Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The real problems will begin when one of them writes back.

Dear Neglected Vegetable Plants,

Listen, I tried. I watered you every day, kind of. I kept my kids from trampling your leaves. I weeded you, sorta. It's not my fault that deer came by and ate your heads. Came out one morning and there you all sat, stripped of your leafy green tops, all stems and stalks and munched-off ends. You looked naked and surprised, sort of like you'd been busted at a truck stop. Sorry. We'll try again next year.

The Deadbeat Gardener


Dear Microsoft Excel,

Thank you for helping me create the spreadsheet in which I tracked my spending this month. I played with it every day. Damn, I love a good spreadsheet. Especially the Autosum button. In fact, I spent more time coloring this one in, merging cells and making it look pretty than I did thinking about where to cut back. Turns out that most of my money goes toward Coffee and Donuts To Consume in the Car. Like I couldn't figure that out on my own.

Thanks again,


Dear "Top Chef,"

Could you possibly air yourself at an hour more convenient to binge-eating? The dinner hour, perhaps? See, I can't NOT eat when I watch you. And harfing down a bag of popcorn and two peanut butter sandwiches at 9:30pm just because I WANT SOMETHING IN MY MOUTH makes me hate myself in the morning. Stop making everything look so good. Or start cooking bad stuff. Crap on a stick, maybe? That'd work. Thank you for your prompt attention.

My Muffin Top


Dear Kitty on the Back Deck,

You are adorable. And I know you're declawed and friendly and all, but now is not a good time for me to start collecting cats. I'm too young. TOO YOUNG, you hear?? So stop meowing at my door and rolling over to show me your belly. You will not break me. Plus, I'm a dog person. It'd never work out. Please take your cuteness elsewhere.

Okay, Fine, I Left You a Can of Tuna. Here Kitty Kitty....Dammit, NO!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Of course my brain has teeth. Doesn't yours?

I bought a half-gallon of ice cream and a bottle of wine at the store tonight, and I can't decide which one I want to attack first.

I'm not even self-medicating tonight. I just, y'know, want them both. The Munchkin and I actually made little scoops of vanilla ice cream this morning, courtesy of the good old Ziploc/rock salt/ice contraption.

It was the most scientific thing I've done in years. Seriously.

And it actually worked, except for the part where Ziploc seal gave out (apparently I don't know me own churnin' strength) and spewed salty ice cubes all over the floor.

"Uh, made a mess."

"No, this is what's supposed to happen. Now pipe down and get the mop."

It made an unholy mess. But we had fresh ice cream, dammit, and THAT'S ALL THAT MATTERS.

I spent the last few days bopping around New England, visiting good friends who totally get my crazy and who don't mind if I randomly mumble curse words during dinner. They don't even bother to ask, "who are you talking to," because it doesn't matter. It's just me, doing my thing.

Anyway, we made it home. Right now, my babies are asleep. The house is quiet. It's nice.

My nights are more peaceful lately. For a while there, my own brain tried to gnaw me to death whenever it got quiet. It was exhausting. Things are now quieter, inside and out.

Although I sometimes wish my neighborhood was more like a college dorm. Remember how you could just open your door and yell, "Hey! I'm making popcorn!" and have instant company?

Of course, you could achieve the same effect by yelling, "Hey! I'm not wearing panties!"

But I don't really want that kind of company, then or now.

For now, I think I'll go with the ice cream. I'll save the wine for my midnight snack.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

She's fine, honey. Just, um, keep clapping.

We have a Tinkerbell birthday candle kicking around, left over from the Munchkin's third birthday. It cost me about two dollars, so of course the girls are completely obsessed with it. All the other expensive crap I bought? They could care less.

Come to think of it, why do I even bother with pricey toys?

They love it so much that I just started leaving it on the kitchen windowsill instead of rooting through the drawers whenever they came asking for it.

They point or whine for it, I hand it to them, they fight like crazed hyenas over it, fifteen minutes later they don't give a sh*t about it and I find it abandoned next to the toilet. Back on the sill it goes.

