Hollow Tree Ventures parenting humor
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February Foto Challenge 23, etc

I got so far behind on this February Photo Challenge stuff that I consciously decided (yesterday) to just wait until the end of the month and post my backlog all at once.  As a little thank you for hanging around and  putting up with my photography procrastination without even once turning me in to the Photo Challenge Police, after the formalities of the Challenge Photos are out of the way I'll share a picture of the FUNNIEST BABY EXPRESSION WE'VE EVER CAPTURED ON FILM.  Intriguing, no?  Well, whatever, here we go.

23. Your shoes
Gerry got these shoes for me.  I don't even want to know how much they cost because they're sooooo comfortable, which is exactly why he got them for me - I rarely pay more than $10/pair which (I've been told - repeatedly) is not so good for your feet.  Or back.  Or knees.  A few days ago the planets aligned - it was finally warm(ish) outside and my feet weren't two sizes bigger than normal thanks to pregnancy swelling, so I got to wear them again for the first time in quite a while.  Ah, the little things.

24. Inside your bathroom cabinet
What an odd assortment of junk.  We have:
  • scented hand soap that's been in there for two years because it's "too good" to use on a regular basis
  • futuristic uber-frothy canister of toothpaste
  • a jumble of toothbrushes, huddled in the medicine cabinet in hopes of avoiding that 6-foot toilet spray 60 Minutes is always doing an exposé about
  • petroleum jelly, distributed by a company that stopped using the name on the jar circa 1993 - it expires in February.  No, excuse me, it expired in February.  2005.  I have my doubts about that though, since it's made from dinosaurs  - you're telling me Science can't cure the common cold but they knew when that particular dinosaur, after millions of years, was going to go south, right down to the month?  I doubt it.
  • watermelon toothpaste (blech - for the littles)
  • calamine lotion (because some rashy kid in Zoe's class keeps hugging her daily with all her contagious rashiness - if you're reading this, STOP TOUCHING MY CHILD, RASHY McRASHERSON)
  • deodorant (I do use it from time to time, thankyouverymuch)
  • facial lotion bottle (empty)
  • some kind of hair dippity-do, back when my hair was short and I thought for 5 minutes I might try to tame it once in a while - I think Kennedy uses it sometimes, so I haven't thrown it out - plus, I obviously wouldn't throw it out even if it were empty (see lotion bottle, above)

25. Green
Here's Jake in a shirt he picked out, which his Gran purchased for him because she's a sucker loving grandmother.  I believe it's an Irish Jolly Roger.  I'm considering not allowing the two of them to leave the house together anymore (that goes for Jake and the shirt and  Jake and Gran).  This festive St. Patrick's Day item will be living at Gran's house soon.

26. Night
If there's anyone who thinks it's not possible to sleep with wild abandon, just check out a snoozing baby.

27. Something you ate
Some of you out there are going to think I doctored this picture somehow, but I assure you that this is a REAL PRODUCT.  A real product that I did, in fact, eat.  And yes, I did feel dumber afterwards.  But hey, at least it's "old fashion."  Don't ask me where the -ed  went - for that kind of product info, we'd have to talk to their hillbilly mascot with the red sandwich.

28. Money
Zoe doing homework.  They're learning the value of money.  Or, I should say, they're learning how much each coin is worth.  If she were learning the value of money, she wouldn't think Jake's request of a Nintendo 3DS (when he already has a DS and a DSi) for his birthday was so reasonable.

And yes, she's wearing a Cat In The Hat hat.  It helps her think.

29. Something you're listening to
It's pretty quiet around here now, with The Big Kids off doing real-life stuff, The Littles at school, and the baby napping.  But they're what I'm usually listening to.  Or tuning out, depending on what kind of sounds they're making.

And now, as a thank you for hanging in there, I give you a RIDICULOUS BABY FACIAL EXPRESSION:

If anyone has any thoughts on what on earth she's thinking about, I'd love to hear them...

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Linked up with:
Wordless{ish} Wednesday at The Paper Mama
Wordful Wednesday at parenting By dummies
Wordless Wednesday at Angry Julie Monday
Wordless Wednesday at Jenni from the Blog
 then, she {snapped} NapTime MomTog Live and Love...Out Loud

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True Love in Hell

My husband and I spend a little quite a bit of time in front of the TV each week, mostly using it as a way to unwind in the evenings while we hypocritically yell at the children to go do something productive instead of rotting their brains in front of the TV. But we don't just watch television - that's for people who don't have an opinion about everything under the sun. No, I would say about 11% of our couch time is spent watching actual programming, while 89% is spent making snide comments about all the people and products on the screen. (Editor's note: That's a pretty conservative estimate.)

