Category Archives: Parenting

Dungeons & Dragons for Delinquents & Dummies

In a misty corner of the Forgotten Realm, on an old road leading into the city of Neverwinter, three strangers meet at a crossroad. Each is coming into the city for the same reason, having been summoned by a dwarf named Gundren Rockseeker. 

“Greetings. I am Anneke, an Eladrin Ranger.”

“Hi! My name is Princess! Princess the Princess Daring!”

“I’m Orko and I’m a wizard. But you can’t see me because I cast a spell of invisibility. And I have lasers in my eyes.”

Alas, the wizard was wrong. He had neither the spell for invisibility yet nor did he have lasers in his eyes. 

“Aw, man. Not fair.”

The quest is a seemingly simple, if mysterious, one. The adventurers are to bring a wagonload of provisions to the settlement of Phandalin, with Gundren offering ten gold pieces each. The dwarf is secretive about the reasons for the trip but ten gold pieces has put no one in the mood to ask questions. 

And so, the ranger, the wizard and the cleric…

“What’s a cleric?”

The ranger, the wizard and the priest are walking along the High Road when they veer east along the Triboar Trail. Soon they spot two dead horses in the road, each riddled with arrows. 

“How many arrows? Where are the arrows?”

“What color are the arrows?”

The arrows are numerous and normal arrow colored. They have hit the horses from behind in the rear.

“Rear means butt.”

“Hahahahaha! You said ‘butt!’” 

“We approach the so help me if you don’t stop picking your nose go get a tissue dead horses.”

Suddenly four goblins run out of the bushes and attack. The adventurers…

“Hit them in the eye. With an arrow. Two arrows! Ninety-seven fifty eight arrows!”

Princess the Princess Daring hits a goblin in the eye with one arrow. 

“I throw more arrows at his face!”

The goblin with the arrow in his eye is already dead. 

“But I want to do more things to the goblin!”

“Since I’m a wizard, can I do magic to bring the goblin back to life? So we can kill him again? Using the spell Banana Poop Poop?”

“Hahaha…poop.”

Orko the Wizard tries to cast the spell Banana Poop Poop to bring the goblin back to life but the goblin is still dead. 

“That’s not fair!”

“YEAH. I WANT TO DO MORE KILL-Y STUFF.”

“Alright, well, I’m going to make a side quest to the kitchen to get more wine.”

While Anneke goes off on a noble side quest to refill her comically and unnecessarily large wine glass… 

“…I heard that…”

…the remaining goblins continue to attack. Princess the Princess Daring…

“Can I throw art supplies at them?”

“Art supplies? That’s dumb. You’re a dumb princess.”

“You’re dumb!”

“No, you are!”

“I throw eighty billion forty twenty seven arrows at your eye!”

“I’m back. What did I miss?”

“I throw an ax at Princess the Princess Daring’s head!”

“I punch Orko in his stupid face!”

“Oh yeah, this is definitely bringing us closer together as a family.”

“Can we play this again tomorrow?”

“Where did Daddy…I mean the Dungeon Master go?”

“If I roll a 20, you guys want to see me chug this wine?”

“Yeah!”

“Yeah!” 

To Be Continued…

Probably. 

How to play with your kids in the snow

There are some people in this world who will tell you that there is no “right” way to play with your children in the snow. These people are wrong. And probably serve their children fruit as “dessert.” 

There is a right way. Oh sure, a few details might vary and there is some accounting for individual family quirks, but on the whole, no matter how good of a parent you are, snow days follow an almost scientific formula. At least according to the data I have collected over the last seven years. 

First, any proper snow day begins by the children waking up at dawn, looking outside their window and then immediately running into your room, where they jump on your face and loudly ask if they can go play in the snow. They will then repeat this question every five minutes and whine “but you PROMISED!” over and over and over again until you finally roar “FINE!” at the top of your lungs and they scamper away squealing with delight like the relentless, adorable gaslighters they are. 

