Thursday, June 22, 2017

Names Changed To Protect The Innocent (Even Though They Aren't)

It probably comes as no surprise that I've spent something like the last 10 years of my life living in a baby proof house, leaping over baby gates I'm too lazy to open when hauling laundry up the stairs. 10 years of living with a combination of babies and toddlers who can't be trusted not to pull the bleach out from under the bathroom sink and drink it. 10 years of feeling comfortable telling all my friends exactly how many times my children put the tut-tut into the potty "like a big girl!" (And then making them high five me. For my own sense of fulfillment.) 10 years of trying to go to the bathroom, quickly, by myself, while yelling things like "What was that crash? What are you doing?" and "Quit banging on the door, mommy will be done in a minute. A second. Ok, ok, I'll...just...well, Ok, I'm done. Close enough. (flings open door) WHAT DO YOU WANT?!" 10 years of trying to entice my children to eat through the clever use of bribes, toys and pleadings. 10 years of pulling weird things they shouldn't eat out of their mouths: grass, sticks, rocks, shoes, books..... 10 years of having to spend 98% of my day with a child attached to my body one way or another, even though both were weaned before they could walk with any confidence. (Note to the breast feeding mafia: Simmer down there, Capone. My children were very late walkers. Which, by the way, I think is totally awesome, because I once read that lack of kinetic skill development in toddlers correlates with higher intelligence. Dudes, my kids are full on geniuses.)

10 years.

It's a long time.  A long time, people.

And then, a year or so ago, I realized those days were behind me and I began to relax. I began to sit down on the couch to drink my coffee out of a real grown up type mug instead of a sippy one. I took all the locks off the bathroom cabinets. I gave away the baby gates and poured the syrup of ipecac into the garbage. I stopped updating my running partner on the number of times Ellie or Katie tut-tut-tutted without having to be told that "big girls take care of their needs."

And then.

Jon.

Jon began to look at me with those eyes.

And then?

The children.

The children were giving me the same look.

So I caved.

Because I'm a weak, weak womyn, people.

And the next thing you know, my house is the site of a rotating cast of living beings that survive on the strength of their cuteness.

Yes, I am now a puppy sitter.

Hey! Why don't you all check your shoes in case we missed any tut-tut piles in the front yard, hop over my newly purchased baby gate and come on in! I'll introduce you!

Meet Queenie,

who can't tell the difference between real animals and ones on tv, and must be consoled when she sees either. 

And Spot,

who requires me to constantly remove gross things from her mouth. Most recently? Chewed gum she found on the sidewalk.

And this is Fido,

 who must cuddle. At. All. Times. I never get to use the bathroom by myself when he's around.

And then there's Rocky,

who refuses to eat unless Ellie makes a trail of his kibble around the house, Hansel and Gretel style.


We've gotten to know Buddy,

who eats poop. And not just his own. Enough said.

And, then there is this little bundle of energy named Bandit,

who is the reason we don't have nice things anymore.

We all high fived each other this morning too, when Lucky

put his tut-tut outside, in the grass! 
Awwww! He's getting to be such a big boy!
Dudes! You know? I should totally tell Mabel about it on our run this afternoon!

And, guys? Last week? A puppy named Rex totally fell asleep in my lap. I'm pretty sure this

is the definition of a life come full circle. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

I Read A Book. A Grown Up Book. Written For Grown Ups. By Grown Ups. Not Angels. Because, Spoiler Alert: Angels Don't Write Books. Um, You Know, Obviously....

I found a book at the library, it's called Bachelor Brother's Bed and Breakfast. I picked it up because the back of the book said, "This book will do for Vancouver what Anne did for Prince Edward Island." Really! Seriously! Squeee! Move out of my way, children, Mommy has her own book to check out from the library. Right. Now.

