I Lost It Today

I have been dealing with AT&T telemarketers for around two weeks now. Daily calls, morning to night, sometimes more than one in a day. It has gotten to the point where I am afraid to answer the phone. They won’t take “no” for an answer, and believe you me, I have tried.

After yesterday, I am officially over it. During the 11am phone call, I thought I told the woman pretty clearly that I am not interested in adding any services, thanks for calling. She interrupted to argue with me. I hung up. At 8pm last night, I got another call. Eight my-baby-just-went-to-sleep-and-now-she’s-waking-him-up o’clock last night, she called me again.

I don’t yell at telemarketers. I try to put myself in their shoes. They’ve got a crap job, and they’re just trying to get by, too. They’re making a living doing what The Man tells them to do. I’ve been trapped in jobs by circumstance, too. So I did the only thing I knew to do. I called AT&T this morning and told them that if the calls don’t stop, I’ll be changing my phone service. The (really nice) customer service rep told me it would be no problem to put me on their no-solicitation list. I had no idea there was such a thing, and it made me really happy. She did inform me that it wouldn’t go into effect until midnight tonight. I just have to make it through today. No problem, right?

10am the phone rang. I answered, heard the tell-tale click and pause of a telemarketer, and I hung up. At 11am, the phone rang. I let it. If a real person left an actual message, I could answer. When the machine cut in, the caller hung up. Twice in an hour. Unreal.

And then came noon. I had just gotten the baby down for his nap, and he was in that tricky limbo phase where his brain was trying to decide between hibernate and overdrive, and any sudden interruption can end our efforts for the day. I answered the phone.

Click- pause. “Is this (pronounces my fairly straightforward name very wrongly)”


“This is (different chick from the one who hassled me yesterday) with AT&T – ”

And I let her have it. I raised my voice to a stranger. It was not how I was brought up, but she had it coming.

“Listen,” I said, “Someone has called me every single day for nearly two weeks. Sometimes twice. When I am eating, when I am going to bed, when my kids are in bed. Every day.We don’t want any additional services. I got put on your no-solicitation list this morning. I know that doesn’t go into effect until midnight, but you are going to stop calling me. It hasn’t been you, it’s been some other chick, but you have to take no for an answer. You woke my kid up from his nap. Calling me twice a day is insane. We are not buying anything else. You are going to stop calling me. Write it down somewhere. Stop calling. I cannot take this anymore. And there is nothing left for either of us to say.”

I hung up on her. I have not hung up on anyone in a flying rage since I was fourteen. As I hit “end,” it hit me like a bolt of remorseful lightning. The voice of the kind customer service rep from this morning played back through my mind. “In the next 24 hours, someone will be calling you  to make sure that you had a good experience with Customer Service.”

That wasn’t my telemarketer pal that I cut loose on. Son of a pup. I am a turd. I hate myself.

Baby Got a Zoo-boo

Taken on a zoo-boo free day.

Tuesday was zoo day. Technically, zoo was slated for Monday, but Squish preferred to curl up in my clean laundry instead. Every time I asked him if he was ready, he’d reply “I can’t go. I fleeping.” In reality, he was pooping, which took zoo off the agenda and put potty in its stead. So we went on Tuesday.

I was totally with it. Laundry and dishes and writing were done, dog was bathed, Squish’s morning dump was taken care of in the proper receptacle, and it was only 9:30. On the way to the zoo, we even squeezed in a quick trip to Target so we didn’t have to try to do it on the way home. That was wiser than I knew.

All Squish talked about was visiting the the sandbox in the zoo’s playground, so as soon as we sun-screened, we wandered in that direction, visiting all the animals in between. The zoo has a new otter that just finished quarantine, so we got to watch from a distance as she was introduced to her new playmate. We made our obligatory visit to reptiles, and then sandbox, here we come!

