Category: Hot Mess Tales

Hot Mess Mamas | Lost in Ikea

Lost in IKEA Purgatory

To those of you who have been to IKEA before, you know it can be a mad house. And to those of you who haven’t had the torture pleasure, the store is a uni-directional eternal labyrinth of hell that cunning Swedish architects use as a psychological weapon to disorient their customers into impulse shopping like no other store has done before. Jussayin’.

You first grab a yellow-bagged shopping cart with its independent little wheels that are a fun and refreshing change from your typical shopping cart. IKEA then dazzles you with its airy model showrooms and tantalizes with endless Nordic possibilities. This area gives you an initial burst of energy fueled by desire and the denial of instant gratification…all to lure you in where you cannot escape. You think, this is not bad at all! I can totally do this. I never knew I needed that side table. But I do.

The innocent showroom (Source).

IKEA herds you through their marketplace where the incessant flow of people makes you realize you have just one chance to wade over to that stack of place mats or you will get swept away forever. The current of the crowd pulls you along and you grab onto whatever is in reach at that point to satisfy an unidentifiable, disoriented need.

As your cart gets heavier you notice its preference for the left and begin to slide into your fellow herded livestock. Rather than look like an idiot trying to fight it, you decide to just turn the cart sideways and push on. You reassure your introverted self that no one will notice.

The promises of an exit are starting to become cruel and you look around for those shortcuts you can’t seem to find. The fear of accidentally short-cutting yourself back to the beginning makes you  shudder and you stay focused and plow forward.

Once you arrive at the children’s section, you foolishly decide to let your toddler play with the only mini kitchen in the whole store, which has been touched by a million snot-smeared hands. And while you are no helicopter, you watch her like a hawk because you know the other 500 cattle who also thought they were brilliant for arriving at 10AM on a tax-free Sunday are about to stampede through in record time. Peripherally, you notice the yellow and blue striped cowboys lazily monitoring from their saddled stations.

You don’t want to experience your worst fear (losing a child), so you continue to follow your toddler as she explores each little bedroom and then slips harmlessly through a child-sized tunnel into the adjacent section. You drag your obliquing cart around and realize this is the storage section where rows of wardrobes obstruct your expectant view. You look once, twice down a different row, call out, and nervously laugh to yourself because surely you can’t lose a kid you had your eyes glued to in a mere second. You call out louder. You try to speed-walk your gimpy cart against the current but don’t get very far, politely excusing yourself in between louder and more panicky calls.

Fear and bile rise up from your gut. Because she is nowhere to be found. You curse yourself for letting her wander–she is a runner after all, but was deceptively compliant at the time. What you don’t know is that she had a plan the entire time. With only one chance of escape, she honed in on the shortcuts that she took mental note of while her mother was busy hoarding things not on her list.

She looks so innocent…

Full-blown hysteria ensues 60 seconds in and you can’t understand why the IKEA cowboys just stand there ignoring your bovine cries. The livestock, however, realize you are holding up the flow and several cattle ask if you are looking for the giggling little blonde girl. “Yeah, she’s over in the bedroom section now.” “Oh, the little hysterically laughing girl? Yeah, I just saw her in kitchenware.”
Oh. My. God.

Other parents understand your distress and like a ramp agent to a rather large plane, they marshal you around corner after corner. You finally see her in the distance in bedding (probably on her second lap) and your heart leaps with relief. She sees you in the distance and her bare feet leap to escape. She squeals in delight. You squeal her name with all the blood-curdling passion you can muster. You barrel through the herd, orbiting cows into flight left and right, and glancing back as the cart takes out a few more in its sideways wake. “MOOOOOOOVE!!!”

You finally catch her and hold her close. Through gritted teeth, you force out your reprimand in a way that finally gets her attention and you wipe away both her tears and yours. You turn around after a tap on your shoulder and you hear, “Your is child missing her shoes, right? I think they’re all the way back in the showroom.” How is that even possible? Such is the sorcery of IKEA.

You are no longer under the store’s spell, but nevertheless remain a pawn in its sadistic game. You sail through the remaining rooms on your damned sideways cart looking like an effing idiot only to screech to a halt in their mile-long, vertigo-inducing warehouse. You still try to salvage this shit-show of a nightmare and when at last you reach the bin you are convinced is named after a Finnish armpit, you realize it’s not the side table you wanted and never knew you needed. But you’ll learn to love whatever it is anyway and you wedge it under your brimming yellow-bagged cart. Such is the sorcery of IKEA.

You’re not the only one either. Everyone else is panting from exhaustion and cow-eyed bewilderment, dreading to discover what’s in their own yellow bag. All are about one Swedish meatball away from implosion. But you eventually break free, leave depleted of energy, devoid of hope, and lacking a soul or anything on your list.