This is the part I want to tell you that two minutes after I got home, I brewed that perfect cup of coffee, snuggled up under the cozy blanket on the couch and read and read and read..... But. I can't. Because my life doesn't work like that anymore. In reality, I had to physically pull both girls out of the library while also carrying a 60lb bag full of books and by the time we got home dinner needed to be made. Kids needed to be fought with about unloading that huge pile of books from the library bag. (Listen, kids. You created this problem yourselves.) Emails needed to be answered. School lunches needed to be made. Laundry needed to be switched. Life needed to be cleaned, organized and fed. So, the book sat, waiting for me, on my bedside table.

You caught that keyword there, right? Yeah. Bedside.

Dudes? The battle was pretty much lost as soon as my head hit that pillow.

I read 96 words the first night. Then next night? 109. The next? 279! It was a banner night, let me tell you! And there weren't many of these.

But, with determination, perseverance, and a few days of giving into my caffeine addiction after 4pm, I won the war and finished the book! (Although I'd rather not tell you that the last page took three nights to read...)

And it was a good book! I like these brothers. I want to go and spend a weekend in their bed and breakfast with their open kitchen, walls filled with books, tree house in the front yard, their guest book filled not with names, but with vignettes written by their lodgers about their lives. Dudes. There's even a cat and a grouchy parrot hanging about the house. Who wouldn't want to go there? *Piffle!* And they say Disneyland is the happiest place on earth!

But the best part? Hector and Virgil take turns writing chapters, so you get a different perspective on all the doings at the bed and breakfast from each of them!!

Well.

At least I thought Hector and Virgil wrote them. But, after I put my Jigsaw Jones detective skillz to work (meaning I looked at the front cover), I saw that the book was written, not, by Hector and Virgil, but by some guy named Bill Richardson. Yeah, it played out pretty much just like this:




And, while the let down wasn't quite as big as when I was seven and Mrs. Fry, the school librarian, broke the news that all books are not, in fact, written by angels and published on heaven's printing press (True story, I kid you not.), it still stung a little, you know?

I mean, these guys seemed like friendly, welcoming people. But quirky! I wanted to not only go to their bed and breakfast but actually talk to them, IN REAL LIFE, which is surprising, because, lets face it, I don't like new people. And, especially not conversations with new people.

So, I guess, Vancouver Tourist Bureau, I won't be visiting your city anytime soon. And you can blame it on Bill Richardson and his book full of stupid believable characters who aren't real in real life.

*tsk* Stuff like this never happened when Anne Shirley was alive.

You know what? Whatever, Vancouver. Because, I can totally just create my own bed and breakfast.

In my own house.

Look! It's, like, totes easy!
All I need is a cozy chair and blanket, cute cuddly kitty, happy cup of coffee,
good book, and I can settle in for a nice long read!




Dude.
Ever hear of personal space?
Man.... 

*sigh* 

I bet Anne Shirley never had these kids of problems at her PEI bed and breakfast. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Playing Catch Up. Or Mustard. And Other Weak Condiment Jokes.

End of March:

The early morning runs to school drop off can still be a bit dark at the end of March. The other week, as I was standing out in the middle of the street, gesturing to Ellie that it was safe for her to bike across, I realized that I have a super power.

No. Joke.

See, unlike Spider-Man, the manifestation of my powers did not occur overnight, but, had to be developed and strengthened through years of training. Like Batman. (Although, admittedly, Batman's training had way fewer kids calling him "Mom" than mine did.)

The day I realized my powers had reached their height we were on the way to school, as I said, in those still dark in the Northwest early morning hours. Ellie was waiting, on the corner not only dressed in a bright red and pink ladybug raincoat, sparkle mermaid leggings, light up shoe laces and a helmet liberally covered in reflective stickers shaped like stars, but, sitting on a bright pink butterfly bike with white tires and lights on the handlebars, lights on the seat post, lights on the front flower basket that flash each time she goes over the tiniest bump, lights on the wheels that change color like the dance floor from Saturday Night Fever! I, on the other hand, was standing in the middle of the street dressed for running in varying hues of black, gesturing to Ellie that it was safe to cross because I had stopped all traffic by, get this, SHOOTING BEAMS OF INDOMITABLE WILL OUT OF MY EYEBALLS!