It's not that we're mean people. Or maybe we are, I don't know. But we figure they can't hear us, so it's all in good fun, and we get a surprising amount of amusement out of it either way. I never said we were mature.

Here are some recent comments you would have overheard if you'd been lurking behind our couch (That's so creepy - why would you do that?), which may or may not be funny out of context:

  • That guy looks like Lyle Lovett and Jeff Goldblum's love child.
  • Leurfleur dee fluerderder. (This is the nasal faux French we use to mock Alex Trebek every time he corrects a Jeopardy contestant's pronunciation of a foreign word. We use faux French because we're nerdy enough to watch Jeopardy, but not quite nerdy enough to know any real French words. Except for "faux.")
  • A lot of people would wash their hair if they knew they were going to be on national television. Personal hygiene isn't for everyone, I guess.
  • Is she wearing a dress from the 1800s?
  • "Honey, let's ride our bikes out into the countryside, where we can picnic on finger sandwiches and discuss your erectile dysfunction."
  • Her head looks like it was carved out of a ham...
  • ...and she looks like the love child of Wynonna Judd and Ricki Lake.

Because of this pastime of ours, the other day I casually mentioned to my husband the obvious fact that we're most certainly both going to Hell.

Some people imagine Hell as a pit full of flaming caves& and pitchforks, but I picture it more as a series of rooms, each one designed specifically to punish a person's individual sins.

That's not really true, I don't actually picture Hell at all on a regular basis, but for the purposes of this conversation with Gerry I did.

I told him that our personal Hell is going to entail us being strapped to chairs, side by side, with duct tape over our mouths and some sort of brace on our necks that prevent us from looking at each other. Then an endless parade of people just DYING to be made fun of will walk along in front of us for all eternity, and we won't be able to make any snide comments or give each other The Knowing Look or even share an eye roll.

I described this potential Hell to Gerry, lamenting how difficult it's going to be, sitting next to him without being able to hear his sarcastic comments or toss out any of my own semi-offensive remarks. But then my darling husband made me feel better with the words, "That's okay babe - we each always know what the other is thinking anyway."

What a romantic notion (by our standards), that not even the twisted inventions of the Devil himself could conspire to make Gerry and I stop enjoying each other's company. Which made me wonder - maybe true love (for us, anyway) means knowing we could be silently snarky together in Hell. Well, now I can hardly wait to get there.

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Where you Work (stay-at-home-mom edition)

February Photo Challenge prompt #22 was: Where you work.  I'm already breaking the rules by being nearly a week late in posting this, so I figure I might as well go ahead and use as many photos as I want instead of the one  photo called for in the challenge.  Besides, its not like there are February Photo Challenge Police running around enforcing the rules.  Right?  RIGHT????  So here it is, a peek into where I work.

Where I work, it seems I'm always cleaning up somebody else's mess.

"I find it amusing that you thought
the bib would help.  That's cute."
I can count on a smearable semi-solid being spread onto some surface, someplace in the house, at any given time.  The less stain resistant that surface is, the more likely it is that the semi-solid is ketchup or sparkly fingernail polish.

There is stuff  on every horizontal surface, and (like a desktop IN-box) every time I clear it off, more magically appears.  And when I say "stuff," I mean things I didn't even know existed a few short years ago.  Prior to having children, I never could've conjured the idea of the Lalaloopsy doll from the dredges of my worst nightmares, nor would I have guessed how much it will scare the bejeezus out of you when you unexpectedly find it staring at you in the middle of the night from atop the coffee table, with its dead little button eyes.

And talk about other people's messes - you may not believe me, but some of the people I work with refuse to keep their bodily functions private - and they're completely unapologetic about it.

My job also requires that I travel a lot.

This isn't so bad; I'll admit the commute is pretty cushy.  Plus, sometimes my coworkers bring my work to me before I've even had a chance to open my eyes in the morning.   How helpful is that?  I think it shows a lot of initiative on their parts, and it  allows me to get started tackling Big Issues and Major Projects right away, without wasting time on things like brushing my teeth or waking up.  When that happens, I know it's going to be a particularly productive day.

My coworkers regularly have egg on their face at lunch meetings, and don't even seem to notice.

"I have egg where, now?  Here?  Did I get it?
What do you mean it's in my eyebrows?"
Luckily for them, I suppose, they don't know the first thing about being embarrassed.  People with pesky traits such as Shame and Personal Standards would find it difficult to get through a day at my office.

