Friday, July 30, 2010

Head-Banging: The Asperger Syndrome - Bon Jovi Connection

Little Dude is a head-banger.  This is more of an Asperger Syndrome thing than a heavy metal thing, but he does sometimes look like a tiny little Bon Jovi fan circa 1984.  Sometimes his Asperger isn't too noticeable, but when he starts whacking himself in the head repeatedly with a toy lightsaber, it's a little more apparent.

As disturbing as the head-banging is, it's just yet another thing that completely freaks parents out but doesn't faze doctors in the slightest.  Personally, I don't find being hit in the head soothing at all, but to Little Dude it's as good as a trip to the spa, apparently.  I think this vacation is starting to wear us both down. Right now he's smacking himself with a paper towel tube and I'm wishing he would go to sleep so I could have a bowl of ice cream in peace. I guess everyone has their own coping mechanisms.

Little Dude's self-soothing is worrisome not just because it seems, well, weird, but because it also seems like he is very slowly giving himself a concussion.  So far (knock wood), he hasn't given himself one.  At least not with the head-banging.  Once he slipped getting into our minivan, and fell against the open door.  The arm of his eyeglasses caught on something and the back of his ear was sliced open.  We were just leaving the Center for Scientific Study of Mommy Skin, which is close to our pediatrician's office.  I basically threw Little Dude and the Peanut Butter Kid into the van, buckled them in, and flew to the doctor's.  After cleaning up the wound a bit, the doctor sent us down to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

(I need to take a moment here and just say flat out that my love for both this pediatrician and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia [CHOP] knows no bounds.  I would mention the pediatrician by name but he is up to his eyeballs in patients and turning people away makes him sad.)

We moved through the Emergency Room pretty quickly, because Dr. McAwesome had called ahead for us, plus, you know, Little Dude's ear was kind of hanging off his head.  At one point a research assistant came in and asked if I would be willing to participate in a survey about head trauma and why we chose to come to CHOP.  I explained that unless my child needed treatment right this second, I prefer to drive the extra ten minutes to go to CHOP, the nation's best children's hospital, as opposed to Local Yokel County Hospital.  I'm sure Local Yokel is fine and all, but really, why choose fine when you can have best?  That's like saying, gee, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse is ten minutes away, but I'm too lazy to drive to its deliciousness.  I'll just have this Steak-Umm because my freezer is closer.

Little Dude's ear was glued back together, appointments were made for follow-ups, and we went home on our merry way to pass out relax after all that stress.

Two weeks later, the Peanut Butter Kid was spazzing out at bedtime and managed to roll off the bed and smack her head on the corner of the dresser.  I wasn't in the room, but I heard the tell-tale giggle, giggle, giggle, THUMP ... pause ... blood-curdling scream.  I ran in, grabbed a t-shirt and applied pressure.  Once the situation was somewhat under control, I gently removed the t-shirt and asked the Absent-Minded Professor to take a look.  (I was holding her and couldn't see the back of her head.)

"How bad is it?" I asked him.  "CHOP or Local Yokel?"

"It doesn't look too bad.  I think Local Yokel is okay."

I rolled my eyes, which is something I really try not to do, especially to the man who loves me and is hopefully willing to put up with my nonsense for the rest of our lives.

"Unless she's hemorrhaging blood and needs a transfusion right now, I'm taking her to CHOP."

She didn't seem to need a transfusion, so I packed her into the van and headed down to CHOP.  The guy from Office Space nice doctor stapled her head back together.  (Oh, yes.  Stapled.  Like she was a budget report.)  While we were hanging out being "observed" to make sure there was no concussion, the same research associate came in.

He got about three sentences into his spiel when I stopped him.

"Yeah, um, so I was here two weeks ago?  With my son?  Who also had a head trauma?  And I swear this doesn't happen to us on a regular basis, normally.  So if you promise you won't call Child Protective Services, I will be happy to participate in your survey."

The thing is, whenever you see those reports on the news that a family's hovel home has been raided by CPS, the officer in charge always ends his statement with, "and the place was filthy."  It's a safe bet that my house was a total disaster at that particular moment, because it's pretty much always a mess.  I mean, it's not like there's animal feces lying around, which is good, because that's another thing the CPS officers tend to mention: "the place was knee-deep in dog feces" or whatever.  Sometimes I find a stray toddler poop, but we try to keep the poop situation under control.  And we don't have a dog, so thank God for that. 

But still, the house tends to be a mess.  And I do worry that some day there will be a story about me on the evening news, and the CPS officer will be there saying "I found naked children chewing on wood."  He'll shake his head sadly, and then note, "and the place was filthy."

You know how your grandmother always said you should wear clean underwear in case you're ever in a car accident?  Sometimes I clean my house in case we're raided by Child Protective Services.  That way, the naked children chewing on wood, boy hitting himself with a lightsaber, and coffee-guzzling mom will just seem charming and quirky, not neglected and deranged.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I'm Shameless

Lately I find myself handing out business cards for the blog wherever I go.  It's shameless, really.  Of course, I blame childbirth for my shamelessness.  Or at least my lack of modesty.  Delivering a child from my near-naked body in front of a veritable crowd of hospital employees kind of does that.

It's amazing what shamelessness and lack of modesty can do for your income.  One of the cash-earning activities I've done over the last few years is known in the scientific world as "noninvasive objective skin measurement."  In the mommy world it's known as "whoring out your body in very small increments."

You know how you buy beauty products that say "not tested on animals"?  They've been tested on me.  It's all good: makeup companies stop spraying lip gloss onto bunnies, and I make extra cash.  This is done at a place called the Center for Scientific Study of Mommy Skin or something like that.

Specifically, small dabs of your favorite moisturizer, eye shadow, and facial cleanser have been taped to my back for days on end.  If that sounds like it might be incredibly irritating, that's because it is, in fact, incredibly irritating.  Depending on the test, you have to stop into their suburban office every other day for about four weeks.  Each time, a nurse rips the tape off, measures how red your skin is, and then applies fresh goo and tape.  This is pretty much the most sane test they offer.

Other tests are a bit more complicated.  One involved putting one kind of acne gel on one side of my face, and another on the other side of my face.  This test was incredibly awesome for one side of my face.  That side looked like an ad for some sort of magical new Cover Girl foundation.  It was totally worth the intense burning slight tingling sensation.  On the other side?  Let's just say it was slightly less successful. 

My favorite one was a leg study.  I was asked to do a study that paid particularly well because they were having a hard time finding enough participants. Would I mind only shaving my legs only once a week? Uh, no problem. In fact, I would be more than happy to just skip it all together if they'd like. I was delighted that finally my slovenliness was paying off. For my husband, the Absent-Minded Professor, it was a double win: extra money plus I had to shave my legs once a week.

