Scritch scritch scritch as they eat through the wall. The rustle and shuffle as they make their way through my stuffed animals. And then I can feel them, they are on me, but I can't move and I can't speak. Then one is right next to my face and his nose is in my ear and right before he takes a bite of my fat little lobe, I say his name...


Sunday, December 18, 2011

O (Splendid) Christmas Tree

I blame it on the tree.

Of course, I caved. When the artificial tree that had been trucking along for the last decade finally gave up the ghost on Friday, and the Husband made his proclamations about substandard trees, he said to me - "I can get us a tree for fifteen bucks."

I told him if he could find a tree stand for free, he was welcome to get a live tree.

Saturday morning, he and the children went off to retrieve our tree, which would be - no doubt - some back lot model. Fifteen bucks, I was not expecting much. Two hours later, we stood back looking at the first live tree we've had since we've had children, and even I had to admit -

It is a glorious tree.

I undecorated the artificial tree and started stringing lights on the real tree. I would repeat The Husband's words many times over the next two days - "It will take an hour, tops." Three hours, a trip to the drugstore and an extension cord later, the lights were finally done.  Fake feathers and orange flowers don't lend themselves to a true tree, so I packed them away and decided to get creative.

The next morning, I popped two huge bowls of popcorn and the girls and I got to stringing.
 Predictably, Katie did about 10 inches of garland and declared herself 'done'. Julia managed about three times that, and Henry just came in and threw popcorn all over the kitchen. Somehow, I didn't even mind that my house looked like this all day.

And when everyone else had gone on to more important things, I sat, stringing popcorn. I didn't mind. And when my hands cramped up, I stopped and made ornaments. 
People, I do not craft. I don't know what came over me. I don't know if it was the smell of the pine tree or the sap on my fingers, or if the Husband had slipped some Christmas crack into my coffee. But I really got into it. 

I made these:
And these:

And, because I felt we needed a new topper, more in keeping with the new spirit taking hold, I made this:

I used a children's art book from the 1950s, because I loved the illustrations and the little bits of color. I folded and taped the pages together into a circle, then stitched the center together. I SEWED. Twice, in one day, if you count stringing the popcorn. I used the falling off cover and a couple of clothespins to secure the back and attach it to the tree.


Every year, the pile of presents grows larger. Our annual Christmas Eve party gets more extravagant. My stress level gets higher, and my Christmas cheer gets decidedly lower. 

This year, the present pile is much smaller. We decided against the party - partly due to time and money, and partly due to the fact that we found ourselves focusing too much on THE EVENT, and too little on our family. We have spent the past several months making a concerted effort to live more simply, and the past few days is the first time I have felt the difference. 

One week before Christmas, and I am not stressed at all. One week before Christmas, and I happily sat stringing popcorn in my pajamas all day long. That stupid tree is making me feel all warm and fuzzy and Christmas-y. 

I hate it when the Husband is so very right. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

O (Substandard) Christmas Tree

"The Christmas tree is the centerpiece of Christmas, and ours is completely substandard. And I am not having that."

Last year, the lights on the artificial tree started to go bad. We bought a little gizmo that fixed them right up, and so we rolled on, our artificial tree rocking for another year. Then this year, the lights started getting funky within a few days of putting the tree up. We pulled out the gizmo, and the gizmo didn't work.

Each day, we've lost a few more lights. The tree currently stands about 1/3 lit, with a week left until Christmas.

"I think we should go out and buy a real tree." The Husband says. I arch an eyebrow his way. "Just take the decorations off, we'll get a tree, and you can redecorate it. It'll take an hour, tops." he says.

"You are out of your fucking mind." I say.

Tonight, he gets a text message and looks over at me and smiles, "I think I can get a free tree."

"Oh, really?" I say. "For what?"

"This is bullshit!" he says, and then uses the line about the tree being the centerpiece of Christmas.

"We can just wrap some more lights on it." I say, because I know there is no way in hell it will take me an hour to un-decorate, then re-decorate, the tree.

"I'll take it all down and re-do it." He says.

Over my dead body. Decorating the primary tree has been MY job since we first got a tree, and there's no way I'm going to let him screw it up, with his plastic tinsel and popcorn on a string.

Then I'm sitting here tonight, looking at our pitiful, half dark tree, and I start thinking: Maybe that would be fun. Maybe I could let the kids spend a day stringing popcorn and cranberries and making paper chains and let them decorate the tree. What is happening to me? Have I lost my mind?

What do you think?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ah, the Life of a Thespian

It has been a big week for the SFC girls. On Monday, Julia was a Christmas angel in the preschool play about trees and families and red feather boas - I don't know, it was a little unclear as to what exactly was going on. But I did catch Julia's big line, delivered in typical Julia TOP VOLUME EXTREME LOUDNESS:


Brava, young thespian.

On Tuesday, Katie and the other 5th graders at her school graduated from the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education, for those of you not familiar) program. At one point, another parent told me, he looked out at all the children and took note of the bored expressions, with one notable exception - Katie. Who absolutely beamed the entire time. "Aren't you proud of me?" she asked me afterward. So proud, I said. I didn't say, let's talk again in 9th grade when your BFF is rolling up a doobie and showing you how to shotgun a beer.

They probably don't call them 'doobies' anymore.

I did notice something about 5th graders - either they are still very much little kids, all bony elbows and baby faces, or they are - like Katie - Amazon children. They have legs longer than mine and everything about them is getting thicker, and no one can find a pair of pants that fit. They all look old men, with their waistlines up to their armpits and their grown up teeth, still too big for their mouths.

They are adorably awkward.

Tonight was opening night for 'A Christmas Carol', as presented by the children's theater where Katie takes an acting class. The entire cast was children, from the age of 5 to the age of 18. They did everything, from stage manager to prop master, rearranging sets between scenes, and several of them played multiple parts. Katie was Martha (Bob Cratchitt's daughter) and Mrs. Dilber (one of the people who cast lots for Scrooge's belongings after his death). She was perfect. They were all perfect, even when they weren't.

The Ghost of Christmas Present is, in the story, a Bacchanalian figure - all mirth and merriment and enormity. He is, in this production, a wee boy of about 8. He summed up the entire show with one line:

"You have never seen the like of me before!" exclaimed the Spirit.

"Never," Scrooge made answer to it.

Never, indeed. What a wonderful show. What a wonderful week.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

That Sounds Delicious

I delivered four batches of sinful caramel rolls today, and responded to oohs and awes with the appropriate amount of humility. Oh, yes, it's homemade brioche. No, no big trouble. Only 3 sticks of butter. Just a few hours, really. Anyone could do it if they had the recipe.

Then I hesitate when they ask for the recipe. I consider leaving out key ingredients, or substituting salt for sugar. I consider changing the name of the recipe.

Sticky Caramel Pecan Rolls become significantly less appetizing when renamed Sticky Anal Gravy Rolls.

It's why those cookies are called pecan sandies and not nut sacks, and garbanzo beans are garbanzo beans and not faceless fetal baby heads. Snails are escargot because no one in their right mind would eat them otherwise, and rocky mountain oysters...well, you can fancy that up any way you'd like, but balls are balls.

