Wednesday, July 20, 2016

If He's Smart, The Salesman Never Rings

Unless you're giving away free tiaras or babysitting, I'll have to pass.

 Morning Readers,

I know you tuned in today to hear rational commentary about the world at large, but what if we started with Rice Krispies and anxiety instead?

Great!

First off, the limited edition red, white, and blue Rice Krispies are fantastic. They don't taste any different, but if you swirl your spoon just fast enough, it's a crackly milk tornado of Americana. Two thumbs way up.

Now then, have I ever told you what happens when you ring my doorbell?

Growing up, I had neighbors who owned a rat terrier who, every time the doorbell rang, threw herself right at the glass storm door. It was terrifying, but she was just super duper excited to see whoever was there. I'm the opposite of that.

Salesman? Neighbor? Ax Murderer? How's a girl to choose?

I wear crippling anxiety like a suit, so standing inside the coat closet and evaluating my options usually sounds fine. Because, in the end, people ringing my doorbell during the day are almost always salesmen, and I know what's coming next.

"Mom. Mom, open the door. There's a guy out there, Mom."

"I know."

"He can see you. Even if you're laying on the floor."

"Go upstairs, child, and leave me be."

"It's ok, I'll open it for you. Hi! My mom's hiding behind the door. What's your name?"

My whispered, "Sh*t" is carried off on the wind as I push the door open and the offending child behind me. "Can I help you?"

Last Friday found me staring at a clearly-exhausted young man sweating profusely in the July sun. I felt bad for him. Poor lamb thought he was there to sell windows. He didn't even see the attack coming.

"Hi there. Are you the lady of the residence?"

"I run this nut house, yes."

He smiled. "Great. You see, we're having a sale on windows. I noticed that some of yours are a little, uh.. "

"Yes, that's duct tape." I nodded quickly. "Well, it's very nice of you, but we're not doing windows this yea-" Before I could finish, children started leaking out behind me like an oil spill.

"Mom, who's this?"
"Is he here to make dinner? I'm hungry."
"Yeah, did you know she only feeds us sometimes?"
"Can I see your clipboard? I'll draw a camel on it for you."
"Here, I'll take all those papers. I need to decorate my dollhouse."

Desperately, I reached behind me and tried to shove three kids back through the door, while the baby, suspicious I was about to sell her for some new double-panes, clawed her way up my shoulder and tried to throw herself down the other side.

The poor window man looked around, quickly realizing he was being closed in on from all sides. "Are- are they all yours?"

I thought about it. "They are. I'm not real quick to claim the one trying to untie your shoes though. I mean, he looks like us, but he's a bit of a loose cannon right now."

The salesman looked past me and peered into the house timidly.

I laughed. "There aren't anymore in there."

"No?"

Shaking my head, I took the flyer the man was absently holding out for me while he watched all three of the older kids race down the driveway and look for a way to climb into the storm drain. "No, but I have a neurotic dog who'd love to come out and tell you his problems. How much time do you have?"

The man smiled politely and peered sideways. "My name is Mark, by the way. If- if you ever need anything, the number's on the card. We can come out and quote you. I can see you have-"

"My hands full? Or kids falling into the sewers? Either or, thank you so much for popping by. I'll keep you guys in mind for next year. If you have to head out, I totally understand. But if you want to stick around, I'm going to tie a rope around my waist and jump down in there to pull everyone out. I could really use someone to hold the other end."

"No, it's ok."

"You sure?"

But he was already speeding down the street.

I yelled for down the driveway. "Ok, everyone out of there. Head to the backyard so I can hose you off."

I'm not sure how many years I have left of Kellerman children rushing anyone who comes to our door, but it is what it is. In the meantime, I'll be anxiously waiting for the doorbell to ring again, drinking coffee, and making Rice krispy tornadoes.

Because they really are delightful.


Until Next Time, Readers!




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Friday, July 15, 2016

It's A Dressing Room, Baby

"I'll take that roll of trash bags and maybe a belt to define my waist."

Morning Readers,

Has summer consumed you yet?

I finally waved my flag of surrender and allowed swimming, random tasks, and wondering how weeds can kill all your fresh grass and crawl up to the front door take over my very act of being.

Oh, and Netflix. Netflix is my life.

