Back when my kids weren’t grown up and my school-teacher husband held down two jobs and was busy working on a master’s degree, things were a little crazy at our house. (Who am I kidding? They’re still crazy.) I remember one day that was particularly difficult. I was sick. The kids were sick. The house was out of control. (OK, that could have been any day.) And for some insane reason I found myself responsible for taking in a meal that night to another sister who possibly had things worse than I did that day.

I was downstairs in the basement with my daughter, who was sickest of them all (not nearly as much fun as being fairest of them all). Susie was sprawled across the sofa with–despite her raging fever–almost every blanket in the house piled on top of her. Rolling hills of laundry in various stages of being sorted and folded dotted the landscape of the sofa, spilling over on to the carpet below. I stood at the end of the sofa, talking on the phone with my friend who was helping arrange dinner for this other family.

During our call I remember thinking, “What I really need is for someone to be bringing me dinner tonight!”

And then it happened.

My daughter erupted with what is historically one of the best episodes of projectile vomiting ever. She spoke volumes. She nailed the sofa, every blanket, and surely a month’s worth of already washed, dried and somewhat folded laundry. Not to mention any wall and carpet within a one-mile radius.

Time slid to a stop as I surveyed the damage. At that moment I realized I had a choice to make.

Laugh or cry?

I looked at my sweet daughter and said to her in all seriousness, “Susie Q., you are by far the very best thrower-upper I have ever known.”

Then I started to laugh so hard I had tears (to be honest, they may not have all been tears of laughter) running down my cheeks. Near hysteria at that point, I quickly told my friend I’d call her back in a few…minutes…hours…whatever would be required. Then I resolutely plugged my nose and set about cleaning up my daughter and the ambient mess.

I was reminded of that moment this week when I read this post from a friend of mine (because admit it, on your worst days it can be a bit of a toss up–which is worse, puke or poop?).

And I wondered, what do you do in such moments?

Do you laugh or cry?

Or, like Bek, do you simply decide to sleep on it?

Tell me about your best laugh or cry moment. Make it good. There could be prizes involved.


  1. traci

    February 27, 2009

    I cannot top this – at all!
    But I do understand.

    We haven’t had tv in a little over 2 years now. But one thing I remember is the most wonderful commercial on PBS where the mom’s life is in a total spin with 3 kids, supper burning etc etc and they show that moment where she could scream at everyone or she could show them another way to handle stress. the scene stops – dramatically of course – and then the mom breaks into funny sounds and everyone laughs. The voice over says – you teach them how to handle stress.
    then the husband comes in and looks at the over burnt smoking supper and says to the kids – just the way daddy like it, my favorite.
    smart man!

    i try really hard to remember this when i get upset. To not speak when i am that upset and to force a smile and cheerful voice in times of frustration. No matter what kind of day i have had, I try never to talk of frustration immediately when my husband comes home – he has been slaying dragons all day.

    Altho some days I wonder – what is the description for what we do? Any creative ideas out there?

  2. Julie P

    February 27, 2009

    Vaseline. Not as gross as puke or poop, for sure. But oh, shaving a 2 year old “bic-bald” 2 days before Christmas when it’s below zero outside? And the clothes and bedding that was ruined forever? Nightmare.

    I blogged it (of course):

    • Mom in the Mountains

      March 11, 2009

      I laughed when I read the vaseline story, only because I could envision my two little gems of sons doing the same thing.


      With Vicks Vapor Rub last night. My DH was home with them and dealt with it the best he could, but of course, he couldn’t hardly touch it, not even after shampooing 5 or 6 times. I about died laughing.

      I was able to find a suggestion online that helped- Dawn dish soap, which is what they use to remove oil from penguins in oil spills. And then a friend suggested rubbing olive oil in the hair before the dawn, because something in the olive oil attaches itself to an enzyme in the petroleum jelly and breaks it down. So I tried it today. just now. They’re in the tub still. And, what-do-you-know, it practically all came out. it was amazing.

      • dalene

        March 11, 2009

        Mom in the Mountains–Oh dear. That is awful. But I’m glad you found some tips.

        And speaking of laughing too soon…

        Less than a week after I posted this post (in which my worst nightmare was puke) we had raw sewage back up all over our furnace room (and thus I was put to the test w/ poop).