Another test involved checking the rate of coverage of a spray sunblock.  Wearing a black bikini, I had to spray sunblock on myself and then stand on a platform under ultraviolet lights while having my torso photographed.  This was in the presence of two men who claim to be scientists but might just have a fetish for suburban middle-aged moms.   In Philly there are nightclubs where bikini-clad "shot girls" slink around under the black lights hawking expensive, colorful test-tubes of booze.  So it was kind of like that, except instead of hot girls selling lemon drops, we were a bunch of moms handing off Capri Suns to our kids to keep them from asking questions like "Mommy, why are you so jiggly?"

Another time I allowed them to basically super-glue a glass microscope slide to the side of my nose because they promised me it would be "just like a Biore strip."  It was not.

More humiliating than the bikini event and the not-really-a-Biore-strip incident were the evaluations to qualify for the tests in the first place.  In their front office, they'll hang a sign that says "Dry Legs? See Janine" or "Do you have Crow's Feet? Please see Dr. Steve."  I would get all excited, because I have dry legs or crow's feet or hideous stretch marks or intensely chapped eyelids or whatever they're looking for. Because I need the money have lots of skin issues.  So I would see Janine or Dr. Steve and be told that my stretch marks were only slightly hideous and my eyelids were only mildly chapped and I'd be disappointed.  Yeah, because that makes sense. 

Another evaluation required them to peer at my pores under a special light that makes skin bacteria glow.  That special light also makes your sun damage readily apparent.  The whole thing made me feel like I really needed to see a dermatologist as soon as possible very special.  Most pathetic?  I was sad that I didn't have enough skin bacteria to qualify for the study.

The best part of the Center for Scientific Study of Mommy Skin is hanging out with other moms.  Nothing encourages bonding like sitting next to someone while you wait for the super glue on your nose to dry.  It becomes as normal as sitting in a doctor's waiting room, assuming your doctor has you glue stuff to your nose.  Because moms of multiples tend to need to get the hell out of the house extra cash, a lot of the twin, triplet, and quad mommies would end up there.  We could have held board meetings for my mothers of multiples club there whenever there was a really good face wash study going on.

The truly bizarre thing about all this is how normal it became and how many of my friends were involved.  I can see how crime rings of suburban moms could form this way.  One minute you're huffing super glue and the next minute you're letting strange men photograph you in a bikini.  It's a slippery slope.  Pretty soon you're selling pot brownies at the PTA and before you know it Alanis Morrisette is your ob/gyn and people are getting killed with croquet mallets.  It can get out of control, I tell you.  Shameless.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Love to the Single Mamas

So the other night I got together with some of my twin mommy friends.  If we were hip, like the folks on Twitter, we would call each other our Tweeps (twin peeps).  But we're not that cool, so we just call each other by our regular names.

The event was hosted by my good friend Meredith.  You may remember her super-irritating ex-husband Jim from my post "Happy Father's Day! No, not you, Deadbeat, I'm talking to the good ones." Her real name isn't Meredith. I just call her that because it's entirely possible and justifiable that she will snap and stab her ex-husband in the eyeball with a fork, and Meredith Baxter Birney will portray her in a Lifetime movie entitled Forks: They're Not Just for Pancakes Anymore

If you get a bunch of us moms together, and especially if you throw some vodka and Fresca into the mix, we will get around to Jim-bashing pretty quickly.  One of his more minor annoying acts: five minutes before picking up the kids, Jim called from his cell to ask Meredith to get a box of nails from the basement to give him.  A half-empty box of nails, that he thought might be in the third drawer down, you know the one that sticks, but maybe it's not there, and could she look around for it, it might be on the top shelf behind the Christmas decorations.  Also, he's kind of in a rush, so could she go look right now.

Because that's what single moms have time for: digging around in basement drawers looking for a half-full 59-cent box of nails.  It's to Meredith's credit that she didn't find the nails, load a nail gun, and run them through his snazzy new Ed Hardy shirt when he arrived.  You know why she didn't?  Because she's a good mommy.  (She did, however, give him a blank stare when he arrived asking for the nails, and oh yeah, the kids.)

More annoying that the Great Nail Hunt of 2010 was the time that Jim gave a detailed account of the totally rad concert he and his girlfriend Courtney attended while Meredith was home taking care of their children.  Last concert Meredith attended?  Sing-along at library story time.  Shut up, Jim.

With Jim, there's minor annoyances and major annoyances, and then there's the things that make me want to slam him with an old-fashioned cast iron pan.  Jim's the kind of upstanding 45-year-old that interrupts his kids to read text messages from his girlfriend.  "Excuse me son, I'd love to hear about your t-ball game, but I have to check for booty calls now."

I can't pretend to know what it's like to be Meredith.  When we were selling our house in Pennsylvania, the Absent-Minded Professor was already in working in Texas.  We were apart for a little over a month.  It's not the same; I knew it was temporary.  Nevertheless, it was eye-opening.  What I learned is that it's not the being in charge 24/7 that wears a mom down.  It's not the fact that no one else is going to take out the trash, even when there's freezing rain coming down.  It wasn't killing all the spiders myself, it wasn't pretending to be happy so that the kids would keep it together, it wasn't doing all that plus keeping the house in showroom-condition because we were trying to sell it. That stuff?  You just do what needs to be done.  That's what moms do.  For me, the biggest drag was just being lonely.  Despite being with my amazing kids and having a support network of wonderful friends, at the end of the day, I was lonely.  Watching television and making sarcastic comments to myself is just not as fun.

My guess is that single moms get a little sick of hearing, "I don't know how you do it!" from married moms.  I heard it a lot back in our mega-allergy days when I had to cook five different dinners because everyone had different food requirements.  I would just shrug.  It's not like I had a choice; my kids obviously had to eat dinner.  What else could I do?  I hate to cook, but I made the damn dinners.  So here's what I'll say to my single mama friends: I respect what you do.  I know it's hard in ways that I don't even know.
At some point in the evening, someone spilled a Frodka on Meredith's copy of The Single Mother's Handbook.  We all feel really bad that it has to go back to the library reeking of vodka, but on the other hand, we feel that the next single mom who checks it out will understand. 

p.s. All the Single Ladies: If you haven't already, check out SingleMommyhood and Single Mom Seeking.  They. Are. Awesome.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Big Love

We have four kids, which means we have a “big family.” TLC isn’t knocking down our door to offer us a reality show or anything, but it does put us squarely in the category of Two-Door Hatchback No Longer an Option. Although it's more than average, by no means did we have the biggest family in the town in which we used to live.