Do I want to watch another episode? Is the Pope Catholic?

Melting into that type of laziness is only difficult when I have to suddenly pull myself out and do things like clothe myself. Which was recently the case when Husband and I received a wedding shower invitation and I realized the nearest thing I had to formal wear was some maternity leggings and a top that had fallen on the closet floor and was being used as a rug.

A shopping trip was in order. I was sad I didn't actually own a rug.

Sometimes I think I'm still pretty young. In my mind, I'm about twenty-two. I look twenty-two. Sound twenty-two. And then I have to take my baby dress shopping and realize I'm actually none of these things.

Having to haul around an eight-month-old velcro baby who can't be left at home is literally the quickest way to help remind you that you're thirty-two and the lines between your eyes are going absolutely nowhere but deeper. Hauling that same baby through racks of clothes and younger girls is also a good reminder that:
  • You now think most clothes are stupid.
  • There's a drastic lack of clothes for women who've had three c-sections and still have some loose fat they need to tuck into extra pockets.
  • An actual twenty-two-year-old sounds nothing like you. Like a baby deer, she is just learning to walk and chew gum at the same time. You wonder if the gum chewing keeps her forehead line-free.
Nevertheless, with Mrs. Jones on my hip, I foraged through countless stacks of tops, fleets of pants, and dresses that weren't dresses at all, but something unattractively named a "romper" and marketed to grown women who have mortgages. While the baby waved at people, I held things up.

"What about this?"

"Baaa."

"I don't know. It might be a halter top."

"Ma?"

"You're right. I need something closer to an actual horse harness to keep all this in check. If you can stay awake, maybe we'll pop by that western store on the way back. What about these pants?"

"Baba."

"Exactly. I'd look like a poorly tailored clown. Then again, I'm not sure what people's expectations of me are these days."

Mrs. Jones contented herself by grabbing at everything she could get her chubby paws on. Between extracting hoop earrings from her fist and gazing longingly at discount pajamas, I managed to pile several potentially unoffending dresses on my free arm and march to the dressing room. But I stopped short...

What was the proper protocol for bringing a baby in a dressing room?
Maybe I traded her to the attendant for a plastic number to hang on the door.
How long could the attendant sort rejected clothes and let Mrs. Jones slap her in the face though?

Unfortunately, I needed to make a hasty decision and buy something right away, so there was no getting around it. Hitching Mrs. Jones up on my hip, I grabbed the plastic number between my teeth and kicked open the first door the disinterested girl pointed at. "Well, here we go." I yelled.

No one intervened as I hung up my haul and looked around for a place to put the baby. "Where do you want to sit?" I asked. "This questionable corner or that questionable corner?"

The baby, seeing only wide open, unexplored space, was kind enough to gravitate toward the dirty concrete area that held only one used band aid and a shockingly-large piece of lint. The rest of the experience was pieced together by anyone waiting outside.

"Nope, don't eat that bandage."

"Is.. is this a corset?"

"Here, dig through my purse. It's better than picking up hepatitis."

"Hmm, this could work. But I'd need a sewing machine to fix the front and a flame thrower to fix the back."

"Where'd you go?

"There you are. There's only one bench in here. Didn't think you could disappear under it."

"Ok, I guess I'll take this one."

Semi-triumphant, I paid for my pick and, the next day, shoved myself into it with minimal tears. Husband was ready to start the car by the time I made my way down the stairs. "How do I look?"

He smiled. "Beautiful. What is it?"

"It's a romper. I wanted to feel like a toddler but also have the satisfaction I can drive myself places and do taxes."

"I see. I thought it was a dress."

"That's how they get you."

And so we headed out for the night. My purse on one arm and Mrs. Jones on the other. Just a woman, her velcro baby, and a romper.


Until Next Time, Readers!



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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Mrs. Kellerman's Summer Camp For Bored Children

"Ok, campers. Who wants to earn their anxiety badge?"

Morning Readers,

Summer pretty much has me by the horns.

Between keeping my pack of kids afloat at the pool and screaming at the dog to stop throwing himself against the back door like some sort of mental patient trying to break in, I may be losing my mind just a tiny bit.

And while we're on the subject, WHY?

