How Not to Plan a Surprise Party

Never plan a surprise party without making sure you've taken your Adderall first. Or do it, and make sure you tweet, Facebook, and instagram the hell out of that bitch because it's all blog post fodder and you know you won't remember any of it otherwise.

The Husband turned 40 last week and I dropped the ball big time on party planning. He picked me up from the airport from my Blogher13 trip the day before his birthday and I didn't realize I was probably going to have to make up for the lack of Big Birthday Gifty-ness with a blowjob or two until long after he fell asleep that night. The I Heart Chicago sweatshirt I got him wasn't getting me off the hook -- not for a milestone birthday. So I figured I'd redeem myself by using my Ninja with ADHD Skills to plan a surprise birthday party for him, instead.

I was going to Make This Happen and it was Going to be Epic. And by Epic, I mean a full menu that eventually got scaled back to pizza, two-liters of pop, bags of chips, and cupcakes from a box. A far cry from our normal paleo plan, but when shit starts to hit the fan, the Kale in Coconut Oil Sauteed with Asapragus is the easiest thing to cut from the list in the name of sanity and reason.

The Husband's parents arrived a few days ago for a 10-day visit and I figured I'd be sneaky and not let them in on the Big Secret until the last minute. There was bound to be conversation bounced around about the party when he wasn't around and Eliana was, I figured, and Eliana is six and her idea of not letting the cat out of the bag is by telling the cat that he's Totally Just Imagining There's a Bag to Begin With. Not very subtle, I'm afraid, which is why she is officially grounded from ever playing poker.

So I continued with my Super Secret Plans with a trusted friend who's husband was going to serve as The Distractor on the party day. The plan was simple:

  •  Choose the party date and time
  •  Invite the guests
  •  Get The Husband out of the house
  •  Alert The Inlaws after the coast is clear
  •  Revel in the glory of success

That was the plan. Here's what actually happened.

Choose Party Date and Time

I scheduled the party for Thursday night and got the word out. Then I learned that I was supposed to have had it Friday because my friend's husband was working until 6 p.m. on Thursday. I figured this out on Wednesday.

Invite the Guests

That happened easy enough. Except now I had to find a new Distraction. Let's ignore the fact that I forgot to invite one family altogether. It's okay. They don't know what the internet is.

Get The Husband Out of the House

My new Distraction became my Father in Law. But instead of getting The Husband out of the house, he got him into the garage to work on the riding mower with the blown engine. Things kinda went to hell in a hand basket pretty fast from here.

Alert the Inlaws When the Coast is Clear

Do I really have to spell this one out? I did manage to slip The Mother-in-law a handwritten note spilling the beans while she watched TV with my kid, but the coast was fucking foggy and clear was a forgotten dream. I thought All Was Saved when the grease-covered guys walked into the kitchen to grab something to eat before heading out to look for new motors, but that was a short-lived little ray of sunshine, my friends.

My phone told me I had a text message as The Husband was reaching for his keys. It was one of his friends telling me he was parking his car at the neighbor's place and heading over. This was obviously a major hiccup. He was three hours early and lives over an hour away, so I said fuck it and told The Husband the text was from the neighbor telling us she had homemade jam for him to pick up, thinking The Husband could laugh at the surprise being blown but still look like a genius for my mad planning skills.

Except The Husband "forgot" and blew past the neighbors place, leaving his friend wondering what the hell was happening. That's when I threw up the white flag of defeat, called The Husband, and told him to get his ass back to the neighbors because the jam was actually his friend and that he had better fucking pretend to be surprised when he got back here to see the party he wasn't supposed to know about in full swing because THAT'S WHAT GOOD HUSBANDS DO.

Revel in the Glory of Success

Funny, right? Because after The Husband and The Father-in-Law picked up the early party guest and headed back out to go to Manly Things, The Mother-in-law went outside to get the party snacks and drinks we had bought and hidden in the back of my truck. Which The Husband had taken without telling me.

I did what anyone would do in that situation: I texted his friend to tell him The Husband needed to come home NOW because he had hijacked my shit.

But gets better.

They guys figured they'd give up on trying to leave the premises again. I called for pizza, which we never get for us because of our gluten free and paleo diet, and sent The Husband and crew off to pick it up about 30 minutes before the guests were to arrive. The Husband texted me just as cars started making their way up our driveway to ask me why the pizza place didn't have my order.

Because I forgot to take my Adderall today and called the store 3 hours away from our house.

This is when I told the laughing Mother-in-law that there's a reason I write non-fiction.

The Husband placed an order for four pizzas and two order of bread-sticks totaling $65 because apparently pizza is quite the commodity up here in northern Maine. He triumphantly returned with the World's Most Expensive cardboard boxes Not Lined in Gold and a merry time was had by all.

That's when I sat back, smug and relaxed, mentally transcribing the day's events for the blog post that just wrote itself.

Life and Other Important Things

This would be the BEFORE picture I got high just one time while in college and that was only after I called The Pre-Husband to make sure he wouldn't hate me in the morning for satisfying my curiosity. He laughed at me and told me I was adorable for asking permission to smoke pot and I was all I'm not asking for permission you chauvinistic asshole. I make my own decisions. I just wanted to make sure you happened to be okay with this one. Totally not the same thing. That's when The Pre-Husband laughed again because, he said, what I just said was pretty much the very definition of asking for permission and that he thought it was sweet I was so concerned about what he thought of me and my partaking of illegal substances.

You still didn't answer my question, I said.

Go ahead, he told me. Just don't drive anywhere.

After he hung up and before I took my first hit, I admit that the thought of calling my mother and running this whole me and this joint thing by her before I fully committed to that evening's activities. And then maybe my best friend. That's right about the time I realized that concern over What Other People Think accounts for entirely too much of the time I devote to contemplating life and Other Important Things (like what I was going to wear tomorrow), and I inhaled. Depending on what your definition of is actually is, anyway.

The moral of this story, kids, is that while Drugs Are Bad Bad Bad and I am Not Condoning or Promoting Illegal Behaviors Because That Would Just Be Irresponsible, I am condoning and promoting freeing ourselves from putting too much stock in Other People's Opinions because that whole thought process just takes too much work.

Take, for instance, a recent instant message from BFF Mel.

Want to get our noses pierced when you come to visit?

