ACW Episode 173 – It’s Blow-Off Day again!

ACW webcomic, episode 173

Click on the thumbnail to view the full-sized image!

Sorry guys, no color webcomic this week, but hey, you do get to see me in my undies!

Last week was just a lousy week, with everything that could go wrong, go wrong. Everything from a sunburn that I should have had the common sense to prevent to the website going down while migrating it to a new host to the kids seeming to actively destroy the house… You name it, it went wrong last week. And I hit the point around Friday evening when I finally just started singing the “Blow-Off Day” song non-stop because that’s how bad things were.

Then I dropped a whole carton of left-over hibachi shrimp on the kitchen floor the next day, and that’s when I started swearing non-stop.

Anyway, here’s hoping this week is better. We’ll see.

PS – let me know if you encounter any problems with the website. I think I fixed all the glitches, but I can’t be certain. Thanks!

Blow Off Day Again!

I hereby officially declare today to be Blow Off Day. I’ve been struggling with jet lag, a sinus infection, and finances all week. I thought I had at least two of these things licked yesterday (not the finances, at least not yet), but then the Hubster pulled out a movie rental and said, “Hey, let’s watch Iron Man!”

So we stayed up way too late to watch the first half of Iron Man and I have this to say about the movie. Iron Man is a very good movie, but not good enough for me to stay up late a second night in the row so I can feel wasted on Friday. Don’t get me wrong. I really, really enjoyed the movie, but I really, really hate feeling like crap when I’ve got a mountain of work confronting me.

I tried getting up at 5AM this morning, like I’m supposed to, and I swear I felt body parts drop off of me as I shuffled zombie-like into the bathroom. So I gathered up everything that fell off and piled back into bed. Then I dragged myself out again at 7AM to get the Princess up and going. I managed to launch her out the door with the Hubster by 8AM, and then I went back to bed.

Pixie woke up some time between 8 and 9. I lay dying in my bed while she puttered around in her room. Then at some point I opened my eyes and found her staring at me over the edge of the bed. She cuddled with me for a while, got bored with her mother the corpse, and then ran into my closet, pulled out the clothes I’d left hanging on the door knob, and told me to “GET DRESSED!”

I did not get dressed, but I did get up. Pixie has been fed, and I comforted myself with a veggie eggroll and a hot cup of tea before collapsing back on the couch again. I’m slowly starting to come to life. I think I may have a hot bath, a spin on the Wii Fit to do the body test, and then… Well hell, I don’t know. I need to keep going on my finances, getting bank statements entered and pulling together tax info. I need to write a short story. I need to get to work on a cartoon. I’ve got a to do list a mile long, but the couch is so comfy and I’m so tired. And did I mention I’m oozing green snot?

Yeah, it’s Blow Off Day for sure.

The Official Blow Off Day Theme Song!

I cannot tell you how many nights I’ve lain awake pondering a question of the utmost importance and greatest magnitude.  And that question is…

If Blow Off Day had a theme song, what would that song be?

Well, today, after pulling an all-nighter to finish off the 1–year anniversary episode of the Heat Flash erotica podcast, it finally came to me.  Yes, I was lying there in bed, drooling just oh-so-slightly as my youngest kicked and screamed for Dora the Explorer… no wait, she wanted Wiggles instead… nope, no she wants Charlie and Lola… whatever.  Anyway, as I lay there contemplating the bleak aspect of having to spend all day dealing with a cranky, snot-filled toddler after less than three hours of sleep, the lyrics for the Official Blow Off Day theme song popped right into my head!  It was amazing, really.  I mean, one minute all I hear is kicking and screaming for Dora/Wiggles/Charlie and Lola/Scoobie Doo, and the next I’m humming happily along to this perfectly bouncy little song.  And I knew right away I just had to share it with everyone.  So without further ado, the Cynical Woman blog proudly presents the Official Blow Off Day Theme Song!

(Sung to the tune of ‘Camptown Races’ (better known as the Foghorn Leghorn song))

The house is dirty, I don’t care!
Do-dah, do-dah!
Gonna lie around in my underwear,
Oh-de-do-dah day!
I cleaned the house last night
And the kids destroyed it today
But it’s Blow Off Day and I don’t care
Oh-de-do-dah daaaaaaaay!

And there you go, the Official Blow Off Day Theme Song.  Feel free to share this little ditty or to make up your own verses and hum them mindlessly throughout the day.

Now I’m going to lie down on the couch in my undies.  See ya.


I hereby officially declare today to be Blow Off Day in the Madden household.

Why is it Blow Off Day, you ask?  Well, let’s see…

Michael and I woke up at 7:57 AM this morning.  Cassie’s bus arrives at the bus stop down the street at 8:08 AM.  In eleven minutes, I managed to:

  • Get myself up and dressed
  • Get Cassie up and dressed
  • Get Cassie’s teeth brushed
  • Get a waffle, banana and 2 juice boxes into her backpack for an impromptu “walking” breakfast (and yes, the waffle was cooked, not frozen, thanks to Michael)
  • Get Cassie’s hair brushed
  • Get Cassie’s “Show-and-Share” items into her backpack (without crushing the breakfast already in there)
  • Get Cassie out the door and to the bus stop with 2 minutes to spare

I did it.  I got her on the bus, dressed, with her glasses and her backpack and both shoes on the correct feet, all in under 10 minutes.  And personally, I think that’s enough exercise/stress/pulling of miracles out of my ass for one day.

