Thursday, March 31, 2011

Advice for the New Father

I had coffee this week with a lovely new mom and her beautiful 7 week old son. It's always interesting to hang around a parent with a newborn and reminisce about my own experiences with a tiny infant. Also known as the fourth trimester - those first 3 months of your baby's life when you are completely batshit crazy. Hormones, lack of sleep, and the crushing weight of responsibility create the perfect breeding ground for huge, juicy resentments. Against your mother, your mother in law, well meaning friends, your own child, but more than anyone- against the Baby Daddy.

I feel bad for the Baby Daddies. Stumbling around the house in a fog, trying to juggle the responsibilities of a workplace that doesn't really care that you have a new dependent, trying to appease a partner who wants to stab you while you sleep. So I thought I'd come up with a few pointers to help the new dad (most especially, the first timer) navigate these choppy postpartum waters.

1. Shut Up. Chances are, your first-time partner doesn't know what she's doing, either. But she will always know more than you, so don't offer pointers on how to hold or change or feed the baby. If you think you have a better way, ask, don't tell. 'Is this a good way to hold the baby?' 'Do you think he likes it when I do this?'

2. Be Present. My husband calls these first few months "Lockdown". Unless you have to work, or are going to the store for your beloved, be available. Do not golf. Do not fish. If you are home, for the love of Pete, DO NOT NAP. Nothing will piss a mom off like the sight of your sorry ass snoring on the couch while she sits there, dog ass tired and covered in spit up.

3. But Do Not Hover. It's a fine line.

4. Make Her a Sandwich. Anticipate her needs, because she will not communicate them. I clearly remember sitting on the couch boring holes into Sean's head thinking "Why isn't he making me a sandwich? OMG! Can't he see I'm hungry?"

5. Tell Her She Looks Great. Because she doesn't feel it. Tell her you're shocked at how fast she's losing the baby weight (even if she's not). Make sure she knows that you think motherhood has made her more beautiful than ever.

6. Do Not Even Think About Sex. Seriously. Let her know you are available whenever she is ready, whenever that may be. Then drop it.

7. Fall in Love With Your Child. Because there is no better way to let her know that you are in this together, forever, than loving your baby. Care about every coo and burp and poopy diaper (and change a lot of those, for good measure).

8. Know That Everything is a Phase. I remember walking a week old Julia in circles around the living room for what seemed like hours, repeating the mantra "Everything is temporary, everything is temporary." There is no phase that goes by quicker than the newborn one, and it's a blessing and a curse.

Congratulations, Daddies, yours is a special and awesome responsibility. Now go make Mama a sandwich.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Neither Rain, Nor Sleet...

Our mail lady does not like me. We have a communal mail kiosk in our neighborhood and our Postal Serviceperson likes to come at different times of the day, I'm pretty sure just to piss me off. Many times, I'll pull up as she's filling the boxes, and cheerfully ask "Have you done my side?" *smiley smiley smiley don't piss off the postal employee* and she will mumble 'yes' or 'no' without even looking up.

But today, TODAY, bitch looks up at me, removes her sunglasses, rolls her eyes and says "Uhhhh, noooooo. And it's going to be awhile." Normally I only punch people in the neck in my mind, but today I was thisclose to having my first ever real life neck punch. I need my Land's End catalog, people!

"Well, could you just give me my mail? I'm expecting a check today and need to get it in the bank before 2. That's only about 20 minutes from now."

"MA'AM. I am sure you are aware that postal receptacles are GOVERNMENT property, and I am an agent of the UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT. We adhere to STANDARDS AND PROTOCOL from which we are not allowed to deviate!"

I look in the mail bin and I can see my bundle of mail. With my name on it. Right there. I tell her as much and I kind of reach out in a gesturing manner toward the bin.

"MA'AM!" she snatches the bin backward and then slams it on the sidewalk. "Are you aware that tampering with mail is a FEDERAL OFFENSE punishable by possible jail time?" Her face is beet red at this point, and her lips are kind of quivering. I laugh, because she's so ridiculous. I say as much.

"You are being ridiculous. I just asked for my mail." I kind of raise my hands in the widely recognized international symbol for what the fuck and she gets all Oscar de la Hoya on me, bowing up and raising her fists.


Holy smokes, I am about to throw down with the mail lady!

And then she farted. A big, wet, loud, trumpeter fart. It threw me off mentally, and her first punch caught me unawares - a glancing blow to the chin.

"My GOD! My GOD!" I stammered. "What is wrong with you?" She rared back again but I was anticipating it this time and handily dodged her ham fist. I have watched a fair amount of UFC fights, so I did a leg sweep and proceeded to ground and pound her ass. She was panting and sweating, the seams of her blue polyester postal pants being stretched to their limit as she kicked furiously. I took a orthopedic shoe to the right side of my head, but the thick soles did little damage. Hush Puppies are not known for their usefulness in a brawl.

I hit her with short, brutal jabs, each one punctuated with a USPS reprimand - "INSUFFICIENT ADDRESS!" I yelled. "POSTAGE DUE!" The spittle flew from my lips. And as the flurry of blows slowed, she looked at me, her eyes begging for mercy.

"I'm a government employee." she gasped.

I stood at last at looked down at her, whimpering on the sidewalk, mail strewn about. I could see by the flyer plastered to the side of her face that Harris Teeter had whole chickens on sale for 49 cents a pound this week. I'd have to get by there. Before I walked away, I reached down and picked up my mail. I looked at her with a mixture of pity and disgust and uttered the epithet to our encounter - "Return to sender, bitch."

God. Okay, none of this happened. I have had a really boring week and I don't like the mail lady and I may have fantasies about kicking her ass. This is as close as I'll ever get to actually doing it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Sticker Chart

I have zero consistency when it comes to a reward chart/chore chart/marble jar/system for my kids. I am enthusiastic for a couple of weeks and then I get lazy and abandon it for my former, tried and true method of frustrated yelling.

But just because it doesn't work for them, doesn't mean it can't work for me.

I need a sticker chart. I need something to kick start my inert ass and keep me motivated. My mojo, I'ze lost it.

