Monday, September 27, 2010

$258.01 and A Bum Leg

In an attempt to get Big V over to the book I'm in called Personal Finances I've created a very strict budget. (Don't worry; he gets bread and water from time to time.) Big V has a very relaxed attitude when it comes to life, specifically towards money... hey, we might get hit by a bus and die tomorrow he laments regularly. I'm more of the but what happens if we live to be 103 years old? I don't want to eat cat food! type. Plus, I actually do plan on living to see my 103rd birthday. Really. I do.

Anyway, a couple months ago we sat down and discussed our finances. It started with Big V asking where the hell all his money went and ended with me clinging to his leg sobbing please don't let them take the baby! I really like that one! In between we talked about how much day care costs really were this summer. With two kids in daycare full time we were shelling out $1,000 per month. It sounds insane.... but then you do the math and realize some poor sucker watched two kids for ten hours a day at a measly five bucks an hour. Now that sucker was the insane one.

So The Budget was created. And we pledged our allegiance to The Budget and pinky swore that we would each follow it to the letter and I only cheated once after I found enough change in the dirty laundry which allowed me to go to McDonald's for their McChicken sandwich. With no lettuce. Or "no shred" as they refer to it in their fast food lingo. Because let's be honest,  that lettuce always gets warm and soggy and that is just wrong because everyone knows lettuce was meant to be crispy, not wilting, so it has no business being on such a superb sandwich.

So this past Friday night I was paying bills and doing The Budget - yes, Friday night - because The Budget said I couldn't go anywhere ever again until some stupid credit card bill got paid in full and I always follow The Budget. (Except for that one McChicken sandwich time; which was necessary, because I had to do a lot of laundry to get that dollar. People in my house are either cheap or smart enough to check their pockets.) Anyway, I was paying the bills and plugging numbers in like a little accountant and I was all NO WAY! We are almost caught up! And Big V was all NO WAY! Are you serious? And we looked over the numbers and high-fived and I was all now I don't have to sneak the McChickens anymore! and Big V was all What'chu talkin' about, Willis? and I was all focus, honey, we're talking about The Budget.

And so it was that a plan was hatched to kick it into high gear. A little bit extra work in this last week and all the bills would be paid to date.

But then Big V decided not to follow The Budget. Because no where in The Budget does it mention anything at all about having your knee blow up to the size of a cantaloupe and developing some creepy weird infection where the doctor prescribes two different antibiotics strong enough to make the pharmacist question whether or not he should even be among the living and strict orders that if a fever or diarrhea make an appearance he is to go straight to the ER without blinking and that is not part of The Budget!

So right now, as of this moment, we need $258.01 to bring every bill up to current status but Big V can barely move. He shouldn't be working. He can't work. Which means he can't make the $258.01 we need.  And he better not end up in ICU because if that happens I might feel conflicted about choosing to visit him or taking the opportunity of his absence to throw out all those ugly, dingy Hanes t-shirts he wears all the time. (They're under shirts; they're meant to be worn under other shirts. Duh!)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Things I Do After I Put My Kids To Bed

1. I eat M&M's. You know, from the bag I hid from all the kids earlier. Yes, I eat them. One at a time. I slowly suck on the candy coating until it disappears and then I slowly chew the chocolate treasure inside. And then I grab another piece and slowly do it all again. I do this instead of shoving eight pieces in my mouth while stirring the spaghetti sauce we're having for dinner and trying to dodge your I smell chocolate in here accusations like I usually do.

2. I sit. I sit still. I sit still in one spot. Without getting up every thirty-seven seconds to grab the baby, check the baby, take the electrical cord out of the baby's mouth. I sit. I sit until my legs feel like they've been wrapped in one of those lead blankets the dentist throws over you when he x-rays your teeth. And it is good.

