There is at least one point in my day when, if Nick were to walk in the house unexpectedly, he would promptly turn right around and never come back. 

Just picture something on the stove boiling over, the kitchen counter covered with random jars, containers, sippy cups and probably some sort of human excrement, kids organizing dog fights in the living room, a goat in the bathroom and me in a corner somewhere reciting the lord's prayer in the fetal position. 

I do my best to shield him from the insanity because I don't want him to think I'm totally incompetent.  I mean, I'm not serving up a steaming pot roast in pearls and heels every night, but I figure the less he knows about what actually goes on here while he's at work, the better.  I just try to have the house back in one piece by the time he gets home.   

He only gets between 2-4 days off a month, and usually we have a bunch of stuff planned on his weekends off.  This past weekend, however, we were both super tired and just decided to take it easy around the house. 

Which sort of gave me the same feeling I got when I was in sales and a big district manager would come to town for a couple of days and I had to pretend like I was actually working.  I had the urge to narrate my every move, every thought, so he would truly appreciate the job I do for 13 hours a day, often 7 days a week.   

It was really interesting to hear some of his observations and comments throughout the weekend, because I realized how far removed he is from the trenches.  Sure, he'll frequently take the kids to the park or the mall for a few hours to give me a break, but it's a whole different ball game when you're attached to them at the hip. 
I made some mental notes of his commentary as a relative outsider, which gave me some perspective on my own life.  I thought many of you could relate.

"Why are they up so early on a Saturday?  Is it even 6:00 yet?  How do we get them to sleep in?"

"Do you think the kids just want to lay around and watch house flipping shows all morning?" 

"Why don't the kids just want to lay around and watch house flipping shows all morning?"

"You let them paint right there?  With their hands?  Right there on the dining room table?  It would probably be better if I went into the other room for this."

"So basically a day with the kids is like one long, continuous feeding."

 "No, I don't want to go to a story hour at the history museum.  That sounds awful."

"When is this story hour over?  It's awful."

"Are all those ingredients for the same dinner?  You just throw them all in the crock pot together and it's edible?  Interesting.  No no... it sounds delicious."

"Hey, want to call the Rodemanns and see if they want to go out to dinner?"

"I can see why someone needs a hobby like blogging.  This is one of the longest days of my life."

Given the urgency Nick left for work on Monday morning, I don't think I have to worry about my job security any time soon. 

10 Things You Need To Know Before You Potty Train Your Child


Chances are, you're reading this because you feel like a complete failure as a parent.  A loser, a deadbeat, a complete waste of space.  Or, you're here because you Googled "pictures of old man's balls" or "fat men in Speedos"  and are now furiously trying to hit the 'back' button. I see you out there.  Stop being creepy.

Anyhoo, I don't mean to brag but after successfully potty training two little kids I consider myself the unparallelled expert of the world.  When I tell people my middle daughter is now potty trained (a year before my eldest was) the first thing people say is, "Oh!  It's always easier with the second one because they learn by watching the older one!" 

And I call bullshit.  If left to their own devices I promise you kids would still be wearing diapers to job interviews.  And I can't say I blame them.  But my daughter is now potty trained because of my mad, piping hot, bad ass Mom skills.  Because of the thirteen months I spent trying to learn how to potty train her sister when I read every single book, every single internet article, and asked every person I saw in the grocery store with kids for potty training advice.  All of that combined with my own superior intellect, obviously.

Which I will share with you now. 

1. Before you even think about beginning... if you take mood altering medications (and who doesn't these days), make sure you have enough on hand to take about five times your normal amount for a few weeks.  If you drink, stock way up on your alcohol of choice. 

2.  If you don't drink, start. 

3.  Look for signs that they are ready.  Do they understand the value of a dollar?  Know what the word 'bribe' means?  And, if things start going south and you have to use negative reinforcement, do they understand what it's really like to live in an orphanage?

