Summer Lessons For An Absentee Blogger

Hey all!

Look, I know I’ve been away a long time, so I’m not just going to stroll in here all blase and pretend that nothing has happened and everything is fine between us. I don’t want to insult your intelligence. But summer was rough. The kids were on me like fleas every second for a snack or to validate their latest Lego creation. As soon as they heard the keyboard tapping they’d descend. The pressure was incredible.

It had been my plan to send the kids to camp so that I might have a minute or two of productivity, but Hubs and I had a minor bank account fiasco wherein all of our money mysteriously disappeared. We were both baffled as to how this would happen. Coincidentally this occurred right around the same time that Hubs’s jeep was miraculously cured of many of its major ailments. Weird.

At any rate, I had to sacrifice any dreams of childless alone time. These things happen, so I decided to abandon all productivity and commit myself to fully enjoying the summer with my children. After all, time is fleeting and they won’t be this small forever. Sometimes you just have to grit your teeth, hide the knives and treasure those little buggers.

You can't hear the kids complaining about the mind numbing amount of pictures Hubs takes but after this Hubs stopped talking to any of us.

Here we are treasuring each other on the highway. Note: Hubs stopped talking to all of us immediately after this picture was taken.

I learned some things in the process–about myself, about life. I’m a better person for it, albeit a better person who desperately needs a hair appointment. For instance:

  • It is physically impossible for me to treasure my children day after day, 24 hours a day without a steady flow of caffeine. Before the summer I had weaned myself off the stuff for health reasons but mid summer I had to weigh the importance of a steady heartbeat against the safety of my prodigies. Heartbeats are overrated.
  • Five year old boys are physically incapable of being quiet. There is a reason that there was never a book called The Diary of Arnie Frank. It would have lasted two pages and then Arnie would have forgotten about the Nazis and gone running down the hall singing at the top of his lungs while beating on a bucket. End of story. Girls know how to tiptoe and use their indoor voices. You could wrap a boy in foam and he would still find a way to shake the walls. It’s what they do.

Note: I sincerely apologize for using the Jewish holocaust with such flippancy. You’d think I was a twenty-something pop sensation.

"By 'mental exhaustion' you mean rehab, right?"

“At least I don’t Twerk.”

  • The more you do with your children, the more they want to do. I can’t emphasize this enough: the key to your child’s happiness is lowered expectations. Providing them with gifts and stimulating activities only gives them unrealistic expectations for the future. Have you ever seen videos of children in third world countries receiving shoes for the first time? They are incredibly happy. My daughter has multiple shoes that she won’t even wear because they aren’t meeting her aesthetic expectations. And for every visit to the trampoline park this summer, I had to listen to ninety additional minutes of “what are we doing that’s exciting today?” and “I want to do something fun,” spoken in a whine and repeated ad nauseam. You know what’s fun? Not working in a sweatshop fifteen hours a day. You’re welcome.
  • The housing market is so filled with foreign investors equipped with psychic premonition and large quantities of cash that a cop and a stay at home mom can’t afford to purchase any single family home this side of Detroit. It’s remarkable really and further proof that House Hunters is a complete sham. I mean come on, a graduate student and an entry-level marketing coordinator are able to buy a beautiful craftsman style home that isn’t tagged with gang graffiti? That’s a fairytale. You want the real story? Follow us as we look at condemned homes filled with garbage and frightened animals, priced just beyond our range.
  • Inability to purchase aside, there is nothing my kids love better (with the exception of an overcrowded theme park) than freely snooping through other people’s homes. Open houses became one of our favorite free activities this summer. If summer had gone on any longer we would probably resort to breaking and entering.
  • The only family vacation we can enjoy without having to sedate Hubs is camping. He is completely relaxed when separated from society and surrounded by dirt, trees and creatures that might carry the Bubonic plague. They are making the ground harder than they used to, which was tough on my delicate frame and after two days of roughing it, my all natural, aluminum free deodorant cashed it in and left me to scare off the bears with my b.o., but other than that, camping was awesome.

Anyway, it’s good to be back. I’ll try not to stay away as long next time.

This picture was taken right after Conor tried to slip under the bar and plummet to his death. Good times.

This picture was taken right after Conor tried to slip under the bar and plummet to his death. You can tell that I’m still mid heart attack.