Why do dogs do that? Like Flea before him, Ned Yost grabs every opportunity to take a running start and slam his entire weight into the glass like the Zombie Apocalypse has started and I've left him to make a last stand against the undead.

(More on that as I lose all rational thought. Feel free to email me answers. Or adopt my Labrador. Whatever.)

One month in to the hottest season of the year, and it's starting to seem like I run some sort of deranged summer camp for people who are related to me.  Let's count the ways, shall we?

1. Activites Start At Dawn

I don't have anyone who can play a bugle, but the baby yelling unintelligible baby things before the sun's up suffices. Put those shorts on. Brush those teeth. Grab that screaming ball of fat, toss her a bottle and get ready to start another day.

I try to whisper the camp motto to myself before grabbing my lanyard. "Camp Kellerman, we love thee. Where laughter turns to tears, and everything's covered in pee."

2. The Mess Hall

Great! Just in time for some vittles. Unfortunately, there's no camp chef because that's me. And I can't cook. Instead, I yell, "Children, report to breakfast. I'm about to make it rain Pop Tarts. Take some extra for your fanny packs and let's hit this day like a mallet on croquet ball."

The baby's on dish duty because that's what happens when you wake me up at 5am. "Not walking is no excuse for not pre-rinsing the glasses," I say pointedly

3. Crafts

When you run a summer camp, there has to be some type of craft. Corn husk dolls, yarn bread boxes, it really doesn't matter. I try to get creative and let the kid's imagination take the lead. I feel sorry for people who don't have children who can turn five rolls of toilet paper into spackle and make a towel into toilet paper instead.

Sunday's activity of cutting all the socks in half to make gloves was also a huge hit.

*Stay tuned for a donation link at the end to fund new socks for Fall 2016.

4. Water Sports

Everything at Camp Kellerman is perpetually covered in water, so why not make it interesting? Sundance came up with this week's latest:

"We're doing a pool party."

"Where?" I ask hopefully.

"In my bedroom. It's all wet."

"Next to breakable electronics and outlets, I assume?"

"Uh huh."

"Super."

5. Sleep With One Eye Open

Ahh, pranks, one of camp's oldest traditions. The fabulous thing about Camp Kellerman is the certainty of being ambushed, anytime, anywhere. This is an area where Doc truly excels. This year, he's earned badges for:

Painting the bathroom wall in toothpaste

Turning on the garbage disposal and giving me a heart attack

Unloading an entire chess set into the air vent. Checkmate, indeed.

Winning most precocious three-year-old with lines such as, "Sometimes I like you. But sometimes I don't."

6. Nature's Toilet

Sometimes you have to rough it. Sometimes you pee in the backyard, despite extremely accessible plumbing. My apologies to the garbage man who was flashed this week. There was an emergency camp meeting after this particular incident.

7. Homesickness

I miss being somewhere else but I'm not sure where that is, yet.

8. Camp Counseling

Many grievances were aired this week....

Me: So you say he punched you in the face. How do you feel about that?

Camper: I flushed his Legos down the toilet.

Me: Ok. Let's address the aggression, right after I go find ladle we don't need.

Camper: Sorry. I probably shoulda just pushed him down the stairs.

Me: Can I interest you in making a yarn breadbox instead?

9. Whistle Blowing

I don't technically have a whistle, but when I yell enough, it turns into kind of a whistling wheeze everyone stops listening to. Two gasps means I'm dying.

10. It's Still Fun

No schedule for three months and days full of possibilities aren't the worst. Camp Kellerman is a hot mess, but this counselor kind of likes it that way.

Except the dog part.

That might kill me.


Until Next Time, Readers!


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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Mama Duck

"Oh hey, Jane. I wish I could go shopping, but I'm taking the kids to the pool because I enjoy giving myself a massive coronary."

Afternoon Readers,

It's that time again.

Along with the heat, my children's desire to go to the public pool has escalated, and there's no getting around it. The good news is this particular activity is slightly less horrific than standing outside in your underwear.

But it's pretty much the same thing. And after four kids, standing around with strangers, in the equivalent of a leotard, fails to inspire the same excitement as it did when my abs were in the middle of my body and I didn't have a stretch mark that kind of looks like the word, "sad," when I try to reach things above my head.

