Ode to Maternity Clothes

Thank you, maternity clothes, for making me feel less attractive than I already am

I realize the orb-like appendage extending from my midsection leaves you with lofty goals to attain; still, you fall grievously short of your endgame

With fabrics somewhere between highly viscous jet fuel and canvas starched to within an inch of its life

With shoe-string thin ties that either knot in one’s back or threaten to dip in the toilet in an already awkward dance

With handkerchief hems that add volume to our thighs, yet leave our sausage-like backside showing

Thank you

Thank you for pricing anything that looks remotely like real clothing out of range of anyone in her right mind – for three months of wear

Thank you to your merchandising gurus who decided to place your displays next to the plus size wear

Thank you for providing an infinite amount of baby-doll tops to go with three proffered pairs of pants

And to your partner in crime: the fitting room mirror

Thank you for showing me the parts of myself that I hadn’t realized has gotten so hairy under that belly

Thank you for accentuating just how wide my side view now is

Thank you for sallow skin, double chin, and purple circles under the eyes

Maternity clothes, you suck – only slightly more than trying you on


‘Portrait of an Unknown Lady’ by Marcus Gheeraerts II



Murphy’s Child Outtakes

If you’d like to further tempt fate and play the odds for a surprise child, here are additional steps you can take.

  • Purchase a big family vehicle with one seat more than number of children you currently have. When your father-in-law comments that ‘you have room for one more’ and asks if you’re going to fill that seat too, say “Nooooooo! Not planning on it!”



  • When looking to hang the precious Christmas stockings your mother bought for each member of the family, you must have identical hooks. Be sure to buy the unique,weight-balanced ones, regionally made, sold from but one supplier – and only in sets of two. So when you outfit your last baby, you can tuck the extra hook into the storage tote, telling your husband, ‘you don’t think keeping this ensures another stocking (child) to fill it?’ You both laugh heartily at your superstition, but perhaps a little too much.
  • While giving visitors the dime tour of your new, larger, family-friendly house, point out the proximity of the bathroom to your side of the bed. Be sure to quip, ‘Too bad I got it after I walked down the stairs in the middle of the night for the three other pregnancies!”
  • Tell everyone about that woman you knew in your early twenties who surprised everyone, included herself, by getting pregnant at forty. She’d just joined a gym, replaced her wall-to-wall carpeting with refinished hardwoods, and sent her youngest off to middle school. Be sure to add significant shock and awe to your retell.
  • Try not to micromanage and embrace life in all its iterations. And you and Murph will get along fine.

Murphy’s Child

There are some sure-fire ways to guarantee the growth of your family. None are medically proven; none are rational – but all fall under the accord of Murphy’s Law.

  • First and foremost, tell everyone who asks – even those who don’t – that you are done having children. Your family is complete.
  • Further this point by passing along all your baby paraphernalia, with the caveat that you never want to see it again. They can do with it whatever they like when they’re done with it, but you don’t want it back.
  • Sweep maternity clothes out of your home with great aplomb. Plunk the rubber tote you’ve been storing them in on your neighbor/co-worker/friend’s front step with great and resounding authority.
  • Start to enjoy the long-forgotten freedom you and your spouse can reclaim at parties and cook-outs, even when the children are present. You can sit for 2.5 seconds without rushing to pluck them from the jaws of salmonella, see-saws, or swinging bats. Up the ante by enjoying a refreshing adult beverage.
  • Dream of a day in the not-so-distant future where you may actually be able to take a family vacation. All the kids are potty-trained, done with naps, and significantly less likely to throw a tantrum. The rosy glow on the horizon – and substantial sums of money no longer going toward diapers and pull-ups – even make you consider opening a dedicated savings account.
  • Send your youngest off to her first full day at school. Look at the seemingly endless hours that stretch before you and marvel at how you’ll fill them. Begin to dream and scheme for something soul-fulfilling, personal, even professional.
  • Most importantly – and the penultimate step – is to engage in quality intimate time with your spouse. Have actual conversations, canoodle, and connect in ways you haven’t since you conceived your last child – wait, what?
  • Too late. Murphy strikes again.


