Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Six Steps to a Happy Anniversary

Today is my ten year anniversary, and all morning I've been mulling over how to express my feelings on social media.

It's not that I'm without sentimentality, but I have always been one to roll my eyes a little when I see the overly saccharine posts of my friends on Facebook when their anniversaries come around. If that is how they really speak to one another on a daily basis, then I am completely supportive.  But what good is such incredibly flowery language if it sounds like it came from a Hallmark store and not from your spouse? 

I'm here to help, and I think we could all use a good "Facebook Anniversary Greeting" tutorial.

Step 1:  Be clear about the event you are commemorating.

"Ten years ago today, I married my husband in front of nearly 200 people he'd never met, and in the state where I promised we wouldn't have the ceremony.  Whoops, my bad."

Step 2:  Share a detail about your spouse that you appreciate.

"Joel, over the years, I have come to love and appreciate your ability to stack the dishwasher so tightly that I can run less often.  It is clear that you value my free time."

Step 3:  Include a funny or touching memory from your time together.

 "I will never forget how terribly you used to embarrass me by falling on purpose in malls, stores and anywhere people gather."

Step 4:  Also mention something funny or touching you hope to share together in the future.

"I look forward to the future and all of the unknown ways you will continue to embarrass me."

Step 5:  Muse over how your life would be lacking if your spouse were not around.

"If I had not married you, I would never have known the splendor of the mountains, the awe of parenthood, or the satisfaction of sharing my obsession with FRIENDS with another."

Step 6:  Thank them for being your partner with a sentimental closing.  Post, and celebrate!

"Thank you for ten years of sushi date nights, back rub exchanges, marathon trips to Walmart and diaper blow-outs in restroom bathrooms.  The last years would not have been the same without you."

(And thank you for understanding me enough to see the love through all of the sarcasm.)

Here's to ten more!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Party Like It's 1999

A lot of things have changed since 1999. 

I have stopped wearing grunge plaid, eating bottomless bowls of instant ramen noodles, and I have exchanged my Backstreet Boys CD for an endless loop of "Everything Is Awesome" on my iPhone. 

But for everything that has changed, one thing is the same.

When I was sixteen, I had surgery to correct a heart condition known as SVT (super ventricular tachycardia), a super-rapid heart arrhythmia.  But before I could be cleared for the procedure, I had to wear an event monitor day and night to try and capture an episode.  At the time, I found the experience more embarrassing than the butterfly clips in my hair or my excessive spritzing of Curve perfume, but I got through it and came out on the other side healthier and back to normal, save for three large adhesive marks on my chest from the electrode stickers which served as a very unique accessory to my prom dress.

But as I mentioned in the beginning, history has repeated itself.

My SVT seems to be returning, but along with it I have developed an unspecified issue that causes my heart to pound and race as though I'd run a mile when I've done as little as walk across the room, or sometimes with no trigger at all when I'm in bed or sitting still. 

The beta blockers I have been prescribed are helping, and there is no concern that this is a threatening condition, but I am left to deal with this awkward and uncomfortable monitor for two weeks.  And while I may not have prom coming up, I do have three boys that like to ask me questions about it all the time.

"Does that thing shock you?"
"Can I use some of those stickers to put my dinosaur picture on the fridge?"
"Are you a robot now?"

Because I'm so busy counting down the days until I go wireless again, I hope you'll forgive me if my brain drifts back to 1999 and you catch me in a pair of clunky Doc Martins, illegally downloading music on Napster, or playing snake on my Nokia cell phone.

Thank you in advance for not eying me like I'm wired to explode.  You're "the bomb".  And here's to partying like it's 1999.

Prince would be so proud.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Flipping Off

I was recently reading a Yahoo article shared by a friend about how gestures and mannerisms that are common in America can mean very different (and sometimes inappropriate) things in other countries.

For example, in many middle eastern countries, making the "thumbs up" sign is actually a reference to a proctology exam, and not an confirmation that all is well.  Similarly, using your left hand to do just about anything in many parts of the world is considered offensive because the left hand is used exclusively for bathroom-related tasks, and presenting it to someone else is a seriously bad move.

After reading these and many others, I've come to the conclusion that there may have been some sort of mistake made at the time of Adler's birth, because if gestures alone can indicate one's culture, my baby is not from this neck of the woods.

