Saturday, October 31, 2009

In case you didn't hear, you're life sucks! (Oh, and contest winner)

I want to thank you all for the suggestions with regards to my new product review blog. I have chosen a winner.........drumroll...........OLIVIA. You're suggestion of "Mayhem's Material Musings" was absolutely perfect. Please email me with your address info so I can get your gift to you ASAP. And if you're interested in hearing my opinions and whatnot on products, websites, places, etc.....head on over to

And now on to tonights post.....

According to a recent report motherhood is just about the most depressing job you can have.

Here are direct quotes from the study (slightly edited, but the content is unchanged):

“People who change diapers and serve up food and drinks have the highest rates of depression among U.S. workers.”

Um, is there an option we’re unaware of? If we didn’t change diapers or feed our kids might we be happier?

“Almost 11 percent of personal care workers -- which includes child care…reported depression lasting two weeks or longer.”

Two weeks? That’d be great! I was expecting eighteen years.

“During such episodes there is loss of interest and pleasure, and at least four other symptoms surface, including problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration and self-image.”

Oh my gosh. They’re right. In layman’s terms motherhood causes lack of sleep, increased intake of fried foods, Defcon-4 level exhaustion, constant brain-farts and the general nagging feeling that we’ve let ourselves go.

“Just working full-time would appear to be beneficial in preventing depression. The overall rate of depression for full-time workers, 7 percent, compares with the 12.7 percent rate registered by those who are unemployed.”

But wait, we do work full time, and yet, we’re unemployed. It’s a paradox wrapped in an enigma.

So, those of you who take joy in the intoxicating smell of your baby’s freshly washed hair, or fall into fits of laughter watching your toddler maneuver his way around a plate of spaghetti; Those of you who plaster your refrigerator with your children’s “masterpieces” or swell with pride watching your second grader read chapter books to himself at night......

You may think you’re happy.

But you’re not. You fool. You poor deluded diaper changing, food serving, unemployed-yet-working doofus.

Your life sucks.

They have the reports to prove it.

Numbers don’t lie.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My own personal Britney Spears

OK, I have to admit, I am not a huge fan of Britney Spears. I remember watching a couple of years ago when she was going through her very public meltdown.

"WARNING: This person will self destruct in 3, 2, 1....."

And I'll admit it; at first it was titalating.

Then shocking.

Then horrifying.

And then.......just fantastically sad.

"Britney's Bloopers" was something that we could all get a good laugh at, or at the very least, a chance to shake our heads doubiously.

But after the head shaving incident, I didn't want to watch anymore. Her Mach 3 downward spiral into self destruction, was no longer amusing. It was concerning, if not downright alarming.

With each car crash and pantiless paparazzi shot that appeared in the "rag mags", it was obvious that she was a young, misguided troubled little girl who would not let anyone around her help her.

Some of us may know a real life "Britney".

I happen to have one in my family.

Our "Britney" is a drug addict who suffers from severe mental illness.

She is not from a broken home, or a child of abuse. In fact, quite the opposite. She was raised in a normal, loving, 2 parent middle class family.

Every "cry for help" was answered.

We rooted for her when it looked like she was turning a corner, but we are never suprised when we hear that she has fallen again.

She has been given second, twenty second, and seventy second chances.

Bad things have happened to her. We all know that worse things are yet to come.

I remember when Robert Downey Jr. was in court for the umpeenth time on drug related charges, and he looked at the judge and said; "It's like I have a loaded gun in my mouth and my finger is on the trigger, and I like the taste of gunmetal."

It was then I understood the true meaning of being an addict. It is a disease that so many of us feel that people should just be able to "get over". Before going through this in my own family, I know I felt that way. "If they just tried harder. If they just had a bit more self-discipline".

But no matter how much money, fame and power these celebrities have, clearly they have a disease that is far more powerful.

So even though my every instinct is to judge the actions of celebrities like Britney Spears.....maybe even make jokes about them, I have to remember our "Britney".

I wouldn't wish what she is going through on anyone.

I sincerely pray that she can turn things around.