Surgical Fun With Hobos

My son, Conor, had a little “work done” a couple of weeks ago. That’s the Hollywood term for surgery, though in Conor’s case it doesn’t refer to a cosmetic procedure. No Brazilian Butt Lift here. In fact, nothing major at all. Just a little abdominal surgery to repair a hernia. No biggie. I was totally casual about the whole thing. Totally.

On the outside.

On the inside, I was a ball of anxiety because my baby was going under general anesthesia and I worried that he would handle it as well as I do, which is to say not well at all. My body is generally against drugs, especially anything that threatens to relieve pain, and reacts like a tweaker in an imaginary snake pit. It’s charming to watch, just ask Hubs.

My daughter, Riley, was also experiencing some anxiety over Conor’s surgery, saying comforting things like, “when they cut Conor open…” and “if Conor dies…”, so I scheduled a busy day for all of us the day before the surgery to keep our minds off of the whole thing.

Riley has an overactive imagination. I don’t know where she gets it.

This picture is in no way meant to suggest that she gets it from me.

This picture is in no way meant to suggest that she gets it from me. Or that I’ve lost half my teeth.

At the end of the day Conor collapsed into bed, which is when I noticed that he was FILTHY. Evidently at school he’d decided to roll in the sand and climb through a carburetor. Since it was well past bed time and my sweet boy is not known for his sunny morning disposition or ability to retain a great attitude without sleep or food, I let my little hobo fall asleep in the midst of his filth, thinking that I’d clean him up before we left in the morning.

Good plan…

if the giant Coke I had for lunch hadn’t fed my anxiety, which in turn fueled some situational insomnia. I stared at the ceiling most of the night and slipped into a deep sleep right before the alarm went off. At least I assume it went off. I didn’t hear it. I woke up with just enough time to throw on clothes, grab Conor, plop him in the car and make it to the Children’s Hospital by his 6:00 a.m. check in, where I repeatedly apologized to every nurse within earshot for bringing in a stinky, unwashed child for surgery.

Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I was ever that embarrassed over my parental shortcomings. I mean general incompetence is fine but hygiene neglect…that’s just wrong.

"He's cute. It's a shame his mama doesn't wash him."

“Mama doesn’t wash me til the creek thaws and the hogs are slaughtered.”

Three hours of shame and two meltdowns later (Conor found the blood pressure cuff and tiger pajamas traumatizing), he was in surgery and I was staring blankly at a wall in the waiting room.

The elephant tranquilizer is just kicking in [looks like I'm not the only one hallucinating]

Don’t let the drunken joie de vivre fool you, he despises those pajamas.

According to the surgeon, the procedure went off without a hitch. The recovery nurse might have had a different take on the whole experience however, because it seems that Conor also suffers from a tiny sensitivity to general anesthesia, which came in the form of explosive diarrhea and an intense desire to roll around in it. Thank God, Hubs had arrived by that point to help our recovery nurse because I had all but shut down and could only stand there with a box of juice and a popsicle in my hands watching the carnage with mild detachment.

Standing there uselessly I had plenty of time to wonder about things such as why Hubs has absolutely no problem with gay men, but is deeply offended by Vespas, Mazda Miatas and small fluffy white dogs. And also why the nurse didn’t know what the word “defecating” meant which seemed to me like a word that a nurse should know.

The recovery nurse finally shoved Conor into an adult sized diaper and signed his discharge papers before he soiled the entire recovery wing.

At the end of the day Conor had face planted off the recliner and the couch, as well as crapped his way through two gurneys, four diapers, two pairs of pajamas and a new rug. Impressive. But we are fairly certain the hernia is gone.


And he got to take home a glove balloon and crap-filled adult diaper. Score!

Five Reasons To Have Children When You’re Young And Stupid

I was the accidental product of older parents. A bonus child, as it were. By the time I came a long Mom and Dad were as laid back about parenting as they apparently were about birth control.

It's called a condom, you silly beatniks.

It’s called a condom, you silly beatniks.

I probably would’ve taken this fact for granted but my sister, Lori (the closest in age to me with a nine year difference) told me often while making me touch the electric fence as penance.

Behold to the right, the tool of sibling torture: the electric fence!

Behold to the right, the tool of sibling torture: the electric fence.

This generously imparted knowledge left me with a Rainman-like reaction to electrical shock of any kind and the desire to wait until my thirties to have a child. I reasoned that as an older parent I would be able to avoid giving birth to a sociopathic child who enjoyed torturing younger kids and avoid stretch marks in my twenties.