At home, you put up your three plates, a napkin ring, a 200-pack of straws, a toy rat, a dog bowl for a dog you don’t have, some sort of wall mount for maybe curtains, and an orange nightstand so bright it appears to radiate heat. As you cry yourself to sleep (warmed by your new nightstand), you silently curse IKEA’s business plan, your stupidity, and the perfect storm the combination of the two creates.

Such is the sorcery of IKEA.

Hot Mess Mamas | My Mini Me

Mini Me

My lady toddler is starting to have quite the personality. She will say, “Do you want to wear my tutu, sweetie?” to her little cousin as she does a shimmy. Or she will snuggle into a soft blanket and coo, “Ahhh, all nice and cozy!” Or when I help her get her clothes off for a bath she will look down, giggle to herself, and scream, “I’m naked! I’M NAKED!!! Time to dance.” and proceed to prance around the house, wiggling what her mama gave her. Or she’ll whisper, “You need to wake up, precious, m’kay? M’kay.” to her snoring dad and then in response to his “just a few more minutes, honey,” she will throw her head back in annoyance, roll her eyes, and whirl away with a flit of the wrist reminiscent of jazz hands. Wait, what?

Lately, if her request for yet another package of toddler crack is denied, she’s been known to roll her head back in defeat, look to the sky as if only the birds knew her pain, and trudge off, shoulders hunched, in pure dramatic disgust at the world. Wait, WHAT.

Where in the world does she come up with this stuff anyway? SHE’S TWO AND A HALF!

Pretty proud of my husband for building this little house this weekend!

Well, it’s apparently from…ehem…me. Cue this morning: I was leaving the house early for work, so proud to get out of the house at 6AM to get a good start to my work week, when I remembered I needed to install a car seat into my mom’s vehicle for the day. Shit. She graciously was helping me watch N since her school was closed for the 4th of July holiday and that was the least I could do for her before leaving.

On a side note, is it just me or does anyone else look completely ridiculous installing car seats? I found that if I try to use my entire weight on the seat, I can get a really good hold on the straps. But that means I have to essentially sit in the damned seat and thrash about like a fox caught in a leg hold trap. Probably not good for the integrity of the car seat, I’m realizing as I write this, but I swear I saw it on YouTube once, so you know, it’s legit.

Anyway, I usually do this in the privacy of my own garage, so thank GOD it was 6AM when no one was watching me because…’t’aint pretty. I mean, I am a big person — like twice the size of most moms — so the sight of me getting my 6’1″ lanky body and fat ass into a toddler car seat and sweating and fighting and thrashing and cursing must be extraordinarily humorous to a bystander. Legs fly. Ears cringe. So thank 8-pound-6-ounce-newborn-baby Jesus I was alone in the dark.

After much annoying effort I finally finished.  I slammed the door with exasperation. I threw my head back in annoyance, looking to the sky as if only the birds knew my pain. And I stomped off with defeated, hunched shoulders and a furrowed brow towards my own car in pure dramatic disgust at the world.

I then hear a giggle coming in the general direction of the shadowed driveway. And then an, “I know EXACTLY where she gets it,” in a familiar voice by my husband’s truck. I whirl around with a flit of the wrist reminiscent of jazz hands to find my husband has been observing me for a quite while.

“What do you mean? I’m not–” He reenacts my hunched, stomping walk and I instantly know. CRAP. It’s. All. Me. And so I reluctantly conceded that yes, I am a dead ringer for my daughter’s expressions. Or rather, she is a dead ringer for mine. “Yikes. Am I really that dramatic?” He just stares back, wide-eyed and slack-jawed. I’ll take that as a yes. So I’m inadvertently creating a nonverbally dramatic monster one sigh at a time. At least she’s a verbally polite dramonster, m’kay? M’kay.


One Hot Mess of a Play Date

The three of us had the rare opportunity to see each other two weekends in a row last month. The first was a crazy girls’ weekend getaway to Savannah and Hilton Head, the details of which will remain in Savannah and Hilton Head. Though we did get a couple of great shots together.



The second was the following week in Austin when Lindsey was in town visiting family. This was the first time in a year that all of us (plus the kiddos) were under the same roof together. And what a memorable experience it was. So much so that we thought we’d share how we roll. On a play date.

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Lisa: I hosted, so I tidied and mopped the day before. Why bother when kids are coming over, you ask? Well, because they will inevitably eat off the floor, and this way the floor is at least somewhat sanitary. And if my house is clean, maybe people will forget about that hideous abandoned house at the entrance to my neighborhood. I now understand the value of a Homeowner’s Association.

