Hollow Tree Ventures parenting humor
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99 Ways Moms REALLY Spend Time At a National Park

Last week, I got an email letting me know that the National Park Service is turning 99 years old on August 25 (look at that, 'Merica - we're getting all grown up!) and to celebrate, they're waiving entrance fees at all their parks on their birthday. They also sent me a list of 99 ways to #FindYourPark, including items like "Make a memory."

Or, be seen yelling, "HEY, WAIT UP GUYS, WHERE THE %$&@* DO YOU THINK YOU'RE GOING?"
Oh, we parents are sure to make a memory almost every time we take our kids anywhere, but probably not exactly the ones we hoped we'd make. So, to give myself an excuse to tell you to GET OUT TO YOUR NEAREST NATIONAL PARK and enjoy time with your children, while simultaneously reminding you why you never bother taking your children anywhere, I wrote a 99-item list too!


1) Take pictures of your kids next to unusually large trees.

2) Tell them to get down out of unusually large trees (but make sure to take a photo first).

3) Share those photos on Facebook to prove what an outdoorsy mom you are.

4) Yell, “BE CAREFUL!” every time your child gets close to the edge of a stream or the top of a steep incline.

5) Mentally calculate how many wine calories this hike adds up to.

6) Try desperately to remember what poison ivy looks like.

7) And is that poison oak over there?

8) Encourage your kids to listen for their echo in a canyon, hoping they’ll be tired of yelling by the time you get home.

9) Herd children to ensure they’re 75 feet away from the safety railings at all times.

10) Talk to your kids about how much you love nature.

11) Then pretend not to be squeamish when your child tries to show you a snake or large insect.

12) Apply copious amounts of bug spray.

13) Determine which of your children might be able to suck venom out of a snake bite, NOT THAT YOU’RE STILL THINKING ABOUT SNAKES.

14) Or West Nile virus.

15) Reapply bug spray.

16) Look at a sculpture in an urban park; congratulate yourself for doing something educational with the children.

17) Pretend it isn’t funny when the kids laugh at a tree knot that looks like a butt.

18) Rent a boat on a pristine lake.

19) Yell, “BE CAREFUL!” every time child gets close to the side of the boat.

20) Tell them you know the life vest isn’t very comfortable, but IT’S FOR THEIR OWN SAFETY SO STOP MESSING WITH THE BUCKLES ALREADY.

See what I mean? As we parents know, it only gets more ridiculous (and funny) from here — so read the full list of 99 (all-too-realistic) ways parents spend their time at National Parks in my post over on Mommy Shorts!

99 things parents are guaranteed to do in a National Park by Robyn Welling @RobynHTV

I hope you enjoyed yourself while you were here - and I hope you come back! Please share inappropriate giggles with me on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, or subscribe via email so you don't miss a thing!

Lots Of Things About Fall Stink, But This Doesn't

Back to School is coming fast, and I'm teaming up with Febreze In-Wash Odor Eliminator to offer a back to school giveaway.

Enter this Back to School giveaway from Febreze In-Wash Odor Eliminator for a chance to win a $100 gift card to Walmart, $50 gift card to Dick's Sporting Goods and Febreze In-Wash to get rid of the stink this fall!

One winner will take home a $100 Walmart gift card, $50 Dicks Sporting Goods gift card plus Febreze In-Wash Odor Eliminator to help you expel the smell.

Undo the Pee Yew

So much for back to school, it's time to get back to STINK.

Football. Soccer. Hockey. Fall yard work. Hitting the gym. You name it, the stink is back, and it's badder than ever.

So click here to download a $2 off coupon to try Febreze In-Wash Odor Eliminator to expel the smell, undo the pee yew and sink the stink.

And if you're already a fan, click here to leave a review.

Enter to Win!

Complete the form below to enter to win!

Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm ET on Monday, August 31, 2015. Entrants must be residents of the United States or Canada. Promotion is void in Quebec.

