Hollow Tree Ventures parenting humor
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The Great (Phoney) First Birthday Spectacular

Well, I have to say my fears were, once again, unfounded.

You might remember that I procrastinated was virtually on my deathbed, and spaced out on my duty to create a perfect, memorable, extremely expensive first birthday party for Madeline, the kind that would make her feel cherished and loved and prove once and for all to the other mothers in the neighborhood that I love my kids at least as much as they love theirs, if not more.

But I shouldn't have worried.  Even though I didn't do one iota of planning until the day before The Big Event, I can say without exaggeration that Madeline's birthday on Saturday was an absolute riot of activity and unstoppable celebratory awesomeness.

Now, first let me explain a little something regarding her lack of clothing.  When you're in the midst of creating an atmosphere of Ultimate First Birthday Wicked Crazy Greatness, let's face it - you can't be bothered to pay all that much attention to the birthday girl.  I had stuff to do!  So let's just say some coffee was left unattended, no one got hurt (other than her clothes, my clothes, the carpet, and the coffee table, which I guess at least was appropriately named), and a few pictures were snapped between wardrobe changes.  Like this one:

If it weren't for the Snack Cups full of yogurt melts,
I would totally move into my own apartment.

We didn't let one little beverage mishap slow us down, though.  First we followed ancient birthday tradition and stopped by to pick up some E. coli pizza at Chuck-E-Cheese.

I'm not clear on exactly why anyone
ever thought this place was a good idea.

Then, we increased the excitement level by riding coasters at Major Theme Park Of Your Choice.


I don't mind telling you, after all that E. coli and adrenaline, we needed to relax.  A peaceful hike in the woods sounded perfect.

I think you sat me down on a pine cone.

But you know what?  Even that  wasn't quite relaxing enough (it's hard to chill out in the woods when all you're really doing is thinking about Tick Season until your scalp gets itchy).  Since nothing's too good for our baby, we cashed in our 401Ks and the kids' college funds, and took a private jet down to Key West.

The sand.  Is.  Everywhere.

The tropical breezes and ocean views were the perfect backdrop for wrapping up what turned out to be a pretty decent first birthday party.  Oh, speaking of wrapping, can you guess what Madeline's birthday gift was?

Do you have any idea how long it took me
to get this thing out of the gift bag?

Bon voyage, Sweetie!  Now that you're one, I think you're old enough to go on a luxury cruise by yourself while Mommy recuperates from not planning your party.


...Okay, I'll admit it, a few of those pictures were lightly edited.  You probably couldn't tell because of my mad Photoshop skills, but it's true.

And now that I've told you, it occurs to me that this is a MUCH better ridiculous get-rich-quick scheme than my last idea!  Anyone wanting to create the illusion that their kid partied like a Kardashian on their birthday (minus the whoriness, obviously),  send me your pics and I'll expertly (see above) drop in an exotic backdrop of your choosing.  Slap the new photos in your family album, and years from now all you have to do is casually mention what a great time their [insert age] birthday was.  Eventually they'll start to believe you because, Hey,  they'll reason, Why would Mom lie to me?   You'll know it's working when they start to say things like, "So that's  why I like the smell of diapers and suntan oil," or, "I guess that explains my fear of giant rats."  See?

This plan has the added bonus of leaving their college fund up for grabs when you decide you want a swimming pool or need a mid-life crisis convertible, or I suppose you could even use it for their college education (if you insist on being a total square).

Just let me know - the line forms at the door, orders taken on a first-come, first-served basis.  Hello?  HELLO????

Please click below to vote while I go check my camera's memory card -
I'm hoping we have at least a few real birthday pictures someplace...
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Just Checking In From Fever Village

