A Great Race!

On September 30th of last year, I watched thousands of runners speed by my fifth floor labor window in black spandex with flashes of neon, as I cursed my way through each contraction kicking the floor and wishing I could join them on the pavement five levels down. I stared at the exact spot on which I vomited everywhere the previous year for hours and hours of “labor- is- the- worst.”  It’s at the height of the 4-5 mile hill, right over the road barrier, and it was a most embarrassing display of too eager too early, and the pre-run coffee/apple breakfast of idiots was most certainly a bad choice. The desire to avenge my public display of spewing stomach acid grew with each successive labor pain. And if there is anything a still pregnant girl hates most, its watching a bunch of skinny, light on their feet, athletic types gazelling effortlessly one after the other right in front of her.

The great news is that I birthed the cutest baby ever that day, and this morning, I had the opportunity to beat that hill that plagued my labor. What’s more is my sister signed up too, and my brother took my mom’s walker bib to join us. For the record, “Mary DiCarlo” finished first in the senior division at a whopping 62 year old woman pace of consistent 7 minute miles. (Don’t worry, the mistake is being rectified, and the poor woman robbed of her tireless effort will be given her rightful prize).

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I had two goals this morning. First: to wear the same outfit as my sister to get her back for all the times she refused to dress in matching Laura Ashley drape patterned jumpers as a child. I succeeded. Second: to hold my chunks.

For lots of runners, the 9:30 race time is an invitation to sleep in and arrive well rested and stretched. For a mom, however, it’s a double duty call to wrangle a full mornings work- load AND road race. The two oldest did, however, put their “fast” shoes on all by themselves so they could “beat Mommy.”

I almost threw up 4 times before I left the house because, apparently, I’m a head-case. Additionally, I drink way too much coffee.

I maybe a little bit hopped a fence and got a really good starting position for my siblings and myself, as Maria continually downplayed her talent and speed. Two miles in, the girl was smoking me, and the dream of a picture- perfect- hand –holding- sister’s- in matching- running- outfits- photo- finish to flaunt around social media was left in the dust along with me. And as much as I would like to blame it on leg length like I did here, pssshhh. Or maybe she just didn’t want to hold my hand? (I WOULD NEVER!)

3 miles in, I made lots of fellow runners uncomfortable with my mile marker cheering. 4 miles in, I faced the hill that claimed my breakfast two years ago. I stared up at that window and wondered whose labor I was currently frustrating. I said some extra Hail Mary’s for her and held each and every sip of my coffee, sport bean “meal.” Could someone please help me learn how to eat before these things? 5 miles in I began to get very bored and no one wanted to talk, especially not about the women and labor at the hospital. 6 miles in: hurting, hurting, hurting! 6.2: all done! And my big brother and sister greeted me with a sweaty hug.

It was indeed, a Great Race. Even if James told me I’m just not as good as Maria and maybe I should borrow his red Pumas to help me run faster.

P.S: Tonight I put Rita down for her 364th night of sleep. The big 1 is tomorrow!!!!

Five Favorite Mom Friendly Fall Fashions

Urban Dictionary has been successfully and traumatically offending me since I started using it to look up all the high school slang heard on the back of the bus that I didn’t understand and still don’t. It remained true to form today, and is the back of the bus still cool?

The following (abbreviated) definitions should be removed because we can do better than keds!

MOMFIT: Similar to Mom Jeans but includes the whole outfit. They are comfortable but not flattering. Sometimes white keds are involved.

MOMIFORM: An outfit worn by a 30 something mom that has lost all sense of style. They include capri-pants, flats or crocs.

Even though I’m still in my 20s and haven’t worn keds since kindergarten, I’ve had many a momfit moments, like the time I recently dropped off James at preschool in the same shirt in which I slept, or all those other times I wore my spandex all day and will still, or used dry shampoo for three days in a row, or worked out in my jeans, or decided the vomit didn’t actually smell that bad. A recent resolution, however, is to get dressed, at least a few times a week, in things other than spandex, even if at the end of the day the way I’m sporting the coated jean trend is through a terrible yogurt/Cheetos excess cheese mixture. The following are few of my favorite tried and true fall fashions that work for me as a mom and further demonstrate urban dictionary’s error.

