A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Tag: children (Page 1 of 2)

The thing about siblings…

This is the first year all three of my kids have extra-curricular activities and life seems to have gotten a bit more unmanageable all of a sudden.

Bucket Head taking Taekwondo

Tell you what though, as much as I sometimes envy my friends with only one child, there really is something special about the life-lessons and social skills kids with siblings have to endure get to experience.

Recently we had a very interesting situation dropped in our laps. Continue reading

OMG. What have I done?

There is only one thing worse than accidentally giving your child a bad haircut…


Nature Boy, 4-years-old, the first and last time I ever cut his hair. (circa 2003)

Nature Boy, age 4, the first and last time I ever cut his hair.


…and that is paying someone else to give your child a bad haircut.


Before during and after of my son's worst haircut



Don’t say a word.

I already know. Believe me. I know.

Even The Gatekeeper, who is truly the most stoic and level-headed of any man I know, was PISSED when he saw what that woman did to our little boy.

“Were you on your phone?! How could you not notice what she was doing?”

“No! (Maybe.) I was right there! I couldn’t tell she was going so short! And then when she started to blow it out, I just figured we could fluff it up again when we got home. I had no idea.”

I specifically asked her for a trim. I only wanted a trim. And she was the one who gave him his very first haircut several years ago.

Bucket Head's first haircut

So what if English isn’t her native language! It’s just a trim. What could go wrong? (Famous. Last. Words.) 

But when she brought him over to the cash register she said, “His hair very stubborn (sic), but I cut all the curl out for you.”

OMG. She thought she was doing me a favor…like curls were the mark of the debil.

Y’all…I have cried real tears over this. Don’t worry, never in front of him. I put on my bravest face and told him how grown-up he looked. I even secretly called his Kindergarten teacher to give her a heads-up so she wouldn’t freak the freak out when she saw him.

But my baby. My curly headed little cherub. His shining glory scattered across the barber shop linoleum.

I feel like I’ve slapped baby Jesus across the face.

It’s just hair. It will grow. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. But you see, there is a legend in my family of the time my mother cut my cousin Matt’s baby curls off and they never returned. I’m pretty sure my Aunt Debbie has never forgiven her sister for that.

And so I wait. And I pray that Bucket Head’s curls will return.

And they probably will. He’s almost six-years-old, after all. These aren’t just baby curls.

But the saddest part? (to me, anyway)…

Bucket Head LOVES his new look.

short haired Bucket Head

He asked us to buy him a comb…his very own comb. He’s never owned one before.

And we keep catching him in the mirror, combing his hair flat as a board. It’s painful to watch.

It’s actually feathered, and a little long in back. Sometimes, in certain light, he reminds me of a mini Larry Wilcox from CHiPs.

Larry Wilcox from CHiPs

He said to me, “I feel like a new man.”

I had to bite my lip to keep from laugh-crying.

“Don’t you like your curls, honey?”

“NO. I hate my curls. I hate the way people are always touching my head. I want to look like all the other boys.”

It breaks a mama’s heart, I tell you. To hear your child “hate” an integral part of their being.


Leslie with She-Mullet, 1982.

But I feel like I have to let him explore his new look…just like my mother let me experiment with Sun-In and She-Mullets.

Of course, I was twelve, not five! I thought I had more time.

So we help Bucket Head comb his hair flat and I try my best to not touch it, even though it pains me to keep my hands to myself.

I can only wait and wonder. Will he come around? Will he learn to love his curls someday? Or will the desire to conform stifle his ability to see how perfect he already is, exactly the way God made him?

It is only hair.


Please. Save me from myself. Assuage my guilt. Tell me about the time you accidentally slammed your child’s hand in the door or Sharpied Groucho Marx eyebrows on your kid because you thought for sure they would fade away before school picture day. Tell me something. Anything, really.