That town, which I'm visiting right now, has some really good-sized families.  I forgot how much I missed that.  Almost everyone my age has at least five siblings; many have eight or more.  There are several different parishes in town; our old house was in the parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Childbirth.  As an added bonus, everyone in town knows each other because “my brother Steve went to school with her sister Sue.” (Everyone has a brother named Steve and a sister named Sue.)

Not every Sue went on to have eight kids of her own, but some of them did. Cookie had a classmate who was ninth in line of a dozen kids. So you can be sure that no one in that town even bats an eyelash my measly four. 

Outside of Vatican Hill, Pennsylvania, though, people definitely notice.  They notice my kids emerging from our van, clown car-style.  They notice that when walking anywhere, we naturally form our own parade.  They notice that in the pediatrician's waiting room, we take up most of the seats.  And then they start with the questions.

Are they all yours?  OK, this one I get.  I could be babysitting, or have a niece and nephew in tow, or have picked up some neglected strays in the Chick-fil-A play area.  It's a fair question.  The answer: yes.  They are all mine and you can't have them.  Maybe you can borrow them sometime, but I'm going to need them back.

Don’t you know how that happens? I know this one is meant as a joke, but it's a joke I've heard a few times now.  The answer: yes, and we’re getting really good at it, apparently.

Did you mean for that to happen?  Did you mean to just say that, muttonhead?  Yes, we meant to have four kids.  It just goes to show you that if you work hard and really put your mind to something, you can make any dream come true.  Maybe you can someday realize my dream for you, which is that you will be less of a nitwit.

Do they all have the same daddy?  Nah, they all have different daddies.  Even the twins.  Bwahahahaha.  Seriously, anyone who asks me this does not deserve a straight answer.  What they deserve is to be smacked upside the head with a Jerry Springer DVD.  But I don't usually have one of those in my purse, so I'll settle for giving a snarky answer.

How can you afford that many kids? This is code for "I hope I’m not supporting your lack of planning with my tax dollars."  Good news, folks: we're totally self-supporting.  In fact, I'd love some help with the medical bills, but it turns out we make just a little too much money to qualify.  So, we've decided to earn some extra money by becoming one of those family bands like the Partridge Family or the von Trapps.  You should hear us hum the theme from Star Wars.  I'm certain we'll be rolling in the dough soon.

Have you given any thought as to how this will impact our environment?  This is one of my all-time favorites, and wasn't actually asked of me.  Someone asked this of a friend of mine when she was pregnant with her fifth. Now, this is someone who is as eco-friendly as you can get.  She follows the three R's: Reduce (the amount of packaged stuff purchased because it's too expensive); Reuse (hand-me-down cloth diapers); and Recycle (that dining room table the neighbors were throwing out).  Another friend of mine, a dad of five, came up with the best response: "Yeah. And maybe some of that climate change will warm up your cold, cold heart."

Now that you finally got a boy, are you done?  Gaaaahh.  There are so many things wrong with this question.  First of all, and I'd like to have this printed on a t-shirt, we were not trying for a boy.  We were trying to have a baby.  You know what kind of baby we wanted?  The healthy kind. And regardless of the insane number of doctor's appointments he's had, he's basically healthy. Of course we're thrilled to have a little boy.  Little Dude completes our family and I can't imagine life without him.  But the truth is, if we'd had another little girl, we wouldn't be able to imagine life without her

But back to your question, are we done?  Well, we're certainly not done raising our kids.  Any muttonhead can have a kid; it takes some work to raise them into functional members of society.  It takes even more work to help them turn into the kind of people you'd actually enjoy having dinner with thirty years from now.  If you think about it, you'll have a longer relationship with your child during their adulthood than during their childhood.  This is especially true if you drink as much diet Coke as I do, because the preservatives in it will apparently keep me alive forevah.  So my plan is to raise kids that I'll still enjoy hanging out with when they're all grown up.  So, no, I'm not done.  I still have a tremendous amount of Blondie to make them listen to.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Products I Hate

The Absent-Minded Professor and I are frugal, which is a nice way of saying that we can squeeze a nickel so hard the buffalo, um, defecates.

I'll spend money on certain things.  I like name-brand mustard, for example.  And God knows I'm not giving up diet Coke, evah.  That's what we call a "quality of life issue."  Recently someone on my blog's Facebook page pointed out that diet Coke has something in it that turns into formaldehyde ("common embalming fluid") inside my body and advised that I "kick the diet Coke habit."  You know what?  Embalming fluid is delicious.  And it keeps me awake.  Which, in turn, keeps me from veering off the road and accidentally smashing into that group of anti-diet Coke demonstrators over there.  So I will continue to spend our hard-earned money on diet Coke.  Really, it's best for everyone this way.

But most things?  Cheapy cheap cheap.  Fortunately, this works out well because we have six mouths to feed on one income.

Here are some prime examples of things I wouldn't spend money on even if I was rolling in money.

Huggies faux-denim diapers.  If Little Dude were 13 months old and just learning to walk, I'd probably think these were a riot and buy one pack. I'd being taking pictures of him in jean diapers and Pop-Pop's cowboy hat.  But now? the last thing our potty-training efforts need is an even more attractive diaper.  Also, these things are twice the price of regular diapers.  And while I enjoy the semi-creepy commercial, I'm not spending that kind of money on something that is literally going to be pooped in and disposed of. 

Pixos, Paperoni, or Pretty Much Anything Made by Spinmaster. I have learned my lesson with this stuff. (Moon Sand, I'm looking at you.)  These types of things are an exercise in frustration, even for my kids without fine motor skill delays. The children they show making the suggested designs are not actual children.  They are 40-year-old Little People with Masters of Fine Arts degrees in Sculpture.  I'm not blaming the artists; when you're a struggling sculptor waiting for the MOMA to notice you, you still need cash to buy art supplies and incense sticks and Doc Martens and whatnot.  And I'm happy to see Little People getting work on television that does not involve Spike TV's Half Pint Brawlers.  I'm just saying that Spinmaster's kits are best utilized under the direct supervision of an accredited Occupational Therapist.  Plus, if Spinmaster thinks I've forgotten about the Aqua Dots debacle, they're out of their crafty little minds.

