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So, I’ve been thinking about writing quite a bit lately but haven’t managed to put the proverbial pen to paper (or, in my case, fingers to keyboard). I’ve got half a dozen incomplete posts flitting around inside my head, begging to be set out, cut, polished and published and at some point, I promise: I will get them to you. In the meantime, today’s post is off the top of my head, inspired by the hilarious Iris of The Bearded Iris who linked to a post from Kate Takes 5.

I’ve always been interested in the ways people find OINKtales (my obsession thoughts on how to turn visitors into return visitors is a topic for another post). WordPress has a handy tool that tells me on a weekly basis what search engine phrases people have used to visit my site. What I didn’t know, until today, was that WordPress keeps an “all time” list of search engine phrases. Eureka!

OINKtales’ Top 5 Search Engine Terms:

1. “oink tales” (Really peeps? Bookmark this shit site. Do it now.)

2. “body combat” (My apologies to serious Les Mills Body Combatants as I am a group fitness poser. Note to self: Only post on group fitness has become top search engine getter. Get new post on same topic finished fast.)

3. “monster trucks” (Boys like toys.)

4. “kitchen peninsula” (Very glad the before and after pictures of my kitchen renovation have had so much screen time.)

5. “suburbia” (Sigh. But I’d like to think that I’m not living in your average suburbs. I mean, it’s not like Vermont even has a city large enough to warrant suburbs. I live in a town. With lots of trees. And poor landscaping. Oops. That last bit is just at my house.)

“Wow, Mary, that was really fascinating.” Wasn’t it? Shut up and keep reading.

OINKtales’ Top 5 Weird/Funny/Scary Search Engine Terms:

5. “blonde teen brown eye brows plays with bottle brother sister” (Say what? What search engine brought them here?)

4. “BYOB restaurants Keene NH” (I’ve never been to Keene, NH nor have I written about it. I’m sure it’s a lovely place, though. If you know of a BYOB restaurant, please tell me. I’ll share. For anyone visiting the Burlington, VT area, BYOB to Tiny Thai in the Essex Outlet Mall. No corking fees so feel free to upgrade from the screwtop varieties.)

3. “bang my neighbor” (For the record, I am not banging my neighbor. Not any of them. Not even the hot one. I think we’ve already established that I live in the suburbs and that kind of thing just doesn’t happen here. But wait! Maybe they meant “bang” as in b.b. guns or airsoft rifles! Yeah. Well. I’m not doing that either.)

2. “tanya cashier at costco in inglewood” (Dude. If you’re looking for a date by googling the first names of cashiers in your area, you’ve got bigger problems than you think you do. Get thee to a counselor. STAT.)

1. “anne hathaway tampons” (I kinda love this. It’s so sick that it’s funny. I have indeed written posts about Anne Hathaway and tampons but they were separate posts about the Oscars and the O.B. shortage. Exactly why would anyone want to read about Anne Hathaway’s tampons? Shudder. It boggles the mind.)


Saw the most ridiculous thing this weekend while I was out and about:

Yup. That’s right. Justin Bieber has his own perfume. Eau de stinky, hormone-laced, teenage boy.

As a woman in her mid-thirties, I have to ask: Why?

I don’t get it (and I read Tiger Beat in high school, too). Back in the day, Kirk Cameron, John Stamos and Patrick Swayze knew better than to hawk ladies’ perfumes. The times, oh my, how they’re a changin’.

Trying to understand why anyone would think a baby-faced teenage boy makes for a compelling spokesperson for a women’s fragrance, I watched the promotional video. The female in it, presumably a representative of Someday by Justin Bieber‘s target audience, looks ten years older as well as ten feet taller than Bieber. One spritz and the pubescent-of-the-moment materializes to nuzzle her neck. She dreamily floats into the air on his kisses. With a stiff wind blowing, they awkwardly embrace. At one point, it looks as though he is trying to give her a piggy back ride (I can too pick you up!) and in another she clasps his head to her breast, which comes off less ‘come hither’ and more ‘breastfed infant’. Pantomined ecstasy over and feet on the ground, they exchange a look – puppy dog longing on his part, circumspect assessment on hers.

Someday, he will be old enough to hold her attention without having to pay her for it. Someday, they will look back on this experience and laugh embarrassedly. Someday, he will have a ghost-writer type his memoir wherein he will whine about having lost his youth and innocence in the media circus that is his world.

Contemplating too-big-for-their-britches teenage boys led me to recall the one I met on a cruise ship last fall. I had spent the day at the beach snorkeling, drinking Tequila, para-sailing, drinking Tequila, swimming and laughing with a fantastic group of women most of whom I had met just days before. By the time dinner was over, though, my buzz had worn off and I was grumpy. Instead of going to bed, I went to the dance party on the lido deck where I promptly parked myself on a lounge chair in a prime people-watching position. Within moments, I noticed a tall boy in a red shirt with a white cross. He looked to be around sixteen years old. His shirt proclaimed he was an “Orgasm Donor.”

“Oh my God,” I said. “Look.” I pointed him out to my friend, the ZumbaQueen.

“Oh my God,” she said, cracking up. “That’s terrible!”

“Where are his parents?” I asked, rhetorically. “Do they know he’s wearing a shirt like that?”

We watched him strut among the people at the party, high-fiving his friends and leering at girls and women alike.

“I’m going to call him over,” I said. “That is not okay.”

“Mary!” she admonished me. “Be nice!”

Throwing off my blanket, I waited until his orbit carried him closer. “Honey,” I called to him, crooking a finger. “C’mere.”

He puffed his chest out, pulled his hat more sideways and sauntered over. When he reached me, he leaned down, all bluff and bravado. I smiled at him, looked him dead in the eye and said, “Are you even old enough to shave?”


