Toddler, Interrupted.

I woke up yesterday morning holding a handful of vomit.

I quickly took in my surroundings, trying to orient myself as to how I had come into possession of someone else’s stomach contents. There was a screaming toddler sitting on his bed in front of me, his carpeted floor was dotted with stepping stones of puke, mysteriously going to the door and back, leaving one to wonder where his journey of bile might have taken him. And myself – I was in the center. Holding puke, puke on the bottom of my foot, sitting in puke.

It was 6:14am.

This was not what I had in mind for an alarm clock. In fact, I had asked Chris the night before to move my phone to my bedside table when he woke up so that I didn’t have to jump up and run in the bathroom when my rare alarm clock did go off at 7:30.

[I can’t sleep with my phone in the same room. We need space for our co-dependent relationship to function.]

Jumping up to turn off my alarm clock now sounded delightful compared to my current frozen position. Because what exactly does one do when they awaken to realize they are coated in a potentially pandemic contagion? One does not move.

“Maybe this is to save Noah from becoming the next Brad Pitt,” I reasoned to myself in my sleepy subconscious.

Earlier in the week I had rather inexplicably volunteered my son to be in a local commercial. I had been confused by my turn of events – it wasn’t really my thing to attempt to go out of my way to make my life difficult, as I certainly had done to my Father when my own childhood movie debut consisted of me riding on the same Merry-Go-Round for four hours straight with a doll that I despised.

The thirty minute screen test for this potential four-hour commercial shoot of Noah’s was scheduled for The Morning of Puke, hence my alarm clock in the first place. And clearly this commercial would have skyrocketed Noah’s career instantaneously, propelling him to become The Male Shirley Temple of the twenty-teens, and would’ve led to a life of screaming tween girls, Disney Channel sitcoms, addiction, ten million SnapChat followers, stringy hair, and being not-married to a scary woman with giant lips that could certainly beat him up if she pulled out her Lara Croft outfit.

(I know Mr. Pitt wasn’t a child-star but this is Noah’s story, not Brad’s. Keep up.)

So it was best that I was holding a handful of vomit. Because nobody wants Angelina as a daughter-in-law – I can’t compete with that. Even if I was the one who had held his vomit.

Chris had been downstairs about to exercise then leave for work, and he’d heard the guttural screams (whether coming from myself or Noah, no one will ever know), and thankfully trailed my sleepwalking puke-catching self and had the presence of mind to bring a trash can. I shook the contents of my hands into the receptacle and muttered something about Knox being a gelatin and Zahara being a desert and neither being a proper name for a grandchild anyway.

My second thought was my weekend. My enablingly-doting husband had arranged to take me away for a day and night, as I had been feeling suffocated by my children and hiding from them on a more regular basis than typically necessary. This hiding had been sponsored by a six-day nap-strike on the part of Noah, who would follow his non-naps with extreme sleep-deprived grumpiness and then fall asleep immediately upon entrance to an automobile.

And now he was potentially contagious. Ready to spread his lovingkindness to every family member and stretch this particular breed of hell out until we were no longer able to escape his toddler grips this weekend.

Was it a stomach virus or food poisoning? I secretly hoped for a mild case of food poisoning – food that he had picked up off the sidewalk and eaten alone.

I ran the list of possible pick-up points…

1. Chick-Fil-A PlayPlace (In which he blessedly didn’t require a rescue – but was that because he was too busy licking every surface?)
2. The Neighborhood Playground
3. Playing with Bird Placentas (That’s on everyone’s list of why-is-my-child-sick, right?)
4. Sunday School
5. Drinking out of a sippy cup he found under the car seat or under a park bench or in the trash can

I spent the rest of the day attempting to catch the remains of Chicken Nuggets as well as I had whilst sleepwalking. And with any energy left over, I obsessively crafted slipcovers for my valuables to protect them from my Valuable’s bodily fluids.

Puking Toddler

 

And then naptime came. I curled up next to him in his bed to get him settled in, and he immediately started snoring.

Nap. The sweet sweet aroma of nap. It took an upside-down stomach to bring it back, but…you get what you pray for.

Three Teeth and a Babysitter.

Back of Letter

Upon the loss of one’s eldest child’s first tooth, parental discussion has to take place.

Are we going to do the Tooth Fairy thing?

How far does our willingness to “Fairy It Up” go?

How much does the Tooth Fairy pay for teeth these days?

We agreed that yes, we would do the Tooth Fairy, but most likely half-heartedly, much like we do Santa.

And plus – Ali was always quick to tell us, “Silly. Fairies aren’t REAL. Everyone knows that!”

But then one of our babysitters told Ali that fairies were totally real and she’d even seen one, giving Ali the boost she needed to believe.

Like seriously BELIEVE.

So then Ali somewhat cornered us further into Fairying It Up by always writing a note to the Tooth Fairy – and I couldn’t help but respond.

(So really, everything is the babysitter’s fault.)