Laundry Detergent.  Back in the days before we had kids, I bought regular laundry detergent.  Sometimes I splurged on fancy laundry detergent that made my towels smell like Italian Citrus or whatever.  Now I have one less income and four kids who are sensitive to scented laundry products.  Plus, anything called Paris Rain is probably not going to cut it when it comes to the funkification that is my children's underwear.  Those things require hard-core detergent, bleach, and/or battery acid.  For years I bought the dye-free, scent-free detergents, until one day I watched the Duggar family make their own laundry detergent.  I know a lot of people think they're crazy, but I covet their Laundromat-huge laundry room.  So now every six months I get all Little House in the Suburbs and make my own laundry soap. For an investment of 30 minutes and two bucks, I get to feel virtuous and organized every time I stroll past that aisle in the grocery store.  There is literally no other time during which I feel either virtuous or organized.

"Kid Food." According to the buzzkills over at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, 80 percent of the food advertised on Nickelodeon is unhealthy.  Don't get me wrong, we do eat some junk food here and there. (Doritos, anyone?)  And this whole road trip / vacation has been an ode to fast food.  But crap-tastic foods like Super Sugar Spazz cereal and Lil' Salty's Toddler Meat Stix?  No way.  Yes, it annoys me that most of the foods targeted specifically at children are consistently over-sugared, over-salted, and high in fat.  But what really galls me is being expected to pay $4 for a box of toddler heart attack.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The C Word

I need to talk about the potty. Or rather, I need to talk about what’s not happening at the potty. Because what’s not happening at the potty is pooping. And this is a really big freaking problem. Because this time it’s not Little Dude I’m talking about. It’s one of my daughters. And because I would never want to embarrass her, I’m not even going to tell you which kid it is, not even with her blog pseudonym. But here’s the deal: one of my kids is wicked constipated.

This has been a real learning experience for me, because despite the avalanche of weirdness that is my life, this is not anything I’ve ever personally experienced. The only time I’ve ever had this problem is when I got to had to take some prescription pain meds after a minor surgery. As much as I love me some whacktastic prescription oblivion, two days into the pain meds I had all kinds of horrible GI problems that made me never want to eat again.  (I’ve noticed, by the way, that they never mention the pain med – tummy trouble connection on House. You’d think he would need to pop some Dulcolax with those Vicodins.) Anyway, I’m on a steep learning curve with this whole issue.

The first thing I have learned is that no one likes to talk about constipation.  I know full-grown adults who have no problem quoting Mel Gibson’s hateful, obscenity-laden loony trips word for word but they can’t possibly say the word “constipated” out loud. Which is interesting because everything about Mel Gibson is wayyyyy more offensive to me than anything to do with actual fecal matter. (Mel Gibson is, I think, only figurative fecal matter.)

The other thing I’ve learned is that mothers of kids over the age of three only talk about their children’s poop in whispers, like it’s too awful or embarrassing for their normal “indoor voice.” It’s funny because moms of newborns absolutely adore talking about their babies’ poop, so much so that they’ll show you their babies’ poop journals as easily as they’ll show you the brag book of photos. Infant baby mamas constantly fret over the frequency, consistency, and above all, color of their babies’ poops. There are entire forums on the internet dedicated to the topic. Pediatricians have pre-printed hand-outs about baby poop because it is so all-important to newborn baby mamas.

Once those babies are about three years old though, the poop conversation dies out. Moms of two- and three-year-olds will talk about potty-training. Once the kid is four, you stop talking about it, because either: a) potty-training is done, or b) potty-training is not done. Either way, the topic becomes closed for discussion.

This is probably not going to come as a shock to any of you, but I’m pretty comfortable talking about all kinds of insane stuff. This comes from having both a tremendous need to not go completely off the deep end vent and a deep desire to learn from other people’s wisdom. So I’ve been going around asking other moms if their kids have ever had problems with constipation. The answer is a resounding yes. And once that little Band-Aid is ripped off, years of embarrassment, guilt, and worry come pouring forth. Really, Oprah should do a whole show about it. The episode would be called “Shattering the Secrecy: Mothers with Constipated Baby Disorder.” Actually, never mind. How annoying would that be? Dr. Phil would be on there explaining to the mommies that their children’s constipation was probably the result of their permissive parenting style, and Dr. Oz would just go on and on about adding more roughage. Ugh.

But back to talking to other moms. In my completely scientific and statistically sound study, two out of any five moms have at least one kid who’s had a major constipation problem. I don’t mean the kind where the kid had one hard poop after eating too many string cheese sticks. I mean the kind of problem that requires some sort of intervention. Miralax seems to be every pediatrician’s go-to problem-solver. We’re trying that here and I have to tell you, five months into it, we’re still not seeing a huge improvement. We’ll be seeing our pediatrician to talk about Next Steps. I’m pretty nervous about that because Next Steps involve prescription medications and (gasp) enemas. (By the way? If you ever really want to end a conversation, just say the word “enema.” It makes people even more uncomfortable than the word “constipation.”)
But these Next Steps are really important because if there's one thing I learned from the classic medical text Everyone Poops it's that pretty much all living creatures have an imperative to get rid of waste. And if people, and especially children, don’t get rid of waste, they become cranky, tired, sick, and fecally impacted, not necessarily in that order.

My mommy friends have been telling me horror stories about constipation that involve trips to the emergency room.  I have heard tales of "home poopers" and kids who would only poop at Target.  There are many kids being bribed to poop.  You wouldn't think it would be necessary to bribe a person to do a natural bodily function, but sometimes it is.  I have heard sweet potatoes described as "the Roto-Rooter of vegetables."  And it was considered praise.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rant from Special Needs Mommyland

Today I'm at Rants from Mommyland!

Do you have any idea how excited I am to be here? Kate and Lydia are my idols and I spend much of my free time stalking them reading and admiring their work. When my blog, stark. raving. mad. mommy., inched its way up to the Top 50 on Babble, I was excited because I was on the same page with Rants from Mommyland. Squee! I’m at a lunch table near the cool kids. Do you think they noticed my awesome new pegged jeans Op shirt jelly bracelets blog? OMG. I think Kate just looked at me. And made fun of my shoes.

Anyway, I need to tell you about my special region of Mommyland, which is known as either Special Needsville or Yes My Child Rides the Short Bus Damnit. Actually, my son is way too panicky to ride any bus. I have to drive him. We aspire to the short bus.

Click over to Rants from Mommyland to read the rest of today's post!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

SRMM's Excellent Adventure: 1,600 Miles

We made it to Pennsylvania. I have to say, the kids were great for (almost) the entire trip. It turns out Little Dude can tolerate exactly four days, 5 hours, and 40 minutes of togetherness. Any more than that and he starts screaming, “Get out! Get out! I have to get out of this car now!”

I don't think that's his Asperger Syndrome talking, because those were my sentiments exactly.

For lunch yesterday we stopped at yet another Chick-fil-A somewhere in Virginia. (I know, I’m a glutton for crispy chicken punishment.) Incidentally, the Young Carnivores were so sick of fast food at this point that they asked for grilled chicken, fruit, and milk.  ("Please, mommy, no more french fries.")

