Category Archives: Writing

Excuse me, is this thing on?

Q: What has a twitchy eye, a whiskey in each hand and a brain that is slowly melting?

A: A mother who is stuck in quarantine with little kids who just discovered jokes. 

Want to hear another one?

Q: What do you call a Memaw who sends her grandchildren a book called “200 Silly Jokes for Kids”?

A: Estranged. 

Perhaps you think I’m being too dramatic. Well, let me ask you this. Why are teddy bears never hungry? Because they’re always stuffed. 

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Prior to now, my children thought the entirety of humor was centered around physical comedy and its subgenre of curse word outbursts. Fall down after getting hit in the privates and scream something with four letters and my kids would worship you as a comedy god. But now they know jokes exist. They know jokes exist and they are the best thing on the planet and they must know all of them immediately. 

If you’re wondering if children’s jokes have changed since you were a child, I can assure you they have not. I happen to be an expert in this field. I just heard 200 of them. 

Why do fish live in salt water? Because pepper makes them sneeze.

What do you call cheese that isn’t yours? Nacho cheese. 

Why did the rabbit go to the barber? He needed a hare-cut. 

Then we got to the Knock Knock chapter. 

“Knock knock…”

*blank stares*

“Knock knock…now you say ‘who’s there?’” 

“Who’s there!?”

“Boo.”

*hysterical giggles*

“No, now you say ‘boo who’.”

“Boo who?”

“Why are you crying?”

“We’re not.”

I tried to tell another one only to have my daughter inform me very seriously that she already answered the door. 

Then we came to the inevitable part where they stopped asking me to read them jokes from the book and instead wanted to tell me their own jokes. They say it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at something. Imagine how painful it is to be there for hour one. Luckily their act came at dinnertime and included half a large pizza minimum. 

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“Hey, mom! Why did the rainbow not have blue?” my 6-year-old son excitedly asked. “Because it was too tired to make blue!”  

That was his best one. And I only consider it his best one because I’m hoping he was making a profound statement on depression that went over my head. 

At least my 3-year-old already has a distinct comedic style, which is impressive considering her age. 

“Why did the cat fart on the unicorn? Because she had to poop!”

“Why did the chicken go on the road? Because he’s a poopoo peepee head!”

“Why did the poopie poop on the diarrhea pee? Because farts!”

Perhaps I’m being too hard on them. Humor is my terrain afterall. I should be more understanding of how hard it is to master. Not to mention its appeal, especially in hard times. The reason I myself became a humor writer is because I was having panic attacks at age 12 and the only thing that could calm me down was reading Dave Barry’s column. I couldn’t breathe, the world was ending, but oh, look, boogers and an exploding whale carcass! It was how I learned that if you can laugh, the world becomes a little less scary. If you can poke fun at something, it loses some of its power. 

These kids haven’t seen a playground in months. They haven’t been able to hug friends or family. There’s no school, no vacations, no spontaneous “let’s get some ice cream!” Just a scary illness and a world that has forever changed before they even really got a chance to know it. 

So, I will laugh heartily to as many poop punchlines as they need. No matter how many whiskeys and large pizzas it takes on my end. Because if laughter is the best medicine, then we need all the jokes we can get right now. 

Which is why I asked my kids if they each wanted to give me a joke to end this particular column of mine.

“What do you mumble mumble giggle poop mumble? A chicken with a lamp on an egg!” –Mae, age 3

“What is a walkie-talkie with no one talking to you? There’s peanut butter in it!” –Riker, age 6

I wish you could see how hard they’re laughing right now. 

 

St. Momma’s Academy for Wayward Children

Greetings and salutations new students! I am pleased to welcome you as the inaugural class of St. Momma’s Academy For Wayward Children. I’m looking forward to a most maddening semester with all of your beautiful, perfect faces.  

Just a few details and tidbits to go over before I hand out the MAE, I SAID STOP LICKING YOUR BROTHER syllabus. Firstly, we have a unique schedule here at the academy. Classes start promptly at Whenever Momma Has The Energy and ends exactly at Momma Is About To Use The Big Curse Words. 

Breakfast, lunch and dinner will all be served whenever I get around to it and the menu will always be macaroni and cheese because I have given up already and so help me if you keep rolling your eyes at me, Riker, I will make you write a 1,000 word essay on how pretty I am. Now, at St. Momma’s Academy, you are allowed to go to the bathroom whenever you need, however, this does include the caveat that you cannot go at exactly the same time as Momma. 

Alright, well, once I pass out these syllabuses (syllabi?) I feel we have put in a good day’s work for today already and I’ll see you all tomorrow. Now take this packet and go away. Farther. No, farther. FARTHER. 

Music 

Introduction to the Quiet Game

This semester we will explore why silence is sometimes just as important as musical instruments. 