This morning I got Julia off to preschool and Henry down for a nap and walked into the bedroom to get on the treadmill. Instead, I got in the shower. I'm not even sure how it happened, one minute I'm looking at my shoes and the next thing I know I'm in the shower. I get dressed and think "I'd better fold those clothes." and then suddenly I'm sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee looking at Easter dresses online.

What I need is...a success. I have been piling up failures recently (half marathon in April? Yeah, no. No refined sugar for Lent? How about not between the hours of 12 a.m. and 6 a.m.?) and it messes with my head. What I need is to do something good, and solid, and mojo building.

Maybe I'll catch up on the baby books.
Maybe I'll scrapbook a page with pictures from Katie's play.
Maybe I'll organize my closet or clean out the attic!

The possibilities are endless! This is going to be great, I am really going to get some shit done around here. I am getting back on my training schedule and will once again be a running machine. I am going to whip this house and these kids and myself into tip top shape! I am BACK, bitches! I'M BACK!

Right after I have another cup of coffee.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Nice Knickers, Redux

A little something I have noticed: The older I get, the easier it becomes to talk about my underwear.

I enlisted the help of my friend K-, who is like a cheap version of Clinton & Stacy, on a What Not to Wear-style mission to the mall today. Instead of a $5,000 Visa card, I had these instructions from Sean - "Don't get crazy. And buy a bra."

Our first stop was NY&Co. where she made me try on every.fucking.thing in the store, and was brutally honest about what she thought. I walked out with more than I thought I would, and some things I wouldn't have even tried on if I'd gone by myself.

"Now we're going to get a bra." she said. I was a little afraid she was going to make me get topless with her in the dressing room. I like her, but I don't think we're good enough friends for her to manhandle the girls.

She took me to Gap Body (I didn't even know there was a Gap Body) and put me in the capable hands of Michelle, who was, to my great relief, a woman of average size and shape. I refuse to discuss my intimate apparel with anyone who could get their entire body into one of my pant legs.

"I need a bra, Michelle. I wear nursing bras. Apparently, they are not attractive and do nothing for me."

She asked my size and when I told her, she cocked an eyebrow. "OK, she said. I'll give you that one, and one a size up, so you can compare for comfort." What I didn't realize at the time was that the eyebrow was saying "Bitch, who do you think you're kidding?"

The first one (the size I said I was) made me look like I was having a mammogram. The second one was not much better.

"Huh." I said to the boob pancakes in the mirror. "Huh. Michelle! I don't think your bras are sized correctly." She handed me the next size up. "Yeah, Michelle! I don't wear that size! Hahahahahaha!"


I totally wear that size! What the hell? "When is the last time you bought a bra? That wasn't a nursing bra?" Good question, Michelle. Ummm, five years ago? So maybe things have changed. Maybe after three kids and a total of four and a half years (and counting) of nursing, things have shifted. I have to admit, things looked better in that enormous brassiere.

"That's where your boobs are supposed to be." said K-.
"I suppose my nursing bras were a bit of a let down. Hahaha!" Not everyone appreciates breastfeeding humor.

They steered me toward the panties.

"Look Michelle, I have requirements for my underwear. They must fully conceal the meat apron." Her eyes widened. She clearly had not had children, especially by c-section. I explained - "Imagine you're wearing an apron, made of meat. A meat apron. I can't have meat apron hanging out of my drawers." I don't think the Gap is paying Michelle enough to deal with people like me. I had to break it down for her. "Michelle, I buy my underwear in plastic bags, 10 to a bag. Sometimes there's a bonus 2 pair, for a total of 12. I am having a hard time with the idea of premium panties."

She showed me a pair with buttons down the front. Are you shitting me, Michelle? Buttons? "I don't think I've ever actually unbuttoned mine," she said. "I mean, to take them off or anything."

"Well, God. That's good to know, Michelle! I'm glad I won't have to unbutton my panties to take them off!" I have visions of being in some public restroom and pissing my pants because I can't get my damned panties unbuttoned.

I ended up buying not one, but three enormous magic bras. Michelle pawed through the sale bins and found five pair of panties in my size that met my specifications. And the pair with the buttons?

Oh, hell yes.

Night Noises

Every night, as I tuck the girls into bed, they always ask the same thing -

"Where are you going to be?"

They are big girls, big enough to (mostly) not be scared of monsters or shadows. Old enough to know that Mom and Dad are near, and will come running should the need arise. But they are still small enough to need the reassurance.

I remember lying in my bed as a child, listening to the clink of glasses and silverware as my mom washed the supper dishes. Hearing her and my dad talking and laughing in low voices, the warm glow of the television lighting the hall and the strains of the Dallas theme song providing the soundtrack to my last wakeful moments. Whatever had happened during the day faded into a warm fuzziness as I fell asleep, safe under watchful eye of Mommy, Daddy, and J.R. Ewing.

"Will you do some laundry?" Julia asks, as I fulfill the last of her list of ridiculous demands (closet light on, hall light on, princess lights strung over the Barbie house on, cup of water, music, books). And, because there is always laundry to do, I oblige.

Later, I stand in her doorway and listen to the clothes tumbling in the dryer.
clink...clink...clink. The snap on a pair of jeans.
shhhh-ick...shhhh-ick...shhhh-ick. The zipper on a jacket.
Dishes being washed, low grown up talk, doors locking and the soft click of a bedside lamp. The quiet nighttime sounds that wrap you in warmth and safety. I imagine my children drifting off to the simple sounds of a busy house, slowly winding down, getting ready for- Sleep.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

True.Spice....Come On Down!!!

Congratulations to True.Spice who won the very first ever Southern Fried Children giveaway! True, send me an e-mail at with your choice of prize, and we'll make arrangements! Thanks to everyone who entered.

Look for another giveaway coming soon!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Nice Knickers

Let's talk about my underwear. Because I'm sure you've been wondering, but hesitant to ask, so I'm going to break it down for you.

They're large. They're not attractive. They're less Victoria's Secret, and more Victoria's Grandma's Panties. And they're not made to be worn with anything but the mommiest of mom jeans - so when I do wear something with a lower rise than what I wore in 1989, there is the issue of visible panty top.

