Archive of ‘Funny’ category

Got Milk?

Look, Colleen, here’s the deal. When you’re a kid, your moth­er is an idiot. And then she becomes OK for a while. And then, well, she just falls again. You are just back to the time in your life when your moth­er is an idiot.”

This pro­found, and most­ly true, quote didn’t come up in con­ver­sa­tion at after school pick­up. I didn’t receive a text from my bestie explain­ing my life. Nope, wasn’t a meme on my Face­book feed either. The­se words were astute­ly spo­ken by my own moth­er as we rem­i­nisced over cof­fee about an inci­dent ear­lier in the week.

Typ­i­cal day for Mau­r­mi and me. We were head­ed on an adven­ture with Hand­some #3 and Dar­ling while the oth­er Hand­somes were in school. It was a beau­ti­ful day in the neigh­bor­hood and we promised Hand­some #3 the finest cuisine at McDonald’s and some time on the swings at the park. He bar­relled through his nuggets and fries, but had no inter­est in his choco­late milk. As we gath­ered our things, I noticed his bot­tle left on the win­dow sill. I head­ed to the car with Dar­ling and called out to Mau­r­mi, “Grab that milk and toss it.” She heard, “Grab that milk.” This is where the trou­ble began.

There are two rules in my home that are infal­li­ble. A boy may nev­er show up at my table with his armpits exposed. We do not do break­fast shirt­less, there are no tank tops allowed, peri­od. We keep the offen­sive body part, that will one day be cov­ered in hair and hang­ing balls of deodor­ant –yep, I just threw up too-cov­ered at all times. The oth­er rule that we do not break? Under no cir­cum­stances is milk ever allowed in the car. One sip­py cup that dripped on the floor mat of my lux­u­ry sedan and caused the car to smell like the foulest of bod­i­ly func­tions for the remain­der of my own­er­ship was the end of to-go dairy prod­ucts.

I fin­ished load­ing Dar­ling and Hand­some #3 in the car and went to buck­le myself in when I saw it. A half full bot­tle of death with no lid star­ing me in the face as it made its descent into the cup hold­er. Then in slow motion I screamed and grabbed for the bot­tle, “Nooooooooo!”

Just as my arm reached down, so did Maurmi’s. I unin­ten­tion­al­ly hit her in the head, knock­ing her sun­glass­es off of her face and turn­ing her hair into a bird’s nest. As our arms col­lid­ed, the bot­tle went fly­ing and milk spilled right in between the seat and the arm rest. You know where I mean, right? The most dif­fi­cult place to reach in the entire car. The place that col­lects pen­nies, french fries, dust and when you were in high school the tell tale ash­es that you could nev­er quite vac­u­um up and sub­se­quent­ly blew your Marl­boro lov­in’ cov­er when your dad got in. Yeah, that’s the place.

OMG. OMG. OMG. Milk! Seri­ous­ly, milk? Holy $h!+, mom! You know that is a rule! That is the num­ber one rule,” I screamed.

You told me to grab the milk,” She yelled.

No I said grab the milk and toss it.”

You said grab the milk!! Holy Jesus, Colleen. What in the hell are you talk­ing about? My head real­ly hurts. OMG! Am I bleed­ing? I am seri­ous, you could have given me a con­cus­sion. Damn it, Colleen. It is extreme­ly painful,” she said.

I am sor­ry. I nev­er meant to hurt you. Real­ly, I am sor­ry. I would nev­er hurt you!”

That’s when I start­ed to cry. I was cry­ing part­ly because I hurt my moth­er and part­ly because my car was drown­ing in choco­late milk. The two of us grabbed wet wipes and every fast food nap­kin that she has hoard­ed in my glove box for the last three years and start­ed the mas­sive cleanup.

I’ve got it, Colleen, just get out of the way,” she demand­ed.

No, you don’t know where it is. I’ll get it. OMG, milk. I can’t believe this milk,” I moaned.

Colleen, I swear to Christ if you don’t calm down I am going to call your father to come and pick me up. Get your­self togeth­er!”

We bick­ered back and forth for what seemed like an hour as we detailed the ole Odyssey. Since it was peak lunchtime hours, the dri­ve thru was packed. We walked back and forth through the cars dump­ing sop­ping wet brown nap­kins in the trash. Driver’s gagged as they attempt­ed to order lunch and looked at what appeared to be vom­it trail­ing from my car to the trash can over and over again.

We cleaned it up as best we could and I start­ed the Hail Mary hop­ing for divine inter­ces­sion from the Blessed Moth­er that I would not be knocked out by the smell of spoiled milk when the temps hit 90! We got back in the car, me sob­bing and her rub­bing the top of her head and check­ing her fin­ger­tips for blood.

Hand­some #3 was hell bent on going to the park and despite the fact that she nev­er want­ed to speak to me again, she would nev­er dis­ap­point him so we con­tin­ued on in silence. We got to the park load­ed Dar­ling in the stroller, got Hand­some #3 out of the car and head­ed to see the ani­mals. Once again, not a word was spo­ken. Mau­r­mi broke her silence momen­tar­i­ly to tell me that she need­ed to go to the bath­room. I acknowl­edged her request and fol­lowed behind with my kids in tow.

She said hel­lo to a man pass­ing by and head­ed in the door. Imme­di­ate­ly I yelled, “Mom! Mom!” Silence and then I hear her dis­tant call, “Oh! Oh! OMG! Colleen!”

She came out of the door and we both col­lapsed in laugh­ter. I could not breathe I was laugh­ing so hard and tears rolled down her cheeks. We had to take turns run­ning to the bath­room as we both wet our pants stand­ing there.

Every­thing was fine. It was all fine. And then I saw the uri­nal. Then I real­ized I was some­where  I shouldn’t be. I think I have a con­cus­sion from when you hit me in the head. I was very con­fused in there.” She said through the tears.

Just as it always does, our day end­ed with laugh­ter. My moth­er is my very best friend and she brings out the best and the worst of me. But even when she is more angry at me than she has ever been in her life, she will let it all go for a laugh. And despite what she believes I think of her, the only idiot that day was me. Life is too short to get worked up over spilled milk. Even if it is in your car and will make it smell like a land­fill in just a few weeks. That’s what Febreeze and Yan­kee Can­dle car fresh­en­ers are for, right?

