Tag Archives: hoarding

Is There a Doctor in the House? (Continuation of “Guilty as Sin”)

Doogie Houser, MD would have been proud. From the moment Seek and Destroy laid eyes on their beloved Ken doll, helplessly sprawled out on the living room floor, our resident whiz kids snapped into action—eager to render what assistance they could in the face of such a crippling tragedy. It was a sight to behold and the epitome of teamwork. For what seemed like forever that morning, our prodigious sensations delved into the guts and gore like fearless surgeons of the 4077th M.A.S.H. unit. They were miniature paramedics—a sippy-cup-toting trauma unit with a penchant for Teddy Grahams.

Ken needed a trauma unit. He was Code Blue—thanks to me. Never mind the fact that he was a plastic doll I had inadvertently maimed the night before. It was a life or death situation—sort of. Even the next of kin—the entire Barbie gaggle—had been immediately notified of his condition. This, of course, meant that the weeping and wailing might never end. What a maudlin crew. Bunch of sissies, anyway.

The official report: Ken’s perfectly sculpted (and impeccably tanned) synthetic leg had been completely severed from the hip down. A gaping hole in the pelvis region revealed even more damage—a broken plastic hinge thingy. Translation: Ken’s pelvic thrusting days were probably over. Jogging with Skipper was out of the question, too—unless he had a miracle up his surfer shorts. His prognosis couldn’t have been much worse—unless he had been run over by a freight train full of whining pre-menopausal Barbies. Needless to say, the outlook was grim.

Doctor kits, loaded with all sorts of important-looking (albeit worn and duct-taped) equipment, were hurriedly pried from toy boxes and rushed to the scene. Initial assessments were made, Hippocratic Oaths were uttered and the patient was gingerly transported to a makeshift operating table—an overstuffed footstool. Orders were barked to a team of imaginary nurses and various instruments were splayed out in preparation for the surgery that was sure to run into the night.

In the meantime, I ran for the video camera. To seize the opportunity, of course. I know real drama when I see it. Plus, such a pioneering moment in medical history begged to be recorded for the benefit of all posterity. It was my civic duty to film history in the making.

Truth be told, I was certain I wouldn’t be able to recreate the utter hilarity for anyone once it was over. It was simply too funny for words. I had to film it. So film it I did.

“Nurse, take his blood pressure! (Shoop, shoop, shoop….) Take his temperature! (Shake, shake, shake….) Give him a shot of this stuff! (Pffssssssshhhttt!) DOCTOR, WE NEED SOME GLUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUE! Something to make his leg STICK BACK ON! Oh. My. Goodness. I left my glue at the other office. What will we do now!?”

“Well Doctor, I think we need to hammer this leg a little.” (Hammer, hammer, hammer…twist, yank, prod, crank, SNAP, CRACKLE, POP!!!) “And we need a cast thingy! Right away!”

All the while, stethoscopes, syringes and imaginary glue guns flew across the OR, passed from hand to hand in a desperate attempt to save poor old Ken’s plastic-coated soul. The tension was unbearable. The wait, nerve-racking. Thankfully in the end, Ken pulled through; but despite their undying efforts, the medical wonders were unable to successfully reattach his leg.

Not to worry. The celebrated masters of make-believe have since made the best of the situation—illustrating for the 327th time this week that even a nonfunctional and seemingly worthless item/toy (and I’d daresay a particularly gruesome one at that) can become purposeful once again—providing countless hours of enjoyment.

Or sheer bliss.

Apparently, the practice of terrorizing one another with said severed limb (which includes tearing through the house at warp speed, screaming like a couple of banshees) is nearly as fun as playing with good ol’ two-legged Kensey-poo and his estrogenized harem. Almost.

It’s macabre, I know. But delightfully so methinks.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2006 Melinda L. Wentzel


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Filed under Daily Chaos, Home for Wayward Toys, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Kid-Speak, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

Guilty as Sin

I felt terrible. Horrible. Guilty as sin. Responsible for a wicked and truly deplorable deed. A gruesome atrocity. Perhaps one of the worst in my ill-famed toy-wrecking career.