Because look at how far Britney Spears has come in the past two years. And if she can do it, maybe there is hope for our "Britney" too.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Company Spokespeople.....can you think of anyone more inappropriate!

Hey, have you read about my contest and giveaway? No? Well, check it out here. There's still a few days left to enter and win.

OK, so I know I'm a bit behind on the times where the fashion world is concerned, but could someone please tell me when Mikhail Gorbachev became the face of Louis Vuitton??

Okay, so Social Studies may not have been my strongest subject in High School, but wasn’t he, like, the leader of Russia, and like, a communist?

A bit strange to see him promoting a luxury item that the average Soviet citizen would be able to afford in about, well, never. They would never be able to afford that bag.

So, since apparently advertisers feel they can choose a celebrity with absolutely no relevance to their product or service, I would like to humbly suggest the following:

Britney Spears: Hanes Underwear

Michael Vick: ASPCA

Tom Cruise: Prozac

Victoria Beckham: Weight Watchers

Barry Bonds: Partnership for a Drug Free America

Paris Hilton: Home Depot

And Hugh Heffner: Campbell’s soup-for-one.

Oh, and while I'm at it, would you, Mr. Advertizing McSellthestuff, would you mind not using 20 year olds to sell anti-wrinkle cream; it demeans us both.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mommas Do's and Don'ts of the playground

Hey, have you read about my contest and giveaway? No? Well, check it out here. There's still a few days left to enter and win.

I like to do what I can to help parents out in the game of, well...parenting. I have learned that carrying and birthing the children is the easy part and it is all the stuff that comes after that is extremely difficult.

I have also learned from experience that taking children for an afternoon at the local park isn't all flowers and smiles.

Today I will give you Mommas list of Playground Dos and Don'ts. You can thank me later with some chocolate...or....a new pair of shoes. It doesn't take much to make me happy.

Anyways, when preparing to go to the park,
pack a small bag with diapers and wipes because as soon as you step foot on the playground, your little one will release his/her bowels. Guaranteed.

Make sure you pack snacks and drinks also because as soon as you get there they will be hungry. Feel free to pack yourself a bottle of Coke. Just because you will need it.

It is always a good idea to bring sand toys. Tonka toys always made my boys happy....for about 5 minutes. And then they would walk over to the nice little boy playing with his own little tractors and Hot Wheels and swipe them out of his hands.

Bring along your "calm, perfect Mommy face" because you will need it when your children misbehave by stealing other children's toys and hitting them with them. Remember these words. "Taking other kids toys is not allowed. Oh, look at that bird over there". As your child looks, take the toy that he/she stole and give it back. Then keep finding ways to distract your children as you walk away from the nice little boy/girl with the black eye.

You're welcome. I do what I can to help.

Play with your children. They like it when Mommy chases them around acting like the Playground Monster. They like it even more when you catch them and tickle them.

Socialize with other parents. You never know. You may just meet a life long friend...for you and your children.

Never, ever go barefoot at the park. You and your children. Ewwwwww. Gross. Disgusting. Gag. Puke. I have never, ever let my children roam around in a huge kitty litter box barefoot. Ok, maybe I did a few times. But I never did it.

Always wear a bra because people will talk and kids will ask many questions. And the friends you hoped to meet on your outing to the playground will never come over to say hi. Unless they are slimy Dads.

Do not spend your time chatting or texting on your cell phone or reading an interesting novel. Firstly, because you will be interrupted a gazillion times by children wanting you to watch them go down the slide for the thousandth time. Secondly, because you may get caught up in it all and not realize your children have been kidnapped.

Do not discipline other parents children no matter how much you want to spank their bare asses. They are not your children. Parent your own kids.....drink your Mommy juice and go to another area of the park to get away from the "bad ones". Remember to always keep the "calm, perfect Mommy" face even when you want to yell, scream and throw a tantrum.

And last but certainly not least, have fun, because your children will thank you for it years down the road and you will miss the moments. Honest.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Time for a contest.....and a GIVEAWAY!!!!!

Alright, my loyal blog readers. It is time for a contest. Let me give you the lo down.