Despite how cute and innocent he may appear to be, Adler has developed the unfortunate habit of flying the "bird" sometimes.

Well, more than sometimes.  A lot, really.  Okay, constantly.

Adler flips off the camera at 17 days old.
Instead of using his completely capable index finger, he prefers the dexterity and shock value of his middle finger, and has since birth.  If he were a local baby, he would know that this action is unacceptable, so his continual gesturing assures me that he's not from around these parts.

I'm always interested in trying to better understand my baby's behavior so that I can accommodate his needs, so I've been doing a lot of thinking about what message he is trying to send with these persistent fingers, and I think I'm making some real progress.

 In this photo, I believe that Adler was demonstrating his strong opposition to illiteracy.

Here, I think he was signalling to me that he would prefer to skip the homemade fresh fruit and vegetable mashes I serve him at meal times and proceed directly to nursing so that he can more efficiently bite me.

A real time saver, that one.

By gesturing at the fallen flower in our yard, I'm confident that Adler was troubled by the rapid bloom-and-drop cycle of our PJM rhododendron, and meant only to make a statement about climate change and its effect on our ecosystem.

But because these middle fingers are beginning to affect our social interactions, I sat Adler down last night and informed him that unless (and until) he chooses to respect the local cultural norms, I would not be purchasing any more blueberry flavored YoBaby yogurt.  You know, for his own good.

I'm sure he understood.  That's my Iowa boy.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Stairway to Regret

I think we can all agree that the idea of guiding and crafting a child into a unique but normal human being is more daunting than any 9 to 5.  (Even food service.)  We all mess up from time to time, but the hardest part is not beating yourself up for the mistakes made along the way.

For example, I need to stop feeling guilty about Cael's bouts with MRSA when he was a baby.  That wasn't my fault, and he's been free of it for years.

I need to quit worrying about Graham's speech issues.  He's getting help at school, and I know it will turn out just fine.

And when it comes to Adler, I need to stop regretting the stained concrete we sprang for after last year's post-flood renovation.

What?  My regret doesn't seem related?  I didn't think it was either, until Adler's little body tumbled down the stairs and his head made contact with that lovely stained concrete.

Because the top of our basement stairs are framed by the wall on one side and a railing on the other, we cannot use a traditional baby gate to keep our inquisitive (and now crawling) Adler on the main level of the house.  With the other boys, we used L-shaped plastic baby fencing held in place by foam-padded twist-ties, but it was never a great system because it was still somewhat loose at the very bottom, but it got the job done.

What I hadn't considered was that, when the older boys were babies, I didn't have older boys.  Cael and Graham are constantly traipsing up and down the stairs and not putting the gate back in it's proper place, and despite countless conversations about how serious it would be if Adler were to fall, on Monday it happened.

I was cutting out some trading cards for Cael in my bedroom when I looked up to see Adler's feet round the door behind the baby gate.  I ran to him even faster than I run for the ice cream truck, but before I could get to him I heard the first thump of him hitting the top step, and as I turned the corner, I watched helplessly as he bounced --bounced-- down the stairs, flopping from head to belly to back, and hitting them bottom with a resounding thwack that I will never forget.

I tried to triage as quickly as possible, and could see very quickly that he was crying and moving, so I scooped him up in my arms and ran upstairs to make sure he hadn't broken anything or hit his head so hard he had a concussion.  I couldn't get a good look at him because he was crying so hard, so I latched him on to nurse to settle him down.

Seriously, that fixes everything.

Adler's eyes looked normal, he didn't flinch when I checked him arms and legs, and when he bit me and laughed as I yelped out in pain, I knew he was okay.  But I wasn't okay.

It took nearly all day for me to shake that heart-stopping, nervous feeling, and just as I was beginning to relax, his goose egg was starting to form like a "live nude girls" style flashing arrow pointing to his point of impact, reading, "my mom let me fall and I landed HERE". 

There are so many things that I wish I could change.  I wish I'd seen Graham move the gate and not put it back.  I wish I hadn't been cutting out those ridiculous anime cards, not only because they outnumber all of the grains of sand on the earth, but because they distracted me from protecting my sweet little one.  But I also wish he'd landed on something soft instead of the cold, hard floor I spent several thousands of dollars completing, not considering how it would feel pressed up against Adler's skull.