1. Pleather: It wipes off!

I prefer “Vegan Leather,” actually because it sounds less plastic and more expensive, except it isn’t. Not to offend the Vegans, but I do own and love real leather things, especially the moto- jacket Jim purchased for me as a bday present, but, it can be tough to spend hundreds of $$$ on trends, and I also eat tons of cheese, and I really like it, so here I am offending. The number 1 reason I love this trend IT WIPES OFF! Grab a baby wipe and discipline with conviction, even toddlers will intuitively understand not to mess with a mom in a motorcycle jacket.

These Vera Vegan Leather Leggings from Anthropologie do wonders for the bum and an attitude. They may be more suitable for a date night, but just in case a bowl of macaroni and cheese spills all over the floor and these pants just as the babysitter is taking the reigns, fear not. Walk past the diaper changing station on the way out the door, steal a wipe, and have a drink or three in these awesome leggings. And when their price is compared to these ones at $794 which look awfully similar:

Sold!

If a whole panel of leather, pleather, well worked plastic, is too much, I recently purchased this very practical and moderately priced top from Express that offers a just a touch of the trend.

2. Maxi Dress: Bend over with confidence, Squat with no fear.

For the past few seasons, I stupidly convinced myself that I’m too short for a maxi. One brave day I found an $8 clearance striped racer-back at Marshalls. It looked short and cost the right amount of dollars to experiment with shrinking and wearing. The dryer trick made up for never hitting puberty and as I bent over all day long, cool as could be, exposing nothing, running and playing, each and every one of my 60 inches walked tall. Beyond kid wrangling practicality, they translate from summer into fall faster than a long sleeve t-shirt or pullover can be pulled over your head.

Piperline is having some good sales. Go to girl on a budget, maxi dress.

3. Boot Wedges: Run like the Wind, Wear capri pants without notice

I’m positive this one is old news, but just found these boots

I’m in loove. Great for preggo hurting feet, or regular hurting feet, awesome for a mom chasing after spirited or (disobedient) children, best at discretely hiding summer/spring short pants. Find them (still full price unfortunately) at anthropologie

4. Infinity Scarf: too many reasons to list

Okay, so the one I own and wear is made of spandex and from Lululemon, but maybe I’ll spice it up soon with a graphic pattern or jewel tone? Is that in? I’m pretty much only up on this season’s leather trend.

Here are a whole bunch of things that I do with it.

– it keeps me warm

– it looks nice – its on trend

– it can cover my face when my kids do something bad and I’m laughing but if they see me laughing I’m toast

– it can wrap a newborn when I forget to pack a blanket (always)

– it can hide a nursing baby anytime

– It can be wrapped in a way that covers my bum after a workout

– It can be wrapped to sort of look like a shirt after a work out

– It helps me feel like I sort of accessorized my spandex get ups just in case I don’t fulfill my getting dressed resolution

– I can make it into a hood and pretend to be star wars characters

– I can lay it down on a gross surface when I need to change a diaper

– It can wipe up a mess juuussst in case – It washes well incase it’s a mess

– It’s a way better airplane blanket than those navy felt things they cut back on

5. Duffle purse: ditch the diaper bag, unless you really like yours.

I hope to not offend anyone else with what I’m about to say, especially not the Vegans again, but diaper bags are just a little bit stupid. Sure they have pockets, but paying bucks for less than desirable looking fabrics is just not worth it to me. My fashion enthusiast friend recommended one like this:

I prefer a cross body deal because no hands need to be wasted dealing with a purse when they probably should be used holding a hand or wiping a nose. The ones pictured above have a removable cross body strap taking the bag from the park to dinner or somewhere else that doesn’t require holding hands in a parking lot unless there is married flirting involved. I pack what I need in plastic bags if it doesn’t have enough pockets, and then the kids throw their trash wherever they want making the plastic bag thing pointless.

Happy Shopping! Go buy something leather! but first head to MoxieWife for more!

Being 3: Ice Skating and Sharing the alphabet.