Hence, it is Blow Off Day.

And if I had any doubts that it was Blow Off Day – and I did, I was contemplating in the tub after the rush to the bus stop that maybe, just maybe I could pull off a normal day after all – my darling husband cemented firmly in my mind that Blow Off Day was not an option, it was a fact.  You see, he locked himself out of the house in the process of heading out to work, and I had to get out of the tub, run downstairs wearing a towel and a face full of super-special cleanser that’s supposed to take 10 whole years off my looks but today may at best only cancel out the 10 years I added this morning, and open the door for him so he could come back inside, get his keys, and avoid kissing me because he did not want super special cleanser on his face.

It is soooooooo Blow Off Day.

Blow Off Day has a long and illustrious history.  It first began five years ago, when Cassie was just an infant.  Back in those days, she had colic, which meant she screamed for five hours straight every evening.  The rest of the day she just wailed and beat me with her tiny fists.  After many valiant attempts to be Super-Mom (you know, the woman who’s dressed in designer jogging suits, pushing a baby stroller around the block, and said stroller contains a sleeping, happy baby dressed in clean frilly outfits that aren’t covered in spit up and the mom isn’t covered in breast milk and even more spit up and my god she even brushed her hair and her teeth!), I realized that I needed a break, so I spent a day sitting on the couch doing nothing but nurse my baby and watch Dirty Harry movies (because it was either Dirty Harry or Days of Our Lives and I hate soap operas but I really could have killed something that day so I lived vicariously through Clint Eastwood for few hours and that helped a little).  And that was all I did.  Didn’t do the laundry, didn’t go out for a stroll, didn’t make lunch (I had a bowl of cereal with chocolate milk in it, if I recall correctly).  I didn’t do jack but what I had to do, which included nurse the baby, go to the bathroom, and change diapers.  And if I could have figured out how to get someone else to do all three of those things for me that day, I would have done it gladly.

Blow Off Day means I only do what I want or what I absolutely have to do.  I have to take care of Sam. I have to eat.  I have to use the toilet and breath.  Beyond that, I don’t have to do squat.  So the laundry can go screw itself.  House cleaning can take a flying leap.  Dinner tonight is pizza and I’ll be damned if I’m getting off the couch to bake the frozen thing Michael bought.  Papa John’s delivers!

I plan to spend the day watching Dora the Explorer with Sam and doing some artwork I’ve been itching to do.  Alessia Brio has invited me to submit some stuff for an upcoming illustrated volume of Coming Together, and I think I’m in the mood today to draw something really, really naughty.  And that’s pretty much all I’m in the mood to do today.

Except maybe use the toilet.  But that’s only because I can’t get anyone else to do it for me.  Otherwise, I am not getting off the couch.

Have a happy Blow Off Day, everybody.

Welcome To My Week-Long Total Freak Out

So I had a nervous breakdown or three this past week. Actually, I probably had even more than that. I have been stressed out for a while now, trying to get **WORK** done because I am a **PROFESSIONAL WRITER/ARTIST/STAY-AT-HOME-MOM** who has responsibilities and drop-dead-lines and a career to forge, blah, blah, blah, blah…

The last several months have just hit me like a steam roller, smashing me flat over and over again. It’s partly due to the amount of work that suddenly fell into my lap (four art commissions at once!), plus the extra work that I created for myself (New podcast! Write and record a new story every week! Promote EPIC VA and market your writing career! Make personal appearances at conventions!). And it’s partly the fault of my own anal retentiveness over the state of cleaning in the house (Must do laundry every day! Must mop and dust once a week! Scrub those toilets! Clean that shower! Scour that sink!). Oh, and don’t forget exercise (Swim 20+ laps three times a week! Karate class twice a week! Practice 2-3 times a week! Walk! Stretch! It’s good for you, dammit!).

Jesus Christ Almighty. Who the fuck was I kidding? Not even Wonder Woman could do all that every day. But I sure as hell tried. Have been trying for the last several months. I think it started back in August, when the art commissions came in. About that time I started up the EPIC VA group. And then I started working on the podcast in September. And the housecleaning thing? That particular losing battle got started the month before Sam was born. I can recall being eight months pregnant and having so much energy that I could get up at 4:30 AM **before my alarm went off** and being all excited about doing a couple of hours of housecleaning. Only it didn’t seem like a couple of hours, because I was doing the Fly Lady thing, and which turns housecleaning into 15 minute blocks scattered throughout the day, mixed in with 15 minute blocks of other stuff in between, like work, playtime with the kids, exercise, etc.