As we walked down the hill, Squish suddenly remembered how  much he liked the barn loft exhibit and visiting the owls. He dashed ahead of me and went to open the door, catching his toe. He winced but said he was okay. We spent a few minutes talking to the owls and exploring. As we were leaving, I saw him do the tell-tale crotch grab. As the restrooms were right on our way to the sandbox, he agreed to make a pit-stop. It was as we were climbing the stairs to the restroom that I first noticed his toe. Or rather, realized I couldn’t actually see his toe for all the blood. Did I mention he was wearing sandals when he pulled the door open on it?

I’m not a squeamish person. I used to work for a veterinarian. I once watched him perform a spay on a dog with pyometra, watched him pull out the swollen uterus hand-over-hand like he was hauling out a python. Totally cool. But the sight of blood coming from my precious little baby can make me see stars. The challenge before me was to treat his wound without vomiting on his little head.

Not wanting the little guy to panic, we went inside the restroom (by great fortune, the one restroom in the zoo that offers paper towels instead of hand dryers), and I dampened a towel.

“Wat dat for, Mommy?”

“Um, I, uh, I just need to clean off your shoe.”

“Why? Oh. Mommy? IS DAT KETCHUP?”

“Hee-hee, um, does it look like ketchup, sweetie? Ha-ha. Is that ketchup, precious? That can be ketchup if you want”


“Well, no, sweetie. That’s a little blood.”


“You are a little. You have a little boo-boo. I just need to clean-”


At this point, small child panicking at the sight of his own blood became small child hysterical at the prospect of having his boo-boo touched. I managed to convince him to at least let me clean his shoe. Once he figured out I was leaving the toe alone, he was highly cooperative and cheerful again.

So now what? Shoe is clean, child is happy, toe looks like hamburger. Do we abruptly end this visit? I’ve already been chump-of-the-week dragging his unsuspecting little self off to get a flu shot. I can’t end what was supposed to be a fun trip to the zoo with a visit to the ER. That would just seem so wrong.

I decided we’d go visit the goats in the petting zoo and figure it out from there. Little guy refused to be carried and seemed to have no trouble ambulating on his own two feet, so that was a good sign. Unfortunately, by the time we reached the contact yard, his shoe was full of blood again. Awesome. I took him back to the bathroom to clean his shoe and got to break the fun news that he was not going to get to visit the sandbox. When he asked the inevitable “Why?” Mommy got to teach him a new word. Biohazard.

The keeper in the contact yard looked at his bloodied foot and asked if I wanted her to call the Rangers. They are the ones who are certified in first aid. She asked Mr. Squish “Would you like someone to bring you a band-aid?” I wish she hadn’t. My kids are weird, and this particular child finds band-aids about as appealing as being set fire to. Or put down for a nap.

“NO BAND-AID! NO! NO! NO!” More awesome. I do have moments of blinding genius, and I offered the kid his very first ride on the carousel, a treat that made this particular zoo visit a lot better, but will make all subsequent visits a complete nightmare. But times were desperate. We did it. And he rode the alligator.

He did agree that we could go home afterward. He even agreed that we could clean his foot when we got there. He changed his tune right about the time we were pulled in the driveway. But I had to do it. His entire foot was crusted with dried blood, and it had to come off before my husband got home. If there is anyone more squeamish about baby blood than a mommy, it is a daddy person.

It is amazing to me how difficult it is to wrestle a small child who does not want his boo-boo tended. I was merciful and used peroxide. I can’t remember what current boo-boo cleaning protocol is anymore, but I rationalized that even if peroxide is bad, it’s a whole lot better than letting goat doo-doo stay on an open wound. I didn’t try to touch it, but I squeezed the stuff over his foot. He finally quit struggling and watched the “magic bubbles” kill his germs. But still no band-aid.

I offered him a sock to wear, thinking he’d refuse. Instead, he seemed remarkably excited about the idea. And now he won’t take it off. I thought he might actually take a bath with it. My fear was that my husband would get a good look at the injury, pass out, hit his head on the sink and die, leaving me with three children to raise on my own. Maybe socks are good.I’m thinking I might let him wear it (yes, singular. He only wants to wear one) for the next three or four weeks. Until all signs of trauma are gone. Mommy’s heart can’t take it.


***Update*** Squish asked me to “cwean wif magik bubbas” this morning and giggled while the peroxide did its work. I love that kid.