A reader has asked me to create a new blog. One where I test and review products, websites, books, restaurants, blah, blah, blah. Of course being the complete narcissist that I am thought "Well, heck, I would LOVE to write yet another blog."

Here is where you come in: I need a name for this new blog. And my demands are simple.

1. In following with my other blogs (Mayhem with the Morrells, and Mayhem Momma's Movie Reviews) it must somewhere in the name contain the word "Mayhem".

2. It must be original, catchy, and clever

3. It must explain in the name what the site is about (ie....reviewing aformentioned products, websites, books, restaurants, blah, blah, blah)

The contest will run until midnight on October 31, and the winner will be determined by yours truly. And you can enter as many submissions as you like. Not only will you achieve bragging rights, but I have a sweet little suprize giveaway for the winner. Nothing major, but fun (and free for you) nonetheless.

Please post your entries in a comment to this blog post. Good luck. Get those brains a workin' and thanks in advance for all your great ideas.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Holy pickles and milk, Batman!!

Just a couple of years ago I was the mother of three little boys, a fact which sometimes necessitated that I take all three of them to the grocery store. As surely as I sit here typing this, I could guarantee you that each of my boy-laden grocery trips would draw out comments from observers. The comments were usually pretty predictable:

1. "You certainly have your hands full."

2. "So, are you trying for a girl?"

3. [On the occasional good day.] "Your boys are so well-behaved."

4. [On the more typical day.] "Ma'am, did you know that your son is whacking your baby with a package of hot dog buns?"

5. "Wow, I can't imagine your grocery bill when they're all teenagers."

That last one always just made me smile and shrug. Sure, I know growing boys eat a lot, but how bad could it be, really? I mean, they're probably hungry after school, so you fix them a hot dog, right? No big challenge for a frugal-minded shopper.


Let's just add this one to the (growing) list of challenges I didn't see coming. Because these sons of mine are bottomless pits of extraordinarily high metabolisms. Kind of like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, except not green. And no cocoon. And I can't put them on a bookshelf when they're done. So, not at all like The Very Hungry Caterpillar actually, except, my stars, they're HUNGRY.

Case in point: my eldest son can polish off a gallon--a gallon--of milk in a day and a half. At this rate, I'm wondering if we should just get a cow. My youngest son ate an entire jar of pickles the other day. An entire jar. In a day.

We haven't cut out sugar altogether (because really, why would such a life be worth the living?), but I do try to offer them primarily high-protein snacks (eggs, nuts, cheese, peanut butter, etc.) that will sit in their bellies awhile. And yes, they're eating complete and (mostly) healthful meals. No, they're not filling up on sodas or juices. And no, nobody is anywhere in the vicinity of being overweight.

They're just stinkin' hungry.

I'm left standing here holding the proverbial grocery bag, wondering how we're going to afford both college and all the pickles. As the one who has been genetically (and happily, and expensively) appointed to feed them, I'm trying to do it sensibly. But high-protein foods tend to be more expensive foods, don't they?

This leads me to my point, which is to ask anyone who is reading this, especially anyone who has raised multiple sons without going through grocery-induced bankruptcy, how did you do it? What are the best kind of snacks for growing adolescent boys? (Preferably snacks that are easy and cheap and leap into the dishwasher when done. I'm all about the realistic expectations.) Please share with me any suggestions you may have, and if you know of a dairy and pickle farm for sale.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Self Improvement classes now available in the Labor & Delivery wing

There's this scary aspect of having kids in that it forces you to be a better adult.

Not a better parent, just a better person overall.

You can't grab a bag of chips for dinner, lest your kids take note and develop their own crappy eating habits. You can't whine about your weight lest your kids develop their own self-esteem issues around weight. You can't yell asshat! at the screen every time Sean Hannity opens his mouth. Occasionally you have to you turn off the TV altogether and open a book.

You have to make the bed. (Well, at least you probably should.)

You have to watch your language when you smash your head on the couch. Hard. You can't talk about your neighbors/teachers/parents/kids' friends behind their backs. You have to make good on promises. You have to make good on threats.