I hope you enjoyed yourself while you were here - and I hope you come back! Please share inappropriate giggles with me on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, or subscribe via email so you don't miss a thing!

So Much For 1980s Nostalgia

My husband, whom I'll likely never forgive, showed me this video of a Cabbage Patch Kid being born. Apparently you can go to Babyland General Hospital and observe a CPK being plucked from the patch, right there under a fiberglass tree amid freakishly gyrating doll heads encased in heads of cabbage, complete with underground ultrasounds and a "nurse" encouraging Mother Cabbage to push.

Let's just take a moment to reflect on how many things are wrong with that sentence.

As a child of the 80's, I never wondered how my CPK was born. I heard the Xavier Roberts lore, but I didn't need to see it happening. However, as ridiculous as it sounds to watch a vegetable's birth plan unfold in the harsh fluorescent glow of a magical garden, people do it anyway. And they probably stop at the gift shop on the way out, because who doesn't want a souvenir from the day they witnessed an enchanted cabbage deliver a human/salad hybrid baby?

That's why I think there must be an untapped market for selling TMI experiences that ruin feature the toys I remember fondly from my youth (or the ones I used to remember fondly, right up until I watched someone wipe cabbagey amniotic fluid off them). Here are some more ways we could capitalize on uncomfortably up-close looks at how popular 1980s toys came to be.

Teddy Ruxpin's Fuzzy Wuzzy Surgical Center
Step into the operating room, kids! We'll watch as majestic grizzlies, "rescued" from the salmon-rich waters of Alaska, have cassette tape decks surgically implanted into their spinal columns! Later, we can venture down the hall to see the failed talking animal experiments, before they're shipped off to perform musical gigs at Chuck-E-Cheese locations across the country.
Rainbow Brite's Amazing Technicolor Sex Romp
An off-off-off Broadway musical detailing our colorful heroine's torrid affair with would-be bad guy, Murky Dismal, before their love soured - sending him into a tailspin of rainbow hatred, and her into the open arms of Twink. Running time: 47 hours. Forty-six of those hours are horrifyingly gratuitous nudity.
My Little Pony Breeding Stables
Come visit the MLP Breeding Stables, where young children can watch colorful, sparkly horses mate with pterodactyls to create the mysteriously beautiful Pegasus Ponies!
Care Bears' Belly Badge Assignment Camp
Join the Care Bears at Care-a-lot's signature overnight camp, where new recruits are hazed mercilessly, forced to exhibit only one personality trait (represented by embarrassingly juvenile emblems permanently emblazoned on their bellies), and are given demeaning nicknames like "Funshine."
Strawberry Shortcake: Skank Intervention
Help rescue the Strawberryland gang from their shameful early careers as topless Jell-o wrestlers. Sure, now "Life is Delicious" - but as they say, you can take the girl out of the Jell-o, but you can't take the fruity Jell-o smell out of the girl.
So? What do you think? Let me know how much (rounded up to the nearest $100) you'd like to contribute to my Kickstarter campaign to make these nostalgic TMI Origin Adventures (trademark!) a reality.

I originally wrote this post for In The Powder Room; it is republished here with permission.

I hope you enjoyed yourself while you were here - and I hope you come back! Please share inappropriate giggles with me on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, or subscribe via email so you don't miss a thing!

Parents: How To Have Fun On the Fourth of July Or Die Trying

tips for parents determined to have fun on the 4th of July - or die trying - by Robyn Welling @RobynHTV

The Fourth of July has long been my absolute favorite holiday. You get tons of food, the pressure-free option to hang out with friends or family or no one at all, there's built-in entertainment, and it's one of the few holidays where I don't have to buy anyone a present. Quadruple score.

But as I was perusing the photo archives on Ol' Rusty (my computer), I realized something. The HTV household Fourth of July standards have been slipping lately, and I blame the kids.

I know—they enjoy the excitement, the celebration, the excuse to stay up way past their bedtimes while consuming twice their own body weight in junk food. Who doesn't?