Then begins the thankless task of gathering all the outerwear, which were scattered to the distant four corners of your house the last time your children played in the snow. In between muttering obscenities about missing gloves and yelling about how in the world can all the snow boots only consist of the left snow boot, you remind everyone to go potty. Because once all these layers are on you are NOT taking them all off again. 

The next half hour is a blur of stuffing tiny humans into snowpants and socks and sweaters and hoodies and hats and one glove while still looking for the other stupid glove and sunglasses for the kid who can’t go anywhere without sunglasses and scarves and ya’ll peed, right, because I’m not taking all this off again and ah-HA! there is that other stupid glove and what do you mean you lost the first glove, it was literally on your hand, and coats with stuck zippers and I told you the other snowboots were probably by the door and push harder, when did your feet grow, why are you growing all the time, and HEY, I found the glove, it was in mommy and daddy’s room, I told you stay out of our room.

Finally everyone is ready. 

Everyone has to pee. 

Repeat. Repeat it ALL. 

Now if you have a big backyard and can simply open the door and release these loud toddling bundles into the wintry wild, stop reading here. Go contentedly sigh and enjoy a glass of wine in your dumb peaceful house or something.

For those of you who are like me and have small children in a city and thus need to “go somewhere” such as a park to play in the snow, the worst is yet to come. 

Once you finally “get somewhere” (which, regardless of how you get there, will include many complaints and gritted teeth threats) there will be approximately ten minutes of pure, unadulterated joy. This is the brief moment in time where you remember why you decided to have children in the first place and why you love them and your family and your life and how did you possibly get so lucky as to be able to share a life with these people? 

Then, just like the cheap plastic sled they sit upon, it all swiftly goes downhill. 

Soon, someone will run over someone else with their sled because the kid on the sled didn’t listen and the kid climbing back up the hill didn’t listen. Everyone is crying. 

They need a distraction. LET’S BUILD A SNOWMAN! Is there any activity that is more wholesome? Nope. At least for the next three minutes, after which you realize that you are the only one actually building the snowman and you can no longer feel your fingers. 

Luckily, someone will always, inevitably, suggest a snowball fight. What could go wrong? 

No aiming for the face, you yell over and over again. Surprisingly the kids abide. Eventually, however, you will hit one of the children in the face. By “accident” of course and not some subconscious urge. They will cry. You will feel awful (mostly). You will offer cookies and hot chocolate as consolation when you go back home. They will accept and immediately pop up like nothing happened. 

You stay until both feet are completely numb and you’re pretty sure you’ve already lost three fingers to frostbite. When you finally can’t take it anymore, you give a five minute warning. May as well have been announcing you murdered Memaw AND Grandma AND Daniel Tiger. The wailing. The keening. The dramatic protestations that if you really loved them you would let them play for just a little longer. 

Through sheer force of will (and some light dragging), you eventually wrangle them home and inside. Everyone violently disrobes, snow and ice and boots and gloves and hats flying, everything wet and gross and dirty. You are too tired to gather them all up even though you know you will later regret this. 

It’s over. You survived. 

Only a thousand more days until spring. 

Dino Nuggets with Sprinkles

It was still dark when I opened my eyes. Which was unsurprising. It’s always dark whenever I open my eyes these days. Now is the winter of our discontent and raging insomnia, as the old saying goes.

Or something like that. 

But this dark was a different kind of dark. This wasn’t my usual infernal and endless 2 a.m. dark. I didn’t recognize this dark. This dark had a bit of, was that, no…a hint of dimness? I started to turn over in bed to look at the clock, ruthlessly crushing the hope that was struggling to rise in my chest on my way. 

6:07 

In the A.M. 

No. Impossible. 

I had slept through the night?

I looked at the clock again. 

I had slept through the night. 

I slowly sat up, careful not to disturb my husband lest his symphony of snores prematurely end before the big fart finale. I shuffled to the kitchen in my slippers. I started making the coffee, almost as though in a daze.

What is this odd feeling? 

Is this…not tired?

Is this what feeling well-rested is like?

Like waking up not wanting to punch the world in the face?

