StrepMom Thought Bubbles

William and I had strep this week. FYI, that shit HURTS. I haven't had it in eons, and let me tell you, strep in a grown up is not for the weak. I had lumps the size of golf balls on my neck, and it felt like my throat was lined with a million shards of glass. The headache was awesome, too.

Of course I had it the whole time William and I were up north for a hockey tournament. So, to his entire hockey team and also the very good looking Canadian hockey parents we all partied with at the hotel, YOU'RE WELCOME for the disgusting strep germs that William and I breathed all over the lot of ya. (I feel immense guilt for that, for reals.)

I'm now halfway through my Z-pack (which is what they give you when you have a deadly penicillin allergy) and can finally swallow again (insert lame blowjob joke right here). I tested my new pain-free throat with a martini last night and IT'S ALL GOOD.

We are home from work and school today thanks to the Polar Vortex which has blessed us with below zero temps. Again. My kids have not had a full week of school since before Christmas. And William had already missed two days this week courtesy of the strep. His school has a weird absence policy, if they have 7 absences (excused, even) they send home a vaguely threatening letter which states that if your kid is absent again, you have to have a doctor's note. I'm not one of "those" moms, who bitches and moans about everything that makes life a little more difficult, but this letter, and the follow-up phone call, felt a lot like my parenting was being called into question.

Now, you can accuse me of many things: stress eating, poor vacuuming skills, an addiction to Downy Unstoppables...but leave my parenting out of it.

I'm a good mom. And I know when a kid shouldn't go to school. William is my fever baby. He gets fevers. My other kids, not so much, but William gets them. He had a febrile seizure when he was a few weeks old, one of the scariest moments of my life. I've asked his pediatrician about it, and the swarthy, somewhat sexy Dr. K shrugged and said, "Some kids just get more fevers than other kids."

I work in a school so I'm well versed in the 24 hour rule about fevers. DON'T SEND YOUR SICK KID TO SCHOOL. I've followed that rule religiously because I don't want to be That Parent who sends her sick kid to school. And now I'm being held under some sort of parental microscope because of it. So that's my first thought bubble: Don't punish the good parents, schools. I'm sure there are some parents who let their kids stay home if they have gas pains or if they don't like the lunch that day. And that's none of my business. But I'm not one of those parents and I really dislike being treated like a quasi-criminal. So you can bet your butt I'm going to march into school with William on Monday and be brandishing that Doctor's Note like a 4 carat engagement ring. SUCK IT, PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE JUNIOR HIGH ATTENDANCE POLICY!

My next thought bubble involves the high road I've been traveling in regards to my ex-husband.

I've been really, really good. And I mean capital G good, when it comes to speaking positively and kindly about Big Daddy. Really! I had one slip up recently during a conversation with one of my kids and it went a little something like this:

KID: "Hey, Mom...Dad said he'd help me pay for some of my textbooks this quarter!"
ME: "Really? That's great!"
KID: "Yeah, the only thing is, Secretary is demanding to see receipts for all of them before they'll give me any money."
ME: "I wonder if your dad misses his balls."
ME: "OMG. I'm sorry I said that. Pretend you didn't hear it."
KID: "Okay. But it was pretty funny, Mom."
ME: "I know. But still...pretend it didn't come out of my mouth."

P.S. The kid did get the money for books. And I hope the balls are being kept in a BPA-free container.

Third thought bubble also involves the ex:

He comes to a lot of William's hockey games, which is great. However, he always, and I mean ALWAYS brings Little Spawn with him. I'll admit right here that I'm kind of jealous, on behalf of my kids, when I see Big Daddy and that little effer together. Because my kids didn't get that kind of time with their dad. But whatever.

When I see him walking around with Spawn, all I can think of is Michael Jackson carrying around that monkey. Bubbles. So heretofore and henceforth, Spawn shall be known as Bubbles.


Jonah Hill makes my skin crawl. The fact that he's up for an Oscar (again) makes me question everything in this world. Everything.

Thought Bubble number Five:

My job is still disappearing in August, as far as I know. And I'm vacillating between full-blown panic and a very Bobby McFerrin-sort-of "Don't Worry Be Happy" feeling. Things always seem to work out for me, somehow, but this is a terrifying sort of limbo to be in.