Not to knock Fly Lady, because she’s got some really good ideas there, but parceling my life out in 15 minute segments to do all the shit I thought I needed to do was really killing me.
Anyway, I’ve been trying to juggle too many chainsaws at once, and failing at it. On the days that I managed to do all the stuff I told myself I had to do, I felt like I was running one massive long marathon, with no end in sight. I was getting up almost two hours before Michael was (and resenting him for sleeping in) and going to bed an hour before he was. This made it seem like we lived in two separate time zones, even though we were in the same house. I only saw Michael when he was asleep, and many mornings this frequently led to me not getting out of bed at the ungodly hour of **5AM** because if I did, I was giving up quality time with my husband. Yeah, sleeping with my husband was considered quality time. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the fun kind of sleeping with my husband.

What was really bad was what all this **WORK I HAD TO DO** was doing to my temper. I was so frantic and so harried and so overscheduled that I had no patience left, especially with the kids. I resented every minute I had to take to herd them along through the day. Five-year-olds and toddlers do not move fast, nor do they live their days parceled out in blocks of 15 minutes. I was yelling at both kids way too often, and then on top of it I was yelling at Michael because his attitude was a bit more slack than mine and he wasn’t doing things **EXACTLY THE WAY I WANTED THEM DONE, ESPECIALLY THE HOUSE CLEANING WHICH WAS DRIVING ME NUTS AND DIDN’T HE UNDERSTAND HOW HARD I WORKED TO TAKE CARE OF THE HOUSE AND THE KIDS AND HOW WOULD HE LIKE TO DO HIS OWN DAMN LAUNDRY BECAUSE I’M TIRED OF PICKING UP AFTER HIM**.

So yeah, this sort of shit has been going on for months now and last week it sort of all came to a head and I have three or four meltdowns in a row and then something miraculous happened.

The car went into the shop.

Huh? Say what? What does your car being in the shop have to do with melt-downs and sanity-salvation, Helen?

See, it was like this. The steering column in the SUV was making this horrendous squeaking noise every time I turned the wheel. I ignored it for a while, because I really, really didn’t want to spend several hours chasing Sam through the Saturn dealership while someone fixed my car. I had too much shit to do, see? And besides, I’ve been in that dealership often enough in the past few months that I’m sick of it. The people who work there are really nice and they’re very patient with Sam, but they make crap coffee. Anyway, the squeaking noise in the steering column got so bad that last week I finally couldn’t ignore it anymore so I finally broke down and made an appointment to have the car repaired on Friday. Only when I made it, I decided to drop the car off **the night before**. That meant I would be stuck at home all day Friday, unable to go to the gym or anyplace else, but hey, it beat being stuck at the dealership with the crap coffee with nothing to do but chase a screaming toddler.

So Thursday evening came. Everybody in the family had a raging cold that day. I had spent the previous several days killing myself to finish up a commission, which still needed a lot of work, and I was dead on my feet. When I picked Cassie up from preschool, I decided I was simply too fried to make dinner, so I called in an order for Chinese. Michael picked it up, brought it home, and we ate a really delicious but very-bad-for-us meal. Then we all piled into the cars and took the SUV to the Saturn place and left it there. When we got home, I sat down at my computer and went back to work on the bloody art commission that had become the bane of my existence. And I worked on it until 2AM.

Crazy, neh? Typical overworked stay-at-home mom shit. But then Friday came and this is where the miracle really started. Because I had been up until 2AM, **I decided to sleep late**. That’s right. I shut off all three of my alarms (because I’ve been so damned tired I actually needed **three alarms** to get my ass out of bed) and I slept in. I let Michael get Cassie up and ready for school. Somehow, they got themselves breakfast and made it out the door. I don’t know how. I slept through it all. And then around 9AM (oh my gawd, did I really sleep until 9AM?!), I woke up feeling pretty decent and got out of bed. And I made breakfast – Captain Crunch for me and yogurt for Sam – and I brought it upstairs to the master bathroom, and then I got Sam up and we both got undressed and we took a bath while we ate breakfast. And that worked out pretty well. And since I was feeling lazy and I’d been up so late and I didn’t have a car anyway so I couldn’t go to the Y, I decided to say, “Fuck it!” and didn’t bother to do any exercise. I did fold some laundry, but that was really more an excuse to listen to some podcasts. And I let Sam watch two hours of TV, which I watched with her while I worked on the bloody art commission. And while I did this, all I could think of was, Jeeze! When was the last time I watched TV? When was the last time I just goofed off?

The rest of the day went pretty much like that. We had a simple lunch with Michael (holy cow, we were both awake and talking!) and afterwards I took Sam out for a walk. While she ran around in the field behind our house, I followed along taking pictures of whatever caught my interest, and it was nice. The weather was warm, flowers were blooming, Sam played in the dirt and I had absolutely nowhere I had to be because hey, my car was in the shop.

Sam went down for a nap after that, and I kept working on the bloody art commission, which was now actually turning out to be kind of fun because by this point I had decided it was the only thing I was going to work on that day so now I could actually take some time to play around with it. And it came out sooooooooo nice. Mary’s seen it and she likes it so I know it’s good. And when it was done, I sent it off to the client and he likes it too, which means he’ll pay for it now and that makes **me** happy. Then around 5PM, Michael came home to get me and Sam and we all went to get Cassie at preschool and then we picked up the car and I took the girls home and make leftovers for dinner – Chinese with mashed potatoes and green beans. Yum!