While we ate lunch, we couldn’t help but overhear the family in the booth behind us. I say “couldn’t help but overhear” because when someone is right behind your head growling “chew it! chew it!” in a menacing voice, it’s both noticeable and freaky. The dad was berating his toddler for not eating enough, and then criticizing his wife for letting the child have some fruit or something before he had finished the chicken.

I bet Sunday dinners at their house are a blast.  I'm sure it's a regular Norman Rockwell event.  Except instead of sitting around beaming at Grandma's turkey, Johnny's under the table crying, and Susie's in the bathroom making herself throw up.  You just can't see them in the painting.

Of course, after we ate, we had to hit the play area. Shortly after we entered, the mom came in with her toddler. This is the point where I realize that the mom is at least eight months’ pregnant (like a turkey timer, her belly button had already popped). When her little boy got stuck in the play area tunnel, she climbed into the tunnel, belly and all, to help her son, while her husband watched through the glass, sipping his lemonade. (I sent Cookie and the Pork Lo Maniac into the tunnel to relieve the poor woman.)

What was wrong with this dad? Does he think that climbing into a convoluted Habitrail is “woman’s work?” You know what’s woman’s work, dude? Creating freaking life. And she’s kinda busy with that right now. And maybe being hunched up in a black-and-white cow-spotted plastic tunnel isn’t the ergonomically correct position in which to be most productive. So maybe you could put down your lemonade and man up.

And now I have to add yet another rule to my Chick-fil-A rules.

Dads: If your wife is pregnant, you should take your kids out to Chick-fil-A and let your wife nap at home on the sofa. And then bring her home some chicken and a milkshake. If she is craving crispy chicken so much that she chooses to come with you, then for God's sake you climb through the freaking Habitrail after little Tyler.

As a side note, I should have let my kids play longer in the play area.  Being confined in a car for hours on end does not exactly get them tuckered out.  It took forevah to get the girls to bed.  At 11:30 last night, Little Dude was still awake, drawing pictures of Star Wars guys.  I think he was so overloaded on sensory stimulation that he needed some quiet time without his sisters.  My awesome friend Meredith listened to him explain a complicated scene involving Jango Fett and Obi Wan Kenobi while I began washing five days' worth of laundry.  He didn't go to sleep until midnight.

And yes, that was with a Benadryl.

Monday, July 19, 2010

SRMM's Excellent Adventure: Bird Suicide and Other Trip Highlights

Since my last post, we've traversed Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and part of Virginia.  Here are some of the latest highlights of our trip.

Louisiana: The entire state smells like fresh-cut grass. Heavenly.

Lumberton, Miss..: Gas station bathrooms. Sometimes there is just not enough hand sanitizer in the world to make me feel comfortable. And yeah, I know that kids "need germs" to develop good immune systems. Over-use of antibacterial products like hand sanitizer is the root of all medical evils, and all that.  Whatever. I swabbed my kids from head-to-toe with the stuff after using this bathroom.

Pachuta, Miss.: A bird committed suicide by flying directly into my windshield as I was driving 75 miles an hour.  Seriously, the bird didn't see me coming?  It's not like I drive a Cooper Mini.  I drive a big ol' mom van.  Clearly, the bird did this on purpose.  Probably it just couldn't take any more summer vacation fun. Note to self: Running low on wiper fluid.

Meridian, Miss.: We stop at a Wendy's for lunch.  Other diners are disturbingly friendly.  I mean, I was getting used to the crazy friendly of Texas, but this is like mental institution friendly.  Also, because we have been Chick-fil-A addicts up until recent events, my kids had never been to a Wendy's.  The received microphones with their kids' meals.  Those play microphones that make a horribly loud echoing sound.  Four of them.  Now it is their favorite place.  I know what your imagining: the four of them singing into these things for the rest of the drive.  Oh no.  It's better.  They became television announcers.  Like they were Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa calling the freaking Disney Christmas Parade.
"Our home viewers may not be able to see this, Regis, but it's starting to rain quite a bit here in Meridian, Mississippi."
"Yes, Kelly, you're quite right.  I also see that Mommy's knuckles are turning white."
Meridian, Miss. to Tuscaloosa, Ala.: Rain came at me like a wall of water.  I have never in my life driven in anything close to this.  I pulled over three times (Boligee, Eutaw, and Ralph, Alabama) because at a certain point the windshield wipers became irrelevant.  Twice I was able to pull off on to an exit and stop at a gas station.  Once I had to just pull over on the side of the highway and sit there shaking with my hazards on.
"Regis, it's really coming down.  I can't even read the signs on the side of the road."
"That's true, Kelly.  I have no idea where we are."
"I think we're still in Alabama, Regis."
"I think we're in Bikini Bottom, Kelly."
"It's raining so hard I can't see my next cue card, Regis."
(Regis and Kelly chortle.)
Bessemer, Ala.:  This hotel had no restaurant, so we walked over to a nearby Applebee's, where we were told there would be a 30-minute wait.  I'll be damned if I'm going to wait 30 minutes to eat at Applebee's, so we walked one greasy spoon to the left and ate at Cracker Barrel.  This was actually my first Cracker Barrel experience, and it wasn't too bad.  The only disappointment was that they don't serve beer at Cracker Barrel, and I could have really used the extra carbs with my meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn, and fried okra.  The kids, of course, thought Cracker Barrel was haute cuisine and were overjoyed because I let them get candy at the gift shop for dessert. 

Buying the candy was particularly poorly thought out on my part.  Because we had gotten to the hotel later than planned (and because I was still shaken up from driving through a monsoon), I didn't take them swimming.  So then I had to put to bed four kids, who had been in the car all day, and were now hopped up on Pop Rocks.  Neat.

Ooltewah, Tenn.: We stopped to have lunch at a Burger King.  We were making great time, what with no monsoon making me stop every two exits, so I let the kids play in the play area for an hour.  This was the playland of my dreams.  Parents and grandparents alike were on their kids like glue.  There was no rough-housing, no climbing up slides, no shenanigans of any kind.  And certainly no feces in the tunnelThese are my people. 

Morristown, Tenn.: This hotel had a restaurant, but a restaurant that can only be described as an Old People Restaurant.  However, most Old People Restaurants serve wine, usually in small glasses made in the 1940s when they must have been rationing things.  Anyway, this restaurant not serve alcohol.  The geezer at the table next to us had a pretty entertaining conniption fit over it, until his wife finally got him to settle down with some Sanka. 

