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Hollow Tree Ventures parenting humor
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Cuteness

I've been so busy ranting about random things and complaining lately (two of my favorite activities), that I just realized it's been a while since I shared some of the Cuteness that gets slathered around here in generous quantities on a daily basis.  So in no particular order, here's some cuteness witnessed on the home front in the past several days:

  • Zoe found a baby toy in her room and gave it to Maddie; she took obvious pleasure in introducing her to all the parts and teaching her how to play with it.  I think she might also be subliminally teaching her something about hoarding, though.
  • Describing the tartness of cranberry juice, Zoe said it "feels like you don't have any cheeks."
  • It's not the best picture, but here's Maddie trying to imitate a face I was making.
  • Jake declared that he knew what he was going to ask Santa for this year: "for everyone to have a happy Christmas."  As my heart began to get all warm and toasty with the innocent sweetness of a child's generosity at Christmastime, I heard him add under his breath, "That oughtta get me a lot of presents."
  • Zoe offered to make dinner.  There was quite a bit of kitchen clattering as she labored away - when she reemerged, she'd made alphabet soup.
  • Maddy and Gerry - working on a screenplay?
  • We were playing one evening in Zoe's room (yes, I've alerted the media: ZOE CLEANED HER ROOM!).  Jake came in and introduced himself with some ridiculous name that changed every time he said it, which only cracked him up more the harder he tried to keep a straight face, especially considering the snooty British accent he was using.
  •  


    I pretended like he stole my credit card (naturally), so Zoe pretended to call the police; when I told her it was all just a misunderstanding she gave me a knowing look and, in a classic overemphasized misuse of air-quotes, said into her play phone, "Never mind, no police assistance will be necessary.  They worked it 'out.'"
     
  • Proof that I'm not the only nerd addicted to her phone.

  • We had Thanksgiving at my in-laws', and of course I managed to leave my camera lying around and forgot it there.  They brought it to me when they came over last night, and when I uploaded the pics I found one of Kennedy that someone (I'm guessing his brother) took with my unattended camera.  I heart this picture so much.
  •  
     
  • It's possible that you've heard about Maddie's semi-manic attraction to cold pop cans.  I mean, look at her eyes - that can't be healthy.


Well, check out what I caught her doing while she was SUPPOSED to be playing in her exersaucer...


Mm hmmm.  I should have known she couldn't be trusted after what she did at Walmart.  She was in her car seat, which was in the cart.  I looked down, and somehow she was playing with a packet of stickers I'd put up front in the basket.  When I took it from her, I saw how she'd managed to get it - she'd taken her sock off (which she then began waving around triumphantly) and was using her toes to pull things out of the basket!  Great, seven months old and my baby's already outsmarting me.  This doesn't bode well for the next 17 years and 5 months...

P.S. For those of you who noticed that Gerry happens to be planted in the same spot on the couch in all of his appearances above, I wanted to clear up any misconception that he spends a bunch of time loafing around.  On the contrary, the reason I have so many pics of him there is because I'm always on the couch, so the only time I take pictures of him is when he comes over to bring me a beverage or rub my feet.


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!


In the Spiral

That's right, no time to talk, I've been sucked into the Holiday Death Spiral.  You may have heard of this phenomenon, which starts annually a week before Halloween (at the moment when you realize you haven't gotten costumes for the kids yet), and gains momentum right up until January 2nd, when adults everywhere collapse into worthless, exhausted, stressed-out heaps.

We're past the Halloween and Thanksgiving markers on The Spiral, which lands me right in the middle of a frenzied "What Do You Mean Zoe's Birthday Is In a Week???" panic.  This portion of the Death Spiral entails frantic gift shopping (in addition to the regular Christmas shopping, which of course hasn't even been started yet because so far this season I've been too busy fending off panic attacks induced by prior stages of The Spiral).  Birthday shopping for Zoe isn't as easy as it should be for a little Girly Girl because she either A) circles everything in the toy catalog and claims to want it all with equal intensity, from the Barbie Dream House to a miscellaneous tub of black Play Doh, or B) names a few extremely specific things, all of which might be completely made up.  This year she opted for both approaches, using up all the ink in seven pens circling every item in Gran's toy catalog, but then naming three carefully chosen toys for me, at least two of which I was absolutely certain she was inventing while she was in the process of describing them to me.  But then I saw one of them at Walmart, which calls into question my judgement about the reality of the other things on her list.  So what I'm saying is, I don't even have the faintest idea what I'm looking for, gift-wise.