With 26 letters in the English alphabet to choose from, it was merely incidental that both of their names begin with the same letter.  If I had known I’d listen to a daylong battle over which of my children is the proper owner of the letter J, I may have gone a different naming route, or tried a wee bit harder at “siblings are friends” type parenting, or hid the alphabet until college. I couldn’t help but be slightly impressed by James’ ability to effectively convince his younger sister that he, in fact, does have exclusive rights to the 10th letter of the alphabet and the number 3, his age, by hour 5 of the battle. The heartstrings were pulled pretty good when she asked him if M could be hers, instead, and what are parents supposed to do about letter fighting? When he answered, “M is in my name, but we can share that letter. J is mine, though, understand?” I began to realize that I’m raising the letter monster. Also, I meant to type about his first hockey practice, but the letter J fight has taken 225 words of explanation and five hours of my life. For the record, I choose F.

For 3 years now, James, with a capital J, has believed his dad to be the real Sidney Crosby, and when I asked Josie what her dad does she replies, “plays hockey at work all day.” We’ve been slow to correct both of them, and James has been enthusiastic to follow in his fake professional athlete family’s footsteps. When a local high school agreed to coach tiny tots once a week, I thought, why not join my big sister and her hockey mom craziness for just one hour a week?

So, in an effort to break up the letter war, James, Mosie and I were off to the hockey store to size up the Alphabet King for his first big night of little kid free skate. 43 hockey pucks were purposefully knocked over. Two naptimes sufficiently earned. One crazy hard to fasten hockey helmet purchased.

Post naps, dad taught his son how to walk in his skates. “This is the way real hockey players do it,” James explained to his mom. “Also, could you hold my hand?”

I arrived 15 minutes early, expecting to be the first of the toddling skaters. I was last, and apparently it takes 45 minutes to dress a child in hockey gear just before they happily announce, “I have to pee!” Professional youth hockey mom, Maria, packed an extra set of everything, because she knows I know nothing and she is right. It took me three tries of skate tying before a nice 14 year old girl came over to rescue me from my lace struggle. James and I went over the rules one last time just before he scraped his new skates on the concrete, “have fun! Give a good effort! and only walk on the rubber padding!”

He then clumsily toddled onto the ice falling directly his belly. With car keys in hand, I was ready to receive a crying child, but up he went and smile he did. Instructed to make a snow angel on the ice, James proudly displayed his very best freestyle swim stroke. For the next 55 minutes, I watched a three -year old boy smile wide face plant after bum plant after accidental snow cone, after “Mom! Look! I’m skating like Daddy!” And even though I’m mostly crazy for starting the sport thing so early, witnessing such sloppy, happy, smiley skating was a real treat.

He greeted me in my hockey mom glory after a solid skating effort. “uh mom, my head is wet,” the little Italian said to me. “that’s called sweat, my dear, and you’ve also got the smell down pretty well, too” I replied.

We returned home to refuel, because James is now an “aphlete.” And apparently, something magical occurred on the ice last night. As they inhaled more hummus than the nation of Greece, James turned to his sister and said, “its ok if your name starts with J. And if you want to play hockey, I will hold your hand.” I hugged them both and sighed relief as I put Rita to bed while they finished there snack. I returned to two children rolling around the kitchen floor in an effort to retrieve the last cheeto as the battle cries grew louder and more fervent. “J is mine!!!!! Get off my cheeto!!”

Happy Tuesday! May 26 letters be enough.

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Sibling Love

I can still hear the Italian superstition being thrown at me just as I was throwing things at him. “You are going to get paid back for all of this fighting,” my mother would say with a smirk as I screamed, “but he’s touching me!!!” and slammed my body into my brother, 17 months my junior.

Sure, we got along sometimes, like when we drove the car to our neighbors and up the street at ages 13 and 14. And we were the best of friends when pouring ketchup into my sister’s shampoo. Basically, we were best friends when being bad.

But, there were also the days when he knocked all of the stuff out of my locker to make me late for class and I got in trouble. And that other time he listened to my phone conversations and told everyone whom I liked at dinner.

And now I’m a mom, and the best of friends, worst of enemies dance moves to the tune of my mom’s Catholic voodoo curse made and repeated so many years ago.

And while sometimes I think maybe I will go deaf if I hear one more scream over who has more cheese in their quesadilla, other times I pretend I can’t hear them and giggle on the staircase around the corner.