We head­ed to pick up the old­er Hand­somes from school. We asked how their days went and they asked about ours. Mau­r­mi said, “Lis­ten to what your moth­er did to me today?” They always love to hear her sto­ries and imme­di­ate­ly had their lis­ten­ing ears on. I quick­ly inter­rupt­ed and asked, “What is the num­ber one rule in my car?”

Hand­some #1-“That’s easy, no milk in the car.”

Hand­some #3-“No milk in the car.”

Hand­some #2-“Um, no guns in the car. Well, at least that’s the rule for me, right?”

Just like Meat­loaf said, “Two out of three ain’t bad.”

 

 

 

My Barbies Taught Me How to be a Good Mom


When I was a kid I played with my Bar­bie dolls every day. I had Bar­bie and the Rock­ers, Cal­i­for­nia Dream Bar­bie, I even had those knock­off Max­ie Dolls. I was a Bar­bie Girl liv­ing in a Bar­bie world long before Aqua came around. My Bar­bi­es all lived in the Dream House and dat­ed the New Kids on the Block and Michael Jack­son, who were way cool­er than Ken. I spent so much time with my Bar­bi­es that by the time I had chil­dren, I con­sid­ered myself pre­pared for all kinds of things. As a mat­ter of fact, Bar­bi­es taught me so many lessons I nev­er even cracked a sin­gle What to Expect about any­thing book.

First and fore­most I think we can all agree that you should not cut your children’s hair, right? This one is a given. We all took our Fiskars to that beloved blonde hair and thought for sure that she would end up with a chic bob after­ward. Instead, Bar­bie was forever tak­ing the walk of shame with a lop-sid­ed reverse mul­let. The same lesson applies to kids. Unless you have a license with your pic­ture on it, your sweet lit­tle child does not deserve the psy­cho­log­i­cal tor­ture that comes from tak­ing a whack at her bangs with safe­ty scis­sors. We all remem­ber that girl in the year book with the hat on because her moth­er was sure she could save $8, God bless her.

Let’s move on to num­ber two, don’t leave your chil­dren unat­tend­ed on the floor. Your moth­er always told you not to leave your dolls lay­ing out when you left the room or the dog would eat them. No, I don’t think the dog will eat the baby, but the baby sure as hell will eat any­thing off of the floor if you’re not look­ing. I have screamed in slow motion watch­ing my daugh­ter eat the most minus­cule speck of left­over wood chip that remained on the hearth from the win­ter gone by. I turned my back for one sec­ond and she was eat­ing the most organ­ic meal ever pre­pared in our house. Just like my moth­er said, we should always pack up our things, dolls and babies, and take them where they are out of harm’s way.

Next, we need to be super care­ful when we are dress­ing our chil­dren. Bar­bi­es came in two vari­eties, the ones with the smooth legs who could wear any­thing and the kind with the rub­ber legs that took forever to dress. So much time was spent pulling and stretch­ing that half of my Bar­bi­es’ wardrobes went from high 80s fash­ion to trashy street wear in a sin­gle, way too hard tug. This is the same with a tod­dler who is lanky and one with a lit­tle more fluff. Don’t both­er try­ing to stuff a 25lb one-year-old into some skin­ny jeans. Give that lit­tle girl some stretchy leg­gings and let her breathe! If you insist of hav­ing a mini fash­ion­ista on your hands, you’ll just end up pulling too hard, stuff will get ripped, and there will be lots of tears.

Let’s move on to the shoes, shall we? Bar­bie was load­ed with heels, boots, and occa­sion­al­ly a pair of sneak­ers. Some­times those shoes just didn’t fit right, caus­ing you to jam them on leav­ing her feet to stick out kind of fun­ny. A lot of times it was sim­pler just to throw them on the wrong foot. Have you ever fought with a three-year-old over just about any­thing when you are 20 min­utes late? There is noth­ing bet­ter than talk­ing to a child with his shirt on back­wards, his pants inside out and his shoes on the wrong feet when you are head­ed to mass where you will cer­tain­ly be judged by every old bit­ty in the church. No mat­ter how pre­pared you may be to talk him out of his ques­tion­able attire with reverse psy­chol­o­gy and bribery, it is a bat­tle of will and more often than not, you are going to lose. Do your­self a favor and throw those Crocs on the wrong feet and the whole fam­i­ly is hap­py.

Remem­ber when your Barbie’s head popped off and you total­ly freaked out for a mil­lisec­ond but then remem­bered you could just put it back on? Apply that same log­ic with your kids. If their head pops off, just stick it back on. You know when I say head, I total­ly mean hat, right? If your kid’s hat falls off, just put the darn thing back on and keep mov­ing. There is absolute­ly no need to have a com­plete and total men­tal break­down about some­thing that is fix­able. We all spend too much time focus­ing on per­fec­tion for our­selves and our kids that we lose sight of the big pic­ture. It will real­ly all be OK even if your fam­i­ly isn’t a Nor­man Rock­well paint­ing.

Some­times the best lis­ten­ers are those who remain silent. I encour­age you to keep talk­ing to your chil­dren even if they don’t talk back. I had more con­ver­sa­tions about impor­tant things with my dolls than I have ever had with my hus­band. Grant­ed he rarely lis­tens to what I say any­way, but I don’t want to take a chance and let any­thing impor­tant slip. That’s why I tell my baby about my new shoes or the dress that I hid in the clos­et when my hus­band wasn’t look­ing. My son was 14 months old and the first one who knew I was preg­nant with his broth­er. It is nice to share the most sala­cious secrets with your best friend who will nev­er tell a soul.

And final­ly, love them more than any­thing. My Bar­bie dolls were my favorite toy grow­ing up. I nev­er want­ed to let them go. But, I got old­er and it was time to put them away. No mat­ter how old I get, they will always be a spe­cial part of me and hold some of my most pre­cious mem­o­ries.  I know that as my kids get old­er they will begin to out­grow me, too. Even if they don’t want me to, I will always clothe them, pro­tect them, talk to them, and cher­ish them just as I did my dolls. But I promise I will nev­er do to them what I did to poor Swedish Barbie’s flow­ing locks.….ever.….