4.  Come to peace with the knowledge that everything in your house will be covered in what was previously safely contained in a diaper.  Your stuff's gonna get gross.  REAL GROSS.  And sometimes it's going to touch your fingers or your arm.  Once I walked downstairs to find my 3-year-old stranded on the kitchen counter, unable to move, crouched in a pool of her own urine.  Did I mention it was ON MY KITCHEN COUNTER?  You know, the place where I prepare food, ON MY KITCHEN COUNTER? 

5. Incentives like M&Ms are really helpful in getting your toddler to sit on the toilet.  So are handcuffs. 

6.  Don't get discouraged if, after sitting on the toilet long enough to have a permanent rainbow indentation across her butt cheeks, your child immediately pees and/or poops on the floor outside the bathroom.  Don't worry - she has actually been possessed by a demon.  It's totally normal.  Remember as you strap her to her potty chair and throw holy water on her that it's not your child - it's the dark lord.  Cast it out, and cast it out good.

7.  Abandon all dignity and put a toilet in your mini van.  Actually, I wish I would have thought of this years ago.  Gas station bathrooms are nasty.  Rest stops are filled with kidnappers.  Go on your own terms, in your own mini van.  Then toss it out the window and let it be someone else's problem. 

8.  I read several articles where people suggested putting Cheerios in the toilet and making a game out of trying to hit them with urine.  But after a few attempts on my own I realized this only works for boys.  Or girls who have a tough road ahead of them in the junior high locker room. 

9.  Screaming, "For the love of god!  What is your problem?  Just pee in the toilet.  Please.  I'm begging you.  From the bottom of my soul.  Just once.  It's been seven days and I die a little on the inside every time I scrub urine out of the carpet.  Please.  Please."  does not help. 

10.  If all else fails, send her to school and let her teachers deal with it.  That's why they get paid the big bucks. 

Good luck to you and just remember - if you screw this up, they'll probably be scarred for life. 

The end of days

Don't let the halo fool you. 
A few weeks ago my 3-year-old dropped her nap.  It sounds so nonchalant when I say it that way; like it's just part of life.  It's Thursday, it's sunny outside and my 3-year-old dropped her nap.  What you can't see is that I'm actually hiding out in the back of my coat closet sobbing on my laptop as I type this post.

Honestly, I never thought this day would come.  I'm still in denial.  The first day she never fell asleep I thought maybe she was sick or something so I gave her a dose of Benadryl and a few Ambien.  But when she woke up a few days later it was the same thing ole thing come nap time.  Jumping, running, squealing, singing some song at the top of her lungs that goes something like, "if I don't sleep... nobody will...scorch the earth..."

Nap time was my salvation.  A thin little thread keeping me tethered to the world of sanity.  Three hours a day where I could write, pay bills, clean the house, get dinner started, do my Insanity DVD... sorry... I can't even type that with a straight face. 

Three hours a day I could zone out and watch Kardashians while I surfed the web for videos of real ghosts caught on tape.  

A friend suggested I give her a mandatory "quiet time" in her bedroom.  It sounded like a great idea but after I would juuuust get all settled on the couch with my jar of peanut butter she would open the door and yell from the top of the stairs, "MAAAAAAWWWWWM CAN I COME DOWNSTAIRS YEEEEEEET!"

And the only thing worse than one kid awake is three kids awake.

I've tried everything.  Pleading with her.  Negotiating with her.  Threatening her.  Locking the door.  Putting a child lock on the inside of the door.  Taking the knob off of the door.  Hiring a werewolf to hide outside the door. 

She remains unfazed as she escapes.

And the thing is, she NEEDS a nap.  She has this creepy lazy eye thing going on when she's tired so she spends the entire afternoon with her eyes going every which way and it totally creeps me out.  She looks like a chameleon.  Not to mention the titanic tantrums she throws if Lila looks at her funny.         

I can't wait to rub this in her face when she has kids of her own and would give her left arm for twenty minutes of sleep. 

Dear god, make me a bird, so I can run far far away

Saturday morning was one of those mornings where you try to piece together what happened the night before in between head throbs that feel like they're actively trying to push something through your large intestine.  The night before we celebrated Nick's brother getting engaged at a fancy dinner, then brought the party back to our house so we didn't have to take out a personal loan to pay the babysitter. 