Art 

Stick Figure Technique and Design

I can only teach what I know, tiny scholars. 

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Science

ARE WE ALL GOING TO DIE!?: An Exploration of Modern Pandemics

This course will explain all the scary things you are hearing on the news and will mostly consist of reassurances that mommy and daddy and your grandparents and everyone you know and love will most likely not die any time soon. 

Math 

Fantastic Fractions

We’re just making a crap ton of cookies and I’ll let you guys hold the measuring cups and hope you learn fractions via osmosis. 

Physical Education

The FUNdamentals of Squirrel Chasing

First kid to catch one wins $20 and a cookie. GO! 

Reading

Accio Phonics!

We will be reading all the Harry Potter books together. No! Stop whining. I said, WE WILL BE READING ALL THE HARRY POTTER BOOKS TOGETHER. 

Home Economics

Advanced Beverage Science

The morning class will focus on how to operate the coffee maker while the afternoon class will learn basic cocktail recipes. Lab work will be evaluated daily. 

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Writing Economics

Exposure Don’t Pay The Bills

This intensive course will explore why Momma makes little to no money as a writer. Extra credit given to any student who offers hugs when the professor inevitably breaks down in tears of rage. 

History 

The ‘90’s Were A Hell Of A Time, Kids. 

We’re just going to look through Momma’s old photo albums while I drink whiskey and you guys drink apple juice in fancy glasses. 

Media Studies

History of 1980’s Cinema

This mandatory elective will be M-F afternoons until possibly bedtime. Homework assignments include multiple viewings of “The Goonies,” “The Princess Bride,” “Labyrinth,” “The Dark Crystal” and “Willow,” among others. Any complaining results in automatic failure.  

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Quarantine Letters from the Home Front

March 12, 2020

My Dearest Husband, 

It feels like yesterday I held you in my arms, only for us to be ripped apart by this cursed virus that is sweeping across the country. What I wouldn’t give to see your face again. Alas, I know you must do your duty, though it is a most difficult one, and figure out how to turn our diminutive bedroom into a viable home office. 

Though only a door separates us, it may as well be an ocean. For you are a world away, valiantly battling the Zoom app with its broken video link and internally struggling with the weighty decision of whether you care if your boss sees you in your pajamas, whilst I stay on this side, taking care of hearth and home in my yoga pants. We are walking an unknown road together yet apart, my love. But never doubt where my heart lies. 

The children send you their deepest affection and this drawing of a pirate ninja unicorn. 

With All My Love, 

Your Devoted Wife

 

March 13, 2020

My Darling Husband, 

I thought perhaps I saw a glimpse of your unshaven face shuffling around in your robe early this morn and my heart leapt at the sight of it. But by the time I called out, this specter had already refilled his coffee mug and disappeared back into the murky depths of the bedroom. Oh, my beloved, when will the world return to normal? I fear we will not come out of this as the same people we once were. 

To distract myself, I am helping our eldest learn to read. His teacher has been most accommodating, sending numerous worksheets to be printed out at home and link after link after link of educational things we ought to be doing. I admit it is most overwhelming but I find courage within myself by imagining how burdensome it is for families across this nation of ours and knowing I must do my part as well. 

Eternally Yours,

Your Faithful Bride

 

March 16, 2020

Dearest Love, 

I am trying, somewhat in vain, to remember how hard all this must be on our children. The world has gone mad and if their mother cannot make much sense of it, what chance have their young minds?

Yet, I still do not feel that is a reasonable excuse to steal all my lipsticks and paint the dog in various vibrant and long-lasting hues. Oh yes, that is indeed what your children just did. The little one also blew a raspberry in my face when I divulged to her that there would be no cookies for breakfast. 

Well, as you can imagine, it took everything I had to spare any and all rods. But as it says in the scriptures, children are a gift and a reward. Although if I do recall correctly, Jesus never had any children of his own and God stopped after one. 

I feel my delicate constitution cannot take much more of this, dearest. Which is why I drank all your beer. 

Love,

Your Temporarily Jovial Spouse

 

March 17, 2020

Dear Husband, 

As I write this, it is late morning. A dreary, rainy morning sure to turn into a dreary, rainy afternoon. Already the children have broken a chair and the hound has vomited on the rug before deciding to poop in the only room that has carpet. ‘Tis not quite the auspicious day I was hoping it would be. 

But I strive to take heart in the small things, such as it being the Day of Saint Patrick. I felt it only appropriate to participate in the festivities, if but alone. And early. 

Relatedly, we are out of wine. Also the vodka from the freezer is gone. 

P.S. Did you eat my leftovers? They were clearly labeled with my name, darling. If you wanted eggrolls, you should have ordered some for yourself when I asked what you wanted from Golden Dragon yesterday. 

