Bathroom Confessional, The HBO Special

I’m sitting in the bathroom, basically locking myself in solitary confinement while I type on my phone. I’m not hiding from my kids, no, that would be cliché and no different from what I do every day. Hiding is my norm, but tonight I am hiding from something a little more dangerous and harder to avoid.

Tonight I huddle in the bathroom and hunker down in my safety bunker because I need to prove to myself that I can go a day without drinking alcohol.

Sounds like borderline addict behavior yes?

Yes.

Which is why I must sit here tapping on my phone, because standing in the kitchen nervously unwrapping dessert after dessert wasn’t helping me win out the fight with habits and cravings, neither was it helping me fit into a pair of pants. Fall is coming, not that I want to feel confined to the fashion industry’s fascist buttons and oppressive skinny jeans, damnit.

Do you ever try and tell yourself that you can’t have something? And then you obsess over having that thing because now you know you can’t have it and wanting what you can’t have feels so desperate and thrilling?

I never do that with wine.

I’m about to drop an atomic over share bomb:

I drink every single day. Not like, a French affair with baguettes on white linens and Cabernet among candles and laughter.

Nope.

Like, stressed out hair pulling, oh shit, today was hard, these kids wear down my strength and will power. It’s 5 pm now! Socially acceptable happy hour!
Drink!

And then:
Oh man, my glass is empty already? Well the kids are done in the bath and it’s bedtime anyways!
Drink. 

And then obviously there’s:
Yay! Goodnight munchkins! Kiss kiss!
Mommy is going to go be alone and watch educational programs about indigenous housewives.
Drink!

Every night. It’s not even a cute routine. It’s a full blown ritual, minus a goat sacrifice. There’s never been a night when I skipped it. Except for pregnancy. There’s variations though, sometimes I don’t have number 3, or sometimes I start past the kids bedtime and I only have one glass, and then it’s easier to justify, but being honest, because truly there is nothing left to lose, I drink 3 glasses most nights.

Judge me. I deserve it. I’m probably an alcoholic. The bright side is that I’m self aware, in control of my functions and faculties and I never drive or go out or start bull shit fights with my husband. I’m like, the happiest, mellow drinker ever.

Which is why I keep it up every day and ended up in the bathroom terrified to go out there, past the kitchen, past the wine that is so smooth and fun and delicious.

I’m smart enough to know that doing something every day and struggling to break the cycle is a good indication that I need to do exactly that. And it’s hard and I do not like it. But maybe, maybe, if I get past tonight, I can get to the weekend and have Saturday wine and tell myself, “Hey Chrissy, you need to chill girl. Wine is awesome, and unless you want to end up in rehab or dancing on the table, you’d better scale your shit back to a reasonable level, because 3 drinks a night is a fuckton. And that’s a real measurement.”

Coincidentally I woke up today, like every other day and said, “girl, you’re going to eat carrots again and quit stuffing Frito’s in your mouth hole all day. Health matters!”

And then I ate two magic bars.  Because it’s like wine. If I can’t have it it will be all I want.

There’s probably truth in something I heard before, that things aren’t a problem until you make them a problem.
But that is coming from a woman locked in her bathroom trying to avoid her own bad behavior.
Best to start addressing it now.

Sincerely,
The blogger locked in her bathroom gaining ten pounds.

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Baby steps.

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Is Something Wrong?

It’s hard as parents to know when a child is crossing the proverbial line from being willful, high energy and strong towards being potentially diagnosed as hyperactive or having ADD. Preschool is difficult; it’s too soon to tell. Kids are still learning their boundaries, mastery of school skills is only starting and kids are barely capable of changing their own clothes, let alone handling themselves with the control of an adult. But a parent knows their kid, and a parent knows a gnawing in their gut and “waiting it out” is utter torture but “overdiagnosis” may also be a very real issue.

We carefully look for milestones in kids from babyhood through toddlerhood, and we try and encourage the development of interests through preschool. Maybe sometimes with a lot of outside pressure from family, online communities, the knowledge of a failing school system, or friends kids who are ahead of the curve and add just a little guilt to your plate through no fault of their own.