But what I wish most is that the fall had given him a healthy dose of fear.  Or that the bottom of the stairs had walls...

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

To Basket Or Not To Basket

Thanks to a post-ham hangover, I never got around to sharing our Easter shenanigans.  But as I looked back at photos to share with you, I realized that there weren't many shenanigans after all, and I'm more than okay with that.

I think.

It's no secret that Pinterest and Facebook have created an atmosphere of "one upping" for moms, and there are as many blog posts on the subject as there are marshmallow peeps in the sea.  For the past six years, I'd managed to avoid the pressure, but this year social networking made me feel that Easter should be an all or nothing affair.  But which?
 After I filled plastic eggs with the nostalgic "retro" candies I bought because they reminded me of the terrible quality chocolates I ate as a child, I begrudgingly headed out into the backyard at 11pm to hide them around the playset, in the grass, and in all of the nooks and crannies I could see with my iPhone's flashlights just so my boys could knock over and stomp on each other run wildly from egg to egg, giggling and munching their way to childhood obesity.
It made me think that the parents who downgrade Easter to a gift-free/candy-free holiday and focus instead on the religious intention probably have it right.  IN my own defense, we spent a significant amount of time making sure the boys valued the miracle of Jesus' death and resurrection, but somehow the wires got crossed. 
"So if Easter is about Jesus, why is there an Easter bunny?"
"The Easter bunny is more of a 'spring' thing, Graham.  He is just for fun."
"No, Graham, the Easter bunny was Jesus' pet.  Now he gives out candy and stuff because Jesus can't."
Don't get Cael started about the tooth fairy.

Just as I was resigned to making Easter 2016 a family and religious experience only, a more reasonable comment from Cael gave me pause.

"Mom, if our baskets were from the Easter bunny, how come my friends "Wealthy" and "Lucky" got a PS4, a Jeep ride-on toy, tickets to a movie, $40 in quarters, a trip to Disney World, a full-ride to the college of their choice and a full sleeve tattoo?  I basically just got a book and a yo-yo.  Wasn't I good enough?"

He was good enough.  But unfortunately for Cael, he was born to a teacher and a stay-at-home mom.  I don't know what Wealthy and Lucky's parents do (don't worry, those aren't their real names) but I'd hazard a guess that they could afford to pay someone to hide their plastic eggs rather than sneaking around in the dark and nearly decapitating a squirrel with a foil-wrapped chocolate.

I don't ever want my kids to feel left out or second-best.  So it was decided--  the answer was to save up money to make Easter nearly as big a production as Christmas.
"Mom, next year in my Easter basket, I want a tank with a baby shark in it.  And a big hunting knife!"
"Ooh, Mom, me too!  Plus I want all of your money."
Scratch that.  They get what they get.  It's how Jesus' pet would have wanted it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


I've shared a lot on this blog over the years, but there is something you might not know.  As anti-clutter as I am, my family has some serious hoarder tendencies.  We can get away with it because I keep the kitchen counters reasonably clean and classify our individual stockpiles as "collections", but there is no denying that we can't stop.

Cael hoards trading cards for any game-- playing cards, Uno cards or even any clothing tag made of sturdy enough cardstock to withstand a day or two in his pocket.  Joel does the traditional "guy thing" and hoards gadgets and obscure tools for projects we might never need, while Graham hoards his own artwork of "grape trees" and portraits of me that look like I've been electrocuted via toaster-in-bath.

I like to think that my hoard, my extensive "collection" of nail polishes, takes up the least space, but it's probably the most time consuming.  Or at least it is for me, because I can't stand chipped polish and I end up redoing my manicure almost nightly.  Just like those TV hoarders who have walled off rooms of their house with clutter, I have filled my polish bin (yes, bin) with so many bottles that I think I must have at least two for every color recognized by Pantone, including a few truly hideous options that would only be suitable for me in one of Graham's drawings.
Because of this extensive collection, it was surprising even to me that I hadn't experimented with Jamberry nail wraps.  For those of you who don't dedicate your only 15 minutes of free time to nail maintenance, Jamberry wraps are glorified stickers that cover your nails and are touted to stay in place for up to two weeks without chipping like regular nail polish.