And as for meetings, forget the boardroom and comfortable leather chairs; my meetings are taken at small plastic trays, not long, polished mahogany tables.  And I don't even bother to sit - in these hectic times everyone is multi-tasking, and I'm no exception.  While we tackle messy topics, I also address some of the Big Questions Facing Our Nation Today such as, "Why are there crayons in the dishwasher," and I conduct scientific experiments investigating how long you can soak a pan before the bottom rusts out and you can just throw it away.

We work a lot on our laptops around here.

We can't waste a moment of our valuable work day at my job; often we find that pairing up for assignments can increase our productivity.  Here, you can see that the youngest member of the team is showing great enthusiasm by working two lap tops at once, while a member of Senior Management supervises.*

*Note: Like in other places of employment, Senior Management often supervises while doing something totally unrelated to their Actual Work Duties, like watching sports... or blogging.

I attempt to keep a regular schedule, but all too often I'm interrupted and my plans are derailed.

I'm the Boss where I work, but when I organize my day and expect everyone to act as Team Players, my coworkers will frequently claim "creative differences" and make up their own set of rules (their set includes exactly zero rules, so at least it's easy to remember).

It can be next to impossible to keep everyone on task.

Most days I don't even try.

"I know I said I'd help fold the laundry,
but I didn't realize it was so much bigger than me."
Occasionally a coworker will try to tackle a project that they're not quite ready to handle, and I find myself bailing them out.

In this category I include such projects as "I've Taken My Mattress Off the Bed So I Could Jump On the Box Springs While You Get An In-Home Estimate From a Salesman For Replacing All Our Windows But Now I Can't Get the Mattress Back On the Bed and Oh Yeah Did I Mention That I'm Naked?"

You know - the usual.

Where I work there are no sick days.  The people I work with form ever-changing alliances, many of which I do not approve (Bieber, I'm looking at you).  Fattening, delicious treats left out in the open are devoured by coworkers before I can get to them.  There's always someone with their eyes on me, and the pressure's on to perform as well as I possibly can, all the time - yet the pay is absolutely terrible.

Come to think of it, I've had other jobs - in fields from finance to zoology to healthcare - and when I look back at this list, they aren't so very different from the job I have now.  Except for one thing.

Where I work now, the pay may be miserable - but the benefits are amazing.

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Art Lessons

At dinner, the kids were telling me about a movie they watched at school; it was a biography of Vincent van Gogh.

"Van Gogh only sold one painting during his whole life," started Jake.  "One time he... Well, I shouldn't talk about it during dinner."

We all know where he was going with that, but I should interject that Jake claims to have a weak stomach.  Even though he can carry on a joke about boogers and eyeballs for twenty minutes, he makes a production over losing his appetite if anyone mentions anything remotely gross at the table.

"Oh, is this about him cutting off part of his ear?" I asked.

"Yeah," interjected Zoe, who does not share Jake's compunction about gritty dinner conversation.  "Then he had a really  bad day and he shot himself.  But he didn't die for two whole days!"  A really bad day, indeed.  She seemed a little too jazzed about that for my taste, so I tried to steer the conversation away from the gorier details.

"That's too bad.  I wonder if he spent his whole life thinking his art was no good, because nobody bought it.  And now look, he's a famous artist and his paintings are worth millions of dollars," I said.

"MmmHmmm," mumbled the children, who were chewing and didn't want to get in trouble for talking with their mouths full.

I decided to use the silence created by their preoccupied mouths to have a Teaching Moment.  You know what I mean - those times when you start to feel all Wise and Parenty and you suddenly decide you're going to impart some Grand Life Lesson to your offspring.  You envision filling their heads with wonderful knowledge as part of a deep and meaningful discussion that will change their understanding of the world, maybe even resulting in a Bonding Moment that they'll remember forever.

Yeah, I don't know what I was thinking, either.

"Or maybe he knew  his art was great, but he spent his life frustrated because he couldn't get famous enough to share his gift," I continued.

"MmmHmmm."  It wasn't clear at this point if they were MmmHmmming because their mouths were still full, or if they were just getting bored.  Nevertheless, I went on.

I posed the question, "Do you think it would be harder to feel like something you made was worthless because nobody wanted it, or to know  it was good and not be able to get anyone to acknowledge it?"  I was determined to cram their heads full of Deep Thought and Introspection, plus it was a subject I'd been thinking about on some level myself, having recently started to reach out to other bloggers, sharing my writing and reading theirs.  So I kept right on rambling talking.

"Well, maybe that's one reason why we shouldn't let how we feel about ourselves be influenced by other people's opinions."  They nodded, chewing, chewing.  "Lots of artists have to deal with things like that.  Painters, sculptors, writers.  Some are even afraid to try  to share all their work.  There's a poet, Emily Dickinson, who had a secret stash of poems that no one knew about until she died.  She even wanted all the poems to be burned, but now they're published and she's very famous."