As the last of my peaceful drowsiness wore off, I realized that was indeed what I was feeling. I smiled. This is what it must feel like to be a Disney princess. Those birds singing outside? That chubby squirrel eating a stolen bagel outside my window? Any moment now they would beg to come inside so they could help me get dressed. 

Soon thereafter my kids woke up, rubbing their eyes and scratching at their bedhead. 

“Good morning, my babies!” I cheerfully bellowed.

The kids froze, confused. Who was this creature smiling an authentic smile in front of them? And what happened to the swamp witch they called Mom? 

Then, to really terrify them, I made an actual breakfast. Using the actual stove. And pots! And pans!

When the kids threw dual tantrums over being told to brush their teeth (a daily morning ritual) I did NOT scream back this time. I just gave them space to have those Big Feelings. Like one of those parents who actually read a parenting book. 

My husband made three dad jokes that morning. I laughed at all three. And pinched his butt when he walked by me to get more coffee. 

Later, we went to the library to pick up a stack of books. 

“Can we stop at a playground on the way home?” the kids asked, already bracing themselves for the obvious “no” headed their way because one, it was 28 degrees outside and two, I wasn’t wearing my out-in-public “good” sweatpants.

“Sure!” I exclaimed.

“Really!?” they exclaimed right back. 

“Really!”

We got home. I made hot cocoa. And popcorn. And let them have cookies because life is meant to be lived! 

“You’re the best mom ever!” my son yelled as he threw his arms around my waist.

“I know, right!” I happily hollered back. “Now, what do y’all want for dinner?”

“Dino nuggets?”

“Absolutely!”

“Can I have sprinkles on mine?” asked my daughter, allowing a bit of hope to slip into her voice.

“You bet your sweet redheaded tuchus you can!”

She jumped up and hugged me too. 

Oh, the person I could be if I got a good night’s sleep every night, I thought to myself as I did ALL THE VOICES during bedtime storytime. If I didn’t have to ration my energy throughout the day. If I could regulate my emotions (or even just one emotion occasionally). If my brain worked as designed instead of being held together by metaphorical duct tape and Elmer’s glue.  

Maybe it won’t always be this bad, I tell myself as I get ready for bed. These are extraordinary times, and not in the good way. But maybe it’s getting better. Maybe I can be my old self soon. 

Maybe sleep will stay this time.

Maybe every day can be like today.

I close my eyes. 

And welcome the dark. 

Hey Randy!

In this age of Larger-Than-Life characters, there lurks in the shadows another archetype. One that often gets overlooked in all the noise and chaos. Yet, they are content to stoically remain on the sidelines, emerging only in times of great need. 

The Quiet Hero. 

They can be any gender, any race, any age. The only thing they have in common is that they ask for nothing in return. They are the mythic ones whose mild mannered alter-ego is exactly the same as their mild-mannered superhero persona. 

Which brings me to Randy. He’s our landlord’s loyal handyman. Randy the Handyman, if you will.  We’ve known him for almost a decade now. We’ve known his assistant, Jacob, for quite a few years now too. It was these two Quiet Heroes who strode bravely into our house yesterday, on a mission to fix our garbage disposal, unaware of the hurricane they were about to enter. For, unbeknownst to them, our preschooler and first grader haven’t seen the inside of a school since March. They haven’t had a sleepover in almost a year. They haven’t been to a birthday party or attended a family reunion or been to a festival or gone on vacation in a long, long time. In short, they were desperate for socialization. 

It was the perfect storm. 

And so, in honor of these noble yet unsuspecting gentlemen, I immediately got out my laptop and transcribed what followed as accurately as I possibly could. 

*knock at door*

Hi! Randy! Hi! Hey Randy!

Hey! Hey Randy! Look at my toy! Randy! 

What’s that other guy’s name again?

Hey! Hi Jacob! Jacob, hey, hi! 

Randy, I lost four teeth!

I have pink headphones, want to see?

I have blue ones!