  3. dalene

    February 27, 2009

    Traci–you bring up such a wonderful point. Thank you. I’ll admit I don’t always handle the last straw very well, so I was actually a little bit proud of myself for not completely freaking out that day (probably because I have issues about parents freaking out when kids throw up).

    Julie P–Oh my goodness! I had no idea. (It’s a good thing he’s so cute even w/o any hair.) And you reminded me, these days many women may have two choices as to how to respond, but it’s inevitable that no matter what happens they will blog about it!

  4. dalene

    February 27, 2009

    And it just occurred to me that the “sleep on it” response is a little tougher if your disaster happens first thing in the morning, no matter how badly it makes you want to curl into the fetal position and pull the covers up over your head.

  5. Wendy Mar

    February 27, 2009

    My best laugh or cry moments involve poop and puke! The first was when my oldest was maybe 3 1/2 and was eating a Blue’s Clues push-up ice cream (1st mistake–buying those. . .they are indeed flourescent blue) in my room (2nd mistake). After a bit she said, my tummy hurts and starting puking bright fluorescent blue puke all over my bed, and I ran her to the bathroom, leaving a little trail of bright blue all over my carpet. I stuck her in the tub and stepped back to see the mess. . .I really did laugh. So much that a few days later she said, “remember when I throwed-up, and you just had to laugh?”

    The 2nd is when I was being a great mommy and made Oreo-shakes one evening when my hubby was gone. My 2nd oldest came into my room sometime during the night with “the look.” I quickly asked if she was going to throw up? No. Did you have an accident? I don’t know. I turned on the light and she had a trail of brown from her bed to the hallway all over the carpet. . the runniest, nastiest stuff I’ve ever seen!! I plopped her in the tub and stepped back, and again, laughed. . .there was not much hope for that carpet, but it sure was a memory!!

  6. dalene

    February 27, 2009

    Wendy Mar–I love that your kids remember that you laughed–way to go! And maybe this is a good time to bear my testimony of Kids ‘N’ Pets. After reading about the Oreo-shakes, I have to wonder why they don’t sell it by the gallon.

  7. Diane

    February 27, 2009

    I heard my husband let out the most anguished cry and I thought something was horribly wrong. It was. We had just purchased new couches and found that our youngest son had just taken a pen and drawn all over one of them, from one end to the other. We were sick about it and the fabric was not the kind you could spray and wipe off. We turned over the cushions and lived with the rest for years to come. Thankfully it faded somewhat. Then a door to door salesman came by with some cleaning product and I told him if you can clean this off I’ll buy some. He proceeded to spray a spot and the stripes of the couch bled.

    I didn’t laugh or cry and our son was way too young to understand any consequences, but it did prepare me to not put too much into everything being so perfect.

    As a teenager, our family went through a phase of going to DI and finding old furniture and couches in an ‘as-is’ section that was kept outside. One day an employee was driving around the furniture in a truck and kept hitting perfectly good pieces and nicking it or breaking a leg. We complained to another employee that had become our good friend. He said…Don’t worry, it’s only terrestial material. Little did we know that we would all repeat that the rest of our lives! It really puts the view of material possessions into perspective and it’s not worth getting upset about.

    My vote of which is worse would have to be poop!

  8. dalene

    February 27, 2009

    Diane–Kids and pens are dangerous. I’m pretty good at handling furniture mishaps (although I feel differently about furniture I paid good money for vs. furniture I inherited), but when my son poked pen holes in arm of the leather recliner my husband got me for Mother’s Day one year (it may have been only the second piece of real furniture we had actually purchased), I wanted to cry.

    I love your perspective on material things.

  9. Melissa

    February 27, 2009

    Oh Dalene! Your pen holes comment makes me sad! Even though it is just material stuff, it’s still hard when you’ve worked hard for something.

    I’ve got a Vaseline story too, but it’s not quite as extreme as Julie’s (wow, what pictures!). Maple syrup is a pain, too.

  10. FoxyJ

    February 27, 2009

    I would have cried about the couches too.