I believe, in yesterday's post, I may have demonstrated mentioned that my mental faculties were temporarily (?) compromised by the ravages of a fever, but I'm happy to report that today I seem to be emerging from the Fever Fog.  Sense is starting to make sense again, and I even sort of wanted some caffeine this morning.
Usually if I don't drink coffee for three days straight, it's a pretty big red flag that something's terribly wrong.  Paramedics, somehow perceiving the seriousness of my condition before I even dial 911, will arrive on my doorstep with a gurney and a latte IV.  Mmmhmm, I loooove some intravenous coffee.  I wasn't even aware that I could function without coffee anymore, but maybe the lack of caffeine is why I slept for about eleventy hundred hours this week.  Huh.
So when I arrived back in the Land of the Living this afternoon, I realized a few things.
  1. My mom is awesome for coming over here every day so I could sleep as much as I needed to without tethering the baby to my ankle by an old phone cord (for safety).
  2. My husband is awesome for taking care of the kids and feeding them dinner and handling a cranky baby who was no doubt wondering, "Hey, what ever happened to that one lady who used to live here and carry my favorite beverage around on her front side?"
  3. And, OH MY EVER-LOVING DEITY OF YOUR CHOICE, the baby's first birthday is tomorrow!

You can probably gather from my reaction that I'm woefully under-prepared for the First Birthday Extravaganza.  "Under-prepared," as in I have no party planned.  Or food.  Or gifts.  I do have the baby though, so that's a start.

Procrastinate much?  I hear you asking.  Yes, I do, but in my defense I was under the (admittedly false) impression that I wouldn't be completely comatose this week, so my Big Plan was to work on it during the hours I actually spent sleeping.  And whenever the baby's birthday was brought up for discussion while I was in the Fever Fog and I was awake-ish, for all I knew we could've been debating whether or not a Pegasus can fly just on rainbow power alone or if it also needs sparklers and raisins and David Hasselhoff.  Which, come to think of it, wouldn't have made a terrible party theme, minus the raisins.  And the Hoff.

So anyway, wish me luck.  It should be interesting.  At least I'm always safe in the knowledge that, even though I might not throw her a fancy party, I love my daughter like crazy.  She is absolutely adored by this family, and we couldn't imagine life without her.  And also, she's never going to remember her first birthday party anyway.  Right?  RIGHT???

Please click below to vote for me, and enjoy the additional HTV content
that will be coming your way thanks to the fact that soon,
none of my children will be speaking to me anymore and I'll have loads of free time!
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You're In For A Real Treat

That's right, the title says it all.  Prepare yourselves to be entertained beyond your wildest dreams.

Or not.  I'm not sure yet, because I haven't decided what I'm going to write about.

Is it premature to start typing before you have any idea what you're going to say?  Perhaps.

I blame the fever, which came from nowhere two nights ago and settled over my brain like a thick, feverish thing that obscures thoughts.  It also seems to be heavily influencing the function of my Metaphor Cortex.

I spent the night all shivery and hot (Note To Stupid Body: It isn't cold in here. Shaking uncontrollably and chattering our teeth isn't doing us any good.  In related news, you're an idiot.) enjoying myself some fitful Fever Dreams.  You know the ones - the dreams that, even by whacked-out dream standards, make you wonder if possibly you dropped some acid when you weren't looking.
For example, I dreamed up this really great business idea, wherein bereaved folks who find themselves too upset to delete their dearly departed loved ones' emails and computer files could just send them to me.  Then I  would delete them, since I'm not all emotionally involved, and in return I would send them an Email and Computer File Digital Urn (patent pending) that I'd created in Photoshop.  You know, to hold the ashes of the deleted files, and to help ease the pain.  And to display on the mantle.  "Grandma  always did love her Word documents."  ::dabs tear with tissue::

This is a perfect example of a graphic that makes no sense
outside the context of this post.
Granted, the odds that it makes sense in any  context are sketchy at best.
At some point yesterday I actually thought this was an honest-to-goodness cash cow of an idea.  So you can see why a fevered person might start to think they were going insane, or worse yet  that they'd always been insane but didn't know it yet, because why the hell else would you think of something like that???

I mean, it is crazy, right?  Because when this fever goes away (optimistic), if I find out somebody stole that idea and turned it into a multi-billion dollar industry I'm gonna be really mad.  If I remember.

Um, where was I?  It's hard to concentrate when you have a fever, especially when the baby is stuck in the curtains.  Don't worry, she's okay.  Wait...  Yeah, I'm pretty sure she's okay.

Which reminds me, the other thing I like to do when I have a fever, besides think of ways I can become independently wealthy, is scar my children for life.  So when I came downstairs after taking an afternoon nap, during which my body attempted to spontaneously combust, I announced to my kids that I was hungry because I'd only had three Oreos for lunch.