We'd see about that.

My sister Sarah, who had had a Jamberry party online, told me to pick one out to try and gave it to me for Christmas with the appropriate accoutrements, but because my nails are thin and pathetic, perhaps from being repeatedly chemically stripped and dipped into hot and cold soapy water from countless rounds of dishes, it wasn't until this last week that I had ten reasonably long nails ready to wrap.
I was excited.  This would work.  I could imagine my future and the hours I'd gain no longer being a slave to traditional nail polish.  I could imagine my future polish box, not bin, and the small corner it would occupy.  I could also imagine that the ozone layer would double in thickness if were to put away the nail polish remover.

It was settled... this would be my new addiction.  The only problem was that I couldn't make it work.  I prepped my nails thoroughly according to the instructions and started adhering the wraps to my thumbs.  Quickly I found that if I concentrated extra on the edges, the tips of my nails would have ripples in the wrap, or vice versa.  After an hour and half and with only four nails done, I decided that these stickers would need to stay on upwards of three months in order to make this effort worthwhile.

Once finally on, I went about my day, going to church and making dinner.  And it wasn't until I was finishing up my last few bites that I saw I was missing the wrap from my right index finger.  I was confident I hadn't accidentally eaten it, as mint and gold would not be camouflaged by grilled salmon, so I figured it had fallen off in the sink as I washed my hands.  But after cleaning up the leftovers, I noticed that my left ring finger was bare as well as my right pinky and thumb.

Where had they gone?  I was unimpressed with the staying power of these wraps but very impressed with the intrigue they'd added to my day.  Perhaps I'd encourage Graham to create a rendering of my hands, adorned by these six remaining stickers.

But before I had the chance, I started discovering them around my house, stuck to various objects like a symbolic timeline of my activities. The first was adhered to a plastic container of blueberries in my refrigerator.

The second was on the remote control.

The third was stuck in Oscar's whiskers, so there's no knowing what I was doing when it made its hasty escape.

I found the fourth inside my purse while I was digging for my keys.

Finally I found the fifth (which I didn't realize I'd lost) in the most ironic spot of all, resting comfortably in front of one of my bins of nail polish, mocking me for thinking I could ever give up on my collection.

It's probably not Jamberry's fault.  There are thousands of other people whose nails don't reject the wraps and can go for two weeks without nearly ingesting their own nails with a side of broccoli.  And as I type this post, bare fingered, I understand that I simply might not be one of those people.

So until I work up the courage to try again, I set my stickers aside and picked up a bottle of Essie.

That's a wrap, people.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Using Restraint

Think of your earliest memory for me, will you?

It may be foggy, hazy, not quite clear.  But that early memory won't ever leave you because it's the very first piece of information your brain grabbed hold of.  I have a few, and the fact that none of them are particularly unusual or extraordinary tells me that they must be legitimate and not pieces of stories I've heard or things I've dreamed up.

An ad for a much older, but equally unattractive wagon.
One such memory is of playing around in the rear-facing bench seat of our yellow paneled Buick station wagon.  Stories like that astonish my kids-- the very thought that children would ride around without car seats or seat belts is as mind-blowing to them as is the idea that my parents would purchase such an eyesore.

Thinking of that early memory made me realize just how restrictive and, lets be honest, how ridiculous the car seat laws and recommendations have become in recent years.  If I were to follow the government's advice implicitly, my children would be in middle school and nearly five feet tall while still buckled into a booster.

I am a pretty busy person.  I'm chauffeuring children all over town, getting groceries, running errands, etc, and if I had to stop each time to physically remove all of my car's occupants, the kids would be late for their activities, the groceries spoiled, and the errands irrelevant.

So, it stops now.

I might take a little flack for this, but from now on, I'm just sticking to the seat belt provided with my van, and my own driving skills.  It was sufficient for me as a child, and if making this change makes my life easier, well, isn't that worth it? 

I'll keep Adler in his car seat until the end of May when he's one, but since he's perfectly able to sit upright, I think it will be a good time to make the shift for him as well, and if he's anything like my bigger boys, he will just be relieved.

If anyone is interested purchasing our old car seats, I will have two gently used Graco car seats for sale after Adler's birthday.  I am going to be keeping Cael's, however, because we have discovered that Oscar fits perfectly and when I take him with us for outings, I plan to strap him in judiciously.