Today, I just happened to glance over. Things must have gotten violent:

Uh, Tink? TINK?? Speak to me, Tinkerbell! NOOOOO!!

Something tells me that all the clapping in the world won't fix this one.

Shortly after I snapped this shot (and tossed her lifeless body in the trash), the Munchkin found the severed head on the floor. Totally wigged her out. As she stared at it I could practically see the words, "That ain't right" going through her brain.

Rest in piece, Tink. We'll be heading to Walmart tomorrow to find your replacement.

Monday, June 21, 2010

And I had such a good speech prepared. What a shame.

En route to the ice cream store the other night, my 3-year old sighs thoughtfully and says, completely out of the blue:

"Mommy, I want a man."


"What did you say?"

"I want a man."

Sweet. Jesus.

Ok, Lisa. Don't panic. This is one of those Parenting Moments. This is what you've trained for, solider!

I think immediately of the fact that she hangs with an older crowd, eight-and-nine year old neighbors who also have older sisters. She's just repeating something she heard. Like how she calls Kitt a "goofball" because she hears you say it all the time. Or how she yells "Shit!" whenever something breaks.

Mentally, I am Gearing. Up. I rehearse lines that begin, "Sweetie, sometimes when bigger kids blah blah blah, it doesn't always mean that you should blah blah blah," and wonder, does she know what the word "appropriate" even means? What's a smaller word that means the same thing? "Nice?"

Gah, what would Dora the Explorer do??

"Who said that to you, honey?" I ask her. "Did (neighbor) say that?"

"No," she says, looking at me like I'm the dumbest human she's ever encountered.

I'm getting concerned now. I want to know who I can blame for this, dangit. I stop the car, turn around and give her my most serious Mommy face.

"Munchkin, what do you mean, 'you want a man?'"?

"I want a man ice cream. With the eyes, and the nose, and the hair.."

"What the - ohhhhhhhh..."

That would be this dude.

I devoted five whole minutes of parental brain bashing to none other than Mr. Conehead Sundae.

She got her man.

I could really go for one right now, actually. Then again, I bet he totally leaves his dirty underwear all over the freezer.

Friday, June 18, 2010

I fantasize about garlic presses and fancy cameras. I'm eclectic like that.

Notice anything different about me?

No, I haven't had my boobs done.

But I did get two sweet awards from Cheri, and blog bling makes me feel fantastically gangsta. Scroll down and check 'em out on the left.

Cheri lives in the Philippines, which is in itself way more interesting than anything I have going in my own life, so I enjoy living vicariously through her blog and feeling exotic by association. I command you to go visit her and leave her some love.

Rules of award acceptance are: thank the people who gave the award, tell you seven things about myself you may not already know, and then pay it forward by nominating 15 bloggers I’ve recently discovered.

So.......thanks, Cheri! Seven things you may not know:

1. I love kitchen gadgets. I recently bought a julienne peeler, a hamburger press and a cheese slicer and am constantly looking for excuses to use them.

2. I'd love to buy a nice camera (like, say, this one) and pick up photography as a hobby.

3. I came close to having gestational diabetes with both my pregnancies and wonder if it's a harbinger of things to come.

4. Movies that always make me cry: Ghost, The Neverending Story (that part where the horse dies? Oh mah gawd), Stepmom, Forrest Gump, Shakespeare in Love. I also bawled like an infant at the end of Marley & Me.

5. Favorite thing to order at the coffee shop: medium coffee w/milk and sugar, sesame bagel in the bag. No, not toasted. No, no cream cheese, thanks. Just in. the. bag.

6. I hit a dog with my car when I first got my license. It ran off, and I drove home in hysterics. We never found it, or its owners. I tell myself that the dog must have survived, though there's probably some poor kid out there who's still traumatized from finding Rover dead in the front yard.

7. This week, Kitt became the first of my children to get a black eye when she whacked her face on the coffee table. I feel like I should wear a sign that says I SWEAR I DIDN'T PUNCH HER.

