Prison Break: A Halloween Story

We have a Superyard. If you’re lucky enough not to be intimately acquainted with its form and function, a Superyard is a plastic fenced area for your home in which your child(ren) can play safely.

We put the babies in the Superyard for varied periods of time each day. If we did not engage in this practice, the babies would crawl around the house relentlessly, and we’d spend the day extricating them from tight places and sweeping their mouths for (insert gross thing one can find of the floor of a house full of children and cats). For us, that’s enough reason to have a Superyard. Plus, let’s say I have to pee, or get dinner ready, or make a phone call, it’s a huge help, and I can walk away knowing the babies will be safe.

There is a problem, though. My family hates it.

If there’s one thing my family is good at, it’s criticism thinly veiled as sarcasm. And making meatballs. But that’s two things, so I’ll back up. Anytime one of them walks into our house and notices the Superyard in use, someone is generally compelled to make a smart remark like, “Aww…are you in prison?or “Can I break you out of there?” or “How long are you in for?”

Inevitably, this leads to melodramatic begging and pleading with me to “help them escape”. They ask me if they can “spring Matthew now” or when they’re “allowed to get out of the cage”.  My answer? If you’re willing (and physically able, you old crow) to chase them and keep them from eating handfuls of cat fur, go for it.

My aunt, to add another layer of perceived parental incompetence, also offers to “take the kids out for a walk so they can get some real air.” You got me. Ours is totally artificial. It’s helium, actually. And we subsist solely on molten silver.

Another bone of contention is the wearing of socks. We are all of the consensus here that baby socks don’t fit very well, yes? If not, get on my team. My family, I’m reasonably certain, has some sort of internal alert system that is triggered by the removal or partial removal of a sock. If a sock comes off, Lord have mercy. It’s time for the third-degree sock beating. Why don’t you have socks on this kid? It’s freezing! Well, you know, it is July, and I figured, since we don’t breathe real air

Anyway, we’re gearing up for Halloween tonight, so here’s a preview of how doing the rounds with the babies is going to go: “Oh, look! The babies! Trick or Treat, babies! Why did you bother getting them costumes? They don’t even know it’s Halloween! And look, they’re so uncomfortable! Who wants that (hat, collar, button) near your face like that? Take it off! And where are their coats? Why did you wear that scary costume? You’re scaring the babies! Oh yeah, we forgot to buy candy. Now, go home! It’s cold and it’s too late for these babies to be out!”

Fun, right? And worth the hassle.

If my intuition is correct, we’ll come home this evening with no candy, a container of meatballs, a bagful of socks, and a cake with a file in it.

Happy Halloween
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The Scariest Halloween Ever. EVER. A Mad Lib

We weren’t allowed to go in the nightclub and we really didn’t want to—it was greasy and hot, and smelled like spray tan.

The steps leading down to the dance floor were covered in glitter, and there was a huge bouncer  next to the door. It felt slimy and we wanted to leave.

We tiptoed toward the bouncer, two steps at a time, ’til our butts were pinched, and we were too scared to move. There was always a drunken whore coming up from below the stairwell, and we weren’t brave enough to face it.

We heard a thumping sound. It was coming from the bar. We wanted to know what was making the sound, but we were afraid we might get herpes. We held our breath and sanitized, but each time we tried to approach, the fear would fist pump over us, and we would back away, terrified.

Finally, I decided to face the fear and go down to the dance floor. When we didn’t hear techno, we were encouraged and continued on, praying we would not be groped by whatever it was that moved and grooved down there. When we made it to the very bottom, we bumped booties, wrapped tightly around each other, barely able to see through the manufactured fog and strobe lights.

Then, we saw it. It was The Situation and it was freaking terrifying.

We moved closer, we couldn’t breathe . . .

He was with Ina Gartendoing the Argentine Tango on the bar.


Cork Face: A Guest Post by The Mrs.

Sandi writes about cheapskatery and housewifery on her blog The Mrs. She’s the mother of a three-year old, an eighteen month old, and a T-minus four-month old, and worries that she might be crazy. Obsessed with food and spreadsheets, she works full-time as a financial advisor but hopes sincerely that her next maternity leave will be her last, and that she’ll get to stay at home and eat bon bons (whatever they are) for the rest of her life. She also thinks she’s funny (don’t tell her the truth).

Look at this, would you? We call it a nimmie, but you might know it as a paci, soother, or – my personal favourite – a cork.

Does it have an enormous hole in it? Why, yes. Yes, it does. And any parent of a corked three-year-old knows why – we’re trying to wean her off of it.

Now, you and I both know that she’s not going to be sucking on the thing when she’s eighteen, and I don’t have any deeply held ideological, philosophical, or dental reason why I want her to get rid of it now. To be honest, I’m grateful for it, and I’m scared of what will happen when it disappears completely. We gave my younger son a nimmie as soon as we brought him home, and plan to do so with our next baby.

But that’s not stopping me from trying to get rid of it for my daughter, and I have two very good reasons:

Reason One: She doesn’t use one at daycare, even at naptime. And, if they can get her to sleep without it, well, now it’s a competition. I’ve had enough issues with daycare that the fact that they’re beating me at this burns me up.

Healthy, I know.

Reason Two: I like her face. Heck, I made half of it, so at its root this is really just an ego thing, right?