And then we all watched some TV and I tinkered around with the art commission a bit more and bedtime came and the girls went down fairly easy and no one was shouting, especially me, and I stayed up too late after that but I didn’t care and I still got a good night of sleep because I slept through the alarm the next morning but I was only a little cranky about that because we still got to Cassie’s karate class on time and I was able to do the writing work I had meant to do at **bloody 5AM** while sitting in the dojo watching my girl do her Okinawa thing and then the rest of the day I just sort of relaxed and went along with the flow because I was wearing my favorite Hawaiian shirt with my favorite pirate socks and the weather was sooooooo nice again so I took the girls out for a photo safari and we took pictures of tree bark and tiny flowers and a little bumble bee and all the spring-is-in-the air stuff inspired me to write the coolest story for my podcast and then Mary and Shawn came over for dinner and karate and we all had a good time even though the pork chops I cooked turned out kind of lame.

And all this happened because the car was in the shop all day Friday.

I took a break. I had no choice – the damn car was in the shop. And afterwards I felt better than I had in months. So good that it makes me cry thinking about how damn hard I’ve been flogging myself to make things happen. So I’m rethinking some things this week. I’m going to keep wearing my Hawaiian shirts and just work on one thing at a time and I’m going to slooooooooooow down because honest to god, nothing I do has to happen except for taking care of the kids, my husband, and myself. I have been so stressed out over all this other shit that I told myself I had to do to succeed as a writer-artist-mom, that I felt like I was working back at Langley AFB again. And everyone who knows me knows how bad that job was. When I quit that place I swore I would never work under those conditions again. And yet somehow I recreated all that right in my own home. Well not anymore.

I’m goofing off today. I’m gonna listen to some podcasts while I fold a little laundry. I’ve got an article to start for ERWA. Maybe I’ll write a little flash fiction I’ve had in my head and send that in to the writer’s group. But I’m only doing those things because I want to, not because I have to. And none of it has to get done today. As for the other stuff that’s on my list? Well, all that shit can wait its turn, can’t it? I mean, it’ll still be there when I’m ready for it. I’m pretty certain of that.

So that’s all for now. Chill, dudes.

How Not To Enjoy Blow-Off Day

Michael’s been away on a business trip all week, so you know what that means. After a week of struggling with two kids on my own, Friday arrives and with it comes Blow Off Day, the day where I do absolutely nothing but what I want to do, outside of taking care of the kids.

It should have been a breeze. My plan was to get up extra early and blow some fun time on computer graphics. Then I would wake up Cassie, get her dressed and fed and dropped off at preschool. Then Sam and I would head out for a nice lazy walk. Then we would head out for the morning. First stop, the hospital to pick up copies of my last mammogram (yep, coming up on time to get the boobs ironed out). Second stop, Barnes and Nobles because I have a coupon burning a hole in my pocket. I thought we might look through some manga and cook books and whatever else caught my eye. I’d have a frou-frou coffee with extra whipped cream (the baristas always give me extra whipped cream when they see Sam because they think she’s so cute). Then I’d hit the toy store and pick up a small gift for the party Cassie is going to tomorrow. All of that would be followed by a trip home, during which Sam would fall soundly asleep. I’d carry her to her crib, lay her down, and sneak off to do some more fun stuff on my computer. I’d pick Cassie up from preschool around 4 PM. At home, the kids could enjoy cartoons while I whipped together a quick dinner. We’d eat, pop in a movie (we only watch TV on Fridays and Saturdays around here, so yeah, Friday is a big day for the boob tube), and head up for bath and bed around 7 PM. After stories, both kids would be in bed by 8 PM, 8:30 PM tops, and I would have the rest of the evening to myself.

Yeah, that was how the plan was supposed to work. Here’s what really happened.

I got up early, just like I planned and spent some quality time with my graphics programs. I put together a really nice graphic for the podcast I’m starting up next month. I puttered away on my laptop happily until 6:25 AM, and then went to wake up Cassie to get her ready for school.

Only to discover that her right eye was glued shut by greenish-yellow goop. Twenty minutes later, when I had finally soaked away the last of the super-goop, I discovered my child had pink eye.

You know that put a kink in my plans.

I can’t take Cassie to preschool when she’s got pink eye, so I called the school to let them know she’d be staying home today. No biggie, I can still enjoy Blow Off Day with both kids. Of course, I’d have to take Cassie to the doctor, and to do that I’d have to make an appointment…

Since the doctor’s office doesn’t open until 9 AM, I had to delay my walk. I let Cassie watch some TV while she ate a waffle and I went back to work on my computer graphic. It was really turning out beautifully. I decided to let Sam sleep, since we weren’t going anywhere until after I called the doctor. When she finally woke up around 8 AM, I pried myself away from my graphics program and fed her breakfast. Then I let her wander around the living room, destroying everything she could get her hands on while I went back to my computer graphic. Cassie continued to nibble at her waffle and watch the Wiggles with one eye glued shut again.

