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We’re Officially a Mint Toothpaste Family

A recent series of events has confirmed that, without a doubt, the Clark family is officially and forever and always an all-mint, all-the-time toothpaste family.

Over the past two weeks, we’ve been on poor Gavin about his seemingly absent oral hygiene. His breath has been otherworldly. Honestly, at one point, I thought to myself, “Dear God. This is EXACTLY how I imagine Creed smelled.” You know the episode – the one where you permanently checked mung beans off your grocery list. No? Then watch this.

We couldn’t figure out what was going on – especially because the stench was new.

Listen, I know. We all have bad breath at various points, but this was LEGIT. We’re talking green waves of stank coming out when he opened his mouth. Kenny and I have been tap dancing down a careful line to flag the issue to Gavin while not making him self-conscious, but really…I’d hate to add ‘smelly’ on top of the trials Gavin sometimes faces because of his (ahem, adorable) red hair and freckles. I can’t say I’ve successfully tap danced, though. After reading below, I think you’ll agree … it was pretty much a C for effort. His breath has been so bad that:

  • We quizzed him about mouth or tooth or throat pain.
  • We then started sending him back in to re-brush his teeth after he just brushed them because the smell hadn’t diminished after the first time.
  • This escalated to me standing there and watching him to make sure it was done and done well enough when it was particularly stinky.
  • And that escalated to me literally taking out my iPhone flashlight and inspecting his teeth to see if there was something funky going on in there.  More than one time. (Yay, joys of motherhood). There wasn’t – to my untrained dental eye, things look as they should.
  • This all culminated with me cleaning my own Sonicare, popping on a new brush head, using some Colgate and getting in there myself to see if I could help alleviate the problem. I did the same for Grace, too, so as not to cause a complex in Gavin. (Germophobes, don’t panic, they each had their own brand new brush head – just a shared handle!) This seemed to help – temporarily.

Ok, fine. I failed. I basically left my tap dance shoes at the discount dance store and went to TOWN trying to fix this. But, despite all my crazy, it wasn’t until last night that I had my AHA! moment. I finally found the culprit. I think. I hope.

Dude’s been using fruit-flavored toothpaste. A tropical citrus blend to be exact.

Remember a few years back when designer toothpastes were all the rage with mainstream manufacturers? Things like vanilla mint and cinnamon and citrus? Some lasted – like vanilla mint and cinnmamon. Some didn’t…like citrus.

I’m thinking there’s a reason for that.

I shared my theory with Kenny last night as we were lying in bed. (Such a temptress with my bedtime conversation topics, I know.) “Do you think Gavin’s breath smells like someone stuffed a dirty dishrag in there because he’s been using mango toothpaste?”

Laughing, he said, “Oh my GOD! Is that what he’s been using?”

“Apparently. I just realized it tonight. His other kind must have run out, and that tube was in the drawer,” I said. We typically buy bubble mint or some other flavor popular with youngsters, but this particular brand was on sale and I had a coupon, so…mango toothpaste for Gavin and Grace.

Kenny said, “Aw, man, that poor kid. On the way to futsal on Sunday, I asked him three times if he brushed his teeth because all I could smell was his rotten breath. He kept laughing and telling me, “Yea, Dad! I brushed them! Twice!”

Dear Lord.

I said, “So you think that’s it?”

(Those of you who have ever seen Kenny go on a rant before will appreciate how hilarious the delivery was  here. It’s a rare scene, but rich when it happens.) He said, “How can it not be? Seriously, why is that even a thing? What outcome does the manufacturer expect when you are jamming fruit into a tube to rot before you spread it on your teeth twice a day? What should we expect when they use it? Cross our fingers and hope their teeth will be clean? Hope they have fresh breath after we let them scrub rotten fruit across them? We are done with natural toothpaste for them. They are graduating to mint. Adult, mint toothpaste like us. Starting now. I don’t care if they don’t like the taste. I can’t handle their rotten fruit breath.”

Hahaha. HAHAHAHA. Hahaha. Obvs, we’re not scientists. And, no, Kenny really doesn’t believe they jam fruit in toothpaste tubes. But, we’re minted, and not looking back. The dawn of a minty fresh-breathed Gavin has arrived. #colgate

This is not to say that all kids who use fruit-flavored toothpaste will have / have this breath issue, and I am sure these toothpastes are just fine! Maybe Gavin has weird mouth chemistry. If tropical citrus toothpaste is your thing, go for it. But we are firmly on #teammint, and have declared oranges and mangoes are for consumption only.


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9 Snow Days In

sNOwPE: A Tale of an Unprecedented Portland Winter (so far…)

As I sit here at the start of SNOW DAY #9 out here in Portland, Oregon, I caught the above scene out of the corner of my eye. Yea, that’s Grace. She’s CRAWLING across the kitchen counter to fetch herself a banana for breakfast. A depiction of the mentality that so many snow days brings. Nine snow days in will change a person.

We’ve all lost it. Manners? Social graces? Innate kindness to those you live with? Gone.

Yesterday afternoon, I was able to escape our Portland snow prison for a few hours so Gavin could practice for his upcoming Oregon Battle of the Books event. I’m using the term “upcoming” liberally here – I mean, we hope it’s upcoming, but who knows given this bitch-slap of a winter Mother Nature has inflicted.  Also, ‘practice for his upcoming Oregon Battle of the Books event’ is mom code for we need to see adults and kids who do not live in our own houses (+ wine).

While out, my friend shared that between the holidays and inclement weather, our kids have had five days of school between December 14 and now. FIVE DAYS. FIVE. Holy hell. For kicks this morning, knowing that we’d had a few inclement weather days earlier in December, I went back to check the grand total. Going back to December 7, the kids have had a whopping eight days of school. EIGHT DAYS of school in almost six weeks. And, for added fun…the grand total of school days since November 22 is 15.