HELL YES my instant response. We've been going back and forth on the idea of a teeny little stud for about five years now but have never even gone as far as pricing the procedure or looking up where to go to get it done. Excuses have always been easy to come by and with her work schedule and my constant over-thinking about the riot act my aunts would read me for putting another hole in my head, it only made sense to go for it during our trip back to Detroit. She had a day off and I had finally reached the point of not really giving a shit who might get pissy if I decided to have some fun. So the timing was right.

We landed in Detroit last Tuesday and met up with BFF Mel and her husband, Bob on Friday. After BFF Mel scared herself shitless by looking up YouTube videos on nasal piercings, Bob and The Husband took the initiative, started the car, and dropped us of at Eternal Tattoos. We had an appointment with a woman named Sam.


BFF Mel has to go first or she's going to back out because she's an idiot and YouTube is evil. That's what I said first and then maybe I introduced myself.

Sam nodded. Bff Mel giggled because she does that a lot. And I took pictures while Sam talked BFF Mel out of the clear crystal stud she had come in for and into a light purple that Sam was sure would look fabulous on her. And then it was done and BFF Mel looked fabulous and Sam breathlessly awaited her client's reaction and BFF Mel scrunched up her nose and looked into the mirror and said I dunno...what do you think? It looks bigger and more noticeable than I had imagined.


You look incredible I said. And that purple is perfect I said. And now it's my turn so move so I can sit down I said.

Sam nodded. BFF Mel giggled because she does that a lot. And then she took pictures while Sam talked me out of the clear crystal stud I had come in for and into a pretty blue that Sam was sure would look fabulous on me. And then it was done and BFF Mel said I looked fabulous and Sam breathlessly awaited my response and I scrunched up my nose and looked into the mirror and said I dunno...what do you think?It looks bigger and more noticeable than I had imagined. But yours looks perfect I told BFF Mel.

I think yours looks perfect, she told me. I'm just not so sure about mine.

So I showed her the photos I had taken and pointed out that what she was looking at now was what other people would see.

That looks good, she said, a smile lighting up her whole face. Here, lo0k at these of you.

So I looked and I saw what other people would see when they saw me and that was enough because I only needed to see myself through Other People's Eyes for just a moment to realize I look beautiful when I don't give a shit what other people think.

Yeah, I said smiling. That does look good. And we left with our aftercare sheets, giggling and feeling very badass, indeed.


Why Starbucks Can Thank Me Later

When the doctor starts off your appointment with phrases like "your results" and "very interesting", it's kind of a toss up as to whether or not the next they say has you running for the hills screaming or breathing a sigh of relief because things were way worse in your head. Because they are always worse in your head.

Except for when they say things like allergic to and beef and apples and carrots and shrimp and crab and then your mind goes blank so you don't even hear the rest of the list because you're all THERE'S NOTHING LEFT TO LIVE FOR! Times like that make you realize you don't overreact nearly as much as The Husband likes to pretend you do, mainly because The Husband can sometimes be an asshole.

And last week, this was all me (the overreacting thing. The Husband is still the asshole.)  So when my doctor suggested a very intensive follow up to the first food allergy test just to be sure with things like cocoa beans and coffee and DEAR GOD DON'T TAKE AWAY MY COFFEE...I said yes right away and then made sure to arrive to the next appointment with a trenta (read: only the addicts order their shit this big) iced black Starbuck's coffee in hand. Ya know, just in case. Turns out that this time though, things actually were way worse in my head because somehow I didn't test positive to as many food allergens as I did previously. The doctor isn't sure what the hell happened, and neither am I, but I really don't care because the bottom line is that I can still self-medicate the crazy with a steady stream of coffee and that I'm no longer the freak with the beef and apple allergy.

Instead? I'm the freak with the cabbage and broccoli allergy.

Also on my list of Things that May Make Pauline Explode:







*all Dairy

*all Eggs

*Bakers Yeast

* Wheat






*Whole Wheat

So I've been given the green light to go crazy with the beef jerky again, but things like oats, soy, and corn are staying off of my list of allowable paleo-friendly foods. I've been telling doctors for years that I couldn't explain why but I just felt better when I didn't eat grains and now I know why seeing as the grains I was eating were all trying to kill me.

What I don't know is where this leaves me regarding the possible crazy rare autoimmune Me Being Allergic to my Own Hormone thing because when I cut out the food allergens, the symptoms that could result in a hysterectomy seemed to resolve so quickly that now everyone is wondering how I made it this long without spontaneously combusting just on principal. Now the OB is sending me back to the allergist who is sending me back to the nurse practitioner who is sending me back to the naturopath who is telling me that I may be slightly less fucked up than we all assumed.

Also? This is my 600th blog post. Instead of doing that thing that popular bloggers do with the giving away of Really Awesome Shit, I decided to do something a bit differently in that I instead went with the Unpopular Writer Mama with the Blog and No Prizes theme because I am secure in my unpopularity-ness-ish and right about now would be a REALLY GOOD TIME for Starbuck's to take this post for the free advertising that it is and offer up some gift cards before y'all get all judgy and STARBUCK'S IS SO UNGRATEFUL which we know they aren't seeing as the girl who poured all three of my trenta coffees today was super nice and never once asked me if I had a problem. Because that, my friends, is the kind of customer service that I think we all can appreciate.

Five: In Pictures




And when time for bed came, Wonder Woman looked at her mother, the Queen, and bravely told her that teenagers (like her) don't sleep with their mamas but that I (the Queen) was welcome to come into her room to read her a book and sit on the floor holding her hand until she (my Wonder Woman) fell asleep. And I did and she did and just like that, my baby blossomed into a girl.


Search Term Funnies


Dear People of the Internet,

It seems that many of you end up on my blog when Google is recovering from a late night bender and directs you to a post I wrote that had nothing to do with getting a divorce when you search for enlightenment while pondering if you should, in fact, stay a Mrs. or make a move on the hottie cleaning your pool. I guess that makes me an expert of sorts and you are very probably now telling all of your friends that your ex-husband was the only schmo who never learned that Does This Dress Make Me Look Fat is a hypothetical question that should never be answered truthfully and that Google is now to be thanked for your new found love affair with the pool boy and my blog.

I know. I'm glad I can be here for you, too.




Do Cats Blink?

Um, unless they're dead, I would assume so. Then again, I could be wrong. Obviously, I am not an expert.



