Scary Mommy's Thanksgiving Project. Need help? Want to help? READ THIS.

I'm going to let you in a little secret: 

Scary Mommy (aka Jill Smokler)...she isn't really so scary. She's actually kind. And generous. And very real. Three of the reasons I'm so thrilled to be getting to know her. 

If you've read my blog for a while, you know I've faced some adversity. Nothing truly horrible or life threatening, but adversity just the same. I've been in low places. Dark places. Scary places. 

And each time I found myself in one of those places, something beautiful happened. 


Sometimes the help came from my kick-ass friends. Sometimes it came from my mom. Sometimes it came from strangers. But each time I got it, it felt the same. 

IT FELT SO GOOD. There's nothing like being pulled up, brushed off and given a boost. A nudge. A pat on the back and a bag of groceries. A free haircut. Some cute hand-me-down clothes and shoes. A gift card for the grocery store. It makes you feel human again. Worthy. Capable of getting yourself back on track. It's priceless, that feeling.

Here's the deal: Scary Mommy is doing her third annual Thanksgiving Project. She matches people who need help with people who want to help. Mommy to mommy. Woman to woman. Person to person. A mom in need is given the means to buy food so she can make Thanksgiving dinner for her family. It's as simple as that.

I'm actually crying as I type this out. Sitting (truthfully slouching) in my bed, crying over my laptop. Because thinking about this brings back so many memories. I can't tell you how much it sucks to be in need. It makes you feel like a failure. It makes you feel like some kind of sub-human creature. Lowly. It's depressing, and when it happens around the holidays, it only feels worse. 

My kids and I are doing better this year than we were last year. Hell, last Thanksgiving I was in Amsterdam with a beau, enjoying an all-expenses paid trip of a lifetime. But when I got back from that trip, life hadn't changed. And we were still poor. Three months after sitting in a 5 star European restaurant, I was pushing a cart through the aisles of the food shelf, picking out things to feed my family. The irony of it wasn't lost on me. 

But as I said, things are better this year. We're not rolling around on piles of money, or using dollar bills to wipe our bottoms, but I haven't needed the food shelf for 8 whole months. Money is still stretched as tight as Kris Jenner's face. The kids are still on reduced-price lunches and we're still one of those "scholarship families". BUT THINGS ARE GETTING BETTER. And hopefully they'll be even better next year. And so on, and so on.

Here's the truth, though: there are moms out there who AREN'T better yet. Mommies who are worried sick about money. About paying rent. About putting gas in the car. For those mommies, Thanksgiving isn't something to look forward to (and don't even get me started on Christmas or Hanukkah). It's something to dread, actually. And that stinks.

So, if you want to help Scary Mommy make this a brighter Thanksgiving for a mommy-in-need, go HERE. Psssst....IT'S 100% TAX DEDUCTIBLE.

Do you need help? Swallow that pride, girlfriend, and get your ass HERE. It's easy and it's not humiliating one bit. I should know. I've done it.

On behalf of every woman who has ever looked in the fridge and wondered if she can make dinner out of grape jelly and half a cup of milk, I thank you. 

And for those of you who are struggling, hang in there. It will get better. 


Those People

There's a food drive happening at the school where I work. Several bins have been set up throughout the hallways, with cute kid-decorated signs that implore us to SCARE HUNGER and donate non-perishables for the local food shelf.

As I am wont to do, I look at the food as I walk by. Why? Because I like food. It's like porn to me. I wish I was lying. So I walk by, several times a day, and gaze at the donations. 

Dang. We have some swanky grocery shoppers at our school...the bins are filled with "fancy" foodstuff, lots of organic offerings, and some deviations from the standard mac and cheese/boxes of spaghetti. There's rice pasta, artichoke hearts packed in seasoned oil, gluten-free crackers, olive tapenade....and quinoa. I look at those bins like Sylvester looked at Tweety Bird.

Like I was doing earlier this week. Walking by, checking out the bins. One of the women who helped organize the drive was in the hallway, and I called out to her "Wow! Look at all this awesomeness!" or something similarly enlightening. She beamed and said, "I know! The parents at this school are amazing." 