Teaching the ABC’s from scratch is shockingly difficult when you’ve spent thirty years completely accustomed to them.  What I am most frustrated by is how easily my son gives up on himself. He begins with a bright spark, his eyes light up and he asks a wonderful, curious question that I either can explain or have to google. (This is probably the greatest application of the internet.)

Understanding that my child is learning differently than I do isn’t the hard part, he has a skill set for building with blocks and Legos at a level that I lack the aptitude to master. At different points in life we all find our thing. I don’t want to pick battles over activities and interests with my kids because the simple act of existing with them is hard enough.

I am a pitiful teacher; I’m too wordy for a four year old. He gets bored with how I’m explaining things and says, “I don’t want to talk about it anymore” or the worst, “I can’t do it”. And that’s how we are completely stunted at writing the letter “T” for Teddy and the rest is a wash behind his big brown, brooding eyes. I haven’t found my way into his head yet.

My son shuts down very easily. He rarely takes interest in sitting still to observe or absorb. He has two modes: frenetic, wild, running, screaming, jibberish baby talking or silently and contentedly building fantastic creations out of magnets and Legos. Those moments are stunning and brilliant and they make my heart swell. I’ve learned to sit back and watch him as quietly as I can because when I speak I ruin his concentration and he’s instantly frustrated again.

My son is sensitive, he’s a crier. I never foreshadowed myself being upset with a child for the act of crying. I myself cry very easily, but my son cries every time he’s confronted. If I don’t handle every situation with absolute delicate care, he crumbles. Even in times when he is the assailant and tormentor. Because even though he is sensitive he is not innocent. I catch him hitting his little brother, stealing toys, refusing to share and using his body inappropriately and defensively.

Sometimes I’m awesome. Sometimes I say the right words, separate the kids or remove the toy they’re fighting over.

Sometimes, I scream.

I feel awful and regrettable and mean for screaming when he acts out, and then he cries at my reaction and I scream again because in some ways, I wonder if he’s crying to get out of the confrontation, but honestly, I think I know in my heart that he’s crying because he’s overwhelmed. I cry when I’m overwhelmed too, I should have more compassion but sometimes that well runs dry.

We assert that he should to sports, or karate or organized physical activity because learning how to be a part of a team is healthy and good preparation for a future in society.

He spends practices with his shirt over his head, standing in the middle of the room spinning in circles.

I am embarrassed. I am also ashamed that I could be embarrassed by my son. I have to be stronger for him and be his defender, and do it in a way that acknowledges when his inconsistent behavior is a distraction. It’s tricky and I admit that I like the days when we skip practices, in fact, my husband and I argue about whether he is ready for classes or not.

If he’s like me, he will never have a genuine interest. But to my husband’s stern point, you can’t just raise a quitter.

Having my son at home with me during the day became nearly impossible this year. I had my third baby and I absolutely relish quiet time. My son seems to thrive on destruction and jumping off of the couch screaming his head off about Spiderman.

Meals are an absolute nightmare. He takes food off his plate, smears it across the table and licks it off. Or he throws it on the floor, or mashes it in his hands and eats like Mowgli. He sits for ten minutes, announces he’s full, and wants to be excused. Ten minutes. He eats almost nothing; he weighs 38 lbs. and has for a full year.

I don’t want my son to spend his whole life in time outs.

I don’t want him to feel dejected in public school.

I don’t want his siblings to continue to copy his behavior and follow in these footsteps.

I don’t know what to do with my son.

I said the words that have been eating me alive for the last year. I do not know what to do. He is hard, so hard that I don’t cope with him being home all day and I shell out for day camp just to keep him busy and active and to give myself some space.

I walk the line daily and waffle back and forth. “Is he a normal four year old?” “Is every single thing supposed to be a struggle?” “Am I supposed to have to say something six times before I start screaming and he finally listens?” “Is something wrong with Teddy?”

I think I might be failing my child and I have to figure out what’s right before it goes more wrong.

I hear you all in the ether talk about lack of discipline, spoiled kids, lazy parenting, and making up excuses, more spankings and all other ways of refusing to admit that sometimes we get a hard hand and not everything is in our control. We do the best we can do and we spend a lot of time trying to figure out exactly what that is. It’s anything but lazy, it’s an absolute struggle.