Every Single Time

Every time, I promise myself this time will be different. I will be strong. I will not forget who I am.I will not give in to the anger or swear under my breath. I will not dissolve into a puddle of hatred and self-recrimination.  And every time, I am wrong. Wal-mart just has that effect on me.

Yes. I shop at Wal-mart. Don’t judge. No, go ahead. I judge myself all the time. But my choices at this point are to get a real job and put Squish in daycare or shop where my current budget allows. Rock, meet Hard Place. But I digress. We do buy our milk, eggs, and most of our soy products from a store where we can buy organic. We do what we can, right? RIGHT?

I hate going grocery shopping so much that I only go every two weeks. Planning out my menus for two weeks is a bit of a pain, but it limits the pummeling on my poor psyche gets to twice a month. I dread the trip. I should say I go no more than every two weeks. I will put it off for as long as possible, until we are eating pancakes and black beans every night (not together. That would be gross.). When it gets to the point where sweet husband is asking what I’m serving for dinner with trepidation in his voice, I know I can’t avoid it any longer. And yesterday, it was time.

I decided shopping would be less painful if it didn’t take an important part of my day (i.e. nap time). The plan was to make out the list at breakfast and go straight after dumping kids at school. Determined not to let the prospect of shopping ruin the morning, I plastered a sunny (psychotic?) smile on my face and asked the family what kind of things they’d like to see on the menu for the next two weeks. If I include them in the process, they are less likely to complain about what I am serving, right? RIGHT? Whatever. I might as well have asked them what kind of tires to put on the dishwasher for all the interest they showed. Sweet husband dutifully took pen in hand while I walked the 9 year old to school and made a few additions. A very few. He suggested that we have pancakes two nights. I give up.

But I was not going to let this trip turn me into a dried up, bitter shrew. That’s what having teenagers is for. This trip was for sustenance. Nothing more. So I packed up Squish, and we went. I cheerfully headed to the general merchandise section for the non-foods on my list. I found soap quickly enough, though the aisle was so narrow I had to leave my cart where it was. No problem. Next on the list? Deodorant. Piece of cake. I found it with no trouble. Except there was not a single brand for me. Not one. Do other people’s husbands not stink after their morning 5 mile run? My husband is secure in his masculinity, but I am pretty sure that if I brought home something that made him smell like flowers, he’d have something to say about it. No problem. I picked one that is unscented. What’s that, pumpkin? No. Mommy is only talking to herself. She is being so silly! No, those aren’t words Mommy wants you to use. This is FUN!

I managed to find my knitting needles in the proper size with little trouble, and I found the sandwich containers on sale (score!). Selling my soul for 25 cents off is what it is all about. Then I needed to find doorknob covers to keep Squish out of trouble at home. I located the baby section pretty easily. But the aisles are no longer marked. Nor do they make any sense. You may find diapers and bottles in pretty much the same spot. I certainly didn’t mind walking up, down and sideways through every aisle. Twice. It was actually fun! It was! So fun!

How I managed to contain my excitement and get over to the grocery side, I will never know. We had a fantastic time looking for our pretzels. I know those silly managers stock them in four different places just to make our trip exciting. Like a treasure hunt! X marks the spot. Where I lost my mind. Something snapped, and I couldn’t take it anymore. I began loudly talking to “myself” about the morons who created this ever-lovin’ floor plan, about the aisles that are so narrow that two people can’t pass, about the fact that the store has only carried the light variety of string cheese for MONTHS! If I want to be fat, I will jolly well be fat! Fat and jolly!

I shoved my cart to the check out and did my best to maintain pleasant small-talk with the cashier.  It wasn’t his fault. I grabbed up my groceries and headed to the car. And it was raining. Perfect. And once I got home, I was going to have to unload the stupid things on my own. Awesome. But I bought a lot of stuff. Plenty, really. I bet I can stretch these groceries out for at least three weeks. I think I’ll make some beans.



The Real Differences Between Boys and Girls #1: Food

Feed me!

