the smell of my desperation has become a stench

The number of foods my kid will eat just increased to five

Saturday morning we woke to a slow drizzle, cloudy skies and temperatures I’d like to stick in a bag and drop kick to the arctic where they belong. I know how to do that, the drop kicking part because I played goalie on a soccer team when I was ten years old. Yep. ME. All 40 pounds of 10-year-old Heather B. Hamilton. I was actually pretty effective because I looked just like the pole on the side of the goal and when I ran around the other team thought they were hallucinating.

A few attempts to schedule a play date for Leta failed, and for a moment I thought her sorrow would create a black hole big enough to interrupt the orbit of communication satellites. It’s just the worst, you guys. And I’m only poking a little bit of fun because I was exactly like that at her age. I have to remind myself that I used to get just as upset at the prospect of being bored because my urge when she starts to pout is to go get her box of Lucky Charms, pour a jar of pickle juice into it and say, “This is exactly what life is like when you’re an adult.”

I listed off some things we could do, but she dismissed each one. We’ve already been there and that place is boring, and so forth, and why couldn’t we just walk over and see if our neighbor was home? I had to explain to her that it’s rude to show up unannounced at someone’s house and knock on their door. You guys! Those words came out of my mouth! AND THEY ARE TRUE! Think about it. When someone rings your doorbell, what is the first thing that goes through your head? Does it involve a firearm? See! That’s what I thought.

So I asked her if she wanted to help me christen the kitchen. We were going to have to hit the grocery store anyway, why not spend the afternoon using all the appliances I haven’t yet touched? What? Yes, I’ve been living in this house for over a month. No, I haven’t used the oven once. Yes, that’s megaton of cold cereal for dinner.

“Is there something you would eat that you and I could cook together?” I asked.

“Like, a frozen pizza?” she answered. Seriously. I looked around as if all of you were standing in my kitchen and I took a bow. What a quintessential dooce® moment.

“No, I was thinking something with ingredients that we have to measure.”

She slowly shrugged and said, “I… don’t… know…?”

I was totally joking around when I poked her in the stomach and yelled, “MEATBALLS!” Because how gross is that? If my kid won’t eat a chocolate cupcake, you think she’s going to eat balls of meat?


“You… wait…” I looked furiously around the room to see who was watching. “Where on earth have you even seen a meatball sub?”

“School! I love it when they have meatball subs on the menu!”


Meatball subs it would be! I quickly looked up a meatball recipe online, a Paleo meatball recipe because neither of my kids would know the difference:

1 pound ground beef
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup onion minced
1 small garlic cloved minced
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup almond flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Form mixture into two inch meatballs. Bake for about 20 minutes.

Holy crap, almond flour is expensive! Those paleolithic humans must have been rolling in cash!



When we got back from the grocery store and lined up all the ingredients, Leta was so excited to get started. That excitement lasted all of four seconds, up until Marlo grabbed her stool, hopped up next to the counter and squealed, “ARE WE HELPING?!” Suddenly cooking meatballs was totally not cool.



And oh my, the helping. She measured and poured salt.


She poured minced onion that I had leftover from a guacamole recipe.


She wallowed when I wouldn’t let her mince the garlic cloves (have you ever tried to get the garlic smell out of a three-year-old? Like, she breaks the washing machine every time it gets to the spin cycle.)


She measured oregano and reluctantly let Leta pour it.


And then she reluctantly let Leta whisk the egg.


She measured and poured flour.


And then she stirred.


And stirred even more.


Initially I wasn’t going to let her help me roll the meatballs, but when she saw me start the first one it was like I had just thrown a stick for a golden retriever. MUST. ROLL. RAW. MEAT.





And then… the best part… the part she had been waiting for… CLEANING UP. I told her, “Marlo, my ad network approached me and asked if I’d partner with Clorox at some point this month for a post on my website. And you know what I said? I said, ‘My kid’s favorite thing in the world is cleaning things up, so if Clorox wants to put a tattoo of its logo across her forehead, I’ll hold her hair back while they do it.'”