Broken Legs or Sprain Ankles of Famous Persons

I'm honored. You might not think I'm famous but Google gets a cookie. Also? I'm slightly disturbed. Judging from the way you phrased this, either you are searching for information on how to break legs because you want to break the legs and/or ankles of famous persons (which means I'm off the hook because I am not because Google totally lied) or you just...never mind. That's the only explanation I can come up with. Just remember that I am not famous.


Google lies.



Naked Fitness Chicks which was closely followed by Frowning Fat Chick

Yes, these came from different IP addresses in different countries, so it was just fate that led the pervert and the asshole to my blog AT THE EXACT SAME TIME. And Google? I can't decide if I want to kiss you or kill you.



Multiple Women Naked Bodies

Yeah...I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that this isn't exactly what you were looking for. Also? Google likes it if you keep things simple. Next time? Just say PORN.


How much for a baby finger monkey/pictures of finger monkeys/Platforms for Monkeys?

And many, many, MANY more variations of search terms in which the words "finger monkey" are included. Write one post about how I need a little monkey named Platform so I can tell publishers that I already have one (with a straight face) when they tell me I need one and the whole world goes insane. There was one point in time that I thought I had turned some invisible corner in my mission to become an Unfamous Writer because crazy amounts of hits and visitors were spiking my numbers higher than I had ever seen them. And I felt pretty special until I realized someone pinned the Platform the Secret Agent Monkey post and everyone clicking over was probably all You Mean This ISN'T a Blog Devoted to Tiny Primates that Cost More to Buy than My First Three Cars Combined? Well then, THAT'S Disappointing. And because I can empathize with the shock to the system that must come when words are where only monkeys were expected, I apologize.



I'll Sleep When I'm Dead

This one's only funny because it's a term I actually use. A lot. And I picked it up from my father who worked two full time jobs for nearly 20 years to support my mother and the five daughters they brought into the world trying to conceive a son. Eventually my mother told my father she was going out for a gallon of milk and returned with her tubes tied and a neutered rescue poodle. He got his boy and my sisters and I got to stop fighting over who got to sleep with the one who still peed the bed because five girls plus two available bedrooms equals very bad math.

Also? He died four years ago and I'm betting this is the longest consecutive number of hours he has ever gone without being shaken from an attempt to sleep. Had he been able to plan ahead, I'm sure the wake would have featured door prizes like T-shirts, fishing caps, and beer koozies boasting the phrase Try Waking Me Up NOW, Fuckers! and even possibly a pillow shaped pinata stuffed with interesting treats like sleeping pills of various strengths. I was at the wake. Trust me...this would have been way more fun.

Also? When I say "I'll sleep when I'm dead," I'm actually doing it to honor my dad's memory.

And to remind myself to make that mental note about placing that bulk order for the T-Shirts...


Zombies and Dead Dads


It's strange how the timing on this one worked out. But the timing could not have been more perfect for me to finally have what has got to be the most bad-ass blog post title ever. Then again, I received pretty high praise from readers on the Love, Assholes, and My Grandpa one, so I guess it's kind of a toss up.

Either way, I've got a zombie to tell you about and a dead father to remember.

There's this poem I wrote years ago. If I remember correctly, it was for a creative writing course in college and the class was silent for just a moment longer than a heartbeat after I finished reading. Zombie is not meant to be a comfortable read or to create images of beauty; rather, it's a very real and very gritty moment that many who have ever suffered from bulimia can (sadly) relate to.

Until very recently, Zombie was in a binder with old papers until I decided to do something more with it. So I transcribed it into a Word Document, hit save, and sent my words off to the editor at Voxx Poetica. My poem appeared on Voxx almost two months ago and I just now realized it had actually been published. Thank you to Voxx for a moment to connect with others who understand and the opportunity to explain the inner-workings of the head of an eating disordered teenager to those who don't.

Because I tend to schedule my blog posts based on the incredibly scientific When I Remember to Do it method, my plan to share my Voxx publication news with you today just now happens to coincide with dead dads, the daughters of all ages who are grieving them, and the woman who is building working to build a community of solace for those who find themselves wondering where to turn. I first met my friend Mary of Mama Mary Show a few years ago at the Phoenix Bloggy Bootcamp conference and got to see her again at Blogher 10 just a few months later. I don't remember how we started talking about it, but we connected when we shared with each other the pain of losing our fathers decades before we had expected to deal with this kind of grief.

Mary's goal was to publish a book and start a new web site on which contributing writers could connect, share, and heal. And I'm honored to be featured as part of the official launch of the Dead Dad's Club.

Every time someone else thinks my words worthy of their space is a day to celebrate. Every day I am brave enough to share again is a day to smile. I survived me. And I'll never delete my my father's phone number from my contact list.

The Bitch and the Lullaby

"Mama, I can't sleep."

"Shhh ... just close your eyes and relax, baby."

"But mama, I tried that already. I caaaaaaaaan't sleeeeeeep."

"Maybe if you try longer than three seconds, it just might happen."

"But Ma..."

"Shhh ... Daddy's already asleep. Want me to sing you a lullaby? Whichever one you want, baby girl."

She finally stops her fidgeting and snuggles closer to me. "You pick, mama."

Without hesitation, I launch into the first bedtime lullaby session in recent memory. She's almost five and while I'm holding on to her wanting to co-sleep for as long as she will let me, she stopped asking me to sing her to sleep a few years ago. I softly sing that she is my sunshine, my only sunshine, as she relaxes even more into my body.

I smile into the dark.



The day didn't start this sweet. Buttercup has been home sick from preschool for over a week now with a low-grade fever, congestion, vomiting, and lots of whining brought on by the horrible Tucson allergy season. Nebulizers and medications and trips to the allergist and waiting in the Walgreens parking lot for more prescriptions have been par for the course lately. So has an attitude that makes me fear the day she realizes she has hormones. The kid hates being sick.

This morning she woke up happy. But somewhere between getting out of bed and sitting down to pee, the stars must have fallen out of alignment because the child shot right passed crabby and hit bitchy in ten seconds flat. Her eyes narrowed and she glared up at me from her perch on the toilet with a look that gave me every confidence in the world she's ready to hold her own on an elementary school playground. Then she announced that she couldn't pee.

"What do you mean, you can't pee? Do you mean you don't have to go yet?"

"No," she spat out. "I have to and I just can't."


"So try harder?"

"I am, Mama! I. Just. CAN'T."

And the stand off began. I had things to do today and lots of shit to attend to before I ran out of time. BFF Heather was going to be coming over later to tag along on another one of my doctor appointments this afternoon while her fiance was set to play dollhouse and watch princess movies with Buttercup. I wanted to make sure I had a bra on before they showed up in four hours.

