Alexandra and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

An Homage to “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst.

I always loved this book…and I love it still. Darling Scooter, my spirited, sensitive and intense child – loves this book – and I truly think it is one of the best out there for helping a child (or anyone) feel understood and heard on the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days we all experience. If you haven’t read this book or others by her, you can visit her Amazon page and find lots of wonderful things.

Here is my take on her most famous work, now a movie, from the perspective of a mother. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Especially if you feel today is the day you need to move to Australia.

Alexandra and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

I went to sleep with a child in my bed and now there’s one on my face and when I got out of bed this morning, I tripped on the child’s stuffed animal and by mistake I dropped a contact in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

At breakfast, Anthony demanded pancakes, Nick shouted for scrambled eggs and Safflower refused to eat at all. Baby Clive just threw food. All I got was half a cup of reheated coffee with skim milk.

I think I’ll move to Australia.

In the car to school, I let Anthony and Nick have seats by the window. Safflower sat in the middle. She said she was being scrunched. She said she was being smushed. She said, if she didn’t get a seat by the window she was going to be carsick. And then she was.

I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

While the big kids were at school, I tried to do the laundry. But Clive stuffed all the clean clothes in the toilet. And at snack time, he gave all his snacks to the dog. I wondered if the dog would be sick. And then he was. I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

While I was unclogging the laundry-filled toilet, Clive started to cry in the hallway. When I went to check, he was fine – but he wanted me to read him a board book. Eight times. And when I told him I couldn’t read the book any more, he tore out a chunk of my hair and screamed at me. I think they heard him in Australia.

I’d sent the kids to school with good lunches. There was a turkey sandwich in Anthony’s lunch bag and Nick got grapes AND strawberries and Safflower got homemade hummus with pita chips. Guess what I got for lunch? The second half of that reheated cup of coffee with skim milk.

It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

That’s what it was, because after school I had to take all four kids to the gynecologist with me and guess whose turn it was for a Pap smear but I had forgotten. So I made an appointment for three months from now and hoped I could get a babysitter. Three months from now, I thought, I’m going to Australia.

On the way downstairs, the elevator door closed on Safflower’s foot and while I was consoling her, Anthony made Nick fall where it was muddy and when he started crying because of the mud, Anthony said he was a crybaby and

While he was punching Anthony for saying crybaby and I was scolding Nick for fighting and still comforting Safflower for her squashed foot, baby Clive ate dirt out of the doctor’s office flower bed and then he was sick.

I am having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, I told everybody. No one even answered.

So then we went to the grocery store to buy something quick for dinner. Anthony chose pizza. Nick and Clive chose macaroni and cheese. Safflower chose lobster but then I said, No lobster. She started crying again. I bought her some macaroni and cheese instead but she says I can’t make her eat it.

I called my husband at the office and he said he’d be late coming home. He had had a rough day. His receptionist was out sick and the temp from the agency wasn’t used to the phone system. The copier was running out of toner. His favorite lunch restaurant was out of his favorite dish so he had had to eat his second favorite dish. And his tennis partner had cancelled their afternoon game. He was probably in Australia. My husband said he’d probably be home around eight.

It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

No one ate their dinner. They said they hate dinner.

There were singing animated animals on TV and I hate singing animated animals.

I never got a bath, I realized I had gone around all day with old, smudged mascara under my eyes, my other contact went down the drain, and I had to wear my rattiest yoga pants to bed. I hate my rattiest yoga pants. My husband does, too.

When I went to bed, Nick wanted the pillow that I like the best. Anthony’s nightlight burned out and Safflower bit her tongue.

The dog – and Clive – want to sleep with me.

It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

But I hear some days are like that. Even in Australia.



I am not from here

I am not from here.
No languid walk in summer sun.
No liquid vowels that trickle.
No taste for guns and bows or
tessellated green in fall.

A cowboy mythology:
Crockett playing violin –
Solitary on adobe wall.

I slow my pace,
Code-switch “y’all” –
On my land NO HUNTING at all.

Damn, damn, damn.
Texan after all.

Do You Want to Change Your Diaper?

I know – I’m really late to the Frozen parody game. So late that this isn’t really funny anymore.

But, seeing as how I’m late to a lot of things lately, I’m going to post it anyway. And FTR, I’m almost always late because every time I think we are ready to go out the door, someone needs a different sippy cup. Or a snack. Or the RED hoodie, not the BLUE one. Or wavy green stink lines begin to spread from the region of Cheech’s behind. *SIGH*

But as anyone who has ever parented an active toddler knows, it’s just not that easy to get it all together. Or to catch that stinker and change that diaper.

Just like it’s not easy to be on time for all the cool internet bloggy things. So, sue me. (Wait. Will Disney sue me?!? OMG. That would be bad…)

Do you want to change your diaper?
Come on, sometime today?
Don’t want to smell you anymore
Air quality is poor –
Why do you run away?
It used to be so easy
And now it’s not –
I wish you would tell me why!
Do you want to change your diaper?
I just want to change your diaper…
Ok, bye.

Do you want to change your diaper?
Or sit on the pot instead?
I know you’ve made a poo
And now it’s starting to
Make me wish that I was dead!
I feel a little queasy –
I know you’ve made a mess –
I’m watching the time tick by….
Tick tock tick tock tick tock!

Please…I know what’s in there!
People are complaining of the smell!
They say have courage
And I’m trying to
I really want to change that poo!
Just please hold STILL!!!

I’m trying hard to be a mother
To keep you clean and dry –
What am I gonna do?!?!?