I mustered up enough courage to open my eyes.  The first thing I saw was an empty container of ice cream.  Strapped around my head like a feed bag. 

"Please let that be the only thing,"  I said as I realized I was wearing an empty box of snickerdoodle cookies as a hat. 

I scanned the room and then I saw it.  My laptop.  Still open.  I ran over to see my credit card, steaming, lying next to it. 

Oh please don't be what I think. 

Please god no. 

But it was. 

I couldn't believe how irresponsible I had been.  Had I learned nothing from the previous pain I had put myself through?  All the torture and humiliation? 

I signed myself up for the St. Patty's Day five mile run. 

Stop smiling.  You have no idea what's about to happen to you.

That's 6,628th place, for those of you keeping score.
Maybe there was some hope.  I ran to my cell phone, praying no one else knew about this. 

It was too late.  It was all over.  I had been texting up a storm, bragging to my friends about how bad I am going to kick their asses and what huge pussies they are.  Actually, because my fine motor skills were a bit sketchy only about half actually made it to my running friends.  The others went to old clients and my grandma. 

In between slugs of ibeuprofin and McGriddles on Saturday I tried to think of a way out of it.  Fake my own death and hide out in Mexico until late March?  That one sounded pretty good - a little vacation and then see who my true friends are who show up at my funeral all rolled into one brilliant little scheme.  But then I feared Nick would take the life insurance money and buy some Taiwainese child bride or something and I didn't want to risk it. 

There's no way I can back out now. 

I am never drinking again.  Well, until about an hour before the race, so I can forget what an awful experience it is going to be. 

Throw the ball. Throw it or I swear to god I will make the rest of your life a living hell.


In an effort to take advantage of the many, many, MANY tax dollars we pay to the city each month, I signed my kids up for Parents as Teachers. 

Also on my list:  play on local elementary school playground, drive up and down Manchester and set fire to front yard.

Anyhoo, I was super excited for them to show up because I need some major help around here.

"Hi, how are you this morning?"  She asked as I let her in.

"Awesome,"  I said, putting on my coat and scarf.  I didn't want to waste time with small talk.  I was on my way to meet up with some of the third shifters at an early morning happy hour. 

"Where are you going?"

"Oh, right,"  I said.  "If the baby gets the shits, just put her in the tub, and the big one has started this thing where she bites the middle one when they get to wrastlin' over toys.  I usually just let 'em fight it out."

"Wait... you actually have to be here."

"Well what was all this 'Parents as Teachers' crap?"

"WE give YOU the tools to promote school readiness and the healthy development of your children.  We're not babysitters."

Eew, gross.  It was too late to fake not speaking English.

For two hours we sat on the playroom floor and I prayed to god that my kids didn't make me look like a douche.  This lady had a very official looking clip board and I wanted to win at being Mom. 

I found myself mentally willing them to do each of the developmental tasks on her list so hard I thought my brain might explode.

"Can you throw this ball to me?"  She asked Lila. 

I tell you, the invisible lightning bolts coming out of my head trying to telepathically control her hand to throw that ball in a perfectly straight line were intense. 

"Throw it, god dammit.  Throw the ball the best she's ever seen,"  I silently screamed in my head as I directed my brain waves toward her. 

"Well, maybe we'll try that one a little later,"  She laughed. 

"Oh yeah, no problem,"  I laughed breezily.

"Don't you screw this up for me, you little turd,"  I thought. 

As it turns out, my kids are all normal.  Pretty much.  Though I still think for the amount of money we shell out every month the city should send over a babysitter every once in a while.  Or at least a bottle of wine and some Xanax. 

Which are actually sort of the same thing. 

Dropping the Ball


Unlike many people, I am a big fan of new year's resolutions.  Yes, it's true that most will be broken before the previous night's hangover fades into oblivion, but I figure the happiness that a few hours of thinking you'll soon be 50 pounds lighter provides is better than nothing. 

Last year I had two resolutions:  1.  Shower every day, preferably in the morning, and 2.  Make dinner at least three nights per week. 