You are going to want one of these books for your kids

I get a lot of PR pitches to review and/or giveaway stuff on my blog. Most of them are pretty crappy pitches. Here’s a tip, if you’re pitching something to a blogger, take two frickin’ minutes and get to know the blogger first. For instance, even though I have a goatee on my avatar, if you address me as “Dear Sir,” I jump on that delete key faster than Honey Boo Boo on a dropped Cheese Ball.

Needless to say, due to the sheer volume and crapitude of most of these pitches, I rarely respond.

But I received one a while back that caught my eye.

It was from a couple in Ohio who makes children’s books.

“Dear Leslie,

The wife Susan & I created a kids’ book. It’s a custom photo book kinda like Where’s Waldo but uniquely made for each kid. We are looking to expand our media and found your dancing ad promo. Nice moves by the way…”

He knew my real name. (Nice.) He sounded like a decent hardworking midwestern guy with his whole “The wife & I” schtick. (I’m listening.) He complimented my dance moves. (Bonus points.)

And thus, an email conversation began.

His book is called Find Me If You Can!™  Tom offered to make a free one for Bucket Head, so I checked out his website and was immediately intrigued.

I decided to send him a photo of Bucket Head so I could see if I liked the quality of the book enough to want to do a review on my blog.

As cute as my Bucket Head is, the boy ain’t the most photogenic child I’ve ever pushed out of my baby maker.

Bucket Head ain't the most photogenic child I ever pushed out of my baby maker.

See what I mean? (Bless his heart. He gets it from his Mama.)

But I finally found one I thought would work and emailed it to Tom.

bucket head on his 5th birthday

About 10 days later I received my book.

I think it will be easier for you to see Bucket Head’s reaction to it than it would be for me to tell you about it, so here—have a look.

I wanted to keep the video short, so what you don’t see is the following:

  • Mini-Me (who is almost 10-years-old) took one look at this book and wanted a copy for herself with her own little face on each page.
  • My children stopped fighting for the first time all day while they worked together to find little Bucket Head’s photo on every page.
  • Bucket Head kept going back to the book for days after he received it.
  • Every time his friends come over, this book is the first thing he shows them: “Look! I’m in a book!”
my kids enjoying their new find me if you can book

Folks, I am telling you—you need one of these books for your kids or grandkids. This is THE coolest personalized gift we have ever received. (No offense Aunt Debbie, the kids love their monogrammed towels and all, but it’s hard to compete with seeing their face on every page of a Find Me If You Can! book.)

I’ve done all the research for you, so let me point out some of the book’s features based on questions I’ve already asked Tom and Sue.

1.) There is a spiral binding on the inside of this hardcover book because Tom and Sue have found that to be the sturdiest option, even though it costs them more to produce it that way.

2.) Yes, if you have multiple children, you can put siblings in the same book, but it will cost a little more due to the extra labor required. Plus, the more kids you put in the same book, the more crowded the magnifying glass on the title page will be.

title page of find me if you can

This is the title page in Bucket Head’s book.

3.) Based on the child’s age and ability, Tom and Sue can customize the number of random faces that appear on each page. They have done as few as 12 faces a page for children with learning disabilities. My book has ~120 faces per page and it was just the right level of difficulty for Bucket Head.

space page of find me if you can

4.) Don’t worry – your child’s face will not be used in other people’s books (unless you want that, and if so, you just have to sign a photo release form).

The books are $29.99 each and cost $4.95 to ship anywhere in the USA. For a limited time only (the next 7 days), Tom and Sue are offering my readers a special 10% discount ($3.00) on each book. Just go to BAMMCO.net to place your order and use the promo code BUCKETHEAD.

Tom and Sue have also generously offered to give away 5 of these books for FREE (with free shipping) to 5 of my fabulous readers! 

Want one?

Let’s do this.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’ll announce the winners next Wednesday.

If you are a blogger and would like a free personalized book to review on your own blog, please email me at Iris <at> TheBeardedIris <dot> com and I’ll introduce you to Tom and Sue.

Yours truly,

PS – I’m creating a photo album on Facebook so we can post the worst photos of our kids. Please join me at The Bearded Iris page to share yours.

Disclaimer – I received a free book in order to personally experience it for this review. As always, all opinions are my own. 