While freaking out about the gifts, I'm also trying to plan a party that will magically be easy, have all the girls from her class in attendance without me actually having to invite them or have them in my home, come together in a matter of days when other mothers seem to spend upwards of six months planning their kids' parties, and be awesome enough to distract her from the fact that we aren't at Chuck-E-Cheese, which is the germ-hole where she really wants to have her party.  Also, let's not forget assembling the gift bags to take to school, which seems like it should be cheap and easy but in fact takes elevendy hundred hours and costs more than the national debt of Greece.

My greatest hope is to get all of this done, preferably without clubbing someone over the head who's out at the stores despite the fact that it's Cyber Monday and they have no excuse not to be glued to their computer screen instead, and pull this birthday garbage together in time to properly start stressing out about Kennedy's birthday and putting up the Christmas decorations.  By the time I get that done, I should have just missed the deadline for shipping out-of-town gifts in time to get them to their destinations by the 25th.  That is, if I manage to get my shopping done and even have anything to mail.  Fa la la la la.... (breathe...)

But it's worth it - let's face it, kids are pretty cute, especially on their birthdays, even if they go on some kind of Sugary Cake Bender and bounce gleefully off the walls for several hours.  It's ridiculous, the things you'll do because it makes your kids all giddy, even if it's only for five minutes.  And who knows what kids will remember later - I fondly recall a big pink hat I used to have in my dress-up box when I was little (which I tastefully paired with a rockin' pair of roller skates and a purple ruffly skirt - perhaps the precursor to Zoe's Punky Brewster fashion sense), but I don't remember our trip to Disney World at all.  My kids are already surprising me with the things they remember, stuff I would have considered insignificant, and (as was apparently the case with me) it's not necessarily the stuff I intended for them to retain.  As a parent I can only hope that maybe someday when they're older they'll reminisce about some part their childhood that I actually meant to be memorable, like taking special gift bags to school for their classmates on their birthdays, instead of them brooding about something else I've probably said or done that they'll otherwise have to spend hours describing to their therapists.  No pressure.  For me, it's just all part of the Holiday Death Spiral.

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!


Recovery

By now most of you are either recovering from Thanksgiving with your family, or from Black Friday shopping, or both.


I'm still relatively unscathed, because as I may have mentioned yesterday I am NOT participating in the Black Friday madness, and we're not celebrating the Eating Portion of the Holiday Event until later today.  So really I have very little need to recover from Thanksgiving Day itself, since all I did yesterday was sit around and watch football (poor me).

I did want to log on to the old blog long enough today to share something with you, though.  In case you thought you had to endure some awkward conversations at your holiday feast, I invite you to check out this interview of Condoleezza Rice on the 700 Club.  Or rather, check out Pat Robertson's comments afterward in the wrap-up.  Prepare to cringe, and possibly roll your eyes so hard they get stuck.


Are you kidding me?!?!?  There are so many things wrong with this conversation that I truly just don't know where to begin.  I mean, I'm not saying I'm surprised - this is the guy who blamed the earthquake in Haiti on the Haitian peoples' pact with the devil, and has said plenty of other stupid things.   It just irks me that he has no idea what an idiot he is, nor does he care; if only Pat were smart enough to know he should feel stupid, he might actually make progress toward becoming a tolerable person.  It also irritates me a little that he not only hasn't tried mac and cheese, he DOESN'T EVEN KNOW WHAT IT IS.  I mean I know he's old and not really with it, but after he finished eating all the mastodons you'd think he'd have had an opportunity to try out some Kraft products.  And his co-host isn't helping; was she just too stunned by his question to point out that grocery stores everywhere are stuffed to the gills with mac and cheese, or does she really think that the world is not "on board" with it? 

Before any Religious Types get offended, please recognize that I don't dislike Pat Robertson because he's religious. I dislike him because he seems like a real jerk - the fact that his jerkiness is usually religious in nature is purely coincidence. Besides, any Religious Types should be concerned with the image he's projecting as a Public Religious Type; he's taking perfectly nice ideas and making them sound positively bat-poop crazy (pardon my French). I wouldn't be one bit surprised if I found out he was a member of PETA - that's how misguided his efforts are.

But on the plus side, maybe it's true that every human on Earth serves a purpose, and if so, maybe Pat's purpose is to make us feel better when we say something completely offensive and boneheaded.


Pat reminds us this year at Thanksgiving that, even if we did accidentally yell out, "That's gay," in reference to a bad football penalty right in front of our cousin who came out last year, or called Aunt Margaret a horrible old shrew only to realize she was standing right behind us, or got in a full-family, knock-down brawl over the health care debate - at least we didn't do it on national TV.  So I apologize if I'm being too hard on old Pat.  I hope you're all recovering well from your holidays, whatever they entailed, and that you had a delicious, racially-appropriate meal.