Speaking of which, she just tripped and is trying to crawl into my lap (not now, honey. Mommy is blogging) so I need to wrap it up. I'm officially paying this forward to anyone who reads and wants to participate.

Don't you all feel special?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It's hard not to think dirty thoughts when you type "pleasure" this many times in one sitting.

For my last birthday, I asked for a subscription to Real Simple magazine, mainly because their tagline - "Life made easier" - seemed like a good mantra with which to enter my thirties. The sh*t in my life was hitting the fan in a big way (it still is, but that's another post), and it just seemed to make so much sense. Who doesn't want an easier life?

This month features an article called "Ten Ways to Find More Pleasure Every Day." Unfortunately, it's not a tutorial on ten new and exciting places to hide your vibrator. Dangit.

But it's still a good read. Author Paul Bloom distinguishes between "happiness" and "pleasure" in the following way:

Happiness is a prolonged state of being that is influenced by a variety of factors...Pleasure, on the other hand, is a purely instinctive reaction with a brief life span: 30 seconds to an hour or two, tops. And while happiness can be elusive at times, sources of pleasure are fairly easy to come by.

Damn, an hour or two? I say if you find a man with that kind of stamina, you've found pure unbridled HAPPINESS, my friend.

Oh, wait, he's not talking about that, is he.

At any rate, this got me thinking. Where do I find pleasure? How do I carve little bits of it out of the combination trainwreck/colonoscopy that is my life sometimes? How can I take the little bits and grow them into large, unwieldy chunks that could potentially take the form of a spa weekend or a wine vacation in Napa Valley?

Whew. Reel it in, Lisa. Baby steps. Here are some bits and pieces of pleasure in my life, listed in no particular order:

1. Hot bubble baths.
2. Running a flat iron through my hair in the morning.
3. Curling my eyelashes
4. Finding an empty cushy chair at the bookstore.
5. Trying new recipes (most recently, Cold Strawberry Soup)
6. Sushi
7. The smell of a crisp fall morning
8. A book I can't put down
9. Blog comments (quiet, you know it's on your list, too)
10. Brushing the Munchkin's hair before she gets into bed
11. Fresh-ground Dunkin Donuts coffee
12. Playing peek-a-boo with Kitt
13. Sitting on my front steps at dusk
14. Flannel sheets
15. Crawling into a made bed at night
16. Double naps. 'Nuff said.
17. Fresh salsa
18. Belly laughs from my kids
19. Cinnamon candles
20. Quilted toilet paper
21. Getting out of the house before 10am.
22. Waking at 6am and realizing my kids aren't up yet, thus allowing me to go back to sleep.
23. Bargain shopping
24. Clean, uncluttered countertops
25. And finally these, for some reason:

Transparent playing cards. Fun to shuffle and flip for no reason. Plus they're all sleek and slippery...kind of smooth and buttery...and you can rub them all you - um, never mind.

Okay, time for a little audience participation. How do you find pleasure every day? What are "the little things" that make you smile?

Keep it clean, people. For a change.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sometimes I Accidentally Tuck My Cape into My Underwear

Funny thing, motherhood.

No matter how often I think, "Gah, I just want to be by myself," no matter how times I threaten time-out or bite my tongue to prevent four-letter words from escaping, this much is true: I can't stand to be away from my kids.


Right now I'm sitting in my local bookstore. Got myself an iced coffee (lots of room for milk, please) on the table, copy of The New Yorker in my lap and I'm clicky-clicking away on the laptop. All is right with the world.

(Ok, so I actually have a trashy tabloid in my lap. What? It's Sunday.)

And, in a pleasantly surprising exception to the norm, I don't feel the least bit guilty.

I don't feel guilty, because I give my kids 110 percent, every day. I'm focused on them all the time, even when they're sleeping or (praise Jesus) playing by themselves for thirty seconds. What can we do? Where should we go tomorrow? What form of entertainment can I think up that doesn't involve the television set? Can I make a game out of emptying the diaper pail?