Look, my Mom’s stomach was a road map of maternity and I wanted to spend my twenties in a bikini. Yes, I was shallow. Let’s not judge.

There I am living the dream--the extremely shallow dream.

There I am achieving my goal.

Well as luck would have it (and by “luck” I mean a rampant fear of commitment) I did wait until I was older to have children. Even older than my mom. I had to have special tests for elderly pregnant ladies and everything. Who says I can’t stick to a plan?

No seriously, who says that? It’s not nice to talk about other people behind their backs. I have feelings, you know.

Anyway, I’ve been very happy with my decision for the most part, but last night I was lying in bed after a particularly taxing bout of ineffective parenting and I started thinking about the down sides of my plan. Nothing is perfect. Not even Meryl Streep (but don’t say that out loud in Hollywood).

I'm an acting tour de force and a g.d. American icon, you sniveling fence toucher."

“I’m a g.d. American icon, you sniveling fence-toucher!”

  1. First of all, let’s address the stretch marks issue since it had such an impact on my decision. If you’re going to ask your skin to perform the greatest of all hat tricks and stretch over an additional human, you want to do it while you’re still producing some collagen and your skin has all of its elasticity.  Later on your skin is going to stretch out and then give up, much like my father in front of prime time television. And despite what I thought in my teens, you don’t stop caring about your looks and life in general when you hit 40.
  2. Also, grandparents are more valuable than gold. Aside from being the only people in the world who want to watch your kids without a salary attached, they will also keep your kids supplied in quality socks, underwear and the type of frilly dresses that you would never buy but little girls go ape-sh!t over. You want to get grandparents while they are still alive and young enough to care. Let’s face it, when you’ve gotten to the age where you’re deaf and in a diaper, you don’t get as excited about tiny sticky humans. My kids only have one set of grandparents left and we have a team of doctors forcing them to stay alive. It’s a lot of pressure.
  3. When you’re young you think you know everything. There’s a certain freedom in that. You don’t have to constantly second guess yourself. You are free to blissfully screw up your children with complete confidence. I agonize over screwing up every day, which ironically doesn’t make me screw up any less. It just takes the fun out of it and screwing up should be fun. Like a Van Wilder movie.
  4. Parenting is stressful and it’s hard on a marriage. If you get married and have children young you have the chance of getting through the challenging years and then rekindling your marriage while you and your spouse are still young enough to travel without breaking a hip. Or you can cash it in while you’re still young enough to take an attractive picture for a dating website.
  5. One word: resilience. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m more fragile than I was at 25 when I thought that knees magically went on working forever and at 2:00 a.m. I have a hard time caring about anything other than another four hours of uninterrupted rest. You have to have a fever, the likes of which could start a house fire and make you speak in tongues to rouse my empathy at that hour and even then you’re guaranteed terrible parenting the following day.

So there you have it. Now you can make an informed decision, justify/regret the decision you already made or just pour yourself a cocktail and ignore this post all together. Personally, I recommend the latter. I also recommend Tylenol PM, so that you don’t lie in bed crafting lists like this until all hours of the night. Trust me on this.


Photo Credits:


Captain Agro’s Pre-tween Soccer School

The following is the tale of Hubs’s brief and bittersweet side career as the soccer coach of eight to ten-year old girls. That’s right, pre-tweens. The age group before the age group that terrifies intelligent adults and drives Disney Channel marketing. The names have not been changed because nobody is innocent.

This year Riley decided that she was a little bored with gymnastics and wanted to try something new. Riley’s BFF plays soccer, so Riley decided that she’d like to give soccer a try too, despite the fact that she and her BFF couldn’t play on the same team. You see, Riley’s birthday is in April, which puts her in the eight-ten age group, while her BFF’s birthday is in August, putting her in a younger category.

You’d never know it by looking at them, but Riley is older by three months. A veritable old lady by comparison. She could break a hip at any moment.

Old lady on the right. As you can see, osteoporosis is already curving her spine.

However, as it turned out, the soccer organization was desperate for coaches, so they offered to put Riley and her BFF on the same team if Hubs agreed to coach.

Now Hubs knows a thing or two about a thing or two; cycling, wrestling, pond hockey, and all manner of combat and law enforcement lie within his areas of expertise. But he knows absolutely bupkis about soccer. He could effectively train an elite squad of pre-tween crime fighting assassins. But he has no idea what to do with a soccer ball, unless of course you tell him to kill someone with it.