So there I am at the park yesterday with my friend Y-, sitting on the ground doling out a (completely healthy, non-processed food, organic) snack and I reach around to pull the back of my shirt down and I realize it's not necessary. No one can see skin because I have a minimum 5 inches of stripey panty sticking out of the top of my pants. Y- swears she didn't notice, but I know she's lying because it must have looked like I was wearing a cummerbund. You don't miss someone wearing a giant stripey cummerbund. It's like not noticing that someone has on a clown wig or a nipple on their face.

(Did you think it was cumberbund? I did. It's not.)

Today I was sporting a new pair of jeans that are a little on the low waisted side. I didn't want a repeat of yesterday, so I picked out a pair of "hipster" panties. To clarify, the moniker indicates where they sit on your body, not the coolness of the drawers.  They are still granny panties. I'm chatting with the ladies at gymnastics class and I reach around to (again) adjust the shirt, and I have 2 inches of exposed crack. I have been mooning mommies and no one has said shit to me.

Then, because I'm afraid 1 or 2 people have seen my asscrack, I have to announce to everyone there that I'm hanging out, and then because that's not enough, I have to tell them about my enormous panties from the day before. Then because that's not enough, I have to come here and write a few paragraphs about it.

And because that's not enough, I'm going to tell you what happens when I don't wear underwear.

I was about 8 months pregnant with Katie and so hugely huge that I could not stand to have anything touch my belly. I started with maternity panties, then switched to mens briefs (cute), then just started going commando. One day I'm sitting in my office at work, and my poor feet and ankles are swelling like a bitch. I decide that I'll just put my feet up on my desk for a few minutes. So I'm sitting there in my little maternity dress, feet up on the desk and think "oh, I'll just lean back and relax a minute", and I promptly go ass over teakettle, fall out of the chair and hit my head on the bookcase behind me.

When there is a large (and believe me, it was large - I was really pushing maximum density at the time) crash from the office of a pregnant woman, every chivalrous male in the building is going to come running.

And find me, sprawled on the floor, dress hiked up around my waist, showing my goods to anyone who had the misfortune to come in.

When I told my parents this story, my father was completely mortified. But not so much that a bunch of my coworkers had viewed the vagine, but more that I wasn't wearing underwear to begin with. "What if you had been in a car accident and they had to take you the hospital and you weren't wearing any underwear?"

I don't know, Daddy. Do you think they'd rush me in and start cutting off my clothes and then see I didn't have any panties and be like "Ohhhhh. She doesn't have any underwear on. I'm afraid there's nothing we can do."?

I'm not wearing underwear right now. Let's hope I make it to morning without requiring emergency care.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tales From the Fourth Grade

Major drama at the elementary school today - some boys were kicking a soccer ball in the gym (after they had been told specifically not to kick the ball hard, just to pass it) and it flew across the gym and hit the P.E. teacher in the face and broke her glasses.


The P.E. teacher (a really nice woman) apparently got pretty pissed, and may have done some generalized yelling. Katie thinks she may have seen her cry a little as well, but that's unsubstantiated, and Katie is given to hyperbole. I don't know where she gets it from.

There was a group of four or five boys who were playing with the soccer ball, and none of them would confess to the transgression, nor did anyone admit to seeing the culprit. The teacher gave them the whole "I want a name on my desk by 9 a.m. or else you're all getting in trouble!" spiel, so we'll see what happens tomorrow.

It all reads like an episode of The Brady Bunch, doesn't it?

Sean said for one of the boys to narc would be breaking the Boy Honor Code. The first rule of Gym Class? Don't talk about Gym Class. 

I have a lot to learn about boys.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Do You Kiss Your Kids With That Mouth?

I heard a very interesting conversation on The Diane Rehm Show this morning. Her guest was Robert Lane Greene, author of "You Are What You Speak", about the new acceptable standards of grammar and usage. There are few things I love more than word-nerdiness, and this show allowed me to get my full geek on. I like knowing the rules, even if I sometimes ignore them. In between the conversation on the lack of a good gender neutral pronoun and the value of regional vernacular, they devoted a whole 10 seconds to one of my favorite subjects:

The naughty words.

I rarely curse in front of my children. Only in times of extreme duress. My standard line to them is that people who use curse words are not intelligent enough to find other words to use. That is bullshit, obviously. I tend not to curse out loud much at all. But when I write...oh, when I write! My internal monologue reveals me to be what I truly am: a potty mouth. I am one dirty birdy.

Let's face it - there are situations where nothing but a dirty word will do. Would it sound the same if you said 'Your butt is grass!', or 'Have intercourse with you and the horse your rode in on!', or 'Darn you to the underworld, you son of a biscuit eater!'? There is no style in that. No panache in biscuit eaters. There is power in a carefully dropped f-bomb that does not exist when you yell "OH, FUDGE!".

When I was in third grade, we lived off of Drumheller Road. There was something deliciously evil about sneaking up to the sign and covering the DRUM- and the -ER. In my 8 year old mind, it made me positively badass. My parents were the King and Queen of Swear Words, and 'hell' was the least of what I was hearing at home. But having that secret word on the street sign made me feel part of a grown up world.

Katie came home one day last year (her third grade year) with the news that her friend S- had been using bad words. We braced ourselves for it -

The 'S' word. (I'm familiar with that one.)
The 'C' word. (Jiminy Christmas! THE C WORD! Even I don't use the C word!)
The 'F' word. (Of course. The granddaddy of them all.)

I asked her to spell them out -

I'm so relieved - true swear words would undoubtedly lose some of their luster if they were coming out of my precious child's mouth! But now I'm afraid I'm doing her a disservice by not saying 'shit' enough in front of her. Is she going to be the only kid in middle school who thinks she's getting away with foul language when she says 'fart'? My friend D- and her husband sat down with their oldest before she went into 6th grade and told her all the words they thought she might hear. You tell me what is more traumatic - hearing your friend say 'asshole', or watching your mother try to keep a straight face while she says 'cock'.

For a good long while, I'll contain my fondness for the four letter words to the company of adults. So, if you hear something colorful come out of my childrens' mouths: They got it from their father.


My husband is a pretty snappy dresser. My kids, completely adorable. Me, schlubby.

I have fabulous, expensive taste, but I'm a complete tightwad when it comes to purchasing things for myself. Sean says "You buy cheap shit, and you're always disappointed." I'd be insulted if it weren't so completely true. He also says I have a self-imposed false martyrdom. I'm not exactly sure what he means by that, but I know it's not a compliment. He is just full of little nuggets, isn't he?

