Friday, April 29, 2011

On princesses and fairy tale endings

I must interrupt the highbrow, intelligent, and sage wisdom that you usually find here to bring you my thoughts on the royal wedding.

I know. Somewhere in the world my brother Daniel just poked his eyeballs out.

But to understand my feelings on the subject, you must first know something:

I thought I was Princess Diana herself. Evidenced here:


As a little girl, I was forever ruined when I saw Diana march up that exceptionally long aisle with a bridal train that was four miles long. I knew I had to have one just like it.

And, minus a few poofy ruffles, her short hair, and the ugly, cheating husband: I did.

As I watched the nuptials this morning, the little girl inside me who dreams of fairy tale endings, rejoiced. Tears fell down my cheeks, and I was powerless to stop them.

Today, a simple girl walked into a church as a commoner, and walked out as a princess.

It is the very thing little girls dreams of. It is the happy ending in every story we read to our daughters. It is the epitome of love and romance -- to marry your prince (whether he be an actual prince or simply prince-like). There is not a shriveled heart alive in the world today that doesn't find that captivating, romantic, and hopeful.

And, oh sweet fancy moses, the dress.

One look at it, and I made a frantic, early morning phone call to the Husband demanding that we get married again. Just so I could wear THAT dress.

He offered to let me pick a different groom, too. [I've got a few calls in to Hugh and Colin's people. I'll let you know how it goes.]

But it was stunning, simple, modest, classic, and elegant. I will love it forever.

Here's hoping the fairy tale ends the way they're supposed to -- a long life together, babies, lots of love, and no one named Camilla.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mama, I shrunk myself!

The other day while ignoring my children practicing hands-off parenting, I was interrupted in my reverie when a vehicle ran over my foot.

I looked down and this was the sight I saw:


Closer examination revealed an important message on my cell phone:


[In case you are blind], it said:

"Dear Mom, I am now the size of a pea. I had to duplicate myself to drive this car. Use this controller to change me back by pushing the stop button. Then count to twenty so the uv rays don't blind you. Thanks, Chase P.S. The tape doesn't hurt the phone"

I thought long and hard before making any decisions. After all, a pea-sized child might not be such a bad thing. Lower grocery bills, someone to spy on any conversation I want to listen to, less pants to grow out of.

But then I envisioned my rather sumptuous rear end accidentally sitting on the poor kid. Or accidentally sucking him up with the vacuum.

And that made me cry.

So I decided I better bring him back to normal size. I obeyed the instructions, keeping my eyes shut tight to protect me from the deadly UV rays.

After the longest twenty seconds of my life, I opened my eyes, and this was the sight I saw:


I guess now would be a good time to return that pea-sized dollhouse I bought him to live in, eh?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How-To Tuesday: How to whiten teeth in photoshop

Let's say you have a photo of your son that you love. Your son and his awesome mohawk from last year. Only, since he is a kid, and not always as diligent as you'd like him to be, his teeth brushing has left something to be desired. Rather than live with the yellow not-quite-white teeth in the photo, I am going to show you how to fix it.


There about 9,459 ways in Photoshop to whiten teeth. I make no claim that this is THE one and only way. It's just the way I do it. And it takes less than a minute.

Step one: Open your image in Photoshop. I use CS3, but I believe it would work in Elements, as well as the newer versions.

Select the yin/yang looking icon on the bottom right hand side to create a new adjustment layer. In the pop-up menu, select "Hue/Saturation."

When the Hue/Saturation dialogue box pops up, select "Yellow" from the pop-down menu, and turn the slider for saturation to the left until your teeth have no yellow in them. At this point, you will likely have ruined the rest of the photo, but take heart, we will fix it later. Just focus on the teeth. Click OK.


Zoom in until your screen is filled mostly with the teeth. Now you want to hit CTRL-I, which will invert the layer mask. We will then use our brush tool (just push letter B and it will shortcut to the brush). Choose a soft-edged brush and begin "painting" over the teeth. This paints our saturation adjustment layer back in - restoring the fix we did, but only in the areas we want (i.e., the teeth). If all looks okay to you, merge down your layers.


Still with me?

Good. You can do this. While the teeth look considerably less yellow, they lack any whiteness or brightness to them. We want to fix that.

Create another adjustment layer, this time click on "Brightness/Contrast" from the pop-up menu. In the dialogue box, you want to take your brightness slider and move it to the right. Don't panic when your whole image starts to look wrong. It's all about the teeth right now. We'll fix the rest later.