And probably, most daunting of all, you actually have to wait until the big red hand becomes the white walking person before you cross the street--which could only be more annoying if there were zero cars coming, and not the single 1992 Lincoln going 5 miles an hour that's still six blocks away.

There are definitely times I don't know that I'm up for this. Even twelve years later, it all seems like a huge freaking personality transplant, like all my insides and vital organs have been sucked out my ears then replaced entirely with new stuff that's programmed to set examples actually worth following.

Parenting is hard.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Baby

Today I have been married for 12 years. I know this is not as impressive as say, 40 years of wedded bliss, but in this day and age, it's an increasingly rare accomplishment. So I'm proud, but I'm also puzzled. Why did we make it this far when so many don't?

It's clear from reading some blogs, that there are those who consider their marriage a necessary evil; an institution to be endured until such time as their parental obligation to provide a stable two parent family is fulfilled. It's clear that many people feel trapped, unloved, unappreciated. For them I wish I had some sage advice. I wish I had some prescription for fixing what's wrong. But I don't. And I don't really know what we've done right, if anything at all.

Many people in both our families predicted several times that our marriage would fail. First because I moved in with him after one date essentially. You laugh, but for someone who had previously been in relationships based mostly upon my willingness to sit through one sporting event after another, during which of course, conversation was strongly discouraged, and communication took the form of paleolithic grunts and gestures, intelligent discourse can be damn near erotic.

The first time Ross demonstrated the capacity for abstract thought, the earth moved for me. Nevertheless, because he was 10 years my senior, twice divorced, a different religion and already a father...I'm sure my mother worried that he could be some kind of sexual deviant or homicidal maniac. I suppose he certainly could have been, but I was not in a hurry to condemn someone who moved like he did in the kitchen. You know what they say about men who can cook.

Still, neither of those things are that upon which one can base a successful marriage. And, truth be told, I did not enter into a living arrangement with him with any intention to marry. Rather, it was a not unpleasant way to extricate myself from my current living situation which had become unpleasant unto unbearable due to the volatile relationship between my then boyfriend and his family whom we had been living with at the time. I had become so accomstomed to being awakened by the sound of breaking glass and shouted obscenities that I often just yawned and rolled over. The one time I did venture out to inquire as to his safety, I was greeted with a resentful glare from his uncle and silent, but smoldering malevolence from him. Gee, you're welcome. No really, I habitually wake at 3:30 am anyway. (You know, when my parents "forced" me to break up with that guy and move to Waterton to work, I really resented for them at the time....but was that ever a life saving moment in my life. It really NEVER would have worked out with us).

So in Waterton, I met this really great guy, who was a chef, with a really nice car. We "hung out", as there wasn't really much to do in the way of dating up in the mountains. I moved in with him right away....three months later, I got pregnant with our first son. Seven months after that boy was born, on my 21st birthday, he proposed. I think that every young, unmarried woman has fantasized about how she would one day be proposed to on bended knee. This proposal was all that and more. It was romantic and clever and completely unexpected. I wept, and eagerly accepted, having determined around the third month of co-habitation that I had somehow managed to stumble into a really great guy. And we were married 12 days later. You see, I wasn't going to let him change his mind.

Suddenly, 12 years have passed and 3 children are growing impossibly fast. And I can only say that I don't know when we would have time to get a divorce. Marriage isn't easy, nor is raising children, and I KNOW we've both had moments where we have wondered what the Hell we had gotten ourselves in to. But those moments are fleeting, and quickly swallowed up by the joy, the responsibility and the busyness of our lives together. We simply have never had time to really stay mad at eachother. A sick baby, a seemingly impossibly tight budget, job stress.....those are the things that have drawn us together in desperate unity rather that driving us apart. We try to seek comfort in one another rather than somewhere to lay blame.

We have a strong relationship, but like any other married couple, we have our issues. However, they seem to be mostly of the sort that after a good nights sleep and the fresh perspective of a new day, don't seem to be worth the effort it takes to sustain a long arguement. Neither of us is really the type for whom an admission of wrongdoing or oversensitivity is fundamentally compromising. And often there isn't even a spoken truce, just a smile and kiss which we've both come to recognize and accept as the implicit, "I'm sorry I was an ass/bitch".