But we did it. Yesterday, I managed to take all Kellermans to the pool and back.  Unfortunately, taking four kids to the pool is a little different than my previous years with two and then three. For quick reference, here are all the steps I used to do it.

1. Find swimsuits for five people.

2. Put sunscreen on all four kids. Forget to put it on yourself because you're still trying to find swim suit trunks for the kid shouting, "Now I can't go because you didn't buy me a suit. Why do you hate me more than the other kids?"

3. Remember that the baby's bald and rub some sunscreen into the back of her head. You don't need her looking like Ed Asner with second degree burns.

4. Spend most of the morning packing towels, snacks, swim diapers, goggles, phone, wallet, extra flip flops, and pool toys. Shoot to leave at 12:30pm.

5. Make sure everyone's gone to the bathroom. Hauling your entire family into the wet pool bathroom is about as fun as pulling a hot pan out of the oven with your bare hands.

6. Get everyone to the car and buckled in. It's now 1:30pm. On the way, answer questions about why birds can fly and what the end of the world will look like. Maybe it'll be today. Then you won't have to go stand around in wet spandex.

7. Park, unload everyone, and enjoy the stares as you get up all in the pool's business. Once you enter the four kid range, looking like a duck with a line of ducklings behind you is a given. Shout things in random directions, like, "They're all mine. Thought I'd kill some time this afternoon by giving myself crippling anxiety related to keeping four humans above the water. Is that deck chair free? Great."

8. Instead of relaxing in any sort of capacity, spend the entire time counting heads like you work in a lettuce packaging facility.

9. Take the time to lose track of each child, at least once.

10. Have a heart attack.

11. Try to make small talk with other parents but sound like you have tourettes instead.

"Your baby is so cute. How old is- Hey! Hey don't wander off! Sorry, the three-year-old is climbing the lifeguard stand. So you cloth di- For the love of all that's good and holy, don't hold your sister's head under the water. Sorry, what was your baby's name, again? Quinoa? Oh. James. Right. Wait, did you see where any of my kids went? Haha... summer, am I right? Gotta go."

"What was that?"

"Oh, we had all these kids because we hate low blood pressure. Same reason I have mixed feelings about oatmeal."

12. Hand out snacks. Coral thirty wrappers, even though you only brought twelve packages of fruit snacks.

13. Stay for fifteen more minutes because of hysterical requests.

14. Pack everyone up five minutes later because they thought about it some more and the water's really cold and the baby's trying to fall asleep in the wading pool.

15. Desperately try to leave with everyone and everything you arrived with. Plan to do it again tomorrow.



Until Next Time, Readers!

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Summer Break Update: Birds


Morning Readers,

I hope you guys had a wonderful weekend. We spent the holiday baptizing Mrs. Jones and letting the rest of the children drink a case of 7Up. After which, Doc went out and baptized the dog in lemon/lime soda.

Whether the spirituality of the baby or the dog has increased remains to be seen.

With the twins out of school and the weather steadily warming up, summer break is now in full swing. This requires me to adjust and mold our day into a completely different schedule, where I'm mostly on the offensive, while the children and Ned attack me from all angles.

"Mom, I need toilet paper."

"Mom, he punched me in the face and I felt it this time."

"Mom, you said the popsicles were for breakfast. You just have a bad memory cause you're old."

*The baby grabs two hand fulls of my hair and does a Double Sow Cow backwards*

*Ned Yost throws all leftover bowls of cereal and milk against the wall and looks at me like I'm the idiot.*

Maybe I am the idiot. Good mothers who birth multiple children arrange copious activities to keep those children out of jail during the summer. But, as I type this, I realize Ned just dragged a mouse inside and is currently eating it on the living room floor, in front of me. Nature derails my plans again. Please hold for mouse removal.

(Insert retching noises of your choice)

Ok, the mouse is back on the lawn. You know, for someone who can't deal with animals, I attract a stunning amount of them. The mouse was simply one in a long line of creature ordeals that is slowly firing itself up for the warm months. I wish I could simply tag and bag everything that came scurrying my way, but last week proved this season may be a bit more formidable.

"Mom?"

"What?"

Sundance looked me over. "Have you ever noticed that there's a bird upstairs?"