Living as we do in a rural area, it is not uncommon to run across people who will admit to eating, and enjoying, all manner of woodland creatures. Squirrels seem to be especially popular out here in the county. I don't know what all a squirrel hunt entails, maybe enticing them into your backyard with one of those corncobs on a stick, and then hitting them with a shovel?

I'm not a very good country person.

The Husband has a friend who's going to get us a deer. But 'get' I mean 'shoot', though I prefer to believe that all meat comes directly from the grocery store, where it sprang forth from nothingness into neatly packaged styrofoam trays.

I might have a hard time if I think about it too much. If I think about that graceful animal prancing and overpopulating and whatever else deer do. Maybe instead of deer, I'll call it...chocolate.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hope In Heels

I stood in my kitchen just a few minutes ago, feeling completely overwhelmed. With baking and wrapping and planning, and trying hard to get someone -anyone- to answer a freaking e-mail. I stood there getting hot faced and weepy and indignant and thought, 'Shit! I also need to e-mail Glynis!'

I met Glynis several months ago, when the women from Triad Moms on Main and I approached her about doing a charity event. I liked her immediately, it would be hard not to. Professional yet warm, with an amazing dedication to her passion: helping women through Dress For Success Winston-Salem. I thought, it must be nice, being able to dedicate yourself to a charity.

Glynis doesn't just dedicate herself to it, she started the local affiliate from the ground up just 18 months ago. Relying on grants, a shoestring budget, and a handful of volunteers, Dress For Success Winston-Salem started suiting clients in August of 2010. They provide interview clothes, coaching, and a working wardrobe at no cost to women sent to them through social organizations.

Did I mention that In addition to running DFS, Glynis also has a full time job? And a husband and two kids? And, no doubt, just as much baking and shopping and holiday school performances as you and I do?

The mere thought of Glynis humbled me this morning. How often I complain about all I have to do, when there is always someone doing so much more.

You may have noticed the button to the left, where you can purchase tickets for Hope In Heels. We're hoping to get a couple hundred people together at The Millennium Center in Winston-Salem for dinner, a silent auction, and live entertainment from a local favorite, The Ardmore's. It's going to be an amazing night, and it's all to benefit Dress For Success Winston-Salem. Bring your partner, bring a friend, bring a whole group of friends...just come out and support one of the most worthy causes I've ever had the privledge of being associated with.

Ticket prices increase in January, so buy yours now. And wouldn't a night out on the town be a great gift?

If you're not local, look for a DFS in your area. They are doing good, every day.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sell By Date

There is a reason that manufacturers put sell by and use by dates on food.

If you eat it past that date, you will die. 

It's really very simple, and it's a rule I strictly adhere to. After my weekly shopping trip, I go through the fridge and throw out anything that has gone past its date. Once a month, I go through and really get crazy, finding any errant pickles or salad dressings that may have been missed in the weekly purge. With a family of five, there isn't much that doesn't get used unless it's been lost behind leftovers, or was a suspect purchase to begin with.

(Not once has the Husband consumed more than one of a six pack of V-8s, despite claiming to "absolutely love them!")

I also hate wasting food, so if I see something is coming up on a use by date, I do everything I can to make sure it gets eaten. I currently have two days to eat 3 quarts of Greek yogurt. The rare exception is cheese - I will absolutely not eat or serve cheese that looks even slightly fuzzy. I was a victim of my mother 'just cut off the green! It's perfectly fine!' and the thought of moldy cheese is a grossness surpassed only by cheese that has gotten wet.

I would rather shoot fireworks off out of my asshole than eat wet cheese. 

Unfortunately, I've passed this peculiarity on to Katie, who was asking "What's the date on that?" to just about everything I pulled out of the fridge by the time she was five. She is a pathological milk-sniffer, and will no doubt grow into one of those annoying women who pull all the milk out of the dairy case to get to the one in the very back with the latest date on it.

Not that I do that.

My fear of expired goods extends to non-food items, as well, and especially medication. There is not a vitamin, aspirin, eye drop or stool softener that is safe from my scrutiny.

"I swear we had some Neosporin in here." the Husband said.
"Yeah, it expired." I sighed. "Sorry."
"Neosporin expires? Are you sure?"
"Of course it expires! Everything expires."
"Fine, I'll just put a Band Aid on it. Where are they?"
"Oh, they expired."
"Band Aids DO NOT expire!"
"Umm, yes? They do? The adhesive breaks down and they don't perform as well."
"Seriously? This cut is going to get infected and they'll have to amputate it, all because the Neosporin and Band Aids were 'expired'. I hope you remember that when I'm walking around with 9 fingers and I'm unable to pick my dirty clothes up off the floor and always put the toilet seat down, like I do now." *
"Well, I guess we could whip up some penicillin, I just tossed some moldy cheese in the trash..."

*This is where you realize the conversation is a total fabrication.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rebel, Rebel

I ran away from home when I was 14.

I was a freshman in high school, newly dating a good boy who was trying very hard to be bad. He was my first real boyfriend, and we spent a lot of time skipping school, hanging out with his loser friend, and watching movies. I wasn't allowed to stay up past 9 p.m., so this was seriously thrilling behavior for me.

The fun didn't last, of course, as teachers tend to notice when you don't come to school with regularity, and so they called our parents. My parents, being the hardasses that they were, came looking for us. I don't remember how we got the heads up, but we were going out the back door of loser friend's apartment as my parents were coming in the front door. My boyfriend broke his ankle jumping off the balcony. It was very dramatic.

He looked at me, I looked at him, and we said, "We have to run." It was clearly our only option. Plus, we had watched The Legend of Billie Jean like half a dozen times that month, and if there's one thing Helen Slater taught me, it's that fair is fair. That, and short hair is hot. So we took off.

Our first stop with the apartment of another friend, who let us raid his refrigerator and gather some much needed supplies. A bag of Fritos. A couple of wine coolers. Half a pack of cigarettes pilfered from his dad. I excused myself to the bathroom to do what I needed to do, namely hack off my shoulder length hair so I could go rogue. You can not go rogue looking like the Breck Girl. As I stood there with a pair of kitchen scissors, I changed my mind. Maybe I can just wear it in a ponytail. I cut my fingernails short instead, which is only slightly less badass.

We spend the rest of the day walking circles around the apartment complex, discussing how we might break into one and make a home there, or at least sleep overnight. It turns out we both had an innate fear of lawlessness, and were overly concerned with things like going to juvie. By nightfall, the Fritos were gone and we were hungry and only about 3 blocks from where we started. We were the worst runaways in the history of runaways. Bon Jovi even called me and asked me not to sing their song, I was such an embarrassment.

At 8 p.m. that night, we walked up to the gas station and called my boyfriend's older sister, hoping she'd give us some cash and some tips on not sucking. She was always a bitch to me; she said I wore too much makeup and was a slut. She showed up a few minutes later, looked at us and said "Get in the car." It was clear that she wasn't there to help.

Instead she took us to my parents house, where we spent the next several hours being interrogated. My parents had searched my room, read my diary, and knew all of my intimate secrets. They knew that I loved Simon Le Bon. They knew I wondered if I should start tweezing my eyebrows. They knew my friend Alice let me taste vodka at her house, and it made me throw up in the cowl neck of my sweater. It was one of the most awful nights of my life.