So, yea, Grace is crawling on the counter to grab breakfast.

As for the rest of us? Happy to say that Grace is the only counter-crawler at this point. Gavin DID run laps around the living room / kitchen in a loop for a solid 10 minutes yesterday afternoon. Sadly, I didn’t even bat an eye, instead shrugging my shoulders while Kenny looked at me wide-eyed like “what the actual eff is happening here?”. My take? Go on, boy, get it out. Honestly – he wasn’t asking me for snacks, or requiring help to pull on his snow boots, or asking to buy apps, or annoying Grace to get a rise out of her, so I was practically blissful.

Naturally, on top of the snow, Gavin and I were sick last week, following Kenny’s bout with the flu during the first week of January.  We are all enjoying spending so much time in our petri-dish of a home wondering who’s going to pass what to whom next. There’s a game-in-wait in there somewhere – “Who’s Illness Is It Anyway?” or Infectious Disease Roulette or Microorganisms vs. Snowbound People. Positive spin? The Clark family is building up our immune system. #noflushotsneeded #didnotworkanyway

I will say, this has been a great journey of self discovery.  Nothing can battle test your sanity and will like being cooped up in your house for days on end. So, my friends, I’ll leave you with this fine collection of actual thoughts that have run through my head during Portland’s Snowpocalypse…tweet style.

  • From this point forward, I shall be known as Master of All Board Games. Thanks, Mother Nature.
  • New Year’s resolution to spend more quality time with the family? Check.
  • Side benefit of snow? Constant soaking wet floors breeds a compulsion to mop = cleanest floors ever.
  • Thank goodness we had so many practice ‘snow days’ to prep for the real thing. #snowpros
  • Dry January? Nope.
  • My house should really be cleaner since I haven’t left it for more than six hours in the past week. #notadomesticgoddess
  • Adorning kids in snow clothes 20 times a day counts as a workout. #20minuteson #20minutesoff #repeatendlessly #checkouttheseguns
  • Side benefit? My husband is so stir crazy he offers run errands twice a day, minimum #yeaboi #myunintendedbreakupwithnewseasonsmarket
  • Parenting has devolved into Lord of the Flies, Snow Sequel. #ipads #television #answerisyesaslongasidonothavetomakeitorcleanitup
  • Car rides on snowy, hilly roads are the equivalent of a sitting upright plank for me. #fullbodytension #whiteknucklegrip #bunsofsteel
  • Silver lining? Two less weeks of summer camp to pay for!
  • Another silver lining? This storm has freed my Facebook wall from endless political posts. #funnyportlandfriends #inittogether


P.S. Portlanders, my sarcasm and scoffing at our first ‘snow day’ may have caused this karmic boomerang. I apologize, and take it back. Mother Nature, I get it. You CAN and WILL make it snow in Portland. My bad. I am sorry for doubting you.



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Portland Oregon Dinner and a Snow

Dinner and a Snow

Last night, we were sitting around steaming bowls of lovely Chicken, Corn and Potato Chowder following an insane afternoon filled with some snow flakes, a mad rush to grab our kids from school so they didn’t have to take the bus on our neighborhood’s near-instantaneous treacherous roads once any sort of winter participation hits, and a 3 hour, 10 minute commute for Kenny (for what’s normally a 4.7 mile commute that takes 15 minutes).

Grace started a frequent dinner table conversation where each of us shares “one good thing, one bad thing and something nice you did for someone” from our day.

Grace started. I followed. Kenny followed me, sharing some nice thoughts on how he was thankful to have made it home safely.

Gavin went last. His good thing was his OBOB (Oregon Battle of the Books meeting) because he and his friends made a plan and some reading progress. His bad thing was his OBOB meeting because he still has so much reading to do, including Harry Potter, which he simply cannot seem to get into. His nice thing? “Eating Mom’s dinner.”


Dying. I could not stop laughing. The underlying sentiments of his reply – Taking one for the team. Charity eating. Doing this for you, Mom! – kind of fresh, but I appreciated (as always) his quick wit. I would have felt worse if the chowder stunk, but that stuff was good – and an especially fitting meal for a snowy Portland afternoon. Granted, it was such a winter freak show yesterday afternoon that I forgot to add the chicken and fresh parsley to the chowder – but it wasn’t greatly missed judging by the lack of leftovers.

This kid. He is very much a ‘everything has a spot on the plate and nothing can touch’ type of kid. Unless it’s croutons on lettuce. The mo’ touching, the better for that dish. So, soups and casseroles aren’t his favorite thing.

As for the snow? Officially, we have 2.0″ on the ground and it’s literally like a post-apocalyptic winter’s morn here today. (Check out this photo gallery for a sampling of pics). Tales of hundreds of abandoned cars, people walking home for miles, and kids stuck at school until well after 7 p.m. are the lead headlines today. These are coupled with tales of humanity and goodness of people helping people, which I always love. I feel like yesterday went from two snowflakes falling to a real shit show in the matter of an hour…almost as if everyone saw those first two snowflakes, and left work / school / whatever at the exact same time, compounding what normally would have been a dicey drive in the snow with heavy traffic. This created near-instant gridlock throughout the city and surrounding towns – with the earliest drivers seemingly crushing the first flakes into a layer of ice. And, all the while the snow kept falling and making things worse.

Between the infrequency of the snow, the hilly terrain, and the lack of rock salt use here … Portland is not a city that weathers winter weather well. Given this, my bets are on our kids being home with until January at this point. Any takers? 🙂

Ah, Portland, Oregon. This is turning into quite the winter with “all” of the snow so far!

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