the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Fumbling dummies

Today Marlo turns eleven months old.

eleven months

Remember when I used to write a monthly newsletter to Leta? Yeah, yeah. Good times. And when I was pregnant with Marlo I planned to continue those newsletters, except I’d be writing it to the both of them. No big deal. And then BOOM. Two kids. Like, a semi truck full of angry, bipolar chickens landed on the house, and we had to clean up the mess with our hands tied behind our backs. That.

I know that those of you who have more kids are just shaking your heads and thinking PATHETIC. And you’re right! Pathetic we are! This kid is totally kicking our ass. She is unlike the kid that came before her. In that she moves.

Just this morning as she was finishing her first bottle and getting ready to fling it across our bed against the wall, Jon asked if I remembered those quite mornings we spent with Leta nestled between us, watching the news, dozing… WE’LL NEVER HAVE THAT AGAIN, HEATHER, he said. Through gritted teeth. A tear in his eye. As he grabbed Marlo’s foot, her body dangling off the side of the bed.

Our child-proofing technique up until yesterday was to have someone watching her at all times, and that worked when she was immobile and interested in sitting on the floor with the remote in her mouth. But now that she can move — and we’re talking FLYING through the room — this technique is proving totally idiotic. Or what’s the word? Oh, right. Pathetic. We’ve had an eleven-month-old before, we should know what we’re doing! But you have to understand! It’s like this whole time we’ve been raising a turtle, and now suddenly we’ve been handed a jackal with a debilitating meth addiction. Make it work!

Why do we have ANYTHING at a height she can reach? Because she will reach it, oh yes. She will grab it, tear it apart, laugh maniacally, and then shove it into her mouth, daring us to stick our finger inside to protect her from choking. Because she bites.

OMG. I gave birth to Coco.

  • Brookelyn Bridge

    2010/05/14 at 11:36 am

    I figure the second ones are here to even up for the first ones. Beautiful photo and I love the little dino shirt!

  • Kasper

    2010/05/14 at 11:41 am

    My mother in law had the same thing with her two boys. My husband would sit on the floor playing with the same blocks for hours. When my Brother in law was born all hell broke loose. He ate airplane glue one time.

    Keep your chin up! Your girls are both beautiful! I really want to eat Marlo’s cheeks with some BBQ sauce though. I think Mesquite is the best flavor for her.


  • Daddy Scratches

    2010/05/14 at 11:42 am

    Count me among the ranks of Parents Who Can’t Handle More Than Two Kids (and, coincidentally, also among the ranks of Bloggers Who Abandoned Any Thought of Keeping Up A Monthly Letter For Two Children.)

    On a related note: Hey, Jon, aren’t vasectomies, like, the best thing ever?

  • CO

    2010/05/14 at 11:42 am

    LOVE the fact that you are now blessed with children that seem to mirror the difference in temperment between your dogs! See, I know the second ones are always demons so I am sticking with just the one thank you! (and I have NO IDEA how people do it with even 2 kid so I say bravo to you, Bravo!!)

  • yoheathero

    2010/05/14 at 11:43 am

    Well, at least she is a cute little jackal.

  • jon

    2010/05/14 at 11:48 am



  • sarahmichelef

    2010/05/14 at 11:50 am

    If Marlo is Coco, does that mean Leta is Chuck? I suspect that she would object strongly, in the way that only kindergarten girls can (and by that I mean flinging herself bodily on the ground and howling about how she’s having the WORST DAY EVER*), to that analogy.

    *Oh wait. Is that just my kindergarten girl? Sorry… carry on.

  • ATXGirl

    2010/05/14 at 11:50 am

    The last line cracks me up…. Love it… haha good luck 🙂 No one what to say other than I’m not even sure I can handle ONE, much less two… hehe

  • Shelly

    2010/05/14 at 11:51 am

    Hey—you are not pathetic. While, we didn’t have quiet first child necessarily, it was the SECOND one that kicked our ASSES. We took #1 everywere withus….just like he was a little mini-adult. Suddenly TWO was like NO WAY, and we became hermits. Unless we were both around and had planned and planned yet again for an outing with both.

    Kid one was easy. Two….together……TERRORS!!

  • kacyd

    2010/05/14 at 11:51 am

    she does look a bit rotten in that picture…..adorable but rotten

  • magwilky

    2010/05/14 at 11:54 am

    Oh, but that face! Too precious. I had the exact same experience with my 2 girls. I thought we were such kick ass parents because our little girl was so well behaved and then the ‘red headed devil’ was born and I realized it had absolutely nothing to do with us. If it helps, she is 4 now and I still have no control over her. NONE.