Five Reasons Why I am a Guilty Catholic

When I was a lit­tle girl I stole a pack of Rolos from the gro­cery store. I use the word stole cau­tious­ly because there wasn’t any great pre­med­i­tat­ed plan. The brown roll with the gold­en edges looked deli­cious to my three-year-old eyes, so I grabbed them and head­ed out of the store with my moth­er. Once we were in the car she noticed the silence and real­ized that my mouth was qui­et because it was filled with choco­latey caramel good­ness. I was imme­di­ate­ly marched back in to the store where I pro­ceed­ed to return the half-eat­en stolen mer­chan­dise to the cashier along with a long, drawn our apol­o­gy. Cer­tain that I was faced with eter­nal damna­tion, my Catholic guilt was born that day.

I am not uncom­fort­able in my guilty Catholic skin. As a mat­ter of fact, I kind of like it. I am always dou­ble check­ing what I do or say so that when I have to answer to St. Peter at the gates of heav­en, I will have a decent sto­ry to tell. Make no mis­take, I am doing things wrong all of the time. If you’ve read any­thing else that I have ever writ­ten, you know that. I have learned from my moth­er, St. Mary Mau­r­mi her­self, a few things in my life. I have glad­ly passed the­se ten­ants on to my own chil­dren so that they will grow up to be a bit more decent…ish.…..

My moth­er had this pic­ture tak­en an entire year after I made my First Holy Communion.…Not that she should feel bad­ly about that.…..

1. Do not dis­card any­thing reli­gious- My moth­er has box­es of bro­ken rosaries at her house because she is sure that light­en­ing will strike her dead if she dares put one in the trash. “The­se are blessed, Colleen. You can nev­er get rid of any­thing blessed.” This one state­ment is why I have an Infant of Prague stat­ue with no hands hid­den in my sec­re­tary. I also have funer­al cards of the par­ents of kids who my moth­er went to grade school with in my mem­o­ry box­es. I have nev­er met any of the­se peo­ple. Not a one. I have no idea how in the hell (I am going to hell for just typ­ing that) I got them. But I sure as hell (back down to the firey abyss I go) can’t get rid of them. I say a quick may God bless you to Mrs. Mary Jones, b. 1921 d. 1994, every time I pass that Rub­ber­maid tub in the base­ment.

2. Make the Sign of the Cross when you pass a Catholic church- I live in St. Louis, you sneeze and you’re out­side of a Catholic church. That’s a lot of signs of the cross and plen­ty of time for reflec­tion. Very often when I am dri­ving alone I lis­ten to 90s gang­ster rap. As soon as I pass the church, that quick sign of the cross turns into a Hail Mary seek­ing inter­ces­sion from the Blessed Moth­er so that I will not be con­demned for lis­ten­ing to music filled with curse words, vio­lence and that objec­ti­fies wom­en. I real­ly like rap music so I am often over­whelmed with thoughts that I prob­a­bly shouldn’t be lis­ten­ing at all. Oh, and if I miss a church, then it is a dou­ble sign of the cross fol­lowed by a, “$h!+” and an “I’m sor­ry for curs­ing.” I get so worked up that I am sin­ning like crazy, I shut the rap music down and end up lis­ten­ing to Bar­ry Manilow for the remain­der of the day.

3. Make Sure you are Giv­ing Back- I feel like every sin­gle time I go to the store I am asked if I would like to donate a dol­lar to a cause. Some­times I say yes. Oth­er times I real­ly just don’t have the extra cash, so I decline. I am instant­ly over­come with shame know­ing that when the cashier says, “Receipt with you or in the bag?” She is real­ly think­ing, “Come on lady, you can’t donate just one dol­lar? Don’t you know that the cure would hap­pen if you just gave one dol­lar? But instead, you are enjoy­ing that Peo­ple Mag­a­zine with Richard Sim­mons on the cov­er and that Diet Coke, which, by the way, isn’t help­ing. So, please, take that flam­ing red hair and match­ing lips and go on about your busi­ness know­ing that you have just let down the entire effort. Thanks. Thanks a lot!” I reply, “Bag is fine.” And walk out with my head hung in shame.

4. Don’t For­get the Poor Kids- I hold on to every piece of cloth­ing, toy and book know­ing that there is a poor child that needs them. Shirts, shorts, coats and any­thing worth­while is bagged up and head­ed to those in need and the poor kids are thrilled. But what about the left­overs? The prob­lem is, the poor kids don’t want ten­nis shoes with holes or stained one­sies, but I feel so bad­ly about throw­ing away any­thing use­ful that I keep it in bins in my base­ment. Just in case. My fear that the poor kids will go with­out is not lim­it­ed to the hoard­ing of my children’s cast offs. I bring my sad­ness for the poor kids into the kitchen, too. If I exper­i­ment with a recipe that no one will touch, there is no way that we are throw­ing it out, because peo­ple are starv­ing. So, my hus­band ends up eat­ing the same casserole for lunch every day for a week. Or, he throws it away when he gets to work. Those deci­sions are on him. He’s the one who will go to hell for lying.…and wasting.…not me.

5. Look out for Your Guardian Angel- There is always some­one watch­ing you and it isn’t San­ta Claus. Sure, he sees you when you are sleep­ing and knows when you are awake, but the guardian angel isn’t lim­it­ed to the hol­i­day sea­son. He’s with you 100 per­cent of the time. That angel will pro­tect you when you need it, but he will also give you a quick real­i­ty check when it’s deemed fit­ting. Have you ever smart­ed off to your moth­er or slapped your broth­er and then walked away and tripped, or banged your elbow on the cof­fee table or spilled some­thing on your shirt imme­di­ate­ly fol­low­ing the infrac­tion? That is your guardian angel giv­ing you a shove. Just ask my moth­er. She has ter­ri­fied her four chil­dren and eight grand­chil­dren with this lit­tle fact for years. Next time you do or say some­thing unkind, you’ll fee a swift kick to the back of your knees and fall right over. Mark my words!

There are a lot of things in life that I am guilty about, but my Catholic guilt is not one of them.  My moth­er has forever said, “If you can’t do it in front of me, you prob­a­bly shouldn’t be doing it.” That state­ment has rung true my entire life. My Catholic guilt does not make me a para­noid bas­ket case. Instead, it helps me to make bet­ter choic­es because I am con­cerned about what will hap­pen to me if I don’t. They say (I don’t know who they are but they are filled with help­ful nuggets of infor­ma­tion) good things hap­pen to good peo­ple. Lots of peo­ple call it guilt, oth­ers call it Kar­ma, some say it is blind faith. To me, that guilt is like a warm com­fort­ing blan­ket that makes me feel secure in my choic­es. But I am not too naive to real­ize that blan­ket has the abil­i­ty to spon­ta­neous­ly burst in to flames in case I get off course, so I always keep a bot­tle of water close at hand to fight the flames.… Just in case.…..