The Legend of the Easter Monster

Well, just a few more days until Easter.

In addition to the spiritual significance, this holiday means three more things for me:

1.) need to buy stuff for the kids’ Easter baskets.

2.) need to think about what the kids are going to wear on Easter Sunday.

3.) need to stock up on wine.

The third item: done and DONE. (Priorities!) I’m armed and dangerous. In exactly four days I will be wearing an Easter Basket on my head and singing Lady Gaga songs until I pass out. Praise Jesus!

The other two items, not so easy. I’m not much of a plan-ahead kind of gal. Hence this picture of my children digging into their Easter baskets at Grandma’s house in 2004 wearing their Halloween pa-jay-jays.

One of these years I’m going to remember to dress them in pastel colors the night before Easter.

When the kids were smaller, Grandma was my Easter clothes dealer. She’s a planner. She starts thinking about shit like that right after Christmas. The woman is a machine, and not just because she scrapbooks with a stapler.

Here’s a sample of the kind of outfits Grandma used to put together and mail to us weeks ahead of time for Easter. So cute!

Now that 2/3rds of the kids are so big, they are harder to shop for. Plus, nobody wants to mail us anything now that my dog Ike has been assaulted by a courier.

So now I’m on my own for dressing the kids. And I just found out the hard way that if you wait until 4 days before Easter, you are pretty much screwed. I’m just gonna take a wild guess that this is what they’ll be looking like on the day of our Risen Lord:

Which is actually a step up from how they’ll most certainly look the day before:

So if you see us at church on Sunday in our not-so-finest (or covered with mud), please understand that I just couldn’t get it together this year to outfit my children properly.

Now as for the Easter baskets, it’s not my lack of planning that’s going to put the damper on them this year. It’s something else.

But first, you should know about the Legend of The Easter Monster.

When I was a little girl, I was orphaned and raised by a pack of wolves. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration. But my parents had a less than amicable divorce and my mother worked outside of the home, a lot (or so it seemed to me), to provide for me and my little brother.

We had a colorful array of nannies over the years. “Nannies” makes it sound so much fancier than it actually was, particularly since some of them were manual laborers who owed my mom’s boyfriend a favor and said they’d keep an eye on us while they repaired our roof or painted the house. Needless to say, especially compared to today’s helicopter-parenting standards, we were grossly undersupervised much of the time.

This is important to know because, coincidentally, I didn’t have the best morals as a child. When you are raised by wolves, your main priorities are food and shelter, and character development is much lower down on the survival totem pole.

Anyhooo… every Easter morning, I would wake up early, tiptoe downstairs, and find our hidden Easter baskets. Then I would carefully and quietly transfer all the good stuff out of my brother’s basket into mine and move all the black jelly beans from my basket into his. Then I would put them both back in their hiding places and tiptoe back to bed.

A little while later, my sweet and gentle little brother would tap me on the shoulder and say “Iris, wake up! It’s Eastuhl! The Eastuhl Bunny was here! Yet’s go find our baskets!” And I would fake yawn and stretch and go with him to “find” our baskets. Then I would sit back and revel in the majesty of watching that sweet little boy delight in his basket full of black jelly beans. He was just so happy to have some candy and didn’t seem to notice or care about the lack of variety. Then I’d casually find mine and try not to rub it in too much that the Easter Bunny brought me two of everything wonderful: ginormous chocolate bunnies, Cadbury cream filled eggs, a rainbow assortment of Jelly-Bellies. My brother would always cock his head to the side and say something like “Huh. Why did you get all that stuff and I only got black jelly beans?” To which I would always nonchalantly reply, “I guess the Easter Bunny just likes me best.”

Then I would magnanimously offer to share some of my spoils with him, usually before my mom was even awake to know what horrors I was bestowing on her baby.

Yes. It is true.

I was a monster.

And it is a miracle that my little brother is not a serial killer today.

