A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Tag: oprah

Ask and ye shall receive.

“Ask and ye shall receive.”

I don’t know who said that, but hot damn if it ain’t the God’s honest truth.

(Kidding, I know who said that. It was Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, right?)

Earlier this week I was in a major funk about the state of my house and the fact that I had not finished any of my 52 Weeks of Organizing projects lately. I suspected that if I could just focus and complete something, it would help me tremendously. So I declared my intentions to the universe.

And lo and behold, help arrived.

My organizing guru, Laura, THE Org Junkie, heard my plea and responded with the just in time medicine I needed: a fabulous post titled Finish what you start. It is filled with such good advice that I don’t even mind her blaming ME for her being a little hard on all of us this week! (Sorry guys. It’s for our own good.)

Laura encouraged us to update and reprioritize our lists! Holy cheese! That is just the lightbulb I needed. My priorities HAVE shifted dramatically since I began this journey 24 weeks ago. Almost losing 14,000 digital photos can do that to a gal.

But I never would have thought to update my list! What a great idea!

Iris' Original 52 Weeks of Organizing List

When I look back at my original list, it really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me anymore. I think it needs a major overhaul. So that’s something I’ll be working on next week.

This week, however, as promised, I focused on my office desk, the office floor, and my new computer. And I actually accomplished something! Staying focused in one room made a huge difference. (The rest of my house looks like shit, but I don’t care…I’m on a mission, ya’ll!)

But before I can show you my progress, first I have to show you something shocking!

"One of these things is not like the other one. One of these things just doesn't belong. Can you tell which thing is doing its own thing? Now, before I finish my song."

Ooops, not that one.

In the process of organizing some of my photos, I came across this old picture of my home office/den in 2004:

Pretty tidy, wouldn’t you say? This picture was taken about a year after we moved to this house. That was before we had a dog, or a third tornado child.

Fast forward a few years…

Look at the dog's face! Even he can't stand it here. And do you see what Mini-Me is doing in the background? Tossing my paperwork into the air. Nice.

Hello chaos. I’m Iris. Nice to meetcha.

That was Autumn, 2008. We had recently added hardwood floors and French doors. We painted the hallway and the home office. Like you can even tell with all that clutter in the way. Let’s face it, no amount of buttercream frosting can hide the fact that the cake underneath is made of crap.


You would think that finding $1463 worth of free money in that room would have motivated me to keep it more organized.

Uh, nope.

That really happened, by the way. One thousand, four hundred, sixty-three dollars. Fo shizzle.

It was January 2009, not long after that picture above with the three kids and the dog was taken.

You know how January goes… new year, new resolutions. I was bound and determined to get our home office under control. So I started moving piles around and putting like with like. That’s when I found a stack of unopened envelopes from my health insurance company. Thinking they were just monthly statements, I had never opened them. Smooth move, Ex-Lax.

So one night I sat in front of the TV and started going through that stack one envelope at a time. Sure enough, they weren’t statements. They were reimbursement checks! And they were 9 months old and about to expire. If I had not found them when I did, all that money would have been lost.

That, by the way, was what got me on the Oprah show in March of that year. Well my voice anyway, and a bunch of pictures of me, my family, and my messy messy house. Ahhhh, good times.

But here we are two years later, and I haven’t really made a ton of progress on that home office since then. Here’s a picture I took about a week ago:

"Honey call 911! We've been robbed! Oh wait...nevermind."

Lord have mercy! Every time I come home to this I think I’ve been burglarized. Only I haven’t. The thief is ME and I’m robbing myself and my family of a better life. That’s crazy.

But I’m proud to say that I am a woman of my word and I cleared that messy floor this week:

Keep your eyes on the floor... ignore the bookshelves.

I followed Laura’s advice and put a big basket by the door to gather all the items that didn’t belong in my office. Still haven’t put that stuff where it really belongs, but baby steps, right? We’re going for progress, not perfection.

Now I’ve got stacks of organized, manageable piles around the perimeter of the room that I plan to tackle one by one over the next few weeks: medical papers, warranties, kids’ artwork, things to frame, the recipe pile, etc. I’ve also got to organize that bookshelf so it doesn’t look so messy. I always wanted to paint it or stain it too, but for now, I’ll settle for tidy.