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Compost maggots and other reasons July sucks

It was somewhere between my boob sweat, the beetles on my kitchen floor and the maggots camping in my compost bin that I realized, I hate July.
I loathe July like I loathe winter, but July has at least one decent perk; sending my kids outside without 3 pairs of pants.
Open scene:
Monday night, the trash goes to the curb. It’s always the same, tedious, icky and it’s boring.
We take turns dragging out our weekly refuse and then we hose the bin, let it dry and bring it back. We even line our compost bin with a bio bag. (Biodegradable)

This week in July has been particularly gross and excessively muggy. I try to take walks to stretch my legs and live longer. I push a double stroller usually full of free loading babies, and I just end up sweating from my bra clasp down to my stretchy lycra waist band.

I guess it’s also primetime fly hatching weather. And nature provides bountifully.
When I removed the compost bag from the bin, a swarm of flies came darting out as if I’d summoned the Candy Man. The smell was not of this earth. It was a stench too putrid to have been born on God Fearing Land. Surely, this was the work of a devil. 

I ran for soap or matches or a flame thrower.
My husband was inside, coughing from pneumonia. The fever could take him any moment, he was house bound and trapped by weak lungs. It was like a novel out of Colonial New England. He was of no help! I had to hurry and clean up, the children would be looking for me and I damned sure did not want them touching maggots. Or asking questions.

The first bottle of solution I happened on in the shed was organic Castile soap. This would lightly scent the maggots with almond oil but I was desperate. My toddler was already at my heels in nothing but a diaper. Not even shoes. (Cmon now, there’s maggots in a bucket and he’s not wearing shoes? Someone is going to call DCF. PS DON’T do that! He’s tended to!)
“Mama! What you do? Mama doing? Mama clean?!”

“There’s no time to talk! Be brave, run, save yourself!”
But he follows me instead, peppering me with the same question. “Mama doing? Mama doing?”

“Mommy’s drowning maggots.”

I inhumanely euthanized those three repulsive larvae with a fifteen dollar bottle of biodegradable-earth-friendly-pocket-book murdering soap.

I Tekken-style finished them with the garden hose and dumped the whole sloppy mess over my neighbors fence.
And that’ll teach them to never trim their bushes and run motorcycles at midnight, and fireworks; don’t even get me started.

I was relieved to have it done with. Maggot free is the way to be.

What’s more than awful is that I can’t scrap the compost idea altogether. You see, my town implemented an Earth Saving (cheap, money grubbing scheme) to charge two dollars per trash bag that you toss. Accountability, guilt, greed, I dunno, same umbrella.

I buy a roll of five special, gilded, bourgeois garbage bags for ten bucks.

With two diapered babies and a preschooler who trows out food like we’re Vanderbilt’s.

But compost is free removal! All you have to do is put paper and food waste in a separate bucket and ditch your nose and bleach your memory.

Go to hell compost. I don’t care how free you are.
But I’ll still see you in my office on Monday.
You’re on notice July.
I can’t wait until October.

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Compost maggots and other reasons July sucks

It was somewhere between my boob sweat, the beetles on my kitchen floor and the maggots camping in my compost bin that I realized, I hate July.
I loathe July like I loathe winter, but July has at least one decent perk; sending my kids outside without 3 pairs of pants.
Open scene:
Monday night, the trash goes to the curb. It’s always the same, tedious, icky and it’s boring.
We take turns dragging out our weekly refuse and then we hose the bin, let it dry and bring it back. We even line our compost bin with a bio bag. (Biodegradable)

This week in July has been particularly gross and excessively muggy. I try to take walks to stretch my legs and live longer. I push a double stroller usually full of free loading babies, and I just end up sweating from my bra clasp down to my stretchy lycra waist band.

I guess it’s also primetime fly hatching weather. And nature provides bountifully.
When I removed the compost bag from the bin, a swarm of flies came darting out as if I’d summoned the Candy Man. The smell was not of this earth. It was a stench too putrid to have been born on God Fearing Land. Surely, this was the work of a devil. 