Despite his lack of expertise and extra time, Hubs saw coaching as an opportunity to ease our introverted daughter’s entry into the sport by providing her with the security of her BFF. And as an added bonus, he could be a part of Riley’s pre-Olympic sports career. He figured that teaching pre-tween girls was only marginally more intimidating than kicking down the doors of armed criminals, which he considers just a fun way to spend a Monday morning.

Hubs told Riley. She was ecstatic and declared Hubs a hero. He purchased a book on coaching giggly girls. All was right with the world. A rainbow hung over our house every day and unicorns crapped on our front lawn.

Unicorn poop may be rainbow-colored and sprinkled with stars but it will still kill your grass. (image via themarysue)

Then at the first coaches’ meeting, Hubs got his team roster and discovered (gasp!) there was no BFF on the list.


When he brought it to the attention of the powers-that-be he was told that he must have misinterpreted the offer because the organization would never mix such vastly different ages as eight and eight-plus-three-months together on the same team. That was crazy talk! They meant that they would sometimes put two girls of EXACTLY the same age on the same team even if they were friends. Then they told him to have a nice day and enjoy coaching.

“Sir, may I suggest what you can do with your ‘nice day’, sir?”

Hubs was not pleased. He’d been hoodwinked. To his credit, he didn’t pull his weapon and administer a body cavity search at the meeting, but he did come home and draft a lengthy email, which then needed to be edited heavily to delete foul language and implications of violence. Then he tossed and turned all night. For the next three nights. And wore down his molars.

Despite his carefully crafted, non-threatening arguments, the soccer organization refused to put the girls on the same team. In and of itself this would have been frustrating but not disastrous if Hubs had not shared this plan with Riley. But he had.

Have you ever destroyed the dream of an eight-year old girl? It resembles a scene from a Telenovela but in English.

“Sin mi amigo yo me moriré sin duda!” Translation: “without my friend I will surely die!” (image via jahpeaceful666)

Riley decided that soccer was the devil’s sport, run by terrible ogres bent on breaking the hearts of small girls. She requested that the man in charge be flogged or at least arrested for deliberate meanness. I tried but could not sway her opinion and Hubs, who was on-board with the flogging idea, decided that he would not use soccer as an opportunity for the two of them to bond in misery, so he gave the organization the one fingered salute tactfully resigned and we enrolled Riley in swimming class.

And that was it. Hubs’s brief and bittersweet side career as a pre-tween soccer coach was over before it began. Riley will never rip off her soccer jersey to display her sports bra after winning the Olympic gold. We will never have David Beckham or Mia Hamm over for dinner. All we’re left with is a front lawn full of unicorn crap.

The soccer organization had better hope that Hubs doesn’t figure out a way to weaponize unicorn crap.

Plan B

I hope you all had a lovely Labor Day weekend. Ours was packed full of laughter, tears, head colds and injuries (all the things that make a family vacation special) even though our initial Labor Day plans fell through.

We had intended to do a little camping this weekend, but so did the rest of the world and unlike us, the rest of the world made reservations. I tell you, it ain’t easy being a slacker in a Type-A world. In order to distract the children from the fact that we weren’t sleeping in the woods, we came up with a Plan B and scheduled some camping-esque activities.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, kids, you are actually having fun in the wild because your parents would never drop the ball and disappoint you. (image via MGM)

First we distracted Riley, who is old enough to ask the wrong kinds of questions, with a sleepover at her BFF’s house. Riley wouldn’t care if the zombie apocalypse arrived as long as she had her stuffed animals and her BFF. Conor had a cold anyway, so we just loaded him up on cold meds and made wild animal noises. He never knew the difference.

(Note: By “cold meds” I mean ice cream.)

“I see bears, Mommy.” “That’s right, sweetie. Now eat your campfire ice cream.”

The next night we hosted a cook out and garage door drive-in movie night. It was a wild success. Our neighbors in the back house especially enjoyed the fact that we blocked the whole driveway so that they had to run an obstacle course in order to come and go, which they managed to do a record amount of times in two hours. Hubs got out his special military cot that was designed to collapse under anyone but armed combatants, so all of the kids got the chance to be thrown to the ground before eating their weight in marshmallows. Great fun.

The next day we took the kids to the wilderness with some friends, raced up and down hills, climbed some trees and rocks, saw the local wildlife and managed to eat all of our picnic food within two minutes of turning off the car ignition.

The tree people of Los Angeles.