Non-Fever Me would be concerned that this set a bad example, or at least that it might set off a series of whiny requests for Oreos.  Fever Me doesn't care about such things.

Jake, showing obvious concern due to my vacant Thousand Yard Fever Stare, tried to make me feel better by telling me that he'd looked it up on the internet and read that Oreos have vegetables in them.  My first thought, of course, was Innerwebs, I love you.   But then some small measure of reason came back and I had to regretfully inform him that "vegetable oil" does not generally count as a vegetable.  Then he said that the next ingredient was "sugarated sugar," which struck me as so funny that I was launched out of my catatonic state by a fit of maniacal laughter.

The children backed away slowly, and ever since then they've been treating me very delicately, like I'm the last character in a movie to be informed that I was recently diagnosed with a rather serious mental condition.

I kind of like it.

Please click below to vote for me while I take another nap -
my mom is coming over to watch the baby, and I'm willing to bet she'll have upwards of a 100% success rate at keeping Maddie out of the curtains.
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Mom's In Her Non-Mom-Jean Jeans

I don't think I'm the only woman who lays claim to several different sets of clothes.

I've been living in yoga pants, sweatshirts, and (for Special Occasions outside the house) my ultra-largest jeans for the better part of a year.  To say that I'm sick of it is a huge understatement.  To say that I'm way too lazy to do something about it, like start exercising or stop eating Rolos by the fistful, is also a huge understatement.

But the other day my frustration with yoga pants finally tipped the scale (no pun intended) and outweighed (so to speak) my fear of not fitting into my pre-pregnancy clothes, so I tried a few things on.  I was delighted to find that the largest pair of jeans that falls within the category of my "real size" clothing actually fit, without me shoehorning my thighs into the leg holes or lying on my back and using a wire hanger to heave the zipper up.

That's not to say that I could comfortably walk in them, or that I could sit down in them without the deflated balloon Mama Belly draping itself over the waistband.  But I could stand up in them, provided I didn't move too much, which was a good start.

This discovery emboldened me to approach the Evil Bathroom Scale, and I was surprised to find that I'm hovering right around my pre-pregnancy weight.  Granted, that weight has relocated to completely different places on my body now and, after three kids, my skin no longer possesses the tensile strength required to at least hold those pounds somewhere near my skeletal structure.  But whatever.  Small victories.

So later that night I shared my news with Gerry, Loving and Supportive Husband Extraordinaire.

"I'm back at my pre-pregnancy weight," I announced.

"Is that right?" he asked, giving me an approving once-over.  "Wow, that didn't even take you a whole year!"

"Har," I scoffed.  "It'll be a year in less than a week, so I'm cutting it pretty close if that was the goal."

"Still, that's awfully impressive," he continued, seemingly with genuine admiration.  "Especially at your age."

Authorities are still searching for the exact location of his remains.

I'm kidding, I didn't really kill him.
But please click below to vote while I go feed him -
I promised I'd bring him a sandwich a couple days ago when I locked him in the basement.
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The Spider Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree

I must've done something good in a past life, because a few days ago I was mercifully spared a spider to the face.

I was climbing the stairs, and in my house that means I was staring at my feet.  That's because our stairs turn a corner midway up, and since there's no landing, the treads all come together at a point at the turn.  I have to believe this design flies in the face of the Official Building Code, because my stairs are just begging for someone (me) to misstep on one of those skinny slivers of tread and fall, smashing my face, followed closely by the snapping off of the rest of my body parts.

But the other day, something  (woman's intuition?  a higher power?  good karma?  spidey sense?) told me to forget the danger that was lurking underfoot, and look up.

That's when I found myself eyeball-to-eyeball with a spider, who was scurrying down his Silken Butt Thread (it's a Science Word, I looked it up) in a calculated attempt to land on my face.  His plan would have worked, too, if I'd just kept barreling up the stairs all rhinoceros-like, as I usually do.

I thought a picture would make my terrible description of the scenario easier to understand,
but I think my terrible art skills are only making things worse.

Now, I love all creatures as much as the next guy (as long as the next guy doesn't love spiders), but I can't have a vicious arachnid crawling around my house, pulsating with flesh-eating venom and potentially creeping down his Butt Thread toward my children.  That's just not responsible parenting.