There’s a reason that Victorian-era parents made their children eat in the kitchen with the governess instead of in the dining room with the rest of the family. Maybe it was because children are loud and interruptive. Or maybe those parents didn’t want half-chewed bits of food smooshed into their carpets. There might even have been a few families who wanted to complete a conversation with their spouses rather than have half a dozen failed starts: “You’ll never guess who I ran into today…yes, I heard you say you wanted ketchup.” “The funniest thing happened at work…be careful with that knife! You’re going to cut yourself.” “Did you read that article in the Times this morning? People are saying…will you please stop bothering your sister? And would you like to explain why you’re out of your seat?”

“Experts” tell us that Family Dinner is the most important ritual we can establish for our kids. Indeed. Well. They do not live in my house.

Dinner-time for our clan is chaotic. Adding to the ebb and flow of our non-starting adult conversations are the kid interjections and announcements: “You forgot to pack a snack for me today.” “My pants are wet.” “I don’t like this.” “Stop talking, I’m talking!” And the attempts at family conversation: “How was school today?” “I had a great day!” “Yes, we’ll talk about your day in a moment, but I was talking to your sister.” “Why don’t you like this?” “I just don’t. Can I have dessert?”

I prepare mostly healthful meals; the kids eat mainly bread and butter. I can guarantee they’ll eat only if I serve chicken nuggets, spaghetti with meatballs on the side (no sauce), pizza, or hot dogs (no buns) with french fries. If they discover that I am making something to expand their pea-sized palates such as Caribbean lentil stew or even vegetarian lasagna, they’ll load up on afternoon snacks and whine through our meal. I tend to wine through these meals, too. Red works better than white.

The other night, Small wandered into the kitchen while I was chopping onions and mushrooms for chicken marsala. “Ugh,” he exclaimed. “Can’t we have chicken nuggets?”

I decided then and there that I was done with the clamor for compressed poultry products. “No! You will eat what is put in front of you. I am not a short-order cook and this is not a democracy.”

Large took up the fallen standard for his brother. “Actually, it is.”

“Not in this family, it isn’t.” I chopped fungus with vigor.

“Well, then that’s communism and you’re a dictator. Revolution, guys!”

“Rev-o-lu-tion, rev-o-lu-tion, rev-o-lu-tion…” The three of them crowded around me, chanting.

Victorian-era parents managed to eat a hot dinner in peace. If only I had a time machine.

I’d put the kids in it.

To paraphrase an 80s glam rock band: I didn’t know what I had until I didn’t. For over two months now, I have been on a quest for a name-brand product that has seemingly disappeared from the market. I have relied on this product my entire adult life never fearing that it would go the way of Elaine Benes’ sponges. But after a search that has extended across two New England states, reality has set in.

What is this mystery product that is in such demand, you ask? Well, it’s kind of like Elaine’s sponges except it’s used for an altogether different reason. The monthly kind of reason. If you are a woman reading this post, you know exactly what I mean. If you are a man and you are still reading this post, then Kudos! I bet you’ve stared down hordes of pimply faced teenagers at your local grocery store on your wife/girlfriend/daughter’s behalf.

You may think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. And I’m far from being the only one lamenting the loss of her preferred cotton plug. reports that the dearth of O.B. tampons has created a black market for them. I’m not kidding. As they said, it’s “for reals.” Johnson & Johnson, O.B.’s maker and distributor has given no explanation for the shortage. Their website simply promises that O.B. tampons are increasingly in-stock at more stores nationwide. Only not in the six stores I checked over the weekend.

I reached my breaking point after dodging traffic on foot at a busy Boston intersection just so I could dart into a CVS pharmacy while my family circled the block in our borrowed car. Shortly thereafter, O.B.’s information center received the following missive:

Dear O.B. –

For over twenty years, you have been not just by my side but in my insides once a month for three or more days (definitely more since I’ve had kids). We ought to be better communicators given the intimate nature of our relationship. I’m not ready to break up with you but I have to say I’ve been really irritated by your unexpected absence. Where have you gone? What’s happened to you? When I stopped finding you on the shelves of my grocery and drug stores, I went online and read you were having “manufacturing difficulties.” Seeing how you’ve absorbed my troubles so handily over the years, I was willing to cut you some slack. I emptied all my purses and handbags of my just-in-case-I’m-surprised stashes and made do. But it’s been two months and I have had enough. I’ve been to CVS, Kinney Drugs, Price Chopper and Hannafords in two states and found just empty shelves staring back at me. Your competitors have nothing on you; it’s just not the same. Please tell me when you will be coming back. I can’t stand this much longer. I need you.

In desperation and loyalty,

Who would have thought that a tampon could inspire passion?

There’s no escaping the simple truth that some days go better than others. And on those “other” days, I do a lot of counting.

“Who’s screeching? What’s going on? Get up here. Now! 1, 2, 3….”

“He’s using the permanent markers?! I specifically told him…1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7…keep it together, Mary, keep it together…”

“That’s it. We can do this the easy way or the hard way. You have until 3 to decide. One. Two.”

And then there are the days that I am beyond counting.

“JUST DO IT!” (This does not come out sounding like an inspirational Nike slogan.)

“NO! NO! How many times do I have to tell you?”

I am not proud of those moments when I lose my…cool. (There’s another four-letter word that better describes what I lose. Here’s a hint: starts with S.)

But I was even less proud when my husband laughingly told me to look at the back of our bedroom door.

At some point in the recent past, the kids made and hung signs all over the upstairs—Nora’s room, this way. Enter if you dare. Etc. They were cute. Plus, it occupied them for a full hour.

I hadn’t noticed the sign they made for me:

Great. That’s just great.

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