Poop On Hand

No, like actually poop.  on.  hands.

I was going to do a series for this blog called, "WTF is that?!" where I posted photo documentation of every time I've encountered an unidentified piece of detritus on the floor of my house that, because of my declining eyesight, has caused me to hold my breath for a second, hoping it's not poop.  Yes, like actual feces.  Because if you have a few small kids, you never know when that brown Lego that you go to pick up will actually be a little rolly-polly of human waste.

They're like burs, you know- they can like, hitch a ride in a pants cuff and then jump out at any preferred stop.  Hours, sometimes days after being excreted.

I was JUST thinking that I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.  The twins are three after all.  Almost human.   Foolishly, I silently wondered, am I free of the fear?  Can I now safely approach a small brown object from across the dining room and relax knowing that it is JUST LEGO HAIR.

But if I've learned anything (and I haven't) I know that as soon as you let your guard down there will certainly come baby shit.

It is a true story that I was just telling my friend Kristine during a playdate that the twins have regressed in potty training.  (A move clearly intended for the sole purpose of totally unraveling my already fragile sanity).  As I was telling, I said, "You hear that?"

"What?"  She listened, concerned.

"Nothing, that's what.  If Griffin is silent this long something terrible has come to pass and that is with 100% certainty.  I have to go check the damage."

I go downstairs where the kids are playing and find him at the bottom of the steps.  Pantless.  He is wringing his hands, which he has covered to the wrists in an expensive mud mask from an Icelandic Spa.

After adjusting my slow-focus eyes, I calmly inquire, "Griff?  Is that poop on your hands?"  He nods. And my eye is led across the trail of destruction leading back to the training potty in the bathroom.  Carnage.  I briefly consider calling '911'.

Alas, we clean the poop and my friend Kristine, who is pregnant, does not throw up.  I am so impressed.  It must be her sturdy Swedish stock.

But I am thinking THAT MUST BE IT.  My final Poop Interlude.  Right?


I have another playdate.  (Because I am All Fun and No Joy, y'all.)  and there are four preschoolers downstairs.  It happens.  A renegade nugget.

"Whatcha got there, Annika" says my innocent mom friend.  My daughter turns over the morsel in her tiny fingers.  Calico Critter accessory?  Hmm.  No Legos downstairs, so.  "Honey, can you put that down?"

I veer dangerously close to it- like, my goddamn face is inches from the excrement and it is identified.  "That is poop, people."

Here is a clip of what was going through my mind- Kyle McLachlan is playing me:

All I could say was, "When is it from?" like it was a charming historical artifact.  "Yeah, when IS it from" my mom friend chimed.   I grabbed a tissue and checked its density.  "It new.  Its from now" I reported.

We looked at all the possible suspects and then my mom friend says, "Barnaby.  He doesn't have any underwear on!"

Barnaby smiles.

And so it goes.  I am quite literally surrounded by actual poop and imagined poop and there is no end in sight.  I cannot decide whether I get the glasses, or don't get the glasses.  Maybe I don't want to see.  I don't want to know.   Like so many parts of being a parent.

In summary: don't accept playdates with me.  My house is full of human feces.  It will probably fall on your shoulder.  Or be in your coffee.  Don't say you weren't warned.  The End.


Finally! A Sweater Pants Tutorial

It's happening.  I'm bringing my sweater pants sewing technique to the masses.  (Okay, maybe not "masses", but like, 4 people.  Still.)

You'd be excited by these, wouldn't you?:

Before we start, here are the Four Horses of the Sweaterpants Apocolypse:

1.  Pin, pin, pin.  It it isn't pinning right, it isn't going to sew right.

2.  It's sweater you're sewing, so go slowwww.  If you've got a ballpoint needle, you should use it.

3.  Use a long stitch so your waist will have give.  By long, I don't mean basting stitch of course, but like, longer than average.

4.  Do not fear.  Sweater pants can smell fear.  If they smell your fear, you will make a Thneed.

(Also: for your entertainment, I will occasionally use my expansive knowledge of rap, hip-hop and lite rock lyrics to guide you along through this journey.  You are welcome.)