Have you ever read the book “Too Many Toys”? Hey Randy, have you ever read the book “Too Many Toys”?

I said I have blue ones! Blue headphones! Hey Randy!

Hey Jacob! Have you ever read “Too Many Toys”?

Hey Randy, I plug my headphones into the little hole on my tablet. Just like this. 

There’s a funny part where the mom goes “Spencer, you have TOO MANY TOYS!” What are you guys doing?

Hey Randy! Do you want to see the comic book I wrote?

Hey, our dog died. 

Yeah, our dog died. 

Can I play with your tools?

What’s that thing do?

Hey Jacob, can I have this?

What’s a garbage disposal?

Did they teach you how to fix this in school?

Hey, we just learned about germs today. 

Hey! Guys! Look what I can do!

Look at my purse! Hey Randy! I keep all the shiny stuff in here. Do you guys like shiny stuff? 

I made a spaceship out of Legos! Or maybe it’s a boat. 

Hey Jacob, are you a cowboy? You look like a cowboy.

How old are you, Randy? Because you look old. 

Hey! Watch me do this! Are you watching? Watch. 

Where are you putting the old…what’s that thing called again? 

Can I help?

Yeah, hey, can I help?

Did you know when dogs die they go over the rainbow bridge?

My favorite food is mac and cheese! What’s your favorite food? Is it cupcakes?

This went on for over an hour. And not only did these two men not slaughter my entire family with a socket wrench, they actually listened to everything my kids hurled rapid-fire at them and answered all their questions and stopped numerous times to “watch this!” 

All while also trying to do their jobs. 

All while keeping big smiles on their faces. 

Yes, not all heroes wear capes. Some simply wear a toolbelt and give some kindly attention to two little kids bravely trying to weather a pandemic. 

Hey Randy. 

Hey Jacob. 

Thank you. 

A Collection of Modern Responses

“So, how are you holding up?” 

I’m OK.

I’m fine. 

I’m alright. 

A bit tired. 

You know. 

I mean, it could be worse. 

I have it better than a lot of people right now. 

Well, I just got done Googling “can you die from insomnia?” so, you know. 

*primal scream*

We’re ordering pizza for the fourth night in a row. 

I just don’t understand. Any of this. 

Wishing I could afford therapy. 

I miss nouns. 

Can a person’s soul be exhausted? 

I had whiskey for dinner. 

I feel so helpless. 

What even is reality? 

I’ve got all these projects I’m working on so, you know, staying busy. 

I just want to go somewhere. Do something. 

Everything is so surreal. I can’t even go on social media anymore. 

I miss people. I miss my family. 

Just, I mean, what the $#@%?

I’m fine. Really. 

So help me I will murder the next person who suggests the solution to everything is more kindness in the world. 

I had wine for breakfast so…pretty good right now.

I can’t concentrate on anything. 

*manical laughter*

I hate humans. 

I’m feeling cautiously optimistic for once. 

I doomscrolled all night, how are you? 

*primal scream*

I’m fine. It’s fine. Everything is fine. Wait, what was the question? 

I honestly don’t know. I haven’t stopped drinking eggnog with a 40 percent ABV since the day after Thanksgiving. 

I can’t stop crying. 

$#%&^*%!!!!!

*sobbing*

As well as can be expected considering it’s just endless darkness and everything is bleak and I’m stuck inside forever with only my family and panic and dread as constant companions in this nightmare dystopia we are living in but hey, I’m just going to keep making this popcorn for my children’s dinner while crying a bit and using every ounce of willpower I have to stuff these feelings way, way down into the cellular soil of the body where tumors start. 

You know, I’ve decided I’m going to make the best of this. 

Not well. 

When does it get better?

Survival mode. Just endless survival mode. 

I’m horrified. But no longer surprised. 

I got so angry I threw my phone at the TV. 

There just aren’t words anymore.

I’m numb. Completely numb. 

It has to get better soon. 

Will it ever get better?

I am dead inside. 

How to Have a Proper Family Movie Night

Excitedly announce you are having A Family Movie Night! 

