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More Stuff That Isn’t In the Manual

If you are the mother of active boys who love to be outside as long as there is daylight to be had and caterpillars to be caught, be prepared that at some point you WILL be called upon to remove a tick from a little boy’s scrotum. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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You’re It!

Anne Riley challenged me to go to page 7 or 77 of my latest manuscript and type the first 7 lines. I read through all my WIPs — of which there are many — and searched for one that was 7 pages long. There was only one, and I hated it. The idea that sparked it has long since died and I have no wish to pick up the thread again. BUT, Anne mentioned starting a new contemporary, and that kind of made ME want to attempt something contemporary. So THIS is what I wrote. It’s way more than 7 lines. But I think it’s kind of fun. If you’re a writer and you’re reading this. I challenge you to do the same. If you can follow the rules to the letter, more power to you. OR if you just want to share something to keep yourself from falling into the trap of hiding your light under a bushel, that’s cool, too! Here’s mine:

“Where’s your gun?” Nell demanded as she exploded through my front door. Without sparing a glance in my direction, she headed for my closet and began rifling through its contents.

“It’s in the bathtub right next to my pet alligator. You can’t miss it.” I took a final swig of my Mountain Dew and flipped another page in the trashy romance I’d been reading. Okay, it was less reading and more skimming for the good parts, but cut me some slack; it’s not easy being 28 and single.

“I’m not in the mood for your sarcasm, Christine. I’m in the mood for a gun,” she said, still ransacking my hall closet. My good coat – the one I found for $35 in the back room at Anthropologie – slipped from its hangar and landed in a heap. Nell ignored it. I tolerate a lot from my baby sister, but no one disrespects my wardrobe.

“Oh for pity’s sake, Nell, stop trashing my stuff. You know I don’t have a gun.”

With a shout of triumph, she emerged cradling a gift-wrapped box, its once-curly bow limp and flattened from its soujourn in the back of the closet.

“Yes, you do,” she assured me as she tore into the dusty paper. “I gave it to you for a housewarming gift.”

I rocketed out of my chair and across the room just in time to see her pull an enormous handgun from its nest of pink tissue paper.

“You said that was a box of cleaning supplies!”

“It is. Springfield XD, 9 millimeter — for all your toughest stains.

“Oh my God, Nell! You might have killed me!”

“Oh, relax. I wrapped the clip separately. And I knew if you thought it was cleaning supplies you’d never lay a finger on it.”

My mouth hung open for a beat as my brain tried to catch up with the unfolding events. First things first.

“Okay. For the record…insulting my housekeeping skills is a really low blow. But I’m going to let that slide, because right now I’m more freaked out that there’s a gun in my house, Nell. I real, live, shoot-people-dead kind of gun! What were you thinking?”

Nell picked the last scrap of tape off the clip — she really had wrapped it separately – and sighed. “Two things, Chrissie,” she began. “First of all, there’s been a gun in your house for the last six months and you slept like a baby. I really don’t see a need to get all weird about it now.”

She rammed the clip home with the heel of her hand like some sort of movie tough guy, and stood up. “Second, it’s coming with me, so just go back to your paperback and forget I was ever here.”

Nell shoved past me and headed out the door. But she wasn’t the only cop’s daughter in the room. And my Mountain Dew habit ensured that I had a good 15 pounds on her, easy. Before she could say boo, I had her on her stomach, one arm twisted behind her back and her gun hand pinned under my knee. Just like when we were kids. Well, with one notable exception.

I plucked the gun from her fingers and pressed the button that released the clip. It accidentally-on-purpose caught her square in the back of the head.

“Ow! Let me up, Christine!”

“Not until you say it,” I sing-songed.

“What? Say what?”

“You know what. Now say it.” I bounced a little as I straddled her back and heard her breath go out in a whoosh. I eased up a bit and she took a big gulp of air.

“Fine!! Christine Littletree is the best, most beautiful girl in the world!”


“I don’t remember!”

I bounce once more.

“Aaah! And I will be her humble servant forever!”

