"There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot." (Aldo Leopold) Apparently, I cannot.


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These Are a Few of My Favorite Things (After Having Kids)

Life with kids — although completely amazing overall (really, it is) — is exhausting, and usually dirty and sticky and full of stuff breaking all the time, with some (ok, a lot of) whining and fussing and mooching for food thrown in.

So when I find something that helps to make my life with kids easier, I’m a happy camper.  As parents, we all have our must-haves. These are mine (in no particular order). What makes your list?

favorite things

  1. Sippy cups: Because you know what? Even when those suckers get knocked over, the drink does not spill everywhere. (Assuming the lid is on properly and whatever spill-proof thingymajig you have to put in the spout isn’t missing and is put in just right, that is.) Even though my older kids are adept at drinking from regular cups, they’re not so adept at not knocking them over. I think sippy cups will be required drinking accoutrements in my house until the kids move out.
  2. Snacks: More specifically, Cheerios, goldfish, any type of crackers, and those handy little fruit/yogurt pouches that don’t need to be refrigerated. Even though the Cheerios and goldfish seem to multiply and make themselves at home in every crevice in your house and car, and the fruit/yogurt pouches can be messy if little hands squeeze too hard, these snacks are never turned down and can almost always turn tears into smiles, or help prevent a tantrum in pinch. (Or in times of food aversions can become entire meals.)
  3. Spray/stick sunscreen: Who ever invented these is just plain genius. Getting my kids to stand still is hard enough. Adding the promise of fun in the sun, sand, and water to the mix makes it next to impossible. So when given the choice of SPF’ing up the kids quickly and with minimal mess versus spending 10 minutes on each kid making sure the sunscreen is rubbed in all the way, I’ll take the first option every time.
  4. Stroller frames: I’m talking about the frames — and just the frames — that you can put your infant car seat into to make a stroller, NOT a travel system that has an actual stroller (that can be used without a car seat) in which an infant seat can fit. Stroller frames are super light, way more compact than a travel system stroller, and easy to use when you’re down to just one hand.
  5. Crayons: Whether at a restaurant, the doctor’s office, in the car, or at home, crayons can keep my kiddos busy for significant amounts of time. And this totally trumps the horrendous amount of “art work” that results. Or the accidental marks on the walls and furniture. (And yes, it’s good for creativity, too.)
  6. Portable DVD players: With family all over, we travel in the car a lot. When I started making 5+ hour trips alone with the kids, we invested in a portable DVD system. We only break it out for long trips, so it’s become a special treat when we use it. And let me tell you, it has been a lifesaver.
  7. Fans: We have them in all of the bedrooms for white noise to help buffer any noise in the rest of the house while the kids are sleeping. We’re probably creating our kids’ first addiction, but hey, they’re sleeping.
  8. Netflix: Real-time tv? Fugghetaboutit (or however you spell that). Netflix is awesome because when my kids do watch tv, we can control the shows they can pick from. And, Netflix can travel with you wherever you go, you know like when you go to a relative’s house and there isn’t anything on but news or crime shows. Netflix provides instant options, and on many different devices.
  9. Dishwashers: Three kids and three meals a day, plus snacks and random pretend play with all the things in the kitchen make for a lot of dirty dishes. And if you have a baby with bottles thrown in the mix? Horrendous. When we lived in Philly we didn’t have a dishwasher — but we only had one kid at that point. I cannot even imagine doing all of the dishes now by hand. Cannot. First-world problems, I know, but I really am grateful for our dishwasher!
  10. Minivans: Pre-kids I swore I would never ever ever own a minivan. Now? I cannot imagine life without one. The automatic sliding doors and back door opener alone have made my life easier. Not to mention all of the room in there. Plus the V6 and all-wheel drive. Awwwww yeah. 🙂


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I’ve Got a Reality Show For You, Discovery Channel: “Alone with Kids and Afraid”

So, if you didn’t know, the Discovery Channel has this new show right now called Naked and Afraid. Basically, they take two strangers — one man and one woman — and strand them in some remote “extreme weather” location for 21 days and film how they go about surviving. Oh, and surprise, they’re naked. Quoting from the website: “In Naked and Afraid, these brazen and bold couples will get acquainted with each other and their new surroundings very quickly, forcing them to question and test everything they may think they know about their acquired survival skills and instincts.”