Wait for the cheers and applause that never come.  

Watch as everyone immediately starts to argue about what to watch. 

Browse Netflix. 

Calmly make a suggestion. 

Get greeted by groans and dramatic tears. 

Gently remind everyone this is supposed to be fun. 

Browse Disney+. 

Argue some more. 

Break up fist fight. 

Argue some more. 

Take weapon away from preschooler. 

Let out primal maternal scream. 

Make executive decision to watch a movie everyone has seen 576 times already.

Bring out snacks during opening credits. 

Listen to complaints that it’s the wrong brand of root beer, no one likes popcorn anymore and can we order a pizza?

It’s all we have, when did that happen, no.

Listen to more groans and dramatic, loud protestations. 

Get angry.

Start yelling back. 

Now everyone is yelling. 

Dog is barking. 

Everyone is yelling at dog to stop barking. 

Order stupid, dumb pizza.

Pause within first five minutes for Potty Break No. 1.

Answer first question about the basic plot of the movie they’ve seen 576 times already. 

Politely ask kid who keeps repeating every line to stop repeating every line. 

Start absentmindedly discussing the grocery list with partner. 

Get shushed by kids. 

Exchange look with partner and secretly do lewd gesture behind the children’s back. 

Answer 12th question about the basic plot of the movie they’ve seen 576 times already. 

Pause for Potty Break No. 3. 

Shoot down request for more candy. 

And more root beer. 

And the popcorn no one likes anymore but is somehow all gone. 

Remind kid who keeps repeating lines to stop, please. 

Tell shusher kid to stop shushing repeater kid.

Break up “I can’t hear, shut up” wrestling match on floor. 

Answer 33rd question about the basic plot of the movie they’ve seen 576 times already. 

Pause for Potty Break No. 7. 

Throw a pillow at the kid who won’t stop repeating every line and scream “knock it off!”

Pause movie so you can have family discussion on why that wasn’t actually child abuse. 

Pause for Potty Break No. 12. 

Sigh in relief that it’s finally over and you can stop stress eating pizza. 

Watch end credits until the very, very end to prevent preschooler meltdown. 

Practically hurl kids into their beds. 

Begin the unnecessarily violent movie the adults have been wanting to watch forever. 

Sigh contentedly. 

Immediately pause and escort an escaped child back to their bed. 

Resume movie. 

Jointly fall asleep 12 minutes in. 

Wake up on couch unable to turn neck for the next three days.

Forget whole horrifying ordeal by day four because you do not brain good anymore ever since the children systematically killed off all decent remaining brain cells. 

Repeat next week. 

20 Things To Be Thankful For in 2020

I’ve been reading a lot of pretty mom blogs lately. You know, those blogs written by moms with shiny hair and actual fruit bowls on their tables? (Filled with fruit they actually eat.) The moms who have probably never told their preschooler “oh, bite me” as a rebuttal during an argument. (She won, by the way.) The moms who actually earn money from their writing? (Dirty accusing glare to all the people not reading this.) 

And right now, all the pretty mom blogs are doing a “what I’m thankful for” post. All of which have some version of this sentence: “This year, perhaps more than any other year, it’s important to focus on what matters most in life and remember that we should be thankful for these things, not just on Thanksgiving day, but every day.” 

Pfft. LAME. 

However, they’re not wrong. This has been a rough year for all of us. So maybe it couldn’t hurt to focus on what really matters, even though it goes against the very most basic core of my entire personality. 

And thus, I present, the 20 things I’m thankful for in 2020.