    One long Saturday afternoon when my hubby had been at work all day and I’d been alone with my 2-and-a-half year old I thought I was getting a break when I put her in her room for a nap. I was in the next room on the computer (duh) when she opened the door about 20 minutes later. I could smell the problem before I saw it–she’d tried to change her own diaper. Thankfully there wasn’t much poop on the carpet, but the room was littered with poopy wipes. And she was smeared from head to toe with poo. I seriously almost started crying, but she was so sad and disillusioned that I just felt so much sympathy for her. She looked at me and said sadly “Mommy, I’m brown!” Yes, she certainly was. So I gave her a nice scrubbing in the shower (and cleaned the tub) and we went to Target for some carpet cleaner and cinnamon rolls!

    Thankfully so far we haven’t had too many puke incidents, but my kids are still young. I can still remember when I was about 7 and puked all over the house one night…

  11. Melissalynn

    February 27, 2009

    Two years ago my husband and I found our dream home. The right size, good schools, huge yard. The only drawback, the entire upstairs was carpeted in white carpet. We decided that it could be replaced at some point and we could just deal with it in the meantime. Well a few months ago I bought a case of chocolate pudding snack packs at Costco and they were sitting on the counter in the kitchen. We had a day off of school and I had a horrible case of the stomach flu. I couldn’t even sit up I was so sick. My husband was trying to hurry and finish work to come home and help me. My oldest came in and asked if he could have some pudding. I said sure, give some to your brothers too. A little while later I heard shrieks of laughter and had a feeling I better go check it out. Turns out they had a chocolate pudding fight in my living room and dining room that had white floors. It was on the walls, the ceiling everywhere. I have to admit I cried.

  12. Justine

    February 27, 2009

    Those are the moments it’s the easiest for me to laugh. It’s like it suddenly doesn’t feel like real life anymore because real life couldn’t possibly get this gross or out of control.

    I find myself losing it over smaller things because they feel realer. The big stuff just makes me giggle. “This is my life!? Really?!? No way…”

  13. CbC

    February 27, 2009

    My mother had a wonder home movie (in the days before video cameras) we called “The Mud in Lubbock.” We had moved into a new subdivision in Lubbock, TX that had no grass at all. When we got a gusher of a storm (as happens in that part of Texas – some truly “biblical” stuff happens there weather-wise), my brother and I headed out there and had a mudfest. And she got it all on film.

    I swear, the worse we were, the harder she laughed. Best mother ever and not a one of us grew up to be a serial killer 😉

  14. rebecca

    February 27, 2009

    Ok, I am the mom of the toilet sailor. SADLY, that isn’t even close to the worst thing that we have done (how about 3 ER trips in three days??? That was our gift last Christmas from said toilet sailor). We have had red paint on our days old carpet, chewing through the crib tent and getting out the bedroom deck door and almost falling to his death, he has vaselined the kitchen (and Julie is right, you CAN”T get that stuff out). My daughter always projectile vomits when I am the only one home…

    Also, I only slept on deciding if it was a good day or bad day, not cleaning it up… gah..

    But Dalene, you win. Projectile vomiting on clean clothes is the seventh circle of hell. Hands down.

  15. Jane

    February 27, 2009

    The other morning Spot was a walking stink bomb. I unzipped her jammies and found that the poop had escaped her diaper and was all over inside them, on the outside of her onesie, up to her armpits.

    I zipped her back up and carried her into the tub, where I unzipped again and then pulled the onesie over her head. It was one of those stretchy onesies (a really cute rainbow-striped one from Old Navy that all three of my daughters have worn), but it didn’t have buttons or anything on the neckline.

    So she got poop all over her face and in her hair. Tears and “Poop in my hair, Mommy, help me, poop in my HAIR.” Coming from an adorable two-year old (confined in the tub, mind you), this was a laughing moment.

    I’m just sad I didn’t think to grab my camera.

  16. Justine

    February 27, 2009

    oh, Jane, that is so awful! I have actually cut onsies off babies before for JUST that reason! Smelly memories are flooding my head!!!!

  17. jendoop

    February 27, 2009

    CbC- that’s funny about the Texas mudfest, my parents have pics of me and my older sister in a huge mud puddle covered head to foot. We did the outdoor shower via the hose that day.

    I have to admit I’m not cheery in the moment of the horrid mess. I put on my “let’s get this over with” attitude; then when clean up is over I call DH and have a laugh (why is it DH doesn’t ever seem to be around for these messes?). I think usually this is the way it works because someone is being punished, and I don’t want them to know that I think what they did was hilarious!