After watching every episode available marathon-style a few episodes, I came up with a great idea for Discovery’s next extreme reality show. I call it Alone with Kids and Afraid. The premise? You strand one single adult with 2-3 children and see how he or she survives everyday parenting challenges. Nudity won’t be required, but I’m not gonna lie, it’s highly likely.

I have a friend who works at Discovery Channel, so I’m definitely going to pitch this idea to her so she can float it up the awesome idea chain. And, to get them started, I’ve come up with 10 situations I’d like to see thrown at the contestants. How would your survival skills stack up in these challenges?

Alone and Afraid


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15 Things I Really Dig About My Husband

My husband and I have known each other since middle school. (Yeah, we’re one of those couples.) When we first started “dating” (or “going with each other,” if I’m going to use accurate terminology from back in the day), we hardly knew each other. I knew he was cute and smart and played soccer. And shy. But not much else. Over the past 20 years, we’ve certainly learned a lot about each other.

And there are certainly a lot of reasons I love my husband. Like the givens — he’s kind, thoughtful, considerate, intelligent, romantic; not to mention he works hard to take care of our family, he’s an amazing father, and he just really gets me. He ain’t bad to look at either. But there are also a lot of things he does that solidify the fact that we both chose correctly in the game of life. And so I dedicate this post to sharing some of the things I really dig about my husband. Things that aren’t the givens. And really, this list is just scratching the surface.

David

In no particular order:

  1. He insists on bringing in all of the groceries from the car himself. And always in just one trip.
  2. He does all the driving.
  3. He’ll choose to drive the car with no ac and the cats for our 8+ hour road trip during our move so the kids and I can ride in comfort. Every single time.
  4. Every night he asks if I need anything before he goes up to bed as I stay up doing work (or blogging).
  5. He automatically assumed responsibility for the trash. And anything requiring muscle around the house.
  6. Even though he’s allergic to bees, he insists on being the one to go out and spray the hornets’ nest outside our back door.
  7. He takes the kids out to the park or on long drives when he knows I need some time alone.
  8. He knows I prefer fountain sodas to bottles or cans and always brings one home to me just when I need it.
  9. He always lets me have the last bite.
  10. He offered to give me his brand new phone and go back to his old phone when our 5 yo inadvertently dropped mine on the concrete and busted it all up.
  11. He can always, always make me laugh.
  12. He has never thought twice about having to switch sides of the bed every time we move so that I can sleep furthest from the door.
  13. Speaking of beds, he’s accepted the fact that I need to sleep with pretty much all of the pillows. And blankets.
  14. He always walks on the outside of the street closest to the oncoming traffic.
  15. When we’re out and about without adequate stroller coverage, he will carry the big kids when they get tired — both of them — all around however long we’re out and about.

Love you, babe! TTM&S. Forever.


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Some Things I Learned During Our Move from CT to VA

So, we moved. And I’m sure you’re tired of hearing me whine about it. So I won’t anymore. But I do want to share some things I learned in case they prove useful to anyone planning a move soon.