  • Dharma

    2010/05/14 at 11:55 am

    I loved the sage wisdom that I thought I had before I gave birth to Satan (oops I meant my precious second son). I thought I was in for *twice* the work. I could laugh for a month on that one….

  • smithie1996

    2010/05/14 at 11:56 am

    Oh. My. God. That is the cutest picture ever. Ever. Ever. Ever.

  • jesuisalouette

    2010/05/14 at 11:56 am

    You are hysterical. That’s how I feel about my son. He was so cute! And little! And now I have a 25 pound nine month old who drags his high chair into the kitchen and slams it into my back to let me know he’s hungry.

  • meganithappen

    2010/05/14 at 11:57 am

    Oh, hang in there! The thought of having one kid makes me break out in hives when I think about the work involved, so I admire you having TWO!

  • midohiomama

    2010/05/14 at 12:04 pm

    When our first daughter was born, I did a scrapbook page every month for her. Her last page was done in March of last year. Her sister, who just turned 1, has no pages. I can completely agree with you. I’ll catch up eventually…. maybe.

  • kristanhoffman

    2010/05/14 at 12:11 pm

    Oh geez, I hope I don’t give birth to my dog. Then I’d have a kid who barks at strangers, hides from storms, and eats used tissues (and other bad things from the trash). o_O

  • manda82panda

    2010/05/14 at 12:23 pm

    I only have one but he is like that. I vacuum often, we keep stuff away from edges but he just keeps getting bigger and bigger and a farther reach. He can climb. And he still finds the smallest most most hard to see stuff on the floor and puts it in his mouth. And oh yes he bites. This is our first one. If my first one was like Leta I would probably want another one but as it is atm I’m content with just the one. I’m starting to realize he is just full of exploding energy and will never slow down.

  • Sonika

    2010/05/14 at 12:23 pm

    As a nanny, I’ve seen this time and time again. It’s called the second child. Not only is 2 kids at least five times the work of one kid, but the second is *always* more adventurous than the first – more curious. The second seems to develop gross motor skills faster and use them for evil more often than good.

    I don’t know what evolutionary purpose this serves, but it seems pretty universal. The second child will prove that nothing can EVER be “childproofed.”

  • kbdyar

    2010/05/14 at 12:30 pm

    Ahhh we are so living this right now. Our first, mobile somewhat by 9 – 10 months, was the rule follower. We said no, and she listened. Still does, as much as a nearly 3 year old can. Barely baby proofed.

    The new 9 month old, the baby sister – a rule breaker since her first week – ohmygosh. And so mobile and into everything from ripping the carbon dioxide sensor out of the wallplug to trying to go to stairs and after anything her sister touches… she’s a fast little sucker.

    We feel your pain. 🙂 Life is not 2x as hard its 100x.

  • corty13

    2010/05/14 at 12:41 pm

    Oh boy…..but look at that DIMPLE! That is what will keep her alive. Just had #2 but #1 is 11 years older…(CrAzY….I know)…so it’s not as much having two kids that is hectic but doing it all over again. Not sure which is worse…(on a side note, too funny that my captcha is gassiest….that would be the #2 angel.)

  • HeatherTOO

    2010/05/14 at 12:43 pm

    We should get our 11 month olds together. Mine has a lovely bruise on his head because he tried to “walk” down the two little steps on the gross motor climber at daycare, even though he knows to go down steps backward on his belly, because he thinks he’s a big boy. He also likes to dive face first into the bath tub, and lean over the edge of the changing pad on his dresser backward so he can laugh at himself in the mirror. NO FEAR of anything. Including large animals and strangers. I can’t even contemplate how a second could be be more active/trouble. The little stinker annihilates everything in his path.

  • simpliSAHM

    2010/05/14 at 12:47 pm

    I get this…as a mom of two boys, with a near 14 year age gap, not only had I forgotten how to deal with a new little one, I was so not prepared for the second one’s personality to be so much harder to deal with than the first’s. And it is always frustrating to me to look at others with boatloads of kids who think there is no reason for me to be complaining about my “just two”. Of course then I look at those folks and think; “Well, at least I’m not insane.”

  • Heather Alexander

    2010/05/14 at 12:48 pm

    Wow. The image of a semi truck full of angry, bipolar chickens landing on a house is terrifying. And then following that up with the imagery of giving birth to a dog. Best. Post. Ever.

  • bethiecow

    2010/05/14 at 12:49 pm

    Excuse me, I’m sorry, what did you just say? I couldn’t actually read the rest of your blog post, as I was temporarily blinded by your daughter’s electric blue eyes.