Once your teeth look nice and bright, select okay.


Then hit CTRL-I again to invert the layer. Select your brush tool (B) and paint over the teeth again.


They will likely look horribly white - too white. Zoom out until you are looking at the whole picture. Then take your opacity slider on the brightness/contrast adjustment layer and reduce it until it looks right to you. For me, that number is usually around 25-35 percent. Do what looks best on your photo. Neon white teeth? Not so good. But we want to pop the brightness just a bit. Then merge the layers down.


And that's it! It sounds way more complicated than it actually is. And here is our SOOC (straight out of the camera) shot and the edited version. The difference is subtle, but that means we didn't overdo it in editing. A nice, white smile that doesn't look like we photoshopped the crap out of it.

Always a good thing.


Your turn. What can you teach me today?

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Monday, April 25, 2011


Dear Hannah,


Today at exactly 9:10 p.m, you have been in my life for nine fantastic years. When I think about that number, it astounds me. Partly because I cannot believe it has been that long, but mostly because it means I am halfway done with your daily presence in my life. And quite frankly, I don't know what I'll ever do without you.

We had your birthday dinner last night with Daddy, and, as per our tradition, I told the story of your birth. You laughed and smiled, shrugging your shoulders when I told about you being so late. I remember when I finally did get to have your tiny body in my arms, and was able to gaze at your absolutely perfect face -- in that moment, I knew I was complete. I knew there was nothing else in the world that I would ever need. You were the icing on the cake. And our life has known nothing but pink, fluffy sweetness ever since.


You constantly amaze me with your creativity. You currently plan to be an author when you grow up, and are in the middle of writing your first novel. Last fall, you brought me a jar and several scraps of paper, and told me to give you topics to write about. I brainstormed and filled up your little pieces of paper, then sat back and reveled in the writing you brought me.

You write beyond your years, baby girl.

Please don't let anyone crush that in you. The creative writing bug is a delicate thing, one that must be protected and nourished. I hope you will continue to pour out your soul via paper and pen. I think the world will be a better place for having read it.


You have still not outgrown your fierce independence, and deep down inside I am grateful. You have no doubt of what you want, and how you will get there. It is a constant negotiation with you. I can't simply say no, I have to tell you why, and when, and how I came to that conclusion. Your keen mind has to be satisfied, and sometimes that takes quite a bit of work on my end.

I also frequently have to remind you that I am still the mom, as your inner leader comes out when dealing with your brothers on an almost daily basis. The funny thing is, they tend to actually obey you and do what you ask.

It leaves me no doubt that you will one day make a fantastic mother.


Deep at your core, there is nothing but goodness. You and sensitive and kind. You root for the underdog every single time. You are happy and your laughter is contagious. You make me try harder, as mediocre is not in your vocabulary.

You are so beautiful, and your smile lights up the room. There is nothing I love more than seeing your green eyes sparkle as you chatter away about your day. Or holding you on my lap, cuddling you and your gangly limbs.

Can I just tell you how much I love that? How much I love that you still climb up onto my lap now and then? You've not fit there for quite some time, but I never tire of feeling your soft hands as they explore my earrings or count my freckles.


You make my life sparkle. You make everything so much fun. I thank the lord in all his wisdom for sending me exactly what I needed, just when I needed it.

For sending me you.


Happy ninth birthday, chica. I love you more than you will know.



Thursday, April 21, 2011

Proof positive that I am awesome (at least in my own eyes)

This, my friends, is what they call TRAGIC IRONY.


The irony lies in my refusal to give up cookies and diet coke, while still hoping to achieve a supermodel-like physique.

The tragedy lies in the fact that I kind of don't care.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How-To Tuesday: Organizational behavior, Stie style

Before I got married, I made all sorts of promises to the Husband. Promises that the now me rolls on the floor laughing at. Promises that, if made today, the Husband would double over with laughter and say, "I'm sorry, have we met?"

Yes, as a soon-to-be-newlywed, I naively said things like:

I am going to be dressed and ready every day before you leave for work.
I am going to make sure you always have ironed shirts waiting in the closet.
I am going to have a hot meal on the table when you come home every day.
I am going to devote hours of my life to keeping a clean home.

Bwaaahhhaaa, right?

Okay. So maybe I kind of do the last one. But the others? Took me less than two weeks to pretty much abandon the lot of them. Unapologetically, at that.