The victim: Ken (as in Barbie’s Ken). Mr. Mattel himself. Of course, there have been others that have gone before him—abused and slaughtered in cold plastic, at the hands of a madwoman bent on “cleansing and purging” the existing toy-scape. Secretly disposed of in a horrifically callous manner; their lifeless, twisted bodies and assorted appendages wedged and crammed in among spongy tomatoes and moldy cheese. Tuesday’s trash.

I don’t know what drives me to do it—to clandestinely rid my home of dilapidated Barbie dolls and other playthings that annoy the hell out of me.

They just push my buttons, I guess—the Barbies especially—scads of them littered across my living room floor, lounging around like they own the place, mocking me with their perfect little painted-on smiles. They don’t even dress half the time.


Maybe I need therapy. Something to help me cope with feeling as if I am suffocating beneath a mountain of toys, many of which happen to be those blasted Barbie dolls. Perhaps I should peruse the Yellow Pages for available services (like Inundated and Lovin’ It!).

The circumstances surrounding Ken’s grave injuries were quite unlike those surrounding all the others’. There was no motive. No anger. No fit of uncontrollable rage. I didn’t even curse—except for after the fact. Honestly, I had absolutely no intention of causing good ol’ hand-me-down Kensey-poo any undue harm when late one evening I lobbed him in the vicinity of his home in the drawer—where he would sleep for the night. Good grief; he had been a part of our family since my oldest was still undressing him—six years ago! It’s obvious, however, that I had caused irreversible and unconscionable damage. I’ll be the first to admit it.

No one on earth could have been more surprised to discover the severity of Ken’s condition, following what I considered to be a modest mid-air excursion—a mere puddle-jump. It was the length of our coffee table. Not an inch more. I swear. And it was an easy, underhanded pitch, a toss really—in marked contrast to the more typical frenzy-induced toy-launchings I so enjoy.

Imagine my utter shock—the abject horror—when I learned of Ken’s fate. His entire left leg, from hips to toes, was completely DETACHED from his body. It laid there next to him. Askew on the carpet. A separate entity. I felt as though it might come to life at any moment and hop around the room on its own. Strange but true.

The guilt I felt was beyond comprehension. The girls were sleeping peacefully upstairs, likely dreaming of all the skirts and stilettos with which they’d adorn Ken the next day. (What can I say—they’re easily amused). How would they handle his dismemberment? His lifelong handicap? The depression that would surely follow?

Perhaps we could get a group rate on therapy. The girls, Ken and myself, of course.

To be continued….

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2006 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Daily Chaos, Home for Wayward Toys, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Rantings & Ravings, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

Bad Mood Munchers

Forever, it seems, my children have brought me newly created pieces of wonderment to ogle—eager for both praise and encouragement for their Picasso-esque efforts. I’d like to hope that I’ve always been mindful of their feelings as they bestow upon me their most prized offerings on the planet. It could be a self-portrait destined for the refrigerator, a dachshund or a duck, lovingly wrought from a dollop of Play-Doh, or an

impressive rendering of a dinosaur, hewn from a large and unwieldy sheet of poster board.

Likewise, I’ve been called upon to admire masterpieces that are nothing short of remarkable—like the tiny box turtle one of my progenies recently fashioned from an empty Nerds box, the Rapunzel-inspired 3-D tower (with a working drawbridge!) she made from a mere sheet of paper and a bit of tape and string, or the “songbird” she ingeniously crafted from an acorn and a couple of feathers harvested from the back yard, “…because I wanted a pet bird, Mom, to live in the birdcage Grandma gave us.”

Indeed, these are delicate matters and it is imperative that I handle the psyches of my fledgling artists with the utmost of care and sensitivity. God forbid I fail to ooh

and aah appropriately—providing that much anticipated glowing review of a certain someone’s work, or that I make the colossal error of misidentifying a beloved nugget of whateverness, placed in my hands for immediate appraisal. “It’s a…….malamute with three heads, right?”