Pack it up, pack it in, let me begin.-- House of Pain

I like big butts(eams) and I cannot lie-- Sir-Mix-A-Lot

Tuuurn arouunnd...-- Bonnie Tyler

Cut bitch, camera off, real shit blastin'-- Eve

I put my thing down, flip it and reverse it-- Missy Elliott

Baby what a big surprise.  Right before my very eyes-- Chicago

Pin that crotch seam one mooore time.  Once is never enough-- Captain and Tenille

Knowin'...that you LIED, straight-faced, while I cried-- Rod Stewart

Smack it up, flip it, rub it down- Oh nooooo-- Bel Biv Devoe

I got nothing here, folks, but a sudden revelation: what does it mean that our American songbook is so anemic when it comes to turtlenecks.  SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT.

Back, front back, fr-front back, ft-front back, side-to-side-- T.I.

I got it mastered man, in the hood I'm like plastic, man.  Stretch. -- 50 Cent

Did you ever know that you're my heeeeero?-- Bette Midler

Bring it, cute face.


Why Are You Fighting?! You Don't Even Have A Kevin Bacon Poster!

I was there.  I have a brother less than a year older than me, and three other siblings too.  But I don't remember this.  The fighting.  The constant, infernal, senseless fighting!

Here's a quick list of the things that my three kids will come to blows over.  Like, hair-pulling, smacking face, UFC-style grappling blows:

1.  That Lego.  No, not that other goddamn Lego, the one that looks like this Lego,  THAT exact Lego.

2.  These inches of the sofa.  The ones with my toenails on it.  'No, I will not move the toenails, you are OVER THE PROPERTY LINE'.  I need a couch with carrels on it.  'Member those?  Like this, only for the couch:

Also, for the porch swing, the dinner table, the bathtub and my bed.  Anything that requires three small people to share space fairly.  I need one for my house, yard, playhouse, playground.  WORLD.  I need a portable carrel that I can literally slot all three children into and move them through life with an impermeable barrier that prevents constant real estate disputes.

Julie says this is my fault because I never want to share my coffee with her.

3.  Food snatching.  My son acts exactly like an ape at Lincoln Park Zoo when the lettuce is served.  He stuffs all his food down instantly and then starts a mad grab for the girls', curling it up to his chest and running away on two legs and one free arm.  I am sorry, but I hereby confess to routinely playing the old "You're so lucky you have all the food you need," card.  It's harsh, but I do it.

4.  Me.  They fight over me, constantly.  It is a strange situation to be in- people fighting over your body.  Aside from basically every third day in the Supreme Court, I am not used to people fighting over my body.  There is no amount of closeness to my body that will satisfy the spawn, and when its time to decide which of them gets to sit next to me at dinner, it's like straight to cage match.   I wish I felt that popular when I was single.  (Thought I would have insisted on mud-wrestling to settle those disputes.)

I am so scared, y'all.  Scared of when they actually have something worthy of fighting over.  Like, for example a friend.  Or a Kevin Bacon poster.  When my brother f'd with my Kevin Bacon poster, I kicked him so hard in the jewels, an ambulance had to come.

I think I better make sure we never get any Kevin Bacon posters.  You know, to preserve the bloodline.  And no New Kids On The Block either, just to be safe.


I've Been Stress-Eating Jewish Hotdogs

About two weeks ago, I had an epiphany: if I want success, I must envision my successful lifestyle.  I decided that the perfect way to see myself as financially successful is to test-drive a Jaguar  (please see my Mid-Life Crisis post).  It is my firm belief that if I drive a Jaguar (read: my future Jaguar), it will instill in me ambition, entitlement and resolve.  It will!  How can I know what I want (what I have wanted since I was 14) without ever actually experiencing a taste of what it would be like?

My new car

So I was grooving along imagining my future abundant in material goods, when Phinny had to go and start Kindergarten and f it all up.  Suddenly, all the focus is on her, and I'm left obsessing over her each and every comfort.  She's having what they call a "hard time adjusting" and I'm having what they call a "hamburger sized Klonopin" to deal with her stress.

Also, I am eating hot dogs a lot.  Before you get all "Eeeew!", know this:  they're not the Eyeballs-and-Assholes brand of hotdogs.  They're Hebrew National.  You know the Jews wouldn't be sitting there eating the eyeballs and assholes, so relax.  But still, they feel indulgent.  Like, I was having a stress attack last night and I straight up microwaved that little bitch until it was dripping with greasy salt water and then just ate it directly off the plate with my bare hands.  That is the kind of stress we are dealing with here.