  1. My health. Which is good. Despite my body being composed mostly of coffee and whiskey.
  2. My husband and our two wonderful children. They mean everything to me. It’s so nice to have everyone home all the time, working and learning remotely. And I mean, all the time. All the time. ALL. THE. TIME. And even though the little one threatened to kill me the other day (it was veiled but it was definitely a death threat) we couldn’t be closer. So close. All the close. 
  3. A roof over my head. And it doesn’t even leak. And below that roof are walls and floors. Filled with mice. City mice. Who will never leave because nothing scares them and they are much, much smarter than we are. Although I haven’t ruled out making them chip in for rent.
  4. My dog, Buffy. Who at 15 is alive and healthy(-ish) and still loves to go on walks. I know you’re expecting me to say something snarky here about him but honestly, what kind of monster makes fun of a beloved elderly dog that has been a constant companion and who has farts so rancid they make rotten eggs smell appetizing. 
  5. Nature. Majestic, beautiful nature. So majestic and beautiful that I don’t even mind the mountains of Claritin I have to snort like cocaine every morning in order to step outside.
  6. Technology. For all it has done, especially during this pandemic, but mostly because it has allowed me to lock myself in the attic and have happy hour over Zoom with my friends while my children wail and bang on the door. 
  7. Speaking of which, my friends, both near and far. All of whom don’t bat an eye when my humor goes to a dark, dark place. 
  8. The sound of my children’s laughter. 
  9. The sound of my children sleeping.
  10. The sound of my husband yelling at my children because they won’t listen to me.  
  11. Wine.
  12. Did I say coffee yet?
  13. Food. Because it’s good. I don’t know. I’m losing steam. Twenty is a big number. 
  14. Oh! Peace. That’s a thing that’s always on these lists, right?
  15. Deep fried stuffing balls. They are the best thing I’ve ever created in my life (my kids coming in at a really close second though). 
  16. Alton Brown’s Thanksgiving turkey recipe. 
  17. Alton Brown.
  18. Oceans. They’re super cool. 
  19. That 2020 is slowly marching toward its death. 
  20. All y’all. The ones who read these ridiculous things week after week. And on purpose, no less. Thank you, truly, from the bottom of the pit where my heart should be. 

Stickin’ it to the man (and everything else)

Hey, here’s something you might not know. According to historians it was the ancient Egyptians who invented stickers. Archaeologists have actually found remains of sticky paper plastered on Egyptian market walls that were used to display the price and description of goods.

Here’s another fun tidbit. Modern stickers got their start from a man going by the very fancy moniker of Sir Rowland Hill. He invented an adhesive paper in 1839, which eventually led to the first postage stamps. 

Oh, and, amusing little fact, another man with an excessively fancy name, R. Stanton Avery, is credited with inventing the first self adhesive label in 1935, leading the way for the sticker as we know it today.  

All of which is a very long way to say I don’t know why all these people listed above hate me and want to ruin my life. All I know is that they have been very successful in their endeavor. Because stickers are indeed destroying my life. And my home. And my wardrobe. And whatever little bit of my sanity that is still sticking around. (HA! GET IT! “STICKING”! HA! HA!). 

OK, fine. Maybe you’re right. Maybe all these people had no idea the destruction and havoc their invention would wreak on my small little world. But even so, just because you can invent something, doesn’t mean you should. So screw you, anonymous, innovative Egyptian merchant! I hope you drowned in quicksand or however ancient Egyptians typically died back then. 

They’re just everywhere. Stickers on the walls, the floors, on every stuffie, on at least half the books. Oh, and on me. All over me. My arms, my legs, my clothes, my shoes. One minute there is a child sweetly asking to sit on my lap and the next I am covered in stickers from head to toe. With everything else, they have the fine motor skills of a drunk baby panda, but give these kids a sheet of stickers and they suddenly have the dexterity and rapidity of a seasoned neurosurgeon. They could cover the entire world in stickers in roughly 45 minutes. 

I don’t even know where these stickers are coming from. How are my kids keeping their supply line going in the middle of a pandemic? They’re not even in school. We’ve been doing remote learning since September and the city has been on some level of lockdown since March. Is there a neighborhood black market for stickers that I am unaware of? Did they finally figure out my Amazon password? 

WHO KEEPS GIVING MY CHILDREN STICKERS?

That last question isn’t rhetorical. I want names. Addresses. Lists of weaknesses and biggest fears. I will have my revenge. 