But one thing I did embrace was my inner OCD, and our home has been (for the most part) neat and organized ever since.

Keep in mind, short of laundry days, I probably only spend 30-45 minutes cleaning each day. Believe me, there are bigger fish to fry in my life. But with a little bit of planning and organization, you can stay on top of your work and enjoy a clean house, too. Here's how:

Number one: I do laundry twice a week, and only twice a week: Mondays and Thursdays. Laundry must be finished to completion. No loads are allowed to be left undone for the next day. Otherwise, you'll NEVER get caught up. Stay on top of it and fold each load as soon as the dryer is done.

Lucky for me, my dryer finishes a load about 12-13 minutes before the washer is done washing. (I know. It's awesome). I grab the dry load and have it folded before the wash cycle is done. Then it's a quick switch and I'm off to read blogs the next task on my list.

Number two: I clean two bathrooms on Tuesdays and two bathrooms on Fridays (we currently have four of them, so it means they get a thorough scrubbing once a week). I loathe cleaning the bathrooms, but it is a necessary evil. I have two boys whose aim defies the laws of physics. It is not pretty in there. But until I can convince the Husband to pay someone else to do it, the dirty job has got to be done.

Number three: I pick a problem area (be it closet, drawer, cupboard, desk or occasionally even a child's room) and clean it on Wednesdays. When I have more time, I tackle the bigger projects. But sometimes just cleaning out a drawer or cupboard in the kitchen makes all the difference for my sanity, and it takes very little time. I feel like I've accomplished something and it motivates me to keep going.

Number four: Multi-task. Key to this is speed and constancy. Don't let any one area get out of hand. Hurry and throw those breakfast dishes in the dishwasher right after breakfast. Dust while you're on a phone call. Sweep/vacuum quickly while the kids are doing homework. Wipe down a glass door while dinner is cooking. We are all busy. We all have no time. But ten minutes here or there can make a huge difference. You'll be surprised how much you can get done in a short amount of time.

Number five: Be organized. Everything has a place, and every member of the family must know where that place is. If you find you are constantly clearing the mail pile off the kitchen counter, then you need a designated spot for it. Get a cute basket or mail sorter and find a home for the wayward bills. If your kids are constantly leaving their shoes in a pile by the door, get a shoe cubby. It takes time to train your family to be organized, but I am living proof that it can be done. If there is a mess in the same place all the time, then it means you don't have a place for that mess. Find a place, train your people, and sit back and watch your house clean itself.

Well, almost.

Your turn. What have you got for us today?

P.S. A reader sent me a great suggestion: Leave what you're teaching in the linky rather than your name. Makes it easy to go back and search for a particular link without having to dig through piles and piles of posts, you know?

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Finding myself again

I wake up, the bright sunshine streaming through my window. In spite of the migraine that is just beginning, I am ready to take the day on. I stretch my tired limbs. I am determined not to let Monday win. I intend to take her by the horns and throw her to the ground.

I ignore the scale today and walk downstairs, where my biggest boy is up and dressed. I chat quietly at the table with him, and laugh as he gives me one of his famous would you rathers. He heads out the door, but not before hugging his mama. I hug him right back, and make sure not to let go first.

I walk down the hall and wake the girl who makes the rockstar hair in her sleep. She does not rouse easily, and mumbles all the way to the breakfast table. She is quiet in the mornings, and is best left alone on these kinds of days. Sort of like her mama.

I call the early bird up from the basement, where he has already spent an hour watching a documentary on alligators. I shake my head and wonder how it is possible to wake up so cheerful so early in the morning. I smile, knowing he is sure to share some gory details over his bowl of cereal, much to his sister's dismay.

I pack lunches and pour milk. I remind them both to brush their teeth. Again. I comb her hair, and find that she has warmed up to the day. I listen as she chatters away. I hug them tight and send them out the door with I love yous. The boy, as he does every day, turns and waves. The girl, as she does every day, is busy talking with friends.

The trainer comes and I work out. Hard. I feel my body returning to a strength I once took for granted. I hydrate and thank god for letting me get better. For letting me heal. I put in some laundry and clear out my inbox. I start a couple loaves of bread and return a few phone calls. I shower and tackle a mess in the office. I edit pictures. I run errands.

I am busy. And it feels so damn good.

I feel myself returning to the person I used to be. Someone who was productive. And strong. And happy.

Tears fill my eyes as I remember the place I was in, even just a few months ago. A place of despair and sorrow. A place that, for me, was without hope.