I’m feeling much less overwhelmed! I CAN do this. One little pile at a time.

Special thanks again to Laura the Org Junkie for all her support and expertise! I’ve definitely made more progress in the past week than I’ve made in the past two years! Thank you, Laura!

Can’t wait to show you all my progress next week. I’m going to stick with this room until it is complete! Come back next week and see!

Enthusiastically yours,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

DIY Feminine Hygiene Tips

Let’s just call a spade a spade, shall we? I’m a hairy woman. And it’s gotten worse over the years. Having a vajillion kids really messes with the hormones.

But it’s Tuesday, and you know I’m a giver. Today my tip for you is all about managing your excess body hair. It is swimsuit season here in the Northern Hemisphere, and most people don’t really want to see your short-n-curlies making a break for it out of the sides of your tankini bottom, ladies. Just sayin’.

Everything I’m about to share with you I’ve learned personally from trial and error.

It all started when I noticed my first chin hair over a decade ago. Now I have a full-fledged beard. And my eyebrows are migrating for the motherland. I actually cut myself shaving the other day…my toe. Seriously. If I ever have to spend time in the hoosegow or a traveling circus, I am going to be one popular mamacita.

Annie Jones toured with P.T. Barnum’s circus in the 19th century.

I’ve tried myriad things to manage my facial hair. I’ve waxed it. I’ve bleached it. I’ve used creams that burn, irritate, and cause temporary facial paralysis. I’ve even tried laser hair removal, but to no avail. So now I just pluck, when I remember, or when one of my martini olives gets accidentally speared on my ‘stache. I also tend to wear very low cut tops.  I find that people don’t really notice (or mind) my goatee when they are staring at my sweater puppets. Try this. It works.

Now, as for the bush, that is a different matter. It takes a lot more time and effort to keep my lady garden tidy. What can I say? My father’s ancestors are from Eastern Europe. Body hair protected my people from freezing to death on the Russian tundra. Less of an issue for this little ol’ Southern Belle. And besides, too much body hair makes my camel toe look fat.

I saw Dr. Oz on the Oprah show a few years ago and he was answering all kinds of embarrassing questions from the ladies in the audience. Well, one of the guests was asking about the Brazilian Bikini Wax, and Oprah was riveted! You know that face she makes like “Aw, HAYLE no! (Am I supposed to do that?)”?? It was the same face I made when I found out that ladies are having their buttholes bleached.

“WHAT the WHAT? ALL the hair? Even the butt hair???…. And women pay a stranger to do that? Seriously?”

Well Dr. Oz said that the real evolutionary purpose of pubic hair is to absorb odor and disburse pheromones to attract a mate. I’m picturing a furry cave lady not-so-subtlely wafting her scent in the direction of the caveman football team. Maybe if Ashley had tried this, Bentley wouldn’t have left The Bachelorette so early.

Personally, I prefer a freshly washed goodie basket any day of the week. I think that was the same episode when Dr. Oz called the vagina a “self-cleaning oven.” Um, excuse me, Dr. Oz…I don’t know what kind of fancy-ass-8-burner-Viking-style-stainless-steel-range-and-cooktop-combo you’ve got going on in your condo, but here in my modest suburban prison, the self-cleaning oven still needs a pretty regular spritz of EASY-OFF®, if you know what I mean.

So yes, back to my undercarriage. I’ve tried just about everything down yonder. I’ve shaved it: ouch. Waxed it myself: too hard. Plucked it: tedious. Spent the big bucks on a Brazilian Bikini Wax: humiliating. Gone native: Sas-crotch.

What is a hairy and harried mother of three to do? I don’t think my husband really cares. He’s just happy to get something once in a while…he’s not going to complain about the groundskeeping. But still, you attract more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. Wait. Let’s try that again. It’s called curb appeal, people. If your body is your temple, your foundation shrubbery should not be ignored.

Well, imagine my delight at finding a new hair removal product that I can use at home, by myself, that only takes about 10 minutes, for pennies on the dollar? Brace yourself.  This is a beauty secret that you definitely won’t hear at the Curl Up and Dye hair salon.