Lindsey: Let’s just keep in mind the terror I felt going over to Lisa’s house knowing my kids basically destroy most things so fast I can’t keep up. Maybe destroy isn’t the right word because only one of Craig’s rare stalagmites got broken, but they definitely dump and run. I had nerves built up inside of me for months because the original plan was to dump my kids at 7:30AM and run like hell (wow, I wonder where they get it) and head to my cousin’s graduation ceremony. Do people with only one child get up that early on a Saturday? After further analysis of this very flawed plan I had come to the conclusion that getting up at 5AM in order to get ready and drop my babies off just wasn’t going to work. We got up at 3AM the day before to travel and the only sleep the kids got was in 15 minute increments between airport-restaurant-condo etc. So, I sheepishly cancelled on my cousin, let my kids sleep a good sleep, and headed over for a refreshed morning of play.

Lisa: That morning, I got out a scooping activity for the Little Dude, to keep him occupied while I started to get food prepped. Immediate fail! He dumped an entire bowl of dry lentils on the kitchen floor just moments before everyone started arriving. Of course!

Kensley: Murphy’s law.

Lindsey: Things are different at different people’s houses, and I just let my kids go when we walked in. Well, the first thing my oldest needed to do was pee. He usually waits until the last minute, dances while he unbuttons his pants, and hops up on the potty just in time. He usually says “phew” like he wasn’t really sure he was going to make it. Well, he didn’t. Have you ever seen one of these?
Lindsey: Of course you have! Because you’re responsible parents who lock the toilet so your child can’t toss your phone into the drink. Well, lets just say…they work! They work so well in fact, even I couldn’t get into it. Thank goodness I wasn’t the one that had to go because, well… So, my adorable son in his adorable blue collared shirt with whales and cute as a button preppy striped shorts were soaked. The floor was soaked. His feet were soaked. The toilet, seat, and lock were soaked. Welcome to the world of me on a play date.

Lisa: This was C’s first actual play date at home, with kids his age, that aren’t family. But I wasn’t worried about it. He’s played with his cousins and his aunt & uncles (who are adopted and only a few years older) at our house before, and he loves all of his little buddies at school. Thank goodness he takes after my extrovert husband and not me. Right? Ha! Well, the little dude was NOT a fan of sharing toys that day. Or interacting with anyone. He whined. He pushed. He was kind of a brat. :-\ For the first half hour or so, all of the children ignored each other and played by themselves.

Lindsey: Yeah, pee pants played by himself until Craig was done cooking and then proceeded to swallow up all of his time sitting on the kitchen floor with Magformers (the most awesome toy ever!). Is it true that first borns usually play better with adults? I know I always did.

How big boys play.

Lindsey: My youngest took a little horsey ride on Calvin’s back and proceeded to steal all food and toys from everyone. He may or may not have eaten at least two different snack cups he stole from other children, and definitely took a fork or two from Nina. Talk about sticking up for herself. Man, that girl knows what’s up and she held her own with the boys no problem! Kensley, you have nothing to worry about! Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it because she takes no shit from nobody!

The gears are turning as he plots her demise.

Lindsey: After my youngest stuffed his entire breakfast into his cup of milk and proceeded to spill it everywhere, we had an awesome cinnamon pancake breakfast (I may be a pancake convert after that), which neither of my kids ate. Instead, they inhaled spoonful after spoonful of the precious honey I carefully transported back from Atlanta to Wisconsin to Texas and insisted on using a  knife to cut the cheese. After brunch, we headed outside for what was sure to be the BEST part of the day.

Aaaand I’ll help you with that.

Kensley: It got rather sunny that morning and when you get a break from Memorial weekend torrential rains that began the worst flooding in recent Central Texas history, you go outside for some water play. By the way, if you haven’t already, please donate to help the Central Texas flood victims!

Lisa: Suddenly, success! All the children gathered around the water table. All was harmonious and wonderful.

Mmmm. Sponges.

Kensley: Without a thought to packing a swimsuit, I just let Nina go for it and decided to suffer the drenched consequences later. Eh, it’s just water, what can happen?

Lindsey: My oldest had the squirt gun. The dominant older boy in the group that day, he actually listened fascinatingly well, but the rule to not squirt anyone got the better of him. He got Nina a few times and much to my surprise, she loved it! Phew! She loved it so much so that naked time was next on the list. I was worried.

The gears are turning as he plots her demise.

Kensley: Yeah, layer by soaked layer she asked me to help take off her dripping romper. I glanced at my friends as I helped peel off her top. Nervous laughter. Then she insisted on her shorts. “Um, she doesn’t normally do this.” (I think I’m that explanatory mom Lindsey can’t stand). Then she demanded her pull-ups! On the outside: “Well, that’s awkward.” On the inside: “FOR F%CK’S SAKE!”

Skin care first. Nakedness second.

Kensley: Yes, my daughter was the only naked tot in the bunch for a long while. And not just naked. Exhibitionist naked. I’m talking prancing around naked as if being liberated was her cue to begin the ballet performance she was too stage frightened to do a month ago. She even inspired another to lose his own layers and together they ran around in pure bliss as I satisfyingly doused them with a hose.