moving lessons

  1. Do whatever you have to do to get whatever amount of money you need to hire people to do the whole move for you. Your back and sanity will thank you.
  2. Related: To be safe, double whatever estimate the moving company gives you.
  3. Stock up on those big-ass, heavy-duty black contractor bags. Because no matter how much you do before M-Day (that’d be Moving Day), it’s never enough. You will no doubt be “packing” all sorts of crap in those big contractor bags by the end of the day. And if you’re diligent, they won’t get mistaken for trash bags.
  4. Call in all of your favors with relatives and friends to get your kids out of the house during the actual move. (And if you have amazing parents like mine, perhaps they’ll drive up to CT from VA for the sole purpose of driving your two oldest kids back down to VA and keeping them at their house for a few days!)
  5. If you’re going to lock yourself out of house 30 minutes before the movers are due to arrive, make sure you have your baby with you and that your husband is only halfway to the dump when you call him to come let you back in the house.
  6. Try to plan a nice last meal at the house you’re leaving. We kept ours classy by pairing Chinese food with champagne out of plastic cups.
  7. Keep an air mattress, pillows, and blankets handy in case you unexpectedly have to stay an extra night in the house you’re leaving.
  8. When choosing which car to drive the 8+ hours it will take to get to your new house, ensure your husband picks the car with no a/c. And the cats.
  9. If you don’t like country music, you might want to go ahead and give it a try. No matter where you’re driving, there always seems to be a country station to listen to.
  10. You may want to avoid New Jersey until the cicadas make their way back underground. The entire cicada population seems to have descended on the Garden State.
  11. There is a city in Pennsylvania called Shartlesville. C’mon, that might be the best piece of useless information you learn all day.
  12. Apparently I look old enough to be called ma’am. By everyone.
  13. It gets really dark when you live someplace with no outside street or other background lights. Like you’d probably want to buy stock in nightlights.
  14. Leave yourself 5-100 days for Comcast to get your order correct. And your service actually up and running.
  15. Move to a state like VA where even after eating crap food on your road trip and crap food the whole first week in your new house you still end up 2 lbs down. Must be the altitude difference or something. I don’t really care. I’m going with it.
  16. Prepare for the inevitability of losing your keys among the bags and boxes that will overtake your new house, and go ahead and have at least 12 spares made.
  17. Ensure you live near a Super Walmart or the like since you will spend most of your waking hours there the first few days.
  18. Speaking of waking hours, there will be many. Between trying to get everything done and your kids going bonkers (see #19 below), you’ll long for the days of sleeping in and lazy afternoon naps.
  19. Your kids will, more than likely, go batshit crazy the first week or so from all of the changes. (Actual duration: yet to be determined.) Keep some popsicles and lollipops on hand for them, and some beer or wine (or something even harder if that’s what it takes) for you.
  20. Perhaps most important, make sure your kids have their clothes on before going out to meet the neighbors.


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12 Simple Pleasures as a Mom that Make Me Feel Like a Rock Star and Deserving of a High-Five

As I sat down yesterday at 9 in the morning after having finished up some laundry, unloading and loading the dishwasher, and cleaning all three of the litter boxes (did it sink in that this was all before 9 in the morning?!), I was feeling pretty good about myself. Very accomplished. And then I got to thinking about all of the other simple pleasures that make me feel like a rock star now that I’m a mom. I came up with 12. Because, 10 is just so common these days. 😉 What makes your list?

simple pleasures


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20 Reasons Cats Have Superior Potty Skills Compared to Kids

We have two cats. And I used to hate cleaning their litter boxes. And then we had kids. Now I see just how good I have it with the litter boxes.

cat potty skills

In no particular order:

  1. They don’t need their butts wiped.
  2. They don’t pee all over the toilet seat and leave it for you to sit in.
  3. They don’t run into the bathroom while you’re in there doing your business because they have to go so bad and can’t make it to one of the other unoccupied bathrooms that they actually passed on the way to the one you are currently using.
  4. They don’t consistently clog your toilet with toilet paper. Or Legos.
  5. They don’t wipe their paws on their butt and show it to you.
  6. They don’t ever ask you to come see what has just come out of their butts.
  7. They don’t pee or poop in the bathtub.
  8. They don’t use going to the bathroom as an excuse to keep getting out of bed.
  9. They don’t want to have a 30-minute conversation about their poop’s texture or color or smell while they’re pooping.
  10. They don’t need to be reminded to go to the bathroom all the time.
  11. They don’t need sticker charts or M&Ms to be enticed to do their business on the potty.
  12. They are not obsessed with using public restrooms.
  13. They don’t ever forget to poop the first time and then ask you to take them back to the bathroom 30 seconds later.
  14. They don’t wake you up in the middle of the night because they’ve fallen into the toilet.
  15. They don’t require you to buy 800 rolls of toilet paper every week.
  16. They don’t leave skid marks.
  17. They don’t have to be told all the time not to take food into the bathroom.
  18. They don’t accidentally drop things in the toilet while going to the bathroom.
  19. They don’t need the world around them to pause while they go to the bathroom.
  20. They don’t feel compelled to tell complete strangers about their poop.

Disclaimer: After getting some pretty funny and accurate rebuttals to this one, I figured I should mention that the kids in question here are preschoolers and toddlers, and the cats in question are not psychos. (Although I understand there is an argument to be made that all cats are psycho, lol.) Maybe the title of this post really should have been “20 Reasons MY Cats Have Superior Potty Skills Compared to MY Kids”?