I dropped William off at a friend's apartment a while back. For a sleepover. Henry was with me and as he watched William go into the lobby to be buzzed up, he said, "I could never live in an apartment, Mom." I decided that this would be a good time to be that Honest Parent I'm always claiming to be, so I replied, "Henry, you never know what's going to happen. We might have to live in an apartment someday. Would that be so horrible?" Because that's the truth. I have no idea what's going to happen between now and September. Henry's chin quivered, just the slightest bit. And he said, "I can't imagine it. I'd have to go live with Dad." He looked out the window again, and added, "I don't know what I'd do. I'm sorry Mom. I don't ever want to move again."

And that right there helped me decide that no matter what, I'm going to do whatever it takes to keep my kids here. Safe and sound. I don't care if I have to work 5 jobs, if I have to scrub toilets or shovel dirt or wear a freaking hat and name tag. My kids are worth it.

No more thought bubbles for now...time to go be outrageously unproductive and enjoy the Vortex!


Oddball Crushes, Part Deux

So while sitting on the bleachers at William's hockey game a few nights ago, some of the other moms and I were discussing the casting of the highly-anticipated Fifty Shades of Grey movie. I mentioned that I'd like to see Paul Giamatti play a Christian Grey-type character.

Cut to the incredulous and slightly disgusted looks on the hockey mom's faces.

One of the moms was all, "Who is Paul Giamatti?" so someone pulled up his picture on her phone. They all laughed! "Really, Jenny? What is it about him that you find attractive?" one of them asked me.

Listen, in her defense, this was the picture they were gawking at:

Your new drivers license should arrive in 4-6 weeks, Mr. Giamatti.


Then one of them started giggling. "Oh Jenny. I think I see why there's an attraction..."  she looked at me, then put two of her fingers over Paul's face, so only his eyes and the bridge of his nose were showing.

"He looks like your ex-husband. Like, he could be his brother!"

GASP. Oh the horror. I felt something in me shrivel, because she was right. There is a resemblance. Before the creepy stare of my ex-husband's doppleganger could put a damper on the hot coals of love, I swiped the screen of the phone and pulled up a much better image of my pretend lover:

The heart wants what it wants.

AGAIN WITH THE GIGGLING. Now, a different hockey mom put two of her fingers on Paul's face, this time covering his eyes and the top of his nose. She presented me with Paul Giamatti's mouth and chin, and said, "Tell me that this part doesn't look a lot like your ex."

Dammit. They're both kind of right. I curse the middle-aged man goatee. It makes them all look kind of alike, no? So I'm going to have to watch John Adams again, because I can't picture my ex-husband in a colonial wig. And Paul doesn't have a goatee in it.

God help me, this floats my boat. Say something constitutional, baby.

So all of this Paul Giamatti stuff got me thinking about Oddball Crushes. The last time I discussed the Oddballs here, we had a rollicking good time in the comments...and I was comforted to know that I'm not the only one who finds unconventional looks attractive.

I've added to my repertoire of oddballs. This might be a sign of declining mental faculties or it may just mean I need to get out more, but here are a few more additions:

Rest In Peace, Uncle Phil:

James Avery was a very attractive man, but what makes this one an oddball (and now, a posthumous) crush is that while every other girl in America watching Fresh Prince was ogling Will Smith, I was probably one of the only 20-somethings thinking to myself "Hmmm...Uncle Phil sure is a tall, thick-thighed drink of water."


Luis Guzman. The portly Puerto Rican character actor who has been in pretty much every single movie ever made, including Boogie Nights, Scarface and the absolutely riveting (/sarcasm) Journey to the Center of the Earth: Part 2.

What is is about this oddball crush? I don't know. I do know that I want to snuggle with him, run my fingers along his formidable brow and call him My Sweet Papi.

And I'll close with my oddball girl crush:

Remember what I said about finding someone to dance to Flo Rida's "Low" with me? 

Lea "Big Boo" DeLaria from many many things, including the fabulous "Orange is the New Black" on Netflix. Why? She is hilarious, for one thing. Here's an interview with her, where she had my heart with "making batik with my menstrual blood" (sorry for my readers on cell phones, for some reason the videos don't show up):

Get More: 

I love her! And I'm giddy with anticipation for Season 2 of Orange. I finally finished the book, and I'll give you my mini-review: it's aiight. For the first time, I think I like the show/movie better.