During spring, I tend to keep the windows open so the fresh air can get in and my screaming at the children can get out. Unfortunately, this also increases the probability of sparrows.

I stopped washing dishes. "Where?"

She pointed enthusiastically. "There. Where the boys are trying to get it with the broom at the Swiffer."

The boys, both perched precariously at the top of the stairs, were eagerly trying to coax a frantic bird from the top of the molding by swinging at it in various threatening ways. Doc whacked my bedroom door deafeningly in a failed attempt, before he shouted, "Come on down, bird. We won't hurt ya!"

I could tell the bird had its doubts.

Shushing everyone, I snatched the broom, cooed softly, and oh so carefully shooed the bird down and out the door. Or I would have, if it hadn't suddenly gone insane. "Everyone get down! Get down and cover your eyes. We only have insurance for glasses, not eye reconstruction."

I threw my body over the nearest child and ducked, while the frantic sparrow slammed into every angle of the hallway, like a feathery ping pong ball.

"Mom, get it!"

"She's too slow."

"It's cause she can't run good."

Recovering, I charged down the hallway, broom in hand, and followed the crazed animal through the upstairs and into the boys bedroom. Where it proceeded to bang into every window, knock itself unconscious, and fall behind the bunk bed.

"Is it dead?" The children asked in unison.

Channeling my inner Jack Hanna, I ran downstairs, grabbed a container with a lid, and pulled back the mattress ever so slowly.

"Ahh! It's alive!"

The bird charged right at my face, giving me two seconds to deflect it with my plastic bowl. Beak met Gladware in a terrifying staccato of sorts, and then he was in the closet next to the sock basket. "Nobody move," I whispered.

Like a lioness in ill-fitting Champion running shorts, I crouched, hesitated, and pounced.

I also may have peed myself a little.

By some miracle, I managed to trap the sparrow and throw the lid on. The children ran behind me as I hauled the now insane ball of feathers down the stairs and out the door. He was released unceremoniously.


I don't think I can take anymore nature, you guys. And it's only June 1st. I'm not sure if I have it in me to trap another animal. So if it's something like a squirrel next time, I'll probably just throw 7Up at it and go hide in my room.

Until Next Time, Readers!





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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Let's Celebrate By Regretting We Took Everyone Out To Eat

Everyone's face when I walk in with all my kids.

Afternoon Readers,

For those of you who just started following this little, old blog, today's announcement probably won't mean much.

But.

If you've been with me from the beginning, I'm here to tell you that you're old. I'm also old. We're all elderly. You guys, the twins turned six.

How did that happen? A few years ago, I was complaining about four hundred diapers a day and trying to balance two babies on my hips without dropping one of them. (And let's face it, there were more than a few close calls there.) Now? We're finishing kindergarten and Sundance just declared she's decided to go to art school before heading off on the career path of marine biologist.

I'm still not sure if she plans to study them or design clothes for dolphins. Time will tell.

This year, the birthday celebration took us to the petting zoo and then Red Robin. I'm not sure how many of you have a Red Robin in your neck of the woods, but if you're into interesting hamburgers and balloon animals, it's probably right up your alley. Kellerman children enjoy all of these things, so away we went. There was just one problem. We never take the kids out to eat anywhere because:

a.) It's terrifying
b.) It's expensive
c.) It's terrifying and expensive

When the twins were little, eating out used to be a somewhat manageable experience. But, after our numbers doubled, Husband and I had to forgo the activity altogether, in favor of simply letting the kids hit us with baseball bats instead. It's pretty much the same thing. If you don't believe me or haven't taken four, small children out to eat lately, allow me to give a quick run through of what to expect...

Seating:

The nice thing about walking your entire pack of offspring into a public establishment is the tendency of most hosts to make sure you're seated somewhere discreet. Like the middle of the restaurant.

"Is this desperate cluster of tables fine?"

Me nodding. "Of course. If we were sitting somewhere in the back, this entire flock of patrons wouldn't be able to see the show we've scheduled for everyone. Please bring waters and anything free you have so we can get warmed up."

"Would you like drinks lids on the children's drinks?"

"As long as they're lose and fall off when the time's right."

"Re-fillable fries?"

I consider. "Can your fries be thrown with a good amount of accuracy?"

"Absolutely."

"We'll take three baskets."

