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why life with kids is like living in an insane asylum

There’s a scene in one of my favorite books (or films, if you’ve seen it) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, where the patients are playing Monopoly.

“Not that one, you crazy bastard; that’s not my piece, that’s my house.”
“It’s the same color.”
“What’s this little house doing on the Electric Company?”
“That’s a power station.”
“Martini, those ain’t the dice you’re shaking—”
“Let him be; what’s the difference?”
“Those are a couple of houses!”
Faw. And Martini rolls a big, let me see, a big nineteen. Good goin’ Mart; that puts you—Where’s your piece, buddy?”
“Eh? Why here it is.”
“He had it in his mouth, McMurphy. Excellent. That’s two moves over the second and third bicuspid, four moves to the board, which takes you on to—to Baltic Avenue, Martini. Your one and only property. How fortunate can a man get, friends? Martini has been playing three days and lit on his property practically every time.”
“Shut up and roll, Harding. It’s your turn.”

Every time my girls are doing something that completely boggles my mind, I think of McMurphy (Jack Nicholson, in the film), the least crazy of the crazies, trying to play a nice game of Monopoly that keeps getting marred by rolls of nineteen and disappearing dice.

The other morning, I really felt as if I were in a nuthouse, as both my girls seemed to have flipped their lids simultaneously. It was after breakfast, and I was attempting to enjoy a cup of coffee on the couch while the girls played with their toys in the living room.

“Darzy! Mom, where is Darzy?” Lucy yells out of nowhere.
“Who is Darzy?” I ask, because I have no damn clue.
“He’s a guy! Oh boy. Oh boy.” She jumps around the living room. “We have to find him!” She gets on her pretend phone. “Hello? Hello? Help! We have to find Darzy!”

In first grade I had an imaginary friend, an orange turtle, who lived in my desk at school. I cried when I had to leave him for recess (sidenote: I don’t know why the turtle couldn’t leave the desk because he was imaginary and I made up the turtle rules. I should have been smarter about that.) I’m afraid that Darzy is Lucy’s orange turtle, come like four years too early.

“Lu, what does Darzy look—” But I’m interrupted by Charlie, who has discovered that the louder she yells, the quicker she gets my attention.

“Baaaaaa!”
“Yes Char?”
“Hi.”
“Hi, Char.”
“Mo.”
“More what, sweetie?”
“Baaaaaa!”
“More yelling?”
She grins. And then she turns back around to her play kitchen and keeps making play cookies.

While I was distracted, Lucy has been telling her Darzy-is-lost-sob-story to our dog, Nudge. “You have to find him, Nudge! Use your powers for good!” Because a 13-pound dog clearly has a choice whether to use his powers for good or evil. Lucy is trying to compel his tiny King Cavalier brain to go after an imaginary lost soul.

“Let’s go boy. On a hunt. Sniff this.” She holds a bubble wand under his nose, because imaginary Darzy’s leave a scent of bubbles in their wake, naturally. “Let’s find the trail!” And with that, Lucy straps on Nudge’s leash and they go Darzy-hunting around the house. I put my feet back up, take a sip of coffee, and then promptly get a wooden cookie shoved in my mouth.

“Yummy!” Charlie laughs.
I gag and remove the wooden cookie. “Gentle, sweetie.”
“Mo?”

Yes, of course I want more wooden food pushed down my throat. She toddles back over to her kitchen and I hear some banging around. A moment later she comes back and shoves a felt sandwich in my mouth (you would think that I could stop a 15-month-old child from shoving things in my mouth, but she is freakishly strong).

“Yummy!” She exclaims. We go back and forth like this for a while, she shoving odd bits of pretend food in my mouth and me trying not to 1) gag, 2) spill my coffee all over her naked body (did I not mention both my kids are perpetually naked? All. The. Damn. Time.)

Naked Lucy returns with a somber-looking Nudge on his leash.
“Mom, I can’t find Darzy!”
“Sweetie, I would help you but I don’t know who Darzy is.”
“Darzy is one of the knocks.”
“Well I’m glad we cleared that up,” I shrug.

I get up from the couch and go pour myself another cup of coffee, because I’m living in a nuthouse, but without any of the good drugs: only coffee (booze after 5pm. Okay, 3pm). I’m trying to play Monopoly and all they want to do is eat the pieces and change the rules. And that’s okay, because they’re kids. But it doesn’t make them any less insane.

After a few sips within the quiet walls of the kitchen, I figured: if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. So I went back into the living room to hunt for Darzy and make imaginary eggplant cookies. At least my fellow inmates are pretty damn cute.

 

favorite things of summer

You certainly can’t call 56 degrees and rainy “summer.” My patio is still covered in grime; its table and chairs unused. Our window air conditioning units sit lonely in storage. The girls and I haven’t yet made popsicles, ice cream or s’mores.

So to break me out of my un-summer-bummer, I decided to focus on the things that I do like about this “season”…so far.

I used to think pink wine was something imbibed by sorority girls out of a box. Not anymore. Charles & Charles Rosé is sweet without going over the top and has a fuller body akin to chardonnay. It’s the perfect summer refresher. (Seattle peeps: try Met Market, Central Market, and some QFCs, $8.99-$14.99).

Coooooold brew coffee. Yeah, yeah. It’s all the rage right now. But if you try to take my Toddy Cold Brew Coffee System from me I will claw you with my perpetually un-manicured fingers.

All you do is pour 7 cups water and 12 oz coarse ground coffee into the white thingie (that’s its technical name), let sit overnight, filter into the pitcher, and you have a gorgeous coffee concentrate. Serve over ice with milk, or make it hot by adding boiling water (like an americano–that’s what I do). It tastes incredibly smooth (cold brew contains 67% less acid than conventional coffee) so I find myself drinking waaaay too much and buzzing all the way through my day. Amazon, $34.95.

My mom turned me onto these little beauties. 34° Crisps are super thin (and yes, crispy) and come in a variety of savory and sweet flavors. Mom buys the chocolate variety and makes mini ice cream sandwiches by placing a tiny scoop of ice cream between two crisps. I like dunking the caramel crisps in my coffee, or placing a slice of strawberry and a wedge of parmigiano reggiano on a rosemary whole grain crisp. Safeway, Whole Foods, Central Market, $3.99.

I’ve been a fan of Skotidakis Jalepeno Yogurt Dip for a long time, and now they have a new Dill & Cucumber flavor. It’s thick like sour cream and packed with flavor. Dip your veggies or chips in it, or spread on a sandwich or wrap. 50 calories and 3 grams of fat per serving never tasted so good. Costco $5.69.

CO Bigelow Mentha Lip Tints are minty-flavored glosses that moisturize. I’ve been using them for years but recently found some fun new summery colors at Bath & Body Works, so I stocked up. One for the car, one for the purse, one for the bathroom. $7.50.

In the summer I tend to go for more sheer coverage on my face, and Too Faced Beauty Balm does just the trick. It moisturizes, illuminates without being shiny, and it has just enough coverage to minimize those little imperfections (plus has SPF 20). Ulta, $32.

Wella Brilliance Treatment is a must-have if summer dries out your hair. Apply for 5 minutes in the shower and it works wonders, especially if your hair is (shhh) color-treated, like mine. Ulta, $12.00.

I think I’m the only white girl in Seattle not rocking Toms right now. Call me a rebel. I found these Jack Purcells, my feet fell in love, and I decided to call them my new summer kicks (when I’m chasing after the girls and flip-flops aren’t appropriate, that is). I love the violet/gray color and no laces means I can slip them on and go pluck my 23-pound youngest off the 13-pound dog. Nordstrom, $69.95.

What are your favorite things of the summer?