I have recently started using Magic Cream shave depilatory. Made by SoftSheen-Carson, this razorless beard remover is “formulated exclusively for black men.” Don’t adjust your screen. There is nothing wrong with your eyes. Yes, this is a cream made for the faces of black men, and yours truly is slathering it on my white, female, naughty parts. And since it is gentle enough for faces, you can put it EVERYWHERE down there and get results just like a Brazilian or Hollywood style wax job. Butt-hair, be gone!

How in the world did I discover this, you ask? Well, one of my very good friends (who would like to remain nameless) told me about it. She discovered this gem from a discussion board on one of the parenting web sites! And you thought we were exchanging organic carob chip cookie recipes and ideas for regimenting our children’s sleep schedules. Think again, honey. Women of the 21st century are swapping hygiene and grooming tips for their battered beavaroonies on babycenter.com. Gawd, I love the Internet.

So a 6 oz. tube of Magic Razorless Cream Shave* costs about $3-$4, but I just saw that you can bid on it by the lot on eBay. Wow, the secret must be out if people are auctioning this shit in bulk. Me? I’m not much of an Internet shopper. Besides, I really have a lot of fun buying this stuff at my local mega store in person. It is some good clean fun to buy a product that looks like this:

…in one of the most red-necky places on Earth.  Don’t you just love antagonizing the white supremacists bagging your purchases at the Walmart? Oh Lordy. It just doesn’t get any better ‘an ‘at.

Here’s what you can expect if you try this product at home:

  • It smells a little like a bad perm, but not overwhelming.
  • You need to keep it on for about 5-10 minutes (for me, closer to 10)…make sure you have a book or magazine to read while you wait for the Magic to happen.
  • LOCK THE BATHROOM DOOR. If your kids barge in they are going to freak the freak out. “MOM! Why are you spreading frosting onto your vagina?!” Man, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that.
  • To remove: use a washcloth and some elbow grease in the shower.

One other thing to note: the magic only lasts for a few days, and the stubble is not pleasant. But like my anonymous friend says, “You don’t get the up-do three days before the prom. Magic Cream your crotch on a Friday morning and set the tone for the whole weekend.” Oh. Yes. She. Did.

That girl is somethin’, ya’ll. If you ever find a friend who will share a beauty tip like THIS, never let her go.

Alrighty then. You are armed and fabulous. Go take care of bidness, ladies!

I share, because I care.

-Leslie (aka “Iris”)

*affiliate link to my Amazon store. 

VOTY HonoreeAmended: Thank you so much to the members of the BlogHer VOTY Committee who enjoyed this post enough to name it one of the 2012 Voices of the Year in the Humor Category! I am truly honored!


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris. All rights reserved.

Oprah, the light within, and lowered expectations.

Today I think I’ve cracked the code about what in particular takes the wind out of my motherhood sails faster than anything else: it is the shit my kids ruin.

Oh sure, we all have stories about special things our kids have destroyed or damaged or just made utterly nasty beyond public consumption standards. Some of us have more stories than others. I suspect there is a direct correlation between number of spawn and number of ruined things.

In fact there is an entire blog (and book) dedicated to this phenomenon. A damn good one too: www.shitmykidsruined.com. I’ve been perusing it for about an hour to make myself feel a little better about what I experienced today. And it helped tremendously. It did. (Bless you commisserating parents with cameras and no shame.)

We had an incident this morning that is really inconsequential in the scope of things, but to me, perfectly symbolizes the bigger picture of how difficult parenting can be. I hope you can relate.

But first, some background info.

I love Oprah.

I would totally jump on a couch for her.

And not just because I was on her show once. Which I was…March 2009: Peter Walsh’s Clean Up Your Messy House Tour, Atlanta edition. Mine was one of the featured messy houses. Not my proudest moment, but hey, at least I get to say “I was on Oprah…and not as a serial pedophile or transgendered bi-species recovering drug addict/sphincter transplant patient.”

Oprah has been a part of my daily life ever since I became a Stay at Home Mom in 2002. She was my friend. We laughed together and cried together. We drank wine together. Four o’clock was something I looked forward to every day.

My kids knew this and understood it.