I'm also perpetually waiting to lose 15 pounds. Then, magically, my body will revert to way it was before I had three children. The meat apron will disappear, and my boobs will be back on my chest, like God intended. As it is now, my nipples and my navel are intimate friends.

Every few months, I go out and purchase the Momiform for the season as cheaply as possible (because, why spend money on things that I will very soon be too thin to wear, right?). There is generally one key item in pulling the whole look together. This past winter, it was the cape sweater over a long sleeved tee and a jaunty scarf. The year before it was the quilted vest. Spring time calls for the quintessential capris and tee shirt, but this year I'm adding a twist - the cardigan! Note how all these pieces are designed to layer over another piece, cleverly disguising the dreaded muffin top! Thank you, Old Navy, for your stupid ass talking mannequins and cheap clothing that allow me to restock at such low, low prices and wear something for three months until it falls apart.

And then there are the shoes. In my closet, I have a few pair of cheap brown shoes purchased two presidents ago, and a pair of red patent leather shoes that I have now decided go with everything. I also have 3 pair of flip flops which I got for $6 a pair and a really expensive pair of running shoes that don't count. Running shoes are like buying tires or cheese - go cheap and you end up having a blow out. I did have a pair of black flats, but I finally tossed them when I discovered that, in the sunlight, you could tell where I'd colored in the toes with a sharpie to hide the scuff marks (but thanks, Nicole G, for the tip!).

What kind of woman am I?

Today, I am going to go buy some shoes. Maybe even two pair.

As soon as I find my flip flops.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

It's a Giveaway!

I'm guest blogging over at Triad Moms on Main today, so check it out! If you're local, they have great information on just about everything going on in the area for families, as well as amazing directories, advice, anecdotes and more.

If you're stopping by SFC from Triad MOM, welcome! To celebrate new readers, I'm going to have my first ever giveaway. Everyone who comments on this post between now and Friday, March 25 will be eligible to win $20 to spend on their choice of one of my favorite things listed below. A winner will be chosen at random on Saturday, March 26.

Thirty-One Gifts - Cute, stylish, functional, and reasonably priced. This has been the year of Thirty-One, as I've given products for teacher gifts, and bought a lot (a lot) for myself. That link goes to my dear friend Nicole's page, who is not only an ass-kicking businesswoman, she's also one of the nicest people you'll ever meet.

Queen Creek Olive Mill - My in-laws brought me a few delicious bottles on their visit last summer. It is amazing - so fresh and light and delicious. If you've never bothered to search out and use good olive oil, this is the perfect opportunity.

Balega Running Socks - These are stupidly expensive socks (between $9-$14 a pair, remember how cheap I am?) and worth every penny. It's like putting your feet into a cloud, they are so soft. Katie loves to wear my socks for some reason, but she's been told to keep her paws off these. These are all mine.

Calling Cards by Artsy Nikki - I just ordered these beautiful and very reasonably priced calling cards from the lovely Nikki on Etsy. Have your people call my people.

Kernel Kustard  - This one's only good if you're local. Creamy, delicious, and in amazing varieties. I love the Lick the Bowl jumble and the hot caramel corn the most. The non-sweet things are pretty good, too.

Winners will be announced right here, so be sure to check back! Thanks for stopping by, I hope you'll make a habit of it.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

At Least I Didn't Vomit

Things a person might be hesitant to share on a public blog: experience with mental illness, parenting failures, glimpses of grief. And almost crapping your pants. I might as well go for broke, since I'm putting it all out there.

So, this morning I ran the St. Leo's 5k. I was already feeling a little wussy because I chose not to run the 10k, but I thought it would be a good opportunity to work on my speed. The course was pretty easy - a few little hills, lots of downhills and flat sections. And it was incredibly beautiful this morning, really a perfect day for a run.

I opted out of the pre-race carbo loading dinner last night and went for fish tacos. Fish tacos. With lots of salsa. The hot kind. And beans. And cheese. Fish freaking tacos. I am an idiot.

I'll spare the details, but somewhere along mile 2 my gut is cramping up so bad, I'm afraid I'm going to be like one of those hardcore runners you see crossing the finish line wearing brown shorts. Except if that happened to me, I'd never cross the finish line because I would be hiding in the bushes until nightfall. I'd probably fall asleep and then some poor guy taking the trash out in the morning in this very chi chi neighborhood would find me curled up asleep in the hydrangeas. "Bitsy, darling! There's a poorly dressed woman in our bushes! I do believe she's pooped herself!"

We'd have to move. Probably out of state.

So, I'm running along, gut cramping, butt cheeks squeezing, planning our move, when a girl 10 yards in front of me leans over and barfs all over the road.Now, I am not known for my cat-like reflexes, but I did some high stepping moves that would have made a Rockette proud. While continuing to run and clench. It was impressive. And I'm thinking -ha! At least I didn't vomit!

And then she passed me, going really really fast. In fact, she smoked me. I ended up finishing much slower than I had hoped, but with my dignity intact. Until I ran home and wrote a blog post about it.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Opening Night

Last night was opening night for "Annie" and Katie made her stage debut as an orphan. She was cool as a cucumber, although she did admit to "sweaty pits". I, on the other hand, was a complete wreck all day. Nervous for her, worried not that she'd make a mistake, but that she'd make a mistake and get upset. She has worked so hard, and I wanted it to be perfect for her.

And it was, of course.

Such a great show - the entire cast was great, Annie herself was perfect, and there was this one orphan that I couldn't keep my eyes off of.
I almost burst into tears when the curtain went up (I am almost all gooey center, don't you know) and couldn't stop smiling every time my girl was on stage. We had front row center seats and Julia was just entranced. She insisted on holding my hand the entire show, she was so excited.

Here is the best part - the feeling I had watching my kid be herself. This was wholly and completely her, it had nothing to do with me or anything I did. There is enormous pride in seeing your child find their passion.

Five more shows to go, and I hope each one is as wonderful for her as last night.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


My children are, until the age of 2 or so, horrible sleepers. It's entirely my fault - I nurse them to sleep, bring them into our bed, indulge, rock and pacify. I do not believe in crying it out, it is not my way. Because I am unwilling to do any consistent program to help them sleep, I forfeit any right to bitch about them not sleeping. I'm lazy, and not ashamed to admit it.