You know, back in my day, we had respect for the sticker game. We played with them the way God intended, by moving them from the sticker sheet immediately to our sticker album. And there they would stay for all eternity. There was none of this free range sticker nonsense the youth believe in today, just putting stickers wherever they feel like whenever they feel like. 

And I hear you. I do. It could be worse, you’re saying. It could be the dreaded (*whispers*) glitter. But nope, I disagree. I would actually prefer glitter. Because while glitter never, ever goes away, the worse that will happen if it gets all over me is that I will look like either a stripper or a fairy and honestly, I’m fine with both. 

But stickers? I get covered in those bad boys and 1. when I rip them off it also rips off my body hair and 2. they always end up still stuck on my clothes after I put them in the wash, leaving their weird residue all over everything. And this may come as a shock to some of you, but I am not the type of mother who is going to Google “how to get sticker residue off of clothes” and then actually try to get the sticker residue off of the clothes. I am the kind of mother who gets angry and curses and then just walks around in clothes with permanent sticker residue on them because I am tired and lazy. 

I don’t really have an ending for this rant. Other than I WILL FIND YOU NEIGHBORHOOD BLACK MARKET STICKER DEALER. You can run and you can hide, but I will FIND YOU. 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go take a butterknife and try to scrape the stickers off our hardwood floors and the ceilings because the little one has discovered she can climb all the way up to the top of the unsecured bookcase now. 

Where’s My Coffee? A Remote Schooling Pop Quiz

Q: If I wake up at 7 a.m. and remote schooling starts at 8:30 a.m. for my first grader and 8:45 a.m. for my preschooler, at what time will I take my first sip of coffee? Please show your work.

A: 9:07 a.m. Because the children got up at 6:59 a.m. and began immediately fighting and demanding things and the dog pooped all over the only carpeted area in the house and everyone wanted something different for breakfast. Carry the one nerve I had left over.  

Q: If I am helping one child with a math assignment in the dining room and then the other one yells for my help during her small group live instruction in the bedroom, where will I eventually find my coffee after a frantic search?

A: On top of the bookshelf in the hallway.

Extra credit question: Will it still be hot?

A: Nope. 

Q: What is my favorite brand of coffee to make at home?

a. Starbucks

b. Dunkin

c. That fancy one I can’t pronounce 

d. Any that finally finds its way into my hands. 

Q: Where do I most often find my coffee?

A: In the microwave. Where I warmed it up 40 minutes ago.

True or False: Whoever finishes the pot of coffee has to make a new pot.

True. RYAN. 

Q: If my preschooler is having a meltdown because she can’t cut out her shapes perfectly and my first grader is going on another angry rant about how he hates school and he knows everything already so why does he even have to get on Zoom, will I slip out to the front porch or the back porch to enjoy five minutes of peace with my cup of coffee?

A: Trick question. They discovered that’s where I hide last week. The answer is now the basement. 

Q: During the afternoon, if I scour the entire house for 20 minutes for my coffee but still cannot find it, where is my coffee?

a. The coffee never existed in the first place because I am going insane. 

b. An interdimensional portal that opened up because it’s 2020.

c. Does it even matter? It’s just easier to get a new cup and find the old one six months later when it has grown fur and possibly consciousness. 

d. In the bathroom where I optimistically brought it an hour ago in the vain hope of finding two minutes to brush my teeth.

True or False: Some people don’t drink coffee. 

False. Probably. Who are these people? And what mystical elixir do they drink to prevent familial homicides? 

Q: If it’s a half day Wednesday and both kids have different schedules and extra long Zoom sessions, what will you find in my coffee mug?

A: Correct. The answer is indeed whiskey.

Q: What is an appropriate amount of coffee to drink in the year of our Lord 2020?

A: ALL OF IT. 

Essay Question: How is coffee made?

Little caffeine fairies collect the magic beans in the enchanted forest and give them to dragons, who roast them. They are then collected by really hip dressed baristas and distributed to the masses, who mix it with hot water to make that bewitching hot bean potion that keeps the world running with its life-giving and slightly addictive properties. 