The point in  my life where I knew the most about rearing children was shortly before I actually had any of my own. I used to believe there are no differences between boys and girls besides the stance they adopt when they pee. How kids are raised has far more impact on them than a silly chromosome, right? It was all nurture trumps nature over here. And then the kids arrived.

Now I’m not saying that there are genetically defined gender roles that children will inevitably fall into. But they are different. Different but equally strange. One big difference between my daughter and her brothers is how much they eat.

My daughter was our first, and we made a few mistakes with her. She was unbelievably tiny, and we experienced a few dramatic incidents at the doctor’s office regarding her size, or lack thereof, including a mad rush to the local children’s hospital because it appeared that my three year old had actually lost five pounds. It took us a $100 co-pay to learn that the doctor’s scales were incorrectly calibrated. But there was no denying she was scrawny.

She ate, of course. But never enough to satisfy us. Meal times were a barely tolerated interlude between far more interesting activities.  Food became less sustenance and more opportunity for artistic expression. Yogurt and sweet potatoes were for painting a high-chair tray. Cheerios were for creating designs. And she was picky. At the age of 10, she asked to go vegetarian. At the time I wondered if her decision had less to do with personal conviction and more to do with eliminating an entire food group, but I let her.

When the second baby entered the picture, I figured mealtimes would be the same desperate uphill battle against eminent starvation. Boy, was I in for a surprise. I’ve definitely been in a power-struggle or two with the boys over trying a taste of the green bean, and we’ve experienced some strange aversions (french fries and biscuits come to mind). But the biggest stress with my toddler boys is knowing when to say when.

Growth spurts are something of an event in our house these days. With my daughter, a growth spurt meant she took a bite out of everything on her plate and maybe finished most of an entree. With the boys, we have taken to tossing the food in their general direction so we don’t lose a hand. Safety first, you know.

My second child is a “grazer.” He takes in small amounts of food all day long. All day long. We are blessed with a school that allows students to bring a snack in the morning, otherwise he might actually consume his pencils, erasers, and possibly his seatmate. From the time he was two, babysitters have had the same parting comment. “He didn’t stop eating.” But even he can’t hold a candle to Squish.

You think I’m kidding. Squish is coming to the final phase of a growth spurt as we speak. This one has lasted over a week. For breakfast, he can eat two bowls of cereal with milk, a bowl of oatmeal, and a banana. As soon as he has polished that off, it’s snack time. A peanut butter sandwich and some bunny crackers should hold him over until lunch time, which may consist of string cheese, grapes, milk, and some peanut butter crackers. At one memorable meal, Squish consumed a bread stick, some carrots and dressing, and four servings of lasagna. Four. As in, as much as the rest of his entire family put together. And he didn’t just ask for more. He begged. With real tears. As we watched him consume that final serving in some alarm, our bank statement flashed before our eyes, and we had to ask ourselves the obvious question.  If he continues to eat like this, can we even afford to keep him?

And here’s the fun part. That particular meal may have been solely responsible for launching him into the 6th percentile. Yes, the sixth. For the unenlightened, children are weighed and measured at each well-visit, and the results are compared those of other kids the same age (the percentiles are actually based on 1000 male bottle-fed babies in the 1950’s, but that’s neither here nor there).The bigger they are, the higher their “percentile.” Squish the smallest critter I have spawned. As tiny as my daughter was, she operated somewhere around the 15th  until she was in middle school.

Fast-forward a few years on my daughter. She is 14 and an incredibly adventurous eater. She actually likes food now, and her new favorite is barbecue tofu. But she still doesn’t eat much. On occasion, she can put away four slices of pizza, but her brothers can do that now! Both of them. I am a little scared for what our teen years hold, and I think feeding these boys will involve some creativity on our part if we’re not going to go broke doing it. I wonder if a family has ever been black-listed from an all-you-can-eat buffet.


Will I Ever Learn?

Symmetry in nature is beautiful

The days are getting shorter, the kids are off to school, and we all know what that means. I’m screwed. Let the record show that I don’t do this every year. It usually takes about 2 years to completely forget past mistakes and make them anew with reckless abandon. And I think I outdid myself this time.