As she was saying this, another woman happened by. She smiled at us, like people who see each other several times a day in passing do, and then she said this:

"Too bad they won't know what to do with most of it." 

It was one of those moments in life, when your ears hear something but your brain can't quite process it.  I was fairly certain I'd just heard her say what I thought I'd heard her say...but it didn't really sink in. It floated there, like a film of rainbow-hued oil over a puddle in the street. 

I spoke up, while she was still within earshot. "What do you mean?". I wanted to know. I wanted to verify what she said, make sure I hadn't misunderstood.

The woman stopped. She turned towards me, one hand holding a couple of manila folders, the other resting lightly on her hip. She was still smiling.

"Those people won't know what most of that is. I mean, really, quinoa?"

Yep. I'd heard her correctly. 

Those people.

The last time I got groceries at our local food shelf was this past February. Eight months ago.  The long-overdue child support from my ex-husband kicked in later that month, and even though it wasn't much, it made the difference between buying groceries and getting them from a food shelf. For that, I'm grateful.

Those people.

I can still remember the first time I visited the food shelf. I had driven by, so many times, trying to work up the courage to pull into the parking lot. I'd whisper to myself, "Dammit. I can't" and I'd keep driving, home to the barren fridge and the Old-Mother-Hubbard cupboards. Until the desperation overshadowed my pride.

Those people.

Once you get past the hardest part, which is walking through the door, being at the food shelf isn't so bad. I mean, it's not something that inspires one to burst into song and run around high-fiving people, but as far as life experiences go, not so bad. Sure, there's the heat on your cheeks as you fill out the paperwork, giving these strangers your life history. Telling them how you got into this pickle. This predicament. Telling them what you do for money, how much you get and how you spend it. But you get used to having hot cheeks. You become accustomed to averting your gaze so as not to make too much eye contact. You eventually become, dare I say, comfortable at the food shelf.

Those people.

I quickly found out that food shelves are a lot like TJ Maxx...it's hit or miss. Some days the shelves are full, and full of really good things. Annie's Mac and Cheese. Organic marinara sauce. Fresh vegetables. Whole chickens in the freezer. Brie from Trader Joe's that's only 2 days past the expiration date. Other days, you have to scramble to even get near the required weight of food in your cart (yeah...you get a certain number of pounds of food, depending on the size of your family). Dented cans of creamed corn. Spoiled produce that even the most resourceful, broke chef couldn't salvage. Individual sleeves of saltine crackers. But beggars can't be choosers, right?

Those people.

I visited the food shelf a total of 5 times in about 11 months. I only told one friend. I told my kids, and when I did, I expected them to laugh, or get angry, or embarrassed. They didn't do any of those things. They helped me put the groceries away, and they did so quietly, not saying much other than the occasional exclamation of "Yum!" or "Gross!". I can recall for you, on command, most of the meals I made with food shelf goodies. Oven roasted chicken with quartered rosemary potatoes. Turkey chili. French toast. More mac and cheese than I care to admit. One of my favorites was an organic risotto, flavored with mushrooms and olive oil. 

Those people.


I wanted to say that, but I didn't. Instead, all I could muster was, 

"I like quinoa." 

To which she replied, "Well yes, of course. You're not one of those people."

If only she knew.



Not a Target list.
Not a grocery list.
Not Schindler's.
Not a To Do one, or a bucket one, either.

THE LIST. I read a blog post by Michelle at So Wonderful, So Marvelous about a list pinpointing specific ideals she was looking for in a mate. Then, she met the man who would become her husband, and BOING. He met almost all of the criteria from THE LIST.

Here's something I don't think I've ever told anyone. Way back in the day, like back in my senior year of high school (when dinosaurs roamed the earth along with Trapper Keepers and Flashdance sweatshirts), I made a list of my own in a spiral notebook during Creative Writing. 

My list was comprised of about ten things. Things I wanted in a boyfriend. I can't recall every one of them, but I do remember "curly hair" and "drives a dark colored Bronco or suburban-type car" and "funny" and "plays hockey". I folded up my list and tucked it in the pages of my diary. 