When I pulled out that tub of wipes I thought her glasses were going to crack from the vibrations of happiness shooting out of her body. I’d been saving them so that she could help me clean the bathrooms (her favorite room to clean, of course), but here was this mess and the opportunity to surprise her with an unexpected present. Clorox, I’m getting her disinfecting wipes for Christmas.



I made the mistake of briefly turning my back to check on the meatballs in the oven because when I turned back around she had used every wipe in that container. Every single one. When I asked her why she needed to use all of them she looked up at me with the most innocent eyes and answered, “Becausth the counter wasth stho dirty I needed to clean it.”

I used some of the less dirty ones to wipe the raw meat off of her hands, and then called her back when it was time to mix the meatballs with the pasta sauce.




Clorox has culled a list of what’s called ick-tionary terms, words formed when you combine regular terms with the messes that accompany parenthood. For instance, the stains running down the side of the toilet are referred to as “trickle treats” and you might not think I’d have that problem since I’ve got girls, but did you know that waiting to get off the toilet until after you’ve finished peeing is not a basic human instinct?

Going forward we’re going to describe this meal as Meatball Scrubs because of the mess and also because of the epic over-cleaning Marlo did when it was over.


And behold. Leta ate food that was not artificially colored.


Do you guys have any special words or phrases you use to describe messes or things that go wrong in your house?


This post is brought to you by The Clorox Company. I have partnered with them to spread the word about Clorox’s Ick-tionary program. To share Ick-tionary terms and real life messes, visit All opinions and stories are my own.

  • Sunny South Africca

    2013/04/16 at 8:07 am

    no names for messes, but my daughter (30 months) also opens her mouth when she rolls something or put hand cream on. it looks to me as if marlo was doing the same in some of your pictures. great cooking. looks sooo good! love your blog.

  • magwilky

    2013/04/16 at 8:11 am

    Marlo rolling the meatballs! I could die from the cuteness.

  • Necole Kell

    2013/04/16 at 8:22 am

    No special names for messes around here except for me calling everything “A big ass mess.” I buy those wipes to make it easier for my kids to clean their bathroom. Three girls = one big ass mess.

  • Elizabeth Mccartin

    2013/04/16 at 8:40 am

    dieing from the cuteness. your girls are beautiful.
    congratulations on christening the kitchen!

  • Candice Lucas

    2013/04/16 at 8:40 am

    The CONCENTRATION face 😉 Even better when they turn their tongues sideways and clamp their teeth down.

  • Jamie

    2013/04/16 at 8:50 am

    Marlo is too cute. What was Leta doing while Marlo took over the one thing she was willing to do, lol.

  • Killian

    2013/04/16 at 8:52 am

    Not so much at home, but when I worked for a vet maaaany moons ago, we used to call the bits of poop that got caught in the butt fur of long haired cats “dingleberries”.

  • Allyssa Wheaton-Rodriguez

    2013/04/16 at 8:53 am

    Mostly I just wander around going, “seriously?! seriously, you guys?!” I’ve started handing our 2 yr old the hand-vac. Our house is on the market and I’m so over vacuuming.

  • Sheila

    2013/04/16 at 9:00 am

    Oh, my youngest leaves ‘dash dribbles’ on the toilet too. Sigh.

    Just a quick heads-up, don’t use those wipes to clean up after a gastro bug. They won’t kill the bacteria and may just spread it around. I got very sick on a vacation in the Caribbean a few years ago and my husband made the mistake of cleaning the washroom with clorox wipes. It was my turn to care for him 36 hours later. Bleach and hot water only from then on.

    What some call dingleberries, we call dags because I lived in Australia for a while when I was a kid and that’s what they’re called in that part of the world when they’re found on sheep. No other funny names, but I should come up with one for the trail of raw rolled oats my oldest leaves when she snacks on them from the pantry. Yes, raw rolled oats.

  • RDaisy

    2013/04/16 at 9:12 am

    Reading this from Boston, and really appreciate the much needed laugh. Thank you.

  • WebSavvyMom

    2013/04/16 at 9:12 am

    –>If someone uses the bathroom and doesn’t wash their hands we refer to them as “Poo Paws.”

  • Shannon

    2013/04/16 at 9:18 am

    Sadly, soap and water do not require sponsorship. They also don’t create mounds of trash and super bacteria.