I am so grateful.

I finally feel like me again.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How-To Tuesday: Coconut Cake Balls

Our town has a cupcake store that is dangerously close to my front door. Their cupcakes are good, but definitely not my drug of choice. (Unless it's their red velvet. Then I can eat my weight in them.)

There is one item in their store, however, that I would buy each and every single day of my life except for two things:

1. They are almost two dollars a PIECE (and they're so small that I really need about 8 to satisfy my thirst for them)
2. I would weigh 900 pounds in less than a year

So I took it upon myself this week to try and recreate their tasty bites of awesomeness, if only to save the Husband's wallet a few dollars. (And to save me the shame of showing up there to buy any more. Last time? I placed my order for a dozen, and the clerk said, "Oh, you're the cake ball lady!" Yikes.)

While they do not taste exactly like the store's, they still taste absolutely divine. I will totally be making them again. And possibly again.

I give you, dear internet, the coconut cake balls:


First step is whipping up a batch of my version of the coconut cake (adapted originally from the goddess that is Paula Deen). Bake according to my directions and cool. Crumble cooled cake into a bowl and squish until you have fine crumbs. (Note, this cake makes three layers and is A LOT of cake balls. I only crumbled up about 1 1/2 layers and got around 50 balls, FYI.)


Some interesting observations here about me, my workspace, and the way I operate.


Moving on.

Add a cup or two of your favorite buttercream frosting. This one is my personal favorite and the only one I let touch my perfect cake. My darling. My preciousss....


Mix the cake and frosting with your hands until combined, adding more frosting to taste. Then pour in some coconut. I added roughly 1 1/2 cups.


Then roll them into balls and pop in the freezer for about 15 to 20 minutes.


Then (are you tired of using your mixer yet?) mix up a batch of my sugar cookie glaze:

2 3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp. shortening
3 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. corn syrup
1/4 tsp. vanilla

I wanted it pretty thin, so I ended up adding easily 9 Tbsp of water or more. Just keep adding water until it's the consistency of Elmer's glue.

I dipped the balls into the glaze and basically rolled them on the edge of the bowl to get most of the glaze off. Otherwise, it's just too much. You only want a light coat.


Then dip, roll, and cover these babies in coconut. Be prepared for the coconut explosion in your house. It gets E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E.


Garnish as desired and try not to eat too many of them. I popped them into mini-cupcake papers (though I was wishing I had a color other than white so as to make them stand out more), but I'm pretty sure no one is going to complain about that.

Except the angry voice in my head.

And nobody listens to her.


And that, my friends, is how you win friends and influence people. Amen.

Your turn!

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Monday, April 11, 2011


It started out as a simple, regular, ordinary day.

One boy, home from school, taking his mental health day. His mama gives him one per year, you see, and he chose a sunny, happy Friday for the occasion.

The boy and his mama started the morning off right with a four-mile run together. They talked easily as they ran, each with one headphone pulled out. Music still flowed, as did their effortless banter. He asked questions; she answered them. He made her laugh; she smiled at him. They set a goal to beat the washing machine busily spinning at home.

And beat it, they did.


They hydrated and showered, then headed over to the mall for a movie. It was definitely his pick, for she happily sacrificed one of her own. After all, she can see movies any day she wants. She never gets to see them with him.

He loved it. And that was what mattered to her.


She treated him to lunch, and he repaid her with lively conversation. She watched him across the table, listened to his chatter, and wondered when it was exactly that her little boy grew up. She relished all the secrets he divulged without realizing it - these thoughts he keeps locked up inside; the things that make him tick. They shared a piece of cheesecake, and she gladly gave him the lion's share.

Her dessert that day had nothing to do with food.


She offered to take him shopping at those stores he loves, the ones with the brand names splashed across every shirt. He tried on everything until he found just the right items. He did not even seem to mind when he was accosted by the mama paparazzi outside of the dressing room. In fact, he posed for her and made her laugh with his very serious GQ face.


Her laughter flowed freely, and it was all because of him. He, this sweet boy of hers with the blue eyes and splash of freckles across his nose. The one who pretends he's tough and acts too cool for silly things like pictures and hugs. He filled up her heart and soul in just the way that only 13-year-old boys can do for their mamas.


It started out as a simple, regular, ordinary day.

And ended as something so much more.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Of muscles and men

The other day, my kids were flexing their bicep muscles and showing off to each other. Not one to be outdone, I lifted my shirt sleeve and showcased my own muscles.