 I wouldn't want him to get hurt, after all.

So join me, and throw out your children's car seats!  Rid yourself of these ridiculous government standards, and allow your kids to experience the freedom (and occasional whiplash) of a simpler time!

Oh... and Happy April Fool's Day.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Waiting For The Other Boot To Drop

Don't you love it when you have to take time out of your busy day to do someone else's job?  This has to be one of my biggest pet peeves, right up there along with mismatched Christmas lights and when people mistakenly say, "I could care less". 

So... you care?

It took me several years, but after losing some baby weight I finally built up the courage to buy and wear skinny jeans, which opened up a whole new world of shoes that had been previously unavailable to me and my regularly shaped pants.  I had been so slow to latch on to trends, however, that all of the leather mid-calf boots I liked were sold out for the season.  I did find a pair of canvas boots with great reviews on, and despite them not being leather, I liked the price and made the order.

As soon as I got the email explaining that the boots had shipped, I began using the tracking link to monitor the package's progress from the warehouse to my front door.  A few days into the process, however, I noticed that, instead of heading to Iowa, the package was "out for delivery" in Kansas City, MO, and that my incessant tracking checks hadn't prevented someone from making a shipping error.  But as quickly as things went south, an alert shone on the screen that said, "Delivery Exeption" in red lettering, and explained that the boots had been "rerouted to correct delivery address". 

Whew.  I thought the crisis was averted until the mailman rang my doorbell two days later and handed me... a JustFab box?  It seemed strange, but I knew that JustFab sold shoes, so I though that perhaps Kohl's had outsourced my Rocket Dogs.  I dug into the box, excited to have something to wear with my new jeans, only to find a pair of cowboy boots and some purple slippers.  I checked the receipt and found that the shoes were intended for a woman named Rosa, who lives in Kansas City, MO, complete with all of her contact and personal information.

Someone hadn't done their job.  But was it Kohl's or Fedex?  Was it JustFab, even?  After my first call, I didn't get many answers.

"Thank you for calling Kohls, how may I help you?"

"Hi, I ordered some boots on, and what arrived today was a box from JustFab with an order for a woman named Rosa.  How can I return these to Rosa and get MY boots?"

"Excuse me ma'am, and thank you and I will help you.  So to understand, you received two pairs of the boots you ordered instead of one?"

"No, I didn't receive any of my order.  I got someone else's from a totally different store."

"Okay, well thank you for your call and I will assist you.  You are speaking with Kohl's and not JustFab.  We sell Kohl's products, not JustFab products."

"I understand that.  This was not intended for me-- it has someone else's information."

"I am happy to work with you about this issue.  It sounds like Fedex has sent you someone else's package."

Gee, thanks.
  "I know that, but how do I get the boots I ordered?"

"Okay, thank you for your telephone call and I will help you with this matter and do what I can to fix this issue.  Your boots were to be delivered between the 18th and the 23rd.  Your boots should arrive by the 23rd."

Not as much assistance as he had promised.  What I could not get the customer service man to understand was that the tracking information I was emailed was tracking this package, and only one hour after receiving it, the tracking email said "delivered", and the link went dead.

 I called JustFab, who wouldn't let me send the package directly to Rosa without paying for the most expensive insured shipping option possible, and I was finally forced to print a label to ship Rosa's shoes back to JustFab.

On the 23rd, a second call to Kohl's went like this:

"Thank you for calling Kohls, how may I help you?"

"Hi, I called a few days ago because I received the wrong package when I ordered some boots from your website.  The person I talked to said he couldn't help me until the shipping window had passed, which it now has.  I want to know what can be done to get my boots."

"Okay, thank you, and I can assist you today."

Here we go again.  

"I have reviewed your order number and it says here that your shipment was received on the 19th.  We hope you enjoy your purchase!"

Oh, hell no.  It took getting pretty forceful with a second customer service technician for them to finally listen and understand how bizarre this situation had become.  We discovered together that the package itself had two shipping labels- one for Rosa and one for me, and we concluded that somewhere in transit, someone had removed the label from my box, pocketed my boots and slapped the sticker on a different box.  The very helpful woman ordered me another pair at no cost, and my faith in Kohl's was renewed.