And then, my first year of college, I found the boy from THE LIST. My first boyfriend, Tom, was like my list come true. He had the curly hair! He was funny! He played hockey! I'm almost certain I never told Tom about THE LIST. But those were the days of pizza and ganja, so there's a good chance I did and just don't remember it. Luckily, he probably doesn't, either.

Tom and I fell for each other immediately and lasted several years. I don't have too many regrets in life, but letting that one go is one of them. I mean, obviously it was meant to be, right? Some life lessons suck way more than others.

So anyways. I hadn't thought about THE LIST until I read Michelle's post. And since then, I can't stop thinking about it. What would my list be like now? Does THE LIST really have magical properties? 

Maybe it really is all about throwing your wishes out to the universe instead of keeping them locked up in your heart. After all, how else will fate or cupid or the gods of serendipity ever know what we're looking for?

I've been compiling my 2013 list, mentally, over the past few weeks. It's quite detailed, but then again, I've been burned by love. So I'm picky now. Picky and scared. 

My fantasy list would look like this:

1. Be Louis C.K.

But I'm nothing if not realistic. And I know my Louis C.K. dreams are silly. Hot, but silly. So here is my updated version of THE LIST. Now on a laptop instead of in a Trapper Keeper. Let's see if it works this time around, shall we?


1. He must like kids and dogs. I'd prefer it if he has both. Cats are okay too.

2. He must be healthy. I'm kind of fat right now, but working on it. Diligently. It would actually be great if he was thick around the middle as well. That way he'd know what it's like to struggle with the scale. And we could eat our veggies and light dill dip together, in chubby solidarity. Oh, and also? NO CIGARETTES. Bleah. Cigars when he's out with the boys, every once in a while, that's okay. But no cigs. 

3. He must have a job. I don't care if he waits tables, pours concrete or designs shopping malls. A job is a job is a job. A strong work ethic is all kinds of sexy.

4. It's imperative that we have things in common. More than "likes to eat" or "enjoys a cocktail". There has to be common ground. Music we both enjoy, books we've both read, things that crack us up. Not everything has to be all matchy-matchy, but there have to be a few shared interests. If he has a penchant for movies based on Marvel comics, Joss Whedon and/or binge-watching t.v. series on Netflix, that would be kind of awesome.

5. He has to be a nice guy. Nothing turns me off faster than hearing someone talk smack about their friends. Or their friend's kids. Because in my world, if you say crap about people behind their backs, what's stopping you from doing the same thing to me? My motto is, if you wouldn't say it to someone's face, just don't say it. Period.

6. Expounding on the nice thing: no assholes, please. He's going to be nice to be around. He treats everyone he meets with respect. He says "Thank you" when a waiter refills his water, he holds doors open for other people and he will not make fun of me for stopping the car to let a squirrel get across the street. I've pounded this into the heads of my children and I'm not embarrassed to say that my heart nearly bursts with pride when I see them go out of their way to say "Thank you" to people. Now, thank you notes, those are another story. We're working on that one as a family. 

7. His junk has to work. That's all I'm going to say about this one.

8. He'll understand that I'm kind of broken inside. Not super damaged, but there are cracks. Something irreparable happens to you when the person you loved hurts you. Fails you. Treats you like shit. Trust doesn't come easily for me. But when it does, it's there for the long haul. I'm loyal like a damn dog, and it would be nice if he's like that, too.

9. Drinking. For all of my talk about martinis and wine, I'm not the lush you'd think I'd be. Working at 7:30 a.m. every morning has put the kibosh on weeknight cocktails. And by the time the weekend rolls around, I'm too tired and too freaking busy to have more than a couple drinkies. Who wants to be the mom at hockey with the booze breath? Not me. I've dated some very heavy drinkers in the past. No mas, por favor. 

10. And the one carryover from my 1985 list: He has to bring the funny. If I don't laugh, things get ugly. Fast. I've learned that if you surround yourself with people who enjoy both laughing, and making others laugh, life is so much better. 

And that's my list. You know you'll be the first people to know if this guy shows up on my doorstep. 

How about you? Married friends, did you have THE LIST? Was it accurate? And all my single ladies...let me know if you have THE LIST! What's on it? I'm curious in a non-creepy way.