But every now and again, I decide TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT! and I spend a few hours of frustration with a non-sleeping baby before caving and taking them to bed with me. Last night was Henry's turn.

It started out well enough - he took a bath and read a book and nursed (to sleep), curled up in his bed and that was that. Until the dog woke him up.

"DAT!" he yells. I go in and pat his butt and he falls back asleep! Until Julia yelling wakes him up. "DAT!"

The butt patting does not work this time. He is laughing and crying and DAT!-ing until I finally pick him up and rock him and he falls back to sleep. Quietly, I tiptoe back to the crib and gently maneuver my not-very-tall body over the crib rail and lay him gingerly in the crib. Now all I have to do is step away from the crib and I'm home free.

Except the upper part of my meat apron is kind of hooked on the crib rail. I'm already on my tiptoes, so I can't lift up and unlatch my gut. I'm cursing getting a new couch instead of a tummy tuck. I slide down...plop. Now the rail is stuck under one ribcage, my hands are still under the baby, and I still have to clear the boobs. I decide to go for a clean sweep method, like pulling a cloth out from under a table full of dishes. I yank my hands out from under the baby while jumping back and the crib rail practically sheers one of my nipples right off.


Okay. You know, if only I could lay down next to him, I know I could get him to sleep. Except he's in a crib, and I can't exactly crawl in the crib. Right?

I push on the crib mattress with my hand. Sturdy. Maybe...I'll just try getting one leg in and see if it feels like it will hold me. So I'm standing there in my nightie, with one leg slung over the crib rail and Henry is looking at me like "Bitch, you are crazy." I can not believe I am actually considering getting in the baby's crib. This is ridiculous. I pull my leg out and, because I am wearing my old woman floor length nightgown, my foot gets caught and I fall flat on my ass.


You know, maybe we could just lay on the floor. So I spread out a blanket, get Henry out of the crib and settle down on the floor. He latches on to my remaining nipple and sighs contentedly. This might just work.

And then my back seizes up. Oh my God, I laid my geriatric ass on the floor and now I can't move. I have to get out of this room, I have to get help. But my boob is stuck in a vice grip and he's asleep! I'm going to be like James Franco in 127 Hours, except I'm going to have to cut off my nipple to get out of here. I get my finger in his mouth and break the suction, then slowly...carefully...roll onto my stomach and get on my hands and knees. I'm crawling towards the door, all the while doing these weird pelvic tilts that, while helping my back, undoubtedly make me look like an air-humping camel. Oh Lord, there's the door. Almost there...almost...


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dear Katie,

You are the most talented, creative, smart, charming, amazing girl I know. You fill my life with sunshine, and I am so proud of the young lady you are becoming. You are my heart, and I love you without bounds.

Now. Stay out of my shit.

Katie shares so many of my personality traits save one - she is a pig. She would be perfectly content to live in semi-squalor, surrounded by gum wrappers and empty toilet paper tubes (made into binoculars or a purse for her doll or a million other things). The biggest problem is she does not contain her chaos to her own space.

She gets in my space.
She gets in my stuff.

The other morning I was greeted by a message on the rolls of extra toilet paper in my closet. "Hi Kelly!!! :)" written in Sharpie. Around the closet she had hung artwork that she had dragged out of the keepsake box (lid left off, other art on the floor). She tried on some of my clothes and shoes and left those lying in the floor, too. She cleaned her ears and shoved the dirty q-tips under my jewelry box. There are THREE trashcans in the bathroom. Four, if you count under the jewelry box.

She likes to take showers in our bathroom. She also likes to soap up the shower door with shampoo and fill up the shampoo bottle with water (like I won't notice that it's water and not shampoo coming out) and cramming little bits of bar soap into every crevice in the shower so I have to spend 20 minutes with a BUTTER KNIFE chiseling it all out.

She poured a bunch of sprinkles and sanding sugar into her toilet before a party, so guests could pee in style. She has drawn and written on every imaginable surface, regardless of appropriateness, all in the name of art.

She went to school smelling like middle management after liberally dosing herself with Sean's man-wash.

Changing her sheets regularly yields such finds as pens and pencils (a couple dozen), dozens of books, flossers (though this should make me happy, I guess), nail clippers, scissors (nothing like sleeping with sharp objects!), notepads, dirty socks, tissues, glue sticks and 18,000 stuffed animals.

Her teacher had a come to Jesus talk with her last week after she found Katie's tooth laying on one of the reading tables.

She cut a hole in a bag of playsand and dumped it all over the garage floor. When Sean told her to clean it up, she hosed it down with water.

She makes sock puppets. Out of my socks. 

We're constantly finding cups full of some disgusting mixture, sometimes hardened and crusty and sometimes just a mass of goo that is so vile it renders the container forever useless. 

She uses my toothbrush. GAK.

There is hope yet. My mom likes to remind me of a bologna sandwich she once found under my bed. And I turned out to be completely neurotic about cleaning!

Maybe sprinkles in the toilet isn't such a big deal, after all.

Monday, March 14, 2011

All the Single Ladies

In the aftermath of the Japan earthquakes and tsunamis, blogging about coffee at Panera and park playdates seems unbearably shallow and small.

But it's all I have. The beginning and end of my great wisdom on all matters tragic:
Love one another. Take care of your neighbor. Do what you can.

And let me tell you about my weekend.

Sean was off at his annual national sales hootenanny, sharing a room with his boss and eating hotel chicken every night for dinner. I was home getting the very faintest glimpse of life without a husband and, let me tell you, it sucked. To all you single parents, parents whose spouses travel extensively and those in the military - that shit is hard. I barely made it three days, and that was with considerable help from my mom and lots and lots and lots of coffee.

The highlight of the weekend was a fabulous birthday party for a preschool classmate of Julia's at the park on Sunday. Perfect weather, pony rides, pizza, cake, and a 4 year old little boy who dropped trou and peed next to one of the picnic tables. Things like that are always funnier when it's not your kid.
This is a face of pure joy-
Katie has had play rehearsals almost every day. It has been such an amazing experience, and opening night is just 3 days away. Lots of pictures of her in her costume coming soon. She is such a talented young lady, I am so very proud of her.

