Hollow Tree Ventures parenting humor
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Gerry's P.O.V.

I firmly believe that no one on the planet uses their cell phone camera more than my husband.  He gets it out when Maddie does pretty much anything (or looks like she's about to do something) and takes 50 pictures in a row, which must look like 50 completely identical pictures to anyone but her parents.

("Awww, you can tell she's thinking about the color chartreuse in this one...")
Of course I do that with my camera too, which is why when she's grown up and Diane Sawyer is interviewing her, they'll never actually get around to discussing her multitude of accomplishments because Gerry and I will insist they first show a montage of all 12-bajillion of her priceless baby photos.

When I'm sifting through his downloaded pictures, I find many he took at work for reasons that are unclear. I'll often come across a photo of an incomprehensible panel of blinking lights and tangled wires; I don't know if he needed to show the set-up to another guy and taking a pic was easier than ripping the panel off the wall, or if he's recording what it looked like when he got there in case his complete rewire of the building doesn't work out and he has to put it back how he found it. I lump these into a category along with Photos He Takes at Work While Atop Very Tall Buildings, which I suspect he takes mainly just to give me vertigo.

There are other photos taken for practical purposes in there, too. We don't have a printer hooked up to our computer (I know, it's like we're cave people) because we're incapable of supplying ourselves with the correct kind of ink cartridges and preventing them from drying up into shriveled little ink cartridge raisins. I've known Gerry to take a picture of our computer screen that shows a payment confirmation, and use it to return something at the store when it clearly states that a printed receipt is required. I'm not sure how he gets away with it.

He can use his camera to make a point, like the time I insisted that we didn't own a wet/dry vac, and he had to go out to the garage and show me that I was, in fact, mistaken.

Hmm, point taken.  But sometimes the joke's on someone else...

We don't know these nice folks, but their picture was hanging up on the wall at a lodge where we went over the summer, so he took a close-up of it and sent it to his family with the caption, "We're having a great time on vacation." This amused us both greatly.

One of my favorite ways he uses it is to capture little scenes from his day; that way, I can feel like I was there with him while he was at work, and I know he was thinking about me. Like a beautiful sunrise...

or a hungry cat stalking the birds in a nursing home's aviary...

or the remains of a gigantic moth that is a little too well camouflaged for my taste, and clearly died from eating too many whole cows.

But best of all is when he finds and shares oddities he encountered throughout the day that he thought might make me laugh. For instance, an electric wheelchair with an ironic brand name.

Or a prime example of one of my biggest "pet peeves."

The perfect pairing of news headline and photo.

Random products with stupid names.

Mysterious items—this one was sent to a gal he works with, with a text starting, "I found your car."

Dumb signs (really, people?)

And one of my favorites:

Yes, that's a room full of mannequin torsos on poles, surrounding one headless mannequin sitting on a toilet. I love that whoever set this up (and no, it was not Gerry) left a full roll of TP for Headless. Because of awesome, that's why.

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!

Food Fight

At six months old, Madeline is not the most experienced eater in the house. She is, however, very curious about food and very interested in eating.

Luckily she doesn't know anything about pizza or Rice Krispie treats, so she's relatively satisfied with baby cereal. The more she studies us while we eat, though, the more I'm starting to wonder if she might be getting suspicious that she's missing out.

Nevertheless, she's more than willing to dig in, even though (and this is just my own personal opinion) it smells like lukewarm dirt broth.

Sorry Gerber, I'm sure you've done exhaustive research on what babies find delicious, and based on what I've witnessed at many playgrounds, maybe soil-based soups are what babies crave. Who am I to argue with results?

Madeline seems to like it just fine, and for her (as with all babies) eating is a full-contact, total body experience. You haven't completed a meal until you've explored it with all five senses and gotten a complete upper body workout.

With all that effort, a baby really wears herself out. So, like her mother, eventually Maddie likes to recline and just have someone shovel the food in.

And I do, because after all, who could say no to that face?

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!

Photo Collage Friday

Here's a random, photo collage recap of the week:

  • This week I'm afraid it might be time to bid a sad farewell to fall, and if you know much about botany (that's nerd-talk for "plants") you can tell a lot about the changing of the seasons by studying the trees.  At the beginning of October, trees are still all green and lush.  This is what scientists call the It Still Appears To Be Summer When You Look Out the Window But It's Chillier Outside Than You Think phase.  Within a few days, most of the trees have burst into full technicolor, which is breathtakingly beautiful and lasts for exactly five minutes.