Off to Ped-Egg my heels. Just in case.


This is what you've missed

Next month would have been our 20th wedding anniversary. Would have, of course, being the operative words. If only, if only. 

If only it had lasted. If only I could have seen what was going on, if only you had been brave enough and kind enough to have talked to me about what you were feeling. What you were missing. What you were wanting.

If only.

But that's water under bridge, now. The memories are shadowy, faded by time and experience. I can't even really remember what it felt like, to be married to you. I'm embarrassed to admit that I can hardly recall the sound of your voice.  

I don't think about you very much anymore. Not like I used to, when you first left. Now, when I think of you, it's like getting flashes of a long-ago vacation, or an old movie. Thinking of you, and how you left, no longer elicits an anguished, "Oh my God" from me. Now it's more, "Oh yeah. That happened."

I did think about you tonight. The dinner table, the one we bought mere months before you took off, the huge and heavy rustic one from Pottery Barn...that table was full tonight. Our four teenagers and a couple of their friends crowded in, hunkered down and devoured a heaping bowl of linguine and garlic bread. The lighting in the room was low and warm, and their laughter poured out over the table and spilled onto the floor and permeated the air like the sweet smoky fragrance of a bonfire on a crisp fall night.

For some reason, dinners like this one tonight, they make me think of you. The sight of my children all together, sitting next to each other and not fighting, hearing them banter and joke back and forth, hearing "Pass the bread, please" and seeing them inhale the pasta...it's a thing of ordinary beauty. 

It's something you've missed, these weeknight dinners. I'm sure you have them now, with your new family. But you've missed these nights, with these kids. 

You've missed these nights, and so much more. You've missed the quiet mornings, watching your handsome sons do homework in the pre-dawn hours (did you know that they do a lot of their homework in the morning? You missed that, too.). Listening to your beautiful daughter hit the snooze on her alarm over and over. 

You've missed saying good-bye to them as they tumble out the front door, you've missed hearing them say "I love you!" and "See you later!". Yeah, you've also missed the meltdowns, the slammed doors and the stomping downstairs and the awful sounds of "I HATE YOU" and "THIS IS SO UNFAIR!". But you know what? That's part of parenting, too. And you've missed it.

I know you're getting a second chance at this fatherhood thing. And you're probably doing a better job this time around. That's good. Good for you, good for your new kid.

But you've missed so much. You've missed years of life with these kids. Our kids. Your kids. You've missed finding out what makes them tick, watching them grow, watching them learn. You've missed out on the frustration, the anger, the annoyance...all of which make the love so much sweeter. 

You've missed this:

And this:

and this:

and this:

and this:

and this:

and this:

You've missed all of those seconds, those minutes. Those days and years. 

They will never be that age again. There will never be another 17 year old Molly sitting cross-legged on a beach. No more 16 year old Henry hamming it up at a Halloween store. There won't be another 12 year old William cuddling with his best friend. Charlie won't graduate from high school, ever again. And none of them will ever be 11 years old, waving sparklers around on a steamy July night. 

When you left us, I was so sad. And after I was done being sad I got mad. And when the anger left me, I decided to drink in everything you walked away from. Everything you decided wasn't worth hanging around for, I embraced it, loved it...I hung around for it.

And I'm so glad I did. 


Sunday Bloody Sunday

Yes, it's that time again. Time for me to discuss periods. 

Bye bye male readers! Yes, even my newest one, Howard. The lot of ya, clear outta here for now. I have become obsessed with Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. We'll discuss that later on in the week. Take care.

Okay women. Here's the deal: I know I tend to blather on about my period and my tampons and yes, sometimes my vagina way too much. But that's because I spend so much time with all of them. Seriously. I feel as if I either have my period, just got done having it or am about to get it. 

And lately, it's been a doozy. Take tonight, for instance. 

I bought a computer from a high school friend. She got it in some settlement and had no need for it, and is trying to raise some cash for a trip. We don't have a desktop anymore, and it would be nice to have one in the mancave for the boys to look at boobies online do homework. She gave it to me for a song. Win/win. 