"Do you hurt in your belly?" I ask.

"No," she grunts back.

"Does your vagina hurt?" I ask.

"No, my bagina does not hurt." She says back, her teeth clenched. "I just can't go."

Satisfied she doesn't need a trip to the pediatrician and this is just the world's most original tantrum, I leave the bathroom and make my way to my shower.

"Fine," I call back as I walk away. "Sit there as long as you want to. I'm not scheduling my day around when you decide to stop being a drama queen."

I'm answered with furious tears and sobbing. Turns out she hadn't expected me to leave. And yet she's still sitting there after I return, dressed, teeth brushed, flossed, hair done, and make-up applied. Kid knows how to dig in her heels, that's for damned sure. So I called her bluff.

"I guess we need to go to a hospital."


"Well, if you can't pee, that's not a good thing for you body. And that means I need to take you in so the doctors can fix you." I pause for effect. "I'll go get my purse and the car keys so we can leave right away."

Her eyes are wide. She's blinking. A lot. The wheels in that head of hers are turning furiously. And just as suddenly as she flipped the switch to bitch, she flips it back to sweet angel as she finally let the iron hold on her bladder go. "Wow, guess what, Mama! I'm cured!"

I gloat inside of my head and rejoice with her as we finally get started with our day.




"Mama, I love you," she whispers. Her head is on my chest now. Her voice thick with the sleep that's about to consume her.

I ask her to please never take my sunshine away, and hug her closer.



Mom vs. Murphy

I woke up this morning like I usually do. Buttercup's arms around my neck, the dogs at my feet, and a vague memory of a good-bye kiss from The Husband before he left for work at 6 a.m. Normally I haul booty to get us both cleaned up and dressed (with the bath and the shower and the hour to decide between two different kinds of cereal) for the day before depositing her in front of the television for about twenty minutes while I answer emails and get my morning twitter fix. Then we grab her back pack and lunch box and make our way to preschool drop off at 11:15. But today, we were lazy. We stayed in bed until about 9 a.m., me on my iPhone and she on her hand-me-down iPod, while I decide if the 11 a.m. work call I accidentally scheduled is going to make it possible to get the girl-child to preschool on time. And because it won't unless I bribe the secretary with Starbucks lattes I don't have to watch Buttercup if I drop her off 20 minutes early, I decide to go with Plan B.

There are two friends I can text with kids at the preschool. Both live close enough to me that it's possible one of them may be able to adjust their morning to stop at my house to pick up my kid on the way. But the first is sick and her kids will be staying home because of it. The second is on her way to a doctor appointment on the other side of town and her husband is handling the morning school drop-off, which is going to be complicated enough without adding my own child into the mix.

It's on to Plan C. I email the teacher and let her know that Buttercup won't be in today because Mommy can't be in two places at once. They know I work from home and this isn't the first time this has happened so hey...might as well take advantage of the opportunity to make a choice like this while I can. Kindergarten, obviously, won't be as flexible.

We bathe, brush and floss, choose comfy stay-home clothes. I watch the time as I serve breakfast, which sounds much fancier than dumping cereal into a bowl because that's what actually happened, and proceed to set up my work station upstairs with my Macbook, phone, and a notebook with a pen I just made sure actually works. With thirty minutes left before my phone is scheduled to ring, I rush back downstairs and explain to Buttercup the importance of Not Interrupting Mommy While She's Working as I set her up with a DVD, a snack to tide her over until lunch, a drink in a sippy cup so I don't have to worry about Mommy I Just Spilled JOOOOOOOOSE being screamed up the stairs while I'm on my call, and let the dogs in and out so they can do their business before I get busy at my desk.

With ten minutes to spare, I kiss the kid, pour myself a cup of coffee, and go back upstairs to play on Facebook and Twitter until my phone rings. With five minutes to spare I double check that the pen still works and then double check that I have the right date and time. I'm ready.

But my phone doesn't ring. I check the date and time again, see that I am correct, and figure a few minutes is no big deal. But when an entire hour has passed, Buttercup's DVD has ended, and her understanding of how much time Mommy Needed To Work has morphed into Mommy Can Play Now Because She isn't Working, I find myself stuffing my phone into my bra to keep it close, getting her lunch ready, going back upstairs to my desk because surely the phone will ring now and MOMMY I JUST SPILLED MY JOOOOOOOOOSE AND THE GLASS BROKE ON THE FLOOR!!!!!!!!!!

Mercifully, the phone does not ring while I am sweeping and saying bad words inside of my head and serving more juice in a sippy cup because Mommy is a jackass and heading back upstairs to write a blog post while waiting to see if the phone will ring at all. It doesn't. So I head into my bathroom and turn on the faucet in the bathtub before pouring an obscene amount of bubbles into the stream. I let it run and bubble and go back to my MacBook to finish the blog post you are reading now before going downstairs to tell Buttercup she gets to swim mommy's giant tub full of bubbles.

"Can I stay in as long as I want?"

"Of course you can," I tell her. "Mommy isn't busy anymore today."

I take her hand and we go upstairs, her content with our lazy afternoon and me knowing that my phone would have rang at 11 a.m. on the fucking dot had I gotten us dressed and tried to get her to school.

Well played, Murphy and your stupid laws. Well played.

Because That Thing Your Kid Just Did Has a Name For It

Write what you know and make sure you write what you know for the audience you have in mind. That, in a nutshell, is the gist of all of the writing advice I've had thrown at me since I decided I wanted to work for peanuts for a living. And Eric Ruhalter is a prime example of how this whole thing works if you, you know, do that. Ruhalter is the author or the newly-released The Kid Dictionary: Hilarious Words to Describe the Indescribable Things Kids Do. Ever find yourself at a loss for words when some little punk blows out the candles at your kid's birthday party? That's what Ruhalter refers to as a "wishjack". Want to bitch and scream when you can't DVR American Idol or The Real Housewives of Plastic Surgery and Impossible Standards County because it's full of kid shows again? Just tell the kids you're tired of being "Spongebogged" feel good about not cursing (for once).

Want to know more? Of course you do. Read on for a short interview with Ruhalter and a chance to win your very own copy of The Kid Dictionary.


AspiringMama:  Gimme name, rank, and serial number.