So, despite our haste, it turns out we're a well-matched pair. I am patient where he is high strung. He is blythe and easygoing where I am a worrier. He pays the bills because I have no head for numbers...I keep house and manage our boys' schedule of endless obligations because he is not an organizer and works really hard at holding down TWO jobs to help support his family. He is a fun loving Dad, I am a somewhat reserved Mom. We keep eachother from being too serious; but make eachother act like a grown-up sometimes. He can help the offspring with Math, Science, and Technology. I am pretty useful with English, History, and Social Studies. Yes, he drives me completely nuts sometimes, and I him, but we truly like and respect one another. I consider him my best friend. I miss him when he's gone. I seek his advice when I have a problem.

I occasionally fantasize about The Rock (I know, he's not the brightest paint in the pallette, but I
don't want to converse with the man) and I know of a couple actresses that strike my husband's fancy. But I wonder if the brawny Mr. Rock would sit up all night with a sick baby so I could get some sleep. I wonder if he would bring me ice cream and keep the kids outside all day when I have a migraine. I wonder if he would possess the uncanny awareness of exactly when I have reached my whining saturation point and suggest with just the right amount of concern and not even a hint of accusation, that perhaps I might like an hour by myself.

I would like to think that the success of our marriage is due to hard work and committment, and some understanding of marital dynamics. I would like to say that I made exceptionally good choices in my quest for a life partner. But really, I think we have just been extremely lucky. We've been through job loss, family tragedy, and financial woes. And after 12 years I have to think we have what it takes to weather any such a storm that we are faced with. I suppose time will tell.

So here's to another twelve years. I may have to reevaluate when we become empty nesters. The discovery that one cannot stand one's spouse after the children have departed seems quite common. But somehow I doubt that will happen. I think we'll be sunning ourselves on some Meditarranean nudist beach, letting it all hang out, blind to the wrinkles and the flab, and planning our next post-parental, mid-lfe adventure. -- OK, maybe not.....more likely we will be able to maybe do a little travelling in the midst of being in the throes of grandparenthood. I can't wait.

**Dedicated to my wonderful husband***

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Laundry Quandry

Am I the only one who whole-heartedly SWEARS she will never, ever, ever let the laundry pile get that high again???

Because it was pure torture to wash, fold, and put away that many clothes.

And yet, I still fool myself into believing that I have a laundry gameplan in place:

I know! I will organize our laundry.
A basket for whites and a basket for colors.
I will do one load every day, just so that enormous pile never comes to life again.

(Day 1 of my plan) Wow, I am brilliant. Doing laundry when the load is relatively smallish will be so WONDERFUL. How easy! Why have I never done this before?!

(Day 2) Shoot. I missed a day. Oh well, tomorrow I will do TWO loads.

(Days 3 & 4) Holy CRAP!!!!! That pile scares me.

(Day 5) Well, it's Friday. Who seriously does laundry on a FRIDAY?!

(Day 6) Today's Saturday. I'm not wasting my day doing stupid laundry.

(Day 7) *Hyperventilating at the height of the laundry pile.* I will survive. I will survive. I will survive. Surely no one has ever died of washing and folding and putting away that many clothes. But I think I will. I think I will be the first to die of it. This is the woooooooooooorst everrrrrrrrrr.

And the kicker?
When all the laundry is finally finished and clean at the same time....IT DOESN'T EVEN FIT IN THE DRAWERS! I end up breaking a sweat trying to stuff and squeeze and compress the clothes in there so I can will the drawer to shut.

Obviously my laundry's only mission in life is to make me look like an idiot.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Forgive me if I sound preachy!