DJ Khalid Pregnancy Redux

All I do is eat, eat, eat no matter what

Got nausea on my mind,

man, I’ve had enough

When I walk into the bathroom

the toilet lid goes up –

and I stay there


Baby Center blog

and I stay there

and I stay there

Up chuck, up chuck, up chuck

make me say, what the *$@%

These flippin’ hormones

Obtaining a Passport in 14 Simple Steps

  1. Wait until the absolute last minute to apply. For instance, if the state department says processing time is four to six weeks, file your applications four weeks to the day of departure.
  2. Be sure to do all your business on a weekday. This gives you the added bonuses of:
    • your spouse’s absence
      • While he’ll miss the ensuing hilarity at the passport counter, he can contribute by badgering his fellow officemates for a notarized seal on the extra form you’ll have to present as proof you’re not trying to steal his children across the border without his consent.
      • It will also give both of you the opportunity to appreciate the true skills of license forgerers as neither one of you will be able to photocopy his likeness. *It may also make you wonder if you’ve married a vampire.
    • time constraints
      • With all postal collection agencies stopping their passport services 30 minutes-1 hour before their already conservative closing time, you have the thrill of rushing at breakneck speeds from your children’s busstop to a neighboring town – which brings me to my next point.
  3. Bring all of the children for whom you’ll be obtaining passports. The more the better. More whining in the long lines. More children crossing their eyes at the one trying to maintain a stoic face while getting his/her photo taken. More little hands to pull padded envelopes from their displays in the post office lobby. To grab the weighted blotter from the counter and wave it above their heads. To terrorize the patrons retrieving mail from their PO boxes.Not only does the passport agent need to see them, their behavior may make them reconsider this inconvenient policy.

And speaking of inconvenient policies:

  1. Be sure to choose a postal collection agency that does not have its full information posted on the link from the state department’s website – so you can wait in said line with children straining to hold in their poo only to reach the front counter to be told, yeah, we don’t process passports within an hour of closing. You’ll have to come back. Yes, with all three kids.
  2. Drive back through the two neighboring towns you passed to get here, with two children beating each other in the backseat since starvation and dehydration have set in and the third complaining about the poo in her pants.
  3. Try again the next day at a postal collection agency that’s a little closer and open a half-hour later – which you know because you’ve checked and checked again. Schlep all the children through that line, meeting clerk so nice she won’t take your application because she would hate for the state department to return the whole thing since your husband’s photocopied license isn’t visible.
  4. Curse the amazing mediterranean tan your husband gets each year, wish he were as pale as you, tuck your tail between your legs and leave the counter. *Wondering even more if your husband is a vampire.
  5. Release your pent-up rage as you pass through the parking lot since it wasn’t the so nice clerk’s fault it’s so gad-dummed difficult to get someone, anyone to just take. my. papers!
  6. Take several days off – because life intervenes, and you don’t want to be arrested for assault of a passport agent. Plus, you’ve already screwed any chances of obtaining the passports in time anyway.
  7. Take this downtime to discuss with your incredibly tan husband, who may or may not suck blood, the possibility of expediting your children’s passports – for an additional fee, of course. Why not pour all the money you saved by purposely opting for the less-expensive passport cards – and then some – into the exorbitant total cost for expediting three kid passports?
  8. Scurry around the house like nincompoops, scanning, printing, and peering at new copies of his license for what better be the ultimate passport application submission attempt.
  9. Revisit post office from few days previous, nice clerk nowhere to be seen. Dispondently hand over application materials to new clerk, who, when you mention the license issue, looks and says it should be fine, but she’ll submit both copies just to be sure. When clerk questions your departure date and whether you’d like to expedite, answer ‘no’ so quickly, she jumps back. When she reminds you the passports may not arrive in time, with a twitch of the shoulder and giggle so borderline psychotic she looks uncomfortable, tell her, ‘Well, we just won’t go then.’
  10. Hand over a ridiculous amount of checks and funds and get the hell out of dodge.
  11. Resist the urge to dwell on the fact that you’ve wasted a week of your life – especially when you discover that all your children need to pass over the northern border are their birth certificates.


What I Learned from my First 5K

The formative moment in my running career is a failure to pace and subsequently puke after a grade school event it took me many years to live down. While I can run, I am no runner. Still, I aim for a modicum of fitness and when my daughters’ school hosted a 5K as a fundraiser, I signed us all up. Here’s what the experience taught me.