Eric Ruhalter: Easily amused Man, Father, husband, Writer, Dreamer, Maker-Upper of Words.
I work in New York City at AMC Television, producing TV Promos, which are commercials that air on AMC about the shows and movies on AMC.  It may not earn me a Pulitzer, but I enjoy it, I love the people and rarely if ever does it put me in any physical danger. Nor is it one of those dirty jobs where my wife makes me leave my clothes on the porch every evening.

My wife Kara and I live in Morris Township, NJ and have 3 kids. 13 year old son and 10 year old son/daughter twins, a dog, and two cats. I like to write, edit video, play Frisbee and ping pong and surfing. And I’m really nice.

AM: Good. I don't interview assholes on my blog. So you being really nice is totally convenient for, like, both of us. Before I forget, I have to ask (because I ask this of all my interviewees) do you chew your ice cream? Bonus points if you say yes.

ER:  YES! YES I chew my ice cream!

Except i'm lying. I do not chew my ice cream.  I just wanted to impress you.  I had a very traumatic experience as a child where i thought you had to chew ice cream, and i did so despite the fact that it hurt my teeth. Ultimately i stopped eating ice cream for a large portion of my childhood. (Except for milkshakes, because they were already chewed.) Now Ice cream is one of my greatest taste-oriented pleasures. But i just let it melt in my mouth. That's how i roll.

AM: ok so you're a nice guy who doesn't chew his ice cream who wrote a funny book. Two outta three ain't bad. Tell the lovely people reading this how you came up with terms like "Curdler". Cuz, like, I've totally been there.
ER: I apologize about the ice cream thing. I’d really like to chew it, but I’m just not ready.
More than 90% of the words in The Kid Dictionary were inspired by things I saw with my own eyes, watching my own kids. There were countless scenarios that didn’t have names but needed them. I, the tireless philanthropist, made them up. And I like to think the world’s a better place.  Okay, maybe that’s overstating it, but I’m glad people like the book.
Okay, “CURDLER.” That one came about after repeated episodes of finding old Sippy Cups, usually containing milk that disappeared. Kids in the toddler phase are not much for rinsing out their cups and plates and stacking them neatly in the dishwasher. They’re more likely to throw it under the couch. And eventually you’ll find them, either by chance or by following their stench and they’ll look like there’s a scientific experiment going on in there. A fuzzy, pungent, moldy scientific experiment. I called them “Curdlers” because it seems as though the milk has turned to cheese. And I like cheese, but probably not that kind.
See? Told you the man knows his audience. Cuz? Raise your hand if you've been there.
Now for the fun part.
Sourcebooks, publisher of The Kid Dictionary, has graciously offered a copy for one Aspiring Mama reader. To enter, simply do one of the following (or more for extra entries!)
* Leave a comment for Eric on this blog post.

* Tweet, Facebook, Google +, or include a link to this post on your own blog. Each counts for it’s own entry, so be sure to leave me one comment letting me know what you did so I can add up points!

* Comments will be accepted through midnight, EST, on Wednesday, April 4.

* One winner will be selected via and will be announced here on Aspiring Mama shortly thereafter. And of course, if you don't win, The Kid Dictionary can be purchased at all major booksellers.

Because I suck at follow through

It's true, y'all. I somehow managed to finish an entire manuscript and get started on a few more but The Husband is pissy that basket of folded laundry from three weeks ago is still sitting on the floor in our bedroom. I'm not sure what his problem is. I mean, I managed to remember to get the clothes into the washer, then the dryer, and then out of the dryer before folding them all nice and pretty. I'm all LET'S CELEBRATE THE POSITIVE and he's all I'M POSITIVE IT SHOULDN'T TAKE THREE WEEKS TO PUT A BASKET OF CLOTHES AWAY. And before anyone gets all What an ASSHOLE, let me present a few points. The first is that I knew he was an asshole when I married him. It's totally part of his charm. Trust me on this. Also? He has a J-O-B that keeps him busy and frees me up to try to earn that monkey I'm dreaming of, so we kind of made a deal that I'd take care of the house and kid and he'd, you know, go to that job thing.

My point is that I don't actually remember a time limit set upon each household responsibility so I'm totally in the right on this one.

And while that may be true, that's totally not even why I started writing this post and talking about sucking at follow through (HEY EVERYBODY! THE BLOG POST IS A VISUAL AID IN AND OF ITSELF! FUCKING GENIUS!). I'm here to tell you who won that drawing for The CHICKtionary by Anna Lefler.


Drum roll, please...

Is that a squirrel?

Never mind....

The winner is Beth Bartlett! Send me your address so I can tell my New Best Friend Anna where she gets to ship that signed copy.


Go the F*ck to Sleep

Love it or hate it.

Those seem to be the only camp divisions when it comes to Adam Mansbach's new not really for children children's book, Go the F*ck to Sleep. It's really more of a I Finally Got The Little Bastards into Bed after Promising Them Ponies and Rainbows and Am Seriously Hoping I can Convince Them the Entire Conversation Was Just a Dream Because There is NO F*CKING WAY I am Buying Them a Pony and Amazon Doesn't Have Rainbows Available for Free Shipping and Good F*CKING GAWD I Need a Glass of Wine Right Now kinda nights.

Do I even need to clarify which camp T-shirt I brought home?

My favorite page?

The eagles who soar through the sky are at rest

And the creatures who crawl, run, and creep.

I know you're not thirsty. That's bullsh*t. Stop lying.

Lie the f*ck down, my darling, and sleep.

Why? Because I have BEEN here. And honestly, so has every parent in the world at some point in time. The silently uttered F-bombs are optional, of course, but you've been there, too. In between the hugs and the kisses and But Daddy I'm scared's and Mama I need to potty's, a few How the hell long is it going to take to get this kid to f*cking sleep tonight's start to work their way into the good ole' internal dialogue.

Adam Masbach didn't invent the wheel, people. He just wrote about it first.

Well played, Adam. Well played.

Mamavation Monday: Compatible States of Being


Everyone is allowed to think/talk about themselves as they wish, but seriously, could we stop with the "I'm fat THEREFORE I'm not sexy!" BS? Because I'm fat, and damn fucking skippy I'm sexy. They are not incompatible states of being, thanks very much.

I haven't been on twitter as often as I used to be, so I consider myself lucky to have seen this sassy bit of  'tude come through my stream. It's the perfect reminder for me, anyway, that even though I might be working for a healthier body tomorrow, there is no fucking reason to not embrace what I have today.