In 2003 I was having trouble remembering to take my daily vitamins. My then four year old son, Nature Boy, said (in front of company) “They should make Oprah-shaped vitamins…then you’d remember to take them every day.” True story.

So last week was hard for me. Saying goodbye to her and all.

Then two days ago I overheard my four year old son Bucket Head playing with our collection of vintage Fisher Price Little People in his room. He was holding “Susan” from the late 1970s Sesame Street set and saying “I love Oprah. Oprah is my favorite.” It totally made me smile.

You have to admit, with those glam eyelashes, this retro Little People figure looks a lot more like Oprah than Susan. My kid has a point there.

Okay, that’s most of the back story you need to know. Well that, and the fact that I am in the process of “rehabilitating” Cesar Millan-style a very special and traumatized dog who recently bit an armed trespasser who assaulted him in our yard.

So yesterday morning, I was in the garage, searching for the source of “the stank.” A corner of our garage that was piled high with future Goodwill donations had started to emit a foul odor. We were worried maybe a chipmunk had crawled in and died. Jealous?

A few boxes in, my 11 year old comes running up to me, “MOM! Come quick! It’s something REALLY BAD!”

“What? I’m looking for a dead chipmunk out here. Can it wait?” (I’m thinking maybe he busted one of the little ones secretly binge drinking a whole case of CapriSun.)

“No. You NEED to see this. NOW.”

Oh crap. I swear I’d get so much more done if it weren’t for the CONSTANT stream of interruptions.

So I begrudgingly dropped what I was doing and headed into the house to see what was more important than a dead rodent body decomposing in my Goodwill pile.

I was directed to the lamps in the foyer:

“What guys? What is it? I’m kinda in the middle of something.”

“Look closer, Mom.”

“So… Oprah was lost and you found her? Okay, good job guys. Thanks for finding her, Nature Boy. I’m sorry I called you the ‘World’s Worst Finder.’ You rock.”

“No Mom. Look closer.”

I peered into the lampshade, gasped, and then pulled the lampshade off.




I was flabbergasted. Then heartbroken. Then pissed. And then terrified. All in a matter of seconds.

“Oprah melted,” said Bucket Head. His bottom lip was quivering. He was clearly heartbroken and terrified too.

Dammit. {deep sigh}

I know exactly when that little antique plastic toy was placed on that pointy light bulb. I didn’t actually see it happen, or surely I would have said, “Oh no, that’s a bad idea. She could catch on fire, honey. Never ever ever put something on a lightbulb.” But it happened as we were heading out the door yesterday for our morning walk (for the good of the pack!). And I was probably SO FUCKING PREOCCUPIED with not letting our very pushy Alpha-Male dog Ike walk out of the door ahead of us that I didn’t notice Bucket Head gingerly place the toy on the lightbulb next to the front door on his way out. The point of the fancy light bulb fit perfectly into Oprah’s bottom hole. (And that is a sentence I never thought I’d ever write. Please forgive me Oprah!).

And then he forgot about her.

And those pretty little decorative lamps are attached to a timer so they’ll turn on and off twice a day.

It took extra effort to buy that timer and the special electrical attachment that enables me to plug two lamps into the one timer. Extra effort and care. We have to reset that timer with every daylight savings change. But it’s worth it, because we never come home to a dark house or wake up to a dark house. It’s one of those small touches that make a house a home. Or so I once thought.

But apparently those pointy little 40 watt bulbs get hot enough to melt the plastic bodies of vintage Little People. Poor Oprah! I can’t even imagine how painful that white hot speculum must have felt…twice. And yet, just like on her show, she maintained that perfect makeup and hair, even while she was slowly dying inside, like that time she had to interview the white supremacists or the “surprisingly monosyllabic Elizabeth Taylor.”

I know this is the small stuff that I’m not supposed to sweat. It’s just stuff. Stuff isn’t as important as people or relationships. (It’s not, right?)

But I’m sweatin’ it, people.

Forgive me for my pettiness.

I am grateful that it didn’t start a fire.

I am grateful (and surprised) that I didn’t yell at Bucket Head and make him feel worse.

But I’ve been lovingly building that vintage Fisher Price Little People collection and enjoying it with my kids since my oldest was in utero. We love Little People. Or as Bucket Head says “We yuv Yiddle People.” And I’m fucking sick and tired of my kids ruining my shit.