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!


Thanksgiving

I have so much to be thankful for this year.  First of all, while I was looking under the bed this morning for the pacifier Maddie dropped, I managed to also find the one she REALLY likes, the only one that ever really sends her off to Dreamland and keeps her there for an appreciable amount of time, which has been missing in action for about three months.  This discovery could equate to several hours of extra sleep for me, so you can imagine my unmitigated joy when Maddie welcomed it back with the warm affection of a mama bird for the baby who has fallen from the nest.  I know, it's the little blessings in life.  I may have cried a little.

I'm also thankful that my in-laws are awesome, so I don't have to be among the apparent majority of folks who would rather swim naked through a pool of angry wasps than spend time with their spouse's family.


I'm extra-grateful that they're taking care of Thanksgiving dinner again this year.  I've come to accept the fact that I'll probably never be able to host The Big Day, not in small part due to the fact that I can't even coordinate toast and scrambled eggs to be ready at the same time.  My poor family has never experienced the pleasure of a plate of "hot" breakfast (unless Gerry makes it) without either cold bacon, burnt toast, congealed eggs, or some combination of those items.  It seems to be no less than culinary wizardry when someone can manage to get 37 Required Traditional Thanksgiving Dishes prepared and on the table without even one thing still being frozen solid or giving everyone food poisoning.  Bravo!

As if that weren't enough of a reason for me to be grateful for not hosting, I could also never get my house clean enough for Public Viewing in time for any holiday.  For this I blame my children; we all know there's no point in cleaning ahead of time when there are kids around, because it only takes five minutes for every surface you just scrubbed to be covered in splotches of grape jelly and Polly Pockets accessories.  So I wait until the last minute to clean, except inevitably something ELSE comes up at the last minute ("What do you mean we don't have a turkey?!?!?") which prevents said cleaning.


I'm also grateful that I won't be observing the post-Thanksgiving holiday/savings event of Black Friday, which starts WAY too early in the morning for my taste and involves extremely close and competitive contact with other humans.  Plus, Black Friday is like senior prom for shoppers, and who needs that pressure?  Everyone who's going spends the weeks leading up to it asking you if you'll be there, and when you say no their faces cloud over with pity, like you're some sort of societal outcast who has no idea what amazing wonderment you'll be missing.  For those who do end up going, there's some kind of insane demand to "succeed" (for prom that usually means Have the Best Time You Ever Had In Your Entire Life - the Black Friday equivalent is to Buy Everything On Your Christmas Shopping List For No Less Than 95% Off).  Everyone will be yapping about it as soon as possible at school/work/gymboree, comparing notes on the deals they got, bragging about how much they got accomplished and how many elderly ladies they trampled to get the last XBox 360, until those of us who slept through it will secretly wish we'd gone - for about two seconds, until we realize that there's NO AMOUNT OF SAVINGS that would be worth camping out in front of Walmart at 3 AM alongside the types of people who camp out in front of Walmart.

So let's all count our blessings and try to enjoy Thanksgiving, despite the fact that I can already  see Christmas trees fully Vegas-ed out in people's front windows (you know who you are), many of us will be forced to sit through a long meal one micrometer away from someone who won't stop talking about tryptophan, and some of you have Black Friday looming before you tomorrow with all of the lost sleep and disappointment promised by a thousand New Years Eve parties.  Try not to eat so much that you pass out and miss the only Thanksgiving Day football game worth watching in the history of the NFL.  And Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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!


Gobble gobble gobble

Just in time for Thanksgiving...


Yup, this freakish Photoshop Frankenstein has been released as a Public Service to spread the joy of Holiday Guilt to the youngsters of our country and to promote awareness of the plight of turkeys everywhere.  Thankful yet?  Look, PETA, I'll just come out and say it.  You've become like the well-meaning but certifiably insane doddering grandfather who comes to the family Christmas gathering with a wrapped giftbox containing a tube of toothpaste, a half-eaten sandwich in a plastic baggie, and a can of Deep Woods OFF; we get where you're coming from, it's technically a thoughtful and practical gift, but your presentation clearly indicates that it's time to have you confined to a home.