Lindsey: Maybe I should continue to worry. Was that Ryter’s plan…to get her naked? What would the boys think of the lack of…? What would she think of the presence of…? Well, turns out it didn’t look like any of them noticed the slight differences. Again, Phew!

Kensley: Yes, it was all fun and games until. It was time. TO POOP. Cringe. We are in the midst of potty training and she doesn’t always get the signal to go early enough to find a bathroom. So when she used the magic words, “I go potty!” and I saw her getting ready for battle on the back porch, I found myself with a naked toddler H-AAAAAND a turtle-head. As we raced to the bathroom I heard screams behind me and instinctively knew. To catch. The inevitable.

Lindsey: That shit was hysterical.

Kensley: I was traumatized.

Lisa: Little C decided he was tired of all this [barbaric] socializing and went inside. He convinced Papa to put his favorite movie on (My Neighbor Totoro). His indignant eye roll said it all: “It’s my party, and I’ll go inside and ignore everyone if I want to.” Sigh. I guess he’s inherited some of my introversion after all! Hopefully this means he won’t be the one streaking when he gets to college.

He was over being social. Get. Out.

Lindsey: After a couple of virgin mimosas for us…

Kensley: Correction: virgin mimosas for you. And you alone. Okay, and your kid.

Never fails to crack me up.

Lindsey: …and after the stalagmite oopsie-daisy, we started to pack it up.  Broken things are usually the sign that I’ve taken it a few minutes too far.  To finish off the day, my kids, after almost an entire year of not having pacifiers, gravitated to Nina like flies on shit when her paci came out. Trying to keep my youngest away from her face was nearly impossible!

The audacity of paci-stealing.

Lindsey: All in all, it was a great success.

Kensley: Except for the poop.

Lindsey: I’ve spent many a play date uptight waiting for my kid to hit someone for no reason so it was such a relief to see them both playing so nicely and listening so well! Again, one more time, Phew! And for the ride home? A treat from Lisa: homemade grapefruit white chocolate brown butter cookies…she only has one kid, people.

Tuckered out.

Now that’s what I call a play date.

Guest Post: Pukenado

I love it when other mamas share their hot mess stories. It makes the rest of us sigh with relief that it happens to others too. And that it didn’t happen to them. Thanks, Gina, for your brave story of mama trauma. I’m so glad this hasn’t happened to me. Yet. AAAAAND I just jinxed myself.

About 4 months ago, Scott was working late and the kids and I were having a picnic dinner outside because you can do that in January in Texas.  Luke (age 4) is obsessed with Batman and Spider-Man.  So we either have Batman night (Batman bath towel, Batman underwear, Batman pajamas and Batman house shoes) or we have Spider-Man night (Spider-Man bath towel, Spider-Man underwear, Spider-Man pajamas and Spider-Man house shoes.).  Do not fool with his Batman/Spider-Man system because it is his control of the universe.

So Kate suddenly springs a stomach bug while we are having a picnic dinner outside and throws up on the patio.  So I grab her and get her in the bath and she throws up in the bathtub.  Then again.  And then again before I can even get her out of the bath.  I get her out of the bath and then she threw up on me so I pull off my shirt.  I get her dressed only for her to throw up on her clean pajama shirt.  So the rest of the night proceeds without our shirts because there isn’t any time to even consider it.  I couldn’t get me or her into clean clothes before she was at it again, and all I could do was clean up puke spots hoping I could reach it before the dogs did.

I finally get Luke bathed in the other bathroom and Kate manages to walk into his bedroom and throw up again.  She was a little toddling vomiting robot.  She then walks back into where Luke is finishing his bath and makes the biggest mistake of her two years of life and throws up on the Batman towel and pajamas.  Luke is aghast that she has vomited and offended that it happened on Batman night.  His brain shorted out and he couldn’t get past the fact that it was Batman night and knowing that he couldn’t wear puke pajamas.  Worlds collided.  Then, as nature would have it, a wasp started buzzing around the bathroom.   At least it was a friendly wasp and kept to itself.  He told me that “Kate ruined his day.”  I said, “well I don’t think she’s having a very good day herself.”  Even worse, the previous night was Spider-Man night, which was still in the laundry so there was no backup.

Kate was so tired that she fell asleep in the hallway before I could even get her dressed again.


Luke said in a teen-angst voice, “she is such a selfish baby.  Everything is about her her her her her.”  The look on his face is priceless, plus his legs are awkward and his fingers are double-pointing at his selfish (passed-out) baby sister who ruined his day.


Thanks, Gina, for sharing these valuable lessons found in surviving a sweetheart toddler typhoon and a fournado moment:


#1: Stomach bugs render clothing pointless.