I ran for soap or matches or a flame thrower.
My husband was inside, coughing from pneumonia. The fever could take him any moment, he was house bound and trapped by weak lungs. It was like a novel out of Colonial New England. He was of no help! I had to hurry and clean up, the children would be looking for me and I damned sure did not want them touching maggots. Or asking questions.

The first bottle of solution I happened on in the shed was organic Castile soap. This would lightly scent the maggots with almond oil but I was desperate. My toddler was already at my heels in nothing but a diaper. Not even shoes. (Cmon now, there’s maggots in a bucket and he’s not wearing shoes? Someone is going to call DCF. PS DON’T do that! He’s tended to!)
“Mama! What you do? Mama doing? Mama clean?!”

“There’s no time to talk! Be brave, run, save yourself!”
But he follows me instead, peppering me with the same question. “Mama doing? Mama doing?”

“Mommy’s drowning maggots.”

I inhumanely euthanized those three repulsive larvae with a fifteen dollar bottle of biodegradable-earth-friendly-pocket-book murdering soap.

I Tekken-style finished them with the garden hose and dumped the whole sloppy mess over my neighbors fence.
And that’ll teach them to never trim their bushes and run motorcycles at midnight, and fireworks; don’t even get me started.

I was relieved to have it done with. Maggot free is the way to be.

What’s more than awful is that I can’t scrap the compost idea altogether. You see, my town implemented an Earth Saving (cheap, money grubbing scheme) to charge two dollars per trash bag that you toss. Accountability, guilt, greed, I dunno, same umbrella.

I buy a roll of five special, gilded, bourgeois garbage bags for ten bucks.

With two diapered babies and a preschooler.

But compost is free removal! All you have to do is put paper and food waste in a separate bucket and ditch your nose and bleach your memory.

Go to hell compost. I don’t care how free you are.
But I’ll still see you in my office on Monday.
You’re on notice July.
I can’t wait until October.

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Modern Motherhood, An Exercise in Futility

I typically don’t make a habit of writing open letters on the internet or writing any scathing responses to internet articles, so consider this opus an exception to all of my rules.

The Elite Daily has published some rotten piece of rubbish that seeped under my skin and hurt me in a place I didn’t think was even going to be reachable. I have dedicated my adult life to my family and it’s anything but fabulous. Read all about how fashionable and luxurious it is to be a Modern Mom like me here, and get your own torch flame blazing.

The idea that motherhood can somehow be glamorous is smashed into pieces by the realities of actual living, breathing modern motherhood. I’ve never cared about matching outfits with my kids, because they require changing four times throughout the day. Wearing heels serves absolutely no point and a nude peep-toe isn’t going to earn me cool points while I chase my kids around the public pee infested pool, what counts is that I kept my two year old from nose diving into the shallow pool and ruining the potential for a beautiful, living childhood.

My sunhat keeps my wrinkles from rooting deeper at a faster speed, as I’ve just now gathered enough courage at the age of thirty-one to stand confident, pale and a shameless size fourteen. I learned a lot in my foolhardy twenties, and the importance of sunscreen hadn’t embedded itself in my stubborn young head until the evidence of premature aging rippled across my eyes. It’s not about looks; it’s about preservation and my new aversion to chemotherapy.

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I embarked on a journey of having three kids in four years. I didn’t set out to do it with intent, although that wouldn’t hold up in a court of law. The point is I am here now, and I am immersed in the culture of being a mother in the age of the millennial.

I can’t speak for the people who identify with comparing selfies on Instagram with Kim K. I cannot speak for the people who shop tirelessly for the perfect matching mother-toddler swim gear. I can’t speak for everyone.

But I’m more than willing to wager a wife-bonus that for every woman out there creating perfectly pinterested parties to upload to social media there are more moms like me, who struggle to prepare four lunches through hard-earned sips of coffee while the naughty kid in the bunch is throwing ham on the floor to “Fee Da Ants Mwammy”.

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GMO’s are delicious, rave toddlers everywhere

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Glamorous, Pinterest-worthy lunch making in progress

The moms like me read every article on the internet about GMO’s and we roll our eyes because we get that it causes cancer but we also can’t afford preschool tuition on an Organic eating plan. I would like to be able to heat my house in the winter as well, because when I bitch about freezing my ass off I only get two “likes” on Facebook, which I would think an uber cool millennial mom would “get”.