He eventually caught on and my little game came to an end, but I still delight in the retelling of it. And my children are absolutely fascinated by what a hideous creature I was to that sweet little brother of mine. It’s such a foreign concept to them since they are loving gentle angels who actually support and protect each other. Weird. I do not get those kids at all.

At some point in my moral development I finally realized that it is actually better to give than to receive (or pilfer and lie), and so now I usually relish putting beautiful Easter baskets together for my children.


The other day I overheard Mini-Me say “Ooooh, it’s almost Easter! I need to make my list.”

“Your list?” Nature Boy asked, incredulously.

“Yeah, for the Easter Bunny! So he knows what toys and candy to bring me!”


That’s not right.

Since when did the Easter Bunny become the Santa Claus of Spring? I do not like this, Sam-I-Am.

So I’m going to change up the Easter basket goodies this year. Yeah, I could do the black jelly bean thing, but that’s so 1979. I think I’ll put a new spin on it…

Look what I found at Ball*Fart yesterday:

Bright colored cleaning tools! I especially like the Microfiber cleaning slippers, and so will Mini-Me.

What do you think? Am I an evil genius, or what? They’ll think it’s a toy, but it’s really an instrument of torture. Plus they’ll have no choice but to help me with the housework.

Of course, I’ll throw in a few jelly beans (multi-colored) and some chocolate peanut butter eggs. And I’m sure their favorite Aunties will lavish them with chocolate bunnies like they do every year. I also bought a beautiful Children’s Book of Saints that I’ve carefully prescreened to ensure there are no horrifying Satan “reach around” pictures. So I’ve got the spiritual angle covered too.

Oh yes, The Easter Monster rides again. Protect your children, my friends. You never know when or where she’ll strike.

with Easter tidings of hope, joy, and evil,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

Dirty Girl

My five year old daughter, Klepto, announced a few days ago that she needed new tennis shoes. Great. Good Lord, kids are such money-pits, aren’t they?

So, wanting to be a good mother, and suspecting that the ancient art of foot-binding probably doesn’t fit with that notion in the U-S-of-A,  I loaded up the minivan and took the whole brood to the outlet mall after school. Not my favorite thing to do during happy hour.  Personally, I would rather donate a cornea than go shopping with children.  

Well, being that Klepto is indeed my mini-me, I immediately realized why I had procrastinated for so long about getting her some new shoes.  Somewhere between the second and the third shoe store, I suddenly had flashbacks of shoe shopping as a child.  I remember it so clearly now!  My Dad would take me on a Saturday and I would be sitting there on the bench, about 20 boxes of shoes forming a semi-circle around me, and one very exasperated looking shoe salesman waiting for a decision.  My Dad, never a very patient man, was giving me the stink-eye; silently willing me to hurry-up-and-just-fucking-pick-one, because if I didn’t choose something RIGHT NOW, there would be no new shoes. My Mom probably delegated the shoe shopping chore to Dad because she had a low pain threshold and knew that if anyone could frighten me out of my indecisiveness, it would be my Dad.  Hmmmm, indecisiveness, major symptom of ADD.  See, even then.  

Fast forward thirty-some years and there we were, Klepto, Nature Boy, Bucket Head, and me.  And we were in our fourth shoe store at the outlet mall. Bucket Head (the toddler) was getting restless. “The Witching Hour” was upon us, and me without an Elmo’s World video and my cocktail. I was losing steam quickly. Don’t you just hate when store clerks glare at you just because your kids are touching every single item in the store with their boogery fingers and your baby is smashing and throwing Goldfish crackers on the floor? So rude. Mothers are customers too, ya know. I have money to spend, people. Don’t fuck with the Mommy…I’ll take my husband’s credit cards elsewhere.  

My poor daughter.  She was not being difficult on purpose. She just knows what she wants and knows how to get it. I admire her so much for her free spirit, and fashion sense, and fortitude.  She finally found the pair she liked….they were cute AND comfy.  Cha-ching.  Here is what they looked like the next morning on her way out the door for school:

Cute, right?  And look how sassy she is pairing them with a big floral printed dress! Totally her idea.