Seriously.

There was absolutely no reason that I should be even seen by the cars, but I was. Any logical person would send out the most brilliantly dressed well lit person into the crosswalk first. Like a peacock in a coal mine. Instead? I stopped traffic with intimidation and my indomitable will. That's. Right. Just like Batman. (according to wikipedia)

Note: 
Jon continues to deny my super hero status, flying in the face of all scientific evidence I've presented. And each morning, for like a week, I had to endure his boring lectures about how scientific evidence should be based on the results of statistical analysis and the strength of scientific controls and not made up stories, Martha.

Until I stopped listening.

And then this showed up. Placed neatly on top of all my superhero running outfits:


And all I could imagine was that, if Batman's mom had survived that horrific murder in the back alleys of Gotham City, Bruce Wayne and I would be in the exact same boat:

"But, MOM, bats are supposed to be stealthy, blending with the night swooping down on-"
Martha Wayne raises eyebrow.
"Uhg. Fine."

Beginning of April:

Three things I didn't say 

1. He looks like Harry Potter, but driving a Porsche 911 instead of a nimbus 2000.

2. Someone's kicking herself for going off on that tangent about grizzly bears. Been there done that, sister.

3. Well, you know what they say, those who can't, get a teaching degree, have a couple kids and start writing a self deprecating mom blog while watching reruns of Gilmore Girls.



Middle of April:

We were all over at Mabel's house, sitting on her back porch, enjoying a rare rain free late afternoon and talking like adults while the children ran amok inside the house. Unsupervised. (Unless you count Mabel's cat. Good parents probably wouldn't.)

Harold: Does society have a perceived correlation between intelligence and how much a person talks? For instance, if a person seems to babble, are they initially perceived as less intelligent?
Me: (looking up from phone) DUDES! VANILLA ICE STARRED IN A MOVIE*!? How did I not know about this? I mean, I've watched all his home improvement shows, Jon too, voluntarily I might add (Jon makes his "what!?!" face) I shouldn't have to find out about these things from Twitter! I mean, sure, when everyone was bustin' a move to "Ice Ice Baby" and sitting in dark theaters watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles battle Shredder for the last canister of mutant making ooze I was singing along to my "Chipmunks Go Hollywood" tape and memorizing "Boil Them Cabbage Down" so I could perform with the Junior High Fiddling Club but-
Geraldine: Martha. You told this story, like, five years ago.
Me: (looking to Mabel for confirmation) Really?
Mabel: Yeah.
Me: Oh. Sorry. What were you saying again, Harold?


Today:


I found and open package of wasabi peas buried at the bottom of the snack drawer.

They're a bit...chewy.

Probably Jon wouldn't approve of my eating them.

He would probably lecture me about botulism science. Again.

*eye roll*

I swear, it's constraints like this that turn potential superheros into super villains.

Jon.







*Videos. Because they needed to be shared.
For the Vanilla Ice purist.
For the people who would rather mock Vanilla Ice.
For the people who think Ice Ice Baby would sound better sung by a penguin.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Someone Got Really Judgmental This Week And Took Action. Not Me. My Friend. And Now She Needs Some Advice.

I need some advice.

For a friend.

Let's call her, I don't know, uuuhhhhh....Mary-yeah, good name. Anyway, my friend, Mary, has, like, a huge pet peeve, which, she didn't even know was that big of a pet peeve until she started working at, a kind of library. Not a real library. Like an extra library, only for kids. Anyway, this friend, so I'm told, was sitting there at the library thing, checking out books, as one does at libraries, right? Anyway, as she's helping kids find books to read and reshelving returns and all that, she keeps seeing these kinds of, well, these certain kinds of books...on the shelves. Books that my friend doesn't think are really appropriate for children, or really any people, no matter what walk of life, to be reading. So, one day, after volunteering (note: out of the generosity of her heart) every week for, like, three years, my friend finally cracks and removes the books from the shelves. And marks them as damaged in the computer system. And puts them in her backpack. And takes them home. And hides them under her bed. So the children don't find them. Because it horrifies her, to the depth of her soul toes*, to imagine her family reading them. Because, dudes. They. Are. That. Bad.