Also: do I talk to Kitt enough, my poor neglected second child? Do they both feel loved enough? Am I splitting my attention equally? Wait, why is it so quiet and why do I smell smoke?

I don't feel guilty, because the BassMaster is a perfectly capable caregiver. He works hard, he works crazy, long hours and sure, he needs breaks. Sure, a game of "tea party" with Froggy and Mr. Bear might not be his idea of a good time. But if he complains, I shall simply remind him of all the times he gets to go to the bathroom with door closed.

Because I work hard, too. And like him, I'm good at what I do. Except I don't get a paycheck. That'll change when I take over the world, of course. Muahaha.

And, hey. Hey you there, reading this. You're good at what you do too, in case no one's told you lately. Chances are they haven't, mothers being the invisible f**king awesome superheroes that we are.

Few more sips of coffee, then back into the fray. First, I think I'll hit the bathroom and hang out in there for fifteen minutes, just because I can.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

No Wonder I Have a Thing for Bananas

I took the kids out for dinner last night (because I mean really, who wants to cook, ever?), where they had paper placemats that showed the Chinese zodiac.

"Mommy is a monkey," I said as I pointed to the picture.

"What does it say?" the Munchkin asked. And then I read this:

You are very intelligent and are able to influence people. An enthusiastic achiever, you are easily discouraged and confused.

Good, nice, keep talking, tell me more and.....oh. Right.

Frighteningly accurate, I regret to say.

Which reminds me....



.........I don't get it. And what were we talking about, again?

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Random Tuesday Thoughts: Just-Under-the-Wire Edition

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Foods I love that a lot of people hate: dried mangoes, avocado, mayonnaise, tomatoes, Peeps, marshmallows in general, artichokes, spinach.

Speaking of food, does anyone ever actually order Rum Raisin ice cream? I just can't make it taste good in my mind. Maybe I should go pour myself a couple of shots to test it out. Ooh, I can use up those stale raisins stuck in the kids' car seats.

Hey, Frogmama is pregnant! Guess how I congratulated her? By dumping my kids with her for two hours so that the BassMaster and I could climb into the ring for another round of marriage counseling! Dude, I am the best friend ever. Go read her announcement, where she turns "burying the lede" into an art form.

I've been thinking about giving Twitter another shot. We broke up months ago because I never tweeted. Tooted, yes. All the time. But no tweets. Is Twitter worth the mental stress of having to remember yet another username and passwword? Will it make me a better person? Will it clean my toilets?

I read online today that the oil slicks along the Gulf coast are getting so hot that the oil is actually starting to cook the birds. I think that's the most awful thing I've heard in a while.

Thinking I might break down and read the Twilight series this summer, just to see what all the fuss is about.

Last night I found myself cooking macaroni and cheese for not one, not two, but FIVE kids, two of whom belonged to me and three of whom popped out of nowhere. It's part of this strange and wonderful entity known as "Neighborhood Kids." This is a foreign concept to me, and I think I'll post more about it later. All I know is, they can hear a bag of animal crackers being opened from five houses away. And you cannot feed just one.

Go visit The UnMom for more lovely randomness. Go on, you know you want to.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Solace in a Pita Pocket

I love college campuses. Especially old ones.

There's something about the combination of stoic halls and grassy courtyards that makes a college campus feel like its own protected universe. One where time doesn't really exist.

Even at the Big State University I went to last night, you can only drive so far, and then you inevitably run into a barricade, dead end, or a turn-around at the edge of campus. So if you want to go further and see more, you have to get out and walk. It's like a polite way of saying, "Hi, your obnoxious motor-powered reminder of the real word is not allowed here."

I went by myself. Now that the school year has ended, the campus has gone into a peaceful summer hibernation. I loved the quiet.

For dinner, I found a hole-in-the wall Mediterranean place. I had a gyro and homemade baklava. The man at the counter spoke with a thick Turkish accent and never stopped smiling.

"Enjoy your food!" he said as I paid him. Then he leaned in as if about to divulge Turkey's deepest national secret and said in a low voice, "I put extra tzatsiki sauce for you. Make it very good for you."

