Family, Humor, Motherhood

Baby you can’t drive my car

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Behold, my first car: The 1982 Blue Ick Skylark.

Here’s a short list of the few things in life that scare the crap out of me:

  • spiders
  • flying
  • politics
  • my 15-year-old son taking Driver’s Ed
  • flying spiders

Alas, the time has come. Next week, The Boy Who Can’t Be Named Because He’d Die of Embarrassment, will be driving a 4000-pound car down the road. The same boy who — only yesterday — thought it was perfectly fine to microwave tinfoil.
Because I told him so. (Hey, what can I say? The clueless apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.)

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This is my future. Be scared. Be very scared.

Driving. We all do it every day. Except for my mother, who never got her license, so now I’m forever sentenced to drive her to pick up some emergency Correctol because she’s “buttlogged”. Until you’ve had a heated argument comparing the symptoms of diarrhea to constipation in aisle 2 at the Stop-and-Go, you haven’t truly lived.

Every morning, we all tool down the road in our pathetic Priuses (is the plural for Prius Prii?) in a complete daze…oblivious to the passing scenery, the red lights, the angry honks, the screamed profanities and the travel mug filled with hot coffee bouncing off our car roof into traffic.

Ah, yes, I remember the day I finally got my hot little hands on that driver’s license to pure freedom.

The year: 1987
The catchphrase: “Don’t have a cow, man.”

The beauty trend: All hairspray, all the time.

Why did I look so ecstatic? (And dorky? And oh holy Aqua Net, what the hell is with my hair?) Because I passed my test on the first try, in spite of the fact that I:

A) Hit the curb while parallel parking.
B) Let the car roll backward after setting the parking brake on a steep hill.
C) Failed to yield to a car in an intersection.
D) Giggled like an idiot throughout the entire road test.
E) All of the above.

Answer: E. (there really was never a doubt, was there?)

Hopefully, god willing, (pleaseohpleaseohplease!) my son will be an excellent driver.

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Ummmmm…

If not, I’ve got other distractions. Like my daughter taking puberty classes this week.

Annnnnd she’s got a crush on a boy at school.

Thankfully, I am a pro at these unsettling mother-daughter convos.

Me: Who is he?
Her: [smirk]
Me: Jaden?*
Her: [double smirk]
Me: Caden?**
Her: [triple smirk]
Me: Braden?***
Her: [smirk times infinity]
Me: Schmaden? It’s Schmaden isn’t it!
Her: [so mortified she’s dying right in front of me]

No matter. I’m only writing this post to beg you all for prayers during this difficult time. Think of me. Soon enough I’ll be waving goodbye to my daughter as Schmaden peels away in his 2024 Mustang with the tinted windows.

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*Actual boy in her class.
**Actual boy in her class.
***Actual boy in her class.

So tell me: What was your first car? How many times did you fail your driver’s test? Do you also have a son who is about to drive yet doesn’t know how to make a sandwich?

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Humor, Motherhood, Parenting

And so it begins…

My son turned thirteen last month. Thirteen.  You know, the age their eyes roll back into their heads and molten lava starts shooting out from every orifice.

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BLAAAAARGGGGGH! I WILL DESTROY YOU!

So many, many things changed in an instant.

The day after he became a teenager, he announced at breakfast, “Mom, I need to do some chores because I need some money. And I think I want to go to the school dance next week. Oh, and I gotta go take a shower now.”

Whoa, whoa whoa — stop right there. Dance? Money? Okay, okay. I can handle that. But voluntary hygiene? You mean I won’t have to spend the better part of the morning begging you to scrape the putrid seven layer grime of raw sewage off your Sasquatch feet? Be still my beating heart! Think of all the free time I’ll have! My nose hairs might even grow back again! Oh joy! He willingly wants to take a shower! Maybe having a teen in the house won’t be so bad after all?

Oh, it be bad. Along with his newfound sense of cleanliness, all of a sudden my son thinks he’s capable of being by himself with no adult supervision.

Yesterday he called me on his little TracFone: “Hey, Mom,” he mumbled.  Because mumbling is the only language teenage boys understand. “I’m gonna stay after school and hang out in the field with Cameron and some friends before soccer practice, okay?”