Which? Sounds great and would probably look fantastical on a bill board. Or a Zazzle T-shirt. But it's not always a theory I am interested in subscribing to. I was a big tall kid in a family of Mexican midgets short people and confused "big" for "fat" without anyone realizing that I was heading straight for an eating disorder. Now I'm a mom with a daughter who is doing her damnedest to make sure I skip the word "fat" in the children's books I read to her (seriously, Dr. Suess?) and tell strangers she's tall for her age when they comment on how "big" she is.

I also think I deserve to be canonized for not commenting on the size of  a single one of these dimwits or the asses attached to them to see how they like it, but that's besides the point.

Forget the number on the scale. For me, it's about the mental outlook. That's what defines me and my perception of my body.

When I am depressed and feeling sorry for myself because it's so hard to lose weight with PCOS and blah blah blah and just give up? No. I don't feel sexy. Instead, I feel like the 33-year-old version of the 15-year old with her head in the toilet.

But when I am eating right for my body and making the time required for me to exercise? So I can feel good about me no matter how little the scale might move? So I can show my daughter that curvy is pretty and activity is healthy and fun? Yes, even at 200 pounds, you can bet your ass I feel sexy.

Fat, curvy, thick, full-figured or whatever you call can be sexy, too. All it takes is you looking in a mirror and believing it.

Thank you, Arwyn, for the reminder.

Mamavation Monday: This Versus That

@aspiringmama: And? 1 work call, work research, 2 toddler tantrums, and a last nerve in a pear tree...

I wonder how she does it. You know who I'm talking about. That mom. The one with the (work at home/boardroom/restaurant bartender/6 kids and no back up because Her Husband works all day and half the night to support them?) How does she keep it all together? How does she not...lose...her...fucking...mind? Her house might be a bit on the Martha Stewart Does Not Live Here list. Her meals are not always gourmet. And her kids might leave the house in yesterday's clothing sometimes. But she's okay with it. That's the part that gets me. She. Is. Ok. With. Imperfection. And because she embraces the crazy, she has time for herself. And doesn't tell the kids that Mommy Needs Another Minute as often as I do. Forget the dishes in the sink. They can wait. Let's play make believe. Screw the laundry pile on the couch. She has a workout to squeeze in before her (deadline/husband gets home/kids lose interest in the movie she popped in the DVD player to buy herself some peace/roast needs to be pulled out of the oven.) Who cares about the dust on the blinds. The dogs need a walk and She has been meaning to make time to call her Best Friend on Skype so She and The Kids can catch up with Those That Matter on the Other Side of the Universe. That mom doesn't eat, beathe, and live her To-Do List. It's merely a suggestion for what she might want to try to accomplish today. Not the Do or Die that must be accomlished at all costs...including sleep and her sanity. She remembers to set up her bills on auto-pay so She has one less thing to have to try to remember in between Mommy and I wanna... She has learned the fine art of making it look like she understands the concept of that Balance thing. A few minutes on her (writing project/treadmill/call from The Boss) and it's back to Quality Time with the Kids. That mom doesn't have to remind herself that there are roses to stop and smell because she also happens to have her own garden, blooming and beautiful. And somehow, between dinners and bath times and reminders to brush teeth and arguments about which pair of princess pajamas must be worn tonight, between story time and sneaking out after they fall asleep and catching up on her favorite TV show, That Mom has managed to slip into her bed with a cozy book and a nice glass of wine (make mine a double, please). She falls asleep quickly, not worrying about how far behind herself she already is before even waking up the next morning and instead, savoring the moments she made for herself and her family that very day. That Mom would think This Mom is crazy for thinking she has it all together. And she would be partially right. I know she doesn't. I know her life is her own special brand of insanity. I know she wonders how Other Mothers aren't wondering where they left their last nerve because she can't find hers. And Other Mothers are looking at themselves, asking themselves why no one told them the truth about that If You Can Handle a Dog, You Can Handle a Kid bullshit because dogs are easier, assholes. (and houseplants? Are just made of awesome.) All I want to know is, how did That Mom learn to love and live the crazy in order to enjoy the now? How many martinis, Serenity Prayers, and Hail Mary's did it take for her to... Just Be? I won't lie. Every night, when I drag myself to bed 3 hours later than planned because Just One More Thing needed to be done, I wonder... How does she do it?

In which The Husband makes an appearance

I was going to have twitter interview me but I am apparantely not that interesting. So when The Husband came home, I made him do it. I figure it's going to be the highlight of my New Year's festivities, so I may as well make it a real party and hit publish. The Husband: What's for dinner?

Aspiringmama: Dude, NOT what I was talking about when I asked you to ask me a question for my interview. Try again.

The Husband: Oh, ok. I suppose it's supposed to be something about your book?

Aspiringmama: Maybe. Or my sparkling personality.

The Husband: So I can't make this about me? (and seriously, what's for dinner?)

Aspiringmama: Not about you? Oh right, I forget the rest of the world can't see the sun spinning in orbit around you.

The Husband: Dinner, woman...

Aspiringmama: Fuck. You.

The Husband: well, you did put it on your resolution list...

Aspiringmama: NEXT!

The Husband (attempting to sound like a cheesy local TV newscaster): so what's next on your list of things to do in the writing world?

Aspiringmama: (blank stare) Um? Well I was thinking that I should start getting serious about that non-fiction project that's gonna suck up all my free time and leave you searching for a clean pair of undies for your next work shift.

The Husband: And that would be different from...?

Aspiringmama: You are such an asshole. Who let you on my blog?

The Husband: First answer: I know. It's why you love me. Second answer: Dumbass. Next question: Aren't I supposed to be interviewing you?

Aspiringmama: Right. *Sigh* Carry on.

The Husband: So how's it feel to be married to a guy who looks like (insert your favorite actor here.)

Aspiringmama: Ask @Hc_Palmquist and And Juliette. They've seen your face. Which means I may have to kill them.

The Husband: Seriously, give us a hint about the topic of your next non-fiction book.

Aspiringmama: If I did, I'd have to kill you. And that would mean no more weekend-pass fun on my blog.

The Husband: And then you'd go to jail and then you couldn't blog anyway.

Aspiringmama: Don't push me. Snookie got a book deal because she dresses like a hoochie and has a bump-it. A murder wrap would so make my career.

The Husband: Going for the street cred, huh?

Aspiringmama: Damn right. If I play nice, Juliette might even lend me her crossbow so I can be ready when the zombies come.