"Oooh. Thanks," I said.

"And I put extra napkins."

Extra napkins? It's like he knew me, this guy.

"Thanks. You're the best," I said.

"Big pleasure! Big pleasure! Goodbye now!" he cried.

Then I went to see "Rent" at one of the campus theaters. During the intermission, I walked back to my car and ate the other half of my gyro in blissful silence.

It felt nice to slow down. Especially now, when every fiber of my being yells at me to move on, go forward, get on with your life, go to the next thing and the next thing and the next thing. I sort of felt momentarily suspended above the insanity of my life.

Gah, what a mess. Such a mess that sometimes all I can do is chuckle, roll my eyes, love my girls, eat baklava, sing show tunes alone in my car and go find a frat party. Which is exactly what I did.

Everything except the frat party, that is.

I mean, come on. I didn't get home til, like, eleven-thirty. That is way past my bedtime. In fact, I need the rest of the weekend to recover. Time to prepare the sponge bath and hit the sack early.

Friday, June 04, 2010

I Need Superglue and a Roll of Duct Tape, Stat

Is it just me, or is it effing impossible to get your kids to sit down and take one good picture together?

Maybe mine are just too young to understand a directive like, "Stand still and smile." In fact, I'm convinced that their brains receive this command and immediately translate it to, "Flail wildly and try to strangle each other."

I haven't uploaded anything to my poor neglected online photo album in months. My family has probably forgotten what the kids look like. I take my camera everywhere and use it almost every day. But they're all crap shots:

Go stand next to Kitt and smile! Ready? Smiiiiiiiillllllleee..........

Um, Kitt? Kitt, go back. Stop walking. Halt. Desist. Hellooooo....

Okay! Let's try this again! Sit down right here and smiiiiiilllllllle...Munchkin, can you sit? Sit down. Yeah, it's the camera. No, you can't hold it. Can you sit still for Mommy? Sit. Sit down. Roll over. Don't make me hang you on the wall again.

Let go of the camera. LET. GO. Please do not press the -

Great. Can't wait to put this on the Christmas card. Man, look at those rolls. Nom nom nom.

Seriously. I must be missing something. How do people do this without use of restraints and/or massive doses of children's Benadryl?

Happy weekend, everyone. Say cheeeeeeeeese.....

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Admit it, You Want to Pee at My House Now.

When I was pregnant with the Munchkin, I agonized over how to decorate the exclusive, character-defining area known as the Wall Space Above the Crib.

Oh, the pressure. I knew that whatever I decided to put there, it had to be something good. I mean, think about it. When you walk into a nursery, that's where you look first, right? You have to exert some mental effort when it comes to choosing a decoration. Otherwise people will think you don't love your baby. Obviously.

So, what to do? Maybe her name, sure. But everyone was doing that. Cheerful framed prints? Study charts for Mensa? Flat-screen plasma TV?

I finally decided on this after her baby shower:

I cut up the baby shower cards, scrapped them together in a thoughtful pattern and put them in these frames. I'm generally not good with crafty stuff, so it took me for-freakin' ever and involved liberal dropping of the F-bomb.

What was my point? Oh, yeah. My point is that after dedicating so much brain space and energy to these things, I found it impossible to let them go. I just couldn't throw them out. Plus, it's just one of those things that reminds you of when your baby was your baby, you know?

My baby is now a 3-year old who sings Lady Gaga's "Pokerface" in the bathtub and tries to tell me to "go away" when her grandparents come to visit. So sue me if I want to cling to a piece of that little punk's innocence.

But nursery decor just doesn't last forever. No one will ever want to make out with her underneath "baby girl" collages.

On second thought, I'M KEEPING THEM UP FOREVER.

Anyway, I didn't exactly throw them out. I kept the frames and turned them into these:

They now hang in a weird little alcove in our downstairs bathroom. Directly across from the crapper. Now I can reminisce while I savor the only three minutes I have to myself, some days.

And hey, babies poop a lot. The memory has come full circle. Perfect.