Sometimes it’s best to simply shut up and wait for my brood to inadvertently tell me what this or that mystery item is, so that screw ups are minimal. Thankfully, the bulk of what comes home from school (i.e. that which hails from Mrs. Pagano’s exceedingly wonderful art class) is readily identifiable. Good thing.

Thus far in their academic journey Thing One and Thing Two have proffered the most endearing set of polar bears imaginable, some chunky caterpillars that I adore completely, a Canada goose whose precious neck has since been repaired, a robin redbreast that surely summoned the spring, a handsome set of Italian frescos that rendered me utterly speechless and a handful of gloriously ornate vessels for storing jewelry and whatnot—etched abundantly with love.

All I ever managed to churn out as a grade-schooler was a bunch of stupid ashtrays (which, by today’s standards, would be deemed slightly appalling). Oh, and a handful of dreadfully unimaginative pot-like thingies and a deranged-looking papier-mache rabbit for which I am hard pressed—even now—to suggest a legitimate purpose. Further, there was an embarrassment of highly unremarkable, kiln-fired blobs of clay I remember hauling home to join my shrine to bad art. At least my kids’ creations possess irrefutable aesthetic value if not a preponderance of practicality. Plus, I know what the stuff is—with the exception of the Bad Mood Munchers.

That said, I reached into their backpacks not long ago expecting to discover yet another pair of entities to marvel instantaneously. Instead I found two fist-sized, lumps of hardened clay—ones that were slathered profusely with vibrant blotches of color and warped and mangled beyond all recognition—absolutely reveling in the quality of nebulousness. But as I examined each mass a bit more closely, I began to discern a face of sorts—a distorted rage-filled visage with deep-set eyes that seemed to pierce my very soul, a fearsome set of eyebrows that I couldn’t help but trace with my finger and a maw that would forever remain agape, likely for the purpose of swallowing smallish children whole. In a word, it was hideous and begged the question, “What on earth IS it?”

“It’s Angry Man, Mom. My Bad Mood Muncher. Isn’t he AWESOME?! And look, I made him a castle to live in!” Thing Two crowed with delight.

As I stood in stunned silence, her cohort informed me that her infinitely weirdish clay creation had been dubbed Steve, which stumped me perhaps more than anything.

Steve?! Who names a monstrosity like THAT ‘Steve’ for crying out loud?! What’s it for, anyway?” I felt driven to ask.

“It’s for when I get angry, Mom. I’m supposed to find some paper and write down what I’m mad about then twist the paper and try to tear it in half, which uses up A LOT of energy and helps get my anger out. If I’m still angry after I try (and fail) to tear the twisted paper, I have to open it up and calmly shred it into little pieces. Then I put the pieces in his castle thingie and he EATS them. Then my bad mood is GONE! Isn’t that entirely kewl?!”

Well after being enlightened on the subject, I had to admit the idea of defusing anger was slightly brilliant. And as art projects go, it was probably wicked fun besides. That said, I now want a Bad Mood Muncher to call my very own—one that promises to devour all that I find completely irksome on this planet.

Indeed, I’m quite sure I could feed the beast with the best of them.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (fishing bits of paper from Angry Man’s mouth—some of which was twisted unmercifully, meticulously piecing the scraps together and, stupidly, reading the wrath-filled messages contained therein).

Copyright 2010 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Kid-Speak, Refrigerator Art, School Schmool, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

Armadillo to Zebra

Listen closely. That’s the sound of someone gasping for breath, suffocating beneath a deluge of fuzz and fluff. A wretched soul inundated with more stuffed animals under one roof than any sane individual could reasonably imagine. A sucker for a sale on all-that-is-warm-and-fuzzy YET PROMISES NEVER TO EAT, POO or SHED. Needless to say, that someone is me.

Eternally, it seems, my brood has been consumed with faux faunae of one kind or another—mesmerized by creatures great and small, enthralled by those deemed weird and wonderful, charmed by the frighteningly fancy and the perfectly plain. That said, wooly beasts from A to Z abound in this household, atop beds and bureaus, spilling from trunks and lurking in corners, stuffed behind couches and propped up in chairs—much to my chagrin.