There was one more call to make, and it went like this:

"Hi, is this Rosa?"


"My name is Mary Foreman, and I know this may sound really strange, but I live in Iowa and I have your JustFab order.  I have no idea how it was sent to me, but I have made arrangements with JustFab to get it returned to you.  I know how frustrating this mix-up has been for me, and I thought you might want to know, since you're probably wondering where your shoes are."

What followed was three days of texting with my new friend, Rosa, in Kansas City, who stayed in touch until her package was on the way and I had finally seen a boot-sized Kohl's box on my front step.  After spending a week doing the leg work for Kohl's, JustFab and Fedex, I finally got to slide my foot into my new boots.

And guess what?  They.  Don't.  Fit.

But at this point, I couldn't care less.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Foggy Headed

We are in the middle of an unseasonably warm streak, and I have no complaints.  In fact, I have found myself feeling immeasurably happier after opening the windows and sending the kids out to play in the yard. 

I didn't feel great when they came back in with what turned out to be dog poop soaked into their wet jeans, but some things are worth it for 20 quiet minutes when no one wants a snack or challenges me to a Pokemon battle.

One minor side effect of this warming trend has been the stubborn fog that hung around (yesterday in particular) late into the day, and has put a serious damper on Graham's enjoyment of the weather.

"Mom, it was so foggy that I couldn't see our house when I played outside at school."

"Can you usually see our house from school?"


I figured that a simple science lesson about fog would clear up any misunderstanding.  So while we drive in the car, I shared my extensive scientific knowledge on the subject.

Graham after the first snow of the season.
"You see Graham, there is moisture in the air just like steam- like a vapor, but more like a cloud because it's not super hot water.  So the fog is like coolish, cloud steam.  But on the ground.  It's because the weather is so back and forth between warm and cold, so weird stuff happens.  But it won't help you see our house."

Yeah, that ought to clear things up.

"So Mom, can I see Bampa's house in Washington?"

"No, dude.  Fog will only make it harder to see."

"But I can see you."

"Yes, it doesn't make it hard to see everything, and I'm very close to you."

"Then I'm ready for it to stay warm and for the fog to go away so I can start seeing new things, like Bampa's house, and Mexico."

Me too, buddy. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Great Vaccine Debate

It is so good to be back among the living.  My unexpected absence came courtesy of an ear infection that struck Adler first, then me, then Adler again, then me again, and when it became clear that neither one of us was improving, it took four doctor appointments and a combination of three different antibiotics, an over the counter decongestant, prescription pain killers, probiotics and ibuprofen to keep us among the living. 

 While I was out of commission, I was struck by the number of high-profile issues that took the internet by storm.  My understanding of these topics was limited by my completely clogged and closed off right ear, but from what I can understand, two llamas got spooked by John Travolta's weird behavior at the Academy Awards and ran all over California looking for tickets to see Fifty Shades of Grey.

Photo credit.
Or was it Fifty Shades of White and Gold?  Not sure. 

But by far the biggest hot button issue has been the question of whether or not to vaccinate.  Now, I'm an incredibly non-confrontational person, so I am not interested in pointing fingers and whipping up a frenzy among people that I consider to be friends, so I will leave it at this:

My kids are vaccinated.  I will continue to vaccinate. 

That being said, put away your pitchforks, "anti-vaxxers".  I think what we need is to find some common ground on which we can agree, and I think I have it.  While you may not agree with vaccinating against preventable diseases, would you be willing to vaccinate against other undesirable things?

Jury Duty.  I've been called for jury duty twice and thankfully was excused because I was nursing babies, but I think it is safe to say I would rather let a whining, ear infected child gnaw on my danglers than commit my limited time to analyzing criminal behavior.

Dirty Laundry.  I'm referring to literal laundry, not the figurative airing of one's private business, which I obviously condone since I have a blog dedicated to sharing just that.  No, I hate cleaning my family's cloth0es.  Hate.  Wouldn't it be convenient if there were a quick injection that would immunize us from the dirty laundry?  I, for one, would be happy to subject myself to additional vaccinations if it meant no longer having to scrape crusted play-doh from the knees of jeans or play the "is it chocolate or is it poop" laundry edition of Russian roulette.       