  • robinplemmons

    2013/04/16 at 9:20 am

    Shit slicks. As in, “Please wipe your g-damn shit slicks off the toilet.”

  • Juliann Couture

    2013/04/16 at 9:52 am

    Do yourself a favor and head on over to Trader Joe’s. Their almond flour is awesome & about $4 a bag. It’s totally worth a special trip.

  • Margaret

    2013/04/16 at 10:02 am

    you’ve been Paleo how long and just discovered almond flour? Woman, let me cook for you! I couldn’t have done Paleo without it-but you’re right about one thing-it’s expensive! I try to only use it for special occasions.

  • Christie Hall

    2013/04/16 at 10:07 am

    At my former workplace a clogged toilet (or similar disgusting bathroom event) was referred to as a “shituation.” I can’t take credit for it, but I happily use it whenever I can.

  • Arnebya

    2013/04/16 at 10:29 am

    My husband and I were arguing over the filthiness that was our kitchen when I said, “But I’m the only one who cleans this shit.” My oldest daughter was about 4 at the time. “I want to clean the pit!” she said happily. When we clean on Saturday mornings now, everything dirty is a pit: clean the bathroom pit, the pit from the dining room floor, the kitchen pit. (I am certain that, at 12, she’s heard me say shit enough times to know full damn well that we’re cleaning shit, not pit. I’m glad she’s never let on. Yet.)

  • Jen

    2013/04/16 at 10:33 am

    A piece of food that goes flying off the plate or fork and lands on the floor is called a “food-gitive.” When I pick that piece of food up off the floor and hand it back to my kid I tell him it’s dessert.

  • Domestic Rockstar

    2013/04/16 at 10:39 am

    Geez I wish my 6 year old son would be open to trying new foods like this. He rolls his eyes and tells me it’s dirty.

  • Beth Horton

    2013/04/16 at 11:28 am

    I just knew when I saw all those carefully turned ingredients that this was one of those “I won’t tell you about anything that’s not paying me” kind of posts.

  • Don

    2013/04/16 at 11:47 am

    You make me smile….a lot!

  • Joanne z Filmlady

    2013/04/16 at 12:14 pm

    Me too

  • Alice

    2013/04/16 at 12:30 pm

    If you have a food processor in the back of a cupboard somewhere, grind up sliced almonds and voila! Almond flour.

  • New York Bird

    2013/04/16 at 12:31 pm

    Hi Heather. I have been reading your blog regularly for seven years. I worked in advertising for 15 years and loved every minute of it. Having said both these things, I think I am uniquely qualified to tell you that this posting and the fake “posting”/advertisement that appears right below it on the home page is deceptive and upsetting. I appreciate that you make a living from this blog. Heck, I admire it. And up until now the plugs have been somewhat (although less and less over time) artful. But this time I think you’ve just gone too far. Very disappointing. And if I receive a bunch of emails from Clorox after sharing this comment I cannot come back to your site.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2013/04/16 at 12:56 pm

    Does that really work? Does it taste good in recipes?

  • Heather Armstrong

    2013/04/16 at 12:57 pm

    Noted! Thanks for he heads up.

  • Jen Wilson

    2013/04/16 at 1:06 pm

    Meatball subs are my favourite. I’m coming for dinner next time Marlo makes them.

  • Alexia

    2013/04/16 at 1:33 pm

    couldn’t you use a sponge and save yourself some money and the environment from saturated bleach wipes?

  • Living The Scream

    2013/04/16 at 2:26 pm

    and there is now a Trader Joe’s in Utah (you probably knew that but I thought I would mention it anyways) It is my favorite!! You have to get the dark chocolate peanut butter cupcakes as well!!

  • natalie

    2013/04/16 at 2:29 pm

    I’d love it if a product I liked and used wanted to pay me to share a story with people. I’m not sure if you’re more upset that *she* is profitting from it or you just don’t like clorox wipes.

  • Lauren3

    2013/04/16 at 2:38 pm

    Not knocking your comment, but a couple questions on a couple parts that genuinely confused me.

    What do you mean by the “fake posting/advertisement” on the home page?

    How would Clorox be able to email you as a result of leaving a comment?