Signed,

Your Hangry Wife

 

March 18, 2020

Husband,

Supplies are low and morale is flagging. I had to squash a coup d’etat when word got out that there were no more fish sticks. I know it is a fraught journey to the grocery store in these awful and uncertain times but seeing as how I am hungover (you know my delicate constitution) I feel it is essential that you go. 

I will miss you, oh husband of mine, as you embark on this treacherous voyage. But how lucky am I to have such a considerate partner who leaves behind dirty socks all over the house as a constant reminder of his presence in our life during these troublesome days. 

Regards,

Wife

 

March 20, 2020

To Whom It May Concern,

I’m going for a walk. I threw an entire box of Cheerios on the floor so the urchins should be occupied for awhile. I am uncertain of when I shall return. 

P.S. The children set the kitchen on fire.

 

My very particular set of skills is finally needed

Being a stay-at-home parent is an underappreciated job. Luckily, it’s also a job which results in a lot of expertise that has very little value outside your immediate family and involves absolutely no social standing.

Which is fine. We don’t do it for the glory. We do it because childcare costs in this country are ridiculous and out of control. (And, like, for love or whatever). 

All of which is to say that society places little worth on the ability to spend all your time with your family without murdering them, not even once. 

And then came the coronavirus. In times of great uncertainty, in times of dire need, leaders can emerge from the most unlikeliest of places. Which is why, as this pandemic is sweeping across the country and everything is closing and everyone is realizing they will be forced to spend all their time in very close proximity to their own families, with no escape, nowhere to run, me and my fellow brethren are finding that our skills are finally in demand.

Fellow caregivers! It’s our time to shine, baby! *ties hair up in messy bun and straightens sweatpants*

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Alright, now one of the most important things to remember is don’t panic. They’re just your family. You will survive this. Probably. I’ll be honest, I don’t know your family. But I’ve been stuck at home with mine for six years now and other than an extremely bloated wine budget and premature aging, I’m only mildly psychologically damaged. 

First things first though, what are you doing? Putting on real pants? Aw, that’s cute. I mean, if it makes you feel good go on ahead but, honestly, you’re probably going to regret it. Real pants just remind you that there is a real world out there, a real world that you are no longer a part of. You need something with stretch, with elastic; something that won’t judge you when you are stress-eating leftover chicken wings above the sink. 

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Of course, one of the biggest adjustments you’ll have to make is that within these walls during the day, time will cease to have meaning. Mornings will fly and the afternoon will be frozen. Minutes can feel like hours and hours can feel like regretting the decision to ever have children in the first place. For example, it should be mathematically impossible to watch “Frozen II” 43 times in one day and yet there it is, still playing in the background, for the 44th time. 

At least now with all this extra time we can sit down to a nice, big, family breakfast, I hear you thinking. But nope. You’ll try, of course. At first. But your eggs taste like poopy butt and you did the hashbrowns wrong (there’s brown on them!) and she just wants CHEERIOS and he wants butter with a side of bagel. NO! UNTOASTED! NOW IT’S RUINED!   

Time to start your workday. When I’m not getting yelled at for my poopy butt eggs, I moonlight as a writer so allow me to share what I’ve learned about working from home with children. Prepare for your productivity to go down immensely. Possibly to zero. Even if you have a home office with a door. Doors don’t stop children. Nothing stops them. Also, children can sense when you need to concentrate and/or are on an important call. This is when the little one will crawl on your laptop like a cat and the older one will burst in naked and fart on you while giggling manically. 

Hey, remember back in your former life when you had the autonomy to go to the bathroom whenever you needed to? Yeah, that’s gone. Even if you ask every single person in that household if they have to go to the bathroom before you go in there, and everyone says “no,” someone will still bang on the door within eleven seconds demanding to be let in because IT’S AN EMERGENCY and THEY DIDN’T HAVE TO GO THEN. 

If you want a snack, you either get real good at slipping in and out of the kitchen unseen or you make snacks for everyone. 

Sound? What sound? Oh, that? That’s just the 3 p.m. sibling screaming match. Right on schedule. Now, wait for it…hang on…in just a moment…yup, the elderly dog’s fevered barking in response. There’s an encore of this performance at 4 as well. And 5:15. Sometimes 7. 

Oh, don’t look so disheartened. Look, you will want to kill them at some point. Likely multiple points. This is totally normal. I mean, don’t. Kill them and whatnot. It will reflect very poorly on your parenting. But it’s completely valid to feel like you want to.

Here you go. You’ve earned this. I call it a martini but it’s just straight vodka in a martini glass.

And just think, only five more hours until bedtime. 

Tissue? 