Translation: I’m tired of cute and cuddly—the stuffed-with-fluff blobs of whateverness that threaten to rule my world. More specifically, I’ve had enough of the dogs that howl at the moon, yap incessantly or fart on command. I’ve tolerated more than my share of earsplitting monkey shrieks, the frenzied slap of hooves on cobblestone and frog-ish croaks that sound more like a chorus of booze-inspired belches than anything. And aside from being fairly adorable and infinitely dear, those fancy-schmancy, computer savvy Whatever-kins have yet to truly wow me. Maybe it’s because I think kids should spend more time climbing trees than climbing levels online.

Yes, I kick my dear children outdoors on a regular basis and ration the time which is spent utterly fixated on the deliciousness of Poptropica and the like. Color me an ogress.

At any rate, the collective toll of all the dot-com nonsense, the pseudo mewing, hissing, chirping, bleating, barking, mooing (and whatever maddening little noises guinea pigs make) that I’ve endured interminably has driven me to seriously consider the notion of gathering the reprehensible bunch together and heaving them into the lawn.

It would be cathartic if nothing else.

But truth be told, I am part of the problem. Whenever I stumble upon something entirely irresistible, something that speaks to me for whatever reason, something my eight-year-old cherubs would deem drool-worthy in every sense of the word, I cave—feeling compelled to buy yet another bit of warmth and fuzziness for my motley crew. Despite knowing there is no room at the inn. Despite acknowledging there is no real need for such an indulgence. Despite understanding full well that I will regret having made said purchase—either immediately, or when my vacuum cleaner chokes on an errantly placed armadillo, on one of Skippyjon Jones’ enormous ears, on Walter’s hapless tail. I will then curse the day it was stitched together and stuffed with love.

I know this much is true. But I cave anyway, adopting yet another fuzzy companion for my charges. One that will be loved without end, humanized beyond all imagining, bent and twisted so as to squeeze into book bags and burrow beneath pillows. One that will be privy to innumerable secrets and included in countless conversations, eager to listen, inclined to agree. One whose care and conditioning will be entrusted to me for hours on end.

“Mom, make sure you feed Frank, and play with him while I’m gone. Remember, I’ll KNOW if you don’t do it and I’ll be really, really mad.” (Waggles finger at me as she boards the school bus and waves goodbye to Frank and me).

Even still, I continue to feed the beast, as it were—adding just one more stuffed animal at a time. One that will sit at the dinner table and oversee baths, help with homework and dangle from monkey bars. One that will be demanded at bedtime and searched for, high and low. One that will journey near and far, be read to, prayed to, listened to and befriended above all else.

Another bit of fuzz and fluff that will be welcomed into this world, unconditionally.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (suffocating beneath a deluge of stuffed animals, every one of which has a name).

Copyright 2009 Melinda L. Wentzel


Filed under Daily Chaos, Rantings & Ravings, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

Creatures of Habit

I have a favorite pair of sweatpants that I’ve owned since the Precambrian period. They’re a tired shade of gray, with barely a suggestion of the navy lettering that once graced its cottony surface. American Eagle Athletic Department, I think, is stamped there—even still.

Of course, they’re shamefully dilapidated, torn and tattered beyond all repair. My mother-in-law, master seamstress and sock darner extraordinaire, dug deeply into her repertoire of needle-and-thread-ish miracles time and again to patch them up and to make them whole—or at least presentable. Sometimes she succeeded. Sometimes not. Mostly she just shook her head; dismayed by my stubbornness and astonished by my inability to recognize when something had long since passed its prime.

Then again, I have trouble in the produce aisle.

I must admit, most would be embarrassed to be seen with me, clad in such disgraceful toggery, kneecaps naked to the world. What am I saying? MY DOG is embarrassed to be seen with me. But the stupid things have charm. They have character. And they possess that deliciously intangible quality of familiarity. Slipping into said fleeciness in the dead of winter or even during a cool summer’s eve feels comfortable and oh-so-right—like the warmth of a lover’s arms, the refuge of a mother’s embrace, the company of an old friend. And on those rare occasions, when I entertain the notion of trading them in for something shiny and new, I feel nothing less than the shame of betrayal. The ignominy of sin.