So, sure enough, after cramming my pie-hole with responsible hotdog, I began to feel better.  I drifted into my fantasy about the Jaguar again and took comfort in knowing that, yes, Phinny might have a nervous breakdown, but she'll recover, and then we can all roll up to Whole Foods together in my bitchin' ride.  (Naturally it will be fitted with a custom-made device that administers a harmless electrical shock if their feet so much as graze the back of the seat.)

And then what happens?!  I have a dream last night about Living With Less.  Yes!  So rude, right?!  My jerk of a brain gives me this whole lecture in the form of a dream about having to move to this tiny, tiny plot of land next to a rundown "Title and Loans" joint.  I'm sitting in my dream before a panel of experts from the city and they're grilling me on why and how I plan to live smaller, materially, and yet larger in my heart.  I was all, "I'll get a Japanese architect!  Why is this happening to me?!"

And so this post comes to a close with no discernible theme, except for blah blah some shit about achieving an understanding about the things that truly matter et etc whatever.

I'll just say this to the universe: I goddamn well understand what truly matters and I have every intention of moving through this life with intention, reverence and joy.  ALL WHAT SHIT WOULD BE EASIER IF I HAD A JAGUAR.

The End


Why It Must Totally Suck To Be a Kid

I spend a lot of time thinking about how bad it sucks to have to steward these tiny terrorists through early life.  Sometimes when there are three tantrums happening simultaneously about teeth-brushing/ he hit me/ you are standing TOO CLOSE TO ME,  I completely surrender to the desire to wallow, deeply, in the feeling that it sucks so so badly to be me in that moment.

It occurred to me- OKAY, it didn't actually occur to me- it was Phinny saying, "I'm so saaad, because I never get anything I want!" that, occasionally it might actually suck for them too.

Mostly I like to tell them stories about walking uphill both ways to my one-room crulehouse as a child, and threaten them with replacing all their toys with a soccer ball made of loosely-woven plastic bags, but ONCE in a while, I have to look at the situation and wonder, how ultra pissed would I be if I was them?

Imagine being the subject in this scenario (You are the child.  I mean, in this scenario):

"Mama, can I have a popsicle?"

"NO." And then some tall person hands you a motherflocking carrot instead.

Seriously.  The indignity.  If I were a kid and my mother ever did that to me, I would sharpen that carrot stick into a shiv and sink it into her jugular.

And now, this is happening to a kid like fifty times a day.  And there's nothing they can do about.  DO YOU HEAR ME?!  THERE'S NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT!

It would be hard!

"You have to take a bath."

"You have to go to school.  Now."

"Put your shoes on...." (5 minutes pass)..."Put your shoes on please"....2 minutes..."OH MY GOD, WHY ARE YOUR SHOES NOT ON?"... 1 minute and a dazzling Lego contraption that has been the subject of attention while ignoring about the shoes..."Look, mama!"  Cue the voice of Satan, "THAT IS COOL! But now I have to take all your shoes away!  Those neat little helicopter TOMS you love?  Gone.  They are going to Africa where a child will appreciate them!  If you want shoes from here on out, you can sign up to receive TOMS from the TOMS company because you will be a shoeless child who needs shoes.  Because I am taking all your shoes away.  Okay?  Forget putting on shoes.  You have no shoes.  Write to the company."

If Jules even tries to ask me to empty the dishwasher, I'm all "Don't tell me what to do!" yet I mete out directives all day long to these poor tiny people who just want to, you know, watch TV and be delivered a steady stream of snacks.

I feel bad.  I need to pay more attention to what it feels like to be bossed all day long and have compassion for that, right?  I need to walk a mile in their shoes.  But I can't BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO SHOES BECAUSE I TOOK THEM AWAY FROM THOSE ENTITLED LITTLE CRETINS, and they will not get them back until they do what I say.

The End.


What To Be When I Grow Up, Part Two

Damns, I have an itch.  Well, I have that rash on my face and neck from the Euphorbia plant in the yard, but I also have another big itch, on a more life-scale level.  (See, now that totally just made my neck rash itch.  Wtf?  Anyway.)

I need a job.  I want money.  I know, I know, "more money, more problems", etc.  But also, better STUFF WOOT!