Things got ugly during the hill races. You have to watch yourself next to a competitive marine. They will do whatever is needed to take a hill, including pile-drive their eight-year old daughter into the dirt. In Hubs defense, Riley was running in his blind spot, he had a blind spot because he was carrying the smallest child up with him as a gesture of good will and, as his daughter, Riley should have known to give him a really wide birth. She’s seen him break windows and crush door knobs for God’s sake. He’s Conan the Barbarian in a medium-sized t-shirt.

I watched the tragedy unfold in slow motion. Riley tried valiantly to catch herself for what seemed like two miles, but ultimately went down face first in a blaze of glory. She started to cry and Hubs, baffled as to why she would choose that competitive moment to lie face down and cry in the dirt, gave her the sensitive and sage advice, “you should watch where you’re going,” to which she replied, “I did watch where I was going, which was face down into the dirt because you ran me over, ya big clumsy oaf!”

Or at least that’s what the look she shot him implied.

I delicately let him know that he had inadvertently flattened his baby girl and he tried to make it up to her by power washing her wound with iodine. I’m pretty sure she’s going to stick Hubs in a Home the first chance she gets, which will soften her psychological scars.

Hubs took this picture because it looks like a turtle peeing from a giant turtle penis. I love his sophisticated sense of humor. You really can’t stay mad at a man who takes pictures like this.

By the end of the day each child had earned their very own injury, which was nice. I hate for anyone to feel left out. I declared the weekend a success and Hubs and I parents of the year.

Next weekend will be a festival of sloth in order to effectively lower the kids’ standards again, because I can’t keep up that kind of pace every weekend. I’d suffer burnout or a groin pull.

Our motley crew. By the way, Riley is not waving at the camera–she’s displaying her wound to document her suffering.

Outnumbered: A Retail Tragedy

I took the kids to the mall today. Both of them. At the same time. I try never to do this because it tests my sanity but today it couldn’t be helped. Either child on their own is no problem 99% of the time. However, the two together are a volatile mix, the likes of which blow up chemistry classrooms and send chemistry professors into early retirement or a habit of drinking in the closet.

But BFF’s birthday party is tomorrow and we hadn’t yet found the perfect gift. We’d found many imperfect ones but not the absolute right gift to capture the specialness of the bestest friend in the entire universe, including fairy kingdoms, without whom my daughter would surely perish of sorrow and boredom. So off we went today, all three of us, to the mall.

Dum Dum Dum Dum.

I should mention that Conor has skinned and reskinned his knees again, so he’s working his Dickensian limp while holding his shorts up, like Tiny Tim learning to curtsy. It is impressively tragic. Immediately after entering the mall Conor wanted to be carried with his imaginary cane to the Disney store. Scrooge Mommy denied his request.

Don’t laugh. It’s tragic.

The Disney store didn’t have the item we sought. They also didn’t have the back-up item Riley came up with after 15 minutes of coercion. Conor on the other hand found 50 things he desperately wanted in the same amount of time. Have you ever tried to keep two children together and focused in a Disney store? It’s physically impossible. Because they sprinkle crack on the floor.

(Note: Disney denies this allegation and the local CSI teams are all too busy solving “actual crimes” to call me back, but I’m pretty sure I’m on to something.)

Finally we fled left and headed to another store in the mall to look for a back-up to the back-up item. But alas, the perfect gift was nowhere in the second store either. We know because we checked. Every. Aisle. Twice. Riley was despondent and Conor was losing patience and demanding his twentieth escalator ride, so I corralled them into a restaurant to eat.

Immediately after we ordered, Conor announced that he had to pee with an urgency reserved for pregnant women, drunk coeds and children who wait until the last minute. Riley is deeply insulted by even the thought of any boy’s “private parts” (congratulations Hubs) and didn’t want to come with us. As the waiter had disappeared, I also didn’t want him to think that we’d ordered and then left like fugitives. So, with Hubs popping a blood vessel in my imagination, I left Riley to hold our table. Alone. At the very front of the restaurant. Wearing her Dear Child Predator, Take Me Because My Mom Is An Irresponsible Parent t-shirt. While Conor and I took a trip to the bathroom. In the bowels of the earth.

Okay Riley wasn’t wearing that t-shirt. She was wearing this.

Her My Mom Is Irresponsible Enough To Let Me Draw On My Clothes tank top.