 

I’m losing (not that I’m keeping score or anything)

Considering my ten year wedding anniversary is coming up, I felt I should probably write something about it. Because LOVE! And BIG DEAL! and stuff. So I spent two hours staring at a blank page while deftly avoiding destroying my keyboard with Cheetos finger dust. 

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I need inspiration, I eventually says to myself. TO THE GOOGLE. And as usual, it did not disappoint. So many women with very white teeth and very tall boots are just bursting at the seams to tell you all the secrets to their happy marriage. With their blogs featuring pithy titles such as “10 Lessons I’ve Learned in 10 Years in Marriage” and “What Marriage is Like After 10 Years” and “How We Keep the Romance Alive After 10 Years of Marriage.” 

You guys ever read a marriage anniversary blog? If not, allow me to sum up ALL OF THEM. 

“I married Jeff (or Jason or Jaysen or Jaxon) on a beautiful beach in some exotic locale that you probably can’t afford. And wow. What a journey it’s been. We didn’t know a lot back then but we knew we loved each other. 

Make NO mistake, however. It takes work. With his demanding but highly successful career and my vanilla writing that is somehow pulling in six figures and with raising our three extremely symmetrical children, our marriage is far from perfect. I mean, I once almost FARTED in front of my husband! Can you imagine? 

No, we aren’t perfect. But we are perfect for each other. We’ve been through so much together, from middle class status to upper middle class status to that time I got bangs. Oof. Through it all, though, we’ve grown closer. Everyone told me when I got married that it would be hard but I love my spouse now more than I did 10 years ago.”

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The one thing, however, that all these anniversary blogs agree on (once you get past all the shiny hair photos) is that to make a marriage work you cannot keep score. If you do, the score will never be even and there will never be any winners. Only resentful losers. 

It’s one of the few things I actually agree with them on too. Because I’ve been keeping score since Day One and it turns out I’m the resentful loser. 

Yeah, I’m LOSING. He is decidedly the better partner. Because I married a handsome overachieving jackass.  

My 10 year anniversary gift from him? Three days alone in an adorable cabin in the woods far away from our family. If you’ve ever had small children (or been within three feet of small children) you’ll understand what a tremendous and thoughtful gift this is.

I made him a coupon book featuring drawings of stick figures doing naughty things.  

You know what this guy did after Christmas? Cleaned and organized our gross, messy attic. A task I had been meaning to do for half a decade. A task that I had been dreading. A task that was taking up valuable mental real estate in my head. And then…poof! Done. Marked off the list without me having to even ask. 

Meanwhile, I once saw a spider in the house and very intrepidly killed it via drowning it in a gallon of bug spray. Did I mention this was on my husband’s desk? And then when he got home after a long day of work, I immediately yelled at him from atop the dining room table “There is a drowned spider corpse on your desk and I need you to get rid of the body and clean up the crime scene!…oh no, sweetie, you’re going to need way more towels!” 

He supports my dreams. Even the dumb ones. And I don’t mean in the “yeah, I totally support that, babe!” and then immediately goes back to scrolling on their phone way. That’s my method of support. I mean he gives me the time and space to pursue them. 

He’s the better gift giver. He’s the better baker. He’s the better nurse. He’s the better cleaner (like, he mops…what?).

He’s the less dramatic one. He’s the one with no history of gaslighting. He’s the one who has never made me feel guilty for being human. (And I am deeply, deeply human). 

He’s just better at…marriage. 

So, to sum up, I got a caring, hard working, supportive partner and he got someone who growls if you try to take the remote away from her. 

But at least I’m better at one thing. I am by far the smarter one. I knew enough to not marry a loser. 

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The best mom in the galaxy

My eyes pop open like blinds that have been pulled too hard. I heard one of the kids cry, I’m certain of it. I strain my ears over the snoring duet of the dog and the husband. Nothing. Whoever it was must have fallen back asleep. 

As I lay in bed, wide awake since parental panic is the most effective alarm clock on the market, I think about the day to come. It’s going to be a good day, I tell myself. Because today I’m going to be a good mom. A great mom. The best mom in the world.  

Mary. Friggin.’ Poppins. 

(wavy fantasy lines, wavy fantasy lines, wavy fantasy lines)

Today I will get up, refreshed, and gently wake my children, both of them sleepily smiling at me as I sing “good morning!” to them. We will do our morning routine like an adorable montage from a romantic comedy, complete with a fashion show by my 5-year-old as he gets ready. As we walk to school, we’ll joke and laugh and enjoy the late autumn weather. 

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Then the 3-year-old and I will head to the library for storytime and after I will surprise her with a trip to her favorite pizza place for lunch, where we make up silly songs and she tells me about her favorite animals. She then takes a nap and I’m able to actually write my newspaper column by deadline. 