Now.  What to be.  I have culled some options from the last five years of being jobless (except that OH YEAH GROW, BIRTHE AND KEEP THREE HUMANS ALIVE JOB).

People are all the time saying I should be something.  I will choose from this pool of suggestions in ranking order of frequency, then let's discuss pros and cons.

1.  Writer:  WELL I'M WRITING, AIN'T I?  Where's my damn paycheck?  I know people who've been writing for their whole career and they still rent railroad apartments in Roger's Park and cling to their only paid gig at "AARP Newletter, Midwest Edition" to pay the minimum on the liberal arts degree student loans.  You heard me say I want MONEY, right?

2.  Lawyer.  Okay, we have the cash part wrapped up with this one, there's just that whole inconvenient law school issue and then the mammoth debt that comes with it.  I'm told one can't find a job after school and if you do, you work like waaay too much.  Forget that.   Money: good.  Actual 'work': bad.

3.  Designer.  Too vague.  Except I did make this last week!  It's a fairy house for the modern fairy who likes to travel.  The kids played with it.  Temporarily.  I think it needs more "features".  Just when you're thinking it's never to late to talk to your kids about the virtues of Scandinavian minimalist architecture you find out: it's too late.  They no longer care.  Still keeping Fairy Home Builder on my resume.

4.  Developer/ house flipper:  This one is my favie lately because I renovated the bathroom and it turned out well.  I can just see myself on that show though, where people try to flip a house in Palo Alto and then they're up to their ass in old electrical (surprise!) and, like, termites or something and then the next thing you know, they have to move into the house in the Palo Alto with the termites and you sadly watch as their choice in kitchen tile goes from Italian marble down to faux-parquette laminate until they finally unload the place for less than they paid because they are in the process of a divorce borne from the terrible choice to flip a house.  Hmmm.  I'ma give this one more thought.

So, as part of my many-layered Pre-Midlife Crisis, I will add new career to the emotional melee.

Perfect.  That's just great.


Heaving Heuchera and Other Fortysomething Problems

I'm shattered.  It has recently come to my attention that I have become, instantly- practically over f'ing night- totally... OLD!

It's like a shocking Dorian Gray moment I'm having here.  So give me support.  First: apologies for my sins:

I am sorry I smoked.
I am sorry I made any guy listen to Sarah McLachlan for hours.  I am sorry I made women listen to Beth Orton.  For hours.
I am sorry about never drinking water.
I am sorry for the booze.
I am sorry for nourishing my children through my boobs.  MY.  BAD.
I am sorry for sun worship, but fuck you because don't make the sun so nice.
I am sorry for anything bad I ever did.

Now can we please please PLEEEEAAASE go back to passing the Pencil Test?  Pleeeaaase?!

The first thing I noticed about this accelerated aging was how I felt the distinct urge to apologize to Julie for how I look in the morning now. Before my very eyes I've gone from a morning look that was "rumpled, innocent" to "looking a little more like my dad's side of the family" to full blown Benicio Tel Toro after a meth binge:

Sorry, Julie

And yesterday, I was out in the yard doing actual GARDENING, which: thoughtful gardening= Old, and I was wearing tall rubber boots, stomping around, happily weeding out the squill when I heard myself say, out loud (!) "Oh hells no! Does this Heuchera have frost heave?"  I panicked when I heard this disembodied voice of oldity and was all "Ohhh, shiiiit..." and ran in the house, "Jules!  Hurry, open me a craft beer and put on some Jay-Z, I think I'm turning into Camilla Parker-Bowles!"

But, people, I am a woman of action.  Fear not.  I got planz.  Appointmentz.

When I am overwhelmed, it helps me to sort of chart course.   Check it:

So, I am going to implement the above-shown practices and I will keep you apprised of my progress.

(It should be noted that I took a poll on Facie to see if I should grow my hair out.  Errbody except a few of my dearest said "YES" and I was all ready to, you know BOOM start growing when Jules totally put the kibosh on it.  She came home and said, "If your crisis is so pronounced that you are considering this crazy act, I will give you a Jaguar sportscar if you DON'T grow your hair out.  She just skeerd people will think she's a lesbian.  Whatevs.)

Okay, I have to go do, like a "peel" or something.  Thank you.  This sucks.  Hold me*.

*If you are Emma Stone