My Mom’s Original Gangster Parenting Hacks Would Never Fly Today

My kids are cod­dled like every oth­er child on the plan­et. They get par­tic­i­pa­tion tro­phies. They have gigan­tic water bot­tles so that they won’t ever dehy­drate. They get stick­ers at Tar­get for being in the cart, even though their behav­ior is so deplorable I often threat­en to leave a few behind. That is the way of our world. We as par­ents have become soft. The sec­ond you attempt to assert tough love you are labeled an a-hole par­ent by the rest of the pearl-clutch­ing moth­ers at pick up.

We thir­ty-some­thing moms were raised by a dif­fer­ent pack of wolves. If we didn’t fol­low the rules, it wasn’t about a gen­tle con­se­quence like los­ing a mar­ble from the good girl jar. Our par­ents pulled out the big guns. Today’s sweet and lov­ing Grannies and Grand­pas, whose grand babies can do no wrong, were not kid­ding around thir­ty years ago. They taught us lessons that we will nev­er for­get.

I am a moth­er of three boys and one girl, a mir­ror image of the fam­i­ly that I grew up in. Hav­ing four kids is often chaotic, but I guess because I am from a large fam­i­ly it isn’t the ginor­mous chal­lenge that the world assumes it is. Hav­ing said that, I cer­tain­ly have my fair share of, “What in the world have I got­ten myself into?” days. But when I am at my worst, it is com­fort­ing to know that my mom was in the exact same place and some­how she made it through. I will often reflect on my own child­hood expe­ri­ences and think how lucky I was to have been raised in a lov­ing fam­i­ly in the 1980s because if I pulled any of my par­ents’ OG child-rear­ing hacks today, I’d be in jail. Or at the very least, the con­fes­sion­al.….

Clean up, or else

Today’s child has a chore chart on the wall out­lin­ing their dai­ly respon­si­bil­i­ties with a cor­re­spond­ing mag­net that they can move from one side to the oth­er so as to earn their dai­ly stick­er and, ulti­mate­ly, a prize at the end of the week. In the 1980s you had the, “I swear to God if you don’t clean up this room, I am throw­ing all of your crap out the win­dow,” method. Par­ents didn’t just threat­en, they fol­lowed through. The entire con­tents of my broth­ers’ bed­room went fly­ing from a sec­ond sto­ry win­dow and when my mom said she wouldn’t pick one thing up, she meant it. No,the family’s dirty lit­tle secret was nev­er shared with any­one; but the lesson was learned and noth­ing took flight again. Today, the neigh­bors would whip out their iPhones to cap­ture video, post it on Face­book and my mom would end up on Dr. Phil defend­ing her boot camp-style par­ent­ing.

If you want to leave, go

If a child today threat­ened to run away, par­ents would have a men­tal break­down. Why are you unhap­py? What can I do bet­ter? Is there some­thing that we can do to improve your liv­ing con­di­tions? When I was a kid if you want­ed to move out, your moth­er would help you pack. As a mat­ter of fact, if you were lucky, she’d grab the gigan­tic Sam­sonite from the base­ment. There were no wheels of course, but it was nice and hard and made a great seat when you need­ed a rest. She’d pack up all of your clothes, some­thing fan­cy for church on Sun­day, per­haps a swim­ming suit in the sum­mer, and you’d be on your way. It’s unlike­ly that you’d make it too far past the front stoop car­ry­ing all of your world­ly pos­ses­sions. How­ev­er, you’d have plen­ty of time to think the plan through, just as your moth­er had intend­ed.

You will eat this or starve

If you were a kid in the 1980s you prob­a­bly had the plea­sure of culi­nary delights like Chick­en Tonight, Man­wich or if it was a spe­cial occa­sion Bagel Bites and Totino’s Piz­za Rolls. No mat­ter what was placed on the table, that was the only option. No one was con­cerned that you didn’t like the way it looked, smelled or how it felt in your mouth. Din­ner was served. And if you were hun­gry, you would eat it. If you refused, you would be forced to sit with your cold chick­en and dumplings, under dimmed light­ing, while the rest of the fam­i­ly went to watch ALF with­out you. If you didn’t eat said dumplings, there would be no oth­er food offered until break­fast. You would legit go to bed hun­gry and live to tell the tale the next day

Do as I say, not as I do

Going out to din­ner was a lux­u­ry when I was a kid. Sure there were plen­ty of fast food joints with out­door play places that caused per­ma­nent scar­ring from their met­al joy rides, but a sit-down meal was a treat. When din­ing out, par­ty man­ners were expect­ed, and so help me God; you had bet­ter nev­er let any­one know how old you were. Even if it meant keep­ing your coat on for the entire meal to hide your blos­som­ing chest or duck­ing down real­ly low in your seat, under no cir­cum­stances should the estab­lish­ment ever ques­tion whether or not you were 10 and under. There was no kids eat free with an eli­gi­ble adult in the good old days. Every­one had to pay their own way, but fathers in the know had a plan. Chil­dren were prepped in the car. You are nev­er old­er than the age lim­it for a kid’s meal. Is that clear? You will gra­cious­ly accept a kid’s menu. Do you under­stand? Only water and soda have free refills. Don’t even think about order­ing choco­late milk. Got it? Once you were clear­ly too old, your father became “Mr. I look so young for my old age” and would start order­ing off the senior citizen’s menu to bal­ance things out.

Don’t make me turn this car around

Vaca­tion was a time for the whole fam­i­ly to pack into the sta­tion wag­on and hit the open road while your mom yelled direc­tions from that, “damn Rand McNal­ly,” she could nev­er fold, while your dad took long angry drags from his Salems. There were no five point har­ness per­son­al utopia’s con­tain­ing tablets pre­load­ed with edu­ca­tion­al videos and apps. You played the license plate game and beat the hell out of one anoth­er for a win­dow seat. You’d hope for a quick nap in the car before you checked in to the hotel and spent the next six nights shar­ing a dou­ble bed with all five of your sib­lings. Vaca­tion came with no itin­er­ary, no day trips or jaunts. Your trip con­sist­ed of the hotel pool, third-degree sun­burns, bee stings and you cried when you left because you couldn’t wait for next sum­mer.

