Attention: Do Not Upset the Happy Household Cart!

As I recovered from a nasty cold this past week I thought about how easily the household cart is sent off the rails. Especially when two wheels are out of commission. And one of the wheels is felled due to the man cold.

Why yes, the happy household cart is a delicate operation that relies upon healthy, functioning parent figures, a healthy child, and drama-free (and open!) daycare. (See Figure 1.)


Figure 1. The Happy Household Cart
Each wheel is vital to the household operation. If one wheel is askew due to illness or injury, the entire cart is immobilized.

Cart derailment can result in the loss of vital household provisions including clean laundry, sanitary eating utensils, and good humor. When the cart experiences mechanical trouble and is far from a network of extended family or other individuals willing to assist, the impact is felt even more.

The cart, naturally, is fueled by coffee love.

You might be wondering why the cart is old-fashioned and lacking in the latest technology. This is because the cart was designed in a much earlier era that operated under an (often false) assumption that one parent would work and another parent would support the household.

To make matters worse, the cart operates on a bumpy road lacking in paid parental leave, universal free high-quality daycare, equal wages, etc…. As you can imagine, a cart facing those types of potholes can easily blow a wheel.

This week at our house, three of our wheels were out of commission. The child got sick. Luckily she recovered quickly, but then my husband and I got sick at the same time.

That’s a triple whammy, folks. Not pretty.  Especially when one wheel thinks its illness is the WORST ILLNESS EVER and the other wheel is like, Yo, I have the same cold as you do. YOU ARE NOT GOING TO DIE. 

Luckily, our fourth wheel was rolling smoothly: the healthy child was dispatched to daycare. BLESS THE DAYCARE WHEEL.

For today, our cart is back up and functioning. We are slowly in the process of dealing with the aftermath. Based on the height of our laundry pile, FEMA may be alerted to declare an state of emergency.

Are you thinking, wow I would love to get emails with the Mourning Dove’s most recent posts! Well, here is the link for you!


A Letter to My Former Self (Subject: PRINCESSES)

Dear Former Self,

We need to talk.

I am not sure how to break this to you. Like removing a band-aid, it is probably best to do this quickly. Not beat around the bush.

When your daughter turns three, she requests a Frozen-themed cake and wears a princess dress to her party.

Are you ok? Do you need to sit down? Can I get you a glass of water?

First things first: What is Frozen you ask? ONLY THE BEST DISNEY MOVIE EVER. (I should explain: most parents in the future disagree with you on that point. Just an FYI.)

No, seriously. It is a Disney movie that doesn’t entirely suck. It is a story about true love…BETWEEN SISTERS! #didn’tseethatonecoming. (Bonus: your amazing sister even makes a stunning cake featuring the movie’s protagonists. #Sistersforever.)

I digress. Back to the princess thing.

First of all, do not fret. Your future self has not abandoned all her feminist principles. Not by a long shot.

Here is the thing: in the future, you chill out and learn to trust your child. You understand that she isn’t fragile and will not break at the site of a Disney princess.

You find balance.

Yes, your kid watches Frozen, but she also watches Bob the Builder, Curious George, and Masha and the Bear. (That last one? Oh just a quirky Russian cartoon about a girl and her anthropomorphic bear friend. You will dig it.)

Here’s the other thing: the more your get into this parenting gig, the more you learn that you can’t make every little thing about YOU. You learn to let your child be who they are. This means that sometimes you have to release your preconceived visions of how you think things should be.

Like, letting your child wear nothing but a diaper while opening Christmas presents, despite the fact that she is essentially naked in all the photos. She hates clothes (she is a toddler) and it just is not worth the battle. You learn to roll with it.

Why, you could even say you learn to Let it go! (Ha! This will be a funny joke in the future, trust me.)

Take heart. She initially wanted a dinosaur cake for her birthday. She still loves dinosaurs, too. In fact, at daycare one day, the teacher jokingly called her “princess z.” and she scowled back, “I am NOT a princess. I am a dinosaur! I am a T-REX!”

So relax. It’s all good.


Your Future Self

P.S. Girlfriend, invest in some good under-eye concealer. You’re going to need it.

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Frazzled Family Christmas Bingo

FrazzledFAMILYBINGO!Only nine days until daycare starts up again…but who is counting? Merry Christmas everyone!


Child meltdown from too much stimulation (or sugar) Eat a sweet while hiding from child Someone gets sick Marital spat Spouse begins shopping (less than 72 hours before xmas)
Last minute Amazon purchase Family drama Spouse insists on watching Bad Santa Christmas ornament gets broken Public meltdown (parent)
Third trip to grocery store in one day Purchase gift for yourself FREE SPACE child is watching TV THANK GOD Store clerk aims to appease child with sticker, fails miserably Countdown until daycare opens (less than 72 hours into holiday break)
humblebrag appears in Facebook feed Visit a creepy mall santa Last minute scramble for caregiver or teacher gift Christmas card envy Unsolicited parenting advice from relative
Public meltdown (child) Buyer’s remorse over annoying toy purchase Run out of (or lose) Scotch tape End up in line at Post Office (despite best efforts) Child steals a cookie

PDF version

What would appear on your bingo board? Share in the comments or on Facebook. Cheers!


If My Toddler Hosted Parties

Welcome, come in! Please take off your shoes. And your pants. And shirt.

Would you like a bite to eat? Please, follow me to the kitchen. I have pulled a chair up to the freezer door. Would you like a poggissle? I have red, purple, and orange.


I’m glad we worked that out. Please, have a seat in the living room.

Perhaps you would enjoy sitting over here in the dog kennel? I find it to be quite comfortable.

Perhaps you would enjoy sitting over here in the dog kennel? I find it to be quite comfortable.

Let’s watch TV. Here is Kate and Mim-Mim. What, the freaky purple alien rabbit scares you? I don’t care. This is the only show I watch. I watch it every morning and every night.

My mother is telling me that it is time for some food. If you are like me you won’t need any. However I do find it helpful for getting food to feed to the dog.

What’s that, you want your own plate? And a chair to sit in? Oh, that won’t be necessary! We can all sit on my mother’s lap. And eat off of her plate. And steal ice from her beverage.

What’s that, you want your own plate? And a chair to sit in? Oh, that won’t be necessary! We can all sit on my mother’s lap. And eat off of her plate. And steal ice from her beverage.

Well, this is boring. Let’s feed rice to the dog.

Oh, I’m sorry my mom yelled in front of you. She thinks the dogs should starve or something.

Apparently my parental figures are telling me this party is over. I disagree. Come, this way. Let’s hide behind the curtain. They will never find us there.

Oh, you are leaving now? I didn’t even notice. My mom is making me say goodbye. So I guess, goodbye?

Well you’ll have to excuse me. I have to go now put a tutu on the dog.


If you enjoyed this, you might also like: When Family Yoga with Your Spirited Toddler Goes Very, Very Wrong



This is why I don’t clean.

That time you swept and mopped your entire (tile) house from stem to stern and your toddler proceeded to spill the bucket of dirty water on said clean floors. And an hour later scattered the entire contents of a salt shaker around the house. And then peed on the bathroom floor for good measure.

Ahhh, normalcy is restored.

One Year After My Mom’s Passing: Overthinking the Deathversary

I’m just going to throw it out there: deathversaries are hard. There is no avoiding the grief that bubbles up. I knew that marking the first year without my mom would be difficult, so I planned a day with nothing to do other than take care of me. Well, that isn’t entirely true. I planned a Day, with a capital “D”.  A magical day of spiritual and emotional significance, that would allow me transcend space and time.  (Or something.)  For this first deathversary I planned to walk to beaches of Sanibel island, collect shells that would forever symbolize this day of hope, healing and renewal, and ponder the meaning of existence.

In retrospect, I should have settled for date with Netflix, some chocolate, and a trashy magazine. But that would have been too simple.

The day started promisingly enough. I woke to rain that stopped in the early morning. This made me giddy, since I’d heard that shelling conditions are ideal after a storm.

Now, never having shelled after a storm I have no idea if what I encountered that day was typical. If it was typical, God bless the hardcore shellers because they have earned every last stinking shell they find.

Let me emphasize the word stinking.

I arrived to my secret shelling spot that day, visions of whole conch shells dancing in my head. Instead, I found piles and piles of knobby, gnarly mussels. Tangled in seaweed. With the occasional piece of trash. I should clarify: these were piles of knotty, gnarly, rotting mussels. As far as the eye could see.

A wiser person might have shrugged it off, headed straight back to the car, and driven home. Not I. I carried on like a soldier. Somewhere, buried in the depth of rotting mussel flesh I was determined find my pearl.

Now, you might be thinking, Ok, the stink smell doesn’t sound ideal. But the shells! Glory be, I bet you found some great shells!

You would be sorely mistaken. I spent an hour walking the beach and found nothing more than some cats paws and a lot of jingle shells. These are rinky, dinky little shells. Child’s play.

I was disheartened, to say the least. The magical day was escaping me but it only made me even more upset. I didn’t feel peaceful, serene or contemplative. Hell, I wasn’t even feeling grief. I simply felt cranky and was being bitten alive by the bugs there were attracted to the stinking pile of mussels.

I found myself alone on a stretch of beach. I hadn’t really felt a connection to my mom all morning. I sat down and I said, mom, I want you to be with me.

She said, I am, I’m always with you.

(What likely remained unsaid by her was “…but why on earth did you pick a smelly beach as the place for us to hang out?!”)

Anyway, I frowned at the stinky piles of shells.

Stop looking for a special shell, she told me. You don’t need it to remember this day. Do you know how much you are loved?

At this point, I played along: How much am I loved, mom?

I absentmindedly picked up a huge pen shell that had hundreds of little gnarly barnacles on it.

You see all those barnacles – that is how many people love you – and even MORE. So many people love you, you can’t even begin to imagine. We are all rooting you on.

I felt the wave of love and I felt the urgency in my mom’s voice.

An hour after walking the stinky beach, and hour after being bitten by bugs, I finally felt anger. Anger at the injustice of it all. How it wasn’t fair that I didn’t have my mom to help me become a mom, and that my daughter didn’t have my mother to become her grandmother.

She said, I know, honey. It isn’t fair. You have had your share of injustices.

But. Yes, there was a but.

“But you know what you need to do.”

She was practically yelling now. I mean, it was like I was getting a stern lecture from across the deep abyss.

Sarah, you get your butt down and write. Write like your life depended on it.

I took the pen shell, walked back to the car, and later that night created this blog.* I went to the beach that day looking for a pity party. I looked for answers or deep meaning. But really, I knew in my heart that moving forward I had to write. The time of quiet, introverted grieving was over.

It has been a difficult year. I survived tough storms and I came out a little rough for the wear. It wasn’t the year of the shiny conch. It was the year of the gnarled, weathered pen shell–and let’s be honest, smelly shell– that washed ashore after the storm, holding reminders of love from many. A little rough for the wear but fully intact.

*(Ok, by create I mean “start drafting blog posts that will sit on my computer, unpublished for a year.” See this.)