#2: You too will one day survive your own vomit-induced nightmare and live to tell the tale. When and where is the surprise!

#3: Never come between a man and his Batman jammies. He. will. cut. you.

#4: Violent illness to some is just plain selfishness to others.


Learning from the Best

Just because Mother’s Day was yesterday, doesn’t mean we can’t honor our mothers the day after. They deserve our respect every day of the year, right? Plus, that’s how this mess rolls anyway—a day late and a dollar short. So in the longtime tradition of thanking our moms for keeping us alive raising us right, I polled my mom for her some of her own hot mess stories during motherhood.

Her response was typical Sally: a brief, efficient laundry list of her (or my?) greatest hits, using little punctuation and capitalization even though she was an English teacher for 35 years. Because even her emails are passive aggressive:

” just read your text this morning.  besides the famous, rather infamous, falling out of the car caper, not much else comes to mind (different story with your brother).
I believe I turned my back while grocery shopping with you (standing in the cart, refusing to sit down like someone else I know).  of course you fell and hit your cheek below your eye.  I think you might still have the scar (maybe wrinkle)
fast forward to elem school- you insisted on cutting your hair short, and afterwards, I was often complimented on how handsome my two boys were.
or, the time I drove off and left you and [a friend] in new braunfels. 
then there was high school and lying for [a friend] so she could spend the night with [her boyfriend]. of course you were a terrible liar, and I called you on it – one of the few times I did. (re: college days)
lv, ur mom ”

When I asked her to expand on the infamous pinto incident, she had only this to say:

” I hope you’re kidding.
orange pinto station wagon.  no child seat. no safety belt.  toddler standing in passenger seat.
pulling into oncoming traffic.  child’s hand on door, and flying out as it opens, but holding on for dear life ( you were strong even then.)  grabbing your leg and holding on long enough to get across the road and pull over to assess damage and cry hysterically. immediate trip to toys r us for celebratory toy.  
still waking up in cold sweat some nights for 34 years.
glad you don’t remember much. ”

I’m sorry, mom, for trying to fling myself into oncoming traffic. Thanks for saving my life, even though I was unrestrained in the front seat of a vehicle that was recalled about 3 years prior to said incident.

I’m sorry I didn’t believe your recommendation to keep my long beachy waves. My insistence of a Dennis-the-Menace cut was indeed the wrong decision. And I paid full-price on that mistake for many painfully slow, pre-pubescent years. Thanks for your advice, however unwanted at the time. I will try to remember how right you were the next time I am mull(et)ing over a new cut.

I’m sorry I didn’t obey your repeated requests to sit down in an unrestrained shopping cart (though I am noticing a pattern, here). I now know where my hashtag of wrinkles beneath my left eye came from. Thanks for clarifying so I can now report it as a scar instead of the inexplainable epicenter from which all wrinkles radiate. #effingwrinkles #iamthereasonforchildrestraintlaws

I’m sorry my brother and his friend fooled you into thinking we were hiding in the back of the van as you sped away, cackling at our little joke…when in fact we were lost and wandering around downtown New Braunfels for about an hour. In the age of no cell phones. Thanks for coming back and somehow finding us…without a GPS no less.

I’m sorry I tried to lie to you so many times. My unwitting inability to lie effectively must have been really difficult for you to hold back laughter and/or tears, neither of which would have boded well for my self esteem. Thanks for calling me out on my shit every so often when you could stand it no longer. You should have done so much more frequently. Because I was a little punk who deserved much worse than the gentle discipline I received.

I am my mother’s daughter.

Thanks again, mom, for all that you do, for making me laugh, for barely keeping me alive in the crazy ’80’s, and teaching me how to embrace the mess.

Birdie and Chickadee.

And for all you other mamas who are just trying to do your best, Happy Belated Mother’s Day!


Yesterday, today, and every day.

Lisa and Sydney Opera House

The Girl Who Cried ‘Poop!’

In honor of the upcoming Mother’s Day, I asked my mom to share one of her “hot mess” stories with us. It would appear that I’ve had a lifelong appreciation for poop humor…and I was obviously more fearless about shouting in public than I am now!


I am a mother of two grown children. Motherhood brings so many rewarding experiences and mishaps.  I’d say some of my “mishaps” were just part of the messy, quite normal, day-to-day routine for a first time Mom. It’s been a while – I’ve probably blocked out most of my “hot mess” stories, but I’m confident I did pretty well as you can see them both now.


Here’s one of our favorite embarrassing stories from Lisa’s childhood.

Children of a certain age – about 2 or 3 years old – take great pleasure in hearing their voice echo off the vaulted church ceiling during Mass. Our church was old, built before the time of special “cry rooms” for children.

On this particular day, little Lisa’s word of choice was “POOP!” Fortunately, our family’s unique dialect includes a number of Filipino words in place of English. So while mildly embarrassed by the shouting, we felt confident that nobody actually understood when little Lisa shouted “Taee! TAEEEE!!”

We finally got her to sit quietly, and the rest of the service was uneventful. Mass ended, and we felt like we had “gotten away with it”. Just then, a small group of nuns came up to us.

“Good morning! Filipina, ka ba? We heard your daughter!” They laughed. “What island are you from?” I told them I was from Cagayan de Oro, in Mindanao, and coincidentally several of the nuns were from the Lourdes College there.

Lisa with Mom and RVM Sisters

So that was the day we met the Filipino RVM Nuns that ran the Parochial School. They became lifelong friends to us. If Lisa hadn’t shouted “POOP!!” at the top of her lungs, we may not have met them!

Lisa and Sydney Opera House
Who, ME??

Happy Mother’s Day, Mamas!!

Coffee Cup

Laugh It Off

Coffee Cup

I get embarrassed easily. I get embarrassed when I catch myself muttering aloud when I’m home alone. I only dance when NO ONE is watching (or after 2.5 cocktails). I get uncomfortable when someone is standing in front of my favorite peanut butter in the grocery store. What to do? Hover behind them creepily? Come back later and hope they’re gone? Or horror of horrors, actually speak to them?

Luckily, now that I’m a mom, that self-consciousness has disappeared. Well, sort of. It’s still there. I just don’t have time to care about it now.

My first public Mom Mishap happened when my son was 5 months old. Just when I finally had my diaper bag situation in order (aka remembering to restock diapers/wipes, learning to keep a extra bottle/snack supply), I went out in public for a nice Saturday breakfast. In the 2 seconds after my husband left the table and I took my eyes off my amazing new baby, that baby reached out and dumped a full cup of ripping hot coffee on my lap. I was MORTIFIED…and completely unprepared for such disasters. I had 5 flimsy paper napkins, and wipes (not ideal for liquid spills). Coffee…everywhere…what…to…do…durrr…I think I went into shock.

I came to when another young mom approached me. “You look like you need some help!” She handed me a burp cloth and a fat stack of napkins. I sighed in relief. “Thank you so much!” Thank goodness for more experienced moms, I thought. It’s such a relief to know that I’ll get it together as he gets older.

Then I saw her tiny baby. It was younger than mine! She was a newbie too… just way more organized than I. Bummer. Maybe I’m just doomed to hot-messedness.

Last weekend, I was at the grocery store with my family. We had our usual Saturday breakfast, and I brought my coffee with me as we shopped. My son grabbed my coffee cup, but my slightly-more-experienced Mama Eagle Eye rescued the cup before disaster struck.

Or so I thought.

We headed toward the checkout lanes. I started to take a sip of my coffee, but nothing came out as I tilted it toward my mouth. By the time I realized that coffee was running down my hand, it was too late. The lid (which my son had expertly loosened just enough) popped off violently, soaking my entire front side in delicious, freshly roasted, organic/fair trade coffee.

Was I better prepared than I was 16 months ago? Not really. But was I mortified? Nope. It was hilarious!

But I did change my clothes when we got home.

How to Survive the World of Family Entertainment

Last weekend, my fellow Hot Mess Mama Lisa and I (or rather our children) were invited to celebrate the birthday of one of our favorite 7-year-olds at Chuck E. Cheese. We took note of the potential anxiety associated with (a) social functions, (b) places with tokens, and (c) confined spaces where large rats are aloud to run amok. There were sobs, meltdowns, and tantrums. And our kids were nowhere near us. But through the power of friendship and introverted bonding (separately, in our own homes of course), we pep talked, reassured ourselves of our survival, and braced for impact.

Coming down from the adrenaline, I am still shocked to report we did indeed survive. And it was not that bad. May have even been fun. Who knew? After heavy thought, I chock this completely up to simple timing. Turns out the mornings are definitely the time to go, with [theoretically] clean rides, fresh pizza, and well-rested children.

Unfortunately, the tallest rat in existence — even for Chucks across ‘merica — wasn’t too happy to be there all bright-eyed and scaly-tailed. And while I noticed his high-five snubs and shoulder droops that I can only assume were accompanied with a sigh-and-stink-eye combo hidden behind that ratty mask, the children, with their glistening eyes and euphoric grins, didn’t notice one bit.

The afternoons, however, are apparently NOT the same. I’ve heard horror stories that would make your breast milk curdle. I’ve heard nightmare recounts that would make you Tourette-blurt ‘IT’S FIVE O’CLOCK SOMEWHERE!’ and then gasp with hand over mouth at your guffaw during the morning coffee break. I’ve heard the afternoons are like Dante’s Inferno where the fifth circle of Hell is the cesspool combination of stale pizza, twitching adults, and exhausted children who are forcing that last burst of energy before crashing into your shins and landing into a hot mess pile of snot and sobs at your feet. Boogers on the rides don’t help this particularly special time of day.