At 9 AM, I made the call to the doctor’s office and spent fifteen minutes on hold. When I got through, I was told I could have an appointment that afternoon at 2:30 PM. Great. That would be right smack-dab in the middle of Sam’s nap. But Cassie has pink eye so I had to take it. I hung up the phone and started herding kids upstairs to get dressed. The afternoon was shot but I could still make it to Barnes and Nobles and enjoy browsing through books.

Unfortunately, we didn’t exactly hustle. For various reasons, we didn’t make it out of the house until 10:30 AM. No problem, though, I could still get in a short trip before lunch, and then put Sam down for a short nap so I could have some quiet time. Cassie could read in her room while I went back to work on my graphics. Right before we hit the parking lot of B&N, I remembered I was supposed to pick up my mammogram films, so I had to keep going and circle around to the hospital. Not a huge trip, but it did eat away that much more time from my book browsing.
At this point, Cassie started complaining of being hungry. “We’ll get something to eat at the book store,” I said, envisioning us all smiling as we shared a cheese-stuffed herb pretzel and I happily sipped my frou-frou coffee. “But I don’t want to eat at the book store, Mommy. I want to eat at Wendy’s.”


“It’s my favoritest place in the whole world!”

We debated the advantages of the B&N café versus Wendy’s all the way through the hospital and back out again. We were still debating it as we headed into the bookstore. Sam started to fuss. I gamely tried to pick out a cook book while Cassie went on and on about Wendy’s and Sam’s complaints about being stuck in the stroller grew louder. Then Cassie said she really needed to go to the children’s section of the bookstore, so we went. I thought maybe the kids would get engrossed with the train table and I’d get to look at the cookbooks I’d picked out at random. Instead, I spent most of my time chasing after Sam as she ran amok in the kid’s section, yanking books and toys off the shelves. We didn’t stay very long (although somehow I did manage to pick out one cookbook and use my coupon; I hope I bought a good book…).

Upon leaving the bookstore, Cassie immediately announced that it was now time to go to Wendy’s. Since I obviously wasn’t getting any frou-frou coffee now anyway, I relented. It was close to home, so why not. We headed back across town, found the Wendy’s and I enjoyed what had to be the absolute cheapest meal of my life. I can’t really eat the food at Wendy’s – the burgers give me heartburn – so all I ever get is the baked potato and chili from the value menu. Cassie and Sam seemed to enjoy their meals though, so at least someone was happy with the cuisine.

After lunch, we went home and played outside for a while. Sam was thrilled with this. She’d had enough of the car for the day and was anxious to stretch her fat little legs. Too bad we only had 30 minutes before we had to head out for Cassie’s doctor’s appointment. Oh, the screaming we had when I put Sam back into her car seat. And the thrashing too. Kid nearly knocked me on my butt in the driveway. Somehow, I managed to get her strapped in and we all took off again. Sam’s screaming sounds a lot like a police siren, so we made good time as other cars pulled off the road ahead of us.

We spent an hour and a half at the doctor’s office, most of that in the waiting room. I had expected to spend much longer there, but I guess they were having a quiet day. My diagnosis of pink eye was confirmed and the physician’s assistant prescribed an antibiotic. It was at this point I remembered that I still had to get a toy for the party Cassie is going to tomorrow. Naturally, the toy store is on the exact opposite end of town from our pharmacy. Could the doctor’s office call in the prescription for me, so I could pick it up on my way home? Of course they could! Thinking I had just made life easier on myself, I took the kids back out to the car and headed for the toy store.

By now, Sam was getting seriously pissed. She’d missed her nap and had been stuck in the car seat most of the day. When she wasn’t in the car seat, she was in my arms to prevent her from trashing whatever location we happened to be visiting at the time. She screamed all the way over to the toy store and…

Fell asleep. I had to carry that little lump all through the toy store, and man was she heavy. I also had to argue with Cassie over what to get her little friend for the birthday party. Personally, I can only afford to spend so much on birthday gifts, especially since all of Cassie’s classmates seem intent on inviting everyone in the class whenever a birthday rolls around. The present buying thing gets expensive, you know?

Cassie eventually found a toy horse set that fell within my price range. After paying for it, we headed off to the pharmacy. I had this plan (again with the plans; you think I’d learn by now) to pick up Cassie’s prescription, rush home, turn on the cartoons, and whip together a quick dinner just like I’d planned. We’d all relax after running around all day and maybe even have time to play.

That plan went to hell in a hand basket when I got to the pharmacy and was told I’d have to wait another 30 minutes to get my prescription. It had been called in, but they were busy, so that was that. It turned out to be an hour long wait in the end, during which time I once again chased both kids around the store, trying to prevent them from breaking anything. Cassie started to complain about being hungry again, so I bought a ginger ale and a granola bar and the three of us split that while we waited. When we finally got the prescription, we headed home. By now Sam was furious about being stuffed in the car seat again, and not only did regular cars pull over as we drove, but so did a police car as well. At least we made good time on the drive.

