Thursday, June 30, 2011

Welcome to Wegmans, Ladies...Now Get Busy

Let's start by saying that, for the first time in twenty-four days, Kate didn't go to work. Which was good because Lydia was thisclose to squaring up on her because Lydia already has someone who leaves everything in her hands so that other person can go be busy elsewhere and let's face it, Kate is neither as good looking nor as equitable with her wallet as the Cap'n is.

Two things happened this week. First, as you know, Lydia has a new addition to her family. In the form of a fuzzball named Brady. He's super adorable and Kate got to meet him yesterday. WOOT! He has those feet that make him look like Emmanuel Lewis met Shaquille O'Neal. Add in the hardwood floors at Lydia's house and Brady just sort of splashes on the floor when he's tired and all four paws go in nine different directions and then he sorta looks like a frog. When I explained that to Lefty, he grabbed himself and said, "Is Brady a boy?" and I said yep, and then he tried to say something else but he just sorta did this inhalation gasping and I think he's finally gotten to the age where he feels vicarious pain. I'm still thinking about telling him that eventually Brady will get fixed, but I fear that Lefty's left hand will never let go of -- well, lefty. 

The second thing that happened was unprecedented in MommyLand...after nearly two years together, Kate and Lydia went on a errand together. With no kids. For the first time, it was just be fair, we had a conference call we had to do, which happened over Lydia's terrible cell phone speaker while sitting in the Big White Tampon...then we went grocery shopping.

It's weird running an errand with your friend. I mean, I've been in Lydia's house about eleventy-three thousand times, but it's a whole new level of information to see what she actually buys at the store. OH! And she didn't have a list OR coupons! Not surprisingly, I had a list...BUT I also had coupons. We'll give you a minute to get your head around that. Hey, it was seven dollars off. That's like 1/114th of a pair of shoes. For free.

[Editor's note: Kate is a lying whore. I did have a list. I just didn't USE it. Besides, a 4 lb bag of frozen periogies is always a good idea. - Lydia]

We finally wandered away from each other, but then would run into each other ten aisles later, and pretend to be all surprised and delighted to see each other. At one point,  I think I said to Lydia, "I just need to get toothpaste and batteries" and Lydia made that face that makes it clear she's thinking something gross.

OH! And Lydia was in cute jeans and a white t-shirt with no boobstains and Kate was in flip flops, no makeup and had a headband on. Pure trainwreck. Which, coincidentally, is exactly what Lydia wrote about this week over at Parent's Connect. Fortunately, she was talking about herself...

Lydia also wrote about what NOT to say to a stay at home mom, unless you want her to get an eye twitch. And start plotting against you.  Intentionally provoking a mommy in a bad day is sort of like poking a badger with a spoon.

As if that wasn't enough, when we were checking out, Lydia imploded into a fit of weirdness and stupidity for no apparent reason...

Lydia: Ohmygod. Did you see that?
Kate: Uhh, no. What?
Lydia: That lady? Coming out of  the bathroom? Wearing the super extra very tight yoga pants and boobstain shirt holding a book? The older lady?
Kate: I'm lost.
Lydia: C'mon, Fancy! Pay attention! Am I almost her? Am I close?
Kate: Whu--?
Lydia: She just casually strolled out of the bathroom carrying a book! Like, just admitting that she was going to be there for a while. Shooting a deuce.  At Wegman's. And she didn't care who knew it.  Is that me? Is that where I'm headed? Oh god. Am I there yet?
Kate: No. Stupid. You're fine. You're close, but I'm never going to let you get that far. Did you happen to notice that I'm wearing a headband. A. head. band.
Lydia: Do you need a book, too?
Kate: Maybe when we get back to your house. Hooker.

It was the most awesome grocery store trip ever. Mostly because Lydia spent more money than Kate did. By fourteen dollars...I'm so gonna tell the Cap'n about this. Right after I rat on her that she didn't use any coupons.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Five Universal Laws of Privacy

I am never alone in my house. Well, to be truthful, I actually am alone in my house right now. It's like a solar eclipse. I'm afraid to relish it for too long for fear I'll go blind or something. But, as mothers, there is an unwritten rule that unless you have 1) conspired with another mom; 2) been willfully extorted by a 14-year old babysitter who has "agreed" to barely supervise your children while actually raiding your refrigerator, texting and watching pirated HBO on your TV; or 3) been granted the ability to rotate your own head a full 360 degrees, thereby causing a mass exodus from your house before it self-immolates, you. are. never. alone. in your own house. Why is this phenomenon? Because, contrary to what you believe either about your magnetic personality or that your rear end has its own gravitational pull, you brought those small people into your house, and they're gonna make sure you remember that: 

1. The Sucking Black Hole Vortex Effect: It does not matter where you go or what you do, someone, one of those people you created, will follow you everywhere. You might as well try to hack off your own shadow. And, even if you do manage to escape the parameters of this Familial Force Field, just think of it as an invisible fence for your dog. Within a second or two, your kids will get the zap that you're away, and that means you could be having fun or doing something cool like playing Angry Birds or jumping on the bed or maybe you're just trying to go poo alone for the first time in a decade and by Maude that is not going to happen.

2. The Population/Purpose Inverse: Oddly enough, the more people there are in a house, the greater chance for privacy. If your kids have friends, you can guarantee yourself maybe four full minutes of folding laundry before some crisis unfolds. If it's just the family, you're down to two-and-a-half. Two other people, ninety seconds, max. And, if you happen to be in the unfortunate situation where there's just you and that one special, special friend who gets to be in the house alone with you, just give up now. The same holds true for the degree of purpose your privacy entails...folding laundry? You might as well do it naked in Times Square - no one is going to be around for that. But find the sudden and urgent need to get rid of a particularly stubborn booger or pull a wedgie out of your...suddenly there's eleventeen people around asking why your grabbing your own butt and have a finger up your nose.

3. The Law of Diminishing Proportions: Stand in the middle of your driveway and chances are, you'll be there alone for a while. The living room, what with the stuffy furniture and the stabby things by the fireplace, yeah, maybe one kid goes in there. The kitchen? Oh, you've entered the realm of Non-Privacy now. And the smaller you get, the more people you can count on trying to ram their little bodies into your increasingly smaller square footage. In my house, we have the One Ass Kitchen. It's incredibly small and narrow, if  you open both the oven and the refrigerator at the same time you can create your own weather system. But I am never alone in that room. Go down to the laundry room and it's worse, and my bathroom? Forget it. I haven't been alone in there in 11 years.

4. The Husband Paradox: Maybe it's that they really are lonely when they go to work. Maybe they just store up all those random thoughts just for you. My dear sweet clueless husband...thinks that, on those rare times when the children are gone, that I need the company. And he'll bring me random things he's found, like last year's catalog and a couple of movie stubs and should we still save them? And sit on the ottoman at my feet and maybe he'll even try to talk over that exact moment when Briscoe and Curtis are making all the connections that will lead them to the bad guy and then I'll have to hit pause, and then I think to myself that Lenny must really get tired of being paused just as he's got that thought all figured out. 