Simply put, I cannot bear the thought of parting with my cherished garb; although my rational left-brained self knows better. The wretched things need to be ditched. Out with the old. In with the new.

I suppose I’m no better or worse than anyone else who has ever been mired in denial, inextricably attached to that-which-is-worn-and-weary. We all have issues of a similar sort. Some are just more debilitating than others. That being said, my husband refuses to chuck any of his shabby, old T-shirts, which are perhaps some of the most pathetic examples of apparel on the face of the earth (second only to my sweatpants). Indeed, he lovingly deems those prized entities as something far from archaic. “They’re seasoned,” he defends. “Broken-in like a good leather ball glove.” He won’t dispose of his stinking water shoes either, which now sport portholes through which his toes protrude freely—a hideous sight to behold. Oddly enough, the man owns another pair. Brand spanking new ones with nary a defect. He bought them because he knew it was time for a change, only he couldn’t follow through.

Needless to say, dysfunction doesn’t fall far from our family tree. Eccentricity flourishes under this roof and there is rarely a day without someone hoarding something that ought not to. Ratty toothbrushes, wadded-up Band-Aids (Oh, the horror!), rocks of all shapes and sizes, discarded scraps of paper, foolish tripe harvested from the floor of the school bus or from any number of classrooms. And the list goes on; but whenever I attempt to rid my world of such idiocy, my brood shrieks in protest, “Why do you want to take away our memories, Mom?! That stuff is special to us!”

And the stockpiling circus continues. But the most bizarre item yet to be

squirreled away and vehemently defended has been a brown paper sack for which a certain eight-year-old developed a crippling affinity. The bag itself was quite ordinary with regard to its form and function, however when its tour of duty surpassed the bounds of reasonableness (a month, maybe?), that’s when I hit the ENOUGH ALREADY button. “I can’t keep patching these damn holes with tape!” I muttered to no one. “I’m not running a fricking triage center!” (Read: I have taped tape on top of tape, AND IF I HAVE TO TAPE ANYMORE, I’m going to light myself on fire).

Of course, we own roughly a bazillion perfectly wonderful bags WITHOUT CAVERNOUS HOLES that have been at my daughter’s disposal since early September. Bags begging to be toted to school…eager to be personalized with her scribbles and scratches…hankering for the opportunity (tedious though it might be) to house THE EXACT SAME SNACK each and every day from now till eternity. Grok!

“But I like my bag. And my teacher likes my bag. She thinks the doggies I drew on it are pretty. I’m keeping it for-ever and EVER! And the little holes are cool, too, because they let me peek inside to see what I have for my snack.” Are you forgetting, my dear child, that you ask for the VERY SAME THING every damn day?! For the love of God, you already KNOW what’s inside!

Not surprisingly, she forbid me from applying duct tape to the massive and multiple tears (tempting though it might have been), because that would negate the whole peeking-at-the-stupid-snack dealie. She then insisted that I use see-through mailing tape to repair it.

And made me promise not to trash her beloved bag. Ever.

And because I’m nothing but a pansy, that’s exactly what I did. I perished the thought of using duct tape and I vowed to never dispose of her ridiculous sack—so as not to hoist my Horrible Mommy flag any higher.

Likewise, I keep the wailing and gnashing of teeth at bay by letting said disturbingly-obsessed-with-sameness creature kiss her toenails “goodbye” before I trim them. Seriously. She does this. A la Scarlett O’Hara-inspired drama, this strange child of mine delivers a teary-eyed farewell to each and every nail as if sending them off to war or to the gallows or something equally horrible.

What a weirdo.

She’ll probably wind up darning socks for a living and sharing a shack with 37 cats, 12 dogs and an ill-mannered parakeet—imprisoned, of course, by the mounds of rubbish she could never bear to throw away.

It’s also likely I’ll be buried in my sweatpants.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (with my infinitely eccentric brood).

Copyright 2009 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Daily Chaos, Kid-Speak, Rantings & Ravings, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction