JB is out of town for a few days and at first I was kind of dreading the solo gig because children can sense weakness and as soon as you don’t have backup that’s when they move in for the kill, but so far it’s actually been really nice, maybe in part because I’ve been preemptively pelting them with M&Ms before they can complain about, like, having to wear shoes or whatever. That’s right, I’m using sugar as bait and I won’t apologize for it, Jamie Oliver.

I deployed the Shark Parenting Method—never stop moving—to great success yesterday, with a trip to the farm, a picnic, and two epic playground visits, practically twirling my mustache with glee as they ran themselves ragged. Oh ho ho, I thought, everyone’s going to sleep great tonight. (Naturally, Dylan woke up howling at least five times between midnight and 4 AM.)

The first playground was a hit, but the second had this slide that they both wanted to climb backwards, over and over. Riley managed to fall and smash his chin on it and had himself a massive meltdown, and five seconds after I’d wiped the last of his tears away he climbed back up its slippery surface and fell in the exact same manner, and then stood there shrieking “Not again! NOT AGAAAAIN!” while sobbing and carrying on and every parent was sort of eyeballing us and I was stumped as to what sort of reaction I should be having, because I’ll tell you what, it wasn’t exactly sympathy.

Anyway, he was fine, nothing a little chocolate couldn’t fix, and it was the only moment during the weekend when I thought of my husband’s peaceful hotel room and plotted my revenge. I was even unusually ambitious during yesterday’s naptime and decided to mow the lawn—a comical process that involved googling “how to turn on lawn mower”, ripping my arm half out of its socket while reefing on that motherfucking cord only to eventually figure out I’d flooded the engine, determining which of the SEVEN gas cans in the garage (WTF, JB) contained the right gas (luckily, one was helpfully labeled “FOR CHAINSAW ONLY”), and, eventually, some actual mowing, which was kind of rewarding and fun except for the fact that I kept running over fresh piles of dogshit and it took a full sweaty hour to mow the front section which is on a steep tiered hill, but later when we drove home my boy Riley looked out at the newly shorn lawn and said, “Mommy, I’m so proud of you. You did a great job” and I was like, dude, ten thousand M&Ms for you, and hey, should we go back and knock over that stupid piece-of-shit slide?

5webchat
Video chatting with JB, which was a nice break from Dylan’s nonstop “WHERE DADDY GO?” query, which he especially loves to shout at me while we’re at the playground, over and over and over, to the great interest of other parents.

7dilly
He’s been playing peekaboo with his sunglasses lately and thinks it’s HILARIOUS. Don’t tell him he doesn’t actually turn invisible when they’re on, okay?

8reading
A brief moment of downtime.

1farm
Farm!

3fence
Playing Poohsticks.

4horse
“WHERE DADDY G—A HORSE MOMMY A HORSE! HORSE!”

6yard
Yeah, that’s right. I mowed that shit. First one to tell me I missed a spot gets a FedEx’d bag of used toddler diapers.

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Gleemonex
12 years ago

SHARK METHOD!!!

That’s always been my strategy — but I had no name for it until now. May Shatner bless you …

(and kickass job on the lawn, madam!)

Lindsay
Lindsay
12 years ago

Riley telling you that you did a good job is pretty much the cutest thing I’ve ever heard. Good job indeed! :)

Janet
Janet
12 years ago

I always dread hubby going out of town, then kind of enjoy it…but it’s nice when he comes back, too. It’s so nice to be ignored by the children for a brief time :) Oh, and I didn’t know what to expect when I clicked on the poohsticks link…I was surprised to be a little let down, lol. Not sure ~what~ I was expecting. Great job on the lawn, I frequently mow ours, too. Strangely, I like it.

Ris
Ris
12 years ago

That’s a fine lookin’ yard you got there.

Heather
Heather
12 years ago

I loooove that I am not the only one that has issues doing something that sounds so simple. My husband is in Iraq, and I swear every seemingly easy task that I have attempted starts out like your lawn mower experience. You go girl ;)

Wendy
12 years ago

You yard looks great! I’ve never, ever used a lawn mover (in my defense I grew up in Arizona where we don’t exactly need to mow our rocks) and I am scared to try. I’d have to Google too to figure out how to turn one on.

jodie
jodie
12 years ago

As usual your blog has me laughing. Most importantly makes me feel happy

C @ Kid Things
12 years ago

YOU MISSED A SPOT. HAHA!

Original, huh?

Amy
Amy
12 years ago

Good job! Eldest son got his first taste of mowing the lawn this weekend. First he hid in the house….then stood on the porch…then the lawn….then eventually made contact with the evil loud thing. Two strips and you would have thought he’d found the cure for cancer that boy was so proud of himself!!!! Mowing the yard I can do…it’s all that other creative stuff you manage that scares the hell out of me!