Hold up.  You? In a field? With friends? Weren’t you the same boy who just THIS MORNING had to ask me for help because you couldn’t figure out how to open the car door? Suddenly you’re competent and responsible? Oh, no. Nope. That’s not how adulthood happens. You don’t pick Fruit Loops out of your belly button and eat them and then the next day hang out in a field with some possible psycho-killer named Cameron. Sounds like a made-up name to me. But my son wants me to believe he’s “mature” now. I’m not sure I’m buying it.

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“Yes, Mother. I shall be arriving momentarily at the athletic excursion whereupon I shall congregate amongst my colleagues sans supervision.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll call you if I need anything,” mumbled my 13-year-old son.

Call me? You don’t even know how to dial numbers! Do you even know any numbers?

“Okay, call me,” I sighed. “Please. Please for anything. Anything at-”

He hung up.

I suppose I should be happy because that was the longest conversation we’ve had in months.

The next day, still riding high on soap fumes from his second shower of the day, I drove my teenager to his soccer game.  About a mile away he suddenly mumbled with urgency, “Don’t drop me off at the field. Don’t get out of the car. Don’t talk to me. Don’t even look at me. Just drop me off in the parking lot. Wait, no — just slow down here and I’ll jump out.”

Right, because God forbid any of his buddies within a 150 mile radius get the slightest hint that I exist at all. Death in a ditch is more preferable.

This coming from a boy who not that long ago, if I were a mere millimeter outside his peripheral vision for a nanosecond all hell broke loose.

“Okay, mommy’s just going to step over here to get your baba…”

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“MOMMMM!!! WHERE ARE YOU??? MOM!!!! OH MY GOD! SHE’S GONE!!! COME BACK PLEASE!!! MOMMMMMM!!!!

I pulled up to the soccer field still a bit stung by my beloved son’s dogged determination to pretend I’m not alive. I leaned over and said, “Tell you what. First thing tomorrow I’m going to buy a wig, dark sunglasses and a fake mustache. Then I’m going to steal the Invisibility Cloak from Harry Potter, you know, just in case my wig falls off. Then I’ll buy tinted windows for the car in case the cloak falls off. If your friends are within earshot, I will only speak to you in sign language. Not a sign language that anyone can understand but a made-up language only you and I know.  If there’s a slight chance one of your friends cracks the code,  I’ll communicate to you only with my eyes and mental telepathy.  But I won’t look directly at you. I won’t make eye contact. I’ll look a little off to the side. If I’m breathing too much or too loud while we’re communicating telepathically, I’ll hold my breath until I pass out.  Okay?”

“Okay,” my son shrugged and he was gone, leaving me in a cloud of Axe shampoo.

Which was good because now I have loads of free time to search for invisibility cloaks on eBay.

Humor, Motherhood, Parenting

Mom For Hire

The following post I wrote over three years ago and I’m reposting it because I have little time to write lately. In case you’re wondering the snow in Maine finally melted so I’m spending every waking moment outside.  Plus I’m tired. So damn tired. Happy Mother’s Day!

OBJECTIVE            To prove that when you notice the huge 10 year gap on my résumé, snicker and ask, “What were you doing all that time?!” I wasn’t merely sitting around twiddling my thumbs and eating bon bons.  (Although some days I did take a few breaks and did just that.)

WORK EXPERIENCE          

2000-2002              Fertility Specialist

  • Managed  and supervised an in-depth  and labor-intensive fertility project overseeing one disgruntled employee.
  • Daily progress was tracked with temperature readings, charts, graphs and my husband whining, “Do we have to do this AGAIN?!”
  • Goal was achieved after attending several meetings with various nurses, OB-GYNs and finally one prayer-filled seminar with The Big Guy in the Sky.
  • Assisted in creating an entire human being using only my body.
  •  Increased members of family by one healthy baby boy, increased household grocery consumption by 50%, decreased maternal brain cells by 30%.

2002-2003                Newborn Coordinator

  • Directed various sleep studies involving the length of time it takes for a subject to start hallucinating giant gummy bears dancing in the kitchen in relation to the few minutes of choppy haze-induced slumber one has per night.
  • Involved in product evaluations. Determined diaper wipe warmers are about as useful as another a hole in the head.  Also, breast pumps are not more effective if you crank the setting up to maximum and grit your teeth to get through the searing pain.
  • Managed one colicky baby every night for three months and implemented several tactics such as, walking baby around in circles while shushing, driving baby around neighborhood at 2 am and sobbing hysterically along with baby.