Regardless, we’ve already got it (that would be the nimmie, not the face) banished to the bedroom for use at bedtime and naptime only, but I’d like to see all of her sweet little face even then. So away it goes.

Except.

Here we find ourselves where we started: the nimmie hole. We’ve tried the much touted trick of convincing her to give it to a new baby that we know – Sorry, Malcolm, like you’d want this germ-ridden piece of grossness anyway – but, of course, it didn’t work.

We’ve tried hiding it and only giving it to her when she asks for it.

She asks for it every night.

Then my husband had the bright idea to cut a hole in it. He read somewhere (or some well-meaning relative told him) that with a hole in the – for lack of a better term – “sucking end”, she wouldn’t like how it collapsed in her mouth, and eventually give it up.

It is to laugh.

First, I cut a teeny, tiny hole in the end, hoping she wouldn’t notice. She did. But into her mouth it went, with only a brief conversation about why it was broken all of a sudden.

The hole must not have been big enough. So, bigger hole. Further conversation with the three-year old as to how her nimmie got broken some more. No change in use.

Three months later, here we are. Not only is there an enormous hole, but we’ve split the nimmie down the sides so it resembles nothing more than a great, gaping lizard mouth.

And into her sweet little mouth it goes. Every night.

Gross.

Tissues and Tylenol

Funny thing.

The past month has been particularly dreadful, for a host of reasons, topped only by a family-wide illness and my laptop squealing, then failing, in my lap.

There is a significant upside, though. A very unexpected one. My family’s bonding.

I know what you’re thinking. How could we have gotten this far and not bonded yet? I probably have a few good reasons, or rationalizations, or what-have-yous, but that’s not why I’m here.

My family’s bonding. Like, sitting on the floor, under a blanket, watching The Muppets Take Manhattan bonding. And I’m so thrilled.

I don’t have cleaning to do, bills to pay, errands to run, or any other inane tasks that suck my life force, and my husband’s had the past three days off. He’s not running to work, or crawling into bed to collect a useless three hours’ sleep before an overnight shift. Everything in my home has come to a grinding halt. No one’s on the iPad, or writing lists, or coordinating babysitters, or planning meals. No one’s putting unreasonable expectations on the other, overscheduling us to death, or trying, in vain, to sneak that oil change between two other activities. We’re all home. Resting. Together.

So what if we’re covered in snot and all have fevers? So what if we can’t find a way out of our pajamas? We’re sneezing and coughing and sniffling together.

I couldn’t bottle and sell the joy I’ve experienced just dancing around the living room to the Chuggington theme song with Matthew, or snuggling under the blanket with him as he practices his inflection by saying “Mom” seventeen thousand times. I can’t imagine any place I’d rather be than on the floor, being sneezed on by my ambling twins, as they converge upon us for their requisite raspberries. My husband and I haven’t laughed this much since we were dating, and my family’s never had this air of calm.

We’re peaceful, relaxed, nauseous, and happy. Who knew a cold would be the great equalizer? Who knew, that in our chap-lipped misery, we’d be so elated? Who knew that with only each other we’d be bewitched?

And who knew that, in this twenty-first century world, where we’ve been conditioned to believe that happiness is the ability to process sixty things at once, while tethered to electronic devices, our joy would only be found in taking them away?

For the first time in our history, I can confidently say we’re a family, and, for the first time, I know what we’re missing while wading waist-deep in responsibilities.

So, don’t mind us if we’re sick for a few more days. It will get us through until the next time.

The Sanctity of Sick

You know that feeling when you’re coming down with a cold or a virus? The fatigue, the scratchy throat, the sneezing, the headaches? The general malaise?  The symptoms that you repeatedly question and ultimately attribute to something else?

This is happening to me today, except, like most instances I can fondly recall, I can’t savor them in solitude.

I slept fewer than three hours last night because Michael was awake, congested and whiny. I started to get nauseous around 4am, and attributed that to not having slept. I awoke this morning (and I put that term completely loosely) to more pronounced nausea and a headache. All three children are sneezing and coughing around me.

And I can’t figure out whether or not I’m getting sick.

Why? Because it’s hard to listen to your body when it’s covered in babies and cats. I can’t tell if I’m nauseous because I’m sick, or because I made the unwise decision to eat only coffee and tomato soup today, or because my son’s been using my torso as a trampoline. Or all of the above.

I used to be able to relish this state of uncertainty, on the couch, wrapped in my favorite blanket, with a remote in my hand. I used to figure these things out while indulging in cocoa and The Price is Right. I used to be able to rest and fight the germs back, and I would wake the next day refreshed, and move on.

But I can’t do that anymore. Not with three kids and three cats, and a husband who has the day off today and really wants to chat. I can’t even stare, completely self-absorbed, into the mirror at the bags under my eyes, because Matthew will break my concentration by tugging on my shirt and asking, “Mom? Mom? Mom? Mom? Teeth? Potty?”

I don’t want to slog through the next five to seven days running around in circles, wiping noses, delirious with fever. I don’t want to lie amongst a bunch of sick, stinky babies if I’m not strong enough to take care of them. I don’t want to run a family of five on empty. I just don’t.

You know, you lose a lot of things when babies come into your life, some of which you miss, and some of which you don’t. Me? My heart is aching for a crocheted blanket, a cup of tea, and Ellen. And it wouldn’t hurt if there were no one within an arm’s length of me, either.

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