MR
MR
12 years ago

Kudos on the grass. My wife hasn’t entered the garage in three years, let alone attempted to locate and activate the lawnmower.

chaosmomm
chaosmomm
12 years ago

excellent job on both the parenting (i LOVE preemptive m&ms!) as well as the lawn mowing! the first time i mowed the lawn ALL BY MYSELF i was probably about 20, and was living back at my parents’ house. they went away for a week, so to be a good daughter i decided to mow their giant ass hilly lawn for them before they got back. i didn’t have the benefit of google, but luckily for me the 70-year-old neighbor lady kindly told me that i had to “prime” the mower first. dur. then i about yanked my arm out starting it. then i scratched my arms and legs up mowing under all the damn pine trees. (oh, and did i mention the dead mouse i found under the lawnmower before i even got it out of the garage??). finally got it all done, only to find out when they got back that they have a LAWN SERVICE!!!

so…excellent for you for tackling that lawn! i think you all deserve a shit-ton of M&Ms. :D

Lo
Lo
12 years ago

I’m proud of you too, not sure how you manage :)

Lena
12 years ago

LMAO at “WHERE DADDY G—A HORSE MOMMY A HORSE! HORSE!” and that you googled how to turn on the lawn mower. My husband has so many freaking gadgets that I’m not even confident I could figure out which one was the lawn mower, much less which gas to use!

warcrygirl
12 years ago

Sadly I am very proficient in starting our lawn mower, mostly because I’m the only one who uses the damn thing on a regular basis. I love how Riley is sportin’ himself a hiking pack; a future Cub Scout, maybe?

kalisa
12 years ago

WHORES!!

Melissa
12 years ago

I never mow, I just haven’t considered it my “job” here. I do the inside stuff, he does the outside stuff. But the inside stuff leaves me with all the kid stuff too, so I’ve been considering getting the husband to show me how to work the mowing contraption, maybe i could get some “me” time while mowing :) I assume it’s quieter to mow than to field ‘more juice mommy’ for hours on end.

Melissa
12 years ago

Also, sugar bribery is a completely valid parenting method. I don’t believe anyone that says they don’t use that method too. :)

Jen
Jen
12 years ago

Hilarious post. I HATE cutting the grass. Thanks for the laugh.

Eric's Mommy
Eric's Mommy
12 years ago

My Husband was mowing the lawn the other night and I felt bad since he is working 3 jobs and all AND mowing the lawn. I told him I would do it if he showed me how, but NOT with the rider, I’ll use the push mower. Our yard is so hilly I would flip the rider over or something, which my Husband has done before.

I’m not going to say you missed a spot because that is just cruel. haha

Melospiza
Melospiza
12 years ago

What is that thing in the back of your yard…some sort of portal? Accessed by a stile?

Meggan
12 years ago

I love poohsticks! I didn’t even have to look at the link to know the game (and I don’t even have kids….)

Keaton
Keaton
12 years ago

Poohsticks is truly one of the greatest games known to man or imaginary bear. My cousins and I have been playing that game since we could grasp. 10,000 M&Ms for starting Riley and Dylan on playing it!

HalynB
12 years ago

HA! I’m dying over here, consumed by the mental image of park parents quietly judging you for not having a daddy for those boys!

Also lmao at “shark method.”

Very nice job on the lawn. I mowed the lawn last year. My shoulder hurt for days, I am NEVER doing it again. That’s what fifteen year old sons are for.

Jenny
Jenny
12 years ago

I love your point of view

I am also currently applying the Shark Parenting Method, and it is fantastic, except that I am also exhausted at the end of the day!

Your boys are super cute.

Thanks for the fun

nonsoccermom
12 years ago

I can’t stop laughing at “WHERE DADDY GO?” They do like to ask that at the most inopportune times, don’t they?

Kick-ass job on the lawn, by the way.

Belle
Belle
12 years ago

That picture of the boys on the fence looking down on the lake is absolutely fabulous.

Garnish
12 years ago

The …mommy I’m so proud of you comment…well that just tied all my heart strings in a nice little bow.

Leslie
Leslie
12 years ago

The best Shakespearean production I’ve ever seen on stage was a version of *A Midsummer Night’s Dream* in which the fairies, indeed, used sunglasses to indicate when they were invisible. Obviously, Dylan is just incredibly precocious.

Clueless But Hopeful Mama

I feel like such a stud when I mow the grass. Which is less than studly to admit, I guess.

We too employ the shark method. Our favorite weekend kid-sleep-inducer is a $5 kite from Target. The almost-4 year old runs in circles for hours. WORTH A HUNDRED DOLLARS, that kite.

