That’s Disgusting.

It’s been a while since I last posted. Nearly 9 months, in fact. Many, many things have happened in that time.

The kids discovered a lizard. Poppy's face says it all:

The kids discovered a lizard. Poppy’s face says it all: “Eh? I guess. Yeah, it’s kind of cool.”

There were many times that something mildly out of the ordinary happened and I thought, “Huh. I should share that with the tens of people that still give a shit about this blog.” But nothing really got me over that ol’ not-postin’ hump. Nothing, that is, until this morning. This VERY morning, when something so disgusting happened that I thought, “This is it. This is the event that deserves to be shared with the masses.”

I accidentally brushed my teeth with Aquafresh Kidzone Strawberry Sparkly Barbie Twinkles Toothpaste.

I know. Let’s all have a moment of silence to fully process what I went through.

For those lucky bastards who’ve never experienced this: it’s horrific. You know the feeling when you accidentally drink a glass of Sprite, thinking it’s water, and it just ruins your life? Well, imagine that glass of Sprite is the consistency of chalky snot and there you have it. I already gag every single time I brush my teeth, but this was truly one for the record books.

I could have just let this one go, let it be a little secret between me and the mouthwash. But instead I am choosing to take this opportunity to break the silence surrounding a very real problem, a problem that is plaguing millions of my peers who don’t have a voice to talk about what we are all silently suffering.

That’s right, I am here today to admit publicly that being a parent is fucking GROSS. Seriously.

And it’s not just limited to accidentally ingesting fake strawberry flavored BS that wouldn’t be in your bathroom but for those little monkeys you created. No, it’s much deeper than that:

Phantom Smells

Every parent is familiar with the phantom poop smell. It seems to come out of nowhere, but only intermittently. First, you check the kid: no poop. You check their clothes: no poop. You check the trash: no poop. But still, the smell lingers. Sometimes you’re able to locate the source; oftentimes, it’s somewhere disturbing like on the side of  your hand, where you would karate chop someone if that was your thing. Or perhaps on your cheek, or in the back of your hair.

But sometimes, you never find the source. Those times? Those times are the most disturbing times of all.

In a slight twist on this theme, last month I wore a shirt I hadn’t worn in quite some time. All day, I kept catching a whiff of slightly spoiled milk, or perhaps an overripe banana. I never found the source but I did realize, when I got home, that the last time I had worn the shirt I was still breastfeeding Poppy.

Apparently I don’t do laundry frequently, or well.

Do you smell something?

Do you smell something?

When All You Have is a Hammer…

A few weeks ago, I blindly grabbed a nice, expensive hand towel from the stack to dry my face after a particularly intense exfoliation session. I immediately discovered that someone had used it as toilet paper.

Somehow, knowing the source was not reassuring this time. Not at all.

Which one of you mo%@#$%f^ckers did this?

Which one of you mo%@#$f^ckers did this?

If “Ifs” and “Butts” Were Candy and Nuts…

“Did you actually stick your finger in his bottom, or just poke him on the outside? Outside of his pants, or outside of his body? You promise? OK. Fine. You don’t have to wash your hands.  This time.”

I don’t know if this one needs further explanation.

The Mutter Museum of My Life

I was prepared for dealing with sick kids. Because kids get sick. This is a fact.

And my kids do truly spend a goodly part of each year expelling fluids from every orifice. Sometimes oozily, in the case of the annual winter cold; sometimes violently, in the case of the periodic stomach bug or the aggressive spring cough that always teeters on the verge of croup.

I was broadly prepared for this fact.

What I was NOT prepared for was the litany of ailments and injuries that would grace our doorstep on an all-too-frequent basis. Note that all of the following photos were pulled from emails to our long-suffering pediatrician, with subjects of varying degrees of desperation:

  • Ringworm and other various skin ailments.
Ring around the...

Ring around the…

...rosey gross growths on my offspring.

…rosey gross growths on my offspring.

  • Pencils stabbed through the eyebrow.
  • Approx. 5,000,000 splinters, acquired by running one’s hand down the trunk of an old, dead tree.
  • Teeth right through the lip. Just right fucking through it.
  • Eye beans.
What. Seriously. Wtf is that.

What. Seriously. Wtf is that.

  • Dangly teeth.
I need a valium just seeing this.

I need a valium just seeing this.

  • Worms, of the digestive variety. [NB: We haven’t *actually* had a real infestation. However, butt worms are like a bomb threat: every time your child tells you that they think they saw them, you have to take it seriously. And you have to seriously investigate. Seriously.]

Food of Indeterminate Origin

The number of times that I’ve caught my kids eating food that I’m pretty sure they found on the ground? Almost infinite.

The number of times that I’ve been fed strawberries at the park by Poppy, only to realize moments later that we didn’t bring strawberries with us to the park? Only once, that I’m aware of.

But seriously, Poppy, WHERE DID THE STRAWBERRIES COME FROM???

The Upside

Of course, there are also upsides to the fact that kids gravitate towards grossness. We were recently reading Harry Potter something or other, and Ron made a joke about Uranus. The kids were laughing, but I could sense that they didn’t really get it.

So I explained it. And now I hear variations on this, every day. All day.

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6+36+66

This is 6

 

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Plus 3 months.

Six is a tough nut to crack: he has a six pack, and a loose tooth, and insists on showering alone. Sometimes that six-pack-tummy aches a bit and he has to be carried “like a baby!” to the couch for snuggles, and sometimes he’s so terrified of losing that tooth that he won’t eat, and sometimes he sneaks out of the shower with a head full of shampoo to climb into the tub with his cutie-wootie-Poppy-wops.

His favorite word is “bootie”, except when it’s “penis”, except when it’s “farts”, except when it’s “juggernaut”, the hardest word on last week’s spelling test. He excels at school in a way that amazes me – the nerd runs deep in this one. No, I can’t spell things in front of him anymore without getting called out, and yes, he has asked what Aunt B meant when she wrote “dammmnnn girl, you fine” in an email he’s just read over my shoulder. But it warms my heart in a way I never would have understood without this wonderful boy.

Six carries a bit of a weight on his shoulders. He worries about life, and protecting his family in that magical and slightly misunderstood way that six year olds understand everything. I had to remind myself of this when I spent a morning (and £200) dealing with a locksmith after Six decided it wasn’t safe to keep a spare key outside of the apartment. Also when it took a liberal dose of sunflower oil to remove a piece of gum he had put in his underwear to “save for later”.

He is my first baby and I can’t believe I honestly get to spend the rest of my life with a front-row seat to this wonderful show.

This is 36

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Thirty six is the hardest worker I know. He is the best driver I know. He is the coolest cucumber I know: he stays composed even when I do my best to ruffle that composure. He loves our children with a silent strength that amazes me, and I am so, so lucky that he is their father.

Also: he’s still ridiculously, ridiculously good looking.

This is 66

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Or was, until today. Now it’s 67.

Many people think they have the best father in the world. I have evidence:

My father Ioves his family in a fierce, joyful, all-consuming way. Because of my father, I grew up in a house full of laughter and love, the Sunday New York Times and as much chicken fried steak as you could ask for.

He would do anything for us, if we’d only ask. William mentions he might like a milkshake? At 8 AM? Within 30 minutes there is a handmade vanilla milkshake in that boy’s hands. Poppy says she wants a dolly for Christmas? Well, Poppy now has 15 new dollies.

My father is one of the smartest, strongest, funniest men I’ve ever met. I never for one minute doubted how much I was loved – even when it mortified me. Like the time I got in a horrible bike accident and my dad, so incredibly frustrated that he couldn’t do a damn thing to make me better, threw my bike down a large hill in front of all of my friends. Even, no, especially then.

Happy birthday, dad. I promise we will avoid any and all avalanches. Mostly because I can only imagine what you would do to the entire country of Switzerland if something were to happen to your grandbabies here.

3+33+63

This is 3:

"Though she be but tiny, she but but fierce." And possibly insane. But in a sweet way.

“Though she be but little she is fierce.” And possibly insane. But in a sweet way.

She is fierce in so many ways. She has a British accent.

She puts on her own shoes, and picks out her own clothes, and brushes her own teeth, except when she doesn’t. She still likes to be hand-fed breakfast but not, I repeat, NOT because she is a baby. She just discovered that her best friend Charlotte wipes herself, and now the shouts of “Mummy! I did pooooooo poooooo!” have become “Mummy. I did NOT do poo poo. But please do not come in here because I am shutting the door because I need privacy.”

She adores her brother, except when she doesn’t. Every soccer jersey comes in twos: one for him, one for her, both to be worn at the exact same time ALWAYS. She will be a pink Power Ranger this Halloween, because her brother is the red one. She was unable to convince him that they should both go as princesses. When she finds something funny, she says “Weeyum, Weeyum, isn’t that a little bit funn-nay???” and holds her laugh until he agrees.

She insists that she and I call each other “Momoge” and “Popoge”, but frequently changes who gets what. She spends every spare minute playing teacher with her “children,” who are named Violet, Big Boy, Tim, Tim, Tim, Tim, Tim and Chim. I may have forgotten a Tim. She dresses them in old baby clothes that I have carefully packed away and speaks to them in the way that she hears me speaking to her. It has, on more than one occasion, caused me to rethink a particular turn of phrase.

As the great scribe Mr. William Joel said: “She’s frequently kind, and she’s suddenly cruel / She can do as she pleases, she’s nobody’s fool.” But in the end, Poppy is always a wonderful little girl to me. Even when I feel like she is trying to kill me.

This is 33.

Still got it! And by "it", I mean the lazy eye I get when tired.

Still got it! And by “it”, I mean the lazy eye I get when tired.

I am extraordinarily happy and content with my life, except when I am wracked with massive anxiety over how much I wish I had accomplished already. Why do I keep taking jobs that are *just* outside of my comfort zone? Why didn’t I go to journalism school? Why don’t I read more parenting books? Why don’t we own a house? Why don’t I have a teeth whitening regime?

I am enjoying being settled in my life, except when that scares the bejeezus out of me. I am slowly, slowly starting to feel that whole “I don’t give a f*ck what people think” thing that I’m told comes with age. Virtually every good thing in my life has come from giving quite a few f*cks about what everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) thinks of me, so this is a terrifying development.

I don’t feel a day over 27, except when I am so incredibly glad that I am not 27. I am ragingly jealous when I hear about people who still get to go to places that offer bottle service and have doormen with ear pieces; I honestly prefer quiet restaurants where I can actually hear my friends talk, and I belong to two book clubs. Sometimes I think about skipping those book clubs to hang out at home on the couch with my kids and make s’mores and watch Bear Gorillas (“Born Survivor: Bear Grylls”, for those of you who don’t hang out with us on the reg).

I’m less “Captain Jack will get you high tonight” and more “A bottle of white, a bottle of red / Perhaps a bottle of rose instead” and I’m mostly OK with that. Except when I’m not.

This is 63.

WWF's next duo.

WWF’s next duo.

 

My mother can get people to tell her their entire life story in 15 minutes, details that most people never would have dreamed to ask about. She told me once, when discussing therapists, that she could never have been a psychiatrist because “who wants to listen to other people complain all day?” Instead she became a social worker.

She would share absolutely every single detail of her inner thoughts and emotions with me if she thought it would give me the tiniest bit of comfort or guidance or amusement. But she frequently tries to rush me off of the phone because she’s sure that I have something more important to do than talk to her. I do not.

She would rather die than intentionally hurt someone else’s feelings, but loves to tell me when she is able to work a zinger into a conversation with an insufferable ass. There is nothing I love more than overanalyzing people with her, and incredulously discussing how they could possibly be so different from the way our family thinks and behaves.

She has given every bit of herself for our family, even when it drove us mad. I could never understand why she always had to take care of “one more thing” any time we were on our way anywhere, inevitably making us just a few minutes late; I get it now. I also appreciate that she told me “in New York, it’s tacky to be on time.” We lived in Missouri.

She loves my children with a patience and fortitude that I try to mimic when I’m feeling like throwing things instead of getting down on their level and explaining why, for the 5 millionth time, they cannot do whatever insanely inappropriate thing they want to do. And occasionally, instead of trying control them and get them into line, I just let them do the damn thing because they are only children. She and my father taught me that children should be the center of the universe, and I try my hardest to give my kids a bit of that magical love and support as well.

I may not call as much as I should, and yes, I did move her grandchildren to an entirely different country, but I hear her voice constantly in everything I do.  She truly is always the woman to me.

 

 

Firsty Firsts

Today was a big day.

I was almost as proud as the day I saw them perfect the perfect sunbathe.

Second only to the day I saw them execute a perfect sunbathe.

Today, William started Year 1 (first grade), Penelope started Pre-Reception (pre-K), and I started knitting.

To be clear, I didn’t actually start knitting, yet.  I just started working for an exciting young e-commerce company that happens to sell knitting supplies.  Since I’m like the craftiest person ever, this is obviously a perfect fit.

I’ve been ruminating on a lot of things that popped up over the summer: European road trips with kids often involve people shitting themselves in the French version of McDonald’s (which, by the by, is absolutely no classier than its American counterpart)! No newly-3-year-old needs 60 people at her birthday party! Flying across the Atlantic alone with two kids is hell, even if you don’t have a hangover!  Girls’ trips are necessary for mental health! Ditto for college friends!  except those can be damaging to your physical health!  Being the new kid, whether as an awkward 3rd grader at a new elementary school or as an allegedly experienced executive at a hot newish start-up, is supes awkward and emotionally exhausting! What the fuck is with this new thing about only using one space after a sentence?! I can’t even with that, my overuse of exclamation points takes up enough of my grammar time! (can’t touch this)

Keep an eye out for those literary gems in the near future.