Anyway. So we're standing in the parking lot of this coffee place where we made the exchange, gabbing and catching up, when I felt it. Ladies? You know that feeling? For a second, you think, "Okay. Maybe I'm just peeing a little." And then it becomes blatantly obvious that no, this isn't a little tinkle. This was a hemorrhage. In a parking lot. During a conversation.  I was grateful for the dim lighting so my friend didn't see the color drain from my face as every ounce of blood in my body seeped into the crotch of my yoga pants.

And what do you do in this kind of situation? I haven't seen this chick for 29 years. Do I say, "OMG that's so funny. Listen, I have to cut this short because there is a Red River flowing in my undies. Thanks for the computer! Take care!"? I mean, with my close hens it would be no big thang. They know I am She Who Bleeds Like Pig. We'd probably joke about it, after I got back from staunching the flow with one of my giant wiffle bat-sized tampons.

But this was awkward. We continued to stand there, talking about old classmates and our dogs and t.v. shows (funny how that always comes up with me) as I felt a spreading warmth in my nethers. Had we stood there much longer, I fear there would have been a dripping noise, like a faulty faucet. She would have stopped talking and said, "Weird. Do you hear that??" and I would have been all, "Um..no. I hear nothing" as I slowly walked, backwards, towards my car.

That didn't happen, of course. We wrapped up our chat, and I lugged the computer to my car. I wasn't prepared for the horror that awaited me as I folded myself into the front seat: 

I squelched. 

My soaked pants actually made a squelching sound. I know my bar of disgustingness is set pretty low, but this was bad even for me. I've never made sounds before, for God's sake.

I drove home in a tense hurry, the interior of my small car smelling more like a slaughterhouse with every minute that passed. Once home, I booked into the bathroom as a chorus of inquisitive young voices followed me: "Mom, did you get my text? I want ice cream!" and "Where is the computer?" and "Why didn't you answer my text about the ice cream?". Really, kids? Not a mention of my vampire-like pallor? The fact that I was walking as if I had a bowling ball between my legs? The sharp odor of copper that wafted behind me? Thanks, children. Thanks so much for your concern.

So, my question to you ladies is, have any of you gone through this? This monthly explosion that leaves the bathroom looking like Dexter's kill room? I've had it. I'm done! I mean, what if this had happened while I was working? It's one thing to start gushing in a dark parking lot, quite another thing if I'd been in the middle of a room full of pre-kindergarteners. "Miss Jenny! You got an owie!". I can't just run out of the classroom.."Okay kids, I'll be right back! Don't sit on the couch until Miss Jenny calls the janitor!". A lone little boy would be off in the corner, index finger pointed in front of his face yelling out "REDRUM! REDRUM!" It would be like a bad 80's slasher movie. "The Day the Children Saw Red" or "Teacher's Bloody Pet". This cannot happen, my friends. 

Obviously, I need to discuss this issue with my gyno. I'm woefully overdue for a visit (but yay for finally having decent health insurance!) so that's on my To Do list for tomorrow. I'm kind of looking forward to hearing about how I could probably stand to lose a couplety dozen pounds, plus it's been so long since anyone has asked me to "scoot down just a bit". If I squint, it will be like a date. I will probably even shave my legs. Yes, definitely like a date. I'm almost excited.

I've discussed this gross condition with several captive people friends. Some have gone the ablation route, wherein a molten hot metal rod is inserted alllll the way up into the uterus and the lining is literally burned off. One friend who had this procedure done said her husband was waiting at her bedside when she woke up. She asked him if everything went okay and he said, "I guess so. But I smell burnt chicken. What's up with that?".  Yes, she's still married to him.

The ablation option is intriguing. But the thought of burning any part of my body, especially a part that is so crotchy, well...yikes.

Another friend keeps telling me to get an IUD put in. I've heard horror stories about these though, the most recent was on my friend Kristen's blog. That scares me.

Other people have suggested going on the Pill, but hello, I'm a board-certified hypochondriac. Plus I'm over 40. That's a recipe for disaster. Like I don't have enough to worry about? 

All I know is, I can't continue down this road. As much as I love Kotex, I'm growing weary of spending money on their cottony goodness every month. And obviously, even my beloved Super Pluses aren't cutting it anymore. I'm beginning to look at the pads for my Swiffer Wet Jet with morbid curiosity. This will not end well.