I love plants. I used to work in a greenhouse in college. I did everything from cloning African violets to cloning carrots (yes, somewhere out there is a giant carrot dragging its mutated self around the globe searching for its creator. It’s ALIIIIIVE!). I love watching the new shoots pop up through the soil, fighting the odds in its struggle for life. I take as much pride in my aloe’s offspring as if I had spawned it with my very own rhizomes. I love surrounding myself with a jungle of green. And that’s my problem. Where does the jungle go in the winter? I only have one window.

Okay, I have more that one window. I don’t live in a subterranean cave, after all. But I also have several cats. And a small kid. So let me amend that statement to “I only have one window that gets enough light for a plant to survive and is out of reach of four-legged diners and wild two-legged diggers.” So I’m screwed.

Last year, I remembered. I remembered the drought and twice-a-day waterings. I remembered not being able to see the top of my kitchen table from October until May. I remembered the heartbreaking parting as I had to send my largest ficus to my husband’s office because there was no way to keep our burgeoning bi-ped out of it. Instead of our forest of tomato plants (which are annual and die before it’s time to bring the plants in, thank you very much) and cuttings of every house plant I have ever owned, I contented myself with planting one tomato and repotting my ferns. I did make a few cuttings of my ficus to grow as Christmas gifts. But that was it.

At the end of last year, I had my fern, my son’s alligator plant and a few of its incredibly homely offspring (but a baby plant is a baby plant and must be nurtured, right?!), and the cuttings of the ficus. At Christmas, I repotted them for their new homes. Unfortunately, the ones that were supposed to travel to the in-laws got left behind. But their tiny pots fit on my sill. I wasn’t too crowded as I did my dishes, and there were only 4 plants to  move off of the kitchen table when it was time to eat.

I blame our university’s garden story-time for the loss of my ever-lovin’ mind. We went to our first story time of the season, and instead of a coloring station, the children got to plant a seed to take home. Squish was fascinated by the bean. He insisted on watering it and checking its progress every day. The day it sprouted was a day of celebration. And then it hit me. What do we DO with it? It can’t live a full life in its little cup. Do we let it die an unnatural death in front of our son, or do we buy some soil and give the stupid thing a chance at achieving its potential? Do I have to tell you what we did?

Once the bean was planted, we (okay, there was no “we.” It was all me) decided it could use some companions. Having no idea what kind of bean we had planted, I was unsure if it was a self-pollinator or not, so we planted some sugar peas in the same pot. We started them in a plastic jar so that the kids (okay, me again) could watch their root development. I called them Venomous Tentacula in honor of the upcoming HP movie, which amused me more than anyone else. They grew with frightening speed. I measured 2 inches of root growth in just under 3 hours. Good thing they’re sensitive to temperature or these things would take over the planet!

Then my husband became an accomplice to my stupidity. He brought home a book on herb gardening. Suddenly I had my heart set on growing my own bay laurel, and we set about on a city-wide search. The plant was elusive, but we managed to secure one. I’ll never have to buy dried bay leaves again! Who knew it needed a 12 inch pot? And it’s a tender perennial, so it needs to winter inside.

Same with the rosemary.

And then my daughter bought some mint. Won’t fresh mint tea be tasty this winter?

And then there’s the thyme. And the oregano.

And those ficus babies have been re-potted. They doubled in size  and are ready for their new homes.  Except for the one I’d really like to keep.

The fern is now so big that it won’t fit in its little nook by the microwave this winter.

And the burro-tail won’t fit on the sill because its new pot is too wide.

I might be easier if we just move.

Do Me a Solid

This has absolutely nothing to do with my post, but I like this picture.

Some people use horoscopes to predict their day. Others check to see what kind of stuff they have in their schedule to get a sense of how things are going to go. For me, it’s much more simple than star charts and Franklin planners. My day hinges on poop.

Not my own, let’s be clear. Although at my age, who can deny that a good one can be a very satisfying start to the day. No, it’s more serious than that because it is totally out of my control.I am, of course, referring to Mr. Squish.