Just to be clear, the following is an actual fight had between my son James, age 3, and daughter, Josie, age 2. The names and identities may get confusing.

“Stop it, Josie!”

“No! You top it, names.”

“I am not your mother any more.”

“No, you are not Names!”

“Say your J’s, Josie!”

“Yay! (Jay) You tut up! Poopy pants!”

“I did not poop! You bum! Just stop being my sister.”

“Biper (diaper)…no, pull up. You are a pull up.”

“Mom! Josie called me a pull-up again! Get her, Rita!”

I wish I could say I intervened with some level of seriousness, but when the meanest thing of which a toddler can think is to call her big brother a pull-up, the brother who confuses his identity and refers to himself as a mother and corrects her to say her J’s and calls upon his 11 month sister to defend his ridiculous battles, seriousness eludes me.

May your Thursday’s be good, and may your homes be devoid of comparisons to diapers.

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Five Favorite Fitness Accessories

Before I begin rambling about five of my favorite fitness accessories, I owe an enormous thank you for such a kind, generous response to my last post about miscarriage. Thank you, thank you for all of your comments! And a very special thank you to Grace for sharing it with her millions of readers.

Five Favorites – my first edition! Fitness! Go to one of my favorite blogs MoxieWife.com for more

But first, another tangent:

The days of my dating life were filled with them: fast runs with my boyfriend by my side. It was quality time with him for me, a loquacious girlfriend quieted by an inability to exert herself physically and pull together coherent sentences for him, better butts for both of us. Once married, it took approximately 5 million times of his diverting against my repeated asking, “want to go for a quick run together?” before I figured it out. He hates running. He just liked me. It was all a courting strategy.

Five years, each of them my favorite, later, we have finally figured out a work out we both like to do together. Crossfit! We started last night. I’ll keep you posted. So maybe I’m jumping the fitness gun since we’ve only officially done it once, but it was super fun and without any transition at all, I’ll jump into my five favorite fitness accessories.

1. Lululemon’s Run Inspire Crop

 

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I know, I know, they cost $88 and are made of spandex, BUTT (pun intended) if you’ve ever seen yours in these, regular spandex will be difficult to get back into. I estimate somewhere around 400 workouts being magically placed into your upper thigh, gluteus maximus area in one pair of pants. Additionally, they wash better than any pair of pants I’ve ever owned, and I wash my stuff after every single work out. I’ve owned mine for almost three years. I’ve washed them approximately 5 billion times. They still look brand new. My bum has grown a few sizes in them during pregnancy, and no one but the mirror told me that they noticed. I’ve only thrown on a pair of boots and a long sweater pretending they weren’t work out pants a handful of times making myself feel like a fashion genius while actually fooling zero fashion aware people. Splurge!

2. Brooks Ghost

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I’ve tried many a shoes and these are my new favorites. They are super flexible and cushiony without the feeling of wearing a huge shoe. They support my mother of three, three and under, damaged joints and make them feel not as damaged. Aesthetically pleasing? Not as much as those trendy Nike’s, but I simply cannot just do anything when my feet hurt. Expensive? Absolutely, but I think that’s the case with all running shoes. They don’t actually make you disappear no matter how much you ask them when picking up scrambled eggs off the floor for the 7th time that morning, even if the name suggests it.

3. Stylish Pullover – Target Special

Any time I think of the word pullover, I also think of my favorite, “no its a cardigan but thanks for noticing!” scene in Dumb and Dumber.

As a busy mom, and a lazy dresser, a quick smell resistant sweater is key to transitioning from a work out into the rest of the day when there isn’t time for a shower, or you just don’t feel like taking one. I found my favorite one for target for $2.97 one glorious morning on super sale, partially making up for the $88 spandex. TJ Maxx has great ones, too.

4. Sport Beans

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If I ever had to climb a bean stock, I’m pretty sure these beans could get me to do it. As a small girl, sometimes I need some extra energy to get me through a long run, especially when I’m nursing. They help me recover faster, and they don’t make me throw up like those terrible gel meals or Gatorade. And! If your toddler hates pedialyte, like mine, they have electrolytes and they think its candy, mostly because it sort of is candy. FYI: The ones with caffeine are disgusting.