    What is about this plug that makes it so different from the others in a negative way?

  • New York Bird

    2013/04/16 at 2:55 pm

    In the middle of the home page is an ad by Federated Media about buying a new house. It is positioned on the home page just below the Clorox posting and is meant to look like an actual posting. It’s one thing to have ads all along the perimeter of the blog, but right in the middle section where postings appear? It’s getting to be too much!
    As for Clorox, well, to post a comment I had to supply my email address. Wouldn’t be suprised if that’s used later. I don’t know if that could happen but it would make sense for marketers to do that.
    And, most importantly, I guess what I didn’t like about this posting was the voice…I actually don’t think Heather wrote this. It’s just not genuine to me and sounds like someone imitating Heather’s style of writing. These are nuances, I know. But I feel like dooce started out as a heartfelt sharing of experiences and has just become an advertising delivery system.

  • New York Bird

    2013/04/16 at 3:01 pm

    There is nothing wrong with participating in our capitalist society and profiting from your talent. And I have nothing against Clorox wipes. I just find the way this blog is going quite jarring. It’s like reading Anna Karenina and finding a coupon for Kleenex printed onto the final pages. (although, as much as I used to enjoy Heather’s writing, it’s not quite Tolstoy. but you get the idea).

  • Randianne

    2013/04/16 at 3:19 pm

    Hi New York Bird. As someone who really is in advertising, I find your comment ridiculous. Professional bloggers do things like this all the time. If you were familiar with this market, you would know that this isn’t even a particularly pushy blog. If you disagree, look at bloggers who spend three paragraphs on lengthy prose about the benefits of a crouton and get back to me. Also, if you’re afraid of getting emails from Clorox, then don’t provide your email address. It really is that simple. A single mother should be able to provide for her kids without people getting offended because she mentioned a product she used and (gasp!) got paid for it!

  • Randianne

    2013/04/16 at 3:27 pm

    I am cracking up at all these comments about dingleberries. I have no special names for anything other then referring to the mess around my daughter’s high chair as seconds. She’ll eat two bites of something off of her high chair, but the second it hits the floor it becomes delicious.

  • JenVegas

    2013/04/16 at 3:32 pm

    Ha. My 2 yr old tells me things are “spicy” when he doesn’t like them.

  • JenVegas

    2013/04/16 at 3:40 pm

    Oh I wish we had cute words for messes in my house, there are enough of them. But my kid does at least own up to them. “Mommy! Who made dis mess?” “I don’t know, Tommy, who did it?” “I DID!” I’m constantly surprised by the amount of pride one can take in the artless scattering of Cheerios across the living room floor. *Sometimes* he cleans up. Most of the time he just eats whatever he dropped before I can reach him….5 second rule, right? RIGHT???

  • JenVegas

    2013/04/16 at 3:42 pm

    Almost every site on the internet that allows for commenting requires a valid email address be added in order to weed out spambots posting in comment sections. I’ve never been targeted for marketing based on where I comment.

  • Lauren3

    2013/04/16 at 3:56 pm

    Thanks for replying 🙂

    As for the homepage ad… it does say “Ad by Federated Media” right at the top of it, so I guess I still don’t see what you mean?

    You don’t need to worry about entering your email address… Disqus’s terms of service clearly states it doesn’t sell email addresses.

    And as an old faithful type reader myself, we’re gonna have to agree to disagree on the voice, because dude: “When I pulled out that tub of wipes I thought her glasses were going to crack from the vibrations of happiness shooting out of her body. ” <– that is very Heather to me, haha!

  • Lauren3

    2013/04/16 at 4:07 pm

    Christ, I risk getting lampooned as a buttkisser because this is the second time in the same post that I’m going to be contrary to a negative comment, haha. But whatevs, here goes anyway.

    I get your point about soap and water being just as effective and not creating trash and super bacteria, and I’m with you for the most part.