My day is always better if I can get my work done early in the day. Once I hit “save,” I am free, and it’s a glorious feeling. My ideal schedule is to get my work finished, take Squish somewhere fun to play, come home for lunch, and start on my second project while he takes a nap. Sounds easy, right? And it totally can be, but it’s all up to Squish.

I cannot work when he is running around. I find myself stopping every 5.3 seconds to pull him off the couch/cat/counter, and it’s hard to concentrate. If I can get him to sit still for 30 minutes, I get on a roll, the creative juices can flow, and I can at least get enough traction that I can finish my work after I spring him. And that means Bob the Builder. I know. I am a terrible parent. I let my kid watch a bit of TV. <insert judgement of my parenting here>

But here’s the rub. In our house, there is no access to the wonders of a claymation construction worker until tiny person produces a poop.  And not just any poop. It has to at least appear to be the day’s work. Can we do it? Yes, we can!

Our rule is not as weird as it sounds. My young toilet-trainee had lots of accidents while watching his show because he found Bob too riveting to answer the call of nature. Since the institution of the poop-for-Bob policy, Squish has had 2 accidents. It works, and we’re sticking with it until it doesn’t anymore. May that day never come.

The tricky part is getting it done. Most days, he’s like clock-work. He gets up, he asks to potty, he poops out a present, and my work can begin. But then there are the days where he doesn’t want to, where he isn’t, um, moved by the spirit. Those days are special. He offers a non-committal shrug and says “It not workin’ today.” Those days go something like this:

“Do you want to go poop?”

“Naw. I fine.”

“Go play for a few minutes while Mommy does her workies.”

“Mommy, my scooper is broken!” (accompanied by dramatic wailing)

“Baby, that’s a puzzle. It’s supposed to come apart. Let Mommy finish this really fast”

“Is my room clean? I cleaning my room.”

“Squish, that’s the closet. Get out of there! Do you need to go poop? Poop for Bob?”

“No. No poop today. Dis Daddy’s coffee?”

“Don’t drink that!”

“I hungwy. Need brekfuss.”

“Sweetie, you just ate. Are you sure you don’t need to poop? Watch some Bob?”

“No, I fine. I gonna feed Feebee.”

“I already fed the dog, pumpkin. Give me that. She can’t eat all of those!”

“I frow dis away. Dis trash.”

“Baby, that’s my checkbook. Get out of my purse, and get that out of the trash!”

And on it goes until:

a) Squish gives up and produces a dook, or

b) I give up on my deadline and take Squish somewhere to burn off some energy so that maybe he’ll actually take a nap.

Today we were lucky. It’s only 9am, and it’s all taken care of on both ends. We’re going to pack up and go to the zoo to celebrate. It’s been a productive day. For both of us.





Looking pretty good for 16!

Some days, my life reads like a country song. Today has been one of those days. I will tell you my pitiful story, and then you will offer your forgiveness for today’s blog being a repost off my old site. Last night, my 16 year old cat had an awful medical issue that carried into today. She’s fine now, but between getting her to the vet and worrying about whether she’d be okay, I’m left feeling a little drained. Combine that with 45 minutes of sheer terror this morning when I realized my good friend hadn’t called or emailed me after his kayaking trip, and then I couldn’t reach him by phone, and you’ve got the makings of a rerun day. It all ended well Piper the cat did well with the anesthesia and will be home soon, and my friend Steve isn’t at the bottom of a lake somewhere (a shout-out to Steve for not being dead!). But I now have exactly two brain-cells left, and they’re not talking to one another.

So here’s a repost, with a few additions. I have tried very hard to edit it, but apparently I was going through an ee cummings phase when I wrote this originally. Please forgive words that should be capitalized but aren’t. I know. It bugs me, too.


I don’t understand. why is it that:

1) My husband managed to install our surround-sound  approximately 30 seconds after we moved in, but he cannot snap up a sleeper to save his life??

2) My six year old can locate the great barrier reef on a globe but cannot find the hamper in his bedroom?

3) The old man can watch Gladiator without flinching but faints when he gives blood?

4) My dresser drawers are stuffed so full of clothes I can hardly close them, but most days I can’t find anything to wear?