SIGH. I wasn't going to enter the Mommy Wars fray. I've been there before and I've always emerged battered and bloody. What's more, I don't think I've ever engaged in a debate or a discussion of this nature where there was a clear victor. Why? Because there is no right way to parent. There is no right answer for any one of the multitude of parenting dilemmas. If there was, it would make things a whole lot easier, and we wouldn't have to verbally bludgeon each other when our approaches to parenting issues diverge. We wouldn't have to work so hard to villify and invalidate each other to soothe our own insecurities.

The reason there is no one answer or any right way is because children are not built on an assembly line according to a list of factory specs. There is no quality control. And we do not get to shop for a model that best suits our character, meets our needs, and lives up to our standards. Each and every child is wonderfully and wholly individual; utterly unlike any other being on the planet. What. A. Miraculous. Thing. And how lucky we are to have such a wide variety of parenting philosophies, beliefs, information and techniques at our disposal to aid us in the daunting task of raising those miracles to adulthood. Applying one parenting method or strategy to all children is a little like making every woman wear size 6 jeans. It leaves the party in question uncomfortable and demoralized.

When I had one very well behaved and complacent child, I had a lot of opinions about those who weren't. Naturally, it was because they were being raised wrong. Wrong being, unlike mine. I made much of issues that only a small percentage of the American collective acknowledged or cared about. I said a lot of I'll nevers, and no child of mines. They were words I was forced to eat, along with a heaping helping of well done crow and several slices of humble pie when I was given a child who was not well-behaved, was not complacent, and who challenged every single parenting ideal I posessed. I was knocked off of my high horse and then trampled by it.

And in the end, the only thing that mattered to me was keeping him alive, and raising him into an autonomous human being without one or both of us being maimed or rendered completely insane. In other words, I learned that sometimes, you just do what you have to do, philosophy be damned.

I learned, through much of the well meaning but completely naive advice that was freely given by friends and strangers alike, that nobody else knows what is best for my child. I learned that my own instincts are usually the right ones and to trust them. Though I am usually about the last person on earth you will find quoting scripture, I learned what Jesus meant when he said "Judge not lest ye be judged." And I learned that "disagree" does not have to be synonymous with "disrespect".

I'm not perfect by a longshot, and I don't have all the answers. But I've been a parent for 12 years now, and what I do have is some perspective. And I can tell you that in ten years, what you fed your child, how you disciplined your child, how you sleep trained your child (or didn't), how you potty trained your child (or didn't) and whether you put them in daycare or stayed at home, doesn't matter even a fraction as much as how much you loved them, nurtured them and believed in them. What you put in a child's belly isn't half so nourishing as what you put into their psyche. What you put on a child's bottom isn't half so absorbent as that child's amazing little brain. And there is no confusion over who is the Mommy, regardless of where she goes to work. I promise.

It seems especially sad and pointless then, that we are dividing ourselves into warring factions over these issues; judging, maligning, shaming and belittling. It's so hard to be a Mom. Why do we need to make it harder for one another? Did Margaret Sanger, Elizabeth Stady Canton, Susan B. Anthony and Bella Abzug work so tirelessly to gain women the rights and privileges they deserved only to have us turn on one another? I think not. In fact, I think they would be pretty peeved by the way womankind has cast aside the unity they labored so long and hard to achieve for the sake of petty one upmanship.

We can do better, ladies.

Because despite my current state of disheartenment, I do believe in the power of women. I believe in the indomitable spirit of Motherhood. Alone we are formidable, together we are invincible. Let's come together and kick some ass that is truly deserving. Famine, poverty, illiteracy, ignorance, mysogyny, tyranny, opression, racism, genocide, ethnicide...all of these could be instantly eradicated if we put half as much energy into fighting them as we do fighting each other.

So, who's with me? I want to see a lot of damn hands waving in the air.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My sweet, sensitive hubby

(Alternate title: "I'm a piece of meat")

Me: Say something nice.

Him: What?

Me: Say something nice to me.

Him: Why?

Me: You're in a crappy mood and you're being a real ass. So say something nice to me.

(a moment.....)

Him: Nice Boobs.

Me: Thank you.

Easy Ways To Be Happy

In the monotony of daily life, chasing after happiness can seem like an endless, really big project. And sometimes, it is. But sometime...