Then there are approximately two days of the Bare Branches Against Bright Blue Sky phase, which is also pretty; these are the two days during which you'd better go through a corn maze and take a hay ride if you plan on doing it, because it is closely followed by our next stage, which is called Wet and Creepy Branches Against a Bleak Gray Sky. This stage is perfect for Halloween, but unfortunately Halloween is only one night, whereas this stage in the progression of seasons lasts for two months, or until there is such a thick coating of ice on the trees that all the branches break off, whichever comes first.
  • I was made painfully aware of my age this morning when I told my kids that "I pity the fool," and was greeted by blank stares.  That's right, my kids have no idea who Mr. T is.  What is this world coming to?
  • I posted a few days ago about our trip to the orchard where we got our pumpkins and carved 'em up.  However, I had forgotten to take pics of the kids' finished Jack-o-lanterns; I'm glad that I did take a picture right after that, because despite Gerry's efforts to spray them with preservative, as of this morning they're more mold than pumpkin.

Ummm, gross.  So much for that preservative.
  • Jake gets pretty excited about taking pictures these days.  He borrowed my camera and took these pics of his Lego knights.  I've added their actual dialogue.
  • Occasionally Gerry nags me enough so that I prepare him a bottle for him to feed Maddie.  We found out this week that she can hold it herself now!

Okay, so who needs us?  It looks like she can take it from here - we're going on vacation.  Please note that in these pictures she's wearing a onesie that says, "Sorry ladies, my Daddy is taken."  I love that - it makes me snicker every time she wears it.  My sisters-and-mom-in-law threw me a baby shower, and for one of the activities each guest decorated a onesie.  Best.  Idea.  Ever.  They're so cute, and we ended up with a billion onesies.
Note:  There's supposed to be an adorable photo here of a billion onesies hanging on a clothesline, but my computer's being dumb, and I'm even dumber when it comes to making computers stop being dumb, so you'll have to use your imagination.
  •  Walking to school the other day, Jake said he was going to ask Santa for teleportation powers (I believe he may be getting tired of walking to school).  Hopeful, he said, "Santa gave me what I asked for last year!"  My mom and I shot each other the quick "yikes" look.  In a stroke of genius, she reasoned, "But if Santa had teleportation powers, wouldn't he use them himself?"  She and I attempted to plant the seed that Santa and his reindeer must get exhausted, going from house to house, landing delicately on each roof, so if he had the ability to teleport he'd probably be using it.

That's when Zoe, the Leading Authority on Whatever Happens to Come Up in Conversation, chimed in.  She informed us that the reindeer don't get tired because they can fly (which apparently doesn't fatigue them), and because (and here's where I learned something) the sleigh actually lands on the ground, and then Santa rides on the back of one reindeer to get up to the rooftop.  So Santa doesn't get tired either!  Curious, my mom asked, "So, does he ride a different one each time he lands, or is it always the same one?"  It seemed like a good question to me, but Zoe said, "I  don't know," as if it were completely ridiculous for us to expect her to be able to tell the reindeer apart.

The upshot was that the kids weren't buying our story about Santa not being able to provide super powers as a holiday gift.  So I guess for now I should appreciate the oncoming Wet and Creepy Branches Against a Bleak Gray Sky season, since it looks like I have some issues to deal with, come Christmastime.  Chief among them will be sorting out how to wrap teleportation powers.

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!

Video Evidence

Zoe is turning out to be a great reader - however, she's an ambitious child who often tries to read outside her ability range, as evidenced by the fact that, when given permission to choose anything she wanted at the used book store, she selected Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul (please note, she's 6 years old).

Right now she's into a chapter book about the tooth fairy, and she looooooves to "read" it to people, which really means that she looks at the pages and makes up the story as she goes along.  She likes to pretend to read almost as much as she likes to actually  read - she'll pretend your ear off, if you let her.  Sometimes it doesn't even make sense, but she'll just keep right on rambling in her reading voice.  Last night I got some video; here are some quotes and stills from her story - be forewarned, it's a little confusing, partly because all the characters seem to be named Joey.

