Joe: Hey – do you know what a slug’s natural habitat is?

Me: What?

J: I found a nest.

M: What?

J: You heard me. A slug nest.

M: A nest? OF SLUGS? I don’t understand what you’re talking about.

J: There were 23 of them. It was just as disgusting as you’re imagining.

M: (shocked silence)

(Yes, really. It doesn’t happen often, but the mental image of 23 slugs all piled together is enough to push my mute button.)

J: They were under that (big stone in the front yard.) I didn’t come get you, because I didn’t want you scarred for life. You’d probably have nighmares.

M: You realize this conversation is scarring me for life, right? 23?

J: 23. I counted.

M: What did you do with them?

J: I threw them in the trash can.

M: ………….

J: They’re bad for the plants! Plus, they eat the cat food and leave their disgusting trails everywhere. I wasn’t going to just leave them!

M: No, yeah, of course when you find a nest of 23 slugs, you don’t just leave them to go about their sluggy business. But – the trash? Why didn’t you kill them?

J: How?

M: I don’t know – you could’ve salted them?

J: Yeah. That’s humane.


J: I put them in that chunk of (pvc) pipe I was throwing out, and packed it tight with leaves. They’ll be able to get out, but not before the garbage men come.

(I think Joe thinks the slugs will go on now to live happy, productive lives at the dump. Which may be true, for all I know. Or, they could meet the incinerator – like in Toy Story. Who can tell?)

J: Oh, man! I should’ve called Jonas out to see them!

M: Yes! You should have! He would’ve thought it was the coolest thing ever!

J: He would’ve loved it!

M: Why didn’t you? What’s wrong with you?

J: I didn’t think of it till right now!

M: How do you see 23 slugs and not think “I gotta show this to Jonas!” ?

J: When I first said the words “23 slugs”, did you think about Jonas? Or were you too busy recoiling in horror?

M: I see your point.

J: Besides – he would’ve wanted to save one as a pet.

M: Good job, not calling him.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go bathe in Purell.

I am older than all my siblings and cousins, and spent a lot of my childhood “watching the baby” or playing with much younger kids. I babysat throughout my teens and into my early twenties.I am a high school graduate. I had four years of college, two of which focused on education, and included 60 hours as a teacher’s assistant in the classroom. When I was pregnant with Violet, I took parenting classes, read books about childhood development, and searched the web for parenting resources. I have had countless conversations with mothers who have been there, and mothers who are there with me, right now. I read about discipline, education, nutrition, and child psychology. I have been trying to train for this job for a long time, and continuously work on my “professional development” (What’s to come? Can I do this better? Is there a way to get that freaking kid to stop walking in on me in the bathroom?) What, out of all of this, has prepared me best for my current role in life?

My years of waiting tables.

I spend my day making sure everyone has what they need, when they need it –

Honey? Do you need a drink?

It’s kind of chilly – let me to get you a sweater.

Is this the book you wanted?

Here’s the hoop you were looking for.

Why don’t you guys get out the game while I make you a snack, and then we can play after you’ve eaten (re: when you’re not so hungry and cranky.)

Mealtimes are obviously when it hits home the hardest (“Do you need more ranch dressing? Another napkin? Here – let me refill your drink. What? Yes – we do have Parmesan cheese, give me a minute… ” ) but it really happens all day every day. I find out what they need, I make sure they have it, I keep an eye on them and try to anticipate when they’ll need more, or something else. I, overall, try to keep everyone happy. The difference?¬† They never pay the check and leave. I’m never off the clock. Every now and then I think I am. And then at 10pm when I watching Chuck with a bottle of Cupcake wine and a kid comes out to ask for a red bowl because “I feel like maybe some throw up might want to come out”, I’m reminded that this is the biggest pain in the butt, highest maintenance table I’ve ever had.