And so ended my 12 hours on the run. It was the first, and last, time I have ever lived on the edge...outside the law...a criminal. There will always be that dark side of me, just beneath the surface. There will always be the potential for aberrant behavior, the lust for rebellion.

Right now, I'm going to go tear the tags off all my pillows.

Don't get too close, you might get burned.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

So Very Interesting

I've been awarded the 'Tell Me About Yourself' award by the amazing blogger Word Nerd Speaks. It requires me to, well, tell you about myself. Seven things, specifically. Once I do that, Word Nerd bows her head because she knows that she's been beat, and gives me a shiny golden fiddle. Wait, no, that's the Devil. Regardless, I get to tell you a little about the fascinating subject that is me.

I'm stumped.

"What's the most interesting thing about me?" I ask the Husband, a loaded question if there ever was one.
"Most interesting?" he says. "There are so many interesting things about you."
"Like what?"
"Well, you know. You know a lot of words." his eyes are darting around the room, like he's looking for a way out. "Hey! Is that the baby? I'll get him!"

It looks like I'm on my own here.

1. I love books, maybe more than anything. Okay, maybe tied with food. My first recommendation to anyone looking for something to read is Kent Haruf. He has the most beautiful way with words and his characters are people you know, or people you want to. He is just an extraordinary writer, and if you've not read his books, you should.

2. If I had a dinner party and invited five living, famous people, the guests would be Anthony Bourdain, Dave Grohl, David Sedaris, Jon Stewart and Colin Firth. I just realized there are no women on my list. Sedaris is a compact fellow, I'd make him scooch over and make room for Michelle Obama, so she and I could talk about school lunches.

3. If I could only eat one meal for the rest of my life, it would be carne asada. With corn tortillas.

4. I once participated in a contest where I won by frying up a bunch of chicken, then taking a picture of myself topless holding two chicken breasts over my own boobies. I also made a big penis and balls out of dryer lint. That's all I have to say about that.

5. My worst OCD behaviors are time centered. What time is it? How long will it take to get there? Are we going to be late? I have major anxiety if I'm going to be late, like elephant sitting on my chest, hot tears in my eyes anxiety. I stopped wearing a watch years ago, it's just too much.

6. I have, at different times in my life, been obsessed with Duran Duran, the movie Real Genius, Magnum PI, grilled cheese sandwiches, Carmex, The X-Files, and Miss Piggy.

7. I can sing, I can dance, I can cook, I can clean, I can diagram a sentence. I can not drive a stick shift, change a tire, understand anything more than basic math, or visualize anything spacially. I wish I could play the piano, speak a foreign language, and be genuinely interested in football.

The other part of this award is passing it on to 15 other bloggers. But I'm breaking the rules and passing it on to all of you. If you have a blog and want to make this a post, please link it in the comments here. If you don't, and just want to tell me seven things about yourself, do it! I want to know what makes you so very interesting.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Many years ago, before I had children or a house or a legally binding relationship, I had a job. The job was very important to me,and so I took every opportunity to prove my commitment. One year I volunteered to make all of the desserts for the company Christmas party. Nevermind that I had never made anything more complex than a chocolate chip cookie. I had seen Martha Stewart on television, it couldn't be that difficult. It was with that attitude that I picked up a copy of Martha Stewart Living and settled on the centerpiece for my cornucopia of holiday sweets - the creme puff tree.

No big deal. Make some delicate creme puffs, artfully arrange them in a tower, and cover the whole thing in a halo of spun sugar.

Four hours and a six-plus pack later, The Boyfriend found me sitting on the kitchen floor, teary eyed and shit faced, covered in sugar. The creme puff tree was more like a creme puff puddle. We showed up to the party with a hundred dollars worth of lovely, store bought petit fours.

Sometimes the easy way out is the way to go.

So here are my Top 10 Tips for a stress free, awesome holiday season:

1. Not everyone gets a gift. I kill myself every year making cookies for everyone I know. The mail lady hates me, why am I giving her cookies? Piss off, mail lady! I'll give my cookies to the people I really like.
2. Happy Holidays. Merry Christmas. Santa. Jesus. Santa Jesus. Who cares? Isn't the bottom line peace and love and all that jazz? Peace is keeping your trap shut and enjoying the holiday, in whatever way you choose.
3. If you're counting calories, keep it to yourself. You're ruining it for the rest of it.
4. Get at least one person on your list something that will make them freak out with happiness.
5. If you're buying for a person who has everything, don't get them anything. Make a donation to an organization they love instead.
6. Give to your charity of choice. Give more than you think you should.
7. Do something magical.
8. Start a tradition. Something big (like going to see The Nutcracker or A Christmas Carol on stage) or something small (like a holiday movie marathon).
9. Listen to holiday music. Sing along. Except that Christmas shoes song. No one should ever listen to, or sing along with, that song. It makes people homicidal, and murder is pretty anti-Christmas.
10. There is this magical thing called the internet. If shopping at the mall gets you all jerked up, shop online.

If I manage to follow all my own suggestions, I just might have the most relaxed holiday yet. I might even be up for trying another creme puff tree.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Stupid Tired

By my best estimation, the last time I had a full night of uninterrupted sleep was the spring of 2006. Usually, I am able to function well enough (sometimes even awesomely) on sleep broken by babies chewing on my boobs, or toddlers with a need for water (or bathroom or music or a re-tuck), or big kids with nightmares. I have managed to push through for five plus years.

Until today. For what ever reason, five years of unrest caught up with me today. I have never in my whole fucking life been so tired, not even after those 12 hour workday followed by a night of drinking and dancing and puking. Not even during those first few weeks with the babies, when all they did is nurse and shit and cry and nurse and shit.

Never. Ever.

Some people might have locked their children in a safe room, threw some Cheerios on the floor, and slept. But I am not some people. Instead of being practical, I drank a big ass pot of coffee and said to the little ones, "Let's make cookies."

Here is the thing about caring for children when you are dead ass tired: You become completely apathetic. Mom, can I feed the dog these Santa gel clings off the window? Sure, whatever. Mom, can I take off all my clothes and diaper and pee on the floor? Hey, man. Be free. Mom! Can we make 8,000 sugar cookies and a huge fucking mess? Absolutely. Exhaustion puts you into survival mode - whatever it takes to keep them quiet.

Henry so enjoyed eating powder sugar off the counter. And when he pointed to the bag and said "More? More?" I gave him a whole cup full. Why not.
It's a good thing neither of the little ones know how to order things online.

We waited until Katie came home from school to decorate the cookies. She spread icing on one, ate it, then left. Julia decorated two and declared "You do the rest, Mommy." Henry ate four cookies and a cup of powdered sugar and was a maniac the rest of the day.

I was left with four dozen cookies to decorate and a disaster of a kitchen.

There is a lesson in all this, but I am too tired to figure it out.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Carolyn & Taco

(I could end National Blog Posting Month with a post about what I learned this month about being a writer, and a reader. I could point you to my blog roll over on the right and suggest you read some of the amazing voices on there. I could thank BlogHer for recognizing some of my posts, and helping me have the best traffic I've ever seen. I could invite all of you who found me this month to keep coming back. I could do all of that, but instead - I'm going to tell you a story.)