I missed my husband, the kids missed their daddy, and all is right with the world now that he's home.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


I am very rarely wrong. At least in my opinion. Admitting that I'm wrong is hard enough, adding an apology on top of it can get downright humiliating.

Especially when I'm really wrong. Especially when the apology owed is to one of my kids.

Yesterday, I took Katie to rehearsal and told her the schedule didn't indicate she needed to be in costume. She took her costume bag anyway. Five minutes after dropping her off, she called and said the director wouldn't let her on stage without her costume.

"That's not what the schedule said. You have your costume bag with you, right?"

She didn't answer me. I repeated the question. I yelled her name. She's on the other end of the phone and it's clear she's listening to someone else talking. "Ummmm," she's saying. "I only brought my props in the bag."

I went all screamy. I was irritated she wasn't paying attention to me, I was pissed I had to drive home and get the costume and take it back, I was mad the director wouldn't let her on stage, I was mad the calendar didn't say costumes and how in the hell did everyone else but me know she was supposed to be in costume?

It was ridiculous and I was a real jerk, and even after I hung up the phone I continued to get madder and madder, so by the time I got back to the theater, I was seething. So angry that I decided to punish her with something truly horrible - the picking up of the dog poop. This is ordinarily a horrible chore, but Roxy has really been doing some serious work out there, and it's been a couple of weeks since Sean picked it up. And it rained this week. She was really in for it. I told her as much:

"And when you get home you are picking up poop! I hope you're ready, because it's a Roxy shit storm and you're in the middle of it!"

First of all, I do not curse at, or in front of, my children. Surprising, as I'm pretty free with the f-bombs when writing. Second (ly? second of all?), I don't even know what that means. Roxy shit storm and you're in the middle of it? Even Katie kind of looked at me like 'yeah, that didn't make any sense!'.

In the 15 minute drive between the theater and home, spurred by the ridiculousness of my statement, I started thinking about why I was mad, and at whom I was really mad. Katie just did what I told her to do. I was the one who was wrong.

When I went back to pick her up after practice, I apologized. Profusely and humbly and sincerely. But before that, I picked up the poop. It was a fitting punishment.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


I've always been a particular person. I like things a certain way. I'm neat and organized. If I do something on one side of my body (like, scratch my arm), I have to do it on the other side to even things out.

You mean not everyone does that?

My eccentricities went from amusing (like a preoccupation with time and door locking) to disturbing after I had Katie. The combination of hormones and normal parental anxiety elevated a fairly harmless quirkiness into an all consuming monster in my brain.

I thought I was losing my mind. I didn't talk about it with anyone. I didn't want anyone to know that sometimes I was so convinced that I had left Katie in her car carrier sitting on top of the car, that I would have to drive back home to make sure she hadn't fallen off. Even after I turned around and saw her in the back seat, multiple times. I didn't want anyone to know that I was terrified to cut up food because I was sure I was going to somehow trip and stab my baby. I didn't want anyone to think there was something wrong with me. Because a fear of accidentally stabbing your infant while she's across the room and you're chopping carrots is completely normal.

I scrubbed counters. It got better. I organized the pantry and swept and mopped and let the careful care of my baby fill the spaces in my brain where paranoia wanted to roost. I discovered that nothing combated obsessive thinking better than mindful doing. When my father was diagnosed with lung cancer, I devoted myself to research and reading. It was the only thing I could do, and if I didn't want to think, I needed to do.

By the time Julia was born six years after Katie, my anxiety was at a low level hum - annoying, but manageable. Then, once again, the hormones and stress of a new baby filled me up until I was sure I would explode. I couldn't breathe for the elephant of anxiety that was sitting on my chest. I could not get away from the obsessive thinking, and it started to encompass all areas of my life, not just my children. I remember sitting in church during Mass one Sunday, and the horror I felt as my brain produced the most awful images, using the sacred that surrounded me. I wasn't safe anywhere, if my mind could defile the symbols of my faith while I knelt in prayer.

Sean had been urging me for a long time to see a therapist. I'd resisted because, obviously, there was nothing wrong with me! But misery won out, I admitted I needed help, and finally went after it.

I was maybe 15 minutes into my first appointment, telling all my funny little quirks, making light of the anxiety. As long as I can joke about it, then it's not really a problem! What's a little mentally crippling obsessive thinking when you can scrub it away with a toothbrush and a can of Comet? The therapist reached up on a shelf and pulled down a book, thumbed through it quickly until she reached the page she was looking for, and handed it to me.

The heading was OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER. The subheading was "Postpartum OCD".

Fuck me. Well, I was certain I didn't have OCD, because those people wash their hands like 8 million times a day and check their locks exactly 7 times. I only check my locks THREE times. So there! But I was intrigued, so I read the passage. It was almost without exception exactly what was happening in my head. When I got to the line about violent or pornographic images related to religious icons, I started crying.

Maybe I was crazy, but I wasn't alone.

The more we talked, and in subsequent sessions, the more I came to realize that OCD has been part of my life at least since I was a young teenager. Exacerbated by the hormones of pregnancy and childbirth (and also, I learned, of miscarriage), it went from quirky to debilitating. I was unable to take medication while nursing, and unwilling to stop nursing, so my therapist worked with me using cognitive behavioral therapy. It has been, in my opinion, quite successful. So much so that after Henry was born I only had a brief period of what I would consider elevated anxiety. Nothing that a good vacuuming couldn't cure.

In my case, it waxes and wanes in intensity. Stress makes things worse. Exercise makes things better. I am always, always, always preoccupied with time, and being on time. I lock Sean out of the house all the time, because I check locks without even thinking about it. But I can live with a messy house for awhile, and let my kids go somewhere without me, without being obsessively worried the entire time. Not the entire time. 

This may be the hardest thing to admit - I like it. I don't like the anxiety or the horrible thoughts. But I do like the sharpness that OCD gives me. I like that I am a cleaning machine. I like being organized. I like that I can plan, to the minute details, a party. It was the foundation of my success as a meeting planner. I don't really know if it's the OCD, or if I would be that way without it. I'm unwilling to medicate and find out.

That may not always be the case, and there may come a time when I find the need for medication outweighs the need for an organized life. If that time comes, I feel confident that I will know it and recognize it. I will know that I am not, in fact, crazy.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Feasting & Fasting

The in-laws flew out this morning after a really great visit, leaving in their wake an orgy of food excess and a pledge (from them, and Sean and myself) to hop back on the Weight Watchers wagon. Sean was actually really good during their visit, the rest of us - not so much. So the challenge is to be fit and fabulous by the time they return in July. I am full of resolve and willpower. Actually, I'm just full. Between eating out (a lot) and
pie (also a lot) and Girl Scout cookies, and Frogurt (twice), I am simply stuffed.

Fucking Frogurt. Let's talk about Frogurt for a moment. The concept is brilliant - self serve frozen yogurt with every topping you could possibly imagine. Froot loops? Yeah. Carmelized walnuts in a thick syrup? Yeah. Bobapops? Yeah. I don't even know what bobapops are (and they look grossly like giant fish eggs), but they have them. And because they are counting on people not being capable of showing anything resembling restraint when allowed to fill up their own bowl, they charge by weight. Aside from making you hop up on the scale yourself, there is nothing that screams OH MY GOD YOU ARE A LARDASS like your big bowl of goo up there being weighed for all to see. My mom sat hers on the scale and then said "Oh, let me take the spoon out!", like the weight of the plastic spoon is going to make the difference between Just Getting a Little Snack and Fatty Fell Off the Wagon.

In a divine intervention sort of way, today is also Ash Wednesday. The day when all good (and bad) Catholics and some Protestants who think Catholic stuff is cool, and even some non-religious people who frankly don't have anything better to do for the next 40 days, all decide to give up something for Lent. I'm what could be classified as an okay Catholic, so I really tried to put some thought into it this year. Because I am a grown up, I can't give up something stupid like french fries or Facebook (and who would want to do that?) and it needs to be something that is really a sacrifice.

I thought about cursing, but like hell that's going to happen. Reflecting on the excesses of the past two weeks, the answer is clear - refined sugar. So I ate as much sugar as I possibly could yesterday to get it out of my system, stopping just short of eating spoonfuls of the turbinado out of the sugar bowl. I hope I've built up my reserves enough that the sugar high will last me until Easter.

I like the idea of taking up something as well as giving up something, so this year I'm taking up daily prayer. It's the same thing I take up every year, and every year I fail miserably at it. Mostly because I forget until I'm lying in bed at night, and then my prayers go something like this:
"Father, thank you for this day and the many blessings...oh shit, did I remember to turn the dishwasher on?" I am no good at free form prayer, and the lovely rote Catholic prayers lull me into a very deep meditative sleep. I mean, state. Meditative state.

Regardless of faith of belief or motivation, it's a good an opportunity as any to start a good habit and get out of a bad one. And you get chocolate when it's over.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Julia in the Middle

I have one word for the belief that a person's birth order dictates their personality traits - hooey. How small minded to think that we are, by virtue of where we fall in our families, forever tied to a certain set of behaviors. The idea is terribly disheartening.


But, almost without exception, people that I know with a "middle child" agree - middle children are different. Lacking the luster of a first born, or the perpetual cuteness of the baby, middle children always have something to prove. My sweet Julia is a middle child, and embodies all those negative traits associated with the position - loud, stubborn, bossy, physically aggressive, quick tempered and quick tongued. Especially loud. My God, the girl is the LOUDEST CHILD ON EARTH. There is no such thing as an inside voice. She has exactly two speeds - wide open and asleep. She knows every button to push, and does so with glee. She ignores. Her moods are mercurial and those around her fall in and out of favor frequently. She once ordered my mother in law out of her room with the pointed finger and the command "Not YOU! I want my mom. You are really gross."

I have had strangers come up to me in public places and whisper "Is she a middle child?" and nod knowingly when I answer in the affirmative. In talking to other mothers of middles, I will say something like "She is completely crazy." and their eyes will get wide - "Exactly!" Middles present an interesting challenge to parents whose first children were easy. Middles seem to come out kicking and screaming and, despite our efforts to parent them in exactly the same way as our eldest child, continue on a path that tests our will and makes us question our methods. I am firmly, completely, wholeheartedly against corporal punishment. But I will admit to having to put myself in time out on numerous occasions before I did something I know I would regret. I will also admit to popping her butt out of anger and frustration and desperation. It has happened exactly once, made me feel horrible, and had little effect on her - except to make her turn to me and yell with indignation - "We do not hit in this house! We do not hit people we love!" Ouch.

She's in a tough spot. When your sister is Mary Poppins (practically perfect in every way), and your little brother is a cherub that just oozes sweetness, getting attention becomes your number one goal in life. You do whatever it takes to achieve that goal. As she gets older, she is slowly learning that positive behavior gets your positive attention, and negative behavior gets you ignored. Most of the time.

I'm defensive on the subject of Julia. I excuse much of her behavior (and rightly so. Mostly. I think.) to being tired, hungry, or needing attention. I will say "oh she makes me crazy" and follow it in the same breath with "but she's so much fun." And she is. She is a great companion to take most anywhere. She is exceptionally well behaved in public. She is very smart, quick witted, and kind to her friends. She is the most affectionate of my children, free with hugs and kisses and cuddles. She is, frankly, one of the most stunningly beautiful children I've ever seen. She worships Katie and is an awesome big sister to Henry (when she's not lying on top of him or rubbing her feet in his face). She is determined. She is a hard worker. She is the most self assured 4 year old you'll ever meet.

Julia has humbled me. She has made me realize that I don't know nearly as much as I think, and every day presents an opportunity for me to learn something new. She's also taught me patience in measure that I didn't know I was capable of. Yesterday, she was overtired and had a meltdown. I went and laid down with her in bed and rubbed her head until she started to drift off to sleep. I was staring at her amazing little face - cheeks still flushed with anger, eyes heavy, when she looked up at me, sighed deeply, and said "Mommy, I love you."

Oh, Julia. I love you, too. Fiercely, I do. Julia in the middle, right where you're supposed to be.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


The whole family (kids, parents, grandparents) packed up and headed over to Greensboro Saturday morning to watch the kids from Katie's school at their Odyssey of the Mind regional competition.

Note to my husband: When I say I want to leave at 6:30 am and follow it with "Did you remember to set the alarm?" and you say, "Yes.", I am assuming that you set it for a reasonable time.

Reasonable, so that when the alarm goes off and you lay there, because you know I will get up and shower first, I do not then shower and dress and head out to the kitchen in search of coffee and glance at the clock and see that it is FIVE OH FREAKING FOUR in the morning. Although it was awesome to get up at 4:45, especially after a night of fitful sleep with a coughing baby. Thank you.

(And I do not need to hear "get your own alarm clock!", so shut it.)

I forgot the card table they needed for a prop. Luckily, my mom was an hour behind us and said she'd bring it, no problem. Except she forgot it, too. Apple doesn't fall far from the tree, does it? Katie's coach brought an extra and so the day was saved. Briefly.

Katie's team problem was the Unhinged Structure, which is a wee little thing made of balsa wood that has to support x amount of weight. They team had to create a skit around it, involving additional folding structures, props and costumes. The awesome thing about OM is that there can be NO adult involvement. Everything is kid driven. Something needs a little piece of tape? Kid has to do it. Kid has to think about it. No adult help or suggestions or instruction.

So when something is wrong, like the structure is a little bit too short, the kids have to fix it. And the parents have to huddle around and bite their nails while the kids are doing it WRONG WRONG WRONG. The kids were stressing, the parents were stressing, and I had to walk away.

I was so impressed at how cool the kids stayed, how they focused in a worked hard to try to come up with a solution. Throughout this process, I've heard stories and seen examples of just how creative and resilient kids can be. Much more so than their parents, sometimes.

They did a great job on their performance and we went off to stuff ourselves silly with Five Guys and Frogurt and await the results. Both teams from her school ended up with third place trophies and we are all so incredibly proud. Katie was a little disappointed (she was already planning where we were going to stay for the World Competition. Forget State Finals, she was already at World!), but it was an awesome experience and she's already looking forward to next year.

All parents owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the parents and teachers who volunteer their time to coach after school programs. These programs take a lot of time and effort on the part of the adult volunteers, who have to deal with not only the kids, but the parents as well. THANK YOU a million times over to those who committed their time to Odyssey of the Mind this year; Katie loved every minute of it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Things I Do on My Day Off

Publish 2 blog posts in a day! I've been home with only the baby since 9:30 this morning, and here is what I've accomplished:

1. Jack shit.

I'm expecting a delivery of our flooring to replace that lost in The Great Bedroom Flood of '11, which is supposed to be here between 1 and 5 p.m. It is now 4:22. If the guy arrives even one minute past 5, I will refuse delivery, scream at him, and kick him square in the balls! Actually, I will just say "Oh, thank you. You're wonderful." and bat my filthy eyelashes. Filthy because I haven't taken a shower because I'm afraid the guy will show up while I'm in the shower. I did, however, brush my teeth. I like to keep my standards low, that way I never disappoint myself.

Henry and I have had a lovely day together. We played race cars and peekaboo and read Superhero Me! 32 times. I ate 14 Girl Scout cookies for lunch. He barfed down the inside of my shirt. He had a poop that smelled like a perm and contained 3 silver sequins.

GLAMOUR, people. Envy me.

It has been a good day.

Pictures, and A Penny Earned

The grandparents are visiting from Arizona and the kids are having a wonderful time with them. Today, Katie is skipping school and they are having a day of fun with both girls. Julia is calling it her "Lucky Day"! They're going to Chuck E. Cheese and maybe a movie and all sorts of other fun stuff. Tonight, G&G are taking Katie to rehearsal, so they'll get to see a good bit of her performance in Annie (which opens in two weeks, gulp!).

We went to the park on the windiest day ever. No wonder no one else was there. Henry is wouldn't stay away from the sticks, so in between freaking out and yelling "YOU'RE GOING TO POKE YOUR EYE OUT!" I took a couple of pictures.

The ladies went to the annual Mother Daughter Tea at church.

And I am loving the extra hands around the house and good company and conversation. Most of all, I am loving watching my kids spend time with their grandparents.

You may have also noticed that my blog now contains ads for (really fantastic, high quality) products and services. Actually, they change and I don't control them. I think I'm able to add ads for local companies, so if you or your company is interested in reaching my 23 (really fantastic, high quality) followers, I'll try to figure it out. I'm really counting on this blog to be my ticket to financial freedom. So far, I've earned 45 cents. I am well on my way.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My Small Mind

I do not understand black holes. My husband is fascinated by all things sciency, whereas I am a complete moron. I can not comprehend things that happen off of good old terra firma and not only that - I don't care. I am sure that one day my childrens' childrens' children will be forced to abandon earth and take up residence on Venus and for that reason space exploration is vital to the survival of the human race, but, eh...not really interesting.

I do not understand how television works. Or the internet. Or radio or cell phones or anything where you put information in at Point A and it comes out at Point B. I prefer to refer to these all of these things by the most accurate name I could come up with - Magic Boxes. Do not speak to me of waves and frequencies and ethernet (wtf is an ethernet, anyway?). It is magic, and I thank the magicians for being smarter than me.

I do not understand how cars work. I like to think there are tiny elves stoking little fires in the engine that power the car. I'm not sure how the engine makes the wheels turn, so let's revise that theory. There are tiny elves who live inside the tires. Gas is Magic Juice that makes the elves run really really fast and turn the wheels. That makes a boatload more sense than pistons and carburetors (not that I know what either of those things are).

Sean likes to watch programs like How Things Work and Modern Marvels and How They Make Totally Boring Shit. I try, I really do, to sit there and absorb the knowledge being imparted. Instead, I end up zoning out and thinking about things like when did Charlie Sheen stop being a stone cold fox and start being a lunatic?

There are a few things I get. Fire. I kind of understand electricity, and I can lift the lid up off the toilet tank and kind of get the idea of what's going on there. I know that you can not take a power cord away from a baby without handing him something equally interesting. I know you can not tell a 10 year old girl that zebra print boots do not go with everything. I know that sometimes all a little kid needs is a hug and a cuddle to make everything okay. I know how to love and, in my line of work, that makes me a pretty smart cookie.

And black holes are stupid, so there.