We pick up her brother and I let them play on the playground while I successfully have a 20 minute! conversation with another adult. We head home for a snack and an impromptu dance party (all of us, of course, agreeing on the music we listen to). 

Then they help me make dinner, the two of them adorably drowning in aprons. Daddy comes home and we all sit down at the table, talking about our day and discussing our highs and lows. 

As the day winds down, we read five books and they obediently clean their rooms and brush their teeth. As I tuck them into bed, my son looks at me and says “you’re the best mom in the world.” And my daughter says “no, she’s the best mom in the galaxy.”

And I walk away with a huge smile, telling myself just how lucky I am that I get to do this every day.

(wavy fantasy lines, wavy fantasy lines, wavy fantasy lines)

In reality I groan as I get out of bed (because that just happens involuntarily now) and I make coffee, menacingly standing over the coffeemaker, threatening it to hurry up or else. The kids procrastinate getting ready until the last minute despite me reminding them every five minutes that we are leaving soon. He calls me stupid and mean for making him brush his teeth and she throws a tantrum because she can’t find her favorite kitty cat stuffie (you’d think the fact I found eight other kitty cat stuffies she can take would help but no, no it doesn’t). Finally I explode.

“If you guys aren’t ready to go and by the door in the next 30 seconds, I will set all your toys on fire, so help me,” I loudly growl, my inner Darth Vader holding my inner Julie Andrews hostage in a chokehold. 

The entire walk to school they complain. It’s too cold. They’re so tired. Carry me, Momma!

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A little while later, me and the toddler are leaving the library in disgrace because she started screaming at the top of her lungs for some reason that she refuses to divulge. Trying to turn the day around, I take her to her favorite pizza place, where she runs around the entire place singing songs about poop. She then refuses to take a nap, even though she needs one, and refuses to get off my lap, leaving me to try to type 800 words of my newspaper column one-handed. 

Later we pick up her brother and the three of us end up leaving the playground in disgrace, one of them tucked under my arm like luggage and the other being dragged behind me by the hood of his coat, all of us raving at each other like lunatics. 

As soon as we get home, they both immediately ask to watch TV. When I say no, they both end up in the corner because we do not hit mommy no matter how mad we are. I tell them to go play in their rooms, which lasts for almost 10 minutes before I have to pull them apart because they’re fighting like feral weasels. Let’s read a book! I suggest, hoping to distract them. They then end up back in the corner for beating each other up again because they can’t agree on which book we should read. 

They then make a giant mess in the kitchen under the guise of “helping me cook” and I age ten years in ten minutes trying to bite my tongue so I don’t scream out of frustration. I get a text that Daddy is running late again. 

The three of us sit down to dinner, which is gross and smells like vomit apparently. Before I even manage to take my first bite, I have to yell at them to sit down in their chairs and stop sniffing each other’s butts. 

Bedtime is an hour of complaining (on their part) and threats about setting everything on fire again (on my part). 

And as I sigh and tuck them into bed, exhausted, my son looks at me and says “you’re the best mom in the world.” And my daughter says “no, she’s the best mom in the galaxy.”

And I walk away with a huge smile, telling myself just how lucky I am that I get to do this every day.

 

When you just need a quick recipe…

Well, hello there! Welcome to my food blog! I see you’re looking up a quick recipe to make for dinner tonight. You’ve definitely come to the right place. This truly is one of my favorites to make and it’s so easy and simple you’ll be shocked when it also tastes like it came from a fancy five-star restaurant! And, trust me, your whole family will love it! Yes! Truly! Did I already use truly earlier? Doesn’t matter, because it’s true. Even though your kids haven’t eaten anything other than plain pasta and french fries for the last eight months, they are sure to ask for seconds (or maybe even thirds!) of this simple, easy recipe that is truly SO tasty and uses all fresh ingredients including a couple you’ve literally never even heard of.

As you can see from the much too large photo and bio over there on the side of this website, I am a busy mom JUST LIKE YOU. A busy mom with perfect hair casually holding a glass of white wine and wearing a sweater you can definitely not afford. So, trust me, I get it. Dinner time is always hectic in our house too. So, I know how valuable your time is. So, let’s get right to it, shall we?

I first started cooking when I was seven-years-old. And one of my favorite things to make in my grandmother’s kitchen was this very recipe. Truly! Oh wait, sorry, here comes the first of the pop ads. Followed immediately by the second one. Just hit the tiny little box with the x in it but be careful not to accidentally click on the ad itself…

Hey! Welcome back! Truly, I know how annoying those ads can be but a girl has to make an income somehow, you know? Otherwise I couldn’t afford a nanny to watch little Naiviann, Mckarty and Lakynn so I have the time to write a 12,000 word introduction for every single recipe on this site. 