My friend Carolyn is kind of an asshole. She is a Fine Southern Woman, from a Fine Southern Family, the type that believes that they are allowed certain behaviors due to the privilege of their birth. Behaviors like getting soused at the Country Club Christmas party and swimming in the fountain, or getting arrested for shoplifting on a lark. Carolyn spent most of her childhood in a private boarding school, before she was thrown into public high school in order to "build character" and "give her a taste of reality", according to her father. After a few glasses of wine, Carolyn herself will tell you it was more a result of bad investments in real estate, and less an investment in her character.

We were both in our early 20's when we met, and she's proven to be one of the most loyal and steadfast friends I've ever had. And really, only kind of an asshole.

She married young and rich and spends most of her time volunteering for various charities and shopping. She is tiny-waisted, fake-boobied, Frito-nailed, and dressed to the nines. She is a walking cliche. She even has one of these dogs:
The dog's name is Taco. Carolyn really likes Mexican food. She also really loves this dog - she dresses her up in ridiculous costumes and takes her everywhere. Taco is kind of an asshole, too. When she was a puppy, Carolyn's husband insisted that the dog be crate trained, and Carolyn felt horrible for having Taco in the crate. So she put a small television in the crate with the dog to 'keep her company'. Now, if you try to take her out of the crate during one of her programs (Real Housewives of OC is her favorite, but she gets super pissy if they even show a clip of the New Jersey bitches), she completely freaks out. She once bit me for turning off My Fair Wedding with David Tutera.

No shit.

So, maybe in response to her husband making her crate Taco, or maybe because she loves accessories, Carolyn takes Taco everywhere. One day, she and Taco met some ladies for dinner at a local Mexican eatery for Margarita Monday. Something about the mix of queso and tequila did Carolyn in, and she excused herself before the second round of drinks had even been ordered.

Carolyn never leaves before her second drink.

She started the long drive home and, about half way there, she realized that she was not going to make it without stopping. Carolyn and I are completely alike in this regard - we would almost rather shit in a bucket on the side of the road than befoul a public restroom. What if there were other people in there? What if there wasn't enough toilet paper? What if it wasn't clean?

Luckily, her husband's office was just a few miles down the road and she felt confident that, if she could just make it there, she'd be able to get some relief and continue the trip home. Plus, it was late, the office would be deserted, and she could do her business in peace.

She pulled in to parking lot of the building and, hesitating only briefly, grabbed Taco. She stood at the door to the office doing the potty dance (which bears a striking resemblance to the Cha-Cha), fumbling with the key. Oh God, I'm not going to make it, I'm not going to make it. Finally, the key slid in the lock and she turned the bolt and rushed in.

The bathroom was just off the lobby, a well appointed one-holer dripping with opulence. Carolyn herself had helped design the interior of the office, and had taken special care in decorating the bathrooms. From the white marbled tile to the crystal chandeliers to the fine Persian rugs, no detail was overlooked. Everything was imported from Italy or France or some other country where they can charge more simply because it was made there. It was truly stunning.

She ran in, shut the door, and practically hurled poor Taco down. Taco, confused by this sudden mistreatment, cowered by the toilet. Carolyn unbuttoned her very expensive, very small, trousers and slid them down to her ankles. It was then, as she stood fully bent over, that her ass decided to explode. The poo cannon that was her butthole had been packed so tight that when she leaned over, it shot out of her with alarming volume and velocity. Horrified, she stood up and looked behind her.

There was shit on the toilet.
There was shit on the wall behind the toilet.
There was shit on the Persian rug and the antique commode and the Caravaggio print.
There was shit on the ceiling.

There was shit on Taco. The poor dog had taken a crap-bath and was howling with disgust and despair.

Shut up, Taco! Shut up shut up shut up! Carolyn had two choices: She could clean it up, or just walk away. When her husband told her the story of the Phantom Shitter, she'd just have to act wide eyed and innocent and hope she didn't fall over dead from the guilt. Sure! Lots of people break into office buildings and shit all over the walls in the bathroom! 

Like I said, Carolyn's kind of an asshole, but she's not that kind of asshole.

So she cleaned herself up, found the cleaning supplies and started to work. After only a few minutes, she decided she'd rather not ruin her expensive tiny trousers, and equally expensive shirt, and really very expensive for underwear panties and bra, and so she stripped naked, carefully folded her clothes and laid them outside the bathroom door.

Imagine, if you can, being Taco. Imagine watching your owner as she stood, naked save a pair of yellow plastic gloves, sponging feces from the walls. It is a wonder the dog is not in therapy to this day. Then finally, finally, she got to the dog herself. Carolyn put her in the sink and started washing, alternately cursing and apologizing. The dog was anxious and shivering and so Carolyn did the one thing that always calmed Taco down - she started singing. We Built This City. Probably the most horrible song in the world, but it never failed to settle the Chihuahua.

A well-bred Southern woman, naked, wearing yellow plastic gloves, bathing her Taco in a sink. Singing Jefferson Starship.

It was then that the cleaning crew walked in.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Weight of the World

I hemmed and hawed, chewing my lip and furrowing my brow, weighing my words; measuring the necessity of speaking them against the age of the child asking the question. Finally, I spoke -

"Do you know what rape is?"


Two summers ago, Katie saw me reading To Kill A Mockingbird. Attracted by the title, and by the picture of a young girl on the cover, she said, "Can I read that?"

She was 8 at the time, and too young in every regard. But it wasn't the larger theme of racism that gave me pause, it was the non-rape. Here was a kid who didn't yet know about sex, did I want her exposed to even the suggestion of such a horrible crime? The answer was, clearly, no.

Every parent dreams of the things they will teach their children. How to ride a bike, catch a ball, read. No parent ever says 'Oh, I can't wait to sit down and tell Susie all about domestic violence!'. We spend a good deal of time sheltering them from harm, protecting them from the truths of an adult world: Most people are good. Some are bad. Some are very, very bad.

We take our time revealing things, because the horror of it all would devastate a child. It is devastating enough as it is. I remember the first glimpses I had of my parents as fallible creatures. Or the first time I was treated unfairly by a teacher. I am the result of a good childhood, mostly exempt of trauma. Still, I recall realizing that there are people who want nothing more than to hurt other people. It was shocking.


We've been waiting to hear what the spring production of the local community theater is going to be, as Katie wants to audition. I saw the news yesterday, so when she got in the car after school, I told her -

"It's To Kill a Mockingbird."
"What's it about?"

And so I told her, and we talked about racism and classism. We talked about the book, and I told her we'd read it together. We talked about the goodness and decency of people who friend the friendless, and stand up for the ignored. She asked me, in the voice of innocence, with a belief in all that is right, 'What was the crime?' And I took a deep breath, looked her in the eye, and said -

"Do you know what rape is?"

Monday, November 28, 2011


There are things I believe, and things I don't believe. I believe, for instance, that most people are decent human beings, and will prove themselves as such, given the chance. I do not believe, for instance, in the karmic retribution of inanimate objects.