"Mommy, we're all out of blue sugar.
Can I eat all the other flavors of sugar now?"

But what about the things I enjoy about the Fourth of July? How am I supposed to stay up late porking out on hamburgers, drinking beer, and exploding things, when I have to be all responsible (she said in a whiny voice)? The authorities expect me to be concerned about whether or not the kids step on hot sparkler stems, or get malaria from all the mosquitoes, or handle live explosives, or overdose on whatever the heck is in hot dogs, and from what I understand they're pretty serious about it.
Authorities: Ma'am, did you know we found your children four houses down, covered head to toe in ice cream and trying to set slices of pickle on fire?

Me (ketchup drizzling out of the corner of my stuffed mouth): HUmmmphh?

Authorities: Are we to understand that you were unaware they snuck into the cooler and each chugged fourteen fully caffeinated sodas, turned on the hose and dared each other to play Slip-N-Slide in the grass without proper Slip-N-Slide equipment, lit an entire box of sparklers at once without supervision, and then declared they were bored because there was nothing to do?

Me: I'm sorry, sir, there must be a misunderstanding. I don't have any children.
It's sort of a buzz kill to be hauled off for neglect when I'm just getting ready to enjoy the Big Major Impressive Fireworks Finale.

Several years ago the kids wanted to see something bigger than our lame-o-la backyard bottle rocket assortment, so we staked out a great spot (the parking lot of an abandoned factory) to see our town's fireworks display. We got there just in time to set up our chairs, settle in, and give ourselves a hearty pat on the back for our planning skills and impeccable timing.

And then we waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

There's surprisingly little for kids to do in the parking lot of an abandoned factory when you won't let them play on stacks of rotting wooden pallets. Not only did I wear myself out chasing them off tetanus hazards and watching out for discarded hypodermic needles, I couldn't pass the time in my favored style because there were disappointingly few beer and soft pretzel vendors in our increasingly creepy and deserted neck of the woods.

To add insult to injury, by the time the explosions started the kids were super over it and just wanted to go home.

"Pyrotechnics are bo-ring."

However, please note that I have a stupid smile on my face in this photo as I mentally block out the kids' complaints, not to mention that I just noticed I was wearing Zoe's plastic tiara. That goes to show how hard I like to party on the Fourth.

Because I love fireworks. There's something romantic and amazing and beautiful about them, a quality that I'd like to point out is strangely absent if they're set off on any other day of the year, when they're instead considered an annoyance that fills me with murderous rage (I'm looking at you, stupid neighbors).
But I digress.
Anyway, my point is that the children and their pesky need for me to help them stay alive through the holiday have been seriously cramping my Fourth of July style the past few years. So this year, come Hell or high water or kids choking on red, white, and blue Bomb Pops, I'm making myself some holiday promises.
I will see fireworks this year.
I will do it far from a location where the children will be tempted to treat teetering stacks of parking lot debris like playground equipment.
I will eat some form of meat that tastes vaguely of charcoal and sulfurous smoke, and I will wash it down with a beer no matter how many times my son tells me he thinks it's weird when women drink beer. (WHAT IS UP WITH THAT, ANYWAY???)

I will not think about West Nile Virus. I will convince the children that mosquito bites are patriotic, and that every time a kid whines about being itchy, a bald eagle dies.
I will give myself a free pass to not care one iota if they get any real nutrition all day. 
I will sit with my husband's arm around me while I ooh and ahh like an 8-year-old at the booms and dancing lights in the sky. We'll put our hands over the toddler's ears; I will not worry about permanent hearing loss. We'll yell at the kids not to chase each other in the yard while they're eating pointy foods and throwing Snap Pops at each other. They'll ignore us. I won't care.
Because I'm going to have fun this year, or we're all going to die trying.

I hope you enjoyed yourself while you were here - and I hope you come back! Please share inappropriate giggles with me on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, or subscribe via email so you don't miss a thing!