Same difference. And the bathroom wasn’t in the bowels of the earth, but it was in the back of the restaurant, which curved around a corner and went on for ten miles. Nearly.

Riley wasn’t abducted but I got plenty of dirty looks on the way back to the table. I wanted to yell, “Shut up! Tiny Tim had to pee!” But I realized that would only be an admission of guilt and we already knew I was guilty. Of so many things.

Conor likes to stretch his meal out as long as possible, so we finally took his corndog to go. Not in a container. That would be too classy. He yanked the stick out and mashed the fried bread/meat combo into his little fist and we took it through the mall. We were giddy from all-you-can-eat steak fries and beyond caring.

When I stopped at Teavana to sample their wares, Conor was possessed by the spirit of mall music and started to bust out some ambitious dance moves, still clutching his fist o’meat. A steak fry buzz will do that to you. Mid-spin he went down hard. So hard, in fact, that the Teavana sample dude just took his things and went inside his store. Conor lie there stunned, wondering where it all went wrong.

Never dance with carnie food. (image via dreamstime)

I helped him up and we shuffled on. Not ten yards later, Conor stepped on somebody’s discarded pastry and took another digger, this time letting loose with his famous super sonic cry. Malls have excellent acoustics. I gave up on BFF’s gift and started to giggle hysterically.

If you saw a manic woman hustling two children through the mall, one of them screaming and limping dramatically while clutching a dirty wad of corndog, it was me. At the car the kids managed to headbutt each other and all three of us started to cry, though I was the only one who also cursed. Then I bought them candy and waited for our car to burst into flame as a capper.

When Hubs got home, Riley and I went out on our own and found a birthday present. We laughed, skipped, shared a soda like childhood sweethearts. It was magical.

One child. It makes all the difference.

Confessions Of A Chronic Smart@ss

Sometimes I get inspiration from reading other blogs. For instance, I was reading this post over at Don’t Forget To Feed The Baby about her aversion to confessional blog posts. She wrote that humor was more cathartic for her than deep, dark, emotional confessions and I thought, “AMEN, SISTER!”

I find it extremely difficult to talk about my problems seriously. In fact, I’d rather run through a burning building than be the subject of a Barbara Walters interview. No joke.

Barbara loves to watch people cry. What is wrong with her? I bet she tortures puppies for fun. I’m sending the ASPCA over to her house.

Watch out, Oprah! She’ll make your mascara run and kick your dogs! (image via

There are plenty of painful things in my past and I’ll talk about any of them. Seriously, ask me. I’ll tell you whatever you want to know. Just know that there will be some cheeky humor involved. Nothing is sacred.

I don’t think Barbara would like that. She’s not alone.

I think I was ten the first time someone accused me of being inappropriately irreverent. My sister found me to be “flippant” at our mother’s memorial service. Perhaps she took issue when I grew weary of all the canned condolences and began talking to a potted plant.

I can see where she might think my botanical conversation was a sign of disrespect, but in my defense, Mom had told me that I could find her spirit in anything she loved and sitting in that front row folding chair of the pastel-colored hospital conference room/make-shift chapel, directly in front of a large fern and surrounded by awkwardly grieving adults, I decided to address her spirit. She loved plants. Who was to say that she wasn’t sitting in that fern? So I struck up a conversation. I figured I’d earned the right. She was my mother. I could talk to a potted plant if I wanted to.

Hello, Mom? I like what you’ve done with your hair.(image via dreamstime)

My sister found that inappropriate, which is a little ironic considering that she showed up wearing a transparent black dress that didn’t button properly and more makeup than a tranny.  She was also high. And not on life. But I didn’t think twice about that at the time because I took my sister at face value: a confused and grieving not-quite-adult with an interesting wardrobe. I was baffled that she didn’t take me at face value: a confused and grieving child with a fondness for decorative plants.

Not my sister, but I’m hiring “her” to be my personal stylist. (image via dreamstime)

She assumed, like many, that my irreverence indicated a lack of feeling, which isn’t the case. I simply have a hard time facing pain without poking fun at it. It’s a coping mechanism and so deeply ingrained that I doubt it’s going anywhere. Nor would I want it to. I treasure it. It helps keep me sane.


I know what you’re thinking: I bet that girl kicks @ss in yoga.


Then it must be: That girl is a prime candidate for therapy.

Yeah, I see your point.

But I am horrible at therapy. I absolutely lose my mind in a therapist’s office (and not in a great cathartic way) and then I just start telling the therapist what I think they want to hear, which, as anyone who has successfully utilized therapy could tell you, defeats the purpose.

