My Husband Called Me Frumpy, and I Didn’t Kill Him



I was in love with this dress from the moment I saw it. It mixed my three favorite things: a black-and-white print, a flattering silhouette, and a sale price. I ordered it immediately.

But when I tried it on for the first time, something wasn’t right. I hung it in the closet and decided to try again later.

Later was the next morning. I put the dress on and thought it looked great. It just needed time to lose the wrinkles from packing and shipping. I topped it with a hot pink sweater. At this point, I normally would kiss Hubby goodbye and hit the road. For some reason, that day, I asked him what he thought.

“You should get a belt,”  he said. “Or it looks a little frumpy.”

FRUMPY?!?! That’s an all-or-nothing adjective. There is no such thing as “a little frumpy.” I checked the clock. There were less than 10 minutes left before Mini Me had to catch the bus. I scowled, grabbed a belt, and herded the kids out the door.

My outfit gained a different response at work. I told colleagues at the coffee station about my conversation with Hubby. They assured me the dress looked fine.

Hubby was cleaning the kitchen when I got home.

“Everyone at work said my dress looked nice,” I said.

“It does look nice,” he stopped washing dishes long enough to kiss me hello.

“You said it was frumpy this morning.”

“Well, yeah,” he said while squinting.  “It just needed the belt.”

My mind started to turn. How does a dress go from frumpy to fashionable with just a belt? More importantly, when did my husband become André Leon Tally? Something wasn’t right.

“Do you know what frumpy means?” I asked.

“Sure,” he said, way too quickly. He continued scrubbing dishes. “So, um, what is it?

“Matronly. Homely. Unattractive.”

“No,” he turned to look at me.

“Yes.” I nodded.

“Well, I just meant the skirt was puffy. The belt makes it not stand out so much.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. I spent a good portion of my day being miffed at Hubby for a mistake in vocabulary.

Have you ever felt like you and your partner were speaking two different languages?


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Five Tips for Multitasking Responsibly

I am in a constant state of motion. It’s surprising that I hardly ever reach my daily goal of 7,500 steps. Between the numerous walks from my office to the water cooler, printer, or restroom, and my nightly orbit from from bedroom to basement, that goal should be a snap. Though my fitness tracker logs a deficit, my body aches at day’s end tell another story.

I sometimes think it’s impossible for me to be still. As soon as I sit down, I think of something and then get up to do it. Watching TV doubles as time to clip coupons or put away laundry. The back button on my remote is worn because of how often I rewind to catch something I missed.

Until a couple of weeks ago, I was proud of my multitasking superpower. But a visit to the hospital with Lil Ma forced me to rethink that position. I had overdosed on multitasking, and it had me flitting around like a mad woman. I needed to dial back and use my skill in moderation.

Here are a few things I’ve figured out so far:

1. Two or three, not four or five. If you can keep up with five things at once AND do them well, my hat’s off to you. Some days, I tried to tend to dinner, dishes, two kids, and a phone call. That was lunacy.

2. Group sensibly. Don’t mix things that require your full attention. Laundry and TV? Cool. A call with your mom and emails from work? Lunacy.

3. Know when it can wait. Going to bed without cleaning the kitchen has always been a big no-no for me, but I’ve left more dishes in the sink this week than I have in the past five years. I’m learning little by little to be ok with that.

4. Know when it can’t. Mini Me is going to her first concert tomorrow, and she insists on wearing her blue giraffe shirt. This would be fine, except it looked like it was run over by a truck. I initially told her to pick something else, but as her nine-year-old eyes widened in panic, I remembered when I was her age. It was a big deal to pick my own outfits for special occasions. So I spent a chunk of my evening getting her shirt show ready.

5. Cut slack. Lots of it. I’m a good mom, and I don’t give myself enough credit for that. I have a feeling you don’t either. So what if your kid goes to daycare with graham cracker crumbs in her ponytails from time to time? It means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things.

There’s a lot more for me to learn, I’m sure. Stay tuned.

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My First Mammogram

I’m a firm believer in the old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It’s why I started using anti-aging cream when I was 19. It’s why I floss daily. Well, it’s why I floss more often than not. It’s also why I spend so many weekday mornings at annual checkups during the beginning of every year that invariably, a coworker will pull me aside and ask if I’m secretly interviewing for a new job.

So I shouldn’t have hesitated when my OB said it was time for my first mammogram, but I did. Dr. R., a short, slender woman with curly brown hair and the coolest collection of eyeglasses I’ve ever seen, answered one of my questions before I could ask it.