It was a sim­pler time with few­er dis­trac­tions. Fam­i­lies were big and weird and so many of them were unbe­liev­ably hap­py. And aside from that one sum­mer when my broth­er fell from the brand new swing set and prob­a­bly broke his foot, but we’ll nev­er know because it was the 4th of July and no one was going to the ER because, “it would be load­ed with idiots who’d burned them­selves with fire­crack­ers!” I think that my par­ents and the rest of the neigh­bor­hood moms and dads were real­ly on to some­thing.……

Guess What kids? It’s not my fault!

kidsYour base­ball uni­form is still damp because I for­got to put it in the dry­er last night. It’s time to go so I hang it out the car win­dow on the high­way for a lit­tle line dry action, that is my fault. You have to take your lunch in a plas­tic shop­ping bag from Tar­get instead of brown bag­ging it because I didn’t buy them on my last trip, you can blame that on me. Your oat­meal mixed with paprika instead of cin­na­mon, I am respon­si­ble for that. I will not; how­ev­er, take cred­it for any of this.

You are exhaust­ed

Well, mom, if you just put us to bed on time I wouldn’t be this angry and cry­ing every morn­ing!” Oh my lit­tle Hand­some, how quick­ly you for­get that I sent you to bed on time last night, and every oth­er night of your whole life because when the witch­ing hour arrives I am ready to jump out the win­dow. You decid­ed to laugh and wrestle and do every­thing else you weren’t sup­posed to be doing with your broth­er for an hour and a half while I yelled from my bed­room to go to sleep. You didn’t lis­ten. Not my fault.

You are cov­ered in some­thing

Mom, I have tooth­paste all over the back of my neck!”  Well, when you insist on sit­ting on the toi­let in the down­stairs half bath, even though there are three oth­er bath­rooms in the house, while your broth­ers are also brush­ing their teeth in said bath­room tow­er­ing over you because, why would we ever not be togeth­er in the small­est bath­room in the house? Some­one is prob­a­bly going to spit on you. Not my fault.

You can’t find your shoes

The last time I wore them, I put them away.” Your Grand­pa loved to use this one on your uncles and me when we were kids. It’s my favorite. I share this lit­tle tid­bit with you every sin­gle time you can’t find your Nikes. They are sup­posed to go by the front door so that we can avoid being 15 min­utes late, instead of our tra­di­tion­al ten. Of course, you ignore me and throw one upstairs the oth­er in the base­ment and have no mem­o­ry of either. Now you’re wear­ing pen­ny loafers and gym shorts to Mass. Not my fault.

You are starv­ing

Um, what is that? It looks bas­gust­ing.” My cook­ing may not be on par with Julia Child, but give me a break! I can crack open and thought­ful­ly pre­pare that jar of Ragu that you asked  for a mere 30 min­utes ago. The fact that you have decid­ed that any­thing red will induce vom­it­ing and there is absolute­ly no way in hell you will touch the fork that I put in the bowl instead of on the table takes crazy to a lev­el that I am not pre­pared to deal with. Not my fault.

You are not ready for bed

At the end of the day you need a drink of water, anoth­er hug, one more kiss and a short sto­ry. Bed­time is here and you need to go to sleep. And even when I am the most tired that I have ever been, there is noth­ing like lit­tle hands on my face and lit­tle lips whis­per­ing, “Good­night, mom. I love you.” I don’t want the­se days of you need­ing and want­i­ng and lov­ing me more than any­one to end. So, I indul­ge those last lit­tle requests because from the moment you were born, you stole my heart. Not my fault.

Perfect 10

We are a mere nine days from the open­ing cer­e­monies of the Olympic Games in Rio. The sum­mer games are always my favorite. I can watch the swim­mers, divers and gym­nasts for hours and be in the purest state of awe as their bod­ies move in ways that seem almost human­ly impos­si­ble. They are tru­ly glo­ri­ous ath­letes and I will sit, in my own per­son­al glo­ry, and eat lots of snacks and drink Diet Coke while watch­ing them all go for the gold.

I nev­er had aspi­ra­tions of being an Olympiad, which I am sure comes as quite a sur­prise. I was far more con­cerned that the blue and gold rib­bons in my hair matched my uni­form to get too caught up with the actu­al sport that I was par­tic­i­pat­ing in. I attend­ed Catholic school from K-12 and in grade school, I played all of the sports, excelling in none of them. Dur­ing the sum­mer, we belonged to Macken­zie Swim Club, a fond but dis­tant mem­o­ry, and of course, I was on the swim team. There was also a div­ing team, but I was nev­er a part of that. I think the sum­mer that a mem­ber fell through the bars on the high dive, crashed to the ground and broke both of her arms (total­ly sounds like this should have been me) killed any thought my moth­er may have had of get­ting me signed up for anoth­er adven­ture.

swim

 

For as many sum­mers as I can remem­ber, we were at the pool every day. My par­ents had four kids and for a few hun­dred dol­lars a year, this kept every sin­gle one of us hap­pi­ly occu­pied for hours and hours. All of my broth­ers and I grew up to be decent swim­mers with no fear of the water. Our par­ents bought the house that they live in now when we were all young adults and lucky for us, there is an enor­mous pool in the back­yard. As we have grown up, got­ten mar­ried and had chil­dren, Mau­r­mi and Pop Pop’s house is the per­fect sum­mer spot to take our kids for hours on end.

The Hand­somes love to head over to their house when The Grillin’ Fool and I get home from work at night. I nor­mal­ly stay home with Dar­ling, our sweet baby girl, but a few nights ago, he had some evening work to do for a client, so I took the boys for an adven­ture. It’s aver­ag­ing 600 degrees here in the STL, so the water feels like a fresh­ly drawn bath, per­fect for evening swims. Mau­r­mi and I spent our night float­ing and chat­ting with fre­quent inter­rup­tions of, “Mom! Watch this!” “Mau­r­mi, look at me!” and “Hey, this is my best one yet.” Over and over they were in and out of the water doing tricks off of the div­ing board and call­ing us out instant­ly if we hap­pened to blink.

Hand­some #1 made his way over to Mau­r­mi and I in the shal­low water and start­ed doing hand­stands. He went up and down bare­ly keep­ing his skin­ny lit­tle legs togeth­er before top­pling over and splash­ing us.