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35 Reasons My Kids Won’t Eat What You’ve Made

Hey, don’t take it personally if my kids won’t eat something you’ve made for them. Really, it’s not you, it’s them. And after 5 years, I’ve begun to crack the code on why my kids sometimes don’t eat their food. Here’s what I’ve learned so far . . .

won't eat

  1. It looks funny
  2. It smells funny
  3. It feels funny
  4. It tastes funny
  5. It’s too mushy
  6. It’s too hard
  7. It’s too hot
  8. It’s too cold
  9. It’s too spicy
  10. There’s too much
  11. There’s not enough
  12. There’s green stuff in it
  13. There’s brown stuff in it
  14. There’s orange stuff in it
  15. There’s yellow stuff in it
  16. There’s red stuff in it
  17. They ate it yesterday
  18. They’ve never had it before
  19. Their friends don’t like it
  20. There’s no ketchup to go with it
  21. It’s not covered in chocolate
  22. They can’t pronounce it
  23. They’re full
  24. They have belly aches
  25. Their mouths hurt
  26. Their throats hurt
  27. Their hands are broken
  28. They don’t like the utensils
  29. The dog won’t eat it
  30. The cat won’t eat it
  31. They want something else
  32. It “accidentally” dropped on the ground
  33. They’re saving it for later
  34. It’s on their plate and not yours
  35. The dessert you’ve promised them if they eat it all is not adequate


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25 Reasons You Might Confuse Me With a Preschooler

banner

  1. I’m always asking “why” and saying “no.”
  2. My diet largely consists of half-nibbled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chicken nuggets, and mac ‘n cheese with an overabundance of goldfish crackers, pretzels, and yogurt.
  3. I cut up my food into bite-sized pieces before eating (without even realizing it).
  4. My bed is always full of stuffed animals, toys, books, and random articles of clothing.
  5. You can often find me listening to a Kidz Bop CD while driving (even when I’m alone, sadly).
  6. I pitch a fit when I have to get out of the bath before I’m ready.
  7. I use words like “potty,” “booboo,” and “toot” in everyday conversation (even when talking with adults).
  8. I often talk to my own imaginary friends (aka, the voices in my head).
  9. I can and do watch the same movies over and over (and over and over) again.
  10. I get overly excited about getting a lollipop at the bank drive thru.
  11. I don’t really like to share and will often sneak things so that I don’t have to share.
  12. I don’t like when other people tell me what to do.
  13. Passwords frustrate me.
  14. I’m hungry all the time (and I always like to “taste” what you’re eating).
  15. Some days I have to pull out all of my clothes from my closet and drawers to figure out what I want to wear.
  16. I have a hard time keeping track of my personal belongings. (“Has anyone seen my phone? Or car keys?” “Where’s the baby?”)
  17. I know everything.
  18. I’m afraid of the dark.
  19. I need to read before going to bed.
  20. I have like 5 different toothbrushes.
  21. I think cookies and ice cream are an acceptable meal.
  22. I am oblivious to my surroundings or anything anyone is saying when my favorite tv show is on.
  23. I get distracted by shiny things.
  24. I could swing all day long.
  25. I’d rather poke myself in the eye with a spork than wear socks with toe seams.


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10 Things I Still Have in Common With My Pregnant Self

A lot of things happen when you’re pregnant. There are physical changes, hormonal changes, emotional changes, memory changes. Sometimes you start liking foods you’ve never liked before, and sometimes you ralph at the mere mention of a food you considered a favorite before you started growing another human being in your body. Things just start happening that are beyond your control.

And I don’t know who started it, but there seems to be a myth circulating out there that these things start balancing back out once you deliver your little bundle of joy. Pfffffttttt. What a bunch of bull doody. Ok, well maybe it’s true for some people, but not for me.