3. I go to the bathroom. With the door closed. Yes, closed. And no one barges in to hand me a permission slip that needs to be signed right away otherwise you won't be able to go bowling next Tuesday with the rest of the class, and no one barges in to ask me if they should wear their hair this way or that way to school tomorrow and this is really important because Betty Sue wore her hair like this today and you don't want people to think you're copying her, and no one barges in to announce that next week Wednesday there is a fire meeting that you need to go to and you just wanted to tell me before you forgot. Yes, after I put my kids to bed I go to the bathroom. With the door closed. Sometimes I stay in there for a really long time. Because I can.

4. I eat. In the living room. On the couch. Over the carpet. I eat crumbly foods like potato chips. And foods that stain my fingers like Cheetos. And I drink red kool-aid. In a really big breakable glass. And I put it on the edge of the coffee table. Where it might spill. Yep. I'm daring like that.

5. I watch television where the main characters are older than 12. Sometimes there are kissing scenes. Or dead bodies. And swear words. Aw, who am I kidding - you all heard those swear words earlier in the evening when I was yelling at you for the twentieth time to get off the carpet with your red juice.

Children, these are just five reasons why you must, yes you must go to bed at a decent hour. Because I can't cram all this in twenty minutes before midnight. Really.

Editor's Note: red kool-aid may or may not be red wine; because you just wait until your kids learn all about alcohol. One humiliating trip in to see the principal and discuss your child's concerns with your daily wine drinking habits will have you calling it kool-aid, too. You know, if that's the case.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Perfect Home

I get to go inside houses. Lots of houses. I go in them when they're first built. I go in them when they're in the middle of a remodel. I go in them when the neighbors are complaining that they're decrepit and ugly and lowering the property values of the neighborhood and ought to be torn down and replaced with something new and modern.

There are little lake cottages that I have dreamed about entering and when I do they are everything I imagined them to be: breezy and light, welcoming and relaxing, creaking and full of wear & tear. I imagine the cousins gathering to sleep on the front screened-in porch, laughing and giggling, listening to the sounds of the lake waves hitting the piers.

There are expensive lake front homes of such a grand exterior I feel lowly and humbled at the mere thought that little old me is privileged enough to enter them -- and usually I'm disappointed. They're large, expansive, and look more like a museum than a home. I imagine a coldness to the families that occupy them. No giggling allowed in a house so formal and fancy.

I can spend countless hours perusing realtor.com for houses to buy and fully believe with my entire being that it should be a law that real estate agents listing a property must post pictures of every room and the yard. I get giddy at the thought of attending an open house because I can't wait to see what's inside.

My mom always said that when looking for a place to live you should look inside every house; never drive by and assume what's on the inside. We're taught that very young: never judge a book by its cover. You never know what is on the inside until you experience it first hand.

I have been so excited and geared up to see the inside of a particular house that on the outside looks absolutely perfect to me. It might have a large porch, flower boxes and the perfect color siding - but when I walk in I find the rooms are tiny, the kitchen a disaster, and the basement floods every time the neighbor flushes his toilet. It might look perfect to everyone driving by, but can you imagine how you'd feel living there? Trapped in its inner hell?

Then there's the house that looks, well, plain. Maybe even less than plain. Someone with less tact might even describe it as ugly. Maybe the siding is old and falling off, and the trim is a color you couldn't describe if your life depended on it. The yard looks a mess and the shed out back is crooked and leaning at a most curious angle. You sigh, fight back the urge to turn around and cut your losses early, but take a step towards the door, because you're willing to take a chance to at least see what's on the inside before you write it off completely.

And once you get inside - oh. my. word. You stand shocked at the beauty. The floors are real wood and polished to a shine. The rooms are spacious and welcoming. There are new appliances in the state of the art kitchen. The bathroom is full of custom tile and a jetted tub and the laundry room is so gorgeous you can't wait to start washing!  Around every corner you find more and more to make you smile. You can see yourself living there. You can see your family gathered around the kitchen island, laughing while eating their morning breakfast. You imagine hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner and all the traditions that grow from the love that you feel inside that home. And the price - the price is perfect - less than what you budgeted. It is perfect! In your heart of hearts you know it is absolutely perfect for you! You are home.