5. Burpees with kids

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Monetarily free, comedic relief for days. Usually we race each other and Josie wins. Rita rolls around, James, jumps and falls. It’s a barrel of laughs and sweat, and a full body work out complete.

 

Happy Toning!

My Mary

I took the test in a spur of wouldn’t it be funny, but, it couldn’t possibly be true moment of early marriage. Married for three weeks, I looked to Google for further instructions on “how to read a pregnancy test.” Positive, it was, and the Internet said so, too.

I found my very new husband playing Sega NHL 95 in our attic and wearing Wheaties flip flops and a T-shirt with the insignia of his favorite bar, perfect parent attire if I’ve ever heard of any. “I’m pregnant!!!” I said excited and terrified, both of us with eyes wide open and hearts beating in fear, neither of us ready, but who ever is? “Are you sure that test is right, I mean its just a stick?” he asked because, I don’t know, he’s Jim.

I spent a lot of those early days thinking about whom we made, and what she would be like, moments of instinctive knowing that I’ve had during each of my four pregnancies. It was a girl, with dark slightly wavy hair, chubby cheeks and chubbier thighs, long eyelashes, lips like her dad, sanguine at heart, and clumsy by nature just like her mother. Although already claimed by my big sister who seems to only make boys, on my list of names, Mary Margaret was first, but, by the possessiveness displayed by my sister rivaled only by Gollum in Lord of the Rings, I decided it would probably be best to let that one go.

For the next few months, my husband, baby and I traveled to Australia, where she made it clear that she hated salmon and its smell. She preferred me sleeping, and eating Captain Crunch. Through nausea and tiredness she began to teach me that motherhood is a full time position through which I will be made better and more humble, especially as gagging in public or frantically running away from restaurant tables on which calamari is served became part of my normal behavior.

In August, at 8 weeks gestation we heard her heart beat in elation, and learned she would be due four days before my St. Patrick’s Day birthday. Dreams of drinking birthday Guinness and holding my new baby girl dressed in green and wearing a bow filled my mind and had me searching for infant St. Patrick Day attire immediately. At 9 weeks, the swamp of Washington DC made us both eternally grateful for air conditioning. At 11 weeks, we began going to graduate school together, and I announced that I would be having a baby during Spring Break and returning to class directly after, because I had absolutely no idea what birthing a baby is like.

At 14 weeks, with my baby bump beginning to pop, Jim and I drove to our first sonogram, with our car packed to spend a weekend with friends at a lake. Running late due to indecisive packing abilities and an inability to choose the proper bathing suits for a belly beginning to protrude, we drove as fast as Fairfax, VA and all of its 4 billion stoplights allow. I called my sister on the way. “I know you want a Mary, but I just can’t get over today’s feast! It’s the Holy Name of Mary, today and I get to see my baby!” It was Friday, September 12, 2008. Five years ago, today.

I laid back in the small room in the back shivering with excitement. As the image appeared on the screen, we stared, unsure of what to look for, and before we had a chance to ask where she was, “This is what we call a missed miscarriage,” the short statured doctor said. “No it isn’t,” I fought back. “I’ve had no symptoms, and we already heard the heart!” I continued angry that such a tiny woman could announce something so hugely devastating. She continued with options and choices, detailing each terrible procedure available, attempting to make eye contact, but respecting my stubborn opposition. We left in silence.

We drove home in silence, too.

We broke down at the bottom of the stairs. I was crushed to lose her, terrified and embarrassed to tell others that we weren’t pregnant after all, furious that my own body gave me no indication of its failure, flabbergasted that we were being asked to suffer a loss so early into our marriage, determined it was a bad doctor with a broken sonogram machine.

The mourning continued for months and still does. There was confusion, and hormones, anger, and grief, gratitude, and thanksgiving, self-gift, and acceptance, a marriage made closer, and a deeper appreciation for those little growing babies no matter how small, and whether or not they come at convenient times.

Every year, on this day I feel sadness and a longing to see her face, and learn more about her. She’s my Mary. And on her due date of March 13, I woke up missing her, only to discover my pregnancy with James, a boy I imagined to be just as he is, because God loves me so much, even if flowing Guinness could no longer be part of my birthday plans.