But no, the quiet, serene early morning gathering of just five 15-child parties enabled us to survive. We even realized they have beer and wine available for those parents needing noise mitigation. (pssst…Chuck E. Cheese, you should think about mimosas. Jussayin’). 

I will tell you this: we didn’t get off scot-free. A wee bit of panic ensued. Or nausea?

Photo_012 But over all, the kids had a great time and loved that pizza, cake, and ski ball.


Okay, let’s be honest. My husband loved ski ball slightly more than our daughter, who was just as happy to hand the ball to dad and be the ticket collector than actually play.


So yes, these introverted hot messes survived one of the quintessential American family entertainment establishments since the late ’70s. Our advice? GO IN THE MORNING! And perhaps bring a mimosa sippy cup for mama? You may need a mamosa to quell those introverted nerves. Even in the morning.Photo_015


Guest Post: Emergency at the Target Parking Lot
Everyone has shitty days.

I am thrilled that one of our readers, one of my dear and unbelievably talented friends, Heather Watson Hardy, sent me one of her hot mess stories to share! This is such a wonderful forum for real, beautiful mamas to share their hard, hilarious, and honest experiences. It helps the rest of us feel like we’re not the only ones having a bad day or a difficult start to motherhood.

Thank you, Heather, for your heartfelt (and funny-in-hindsight) story! I hope it encourages other mamas out there to share their true, beautiful hot mess selves with us. xoxo

I am a recovering know-it-all. I think I will always be in recovery. I’ve spent my whole professional life working with children, and I’ve even been a live-in-nanny. So, when I had my son, I felt totally confident that my transition to parenthood would be fairly simple.  I imagined taking 3 weeks off before returning to work (I love my work) and had several other delusional dreams prior to my son being born.  What I didn’t know, and could never imagine, was that my son was born tongue-tied, with severe acid reflux, and with the inability to process most proteins found in foods.  In other words, from birth, he was having food reactions to my breast milk, and he was in severe pain.  It was 2 months before he slept more than an hour in one stretch.  Eventually, we figured out his food issues because the food was so reactive in his stomach that it created holes in his intestines.  Let me just say, when you see blood in your baby’s diaper, it is time to freak.  It was hell and so difficult.  Flash forward to the present, he has outgrown almost all of his food issues and he is a very healthy 4 year old.

But let me take you back to his newborn days. As soon as we came home, I had family visit. My sister with 3 kids, would gently say, “he really spits up a lot.” My dear mother-in-law, would say other gentle comments about him, pointing out what seemed less normal.  Well, my know-it-all defensive self (not to mention sleep deprived and hormonal) just yelled back that my baby was fine. He was perfect. Some babies are fussy and some are not but mine was fine.

So, my baby is 3 weeks old, my husband is at work. I’m going stir crazy. I’m really not used to being home all the time and I spent my time holding a screaming baby, nursing constantly (it would calm him down), trying to get him to sleep, back to a screaming baby, etc. So I got the brilliant idea to go to Target by myself.  I even planned. I would nurse, then we would go, maybe the car would put him to sleep. I told myself, I can accomplish things still! Watch me, world.  So I set my little plan into action. Nursed my little baby, he seemed calm, We got into the car, and I’m already feeling elated.

What I didn’t yet realize is that his reactions took time to happen. The milk had to get processed in his little system before it started to hurt. Later I could time it; his screaming would begin about 30 min after nursing. Target is 15 min from my house. We get into a cart and he is in his infant carrier, still calm.  So I begin shopping. About 15 min into shopping the screaming begins. Now, I’ve also learned that a newborn baby in pain screaming is way different from the normal quiet, soft little musings I’ve heard from other newborns.  This was a loud, piercing, scream with all my soul kind of crying.  I panic and take my baby out of the car seat. So now I have a cart full of stuff that I can longer push because I’m holding a newborn in my hands. Then people begin to ask me if he’s okay and can they help. That concern just put me over the edge. I tell people he must be hungry. It’s okay- he’s just still hungry. So I leave my cart in an aisle and I have a new plan. I will go to my car, nurse some more and then come back and finish at Target. I’m getting frazzled but I can still do this.

I go to my car and get in the back seat with the tinted windows because I’m still overly modest and unsure about all this breastfeeding (don’t worry- very soon modesty and dignity left me for good). I start to nurse and he calms down. I breathe a sigh of relief. All will be ok. Hallelujah. I’m not a total failure. Then I feel it.

One thing I forgot to mention, when a baby has severe intestinal distress, you also get baby diarrhea. This stuff is like water and there was just SO much.  No diaper could contain it. And that’s what I felt in my hand, in my lap, covering my legs. My clean hand was holding my son’s head as he nursed. The other hand cupped a pool of diarrhea. Pool. In my hand.