The Husband: Of course. Before that happens, you are gonna make me dinner, right?

Aspiringmama: (Googly eyed) I love you. Happy New Year, sweeter.

The Husband: Happy New Year, babe.

The Ninth Circle of Motherhood

@aspiringmama cleaning puke out of every nook & cranny of a car seat (after taking the damned thing apart) has got to be one of hell's circles. #motherhood

Maybe it's the writer in me. Or maybe I don't have enough people over three feet tall who call me mama to talk to. In either case, I find it totally normal to have my kid puke up lunch and dinner all over themselves and their car seat in a glorious waterfall of nastiness and while cleaning up the chunks, find myself thinking: "Why yes! This would make for a perfect blog post!"

The Husband thinks I share too much online. But then again, he hasn't read my book yet, so I'm sure that will be more motivation for my Muse to gossip on the blog whenever that happens. (Wait...what were we talking about again? Me sharing too much? Right...)

The day started with me thinking I wouldn't have gotten out of bed if I had actually been in the position to make that choice. Being that I don't, I did. And wished with every passing second that I could hire a babysitter to come hang out just so I could trod back upstairs, bra-less and unkempt, on the way to making my dream come true.

First we had the birthday party I really didn't want to go to. Mainly because it was an hour away, but also because it meant talking to real live people. In person. And using much more than 140 characters at a time. But I went so Buttercup could socialize and left as soon as dinner was served so we could grab some gluten-free grub on the way home at a steak house.

While we ate, I ended up praying that the blue-cheese ranch dressing Buttercup dipped her tomato into before I could stop her wouldn't reappear before we got home. I am guessing I didn't pray hard enough. Or that God is a bit pissed off that I only show up on Easter because I have an excuse to buy a new dress and primp for the event. Because on a mountain on the way back to the desert, exactly half-way between the party and home, Buttercup lost the contents of her belly.

This sucked for a variety of reasons, of course. The main factors being that:

*it took me 30 minutes on a horror-flick worthy stretch of secluded road with no cell-phone service to clean up what I could with

*the five baby wipes I happened to have in a coupon-provided sample pack which in fact

*didn't really clean up a damned thing because

*there was more puke than cleaning supplies readily available and the majority of it was sitting in a little pool on her carseat and

*I finally said fuck it, kissed my kid, made the sign of the cross, and buckled her up in the backseat like a Big Girl, and drove home 15 miles under the limit, pissing off every driver in line behind me.

After arriving home and tucking her in (with no bath  because she was already asleep on her feet), I had to trudge back out to wrestle the seat out of the van, strip it, and get a toothbrush to de-nastify it.

Did I mention I was making a sandwich and packing The Husband's lunch cooler while I attended to said nasty?

Ok, so I did.

To you.

I may or may not have forgotten to mention this to The Husband.

Who says I share too much online.

Go figure.

Pythons, Tarantulas, and Scorpions. Oh my!

That's right. I'm smiling. With a python wrapped around my shoulders.

The Husband came home from work recently asking if I wanted to go to a co-worker's kid's birthday party that afternoon. Considering he is the absolute most anti-social person I have ever met and the fact that he was actually following through on an invite I had nothing to do with, I said, "Hell yes."

Granted, I had no idea if the birthday child was a boy or a girl or how old they were going to be. And of course, The Husband looked at me like I had asked him to birth our next child (whenever that happens) when I asked him to text his co-worker for the details. You know, so I could run out and get a birthday card and a small gift.

He had obviously done more than his part by actually inviting me to this little shindig.

So we showed up. And Buttercup disappeared into a sea of teenagers. No matter. The guest list included a few little people such as herself, and everyone's attention was focused on the reptile show happening in the living room. Buttercup got a front row seat. Not sure how she was going to react to lizards and snakes up close, I sat nearby for photo snapping and baby rescuing, should the need have arisen.

It didn't.

It may have only been for a second, but every living thing placed before her was touched. Just a finger and then an arm quickly pulled back. The teenagers giggled. Buttercup puffed up proudly. She had been brave and the big kids all knew it.

"Good thing there aren't any spiders," The Husband said, referring to my arachnophobia. I have an irrational fear that stems from severe swelling of my spider bites and a senior high school drum major telling a freshman me that the tennis-ball sized lump on my arm was going to explode into a volcano of spider babies when they were ready to say hello to the outside world. And if I ever run against him for city council, you can bet your ass I'm using that information in my You Suck and I Don't campaign ads.

"Oh they put the tarantulas away just before you got here," the hostess said.

"Good, because I have a leg limit," I said before raising my hand for a chance with the python.

"Leg limit?" The hostess blinked.

"Yeah, more than four and I am so not interested in being in the same vicinity."

And that's when they brought out the scorpion. Which is when I had an argument with myself as I called The Husband over to take my place by Buttercup's side so I could go stand on a chair, holding my skirt up around my ankles, waiting to be rescued. The irrational me wanted to grab Buttercup away from the evil pet scorpion. No way in hell my little girl was petting one of those! But the rational me was telling the irrational to shut the fuck up. Because really? Mama might be a pansy. And a proud one, at that. But it doesn't mean my little girl has to accept my fears as her own.

So I removed myself from the situation. And the chance to take a photo when my baby reached out and pet a scorpion right between the pincers.

Before I Write

@aspiringmama: Oh a blog post is writing itself in my head! But first, the dishes.

It's true. I can't write a thing unless my sink is clean, the counter tops wiped down, and the stove sparkling. I've tried. Trust me, those few instances have resulted in some piss poor quality time with my Muse.

Creative? You want me to express myself? But there's spaghetti sauce binding itself to the dinner dishes right now. Do you even realize the hell I'm gonna have to go through the clean that shit in the morning?

My Muse stopped laughing at me when she realized I was being totally serious. So she made me sign an agreement that I wouldn't waste her time until after the OCD-beast within had been tamed and I was totally up for that because really? It just made sense. And? It eventually became part of my pre-writing know, after

* waking at 6:50 a.m. because Buttercup just has to be difficult and different while I curse God for morning coming too early.

* Feeding her, feeding myself, and prepping breakfast for The Husband so he has good foods to eat upon returning from working the midnight shift

* Unpacking his lunch box while he showers and changes so he can spend time with his princess


* Vacuuming, mopping, and putting away laundry because it is impossible to clean house while The Husband sleeps without waking him up. So I don't. You'd think that would leave me plenty of time for writing but you'd be wrong.