Or lack thereof.

The Husband laughed, in a polite sort of way, and felt the proffered muscle. Finding my arm lacking muscles of any sort, he started pinching around as if trying to solve the riddle of the missing bicep. What he did find in abundance, apparently, was a good deal of the squishy old lady flab underneath my arm.

The slight look of horror on his face told me he might not be too impressed.

I kindly offered to keep ALL my jiggly bits from his sight and touch, lest they gross him out and affect his ability to concentrate in meetings at work.

He suddenly found within himself and professed an undying love for ALL my body parts.

Especially the jiggly ones.

Imagine that.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Waterloo in the backyard

Our neighborhood does not contain a whole lot of children.

We did not know that fact when we chose to purchase this home. We (like all the really old folks surrounding us) were lured in by the siren song of the HOA paying for lawn care and snow removal. It has been nice living here, in spite of the guilt I feel when I see all of our 90-year-old neighbors vacuuming their lawns for six hours a day, while my yard sits as the one blight on the street, shamefully un-vacuumed.

And mine the one back literally strong enough to do it. Go figure.

But the kids do not lack for friends. There is a neighborhood adjoining ours that is full of playmates, and at least several days per week there are strangers' offspring rooting around in my pantry for after-school snacks. It's great and I love it.

There is one boy, however, who lives down the street and - for reasons unfathomable to me - hates my children. We have invited him over countless times, and each time our invitation has been met with an excuse about the important date he has with his video games. Shrugging our shoulders, we moved on to other friends, and have not mourned the loss of his company.

The problem with this kid is that he is constantly challenging the neighborhood boys to duels of physicality. A baseball pitching contest. A basketball tournament. A foot race. These challenges are always issued with insults and spite -- and he has yet to win any of them.

He reminds me slightly of Napoleon (Bonaparte, that is, not Dynamite). He is short, angry, and determined to conquer the world and everyone in it.

The problem with the war he is waging on McKay lies with me. I have this innate psycho need to be liked. And to have my children liked. I can't fathom what we have done to offend him, and feel that he must be brought to reason. He MUST not know how awesome we are, otherwise he could not possibly dislike us. Surely, he has just not looked closely at our strengths of character, wit, and charm. I mean, we are likable people! We are funny! We are charming! We I have issues!

I am constantly interjecting into the strategy conferences between McKay and his allies that maybe all Napoleon needs is to be invited over for cookies and ice cream.

These suggestions are met with blank stares and questions regarding my sanity.

Apparently, war is not resolved over homemade chocolate chip cookies.

It is decided on the basketball court with a very short, hateful boy named Napoleon who does not like me my children.

And it is okay.

Or so they tell me, while I sit rocking in the corner mumbling, "But why? Why doesn't he like me?"

Don't worry. I'll be all right. Eventually.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

How-To Tuesday: Canvas Maps

How-To Tuesday is back, baby!

And today's post comes to you courtesy of Creative Juices Decor. I saw this idea featured on Remodelaholic and knew it was exactly what I had been looking for. We have been wanting to put a map up in the basement and keep tabs on the Husband's travels, as well as our own, for quite some time now. In fact, we've had the map waiting for almost a year, with just no ideas of how to hang it. When I saw this post, it was perfect.

(Note: If you do decide to post your own tutorial, please link back to Creative Juices. This idea is all hers and she should get the credit for it. I am nothing, if not vigilant, when it comes to crediting others for their brilliant ideas. Please do the same.)

All right. Here we go. Our multi-canvased map:


I started by tasking the Husband with designing the layout. He created the masterpiece in our living room, and I knew this would be perfect for his spatial brain. My brain? Pretty much full of a combination of People Magazine, puppies, and diet coke. Not much room in there for the math. Lucky for me, he is really good at the math.

We measured our map, then bought the canvases to fit per his design. I spray painted the edges black, not worrying about the fronts at all (since they will be covered by the map).


Once dry, I brought the canvases inside and laid the map over the top. I measured each canvas, and cut the map to fit each piece.


I then started to adhere the map pieces to the canvas with Mod Podge, and found a very eager little girl by my side. I silenced my inner Martha and let her help. After all, we were going to be sticking pins all over these maps. What damage could a child helper do?

She actually did great. She's much more craftily talented than her mother.


After the pieces were all attached with the Mod Podge, we left them to dry.


Once dried, we came back and applied another layer of Mod Podge. Then let it dry. And applied another.