And then he'll say things, hopeful things, like "I think I'm going to go to the gym, then get the stuff from Home Depot and have lunch with Dave..." and you -- being stupid -- think how awesome that will be. For him, of course. Awesome for him. And nineteen minutes after he leaves he returns home with an ice pack and a limp and says something about pulling a hamstring and he'll just hang out here with you this afternoon, and oh hey can you bring him some lunch and massage his back? And you're left standing at the front door, perplexedly looking at the car going, "...but you said you were going to be gone..."

5. The Continuum Theory: At one point I was single, and lived in a super tiny townhouse apartment with the dishwasher in the bathroom and the neighbor's Norman Bates-y cat, who traveled through the house via the air conditioning vents and let me tell you there are far things weirder than seeing overly large green eyes peering out through a grate in the ceiling at 2am...point is, I. lived. alone. Then one day I got married, moved into a cute little house, and added a kid. That house eventually got traded for a bigger and better one -- and another kid --and then an even bigger and better one to go with the last kid. Now I've got five people living here, and my house is never empty. And, then it dawned on me that by time the IHPs all venture off to college, McLovin will retire and then *he'll* be in my house all day.

And that's when I realize I miss that f**king cat.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Domestic Enemies of the New Mom

Kate & Lydia were very happy to get this hilarious post, as it chronicles the Domestic Enemies of the New Mom. Here's a little blurbitty blurb about about today's Special Guest Writer:

"I'm the New Mom on the Blog. I've always been an avid blog reader, but never really had any inspiration to write my own.

Then, I had a kid.  Now I'm finding inspiration everyday.

I'm a working mom of an almost one year old living in St. Louis and chronicling all of the ways a parent can fail in that scary first year. (For example: locking the baby in a rental car.) I imagine around the time I finally feel like I have the hang of this motherhood thing, my husband will star bugging me for #2. We'll see about that, mister."


Baby Stuff
For something that comes out weighing less than a Thanksgiving turkey, babies sure do come with a lot of crap. The actual use and implementation of this stuff is often the first moment of panic any New Mom experiences - and often before the baby even arrives. Remember when Rachel on Friends had a baby shower where she held up a breast pump and asked, "Is this a bong for the baby?" Actually happened to me. Only it was with lanolin cream. Holding it up, I innocently asked a room full of co-workers (one of whom was my MALE boss) what it was. And then I received a short lesson on the importance of nipple care in the first months of breast feeding. I also learned why alcohol should always be served at baby showers.

The very first diaper change of my entire life was on my son. I know that I am not the only New Mom to have the same complete lack of experience when it comes to diaper changing. And not only was it my very first diaper change - it was also the meconium diaper change. I describe that diaper change as "trying to get the white off rice." It involved several clean diapers, an entire package of diaper wipes, 3-4 washcloths, and a full size towel. Oh, and there were THREE of us working on it. And if the actual changes don't completely baffle you, the sheer volume of diaper use in the first few weeks will knock. you. out. I remember thinking to myself at some point in the first week of motherhood - So. This is my life now. I change diapers. Great.

The Internet
Ha. Yes. I know as a blogger, I am such a hypocrite, but SERIOUSLY. In my very first semester of college, I had a professor give an amazing description of the Internet. She said, "Doing research on the Internet is like taking all of the books in the biggest library on campus, ripping out all of the pages, scattering them in the middle of a large room, and then telling you to go find your subject." She should have also mentioned that some of those "books" might have been written by any old crazy person with a keyboard and WiFi access. I have read some of the stupidest advice from the billions of mommy-centric forums out there. Every time I Google a "new mom question," I find myself feeling even more confused (or downright scared) than when I started. And no matter how reputable the source and how mundane the topic of interest, someone almost always manages to go all Crazytown, USA and start debating about vaccinations, breast feeding, or the dangers of allowing your children to play with toys made in China. (News flash, Crazytown - they're ALL made in China.) Also? I work in a hospital and read charts all day long and I still cannot keep all of your murtherfurking abbreviations straight. DS, DD, FF, EP... How about this? STFU.

Veteran Moms
Don't get me wrong. You Veteran Mommies are often our saving grace with your wealth of knowledge and experience. But, can I be honest with you? It seems like the further away from that first year a mom gets, the more she forgets how difficult it can be. (Probably because she's focusing on how damn hard it is to be the mother of a toddler or 5 year old or...teenager.) A VM is often the person behind the phrase "Just you wait..." And let me tell ya, VMs: that phrase is not nice and needs to be removed from everyone's vocabulary. VMs have a tendency to brush off some of our New Mom problems because they know in the end it will all be okay. And maybe it will be. But, listen, New Moms? We don't know that. And we could use a little validation here. Or at least a hug. Or a drink. Also, if one more VM tells me to "sleep when he sleeps," I. am. going. to. square. up.

Perfect Mommy
Though she is Domestic Enemy Number One to all moms, New Moms seem to struggle more with Perfect Mommy. I think it's because some of us still believe that some day we may actually be able to be her. We try to keep up. Try to read all of the whackadoodle books she suggests, try to keep our house obsessively clean, and take our kids to four different play groups as well as a classical music class. All while managing to keep our hair magazine-perfect. Eventually, we'll pop out a few more kiddos, realize that perfection is for the birds (or the insane), and will kick back with a nice glass of wine to numb the pain of listening to Perfect Mommy tell you for the 800th time about her kid's ability to speak in conversational Spanish. Muy bueno, Madre Perfecto. Pass the T-Box, por favor.

Exhaustion/Mommy Brain
This is another universal enemy, but New Moms also struggle with the belief delusion that it will eventually go away. HA. My baby slept through the night consistently starting at once he turned 8 weeks old, but I'm still trying to make up for those 8 weeks. I'm guessing that I'll finally start to feel well-rested again around the time my son and his wife ask me to babysit their kid. Of course, by then I'll be able to consider myself a Veteran Mommy and I'll be all like, "BRING IT, KIDS."

[Editor's note: Your baby started sleeping through the night at 8 weeks? I'm very happy for you! I'm also flipping you the double birds. xo, Lydia]

The Unknown
The book is called What to Expect, but really it should be called Expecting The Worst Possible Fate for You and Your Family. Basically, all we learn to do is anticipate hypothetical situations for which there is no right/wrong way to act or react. Which really just results in us doing what all moms do best - we worry. Why isn't my baby talking yet? What if it's bacterial mennigitis? What do I do when daycare calls and tells me he's "The Biter"? A Veteran Mommy might have some old tricks up her sleeve or at least has gone through the same situation with another kid or a worse situation with the same kid. A New Mom has no frame of reference, so instead she is sitting in a corner rocking herself and eating her own hair. The Unknown is terrifying.

Absolutely everyone, even non-parents, have moments where they doubt themselves and the decisions they are making, but with a New Mom - you're doubting EVERYTHING. I actually remembering making the Sign of the Cross over myself (and the baby, if I'm being honest here) after I gave him his first dose of Benadryl. And that was after I consulted several different moms, our daycare provider, the pharmacist, several nurses in my pediatricians office, as well as the pediatrician himself. All of whom gave me the "go ahead" on a small dose of Benadryl. Then I proceeded to stay awake the entire night checking on the baby to see if he had stopped breathing.

In truth, if I've learned anything in my first short year of being a mommy - it's to know the good advice, know the bad advice, and be totally willing to throw it all out the window and just trust my instincts. The Unknown, Mommy Brain, Perfect Mommies, and sleep deprivation might cloud your judgment from time to time and allow doubt to sneak in, but in the end - the only thing your baby really, really needs is love. And it doesn't matter how "new" you are - you are THE. BEST. person for the job.