    In my own experience, I do shit to my kitchen and bathroom (haha, shit to my bathroom) that before I know it has set to the point that I DO need a pretty good cleaner to get rid of it. And I like using the Clorox or Lysol wipes to take care of it.. And it evens out, because instead of using a spray cleaner + paper towel or rag, the cleaner is built into the towel. Could I spray the cleaner on a sponge and do the same thing? Kind of, but it’s pain in the ass to keep running to the kitchen sink then to wash it out when it gets gunked up and then continue cleaning. I mean, I do do that most of the time because I love the Earth and shit. But I still like the wipes too. Everything in moderation, am I right?

    Aaaaand end storybook 🙂

  • Joy Holder Northrop

    2013/04/16 at 4:19 pm

    What annoys me is that I’m reading a mildly amusing blog post, and then suddenly toward the end I realize that I’m not reading a blog post, I’m reading an advertisement, so I feel a little tricked. Kind of like when I’m driving along, listening to Rush Limbaugh (bet Ms. Armstrong didn’t see that comparison coming) and he starts in on what sounds like an anecdote, but is really an advertisement for identity theft protection.

  • Julia Hart

    2013/04/16 at 4:22 pm

    You can also make your own by grinding some whole almonds in the food processor.

  • Shelly

    2013/04/16 at 4:28 pm

    Just when I thought these girls couldn’t get any cuter, you post more pictures and adorableness. Love you, love your girls, love everything you do. What an excellent story!

  • Laura

    2013/04/16 at 4:37 pm

    Instead of baking the meatballs, drop them in the sauce to cook! The sauce will taste better, the meatballs won’t be dry. It’s how my grandmom taught me how to do it!

  • New York Bird

    2013/04/16 at 5:01 pm

    This really has nothing to do with Heather being a single mother. And it kind of doesn’t have to do with pushing product on a professional blog. It has to do with the DEGREE of pushing. I feel like the blog used to drive the advertising. Now I think the advertising drives the blog. Heather has a right to get paid. And I have a right not to read more and more and more about the people who pay her. Simple as that. Just thought she should know where at least one reader’s head was at.
    (p.s. if you don’t put in your email address you cannot add a comment.
    but i’ll accept the idea put forth by someone else that it’s to block spammers)

  • bsnebold

    2013/04/16 at 5:06 pm

    Honestly Heather, I think you should just stick with making porn videos….if this many people get upset over a Clorox wipe then some people need to just GET A LIFE. God, what could be wrong with adding a product endorsement to your blog????? Nothing!!! It’s not illegal. It’s not child molestation, it’s not murder, it’s not even interesting. Leave my Heather alone.

  • jwiznitzer

    2013/04/16 at 5:13 pm

    Wow, that was an exceptional “what not to do” post. You don’t need bleach on your countertops unless you plan to lick them, and excessive use disinfectant contributes to the rise of superbugs, a danger to your children’s health. No one should be indiscriminately using antibacterial wipes, and it’s shameful that you are advertising them by showing their indiscriminate use. As for the paleo nonsense, every legit scientist agrees its bull. Why impose this nonsense on you kids? Fads have no place in child rearing. So you’re making money by shilling for a terrible product, and then spending that money on questionable foods. Yeesh.

  • Joan Iandoli Horner

    2013/04/16 at 5:25 pm

    I just want to say if you and the girls are ever in Boston again Miss Marlo is more than welcome to come hang with us. I own a cooking school for kids and she would fit right in! That girl can roll a meatball like a good Italian.

  • Randianne

    2013/04/16 at 5:32 pm

    Blogging is her job. Advertisements are how she makes money. Again, this post wasn’t terribly pushy compared to similar blogs. You are right, you do have the right not to read a blog. If advertisements offend you, I would advise you to exercise that right. But good luck finding a professional web site that doesn’t have advertising. Having blogs or other types of entertainment media mention products is the current trend in advertising. Also, while you do have to enter an email address, you don’t have to use yours. You could put in if you wanted to.

  • Laklina

    2013/04/16 at 5:37 pm

    Agreed. Kids should not be using cleaning products like this. I use clorox wipes only very rarely and when I do I wear gloves because they leave my skin burning. I cringe to think the damage they can do to a child’s skin. And what’s in them? Alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride. Yum. Not something I want on my cutting board. We’re talking a potent irritant to the eyes, the upper respiratory tract, and lungs. Yeah, that stuff ain’t gonna be anywhere my kids.

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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