It was a moment like no other. I cried. I waited for a true grown-up to come rescue me. And then I realized I’m the mama here (clearly a hot poop-filled mess). So I opened the door, flung the diarrhea onto the parking lot (I still feel a little guilty about that but I had no other idea what to do with it), and then used every single baby wipe in possession. My Target cart was left abandoned and I drove home, still poopy and traumatized. But now it’s like a barometer. Having a bad day? Well, are you covered in poo with a screaming baby? No? Then it’s okay. You’ll make it. And if you are holding a hand-full of poop, just fling it out the door and get the hell outta there.

Bodily Fluids-These Things Happen


My alarm went off at 2 a.m. this morning. The 18-month old sleep regression alarm. I didn’t really believe that sleep regression was a thing, but I’m totally a believer now. Our little guy has been doing everything on that list.  Refusing naps, refusing to go to bed at night, screaming in the middle of the night, fussy, clingy, no appetite.  It’s very similar to an ear infection actually.  Since his brother is prone to ear infections, I figured that was his problem.  I had him at the doctor-nothing. I gave him Tylenol-nothing. I tried essential oils-nothing. So, I looked it up. If the internet is correct, as it almost always is, he has what they call The 18 Month Sleep Regression *echo *echo *echo. Apparently it can last from 2 up to 8 weeks.

8 weeks?  F*@k! Well, the oldest is getting up to pee at least once every night so it’s not like I sleep anyway.  Finally something the two of them can synchronize.

Well, this little sleep regression alarm is what got me up last night.  When I saw that it was 2 a.m. I was concerned because my 3 1/2 year old had not yet gotten up to go potty.  Uh oh!  He always gets up around 1 so I expected the worst.  After soothing the screamer, I went to check on the big boy, sound asleep, sprawled out on top of his blankets, SOAKED.  It’s such a sad sorry thing to find your little baby sleeping in a puddle.  I had to wake him, change him, and change his bed.  Needless to say, he was less than thrilled and probably would have preferred I just leave him alone in his puddle.  He had an accident the night before so I had gambled last night and quickly threw on a couple layers thinking “he’s not going to pee again tonight”.  Well, I should know Vegas isn’t my thing.  I’m a penny slots kind’a gal.  My gambling skills are zilch! Of course he peed-a gallon!  He had a tiny 1/4C of milk before bed. How does it multiply in their system to equal an entire gallon of pee?

Before I got him back in bed I decided a quick trip to the bathroom wouldn’t hurt.  There can’t possibly be any more pee in that tiny body, but lets do it anyway. It’s more about the habit I guess.  He was pretty much asleep so I propped him up on the potty in the dark, his little booty so far down in that potty it was probably dipping, elbows rested on his knees, cheeks rested on his hands, asleep. He started to go, alot.  I could hear it…and then I could feel it.  There was one little matter I forgot about, or more never thought about. That little guy wasn’t pointed down.  Actually, it was stuck straight up in the air.   It was dark.  He was curled up in a tight sleeping peeing ball.

“Wait, I don’t get it. It’s going everywhere!” I started to shout. “Stop! Stop!” I said.  I tried to push my hand in, just to assist in getting some of it into the potty.  I was unsuccessful.  It was EVERYWHERE.  I was up to my elbows in pee, dripping everywhere. I stood there in my husband’s perfectly comfy, most favorite, worn to a thread, pre-pregnancy t-shirt that I refuse to put away for 9 months and my underwear.  I was soaked!  His nice clean jammies were soaked.  The tile was soaked.  There was no rug to catch a drop because the little guy peed all over it before bath time earlier that evening.  I just started at the top and started to clean, in the dark.  I got everything cleaned up, got him off the potty, stood him up, and he just looked at me.

“I’m so sorry mommy”

“Oh, hunny, don’t be sorry.  It’s ok.  These things happen.”

*yeah! you shouldn’t be the sorry one.  Somebody many generations before you should have thought twice before giving a potty training child control, or lack thereof, over such an important piece of equipment.

I have two boys, I’m no stranger to stray pee.  Usually it’s on my hands, or maybe I’ve stepped in it.  But NEVER have I been showered in pee.

I got him snuggled back in bed, changed my clothes and got back into bed.  It was 2:30. I couldn’t expect to sleep much more.  I dozed maybe and then around 5:30 the alarm went off again.  This time it was the foster cat lurching, heaving, please don’t puke on my stuff alarm. I didn’t have my phone as a flashlight. I didn’t have a magazine to slip under his mouth. I couldn’t see a damn thing anyway.

I just waited for it to be over.

I lay there awake, trapped, wondering where he did it, how bad it was.

Preparing myself for yet another form of bodily fluid to find me.

It did.