So I ended up batting the beast around as he dangled there, feeling like I was playing some macabre game of tether ball, until he finally landed on the extremely generous quantity of tissue I'd wrapped around my hand for protection (sorry, trees) and I was able to squeal him all the way to the bathroom, where I tossed him in the toilet.

And yes, when you do it like I do, "squeal" is a verb that denotes sound as well as motion.
I think that's fair, because if he's smart enough to get out, he lives!  If not, then not so much.  However, not knowing his fate has left me paranoid that a super-smart, self-aware, uber-strong spider with an axe to grind is still lurking around near the top of my stairs, so I have to watch for him every time I go up and down.

I call this Ghost Spider Syndrome.  It's a mental condition causing me to believe a bug that's probably  dead is actually hiding in my home, plotting his revenge.  For whatever reason, even though I know spiders are highly mobile, I only watch for them in the last place they were spotted.  The condition lasts until I see a different spider (or the same spider, which I assume is a different one because it's in a different place), and then all my Ghost Spider paranoia is transferred to the new one.

I'm telling you this because I recently found out that Ghost Spider Syndrome is genetic, and I've passed it on to my daughter, Zoe.

My mom's HOA had sprayed for bugs, which resulted in a large spider carcass finding its final resting place on her driveway.  Zoe hopped out of my mom's car and started to run toward the house, but freaked out because the grizzly spider corpse was right between the car and the garage door, directly in her path.  She had to go around the other way to avoid it, and was pretty shaken up by her encounter.

The next time she went to my mom's, she hopped out of the car but froze immediately, remembering the dead spider.  She was terrified, but my mom reminded her, "He's long gone - it's been really windy, so the spider blew away."

Suffering from what can only be a crippling case of Ghost Spider Syndrome, an unconvinced Zoe replied, "Maybe, BUT HIS SOUL IS STILL THERE."

Thank you, Zoe.  Now I'm going to have to watch for spiders even when I know  they're dead.  No amount of post-tether-ball flushing can save me now.

Please click below to vote, and give me one more moment of joy
before the Stair Spider finds out where I sit to blog!
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Mommy Math

I don't know about you, but back in school I took Calculus and Trigonometry and Finite Math (which is a real thing, though for some reason they don't offer Infinite Math), and as far as I can tell none of them have a single real-world application, unless you're some kind of brain surgeon for rocket scientists, or if you're interested in what kind of gas mileage your car is getting.
I prefer not to know.
Fair warning: if you're the kind of person who frequently finds yourself rubbing your chin, doing smart-people things like ruminating, "Gee, I wonder what the inverse cosign of the hypotenuse of a quadrangle is - cotangently speaking, of course," then prepare yourself to start thinking I'm pretty dumb.  Also, I'm not sure what you're doing here in the first place - I rarely blog about the hypotenuse of anything, unless I'm using it as a euphemism.
Wink, wink.  Because I'm immature.
I probably COULD use fancy math, if I Applied Myself, but let's face it - whenever an opportunity to use math rears it's ugly head, I skip it.  Meh,  I think, too hard.   For example, I'll never measure the dimensions of a gift, insert my findings into some Complex Math Equation that looks like a bowl of alphabet soup, and use it to figure out how many square centimeters of "Congratulations" wrapping paper I'll need to cover up the fact that I'm regifting something I just yanked out of my Generic All-Purpose Token Gift stash.  Nope, instead I'll quickly eyeball it, cut a piece of wrapping paper, realize it's too small, cut another piece to fill in the gap, and use a ribbon to cover to seam.
Like a  normal person.
Or, more likely, I'll skip it all together and cram it into a gift bag with some used, wrinkled tissue paper that I've made a half-hearted effort to flatten out.

I use a lot of Scotch tape.  Yes, even on gift bags.  How else can you keep the hamsters in?

That's why I'm inventing the New Math, and I don't mean the kind of new math that says "40 is the new 20" (pleaseGodno, I can't do 20 again), or Zoe's Bird Math, or the kind of math my kids try to use wherein they think the Ten More Minutes I gave them to play until bedtime doesn't start until I come back to tell them their ten minutes are up.  This is Mommy Math, designed to help parents everywhere figure out the answers to problems we actually face in a typical day.  Just enter your info (called a "variable" - NERDY MATH TERM OF THE DAY) into the following equations to help you deal with Real World Parenting Issues.