So imagine my suprise when my washing machine took a huge shit last night, a week after I'd written this post. Imagine my further surprise when the repairman had an unspecified emergency this morning before our appointment, and now cannot come until Wednesday. Meanwhile, I have a washer full of water, a bathtub full of wet, dirty clothes, and mounting piles of laundry.

And a husband who 'is pretty sure he might be able to' fix it, with the help of a car jack, a wet/dry vac and some suggestions from Google.

"The washer is broken." I sobbed. "You might as well just cut off my arm!"

Last night, after discovering the broken washer, we watched 60 Minutes. The story was about the unbelievable number of families left homeless in Florida due to the recession. Here were families living in their cars, the kids getting ready for school in the bathrooms of gas stations. They weren't alcoholics or drug addicts or lazy or taking advantage of the system. They were simply average families devastated by circumstance.

Meanwhile, my biggest worry is my stupid washing machine, where the worst case scenario is that I may have to buy a brand new one. What an asshole.

Every Christmas I vow, 'This year will be different.' This year, I won't focus on gifts and indulgence and stress. This year, I will talk to my childen about the importance of our faith, instead of worrying so much about what's on their lists. I will concentrate on doing instead of buying. I will take time every day to teach them a lesson in gratitude. We will share what we have. We will relax and be thankful and recognize the thin line that separates where we are from where we could be.

Then, we will continue those practices right through January 1st and on into the New Year. This year will be different. Again. I never know where my good intentions will lead. I can only hope that this year I really can make the most of things, and make this the year my children remember what we did, and not just what they got.

Life has a way of kicking us in the pants and putting things in perspective, just when we need it. For some people it's God, for some it's karma, for some it's just the natural order of things. And for some of us, it's The Laundry.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

All My Great Ideas

I am convinced that The Man, the People in Power, are using telekinesis or a probe in my brain, or something, to steal my ideas. My friend J Rose over at Cheeseblarg had a fantastic idea to sell pudding by mail. Because I like her, I shared (and gave her permission to use) my idea to package pudding skin a la Fruit Roll Ups. Then she told me that this was already suggested on an episode of Seinfeld.

This is not the first time one of my ideas has been stolen by that gottdamn Jerry Seinfeld. Beefaroni? Yeah, me. Poppie peeing on the couch? That happened at my grandma's house in 1978. I dated the original Assman. Who do you think gave him the name?

It all leads me to one, inarguable conclusion: Jerry Seinfeld is working for the Feds in order to steal my brain and make millions of dollars.

Also mine:
-The windshield shades that fold up and pop out
-Automatic running boards for giant SUVs
-Bacon flavored everything
-Pantyliners with wings
-Battery operated baby snot suckers

Someone owes me big, Mr. Seinfeld.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Party Pants

My children are prime examples of inappropriate behavior on a daily basis. But, because they're children, it's charming and not weird. If I walked around shoving spoons and plastic animals down my pants, people would say, 'Holy shit. That chick is whack.' But when Henry does it, it's adorable. 'Oooh,' everyone says, 'He has a hippo in his diapee! How cute!'

It is a little alarming, their penchant for sticking things down their pants. When Katie was three, she invented Super Panty Girl. She ran around in her underwear, a sequined scarf tied around her head. In her panties she had everything a three year old super hero might need: Barbie cell phone. Plastic pig. A baggie of goldfish crackers.

Julia prefers to go big. She managed to stuff her entire collection of Build A Bear dolls in her leggings the other day. From the waist up she was a typical four year old; from the waist down, she looked like someone who should have a show on TLC. This morning as I was getting out of the shower, she ran in to the bathroom, completely naked.

"Ohhhh," she said, doing a funny little dance. "Mommy I have to tell you something. I put hand sanitizer on my vagina." What I had mistaken for a pee pee dance was actually a fire crotch dance. As I rinsed her off in the shower, I said, "It's called hand sanitizer, not vagina sanitizer."

These are things you never imagine you'll say.

"Julia, you stink. Have you had your hand in your butt?"
No. Just my finger.

She'll run up to you, stick her butt out and say "Wait for it...wait for it..." and then cut a huge fart. I don't know where she learns these things. Does Spongebob fart on people? Does Dora cram stuffed animals in her pants? Are the Wonder Pets walking around with their fingers in their rears?

Surely it's all coming from television. They would never learn such behavior from me. Now, where did I put my hand sanitizer?

Friday, November 25, 2011

It Takes a Village - Christmas Edition

You may remember my Halloween Spooktacular Village from October. Here is the Christmas version!

I made the little brick walls four or five years ago, out of pebbles, foam and Gorilla Glue. Every year since, I say "I really need to make some more walls." and then I never do. Next year, really, I need to make some more walls.

I also need to get blue cloth for the background, as I think I'd like it better than the black. But, I had the black and I am cheap, so black it is. One day, ONE DAY, there will be a water feature. It will probably be the same year that the walls get made.

I wanted to, needed to, do something different with the mantel this year. Stockings hung with care by heavy metal hangers, within reach of an almost 2 year old boy, are not a good idea. Again, I'm cheap - so I got a rustic garland half off at the craft store for $7.99. A vase of pinecones with some curly junk and berries on top of some old books took care of one side of the mantel.

For the other side, I was able to reuse some old candles and make them not so old looking by tacking on some vintage postcard ornaments. I put them next to big fat Jeremiah Johnson-Santa. It's eclectic. Like me.
This is year three with the crazy orange feather-flower tree topper, and I still love it. The Husband is not a fan.
And I love my big, faceless Holy Family.
But my favorite decor thing is the Nutcrackers in the kitchen.
That is a horrible picture, and when I take pictures of the kids' tree in the playroom and the outside lights, I will get a better one of the Nutcrackers.

And what do the Southern Fried Children do on Black Friday? When it's 70 degrees and sunny, we play football. Sort of.

It is the most wonderful time of the year.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I am so full of turkey and pie, from the pit of my stomach to the top of my head, that my brain has ceased to function. The part that would normally help me create a blog post has been drowned in cranberry sauce. I am pretty sure that when I nursed the baby tonight, gravy shot out of my boobs.

We had a great day with my mom and friends we love. Nothing got broken, burned or bitten. I managed not to fart in front of anyone. I would qualify the day as a success.

I am thankful for friends and family and faith and home and wellbeing. I am thankful for you there, reading this.

Not just today, but every day. Maybe more so today, because of the pie.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Smells Like Home

My mom brought me a candle from her recent trip to Vegas. It smells strong, and wonderful, and I put it in the living room. The Husband, as soon as he walked through the door, said - "That is not a Family Smell." I knew exactly what he was talking about.

Our house smells like, our house. It smells like Shutup Roxy and baking things and Murphy's Wood Soap. It is a smell that I don't even register, but would recognize anywhere. It is different than my mother's house, different than my friends' houses, different than any house I know. All pleasant, all distinct, none of them mine.