  • Forcing children to run is never really a good idea
  • Keeping said children up late the night before to stuff their faces with refined sugar at a s’mores fest . . . you tell me
  • Children will still show us pathetically fit adults up – despite the last two points
  • You can go farther in a slow jog, but not as far as you would think
  • Even the slow-motion jog – one step up from power walking – can become excruciating after awhile
  • I must apologize to all old women of whom I’ve ever made fun for power walking
  • There are many muscles in the pelvic girdle
  • They will all hurt individually if you decide to pound the pavement
  • The physical therapist who put you back together after birthing your third child was a genius
  • You should have continued doing her exercises
  • The young and fleet of foot will lap you before you’ve completed even one revolution
  • Walking 5K is not as wimpy as you initially thought
  • Breezing past the officials at the checkpoint fools no one; they know you walk as soon as you reach the cover of those trees
  • You will hit your stride just in time to finish
Jennifer Butler Basile

Ironically, this year is probably the last I was in shape.  Photo by Jennifer Butler Basile

What Overnight Camping with Girl Scouts Will Teach You

  1. You were sadly mistaken when you thought the sleepless nights of your child’s infancy were over.
  2. You really did forget how much they sucked.
  3. All that whining about being overtired on your ‘normal’ schedule is a gross overexaggeration.
  4. The winding roads leading out of camp will make your head swim like the Dreaded Corkscrew of Death rollercoaster you loved as an eleven year-old – because now you’re middle-aged and sleep deprivation does funny things to you.
  5. Sometimes it pays to delay dropping the winter comforter you removed from your bed last spring at the dry cleaners. When you realize you forgot a blanket, you can retrieve it from your car trunk. Needs to be cleaned anyway!
  6. No matter how tired you are, you will hear the ill-seated toilet clunk upon the floor when the child masquerading as an elephant rumbles downstairs to use it at 3 AM.
  7. That odd scritching sound you hear just before dawn is not the pitter-patter of your charges. A seasoned leader will later tell you it was the squirrels in the ceiling.
  8. Impressing upon children the skill of packing only what you can carry is like telling Imelda Marcos she needs to cull her shoe collection.
  9. Engaging caffeine is a love/hate relationship: love it now, hate it when you shake so much you can’t put any more in your body yet still feel like shit.
  10. You really do have a laissez-faire, no-nonsense attitude with your own children.
  11. Other people’s children may not know how to navigate your ‘tough tooties – time for bed NOW’ attitude.
  12. A short time after arrival, you will take on the ‘Eau de Camping’ – a subtle scent with notes of mildew and maple syrup.
  13. Crafting at 11 o’clock at night is totally on the table.
  14. Four to eight eager girls will demand on-pointe spatial relations skills simultaneously and impatiently – at 11 o’clock at night.
  15. Children who go to sleep at approximately one o’clock in the morning will bounce out of bed at approximately seven o’clock.
  16. Bounce is not a euphemism.
  17. Shaky balcony rails were meant to be leant on.
  18. All trap-doors, attic access points, and all-around off limits areas will be located and attempted to be entered.
  19. The limitless flow of last night’s enthusiasm will dwindle drastically when it is time to sweep the floor before leaving.
  20. There is a threshold for number of times to hear ‘It’s a Hard Knock Life’ sung at top volume.
  21. Even eight, nine, and ten year-old girls can be subject to hormonal swings.
  22. You will all remember this as a special time – a bond that can only be made in a sleep-deprived, survivor-type environment.W_C2

The Changing of the Clothes

In just ten easy steps, you, too, can get your children’s drawers ready for fall and winter!

1.  Save every possible stitch of hand-me-down clothing you can get your hands on, even items your previous child may have loathed or ones they loved so much they near extinction.

2.  Wait until the switch is absolutely essential.  That month or so of sweatshirt mornings/shorts afternoons – way too early.  You must relish those last-minute mornings of fishing the one clean pair of long pants out of a random laundry basket.  Searching out hooded sweatshirts shoved into the sandy bottom of your forlorn beach bag – priceless.

3.  Reassess the situation when your children have shivered onto the bus for six consecutive school days.  Ensure that the sixth day follows a weekend.  See if it wasn’t just an acclimation period.  Grudgingly drag one bin up from the basement and pull from that during this waiting period.  If needed, you may also pull one stretched out kitchen garbage bag into your child’s room.  The clothes in this bag, however, may not be of any use to you as they were the ones that might not fit next season, but were so stinking cute you couldn’t bear to part with them.  Now is the time.