And that wraps up this session of Oddball Crushes. I'm home with what I'm praying isn't the flu today...please chime in with your own oddball crushes so I have some fresh meat to look up on IMDB.

Achoo, and adios for now.


Dance with my boy

William is my hockey player. He's thirteen and caught in that fragile, tenuous web that hangs between childhood and manhood. His face still looks like it has for the past 5 years or so, soft chin, wide eyes, beautiful full lips. But now there are big bushy eyebrows, a smattering of zits, a broader nose. My boy is changing and since he's my last one, it's all the more bittersweet to observe. Having seen his two older brothers leave their baby faces behind, I'm prepared for what lies ahead...but I'm also acutely aware of what is slipping through my fingers. Raising kids is full of these heartbreakers, you know.

So anyway. Because of the hockey, William and I spend a lot of time in the car together. At least five days a week are partially devoted to a practice or a game. I'm a massive wuss when it comes to winter driving, so I've been stepping up and asking the ex to help out more with regards to rides. And to his credit, he's done it. But there are still several times a week when I find myself behind the wheel with my fourth child riding shotgun.

We talk about everything. And I mean, everything. We discuss dogs, politics, Joss Whedon, the weather, hockey moms, divorce, bullying, cookies. While we talk, we listen to the radio. And when one of our jams comes on, we sing it loudly together, an awful off-key mother/son duet. Lately it's been that Jay Z/Justin Timberlake song, Holy Grail. We also do a mean version of Wrecking Ball, despite my aversion to Miley's chipmunk voice. I know the time will come, very soon, when William won't be caught dead crooning with his mama, so while he's willing, we rock that Ford Focus like nobody's business.

Yesterday, one of my all time favorites came on. "Low" by Flo Rida. Yeah, shawty, I love that song, so what? How can you not move when it's playing?

So I told William, "You know what? I'll know I've found my true love when I find the man who will agree to doing a choreographed dance to THIS SONG at our wedding. Like, our 'first dance as man and wife'." Because that's true. It's going to take a very certain someone to bust a move with me to that song. Call it my version of the glass slipper.

William laughed. He said, "Do you think you'll ever get married again, Mom?"

I'm always honest with my kids. Always. I replied, "I don't know. Sometimes I think my job right now is to just be your mom. And I haven't even come close to finding someone I can imagine as a husband."

There was a moment of silence in the car, no sound but the wind outside and some ad on the radio.

My boy looked at me, all round blue eyes and dimpled chin. He smiled.

"It's okay to be picky, Mom" he said. I smiled back at him, knowing that this was one of those "moments" in parenting, one of those conversations you don't ever want to forget.

He leaned forward and turned up the volume as another one of our favorites came on. As Lorde stated singing about calling the ladies out, with a hundred jewels between their teeth, my wise and sweet and lovely boy said to me:

"You can dance with me until you find him."

And so we danced, and sang. All the rest of the way.


And the Butthurt Began...How Some People Totes Overreacted

I'll set it up for ya: I posted a very light-hearted, fluff post here on my blog a little over a month ago. "7 Things You Totes Need to Stop Saying if You're Over 30 (Oops, there's one of them)". It was pretty popular, one of my most popular posts, in fact. A few thousand views in just a couple of weeks, which is huge for a small potatoes blogger like me. People who read it, mostly my target audience (women in their 30's and up), loved it. Got lots of fun feedback, lots of LOLs and suggestions of words to add to the list.

People read it in the manner it was intended to be read: LIGHTLY. God, I hope nobody saw that title and hunkered down for a serious read. I mean, if you see that title, do you think to yourself, "Ah...this is sure to be a thoughtful, deep, probing article about the linguistics of women in today's culture!"? If you do, you have my sympathies. I wonder if you also thought "13 Going on 30" was a film about the accelerated maturity of prepubescent girls due to growth hormones and antibiotics used in today's factory farm industry? It's not rocket science, folks.

And then, Huffington Post Women picked it up. Ran it on a Sunday morning. I, of course, shared it on my personal facebook page and on my blog's facebook page because, you know...self promotion and all.