(Or at least I will frame it that way when Ali finds out the truth and has to work her way through the Five Stages of Feeling Deceived. Or Ninety-Five, when you’re as black and white as Ali. I think we’ll hire a babysitter that night.)

As for the last question, Chris and I discussed the price of our own teeth in the 80’s, reviewed inflation graphs, and ran an amortization schedule to come up with the highly scientific price tag of $5 a tooth.

After all – each kid only has 20 teeth. So that’s a $100 investment in the loss of their entire mouth, spread out over a couple of years. And we only have two kids, so how bad could it be?

We did not, however, take into account the difficulties of staying stocked in $5 bills if Ali ever went on a toothing spree. Note the dates on my Tooth Fairy Letters.

Tooth Fairy Documents

That’s right. After a six month hiatus following The Fangs From Hell, she has lost three teeth in less than a week – and a fourth is quite loose.

Three Teeth Lost in One Week

Her mouth is beginning to look like a nearly-finished Jenga Game and the news about the Federal Reserve’s shortage of $5 bills is totally her fault.

But something happened during that six-month break: a flash of skepticism.

After the first loss of Tooth Week, she wrote her note while in my company before bedtime. When Chris went to tuck her in, she had added a penciled addendum:

First Letter

“Can I meet you tonit?”

Chris offhandedly told me about the addition, so I addressed it in my note back.

TF Letter Four

She fell asleep with her note firmly under her arm, so I had to pry it out with the precision of a neurosurgeon to swap it for mine without waking her and ruining my life.

The next morning, Ali ran into my room and said, “I even added that last part onto the note without telling you! …just to see.”

Oh Crap.

She’s gonna hate me so hard when she does find out. What have I done. I better line up that babysitter.

Five days later I pulled the next tooth. Two teeth now, on the first yank, no tears. I was elated, as was she.

Second Letter

Chris and I debated whether the Tooth Fairy’s favorite color should indeed be white (Ali also assumes my Grandmother’s favorite color is white based solely on the fact that her hair is.) Ultimately, Chris left it up to me.

 

TF Letter Two

As I headed into her room for what would probably be another note-prying, I said to Chris,

“Wait a minute. How is tooth-fairying all my deal? Why don’t you ever have to retrieve a tooth? Or pull them, for that matter?”

“We have a good system.”

“You mean that I do all the work?”

“Well, you started the note thing. I would never do that. So it’s on you.”

“Whaddya mean?? You don’t approve of my notes? She loves it!”

“I could never keep up with that kind of continuity. As I said, we have a good system.”

I pondered, remembering that this was pretty much the only familial duty that he’s not constantly offering to do for me or just doing it for me without asking. We do indeed have a good system.

The very next night, the third tooth was begging to be pulled.

Third Letter

And this time, although her note was retrievable, Ali had the tooth in a Ziploc bag firmly in her fist under her pillow.

I left my note and her money, but also left the tooth bag.

TF Letter Three

Chris was worried. “You – I mean the Tooth Fairy – told her that you would always put the teeth in my body part box. This may be it for you – it may all blow up in your face tomorrow.”

Out of guilt, I went back and attempted another retrieval. But it wasn’t happening. She was making a fist pearl out of that baggied tooth.

“You should leave another letter then. Explaining why you left it.”

“I’m too tired.”

“Okaaaaay….”

The next morning, Ali came in with the Tooth Fairy note and the tooth.

“Look what I found under my pillow! Why would she have left the note? She PROMISED to ALWAYS put them in Daddy’s collection!”

“Hmm…I don’t know! Maybe she was just busy.”

“But she PROMISED!! And no one should EVER break their promises.”

Yup. It’s time to have the babysitter over to clear things up.

The Origins of Topper.

A couple of months ago, Chris and I took our nasty, stale, extraordinarily aged wedding cake topper on our anniversary trip. Our thirteenth anniversary trip.

Topper Chases the Sunset

Topper got to enjoy every aspect of Asheville, The Grove Park Inn, Sunset Chasing, Chocolate Shop Visiting, and we even took him to The Biltmore Estate.

Topper Visits Biltmore

I’m waiting for them to contact me to tell me that he was the first wedding cake topper to visit their fine estate, but in the meantime, let’s assume as much.

(For the record, this isn’t the most ridiculous thing Chris and I have ever done together. It was probably making this meat bouquet. Or lying our way to the top of a skyscraper still under construction.)

(The key to a happy marriage is being absolutely ridiculous together as often as possible.)

The unsheathing of Topper made me think back. More than thirteen years…to when I planned my wedding.

First of all it must be said that getting married at nineteen years old certainly cut down on a lot of the perfectionism that I would have now. Which is totally a reason to get married young.

Also, I thank God daily that I got married in a pre-Pinterest world.

Okay maybe not daily. But I totally should.

Because back then? All we had were wedding magazines – and at most, three different publications. These are the very books from which all of my wedding ideas emerged.

IMG_7657

They were monstrous at the time, but my head would have exploded if someone had tried to explain what brides would have to sift through in the future.