"I do not want to play with Joey's."
"But you have  to.  Remember a deal... when... we got back, it was like, 'Joey, once it gets old, you have to play with the... with Joey's  kitchen when it gets old.  Not mine.'  And you said, 'YES, COMMANDER.'  You're probably still into that Toy Story movie, and your favorite person... well, a lot of people."
Zoe nods, very serious.
"But the tooth fairy's coming!  I want to play with yours!"
"But you're just going to make mine all busted up, like Joey's is.  That's why she never plays with it.  Because you busted it up, and ruined it.  With SLOBBER."

You can see she really enunciated the word "slobber."  That could be because, at about this time, the baby on my lap woke up and was very interested in grabbing and eating the camera.

"But, but - I didn't learn how to not  slobber," she said.
 After some thought and some page turning, the story got back around to the tooth fairy.
She made another note to the tooth fairy and said, "I have no idea who you are or what you wear, but...  P.S. This is a short note.  P.S. again - I am losing a tooth.  And my baby brother... [whispers] is weird."

Then she couldn't decide what happens next, so to buy some time she pretended to study the page as if she couldn't figure out what it said, while she quickly made something up.

Just as Madeline began nearly digesting the camera...

...Zoe continued, but there wasn't any good video for a few minutes, as the lens was fogged up with baby breath.
Chapter Nine.  This is funny.  So she told the tooth fairy, "But I want some money."  And the tooth fairy said, "You can't have any money, but I'll give you... this milliondy dollar ribbon."  So the kid said, "But I don't want a ribbon, because we can't take ribbons to school, because... it's a rule.  But we can take money, so I want some money.  But not the clangy... loud money, only paper.  Because the other kind is too loud, so we can't take it to school."  And she kept singing all the way to California - but she lived in America!  She sang, "Lalala, my legs are tired, lalala."
As you can imagine, this went on for some time - the video is ten minutes long, and I only recorded a fraction of her performance.  Finally, when Zoe was way off on a tangent about ant hotels, and Maddie started to get so wild that even her feet were getting in the shot...

 ...I said to Zoe, "I'm starting to think maybe you're not really reading anymore.  Is all of that really in the story?"

Zoe paused for a looooong time.  Finally she said with a laugh, "Naw, I'm just makin' stuff up."

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!

Pumpkins at the Patch

Over the weekend we took our pumpkins to the pumpkin patch.

Actually, we couldn't find a real pumpkin patch, despite the fact that we drove around in (what I call) the country for about an hour and saw umpteen signs claiming there were pumpkin patches nearby.  I started thinking maybe "Pumpkin Patch" signs just grow wild out there by the side of the road, and we shouldn't be taking them so literally.  Finally we found an orchard, which by then seemed close enough.  To our relief, they did have some pumpkins.

What they had a LOT of were apples.  Go figure, it was an orchard.

I briefly lamented the fact that I'm nursing Maddie and therefore couldn't single-handedly wipe out their entire stock of hard ciders and fruit wine.  This is why every parenting magazine and doctor's office pamphlet is crammed with articles about how great breastfeeding is for the baby - they're FDA-mandated morale boosters for those of us who have to ride in a car for an hour with a baby who's teetering on the edge of cranky sleepiness and two little kids who want to know how much farther away the nonexistent pumpkin patch is, but who can't self-medicate with an entire bottle of blueberry-apple cider.  Without constant encouragement, we moms would give up and all breastfed babies would be drinking Coke out of a can by week two.

I'm kidding, of course.  Actually the kids were angels and looked like they were having tons of fun just spinning around.  Ah, remember getting dizzy?  Adults think of dizziness solely as the potential symptom of a major neurological illness.  It does not occur to grown-ups to get dizzy on purpose.

Eventually we stumbled home and started the best part - carving!  Which, of course, starts with digging out the seeds.  For kids, that mostly means playing with the seeds and pretending they're the grossest things on earth.

Then, as is the tradition we started because we like for the kids' fingers to remain intact, the kids drew what they wanted their Jack-o-lanterns to look like, and Gerry did the carving.

No, not everything.  After all that, I forgot to take a picture of the finished pumpkins. 

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!

Intelligent Life

I know you THINK you're sitting completely still.  In fact, if you're like me, you'd contend that you haven't moved your buns off the chair you're in right now for anything other than getting another Reese's cup for the last several hours.  But the truth is, we're all moving at an incredible rate of speed, despite the fact that this movement is translated into exactly zero calories burned (unfair).  This is because the universe itself  is moving, and we (get ready to have a Science Moment) are in  the universe - luckily we're smashed onto the surface of our planet by gravity, because we're zipping through the vacuum of space at an alarming 74.2 kilometers/second/megaparsec.