Plus, I hate to be the one to break this to you PETA, but the average kid sees exactly zero connection between his adorable, beloved family pet and the ugliest feathered creature ever to ooze out of God's imagination. (You should have gone with the "turkeys are too ugly to eat" angle; I might have agreed with you there. Then my family could have just had ham instead.) So saying you shouldn't eat a turkey because you wouldn't eat your dog is like saying you shouldn't eat cookies because you wouldn't eat lima beans slathered in non-toxic Tacky Glue. Sure, technically these things all fall under the broad category of "Stuff That Won't Kill You If Ingested," but let's not underestimate the importance of filing things under the subcategories "Delicious" and "That's Disgusting."


Also, I couldn't help but notice that they urge, "Go vegan."  They do know what "vegan" means, don't they?  The ad doesn't say, "If you wouldn't eat your dog, then for God's sake put down the glass of milk," does it?  I just think it would've been smart to introduce an intermediate step like vegetarianism if your angle is to get kids to give up their delicious, succulent Thanksgiving feast.  That's all.  Vegetarianism is already a pretty tough sell on it's own without trying to sneak in veganism.
PETA: No kid, you can't eat turkey this year.  Have a salad!
Kid: Well, okay, I guess...  At least I can hide the lettuce under a mountain of cheese and ranch dressing.
PETA: Oh yeah, about that - negative on the dairy, too.
Kid: But...
PETA: Uh huh. And also, no chicken nuggets. Or mac-n-cheese. Or hot dogs.
Concerned Mother: But that's all he'll eat!  He'll starve!
PETA: Your child will need to adapt to life with a ketchup-only diet, ma'am.
I'd also like to point out that most people, including your most rabid members of PETA, would eat a dog, if they absolutely had no other choice. (To all you sensitive-types out there, I'm sorry I had to say that, but PETA forced my hand.)   I'm not saying it would be your first choice, or even your third choice unless the other options were something like grubs or a McRib. But eventually, if your airplane had crashed in the Himalayas without a single Taco Bell as far as the eye could see, and you were stranded for weeks on end with nothing to eat but glaciers, and there was a dog there who was always crackin' wise about your mama and was suspected of plotting to kill you, you'd consider eating him. So sorry, PETA people, we're all omnivores, whether you like it or not.
 
 
Don't get me wrong, I actually agree with veganism - no doubt many animals raised for food are treated badly, and in some cases the industrial practice is environmentally damaging.  Nobody likes that idea.  And committing to vegetarianism became even easier on Tuesday last week, when the geniuses in Congress decided pizza is a vegetable.  The only question is, how desperate do you have to be before you'll toss aside the ideals and grill up a juicy, delicious hamburger?  It's possible that the only difference between me and that lady picketing outside the local KFC is where we fall on the Starvation/Morals Threshold; deep down we're both vegans, I just don't have to be as hungry as her before I'll resort to eating a turkey.


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!


A Threat to American Families

I'm here today to tackle a serious issue, even knowing that some of you aren't going to like what I have to say.  But I can no longer stand idly by and watch as families everywhere fall victim to this latest threat to the fabric of our society.  It's in our homes, and slowly we become addicted; it's difficult to recognize at first, but it's high time someone shone the light of truth on this insidious menace.

I'm speaking, of course, about your iPhone.  Or iPad.  Or Android.  Or Blackberry.  Or whichever petri dish it is that you make your phone calls on.

What I'm referring to there is my first point, which is the obvious issue of germs.  Germs, germs, germs.  According to Dr. Roshini Raj of Health Magazine, as seen on the Today Show and then reported by TechSpot (I like all my data to be at least three times removed from the source), your smartphone screen is probably infected with 500 times more bacteria than a toilet seat - that's right, 500 times, they say.  This means your phone could be almost  as filthy as your child's hands after they play a couple video games at Chuck-E-Cheese, right before they come bounding over to give you a big hug and dig into some pizza.

I take it as a very bad sign that, when you search Google Images with the keywords "toilet germ test" in hopes of finding a picture of some poor guy swabbing a toilet seat for bacteria so you can make a joke about how much he hates working for the Today Show, the picture that comes up instead is this:


Coincidence?  I think not.

Issue two is the concern over time-suckage.  Although Steve Jobs appears to have been able to do pretty much anything, unfortunately his untimely demise occurred before he was able to invent extra hours in the day.  I'm a list lover, and before I got my iPhone I already had about 842 lists floating around the house detailing things I needed to get done.  Now, with my handy new gadget, all my lists are neatly organized; however, this same handy new gadget has completely inhabited any waking moment I might have otherwise used to actually complete one of the tasks on my to-do lists.  I now have constant access to Pinterest, so I can browse the interwebs nonstop for MORE things I want to make/see/do - naturally, these projects will all just get added to the lists, because instead of actually doing  them I'll be playing Fruit Ninja or something equally productive.