Would you buy it? Of course you would!

But what if you were told you had to take the outside as-is. That condition of making this house your perfect home was to accept the un-perfect outside. That you couldn't change a thing. That no matter how many laughs and good times and love and wonderful memories the inside would provide, you would have to deal with the less than perfect outside. Over the years you would lose count of the number of passerby, shaking his head wondering why on earth you bothered with such an ugly, dilapidated looking structure. You would have to put up with the neighbor who refused to let his children play with your children because he's pretty sure you are not the types of people he wants his kids associating with. Several neighbors, in fact. You would forever be catching the curious stares of people walking by and the turned up noses of the people who wouldn't - couldn't - understand that maybe, just maybe, this house was more than what they saw on the outside.

Would you still buy it?

I am in love with the blog written by the amazingly talented Melissa Blake called So about what I said... - and you need to spend a few hours reading it today. Starting right now. And then you need to tell your friends. And your neighbors. And your co-workers. And your family members. And your teens. Especially your teens.

Because once you meet Melissa, and hear her words, and get to know her, you will understand why she is the perfect home.

Melissa was born with Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome, a rare genetic bone and muscular disorder - but her words speak to every "normal person" (read: people without Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome). She has this uncanny ability to take everyday words and string them together to put a voice to our fears and anxieties when it comes to love and life. She is, without a doubt, the most talented, hauntingly beautiful voice I have heard in my life. Countless times I have read her post and yelled out, yes! That is exactly how it was! How did you know how I felt that way? She is me. She is you. She is all of us, and yet she is so special and unique I feel so lucky I was able to stumble through her door.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wildlife and Wild Life

I am very lucky to work and live in a beautiful area. We're located on a gorgeous lake that offers a public shore path for pedestrians. If you're willing you can walk around the entire lake which takes about 7 to 8 hours, or so I've heard.

Our lake path is beautiful and peaceful and gorgeous and wonderful and lovely and absolutely stunning. Did I mention how beautiful and peaceful and gorgeous and wonderful and lovely and absolutely stunning it is?

You never know what you'll see when you're out and about.... 
If you're lucky you might catch a glimpse of a blue heron or other signs of wildlife.

Sometimes they're out in plain sight, but other times you really have to look or you might pass right by without noticing:

Can you spy the wild life?

Here, let me help you...

Monday, September 20, 2010

May God Be With You.

Look, I know I'm not going to fool anyone into thinking I'm Christian of the Year. Far from it. In fact, I may or may not actually be black listed from certain churches. That being said, I, personally, do believe in God. I don't care if you do or not or go to church or not or --- shoot - see, that right there is what stops me from ever becoming Christian of the Year... um, forget what I said about not caring. I do care. I care about your soul and will pray for you. Ok, probably not. Actually, most definitely I probably will not. It's not that I don't care whether or not your soul burns in hell - it's just that, well, let me worry about mine before I get all up in your business. You're a grown up, you can make your own decisions. I won't judge you, I promise.

Ok, that being said, I do feel it's my duty as a parent to expose my children to God and the 10 Commandments so they don't murder anyone or covet their neighbor's ass. So several times a year I shove them out of bed on an early Sunday morning and verbally spar with them right up to the point we walk in the front door of the church.

"Why do we have to go to church?"

"Because God really wants to see you."

"I thought He's everywhere; He can see me sleeping in bed."

"God doesn't want to see you sleeping. He wants to see you singing praises in church."

"That is so stupid."

"Don't let God hear you say that."

The days we actually attend church are hellish. The kids squirm, sigh, pick at each other, kick each other, hum rap songs and generally make me question if their eternal souls are actually worth attempting to sit through a sermon. The girls are 8 and 15 years old. Obviously old enough to sit for forty minutes but since that wasn't happening I decided to employ the no-fail behavior tactic called "Sitting in the Front Pew."