It’s not irreplaceable. There are a dozen or so Susans on Ebay right now ranging from $2.00 to $15.00.

Totally not the point. I think what tans my hide more than anything is the fact that it occurred while I was actually being a good pack leader (for once). You see? Even at my best, danger and destruction lurk around every corner. And I’m like an untrained mall cop air-dropped into Bin Laden’s compound.

Enough is enough. Camel’s back, meet the last straw.

I’m one tough camel (toe) though. I’m not going to let this break me.

In fact, friends, in true Oprah-super-fan fashion, my little melted Oprah has provided me with a new “a-ha! moment.” And it is this:


Wait. That sounds really bad. Maybe it’s this:

For every thing, there is a season. And this is clearly not the season for me to be surrounded by beauty, or peace, or basic cleanliness.

No. That can’t be right.

I know:

Kids are filthy little beasts who are programmed to destroy. Suck it up, bitch.

Fine. “That’ll do, Pig. That’ll do.”

I need to narrow my focus, hunker down, and switch into survival mode. If I can just keep my house from burning to the ground, and muddle through this last little beastly child and the swath of destruction that follows his every move, it will be good enough. Perhaps the key to survival is lowering my expectations.

My theory on housework is, if the item doesn’t multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator door, let it be.  No one else cares.  Why should you?  ~Erma Bombeck

I will survive,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

How to Organize Itty-Bitty Video Game Cartridges

I have a label maker and I’m not afraid to use it.

In fact, when all else fails, I enjoy printing out a label and sticking it on something… anything really. It gives me a reassuring sense of control in a world where I frequently feel very out of control. And I like that. Notice the “label maker” label on the label maker. I did that. See?

Let me tell you a little story about my label maker and me. Two of my kids have Nintendo DS hand-held gaming systems. Very cool toys. We’re big fans. My only complaint is that the game cartridges that go into these things are teeny-tiny. Each cartridge is about the size of a postage stamp. I think those evil geniuses at Nintendo designed that on purpose so kids would lose their cartridges and have to buy new ones. But think again, buckaroos. At $20-$30 a pop, there is no way in hell I’m gonna let my kids lose those things. And thus, with the help of my trusty label maker, a business card holder, and some packing tape, I devised a handy-dandy DS Cartridge Library. TA-DAH!!

This beacon of organizational bliss is hanging on the inside of one of our upper kitchen cabinets… far out of the reach of my 3 year old who calls the cartridges “tickets” and likes to insert them into heating vents. We have one rule – one game in, one game out. This way, with a glance, I can tell which games are being used and the kids are less likely to just leave them lying around for the dog to ingest and make into poo-sculptures in the back yard.

Now the funny thing, if you ask me, is that when my friends come over and reach into my cabinet for a glass and see this system, they always go “OH! Oh my! How surprising! You’re SO ORGANIZED!” And truly, it is shocking, because less than 18 inches from this system, you are likely to find a kitchen counter top that looks like this:

Wow. Look at that. Impressive, no? My husband and step father don’t call me Kudzu for nothing. I really wasn’t kidding when I said I was chosen for Oprah’s “Clean Up Your Messy House Tour” in 2009. I really was. Seriously. I was on the Oprah show. Well, my voice was, along with several pictures of me, my lovely family, and my messy home. You can see it did me a whole lot of good. Not.

But underneath all this clutter, the least significant parts of my life are really quite organized. And my label maker has a lot to do with that. Maybe I can’t find the permission slip for the school field trip, maybe I forgot to pay the homeowner’s association dues, maybe my dog digested the USB cable to my daughter’s new camera, but dammit, I know where every single DS cartridge in my home is. And so do my kids. And that is one less thing for me to worry about on a daily basis. Every little bit helps, right?

So, dear reader, on this dreary Tuesday, my “Just the Tip” idea for you today is to get out that label maker and tackle one hot spot in your home. You’ll feel better. I promise. But don’t be a dumbass like me and pick the smallest, least significant thing you can think of. Pick something big and go make a difference.

Can’t see the forest… I’m still picking up the pine needles,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris

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