 Ordering:

This is, by far, my favorite part of the dining out experience. Nothing screams fun like needing to order food for everyone at the table, when you haven't had time to look at the menu. My children like to enhance this process by yelling their order over any type of communication I'm signaling to the waitress.

"I'll start with you, mam. What will you have?"

Taking solace in the children busily coloring, I start. "We'll have three orders of your-"

"Meat!"

"I want spaghetti!"

"Mom, he's being dumb again. Will you tell him there's no spaghetti here? I'll have sunflower seeds."

*The baby hits me in the head with her bottle*

I start again. "Please excuse the children. We've been living in an underground bunker for five years."

Eating:

I love when the food is finally delivered, mostly because I'm shocked the waiter or waitress heard any of the order I threw across the table. By this point, the children have eaten their weight in fries and have absolutely no intention of devouring any of the food that's been ordered. They also develop a specific kind of amnesia which demands they don't recall anything they asked for in the first place.

A child waves her fork indignantly in the air. "Mom, what is this?"

"I believe the menu called them, "Meatball Lolly Pops," I respond. "Not the most enticing of descriptions, but you three all insisted on having them."

"But, I didn't." I wanted the grilled cheese. Why would I ask for Meatball Lolly Pops?"

I stare longingly at the cheeseburger I can't reach because the baby is jumping up and down in my lap and trying to insert a straw into my ear. "Sweet heart, I have no idea. I suggested grilled cheese, and you said, "I haaaaave to have Meatball Lolly Pops."

"Mom?"

"What?"

"Doc just wandered off. He said he was done eating and was going to go live with the people in the bathroom."

Silently, I pray to Baby Jesus to help me not have a nervous breakdown, before I motion to the waitress to box up my uneaten burger. "Ok, twins, stay here. I'm going to get your brother."

"But!"

"Just impale those meatballs with tiny bread sticks and hush."

Paying and Exiting:

By this point, three cups of water have been spilled on the floor, two dance numbers have been performed dangerously close to the kitchen, and servers have stopped by to sing Happy Birthday to the birthday kids. Years ago, public singing would've mortified me, but, as it makes all four of my children stop talking and stare in horror, I join in, singing maniacally, and ask for an encore.

A swipe of the credit card.

The circus is packed up.

The car is sooo close but..... balloon animals.

Since having kids, I have yet to not stop once a balloon artist has been spotted. My children have the uncanny ability to track down these masters of latex manipulation from five miles out. If a child can see a balloon artist who's making tigers for free and you say, "No, not today," you dance on dangerous ground.

"Why don't you love us?"

"If you don't like us so much, why don't you just 'dopt us to someone else?"

..."I'll take two snakes and a Ninja Turtle with Sharpie eyes, please."

The balloon artist looks at my haggard face. "You sure, lady?"

"Yeah. We haven't ever taken a family vacation, so this might soften the blow of childhood deprivation. Can you give my fish a fairly life-like fin?"

Balloons in hand, we made it back to the van and started the trek home. All Kellerman children stated they had an amazing time but adamantly agreed that none of them actually requested Meatball Lolly Pops. I have no comment on that. All I know is my kids are growing up and I have absolutely no idea what a hot burger tastes like anymore.

But I do know who ended up eating all the cold Meatball Lolly Pops.

Until Next Time, Readers!



And now that I've awkwardly made you my friend, come hang out with me on:

Thursday, May 5, 2016

What I Want For Mothers Day and A Gift For You!


Morning Readers,

I'm reporting to you live from the land of puppy pee and children climbing me like Mount Everest to drop a line about what I want for Mother's Day. Ready?

Sleep.

Send sleep.

Send all the extra sleep you have lying around.

In the meantime, please enjoy a Mother's Day gift from me, the woman who's still trying to incorporate a few choice pieces of maternity wear into her wardrobe, six months after the birth and beyond. Today through Sunday, At Least My Belly Hides My Cankles is FREE. Grab it for yourself or drop me a line, and I'll be happy to gift it to anyone you think might benefit from reading about one woman's adventures trying to fit in a car.

This week has beaten me to a pulp, however, so this is me, signing off and looking for coffee.

Happy Mother's Day, Readers!



And now that I've awkwardly made you my friend, come hang out with me on: