How To Paint Your Own Cabinets

Make sure your house has plenty of ugly cabinets — ones with years of grease stuck to them. This is crucial for steps later on. The more cabinets, the better. Your first apartment in Brooklyn with four cabinets won’t do. 

Once you’ve got the cabinets, pick your color at the paint store. This will be a hard decision. If you have kids, give them lollipops to keep them busy for five minutes because you think that will honestly be enough time to choose. But there are at least twenty shades of light gray. Some with red undertones, some with blue. Spend a half-hour looking at all of them while your kids run amok in the supply aisle. Roll your eyes when your oldest asks you to buy her the purple paint roller, because you half knew she’d ask for something. She always asks,whether it’s a toy at Target, gum at the grocery store, or a purple paint roller at the paint store.

Finally, choose a grey based on the name, because they all look the same and your hypothetical kids are testing your last sliver of patience.

With your paint, brushes, rollers, and drop cloths in tow, head home.

Don’t plan your attack on your cabinets. Only reasonable people do that. Instead, dive right in. 

Remove all the knobs and drawer pulls and set them aside to donate. Brass might make a comeback, but this shade of fake gold will not be in your house. Still, tossing it would be wasteful. Someone else will love it.

Remove all twenty-two of your cabinet doors and all eleven drawers. Lay them in various places throughout the basement and the garage. Don’t buy tripod-stand-things to paint on, because that would make it easier on you. This needs to be the most difficult labor of love you’ve ever attempted.

Sand both sides of all the doors, all drawers and the fronts of the cabinets, then clean them all with wood soap. The cabinets and doors from around the stove will need an extra washing or two. They will be completely caked in grease. If you paint without cleaning, the grease will seep through and turn the paint brown. Then you will have to complete the sand/wash/paint steps all over. This process should be hard, not impossible.

Soak all the hinges in a vinegar and water solution, then scrub them with S.O.S. Pads and let them dry. The hinges are exposed, also made of brass, and purchasing new nickel ones would be the easy and expensive way out. You need to paint those too. Spray paint all sides of all forty-four hinges in batches. Ten at a time. Vinegar will linger on your skin, which somehow reminds you of your favorite drink. 

So, drink wine. Lots of it, because it calms your anxiety about the unfinished project.

Over the next two months, apply six coats of paint to each drawer front, cabinet front, and both sides of each door. Before breakfast, after putting your kids on the bus, after dinner, and before bed. Steal every moment you can to paint. 

Put off hanging with friends, getting out of the house, exercising, and pretty much anything else that brings you joy. Despise the paint, the color you chose, and anything that gets in the way of your mission to finish.

Develop pain in your right hand. Tell yourself it must be arthritis, because you’re approaching thirty-six. Don’t admit that it’s because you are painting all the freaking day.

Eventually you will finish. When you do, stand back and marvel at what you’ve done. All the days, all the paint, aches and bad days have ended. The kitchen looks bigger, cleaner even. It nearly killed you, but damn it’s beautiful.

Be proud. You did it on your own.

A Letter to the Tooth Fairy

Dear Tooth Fairy,

This letter is two years and eight teeth overdue. Let’s be honest. I don’t like you very much. You sneak into my child’s room in the middle of the night, climb into her bed and take her teeth. What is wrong with you? I mean, at least Santa leaves gifts wrapped in shiny paper, and the Easter Bunny gives sweet-smelling chocolate. But you and all your tooth-hoarding? Creep-y.

I know, I know. I drank too much wine last night and forgot to contact you regarding the swap. Instead, I brushed my teeth, put in my mouth guard and fell asleep watching The History Channel. Honest mistake and not the last time it’ll happen. But then before six this morning, Reagan stomped into my room to tell me the Tooth Fairy had forgotten her…again. I messed up, and how did I cover up the Tooth Fairy mess-up? With a big ol’ lie. I fed her some rubbish excuse that she didn’t get to bed in time, and The Tooth Fairy ain’t got time for that.

And I hate all your crazy-ass rules. According to you, we must hide the tiny tooth in a microscopic box and put it under our child’s sleeping head. Then you come in there in the middle of the night when you’ve most likely had a bourbon or two. I worry about you tripping on something or poking my daughter in the eye whilst making the switch. Too many things can go wrong. Lightning could crash at the exact moment you take her tooth, illuminating your hunched figure and tattered wings near her bed. Her alarm clock could become possessed and beep manically, waking her in time to catch you sliding a wad of cash beneath her head.

Your rules set us up for failure. Ridiculous. Why can’t we just have our kid toss her tooth in a zip-top bag and tape it to the front of her bedroom door? Then there’s no chance of waking her up when you swap out the tooth for some cash. Bada boom, bada bing. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

And while we’re on the subject of money, who is supposed to determine the cost of a tooth? I’ve heard anywhere from $1.00 – $10.00 is the going rate. You know kids talk, right? When I was little, we all got fifty cents. Inflation may be a mother, but you tooth fairies need to get your collective stuff together. Kids are going to start wondering why they got more than their neighbor in school. We should go low. It’s a tooth, for God’s sake. If they want money, make them do manual labor. Losing a tooth is zero work.

My kid likes to hang on to hers until it literally flies out while she’s whistling. She won’t let anyone yank it or tie a string around it. Why is that deserving of a crisp bill?

In closing, I’m tired. So tired, so I’m throwing in the tooth treasure box on this relationship. I mean it. We’re tossing the teeth in the trash and forgetting you ever existed.

Not so sincerely,

Angry (and Slightly Hungover) Mom of Two

How To Hit A Deer With Your Minivan On Moms’ Weekend


  1. Drive four hours with your two best friends to the mountains for some kid-free mom time skiing on the slopes.
    1. Make sure you leave the dads with enough frozen peas and baby carrots. If you don’t, the kids won’t eat their veggies and you’ll be freaking out for two full days instead of letting your messy bun down.
  2. When you arrive at your tiny condo at the bottom of the mountain, light the fire and drink too much wine. This won’t work unless you all drink, so fill all red plastic cups and blame it on the switchbacks and fog for needing a little something, something, to calm your nerves.
  3. Go to bed at four in the morning, because nothing good happens after two a.m., and you want – no need – to remove yourself from motherhood and be nothing good for the night.
  4. Wake up at ten a.m. when your husband calls to see how the slopes are. The lifts opened one hour ago and you’re in no shape to be getting out of bed just yet. At this point, you know you won’t be putting sticks on your feet and sliding down any kind of hill. Not gonna happen.
  5. Eat all the vegan brownies and Tylenol for breakfast with Mom 2. Joke about how you’re all too old to be drinking that much and going to bed that late. Lay back down until the Tylenol kicks in.
  6. Plug your ears when Mom 3 wakes up and barely makes it to the toilet to puke. She’s obvi a total rookie.
  7. Once you’ve all showered, go to the top of the mountain for greasy lunch. Burgers, sweet potato fries (because they’re healthier, duh), and Bloody Marys all around. You choke down the Bloody Mary. It’s not that you want to drink, but hey – hair of the dog, amirite?
  8. Decide to go tubing to salvage what’s left of the weekend.
  9. In the minivan, aka The Swagger Wagon, share funny stories like, “And once, my daughter confused a pantyliner for a giant Band-aid.” You’re a mom after all, and you can’t ever fully leave your children at home, even on a moms’ trip. It’s okay, though, because this is what you needed. Not the booze or skiing, but a weekend with your friends full of fun.
    1. Hear Mom 2 gasp, interrupting the laughter.
  10. See a deer jump in front of your moving tank, slam on the brakes, get a new understanding via personal experience for the term “deer in headlights.” That fucker won’t move.
  11. Connect with her eyes, illuminated by your car’s front end. Realize she is your spirit animal just before she turns in a too-late-dumbass attempt to run away.
  12. Only hit her in the butt going ten miles an hour before she scampers off, uninjured into the woods. Pull over and cry for her with your friends.
  13. After you pull yourself together, finish driving to the tubing hill.
  14. Once there, laugh, careen down the hill, act like a child.
  15. Have fun. Have so much fun.
  16. After tubing, eat a pile of chips and salsa and tell dirty jokes with your friends because the best cure for a hangover is laughter and carbs. Always more carbs.

*Photo courtesy of Pixabay

How to Survive the Holidays with Toddlers

Holidays can make you want to pull your hair out. So can toddlers. Combine them and by the middle of December, your insides will burn like they’re at war with eachother. You’ll be running around with leftover fruitcake crumbs stuck to your chin, babbling nonsense about never celebrating another holiday for the rest of your life. Trust me. I’ve barely survived this time of year through two children and that’s no coincidence.