And on that note, I'm off to put a tarp on my bed and call it a night. Sleep well, and I apologize in advance for any Shining-like nightmares.


Oh The Parents You Meet in the School Drop Off Lane

Do you ever wonder where rude, entitled, self-centered kids come from? 

Go check out the parent drop-off lane at your nearby school some morning. There, you will meet the people who produced these children. 

Thankfully, most days my kids make the bus or get rides from their friends. I have to be at work by 7:30 a.m., so basically, if they miss it we have to high-tail it outta here immediately. Mama don't have time to dilly-dally in the a.m., people. Don't tell my kids I said this, but these spontaneous morning drives are actually pretty nice. Some of our best conversations have happened in the car.

It's always cool until we hit the drop off lane. I'm a laid back lady. I'm not a honker, a screamer, or a tailgater. Sometimes I will whisper obscenities under my breath. Sometimes these obscenities shock even me, the kind where for a second I get worried that my phone has accidentally dialed someone and they've overheard me calling someone a c*ck sucker. Because that, my friends, is a word that will sometimes tumble out of my piehole without warning. Especially if I'm PMSing. (and relax, it only happens when I'm alone in the car...okay maybe Walter has heard it a time or two..don't tell our vet). Of course I drop the eff bomb, usually prefaced with "mother". Asshole happens. I may or may not have called a lady driver or two a "pretentious twat". Sometimes I will observe angry silver-haired men driving luxurious little sports cars like they are fighter jets and whisper, "I'm so sorry about that erectile dysfunction!"

But all of this is muttered with a smile on my face. I get it off my chest and all they see is a frizzy haired middle aged lady smiling like a lunatic behind the wheel of her crappy little Ford Focus. We're all good.

Where was I going with this? Oh yes! The parent drop off lane. 

William missed his bus yesterday. Nothing drama related, no shoe hunt or forgotten homework involved, just a "lost track of time" thing. We hustled into the car, had a sweet chat and pulled into the school drop off lane. 

That's where we met these people:

MR VIP: He's more important than you. Or me. Basically he's more important than anyone. He's VERY IMPORTANT. So it's okay for him to pull up to the front of the line. And then pull out without looking. Because he has very important places to be, you see. Don't get in his way. Oh, what's that? He's blocked you in? That's okay. Where you have to be is nowhere nearly as important as him. You can wait.

The Long Goodbye Mom: This is the mom who needs to tell her child something really crucial. Only she waits until said child has stepped out of the car and is about the shut the door. Said child stands there, door open, listening to mom. For an eternity. 

Confused Parent: This is the mom or dad who can't quite figure out the flow of things. Which is totally understandable, except for the fact that they've been dropping their kid off every morning for the past three years. I suspect they are probably the same people who drive the wrong way through one way lanes in shopping mall parking lots. You know, the ones who are going the opposite way the parking spots are slanted? Yeah. Them.

The Chatty Kathy Klub: You've seen them: one mom is walking through the parking lot, and stops to gab with a friend who's in the drop off lane. She leans in, hand resting on the hood of her friend's car, and they laugh and laugh for a while. Eventually she looks up and realizes there are other people in the world besides her and her gal pal, and some of these other people have formed a line that stretches out to the street in front of the school so they wrap up the conversation. Slowly. "See you at yoga!" ...and scene. Your child is about to be tardy, but that's okay. Kimmy and Pepper are all caught up now, and that's what matters.

The Angry Parent: This one is not as laid back as most of us. This one is pissed, and isn't shy about letting it show. They will honk. They will yell things out the window. They will peel out of the lane and drive way too fast through the parking lot, and if you're really lucky, they'll throw their cigarette butt out the window for good measure. What Angry Parent should really do is join Kimmy and Pepper at yoga, right? Get that chi centered and whatnot.

Sister Cellphone (sung to the tune of Sister Christian, yo): 
Sister Cellphone oh the time has come
And you know that you're the only one
to say, "call you back, okay?"
Who you callin', who you textin' to?
You know your kid's tryin' to talk to you
It's true 
(big drum build up)
You're cellphone-ing!