Here are 10 things I still have in common with my pregnant self:

  1. Bleeding gums. Many people don’t know that bleeding gums are very common during pregnancy. With all of the hormonal changes going on, your gums can swell and become inflamed, which causes them to bleed more easily. Now my bleeding gums are caused by gingivitis because I hardly have enough time in the day to squeeze in two brushing and flossing sessions for the kids, let alone myself.
  2. Food avoidance. When I was pregnant I had to avoid certain foods for two reasons. Either the food was on a “do not eat this because it could harm your baby” list or it gave me heartburn so bad I wanted to rip out my own throat and beat myself with it. Now I have to avoid certain foods because I’m nursing and don’t want to deal with epic episodes of baby diarrhea, like that which comes with too much Mexican or Indian food, two of my favs.
  3. Eating extra calories. Most doctors recommend that a pregnant woman increase her daily caloric intake by 300-500 or so calories a day, depending on what trimester she is in. These days I’m eating extra calories because nursing makes me so freaking hungry and I need to keep up a good milk supply. Thank goodness for Girl Scout cookies and the peanut M&Ms we have around for potty training. Hey, it’s for my milk supply! Don’t judge.
  4. Hairy legs. Fact: When you’re pregnant, especially in the last few months, it can be very difficult to shave your legs when you’re contending with a giant belly and can’t see your feet. I just give up on the whole practice altogether. These days, I have so little time for personal hygiene (refer to #1) that even when I can get a shower I often have to choose between shaving my legs and washing my hair so that I can get out before the baby completely flips his shit. (For some reason my happy baby turns into a shaking, screaming banshee when I attempt to shower.) Washing hair always wins out because I can always cover up my legs by wearing pants, but I can’t walk around all the time wearing a bag over my head. (Although some days I’d like to.)
  5. Insomnia. I’m not sure it’s scientifically documented, but even before I was so hugely pregnant that I couldn’t get comfortable in bed to sleep (and apparently had such labored breathing that my hubby likened sleeping next to me to sleeping next to a water buffalo) I had trouble sleeping. And apparently a lot of women have this problem when pregnant. Now, of course, I can’t sleep because the baby is crying or I think I hear the baby crying. And if it isn’t the baby, the other two are always wandering into our room at all hours of the night because they have bad dreams, they’re too hot, they heard a noise outside, or their eyebrows hurt. The usual stuff.
  6. Not exercising. It’s no secret that I hate to exercise. But before kids I did it and actually wanted to continue doing it when I got pregnant. BUT, the exercise gods had other plans for me. With my first pregnancy, I had placenta previa, so my doctor’s told me to avoid exercising. Didn’t have to tell me twice. Done and done. And then because my first was born 11 weeks premature, my docs advised me to take it easy in subsequent pregnancies. Again, don’t have to twist my arm. I managed to get back to exercising some after both my first and second pregnancies, but now, 8 months after having my third, I have no time or energy or motivation. Or time, did I mention time?
  7. Late-night food runs. I didn’t have too many crazy cravings when I was pregnant, but when they hit, they’d always hit at night, and I’d make a late-night run to Taco Bell the health food store to get something to hit the spot. These days, the thought of taking all three kids to the grocery store makes me all jittery and crazy-like. (Have you ever seen that episode of “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” when Will teaches Ashley how to handle a bully by acting crazy? Yeah, that.) Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done it, but if I can avoid it, I do. Which is why I often wait until they are all tucked into bed before heading out. It’s sort of a double-edged sword because I’m often surrounded by other crazies doing their shopping so late, but I’m alone. And it’s like a mini-vacation. Just with crazies. (Ok, so it’s actually not that different from vacations with my family. Hi family, love you.)
  8. Peeing all the time. When you’re pregnant, you pee ALL THE DAMN TIME. At the beginning it’s because of hormonal changes resulting in increased blood flow that causes your bladder to fill up faster; later it’s because your uterus is so big that it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on your bladder. Now, after having three kids, I still pee all the damn time. Like when I sneeze. Or cough. Or laugh really hard. Or blink.
  9. The glow. People will tell you all the time when you’re pregnant that you have this special pregnancy glow. I’ve never understood if it’s a sincere compliment like, “hey you look really great, pregnancy really agrees with you” or if it’s just something someone made up because they didn’t have a handy compliment for giant protruding bellies. “Hi, you are hu . . . wow, your belly really . . . ummm, errrr, you are absolutely [sees pretty lamp on table] glowing!” I was told this a lot, so I’m going to go with the former. And again, 8 months out, I’m still glowing. Only now it’s more of a glisten. From all the freaking sweating I do. Not sure if it’s my hormones or from chasing around three kids all day, but I swear, if this is even a slight hint at what menopause is going to be like, I’m in trouble. I’m going to be glowing the whole freaking rest of my life.
  10. Looking pregnant. Refer to #s 3, 5, and 6. Oh, and the fact that my daughter recently asked, “Mamma, when is your other baby going to come out?” Guess I really should get back to exercising and eating better. First, however, I’ll need to eat up all the unhealthy food in the house. And get over this plague that is still (yes, still) lingering. Seriously, though, as soon as I can breathe again, I have a hot date with my elliptical machine. Hopefully it still works.