I had things to do that day, real life things, so I didn't know how my seemingly innocent post was spreading like crabs in a frat house. When I peeked at the facebook later that day, I had a bunch of notifications from friends telling me that "Totes" was going crazy.

Curiously, and very cautiously, I checked it out on the site. I have a love/loathing thing with Huffington. I hate that they use people's work without compensating them, but love their reach. Some of my most loyal readers found me via HuffPost. You cannot buy that kind of exposure.

The love/loathing thing goes for the comment sections there as well. For some reason, Huffington Post seems to attract a particularly vile batch of internet readers. Nasty, trollish readers. Not everyone who comments there fits that description, of course, but an alarmingly high number of them do. Likewise for their facebook "fans".

I've learned my lesson after having several pieces published there: don't read the comments. I always read the first few, just to sort of gauge the general reaction my post is getting. Sometimes I'll engage with the readers via the comment section, thank them for reading and sometimes I plead my case to the haters. I get a little interaction in and then I back off. I shut my laptop and that seamy side of the world disappears.

And so it went with the Totes piece. I refused to check out the comments, even though my friends were reporting back to me: "Holy shit! It's going crazy" and "Some of them are getting so mad...it's hilarious!" and "You were just told to go fuck yourself!".

The response I received here on my blog was unanimously positive. Thankfully, most people who read it in the HuffPost and then journeyed here to check me out did so in a friendly, civilized way. There were a few who didn't like it, and let me know, and I engaged with them, too. In a sort of civilized way. Here's one exchange that I thought was kind of funny:

I'm turning 30 this week and I learned almost all of these phrases from people older than me. There were jokes about abbreviations like; totes, cray, belig, etc in Vice magazine like ten years ago. I'll change when I feel like it and y'all schoolmarms can deal with it. You love yoga pants and martinis and think that Pearl Jam is cool, your opinions carry no weight.


  1. Bummer. I wrote this with the intent of changing the way you (yes, specifically you, anonymous ) talk. So much for my evil plan.

    Your rejection has broken my heart. Tonight's martini will be dirty, with extra tears.

    Hey, happy birthday.

School marm?  The irony is, I REALLY AM A SCHOOL MARM! And enough with the yoga pants. Is it too late to add "yoga pants" to the list of things that everyone on the planet should stop talking about?

Here's the thing that makes me laugh about these comments: they are so damn serious. Like, these women (all seeming to be in the late 20's to mid-30's) read my farcical, giggly post and thought that I was actually on a language warpath, that I was out to eradicate these words from the English language. These people read my words and somehow came away with the idea that I give a shit about how they talk.

I read one comment (yeah I know, I had to peek at a couple of them) that accused me of bullying women (??). And another guy, Troy from Santa Cruz, posted on my facebook page: "It's nice that women have someone like you to knock them down a peg. All they normally get is love and acceptance, so your criticism is very refreshing. Keep up the good work." Oh Troy. I bet you pee sitting down, don't you?

The ones I loved the absolute most, though, were the comments that said "I have never said any of these words before but you'd better believe I will now! And the author can go fuck herself!" This type of comment led me to imagine packs of 30-something women roaming the streets in cities across the country, carrying torches and screaming out "AMAZEBALLS, MOTHER EFFERS!" and "I KNOW, RIGHT? MY FEELS ARE ALL MAD RIGHT NOW!"

I also imagined that the majority of these chicks are driving around with Coexist stickers on their cars.

Bottom line is this: say what you want. I don't care. Nobody cares! Freedom of speech is a beautiful thing, but let's keep in mind that it goes for everyone. Even people who like to poke fun at society now and then. I am pleased to see that my skin has toughened up, and even getting told to go fuck myself by perfect strangers rolls right off my back. In fact, it makes me (and my friends) laugh. Girls, I've faced divorce, poverty, bankruptcy and foreclosure. Believe me when I say that the self-righteous indignation of a few overgrown adolescent harpies doesn't faze me in the least.

Now I think it's best if I stick to writing less controversial pieces. I believe I'll start with one called "10 Things You Totes Need to Quit Wearing if You're Over 30: The Jeggings Stop Here"

Namaste, internets.

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