Friday, November 3, 2017

Awkward Conversations. On Halloween. Out Loud. Because It's Scarier. And They Promised Me A Cupcake.

It's three days after October 31st. Which means, if you have elementary sized children, you either successfully ignored all pleas for help at the classroom Halloween party* OR you were tricked into volunteering through an onslaught of email guilt. And the promise of cupcakes.

Guess which one I felt forced to chose the other day?


AWKWARD CONVERSATIONS WITH MARTHA
(Class Halloween Party Edition)
NONE OF WHICH WAS CARRIED OUT IN MY OWN HEAD 
BUT I WAS DRESSED AS JULIETTE GORDON LOW

Obviously.

BECAUSE I WAS PROMISED A CUPCAKE
AND IT WAS HALLOWEEN
ALTHOUGH, LET'S FACE IT, 
THE FIRST REASON WAS THE MOST PERSUASIVE



Conversation #1
Scene: Arriving at the school office. In costume. To eat cupcakes volunteer at the classroom party.
School Employee: (coming face to face with me as they are exiting the office) Your highness! (holds door open, does one of those European courtly bow and scrape things)
Me: (in my, "I didn't think before I opened my mouth" tone) Uh. Noooo. Not a queen. (gestures in turn to Brownie sash and birthday crown) Juliette. Gordon. Low.
School Employee: Um?.?. I...
Me: (walks through door. Thinks. Turns back around. ) Oh! But, you know, thanks for holding the door for me anyway, even if I'm not a queen!

Conversation #2
Scene: In the classroom, next to the q-tip skeleton craft
Other Mom, probably here for the cupcakes too/OM,PHFTCT: And you are...a birthday queen?
Me: Oh, no! I'm Juliette Gordon Low. She was born on October 31, 1860, so today is my birthday, or (chuckle) really her birthday because I'm just dressed as Daisy. (smile)
OM,PHFTCT: (pausing) I don't think I know who that is.
Me: (In my "I learned from the previous conversation not to think everyone will know who I am but that's ok, I can explain it to them" tone) Ohhh! She founded Girl Scouts in 1912, but, one of the things she was know for, was, after going to fancy parties (swirl skirt) she would typically be found fishing (hold up fishing rod) late at night in her ball gown. She was a very interesting woman! In fact, there was this-
OM, PHFTCT: (quickly) Oh! I forgot! I was, I was, supposed to help organize the, um, mummy yarn craft. So, sorry.

Conversation #3
Scene: Near the cupcake table, waiting for the children to fill their plates and leave. So I can eat a cupcake.
Some Other Mom: (friendly, with a smile) Hi! I'm Sally.
Me: (barely glancing up from cupcakes, mentally trying to figure out the cupcake to student ratio) Hi! I'm Martha.
Some Other Mom: (friendly, smiling) How are you?
Me: (quick glance from the cupcakes, so I don't look rude) Good. How are you?
Some Other Mom:  (friendly, smiling) Good.
Me: (caught up in mental cupcake math) Nice. Good to hear. And how are you?
Some Other Mom:  (silence)
Me: (REALLY looking away from cupcakes this time) Ummm. (pause) We already did that part of the conversation, didn't we? 


Eventually I did make it to the snack table.

But, as I looked forlornly and predictably at an empty cupcake platter scattered with crumbs, I thought to myself, "WWDD**?"

And that's when I went fishing.

For cupcakes.

Off of Katie's plate.

Which, in my defense, I offered to give back if I could tell her just one more of my Juliette Gordon Low stories.

But...

she refused.

So I ate it.



*High Five, by the way! Ignore all the glares from all those teacher type readers over there.
**What Would Daisy Do?

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Halloween Costumes For Kids. You're Trying Too Hard.

Halloween is like, three days away, people. Do you have your kid's costumes all ready?

Hahahahahahaha! Yeah...... Me too.

But, in my case, the Halloween unpreparedness?  That's all on the children. Because since the age of two my kids have insisted on making their own costumes. Now, I'm sure you're sitting there, thinking, "*pish* Someone's a big ol' liar with fiery pants hangin' up there on that telephone wire." But, listen, it's true. See, I realize that, in society's eyes, good moms make their kid's Halloween costumes. They plan, they paint, they sew, or at the very least they go to a store and buy them a costume. In August. And I tried to do that! Once. When Katie was all small and such. But she was having NONE of it! She insisted she was going to wear her pink bandanna like a cape and be Super Senorita or nothing! And, well, parenting is all about raising independent autonomous people, right? So I let her. Because that's also what good moms do. (Who might also be a touch lazy.)

Note: I was going to include a pic of Katie in her Super Senorita costume in this post, but, my computer somehow deleted, like, all the pictures from 2009. Which is, like, really bad. I mean, if I had been responsible for those photos, I'd totally wouldn't have lost them. Related Note: This is why computers shouldn't have babies.

But! You?! You are ready to dress your sweet little one in a costume. One made with love, and time, and maybe a wee small dusting of societal pressure. So, this morning, while my children were out into the backyard with cardboard, a couple cans of spray paint and some yarn making their own costumes, I sat down with a cup of coffee and  five four three a decreasing pile of peanut butter cups stolen from the Halloween candy bowl. To search the Internets. For the worst baby and toddler costumes out there. So you can avoid them.



Bad Costume #1:
The Mandrake

This may seem all cute, with that sign saying
"screams not yet lethal,
but may cause extended periods of unconsciousness".
BUT!
Dudes, you've read the books, right?
What happens to them at the end of The Chamber of Secrets?
Yeah.
They kill them.
Maybe we should examine the whole story line before dressing our babies in this costume. Hmmm?
Bad Costume #2:
The Pinata

Do you really want to spend the whole night yelling,
"Quit hitting your sister! There is no candy in the baby!"
Because, you know at least one of your kids will try it. 

Bad Costume #3:
The Bun In The Oven
This costume really should be avoided if you already have children.
Unless human overpopulation is a cause you care about.
A lot.

Bad Costume #4: 
Spaghetti

Ok, yes, it's cute. But,
unless that's real spaghetti,
you know that costume is going to be hanging out
in places you don't want it hanging out from
for a loooong time.
Because babies put everything in their mouths.
And then swallow them.
And they have digestive systems.
That terminate in their diapers.
I may have strung that explanation out a bit too much.
Bad Costume #5:

The Thanksgiving Turkey

What do we do with Thanksgiving turkeys?
Put them in the oven.
What do we not want to do with babies?


Exactly.

Bad Costume #6:
The Candy Machine

Just who is giving candy to whom here?
This costume is way too confusing.
Skip it.

Bad Costume #7:
Two Headed Baby

The emotional imprint alone people...
Bad Costume #8:

The Cannibal

Your kid has a peanut allergy. We get it.
But,
and I say this as a friend,
this is taking that protective parent thing
just a little too far.

You know what being a lazy parent who lets their kids plan and make their own costumes means? 

It means, your kids are way too happily crafting to notice you eating each and every peanut butter cup from the Halloween candy bowl. 

If you hide from them. 

In the basement. 





What's the worst kid Halloween costume you've found?

Friday, October 20, 2017

October And Anne Shirley Can Stuff It

September, that sirenous month full of the first few weeks of school and parental freedom, has lured me in once again, smelling of quiet cups of coffee in the kitchen, sunshine and secret boxes of Chez-Its hidden from the children. Gets me every year. (read next bit in a high pitched stupid whiny voice) I have time! Look! I can go for a run, prep dinner, do laundry, Photoshop pictures of "vomit" from my front yard, cure cancer, end world hunger, cut the children's hair! Whoo! Hoo! There is no end to my productivity!! I have super powers! (insert one of those rude fart noise people make with their lips here) Stupid 1/12th of a Gregorian calendar seductress.

But then comes October, making it's asinine pew pew noises as it shoots down hour after hour of my free time, like one of those duck galleries at the state fair. "Mom, we have some school forms for you to fill out!" "Six pages? For each of you?" pew pew "Would you be interested in volunteering in Ellie's classroom each week?" pew pew "We need weekly volunteer's at Katie's school, anyone available?" pew pew "Hey! How about our Girl Scout troop meets every week!" pew pew "We're looking for a few parents to volunteer at tonight's school..." pew pew  "Mom, are you going to lead my Girl Scout troop this year, too?" pew pew "I can schedule Katie at 10 am on Wednesday with the dentist, but can't get Ellie in until 2:15 on Friday. Will that be a problem?" pew pew

Dudes? Do you know what this means? It means I have to make a schedule now. For my time. Because it's not mine any longer. (I can see all you working parents you know, through the computer screen, with your eye rolls and judgey attitude. Shut up.) My days have been stolen and it's stinky! I mean, no longer do I usher the little children onto the bus in the mornings, go back home and drink coffee, eat secret cheese flavored crackers while finishing up my book from the library, knowing all things that need doing will be done in good time. NooooOOOOoooo. I have to be all efficient. Making a schedule. And other stupid stuff.

And, you know what? I think I deserve a little pity.
.
.
.
.
.
Or empathy.
.
.
.
.
.
Or compassion.
.
.
.
.
.
Or maybe just some commiseration??
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

(collapses over keyboard) 

Fiiiiiinne.  

*angry sigh*

I'll be an adult this school year.

But, I'm not changing out of my yoga pants.

And

each Friday I'm still going to go to the zoo for the penguin's live trout feeding.

Because those penguins are hilarious!

Me and all the preschooler zoo regulars think so.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

My Kids Know More About Jigsaw Jones Than Sherlock Holmes.

My kids loose things. All. The. Time. Shoes, lunch boxes, library books, hairbrush, pajamas, special stuffed animals they simply can't sleep without, water bottles, backpacks.... I'm literally talking everything that they can physically pick up with their own two hands, set down again in a slightly different place, walk away from for like 20 seconds-Poof! *gasp* It's gone!

And, people, there are days, I look them dead in the eyes, when they have asked me to find something for them, and think, "Dude. Are you, kidding me with this? Because, I can't-I can't even-you know what? I'm gonna-I'm gonna-I'm just gonna goooo...pour myself another cup of addiction caffeine coffee and, just, take a beat." And then, I turn to my dealer coffee pot, and pour that cup full to the brim and say, in my best Snow White voice, "Oh, sweetie. It sounds like it's time to put on that detective cap and break out your mad Jigsaw Jones Skillz."

Because parenting through the exploitation of popular children's literature is kinda my thing.

And, yesterday, when I was on my third Jigsaw Jones poured cup of coffee of the morning, I realized that, last week, when I asked you all to play the


Is it Vomit 
OR
Is It Diarrhea? 
Game

I asked you all to play without providing any Jigsaw Jones clues. Which someone pointed out to me on Facebook. Anonymously. *cough*Ginger*cough*


A List of Jigsaw Jones Clues 
About This Picture:


That I Took Of A Mystery Substance
That Showed Up In My Yard
A Week Ago

1. Smell
There was no smell, really, to speak of. Which, could be a red flag for most people, but, see, unlike at least 51.09% of the world's population, I've been pregnant. Twice. And that lack of smell? All it did was bring back, in vivid recollection, the time my friend invited me over for dinner and made bean soup. Not 10 minutes after eating a whole bowl full, up it came. Into the toilet. And guys? It totally smelled the same, and, a detail you didn't need to know, but, must be shared to keep the spirit of every pregnancy story ever told alive, it full on tasted just the same. (I'm telling you it was a really good soup, Edna! Both times!)

2. Visual
Really, this one was pretty much covered in the Snap-Chatted pic above. And, anyone that's parented a child with diarrhea will tell you that, sometimes? You can see aaaallll the bits. (Especially corn.) Yes, even after their food has ridden that twisty roller coaster called the large intestine.
Like looking in a mirror, people.

A scary butt mirror. 
3. Taste.
No.

4. Previous Knowledge
This would not be the first time I'd found weird things in my yard. I mean, sure, it's not a weekly occurrence, but, it happens! I mean, these items can range from an answer to prayer to, well, kinda creepy, really.

  • a cute little kitten who shows up when I enjoy my morning cup of coffee outside
  • a pair of glasses
  • a car radiator 
  • a pair of pants with $250 in the pocket

5. The Lay of the Land (aka) The Inside Straight (aka) The Skinny (aka) All The Cluez Jon Pointed Out When He Got Home After I Yelled, "Come Look At This! It's Gross!" And Dragged Him Back Outside
  • An opened bag of kelp fertilizer
  • A watering can, three feet away, dregs of mystery substance inside
  • Drying water(?) rivulets coming out from main... deposit
  • Jon and the girls planted carrots at the beginning of the summer next to the fence just outside the picture

So, after writing down all these clues in pixels and Javascript, I realize that the world can't really be broken up into two camps: vomit and diarrhea. I mean, there are probably many different Sherlockian deductions one could come to with all this info. 

A Sample Deduction, 
For Illustrative Purposes, 
Obviously

Someone, in the dark of the night, stumbled into our yard, saw the bag of kelp fertilizer left sitting on the deck stairs, and thought, "Kelp. That's seaweed! Duuuuuude! It's free sushi in a bag!" (Did I mention, in my head, this person is, like, really drunk). 

The inebriated person pulls out a spoon (which they keep on their person for obvious ice cream reasons) and begins to shovel the kelp fertilizer directly into their stomachs, through their mouths because this is a believable deduction and doesn't have aliens in it. 