Shoot! I just can’t keep me legs up,” he com­plained.

You’ll get it bud­dy, you just have to keep prac­tic­ing,” I reas­sured him.

Can you just show me?”

Oh, hon­ey, I haven’t done a hand­stand in 30 years.”

Please!”

When your child, who is so very much like you not only in his looks but in his manip­u­la­tive ways, begs you to help him, you move your aging, expand­ing and some­what sag­ging body to the deep­er water, hold your breath and give it your best shot. I went under, hoist­ed my body up on my arms, attempt­ed to put my legs togeth­er and flopped over on my back. I splashed with such gus­to that I imag­ined the water to be far below the skim­mer when I resur­faced. I was a bit embar­rassed, but fig­ured, I would give it anoth­er shot. Once again I held my breath, said a quick Hail Mary and went under. This time, I got one leg up and plunged for­ward. I came up for air feel­ing defeat­ed, a bit light head­ed and deter­mined to get both legs up and togeth­er. Third time’s a charm, right? I took a deep breath and made a final attempt, but nev­er got my legs ful­ly extend­ed. Instead, my left arm slipped and I went crash­ing down, think Shamu Show in the big tank. I came up for air and was sud­den­ly extreme­ly nau­se­at­ed.

The head rush from my failed attempts at show­ing my chil­dren that I could mas­ter some­thing as an adult that I was nev­er even kind of good at as a kid, was too much. I began gag­ging and head­ed for the steps.

Colleen, what is the mat­ter with you?” Mau­r­mi ques­tioned.

Noth­ing, gag, I am fine, gag, gag, gag.”

Mom, mom, are you OK?” Hand­some #2 yelled from the deep.

I moved from the steps to the side of the pool dry heav­ing and lay­ing my head on the salty, hot con­crete. I was posi­tioned on the ground like a beached whale, wet, flail­ing and dis­ori­ent­ed, just hop­ing that some­one would direct me back to my prop­er place. The fuzzi­ness in my brain rivaled any morn­ing after the very best nights of my life in my ear­ly 20s. I was breath­ing slow­ly in through my nose and out of my mouth. I was afraid to open my eyes, for I was cer­tain that the world was not just spin­ning, but also on fire and laugh­ing at me.

Colleen, are you alright? What in the heck is going on?”

Mom, I am fine! I just got a lit­tle dizzy, I’ll be fine.”

I can’t imag­ine how that hap­pened? Your form was just love­ly,” she smirked.

This com­ing from the wom­an who breaks into tap danc­ing at Hob­by Lob­by, but I digress. It took a cou­ple of min­utes, but I final­ly gained my com­po­sure and was able to get back in the water, my hand­stand days clear­ly over. I grabbed a noodle and float­ed effort­less­ly, not a care in the world. Then, Hand­some #2 yelled from the deep,

Hey, mom! Can you show me how to do a back flip off the board?”

Airing Our Dirty Laundry, All Over Saint Louis Hills

 

My first reac­tion to this video was to be crit­i­cal of myself. The hor­ren­dous screen shot of a five-week post­par­tum moth­er, couldn’t they have cho­sen some­thing bet­ter? I want­ed to point out my errors, the way that I look and the way that I sound. But, I am throw­ing all of that out the win­dow. I am so incred­i­bly proud of this accom­plish­ment. I stepped com­plete­ly out of my com­fort zone, put my heart and soul on the line with an orig­i­nal piece and the audi­ence loved it. I am so incred­i­bly thank­ful for the sup­port of my fam­i­ly, my three broth­ers and my dad, who allowed me to bring a lit­tle laugh­ter into the world at all of their expense, but par­tic­u­lar­ly to my moth­er, who has always been my biggest sup­port­er. I am also grate­ful for my hus­band and chil­dren who allowed me to take this time to be com­plete­ly self­ish and to do some­thing just for me. I love each and every one of you!

The Lis­ten to Your Moth­er expe­ri­ence tru­ly was life chang­ing for me. It helped me to real­ize that God has blessed me with a tal­ent and that I need to take advan­tage of that tal­ent. I am cur­rent­ly work­ing on a col­lec­tion of essays from my child­hood, very sim­i­lar to the fol­low­ing, that I hope to pub­lish soon. I appre­ci­ate all of your kind words and your love. You will be see­ing a lot more from me soon!

Bad Boys, Bad Boys, What’ca Gonna Do?

I have learned all kinds of things in my last eight years par­ent­ing boys. Frogs, bugs and rep­tiles are a reg­u­lar part of con­ver­sa­tion and I am expect­ed to lis­ten intent­ly and care about the sto­ries being told. Cloth­ing will be filthy by the end of the day and no amount of hand wash­ing, wet wipes or nap­kins on the lap can pre­vent it. Boys will beat the crap out of each oth­er one min­ute and hug it out the next and there are nev­er hard feel­ings, at all. No mat­ter how much I preach about lift­ing the seat and aim­ing, my bath­rooms, despite an inor­di­nate amount of bleach and vine­gar used, will always have a slight uriney smell. I have come to accept, albeit begrudg­ing­ly on the urine thing, all of this. It is a way of life in my house and that house is filled with hap­py, hand­some men.…and a cou­ple of girls.

For the most part, my Hand­somes are well behaved, have decent man­ners and do what they are told with­out much trou­ble. Sure, they all have their moments, but I can hon­est­ly say that I don’t wor­ry too ter­ri­bly much about how they will act when I am not around. I am not a huge list of rules kind of per­son either. We have the basics, be kind to one anoth­er, don’t talk back, put your dirty laun­dry in the bas­ket, please don’t pee on your broth­er while you are both in the tub, all that kind of stuff. But, there is one thing in our house that my sons will unan­i­mous­ly announce as being the ulti­mate don’t cross mom on this one or she will lose her mind rule. I can han­dle any of the afore­men­tioned and hand out a quick, knock if off, but when it comes to the Gold­en Rule in Come on Colleen land, there is no excep­tion.