Up we marched to the very front of the church. A mere couple of feet seperated us from the minister. The girls would have to behave. The girls would have to sit still and silent and pretend to be listening for the entire sermon.

Except for some reason the minister thought this would be a great sermon to use the word "cockpit" several times. Each and every time he did the 15-year old would giggle and snicker, and turn red from trying not to explode. And then she'd lean real close to me and quietly say, "COCK pit." Then bust out laughing.

I'm thinking we'll be sitting in the back of the church from here on out.

Buried Alive

Part of my job is to deal with hoarders. You know - disgusting people who cram garbage into their house and are too lazy to clean. Except you're wrong. These are not disgusting people. They most often are not lazy either. And, while there are times when I disagree as to the standard that makes an item considered to be garbage, to the human being who is affected by hoarding, they most certainly do not feel they are living in filth.


The majority of hoarders that I have come in contact with have a plan. They have a goal they feel they are working towards. And they don't want to fail. They just keep trying. Most often I see people who buy products on sale and plan on reselling these items to make money. Auctions, eBay, Craigslist -- in their mind they plan to double their money, subsidize their income, and prove to their family and friends that they aren't crazy; they're trying really, really hard.

The garages are usually the first filled. Then basements, guest rooms, rarely used dining rooms - without meaning to, their entire house becomes filled. That's when we usually see it tumbling into the yard. "But the rain and the snow is going to ruin these things," I explain. "I bought tarps to cover the items," they explain. "I can clean them, dry them out if they become wet. Besides, it's mostly glass items." Always an excuse, I think. Always.

Neighbors are angry. Fed up. Annoyed. "Fine them! Kick them out! I don't care what happens to them; my property values are going down!"

Emergency response teams are worried. "If we get a call to the house we won't be able to get our equipment inside to help them. If there is a fire our men are in danger of becoming trapped in a labyrinth of stuff."

Health and Human Services are reluctant to help unless there is an eviction notice or a possible raze order.

Nobody is happy.

Everyone is overwhelmed.

Everyone.

Including the home owner. No one sets out to bury themselves alive in stuff. No one plans to isolate themselves in their embarrassing habits. No one chooses to feel overwhelmed every second of every day. No one decides to do replace family members and friends with a good sale or a really awesome Goodwill find.

These are the stories that keep me up at night. These are the stories that make me wonder when their sons and daughters decided enough is enough and turned their back for the very last time. These are the stories that make me worry about what will happen... what if there really is an emergency? What if the EMT can't get to them quick enough? What if they really are kicked out of their home? Who cleans all this stuff up? Who decides where it goes?

It leaves me feeling utterly overwhelmed and not having any idea where to start. Having no idea which step I should make that will be the most effective. I suppose, it leaves me feeling very much like the hoarder who has no idea what to do next.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Imbibing

I may or may not have a slight obsession with Sharpies.

Okay, I may.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Gone in 5, 4, 3, 2 --

I can't keep it a secret anymore. I'm so giddy I could explode. In fact, I'm pretty sure I will explode if I don't tell you - and that would be quite the mess, and you know how lazy I can be. I sure don't want to be cleaning that mess up. So, at the risk of jinxing everything, I've got to tell you -----

BIG V IS GETTING RID OF THE DOG ON THE 20th!

Yes. That's right. Gone. Adios. Good bye. Send her packing! Don't let the door hit you on the way out!

In just five more days! Gone!

As in, no longer in our house.

As in, no longer destroying furniture or running out in traffic or barking and whining at midnight. And 2am. And 5am.

As in, no more getting knocked over by dirty dog stench the second you walk into our house because the thing goes manic when you try to bathe it.

As in, no more splinters of wood from whatever piece of wood she chewed up. (Like baseboards, pantry doors, book shelves - you get the idea.)

As in, no more urine soaked pillows. And blankets. And carpets. And towels.