After Hubs’s best friend was shot on duty I saw a departmental therapist to discuss the trauma. I made a deal with myself that I would be absolutely honest. I went twice. We talked about my fragile side. I spoke earnestly. It was torturous and after the second session I backed my car into a pole then drove off into the sunset in a fit of irritation, never to return. I may have been on the verge of a break through or break down, but we’ll never know.

Humor works better for me.

So I will continue to break my pain into bite-sized morsels and laugh at it until it isn’t so scary. Some of those morsels are likely to end up here, like emotional crumbs. Hopefully we can all laugh at them because that’s the best catharsis of all. Even better than saving Barbara Walters’s tortured puppies.

“Don’t believe her. Save us first.” (image via dreamstime)

Disclaimer: There is no evidence to support the claim that Ms. Walters tortures puppies. However, there is bountiful proof that she regularly makes celebrities cry.

Slumber Party Remedial School

I was queen of the slumber party in my youth. I don’t often toot my own horn but this was something I did well. All I needed was a Ouija Board, an inappropriate movie, some junk food and my dad’s trademark lax supervision to rock an event.

1984 was an exceptionally good year in the slumber party circuit.

Shout out to Dad’s super-relaxed parenting style. It’s a shame my children will never know what that’s like.

However, it’s been a (ahem) few years and some skills are perishable. I should probably have enrolled in slumber party remedial school, because despite my impressive resume, I spent a good portion of my daughter’s slumber party dropping the ball. By the end of the day I felt like I’d just returned from a 5 hour booze cruise on rough seas. I practically crawled to bed after telling the girls that there would be no more requests fulfilled due to my impending collapse.

The whole week my focus had been elsewhere on other obligations. When I woke up Saturday morning, I realized that precious little had been done to prepare for Riley’s birthday slumber party and Hubs would be gone all day having a big boy play date.

Big boys playing dress up with toys

I panicked, tapped into some mother-guilt, forgot my slacker mom sensibilities and over compensated for my lack of preparation with some ill-fated last minute plans.

Now a logical slacker mom might have paused, thought back to what she enjoyed at her own childhood slumber parties and realized that 8-year-old girls don’t want parent-imposed schedules in their sleep overs anyway. They have their own ideas about what they want to do. So here’s a novel idea: ask them. However, I’d used up all of my logic for the week and I was too busy nursing my silly idea that this, being a birthday sleep over, should be different and therefore more special.


So my plan went like this:

  • 1:00 guest arrival
  • 1:15ish head to our neighbors’ pool.
  • 4:00 manicures
  • 5:30 pizza and birthday donuts.
  • 7:00 movie
  • 9:00 giggling while pretending to sleep

It sounded like a great plan to me. I prematurely congratulated myself on being such a rock star.

Ever notice that any phrase beginning with the word “premature” is automatically a bad thing? Premature baby, premature ejaculation, premature menopause, premature gray, premature congratulations…all bad.

First of all, I neglected to make sure that Riley’s best friend could actually arrive at 1:00. As it turned out, she couldn’t. Then the girls hadn’t seen each other all week and wanted some time to bond over their Beanie Boos collection, which went right through pool time and into manicure time. Beanie Boos require a lot of bonding–must be the giant eyes. They’re haunting. The Bette Davises of plush toys.

They are so sweet, like tiny stuffed animal zombies.

My friend, who I’d enlisted to help with the manicures showed up and we forced strongly compelled completely disinterested girls to get their nails done.  I had conveniently forgotten that I possess the manual dexterity of a raccoon–just enough to dig through the garbage, but not enough to execute delicate spa services on tiny, thoroughly chewed nails. So I completed 1/2 of one manicure while my “client” complained about the horrible salon service, until my friend was merciful enough to fire me and take over.

This took us to 5:00, when of course the girls decided that they were ready for the pool. Because a pool is more enjoyable when you’re cold, hungry and sporting freshly painted nails. You could drive a tractor-trailer through the holes in this logic. Not to mention that the timing would interfere with the allotted time for nail drying and cut into the joyous partaking of pizza and donuts around the dining room table.

I started to illustrate the obvious problems with their plan when I was struck by either an epiphany or an aneurysm. Because of the pounding in my head it was hard to tell the difference. Whichever it was, I finally realized the error of my ways.