(Le + T + S) G = O
The number of minutes Late you're running, plus the number of Tots you're trying to herd out the door, plus the number of times you have to remind them to put on their Shoes, multiplied by how Godawful their behavior is on a scale of 1 to 10.  This equals the number of Obscenities you'll have to stifle before you get to the car.

{S (H +U) T} U = P
The decibel level of the Stomping you hear downstairs, multiplied by "you Hit me" plus "yoU started it," multiplied by the number of Time outs you've already enforced that day, times a billion if you're currently trapped Under a sleeping baby.  This equals the likelihood that a blood vessel in your forehead will Pop because you can't scream at the kids to shut the hell up  without waking the baby.

(Di + ET) FAI = L
Add the number of Ding Dongs in the house tempting you with chocolatey goodness, plus the unEaten sandwich crusts you consume from your kids' lunch plates so no food goes to waste, times the Taste you take of every french fry and chicken nugget you serve them.  Multiply that by the number of Frumpy maternity tops you still wear, times the Alcohol content of your wine, times your Inclination to pass out face-first into a bowl of ice cream in front of the TV at 9 PM.  This equals the number of decades it will take to Lose the weight you gained during your last pregnancy.

(Play) W + ITH = Me
Multiply the number of recently canceled Playdates by the number of consecutive Wet, rainy days that've kept you off the playground.  Add that to the number of Interruptions you endure from your kids per minute while you're on the phone, times your Total exhaustion, times your Hatred of participating in pointless, endless, repetitive kids' games.  This equals the likelihood that you'll go completely Mental long before your children stop asking you to play Barbies/Lego/dress-up with them.

(ArE) + WE + (Th)E + RE= YeT
Multiply the number of Arguments your kids have had in the backseat since you left the house by the number of Entertainment devices that are out of battery power.  Add the intensity of the Whining times the number of minutes since they last asked to stop for something to Eat.  Add that to The hours left in the trip, multiplied by the number of times they urgently Express a need to pee, plus the number of requests for you to change the Radio station times the fact you'd rather be anyplace else on Earth.  This equals how long (in seconds) it'll take for you to freak  out and Yell at Them, before finally caving in and stopping at McDonalds.

There you have it - parenting has never been easier!  And it's all thanks to math - who'd have guessed?  Not me, that's for sure.  What an age in which we live.

Here at the end of the post is where you're used to me shamelessly shilling for Top Mommy Blog votes, but not today!  Today I'm shilling for some Facebook love - since the Twitter didn't kill me, I went ahead and joined the Facebook, too, because I'm a glutton for punishment (yours, that is).
Please click below or on my right sidebar widgety thing, and check it out to see more HTV awesomeness!  Okay, it's just me being my usual dumb self, but it might be fun - plus otherwise I might be tempted to put you on my Christmas gift list - you like poorly wrapped hamsters, don't you?

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Dr. Spock: Childcare Guru or Deranged Maniac? - Episode 4

It's been a while, but those of you who've been putting up with me for some time might remember the Dr. Spock series, wherein we review Dr. Ben Spock's child rearing advice in an attempt to determine whether he was trying to dramatically endanger our babies, or if he was just trying to kill them outright.
This tattered copy has obviously been used
to endanger several generations.

In Episode 1: Getting Ready For Baby, we discovered the need for a car bed and came to terms with the fact that we're going to screw everything up.  We also explored Postpartum Depression treatments, such as stealing our infant's sedatives and/or buying a purty hat.

In Episode 2: A Typical Day With Baby, we learned to put our babies out to graze on the lawn all day, which you'd think we couldn't screw up, but we were taught that we'll probably screw it up anyway.

In Episode 3: Your Child Has the Plague, we learned what we did wrong that led to our kid getting that cough that sounds like a dog coughing up a cat that's coughing up a furball, and determined how much Castor oil to give them so they'll feel well enough to go back out on the lawn where they belong.