It's only when we've been gone for awhile that it becomes discernable. After our annual beach trip, it almost strange walking in the back door. It's the only time I can clearly smell us. If I concentrate, I can pick each one out - The Husband's aftershave. Katie, her Love's Baby Soft unable to cover her natural maple syrup-smell. Julia, like skin that's been warmed by the sun during a summer nap. Henry, with his new puppy smell, all fat and soft. And me, smelling like all of them from countless hugs and kisses that mark me as Mom.

It all smells warm and sweet and delicious. It all smells like home.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Career Day

Today was a Career Day at the elementary school, which is always fun for the kids. Katie learned all about how a taser works, and the about importance of physical therapy, and about how Weight Watchers can help you meet your nutritional goals. There were farmers and firemen, a policewoman and a librarian. All the major occupations were represented, save one.

"I should have come in for stay at home moms!" I joked when I picked her up from school. She rolled her eyes from the back seat. "I could have taught everyone how to make homemade Play Doh and change poopy diapers and check homework and make dinner, all at the same time."

"Mom, I actually think you're called a housewife, and it's not really a job."

I could have seriously injured myself whipping my head around like I did.

The hell it's not a job. And that term...housewife, does anyone actually say that anymore, aside from my 10 year old daughter? The word conjures up visions of women in pearls, serving meatloaf at precisely 6 PM to well scrubbed and buttoned up children and a Brylcreem husband. That is not me, that is not my family. Even if we did have meatloaf tonight for dinner.

It's a word that I associate with subservience*, and there is nothing second class about my role in our family. My staying at home was a choice my husband and I made together. With it came sacrifices and adjustments. But I love it, it works for us, and I'm thankful that we can make it work right now.

I don't care what other parents do. I don't care if both parents work full time, or if the mom stays home, or the dad stays home, or they work from home writing a dumb blog where they constantly reference their bowels and say the f-word. But I do resent the implication that what I'm doing isn't work.

It sure feels like work.

I missed Career Day this year, but I'm already preparing my presentation for next year. And when the sign up sheet comes home, I will resist the temptation to list my occupation as 'housewife'.

*And admittedly, I don't know if I should. Is housewife acceptable? Outdated? Derogatory?

Monday, November 21, 2011


My cousin Diane is a big person in a little package; five feet, two inches of Texas spitfire. She never hesitates to tell you exactly how she feels. The first time she met my husband, she nicknamed him 'Ass', as in 'Sit down, Ass', or 'Get me some tea, Ass', or, her favorite, 'Shutup, Ass'.

Cousin Diane lives in a teensy town and everyone knows her. She has an administrative position in the local hospital, and lives alone since her divorce. The only child of the marriage is a daughter, grown and gone, but not too far away. Diane is well loved, despite her sharp tongue and propensity to give people nicknames like 'Ass'.

One day she was shopping at the Piggly Wiggly and as she strolled down the baking aisle, she spotted the bags of coconut and thought, 'Hey, Diane! Why don't you make a coconut cake!' So she put a bag of coconut in her cart, checked out, and went home.

As you well know, there are two types of people in this world: Those who love coconut, and those who hate it. Rare is the person who is noncommital on coconut. As you may have guessed, Cousin Diane falls squarely in the 'Loves Coconut' category. So it was no surprise that she decided to sit down and watch her stories on TV, and have just a little of the coconut as a snack. What may come as a surprise is that she ate the entire bag.

Damn. she thought to herself, I ate the whole bag! But it's coconut, not crack. It's not like you can OD on it. So she thought.

Some time later, Diane began to feel the rolling and rumbling usually associated with the onset of some gastic distress. Lordy. I feel like I have a basketball in my asshole. (Note: Those were Diane's actual words as she was retelling the story. Lordy, I feel like I have a basketball in my asshole. Lest you think I exaggerate.) So she goes into the bathroom, sits on the commode and attempts to do what needed to be done.

Except there is no doing. Because while she does not have a basketball in her asshole, she does have a coconutball in her asshole. Apparently, when you eat an entire bag of coconut, it lodges itself in your rearhole and forms a cement-like plug. After a good bit of strenuous pushing, she decides that it's not coming out on it's own. So she goes to the kitchen and gets a spoon, thinking she can use it as a wedge.

Yes, you read that right.

While she's getting the spoon, she takes a minute to call her daughter and explain the situation. Leaving out the part about the spoon. "I think you might need to come over here." Diane says.

She gets off the phone and heads back to the toilet where she starts mentally preparing herself. But sticking a spoon up your rear is a little like ripping off a band aid, the more you think about it, the worse it is. Either you need to jam it up there right away, or it's never going to happen. The more Diane thought about it, the more upset she became, and she soon starting hyperventilating.

When her daughter arrived, she found her passed out on the bathroom floor, pants around her ankles, clutching the spoon.

Coconutball - 1
Spoon - 0

The daughter rushed her off to the hospital, the very same hospital where Diane had been employed for 25 years. The nurses who hoisted her onto a table, rump high in the air, cheeks spread, all knew her by name. The doctor who chipped out the coconutball piece by piece and removed it, she'd dated briefly in high school. They all said they'd never seen anything like it. They all said they had no idea coconut could harden up like that.

She didn't say a word about the spoon.

Some weeks later, the incident finally forgotten, Diane once again found herself on the baking aisle at the Piggly Wiggly. She unconsciously slowed, and heard a low ahem behind her. It was the doctor. He smiled and winked and said, "I hope you're not feeling coconutty."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Laid Low

Self righteousness is a double edged sword. On one side it's great, because you're right, and everyone likes to be right. On the other side, you tend to be so right that you're willing to be a complete asshole to prove it.

The Husband and I had been animatedly discussing discipline methods for Henry. Henry is so active and so adventurous that, even in our fairly Henry-proof home, he is an accident waiting to happen. He spent much of the afternoon seeing what kind of damage he could do to the Christmas decorations.

After the millionth time redirecting him from the tree, The Husband said "Maybe you should just smack his hand." He said it with the same inflection that you might say 'maybe you should wear the blue sweater' or, 'maybe I'll get a latte'. But there is probably nothing I feel so strongly about, so surely about, so self righteously about, as corporal punishment. I believe with all my heart that physical punishment has no place in our home. Period.

And so at the mere offhanded mention of it (by a man who has never laid a hand on our children), I became incensed. Partly because I do feel very strongly about it, but mostly because I was angry and embarrassed at the suggestion that my superior parenting was not working. I felt judged, and found lacking. There is no better way to hide embarrassment and confusion than behind anger. Particularly self righteous anger.

I am, sadly, very human.

So the next time Henry went after something he shouldn't (in this case it was a plug and an outlet), I let my anger guide me. I smacked his hand.

In the fury of self righteousness, I did the very thing I so adamantly opposed. I took my anger toward my husband out on my child to prove a point.

To prove a fucking point.

There is nothing that will lay you so low as shame. So ashamed was I that I continued to argue the point and bow out my chest and stick out my chin as if what I had done held merit because of the misguided spirit in which it was intended. All of this in front of my mother, and my children, and my husband, whose disappointment was so painfully evident.

As I sit here writing this, I am nursing Henry to sleep. My trangression against him was instantly forgiven. My girls will have moved on by morning, if they haven't already. My mom and the Husband, having experienced several decades of me showing my ass, will forgive and forget by this time tomorrow. But I won't forget.