I rolled off her and she scrambled to a sitting position across from me on the floor.

“Now then, my humble servant, you can start by telling me why you need a gun.”

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The Big Sleep

Maw maw and Sam discovered that Will’s third fish in two weeks had followed in his forebears footsteps and gone belly up. In an effort to keep Sam from running straight to Will screaming “Ding, Dong! The Fish is Dead!” She suggested that perhaps he was only sleeping.

About that time, Will rounded the corner and Sam said, “Hey, Will your fish isn’t movin’. Maw Maw says it’s sleepin’, but I don’t think it’s gonna wake up.”


It's a really deep sleep.

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Little Bribes

Sam enters the living room cradling two fists full of crumpled one dollar bills.


“What’s that, Sam?”

“Jack wants to know if he can come out of time out if he gives you ‘dis.”

A snort escapes me as I watch Jason struggle to arrange his face into a suitably serious mask.

“Tell Jack he can come out when I say he can come out and not a minute before.”

Sam, troops back down the stairs to relay the message and return the loot. Jack eventually makes it out of time-out. And I wonder what on earth I’ll do for entertainment when there are no little boys treading the boards of our “home theater.”

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Will interrupting

Will, interrupting a conversation having nothing whatsoever to do with food, “Mom, speaking of ice cream…can we have ice cream?”

I guess when you’ve got a craving, all roads lead to Dairy Queen.

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You say potato, they say @#$%

Y’all…I finally had to break down and tell Tommy that you don’t pronounce Giraffe ‘ga-jraf’. But just like Sam’s ‘lasternoon’ for yesterday, Jack’s ‘tie-yul’ for towel, I don’t think I’ll ever get over the loss of that last vestige of babyhood. As for Will…we all heaved a sigh of relief the day he finally worked out his issues with the word ‘fork.’

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Lesson Learned

So, just for your information the Metamucil dosage cup is less than precise. And there is a VERY fine line between “gentle, overnight relief” and “near death experience.”

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Perhaps it’s the germs talking…

…but I’m actually too sick to read. Too miserable to pay attention to someone else’s plot. Too out of sorts to make up my own. The only thing I’m excelling at at this moment is sucking at numerous things at one time. Is there an olympic medal for that?

I’m contemplating asking a friend to drive my kids to school tomorrow…but that would mean she’d have to see the inside of my van. And NO ONE can see the inside of my van. We’re almost at the “kill it with fire” stage of clutter. And now, I officially have the boys’ virus.

There are dirty clothes mocking me from the laundry room. Dishes that need to actually leave the dishwasher and return to the cupboard. But honestly, the kids can reach them more easily in the dishwasher — at least that’s the excuse I’m running with right now. It’s overwhelming in the biggest sense of the word.

I’m accustomed to short bouts of sick. They’re rough, but I can bounce back with a marathon laundry session and simply attacking the rest of the house with a garbage bag. But this…this… ICK I’ve been dealing with for the past two weeks has floored me. I’ve been tapping out frantically, but it still won’t let me up from the mat.

I can’t even find it in me to blame February. February is my go-to scape goat for the feeling of helpless inertia that seems to take hold this time of year. But usually it’s been cold, bleak and miserable for a month or so by now. Usually, February has done everything in its power make me hate it with the fiery heat of a thousand suns.

But not this year. This year, February’s been warm and bright and surprisingly wonderful. There have been 70 degree days that have popped up like tiny previews of spring. There are flowers in bloom. The kids have played outside for hours. It’s been amazing — and vaguely annoying. Because now there’s no scapegoat…unless you count my uterus.

I suppose my broke-down, tired, and soon-to-be-late uterus is to blame for most of my misery, although it doesn’t feel nearly as satisfying for some reason. In the grand scheme of things, it’s just a tiny, disposable meatball. At least February has some stage presence. It’s an official Proper Noun, for goodness sake. [Note: I just deleted the exclamation point at the end of that sentence. Because I'm TOO LETHARGIC for exclamation points...but thankfully I still have ALLCAPS]


And so, here I am, just one more intestinal event away from a complete descent into chaos. The good news is, in 2.5 hours, a new day starts. And who knows? I might have a burst of competence.

It’s another sunny day in February, so anything could happen.



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Dear Uterus

Now that we’ve finally come to the end of our life together, I find saying goodbye is much harder than I thought. I can’t say that I’m not pleased to see you go. Let’s face it, our relationship has been a rocky one ever since I first got to know you back in the 6th grade. You’re the reason my mother tried to force me to eat iron-rich chicken livers in high school, and the reason I sampled every birth control pill known to woman once I was married. Then, when I finally needed you to do your job, you had to be begged, bribed and cajoled into action.

But when push came to shove, you really came through for me in a big way. Together we endured 2 pregnancies in 19 months. And as the triplets writhed and flipped and generally tried to tear us both asunder, you held strong, cradling them safely for longer than anyone could have imagined or hoped. I guess that’s why relegating you to the hazmat bin seems kind of unfair.


Is this any way to say "Thanks for the memories?"

So I’ve been brainstorming, and have come up with a few alternatives:

I could have you cremated and made into keychains.

So you'd always be on the go.

Unfortunately, they only come in sets of three, and I don’t think it would be fair to leave one of the boys out. I suppose I could order a double set, then Jason and I could have one, too. But I just don’t see him getting on board with this idea without some serious cajoling on my part. Even if I did talk him into it, I have a strong suspicion his portion of you would be “lost” within 24 hours.

There’s always a memorial tattoo.

It's not like this guy's Pit Bull deserves more credit than you, right?

But…let’s face it…I’m just not a tattoo kind of girl. And I think I might become increasingly less fond of you if I had to see you every time I look in the mirror. Heaven knows I’m not on speaking terms with my stomach and upper thighs for just this reason.

When it comes down to it, I think my first inclination was by far the best and most appropriate — a Viking Funeral.

Picture this floating down the Cahaba River next week.

Really, the only downside I can see is the very real chance of your starting a raging forest fire. But other than that — genius, right?

Seriously, Uterus…even if I can’t wrangle a permit for the flaming longboat, don’t think your hard work hasn’t been appreciated. The boys are incredible — so healthy and perfect. Full of silliness and wonder. That’s a legacy you can be proud of. Heck, anyone would be. Goodness knows I am.



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Pirate Party

There are days I hope I’ll remember forever, and Jack’s 7th birthday party definitely qualifies. I’ve already stated to friends that this year is probably the last one where I’ll be able to do “little boy” things for him. Already the desire to be grown up (and the ensuing moodiness) is rearing its ugly head. But for this one day, fun reigned supreme.

Pirates say AAARGH!

His grandmother and I kind of went nuts on the decorating.

I don't want to know what maw maw had to do to earn these.

We only had a week to prepare, and I shudder to think what Linda could have cooked up if I’d given her another 7 days to scheme. Check out the ship’s cannons.

Pool noodles -- for sea dogs and land lubbers alike.

As it was, we staged a pirate battle complete with nerf cannon balls and confetti guns, walked the plank over dangerous rubber crocodiles,

fished for prizes (a clothes pin on the end of a fishing pole delivered a cache of chocolate coins in a genuine pirate drawstring bag), made pirate crafts (glitter glue is a @#$% to get out of fabric unless you act fast)

and finished up with a treasure hunt for a chest full of individual pirate goody bags.

Then there were ice cream boats, donut towers and ocean blue punch for snack.

Check out the mainsail on that Ice Cream Boat!

Or as Jason likes to call it, the “NOT IN THE CAR!” cocktail.

A hearty mix of Raspberry filled and plain doughnuts

Chocolate Iced and Cream-filled. *sigh*

Exhausting? Yes.

Messy? We cleaned the playroom with a shovel (literally) and a shopvac.

Worth it? Absolutely. After the treasure hunt, I heard Jack shout to the crowd of pirates gathered around him, “This is the best day ever!”

And you know what? It was.

Posted in Family & Relationships, Kids.

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