Pic­ture if you will a love­ly break­fast, lunch or din­ner table. You are per­fect­ly fam­ished and could eat just about any­thing. Thank­ful­ly, there is a deli­cious spread before you, the com­pa­ny is equal­ly as divine and you are feel­ing just delight­ful! Then, out of the cor­ner of your eye, you spot a man at the table in a tank top. He could be the rich­est, kindest, fun­ni­est and most hand­some man on the plan­et, but the sec­ond he lifts his arm to reach for the rolls, you see it. His sweaty, strag­gly, nasty armpit hair is danc­ing in the breeze. Pieces of dried deodor­ant are hang­ing on like the last bit of snow on a rock after the weath­er warms up. No mat­ter how hard you try, you can’t look away and now you have com­plete­ly lost your appetite and are resist­ing the urge to barf all over the table. Just, me? No, prob­a­bly not any more.……

Did you get your tick­ets for the gun show? Nope, no way, not at my table. Not today, not tomor­row, not ever. The Hand­somes know that they absolute­ly must have a shirt on when we are eat­ing. Often times they sleep in their under­wear so that they can be like their idol, The Grillin’ Fool, who inci­den­tal­ly is the only per­son in our house with actu­al armpit hair, and will wan­der down the steps blur­ry eyed and half naked. I don’t even have to say any­thing. A vic­to­ry in and of itself, I have mas­tered, “the look” that sends them scur­ry­ing in to the laun­dry room to find cov­er­age.

And before you get all, “But Colleen, Hand­some #1, your old­est, is only eight years old, he doesn’t even have peach fuzz in those pits.” I gagged just typ­ing that. No, you are right, he sure doesn’t, but, I wouldn’t hand him a Salem Slim Light and a Bud­weis­er, two of my old favorites back in the days when I was fun, so why let him engage in oth­er risky behav­iors that could lead to his mother’s pre­ma­ture pass­ing from gag­ging on her on vom­it at the table lat­er on in life? Just not worth the risk.

This rule is infal­li­ble at our home. As a mat­ter of fact, even when I was pot­ty train­ing my youngest boy, oppo­si­tion was quick­ly squelched my by eldest.
Me- Boys, you know the rule, you must put on a shirt before break­fast.

Hand­some #2- Why? Hand­some #3 isn’t even wear­ing any under­wear!

Me- No, he isn’t, but he is also tucked under the table and no one can see that.

Hand­some #1- Why are you even argu­ing with her on this one? You will nev­er win.

Yes. A vic­to­ry. I won! I won! I won! I felt so val­i­dat­ed. They respect me and love me and know that this is impor­tant to me and a firm rule in our home. My hand­somes are allow­ing me to mold them into strong, respect­ful and respectable young men that will make me proud. I was on cloud nine for exact­ly 11 sec­onds and then I got this series of pic­tures from Mau­r­mi. Remem­ber that whole, I don’t real­ly wor­ry about their behav­ior when I’m not around bolog­na? Well, well, well, appar­ent­ly at my house the min­ute I leave it’s a great big, naked, let your arm pits hang out all over the place buf­fet.…..

 

wow

 

They are lucky they are cute.……

Put Me in Coach.…

I am not par­tic­u­lar­ly ath­let­ic, unless you include Sweat­in’ to the Oldies, but as a moth­er of a lot of boys, sports, cur­rent­ly base­ball, have infil­trat­ed every part of our lives. I love to watch lit­tle kids get a hit, or make a catch and to see the pride beam­ing from their faces. There is noth­ing like watch­ing your child smil­ing from ear to ear after mak­ing a great play and know­ing that not one bit of that ath­let­ic abil­i­ty came from you, and your pret­ty sure not your hus­band either, but hop­ing that it might last a few more years.

Recent­ly, Hand­somes #1 and #2 had week­night games, at dif­fer­ent loca­tions, that over­lapped; there­fore, The Grillin’ Fool and I had to divide and con­quer. It’s bare­ly mid June and already 1000 degrees in St. Louis, so a full day at the pool fol­lowed by an ear­ly evening game, that I kind of for­got about until about an hour before hand, is about as much fun as I could pos­si­bly han­dle dur­ing the last week of my mater­ni­ty leave.

In typ­i­cal fash­ion, we couldn’t find hats, socks or cleats, despite the fact that every sin­gle per­son in the house swears that they put them away in their prop­er places just like I asked. Hand­some #2 and I were head­ed out for the ear­ly shift. He was clad in head to toe black and grey poly­ester, bright blue and yel­low soc­cer socks and ten­nis shoes due to the fact that we couldn’t devote any more time to the scav­enger hunt for prop­er equip­ment. All the damns that I gave had melt­ed in the heat.

The game start­ed at 6pm and was locat­ed at least 15 min­utes from home. We left at 5:51pm. I bare­ly made it out of the sub­di­vi­sion when I noticed this in the rear view mir­ror.

h21

He hadn’t just nod­ded off, this child was snoring.…loudly. Rather than poke the bear, I fig­ured I would let him rest until we got to the field. We rolled in at 6:03pm and I noticed that every play­er on the field was female. Per­fect. I had dri­ven to the wrong place, miles past where we were sup­posed to be. Sud­den­ly, Chief Mete­o­rol­o­gist Mau­r­mi comes in with this warn­ing.

h22

I check my cal­en­dar, find the right loca­tion and get to the field at 6:17pm just in time for Hand­some #2 to wake up with a seat belt crease across his face that could eas­i­ly be mis­tak­en as a failed attempt to gauge his eye out.

Are we here? Oh good, my team is up to bat!”

He runs to the dugout and after miss­ing the top of the inning some­how finds him­self on deck. Seems fair that all of the oth­er soon-to-be first graders who have bat­tled the sev­en­th cir­cle of hell in the field should move aside for some­one who just fin­ished his beau­ty sleep, right?!?!?! He gets a hit, the kids fin­ish out the inning and head back out to the field.

Hand­some #2 didn’t seem par­tic­u­lar­ly thrilled to be out in the heat and each time the thun­der would clap, he’d look up as if God was talk­ing direct­ly to him. The oth­er team got a few hits, scored a few runs and it was time for our boys to bat. Once again, there he stood with a hel­met on, seem­ing­ly unde­served­ly high up in the bat­ting order, when the coach­es spot light­en­ing and the game is called.…at 6:31pm. In just 40 min­utes, Hand­some #2 had tak­en a nap, vis­it­ed two Catholic Church fields, bat­ted and got­ten a hit, and played an inning in the field. This kid has done more with his ath­let­ic career in less than an hour than I have my entire life!

We head­ed for the car and he looked up at me and said,

I need a nap, that was exhaust­ing!”

 

 

 

 

Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah.…..Stayin’ Alive.….

Yep, the test is pos­i­tive,” the doc­tor said to me with sad eyes.

OMG, I thought. This is all I need right now. I have four kids and I don’t have time for this! Ugh, no! I am not preg­nant, God help us all.  Strep. Hand­some #2 test­ed pos­i­tive for strep. The nasty lit­tle bug that for my chil­dren means not only a high fever and sore throat, but we get the added bonus of vomiting.…awesome! Per­haps I should have believed him when he said he didn’t feel well.

I can­not go to school today, said Hand­some #2, Hooray!

I left the pediatrician’s office to grab Mau­r­mi, Hand­some #3 and the baby and head­ed to the phar­ma­cy to pick up Hand­some #2’s pre­scrip­tion. We made it past the check­out line when all of a sud­den I heard the hor­ri­fy­ing scream­ing.

Ouch. Oh. Ouch. I am so hurt. Ahh­h­h­hh! I have too much blood!”

I looked down to see Hand­some #3 on the floor and huge droplets of red all over the bright white tile.

OMG! What hap­pened?” I screamed.

Mau­r­mi hurt me so bad,” He blub­bered as tears poured down his cheeks and blood ran from his fin­ger.

Colleen! I would nev­er hurt him. OMG, my baby. Nev­er. I would nev­er hurt you.”

Duh.

He got the fin­ger caught in the cart, how, we may nev­er know, and some­how ripped a ginor­mous piece of skin in the process. I thought that we were head­ed to the ER, I mean, So.much.blood. I always react well in emer­gen­cy sit­u­a­tions.

Jesus, mom! OMG. What do we do?”

Colleen! He is hurt.”

I real­ize that. What am I sup­posed to do?”

Colleen! He is hurt!”

What do I do?”

This game of moron who’s on first went on for much longer than it should have, extreme­ly loud­ly and nei­ther one of us real­ly doing any­thing. Mau­r­mi took off to grab nap­kins when a help­ful young man in uni­form appeared to inform me that they had a first aid kit avail­able in case I need­ed it. Nice offer, but I need­ed some­thing imme­di­ate­ly as my child was becom­ing more and more hys­ter­i­cal.

Mau­r­mi returned with her con­tri­bu­tion to the ER effort and I ran to the phar­ma­cy area to grab a box of Band Aids, hop­ing that he would sit still long enough for me to put them on. As I returned to the scene with a box of Paw Patrol ban­dages, there stood a big man with a walkie talkie act­ing very impor­tant.

Yep. I’ve got them. I am here. Yep. Blood. There is blood. Yep. Yep. Got it. Bring on the clean up crew.”

By the look on his face, I was cer­tain that there would be a haz­mat team approach­ing soon. Mau­r­mi did her best to wipe up the floor while big red stood there doing a whole lot of noth­ing.

Excuse me,” I said try­ing to get to my baby.

Ma’am, we have a first aid kit for the­se kinds of the things.”

This is now the sec­ond time that the first aid kit has been offered, but noth­ing has been pro­duced. Per­haps they want­ed me to sign some kind of per­mis­sion slip, but instead I ripped open the box and start­ed to tend to the wound. Thank­ful­ly, my baby boy sat still and I was able to attach the ban­dages tight­ly enough to stop the bleed­ing.

Oh. Ewe, gross,” Said the walkie talkie man.

Thank­ful­ly for him, I bit my tongue and went on about my busi­ness. I want­ed to get Hand­some #2’s med­i­cine and get the heck out there. I head­ed to the phar­ma­cy, still cov­ered in blood myself and look­ing like a seri­al killer, and request­ed the pre­scrip­tion. Not ready.…awesome.… Since the bleed­ing had stopped and I need­ed a few more lunch­box items, I pressed on with my shop­ping.

We wan­dered through the toy depart­ment, the gro­cery area and the baby sec­tion when I noticed that Hand­some #3 was start­ing to act fun­ny. His eyes were droop­ing and he was nod­ding off.

Colleen, what is the mat­ter with him?” Mau­r­mi asked.

I don’t know. This is real­ly odd, ” I replied.

My God, did he hit his head? Or is he in shock from the pain?”

Hand­some #3, wake up! Wake up!” I demand­ed.

Stop talk­ing to me. Don’t look at me. I am so hurt­ing,” he screamed.

Cer­tain that he had some kind of con­cus­sion, again, I start­ed to pan­ic. Mau­r­mi and I stood next to the cart dis­cussing our next course of action, but nei­ther one of us touch­ing him, not want­i­ng to dis­turb him. Had we reached out to com­fort him, per­haps we could have saved the con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries and real­ized a few min­utes soon­er that he was hot­ter than a fire­crack­er. God help us, anoth­er one bites the dust. Strep is ugly and mean and con­ta­gious as hell!

Thank­ful­ly he had tried to ampu­tate his fin­ger a few min­utes ear­lier and we were still at the store so that I could call the pedi­a­tri­cian and get his med­i­cine called in before I left. I checked in at the phar­ma­cy to make sure they had received the new order and grabbed Hand­some #2’s med­i­cine and gave him a dose right there in the store. The soon­er we attack the bug, the bet­ter, right? Ten min­utes lat­er, Hand­some #3’s med­i­cine was ready, so I dosed him up too and we head­ed to the cafe for a quick drink and a pret­zel.


The fever had tak­en its toll on my bud­dy and he had enough trau­ma for the day, so we head­ed home to get every­one com­fort­able and in bed. As I unload­ed my bags to put away the gro­ceries I found that I was one bot­tle short. Hand­some #2’s med­i­cine was some­how left at the store. Come on! Seri­ous­ly?!?!!?

I wait­ed until the Grillin’ Fool got back from work before I head­ed back to the store, with Mau­r­mi of course, to pick up the new­ly ordered med­i­cine because no one could find it in the store. Mau­r­mi looked through every cart.


We retraced our steps, searched the aisles and shelves, but it was nowhere to be found. I returned to the phar­ma­cy for the third time and promised not to lose it, even putting it in my mother’s purse to ensure it would stay with me.

As we left the store to head home, we walked past the scene of the crime and noticed there was still a bit of blood left. Inter­est­ing­ly, the large fel­la with the walkie talkie was also still there, still hooked up to the walkie.…Having a snack.….

 

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