I’ve made mistakes, taken notes, studied, and practiced what I’ve learned. And, lucky for you, I’ve compiled a short-list of surviving the holidays with pint-size children so that maybe you’ll be able to make it to the new year with a smile of joy, rather than insanity, spread across your face. 

If you decorate a tree:

Don’t get a real one. You’ll find your toddler and your animals drinking out of the tree’s water bowl, side by side. Then you have a fire hazard. And a kid covered in sap.

And don’t put any ornaments made of real food on the tree. Someone will eat them, and I’m sure you can imagine what kind of bacteria is living on that three-year-old preschooler-made ice cream cone ornament. YUCK. Also, don’t even bother putting ornaments on the bottom two feet of the tree. They will just end up in other places like on the dog’s ears or under your feet. Same goes for garland and pearls. 

Actually… It might be a good idea to skip the tree altogether.

If you should wrap presents:

Two words: gift bag.

Kids don’t care about your fancy foil wrapping paper and handmade bow. And neither will you when you have to open half of her presents. Bag it. Add some tissue paper. Slap a dollar store bow on. Done.

If you go to visit family:

Don’t expect your toddler to behave like a tiny civilized human being. She will not. Instead, she will scream at decibels you didn’t know were possible. She will cry when Aunt Betty gives her a loud, wet kiss. And she will bite Uncle Richard when he tries to tickle her.

Get toys. Get apps. Get back-up.

Nothing helps moms more during the holidays than a good, reliable grandma. Borrow one, if your mom and mother-in-law are unavailable. Pay large amounts of money and hire one. Is this a thing? If not, HELLO new business venture!

If you can’t find a grandma to heist for all holiday-related activities, stay home. Full stop.

If you consider going out to eat at a nice restaurant:

Reconsider.

Places are more crowded during this time of year and employees have less patience for your food-throwing, booger-picking kid.

This is your only warning.

If you bake cookies:

Drink a lot of wine. It’s the only way you will survive all the sprinkles and artificially-dyed frosting colors.

Don’t eat them. Especially the ugly ones. Elderly neighbors love that homemade shit. Wrap them in some bright green saran wrap and have your kid march them next door, frosting still on her face.

If you go sledding:

Dress really, really, REALLY warm. Your toddler will be fine, because she’ll be having so much fun sailing down the snow-covered driveway on her plastic disk in the cold ass post-blizzard tundra, but you may never see the inside of your house again. Hypothermia will set in if you aren’t prepared.

Before your eyes get frozen in the open position, bribe her with hot cocoa and cookies to go inside, but not the ones you baked, because remember: neighbors.

Cross your fingers (if you don’t have frostbite) that she accepts your bribery.

If you get invited to a kid-free party:

Go.

Find a babysitter: a nephew, the girl around the corner, the Starbucks barista, ANYBODY. This will be the only opportunity you have to get your jingle on, so do it. Wear your ugly sweater and your mom jeans, feather your hair, and spend the entire night annoying all your ‘friends’ who only have fur-babies by talking about your kids’ latest group finger-painting project and how you’re sure you have the next Michelangelo and Picasso on your hands.

It will be awesome.

If you host a family get-together:

Get drunk. It will lessen the blow when your great granny tells you that your faucets are out of date, your kids need a good spanking, and that you ruined the apple pies with Fuji apples.

Heavy drinking sounds like a bad idea, but it might be your only chance for survival.

If you are thinking of putting your kid on Santa’s lap:           

Remember, you are potentially scarring her for the rest of her life. And Santa-at-the-mall is not Santa. He’s some pervy, middle-aged man with vomit on his beard who likes little kids and smells like whiskey, so…

Okay, let’s recap:

This holiday season, if you have small children: stay home, stay away from Santa, forget the tree, bake shit, and drink your weight in booze.

Cheers!

Photo courtesy of Pexels/Pixabay

300 Words on 3 Days Sober

Seventy-two hours without a drink in my hand and thoughts are no longer smothered by pressure to reach for a glass, but instead eagerly hovering over the keys with clarity and ambition, reaching for ways to display their excitement through words.

I see expression in myself, my children, and my world that I never knew was there. It’s like I’ve been living with the lights out and ears muffed, stumbling and bumping into things, never quite sure of which direction to take. After making the conscious choice to drink less, the energy around me is palpable and bright.

My lungs are expanding with greater capacity and the crispness of air refreshes my mind, bringing focus to my little space in the universe.

But it’s the moments between each breath, where a feathery touch or tinkling laugh make me realize that staying present will continue to benefit me in ways I never knew were possible with a drink in my hand. These moments were ones the bottle convinced me to ignore most, draining vibrancy from my life.

Though these feelings prove that I am worthy of sobriety, my head continues to persuade me that I am missing out on good times without a glass of my favorite red. It’s a gentle tug pulling me backwards.

I’m hesitant to say that I am free, because I know I’m not. The days ahead of me will be long and filled with uniquely challenging pressures that I haven’t yet prepared myself for. But I will figure them out one by one.

Tonight, I’ll have a glass of wine because it’s the weekend and because I’m flawed. Maybe tomorrow night I’ll have steamy chamomile tea with a teaspoon of honey instead.

And for now, I stand here: three days sober, seeing the clear skies ahead.

Photo courtesy of Annie Spratt/Unsplash

Just Below the Surface: My Relationship With Alcohol

I have this frequent nightmare where I’m underwater, just below the surface of a pool. The water is as grey as the skies above, and I’m cold. So cold. There are brown autumn leaves resting on top of the water, gently rippling from the breeze above. Somehow I know that they are from my parents’ Catalpa tree.  I’m in their pool.  I stretch my hand toward the air, but for some reason I can’t reach the space where water and breeze meet.  And throughout the dream I’m calm. Too calm, even though I know I’m drowning.

Awake, I know the dream isn’t real.  But it is.

It starts with the sound of the cork squeaking out of the bottle, making my heart skip with anticipation.  Even as often as I hear it, it still feels forbidden and exciting. As I pour it, the weight of the bottle feels as familiar as that dream, down to the gurgling sound of the pool filling up.

But it’s the first sip that really gets me. The taste of the tart white or bitter red on my tongue. The feeling of warmth that coats my belly, gives me courage and makes me believe I’m funnier. It tells me I’m better with it, and I nod my head yes in agreement. I know I should stop at the bottom of the first glass, but I pour another and sometimes another.  My head is still above water, I think. I keep drinking.

And when I do, it drags me swiftly down. Instead of thrashing to save myself, I go calmly with chagrin upon my face. I know the place it takes me all too well, and I’m comfortable there, despite knowing the extent it holds me back and pushes me down.

At the bottom of my third glass, the numbness comes. Pain, hurt, bills, everything is gone. It’s only me and my stemless glass. Eventually, I sink.

I’m drowning again.

I’ve heard plenty of stories about how my grandfather loved the bottle a little too much. He would come home angry from the bars night after night, frightening my mom into tears.  And my mom started smoking as a young girl. She tried to quit for years, but never could.

Am I addicted? Hell if I know. I know I don’t feel addicted. I feel stuck. And I know I don’t want to be an addict. I don’t want the blood of an alcoholic, or a smoker, or this ticking time bomb of DNA to define me.  I want my work, my mind, and my kind nature to define me.  I want me to define me.

I am so fucking tired of the cycle. I’m tired of the headache every morning. And I’m tired of that nightmare. I want to dream of blue skies and rays of sunshine instead of grey waters and chill in my bones. I want to watch my children play with clear eyes, instead of through the fog induced by last night’s choices.

I’m also completely afraid. Afraid of knowing who I am sober. Afraid of regaining control. Afraid of asking for help. Afraid of not drinking. Am I ready to commit to that? Is that what I want? What I need?

That’s it. This is where it ends. It won’t control me, like it controlled my grandfather. I will not drown at the bottom of the bottle. It stops today, I swear.

Right after I finish this glass.

***

I wrote the essay above months ago with editing help from the folks at Yeah Write, but didn’t share it out of fear. And my situation hasn’t changed. I drink at least two glasses of wine five nights out of the week. I hate to read that on paper, but I don’t know how to change. Or where to begin the change. Maybe this essay will be it. Maybe not. But I have to start somewhere, because I deserve the chance.

Photo courtesy of Christopher Campbell on Unsplash