Now, as I was saying, this recipe is a real crowd-pleaser and uses ingredients that are probably already in your pantry. Just some chicken and organic heirloom tomatoes and spigarello and a ripe kabocha and fresh thyme grown in the manure of a free range alpaca named Larry. Of course, you can always substitute the fresh goat crema for evaporated milk. I mean, I’m not a monster. I once was upper middle class before I became wealthy so I get the struggle. 

Oh, hang on, here comes the pop up video that you can’t find the X-out button to. It’s only 3 minutes and 52 seconds long so just watch it as your rage slowly starts to build. 

Alright, onto the recipe because the kids are getting hungry while you’ve wasted 45 minutes frantically scrolling in an increasingly desperate attempt to find the recipe on this recipe blog site. But, trust me, the wait will be worth it. No joke, over 12 people have sent me messages telling me this was the BEST recipe they had ever tried. Which is why I’m so excited for you to try it! Feel free to sign up for my newsletter for more amazing recipes just like this one that you haven’t even seen yet. Here are also some links you never asked for of my other family-friendly recipes like an herb-encrusted salmon with a white wine sauce and my garlic-infused roasted parmesan asparagus casserole. 

Now you want to make sure that when you are sauteing the vegetables in this recipe that you use sunflower oil and not vegetable oil. I know this tip should be included with the actual recipe but when it comes to cooking, at least in my experience, it’s always better to list the tips and tricks to the recipe way before you get to the actual recipe so that you have to scroll back up when you are in the middle of actually making it. 

Oh look, another ad! For something you didn’t even Google. You just thought about it briefly last week. Creepy, huh? Oh, and bummer. Now your screen is frozen. Don’t worry. I’ll wait. I clearly have all the time in the world even though I am, as I mentioned, a very busy mom. JUST LIKE YOU. Truly!

Hey! It finally unfroze. Welcome back again! Alright, now that your battery is below five percent, here is the recipe. And you better get started. The total time is 3 hours and 45 minutes. 

 

What’s in a name?

People often spell my name wrong. This is usually through no fault of their own but rather because of an impulsive decision I made as a young girl. One of those passionate and spontaneous moments of childhood that only happen in childhood because sometimes when you’re nine you know yourself better than when you’re on the cusp of 39. 

For those of you who don’t know, or never noticed, I spell my name with two L’s. I changed it in the third grade because every parent in the early 80’s in western Ohio thought April was just a super terrific name and, as a result, there were what felt like hundreds of us in my small elementary school. Technically at least seven. Most importantly, three alone just in my class. Tired of being April B., I decided to set fire to the old me and emerge from the ashes as Aprill. 

Aprill! Yes! Because Aprill is so much more exotic than plain old boring April. April was a month. Aprill was a force of nature. Aprill could do anything. Wear her jeans pegged! Rollerblade without a helmet! Know all the lyrics to a Tupac song! (And not the radio edit version!) With a name like that I was destined for big things. Like becoming the first supermodel doctor archaeologist who wrote novels on the weekend. 

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Granted, not everyone was on board with this change. My teacher repeatedly marked my grade down on all my spelling tests because I spelled my name “wrong.” Nevertheless, I persisted. Unfortunately so did she, which is why I got a C in spelling that year, but I think I made my point. 

Because eventually everyone did forget that April B. ever existed. Soon I was known as Aprill, that girl who puked on the playground that one time! (It was hotdog day. It wasn’t pretty). 

And thus things remained until last week when I went to Starbucks, where I discovered I hadn’t been nearly ambitious enough with my name change all those years ago. Because right there, on my cup, staring back at me in black and white, was the most beautifully unnecessary way yet to spell my name. 

“Aperal”

APERAL. I mean. What? 

I’ll admit I laughed at first. Even shared it on social media to get some laughs and also show everyone that I am a very important writer who writes very writerly-like at Starbucks with all the other important writerly writers of our generation. 

But, and I’m not proud of this, but it got me thinking. What if that was my name? What if I was Aperal? And if I was, who was this Aperal? 

I mean, sure, Aperal looks like a cross between the name of prescription drug with horrible side effects and a fancy drink women in their mid-40’s order at two in the afternoon. But you have to admit it’s memorable. 

I’ll tell you one thing, Aperal is probably not the kind of person who only wins arguments in the shower. Oh no, Aperal would win them right then and there and while completely dry.  

When someone asks Aperal what she does for a living, she wouldn’t go “oh, I’m kind of a writer.” Oh no. She’d say “I’m an award-winning columnist.” And then she’d probably do something really cool like chug an entire martini and throw the glass into the fireplace (because Aperal is the kind of person who is always casually hanging out by fireplaces). 

And Aperal would definitely have the nerve to get a pixie haircut and dye it platinum blonde like Aprill has been wanting to do for years.  