Kitchen confidential

Due to my position as a feral housewife who writes about her family, I am often asked by people what advice I’d give to someone who was unsure about having children.  

OK, technically no one asks me that question but it seemed like a good opener and I have been itching to use the phrase “feral housewife” ever since I encountered it on a random Internet meme. But if someone DID ask me this question, my answer would be this: 

Are you ready to make three meals a day, every day, for probably the rest of your life, only to have each of those meals verbally eviscerated by tiny personal versions of Gordon Ramsay? No? Then get you a dog and prepare to live a happy, peaceful life. 

If yes, my sincerest apologies in advance. I recommend stocking up on boxed wine and designating a drawer in your fridge as your “stress cheese” drawer now before you even get started. 

See, no one warned me and my husband that children expect to eat all the time. Nor that they also hate any and all food. Oh sure, our friends and family might have mentioned their children were “picky” eaters but we, in our sweet, innocent naivety, didn’t realize “picky” is code for “eats three things but not really even those things.” For example, my children only eat chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, and fish sticks (but not THAT kind of fish sticks, the other kind). Oh wait, sorry, they also say they like pizza. Except they don’t really like pizza. My first grader only eats the crusts and my preschooler makes me scrape off all the toppings and sauce so she can eat the dough underneath. Because they are monsters. 

Adding insult to injury were all the parenting books we read (ok, the one parenting book we kind of skimmed) that insisted family mealtimes are of the utmost importance for a child’s development without ever once mentioning that the majority of those family mealtimes would be spent arguing over how the pasta smells gross and the meatloaf looks like dog poop. 

Then there’s all those pesky doctors insisting on the importance of children eating a varied diet full of different vitamins and nutrients in order to be healthy. LIES. All of it. My children are somehow still thriving and with a seemingly endless supply of energy despite not knowing the difference between a tomato and a watermelon. 

They don’t even have scurvy and I’m pretty sure they should have scurvy by now. My daughter licked an apple six months ago and it’s the only vitamin C she’s had since. I’m not saying science is wrong. I’m a big believer in science. I’m just saying that while man cannot live on bread alone, little boys apparently can because science simply cannot compete with the stubbornness of children. 

I used to enjoy cooking, you know? I found it calming and at the same time creative. I found a quiet joy in chopping and a contentment in coming up with new menu ideas. A chef transforming ingredients into life sustaining works of art for the people she loved.

But now? I am merely a sweaty, red-faced short order cook, taking the same orders in a gruff manner day after day and barking out names of dishes for my husband to whisk away to our unhappy regulars.

It’s exhausting. 

Perhaps that’s why it all came to a head a few nights ago. Maybe that’s why after enduring meal after meal greeted with that same look of disgust and disappointment on their faces, I lost it. Or possibly those selfish little picky weasels had it coming. 

Whatever it was, I snapped. Over an hour making dinner from scratch, all of which was greeted with groans and anger. ANGER. They didn’t just not like my food, they were angry I would even present it to them. 

So I did the scariest thing a mom on the edge could do. I swallowed my own rage and looked coolly at them. Then, in my calmest voice, I said…

“Fine.”

And their dinner went into the trash can. 

Dramatic, sure. But not if you view it in context. That context being my first instinct was to throw open the window and hurl the plates even more dramatically through it. 

Oh, you should have heard it. The howling, the wailing. How could I do that?! What will we eat now!? We were going to eat it, we swear! Can you make us something else?

To which I answered, easy, nothing, don’t care, nope. 

Now, I’m not naive enough to think that this little episode will change much of anything. But when it comes down to it, that’s not the point. The point is it felt really, really good and I’m smiling even now as I type this and remember the look of horror on their little faces. 

And now I can go back into the kitchen with a bit more serenity, a bit more of the old me who loved cooking. Because should they keep complaining, I still have my “dramatically throws food out the window” bit. Then, after that the roof. Eventually I could hire a crane and drop the plates from there. 

The possibilities are endless, really.