Zoe's eyes got wide and she began to smile, a look of recognition spreading across her face.  Maybe I've gotten through to her with some Grand Life Lesson,   I thought, celebrating silently in my head.  She's been moved by some new realization about her own self worth, or she's been inspired to love art for art's sake, regardless of the opinions of others.  Or maybe she's been reassured that she should share what she creates without fear of what people will think.

"Really?" Zoe asked.  "She's famous?"

"Yes," I assured her.  "Very famous."

"Did that Emily person write the 'Roses are red, violets are blue, you are the greatest and I love you' poem?"

I stifled a laugh.  "No, honey, I don't think she wrote that one."  At that, my daughter completely dismissed Emily Dickinson with a wave of her hand, no longer impressed.

I'm pretty sure I was the one to learn a lesson that evening.  Was it a reminder that concepts like "fame" and "value" mean vastly different things to different people?  Was it evidence that almost any caliber of art, even a "roses are red" poem, can have its admirers?  Or was it an allusion to the fact that being as highly acclaimed as Dickinson or van Gogh won't guarantee that your art will be appreciated by everyone?

No, I think it was simpler than that.  I think what I learned that evening was that sometimes I should just shut up and let my kids talk.  It makes for more entertaining dinner conversation.

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On Crushing Your Daughter's Dreams

Dear Zoe (my lovely 7-year-old daughter),

I was just thinking about the recent conversation we had, in which we discussed what you want to be when you grow up.

What will it be? An astronaut? A teacher?
A ballerina? President of the United States?

I was sorry to have to break it to you that, unfortunately, it's not possible for you to grow up to be a dog.

However, I thought you showed a lot of flexibility and determination when you decided that, instead of being a dog, you would just be a person who dresses up  like a dog.

When I regrettably informed you that there aren't a lot of employment opportunities calling for an adult in a dog costume, I'll admit that you scared me just a little bit when you cheerfully and immediately changed your top career choice to Underwear Model.  Although you disregarded my suggestion that you could be a Hand  Model instead (despite my attempts to make it sound glamorous), I was quite grateful when you compromised and agreed to just be a Regular Model.

I was impressed that your next choice would be News Person, though not altogether surprised when you revealed that you chose that because you would get your own makeup artist.  Then, once we were on the subject of makeup artists, News Person was quickly discarded in favor of Movie Star.

Even the career choice of Movie Star was short-lived when it occurred to you that maybe you could grow up to be Fancy Nancy, of Fancy Nancy book fame.

I guess Fancy Nancy's an underwear model, too.

Admittedly, I was eager to encourage your aspirations to be a harmless fictional character (anything to get you to stop demonstrating your Underwear Model runway walk, hilarious though it was).

But by the time I suggested that you could be a Movie Star who plays the role of Fancy Nancy on the silver screen, you had already moved on to other career plans and didn't want to discuss it any further.  I'm hoping we can continue our conversation some other time.  Or that you'll forget about it all together.

Mommy, who sincerely hopes you change your mind about wanting to be a Race Car Driver

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Why I'm Tossing Our DVR Right Out The @#&% Window

We have very recently joined the 21st Century and obtained a DVR.

If you're a member of the second-to-last household on the planet to get one, I'll try to explain the complicated technology behind this device, as I understand it. It's a box-like doohicky, one end of which plugs into the wall, and the other end of which you apply to the back of the TV with duct tape because it's too dark back there to find the Coaxial Input Video Receiver like the instructions suggest. After moderate grunting and a few swear words, you are all hooked up to the DVR System (hooray).

If you can figure out the remote control, it allows you to fast forward through commercials, and subsequently lets you rewind because you've inevitably gone too far and missed an entire segment of the show you were watching. Not to mention, in case you have a Troubling Television Conflict such as TLC airing a must-see new episode of "Hoarding: Buried Alive" at the same time that FOX is re-running the episode of "COPS" that features your old college roommate, not to worry; with the DVR you can record up to eleventy million hours of additional programming, which you'll never have time to watch even if you live to be a thousand years old.

If that didn't clear up the DVR Basics for you, feel free to visit this helpful site, home of what is easily the most boring Wikipedia page in the history of ever.

Normally I'd be too cheap and stubborn Fiscally Responsible to agree to such a frivolous expenditure as a DVR, despite the fact that Gerry used to have one before we got married, and for years I was subjected to subtle comments such as, "You know, IF WE HAD A DVR I could rewind this show so you could hear that hilarious line you just missed, but I guess I can't do that for you, since we don't have a DVR."