I can hardly stand it!

I don't care where she's going. All I care is that she doesn't find her way back into this house. The thing is crazy. Trust me when I say it is only a matter of time before she starts gnawing on the children. Actually, she has nipped at the children. Once, Dotter was crawling across the floor and the dog freaked, nipped and caught her on the top of her head.  Another time Dotter was eating a popsicle and the dog jumped up and snapped the treat away from her. It was in her mouth. And another time she bit some guy in the dog park bad enough to draw blood. Lucky for us the guy didn't sue because he, too, had a pit bull. So he tied a makeshift tourniquet around his knee and hobbled home. (And you wonder why I've never let Satan play with the baby. Really? Use your own baby as the example. Really. I won't mind.)

Big V has his own version of events; they center on the Pollyanna "she was just playing" theme. Just like all the urine all over the house is simply "happy pee." (Happy pee, sad pee, aggressive pee - dude, it's still pee!)

I may have a Dog Gone Party to celebrate. (Yes, I have parties. I just don't have 1-year old birthday parties.)

I'm not having a birthday party.

I'm not having a birthday party.

There. I said it. No, not for me - I'm not having a big ole' birthday party for Cletus the Used to be Fetus's First Birthday. Big V doesn't mind. Jelly Bean doesn't mind. Dotter doesn't mind. In fact, no one has lost sleep, become traumatized and/or needed the assistance of the Mental Health Officer to deal with this. It's just the way we do things in our family. We really don't see why we should have one.

I could give you a long list of reasons why - starting with I hate people and ending with so there! and they'd all make sense to me, but my decision still might not make sense to you. That's okay. You can throw your own birthday party for your own 1-year old. I won't even feel bad if you don't invite me. It still doesn't change the fact that we're not having one for Cletus.

In my own mind a birthday at this age is for the parents. It's sort of like announcing to all your friends and family that we survived an entire year and somehow managed to keep the kid alive! Kudos to you! Here, have an oversized plastic toy that lights up, makes noise and has batteries that will need to be changed every four weeks (of which you will never have any on hand).

I'll be honest. I don't feel like cleaning the house, cooking food, picking up a cake, and serving drinks to you simply because my child was born a year ago. I don't feel like watching my child smush cake up his nostrils and smear frosting in his hair while everyone laughs and takes a gazillion pictures of the disgusting event. (I would never tolerate that behavior at meal time; why would I encourage it?) I don't feel like spending twenty minutes cleaning up a sugar-shocked one year old while all my guests are in the living room enjoying bacon wrapped water chestnuts.

Yes, it's been one year. One year of running on empty due to lack of sleep (in our case, more so because of the dog but that doesn't make me any less tired) and trying to figure out how to work full time, keep the baby from sticking bobby pins up his nose, out-wit the teenager who is getting really good at perfecting the angsty teen role, and trying to convince an anxiety ridden 8-year old that no, we will not suffer from an earthquake and yes I do see those tree limbs that could possibly crash through the roof of our house and kill everyone while they sleep. Yes, I survived this year, but that doesn't make me feel like hosting a big old party in my house. No, I'm not going to rent out a room at the County Club and invite 40 of my closest friends and family members. No, I'm not going to buy coordinating paper plates, cups and napkins. And then have to drive back to town because I forgot the crepe paper. And then again because I forgot the tape. My 1-year old will have no idea what is going on, except wonder why I'm now telling him no, no, no every time he tries to reach up to pull the table cloth off my newly decorated presents table.

Before you tell me how horrible I am that I'm not choosing to elaborately celebrate the life of my child, I'd like to clarify for the record that I treat all three of my children equally and none of them had a first birthday party. That's just how we do it in our family. So there!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Things That Confuse Me #72

Our cuttting board.

Our cutting board slides nicely under the counter. When you want to cut something, you pull it out. Use it. Clean it. Slide it back into its resting spot.