* Taming the Mexi-fro. Trust me. It's an adventure.

* Prepping Buttercup's clothes and lunch box for preschool while The Husband drinks plain water out of little girl-sized tea cups and eating chocolate chip cookies (she calls them biscuits for such occasions) and downing a protein shake because I am realizing I am both hungry and out of time.

* Force-feeding a pissed off child who is just as excited to go to school as she is upset that Daddy went to bed at 11 a.m.

* Dropping Buttercup off at preschool. It should be noted that I once harbored rainbow-hued fantasies about all of the writing I was going to get done in the three hours she is at school. It should also be noted that I was sadly mistaken and not taking into account the fact that grocery shopping, making the obligatory calls to the parents, and working out are much easier to do when I am child-free. I'll write later, right? Then going home to stare in my freezer so I can figure out what I am making for dinner.

* Picking up Buttercup from preschool.


* Cooking up some din-din while Nick Jr and PBS babysit my kid.

* Forgetting my no TV during dinner rule. Nick Jr and PBS stay on while we eat.

* Bath, story, and bed time for Buttercup. Sometimes, I successfully escape her room without falling asleep next to her. Sometimes, not.

* Heading back down to prep The Husband's lunch box for work. Remember: the Snicker's bar is crucial to the survival of our marriage.

* Heading back up to wake him at 8:30 p.m. so he has time to shower, eat, and relax before leaving for work.

* Watching TV with The Husband for about 40 minutes. Sometimes remembering some of what I wanted to tell him when he was sleeping.

* Hug, hug, kiss, kiss. He is off. I am free. Now to...procrastinate. Hello twitter beautiful! Where have you been all my life?


* Around 11 p.m. I go back upstairs one final time to write, revise, edit, or blog. Sometimes I do a little bit of all of it. And always, I force myself to step away around midnight because I' know I will be...

* waking at 6:50 a.m. because Buttercup just has to be difficult and different while I curse God for morning coming too early. Again.

The Misunderstood Optimist

I like to believe my feet are firmly planted on the ground. I write non-fiction, after all. My mind does not have the capability to dream up new worlds or breathe life into new beings to populate them. And yet, my head is always in the clouds. Maybe that's how I'm able to see the story in the reality in which I live.

Whatever the case may be, my horoscope got me thinking today.

Are you pessimistic, Capricorn?  (Ummm...not a fair question because the answer totally depends on the time of the month.) Or are you simply a cautious yet seriously misunderstood optimist? (That sounds a hell of a lot better, thank you.) The proof is in the pudding today and throughout the balance of the month. (I'm listening.) You may sometimes be perceived as someone who sees the glass half-empty. (Shocking!) This may rankle you, and you may find yourself defending your positive outlook. (I'm Miss Maria Fucking Sunshine, Dammit!) But in reality, you do occasionally utter words that are too pessimistic. (Too-shay.) Did you know, though, that you can create your own reality with your words? (Is this a trick question?) If your words are dark and angry, they bring you down. (I me.) If they are life-affirming, you get back wonderful rewards. (Note to self: focus on life-affirmations and double rainbows. Oh, and remember to look surprised when good things start to happen. As if fate had thrown me a surprise party.)

Reverse Nesting

Something strange happened when I finished writing Baby F(Ph)at. In short, I looked up and realized I suck as a housewife when I'm knee-deep in a manuscript. After a year of getting by with frantic "just throw the extra shit in the closet!" sessions reserved for guests and making sure we had enough clean laundry so no one was wearing anything nasty, I finally saw the house through the eyes of my alter-ego, (Mexican) June Cleaver. And aye...Ward has reasons to question if he's man enough to stick around when I get to writing that next book.

While it's true that I finished the book before I left for BlogHer, it's also true that I was away from home until last week. And after a few days of doing the blissful nothing I demand after 20 days of non-stop family, I blinked...and then it all came into focus.

The dust covered blinds (I wrote my name one one...kinda cool, actually.)

The junk drawer so full of random crap that it wasn't even closing anymore.

The closet. Which we couldn't fit the vacuum into. And that's a problem.

The dust bunnies under the couch (which are now getting their own mail forwarded to my address.)

The linen closets (not just for linen anymore! Holy shit! That's where that other thing I don't need went to...)

Needless to say...I have my work cut out for me.  That's why I started a to-do list with one or two projects to be tackled daily. Like the dusting and the evicting of the dust bunnies. Or the junk drawer and the closet. Or telling The Husband to bite me and to shove it when he tells me I suck as a housewife when I'm writing a book. Or maybe just telling him to fuck off and then laughing because I can't keep a straight face because he is so totally right.

It's been about a week since I started my reverse nesting. That's what I like to call this phase. Moms-to-be nest when a baby is on the way. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Moms who are writers nest after they (I) finish a book and figure out they (I) better haul ass on Operation Clean House before the next project is officially started. (While they (I) are (am) querying.)  Because that's such a relaxing combination.

And when I type Chapter 1? Again?

It's house, hell, and hand basket...all over again.

Bring it.

Until then, I'm gonna whistle while I work and rock this happy homemaker thing.

Vlog on

I have a million blog posts in my head, sitting right alongside the 25k I waiting to be placed on the screen to finish up the book. That's right, people. I'm almost done with a book. Like, an entire one. The thought is way too surreal.

Anyway, I want to go the easy route today because I'm way behind on my writing schedule and really need to be a good little writer. So I'm going to use this post to let you know about a new feature I'm adding to my blog as of tomorrow. It's going to be called Story Time Saturdays and the plan is to showcase vlog posts showing myself or other writing peoples reading favorite stories to their children. Reading to Buttercup is a huge part of our relationship and I want to share that. I have a few writers lined up to share story time with their own kiddos and will choose my own favorites to throw in once or twice a month. More if the well runs dry.

Keep in mind, though...while Saturdays post is going to be family friendly, Friday's post might not be. I promise to do my best to limit the F-bombs to Sunday to Thursday...but please keep my #pottymouth tag in mind when sitting down with your kids to listen to a new tale on Saturdays. Bottom line? Just have the video cued up and ready to be safe if your kids can read. I'm still living down The Great Dam Gammit Incident of 2008 with my own child, and don't need any added guilt to add to my already tarnished Mom of the Year award points if your kids start repeating what I say.

And with that, I'm off to work on that making myself a famous writer thing.