Failing all that? Always stock an emergency bottle of wine. Always.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Dog Named WHUCK?!

This was the Woody dog, a world class sweetie.
Last year, around this time, we lost our beloved Woody dog. He was 12 and he was awesome. Our vet said he was a lab mix but I think he was also part orange donkey. I loved him very much and I miss him a lot. We all do.

Since Woody went to Jesus (yes, in my world, dogs go to Heaven), we’ve talked a lot about getting a new dog. Mostly, we’ve talked about two specific items; when we will get a new dog and what we will name it.

Our plan is wait to until Mini-Me is potty trained and in preschool, the big kids are a little older and more mature, and of course - until after we move. We haven’t found a new house yet but we are moving this summer. OH YES WE ARE. I think getting a puppy or a new dog at the beginning of the summer is a great idea as the kids can spend a lot of time with it and then they’ll go back to school, and me and my new dog can chill out together and go for walks and be best friends. So maybe next summer, maybe the summer after that.

So a couple of weeks ago at dinner, the following conversation took place:

Cap’n Coupon: When we get a new dog, what should we name it?

Hawk (6 years old): Boy or girl?

Thumbelina (8 years old): Those are both stupid names. [Rolls eyes and sighs]

Hawk: I meant is the dog a boy or a girl.

Thumbelina: I don’t care as long as it’s a baby puppy.

Hawk: Well, if it’s a girl we should name her Mrs. Frenchwire.

Lydia: Who the heck is Mrs. Frenchwire?

Hawk: [rolls eyes at my stupidity] Ummmmm... Our dog.

Lydia: Right. What if it’s a boy?

Hawk: Then we should get a Golden Retriever and name him Carl.

Thumbelina: I think we should get a Golden Retreiver and name her Collie. [Smirks, waggles eyebrows up and down]

Cap’n: Yes. Because of the irony.

Thumbelina: Exactly. I knew you’d get it. Or we could get a Lab and name her Cassy.

Mini Me [2 and a half years old]: Inna girl baby puppy dat’s glack. An Imma name her Hawk.

Cap’n: I  like black dogs, too. But I think I want to get a yellow lab like Woody and I want to name him Denver.

Lydia: Denver? Is he truck dog?

Cap’n: Well, what about Frank? I notice you haven’t suggested any names.

Lydia: I really like Carl. It can be short for the “Carl the Intern”.

Thumbelina: Yes! Or Candace! Or Phinneas! Or Ferb! Or if its really awesome and a girl we can name it Mary McGuire!

[Hawk and Thumbelina and Mini all start screaming names at each other and the situation quicky becomes a cluster with Hawk jumping out of his chair and knocking it over in vigorous defence of his idea to name the imaginary dog Carl]

Cap’n: STOP IT. You’re acting like a Canadian anarchist. Sit down and use your manners, ALL OF YOU.

Lydia: [sighs] I just want a big dog. A big, sweet dog.

Cap’n: Then we should name him TARP. So he’ll be too big to fail.

[Children laugh uproariously as if they understand the joke.  I just look confused because they can't actually get it, right? Then they all look at me like I'm stupid.]

We've been joking about Carl and Mrs. Frenchwire and TARP for the past couple of weeks. And I stupidly clung to the idea that there was respect for the plan. The plan of me not having to potty train two small creatures at once. The plan of me not having to find a new house and then pack up all our crap this summer while also obedience training four adorable blonds who don’t like to do what they're told. But no one respects my plan.

Look what the Cap’n brought home. We decided to name him Brady, because he just didn't seem like a Carl.

Dude. All the cuteness is making me light-headed.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Funniest F***king Thing I Heard All Day: True Blood

Lydia is obsessed with the TV show True Blood. She is also obsessed with all the books that the TV show is based on but since the TV show's new season is starting tonight - we thought we'd re-post this.  Lydia will be drinking a Pinot Noir t-box and watching this epsiode several times tonight. Oh even yesser.


True Blood is awesome.  It is equal parts violent, campy, porny and hilarious.  I have to fast forward through the really porny parts because even though I love to tell people to "Suck it" I get really squeamish about actually watching them do it.  The Cap'n does not like True Blood and doesn't appreciate how often he is forced to watch it.  He also says he finally understands his wife's odd prediliction for the show. Here is his logic in a snazzy pictorial...

Cap'n: "Look at the picture from the title sequence.  Now what does that look like to you, Lydia?"
Lydia: "Hell if I know, now shhhhh.... Eric is crying tears of blood and it's fantastic."

Cap'n: "Now look at this. Ring any bells?"
Lydia: "No!  Stop interrupting all the bad southern accents!  Jason is shooting that bad man with a paint ball gun after doing it with his awful wife!"

Cap'n:"You see this mylar bag?  The one I periodically see you squeezing every last drop of your mommy juice out of?  Look familar NOW?"
Lydia: "YES!  I'm a vampire!  Goody goody goody! Now would you please hush? I need to fast forward through this creepy demon orgy."

I am an idiot.  The End.

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(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010

Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer Reading List

We're thrilled that our dear friend Mrs. Darling (mom of Wendy, John and Michael) has provided us with the 2nd annual MommyLand Summer Reading List.  Thank you Mrs. Darling - we adore you!


In last year’s summer reading list, I stressed that mommies can always shoehorn in some book readin’ in when there’s a brief pause in the summer craziness and be the better for it. I’m not sure if it’s because of the wretchedly hot weather we’ve had recently or the fact that there’s been just one too many kiddie soirees that I am forced to attend and make gluten free brownies for, but I’ve grown impatient with the thought that the brief bits of mommy solitude might be wasted with a book not worth my time.

If I want a book that makes me feel like I live an excitingly rich and fulfilled stay at home mommy life then dammit I want that book right now. If I’ve got to save my sanity by saving my daughter from angst-filled vampires, then I want an antidote stat. This is not by any means a full list - we all have our different mommy needs in terms of book fulfillment- but if you need something to quickly read and get to the literary happy this might be the summer reading list for you.

I Am Mystery Mommy, See Me Multi Task. There are so many times during the summer when I am flush with triumph at the end of the day, thinking that because I am so exhausted I must have been a really productive, proactive, pro everything kind of mama. It’s only after the kids have gone to bed and I’ve sat down with an adult beverage that it begins to dawn on me that my day- one that started at sunrise and only now was allowing me to sit- consisted of getting one load of laundry done, buying goggles that fit for John, taking all the Darlings to the pool and expertly buying a roasted chicken from the local Pollo Rico for dinner. That was my glorious victory.

Mommy needs a mystery, darling.
The only way for me to handily ignore my completely lack of action is to quickly grab a mommy mystery. Most are fictional to the point of fantasy - as when the meek stay at home mom finds her voice and becomes disturbingly handy with a gun all in a few chapters. The tales could even be to the point of annoyance like the one mommy detective who works full time at a newspaper while being primary care giver to her brood while always being the go to gal for cupcake making- all while remaining as cute as a button. But I don’t begrudge these books for their lack of any semblance to a real mother’s life. I revel in the delusion that somewhere out there is a crime waiting for me to solve while my best quirky friend offers to watch my kids for hours on end, my life’s mate offers dinner and foot rubs after a long day of amateur sleuthing and within less time than it takes to get a kid signed up for one measly week of camp I have brought justice to the world.