It's taken me a while to get to the next Episode because I've been really, really busy (that's a lie)  but also because, as it turns out, writing a post that contains real facts and research takes quite a bit longer than writing a post in which I totally fabricate all the facts and research.  Go figure.  But I couldn't end the series without at least one more peek into the psychotic mind of an outdated and (allegedly) demented baby doctor, so here it is:

Episode 4: You've Got Problems, Lady

Don't read this - it's too many words, and the description of
parenting is so exhausting it made me want to send the kids out
to play in traffic while I took a nap.
I included it here just so you'd believe I really read the book.
Doc Spock admits freely that parenting is no walk in the park.  In fact, he says "at best, there's lots of hard work and deprivation" (thanks for putting such a positive spin on it).  But aside from the obvious hassles of feeding and talking to our children, there are plenty of other issues to deal with along the way (oh, good, I was hoping there'd be more time and effort involved).  You may have noticed that I specified You've Got Problems, Lady  in this episode, because it's pretty clear who's expected to handle the dirty work (that's you,  mom  - the same person who's been expected to handle everything else so far, from nipple hygiene to ensuring a badminton net is secured tightly over the crib so the baby can't escape).

There are many types of Parenting Problems for which we need to be on the lookout.  For instance, what if some heartless beast of a mother has the nerve to work outside the home?  Dr. Spock is quick to rush in from 1957 and reassure us that "usually their children turn out all right" but cautions that many kids "grow up neglected and maladjusted" (p 569).  How do we deal with this issue?  I read this section several times, and it appears the answer is remarkably simple - just don't work outside the home, gals.   Duh.  That probably should have been super obvious, what with Dr. Spock gently reminding us that babies have a 98.2% likelihood of becoming sociopathic miscreants if their mother isn't in the house with them 24/7.

What about Dad - does he need to be home, too?  No, of course not, he'll probably almost never be at home!  But don't worry, the doctor has also included a section titled The Fatherless Child, bearing in mind that in 1950s-Land "fatherless" just means that the father is off on business, not that there IS no father around (that would just be ridiculous).  This is a particularly troubling Parenting Problem if the child is a boy, because of the danger that the mother might "[get] him interested in clothes and interior decoration" (heaven forbid).  We all know what THAT leads to: Sissypants Syndrome.  So it's once again up to the mother to fix the situation - in this case, she needs to make sure she hangs out with lots of different men so her children are regularly exposed to "substitute fathers" (p 577).  Also, lots of photos and letters should be sent to the absentee father to ensure he remains an Involved Parent (by 1950s standards, a father can apparently be considered Involved even while out of state), though I would recommend selectively cropping photos that include Mom's Friend Uncle Bob and the ones in which the milkman has his feet propped up on the coffee table.

Now that we know what we've done to mess our kids up in the head, let's address some of the consequences, such as bed-wetting.  Bed-wetting, Dr. Spock explains, is the parents' fault for a variety of reasons.  You might be providing an unstable environment, which is causing your child's unconscious subconscious to become incontinent (stop me if you find all this Medical Terminology to be too confusing).  In boys, bed-wetting is most often caused by insecurity, a domineering, impatient mother, and a father who ignores him.  In girls, it's most often caused by an inappropriate romantic love for her father and a need for psychiatric help.
I know you think I'm making this up, but it's right there on page 506 - I'm looking at it right now!
In any case, according to Dr. Spock, your best bet to get the bed-wetting to stop is to shape up and stop sucking at parenthood so much (I'm paraphrasing that part, but that's the gist).

Six to Eleven year olds are unable to control themselves
or their kleptomania.
After the bed-wetting stage, Dr. Spock explains there's a period between ages 6-11 when your main Parenting Problems are going to be comic books and stealing.  Luckily for you, your primary job during these years is just keeping your child out of prison.