  18. Geo

    February 27, 2009

    Ooo, I was about to share my most recent dog poo story, but it’s turning my stomach to think of it.

    Anyway, I can’t top your projectiled laundry, nor the “Poop in my hair, Mommy, poop in my HAIR” story. Aiee!

  19. Sue

    February 27, 2009

    I’ve had plenty of poop and puke episodes, I’m sorry to say.

    The funniest puke one was when my son had severe asthma. Sometimes he would go into respiratory distress, so on those occasions that were particularly bad, I had learned to put my head to his chest in order to tell if the wheezing was improving or getting even tighter. On this particular occasion, I was doing exactly that when he began coughing and literally coughed his guts out (or their contents, anyway) in my hair. It was especially sickening because it was filled not only with food but with phlegm. Very hard to wash out, I might add. (There was nothing to do at that point but laugh or join him in losing my lunch…or dinner in this case.) Because I don’t like throwing up, the choice seemed obvious…

    (This was still not as bad as the time a complete stranger projectile vomited all over me as she exited the bathroom on an airplane where I still had five hours of flying left to do.) I did my best to wash it out with cold water and airline soap, but let’s just say it remained…fragrant….for the entire trip.

    And it may not beat the time my five-year-old decided to not only poop outside in my yard but convince his sister to do the same…then upping the ante by running over said puke with his and her bicycle and tricycle respectively until fecal matter had been spread all over the yard and more specifically, on every single white rock in my rather large rock garden.

    I had flies for weeks.

  20. Mrs. Organic

    February 27, 2009

    I can’t top yours, but the worst year ever was when I found out I had cancer,had surgery to remove it, my son had an abusive teacher who delighted in public embarrassment thus aggravating his cyclical vomiting syndrome (we’re talking vomitting every 10 minutes for four hours at a stretch), my disabled son had a teacher who couldn’t have cared less and he was also being attacked by an emotionally disturbed student, and my baby had bili levels off the charts which required hospital stays – and all in the space of a few weeks. I’m glad I’ll never have to repeat that. But usually during those times I resort to being the rock, at least until it’s all over and then I usually get a little bit crazy with exhaustion.

  21. Michelle L.

    February 27, 2009

    I’ll never forget the winter I got carpal tunnel symdrome from scrubbing barf out of the carpet day after day. Had to wear a brace and everything. Thank goodness my kids seem to have stronger stomachs these days!

  22. La Yen

    February 27, 2009

    OK, mine isn’t about poop because I ALWAYS cry and it makes me look like a wimp. Sometimes I even puke while I am crying. Really.

    But the one time I did laugh was when my SIL was living with us while trying to decide which drugs she wanted to pretend she was no longer using. She had recently left behind her boyfriend/dealer in Chile, and spent hours each night calling him and telling him how awful we were. I kept asking her if she needed to go buy more phone cards, and she said no.

    So we get the phone bill and it is for $3500.

    And it does not cover the past month.

    And I just started laughing. Because there was no other option.

  23. she-bop

    February 27, 2009

    I’m not sure I want to remember stinky stories. Here are two that came to mind that don’t upset my gag reflex so much.

    When my kids were little we used to say that we thought Satan himself must live in our van. Good kids, but oh boy, when it was time for a car ride it was as if the gates of Hell had been unleashed. Long car trips were fine, but short ones were awful. One time, we were driving home from my parents, who lived maybe 5 miles away. Fighting, kicking, screaming, touching – you name it, it was happening. This time it was over a pink water bottle I had just bought. When it came whizzing past my head as I was driving, I just calmly picked it up, rolled down the window, and threw it out. Silence. Shock and awe. To this day every time we drive past that spot (it’s been at least 10 years) someone says, in a quiet tone “Remember when mom was so mad she threw the water bottle out”. Made an impression I guess. I will say they never threw stuff around the van from that point on.

    Everytime my SIL’s kids were naughty in her van she would squirt them in the face with her water bottle, without even looking or stopping to say anything. Shut them right up.