These books, like the mommies who read them, run the gamut in tone and approach. Leslie Meier’s Lucy Stone mysteries (she of the cupcake cutie fame) sticks with the coziest of cozies with titles such as The Christmas Cookie Murder and any others celebrating the holidays. Sara Rosett’s Ellie Avery series chronicles the life of an Air Force wife and professional organizer (with organizational tips at the end of the chapters- very useful although I know in my heart that I will never use them). Diane Mott Davidson’s Goldy Schultz starts of the series as a young single mom struggling to make a go as a caterer. It’s nice to see how she changes with each mystery and even nicer to see the recipes Goldy employs added on the back of the book. In the end, I’d have to say my favorites are Ayelet Waldman’s Mommy Track mysteries that chronicle former public defender Juliet Applebaum. Yes, she has a storied life (she lives in LA with her screenwriter husband and has a fabulous group of friends) but she is also frequently overwhelmed with her kids and struggles with her choices. Besides, how can you not enjoy a book titled A Playdate with Death?

Time to Save A Daughter from the Sparkle: Wendy is not a Twilight fan. That pleased me to no end because I mistakenly thought that this was a result of my fabulous mommying. Let me be the first to say that the Twilight books aren’t really all that bad, and in the right (and older) hands would be suitable fun times. I’m a fan of many series’ that are supposed to be exclusively for the erstwhile young adult or juvenile readers. But when I first realized that the tween target audience was going to follow little Bella’s swooning every time Edward exhibited crazy stalker tendencies, I had to stop myself from flinging the book across the room with a mighty “hell no”. My lovely daughter didn’t need to delve into some tired fantasy of a bad boy take over. My daughter, I simpered self-righteously, was too smart for that.

I was yanked back to parental reality when I stupidly started reading through all of the books Wendy, who had gone to a sleepover, had strewn around her room. What I learned quickly is that, according to the library of all things Scholastic, a troubled n’ hot vampire is a troubled n’ hot werewolf is a troubled n’ hot prince warlock is a troubled n’ hot alien and is also (I kid you not) a really troubled n’ hot Leprechaun. No wonder she never took to Edward- she was too busy following the newer tales of an imperiled teen hooking up with Neptune’s cousin for underwater adventure (ick) to be interested in one bloodsucker in a small town in Washington. A change needed to be made right away or else Wendy would end up as her friend did last Halloween when she wore a team Jacob shirt with bite marks on her eleven year old neck and fairy wings without a trace of irony.

When Wendy got home the next day I quickly presented her with two relatively new books. The Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley two young tween orphans join their estranged Granny Grimm to become fairy tale detectives is a great intro to strong girls that I hope will eventually be a gateway to Katniss Everdeen. These two girls face evil every day while depending on themselves and their family to make good choices. There’s enough scares and gore to make even the most jaded of readers jump and, yeah, there’s a little romance between the oldest sister and the trickster fairy prince Puck to keep the teams happy. The next, Jane Jones, Worst. Vampire. Ever. by Caissie St. Onge tells the story of a geeky, blood intolerant teen vampire (Jane) who would like nothing better than to become mortal again. She even snarks about sparkly vampires. Both of these books are fun to read, have strong and interesting female characters who delve in all things supernatural. Most importantly they don’t make a mother weep for their daughter’s dating future.

[Editor's Note: Some of us also like to read YA.  And we maybe don't have any YA's in the house. Don't judge. - K & L]

I’m Feeling Cranky and Want to Get Myself in a Literary Snit. It’s late summer and everyone’s tired of the pool, of life, and each other. I watch the Darling children sinking in the mire of apathy and disdain for everything around them and I realize that I am totally down for that. I too would like to get quickly get my grouch on so that I might get it out of my system before bath time.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua, Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein and My Father’s Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family and Togetherness by Gwyneth Paltrow are three books that should help you speedily rise to whatever level of irritation you’re hoping to get- but not for the reasons you might think.

I was all set to hate each and every one of these books. Your kids have to get a straight A average while you critique their hand made birthday cards? BOO. Mass media is forcing our daughters into a pink nightmare of a feminine stereotype? I’M WITH YOU SISTER, HISSS! Gwyneth Paltrow knows how to cook easy recipes for a family? HAH.

This is Gwyneth's book, right?
I suppose you know where this is going. All of these books have had their own hype attached to them, but if you actually give them a gander you see why someone might have wanted to read them in the first place. The Cinderella book looks at both sides of the debate over the over princess-ing of our daughters. Any easily cheap shots- like the chapter interviewing the parents from the Toddlers and Tiaras series- are sidestepped by even-handed reporting. Amy Chua is a harder sell, but her book did get me thinking. How many times do parents see their kids do a half (forgive me Darling children) assed version of a project and meet them with a ‘you can do better than that’? How many times does a parent alone know that their child can rise above the expectations of a teacher or coach with the right push? Who gives us the right expectations? After all, who would have thought that Gwyneth Paltrow would have a cookbook hawking a recipe for ‘cheesy stuffed burgers’, and the sage advice that the richness of a bread pudding could be cut by having a nice mimosa?

Why would this all make me angry? Because I never said I wanted to be reasonable and adult. I never wanted books that made me think. I wanted to pick a side and fight. But now, thanks to these lovely and misunderstood books (cue violins) I find myself on the brink of wanting to hang out with Gwyneth- if only for a half hour so she can make me dinner. And that puts me into a fit of towering rage.

Get Your Fancy Book Reading Done Now- With Ghosts! Last year I wrote about what I still believe to be the finest way to get through a book-every-other-woman-says-she-loves-but-has-probably-not-finished (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen) by reading both the original and the delightfully inspired Pride and Prejudice and Zombies at the same time. This time the narrative rules are a little looser but I still advise you to wrap both of these books together with a scrunchy or bungee cord (you have kids- you must have one of these in your house) for easy reference.

Henry James’ Turn of the Screw may be seen as a classic ghost story, or a psychological study of a doting Governess gone mad, or an examination of the injury that morally corrupt adults can have on young children. Millions of graduate thesis have been written about this book but all anyone knows for sure is (um, spoiler alert!) it doesn’t end happily. It would be easy to dismiss Jennifer Crusie’s Maybe this Time as the shiny happy version of Henry James’ Turn of the Screw. Having read both at the same time, I have to say that Crusie’s version is the perfect companion piece to the James’ original 1898 story. A story that, although a brilliant addition to the canon of gothic literature yadda yadda, can sink you into the deepest funk this side of post-partum. Plus, the modern day ‘governess’ get to face down the ghosts, save the kids, and get a little romantic entanglement of her own- always a bonus for beach reading.

I Need a Trip to Bon Temps Like, Yesterday. Death’s Excellent Vacation edited by Charlaine Harris (yes that Charlaine Harris) is an anthology of supernatural summer vacation stories. There’s one with Sookie and Eric and...What? You can’t judge summer reading.

Please send in your own suggestions. Last years' were fabulous (Outlander! How had I not heard of this?) And I need some new stuff for the warm summer months.