Which leads us to the third problem, which is that these smartphones are just too awesome, and that awesomeness is way too accessible.  I shouldn't be able to Google anything, any time, just because the whim pops into my head - some things should be left for you to wonder about.  I can't be trusted with that kind of technology, anyway; first of all, if I weren't always on my iPhone I would probably never have seen this:


which now I'll never be able to un-see, including the little goat she has on her lap.  Secondly, things like that showing up on my phone lead me to ponder unpleasant subjects, such as the fact that if I were to die suddenly, my loved ones would undoubtedly have some serious questions about me when they discovered my bizarre browsing history.  There's no way they could know that there were perfectly logical and sane reasons for me to search for squirrel nests, donuts, how the Bible got its name, string theory, how often kids should bathe, boiling cold water, and toilet germ test, all within the span of an hour.

It's because we use our phones all the time, just because they're there - these days people get antsy if they can't check their cell for new emails while they wait three seconds for their TiVo to fast-forward through some commercials.  In the old days, commercial breaks were Family Time, used to acknowledge our children and ask them to describe how their day was in two minutes or less.  Not anymore - now we have no idea how our kids are doing unless they post it on Facebook.  It's taking our attention away from other important things, too - driving, work, the international debt crisis - I know someone who almost burned dinner not too long ago because he was so absorbed with playing Angry Birds.


(Sorry honey, I hated to call you out like that, but that's what you get for using my phone while I'm asleep to check out which new games I've downloaded and then beat all my high scores.)

See how it's tearing us apart?  And I don't know that I can stop myself, despite the fact that I'm infecting my children with the addiction.  Zoe's becoming a game junkie...


...and even Maddie is a little too excited about listening to music on iTunes.


I, for one, am going to do my part to break the cycle.  First things first, I'm going to use my phone to Google "ways to use your iPhone less."  Then I'll check out the Apple Store online - I bet they have an app for that.


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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!


5 Signs You Have a Baby

In my years of experience, I've learned that parenthood can be a tricky business. The answers aren't always clear, even for what seem to be the simplest of questions; for example, some of you out there might not even be sure if you have a baby living at your house, which can make parenting even more troublesome. We get busy, or forgetful, especially with all the sleep deprivation we endure thanks to our demanding careers and/or babies screaming all night long, and suddenly you find yourself wondering, "Wait, wasn't there a tiny person around here someplace?"

Before you go searching the backyard and feeling around behind the refrigerator for a baby you might not even have, I've put together this easy test to help you determine if, in fact, you are the parent of an infant.

1. Look down at your shirt, and determine into which category it falls.
    A) It is clean, fashionable, and neatly pressed; I just put it on this morning.
    B) It's wrinkled and could probably use a wash, but it doesn't smell TOO bad and is (relatively) stain-free. It may or may not have a few holes in it.
    C) There are 5 or more stains, concentrated mainly in the shoulder regions; no more than two of the stains originated from something I was personally eating. I don't remember when I put it on, but I do know I've slept in it for at least two nights.

Answers:
A: You are not a parent. You sound very polished and well-rested, and I hate you.
B: You are not a parent, either - it sounds like you might just be a slob. Pull yourself together.
C: Congratulations! You have a baby.

Personal hygiene isn't as easy after you bring home a baby - most of them don't care much for hanging around in the germy bathroom while you clean yourself up, and they're universally terrible at folding laundry. Bathing is essentially out of the question; not long after my daughter was born I took a much-needed shower. Then she cried because she no longer recognized my scent.



2. What do you do when it's time for dinner?
    A) Hop in the car - there's a new sushi place only a half hour from here!
    B) Go to your well-appointed gourmet kitchen that is fully stocked and sparkling clean, and whip up a nutritious, delicious meal for your family. You eat together at the dining room table, which does NOT have a view of the television.
    C) Go to the kitchen, where there's plenty of food for side dishes but you forgot to put any meat in the fridge to thaw, so all the ground beef is hard as a brick. Realizing you haven't eaten all day, you get out a box of crackers and stand at the kitchen counter, trying to think of something to make for dinner while eating crackers until you aren't even hungry anymore. Later, at about 10 PM, you will supplement your cracker feast with food that was left on other people's plates, which you sample while you load the dishwasher. You don't remember the last time you sat down to eat.

Answers:
A: You do NOT have a baby, unless you're that couple who takes their baby to restaurants and are the only two people there who don't notice she's screaming her head off. You don't have older kids either, because they would never agree to try sushi, nor would you think sushi was worth the effort of packing everyone in the car to drive an hour round trip.
B: I'm sorry to inform you that you are fictional. And I hate you.
C: Congrats on having a baby! Or an eating disorder. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference.