Which might not seem like much to you, but when you're sitting on the couch smelling like ass eating Chinese take-out for the third night in a row it starts to wear on your self image. 

And, I can happily report that both have been a success.  A few small changes to my daily routine and I'm fresh as a rose dropping a hunk of something into the crock pot almost every day. 

But this year, there I was - almost a week into the new year and I was stuck.  I spent the last two weeks racking my brain.

Drink less wine?  Well, yeah but I'd also like my family to live to see another day.

Exercise more?  Gross.  Besides, I already work out two hours a week. 

Have more patience with my kids?  I mean, sure - but what do I look like?  A miracle worker?

Cut back on the time I spend playing Words With Friends online?  No more peanut butter out of the jar?  Floss?  Lose 10 pounds?  Stop cheating at Candy Land?  Start a random acts of kindness initiative?  Learn a cool parlor trick?  Stop parking in handicap spots?

None of those things sounded even remotely appealing to me.        

A friend of mine told me her resolution was to stop worrying about things she can't control.  And that's just about the dumbest thing I've ever heard in my life. Things you can't control are the only things you should worry about.  Why would you worry about things you can control, like whether to have fried Twinkies or a salad for lunch?  You make the decision you want and move on - no worrying necessary. 

So after much consideration I came up with two things:

Wait.  You're probably expecting something funny, or sarcastic, but I'm just warning you these are just regular old things so don't be disappointed. 

So after much consideration I came up with two things:

1.  Make a daily journal for each of my three girls and write down one thing every day that I'll want to remember in 50 years, and

2.  Remember my friends' and family's birthdays and send hand written cards.

I wanted things that didn't require too much of a daily time investment, and things that I always wished I did after the moment had passed. 

Also, things that when other people see, make me look like a Mom who "has her shit together", or "isn't on the verge of a nervous breakdown."

Which is pretty much the motivation behind every decision I make anyway. 

Plan B


Knock knock!

Who's there?

Not my will to live!

This morning I (finally!  oh thank god finally!) dropped two of my kids back at pre-school.  They don't technically open until next week, but I figured they both have good playgrounds and aren't too close to busy traffic so I was okay with it. 

Speaking of which, I'm getting really sick of all these "laws" telling me what I can and can't do to my kids.  I can hit them, but I can't leave them in the car for five minutes while I run into the gas station to buy a bottle of bourbon and some scratchers?  Did you ever think that maybe if it were legal to leave your kids in the car we wouldn't need to hit them?  Come on people.  It's simple math.

Anyhoo... where was I?  Oh yeah.  About to tell you how I almost snuck to the airport in the middle of the night last week to implement "Plan B."

Don't get me wrong.  I love my kids.  But two weeks straight holed up in a house with anyone whose name isn't Chocolate Cake would drive anyone to the brink of insanity.  And, as an added bonus, throw in three snotty noses and the occasional spontaneous puke that comes COMPLETELY without warning and you've got yourself some good ole fashioned holiday cheer right there folks. 

All four of us did venture outside - once - to play in the snow.  It took 35 minutes to outfit everyone in snow pants, coats, hats, mittens and scarves, then two of them had to pee.  I pretended like I had gone deaf and pushed them out the door.  Of course, because I was holding the baby, all I could do was stand there and slowly freeze while I watched Ellie and Lila frolic around.  After we were outside for 15 minutes the baby's fingers felt like ice cubes because god forbid she keep her mittens on and my right ass cheek was completely numb. 

Everyone reluctantly shuffled back inside and the feeling didn't come back in my butt until half way through Shrek 2.  I vowed, as God as my witness, never to try anything so stupid again.

We went to the science center.  We went to Lone Elk Park.  We went to the Faust Park puppet show.  We went to the grand opening of Little Fishes swim school.  We went crazy. 

But this morning, for two hours and ten minutes, my salvation came.  No Sesame Street.  No Play Doh.  No sounds of two little girls fighting to the death over a spoon. 

It's all uphill from here. 

Until summer.  Awful horrible summer.  And maybe Plan B.