Happy Reading?

xo, Mrs. Darling

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

We Did Stuff! We Actually Did Something This Week...

OK - so let's start by saying that we're still mired in that First Few Days of Summer Blur. You know, the one that hits about 9:15 every morning when you look around your house and see that the. children. are. still. there. There goes watching another episode of True Blood...

But you can totally watch this instead! We went on the tee-vee again, and scared another host and maybe possibly took a naughty picture. Remember when we had that very dignified debate about PajamaJeans and the TBD people -- hello Alison!! -- showed a picture of Lydia wearing PajamaJeans and then showed her bum? So, Lydia thought it would be only fair to return that favor...So, we proudly present Alison's bottom.

What is up with my face in this picture? It's like Alison's ass is making me angry. For the record, it does NOT make me angry.
It's adorable. As is Alison, despite her surpise-I-put-your-butt-on-TV-ways. - Lydia
And, after we committed a Fourth Degree Misdemeanor, we celebrated by hijacking a television program. Click here to watch the clip. We can't figure out how to embed it the way we usually do.

In other MommyLand news:
Lydia has replaced House Hunting with House Remorsing, which is a whole new beast that she didn't know about and that Kate didn't want to tell her about. For the uninitiated, House Remorsing is when you find the ideal house, imagine your family in it, make unholy deals with your husband so he'll go along with this purchase, and then -- immediately after you plunk down loads of money for said "dream house" -- you start thinking, "hmm, the roof does seem a little slanty, and I'm not exactly sure the bathroom window is exactly level, and why is the garage not air conditioned? Wasn't that something I said I wanted? An air-conditioned garage?" and then the house starts looking less like a pair of Choos and more like a pair of Clogs. But, House Remorsing quickly gives way to Hosue Unremorsing, when Lydia will pledge her undying love to the quirks of her new home right up until that moment when the first bill arrives and she enters House Hemorrhaging. Followed quickly by New House Hunting...

Over at Parents Connect, Kate extolled the virtues of her beloved lists. As you well know, that girl loves to make lists of all kinds. Though she fervently denies that she may be obsessed with the extent that she made a list of reasons why she isn't obsessed with lists. At this point, Lydia thinks it's just best to agree with her.

At Maternal Ammunition, Lydia has some most awesome advice about how to avoid the pitfalls of summer. You know, things like boredom and junk food and too much Wii and WAY too much TV and how it's possible to smell like suntan lotion for months and yet still be's super important stuff to know if you expect to get through the next eight to twelve weeks when the kids have far too much time and far too little sense. 

We got this picture on our Facebook wall this week. Thanks Judi! We have to admit, we were a little concerned when the caption said, "What my daughter and the boy from next door did this afternoon..." but now we think they might be geniuses.

If it's a spork, however, it makes TOTAL sense.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wait! It's Summer? Now? Crap.

My kids didn't go to school today. I got them up, fed, brushed, backpacked and when I hustled them out the door, Lefty said, "Uh, mom. School ended yesterday."


It's Tuesday. Since when does school end in on a Tuesday? And, apparently, at 11:30am on a Tuesday. What use is that? So the teachers can look at those faces and say, "Good Morning, children! Now, grab your backpacks! School is over. Aren't your moms are going to be shocked to see you?" and then dismiss them for the day and THEN probably cackle like a horde of deranged crows.

I was at work when they came home yesterday, all complain-y because they had to walk. It's three blocks through our neighborhood, but you would have thought they were in Bataan the way they were carrying on. McLovin would have been less surprised to see Elvis standing at the door than he was when the children returned. Then he called me.

McLovin: The children are home.
Kate: Are they ill?
McLovin: They said that school is over.
Kate: Huh?
McLovin: They. said. that. school. is. over.
Kate: Over what?
McLovin: The rainbow, Kate. The school is over the rainbow.
Kate: I'm very confused.
McLovin: I'm hanging up now.
Kate: But wait! Are the children ill or something?

By the time I got home, I'd forgotten all about it, and actually asked the IHPs if they had finished their homework. At the time, what with the enthusiastic -- though slightly perplexed -- nodding, I actually thought they were being proactive. Now, in retrospect, I've discovered that those evil children are willing to lie to my face.

And now I'm faced with three freshly-sprung-from-the-rigors-of-school children, and no plan, and no camp until next Monday. And, they're all looking at me...and I've forgotten how to use The Force and make them think things they wouldn't normally think. Things like, "I think I'll go clean my room..." or "I want to fold laundry..." or "Mommy isn't crazy at all..." And I can tell that, right now, they're all thinking the same thing: Mommy has no plan. This is sanctioned mutiny. We need to misbehave, right now, while her brain is stuck.

Then the phone rang.

Liz: Did you know school was over?
Kate: Noooooo. I'm just now figuring that out.
Liz: Was there a note sent home?
Kate: No. I think they did this to screw with us.
Liz: So, what are you going to do?
Kate: Well, first I immediately panicked. Then, I -- nothing. I'm still immediately panicking.
Liz: Is it possible to immediately panic for more than a few seconds?
Kate: Seeing as I'm still doing it, yes. [whispering] What are we going to do with them?
Liz: Ummmm, I have the trampoline.
Kate: I have snacks and a coupon for Papa John's.
Liz: The pool?
Kate: GAH! No! Stop. They aren't supposed to be here. It's WEDNESDAY.
Liz: Right. Sorry. I was just immediately panicking. The trampoline has that net around it. And the yard has a fence.
Kate: I think that'll work. [to the IHPs] Children? Want to go play on the trampoline across the street?
Kate: [to self] I'm deaf. [to IHPs] Get your shoes. [to Liz] We're on our way.

All in all, it was a pretty good day. This summer thing might not be too bad. Lydia, after all, keeps her kids home all summer. They do fun things and go places and visit museums and zoos and parks and stuff, and she seems to think that it's awesome. And, I *essentially* make all those same things happen for my kids. The IHPs do fun things and go places and visit museums and zoos and parks and stuff and it's awesome and that's when I think to myself that Summer Camp is a wonderful thing.

Because there's only so many days I can have them bounce on a trampoline.

Also, immediately panicking is a lot harder than it sounds. I should know. I'll be doing it until Monday when camp starts.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Domestic Enemies of the Work at Home Mom

We've had a lot of requests for this post so you can imagine how happy we were when our friend Carolyn sent it to us. Here's a little bit about her:

Carolyn Neeley is a self-proclaimed Mommyland Lurker. She's a work at home mom who - when she's not chasing down her two adorable, yet fiesty IHPs with washcloths and frantic cries of "Oh no!" - can be found desperately banging on her keyboard trying to make deadlines, sitting completely absorbed in front of the entire USA channel lineup or one of the many cheesy horror movies she cannot live without, and cuddling up to her darling husband who luckily always has a smile and a glass of wine handy just for her.


Being a work at home mom is sometimes like having the best of both worlds - retaining a professional life and still getting to participate in the everyday magic of your kids. However, as with any other kind of mommy, WAHMs have their own set of domestic enemies. Some of these may be similar to other mom's enemies because along with the best of both worlds, WAHMs also get the worst of both worlds.