Aperal probably doesn’t have insomnia either. Nope. You’d never catch her slowly eating an entire block of cheese dipped in guacamole by the glow of the refrigerator light because she hasn’t got a good night’s sleep in three weeks and nothing matters anymore. 

Aperal can probably get into her sports bra without pulling a muscle and knocking over a lamp. 

Aperal could send a text without agonizing over its content until she got a reply. 

I bet Aperal even knows how to French braid. Like some kind of hair wizard. 

And when Aperal’s kids misbehave in public, Aperal would get them in line by turning into a stern but lovable Mary Poppins as the entire playground looked on in awe, as opposed to growling at them and whipping out her Darth Vader voice, terrifying everyone within hearing distance.

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Sigh. It does sound nice. Completely reinventing myself again. To become that better version of myself that is hiding underneath all the ketchup stains and undereye bags. 

In the end though, Aprill, for all her faults and pretentiously referring to herself in the third person, isn’t that bad. And Aperal, for as amazing as she sounds, wasn’t the one who built this life from the ground up. A life full of mistakes but one I’m happy to call my own. 

Besides, wasn’t it someone famous (Aperal would probably know) who said “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”?

So, I think I’ll stick with remaining Aprill for now. 

But I’m keeping Aperal in my back pocket. Just in case I’m ever casually hanging out by a fireplace. 

 

Comic books didn’t prepare me for this

I’ll be honest. I never gave much thought to my lap. Which is sad really, considering it is the most powerful part of my body. 

Oh yes, that squishy fleshy chair I can make appear and disappear at will is literally the seat of my power. (Pun COMPLETELY intended). 

I don’t mean this from a muscular standpoint. Or politically. Or even aesthetically. No. I mean from a supernatural perspective. The second I even attempt to sit and form this lap, it mystically summons, from far and wide, small children.

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Small, bony, wiggly children. With their weaponized elbows and butts and knees. Who then must sit on my lap immediately and are willing to fight each other to the death for the privilege. (A fight to the death that happens, you guessed it, right there on my lap).

It doesn’t matter what I’m doing while in possession of this lap. Eating? Clearly the appearance of my lap at the dining room table meant I wanted to eat this taco while maneuvering around a toddler’s head. Working on my laptop? Obviously by sitting I was inviting my kindergartner to hop on up and “help” by maniacally pushing buttons and erasing everything I’ve written. Disabling a bomb? Pffft. Whoever heard of someone doing that WITHOUT a pile of children on top of them?

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Likewise, environmental factors matter little. A Fourth of July party in 101 degree temperatures with a humidity equivalent of one thousand swamps? Hey mom, seems like a perfect time to sit on you and sprawl out every inch of my 40-pound frame, unfolding like a sticky octopus. 

There is one very important rule, however. Whatever you do while sitting on my lap, the one thing you absolutely MUST NOT DO is sit still. Because that would be ridiculous. 

But it’s not just my lap. This is a latent superpower pretty much all moms discover they have, which is why you rarely see a mom sitting. We know that as soon as we do, our laps will be swarming with children. Most likely our own but it’s far from unusual to find someone else’s kid squatting there. Like a beacon, it calls to them. 

Small child No. 1: “Do you feel that? A mom in the close vicinity is getting ready to sit and relax.”

Small child No. 2: “Oh no, that won’t do at all. We can’t allow her to enjoy herself. Let’s go!”

*pitter-patter-pitter-patter-pitter-patter*

See, that’s the thing about laps. It’d be one thing if this was all based on love. If these children just wanted a good cuddle. Who doesn’t love a good cuddle? But that is not what the majority of lap sitting is. No. This is about ownership. Property rights. My kids sit on my lap to stake their claim. “This exhausted worn out husk that was formerly a person is my property!” their bony butt declares every time it plops down. And it’s always a plop. Never a gentle perch. Or even a moderate plonk. Although sometimes, when you least expect it, it’s a flying leap. 

And once they’re on there, very little can pry them off. Property is, after all, nine-tenths of the law. 

“GET OFF!” I’ll roar.

“Wiggle even harder!” they hear.  

“I have to pee!” I’ll plead.

“Let’s move this party into the bathroom!” they assume. 

“Can I just have five minutes to myself?” I’ll ask.

“Fine, fine, clearly what you need is for us to now migrate to your back and put you into a chokehold,” they reason. 

Every once in awhile though, just when I’m reaching my threshold and wondering if woman can live by standing alone, these kids legitimately need a lap. A nightmare scared them. A friend hurt their feelings. A day at the beach exhausted them. 

Or, the best possible reason, their love suddenly grew too big for their little bodies to contain and they had to release it by getting as close to me as humanly possible. 