So I thought we were in the clear. New shoes? Check. Happy child? Check. Twenty five dollars gone from my wallet? Check. Oh, not so fast, Grasshoppah.  

Klepto got home from school 8 hours later. Her new shoes were a huge hit with the other kindergarteners and she felt like a rock star. Plus, they made her run SO FAST, that she wanted to keep them on for our trip to a new park to meet some friends that afternoon. Sure honey. Sounds great.

Only one problem…I didn’t realize this park had a pond.

DAMMIT. Less than 24 hours after we bought them.  Look how smart I was, to have her change into play pants too. Even when I think I am on it, I am so clearly not.

Well that is ok. Deep breath. I am nothing if not a highly skilled stain remover. All I need is my handy-dandy Oxy Clean.  Now where is that?…

Wash out your ego every once in a while, as cleanliness is next to godliness
not just in body but in humility as well.
  ~Abbe Yeux-verdi

Just the Tip

Many of my readers have been asking me for parenting and housekeeping tips, since I clearly know a thing or two about both.  So to keep ya’ll happy, I am instituting a new regular feature here at The Bearded Iris called “Just the Tip Tuesday.”  From now on, every Tuesday, unless there is some kind of family or political emergency that needs to be addressed ‘a-sap,’ you can check here for some practical advice on everything from spouse management, to wrangling your nekkid toddler,  to do-it-yourself-exterminating.  I do it all. And usually in heels and a Wonder Bra.

And since playing “Just the Tip” is probably how my sweet baby, Bucket Head, came to be, it is only fitting that my first “Just the Tip Tuesday” post be all about how I am managing his antibiotic schedule for the Double Ear Infection from Hell.  Have you ever been around an 18 month old with a double ear infection?  I believe I can best sum it up for you with a limerick (and thank you to Bernie B. for the inspiration!).

There once was a baby in pain.
From shrieking he could not refrain.
His fever — extreme.
Now where’s my Jim Beam?
Vomiting sure leaves a stain.

So yeah, I’m pretty sleep deprived right about now.  Hung over too.

Alright.  Enough of my caterwaulin’.  Here is my hot parenting tip of the week: the key to antibiotics is consistency.  Lord knows I am not a fan of antibiotics.  They totally fuck with your digestive track, and everyone knows that a good daily dump is the secret to lifelong happiness.  But there are times, like when your sweet baby has a DOUBLE GOD DAMN EAR INFECTION, that you just don’t have a choice.  I don’t want this angel to suffer any more than he already does having me for a mama.

Now, most of my life is just a hot, steamy mess.  I am not very organized.  (Who has time to tidy up when there is all this blogging to do?)  But I found out the hard way that if I don’t have a system in place to record medicine doses, I will forget to medicate my baby and then he won’t get better.  And that is how I came to invent my handy dandy Antibiotic Sticker Chart!  Here is what it looks like, for you visual people:

antibiotic schedule sticker chart

You will notice in my chart that there are 10 rows, one for each of the 10 days the little sicko will need to be medicated.  Each day has an AM and a PM sticker box.  Alls you do is give the child his dose of medication and then give yourself a sticker for being such a good parent!  Wooo-hooo!  It is that simple, honey.  Because I am such a giver, I’m gonna give you a copy for your own damn self.  Be right back.

Shoot ya’ll, I don’t know a PDF from a PDQ.  Just make your own damn chart.  It is not that hard.  Truly.

Look closely at this photo.  In addition to my kick-ass checklist, you’ll also notice a few alcoholic beverages. Please note, these are for the parent, not the sick child.  Trust me, a few libations can do wonders for pain management (again, for the pain of the adult, having to comfort the shrieking toddler all hours of the night, not for the pain of the infirm minor).

In conclusion, keep lots of booze on hand, some stickers, and a medicine chart the next time you have a sick baby.  And remember, this too shall pass.  See you next week for another installment of “Just the Tip Tuesday!”  Please be sure to let me know if there are any particular topics you’d like to have covered in the upcoming weeks.  Thanks, ya’ll.

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