5) I can spend a 12 hour day shopping thrift stores but can’t find the energy to fold my laundry?

6) We have many square feet of open floor space on the top floor of my house, but the cat will locate my son’s Tow-Mater slipper when she needs to vomit?

7) I’m so tired I can’t stand myself, but when I lay down I can’t sleep?

8 ) I have caught my kids’ poo in my hands, but when I ask my husband to use the booger sucker on the baby, he leaves a daddy-shaped hole in the door?

9) My daughter can name 14 species of gecko but cannot remember to bring home her lunchbox?

10) If we are checking books out of the library to save a  little money, why do we refuse to return them on time?

11) Why is it that when I need him to wake up, the baby is so sound asleep that I need an air horn to rouse him, but he’s up like a shot when I’m just trying to put laundry away?

12) Why is it that I can find 32 socks, but none of them actually has a mate? (this one needs a blog post of its very own)

13) I don’t mind when the tortoises at the zoo poop when I’m soaking them, but I am unamused when Squish does it?

14) Why is it that Squish would eat a bug but turns his nose up at broccoli?

Rules For the Last Week of Summer

how quickly can this go wrong?

We’ve had a great summer. We’ve had lots of fun activities, and the kids have really enjoyed themselves. Until now. And as kids do best when they know what the limits are, I decided it would be a good idea to go ahead and make a few rules to help us survive. Just the big ones, you know. The stuff I’m finding myself having to say over and over.

1) Do not jump on your brother.

2) Keep your fingers out of your brother’s nose.

3) Do not touch your brother.

4) Leave your brother’s toys alone.

5) Do not look at your brother.

6) Your brother’s toys are his in perpetuity. Don’t touch them.

7) Keep walkie talkie antennae out of all orifices.

8 ) Do not breathe in the general direction of your brother.

9) You must wear pants if you are going outside to play.

10) Please return all toys to their rightful owner.

11) Please limit the number of Thomas the Tank Engine trains that you carry in your underwear to two.

12) Put your pants back on.

13) Do not think about your brother.

14) Objects in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. Therefore, do not ride your tricycle down the driveway. The concrete wall at the end of the trip will act upon you and make you sad.

15) No Bob the Builder video until you do your poops in the potty. This rule applies to everyone.

16) In this family, we do not hold our fork in our toes.

17) Keep your hands/elbows/mouth/feet off your brother’s plate.

18) Licking a cookie and offering it to your brother does not constitute sharing. Give him the other one.

19) Screaming at various pitches is not a game. Nor is it considered singing. Silence is golden and will keep your mommy from twitching quite so much.

20) When your screeches are so high-pitched that only dogs can hear them, it’s time for a nap. This rule does not, however, apply to adults. Sorry.

21) The game is always over when somebody cries.

22) Forget you even have a brother.

If I’ll be posting these for easy reference in the kitchen. And the bathroom. And the van. And the family room. Thanks for your cooperation.


If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it. What are your summer rules?

Career Girl

Hey, all you stay-at-home moms out there! Do you ever feel embarrassed at your high school reunion when people ask what you do for a living? Ever feel the need to fudge a bit because you’re afraid you’ll be judged? There’s no need for that. Just do as I do. Whenever anyone asks, I look them in the eye and tell them the truth. I’m a zoo keeper.

Yes, I do volunteer in the reptile department at the zoo for four hours a week. I soak the tortoise collection. But that is not what I’m referring to. What I do at home requires pretty much the same skill set as someone who tends chimpanzees. Don’t believe me? Read on.

I spend a big part of my day dealing with poop. A lot of poop.

Enrichment is key. I have to keep the critters busy so that they don’t get themselves into a lot of trouble.

I sometimes have to keep my charges from killing one another.

I have to feed them well so that they don’t turn on me.


Preventing escapes is a constant challenge.

I’ll get bitten if I get too close.

I often end the day covered in poop.

It’s sometimes expensive to repair the damage they’ve done.

The poop thing.

And most importantly, I’ll never get rich doing it, but I wouldn’t change a thing.