Except....
No matter how many times I explain to the people who reside in our house that you really should clean it because little crumbs will entice rodents and ants and creepy crawly things that totally gross me out, they still can't figure out how to clean it. It's odd, really. I've actually witnessed the teen pulling out the dirty and used cutting board, throwing on a freshly cooked pizza and cutting it without a care in the world, almost as if forgetting the fact that day old crumbs are sitting under the pizza. It kind of grosses me out.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Day Four of a Really LONG School Year

I bet you think this is about math, don't you? And how it causes so much drama and upset in our house. But it's not. Nope. No math to report about here. Now, remember, it's only the fourth day of school, right? On day four it seems fitting to be sitting at your desk in your office and for some reason feel the need to check your personal cell phone. So you open your drawer that hold your purse which holds the phone and 'lo and behold there's one missed call. And a voicemail. So you check the voicemail because you're curious who might be calling you from this random number you've never seen before. And what you hear is something along the lines of this:

Hello, this is the school bus company and the bus your child was riding on has been involved in an accident and you need to contact me right away at this number.

With my throat in a vice and my stomach on the floor I called back. I've seen pictures of bus accidents on the news. Horrible, horrible pictures.

Someone answers the phone and all I can hear is chaos. I hear people shouting and kids yelling and, well, just noise. "I'm Dotter's mom," I announce. "One moment please - I need you to talk to an EMT." And all I hear is noise.

I sit, cemented to my desk chair in a town ten minutes away from the nearest hospital. And ten minutes away from my child's bus route. My mind scatters and skims across so many thoughts - children in accidents, mothers who never get to hold their children again, healthy children who can no longer walk, or eat, or hug... like a thousand mothers every single day I begin to bargain: "If she's okay I promise to pack her healthiest of lunches and not care about how long my leg hair is and volunteer to bring snacks for her class more often and be kinder to the neighbor lady who still walks her dog through the middle of our yard even though I've asked her not to - I'll do anything! Just please let her be okay!"

As mothers we take this fragile being and hand them willingly out into the world. We trust that day care centers and babysitters and aunts and uncles and grandparents will watch our child as carefully and protectively as we ourselves do. We trust that play dates and sleepovers employ the same cautions as are in our house; with doors locked and double checked before drifting off to sleep. We trust that teachers will be the positive role models of storybooks and Disney movies. We trust that busses don't get in accidents when our children are on them.

After answering what seemed to be a thousand questions to verify who I was and how I was connected to a child on the bus (and protecting the bus company and emergency personnel from a potential HIPAA breach of security lawsuit) I was told my daughter was okay.

A young driver of about 18 was coming over the hill. He was driving a small, white car. The bus that had been travelling in front of him stopped at a bus stop just over the hill. The lights were flashing. The guard rail was down. A line of cars waited patiently in front of the bus for the kids to cross in front. I should tell you this was on a country road, where the posted speed limit is 55 miles per hour, and where the homeowner at that bus stop has tried repeatedly to get the speed limit reduced, due to the dangerous 'blind spot' the hill creates. The young driver came over the hill at about 60 miles per hour and didn't see the bus. As the kids stood up to exit the bus - my daughter being one of them - the car slammed on it's brakes and into the back of the bus. Or, rather, under the back of the bus. The kids walking down the aisle were thrown backwards. And then time stood still.

As my daughter explained to me, after the initial crash, the bus driver yelled out to see if anyone was hurt. Upon realizing no one was, he went to check on the young driver of the car. At this point a dozen little faces were pressed up against the rear windows of the bus, looking down at a shocked, scared 18-year boy, who was pushing down his airbag and crying. Sobbing, actually. I assume he was scared. Startled. Worried. Maybe embarrassed or ashamed. But he was crying before the bus driver got to the car and started yelling at the young driver. Yelling and screaming. At a young driver who had caused an accident and in front of a dozen little faces pressed up against the rear windows of the bus.