For those of you who aren't physics professors, or who aren't familiar with kilometers ("What's up with that whole metric system thingamajiggy, anyway?"), I can tell you in layman's terms that this means the universe is expanding at roughly the same speed as Donald Trump's ego, which is pretty dang fast.  And since it's stretching and twisting and expanding like a box full of Slinkys that got dumped down the stairs (beautiful metaphor, I know) and is full of various gasses (also like Donald Trump), it gives NASA lots of gorgeous photo ops.

The other day Gerry and I were looking at some of these pictures, and I mentioned something about a discovery some Science Guys made a while back about a section of the universe that tastes like raspberries.  As you can imagine, Gerry looked at me like I had three heads and one of them was on backwards.

Unfortunately, I tend to only remember about 20% of anything I learn, which means I recall the gist of a story but absolutely no details to back it up.  What I wanted to do was make up a bunch of stuff on the spot so I'd sound like I knew what I was talking about, like, "Well, in June of 1998 Sir Issac Nerdfellow of the Norwegian Outer Space Institute discovered a sector of the universe known as the Raspberry District, which tastes precisely like fruit-topped waffles with whipped cream due to the fact that it contains a chemical called IHOP Breakfast 182."  Gerry, however, would never fall for that.

"Why don't you blog about it," he taunted.  And so I am.

In fact, in 2009 astrobiologists (yes, that's a real profession) went poking around in a cloud of dust called Sagittarius B2 in the center of the Milky Way (Hey, I know a guy who lives there!) and found that it contains ethyl formate, which is the chemical responsible for giving raspberries their flavor.  As a bonus, it also smells like rum!  However, when I looked the story up again, I read that the cloud also contains propyl cyanide, which is responsible primarily for killing stuff.  Hmmm.

I started getting more and more alarmed, as I considered the possibility that there's some swarthy cloud of dust that has infiltrated our very own galaxy, and it's currently amassing the ingredients to mix up a giant poisoned, girly, fruity rum cocktail.  At some point in the near future, this Sagittarius B2 fellow might try to sidle up next to us here on Earth and offer to "buy us a drink," at which point he'll produce a Biggie-sized sugar-rimmed glass with a huge umbrella in it, and we'll collectively bat our eyelashes and accept the drink just because it's been such a long time since any amorphous space clouds have told us we look thin.

Then what will become of us???  We're already doing a dandy job of poisoning our own environment; we can't really afford to douse ourselves with some kind of berry-flavored cyanide from outer space.  As far as I know, scientists aren't even looking into this, so if/when it happens we'll be totally unprepared.  This strikes me as terribly irresponsible.  That's why I think we should all work together and do something, like write a fake phone number on a really gigantic piece of paper.  That way, when that Sagittarius guy gets here, we'll be ready to tell him to buzz off.

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!

I hate Lifetouch photography - part 3

I really, really wasn't going to acknowledge the existence of Lifetouch ever again after dedicating two whole previous posts to how much I hate them. But then I checked my email this morning, and I thought you'd like to hear this.

No, I didn't get a response from Customer Service - let's not be crazy, here. That would require them to actually formulate an answer, learn how to operate their computers, AND compose a real message that isn't one of their "we'd love to help you but unfortunately we won't" stock emails. Instead I got an email from my son's teacher.  She said:
Some of you did NOT receive the correct packet, others of you received pictures you did not order.  We have contacted LifeTouch and they have said that parents who received the wrong packet need to call the company in order to correct the mistake.
First of all, good luck, Other Parents. I think we all know where that's  going. Second of all, I must admit to feeling some slight relief that I'm not (entirely) crazy. After so much ranting about something as minor (in the grand scheme of things) as $32 worth of photographs, I was starting to think maybe it was all in my head, that maybe there was something wrong with me that I couldn't figure something out that should be so simple. Or that I was (gasp) overreacting. Thank goodness THAT'S not the case! But then came the best part:
LifeTouch has agreed that you may keep them free of charge. I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused, and want you to know I am considering other options for our future photography needs.
Ha! Take that, Lifetouch Gnomes! Your days are numbered.

***By way of update, our school system no longer uses Lifetouch because, apparently, I'm not the only person who hates them. We have an arrangement with a new photography company, which I'm hoping you won't hear all about in a future series of angry internet rants.

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!