A modern mom is concerned with finances, just like the mom who came before her, and the mom who came before her. Imagine a time when we had avocado colored refrigerators, laminate floors that probably leached cancer into our lungs and moms who hunched over the dining table with a calculator and a check book. That’s today’s mom, and that’s yesterday’s mom. We care about the future, so we plan for it. Even though it kills us that we can’t buy the amazing retro sundress we saw at Mod Cloth because it means saving up for the deck we hope to build in five years.

Modern Mothers are more responsible than we’ve been given credit for. We work harder to be proud of who we are and stop shaming ourselves over our weight, or our five o’clock shadow. We admit to not showering every day and we confess that we actually like having sex with our husbands.

Modern Moms are killing it, but not in the ways described in the elitist self-centered article.

We embrace feminism, we get to choose birth control and we discuss it in private Facebook groups where we also lament breastfeeding and wiping our kids’ butts. We confess things to one another about motherhood, we admit to it being hard, to knowing that we have to be done having kids because sometimes, motherhood is too emotionally challenging. We talk about guilt and how expensive preschool is. It’s seriously really ridiculously expensive.

We find tribes, and we find ways to relate to the people around us and we don’t want anything to do with mommy wars.

We care more about politics, the environmental future, the figurative climate and the literal one.

We talk openly with our kids. We discipline them with a little more understanding than a beating had previously offered in my up and coming generation.

We hide in the bathroom when we can’t handle breaking up one more sibling argument.

A drive thru has saved my ass in more than one situation. And while we all would love a home cooked meal every single day, sometimes it’s best for our egos to not watch our kids throw our handmade spaghetti and meatballs on the rug and refuse to take even one bite. And so pizza happens.

We are a generation of well-read women who stay on top of current events and enjoy glasses of wine and discussions about politics.

I stick my kids in front of Disney for an hour so that I can type out a blog post in response to the idea that Modern Motherhood is superficial, and that we are unimportant unless we are fashionable, thin, white and of moderate wealth and privilege.

I work too damn hard at being a mom, paying attention and being a self-aware human being to let that kind of pop culture egocentrism endure.

This is my Alamo.

WE ARE BETTER THAN WHAT THEY ARE SAYING WE ARE.

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Maybe when the kids are older

I feel like I’m holding the wheels on a rickety bus barreling down an Audubon.
It’s coordinating schedules, meals, balancing life. Make time to exercise, make time to read. Watch the news. Keep up with Facebook. Keep the kids clean. Diapers are piling up. The 4 year old is dumping Lego’s on the floor and the baby wakes from the racket. She needs solids and the high chair is a mess. I forgot to feed her lunch. Breastfeeding is easier, no high chair involved, no scrubbing.
I secretly wish she would refuse solids altogether.

My own ears throb in pain and frustration with the decibels and screams of my kids. One is hungry, one is wet and one is screaming because the cool kids are doing it.

Clean the house again, cook another meal. The kids have already had three yogurts and  two applesauce packs and I want to give them donuts because donuts keep them quiet. When they’re quiet I can check Facebook and zone out of my duties and forget the guilt I’m faced with every waking moment.

It’s 3 pm and their teeth still aren’t brushed. They haven’t seen a dentist in a year.
Oh, another diaper to change.

Don’t forget to do sit ups because it’s raining today and the kids can’t go out for a walk.
The kids won’t go outside so we sit in and torture each other while the rain ping pong patters and drips from the roof.
We need gutters.
Add it to the list.

I should do yoga. It’s supposed to be good for my blood pressure.
Maybe when the kids are older.

The toddler screamed in my face and hit my chest like an angry chimp.
Thank god he’s napping. Now I have time to do arts and crafts with my preschooler.
Father’s day is coming up and we need to get to work.
We love daddy but we don’t show it enough.
He comes home from work and the house is all but crumbling from the foundation up.
The kids teeth. I’ve forgotten again.
Daddy grabs the kids and hugs them when he opens the door, he kisses me and asks me how my day was. He doesn’t even get mad that I gave the kids donuts while I cooked dinner to keep them quiet, and now they’ll have no appetite and we will fight them for each precious bite they begrudgingly take.