    Another story that happened not too long ago: Hubbie and I were downstairs watching a movie. Our 20 year old daughter was upstairs with her friends, laughing and talking and making all kinds of noise. All of a sudden it got really quiet. We thought that they must have left. When the movie was over we went into the kitchen and realized just how naughty they had been. Hair was everywhere. Someone had the brilliant idea to give one of the boys a haircut. In my kitchen. Without good scissors. Without covering anything. They were long gone by this time. I was so mad, hair was everywhere. It was ridiculous. My husband just started laughing and then said that it was our own fault. We should have suspected something when it got quiet so suddenly. Who knew? I thought only little kids were trouble when it got quiet. We kept finding hair in crazy places for at least six months. Yuck.

    Sometimes you just have to laugh at life – or you really will drive yourself crazy.

  24. dalene

    February 27, 2009

    Melissa–Maple syrup never comes out. Ever. Honey, either.

    FoxyJ–I especially love that you picked up cinnamon rolls along with the carpet cleaner. Way to go!

    Melissalynn–I would have cried, too. I’ve been in a chocolate pudding food fight before and I can just imagine the damage it would do on white carpet. Ouch!


    CbC–I love that your mother captured it all on film. That’s the type of mother I want to be.

    Rebecca–I seem to remember some marker stories about toilet sailor, too. He thinks of everything, doesn’t he?

    Jane–There is a point of no return with things like that, no? Like there is no way this is coming out in the wash.

    Jendoop–I’m awful at trying to keep a straight face when someone should be in serious trouble. Good point.

    Geo–Yeah, “Poop in my hair” has got to be as bad as it gets.

    Sue–Strike that. “Puke in my hair” ain’t no party, either.

    Mrs. O.–That’s a lot for anyone, but especially to have it all at the same time. I’m glad you’ll never have to repeat that, too.

    Michelle L.–Oh dear. I can only imagine. At least my daughter got it all out at once. I hope your carpal tunnel syndrome is better, too.

    La Yen–Oh my. I probably would have wanted to hurt someone. Good for you for choosing laughter.

    she-bop–Your kids. Fighting. Really? I just can’t see it. They’re always so well behaved! But I might just have to give the water bottle squirting a try…

  25. m&m

    February 27, 2009

    I don’t do well with bodily fluids. I just don’t. So I am sad to admit that I usually freaked out in one way or another.

    I do a little better now, but that is in part because my kids are older and can do toilets and barf bowls.

  26. sarahfromthesouth

    February 27, 2009

    The week my three year old almost didn’t live to be four will NEVER be forgotten. This little girl had a mischievious bee in her bonnet and it was NOT fun.

    We started out the week coating our friends and entire playroom– toys and walls included in VASELINE– It tooks a WEEK to get it out of all of her hair.

    Next we decided to help clean by pouring shampoo all over the guest room floor. Steam cleaners do not remove soap from carpet– but do create great foam.

    Next was a naptime filled with pink nail polish and mommy’s new comforter– Good thing for acetone, it works miracles.

    Finally to round out the week, as if the shampoo wasn’t enough for the guest room carpet– cornstarch and dish soap were even more fun– these items were in the LOCKED bathroom being used to remove the vaseline from said child’s hair.

    I know it sounds like I’m a terrible mother that doesn’t watch her child. That week I definitely felt that way. In my defense– my three year old– who is now almost five– was on a sneaky little rampage. She had never given me reason to suspect such behavior until one random week in November, when she decided to wreak havoc. The upside– it was all compacted in a week and then I had no more problems.

    By Friday I called my husband hysterical, and told him he needed to come home from work because I could not take anymore. Suprisingly, he came home, had a long talk with my daughter and magically everything was better. My week of pleading, punishing, yelling and crying didn’t phase her. Yet, a talk from her Dad, made all the difference.

  27. dalene

    February 27, 2009

    m&m–I love barf bowls. But my kids get a little freaked when they see me use their (washed out and cloroxed) barf bowls a week later for the fruit salad.

    sarahfromthesouth–You really got the nail polish out of the pink comformter? That is a miracle. But now I’m having flashbacks of the black craft paint splattered on the first quilt I ever made (king-sized and hand quilted). I wonder if acetone could have worked miracles on that?

  28. dalene

    February 27, 2009

    OK ladies, I think I found someone who could top that:

    Engaged couple celebrates ring’s ‘arrival’

    I mean, at least my story didn’t make the news.