Please for the love of all that is holy, someone tell me that I am not alone here! Or if I am, lie to me, dammit! Then give me a cookie. Then tell me to get my ass on the elliptical machine.


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46 Reasons My Mom or Dad Might Be Freaking Out

If you have kids and you’ve been on the Internet at all in the past few months, you’ve no doubt read Jason Good’s “46 Reasons My Three Year Old Might be Freaking Out.” If you haven’t, what the heck are you waiting for? Go there, now. Then come right back here. Pretty please with a cherry on top.

Hysterical, eh?! And absolutely spot on.

After reading this, I thought it would be funny to do a similar list, only told from a preschooler’s perspective. (Don’t worry, I ran the idea past Jason, and he was cool with it.) Many of these I have experienced first hand; others I’m not fessing up to personally, we’ll just call them educated guesses. I know I can’t do the original justice, but here you go:

46 Reasons My Mom or Dad Might Be Freaking Out

  1. I’m continually spazzing out because of something on Mr. Good’s list.
  2. I’m eating my boogers. And my sister’s.
  3. I ate an entire box of Raisinets while mommy was in the shower.
  4. I have explosive diarrhea and it’s getting on everything.
  5. I keep touching my explosive diarrhea.
  6. I’ve spilled my milk for the sixth time today. And it’s not even lunchtime yet.
  7. I’m chewing some gum I found stuck to the chair at the Walgreen’s pharmacy.
  8. I’ve started modeling my behavior after Caillou.
  9. I took off all of my clothes 30 seconds before we were supposed to leave for day care.
  10. I ate the last samoa Girl Scout cookie.
  11. I took a permanent marker to the couch.
  12. I won’t stop blowing a whistle.
  13. I dunked daddy’s phone in a big glass of iced tea.
  14. I ran out into the parking lot chasing a leaf.
  15. I puked all over the dog.
  16. I accidentally called 911 from mommy’s cell phone. Again.
  17. I flooded the bathroom while giving my dinosaurs a bath.
  18. I spilled nail polish on the beige carpet.
  19. I’m drinking milk from a sippy cup we lost 4 days ago.
  20. I’m playing in the cat’s litter box.
  21. I trapped my brother in the dryer and now he’s stuck in there.
  22. I smeared peanut butter and jelly all over the tv screen.
  23. I fed my 8-month-old brother some rocks.
  24. I locked my mommy out of the house.
  25. I’m not sure if that’s chocolate or poop I just smeared on my sister’s shirt.
  26. I kept pushing buttons and erased a month’s worth of stuff on the DVR.
  27. I ate one of those packets I found in a shoe box.
  28. I keep sneaking sips of water from the bird bath.
  29. I put my finger in the cat’s butt.
  30. I left the freezer door open and no one noticed for a few hours.
  31. I ripped the pages out of mommy’s first edition of Where the Wild Things Are. 
  32. I keep shouting “penis” as we walk through the grocery store.
  33. I like to put coins in the car air vents.
  34. I pulled all of the stuffing out of one of the couch cushions.
  35. I shoved 3 peas up my nose and one in my ear.
  36. I deleted daddy’s Clash of Clans account.
  37. I threw my shoe out of the car window.
  38. I kicked my dad in the nuts.
  39. I snuck a diaper into the washing machine.
  40. I keep trying to use a plastic bag as my superhero mask.
  41. I stepped on the CD that had all of the pictures from our vacation on it.
  42. I pulled off all of the tops from the Keurig k-cups.
  43. I thought my mommy’s hemorrhoid cream was an acceptable alternative to toothpaste.
  44. I smashed all of my goldfish into my car seat and then dumped my apple juice on top.
  45. I keep teasing my sister and making her scream. Because I can.
  46. I found some funny looking toys in mommy and daddy’s bedroom.

So, what’s on your list? 🙂