2003-2006                   Developmental Therapist/Lead Teacher

  • Lead instructor for a toddler child with sensory issues and more energy than an Energizer Bunny on speed fighting with the Tazmanian Devi in the midst of a hurricane..
  • Taught child how to count, how to recite the alphabet. Instructed child on proper hygiene, sleep habits, eating habits, social decorum. Lessons included: Hot Wheels are not for the toilet. Crayons are not edible. The cat is not a giant fuzzy doll that hisses. Addressed behavioral issues. For example, how not to hit, bite, kick another human being.
  • Subjects included: Respect, Kindness, Love, Curiosity, Imagination
  • Daily therapy provided:  giggling hysterically, dancing like everyone was watching, and running around the outdoors with wild abandon. Seeing the simple beauty, magic and joy in everyday things.
  • Goals achieved: 1) Raised one loving, caring, sweet, happy boy  2) Increased heart capacity by 1000%.

2006 to present             Mom Extraordinaire

  • Aided and assisted in creating and maintaining another human being using only my body.
  • Supervised two active, clever, bordering on maniacal children on a daily basis.
  • Provided safe, loving, nurturing home.
  • Taught subjects such as: sharing, caring, taking turns, being respectful of others, loving oneself
  • Goals Achieved: 1) Raised one sweet, loving, caring, happy girl. 2) Increased heart capacity by infinity.
  • Other Duties as Assigned: Chef, referee, maid, chauffeur, coach, dish washer, singer, dancer, party planner, counselor, public relations, nurse, doctor, teacher, professional hugger, boo-boo kisser, hand-holder, tear-wiper, confidence-builder and self-esteem engineer

SKILLS AND QUALIFICATIONS

    • Time Management  Able to flip pancakes, clean ketchup off ceiling, figure out an algebraic equation, unclog toilet filled with Polly Pockets, do 10 loads of laundry, drive kids to various practices, classes and play dates simultaneously.
    • Debating  Successfully presented and defended stance that Halloween candy consumed in large quantities for breakfast is a bad idea; flinging a Barbie at your brother’s head is a bad idea; jumping off the roof of the house into a snowbank wearing only underwear is a bad idea.
    • Patience  Able to withstand endless hours of ‘Why?’ questions, followed by listening to relentless whining, Spongebob episodes and sibling games of “But I’m Not Really Touching You!”  and “Stinky Feet”.
    • Love  Provided endless quantities on an as-needed basis until my heart hurt.

References Available Upon Maturity of Children.
Ask them how I did in 15 years. My guess is not too shabby.

Humor, Motherhood, Parenting

La La La, I Can’t Hear You!

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Today at breakfast my 11-year-old son informed me he had good news and bad news. Not only was he finally allowed to bring his recorder home from music class but he was going to take his first puberty class at school.

I’m still trying to figure out which was the good news.

Later that afternoon after he slid into the backseat of the minivan and played a few notes of “Hot Cross Buns”, I immediately began plotting how and when his recorder would meet a tragic fate. As soon as we came to the first stop sign it was clear I wouldn’t have to wait very long for the “when” part.

“Hey Mom!” he yelled, in between rapid huffing and puffing and what sounded like a mockingbird having an asthma attack.  “Guess how puberty went today!”

There was that word again. Instantly, my mind seized up. **DANGER! DANGER! RED ALERT!** Abandon all innocence! Kiss it goodbye! It’s all over now!

I tried a distraction tactic. “Hey, how ’bout you play some more music? You take requests? Know ‘Smoke on the Water’?”

“I SAID guess how puberty went, Mom!”

“Guess how you and Bert went?”

“No! Puberty!”

“Phew, a birdie? Yes.”

“NO! PUBERTY!”

“What? I can’t hear you.”

“PUBERTY! PUBERTY! PU – BER – TY!”

Worst chant ever in the history of the world.

“Oh yeah? So how did that…uh…go?” I asked and held my breath.

“Terrifying,” he sighed from the backseat. “Absolutely terrifying.”

Truer words have never been spoken.