Phone Calls
If I'm calling a friend, family member or pretty much anyone else who doesn't pay me, my kids will be perfect angels. Playing quietly with each other without turning the house into a nuclear disaster zone or anyone dying. But heaven forbid I should be on the phone with a client. Suddenly, the same people who ignore pretty much everything I say and prefer their father/grandmother/aunt/stranger-at-the-grocery-store to me, cannot live without me for two seconds and cry hysterically, clinging to my legs as though I'm abandoning them in the Sahara with no food or water.

People, please stop giving me THAT look when I mention that I work from home. Yes, it is a REAL job, with a REAL paycheck and REAL work. And do not, I repeat do not, ask me who watches my kids! This goes for grandparents, relatives, friends and anyone else who automatically thinks I ignore my kids just because I happen to have a home office. I probably spend more time playing and talking with my kids each day than the average mom. It's not easy handling working over 30 hours a week and having full-time charge of two preschoolers, but guess what? With a little planning and a flexible schedule, we manage it. Without anybody being neglected.

But after listening to so many skeptics, so many critics, I start to doubt. Maybe I'm not doing enough for my kids, maybe we're not spending enough time together. Do they know I love them? Do they understand that those times when I have to lock myself in my office to take a phone call and give them the mean mommy glare to be quiet, that I am just trying to make a living - put food on the table and a roof over their heads? Are they going to fall behind in school since I chose to keep them home with me rather than send them to preschool? What if they grow up thinking that making money is what's important since I spent so much time working when they were little? What if they feel ignored or neglected but just never say it or can't express it?  Here I go down the shame spiral - weeee!

Sadly, my house is never as clean as I want it to be. I have my own personal Randy. And he has sidekicks. My floors haven't been vacuumed or swept in at least a week. Although I balance the work and parenting thing pretty well, there just isn't much time left over for things like cleaning or cooking or folding laundry. So, yes, my IHPs and I wear wrinkly t-shirts and lots of sweats, but hey - I'm at home most of the day anyway.

Working at home, I rarely meet any of my clients or colleagues face-to-face. And since I don't have time to go to all the weekly playdates and outings and places where other mommies congregate, I don't generally meet and/or get to know many people. (And why do mommy organizers insist on having things at 11am or noon? It will take me at least half an hour to get the kids ready and in the car, driving time, an hour or so spent playing, then the drive home, etc. That's at least two hours out of the smack dab middle of the day! Can't we be reasonable and hold these things in the morning or afternoon?!)

But the fact that I can't get to the playdates or outings often means that the only adult I ever have a real connecting conversation with is my husband when he gets home from work - thank Maude for that man! I can tell he really enjoys those nights when he walks in the door and I pounce on him in an effort to have a conversation that doesn't include multiple Dora references.

The problem with juggling so many different things is that you feel like you're never good ENOUGH. Jack of all trades, master of none. If I'm good at my work, I'm being a bad mom. If I'm a good mom, my writing career is down the tubes. Either way I'm still a bad housekeeper with mountains of unfolded laundry and a not-so-terrific cook except on those rare occasions I can devote an hour to making a meal. In almost every part of my life, I'm facing some kind of failure every day. And unfortunately, the necessity of being home all the time means I rarely get a change of scenery beyond grocery shopping or the post office. Kinda makes you lose perspective and make mountains out of molehills.

Don't get me wrong, I love my kids, I love my husband, and I truly, truly love my life. After all, I get to take vacations whenever I please, choose an impromptu day to goof off and do whatever sounds fun at the moment, and still manage to help pay the bills and retain an identity that helps me remember who I was before I lost my mind and my first name and just became "Mom". 

But sometimes, when I'm juggling everything, when deadlines are looming, clients are calling, kids are wanting cuddles and mommy-time, the house is filthy, I'm filthy, I haven't had a real conversation with an adult I'm not married to in three weeks, and my only relief and rest just called to say he'll be home late, and I get really close to losing my schmidt... 

So I take a deep breath, pour a glass of wine, find something to laugh at and remember that I'm in Mommyland.  And I'm in excellent company.  Cheers! 

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Few Things No One Told Me About Parenting

I had no idea what I was getting into. And nothing came close to really preparing me for becoming a parent. I read a lot of books and (almost) without exception, they were equal parts scary and not helpful. Truthfully, I wanted to be a mom so badly that no matter what anyone told me, I still would have done it. Here are a few not-so-Anne-Landersy tidbits I never heard and sort of wish I had.

Congratulations! Your life is now over. No one wants to hear this but it’s true. You’re probably not going to be the same person. Your life is all new. Some things that you liked doing will no longer be possible for you to enjoy. But don’t be sad. For some people, this is a good thing. For example, Redbull and vodka in the morning is probably not a great idea while breastfeeding.

On a personal note, I actually became much less of an a-hole when my first baby was born. At first, the adjustment was difficult and a little painful. But slowly, it became clear that this was a positive change. It was sort of like being released from selfish prison. Or being the protagonist in an after-school special where everyone learns a lesson about not being a dick all the time and actually thinking about other people.

Unless you are a supermodel, your body is not going to be the same. It doesn’t mean you won’t be able to still rock a bikini – but friend, it is what it is. You can’t pretend what happened didn’t just happen. And depending on how you had your baby (c-section or via Chunnel), you’re going to have different sets of surprises to deal with. I would get into specifics, but I just ate lunch. 

Take heart! Results may vary. Kate has three kids and wears tight jeans that are white and looks amazing. But she may be a witch. We don’t know yet – we’re still waiting for lab results. Many of us look a little more well-nourished than we did pre-offspring. And that’s ok. We’re working on it, and we’re still sexy as a candy panda, just like before we had kids. Only in slightly bigger pants and wider shoes.

No matter how much you love being a parent, you’re not going to enjoy every minute of this gig. There are a million different ways to have a bad day as a parent. And honestly, I didn’t even know what a bad day felt like until I had one where something went very wrong with one of my kids. And in addition to the suckage of having a craptastic day, you have the added sensation of being shivved in the kidney by maternal guilt because all you really want is an early bedtime so you can melt into the couch for a few hours.  No matter how crazy in love you are with your kidlets, you may occasionally feel like you want to run screaming for the exits.*  It doesn't make you a bad person or a bad parent, it makes you normal. 

*Just don't actually do it. Or if you do, come right back.

You will find yourself losing your Schmidt. Even if you are the calmest, most yoga-doing, centered person in the tri-state area – even if you are the Gandhi of mommies – you will find yourself standing in your kitchen, covered with spit-up or yellow poo, slamming things and shrieking at your husband/partner/boyfriend (or, heaven forbid, all three of them) like a crazy person.

You may have never uttered a cross word to each other before, but trust me – there will come a moment when there is a baby non-stop crying and you not sleeping and there’s nothing for dinner and someone came home late and you will hear, "what do you mean you forgot to pay Verizon this month?!" And you will want to make sure you can’t get your hands on any sharp objects. The good news is you now know this moment is coming. Once it passes you and your beloved baby-daddy can look at each other and say: “Oh. Wow. We just had that fight. Let’s drink a beer and then attempt some delightful post-baby intercourse.”  Assuming, of course, that this fight occurred after the doctor-prescribed waiting period for the nether parts. 