Do you want to change your diaper?
Do you want to change your diaper?

PBS Kids Morning Workout for Moms

It’s January – and time, once again, to commit to fantastic fitness goals! 2015 is going to be the YEAR, right?!?

Well, wrong. It’s ten days in and if you are a stay-at-home parent like me, your plans have been sabotaged by the realities of life. You still have kids who need to eat, wear clean(ish) clothes and live in a sort of clean house.

If you also happen to live in a teeny tiny town in East Texas that boasts TWO gyms…but ZERO gyms with childcare? Your dreams for a fit 2015 are just about as dead as the contents of that Tupperware container you put in the frig Christmas Day.

So, here is a plan that will work for all of us with the dead dreams: the PBS Kids Morning Workout for Moms!!! I realize your local lineup may be different, so please adjust the order of your workout accordingly.

Wild Kratts Cardio Intervals
You will alternate jogging in place with higher-intensity cardio according to villain:
Gourmand – Kickboxing. Because eating endangered animals deserves a kick in the face.
Zach – Dance. I’m sure there were some ballroom dancing lessons in that smarmy jerk’s past. Let your inner beast be your guide.
Donita – Step. Have you checked out her ass? She has got some nice glutes.

1. During the upbeat theme song, jog in place to get your heart rate up.

2. During the spoken section, add animal-appropriate hand motions. Cheetah speed and lizard glide. Falcon flight and lion pride.

3. Return to light jogging until the end of the song. (You may repeat this step for the closing song and again before the second episode if needed.)

4. Continue jogging in place until the villain appears, then break out into the appropriate higher-intensity cardio moves as intensely as you can until the villain leaves the scene.

5. Continue in circuits as the villain appears/leaves until the episode ends. (To increase your intensity, do your cardio moves double-time every time one of the Kratt brothers says, “Whoooooooa!” or Jimmy says he’s hungry.)

Curious George Strength Training
Again, determine your own specific moves. The setting determines which major muscle groups you’ll be working.
City – Lower Body
Farm – Upper Body

6. Work with light resistance until George starts getting into trouble.

7. Switch to heavier weights when all hell breaks loose. (To increase your intensity, invite your toddler to be your weight or switch to super sets if the episode features Hunley, Charky or Gnocchi.)

Daniel Tiger Balance and Flexibility (because isn’t that what Daniel Tiger is all about?)

8. Determine your own sequence, but switch moves each time a character or group of characters sing. This should not leave you in any one pose or stretch for longer than 30 seconds.

9. During the closing song, lie in child pose and pat yourself in the back for a great workout. “It’s such a good feeling…”

Let me know how this workout works for you. Bonus points for video.


It’s that time of year again – time for deep thoughts, self-awareness and commitment to be better and do more.

But, I’m going to sit this one out.

Growing up, my dad loved to tell the story of his family trip to the State Fair. He was seven, and the fourth of five children. Their father was a quadriplegic, a victim of the pre-vaccine polio epidemic that swept through Dallas. But that didn’t stop the entire family from doing much of anything – long cross-country road trips, visiting places with lots of stairs, or spending a day at the aforementioned State Fair of Texas. When they first arrived, my grandmother pointed out the giant statue of Big Tex. “See Big Tex? If you get lost, just find him and stay put. We will come and find you.”

Guess who got lost?

The way he tells it, he spent the wait examining his little red pocket knife and thinking about how he’d survive when the fair closed down for the night and he was all alone. Picturing him, in a dusty plaid shirt, worn jeans and 1950s-era haircut contemplating his little red knife – actually thinking maybe no one would come before nightfall – gets me every time.

But of course, he didn’t have to hunt and kill a squirrel or a mockingbird. Because, of course, instead of running around the fair, he actually stayed put. Once the family realized he was missing, they all headed straight to Big Tex for a happy reunion.

If you get lost, just stay put. Someone will come and find you.

And that’s what I’m doing now. No, not sitting at Big Tex. (He, sadly, is no more). But I’m lost and…I’m staying put.

I spent a good part of 2014 running around the fair, so to speak. I painted the great room and the Mamie Eisenhower Pink Powder Room. I volunteered for two local community theater groups. I planted vegetables and I bought chickens. I baked my own bread and made yogurt. I scheduled a few play dates and talked to a lot of strangers. And I put a LOT of miles on the car traveling to be part of things I enjoy – things that all happen to be a 35-minute drive away now. But a year in, I have to accept that the great room is still 3.5 hours from my family and friends, I have a black thumb and I really really hate spending half my life in the car.

So I’m lost.

And I’ve been lost before. I’ve lost family and friends and loves and tribes and places to belong before. And during those times, I asked all of the questions. Why me? Why now? Where did I go wrong? What did I do to deserve this?

But, with the exception of asking where we might have gone wrong when things don’t turn out, those answers just can’t be found. Not with any certainty. And I’m okay with that.

And I don’t need to “find myself.” Nope. I know who I am. (As much as anyone does.) And I’m not a hobby farmer, or a great housewife, or someone who enjoys year-round solitude. And I’m a person who recognizes square pegs and round holes. (Thank you, identity crisis of 1999).

I’m lost because I don’t know how to get where I want to be.

But instead of continuing to run around the fair by making lists of resolutions, I’m just going to sit here and contemplate my metaphorical pocket knife of inner resources.

And I know that even though it looks like it’s just me and Big Tex, I’m not alone. I have friends and family – even though they are far away or live in the computer. And they are, perhaps, the best resources of all.

So, Happy New Year. Enjoy the fair.