I'm not kidding.

Seriously!

Look!


Maybe you missed it. Let's lean in for a closer look, shall we?


Right. Right there. You see it? Based, which is just another word for abridged. Slashed. Mutilated. Dumbed-down. Snipped like an eight week old kitten**.

I mean, guys? The book ended with this sentence:

They ate and drank and talked and laughed. The day ended with Beth playing carols and everyone singing.

Step.

Back.

Now, maybe you're all like, eh, never liked Little Women anyway, all sweet and way too quaint and what not. Who cares!?

But, I'm sorry.

First off, you have crazy coming out of every orifice of your body, and I'm not sure we can still be friends.

Second, it was not the only "book" on the shelves.

Robinson Crusoe, widely regarded as one of the greatest novels of all time, had it's description of cannibalism changed from this:

When I came to the place my very blood ran chill in my veins, and my heart sunk within me, at the horror of the spectacle; indeed, it was a dreadful sight, at least it was so to me, though Friday made nothing of it.  The place was covered with human bones, the ground dyed with their blood, and great pieces of flesh left here and there, half-eaten, mangled, and scorched; and, in short, all the tokens of the triumphant feast they had been making there, after a victory over their enemies.  I saw three skulls, five hands, and the bones of three or four legs and feet, and abundance of other parts of the bodies; and Friday, by his signs, made me understand that they brought over four prisoners to feast upon; (...)  I found Friday had still a hankering stomach after some of the flesh, and was still a cannibal in his nature; but I showed so much abhorrence at the very thoughts of it, and at the least appearance of it, that he durst not discover it: for I had, by some means, let him know that I would kill him if he offered it.


To this:
When we came to the place in the sand where we left the two cannibals, he showed me that he wanted to uncover and eat them. I let him know that this was very wrong.

Tell me, Scholastic Junior Classics, exactly where did the chunks of flesh, the blood soaked ground and mangled bodies go? Huh? I mean, if my kid isn't ready to read a semi-biographical detailed description of a cannibalistic feast written in 1719, then, maybe they should just stick to something gentler, like The Wind in the Willows.

Oh, waaaaiiit. No. Sorry, gosh, never mind, you ruined that one too.

Didn't you?


Goodness, how can we expect the children of today to understand these stories if we don't chop out 80% of the words and then define the last 101 at the bottom of the page?


I mean, what was Anna Sewell even thinking writing all those words? This one is soooo much easier.

And under 60 pages too! (eye roll) Score.

So, I guess, what I'm asking, hypothetically, for a friend, named Mary, is this: Is what Mary did really considered stealing?

Now, before you don your judgmental righteous hat (you know, the red one***), and give an answer, hear Mary out. Because, the other day, we were drinking coffee together and we discussed the moral ramifications of her actions, and Mary likened it more to, oh, what did she say, eradicating invasive plants from National Parks? No. Recycling? Noooo that wasn't it either. Oh, yeah! She said what she did was more like adopting one of those tiny traffic circles in her neighborhood, disposing of the used heroin syringes and planting wildflowers. To save the honeybees. And by extension, mankind itself.

So, maybe my real hypothetical question, for a friend, named Mary is this: Is literature something that needs to be saved, like the honeybee? Do we have a moral right to protect the "intellectual and emotional development" of current and future generations? And, can it be achieved through gorilla type tactics?

If we have replaced all 16 removed "books" with the real thing****.

Using our own money.

Because, let's face it, Mary would do anything for these honeybees:

And by extension, yours too.







*Yes, souls have toes, and you can't prove otherwise.

**Because you should spay and neuter your pets, not your classic literature.

***This isn't the hat you thought it would be, is it?

You judgmental person, you.


****Complete list of removed (aka damaged) "books". Judge away:

  1. "Black Beauty" "by" Anna Sewell (2 books)
  2. "The Wind in the Willows" "by" Kenneth Grahame
  3. "Anne of Green Gables" "by" L.M. Montgomery
  4. "Bleak House" "by" Charles Dickens
  5. "A Little House Chapter Book: Laura #1 The Adventures of Laura & Jack" "by" Laura Ingalls Wilder
  6. "The Wizard of Oz" "by" L. Frank Baum
  7. "Alice in Wonderland" "by" Lewis Carroll
  8. "Pride and Prejudice" "by" Jane Austen
  9. "Robinson Crusoe" "by" Daniel Defoe
  10. "White Fang" "by" Jack London
  11. "Martin Chuzzlewit" "by" Charles Dickens
  12. "The Mutiny on Board HMS Bounty" "by" William Bligh
  13. "Little Women" "by" Louisa May Alcott
  14. "Heidi" "by" Johanna Spyri
  15. "The Secret Garden" "by" Frances Hodgson Burnett



Saturday, March 11, 2017

Whenever I say Grrrrl I Pretend To Be Daniel Tiger From Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. In My Head. (I've never been cool.)

Recently a friend sent me this video:



And I was all, "Dude, man! It's like Herstory but with more pictures? I'm totally in! Who wants my money!?" (Note: this website does)

But, after the "I bought a new book euphoria*" began to subside, I got to thinking more about the video. Specifically, what books were on the shelves in the video? Time posted their list of 100 best children's books of all time here, and I'm assuming those are the books the video is stocked with. Now, truthfully, there are some really really good books on Time's list! Books I own! (51 out of 100, specifically) Books I've read to my children! (72 out of 100) But, if we look at the idea behind the video, which is the lack of strong female characters in children's literature-they might have a point. Which, really wasn't a problem in the years before Katie could read, as I routinely changed character's genders to suit my agenda. *gasp* But, come on, I mean, who can tell if the little kid from Blueberries for Sal is a boy or a girl, or the kid following the farm animals in Just Me. Or the sheep from Sheep in a Jeep. They're sheep, let's face it, they could go either way! And it worked beautifully. Girls loved trucks! Girls loved trains! Any personificated inanimate object immediately became female. I felt like a genius!

Until Ellie was born.

Ellie was having none of that. Because, "Mommy, girls have long hair, and wear dresses." And my retort of, "Mommy doesn't wear dresses all the time and Grandma has short hair." didn't go far because, "Not in books. In books, Mommy, all girls should have long hair and wear dresses." And, so, you know, that's the fun story of the time my two year old called my bluff as I tried to pass boys off as girls during story time. (Thank goodness I won the argument about the WOMAN farmer from the Fisher Price farm set! Probably. Or. She's just been letting me live with that lie for the last few years. Awwww maaaaan....She has, hasn't she? Shoooot.)

So, back I went, to allowing the book characters to gender identify as the author originally intended, while scouring the library for books with girls as the main characters. Girls who didn't make me want to swack them over the head as they sat there, in their tower, waiting, when, let's face it, they could have cut their own hair off, tied to to the bedpost and climbed down it themselves, as Mythbusters has proven you can. Those. Those books were harder to find. The video was spot on about that.

Reading about characters who look like you is powerful. And, while Katie was willing to see herself as a train loving, cookie eating mouse who rode in a jeep with some crazy female sheep, Ellie, she saw herself as a princess. With long hair. And a pretty dress. And those girls need strong characters too.


I'm sure she's not the only one.


What are your favorite female characters in children's lit?





*With jazz hands.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

I Can't Just Slap This Post On The Internet Like A Bumper Sticker Full Of Ill-Conceived Grammatical Errors. It Needs Content. Or Maybe Just A Punch Line With Myself Firmly Attached To The Butt Of It.

This is not a real post, but if I push the publish button, then, I'll feel like I've accomplished something, because apparently cleaning the kitchen, doing 7 loads of laundry, volunteering at two elementary schools, and standing in the cold with my kids selling Girl Scout cookies isn't doing it for me this week. Plus writing is hard. And I ran out of coffee. And then it was time to pick the kids up from school.

(Note: Insert more creative excuse here. Maybe one including a chinchilla, a turtle and a big bowl of chili. Note on the note: Adopt a chinchilla and a turtle and convince the kids they actually like chili to add believability to the excuse. Note on the note on the note: This is turning out to be harder than the actual writing work. Plus, let's face it, I'm never going to convince the children they like chili. I'm gonna have to fake that.)


I ran a 15k on Sunday, and, at the 10k point my kids and Jon were standing on the sidelines, ready to cheer me on! Ellie even ran out onto the course to give me a high five! So cute! And then? I had this conversation with a fellow runner:

Me: (high fiving Ellie after veering to the curb so she isn't bowled over by 4,000 runners)
Guy in Shorts: (from really close behind me) Hey! You stole my high five!
Me: (with my sweaty incredulous face) Uh, no. I made that girl. She totally owes me.
Guy in Shorts: But I need it more than you!
Me: (22 minutes later, looking over my shoulder, as I kick through the finish chute) Yeah, ya' did.

What really happened:

Me: (high fiving Ellie after veering to the curb so she isn't bowled over by 4,000 runners)
Guy in Shorts: (from really close behind me) Hey! You stole my high five!
Me: (with my sweaty incredulous face) Uh, no. (gesture awkwardly toward uterus) I made that girl. She totally owes me.
Guy in Shorts: But I need it more than you!
Me: (30 minutes later, looking way ahead of me as Guy in Shorts is downing a bottle of water with his race medal around his neck I gasp through the finish chute) Dude...you're such a liar!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

I Think My Family "Invited" Me Over To The Dark Side This Christmas

This has been my Every Morning Coffee Cup:

It's the shiny happy mug I use to pour caffeine directly into my brain.
(Yes. Yes, that is exactly how coffee works. It's scientifically proven.)

But apparently, this Christmas, Fred and Ginger thought it was time for a change- a new outlook on life. You know the life. That life at 6:30 am where small bodies are dragged, protesting, out of the warmth of their book filled beds. You know, the vulnerable mom life.

In order to bring about this change, Fred and Ginger placed this under the Christmas tree for me:

Lovingly.

Now, I realize, the difference between the two mugs is rather slight. So, I'll do a side by side comparison, just for:

giggles
and

ennui.

(Bonus: There are five differences between these two pictures! Find them!!πŸ˜ΊπŸ’• Or, you know. *sigh* Don't. You could just play 'Here we go gathering Nuts in May' with the end part of an ants' nest. It's all the same....)


And now, each morning, I wake up to the caffeine whispering, directly into my brain (see link above), "Use the force, Martha". And I mumble the age old space ship influenced philosophical reply into the coffee pot, "Which side?"

Because, it must be chosen, mustn't it?

I mean, is it even really possible to walk the thin line between the butterfly and rainbow filled skies of the light side while also sipping from the dark, looking upon it all with indifference and, dare I say, a lack of enthusiasm? Once I drink from the mug, won't I always carry the dark side's influence within me, even if it takes decades for me to realize it?





Like Luke Skywalker.








BUT!

THEN!

I realized!

Wait. A. Minute!

This isn't some Grey Jedi mind trick coffee mug.

*Pish-shaw*

NoooOOOoooo!

This. Is now my football watching mug.πŸ™ŒπŸ˜»πŸ‘

And so, this Saturday Sunday, as all around me people raise out of their seats, yelling in vivacity as their team ball is projectiled in some fashion into one of the net? or post??...things they set up on either side of their grassy playing area, I will be able to raise my mug, with the proper amount of enthusiasm I keep in my heart for sporting events.

Do the thing.
Win the points.
πŸ˜‘



UPDATE:
I received a threat friendly email from Ginger reminding me of the birthday present she sent me earlier this year. Again, lovingly.

So. Apparently. This is how I will be dressed while raising my mug on Super Foot Ball Sunday:



For reals. Because Ginger does Cross Fit now and I'm pretty sure she can substitute out her medicine ball for my inert body during her Wallball sets. Like the Firebreather she is.