3. How would you describe the color scheme of your home decor?
   A) Monochromatic and modern - I like things to match, creating a pleasing design using texture and subtle pops of color.
   B) Warm and traditional - I like deep colors, expensive fabrics, and rich wood tones.
   C) Eclectic - The bottom layer of my home decor consists of decent quality, grown-up furniture mixed with cheap college throw-back items, with a thick top layer of random objects that look like several boxes of Crayola markers threw up on them. My home conveys the distinct feeling that an iceberg containing a Toys R Us store recently plowed through my living room, dropping its contents in its wake.

Answers:
A: You do not have a baby. The only "pops of color" parents get in their decorating are ketchup stains generated when their children throw chicken nuggets across the room.
B: You don't have a baby; nothing parents purchase for themselves can be classified as "expensive" until their children are all out of college.
C: You definitely have a baby. A good rule of thumb: no childless adult purposely has anything on semi-permanent display in their home that boasts eye-jabbingly bright primary colors.



4. What was the most ridiculous thing you recently said out loud to another human being?
    A) "I believe a two-party political system is the best option we have available for our government. Everything in Washington is positively dandy!"
    B) "I'll bet you I can spit on the cat from here."
    C) "Whats-a wrong wif my doodle?  Does my wittle boodle bug have some poopity pants?"

Answers:
A: There's no way you have a baby. First of all, parents rarely find the time or energy to have political discussions, because they're too busy programming their V-Chips to prevent their offspring from getting warped by accidental Barney sightings. They also just plain avoid the topic, because thinking about politics depresses them with the realization that public schools are all going to be poorly organized crack houses within the next five years, but that it doesn't matter because Big Business is going to explode the environment before their baby gets into kindergarten anyway.
B: I can only hope and pray you don't have a baby. (Note to B's baby: If you're reading this, call 911.)
C: Congratulations - you have a baby! Or you've just suffered a stroke. Either way, you sound like a moron; I should know, because that's exactly what I said to my baby not five minutes ago. There's an unwritten rule that says to talk to a baby, you have to sound like you're only mildly more mentally developed than they are. Unless you're one of those new-age parents who talks to their baby as if they're reading their dissertation to a committee of astrophysics professors. I hate to tell you this, but your baby has no idea what you're talking about, and is not impressed.



5. What is the best time of day for you to unwind, relax, and just have some "you" time?
    A) I like to get up early, before anyone else is awake, to meditate and do some yoga.
    B) When I'm driving - I can organize my thoughts or turn up the music and just cut loose!
    C) I lock the bathroom door and treat myself to a nice, warm bubble bath.

Answers:
Ha! This was a trick question, none of these people have a baby. Once you have kids, you can kiss "you" time goodbye - no one gets up earlier than the kids, you can't jam out in the car because you're too concerned about blowing out their tiny eardrums before they're teenagers and have the opportunity to do it themselves, and infants are born with the innate ability to unlock the bathroom door, barge in, and announce they want a peanut butter sandwich, no matter how many deadbolts you install.


Well, I hope you found this quiz helpful, and if you determined that you do, in fact, have a baby, I hope she turns up before you have to call the authorities.

Because of course I'm just kidding about this stuff (sort of). Where would I be without my kids? Yesterday when I was sick and looking forward to a long nap with Sick Baby, Zoe came home from school claiming to be sick, too, and was able to inadvertently cheer me up by describing her phantom illness as "a sore throat and headache... and a cough... and tummy ache... and chapped lips." When trying to coax one of us into playing with him, Jake has taken to goading, "Let's go, laaaaadies." Without kids, would I have needed to solve the mystery of why there were three dirty Q-tips in the kitchen sink yesterday? And how can I resist a smiling baby with a runny nose who's holding out her arms and calling, "Mamamama," even if she has sleepily rubbed her eyes and in the process managed to evenly distribute a coating of snot all the way up to her eyebrows?

I can't resist it. Any one of those things is totally worth the hassle of stubbing my toe EVERY TIME I walk past the bouncy seat, or not being able to finish a phone conversation without being interrupted elevendy-hundred times, or being snidely informed, "You don't have to show me how to play - you're not the first person to get Angry Birds, ya know." Because they're so darn lovable. And I can change my shirt after they move out.





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Houston, we have a problem



First off, let me tell you from the get-go that you need to prepare to lower your standards today. That is, assuming you have standards, and that they're in any way elevated.