And that's all I've got for Sister Cellphone. She's on her phone when she drops her kid off, she's on it when she picks him up. She's on it when you pass her in the school hallway, at the soccer game and during the band concert. Girlfriend has a problem. And let's hope, one hell of a data plan.

Did I leave anyone out? Aside the frizzy haired grinning maniac in the shitty silver Ford Focus listening to the Violent Femmes and thinking about the Andrew McCarthy sex dream she had last night? We can call that one "Stuck in the 80's Mom". I hear she's fun to hang out with, though, so she has that going for her.
Now, I should note that these are the people I've observed in the junior high parking lot. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt in the elementary parking lot, because they are newer at this whole thing. The junior high parents? They should know better by now. 

And don't get me started on the high school parking lot. That's where their kids drive.


Is That Frosting Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

Yeah, I bought Toaster Strudels. Judge me all you want. I also bought a kilo of ramen noodles. Does it make me a better person if I tell you there was organic chicken in the same cart? 

There are times I feel as though I need to explain my food purchases to everyone else in the grocery store, and the cashier as well. "It's so the kids can make themselves a snack!" I want to say. "I bought a ton of fruit and vegetables at Costco yesterday. I swear." "Lunchables are the lazy mom's bento box, yo. QUIT LOOKING IN MY CART!"

Grocery shopping is kind of traumatic for me.

So here's where I was going with this post. I bought Toaster Strudels. Four boxes of them. Because they were cheap, and because my kids like them. And every once in a while, I buy them crappy food because they like it. There. I have officially come out. Of the freezer, that is.

Last night, before I put on my sleep mask and fell asleep at 9:30, Henry asked if I would please wake him up early. "Like, 5:00, Mom."

Henry used to be my favorite kid in the mornings. Just a tap on the shoulder and he'd hop up, a smile on his sweet chubby face and a "Good morning, mama!" just for me.

Now he's 16. And waking him up requires stamina, patience and sometimes full body armor. 

There's the initial shoulder tap/nudge. The whispered, "Hey Henry, good morning! Time to get up honey!". This is met with silence. Not a muscle twitches.

A more vigorous shake follows. Voice raises from gentle mommy whisper to conversational volume: "Hey, Henry! You asked me to wake you up early! Time to rise and shine!". 

A grunt. One eye opens, sizes me up. Closes again.

Annoyed voice from mom now. I have things to do, you know. "HENRY! Get up! Come on. Do you want a Toaster Strudel?" Now you see why I have four boxes of these processed nightmares in my freezer. THEY ARE BAIT.

Two eyes are open now. A yawn. One impossibly long, hairy leg sticks out. "Okay, okay. I'm awake. Yeah, I want a Toaster Strudel."

Because I'm an enabler, I go into the kitchen and make the strudel. "Time to make the strudel" I say to myself. Myself laughs at my funny reference. 

During my brief college career, three years in total, I spent every summer working in a bakery. It was called "Robert's Bakery" and was a true mom and pop operation, owned by Robert and his wife Charlotte. They were good people. During those summers, I arose at 4:30 every morning and headed out to really, and truly, make the donuts. And the cakes, the bread, the bagels. Sometimes I decorated the cakes, and by the end of my bakery run I was pretty good at it. Good enough to make some really cool cakes for my babies, and good enough so I watch shows like Cake Boss and say, "Pffft. I could totally do that."

Apparently handling frosting isn't like riding a bike. I realized that this morning. You see, this is what a Toaster Strudel looks like in the commercials:

And this is what the horror show in my kitchen looked like:

Because I am a gentlelady, and I don't want to make some of my more sensitive readers go away, I will refrain from saying what I am really thinking my spastic frosting looks like (were you thinking what I was thinking? Because that's what I was thinking. Sorry, gentle readers. I can't stop myself). To me, it looks like the Pillsbury Dough Boy left something "extra special" on my strudels.

I served them to my crabby, semi-awake son anyway.

Have a fabulous Tuesday, people. And remember, for every grocery cart of crap you see, there's a mom with justifications behind it. Be gentle.
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