In the event that you avoid warping your children into mass murderers before they reach puberty (unlikely), you'll have to give them The Talk.  You know, The Talk.   This is probably the biggest Parenting Problem of all, and once again it's up to the mother to hitch up her apron and take care of business, explaining how the Stork gets into the hospital delivery room and whatnot (the correct answer is: through the window ).  Right off the bat make sure to tell your daughter about The Curse; she'll be thrilled to hear that Leading Authorities on the subject are nearly convinced that "most girls and women can live perfectly normal lives" while Having Their Monthly Time (p 377).  The rest of us will be locked up in Menstruation Camps with hot water bottles perched on our abdomens, while we somehow manage to also stand at the sink and wash dishes.  With your son, on the other hand, you'll want to concentrate on setting a "sensible limit" on how many times per day he can - ahem - Explore his Puberty Experience, since it's "not harmful if [the episodes] don't happen too often" (p 378).  The father (or milkman - whoever's available) may want to teach the boy how to shave his palms.

That pretty much brings us right up to the time when Car Dating begins, and the subsequent Shotgun Wedding is celebrated!  By this point in parenting, it's safe to fully dedicate yourself to your budding wine box addiction and encourage your husband to remain out of state for a while longer so you can have the house to yourself FOR ONCE.  Maybe you can treat yourself to a night out on the town, so you'll have an excuse to wear all those Postpartum Depression dresses you bought.  You've earned it.
Please find it in your heart to click below to vote for me,
even though I just made you read a post that mentioned 1950s puberty!
At least I didn't use the phrase "belted sanitary napkin," right?  Right???
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Our Unintentional Indoor Pool

Don't be jealous, but we just got an Indoor Pool.  It was a quick and easy installation; we put it right between the Sculpture Garden and our Personal Gym.  We hardly even noticed it was there until construction was complete and it was ready for us to wade right in.*
*This is all 100% true if you replace "Sculpture Garden" with "Stack of Damp Boxes," "Personal Gym" with "Elliptical Machine That I Never Use Anymore," and "Indoor Pool" with "Flooding Caused By Backed-Up Drain In the Basement Floor."
I was alerted to the issue when my husband went down to check on the laundry and I heard indistinct, muffled curse words drifting upstairs through the ductwork, followed by the unmistakable shriek of the wet/dry vac.

I don't know anything about plumbing, but I believe it's a good sign that the water was at least clean and sudsy and not... the other kind.  Nevertheless, because of the lack of drainage we had to seriously curtail our water usage all weekend.  Sudsy or not, we didn't need our used shower backwash swishing around on the floor, ruining a bunch of junk that's been down there since we moved in and rusting out the bottom of the water heater.

I'm fully aware that some people may have had their own water issues to deal with lately, such as having no water at all like my mom (thanks to a busted water main) or Botswana (thanks to its unfortunate location in the Kalahari Desert).  However, while I feel for these people, I would contend that my situation was just a teeny bit worse because they didn't have children that suddenly seemed filthy and needed now-impossible baths, nor did they need to call a plumber.
Before I continue, to all you plumbers out there I'd like to send out a heartfelt, "Thank you," from all of us who enjoy the undeniable convenience of hot and cold running plumbing.
I would also like to point out (as politely as possible) that after you fix the plumbing problem, I don't need to know which Drain Valve you used to fix it, and that you used the more expensive Drain Valve because you didn't have the cheaper one on the truck.  Of course you didn't.  In my experience, you guys never ever  have the cheaper parts on the truck.  Which doesn't matter, because you know as well as I do that I couldn't tell the expensive Drain Valve from the undercarriage of a La-Z-Boy recliner, not even if you set them both side-by-side on my dining room table and gave a two-hour PowerPoint presentation explaining the difference.  You could've kept your Drain Valve and stuffed our pipes full of Flesh Eating Anthrax and the souls of a thousand murdered unicorns, and as long as water didn't build up on the floor of my basement, I'd never know the difference.

I would also like to, as politely as possible, ask, Is there maybe some way you could make yourselves a little less freaky to those of us who are here alone with a baby and have to let you in our houses even though our upper body strength leaves something to be desired and we have trouble fully concealing a stun gun in the waistband of our yoga pants?

I say this only because the guy who showed up at our door to fix the drain was all gigantic and sported some Pirates Of The Caribbean/Hulk Hogan Riding a Harley-inspired facial hair.  Oh yeah, not to mention the casual small talk he made while he called in my credit card number, which included a longish story about that time he threw his daughter around by the throat on her birthday.  On a less threatening but possibly very gross note, he also had something caked on his shoes and pants up to mid-calf from his last job (please let it be mud, oh please let it be mud).   But actually he was very nice and, to his credit, didn't try to hug me like my mom's weirdo plumber tries to do with her.  Plus, after digging around in my basement drain bare-fisted and snaking it out (or whatever the term is), he offered me his pen to sign the receipt even though (in his words) his hands were "kinda dirty."  Which I thought was pretty polite.

