Tag Archives: mess

It’s the Great (Squashed) Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

Toy Story pumpkin limbs

My mother-in-law Lina has this extremely sweet tradition in which she invites my kids over to her home a few days before Halloween to carve and decorate pumpkins. Last year she discovered these nifty Mr. Potato Head-like decorations in which you can stick eyes, nose, mouth, ears, hands, legs, and accessories like mustaches and hats into your pumpkin. It’s also way less dangerous than handing my 5-year old an X-Acto knife, and since you’re not removing the pumpkin guts, there’s no mess to clean up.

This year she expanded her collection to Toy Story pieces, so Jake created Buzz and Woody pumpkins with outstretched arms and legs that made the pumpkins look like they were shouting “Hee Haw, Partner! Let’s go wrangles us some Ghouls!”

They decorated six large and two small pumpkins, and the collection sat on our living room rug all week like a miniature pumpkin patch that had been invaded by Andy’s playthings.

Tonight, my 15-year old invited a dozen of her friends over for a scary movie night, so I decided to arrange the pumpkins around the house to create a festive setting.

I went to pick up Woody, and I noticed that he had a white mustache. Funny. I didn’t remember that being one of the Mr. Potato Head accessories. It also looked very fuzzy and life-like – something you don’t see in the animated Toy Story series, much less on plastic limbs and body parts.

I touched Woody’s mustache, and it felt a little like hair, but also a little wet.

Then reality hit.

It wasn’t a mustache at all. It was a big hunk of hairy mold, which nature (or the Great Pumpkin) had strategically placed right under Woody’s large nose.

Moldy pumpkin


I glanced over at Buzz. He had grown a big black beard not only on his chin, but also around his sunken eye balls.

Oh my God! There was mold everywhere!

In the center of our living room pumpkin patch sat the largest pumpkin of all. A few days before, it stood about 18 inches tall and was about two feet wide. Now it was still two feet wide, but it was only about two inches tall. It had flattened like a soufflé.

I ran to get two trash bags – one to salvage the Mr. Potato Head decorations, the other to get these nasty squashed squashes out of my living room as fast as humanly possible. As I picked the pumpkins up, they disintegrated in my hands. I had an image of zombie brains as they’re turning to mush.

I managed to scoop up most of the mess, but unfortunately a huge ring of giant pumpkin goo had affixed itself to our rug. I grabbed a spatula from the kitchen and started scraping it like you would a stubborn cookie that refused to leave a cookie sheet. It refused to budge.

I explained the situation to my husband who was so happy to create a scapegoat for his sudden allergy flare up this week (he’s allergic to mold). Although he’s a Virgo, he’s not your typical clean freak, but in seconds he was rolling over the gooey circle with our rug shampooer.

So now, instead of having eight festive Toy Story pumpkins decorating our house this Halloween, we have a bag full of Woody and Buzz’s limbs, body parts and accessories, and a green bin outside with grass clipping, fruit rinds, and a thick layer of pumpkin mush.

You might think that the moral of my story is to wait to decorate your pumpkins until it’s closer to Halloween – especially when you live in sunny Southern California.

No. The moral of my story is, if you see a pumpkin decorated like Woody, and he suddenly grows a thick white mustache, be sure to snap a photo before you run to clean up the mess. A picture’s worth a thousand words, and I could have posted that single shot rather than spending 667 words talking about it.


Filed under Humor, Husband, Parenting

Clean Up Your Own Damn Dish!

Our home is typically in a state of perpetual disarray, but there is one room in which I try to keep a semblance of sanitation – the kitchen.

It should be easy. My motto is “If you set it down, ask yourself: Is this where it goes?” Obviously a dirty dish would not be expected to spend its lifetime rotting in a kitchen sink, yet according to my family, this seems to be its intended home.

Last week I was working beaucoup hours and my wonderful husband saved the day (correction… days) by cooking dinner every night. I’m sure in his head he was keeping up with the dishes, but when I came up for air on Friday afternoon, I was greeted by not only dishes in the sink, but also many meals-worth of dishes throughout the house.

There were multiple glasses surrounding the loveseat/throne where my husband parks himself after work. In the kids’ bedroom I found three plates with dried ketchup, but not much else on the plates since the dogs finished off anything edible (which makes me leery – what’s the culprit in ketchup that even my dogs won’t eat?). Emily’s room looked like a frat house with about a half dozen glasses, two six packs of empty soda cans, and a couple of crusted soup bowls with spoons what would need to soak in a boiling cauldron for days.

I’m kind of a freak about conserving water, so I gathered all those water glasses scattered throughout the house and started dumping them all into our potted plants. When they were drenched, I moved on to the herb plants outside. Unfortunately one of the inside dumps came from my son’s sippy cup. I was a little confused that the water was taking its sweet time coming out, which is certainly against the law of gravity as I know it. A few seconds later, out gushes the not quite liquid / not quite solid mass of three-day old milk. I swear… I almost puked right on top of that curdled mess.

It really didn’t take that much time to clear up all the dishes, which makes me wonder why my loving family didn’t just clean them up in the first place.

About a year ago, I had enough of cleaning up everyone else’s dishes, and I hung the following note over the kitchen sink:

Don’t leave your dishes here

Please rinse them and

put them in the dishwasher

Yes, I know you’re


running late

in the middle of something

planning to do it later

not in the mood

feeling special

too busy




As you can see from the photo, the paper is wrinkled and warped from water spray, and there’s a big hole where the exclamation point should be. You might ask yourself if my sign is worn from a year’s worth of water spray from my family doing their own dishes.

Nope. I think it’s mostly from me.

When I was married to my ex-husband, I didn’t hang up a note. Instead, I suffered for years with a slow-burn resentment about why day after day he didn’t just rinse his coffee cup and put it in the dishwasher. I decided to teach him a lesson.

I covered the entire sink with a layer of plastic wrap.

Did he get the hint?

No. He just thought I was crazy.

That part was probably true.

Today, I fantasize about covering the sink in plastic wrap, but my husband this decade will probably think I’m crazy too. So instead, I put up this sign that is obviously invisible to everyone else but myself.

How hard can it be?

Pick up your dish.

Rinse your dish.

Put it in the dishwasher.

I am so sooooo grateful to have a dishwasher. Frankly, it is a great use of storage for dirty dishes. And the best thing about it?

When the dishes are clean, it’s my daughters’ chore to put them away.

Ahhhh… indentured servants.

Another great reason for having kids.


Filed under Anxiety, Humor, Husband, Parenting, Teenagers