The problem with self righteousness is it's tendency to stick to your self.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sounds Like...

Shutup Roxy is nearly 12 years old. Since I am at home most of the day, most days, she and I spend a great deal of time together. I have become so in tune with her movements, that I can tell you what she's doing by sound alone.

The other night from the edges of sleep, The Husband says, "What is that sound?" It was a low, rhythmic rub. "Do you have something off balance in the washing machine?"

"No," I sighed, "That's Roxy eating her ass."
"What? No. Do you have a metal pan lid in the top rack of the dishwasher that's getting sprayed funny? Is there trash on the porch? Maybe there's a cat in the trash."
"Nope. Ass eating."

Because he's not as familiar with the sound, he gets up to investigate and finds the dog in the kitchen, happily munching away at her rear.

Shutup Roxy's sounds and movements are as familiar to me as my own.

Leaf-like rustling, then snarfling? She's in the kitchen trash. Hurried click clack of her nails, silence, speedy retreat and snorting? The bathroom door has been left open and she's now eating a wad of toilet paper. Low groan accompanied by a strange squeaking sound? She's dragging her butt across the kitchen floor* trying to release an anal gland.

On the rare occasion that I find myself in the house alone, it is these sounds that keep me company. I find comfort in her stomach grumbles and old man farts, her low snores and heavy sighs as she lies down on her bed. At night she stations herself next to my side of the bed and I am lulled to sleep by the sound of her breathing.

As she gets older, I know the day is coming when her soft sounds will be silent, and the house will be lonelier for their absence. I will miss her when she's gone, I will miss her sounds. Even the ass chewing.

*I originally typed 'kitchen table' and it found it so horrifyingly hilarious that I almost left it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

When Life Gives You Leftovers

If ever there was a day made for indulgence, Thanksgiving is that day. It's an entire holiday that revolves around a single meal of enormous proportions. In my world, that is a Great Day. Thank you, Pilgrims! Thank you, Native Americans! Thank you, big stupid turkeys, for being so delicious!

I have one goal for Thanksgiving day: Eat until I have to be rolled away from the table. In fact, I'm thinking about just eating in an office chair, so I can be wheeled out easier. Or maybe I can move the whole thing into bed, that way I can just lie down and fall into a food coma.

But more important than the meal, slightly less important than the giving of thanks, are the leftovers. The day after Thanksgiving, people all across America are thinking 'what the hell am I going to do with all this meat?'. Turkeys are bigass birds.

Turkey soup, turkey tetrazzini, turkey enchiladas, turkey sandwich after turkey sandwich. Then there's my favorite, turkey pot pie. This is the recipe I use with chicken all year round, and it is amazing. It is turkeylicious. It is gobbletastic. I strongly suggest you make two, and freeze one before baking. Then you'll have it handy when you start craving it.

It is fantastic comfort food.

Southern Fried Turkeyriffic Pot Pie

1 recipe double crust pie or 2 refrigerated pie crusts
About 2 1/2 C cooked turkey, chopped into bite sized pieces
2 C chicken broth
1 small onion, diced
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables (alternately, 2 ribs celery, chopped, 2 carrots diced, 1 bag frozen peas)
4 T unsalted butter
1/2 C unbleached, AP flour
1 1/2 C milk
1/2 tsp dried thyme (or oregano)
3 T dry sherry (do not leave this out!)

Put chopped turkey in a large bowl. Preheat oven to 425. Unroll and place 1 crust in the bottom of a 9" pie plate. Saute onion in a medium skillet in 2 T vegetable oil until soft. Add frozen vegetables and cook over medium heat until warmed through and season lightly with salt and pepper. Remove vegetables from skillet and add to bowl with turkey. Return skillet to stove and melt 4 T butter over medium heat. Add flour and stir to incorporate; cook 1 minute. Whisk in broth, milk, and thyme. Remove from heat and stir in sherry. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Add mixture to bowl with turkey and vegetables and stir gently to mix well.

Place mixture in bottom crust. Top with second crust, crimping or fluting edges to seal. Cut 4-5 small slits in top crust to allow steam to escape. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Let cool slightly before serving.

Come back and thank me.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sympathy Pains

I am not good at sad. I have a hard time being sad, I have an even harder time helping someone else who is sad. It's not that I'm unsympathetic, or unfeeling, it's just that sadness makes me want to jump up and sing Hello! Ma Baby and make armpit farts and hump rubber chickens. Anything I can do to banish sadness, even if it's replaced by what the fuck is that?

Sadness turns me into Carrot Top.

So, when I hear of a particularly sad thing that has occurred in the life of a friend, I am loathe to sit down and write the sympathy card.
I am so sorry. 
It is an unimaginable grief. 
If there is anything I can do...
All true. All sad. What I really want to do is write a quick joke and draw a crude picture of a giant pair of balls.

When my dad died, I received so many lovely cards and letters and books. Each one carried a thoughtful message. Most of them I did not - I could not - read until much, much later. I would open the card, read the signature, and know that whatever the message was, it was heartfelt and genuine. I cherished those notes, and the emotions behind them.

I don't remember any of the specific messages. But I do remember this:
We pulled up to the cemetery for the graveside service. My father had proudly served in the Marine Corps, and had a Military Funeral. Present were the veterans in uniform who would be giving the gun salute. They were dignified, they were respectful, they were...ancient.  As we drove past, the Husband muttered "Holy shit. Are they veterans of the Civil War?" It struck me as so funny that I laughed out loud, a deep belly laugh that lightened my heart like nothing had since my dad's death.

I needed it. More than sympathy, more than fabulous frozen meals, more than books and cards and letters, I needed to laugh.

I will never say the right thing. I can not tell you when it will get better or stop hurting. But I can tell you a funny story or sing a crazy song or draw you some balls.

We do what we can.

(For Rachel)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Secret Skills

I've been pretty open with you all here. I've talked about my mustache and my meat apron and my underwear. I have shared my deepest fears and my wildest hopes. But there is something I haven't told you.

I am an awesome dancer.

Oh sure, you're thinking, maybe you can two step or do the Electric Slide or some other honky line dance.

No. I am an awesome dancer. If So You Think You Can Dance had me on, they'd have to change the name to All Y'All Other People Go Home, Because This Bitch Can Bust a Move. And the guide on DirecTV couldn't handle that. I've never received any formal training, although I have seen Breakin' like fifteen times. The movie Dirty Dancing was loosely based on an episode between me and a bellboy at a Hyatt hotel. The Patrick Swayze character was based on me, of course.

I'll never forget the first time I did a routine in front of an audience. The year was 1988, and Donna Rosfeld's parents were out of town. We were having a slumber party in the basement, I had already had like one and a half wine coolers, and My Prerogative came on the radio. I had no choice but to dance.

"Holy shit." said Donna.
"Dude, I am going to puke." said my friend Melanie* though I'd like to think that was from the Bartles & James, not me and Bobby Brown.

They asked me to reprise my performance at every subsequent sleepover. They recognized greatness when they saw it.

Now, I am older and jigglier, but I still have it. The Husband will put on some music and say "Show us your moves!" and the children clamor, "Dance, Mommy! Dance!" They may start out dancing with me, but end up just watching. Smiling and laughing to tears, because my awesomeness brings them so much joy.