I felt like I needed to eat a meal that did not involve french fries, so I ordered the "club salad."  It was the wrong choice.

Marion, Va.: We drove past a sign for Hungry Mother State Park.  I'm pretty sure that sometime around 1918, a bunch of park rangers got together and played a game of drunken Boggle to come up with the names of all the state parks across this great nation.  I have a friend who's a national park ranger; I bet he'll back me up on this.

Immediately after seeing the sign for Hungry Mother State Park.: I realized that, in fact, I was a hungry mother. We stopped at another Wendy's.  Since receiving the heinous microphones, the kids are gaga for Wendy's.  I begged the cashier not to give me any more microphones.  She gave us saxophones instead.  The promotional tie-in for these abuses, by the way, is America's Got Talent.  I'd like to see Howie Mandel sit in our van for 20 seconds with my kids spraying germs in the air through plastic saxophones.  Cover that on CNN, Piers Morgan.

Salem, Va.: We drove past one of the hotels we infected during the Great Swine Flu Adventure of 2009.  Sorry about that.  Again.

Harrisonburg, VA.:  Our last night in a hotel.  We're having fun but ready to take a break, eat a non-fast-food meal, and see our friends.  I can tell we're getting close: the last Wendy's was playing Pearl Jam instead of Carrie Underwood.

Friday, July 16, 2010

SRMM's Excellent Adventure: Baton Rouge

Our first day on the road went great!  We got the van back from the mechanic with two fresh tires on it and we were out the door before 11 a.m., so I thought that was a big win.  Took a late lunch in Beaumont, TX, where at first our choices seemed to be either Cracker Barrell or Hooter's.  For a split second I considered taking the kids to Hooters just for the fabulous blog potential, but I realized that I would never be able to get Little Dude out of a place like that.  He does like the bosoms.

Fortunately, down the road a bit we found a McDonald's.  Oh, happy day.

We only made one other stop, and I am incredibly sad that it was not at Lucky Deuce's Casino and Truckstop.  Lucky Deuce's seems to be a gas station, barbecue joint, and casino, all rolled into one ball of awesome Louisiana goodness.  Maybe we can check that out on our way home, when I'm armed with a husband.

Can I tell you that Baton Rouge is gorgeous?  Also, it's really fun to say with a fake Creole accent.  Baton Rouge.

We made it to our hotel of choice and got into our room about 5 p.m.  The room was surprisingly dark and sweaty.  About a half hour later, we had actual working power and air conditioning, which  makes our stay so much nicer.  I so love a hotel room with functioning electricity.

Our dinner (kids eat free!) was lovely.  When we got it.  The kids were incredibly well-behaved until it took a half-hour for dessert to show up.  I mean, what was I supposed to do?  If it was just for me, I would have walked out.  But it's not like I have popsicles in our hotel room or anything.  So we waited.  And waited.

And then Little Dude went into his human beat-box mode. 

All I can say is, thank God Biz Markie has been appearing regularly on Yo Gabba Gabba, because at least other preschoolers think Little Dude's sounds are awesome.  Adults, not so much.  Perhaps they need to watch more Yo Gabba Gabba.  Or develop a sense of humor.  Or maybe just a little sympathy for a four-year-old who's been waiting patiently for his ice cream for too darn long.

To distract Little Dude from making his interesting noises, I gave him his cloth napkin to play with.  Oh, the fun you can have with a cloth napkin.  It's a hat!  It's a kerchief! It's a wadded-up ball!  It's a mask to tie over your face so you can't see anything!  Wait, what?  Yes.  He had me tie the napkin like a train robber's bandana, except it covered his eyes too.   He was more of a blind train robber, which seems like a poor career choice for a blind guy.  He was really happy like that for a while.

And still we waited for the ice cream.

Speaking of bandanas, near us at dinner was a quiet gentleman sporting a bandana on his head and a frizzy gray beard.  I'm guessing the shiny Harley out front was his, and here he was enjoying his salad bar soup 'n' salad combo very much.  Or at least he was enjoying it.

"Is he a PIRATE?"  Oh yes, at full volume, Little Dude asked me if that salad-eating motorcycle enthusiast was a pirate.  Also, he could not. stop. pointing.

"There!  That pirate!  Is he a pirate?  I think he's a pirate."

I tried to explain that he was just a cool guy with a bandana on his head.  Obviously, then I had to tie Little Dude's napkin do-rag style.  Then Little Dude went into some kind of pirate ninja karate demonstration.

My kids can only be incredibly well-behaved for but so long.  And then it starts to break down.  Slowly at first: a burp here, a pickle moustache there.  And before you know it, the Peanut Butter Kid is having one of those unstoppable giggle fits that prompt her sisters to say, "PBK's broken."  Little Dude's pirate ninja act sent all three of the girls into hysterics.  It actually wasn't very loud, and for some reason no one had been seated at any of the tables immediately surrounding us. 

As we were still waiting for the ice cream, I let him have at it.  So. much. fun.  And I bet next time they'll bring the ice cream a little quicker.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

SRMM's Excellent Adventure: Packing

Well, we're all packed and ready for our big cross-country adventure!

No, not really.  I have piles of clean clothes on my bed, though.  And so many prepackaged snacks on my dining room table, it looks like the Kwik-E-Mart.  I also have a three-week supply of diapers, Benadryl, and diet Coke.  And I found all our duffel bags. 

One of the duffel bags was never entirely unpacked from our last cross-country trip.  It still had the roll of tinfoil in it that I had packed as a crafty car activity.  Cookie used it to sculpt shoes for us while we the rest of us were semi-comatose at a Holiday Inn in Nashville. Oh, didn't you know?  Our last major road trip caused the global Swine Flu pandemic.  I'm still really sorry about that.  I wrote a whole apology and everything.

Anyway, I'm supposed to leave on this big adventure tomorrow.  I'm driving the kids myself from Texas back to Philadelphia to visit friends.  After we wear out our welcome there, the Absent-Minded Professor is going to fly out.  We'll drive up to Connecticut to see family, and then all drive home to Texas together. 

I know you're thinking, "wow, stark. raving. mad. mommy.  I thought it was just a clever blog title, but you actually are stark raving mad.  I mean, it's one thing to go on dates with strange women you meet on the internet, but a five day road trip with four kids?  You're positively deranged."

The thing is, I'm totally stoked for this trip.  Possibly because I am a relentless optimist, and possibly because my brain has been damaged from so many pregnancies.  Also, I just had a Frodka.*

I love seeing the country.  Not so much the scenery, although that part is cool.  Mostly I love crazy roadside Americana.  World Famous Beaver NuggetsJerky Capital of the World?  Dude, I'm so there.  I will go see the "World's Greatest" or "World's Biggest" anything

Also, I love hotels.  First off, there is simply no expectation that I'm going to cook.  Plus, how great is it that fresh towels magically appear?  And the beds are always perfectly made with clean, crisp sheets.  It's like a wonderful, beautiful laundry elf has been there.

The one tiny little hurdle here, though, is that my van is in the shop.  Because I'm a wicked procrastinator I've been so busy, I kind of waited til today to take it in for an oil change and once-over.  It turns out two of my tires have dry rot (I can't imagine how that could possibly happen in the lovely south Texas climate) and need to be replaced.  They are supposed to do that first thing in the morning, and then we'll be off.  Hopefully.  (See how optimistic I am?)

Also, this means that I couldn't load up the van today, which resulted in me procrastinating the whole packing scene.  Instead of packing, I watched Run DMC videos on YouTube with Little Dude.  Also instead of packing, I organized the pantry.  Because rocking out to "It's Tricky" and discarding stale Wheat Thins are crucial steps toward getting ready for a five-day road trip.  Even while I was doing it, I was thinking, gee, this probably isn't the best use of my time.  Maybe I should, you know, pack.  And then my next thought was, meh.  Throwing out old boxes of crackers is weirdly soothing.

So tomorrow I will hopefully have the van back, hopefully shove all our clothes and snacks and vodka water bottles into the van, and hopefully get on the road before noon.  I have a fancy new-fangled cell phone, so I'll be tweeting and Facebooking all along the way, and I'll be posting on the blog every morning.  Hopefully.

*Frodka = Fresca with vodka.  I like to add a splash of orange juice, but you can also use whatever's left in that Capri Sun on the counter there.  According to 1971, you can substitute gin for the vodka.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Does This Magazine Make My Butt Look Big?

At the bookstore last weekend, something disturbing caught my eye:  Glutes, a magazine devoted entirely to what is wrong with my butt.  Really, Magazines?  Now you're going to harp on my butt?  It's not enough to tell me in general way that my body is no longer acceptable?  Must you be so specific?

I'm tired of so-called "women's magazines."  They pretend to be inspiring and helpful, but really they just make me feel like crap.  The thing is, they're unavoidable, unless you live in a magical faerie land wherein you can avoid the grocery store checkout line.

The drugstore checkout line is even worse. The cover of Cosmo trumpets "What Men Want In Bed Now!"  I am clearly past Cosmo's demographic.  Because a) my first thought was an annoyed what the hell do they want now? and b) I am old enough to have figured out that what men want in bed now is sex.  I wish I could go back in time and explain this to the 18-year-old me: duh. Save the $4 newsstand price and invest it in tech stocks.

But the worst ones aren't the fashion and beauty mags.  They at least have the decency not to pretend to be anything more than artifice.  The worst ones are the "family and lifestyle" magazines.  First, they sucker you in with a cheap price, or a free first issue, or an elementary school student who lisps at your door, "won't you please help my teacher get more books for our classroom?"  And you think, that seems reasonable.  I'm certain I will read these magazines and derive great benefit from them.  But really, who has time for reading Better Homes Than Yours when you could be doing important things like raising your children and checking Facebook?  And before you even notice that you've got piles of unread magazines all over the house, Niecy Nash is having a yard sale on your lawn.  And you're getting calls about the first-ever joint-production episode of Intervention meets Hoarders: Whatever Happened to the Recycling Bin? 

You know why else those magazines pile up?  Because they make me feel ridiculously inadequate and generally speaking, I try to avoid that feeling.  Every time I pick up Real Simple it has recipes involve making little paper envelopes in which to cook fish.  Hey, Real Simple? Yeah, when making dinner involves origami, it's not Real Simple.  It's Real Annoying.  It's also Real Unlikely my children are going to eat fillet of sole in a white wine and Meyer lemon reduction with capers en papillote.

And, oh, the family magazines.  As a rule, I am not going to sculpt major works of art with fruits and vegetables.  I am much more likely to dump a bag of baby carrots into a bowl and let them have at it.  I can't see spending 45 minutes designing a trompe-l'oeil scene out of crudite when they're going to inhale it in five seconds flat. 

Also, I swear if I see "ants on a log" depicted one more time as a cute, fresh idea, I'm going to scream.  Smearing almond butter in the celery does not make it a new snack, people.   It just makes it expensive.  And if you have a child who's allergic to peanut butter, believe me, it's already occurred to you to try the soynut butter version, too.

By far the most galling are the parenting articles.  I'm either too permissive, allowing my children to run wild, or I'm a hovering "helicopter mom."  (By the way, whoever coined that precious term is probably not actually raising children today.)  Many of the articles focus on how best to use our time.  We need to spend more time together as a family, but the children all need one-on-one time with each parent, and it's important to remember your marriage, and don't forget to spend time doing something just for you.  What kind of alien calendar are they working from?  Probably the same one that Martha Stewart uses.  (Wednesday: Deadhead roses and perennials.  Also, wash all cats.)

Not that there's any fear mongering going on, but apparently everything I'm doing is wrong.  I would, just once, like to read a magazine article about all the stuff I'm doing right.  Here are some topic suggestions to get the ball rolling over at Hearst Corporation:
  • Hey, your kids are still alive at the end of the day: Great job, mom! 
  • You gave them some food! You're a great cook! 
  • You emptied the dishwasher! Your house is gorgeous!
  • None of your neighbors have called Child Protective Services on you!  You must be raising them okay! 
  • You managed to shower today and you've tweezed your eyebrows sometime during this presidency?  You're hawt. 
  • You grew another human being inside your body, and then let your body be ripped to shreds getting it out of you, and then you kept that other human being alive by making it food from your body?  You have the most amazing body ever.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

So It's Come to This: Blind Dates with Women I Met on the Internet

So, I'm dating.  Going on blind dates, actually.  With women I meet on the internet.  This is what it's come to.  Please note: because my husband is a guy, he's totally okay with this notion.  Except that last night he had a weird dream that he had to marry the boss' daughter, and in his dream I was like, "fine, whatever, bring me back some cake."

Here's the deal: a handful of my readers have taken pity on my and invited me to get out of my freaking house to hang out.  Or maybe I actually Facebook-stalked a couple of people.  Whatever.

Not that the walls are closing in on me or anything.  Not that I desperately lonely.  Except maybe I am starting to drink alone and the vanilla-colored walls of my McHouse are crushing my very soul.

So far I've made three new friends.  Four, if you count the one that someone brought as protection in case I turned out to be a psychopath. 