But I finally agreed we should have a DVR, a decision that just happened to coincide exactly with the cable company's decision to send us one for free* in response to an irate phone call Gerry placed to their customer service department regarding our ridiculously high bill.
*Free for the first three months,  that is.
"Oooh, how delightful.  How did I drag myself
through the meaningless days back before I could
record something stupid while I was watching
some other dumb thing?"
Cable company, if I may digress, we aren't as think as you dumb we are. I know what "free for the first three months" means. It means you think that, in three months' time, we'll become so heavily dependent on your television gizmo that we'll be completely unable to survive without it. You believe that a previously fully functional almost normal family will turn into a pile of slobbering, weeping wastes of flesh in three months if we're forced to give up the DVR instead of ponying up the sudden Crippling Additional Monthly Surcharge. How will we manage, watching 5,000 channels of REGULAR LIVE TV like a bunch of idiot cave people, after being introduced to the wonders of your Magical Recording Box?

I can tell you right now, I would have no problem going downstairs this very instant, ripping the duct tape off the Digital Pixel Optics Cable behind the TV, and drop-kicking your DVR right onto my front lawn. I would then send a polite email to your Corporate Headquarters informing them of the whereabouts of their machine, threatening legal action if they didn't endeavor to get it off of my property immediately.

Why so harsh? you ask.

Let me sum it up for you.

Examples of times when I have found the DVR to be useful:
  • Never. In fact, its installation has messed up all the channels. Whenever I try to watch something on the trusty old channel that I'm used to, my husband wanders in, takes the remote, and says, "Are you watching that on a non-HD channel?" using the same voice he would employ to ask someone why they were wearing a pile of poo on their head like a hat. He then, using Television Witchcraft, switches the channel to the same program in HD, which by all appearances is identical except the channel number is now in the upper 6000's where I'll never find it again.

Examples of times my family has found the DVR to be useful:
  • Any time I am almost completely asleep on the couch and Gerry sees something amusing. I'll be innocently snoozing, only to hear, "The 70's called and they want their sideburns back," or a similar snide comment, followed by a nudge and, "You've gotta see this guy's sideburns." Suffice it to say, in the days prior to the DVR, I would not  have to see "this guy's sideburns," because there would be nothing short of a time machine that could conjure the image of his sideburns back onto my TV screen. Instead, I would still be asleep. I'll give you one guess which of those options I prefer.
  • When the children latch onto a line uttered on a cartoon. Back in the good old pre-DVR days, if some moronic character on TV (let's just say, for example, a yellowish squareish spongebobish character - hypothetically speaking, of course) said something like, "Shake your booty" in a squeaky voice and then proceeded to wildly shake his/her booty, I could count on it being repeated only once or twice by each kid before they had to settle back down and be quiet, lest they miss an important part of the show and lose track of the complex plot line. Now, thanks to the DVR, I could at any time be subjected to a high-pitched "Shake your booty" marathon on an endless loop, accompanied by enthusiastic imitation from the peanut gallery.
  • When commercials for Stupid Kid Things come on. Instead of using the fast forward feature to skip commercials like normal people, children use the pause feature to halt ads mid-pitch so they can come running to interrupt whatever you're doing and beg you to come and see what overpriced piece of junk it is that they think they can't live without. The DVR has only been here a week, and already I long for the days when I could say, "Well, I guess I'll have to try to catch it the next time it's on. Now get out of the bathroom."

  • During televised sporting events that I don't care one iota about. I'll often sit with Gerry while he watches two colleges I've never heard of stumble up and down the basketball court; during that time I do important, intellectual things like read Toni Morrison novels peruse Smithsonian magazine play games on my phone. I can't tell you the number of times that something athletically spectacular has happened and I've been required, by the Laws of Good Spousehood, to interrupt my game of Jewel Fever while he struggles to make the Unresponsive Playback Feature function properly. It can be pretty irritating to hear, "Oh my God, babe, you have got to see that pass, that was incredible... wait... ugh, went to far... what - it skipped ahead... hang on... there it is - oh wait, I have to rewind farther... just a... there, did you see - ARG, why didn't it stop... hang on, you have to see this..." considering how little I cared about the play when it happened on live TV, and that I sure don't care about it now, and how desperately I just want to get to the next level on Jewel Fever.
And so, that's why I'm not overly fond of the DVR. Everyone else in the house, however, is (obviously) crazy about it, so I have a feeling there are going to be some impassioned arguments made for keeping the thing three months from now. If that's the case, I might have to resort to some pretty unsavory behavior to make my point. Maybe I'll fill up all the available DVR memory with Sex and the City reruns and record everything that airs on Lifetime. I'll wear out the rewind button, making them repeatedly relive the Shocking Reveal at the end of every HGTV home decor makeover show. I'll call the kids into the room and force them to watch commercials for feminine hygiene products.