[Not pictured: Since I knew we were going to be putting pins in these, I also cut a square of foam board and stuck it in the back of each canvas. I wanted the pins to have something to stick to, and this worked great. I simply hot glued the foam board in.]

Then the unhappy task fell to the Husband of getting the many pieces hung. This required a lot more of the math, plus a level, tape measure, and nails. He's slightly obsessed with never having any extra nail holes in the wall when he hangs things, and that makes it much more difficult (though efficient). It was a pain.

He's a good man. I'm totally keeping him.


Once hung, we started to put in pins for all the places we've been. Everyone got their own colored pin. The Husband's is red -- suffice to say, there are A LOT of red pins. The kids had fun helping and reliving vacation destinations. By the way, we only count a city/state if we've spent the night or had a purposeful meal there. Airports and drive-thru's do not count. Even still, we have been to a good number of states between the five of us.


And that's it! Super easy, visually interesting, and a fun way to keep tabs on our family travels.

Your turn. What can you teach me today?

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Monday, April 4, 2011

How it all went down

Well, my friends, April Fools around here wasn't pretty.

Especially if your name happens to be McKay.

All went according to plan. He walked in the door, shock and dismay on his face when he saw his younger siblings home before him. He saw them eating doughnuts and begged for one of his own. Of course we said no.

At least for a little while. Then, after much pleading on his part, his wish was granted.

Be careful what you wish for has never rang more true than at that moment.

He took a bite or two, and started to get suspicious.


Foolishly, he kept eating, but about halfway through the doughnut, he KNEW something was wrong.


Hannah yelled it out first, "April Fools! We put mayonnaise in your doughnut!"

A mad dash to the sink and it was all over.


Here's the funny thing: He took it like a champ. I expected (and was prepared to fully pardon) rage and bitterness on his part. I thought he'd be furious. I know I would have been. What we did to him was disgusting.

But my sweet boy laughed and smiled, and agreed it was a good joke. He asked questions about how we did it, and wondered when we planned it all. Not once did he express anger. Not once did he raise his voice.

He handled it much better than I would have, I can promise you that.

Because of his good sense of humor about it, we abandoned the rest of our plans (except for the princess music on his iPod. That one was already too late). And even that prank brought a smile to his face.

He's a good sport. He's a good kid.

Here's hoping that the memory of the doughnut will keep him from trolling around next year. But if it does not, I think we'll all take a page from his book and laugh about the pranks anyway.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Exacting our revenge

From April 2nd to March 31st, my sweet firstborn son looks like this:


But from 12:00 midnight on April 1st until 11:59 p.m., he turns into this:


This morning, while the rest of the house was sleeping, he began his reign of terror. His first task was pouring lemon juice over all our toothbrushes.

He then moved to the freezer and attacked the frozen waffles (Chase's breakfast of champions) by dumping salt over EVERY. SINGLE. WAFFLE. Seriously. Like a whole freezer's worth of waffles? Completely inedible. Gone.

And, should Chase have been foolish enough to actually pour syrup over one of those salty breakfast treats, he watered down the syrup with about a gallon of water.


It took every ounce of my strength not to kill him this morning. Once discovered, he rolled on the floor, laughing hysterically. He cannot get enough of himself and wonders why the rest of us feel like punching him. The child is a troll and must be stopped.

Seriously, do you remember what he did last year? It's a miracle the child lived to see another birthday.

I thank heavens for you good people though, because I am using SEVERAL of your ideas today.

For example, I will be pulling the other two out of school early. And when McKay walks in the door and finds them already home? He won't be happy.

That unhappiness will turn to rage when he sees that they are sitting at the table gleefully eating cream-filled donuts. Which, for a while, won't be shared with him. We will make him sweat it out and worry. He will be bugged that we get treats and he does not.

Then finally, when we give in and let him have one? Oh, the surprise he'll find in the middle. Not sweet custard. Not cream. BUT MAYONNAISE.

Oh, yes. I am going there (thanks a million, Matthew M., BEST. IDEA. EVER).

And his beloved I-pod? Mysteriously erased and filled only with Broadway musicals and princess songs. did that happen?

Also? The dinner I'm planning for tonight? One I know he absolutely hates, but the rest of us love.

And after an exhausting evening of mayonnaise donuts, bad dinner, and no music? He'll climb into bed, dejected and tired, only to find that hidden under his sheets are a full set of jacks.

And THAT, my friends, is why you should never, ever mess with your mama.