  29. jenny

    February 28, 2009

    [This story is only about laughing instead of yelling. With 5 kids (+ projectile vomitting that all but 1 of my children were so lucky to have been blessed with) I have plenty of puke and poop stories. I am just choosing to repress them right now. Reading yours are enough for me.]

    I had mandatory nap time in my house for a long time. Three of my kids were born within 3 years– and it helped keep me a teensy bit sane. But, I had to separate them all. (Of course, how can you fall asleep in the middle of the day if your brothers are right there ready to play and make mischief? They could barely fall asleep at night in the dark…)
    After nap time (“quiet time” for some who just wouldn’t sleep. ever.), my almost 4 year old, who was “sleeping” in the basement guest room/office didn’t come up. I went down to check on him because he was the one who resisted nap time the most and by now I was nervous about what I would find.
    He was covered head to toe in writing with black ink. He had also filled 2 yellow legal pads with pictures and writing.
    When I first saw that he had written all over his body, I could feel the heat crawling up the back of my neck, with steam ready to pour out of my ears.
    I seriously opened my mouth to yell at him and then I noticed something.
    All the words on his body (His full name, “Buzz Lightyear”, “Batman”, names of his family members, etc.) WERE ALL SPELLED CORRECTLY!
    I just laughed and laughed until there were tears and told him what a good job he had done on his letters and how proud I was that he had spelled everything right.

    (And then I told him not to write on himself anymore…)

  30. jenny

    February 28, 2009

    Oh my gosh, Dalene.
    Just clicked that link above.
    That is a riot.
    What a story they’ll have to tell their posterity…

  31. dalene

    February 28, 2009

    I love your story Jenny (and I have great admiration for good spellers). Thanks for sharing!

    And the engagement ring story is one of those “the truth is stranger than fiction” stories for sure. I wonder if they’ll include the news clip in their wedding video?

  32. kim

    March 1, 2009

    This reminds me of the talk Elder Wirthlin gave at his last general conference. He spoke of how we need to find more humor in the non-humorous times in our lives (which can be many!). This post really helped me see that I can really laugh at things like throw-up. thanks….

  33. dalene

    March 1, 2009

    Thanks for the reference to Elder Wirthlin’s talk, Kim. I’m going to have to go read it again.

  34. Sue

    March 2, 2009

    Oh my gosh. That “ring arrival” story is the funniest thing I’ve seen in a loooong time.
    What a crack-up!

  35. Sage

    March 2, 2009

    I usually read all the comments before I make mine, but I wanted to share a top-this story.

    We were in the middle of a major remodel (totally crazy), living with our three kids (3, 6, and 10) in the 200 sf. garage in the middle of a freezing New York winter. We were still using the bathroom and kitchen in the house (that had no roof and many walls missing), but at night used a bucket. Our tv and computer had both stopped working, the two littlest kids had the flu and had thrown up all over their futon mattress. I grabbed the gross sheets and headed into the house, down the stairs to the basement and started to laugh as I waded through two inches of water. There was nothing else to do. We’d also had leaks through the big blue tarp that covered the house during rainstorms while we had no roof.

    My brother-in-law and his friend were the framers and I was the general contractor (first time rebuilding a house). They lived in the house during the remodel (we kept moving their beds around and giving them plastic sheeting for walls). They both smoked and we had to share the bathroom. Boy, was that hard for me!!!

    I am convinced the only way I kept my sanity was by faithfully reading my scriptures every night and being dedicated to teaching my Sunday school class (Teacher Development).

    The house is done now. And, yes, we are moving.

  36. dalene

    March 2, 2009

    Oh Sage! I’m glad you kept your sanity and isn’t that the way it goes sometimes w/ houses–you get it done and then you have to leave. Good luck with your move!

  37. Tiffany W.

    March 2, 2009

    I can’t top any of these stories. But each one of them made me laugh. Thanks!

    Oh and She-bop. I thought Satan lived in my car for the longest time until we bought a car with a DVD player. BEST THING EVER.

  38. Sage

    March 2, 2009

    Thanks Dalene. I do need lots of luck as I’m five months pregnant with my fifth! I haven’t really come to terms with the reality of this move yet. : )

  39. dalene

    March 11, 2009

    Sage–Are you coming to Utah? My memory isn’t so great, but I seem to remember a conversation with someone–I thought it may have been you–who had lived here before, then moved away, and was contemplating a move back sometime in the future.

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