I still don't like my odds. I should probably start saving up now for that Crippling Monthly Surcharge.

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February Photo Challenge 18, 19, 20, 21

I've been playing a little game I like to call Oh Muhgosh Where Did the Time Go I Am Really Far Behind.

Oh, you know this game?  Good, then I don't need to explain myself.

"What problem?  I don't have a problem.
I can quit eating eggs any time I want."
Let's just say I've been taking my February Photo Challenge pictures in a timely fashion, and then selfishly keeping them all to myself, a byproduct of being distracted by other responsibilities, life and whatnot, not to mention Madeline's troublesome scrambled egg addiction, which has us all quite concerned and also a little disgusted.

PLUS I couldn't think of one, single amusing thing to say about several of the latest Februray photos, which (for me) takes all the fun out of it.

So here they are (and with an introduction like that,  I know you're on the edge of your seat):

18) drink
Yes, having a beer is a relatively rare and special treat when you're trying to produce non-alcoholic beverages with your body for a tiny person who has an equally tiny liver.  I know, I know, they say you can have up to a half gallon of wine a week, or a day, or something, but since I obviously can't keep the guidelines straight I just generally steer clear of it to be on the safe side.  But I did indulge in one the other day, a brew Gerry made himself.  It was yummy.

This is a photo of me celebrating the empty bottle, though it looks like I'm toasting the sun ("Way to shine," I cheer enthusiastically).  If the tree across the street looks oddly symmetrical, that's because I Photoshopped out the ugly house that lives there, but I was pretty lazy with the cloning tool.

19) something you hate to do
These are Zoe's pants.  While Zoe is by all estimations a reasonably coordinated child, she finds time at least once each weekday to locate the filthiest spot on school grounds and fall down onto it.

I don't mind laundry all that much, but I am sick to death of pre-treating and scrubbing the mud and grass out of that girl's clothes.

20) handwriting
This is an example of our grocery list, which we keep on a magnetized notepad that hangs on the side of the fridge.  The children have been instructed to ignore it - not because there's anything bad on it, but because Gerry and I make a game out of misspelling everything on the list, and I don't want them to grow up thinking that it's spelled "pickuhlz," or that their parents didn't graduate from kindergarten.  As you can see, when Gerry's at the store and asks me to text the list to him, sometimes I'll add a sweet little heartfelt message of love, tucked between the reminders to get seereeuhl and baykun.

21) a fave photo of you
Although this challenge involves taking a photo each day, I have to assume they didn't really think that today, of all days, I would not only take another self portrait but that it would also turn out to be the best picture that had ever been taken of me.  Not likely.  So I dug up an old one.

But Robyn,  I hear you say, the picture you've selected here is, quite frankly, godawful.  Do they not sell Chapstick where you live or do you refuse to use it for religious reasons?   Well thanks.  Thanks a lot.   I already know it isn't a great picture, but I appreciate you pointing it out.

I'm sure there are metric tons of one or two photos of me that are at least slightly more flattering than this one.  Let us not overlook that part of the blame is owed to poor photo quality; it was taken on Gerry's cell phone because by the time we got to the hospital I was thinking maybe I'd give birth to Madeline in the car, so our carefully packed hospital bag (with cameras) was left behind in favor of obtaining timely medical attention.  But I like this photo, because behind the dark-rimmed eyes and overall total exhaustion is a woman looking at the guy she loves, holding their brand new baby, blissed out about how complete her family finally felt, and grateful that the labor (unmedicated against her will) was finally over and hadn't (despite her predictions) resulted in her own untimely demise or that of everyone around her.  It was a good day.

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 17: Time (a letter to Madeline)

The prompt for February Photo Challenge picture #17 was: Time.

The time depicted in this photo is "time to eat your zucchini."

Dear Madeline,

It is not the end of the world.  It's only zucchini.

I know it's a little mushy, and it's cold because you've been pushing it around on the tray with your index finger for twenty minutes.

I won't make you eat it again, if it means that much to you.

But I have it deeply ingrained from my own childhood that there are starving children in Africa.

And let's not forget that I let you eat 4,000 Fruity Yogurt Bites for dinner last night instead of something containing actual nutrition.

So sweet, adorable baby daughter - right now, it's time.  Time to suck it up and just eat your damn zucchini, already.


Love and kisses,

Linked up with:
Wordless{ish} Wednesday at The Paper Mama
Wordful Wednesday at parenting By dummies
Wordless Wednesday at Angry Julie Monday
Wordless Wednesday at Jenni from the Blog
 then, she {snapped}
NapTime MomTog

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!

be careful what you wish for

My mom, due to unique dietary requirements, eats about eighty hectograms of a certain kind of deli-style turkey slices every week.
Disclaimer: I am a Dumb American.  As such, I am legally prohibited from knowing anything about the metric system.  But eighty hectograms sure sounds like a lot, which is what I was going for.
The particular type of turkey my mom eats comes in smallish, reusable plastic containers with lids, which we consider Tupperware because why would anyone buy real Tupperware when you have so many reusable plastic containers with lids that came for free  with turkey that you had to eat anyway?

Since we are Dumb and  Environmentally Conscious Americans, my mom dutifully rinses these containers and keeps them, thus preventing them from being dumped in a landfill, or trucked to Canada (sorry, Canada!) or sent wherever our garbage goes.  However, eighty hectograms worth of turkey containers is a lot of turkey containers (probably, depending on how heavy a hectogram is).  In any case, it's far more than one individual can use up by herself, especially when her only leftovers are small quantities of uneaten deli-style turkey slices.

The plastic containers have been steadily stacking up on her dining room table in multiplying towers, swaying in the breeze emanating from the ceiling fan, threatening to topple and crush innocent passers-by at any moment.

So imagine my mom's glee when my husband, Gerry (unaware of the truly vast quantity of containers available), made the mistake of saying that we'd be happy to take as many as my mom wanted to give us, for the purposes of freezing hamburger meat and storing drywall screws and whatnot.   My mother literally jumped up and down at the thought of the containers going to good use and (I think, most importantly to her) getting them the heck out of her house.

Which brings us to February Photo Challenge prompt #16: Something New.

I texted the following photo of our Something New to my husband, along with the message, "Be careful what you wish for."

I hope he plans on bringing home lots of hamburger meat.

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!

the joke's on us

Gerry started it.

First of all, the jokes that we think are funny are generally not child-appropriate.

So when he put the kids to bed one night by telling them a series of jokes, he had to look online (on his phone - what an age in which we live) to find jokes that the kids could repeat at school without setting off an ugly series of visits from a Representative of the Court that would result in an extremely inconvenient new schedule of supervised child visitation.

For those of you who've never needed to put the Child Safety Filter on your sense of humor, the jokes that remain after you cull the ones containing bad words, sexual innuendo, and complicated ethnic references are so dumb you almost have to laugh.  Almost.  For example:
What's brown and sticky?
A stick.
GET IT????  Well, Gerry's bedtime comedy routine was so well-received that it set the kids off on a joke rampage.  Except they don't know any jokes.  So they make them up.

In case you don't know this, jokes that kids make up are not all that humorous.  In fact, in the majority of the continental U.S., telling jokes invented by children is considered a form of verbal abuse.  Nevertheless, this week has been a nonstop, open-mic amateur comedy hour at my house, and has given me a new respect for professional comedians, because by all indications it must be pretty hard to write a joke that's even moderately laughable.  Most of the ones I've been hearing don't even make sense.

A boy picked up a feather and said, "Where do all these keep coming from?"
What are you talking about?   Did I miss the first line?  Was there some lead-in involving lots of feathers of mysterious origin that you forgot to tell me?  The cream of the crop was a rather disturbing one that Zoe came up with:
What did the panda eat after he shot the waitress?
I wasn't sure if I should laugh or get her some counseling.

This is why you shouldn't let your kids watch The Sopranos.

What's worse is they've worked their little hearts out thinking of these gems, and they're so proud of them.  Whenever they come dancing into the kitchen to say, "Hey, wanna hear a joke?" it's clear by the sparkle in their eyes and the excitement in their voices that disappointment of the highest order will occur if you don't find the joke high-larry-us.

I try to muster a laugh and a tousle of the hair.  But I'm not going to lie - some afternoons I'm so tired from... well, not sleeping, that I find it difficult to whip up a phony sense of humor and make it come off as even remotely genuine when I hear Method #564 of determining whether or not an elephant has, in fact, been in the refrigerator (spoiler alert - it often involves footprints in the butter).

Which brings us to the other night.  I think it was mostly to be goofy, but maybe also a teensy bit to give them an un-funny taste of their own medicine, when my husband told the kids a joke that made no sense whatsoever.  He called them over and I heard Gerry say, "Two tigers are at the dinner table. One says, 'Pass the salt,' and the other replies, 'What do I look like, a typewriter?'"

The kids were silent - not so much as a chuckle.  We thought they'd learned their lesson - see, it's not that entertaining to hear a joke THAT IS ESSENTIALLY JUST A RANDOM BUNCH OF WORDS STRUNG TOGETHER.

But apparently my 10-year-old, Jake, thought Gerry's quip was  supposed to make sense.

After a minute, Jake finally broke the silence and said, "I don't get it. What's a typewriter?"

Sigh.  I'm so old.

Happily linked to:

Finding the Funny at Kelley's Break Room and My Life and Kids.

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!

Emily Post would be horrified by my first Wordless Wednesday

I'm linked up with no fewer than six blog hops today, so try to keep up, people!

Wait, is that poor Blog Etiquette?  I don't mean being rude and telling you to try to keep up - duh, I already know that's poor etiquette - I mean cross-pollinating multiple blog hops in one post.  Is that allowed?

Clearly I have no idea what I'm doing with this whole innerwebs deal, so some days while I'm blogging I feel like I'm having dinner with the Queen Mother and halfway through the soup course I realize I don't know the rules.  I break out in a cold sweat wondering if I'm supposed to raise my pinkie when I pass the gravy boat, or I realize I just stirred my coffee with my salad fork, or I think, Did I just ask the UN Ambassador to the South Sandwich Islands how it was hangin'?

So anyway, if I'm not supposed to do this, I trust someone will comment and let me know.  But nicely, please.  I'm fragile, and you never know what's going to push me over the edge.

My other issue (as if there's only one more) is that I'm way behind in posting my February Photo Challenge pics.  So I'd better get on with it, since this is supposed to be Wordless  Wednesday and I've clearly failed miserably so far at the wordless thing.  Sorry. ::audible gulp::  So where were we?  Oh yeah...

11.  makes you happy
If I were a good person (and I believe we've already established the answer to that) I'd be inserting a photo of my kids here.  But let's pretend we already know that my kids make me happy, and instead I'll share this:

These are over at my in-laws' house - the olden-times version of Fisher Price Little People.  I don't know why, but the sight of these little suckers made me laugh right out loud.  Is it because the dog is the same size and shape as the people, just with a dog head?  Is it because of the singular curl of hair in the middle of the baby's forehead?  Is it because one of them mysteriously had no face at all?   I love these things, and their little merry-go-round, and the fact that they had a Fisher Price car developed exclusively for them that wasn't wide enough for two to fit in side-by-side but was wide enough that if you only put one in there he fell over in the front seat every time you turned a corner.  I love that they came out of the package without predetermined names and back stories.  I guess I don't love that they're choking hazards, but whaddayagonnado?

12. inside your closet
This is not trick photography folks.  I didn't use a fish-eye lens, or take the photo from a distance.  That is as wide as my closet is, which I can't complain about for the following reasons:
  •  It is the only closet in the whole upstairs, and though it's in the hallway (not even in our bedroom) it's mine, all mine.
  • Although I am the lucky resident of the sole upstairs closet, I waste this valuable real estate by using it to store jeans that are too small, maternity clothes that are too big, old bridesmaids dresses, two pairs of boots that I got when I briefly thought I might become a "boot person," eleventy unused hangers, and work clothes that I don't wear because I never leave the house anymore, let alone go to work in an office.

13. blue
The morning glow of the coffee maker.  In my old age I'm starting to like mornings; and no matter how you feel about them, at least they eventually lead to the rest of the day, which is generally a good thing.  Plus mornings mean coffee.  Coffee good.

14. heart
Another one of the valentines Jake drew. If you didn't see his others, you should click that link and check them out.  Funny or disturbing?  You be the judge.  Also, I added a link at the end of that post to show you the non-gift Valentine's Day gift that my husband gave me EVEN THOUGH WE'D AGREED TO IGNORE VALENTINE'S DAY.  I hate that, because you can't really get too mad at somebody for being nice, even if they are breaking the rules.  Not cool.

15. phone
I like old-fashioned phones.  Don't get me wrong, I love my iPhone, and it's hard to deny that dialing a rotary phone isn't quite as much fun as playing Fruit Ninja, but I sort of miss the heavy clunkiness of old phones and twirling the cord around my finger absent-mindedly while I talk.  I think it's funny that so many people (myself included) have these fancy, high tech phones and then set them up to seem low tech by setting the ringtone to sound like it's coming out of a 1950's newsroom, and changing the wallpaper to look like weathered barn wood.  I think you can even get an app that brings up a rotary dial on the screen, but I don't feel a need to go quite that far.

And because no blog post is complete without a picture of at least one of the kids...

I'm linked up to...

The Paper Mama
Jenni From the Blog
Parenting By Dummies
Because I'm the Mommy

NapTime MomTog

 then, she {snapped}

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!