“Okay, ” I said. “That’s okay. It’s good we’re talking about this.  This is what I’m here for. We need to communicate because it’s healthy. Yeah. Very healthy. Sooooo very healthy….” Now it was my turn to sigh.

“So today we found out about uteruses! All girls have one,” he said.

“Riiiiiight….”

“And the uterus gets really big when the baby grows.”

“Yes, it does. Big uterus. Yep, indeedy. Big big uterus.”

Silence.

“So…” I peered into the rearview mirror. “Any other questions that you have for me? Because I would be…” I slowly dragged my hand down my face and took a deep breath. “Because I would be happy to answer any y’know…” I cringed as a few more gray hairs sprouted on my head “…any questions you may have. About where babies come from. They told you right?”

“Huh?”

“The teacher told you how the baby gets inside the uterus?”

“I don’t think so.  I must have blacked that part out. Maybe she’ll tell us tomorrow.”

“Hmm…well, tell you what. You can tell your father all about what you find out in puberty class tomorrow and he’ll answer any questions you might have, and I’ll listen to you play “Hot Cross Buns” as much as you like the rest of the day. Deal?”

“Okay,” he said and the car was once again filled with the Devil’s elevator music.

Sometimes being a mom requires making the tough choices.

Actually, this was an easy one.

I think.

Ask me again tomorrow after my first puberty class is over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family, Humor, Parenting

Phone Calls

Talking to a young child on the phone is an exercise in patience. The endless grueling-marathon kind of exercise that gets you nowhere fast and ends with you repeatedly jamming your smart phone into your eye socket.

Yesterday I was out on errands and needed to pick up a prescription at the pharmacy for my husband. There was confusion about a refill so I had to call him on my cell phone immediately to clear things up.

Unfortunately, my 11-year-old son answered.

For some reason whenever he talks on the phone he morphs into a hyped-up sugar-crazed maniac who has forgotten he should adjust his voice on the phone to lower then 10,000 decibels.

Him: HELLO?

Me: Hey, is Daddy there?

Him: [shouting] HELLO!

Me: Is Daddy right there? Can you put him on the phone?

Him: HI! [giggling]

Me: Is Daddy th-

Him: HI MOM! [hysterical laughing]

Me: [looking down at cell phone] Who IS this?

Him: CANDY!

Me: Put. Daddy. On. The. Phone.

Him: CANDY!

Me: What?

Him: Are you getting us candy?

Me: What? No.

Him: CANDY!

Me: No! No candy! Will you hand the phone to Daddy now?

[handing phone over, more giggling in background]

[my seven-year-old daughter breathing heavy into phone]

Her: [yelling at the top of her lungs] I LIKE SKITTLES!

Hmm…perhaps I should take the kids on a fun little visit to the ear doctor tomorrow.

Me: Give the phone to Daddy.

Her: DID YOU GET US CANDY?

…and apparently both my kids are hopeless junkies and all that sugar has eaten away every functioning neuron in their brains.

Me: Give the phone to Daddy.

Her: You’re at the store getting us candy now, right?

What do they think I spend all my free time buying candy? That mom just lives in the pharmacy’s candy aisle? “Okay, kids! Mommy’s heading out now to camp out on that little cot next to the Snickers bars, just waiting for you to tell me what kind of candy you want!”

Me: Give the phone to Daddy. To Daddy. The phone. To Daddy. GivethephonetodaddyGivethephonetodaddyGivethephonetodaddy.

Her: [yelling] I LIKE SKITTLES!

Phone hangs up.

Well, I guess my husband will just have to do without his blood pressure pills. I’ll just replace them with Skittles, I’m sure it won’t be a problem.

 

 

 

Family, Motherhood

Becoming Mom

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I find it incredible how quickly life can change. One minute you’re thinking, “I will never have kids and I will never be a mom!” and the next one you’re thinking, “How in the hell do I clean baby poop off the ceiling? And off the drapes, the couch, my shirt and my face?”

When I was 21 years old I was a free spirited college student. My main concerns were, “Will I ever see Nirvana live?” and “Is it possible to cook Ramen noodles using only tinfoil and a light bulb?” I had no boyfriend, one cat and lived alone 3,000 miles from home in an apartment off campus.  I was determined to live a recluse life and spend my spinster days rereading good books and baking desserts.  Hey, what can I say? I had a deep romance with brownies and John Irving.