Which is why we moms put up with all of it. Why we risk the bruises and the plops and the lack of any semblance of personal space. Why a mom’s lap is always open.

Because when words and band-aids and security blankets fail, a mom’s lap can tell them, instantly and in no uncertain terms, that they are loved. And they always will be. And it’s all going to be ok. 

And in the end, that’s a pretty amazing superpower to have. 

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A Review of my Son’s Imaginary Restaurant

It’s a tired old trope and yet still remains a true one. When it comes to so many ventures, it’s all about location, location, location. 

Which is the one thing my 5-year-old son’s recently opened restaurant has going for it. Situated conveniently right in the heart of my living room, this one-couch eatery specializes in unique dishes that are as creative as they are inedible. 

Aptly, or perhaps ironically, named Restaurant, the place has what can only be described as a homey vibe with a shabby chic aesthetic, heavy on the shabby. On entry, you are greeted by a riot of colors and smells, none of which are food related. The cleanliness also left something to be desired for this particular reviewer but the other patron, an elderly canine named Buffy, didn’t seem to mind. 

The owner and head chef (and host and server) Riker revealed to me that he had only recently taken an interest in the culinary arts. Prior to opening Restaurant, he had his sights set on becoming a ninja astronaut. Alas, the lack of experience and passion showed. The service alone was, to say the least, wanting. 

“What do you want to drink?” he demanded soon after I sat down. 

“How about a Diet Coke?”

“We don’t have Diet Coke.”

“You don’t have Diet Coke at this imaginary restaurant?”

“Nope.”

“OK, what do you have?”

“Um…coffee or tea.”

“I’ll take coffee.”

“Actually, we don’t have coffee. Do you want tea?”

Deciding to try my luck instead with their wine list, I summoned the sommelier, who happened to be the owner’s younger sister. At only 3-years-old, she was on the younger side of wine experts and it quickly became evident she had only gotten the job because of family connections. 

“Could you recommend a red, miss?”

“Red what?”

“Red wine.”

“Can I have some?”

“No.”

“Can I have pink wine then?”

The conversation quickly went off the rails from there. Resigning myself to the fact that I would just be thirsty throughout this entire meal, I was surprised, and somewhat wary, when the chef eventually presented me with a pink teacup that sang “Twinkle, Twinkle” incessantly. 

“Here’s your coffee.”

“I thought you said you didn’t have coffee. Also, this is empty.”

“OK, it’s root beer.”

Restaurant’s signature dish is pizza. (Although entree options are subject to change with little to no warning). With no menu in sight, I decided that would likely be my best bet. Even bad pizza is still pizza. Or, at least, it had been up until now. 

“I’d like to order a pizza, please,” I informed the chef. 

“Oh yes, pizza. Pizza has sauce and cheese. And crust. And…um…do you want mushrooms on it?”

“No.”

“Well, you have to have mushrooms on it.”

“Pretty sure that’s not how this works.”

“It is.”

“Oh.”

The kitchen, a converted bedroom in the back of the house, came alive with the sounds of clanging toy pots and pans and what definitely better not be my expensive William Sonoma kitchen utensils stolen from a certain drawer. Luckily, I didn’t have time to ruminate on this long since my dish arrived quickly (under two minutes, in fact, by my count). On the down side, it resembled nothing even vaguely pizza-like. The crust looked like a slab of cardboard (mostly because it was cardboard). The sauce looked suspiciously like Play-Doh covered in dog hair but at least it was red. I was informed by the chef that the “cheese” on my pizza was definitely cheese and not a blank piece of paper. And yes, there were mushrooms as well. Plastic mushrooms. Plucked straight from the toy aisle years ago in the Kmart region of the Northeast. 

“Here’s your pizza!” Chef Riker announced while delicately placing the dish down on my crissed-crossed lap.

“Oh…wow.”

“Take a bite!”

Wanting to retain a fragment of my professionalism, I did as I was told.

“Mmm…this is…interesting.”

But the chef had already disappeared, pitter-pattering off to do more important chef stuff one can only assume. Or perhaps to scold the improper behavior of his sommelier, who was at this point crawling around on the floor meowing and yelling “Momma! Look! I’m a kitty cat!” 

Unsure what to do next, I sat there uncomfortably while my fellow patron at Restaurant started barking and making quite the ruckus. Likely because his pizza didn’t turn out as he expected either. 

To my relief, Riker soon returned with a towering stack of Legos.

“I forgot your dessert.” he apologized. “Here you go. It’s ice cream!”

I’m sure it will come as no surprise that the ice cream was as unpalatable as everything else had been. 

“So, what do you think of my restaurant?” Riker asked, standing there with hope in his eyes and a stolen whisk in his hand.

“Best meal I ever had, chef.”