No one was badly hurt. But there's a part of me that is really ashamed that the driver of the bus decided yelling and screaming was the right thing to do at that moment. Maybe he, too, was overcome with emotion, but instead of tears he expressed it through anger. That's just really not sitting well with me right now.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Day Two of a Really LONG School Year

Yesterday marked the second day of school. Two. Two days. That's it. And we celebrated it with tears. Just not tears of joy. We celebrated with I-hate-math-I'm-so-stupid-I-don't-understand-anything tears.

Math is the bane of my existence. I hated it when I went through school. Numbers scared me enough that my brain literally froze when those flashcards were thrown up. We used to play this game in the third grade called "Around the World." A student would stand next to another student and each would try to be the quickest to answer a math fact from a card the teacher displayed. Whoever "won" moved on and worked his or her way around the classroom, or around the world. I actually liked the game because it meant I had a good ten minutes to drift off and get lost in my imagination. (It wasn't like I'd be answering anything quickly.)

I am filled with dread when my kids ask for help on homework because it is always math. Always. And I hate it. And they do it so differently now. Not that I completely understood the way I was taught, but this is like freaky deaky math. This leaves me growing increasingly frustrated asking thirty seven times, "Well, how did your teacher explain it?" and the children crying out, "I don't know! If I knew I wouldn't be asking you for help!"

It is going to be a really. long. year.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

WARNING: Not for the faint of heart. Or boys.

When I was growing up in the hellish halls of teen angst otherwise known as High School, I knew girls whose parents allowed them to stay home when they had their period. (Don't look at me like that - I warned you in the post title.) As in, spend the day on the couch enjoying the comforts of a hot water bottle and some Tylenol while watching Days of Our Lives. Followed by General Hospital. Which was on right before Donahue. When they came back to school they had a note relieving them from participating from gym class. What was wrong with these parents, buying into this obvious nonsense?

You know what I thought? FAKERS. Every. single. one. I had my period, too. It took three days from start to finish and I used maybe 5 tampons.

I never understood the whispers of the girls' voices from under the bathroom stall, "Oh my gawd! I can't believe I just got my period! Do you have a tampon? I don't have anything!" What do you mean you don't have anything? Are you seriously that cheap that you have to bum feminine products from your classmates? Of course you knew it was coming. It comes every 28 days. Mark it on a calendar! Also, I always got this pain in my leg the day before, so I always knew mine was coming. What was wrong with these girls?

I never cancelled plans, or stopped running, or bailed out of gym class, or stayed balled up on the couch - Fakers.

Until, ohmygoodnesswhathavetheseHORMONESdonetome? Was it the birth of Cletus? Is  this menopause? Am I dying? Seriously, I must be dying.

Since Cletus has arrived Aunt Flo has been quite spontaneous at her arrival dates and times, and never with any warning. None. And so now I see (literally) how it's possible for that poor girl to have walked down the halls with that huge stain and I am so sorry I ever thought you were gross.

Did you know there's a standard business size tampon called Ultra? Yes. Ultra. Whatever happened to the reliability of Regular? And my trusted Lite? When the heck did I achieve Ultra status? And why?

And what's with these cramps? I don't know about you girls but I feel like I'm having contractions. Honest to God, the baby is coming, get me to the hospital because I'm going to have to push, contractions. I've given birth to three children and I'll take real labor pains any day. This is insane. I'm chowing down Midol and Pamprin like their jelly beans and they aren't helping.

In case I die, which I feel is a very real possibility, I would like to apologize to all those girls I judged so many years ago. I'm sorry I called you Fakers. I'm sorry I thought you were being coddled and spoiled because you were exaggerating. I'm sorry I doubted you. Most of all, I'm sorry you had to go through so many years of this. It's horrible and I can't believe you endured it month after horrendous month.

And if my girls need a note you can bet I'm writing one!

The One in which I take my Father for his Covid Vaccine

I got a voicemail the other day from the hospital saying ‘since you’re the contact on record we just want you to know your Dad can get a Cov...