Sara
12 years ago

Poohsticks…man did I think that was something different, especially given Dylan’s squatting position on the fence.

Bianca
12 years ago

When I bought my house, I bought it by myself, so obviously the yard work was all mine. I had to have a male friend come give me a lawnmower lesson, because I had only ever mowed once years before. (I probably could have figured it out, but wanted someone around the first time in case I chopped a finger off or something.)

Now my fiance is in the house with me. I still mow the lawn because I expect a balance in the work load (and I don’t want to do all the housework). I make him do the weed eating and edging, though, because he does a much nicer job than I do.

sheilah
12 years ago

I HATE mowing the lawn. The best reason ever to have a husband.

Amanda
12 years ago

When I read the sunglasses part I melted a tiny bit.

Deb
Deb
12 years ago

When you deliberately craft a super busy day designed to have the kids sleep at night, you must remember the Final Step to Happiness – dose them liberally with children’s motrin.

Also – mowing piles of dog poo = EW!

Carrie (in MN)
Carrie (in MN)
12 years ago

Melissa has hit on the secret – taking on the mowing chore gives you time outside and makes someone else temporarily take on the “more juice, mommy” requests.

Bachelor Girl
12 years ago

Riley’s right – you DID do a great job.

I could probably never figure out how to turn on the lawnmower without amputating my own or someone else’s hand.

KAM
KAM
12 years ago

I, too, struggle with the appropriate response during those slide moments when sympathy is just not in my grasp but “I told you so” feels harsh and “WTF?” is probably inappropriate.

Great job on the lawn and even better to get kudos from your kiddo!

Sonia
Sonia
12 years ago

I have never mowed our lawn. We have a beautiful ride-on mower, complete with a beer holder. This purchase was 100% intended to make the mowing as pleasant as possible for my husband. It looks like a freaking mini fire engine even, to appeal this fire-fighter-ness. He works 2 jobs… one full time, and one part time, as an EMT/firefighter. Mowing is his only *chore* around our place. We do a pretty good job of balancing the rest. But I REFUSE to learn how to use the mower. He’s gone so much that the rest of the household/kid/yard maintenance responsibilities fall on me. I know that if I learn how to mow, it will be MY JOB forever more. But I do feel guilty sometimes when he’s worked a full week and weekend, and then has to jump on the mower for 2 hours. Obviously not for long though, because he’s still doing it! Wife of the Year. Where’s my damn tiara?

lisa
lisa
12 years ago

I loved reading your blog today. It made me laugh out loud at work, and therefore made my day brighter :) Good job on the lawn lady!

Gaby
Gaby
12 years ago

I laughed at Riley’s “Not AGAIN!” and pictured him shaking his fist at the sky! Hilarious.

This was such a great glimpse into your weekend. One day, your boys are really going to love seeing how much these days meant to you. What a gift you’ve given them (well, this, and life, and whatnot). ;)

Claire
12 years ago

LOL @ the lawn mowing story. It CAN be tricky but kid compliments make it so much better!

victoria
victoria
12 years ago

I respect your having conquered the lawn mower. I was defeated by mine when I was tasked with maintaining the yard while my husband was mostly out of town a few months one summer. We ended up with grass up to our knees. When my husband was finally available to mow, he figured out why the mower had never started for me: it had no gas in it.

Karl
Karl
12 years ago

“NOT AGAIN!!!” Wow, Riley is a neat kid. When mine did that sort of thing, they just wailed because it was supposed to work that time. I was trying to remember my reaction, and no, it wasn’t sympathy either. I think I may possibly have said “3rd time, shame on you” or something like that.

We (meaning mostly me) used an electric mower for some years on our relatively puny lawn. As soon as a couple of the neighborhood boys were old enough, I gave that sucker away, along with a gas mower that had somehow found its way into the garage. (Wife was not pleased but I told her she could buy her own mower!) We haven’t owned a mower since. After all, newspapers don’t use paper boys any more, how else are the neighborhood kids supposed to make candy money?

Melly
Melly
12 years ago

Awesome post! Good stuff Linda!

lisa
12 years ago

Great post. Single parenting is hard– you’re doing a great job!

lisa
12 years ago

Also– touche on the pulling the lawn mower string. I always offer to mow (I figure its good exercise) but I have to have my husband start it for me.

Lindsey
Lindsey
12 years ago

Was that the Sheep Shearing Festival you guys went to? We did and loved it with our two of similar ages. Makes me feel all rural and such, which is a nice change since I just moved here from LA!

As for the mowing, good for you. We tried once, but gave up on that which is why we just bought a house without a yard to tend to! Makes me all giddy inside.