Almost immediately, the inebriated person's stomach yells out, "THIS IS NOT SUSHI!" And projectile vomits into the watering can, sitting just to the left of the not really sushi kelp bag.

And, just like when you were 6 and you vomited into your sister's sand bucket on the family road trip, guilt sets in, and our inebriated friend tries desperately to clean out the watering can using the garden hose. 

It doesn't work, and they scramble off, leaving a big pile of:

in my yard. 


Jon has his own, different deduction, but, let's face it. He left the kelp fertilizer out on the deck. He's cheating. 


Note: In the spirit of fair play and wanting to keep all felony charges off my record, I should probably award all players of the Is It Vomit Or Is It Diarrhea? Game 250 points and send each and every one of you a box of mac and cheese. 

Yes, even if you don't want it, Anonymous. Because them's the rules. And I know where you live! 

Ok. That sounded creepy. Don't worry, Internet, Anonymous knows it's not. 

Probably.

WAIT!
OR!

You can comment on this post! With your own deduction!! And I'll send you TWO boxes of mac and cheese!!!

Or none....

*sigh*

If you insist. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Kids Have Gone To School. I Live In The City. I Can Make A Game Out Of That! (P.S. I'm Sorry)

My kids have gone back to school this last week.

Dudes! The house is so QUIET!

Plus? I can, like, get soooo much done!

For instance, today? I was, like, super efficient and was able to get out in the front yard, do some weeding AND play a round of the game:


Is It Vomit?
 Or 
Is It Diarrhea?


Which, as everyone knows, can only be played properly

With pictures.

Close-ups. 

But classy close-ups. 



Wait, Mr. DeMille, 

I can totally make this picture classier. 

Totes better. 

Ok, fine, I know what you're thinking, "Martha, it's 2017, not 1952,  people don't classy things up DeMille style anymore, you need to Snap Chat that.......stuff."

Really? 

Oh.

Huh. 

I mean, well... sure. 

I guess I could!


How's that? 

Maybe add a filter?


And a frame!!



Step. Back. Willis.

I have the most 'tim-mate idea! Ev. Er.

1) Snap Chat flower wreath,

2) Filter it with a vintage Polaroid look

AND FINALLY

3) A funky camera angle to show that the unidentified crap in my yard doesn't take itself too seriously, you know, in the whole "I just woke up like this" Instagram pic style.

Perfect. 



No. But, in all seriousness, people. 

Is it vomit or diarrhea? 

Award yourself 250 points (YES A WHOLE 250!!!) if you play the game 
PLUS! 
I'll send a box of mac and cheese to the winner!

I'm not kidding. 

Friday, June 30, 2017

Just When You Think Your Mailbox Knows You...

Guys? It seems I've turned the corner, age wise. According to my mailbox, no longer am I a strong, virile* woman, mind like a steel trap:



sleeping the night away, confident that in the morning my eye hand coordination will be on point



Oh, no. Instead, it seems I am having problems. In the bathroom. Explosive ones.



Dudes. I didn't even know I had explosions going on all up and down in my bowel.

Unfortunately, it looks like in order to fix my bathroom jam...quagmire...toughie...enigma...stumper... metaphorical Gordian knot (Huh? *wink wink* Huh? *nudge nudge* Get it?)  I need to add peppermint candies and bananas to my diet:


(cue whiny voice) Ah. Maaaaaan. I hate peppermint. And bananas! Can't I just use coffee to set off, like, controlled explosions or something?

Apparently not.


But, yesterday, as I sat down, bowl of sliced bananas and crushed peppermint candies at my elbow, my recently arrived Mind, Mood & Memory crossword puzzle in front of me, and the ghost of my daily crossword completing Grandma in the corner, being all:




the doorbell rang.

I had a package!

And it was this:



I kid you not:



And after a quick check-in with my uterus (because, dude, seriously, that wouldn't be cool), I began to realize, my mail box, after years of a relationship full of giving and receiving, full on bonding through rain, wind, snow, sun, heat and even bird poop, doesn't know me. At. All.

*sigh*

At least my Google searches and I are still besties. Well, maybe.









*Anecdote to support my vocabulary choice: A year or two ago some lady walked up to me in the airport restroom as I was standing in front of one of the stalls waiting for Ellie, looked me in the eye and said, "Do you need some help. *deliberate pause* Sir?" So, see, I'm thinking, woman can totally be virile.**

**What I didn't say to the bathroom lady's face but did say in my head: Look, lady, if there is one place you can be sure someone is self identifying.....

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.