  • girlplease

    2010/05/14 at 12:52 pm

    wow. almost 1. congrats on having two wonderful children and enjoying the moment

  • anya

    2010/05/14 at 1:01 pm

    I have a sweet little 20 months old boy. And I’m so ready to start trying for a second child (if somebody is there, listening, I’d like to have a girl next, please. K, thanks!).
    This post is confirming my fears – no matter how *easy* the first one is, two are oh so much harder! Why do we do it?…

    they are cute though.

    And then they hit puberty…

    And then they leave….

    And then they put you in a nursing home……

  • aslapintheface

    2010/05/14 at 1:06 pm

    Just wait until you have to hand that little jackal the keys to your car and watch her drive off in a cloud of smoke, laughing her best mad scientist laugh muahahahahaha. We are wondering now why we ever taught ours how to talk.

  • Mrs. Q.

    2010/05/14 at 1:11 pm

    Yeeeaaah. That second child sure is sobering. My first child is a mellow little guy, who sits and plays with toys. The gal that sprang forth two years later thinks toys are for sissies and would rather launch her body off the couch, try to remove the plug covers and put anything and everything into any body opening, hers or anyone else’s.

    I used to tell my husband that I felt like a zookeeper in charge of drunk monkeys. Still do; but the monkeys are just stronger and faster now… and doing shots of tequila.

  • HeatherY

    2010/05/14 at 1:12 pm

    You MUST get this:

    I can’t remember where, but we searched the net until we found one for around $69.00 instead of $99.00. GET TWO COMPLETE SETS – it is cheaper and bigger than the expansion sets. This will allow you enough to make it the size you want (just take some panels out for a smaller area). This has SAVED OUR SANITY because we can leave the immediate room for a moment and our son is STILL ALIVE when we return!

    Quick mod tip: Long Zip Ties (you can get them at hardware stores) looped around the bottoms keep the pieces together when she stands and starts to pull them apart (which she will).

    Since my son was mobile, this has been our great room centerpiece (shhhhh, don’t tell HGTV!). He will be two on the 27th and he still doesn’t mind going in when there’s only one of us home and we have to run to the basement or garage. He is a couch climber – but hasn’t yet climbed out of it – or his crib… yet.

    We even saved money on a stair gate by zip tying one of the gates to the bottom of our stairs leading to the 2nd floor (the top landing has a proper gate).

    Oh, yeah – ours is covered in crayon because before he was old enough to sit at his little table, we would have him color in there to prevent colored walls.

  • Grey.and.Vis.Mom

    2010/05/14 at 1:17 pm

    i know how you feel, i’ve been graced with a jackal as well… i hope this new baby leans more towards the turtle species.

  • ChickWhitt

    2010/05/14 at 1:19 pm

    As always, it’s a good thing she is so damn cute!

  • JennfromCanada

    2010/05/14 at 1:20 pm

    Heather and Jon, your daughters are simply lovely.

    I only have one child so I don’t really know what you are going through. Jessie rarely put things in her mouth when she became mobile. I don’t know why that is.

    @CO – When Jess was small my mom told me that she had all the goodness and the next one would be the devil. So we stuck with one too:)

  • JacksBites

    2010/05/14 at 1:30 pm

    OMG, those dimples! She looks like a perfect little angel, Heather, I’m not sure what you’re talking about. 🙂

  • AshesVonDust

    2010/05/14 at 1:48 pm

    That is impossible. Man, how long have I been reading your blog then?

    Since my older sister has a child who is just as lovely/horrid as she was (according to my mom!) as a child, I am hoping my kid ends up just like me: quiet, self-sufficient artistic nerd who is eager to please.

    Knowing my luck, I’ll have a coked-up Tazmanian Devil with ADD or something.

  • misheru

    2010/05/14 at 2:02 pm

    BWAH HA HA HA HA. Heather, my first son could take apart locks and ran into so many things when he started crawling/walking he had permanent bruises on his forehead for about a year. My second child, a girl, I caught climbing a 5-foot fence. She was already over the top when I caught her escaping. SHE WAS 2 YEARS OLD.

    It’s total schadenfreude, but ever since I read your stories about Leta watching tv quietly in bed with you guys, I’ve been waiting for this day. I’m sorry, it’s evil, I know, but your pain makes me feel so gooooood.


  • momof8

    2010/05/14 at 2:15 pm

    LOL! But she is sooooooooooo cute!

  • barbara

    2010/05/14 at 2:35 pm

    She might be crazy, but she’s so freakin’ adorable!!

  • jennyfromtheshwa

    2010/05/14 at 2:52 pm

    I have you beat. My son was walking, no wait….. running at 9 months. He could climb stairs, on chairs, over couches and on tables. Standing on his rocking horse while balancing and rocking back and forth was his specialty. I used to tell him (and still do on occasion, being 3 and all) that if he weren’t so cute I would sell him to the circus. Luckily Marlo is damnnnnnnn cute!