Well, I did manage to get dinner out quickly. I had cooked chicken stew the day before, so all I had to do was heat it up again and serve it. Neither Sam nor Cassie wanted the stew though, and that started the nightly food wars up again. I did cave to Sam and let her have some baby raviolis, but only because they’re so easy to fix. With Cassie, I finally had to turn off the TV and tell her no more cartoons until she’d eaten her dinner.

“How many bites?” she asked me.

“All of it,” I said.

“But how many bites is that?”

“All of it means you eat every bit of food on that plate, young lady.”

“But I can’t do that! I don’t want stew!”

“Well too bad, because I’m not cooking you anything else. You either eat the stew or you go to bed. TV is not coming on until you’ve cleared your plate.”

And so on and so on… That particular argument lasted for over half an hour. I let Cassie sit at the table and whine over her stew while I finished eating and then went on to do my evening chores. I told her once I was done with the chores, her plate was going away and she was going to bed. Did she listen? Did she even attempt to finish her stew? Nooooooooooo. She sat and whined and cried and pouted and then threw a screaming fit when I finally came for her plate. Oh well.

Cassie did calm down in time to get a bedtime story. Sam sat through one board book and then tried to mug me for breast milk. I made her wait while I read to Cassie. Then we did our usual bedtime routine of rounding up monsters (we give them to Cassie to eat before she goes to sleep) and saying good night. Well, I said good night. Cassie said, “Mommy, I need someone to stay with me tonight!” This is her latest delaying technique. I always answer with, “I’ll be right down the hallway if you need me. Good night sweetie.” Then I walk out of the room. We’ve done this often enough lately that Cassie no longer cries when I leave.

After getting Cassie down, I tried to nurse Sam. She was more interested in chewing on my nipple than in nursing, so she went to bed early too. She screamed all the while as I worked on this blog entry, but now she’s quiet. It’s 8:30 PM. I finally have the house to myself. I’m dead tired and the only thing I got done that I had planned to do was my graphic for my podcast. Everything else just got derailed. I’m so pissed. I hate it when Blow Off Day gets screwed like that. Maybe I should try again next Friday. We’ll see.

Anyway, Michael will be home later tonight. Once he’s home, he gets the girls all weekend. I’m going to be busy working at Fantasci 6 this weekend, handing out brochures and promotional materials for EPIC. Should be fun.

Its Blow Off Day Again, I Think.

I can’t quite decide if today is Blow Off Day or not. Both Sam and I have been sick for the past few days, nothing serious like the flu, but I’ve got this nagging cold with hideous sinus pressure that’s been beating away at my skull, and it just refuses to let up. It’s not a nasty beating some like having your butt kicked by Bruce Lee. It’s more like having a three-year-old pound at your head with a whiffle bat for about five or six hours on end. It’s annoying and it’s frustrating and you really can’t get it to stop no matter how many times you try to take away the bat. Plus I’ve got a back ache, sharp needle-like pain digging into my spine every time I bend over or straighten up, and sometimes they shoot all the way up into my neck. I know it’s my lymph nodes all swollen from fighting this minor measly infection. It’s just enough to make me feel miserable and sap all my motivation to do anything. I haven’t sat at the computer the last two days because I just don’t feel like it. I’ve been nursing Sam lying down in bed. If I’m lucky, she’ll settle down, latch on and just suck the rest of my life out of me. If I’m not, she’ll curl up next to me, latch on and then beat me to death with her tiny little fists and feet, all while chewing on my nipple. Every now and then she’ll break off and give me this big gummy grin as if to say, “Gee Mommy. Isn’t this fun?” Of course she’s got a trail of slime coming out of both nostrils. I’ve never seen anything look so disgusting and so cute at the same time. Maybe this is where the term disgustingly cute comes from.

It’s Thursday, which means at 11:30 I should be heading out the door to karate class, but honestly, I really don’t feel like it. I can’t decide if this is because I feel bad or if it’s because I just plain feel lazy. I felt that way when I woke up this morning I got up at 5:15. I woke up not to the sound of my alarm clock but by the sound of a cat taking a dump in my hallway. Fritti is still dying, four weeks after I predicted he would be gone. I swear I have never seen a cat take so long to kick the bucket. And if he passes away with in the next week, it may not be because of any illness, but because I finally got fed up with him taking a dump all over the house and I’d throttled his scrawny little neck. Don’t get me wrong. I love my cat. He’s been my constant companion for 15 years and I used to refer to him as my boyfriend any time Michael was out of town. For a cat, he has that boyfriend kind of look – the orange tiger striped randy tom – but man is he killing me. So far today, I’ve cleaned up four piles of diarrhea, not poop but diarrhea, and it smells so bad you’d think the apocalypse is coming.

After thinking about all this suddenly I’m not surprised that I’m tired. So far this morning I’ve nursed Sam twice, gotten Cassie up and dressed, fed both children breakfast (which is a feat in and of itself), cleaned up after Fritti, made my bed, folded a load of laundry, started another load, and now I’m in my dining room with a bucket of water and wood soap getting ready to scrub down my dining room table, which has recently been painted in apples and blueberries thanks to Sam. She thinks it’s fun to smear her food all over herself and then leave her impression all over the dining room. I’m not kidding when I say I can see her lip prints on the finish. Again, disgustingly cute.