*Melanie actually did puke that night, a LOT. It was red and horrible and we were convinced she was bleeding internally. When you are underage and drinking, even the possibility that your best friend is bleeding internally has to be carefully weighed against the possibility of getting in trouble. Luckily, she remembered she'd eaten a large bag of Boston Baked Beans while we were watching Top Gun earlier that night.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Julia just finished up the fall soccer season, one made especially interesting by the presence of The Husband as The Coach. At nearly 5, Julia was one of the oldest kids on her team of seven, the youngest players having just turned 3.

Seven girls, with an average age of 4. One Coach, with the average patience of a 4 year old.

He went to the coaches training and came home with pages of notes, a bag of balls, and an upset stomach. The night before the first practice, he tossed and turned in bed.

"Are you nervous?" I said in the darkness.
"Yes. No. I mean, I just don't have much experience with little kids."

This, coming from the father of three children.

He wanted to coach because he wanted something to share with Julia. She's a naturally athletic, very energetic kid (translation: a crazy person) and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Little kid recreational soccer is just that - recreational. He didn't have any expectations of his team, other than they have fun. His larger concern was the parents.

Anyone who's had their children in any kind of extracurricular activity knows the parents I'm talking about. Overbearing and over involved, they yell from the sidelines and give the coach hell. What if he ran into one of those parents, who expected their little girl to be molded into the next Mia Hamm?

But that didn't happen, of course. All the parents - and the girls - were there to have fun, and that's exactly what they did. Even the Coach.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Washer Woman

It's such a cliche that I hate even to write about it. But it is my reality, and the reality of millions of parents worldwide.

My life is ruled by The Laundry.

The Laundry is bullshit. If I dare skip a day, it gathers in the darkened hamper and commits unspeakable acts. Dirty socks rub up against filthy shirts and they have nasty laundry sex and spawn little laundry babies. So that when I go to do the wash the next day, I stare at the piles and think, how did this happen? Didn't I just wash that?

Chances are yes, I did just wash that. There are times when I reach the bottom of Katie's dirty clothes basket, only to find the neat stack of clean, folded clothes I asked her to put away earlier. Sometimes, I'll find these little stacks stashed in various parts of her room - pajamas in the bottom of the closet, t-shirts behind her bed, underwear in her bathroom drawer.

Julia does a fantastic job of putting her clothes away. Her problem lies in her constant need for a costume change. Spill a little water on your shirt? Need a new one. PB&J on your pants? Yep, gotta change. It is not unusual for her change underwear four times a day. Her reasoning? 'I think there's a little pee in them.' She's been potty trained for more than two years, and we both know there's nothing there. But saying 'There's no pee in your pants' to a four year old is kind of like saying 'You don't really have to poop'. It's not a chance you want to take.

Henry, on the other hand, has legitimate wardrobe changes. Today alone we went through three shirts (plus pajamas), thanks to cup of lemonade, a bagel with cream cheese, and what may or may not have been a dingleberry off the dog's ass. I didn't inspect it too closely.

I think back to those days before Katie was born, when I shared the literal load of laundry with the Husband. Few enough clothes that we only did wash once a week. I remember in the month before she was born, washing all the tiny clothes in anticipation of her arrival. How I folded the wee onesies and giggled over the tiny socks and used the special soap and the delicate cycle.

How could I have known what a monster it would become. That one day the sight of yet another basketful of tiny clothes would bring tears to my eyes.

Fuck.It.All. I sigh. The Laundry!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The General Store, Part I

There is a little store in our little town that I pass on the way to Katie's school. It's one of those places that's been there for a million years; if it ever had a name, it's long since been erased from the building. There are two gas pumps out front, though I've never seen anyone getting gas there. In the summer months, two white plastic chairs sit alongside the pumps, sometimes occupied, sometimes not. Around Christmas, the pumps are festooned with white lights and, one year, cedar garland.

I've never gone inside.

I have heard that the aisles are tiny and the shelves stocked with dented and dusty cans of meat-stuff, bags of pork rinds and stacks of Slim Jims. The front counter, holding smokes and snuff and gum to hide the evidence of their use, is the most frequented spot. In the back of the store is the ham counter, where a local company sells their meat. The man behind the counter chain smokes, moving his cigarette to the corner of his mouth to ask what're y'all up fer today? and only removing it to flick a long ash into a rusted out coffee can.

There is ham steak and bone in and spiral cut and hocks. On one side of the counter is a plastic tub filled with just parts, and if you have to ask what parts, you don't want to know. In the center of the case is the money-maker, the jewel of hammery - Country Ham. Thin slices cryovac'd to tempt you with their salty goodness.

By the ham counter is a small formica table and two metal folding chairs which are constantly kept warm by a rotating stream of old men. They talk land (good) and politics (bad) and children (somewhere in between). They bring in rumors and they and the ham man and the man at the front counter distill it and digest and spit it back out at anyone who comes through the door.

He lost his house.
He lost his farm. 
Someone's born. Someone's dead. Someone's in jail.
Someone should be. 

You might think that if you'd hang around long enough, you'd know everything that's going on in this small town. You'd be right.

Or so I've heard.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sisterly Love

Katie was five when I found out I was pregnant with our second child. She had wanted a sibling for so long, and when we found out the baby was going to be another girl, we were all elated. Especially Katie. I had always wanted a sister; the bond between sisters is unbreakable. They would be best friends, I was sure.

And then Julia was born.

To say that Julia was a difficult baby is an understatement. She was born just plain pissed off, and for several months the only thing that would placate her was the boob and endless walking. No matter how much Katie tried to entertain her, tried to make her laugh, tried to build that bond, Julia would have none of it. Until she was 6 months old, Julia couldn’t stand anyone but me, not even her sweet, devoted sister.

Julia eventually learned to appreciate, and even idolize, her big sister. But those first few months were rough. They were so rough that when we told the girls we were having a third child, Katie burst into tears, ran from the room, and locked herself in her closet.

Who could blame her?

Now, at nearly 11 and 5, they are the best of friends and the worst of enemies. Six years age difference is an eternity when you’re a little kid, and sometimes that chasm cannot be crossed. My heart breaks for Julia when she watches her sister fly out the door to yet another activity or sleepover. Likewise, I feel bad for Katie when she’s trying so hard to be a big kid, with Julia pestering her non-stop, copying every move she makes.

Sometimes they are at each other’s throats so terribly that it’s hard to tell who the worse offender is. Sometimes they are hitting and pinching and pushing and pulling so much that it is all I can do not to yell Keep you goddamn hands off each other! as I separate them.

JULIA MARGARET! Katie yells at her sister.
KATIE MARGARET! Julia yells back, because she doesn’t ever seem to remember that they don’t share the same middle name.

Then sometimes they will disappear for hours into the playroom and I’ll find them in the middle of a Barbie-doll city or playing school or cuddled up together under a blanket watching a movie. They shower each other with kisses between hair pulls and when Katie says “Oh, I love you, Baby.” it makes me melt.

It makes me think – there might be something to this Sisterly Love after all.