In the meantime, I wanted to commemorate some pretty big accomplishments that we’ve racked up over here (read these like a Christmas newsletter):

William, age 5 and 3/4, is a super soccer star!

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Always on his toes, even when he’s just trying to balance his foot on a motionless ball in the middle of our kitchen.

On his spring extramural soccer team, William racked up three medals and one trophy for being super good at passing.  Then, just last week at his school’s summer soccer camp, he was one of only two kids to win a second, special certificate in addition to the weak-ass certificates they give everyone just for showing up.  In this case, his certificate was for being a fucking awesome goalie.

That's literally what the award said, these Brits are so vulgar.

That’s literally what the award said, these Brits are so vulgar.

Poppy, age 3, is showing some pretty exceptional skills during coloring time!  Both her teachers last year and her new teachers claim that they have never seen a child color as meticulously and accurately as she does:

She's probably going to shiv that teacher who spelled "Penelope" with a "y".  As soon as she learns how to read.

Exhibits A, B & C. FYI, she’s probably going to shiv that teacher who spelled “Penelope” with a “y”, just as soon as she learns how to read.

But not only does Poppy insist on excellence from herself, she also insists on it from her peers.  Whenever she completes her latest masterpiece, she wanders the classroom, berating other children for not “col’ring prop’ly”.

She takes that shit seriously, yo, and she will not abide (NOT abide) anybody phoning it in.  Will she be the next Bob Ross, or a humorless German headmistress adept at wielding her ruler?  Only time will tell.

I don't want to say that she was holding that lion there under duress, but...

I don’t want to say that she was holding that lion there under duress, but…let’s just say she wasn’t the only one to soil herself during our short trip to Target.

Mom, age wouldn’t you like to know? Winky face ;), just spent a week floating on air because the summer soccer camp teachers told her that she makes the BEST lunches out of all of the other moms!

I wish that was a joke.  I still feel giddy when I think about it, and how sad those other loser moms must have felt.

I wish that was a joke.  I still feel giddy when I think about it, especially when I think about how sad those other loser moms must have felt.

Dad, who doesn’t look a day over 30, kept the kids alive for an ENTIRE weekend while mom was off with her single friends.

Through no fault of his own, let me tell you.

Through no fault of his own, let me tell you.

Best summer ever!!!! xoxoxo 😉 🙂 xoxo

 

Homemaking 101

I don’t know if you guys are aware of this, but I am SUCH a domestic goddess.  I know, right?  It surprised me too.  For posterity, I thought I would memorialize my best tips here.  It is possible, of course, that one or two of these things are obvious; if that is the case, I don’t want to know.  Believing that you are a trailblazer is half the battle when it comes to taking care of the home.

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Things I Learned on Vacation With My Husband

We just got back from a childless trip to Mallorca, Spain while my fabulously patient in-laws watched the kids.  We were in Magaluf, which I highly recommend if you are either planning a bachelorette party for a 20 year old or have a special affinity for foam parties.  I also learned so, so much during our brief time there.

Americans are lazy.

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Back in the Saddle

Do you ever have one of those days where you’ve just bought a new vacuum on Craigslist, and it is SO much better than the piece of shit you were using before that you honestly feel like you could conquer the world?  And you get really into using it for everything, like dusting, and picking up toys, and cleaning the curtains?  And THEN you use it to clean out the toaster and feel like you are maybe on the forefront of some next-level homemaking genius?  But then, while you are really getting in those little nooks and crannies that you used to ignore, all the while feeling like an OG Ghostbuster (because, let’s be honest, that long tube is so ripping off Dr. Spangler’s nutrona wand design), you accidentally suck up a small balloon hidden under a kitchen cart?  So then, obviously, you experience an epic panic attack in the few moments before you realize that the wretched squeaking noise is not, in fact, from a sucked-up rodent but is instead from your nemesis, the balloon?  Which ends with you sitting on the couch for at least an hour, and possibly considering popping a Xanax, because that was some serious shit that just went down?

Yeah, so that’s what I’ve been up to in the 6 weeks since I last posted.

I have a confession: Poppy's real father is Fabio.

In France, where Poppy discovered that her real parents are Fabio and Gerard Depardieu.  

There was certainly a bit more – best Easter weekend EVER, plus an amazing visit from my parents, plus my own solo trip to the US, plus we’re sure William is the next David Beckham after his one and only soccer class here, plus Poppy’s tendencies towards terrorism have abated to the point that we now have amnesia and are considering a 3rd, plus plus plus…the list goes on.  But in the interest of starting small, I’m getting this up now and will tackle the rest soon…ish.

The next David Beckham or, possibly, the next Magic Mike; either/or.

The next David Beckham or, possibly, the next Magic Mike; either/or.