One of these books contains my wedding dress, carefully tabbed with a 90’s pastel blue post-it note.

Wedding Dress Ad

(I did not, however, wear those Mickey Mouse gloves with my dress.)

I literally picked my dress from that picture in that magazine – and then had to drive two hours to actually see it in person. I picked my cake design from a picture in another magazine, one that I unfortunately couldn’t locate in yesterday’s basement excavation.

But the cake.

Let’s talk about that cake.

My budget was tight, as was my timeline, so my choices were quite limited. Also, I wanted a cutting-edge cake design that had to be decorated in fondant, which was totally a fresh invention back then, thereby limiting my choices even more. I interviewed a couple of the more affordable cake bakers in town, and had settled on one fairly well-known baker.

We’d gone to her shop, tasted her cake, she assured me that she could make the modern, geometric, whimsical cake from my magazine clipping, and she gave me until Friday to let her know my answer.

I was pretty sure when we left the store that she was our cake baker, but I had one more tasting. I called back the next day from my Power-tel Flip Phone (it even had a screen to show the numbers you were dialing) to tell the Cake Mistress that yes indeed I would like to procure her services.

“I can’t do it. I gave your spot to someone else.”

“Wait. What? You said I had until Friday to let you know. It’s…Wednesday!”

“Someone else wanted it. I gave it to them. Good luck getting your cake.”

She was rude, did not apologize for her clear lack of integrity, and hung up on me.

I panicked.

I was at work when the tragic call happened. I hunted down my boss, burst into tears, and told her I needed to take the rest of the day off to handle wedding crises.

(Because that’s what engagement is, people. Endless Wedding Crises.)

(Also? Misery. ENGAGEMENT IS MISERY.)

I ran to my car, pulled out my travel Yellow Pages and began calling every other bakery in town.

Cake Calendar

(In my basement digging, I also found the above 2001 calendar. I can’t believe I put off deciding on my cake until only 40 days before my wedding. Clearly I’m to blame for this catastrophic cake hunt.)

I found a baker that would take me, then drove over to discuss the details. They refused to use fondant, but assured me they could make my cake just as well with regular icing.

That evening, one of the original horrible baker’s employees called me after he left her shop.

In a furtive whisper, as if she had bugged his phone, he offered to make my cake for me on the sly.

“I heard what she did to you. I’m so sorry. She’s awful. It’ll take some maneuvering on my part to make sure she doesn’t find out what I’m doing, but I don’t want you to be without a cake.”

I told him that I appreciated him putting his life at risk for me, but had already made other cake arrangements, and they had assured me they could make the cake I wanted.

But they were wrong.

I hated both my wedding cakes – they were so sweet that the first bite gave me a headache (hence why Topper survived), and they looked nothing like my cherished magazine picture. The color was beyond muted – just last month as we were discussing Topper, Chris said, “Wait. Our wedding cake was green and white?? There’s no way there was any green. It was white!!”

Wedding Picture with Topper

(And he was nearly right. But believe it or not, that cake is supposedly two-tone.)

The Groom’s Cake, although you could at least see the detailing and appreciate the off-center layer placement, skated the line dangerously between two shades of turd brown.
Groom's Cake

And I know that poo and chocolate both have claims on the color brown, but some shades are closer to one than the other.

But at least I had cakes.

Many years later, I was searching the internet for something on my iPhone as Chris drove down the road.

(SO much easier than that travel Yellow Pages.)

And I began that convulsive laughing that makes you choke on hiccups.

Because I ran across current-day internet reviews of the original baker – the one that did me wrong.

After I regained my composure, I shared over a dozen of them with Chris, in the form of a dramatic reading.

Here are just a few of the jewels describing her fantastic personality…

 

NEVER AGAIN

I used to love this bakery, but the last two cakes I bought from them were very dry. When I complained, you would have thought I committed a crime.

NEVER NEVER AGAIN

When the cakes were delivered it was terrible, the wedding cake had part of the icing separating and the grooms cake was not at all what I ordered, so I called X immediately because the delivery driver said you will have to call X. It took me over three weeks of going by the store calling and emailing before she finally responded and her response was as follows, and I hope you are sitting down. We can’t guarantee the delivery of our cakes as if it is too hot the cakes may melt and if it is too cold they may have problems. When I told her what all was wrong with the cakes she said well you ate it didn’t you. What was I supposed to do keep the cakes for 3 weeks before she finally called back.

Stay Away!

X has hands-down got to be one of the worst businesses in the area. X herself is mean and ornery, and her staff is just as bad. They shout at each other across the store, things like “I have to go teetee!” Right in front of customers! If your order is wrong, and it often is, then they do not take responsibility for it. All of their cakes look like they were made in 1993. Unless you want a wedding cake that is distinctly redneck, stay away from this place and go to real bakery that is staffed with professionals!

If only I’d had full access to the internet’s glory back then.

Except without Pinterest. Obviously.