In my experience, loss through miscarriage is not something that is often talked about, and, (big surprise!) I like to talk. I needed to and (clearly) still do. But, beyond my own needs, I believe these little guys and girls have stories to tell as well, and that’s my Mary’s.

Happy Feast day to all, especially those with the name of Mary!

10 things to waste your time ;)

(This blogging hiatus brought to you mainly by the three years late discovery of Downton Abbey. And having caught up, I’m now (WTswearword!) mourning my two favorite characters and ready to blog about the trivial during my childfree moments once again.)

Here are some not blog worthy things…

1. I brought baby wipes to Mumford and Sons. Its just that sometimes I can’t escape my essence as a mother for even a moment, and when I saw the pack of baby wipes on my car floor, I put them in my purse out of habit. But, since they are the greatest invention of all time, they very much came to the rescue on several occasions none of which had to do with wiping an infant. Spilled beer? I’ve got it. Portapottys been used too many times? Allow me. French fry grease making you slimy? Here you go. Every time I pulled out a wipe, I reminded my husband of their use and my genius. If only baby wipes could help with “post- best- concert- of- my- adult- life- accidental- kids- don’t- know- what- a hangover- is- and- are- so- unsympathetic- about- it….

2. I went to Mumford and Sons!!!!!! Only once was my pearl wearing group called “White Trailer Trash,” by a stranger who, apparently, likes quiet concerts.

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3. We put a birthday hat on Mary, again. It’s a Mary’s birthday tradition. My sister and I head to our church playground, stuff our faces with pizza and carrot cake, and watch as the nine children wreak havoc well, as they generally do. We sing happy birthday as the little ones attempt to catch the fish in the pond next to her statue. We swing at a Mexican piñata, in honor of Our lady of Guadalupe, as the crawling kids experience candy raining, making all future thunderstorms disappointing. I’m pretty much positive that the Mom of all Moms finds it both entertaining and endearing.

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4. Maria and I ran a 5k together, and once again, she proved faster and more determined. Before I go all “Ashley Simpson living in Jessica’s shadow” on you, she only beat me by 15 seconds, which I choose to blame entirely on the two more inches her legs have on mine. I came up with a formula. Two inches = 5 seconds per mile. 5 seconds per mile X 3.1 miles = we finished at the exact same time. The feelings of inadequacy began as I crossed the finish in the fastest recorded three point one miles of my life, feeling good and proud and sweating and hyperventilating. She, however, was already there, not panting or sweating, and saying things like, “I wanted to finish faster. I’m so disappointed I never reached ‘throw up’ speed.” I consider “throw up speed” to mean “slow down!!!!” Running in the shadow.

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5. On one particular 5:45 am wake up call, I calmly explained “it’s too early for a Saturday, please go back to bed.” He did! And then he began calmly playing with toys as Jim and I slept. Is it beginning to sound too perfect yet? Because he changed his sister’s #2 diaper all by himself, too.

6. I learned that riding carousal at a place called Rib Fest brings about similar symptoms to those of “throw up speed.” Rib Fest is one of my favorite weekends of the whole year. But, I do not recommend trying every rib in the fest times 2 or maybe 3, and then spinning repeatedly while staring at weird looking circus animals moving up and down while also trying to balance two dizzy children sliding off of said animals because they ate too many ribs, too.

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7. I had this conversation recently: James: “Mom I’m going to buy you something really nice.” Me: “Oh yea?” James: “Yea, a lightsaber,” he said with the proudest and widest grin and glimmer in his eye. “But, if you hit me with it, I’m taking it back.”

8. We went to Mass on a Wednesday night. Jim forgot to mention that Josie was wearing underpants, and Josie, seemingly, forgot as well. The font wasn’t the only liquid puddle.

9. Fish food is now #2 on my “all time worst mess list.” Poop is holding strong at #1.

10. Saw this Ray Romano quote. “Having children is like living in a frat house – nobody sleeps, everything’s broken, and there’s a lot of throwing up.” May your Pee Sigma Poop chapter be running smoothly.