People are going to say stupid sh*t. I am constantly amazed at the things people think it’s OK to say. And this is coming from me -- someone who says all kinds of stupid stuff daily. Maybe these folks don’t know that what they’re saying is assholic. Maybe they don’t care. Here’s what we suggest – when someone says something like: “You should snatch that pacifier right out of her mouth. Here, let me do it for you. Wait, I’ll just wipe my hands off first – I was cutting up some raw chicken.” Just walk away. Don’t give in to the perfectly normal urge to kickpunch or teach your children new four letter words. Just smile and nod and back away as fast as you can. Meanwhile scream the following at them but only with your eyes: “YOU ARE F*CKING MOONBAT, SPITTING CHERRY PITS CRAZY AND YOU MAY NOT TOUCH MY BABY, SALMONELLA HANDS!”

The Blur is real. You know what The Blur is? It’s like that feeling you used to have the day after a really bad hangover. When everything seemed a little fuzzy and you couldn’t remember where you left your panties keys. The feeling of being inside The Blur is a lot like that, except its more intense and it lasts for about 15 years.

It’s kind of scary. I now live in a world where I have something to lose. Pre-kids, I usually put my own needs at the top of my to-do list and was vapid enough to think that nothing really bad could ever happen to me. But right after I became a mom, I had this horrible epiphany - bad things can happen. Danger is real. I am all that is keeping something dreadful from happening to this tiny, little, precious critter. Holy crap. Were cars always this dangerous? Did they always go in reverse? How are we supposed to get home from the hospital in a way that is 100% safe from collision? Wait. Were there always sex offenders everywhere? There’s what in the milk at the store?  And my apples are coated with what?  GAHHHH!!!

It all sort of boils down to one truth, which is of course the one thing that everyone does tell you: You will love your kids so much that you’ll do anything for them.  So even if it drives you slightly moon-batty in the process, you'll find yourself a deeply-changed, usually much improved person. Clarification - a better person surrounded by cuteness that will never learn to clean its room. 

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Funniest F*cking Thing I Heard All Day: Kindergarten Writing Celebration

Today at my 6 year old son's class writing celebration, I finally got a chance to take a look at the much anticipated Kindergarten class book.  This book that is intended to be a keepsake for all eternity for each class member and their family.  I eagerly turned to the page he had contributed and found this:

Oh even yesser.  His favorite part of the year was the Winter Celebration. Where he decorated cookies cocks and made presents of them for me and his dad.  And we loved it. 

xo, Lydia

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

We've Been Super Busy...Or, *One* of Us Has

[Editor's note: Kate wrote this post. - Lydia]

Ever have one of those days when you wake up and think how can it be Thursday already? Yesterday was Monday...or in our case, yesterday was 1991. And then we woke up this morning and things. are. very. different. than what we remember from yesterday.

And *yesterday* Kate was busy and productive and wrote lots of things and went to work and was actually helpful to Lydia. And then today happened and, can see how much can change in a day.

Over at Maternal Ammunition, Lydia wrote about how much she loves Fairfax County.  Which is good because that's where she lives.

At Parents Connect, Lydia wrote about how sometimes the Tooth Fairy sucks at her job. They also posted our now infamous Pool Rules for Teenagers! [Editor's Note: Which Lydia also wrote... -Kate.]

Kate, I'm worried. This is Laurence Fishburne.
It is NOT Samuel L. Jackson.  Are you insane?
And wither Kate, you might ask? What did she do this week? Uhhh...she's totally preparing for when Lydia disappears into house buying and moving and, in reality, she's just working on how to avoid the inevitable sandwich slap and squaring up that Lydia is preparing for her. That should be fun.

[Editor's note: She's lost her mind. - Lydia]

Here's a little present for you. Except judging by how many times this has shown up on Facebook and in our in-box, you all already know this.  It's a A free download of Samuel L. Jackson reading "Go the F8ck to Sleep" from Amazon. You can also watch it on Youtube. Click here.We imagine that, unlike they do with us, if our children were to hear Morpheus telling them to go to sleep, they'd do it. [Editor's note: Sigh. - Lydia] Wanna know who found this little gem? That's RIGHT. Lydia.

We also think you might enjoy these videos (if you haven't already seen them).  Apparently, it's getting REAL in the Whole Foods parking lot (thanks MommyJuice Wines for posting this on Facebook).

Also, this young lady is so awesome that we want to wear bowties and meow in front of her so she'll think we're kitties and start to weep.  Also, we want to get drunk and tap dance with this girl.  Just wait, you'll see exactly what we're talking about.

Enjoy your Thursday, hookers. Kate will be back next week. And, if not, Kate will be in traction next week...

xoxo Lydia (and maybe not so much Kate)

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Five More Things I Should Know By Now

OMG! I just realized I'm a jackhole!
Every once in a while it occurs to me that I should pay more attention. Because there are certain things that I should know by now and I just don’t. Or maybe I just choose to block them out. In any case, please use the following as either cautionary tales, amusing examples of how I am stupid or further evidence of why someone should probably call the authorities.

The Much Maligned Cheetos Directive:
Go ahead and judge me. I can’t stop you. But I have recently embraced the dark side. Some may call it bribery. I call it strategy. Do not underestimate the infrequent and deliberate use of cheetos as an effective parenting tactic. I can get the little terror suspects to clean the playroom in about 15 minutes for a .99 cent bag of neon orange junk food. I don’t do it very often, but it’s my fail-safe when things start to derail. Some people use carrots and sticks, I use cheetos and taking away the Wii.

Every human being requires sleep, except of course for mommies.
My youngest does not sleep. She naps. She demands to be snuggled at 3am or screams the house down. She is two and a half. About a year ago, we had her sleeping through the night and it lasted for quite a while. It was amazing. It was like someone had ripped the film off my life, in the manner of a very surreal Claritin ad. Suddenly I felt like myself again. I could function, finish a sentence, even occasionally summon the energy to do something that I had forgotten about for several years; like scrub behind the toilets or pluck my eyebrows. Now I am back in a sleepless hell, deep inside The Blur and have accepted that it is my lot. I no longer fear the need to prepare for the zombie apocalypse as I am already a zombie. So that’s at least an upside.

You will always win, ear infection. And that’s why I hate you. A couple of months ago, my toddler got an ear infection. A very painful double ear infection that made her pitiful and puny. DAMN YOU, EAR INFECTION. Damn you to hell. That’s when everything melted into a giant puddle of warm. She stopped sleeping and we couldn’t get her back on track. And this time, not sleeping (after having a taste of what life could be like if I was well-rested) was like a karate chop to the cranium. It was awful. And then Kate had an “a-ha moment” where she remembered that ear infections always furck up your program. They’re like mommy-kryptonite. And we did a double facepalm, because we should’ve known that.