4.  After three days and nights of your children plying you to change out their drawers and your frantic scrambling to find clothes that fit them, but still sending them off looking like three of Fagin’s minions, start pulling your youngest’s summer shirts out of the baskets in her closet.  Make a pile of outgrown clothes to donate, a pile of ones that might not fit next season, but are so stinking cute you can’t bear to part with them, and a pile of those that certainly won’t fit next season but could work under a sweater right now.

5.  Leave these three piles on the floor of her bedroom for a day and a half.  Be sure to yell at your other children for knocking over and mixing up the piles.

6.  Open the one bin you’ve dragged up from the basement and put the shirts from it into the baskets in the closet you just cleared out.

7.  Repeat step 4 1/2, 5, and 6 for pants, sweatshirts, pjs, and bathing suits (the spot of which will now be filled by sweaters).

8.  Shove the rest of the clothes which you do not have room for – but are in perfectly good shape and kids are so messy you could always use an extra pair – into any nook, cranny, or hole you can find in their closet.

9.  Take the one bin you’ve managed to empty and bring it into your oldest’s daughter’s room.  Put her outsized clothes into it, where they will stay for the 2.5 years it will take for your next child to grow into them.

10.  Put all the newly filled bins back into the basement where they would sit collecting cobwebs for three months – except that in two weeks you’ll have to move them all about to get the one on the bottom into which you must place three more items you found lingering at the bottom of the hamper two weeks too late.

from operationwife.com

from operationwife.com

And that’s all there is to a smooth wardrobe transition from one season to another!  Easy Peasy!

Dinner with Kids: A Play Written in One Act

Setting: dining table; random art projects, crumpled mail, and broken toys strewn about the periphery                        

Time: Witching hour


Mom: Time to eat!

Children [from other room in front of TV]:

Dad: Let’s go. Shut that off.

Children [from other room in front of TV]:

Dad: NOW

Oldest child: Okay

Five minutes later

Mom: If you want to eat, get in here now.

Children enter stage right

Dad: So what did you do today?

Mom: Well, I eoifagnioen foin

[Mom’s last words garbled by sounds of the youngest singing ‘Skinnamarinky-dink’]

Dad: I’m sorry, what?

Oldest [in an English accent]: Hello, Governor. How are you today?

Middle Child: erupts in infectious roll of giggles

Dad: Girls, would you –

Youngest Child: AAAAAAAHHHHHH!

Mom: What the hell was that for?

Youngest Child: I got milk on my princess dress.

Dad jumps up to get paper towel as he and mother just noticed milk cascading through crack in table onto floor

Middle: Mom, she’s looking at me.

Youngest: sticks tongue out at both sisters.

Oldest [in English accent]: Would you cut it out, Governor?

Dad: returning from kitchen with wad of paper towels. If you girls aren’t going to eat, leave the table and let your mother and me eat in peace.

All three children: Okay!

Middle: Can we watch TV?

Mom: Fine, go.

All three children tear from the room. Sound of laugh-track mindless teen sitcom comes from off-stage.

Dad: So how was your day?

Oldest [from other room]: Mom, she won’t shove over.

Middle: She keeps kicking me.


Mom: I’ll tell you tomorrow.

Know the Parameters of Your Vehicle


One of the first lessons of drivers’ ed, no?

I remember sitting in a stuffy classroom with a bunch of bored teenagers waiting for the gruesome slide show of what could happen to us if we exceeded the speed limit (This was before texting and driving existed). While I may have forgotten the exact way to proceed through a four-way stop sign in an orderly fashion, I can still see the imaginary line the instructor drew from the left front fender of the car diagonally to the yellow line in the road – and the other one he drew from the right front fender to the white line marking the shoulder. Absolutely essential to align one’s vehicle in the center of its traveling lane and at a safe distance from the vehicles around it.