“I have my standards. They're low, but I have them.” 
― Bette Midler

That's because I'm sick today, and being a relatively big baby about it - a much bigger baby than the actual baby, who is also sick. She's in a great mood though, especially considering the only real option she has for eating requires that she breathe through her nose, and right now her nose sounds like it's full of vegetable oil and gravel. I can't say what state of mind I'd be in if I couldn't eat. That was the first sign yesterday that I was coming down with something - wild, unstoppable, Tasmanian-devil style hunger. "I'll huff, and I'll puff, and... oops, I ate your house" kind of hunger. I can only guess that my body thinks it's going to need a lot of calories to wage a full-scale war against the invading germs.


Since Maddie's not feeling well, she's suddenly a huge mama's girl. So last night when she woke up (every five minutes) Gerry would gallantly get up with her, only to have to bring her back due to her inconsolable "mamamama"-ing. She's lucky she's so dang cute.


Meanwhile, I was trying to sleep through the part of this illness where it felt like I was swallowing sandpaper and vegetable peelers. My lack of success with the whole sleeping thing is the excuse I'm using for my stunted sense of humor, and thus your need to lower your standards. I'll be really curious to re-read this post later - I have such an acute case of Medicine Head from all the cold meds I've taken, that I wouldn't be terribly surprised to find out in the morning that this whole entry is complete nonsense, typed entirely in some dingbat font or the written version of Charlie Brown's teacher talking. If that's the case, my sincere apologies.  Please join the program again tomorrow, when I can only hope that we will no longer be leaking fluids from our faces or gargling quarts of Chloraseptic.

PRO TIP: If you hate being sick as much as I do, you want to get back to guzzling wine and yelling at the kids as quickly as possible. It's hard to do either of those things when your throat hurts, so I'm going to share my fail-safe remedy - use this when you start to feel yourself coming down with a case of the Icks, and you'll be a lot more likely to stay on your feet. Last year I found out my friend Leslie at The Bearded Iris uses this trick, too, so I know it isn't just my imagination.

8 ounces hot water
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey*

*Note: Don't give honey to kids under two. Botulism's no joke, y'all!

Mix it up, and drink it while it's hot! You can also check out Leslie's version, which involves cold water and cayenne pepper - plus she provides a fancy explanation for why it works (SCIENCE!). To your health!

Now that you're feeling better, maybe you have the strength to click the banner below to vote for me?
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Foggy Facts

Yesterday morning was pretty chilly as we walked to school - you absolutely have to see Maddie in her cold-weather walking gear.


Is that fuzzy pink leopard print, you ask?  Why yes it is.  Is it a-dor-a-ble?  Again, yes.  Have I been having too much fun adding filters and borders to my pictures?  Also yes.  Avert your eyes if you aren't prepared for the full view (Cuteness Factor 10.3).


Of course she was a tad overdressed because she has a bit of a runny nose, which sends all members of the Fraternal Uptight and Stressed SocietY of Moms (a.k.a. FUSSY Moms) into a frenzy of over-bundling, which is known by psychologists in cold climates as the GoreTex Response.

Okay, that's not really true - I'm not a fussy mom.  The only reason I'm admitting it is because I can almost hear my mom laughing from here, and I want to save her the trouble of starting her own blog to rat me out.  In truth, as long as none of my kids are bleeding profusely, missing, or on fire, my stock reaction to every situation is, "They're fine."  So really Maddie's overdressed because she's the baby, and as such can't complain about how uncomfortable coats are - unlike my hooded-sweatshirt-wearing older kids.


Kids over the age of four always claim they aren't cold.  If they're barefoot in a blizzard, eating an ice cream cone and wearing frozen pants, they'll still pretend like they left their coats at school to avoid putting them on.  Continuing to ask a child if they're cold when they've already claimed for the twelfth time that "I'm fine" is liable to get you this, the Classic "Derrrr" Look.


Anyway, it was also really foggy yesterday morning.


And since it was Tuesday, it made me think of an idea for Trivia Tuesday, because heaven forbid something should happen during my day that doesn't get passed through the Blogability Filter.  Since I started blogging, that's now the first area of my brain that analyzes any new piece of information, with even higher priority than the sectors that scan for Stranger Danger or confirm that your toe isn't broken after you stub it really hard.  But anyway, obviously Tuesday has come and gone, so Trivia Tuesday didn't pan out.  Since no words involving fog or trivia sound particularly good with Wednesday, you get Foggy Facts.  So there you go.  Here are the Foggy Facts for the day:

  • It's possible to have dew without fog, but not possible to have fog without dew.  I'm not sure if there's something about fog or dew that makes spiders go nuts making webs, but I can say for sure that every bush we passed was covered in spider tracks, and they were all dew-drippy.