Two of the dates went smoothly: I had a lovely dinner with another Aspie mom and shared our diagnosis stories.  You know how when you get two brand-new moms together, they like to tell the "birth stories" of their babies?  Works the same way when you get two moms together with children with new Autism Spectrum diagnoses.  We drank and ate and poured our hearts out.  It was great.

The other date that went swimmingly was a trip to a local play place -- you know the ones that are like Habitrails, but for kids?  It was one of those except it had a full-service coffee bar in it.  Awe. Some.  The other mom and I got totally jacked up on coffee while our kids played.  The older kids spazzed out in the Habitrail and our little spectrum-y guys flapped their hands at each other delightedly.

Then there was the other date.  Okay, this one I totally Facebook-stalked.  She must have really felt bad for me because she agreed to get our kids together too.  But not so bad that she didn't bring a friend with her in case I turned out to be all Single White Female

The location of our playdate was Chick-fil-A. I should have known better.  The Chick-fil-A play area is not a place to sit and chat, it's an amateur production of Lord of the Flies with an unsupervised daycare as the cast.  We ate and chatted and everything was fine.  Then, as we moms were getting the tables cleared off, we let the kids go ahead into the play area.  Through the glass, I could see that the kids were huddled together, looking concerned.  I ran in there, to be told by the Pork Lo Maniac, "there's poopy in the tunnel.  At the top of the slide.  On the ceiling."

Oh, yes.  Come out on a date with stark. raving. mad. mommy., and it's a par-tay.  Do I know how to show a lady a good time or what?

I went looking for a manager, and as luck would have it, there was a whole gaggle of Chick-fil-A managers having a meeting.  A lunch meeting, of course.  I had to interrupt their meeting with "Um, excuse me, but my daughter just told me that there's some feces in the play area tunnel."

Eleven Chick-fil-A managers dropped their spicy chicken sandwiches and stared at me in aghast horror.  One clean-cut fellow finally sputtered out: "Oh, I'm so sorry, ma'am -- where in the tunnel is it?"

"At the top of the slide. On. The. Ceiling."

Clearly Mr. Chick-fil-A doesn't have kids, because he was not only horrified but bewildered.  He furrowed his brow.

"How does a child have an accident on the ceiling?"

"Um, anti-gravity suit?"

I didn't want to explain how children are capable of producing physics-defying disgustingness.  (Once when I was changing Cookie's diaper in the NICU, her tiny, premature bottom shot poop across the room.  Onto the wall, like a Jackson Pollock painting.  So much for a sterile environment.)  I also didn't want to explain to Mr. Manager the possibility that a child may have chosen to smear it up there on purpose.  (Scatology (noun): the study of, or preoccupation with, poop.  See also: Children's games and activities.)

The eleven managers clustered up for a good while, and then finally directed a young female non-manager (of course) to clean it up.  Every child in the place lined up, smooshed their faces against the glass wall, and watched this poor woman crawl up into the tunnel with a flamethrower bucket and some rags.  I am 100 percent sure that no matter how great the pay is at Chick-fil-A, she is not paid enough.

Eventually, the whole thing was decontaminated and disinfected, and the entirety of Chick-fil-A smelled Pine Forest Fresh.  There was a veritable stampede of children back into the play area.  My two new friends and I were the only moms in there.

Within ten minutes, the inmates had taken over the asylum, and the three of us needed a stiff drink and an Anacin-3.  We abandoned the playdate and took refuge in the feces-free havens of our individual vehicles. (Well, technically, my minivan is mostly feces-free.)

So now I feel like I have to write an update to my original letter in "Dear Chick-fil-A Diners."  It will go something like this: Dear Chick-fil-A Diners, I hate you for ruining my blind date. Also, I can't believe we need another rule:
I know I haven't dated in a long time, but I'm pretty sure that one was a rousing success.  Do you think she'll go out with me again?

Monday, July 12, 2010

I Am Caught Up On Laundry (for the next 20 minutes, at least)

I am caught up with the laundry.  This is a minor miracle.  I say minor, because a major miracle would be if I hadn't thrown out any of the underwear in order to get to this point.  Regardless: I am caught up.  The children are throwing a parade in my honor. 

Now if only the whole family could just stay in the same outfits for the next three days, I'll be able to get packed for our trip.

Probably I only think I am caught up.  There are, no doubt, stray socks hiding everywhere in our house.  It's like a damn Dr. Seuss book around here.  Socks on fox, socks in box.  Socks on stairs and under chairs.  Socks: They're not just for feet anymore.  They're teddy bear hats and Littlest Pet Shop sleeping bags. The other day I found a sock full of craft loom loops.  I have no idea what that was about.

I hate finding random socks and I hate the laundry.  The laundry takes on a life of its own.  I believe that the laundry is personified by a sock monkey wearing the mask from Saw.  (Sorry for that disturbing little peek into my imagination.)  It mocks me. 

Even when I finally get the laundry baskets empty, there it is: Gaahh! We're all wearing clothes!  We're making them dirty right now.  I hate laundry so much I would suggest our family adopt a nudist lifestyle, but I'm not confident that everyone's bathroom hygiene skills are good enough for that.  I mean, I have no problem throwing out their underwear, but our couch is brand-new.

When Cookie and the Pork Lo Maniac were babies, Pampers came out with disposable paper bibs called "Bibsters."  I sent them a letter and suggested they make disposable paper clothes. 

Dear Proctor & Gamble, I like Bibsters a LOT.  However, when my twins eat, they make a special kind of mess than cannot be contained by bib alone.  I have taken to feeding them naked and then hosing off the babies and the high chairs afterward.  However, this is not always feasible / appropriate, such as when we're eating out.  Could you please make disposable paper baby clothing?  You could call them BetterThanDoingMoreLaundry-sters. xoxo, Mommy. 

Alas, they declined that suggestion, thereby missing out on a huge potential market of stressed-out mothers of multiples.  Your loss, Proctor & Gamble.

The only thing worse than laundry are commercials for laundry detergent.  My all-time least favorite is this one that ran this spring for an Arm & Hammer gel detergent.  The opening line is, "Everyone admired Mom's laundry ..."  Really?  Not my mom's.  My mom's laundry reeked of Marlboros.  But if you insist.  The commercial then goes on to imply that if I use their detergent, my friends will be "gel-ous" of my awesome laundry. 

I don't know about you ladies, but I know that when I'm at a friend's house, in between watching Oprah and eating Bon-Bons, I like to sneak off and check out her laundry.  In fact, this is what we moms do: we judge each other based on the "gel-osity" of each other's towels.  Especially the fancy embroidered towels in the guest bathroom.

You know what, Arm & Hammer?  The only time I'm jealous of another woman's laundry is when her laundry is done.
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