I was truly happy back then. Sure, I would get lonely from time to time, but even the loneliness had this sweetly sad, pining, mysterious, almost magical quality. I was bucking the trend. I was living life on my terms. I didn’t need anyone. When my friends would say, “Darla, you’d make a great mom!” it was like they were suggesting I abandon all sanity and join the circus. Being a parent was a foreign concept to someone who could barely keep her angel fish alive in a tank.

My oh my how things change.

I met my husband when I was 27 and almost instantly wanted a baby. People throw around the term about a woman’s “clock ticking” like it’s an actual concept and I’m here to tell you it most definitely was for me. I felt this sudden deep inner longing to be a mom, it overtook my entire life. It’s hard to describe the feeling I had, that becoming a parent was somehow woven into the fibers of my soul.

Unfortunately, due to severe endometriosis we struggled with infertility for two years. At the age of 31, instead of a baby, I ended up with surgery to remove a large cyst and my right ovary.  The tumor was so large there was a good chance it was cancerous. I came out of surgery and was told it was benign and I would be okay.

I got pregnant again later that year only to lose the baby early on.  It’s hard even now to write about the anguish I felt, the raw pain of miscarrying. Like I was reaching out to touch a new life only to have it melt away before my eyes. I felt helpless, empty, lonely and like I was abandoned by God.  I felt there must be something “wrong” with me. The guilt, anger and shame were suffocating.

My doctor assured me that even with one diseased ovary, there was still a chance I’d get pregnant yet again.  I never lost that tiny hope that one day I would l have a precious baby in my arms, whether he came from me or we adopted and he came from someone else, it didn’t matter. He would be my son and I would love him with all my heart to the ends of the earth and back.

Of course, the month we gave up trying to get pregnant to explore other options was when my son decided to come down to earth so I could be his mom. Good one, God. I get it, you have perfect timing and also a twisted sense of humor.

Fate really has the upper hand. Life might not go as you had planned but sometimes that turns out to be a good thing.  Maybe even better than you ever dared to dream.  I look back now at this miracle and I’m still flabbergasted. I’m a mom of two incredible kids now. Two! For someone who used to go days only talking to her cat, this is not the life I had ever imagined.

And I wouldn’t change a thing.

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This post was inspired by my good bloggy buddy, Elyse from FiftyFourAndAHalf.
In her post When You Were 21 she asked us what life we were living at the age of 21 and how have things changed since then. Thanks, Elyse, I have wanted to write about my infertility struggle for awhile now and it felt good to get some of it out.

If you’d also like to write about your life at 21, feel free to comment here, there or write your own post about it.

Family, Motherhood

The Year of Our Miracle

It was seven years ago when one little pill was the reason my daughter lived.

Previously, I had suffered several miscarriages. My doctor suspected a blood disorder and ran a million tests. One morning, his nurse called to inform me that I had a blood clotting disorder and wasn’t able to absorb any folic acid. And it was impossible to sustain a pregnancy without the help of a blood thinner.

I had just found out I was pregnant again for the third time in as many months so with tears flowing down my face I frantically begged the nurse to tell me what to do.

“Take a baby aspirin, immediately!”

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For the next nine months, I took that one tiny orange pill every morning. I think the fact it said “baby aspirin” right on the box was truth in advertising. Because this along with a mega vitamin B pill is what sustained my baby. Also, lots of prayers.

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Today this baby is the brightest star in my world. She’s unbelievably sweet, giving and loving. She brought home a project from school yesterday listing what she’s thankful for this Thanksgiving:

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I am thankful for the love because it is great.

I am thankful for my family because they love me.

I am thankful for my mom because she loves me.

This thanksgiving, I am forever thankful for you, Little Miss J.

Happy 7th birthday!

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Family, Motherhood, Parenting

Deep Thoughts by Little Miss J

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My daughter is six and a half years old and tends to be a wee bit dramatic at times. She’s also much smarter than I’ll ever be.

The other morning she flew into my bedroom, eyes ablaze, and wailed, “Oh, Mommy! It’s just not fair! I mean, seriously! Seriously!” She threw herself onto my bed. “Like, seriously!” she cried again.

“What? What is it? What happened?” I rushed over and started stroking her long brown hair.

She lifted up her tear-soaked face and sobbed, “It’s this!” she blurted, dramatically handing me the board game cover she was holding.

“Oh! Of course,” I shook my head. “Scrabble. Wretched game. Just terrible.”

“No! I love it! I was winning with the word, QUIET! But it says Ages Seven and Up, Mom! Seven and up! So I can’t play it anymore!” and she continued her writhing, moaning, and gnashing of teeth.

When I was her age, I spent most of my days either eating Scrabble tiles or jamming them up my nose.

So it’s no surprise that my girl is also interested in other typically light, playful subjects such as life, death, afterlife, God and reincarnation. And she usually interrogates me with rapid-fire questions right as I’m tucking her into bed at night.

This wouldn’t be a problem if I were half as smart as she is or knew any of the answers.

“…and so Big Bird and Elmo played baseball and they all lived happily ever after…” I read aloud to her then closed the book.

“Man, I love Big Bird…” I sighed and stared off into the distance.

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“Mom?”

“Is this a question about why Elmo has no ears?…. Please?”

“Oh, Mom! Elmo’s not real,” she wrinkles her nose. “He’s imaginary. This book was fiction. That means it’s made up. Mrs. Bouthot [her kindergarten teacher] said so.”

“Well, she would know,” I frown. “Pffft.”

“She does know. She knows everything!” her eyes widened. “Mom? What happens after you die?”

“Um, you go to heaven. OK, good night!” I kiss the top of her head.

“How?”

“You just go.”

“What do you take with you?”

“Um, your soul. Okay! Good night!”

“And where do you go? Is God there?”

“Yes. And it’s very nice and beautiful and wonderful,” I pull the covers up to her chin. “Sweet dreams! Think of Big Bird! I know I will!”

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“What’s God like?”

“Umm….he’s a pretty cool dude. He loves us no matter what.”

“Even when I don’t brush my teeth?”

“Even then.”

“So….we’re babies again after we die?”

“Uh, I’m not sure…”

“Do we stay the same after we die?”

“Uh…”

“How old are we?”

“Well….I don’t know exactly…”

“Where do we all live? Are there houses? Do we eat food? Is there candy there? Can we come back? I’d like to come back as a baby again. That’s what we do, right? We get to pick new families and keep coming back down here?”

“Sure, I guess….maybe, but I’m not sure…”

“I want to come back as a princess ballerina veterinarian!”

“I want to come back as Mrs. Bouthot. Or Big Bird.”

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Parents: How do you handle heavy questions from your kids? Do your kids know more than you do, too?
Others: What happens after you die? What’s the meaning of life? Why does Elmo have no ears?

Family, Motherhood, Parenting

Happy Double 1s, Little Man

This week is my son’s birthday.

From the very beginning, I knew he was going to be a handful. He refused to vacate his comfy home for his due date, deciding instead to roll around in my belly like the Tasmanian Devil partying in a hot tub.

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Today, my son is the sweetest, kindest, most adorable-est boy in the universe.  He’s still got a bit of the Taz in him, but that’s okay.  He’s the light of my life.

So it only seems fitting that I show the world my sweet Baby Boo in all his glory (and in the process, call him by as many nauseatingly cutesy nicknames as I possibly can.)

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Of course, I would never ever think of posting some of his extra-adorable/horribly embarrassing photos.

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Because that would just be plain wrong.

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But I’m a mom and if exposing my son’s unbearable cuteness is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

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And it definitely would be wrong of me to post a video of him at the age of five doing a lovely spaztastic dance number.

Dear CJ — my Chub-Bub, my BaBoo, my Lil’ Buddy — I love you more than the moon and stars (even more than trucks and cars).

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Happy 11th Birthday! I’m so happy to be your mom!

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Family, Motherhood, Parenting

Signs Kids and/or Gremlins Live in My House

gizmoMy daughter, age 6

My Christmas wrapping paper. (I put it next to the Buddha to help calm me down)

My Christmas wrapping paper. (I put it next to my Buddha to help calm me down)

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My favorite lipstick, which has been discontinued(Apparently, the Gremlins were hungry)

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Creepy mermaids live in my sink now. I can never do dishes again.

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Should I pray the Little Ponies survive the thaw, or add them to my martini?