Sam’s asleep right now. If she wakes up before 11:30, I guess I’ll throw on my gi and go to karate. If she doesn’t, I will take it as a sign that I was meant to stay home today. Honestly, the only reason I even care about getting the karate is because I know in about two months I’m going to have to test for second degree black belt. If it weren’t for that, it would be Blow Off Day for sure. Anyway, I’ve got to clean apples and blueberries off my dining room table now. Have fun today. I know I won’t.

Blow-Off Week – Two Frustrated Artists And A Hungry Baby

Remember last time Michael took a business trip and left me home all alone with an infant and a preschooler? Remember our little discussion about Blow-Off Day? Well, how about today we talk about Blow-Off Week.

It had not been my intention to completely blow off work, exercise, play dates, house cleaning and all the rest of my daily grind this week, but due to circumstances way beyond my control, everything I had planned to do has gone right out the window. See, Michael left for Alabama on Monday. My parents, who spent a week riling up the grandkids, left yesterday. Sam developed a fever on Sunday and has done nothing but nurse since then, and Cassie has been her usual exuberant, tantrum-prone self. And me? I’m just plain wiped out.

Michael won’t be home until sometime Friday evening. In between now and then, I somehow have to keep Cassandra occupied and satisfy a ravenous baby. Both tasks are impossible. Attempting to accomplish some meaningful work at the same time is even more so. I had thought that I might catch a break last night. I nursed Sam early and then gave Cassie plenty of crayons, glitter pens and construction paper along with instructions to draw scary ghosts for our Halloween decorations. I figured a well-fed baby plus an occupied preschooler would equal free time for me. Naturally, that plan backfired.

Cassie, seated at table surrounded by a mountain of craft supplies: “Mommy, I can’t draw ghosts.”

Me, reaching for my drawing pad in hopes of doing some sketching: “Of course you can, sweetie. You drew lots of ghosts yesterday.”

Cassie: “No I didn’t. I can’t draw ghosts.”

Sam, lying on her full, distended belly on the play mat: “Waaaah!”

Me, pulling pencils, erasers, and a sharpener from my art box: “You’re not hungry Sam. Cassie, you drew ghosts for Grandmama just last night, remember?”

Cassie, pushing her construction paper away: “That was ghosts for Grandmama. I can’t draw ghosts now.”

Sam, rolling over onto her back and discovering she is now stuck there: “Waaaaaaaaaah! Waaaaah!”

Me, pushing the paper back toward Cassie: “Sam, you just ate. You’re FINE, trust me. Cassie, why not draw more ghosts for Grandmama and we’ll mail them to her?”

Cassie, dropping the paper on the floor: “I can’t. I need markers.”

Me, pencil in hand, ready to sketch: “I don’t know where your markers are right now, sweetie. Use the glitter pens I gave you. You like the glitter pens.”

Cassie, pushing the glitter pens away: “I want markers. Miss Erica let us play with markers in class today.”

Sam, scrunching up her face and turning beet red: “WAAAAAAAAAH! WAAAAAAH!! WAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!”

The conversation halts as a gargantuan fart explodes from Sam’s dinky little butt. The resulting shockwaves are strong enough to knock me senseless while simultaneously launching Sam into the air. She lands in my lap and grabs at my left breast. I regain consciousness just in time to prevent her from gnawing a hole through my shirt to get at my nipple. I can barely fend her off long enough to get my shirt up and my nursing bra open.

Cassie, ignoring my current plight: “We have markers in the craft bin, Mommy. Can you go get them for me?”

Me, as Sam proceeds to latch on and Hoover all the milk from my body; the suction is so intense, it’s a wonder I don’t implode: “My hands are a little full right now, sweetie. Could you please just use the glitter pens?”

Cassie, rolling her eyes: “Mommy, I’m an artist! You just don’t understand.”

Me, wearily eyeing my drawing pad which will remain untouched for yet another evening: “Trust me, Cass. I understand far better than you think.”

So that’s how the week has gone so far, and how I expect it will continue to go. I have plans to write and draw, but realize that I’m probably going to have to chuck all of that at a moment’s notice. Oh well. It’s Blow-Off Week. I’ll just keep doing the best I can.


I still haven’t made it to the scanner yet to scan in my cartoon from this past weekend. However, I managed to get this done on the computer yesterday. It’s a portrait of Cassandra. I think it’s a rather stunning likeness.

Flash illustration of Cassandra Jane, 24 October 2006.

Surviving Michael’s Business Trip – Day 4, Blow Off Day Continues

Oh, we are so blowing off today’s plans.

It’s 5:20 AM. Last night, I nursed Sam at midnight, 2 AM, and 4 AM. The alarm went off at 4:45. I was able to get a shower, but now it’s 5:20 AM and I’m back in the glider again nursing Sam, who keeps beating the crap out of my boobs because, guess what? My breasts are E-M-P-T-Y EMPTY!!