Photo credit.
Calliou.  I suppose I could change this to "children's programming" in general.  There are few more mind-numbing things than watching Dora blink creepily as she waits for your child's response or listening to Calliou throw an Oscar-worthy conniption fit and get immediately rewarded by his wimpy parents.  Wouldn't a quick shot be worth it to sit down to the evening news with your seven year-old?

Polio.  Because seriously, people.  Let's just not revisit that one.

Home Renovation/Light Installation/Wallpaper Removal.  There are a lot of tasks that fall under this heading, but it is safe to say that making your home prettier isn't worth it if you actually find yourself contemplating divorce and/or shiv construction.

Public Controversy.  I'm all for free speech, but wouldn't the world be a kinder place if we could quit arguing over vaccines and dresses and global warming, and concentrate on the really important issues, like Kanye West's obsession with BeyoncĂ©

Photo credit.
Glad we could all agree.  Next up, the Middle East.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Comic Relief

Normally I would be really proud to learn that one of my boys had acquired a new skill.  After all, each new task they master is a step closer to independence.
You learned to write your name?  Good for you!
You can tie your shoes?  Great news!
You know how to put someone in a sleeper hold?  That's amaz-- wait, what?

But if your child is prone to moodiness like Cael, what seems like good thing can turn out to be passive-aggressive therapy fodder in no time.

Therapy for me, that is.

"Mom, did you see my comic strip?"

"No, show me!  Did you make it yourself?"

"Yeah, look.  Zoop's Mom is always telling him to do things like clean up, and she never has a good reason."

"Hey Zoop clean the rood" (road),  "Why do I always haf to listen to you",  "cose I said so",  "rrrr"

"Okay... and what's happening to her?"

"She gets hit by a van and then she's really mad at Zoop because she got hit by the van."

"ouch",  "rrrr"
I have to admit to being somewhat impressed by his illustrations and what was a pretty understandable storyboard, but I immediately started having flashes of pillows being pressed over my face at night, or poisoning by toilet cleaner in my soda.  I needed to say something.

"Wow, Cael.  I know you don't like picking up but I don't think it's that big of a deal.  Plus I think you'd be pretty sad if I really did get hit by our van."

"It's not you, Mom!  See, the guy's name is Zoop!"

"I know, but are you saying you don't feel this way even a little bit?  I know how much you hate cleaning."

"Well, I don't know.  But see, Zoop's van is red and our van is blue.  It can't be you in the comic."

Alright, alright.  But I just want you to remember that I do most of the cleaning in the house, and I just ask you to pick up the messes you make.  I think that's pretty fair."

"Yeah, okay."

I wasn't going to eek out a confession, so I decided to let it go.  As long as he is able to release his frustrations with a yellow marker and not our red blue Toyota Sienna, I can focus on his artistic skills and not on the tiny stars circling over "Zoop's mom's" head following what must have been a concussion.  But just as I was walking away, I could hear Cael muttering to himself.

"Fine then, Zoop isn't sorry!"

PS--  If I disappear after a few days, please enter Cael's artwork in as evidence.

Why?  "Cose I said so."

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Winter Snow

A couple of weeks ago, the east coast was hunkering down for what what reported to be the "biggest snowfall in history".  In reality, however, the storm wasn't so historic.  New England was blanketed in a lot of snow, but after one day or so, business went on as usual.

We get that.  It happens all the time in Iowa.  Nearly every time there is more than 2 or 3" of snow in the forecast, the local news and weather team works themselves into a frenzy.

Stock up on canned goods!
Check your batteries!
Stay safe with storm coverage from our station only!

Yet nearly every time, what results is little more than a flurry of activity, and very few actual flurries.   
See what I did there?

Last week, however, the predictions were true for the Midwest.  After about a day's worth of snowfall, we had more than 11" of heavy snow bending tree branches and coating the world in a thick layer of crisp, clean, white.

And since there aren't words that match the beauty of a still winter snow, take a quick second and admire the way our brown fields and bare trees have been transformed.

See what I mean?  No words are needed to describe this amazing scene.  But in case you are a verbal person and not prone to being moved by images, let me leave you with Cael's words which ring out like poetry against the beauty of nature...

"The snow is so pretty and cold, and it makes my nose red and numb... just like my nuts.  Seriously, Mom, I'm numb down there."

Stay warm out there.