This was Riley’s birthday. If she wanted to spend it becoming hypothermic, waterlogged and ruining the manicure she hadn’t wanted in the first place, then by God, I should let her. I shut my trap, took the kids up to our neighbors’ house and plopped them in the hot tub. There they stayed until 8:30, enjoying pizza and donuts and partying like polar bears.

“Smile for the camera or my mom will make us get another manicure.”

Honestly, I think my headache and fatigue may have been my 8-year-old self trying to kick my @ss from the inside, out of frustration over my slumber party ineptitude.

What about you? Any birthday or slumber party horror stories? Better yet, any fabulous tips for my next one? Obviously I can use any help and pain reliever you have to offer.

Delicate Balance

I live my life in a delicate balance. Most days I can almost manage to handle all of my responsibilities without forgetting a kid on the side of the road or driving off with my purse on the roof of my car, but it’s touch and go. One little extra thing thrown unexpectedly into the mix could cause the whole construction to collapse.

So I’m heavily scheduled this week.  It’s the week before Riley’s birthday. It’s also the week before Conor’s big preschool fundraiser. Today I needed to help set up for the fundraiser and take care of all the things that need to be handled before Riley’s birthday and pending slumber party. Like moving her out of the room she shares with her brother and into the playroom. And then figuring out what to do with the playroom. And giggling 8-year-old girls. And a 4-year-old boy who is tired of being ignored by giggling 8-year-old girls.

My To Do List read:

  1. Tie Tulle To 144 Folding Chairs
  2. Play Musical Bedrooms
  3. Handle Slumber Party Bidness
  4. Everything Else (drop offs, pick ups, homework, meals, baths, creating world peace, etc.)

Then I started my period. With a vengeance. Crap! But I’m 42 years old, I can function while hemorrhaging.

So I altered my To Do List slightly:

  1. Menstruate
  2. Tie Tulle To 144 Folding Chairs
  3. Play Musical Bedrooms
  4. Handle Slumber Party Bidness
  5. Everything Else (drop offs, pick ups, homework, meals, baths, creating world peace, etc.)

Only I forgot to put Conor in a Pull Up last night before bed.

This shouldn’t have been a big deal since he’s been such a rock star about waking up in the middle of the night to go potty on his own. However, when Riley stumbled into the kitchen this morning, complaining that their bedroom smelled so foul that she had to hold her breath, I knew that Conor had gone from rock star to Keith Richards and just urinated right where he’d passed out. He was very thorough. Their bedroom smelled like the stairwell of a parking garage in downtown Detroit.

My bad.

I revised my To Do List.

  1. Clean Everything in a 10 Mile Radius.
  2. Menstruate
  3. Tie Tulle To 144 Folding Chairs
  4. Play Musical Bedrooms
  5. Handle Slumber Party Bidness
  6. Everything Else (blah, blah, blah)

Then Hubs called with a directive, which went a little something like this.

Get your iPhone and activate the Find My Phone application. It’s free. Or not, but you should pay whatever it costs. It’s probably right there under your nose. Or not, but do not rest until you’ve found it. Do this immediately. It’s imperative. Because, (and this is important, so pay attention) if you are robbed of your phone or worse, kidnapped by Mexican drug lords, who remove your battery so that it can’t be traced, the Find My Phone application will enable you and your phone to be traced and found before you both suffocate in the trunk of a car buried in a landfill. Laundry, furniture and even menstruation can wait, but oxygen is crucial. Your brain will die without oxygen! Do it now! Only you can save your and/or your phone’s lives!

I've got to admit that I look cuter suffocating in the trunk of a car than I expected.

I couldn’t argue with him because he was right. My brain would die without oxygen. And so I had to change my To Do List again.


By the way, I think I left one of the kids on the side of the road and my purse on top of my car, so if anyone sees them, please return them to me, okay? Thanks.

**Addendum: I stopped for gas, but they couldn’t process my debit card because they were unable to reach their satellite. If they had activated the Find My Satellite application, they wouldn’t have had that problem. For all they knew, their satellite was suffocating in the trunk of a buried car. People need to listen to Hubs.

Saturday With The Redicans

This gallery contains 10 photos.

It was a lovely Saturday. We kidnapped Riley’s best friend, Isabelle, and took her into the wilderness wearing a dress and flip flops. ‘Cause that’s how we roll. You just never know when we’re going to go rogue. You gots to be ready. The kids brought their pets along for our adventure. Animals love to […]