The One Minute Car Nap.
The very next afternoon I was confronted with another taco-kicking realization. On the days when you most need your kid to nap, anti-mommy forces deploy the most nefarious of sleep-related enemies. Here’s the scenario: your child really needs to sleep because (insert critically important reason here). Your kid nods off in their car seat for about 45 seconds, usually just as you’re pulling into your driveway. You have a moment where you think: “Hurrah! I will plop my child in bed and have maybe a whole hour or two in which I can pee alone/pay bills/ bathe myself/facebook/fold laundry!” Then you stupidly try to remove your child from the car. That one minute car nap has fortified your offspring so that they think they have slept. There is no getting them down for a real nap after that. There is only whining. And tantrums. If you’re lucky, you may be able to work in an early bedtime. But probably not.
Potty training is so very, very special.
You know what’s more awesome than spending several hours per day in the bathroom with a toddler begging them to poo? Doing it at the pool. In the putrid, damp, public restroom. In 101 degree heat. It would be wrong and bad of me to just toss the kid a pull-up, take her to the picnic area, and tell her to do her business, right? Well then I decided to be wrong after three 20 minute trips to the potty during a 2 hour pool excursion. And this is why she’s still not potty trained. Yay me.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Domestic Enemies of the At Home Dad

In a nod to Father's Day, we're thrilled to present a long overdue addition to our list of Domestic Enemies.  We are so grateful to the dads and step-dads and dad-ish type people who are our partners in parenthood.  You are amazing and we thank you.  We'd like to take this moment to tip our hats to all these fine men, and let them know we are sorry for all those times we got our B on.  We promise to try harder to be for you what you've always been for us - a loving, supportive, best friend who gets it. Who's there in spite of what they know about us.  And is occasionally a pain in the hindparts.

A special salute to those dads who are running the show day to day.  You are welcome here, friends. This is a safe place. And we think you are full grown nasty ass NINJAS of awesomeness.  Like the dude who wrote today's post.  Here's a little blurbitty-blurb about him:

Blogger Will Morton, also known as author of The B-More Dad Blog, once imagined a straight-line trajectory from small-town newspaper reporter to Pulitzer-winning New York Times fat-cat. But somewhere along the way, his Lovely Bride found a job that paid triple his, and he stayed home to change diapers and tend the hearth. Seven years in, he's kicking up his heels at the thought of his youngest starting kindergarten this fall. And at all the beer he'll drink as he lies on the couch all day, after doing the laundry, fixing the lunches, and finishing picking up. Right.


Rants From Mommyland is one of my daily must-reads. Laugh-out-loud funny always eases the pain of living. For just a bit. But the Domestic Enemies series has blatantly ignored a critical segment of the blogosphere: the At-Home Dad. All 10 of us.

First of all, it’s not Stay-At-Home Dad, because much as we nurturing menfolk like to drink beer in our ManCaves, we’re usually too busy changing diapers, feeding our young 37 times a day, cleaning the house, doing the laundry and schlepping kids to and from school. Oh, right. Just like at-home moms.

So without delay, the Domestic Enemies of the At-Home Dad:

At-Home Moms and The Men Who Love Them
What guy would ever call up another man’s wife and say, “Hey, you wanna hang out at my house for a couple hours while your husband’s not around?” As an at-home dad, though, that’s what you’ve got to do. It’s easy at times, with surface chit-chat about how long you’ve lived in town and how to turn Working Spouse Guilt into time off for you. Or you trade notes about sibling battles, your kids’ napping and pooping habits, and whether it’s okay to have a drink at 4 p.m.

But at some point, you realize: you have the love of some other guy’s life in your house. And you’ve run out of things to talk about. And you’re alone.

Time for snack!

Oh.... Right.
Weekdays, I am King Of My Realm and Ultimate Arbiter of All things Parental, a process that’s daunting but efficient. Which playdate to line up when, whether to bring the kids when lunching at Hooters with other at-home dads, and how much time to spend loafing on Facebook – I rarely worry about what anybody else thinks.

Weekends are a different story. Because I’m so stinkin’ sensitive and modern, I actually care what my Lovely Bride might think or want. It takes a major shifting of gears on my part – and a whole set of diplomatic skills that are above my pay grade – to treat her like the woman I love and not just another body to program into the schedule. If I plan up the whole weekend – t-ball, ballet class, cookout, church nursery duty, strawberry picking, making jam, and should we go to the pool, too? – she’ll kill me, and then squeal tires to get to work early Monday morning for some peace and quiet.

Not the relaxing family weekend either of us has in mind.
In our 13 years of wedded bliss, however, I’ve learned not to cram too much into the weekend. And to carefully time weekend scheduling requests: after her evening shower but before she gets in bed with her new boyfriend, Mr. iPhone.

Working Dads
You know, I once had career aspirations, too. I started as a reporter at a small newspaper. Then I was going to move to a bigger paper, then The New York Times, win my Pulitzer and retire to the beach to write books. Then my wife got the better job offer when we wanted to move closer to family, and I stayed home with the kiddos. Seven years later, I’m utterly unable to relate to the working dad.

One guy across the street works as a top exec for a big local company inventing cool, innovative products. He even wears hip rectangular glasses and wears trendy Italian shoes. But he’s off to work by 7:30 and never home before dark, so I never see him. I struggle for what to talk about -- except when I need to borrow power tools. I don’t understand why he wouldn’t rather invent that killer new product tomorrow so he can come home to play with his kids. While they’re awake.

Okay, so maybe this next one isn’t an enemy to all at-home dads. But allow me this personal challenge: my hair.  Once upon a time, I realized that the length of my hair is inversely proportional to my parenting-related stress. When my son Eddie was born in 2003, my dark, curly hair was down past my shoulders. It was awesome. And a pain to take care of. But awesome. I was the long-haired guy I always wanted to be. I even owned a motorcycle.

But as the baby grew, my hair shrank. When we moved from Brooklyn, N.Y., to Baltimore a year later, I sold the motorcycle and became an at-home dad to a kid too young to talk or walk. He needed a diaper, nap or food and cleanup every 19 minutes. Many days passed with no shower for Daddy, so I cut my hair shorter and shorter until I ended up with a head that felt like sandpaper.

It was liberating.

It hid the grey.

It was the new awesome.

It also made me look like a victim of mono, food poisoning and the flu. I saw a picture of myself and said goodbye to self-haircuts.

Nice Ladies At The Post Office

When I show up at the park with my kids, I grind my teeth at the people who say, “Oh, is daddy babysitting today?” I’ve learned to smile at these unintentionally thoughtless morons, but the comments are cutting nonetheless. “No, Daddy does this every day,” I grin back, wanting to add, “and has for seven years, ya idiot!”

One time in the post office, with my 3-year-old daughter on my shoulders (Would someone please open the door for a man with a stroller?) some elderly woman said with a big grin, “Somebody has her shoes on the wrong feet!”

“But she got them on by herself, you harpy!” I quipped, except I didn’t really say the harpy part.

At-Home Dad Guilt
My Lovely Bride and I used to joke that once a year I would “renew my contract” and continue staying home with the kids. Ninety percent of the time, I’m happy with that, especially on mornings when my youngest is in preschool and I can use the bathroom alone or sit at the computer long enough to gather an actual thought.

We agreed that it’s my job to fix the supper, scrub the toilets and boss the children around. And I actually like weeding the garden and painting the trim. Yet I’m so jealous of other grownups who meet for coffee – when I ought to be home tending my hearth. Or trying to earn some actual money for our family by writing for pay, which I do a couple times a year. I used to feel guilty for forcing my kids to stay for “lunch bunch” at preschool – knowing it would wreck the afternoon nap – while I tried to chase down a source or meet a deadline.

Actually getting back on a motorcycle and going for a leisurely, meandering ride seems almost unimaginable these days. Who has time? Also, who has a motorcycle? I'd love to borrow it. While we're at it, can I borrow your hair too?

If you want to read more of Will's great stuff, check out his blog right here.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

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