Win This Tablet = Win This Summer

She is totally coloring by letter here, which I'm only showing you to illustrate how cute and education this is, and not at all to brag that she (apparently) knows her letters.

Do you see that? It's a picture I took of my 4-year-old when I ordinarily would have been telling her to get off her tablet (or at least feeling guilty that I wasn't telling her to get off her tablet) because I was busy taking pictures instead of feeling The Mom Guilt.

Okay, in hidsight I do feel a bit guilty that I had it propped up with the cord bent all wonky underneath like that, since that's probably not good for the charger, but now we're getting way off topic. TRY TO FOCUS, PEOPLE.

The educational experts and all-around nice folks at School Zone sent us a Little Scholar 8-inch educational kids' tablet to try out (see, wasn't that nice?) and said they'll send one out to the winner of this giveaway, too (wasn't that even nicer?!?), but first you should know why you want one, besides the lack of The Mom Guilt and the fact that you still have every opportunity not to bend the cord all wonky...

  • It's loaded with over 200 educational, fun apps geared perfectly by age to preschoolers, kindergarteners and first graders, which, if I'm being honest, I also sort of wanted to play.
  • It's also loaded with a bunch of "Start to Read" books that include audio tracks, so if you're super busy you can encourage kids to have a voice read to them that's pre-programmed to be patient with their constant interruptions (not that kids would ever interrupt while you're reading EVERY TWO SECONDS).
  • Your kid can use it with or without wifi, so no whining in the car on summer road trips that they're bored as soon as you're out of tower range, and no racking up $563 worth of overage on your data plan.
  • Parental controls let you easily do nifty stuff like block the Internet, so your preschooler doesn't hop online and order herself 10 more of these awesome gadgets.
  • There are front and rear cameras — now your children can store all their up-close nostril selfies on their own tablet instead of your phone!
  • You can download even MORE apps from the School Zone Market or the Amazon App Store, so seriously, you could keep using this thing forever or until your second grader drops it in the toilet, whichever comes first.

The lessons these apps teach include math, reading, spelling, logic, creativity, and geography, but — and here's the important part — your children will NEVER EVEN KNOW you're tricking them into learning. HAHAHAHAHA, suckers. The educational stuff is cleverly disguised in I Spy games, animated flashcards, puzzles, word searches, drawing programs and other cool stuff that your kids will keep begging to play — and you'll keep feeling good about saying yes.


The Little Scholar is finally available in stores (new for this year is an updated tablet, new accessories including a carrying case AND plush from their own educational series, Charlie and Company, which Madeline was extremely impressed with as you can see above because it has adorable embroidered paws and because it made the perfect boyfriend for some random stuffed dog she had which concerns me just a tiny bit but I'm seeking therapy for it so no worries). I strongly encourage you to run out and snag one, but before you go be sure to enter the giveaway below for a chance to WIN A TABLET FOR FREE:

1) For one entry, leave a comment here telling me what you're going to love about this tablet - seeing the radiant smile on your child's face, getting five spare minutes to listen to yourself think, whatever, no judging.

2) For another entry, follow me on Instagram for no good reason other than Instagram is fun - and leave a blog post comment here letting me know you did!

3) For yet another entry, follow me on Pinterest because it's one of my favorite places to find new stuff to never do and giggle at silly memes. Then (you guessed it) leave a blog post comment here letting me know you did!

I'll select a winner at random at 12 noon EST on Friday, June 26th. If unable to contact the winner within 48 hours, I'll select another random winner until SOMEONE wins this fantastic gizmo. Good luck!

I received product in exchange for this post, but all opinions are my own — as if you could get me to shut up about my opinions! Also, this post may contain affiliate links which will never cost you more dollah dollahs to use, but pass a small percentage of the sale back to me in order to cover expenses like my stuffed-dog-with-a-boyfriend-related therapy.

I hope you enjoyed yourself while you were here - and I hope you come back! Please share inappropriate giggles with me on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, or subscribe via email so you don't miss a thing!