He loves me. He loves us all deeply. I need him and his patience.
He needs space. The phone rings and he says he needs a night out to go play cards.
A hobby I don’t understand anymore than I can understand people who walk into lion cages. He needs to escape and I’m burdened by the “What about me. I need to escape too” thoughts that creep in and wreck havoc on my guilt pile.
Hanging up the phone and breathing a “Fuck You” with my last dying breath is no way to show my appreciation and gratitude to a good man. But it still feels better.
I don’t deserve him.
“Why him? Why does he get to have all of the freedom?” My jealousy overtaking my guilt momentarily and then fading away, giving into the realization that he is human, I am human and we’re both clinging to those wheels.
“Now is just not my time.”
“He deserves space.”
“We all do.”
It’s just not my time.
Maybe when the kids are older.

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Pictures For My Funeral

I enjoy sitting down in the morning. I enjoy drinking coffee through the day and I enjoy quiet times of reflection.  As an adult these are my rites of passage.

I worry about bills, education and the environment. I pay homage by enduring the evening news and shaking my head at the travesty. I enjoy the consumption of a novel and staying up later than appropriate time allotments for reading. My head drops to the side in mid sentence at a perfectly regrettable hour of the morning.

I love to let the characters seep into my soul and let the story absorb so deeply that I will not rest until I finish a chapter, or the entire book so that I can end the wanting.

By day I exist in a world where I am never alone with my thoughts and my mind is kept from silently wandering off. I never get to fully explore my passion for sitting down and my love of coffee keeps me going, but hardly fulfills me.

Because I am a mom. And my kids are sometimes my passion, and sometimes my bane, but they are always my responsibility.

There is more than a fair amount of struggle for my attention. I have two boys. Two wrestling, fighting, punching, kicking, pulling, yelling, screaming boys. The competition is endless, if it’s toys or space or people, they are vying for it and they will kill each other in a Greco-Roman death match if no referee is present.

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When any new baby enters a family the jealousy isn’t always instantaneous outrage, rather it gradually seethes and becomes palpable, and the child in need of the most love is often revealed by their behavior. The survival of the fittest has just amped my household up to a god damn eleven. The baby is cute, it’s no wonder they feel suffocated by her presence. Look at her, she’s like a double rainbow.

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If I go pee, they follow me into the bathroom and sit on the floor.

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Should I need to evacuate the bowels and lock the bathroom door, they either bang on it, break vases over each others heads or go completely, terrifyingly silent.

The silence is a good indication that I will be opening the bathroom door to a painted floor or a kitchen doused in flour.

If I nurse the baby, which I do often because I hear she needs it to live, the children will climb on my head in a sudden gripping need to “snuggle” my brains out.

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I don’t know which child I’m nursing. But it was sweet that he gave the baby his legos. Sharing is caring.

It got slightly less adorable when his big brother decided to make mush out of my ears by slamming on the untuned piano keys next to my head.

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Things then became downright annoying when my toddler jumped off of my lap and ran across the room to redecorate.

That's fine. I've only cleaned that floor three thousand times today.

That’s fine. I’ve only cleaned that floor three thousand times today.

And then the toddler was decidedly parched after his adventure, so he ran to the dining room table, climbed atop it and smashed my water glass into shards.

No photo.

It’s obviously time for a break, any foreman on the job would have stopped for coffee by now. Because coffee is my savior and my day can only be improved with extra caffeine, but it’s a false prophet. I should have made a martini.

Because while I may have the calmness of a chilled iced coffee in my hand my toddler has taken the opportunity to break into the dry goods and start some early dinner prep. Your honor, Exhibit 35 C.

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And then while I grab the broom to sweep up the mess, he excuses himself to go outside.

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And grab a sword to beat me to hell with while I sweep. This is the worst version of Snow White. They don’t poison my apples but they do steal them from my mouth, take one bite and discard them on the floor.

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Thankfully it’s nap time and I have a few sacred minutes to plan my funeral. If you don’t hear from me soon, tell the investigators to look under the kiddie pool in the backyard. I plan on hiding there with a bottle of Vodka for the next Ten years.

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