  • ordinarygirl

    2010/05/14 at 2:54 pm

    Is that red hair I see?? Too cute! 🙂

  • valvalerie

    2010/05/14 at 3:03 pm

    Oh how I feel your pain. Our first was a piece of cake. Which is why I lost my mind and another one only 14 months later. WTF was I thinking??? Oh right I wasn’t.

    So now I have a boy that is rather like my Jack Russell Terrier…can’t leave him alone for a second as he may eat the couch or my favorite pair of shoes. thankfully he goes to bed really well because he drives me NUTS during his waking hours.

    It’s amazing how the same genetic material can create two totally different creatures.

  • Starr

    2010/05/14 at 3:12 pm

    As I am reading everyone’s comments, my two boys are climbing over the back of the couch like little monkeys. Even the “quiet” bookworm. Yep, two boys, only 27 months apart. See? It could be worse!

  • Natalie Green

    2010/05/14 at 3:15 pm

    As someone who also has two children (and from what I can gather, at least one of them is unusually well-behaved) with similar age gaps to yours I just have to say that having two children is ridiculous! If it’s not one thing it’s another (actually that’s my mantra).

    I took my oldest to gymberoo, Magic Yellow Bus, swimming every week, the playground twice a day etc. etc. and my youngest should count herself lucky she gets lunch. She’s two and a half and I’m only just finishing off that goddamn photo frame where you display them at one month two months up til a year. With my son’s I worked out to the day which photos best represented him at those milestones. With my daughter I’m scrounging around trying to find enough photos and just guessing how old she was in each!

    Fun times. (I guess I do love em and would be completely lost without em all the same).

  • cory212

    2010/05/14 at 3:21 pm

    Yes, but….LOOK AT THAT DIMPLE! Don’t you just want to fill it with whipped cream and then dip strawberries into it? I do!!!

  • Ray1987

    2010/05/14 at 3:21 pm

    Her eyes are amazing and that dimple is precious. I can’t believe next month she’ll be a-year-old. Time seriously FLIES right on by!!

    Good luck with your LITTLE SPITFIRE! ;D

  • CudaBuda

    2010/05/14 at 3:30 pm

    Oh my gosh I feel so much better. I thought I was the only one who gave birth to a cracked out monkey. My daughter was a total piece of cake. Slept through the night at 3 months, ate just fine, totally mellow. My son hasn’t slept through the night and he is 3. The child just never stops. If he’s not jumping on his bed, he’s juggling knives. I tell him I’m going to sell him to the gypsies but I don’t think they’ll take him. Then he smiles and “I miss you Momma!” and that makes me get suckered right back in. I thought it was a boy thing but reading all the comments leads me to believe its a second child thing.

    BTW….could Marlo be any more delicious? I just want to eat her up!

  • fahim

    2010/05/14 at 3:50 pm

    You should start writing a short-comic strip series featuring Chuck and Coco with voices.

  • snarkalicious

    2010/05/14 at 3:53 pm

    My first child was a Marlo. When the second one was a Leta I was *sure* there was something wrong with her. I kept telling the pediatrician, “But she’s not climbing onto the kitchen counters! And she doesn’t try to dive out of her crib”, and he would say, “um, do you WANT her to do that?” We called her “baby Buddha” because she sat in the same place on the floor for hours observing everything that went on around her. While her brother was hanging from the blades of the ceiling fan or shaving the dog.

    My “Marlo” is 26 and I still shudder when he calls me after 8 pm because I’m sure he’s in an emergency room somewhere missing limbs…


  • freckleface

    2010/05/14 at 3:54 pm

    As the second child of my family (a family of 4 children, mind you), I have to agree with many of the above who mention the “second child syndrome”… My older sister was a super mellow and hyper obedient baby and child. I was a super happy and energetic baby who was much more curious and devious… still am 😉 At least you aren’t having a third child… my brother is just every parent’s nightmare LOL! And then the fourth, my little sister, was an absolutely silent baby who was more like a potato than a baby. Of course, now she’s a little wild child at 15.

    Anyways, now that I’m done ranting OMG MARLO IS YOUR CLONE. I’m so glad that Jon is no longer the only one who has one in your family. That said, I’m sorry she’s a Coco, hopefully you can figure out a way for her NOT to eat her poop….

  • Natalie

    2010/05/14 at 4:39 pm

    My sister has baby pictures that look very similar to this–precious but totally suspicious. She went on to put my new shoes in the toilet, disappear to only be found in the neighbor’s shed 3 hours later, set the house on fire and blame it on me, and marry the first boy she loved (at 18).

    So, have fun with that.


    Also, jesus fucking christ is she the cutest thing ever.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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