“You’re not 40 yet, but it would be good to get a baseline,” she said while peeping over rectangular purple frames. I wanted to inquire about where she buys her glasses, but that didn’t seem like the right time. Before I left, a nurse handed me a form to take to the imaging center of my choice. I folded it over twice and stuck it into my bag. Then I forgot all about it.

A rambling toddler and a pledge to stop procrastinating made me pick up the phone and make an appointment, but I wasn’t looking forward to it. The 1988 made-for-TV biopic “The Ann Jillian Story” and snatches of conversations I’ve heard over the years were the foundation of my pitiful knowledge of mammograms:

They are scary, and they hurt.

I had no reason to be afraid. The mammogram was a routine diagnostic in my case. There are many women, Ann Jillian included, who have had mammograms to investigate lumps or check for the return of cancer. That’s scary.

As far as pain goes, how bad could it be? I had all four of my impacted wisdom teeth pulled at once, and the anesthesia wore off halfway through the procedure. I’ve had two kids for goodness sake. A mammogram couldn’t be as bad as all that.

Turns out, it wasn’t. I arrived at the imaging center 15 minutes before my scheduled appointment. I filled out a three-page questionnaire and waited until my named was called. When it was my turn, the technician took me to a small dressing room and handed me a cape that opened in the front. I changed and met her in front of the mammography machine. It was smaller than I expected.

The most uncomfortable part of the whole thing was the awkward dance the tech and I had to do to position my breasts on the machine. At one point, my cheek pressed against the front while my arm hugged the side. I don’t enjoy snuggling with x-ray equipment, but it was a far cry from painful.

I waited another five minutes or so for the tech to check the pictures to make sure they imaged clearly. After that, I was on my way. The whole experience took less than 45 minutes.

“I’ll see you next year,” the technician grinned as she escorted me to the door.

In the end, I’m glad I went. I do want to talk more with my doctor about the need for an annual mammography, but for now I’m thankful I didn’t let fear get in the way.

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Two Weeks On, Two Weeks Off

Hubby is going into his third year of life on the road. His job on an oil rig takes him out of state for six months out of the year. Thankfully (I think), the time in split into two-week rotations, which we refer to as “two weeks on, two weeks off,” or “Two and Two.”‘

Life on the road is hard. I’m not the one who lives it, so that adjective is
born solely from my observation, and likely, it’s not enough to truly explain Hubby’s experience. I’ve seen a few videos of the type of work he does. There’s a lot of lifting, carrying, and swearing while wearing an gigantic protective suit. Rest time is spent in a tiny trailer with a subpar mattress. Meals often include the term “ramen.”

My Two and Two is much less taxing physically. Comparatively, one could even say it’s a walk in the park. I go to work, return to a nice home with a warm bed, and I don’t eat anything that’s preserved in a year’s supply of sodium.

But it’s not easy.

For two weeks, I am The End All, Be All. Employee. Cook. Cleaner. Homework Helper. Conflict Negotiator. Tailor. Chauffeur. Story Reader. Washer Woman. Boo Boo Healer. Home Repair Expert. Pocket Reference. I might not be lifting a 100-pound piece of equipment, but I’m working my tail off.

When Hubs is home, however, it feels like there’s even more to do. I cook more. Dishes and laundry pile up faster. The girls resist going to bed because they want to spend time with Daddy. I easily hit my daily pedometer goal because I’m walking in circles clearing clutter.

Hubby senses my frustration, and he’s offered to help. The to-do lists I’ve provided, however, go largely uncompleted. This does little to reduce my angst.

While working on a new list for Hubby’s return, I thought about how we each view his time at home. He sees it as his “two weeks off,” and I see it as MY “two weeks off.” This conflicting perspective, I realize, is the source of my annoyance. We’re both tired, and we both need a break, but the world stops for neither one of us. Figuring out how we both get a little relief will be the first topic of discussion when he gets home this week.

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Farewell to Private Potty Time

Mini Me was in the dining room doing homework. Lil Ma was in the family room with me watching Barney. The dishes were done. The phone wasn’t ringing. Everything was just fine.

Then I had to use the bathroom.

Parents of little ramblers understand this dilemma. A mere five seconds of unsupervised time can lead to something going missing or being ripped to shreds. But when nature calls, you can only ignore it for so long. I usually just take her with me, but I thought it would be nice to potty by myself.

Lil Ma was still enchanted with Barney when I tiptoed out of the room. I closed the bathroom door, lifted the toilet lid, and took a seat.

Then I heard a male voice: “Si necesita ayuda, pulse el número uno o marque nueve uno uno.” I raced out of the bathroom, while still tugging at my pants, to find my youngest on the phone with emergency services. She had climbed on the sofa to reach the phone.

Looks like I’ll have company in the bathroom for a while.


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