I can still sit myself behind the driver’s seat of that virtual tank of a car and see the nice neat points of the front fenders riding the rails of those lines in the road, shielding me from oncoming traffic and obstacles.

via IMCDB.com

via IMCDB.com

But just as telephonic technology has surpassed the cautionary tales of my days of drivers’ ed, so too have the aerodynamic advancements in car design. You try to find a car with square edges anymore. Even the quintessential government-issue boxy Suburban has rounded out. Jack Ryan (as played by Harrison Ford) would be ashamed. It’s nearly impossible to match all those swooping curves to the angular lines of the road nowadays.

Transfer these trials, if you will, to the grocery store.

Have you had the pleasure of driving one of those insipid race car carriages?

Whoever created them is an evil genius of the highest degree. Yes, in theory, it keeps children contained and entertained. Aside from the incessant beeping of the suction bulb horn, your children are a captive audience – thanks to the handy seat belts. However, there are various permutations that alter that ‘blissful’ scene.

Your one child has both steering wheels to himself, but making engine noises gets old fast with no audience and he quickly wants to climb out to be with Mommy, leaving you to push a gargantuan half-empty carriage around the store.

Your two children each get their own steering wheel, but only one horn works. A flailing of arms and flapping of hands ends in a slap fest with wails more heinous than the strangled duck quack of the remaining horn.

Two of your children, the biggest and least able to fit in the cab of the car, strong-arm their way inside, leaving the youngest, smallest, and most amped about such a ride, trailing behind pitifully, alternately pulling on your pant leg and her siblings’ arms – or hair – begging for a ride.

And that’s just the kids.

One would think that the least problematic part of this equation would be the cart itself, given its inanimate nature and all. Ha ha. Then you would be deceived, my friend.

I decided to up the ante this past Friday. You know, July 4th ?

We needed food. We weren’t doing anything fun since it was raining and the holiday. What better time to go grocery shopping with three kids?

It’s not like the entire vacationing population in the surrounding coastal area had the same exact idea.

My husband and I dragged the kids to a discount store beforehand, too, where the eldest convinced the youngest to stick her head into a carpeted cat condo. Good times. When the two oldest, yes oldest, requested the car carriage at the grocery store, I was grasping at straws, really. The look on my husband’s face when he saw me pushing the monstrosity of a carriage into the store, where he and our youngest were waiting, confirmed my insanity. And my state of being matched the tenor of the store.

The produce section, which on any day is hard to navigate with multiple bins packed in, was crawling with more people than potato bugs on a field of bruised spuds. With the turning radius of a sea cow, I ended up moving backward through the aisles. Alas, I did not know the parameters of my vehicle and banged into a woman’s leg with the front of that infernal car. And then I ma’am’ed her as I apologized – the first time I’ve done so in my life. It’s no wonder she didn’t slam the car back into me. After another near miss with the same woman near the bananas, I ended up parking the car and kids with my husband to dive back into the produce pool, while he refereed our youngest’s attempts to gain access to the driver’s seat.

We made it to the check-out aisle with minor infractions after that, but our trip was not yet done.

My husband loaded the conveyor belt and then moved to the other end of the register to bag our groceries. Industrious, helpful, and proactive. But totally unaware of my trial-and-error navigation of the beast of burden. As we went to leave, I pushed the cart to the left, even though we were going to exit to the right. I knew it wouldn’t make the tight turn to the right and planned to go left and back up. Only my husband stepped forward to walk toward the exit just as I swung left. He howled louder than our youngest before she got her turn driving. All those gathered at the front of the store turned, to see my still sputtering husband stalking toward the exit and me moving backward, pulling the car behind me.

Once I got the cart turned the right way and pushed out into the pouring rain, I imagined the ways I could torture the inventor of the infernal object that had obviously been spawned in the underworld. But I’m sure he or she was functioning under the same principles that forced my decision to load the kids into the thing at the start of that grocery visit: the risk/reward factor we all take into account with each parenting decision. Is the frustration of pushing an unwieldy vehicle through the store equal to or better than dealing with wild animals loosed upon the produce aisle? I do have some suggestions for said inventor, though.

Would it kill you put some tall flags on the front corners of the cars? Little orange dooies like the little old ladies put on the back of their scooters? Decrease the wheel base, perhaps? Or better yet, offer a free babysitting service at the front of the store with a racetrack where they can drive the suckers themselves while I shop?

When it comes to grocery store race car carriages, I may not know the parameters of my vehicle, but I’ve learned my threshold of insanity. Yet again, in the grocery store.

shopping cart race car


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