Good thing it’s also the cutest. ūüėČ

(I’ve had this theory of motherhood = waitress for a long time, but I was inspired to write it down this morning after I accidentally put Violet’s fruit on Jonas’s plate and he raised his little hand in exactly the same way countless people in my glamorous waitressing past had, and said “Um, I’m pretty sure I didn’t order this.” Sigh.)

Kindergarten English

Sometimes, talking to Jonas is like talking to an ESL student. He has *almost* mastered the English language, but he’s not quite 100% yet. I’m not exclusively talking about cute little kid mispronunciations (although, hearing him call that teeny yapping dog a “chiwala” was possibly the most entertaining thing ever. It helped that he was running away from it in terror, and later claimed that “It maybe had The Rabies.”) I’m talking about using the wrong word entirely, in an extremely funny way. Or basically making up new words, that *almost* make sense…. yet still don’t actually exist.¬† Examples –

– “And THEN! The germs got SO BIG! They BROKE the tops of the petri dishes and got out! And they made the air EXOTIC! And when I breathed in the exotic air, I got a cough! But Daddy breathed in more of the exotic air than me…. so he died.”¬† (A story the boy told to his girlfriend at school. I think it started out innocently enough – him attempting to describe the disgusting horror that was growing germs from his belly button in a petri dish. Maybe he couldn’t figure out how to wrap it up? Or felt the ending was lacking that level of drama that makes a really good story? All I know is that I got a text from my friend saying “Sorry to hear about Joe. The girls tell me that he was exposed to some germs and died.” Hmm.)

– While in the car, Joe is trying to get Jonas to say the word “hypotenuse.”

Joe: If we were all corners of a square, what would the line between you (Jonas, backseat – driver’s side) and Mommy (shotgun) be called?

Jonas: Diagonal?

Joe: Haha – yes. Good. But what is the line across from a right angle called?

Jonas: The left angle?

– “Mommy? What is the difference between a superintendent and a regular intendent? What makes one *super*?”

There’s more. They happen every day. Alas – these are the only ones I had jotted down in the back of my planner. But because I like all of you, I’m going to include this little story I also wrote down, that Jonas told us in the car. It has absolutely nothing to do with my Little Kids = ESL Students theory, but it’s cute, and I have no idea how to wrap this post up.

“I remember last time when Mommy was driving, and Daddy started yelling “TAIL LIGHT! TAIL LIGHT!” and now I know what the passenger is for!”

(In case you were wondering what the passenger was for. Joe and I seem to have different ideas. When I’m the passenger, the purpose I serve is keeping the kids in snacks and charged electronics. Joe’s purpose is, apparently, to point out when the car in front of me hits the brakes.)

(And then? He made me so crazy? I killed him…. so he died.)


Young Love

Two years ago when V had her first little kindergarten boyfriend, hearing about him aged Joe by about 10 years. Later, when she met The Older Boy, and he let her know that he was “crushing on her”, and they walked home together every day, and played together after school all the time, I thought maybe I was going to have to defibrillate him. (Joe. Not the kid. Though, Joe would have probably been cool introducing a few volts into his Older Boy body.)

Now? That my boy is off to kindergarten? And coming home, letting me know which girl he loves and wants to marry? It’s maybe not so freaking funny. The shoe is on the other foot, here. Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy would he suddenly want to marry another 6 yr old? I thought he wanted to be with meeeeeeeeeee forever!!!¬† Bah.

Jonas doesn’t seem as serious about all this mushy love stuff as his sister (who has now been in love with the same boy for 2 years, and is panicking at the thought of moving away from him. “Hoooow will we ever get married?! If I live IN ANOTHER STATE?!!!” Poor kid.)¬† Jonas is fickle, or practical, or open to suggestion. He talks about one girl one week, another the next. He has a first favorite, second favorite, and so on. He “was planning to marry her, but now I think I’m going to marry HER instead!”¬† Jonas’s love live has prompted many entertaining conversations. Examples –

Joe: Who’s your favorite girl at school?

Jonas: A. No, J. I like them both equally, but the thing that is the tiebreaker is that J likes me back.


– or –


Jonas: Mom. I have a big secret. You. Can’t. Tell. Anyone.

Me: Ok – let’s hear it.

Jonas: I’m going to marry E!

Me: Really. Does she know this?

Jonas: Yup. She’s the one that told me we were going to get married.


-My favorite –


Me: So – how was school? Was it warm enough for recess?

Jonas: Yea – but that pesky girl was bothering me again.

Me: Pesky girl? What are you talking about?

Jonas: That pesky blond girl! She’s always chasing me!

Me: Who? Is she in your class?

Jonas: No! I don’t even know who she is! But she has blond hair, and she’s always chasing me. And then? If she catches me? She tries to to fight me or kiss me!




The kids are now six and (almost) eight. School age. Both of them. It’s a whole new world. One in which I can shower without worrying that someone is maybe setting the house on fire (or wandering around outside, sobbing, asking neighbors if they’ve seen Mommy? BECAUSE I CAN’T FIND HER ANYWHERE!) (True story.)¬† A world where getting my hair cut, or going to the Dr, or – hell – getting a manicure/having lunch with friends/going to see a movie that is neither animated nor a story about talking animals in the middle of the day is something easily accomplished. No babysitters or elaborate planning needed.

It’s also a world where for seven hours out of the day, the kids are not under my direct supervision.¬† They come home and tell me that today for snack? They had Cheetos. That this boy and this girl have been boyfriend/girlfriend since kindergarten, and they kiss in the hallway every day. That everyone else in the school has seen all the Twilight movies, so my argument that they are “for grown-ups only” is invalid. That there was a discussion in class about rules, and it came out that our bedtime is a good two hours earlier than anyone else’s bedtime on the planet, and that doesn’t seem very fair, or reasonable, and I was talking to Alex and SHE said….

They also come home with fun new words. Instead of tushie, it’s now bahonkus.¬† (Yes. Seriously.) V shouts out STINK! and POOP! when she’s frustrated. (Learned from A) the boy she’s in love with and B) her teacher, respectively. Yes – her teacher is using POOP! as a curse word in class. I guess DARN! just wasn’t cutting it.)¬† I feel like it would be really naive of me to assume that that is the worst they have heard, that they are still protected and innocent of all the truly bleep-worthy words. That said? I recently heard Violet whispering to her brother that she knows what “the S word is….¬† it’s stupid!”¬† If that is not super freaking adorable, I do not know what is.

Over Christmas break, I had a true Parenting Win – I introduced Violet to A Christmas Story and she loooved it. (Really – it’s stuff like this “Mommy? Can we watch that movie again? With the shooting the eye out?” that make all those diapers worth it.) She was delighted by the ridiculous little brother not wanting to eat his dinner (“Just like Jonas! We should try letting him eat it like that – like a pig!” Um, no. But thanks for the suggestion.) She was horrified by the tongue stuck to the flagpole (“Let me know when this part is over! I’m just gonna be hiding here, around the corner from the tv until that kid is unstuck!”) She totally called the Major Award scene without ever having seen it before (“I don’t know what’s in that box, but I doubt it’s any good. It’s certainly not a bowling alley.”)

The part she was most interested in, however, is when Ralphie says The Word. The Queen Mother Of All Swears. The Big One. “So – what IS the queen mother of all swears? Is it really fudge? No? No. I didn’t think it was. Because he says right there ‘But I didn’t say fudge. I said IT.’ Hmmm. So – does it sound like fudge or something? Why did they change it to fudge? What IS it? C’mon! It’s not like I’m going to say it! I just want to know!” and on and on and on. I told her that there were some things in life that I felt it was important that you learn from your parents, and some things that it was cool learning on the streets, and no way was I going to be the one to teach her the Queen Mother Of All Swears.¬† Then I left the room. But before I could get out of earshot, I hear her brother share this with her –