  • Singer/Songwriter Mel Torme is known as the Velvet Fog.  I tried my darndest to find you an interesting fact about him, but to give you an idea how impossible that was, here's the most fascinating info one website could come up with:
  • I was going to do the next one on Brain Fog, but considering I just spent the last ten minutes looking all over for Maddie's pacifier only to find it IN MY HAND, I think maybe I should take a nap instead.


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Entertainment for the Grammar Snob

Those of you who know me, or who have checked out my pet peeves or the About Me page, or are familiar with this blog in general, or who read the rest of this sentence, probably know that I'm a big grammar snob.  Not that I'd hold obvious abuse of the English language against anyone, or claim in any way to be better than someone else, as I'm the first to admit that I make dumb mistakes all the time.  All the time.  ALL THE TIME.  But that doesn't prevent me from getting a good chuckle out of other people's mistakes when I see them.

A few days ago, Gerry brought in the mail and we were treated to a certain thick advertising booklet that comes out monthly (I won't mention the name of it, partly because you've probably never heard of it, and partly because I'm not in the mood to get sued).  Ordinary people would declare this to be junk mail and throw it directly in the recycling bin, but Gerry and I pounced on it like starving sharks on chum because we share the Grammar Snob Gene, and this particular mailer is notorious for its grammatical and spelling errors.  Sometimes it's not even the errors, but the sheer ridiculousness of the ad that gets us going (like the nudist retreat that advertised with photos of its - thankfully empty - tennis courts and its non-empty swimming pool which - again, thankfully - according to my mom looked like it had been photographed from outer space).  This is high merriment around our house.  Sometimes it surprises me that we still pay for cable, when perfectly good entertainment like this comes to our door for the bargain-basement price of free.  Let me share with you some of the gems we found without even looking too hard.


Here's some advice: don't smoke your product before placing your ad, if smoking it causes you to completely lose your ability to spell.  I know there are many of you out there who are disappointed that I blurred out the address of the meeting, but I have to wonder how many police officers would be there waiting when you showed up to get your "marijuanna endoresment."


One of my favorite offenses - the misuse of quotation marks.  Well, either that or "Bob" really is an alias, in which case I guess this would be absolutely correct.  Maybe "Bob" is in the witness protection program but just can't let go of his love for charred pork - who am I to say?  I'm just grateful that the quotes aren't around "Roasted Pigs," which spares me the headache of trying to figure out what he actually  roasts.  Plus, to completely eliminate any question we might have on that front, "Bob" has provided a graphic in his ad which gives us a much-needed visual of the pig being skewered from mouth to (ahem) the other end over an open fire.  Deeeeee-licious!


Sometimes a space in the middle of a word makes all the difference.  If this ad is right, I don't see how they're going to make any money giving away free pickup trucks; I don't know much about car crushing, but it seems like that business model is terribly flawed.


Energy drink?  Health juice?  Uh-huh.  You're not fooling me.  I know a bottle of wine when I see it.  I would  appreciate a free sample, though.  No?  Fine, I'll pop open a bottle of my own "health juice," as it's now known at my house, and peruse the classifieds.


Wait, what's that number again?  A thousandy-thousand?


For my special occasions?  Don't ask me, it's your  ad.


Yes, my basement windows DOES leak!  They done been doing that all the time, they sure does.


You'll repair it for less than it costs me to throw it away?  Somehow I doubt that.


I have to believe they left off the word "No" at the beginning of this ad.

And then there's this one.  It's not so much the wording they used, but the picture they chose.  I mean, you can use any picture you want, right?  It shouldn't be that hard to find one that makes sense.  So here's an ad for a bail bondsman, urging you to contact him as soon as you've been arrested.


The first thing I'd like to point out is that the offender (nice jean jacket, by the way) isn't handcuffed, so I'm not sure why he has his arms around that pole.  He looks like he's trying to take a picture of the arresting officer's shoes for some reason, and is completely unaware he's about to get slugged in the face.  Or maybe he does suspect he's going to get knocked in the teeth with the cop's Maglite, and that's why he's hiding awkwardly behind the pole.  Meanwhile, they're both oblivious to the fact that the other officer is off by the cruiser, discreetly picking his nose.  Or maybe he's supposed to be hiding his eyes, and Jean Jacket is just terrible at playing Hide and Seek.  Anyway, if they like photos that raise questions, next time maybe they could use this one:



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