So all today’s plans are going out the window. It is once again, officially, Blow Off Day. As soon as Sam nurses herself back into a stupor, I plan to put her down and return to bed myself. Whenever Cassie wakes up, she can have whatever she wants for breakfast, up to and maybe even including M&M’s. I was planning on going to the dojo and take karate class today, but now I’m thinking we’ll hit the library instead. Mmmmm, the library. Such a nice quiet place. They have chairs in the library. I can check out a nice book on drawing and sit in one of those big comfy chairs. Yeah, sit and read… sit and read… sit and zzzzzzz…

I’ll post artwork later today. Maybe. Remember, it’s Blow Off Day.

Surviving Michael’s Business Trip – Day 3, Blow Off Day

Well, it was bound to happen. At least one day while Michael was gone, I knew we were going to end up blowing off my carefully planned routine.

The trouble started last night. Cassie went to sleep at 8:30 PM, and I thought I had Sam asleep at 9, but then the little pooper woke up twenty minutes later, doing the usual fussing and farting. Turns out she was hungry, in spite of having nursed an hour earlier. At 10 PM, Sam was still hungry, but my boobs were completely tapped out so I put her on her tummy in the bassinette to let her fuss it out for a while. She fell asleep after half an hour and I was able to transfer her to the car seat, but because she was up so late, I didn’t get to bed until 11:30 PM.

Of course, Sam woke up at 2 AM demanding to be fed again. And then she woke up at 4 AM… 6 AM… 8 AM… If you’ve ever breast fed a baby, you should be familiar with this pattern. It’s called a growth spurt, and let me tell you, an infant can suck down a lot of breast milk when they’re going through one of these things. I was supposed to get up at 4:45, but with only four and a half hours of uninterrupted sleep, it just wasn’t happening. Cassie crawled into bed with Sam and me around 6:30 and nearly smothered me in her attempt to cuddle. Sandwiched between both kids, I got no sleep at all from that point on, especially since Sam kept kicking me in the ribs and Cass kept digging her pointy little elbows into my spine. Family bed my ass. Kids need to sleep in their own beds so Mommy doesn’t chop off her hand the next morning by accidentally sticking it into the grinder while trying to make coffee. Yes, the sleep deprivation really is that bad.

The good news is I have a rule for days like today. If I’ve been up all night with the baby and haven’t had at least six good hours of sleep, I can declare the day to be Blow Off Day. Blow Off Day means I can toss the whole plan out the window if I want. The only things I have to do are feed the kids and make sure nobody kills themselves or burns down the house. Cassie can watch as much TV as she wants, eat popsicles all day, and run around in her PJs for all I care. I can spend the entire day sitting on the couch doing nothing but nurse Sam and contemplate my navel. Let the dirty dishes pile high and the cats puke all over the carpet. I don’t care because it’s Blow Off Day.

There are, of course, various degrees of Blow Off Day. Some days I blow off more than others. The worst case scenario was back in April when Michael and I both came down with this really nasty stomach flu. We spent all night passing each other as we ran to the bathroom to puke up our guts. I was so sick I couldn’t even take a sip of water without vomiting. My husband and I spent the next day passed out on the couches in our living room. Cassie sat on the floor between us, eating sherbet and popcorn and watching ten straight hours of The Wiggles. We were so sick, we didn’t care. To make matters worse, I was seven months pregnant with Sam at the time. I don’t ever want to be that sick again as long as I live.

But that’s the worst case scenario, as I said. Being sleep deprived and on my own with the kids isn’t quite that bad. So I only blew off the morning routine – wake up at 4:45, shower, dress, feed the cats and write for an hour. I decided to sleep in (as best I could, anyway, with two kids piled on top of me) and just pick up the daily routine at whatever point I got out of bed.

The beauty of this is, it didn’t matter if we got back into our routine or not. It was Blow Off Day, for crying out loud! But if I did get us back on track… well then, I would deserve a little reward for that, wouldn’t I? Say, an all expenses paid trip to the bookstore, courtesy of my loving hubby’s credit card? Ka-ching!

So in spite of a rough night and a late start, I did work to get my act together. We got out the door by 10, hit the YMCA for a bit of exercise, and then met with some other moms and kids for our weekly play date at a nearby park. Both kids went down for their naps at the proscribed hour. I made up the hour of writing I had skipped in the morning and was able to follow that with an hour of sketching after Cassie woke up by convincing my darling daughter that she really did want to draw with some of Mommy’s special pencils. Dinner was on the table by 6 PM, bath time was at 7:30, and Cass was in bed by 8:30. Sam is still in my lap right now, fussing and nursing. She feels a little warm, so I’m wondering if she’s coming down with something. She doesn’t have a fever yet, but if she gets one and we’re up all night again, it’s okay.

Tomorrow can be Blow Off Day too.

Here’s today’s artwork. This is actually something I finished last week. It’s from my “Waiting Room” sketch book, the little sketch book I keep in my purse that I doodle in whenever I’m waiting for an appointment. These sketches take a while to complete, but the results are always… interesting.

Motherhood, 18 Aug 2006