“Violet! I know a curse word! A real one! A REALLY BAD ONE! Because! When Daddy took me to that baseball game? And you and Mommy stayed home? And we got to sit right next to the real baseball players? And one of them gave me a ball to keep? And it’s my REAL baseball? Not one of the plastic ones? You know that real one? That I got from the game? (I can almost imagine V’s impatience here, while he rambles on about baseball. GET TO THE GOOD PART, KID!) Well, one part of the game? Something was happening? That made the man sitting next to us really mad? And he had to go out and talk to the pitcher? And then a few minutes later something happened? And he SHOUTED OUT A CURSE WORD!¬† A real one! One that Daddy didn’t want me to hear! But I HEARD IT! Because he was RIGHT THERE! Next to us! SHOUTING it! So I heard! And now I know a real grown-up curse word!!!!”

Now. The interesting part of all this? Is that it’s an absolutely true story. It happened quite some time ago, and I heard it from Joe that night. They were sitting right next to the dugout, and it was one of the coaches? Maybe? But he was quite upset, and shouting, and in the end he felt bad and that’s why Jonas ended up with the game ball. I had heard it from Joe many, many months before… but never from Jonas. But now that I had left the room – here he was, ready to educate his sister on how REAL BASEBALL PLAYERS talk when they’re mad. Oh boy.

Violet: So – what was it? What was the real, grown-up curse word that he shouted?

Jonas: Where’s Mommy?

V: She left. What was it? Tell me!

J: Ok… it was…¬† (whispers) catinthehat

V: What?

J: (louder) catinthehat

V: What?


Me: (around the corner, trying not to burst a blood vessel holding in the laugher)

V: Did you say… cat in the hat?

J: SHHHHH! Yes! He yelled out CATINTHEHAT!!! and then everyone looked at me like “Uh oh.”

V: I’m pretty sure cat in the hat isn’t a bad word.

J: Well, that’s what he said. And Daddy told me not to repeat it.

There you go, people. If you ever wondered how *Real Baseball Players* curse? Now you know.

New parent tip Рif every time you accidentally curse in front of your kids, you immediately scream out some nonsense word (Ours is TACO BELL!), the kids will not learn the curse. They will instead pick up the TACO BELL. So you have a toddler in the backseat yelling for cheap mexican food, instead of advertising your potty mouth. If you do this, consistently, for many years, you will eventually have a six year old who hears Goddammit as CatInTheHat.  (A very serious personal triumph for me, as that is my #1 go-to swear. Yay me! And Taco Bell!)

Will this innocence last? Not even a teeny chance of that. One day soon I’ll hear something being whispered that isn’t stupid or catinthehat, and I’ll have to step in and tell them not to say it again. But it’s ok. They’re big kids now. Not old enough for Twilight (what is wrong with people? Seriously?) or staying up till 10pm (despite the general consensus in the 2nd grade), but old enough to hear grown ups curse, and understand that just because they heard it doesn’t mean they can say it. They can also watch me drink espresso (or wine. Let’s be honest, here.), but not drink it themselves. It’s an interesting new phase we’re in. The “I can’t protect you from everything anymore, so now I have to actually teach you what is and is not acceptable.” phase, as opposed to my previous¬† “Keep them in a bubble where no junk food, no junk tv, no foul language, no adult content, nothing inappropriate ever reaches them. As far as they know – there’s no such thing as HFCS or the F word.”¬† Hmm. It seems like this will actually be a lot more work.



Maybe halfway between Fort Walton and Shreveport, Jonas pipes up from the back seat with this one –

J: Dad? Mom? Why is 13 unlucky? What can make a number lucky or not lucky?

Me: Nothing. Nothing can make a number lucky or unlucky. It’s just another number.

J: Ok, but what makes people THINK that it’s unlucky?

Me: (Totally not in the mood to explain the Last Supper and Judas Iscariot¬† right that second, driving down I-10) I don’t know, buddy. It’s just superstition. It’s been around for a long time.

J: Oh! Oh! I think I know this! It’s because there used to be 12 gods of…. Canada? Or maybe Australia? And they were all good, but then another one showed up and he was evil. The 13th god was bad, so that’s why 13 is a bad number.

Me to Joe: Canada?

Joe: Or maybe Australia?

Me: Gotta remember this for the blog.

Joe: Oh, please. The “blog?” Is that code for “the Facebook update?”



(Yes, it’s possible that the only reason you are reading this here on WordPress, instead of on FB, is so I could be right. Look! I’m right! I win again!)


Holy cow – just Googled “Why is 13 unlucky?” before publishing this. I figured it couldn’t hurt to look into this story of the evil Canadian (or maybe Australian!) god. And look what I found!

Bearing some similarity to the Christian tradition, in Norse lore, a banquet of twelve deities was interrupted by the evil god Loki, making thirteen the number of gods present when the nigh-immortal god Baldr was killed by an arrow made from mistletoe (his only weakness). His death marked the beginning of Ragnarok, the end of everything.

Dude, you can’t argue with that. Norway, Canada – I get them mixed up all. the. time.¬† Now I have to go quiz him to try and find out where he learned this. Was there a very special Norse lore ep of Blue’s Clues that I missed? Jeesh.

More of the Joe Show

Every summer, I get my pitiful Jenn-version of “sun”. My cheeks and nose get a little brown, and a lot freckly. My shoulders and arms go from alabaster to off-white. My chest gets pink. (Seriously. No amount of sunscreen helps. I don’t know why that part of me doesn’t turn gold and freckly, too, but I spend May – Oct with pink collarbones.) My feet get faint flip-flop tan lines. You know what part of me never, ever gets any sun, ever? My neck. (If you were thinking of a part of me that stays covered even in a bathing suit, you are also correct. But I’m concerned here, specifically, with a body part that people other than the luckiest man on the planet are likely to see. So. The neck.)

My neck spends it’s sunny days safe and protected in the shadow of my gigantic head. Seriously. No matter how brown (ha! More like beige.) my face and shoulders might get, no matter how pink my upper chest, there is a pristine column of white connecting them. No sun ever hits it, ever. It practically glows in the dark.

Last week my cousin Kim asked me to post a picture of my new and improved (Even shorter! Even blonder!) hair on FB. I took one, looked at it, and thought –

“Whoa. Look how freaking white my neck is in this picture. It’s alarming. It’s like my head is connected to the rest of me by a beam of light. I don’t know if I can post this… ”

But I talked myself out of that paranoid nonsense. My eyes look supagreen, my hair looks fantastic… who was going to notice my albino neck, anyway? And if they did, so what? Who would call me out on having a white neck? This is classic low self esteem ridiculousness right here – nobody notices your “flaws” like you do. Let it go. Stop being so freaking vain. Take a deep breath, post the damn picture, and chill the F out.

So I posted it.

Like a blond Ginnifer Goodwin, am I right?

The same laziness that kept me from saving this to my pc and posting it only to my private group now keeps me from bothering to resize it. Enjoy, please, this giant picture of my giant head.


The photo is up for about 3 seconds when my lovely sister responds –

Hey, maybe a little a bronzer on your neck next time.



Which prompted the following conversation between Joe and myself –

Me: Oh for the love – did you see what Suz wrote on my picture?

Joe: What picture?

M: I put up a pic of my hair.

J: Again?

M: I was coerced. Nevermind. Point is – Suz felt the need to point out my crazy white neck, and now everyone’s going to be looking at it. What can I do? My neck never gets any sun!

J: Well, yeah – because of your giant head.

M: Exactly! I didn’t even want to put up that stupid picture. Now it’s out there and my stupid white neck is blinding everyone who looks at it.

J: (looking at picture) Heh. Yeah, I can see that. Also this crazy eye thing.

M: Crazy eye whaaaaaaaa?

J: You know – this one eye that’s kinda….¬† uh, nevermind.

M: Thanks, hon, for talking me down here. You’ve been incredibly helpful.

J: I do what I can.