Anyway, my point (if I have one) is that even though he looked and sounded and acted and smelled scary, he didn't end up bonking me over the head with a length of pipe or locking me in his crawlspace - perhaps only because his employer knew where his appointment was, which makes it tough to come up with a believable alibi, but whatever gets the job done.  I'm alive, and (more importantly) we have full-on water now, so I'm happy.  But I still haven't given the kids a bath.

Three cheers for indoor plumbing!  And for not getting shivved by your plumber!
And for clicking below to vote for me!  (You like how I snuck that in there?)
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Character Assassination Carousel: Babar gets poached

I'm super excited today (just ask my husband, who will happily confirm that I won't shut up about it) to take my turn on the Character Assassination Carousel, the awesome innerwebs meme invented and hosted by none other than Ninja Mom herself (Squeeee!), a.k.a. Nicole.

Bloggers fortunate enough to ride the Carousel get to choose some piece of children's lit that gives them hives and an eye twitch, and completely rip it to shreds (by which I mean "make fun of it," though literally ripping these books to shreds is also highly recommended).  If you want a ticket to ride, click the button above and contact Nicole!  Actually, you should click the button even if you don't want to get on the carousel, because all the past assassinations are linked there and they're FUN-NY (no lie), plus everybody knows that clicking buttons is good for your health (science fact).

The last assassin was Jester Queen, who totally derailed the Little Golden Book, Tootle, and all of its train traumatizing, creativity stifling, anti-meadow-frolicking nonsense.  The next horse to come around the carousel will carry Ellen and Erin from Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms - only time will tell which book they'll blast into oblivion, but I know you're going to want to tune in because those ladies are always  making me laugh (true story)!

But for now we'll be shouldering our elephant guns and focusing our night vision scopes on Babar, the royal elephant.  Or more specifically, Babar's Little Girl, by Laurent De Brunhoff.

This is the story of multiple consecutive parental nightmares, cleverly disguised in a rickrack-edged miniskirt and roller skates.  It opens with a pregnant-to-bursting Queen Celeste and a dangerously inaccurate message to our daughters that, during pregnancy, you can expect to be transported around on a carriage by two giraffes and your Dorothy Hamill-haired monkey butler until one day - plop - out comes the baby, easy as pie.  Well, at least they got the ginormous size and stump-like pregnancy cankles right.

I don't think you should have to wear one of those
hospital mumus if you're giving birth in the woods.

Oh yeah, and did I mention that the king and queen are cousins?   But no biggie - kids love stories about inbreeding!  Pretty soon the new baby, Isabelle, is beloved by her siblings (who, I suppose, are also her second cousins) despite the fact that she appears to be a spoiled, annoying little brat.

Here's the page that helps set up your kids' unrealistic expectations
for their next birthday party.

So even though she throws stuff and yells and plays the trumpet nonstop, for some reason they all seem awfully upset when she wanders off - for the second time in the story.  I skipped telling you about the first time because frankly, the storyline in the beginning of this book is pretty random.  Must've lost something in the translation from French (she said, generously).  Personally, I'd be sort of glad to get rid of a toddler who played the trumpet, but whatever.

Suffice it to say that Babar told Isabelle on the previous page not to disappear again without telling them where she was going - that was ONE PAGE AGO, mind you - and here she goes traipsing off already, this time during a family hike in the mountains.

I don't know about you, but my kids ignore my rules plenty  without disobedience being glorified by this elephant kid.  I absolutely lose my mind when I tell my kids to quit doing something, they look at me with those pitiful, sorry little eyes, and then they start doing it again before I even have time to leave the room - so as I'm reading this part to my children, I feel the book doesn't do nearly enough to convey to them how absolutely irate I  would be if one of them  ever considered wandering off.  In the book, the mom is the only one who looks anywhere close to properly ticked about being stuck up in the mountains, searching for her wayward delinquent as the sun goes down and the other kids start to whine about being hungry.

You'd probably have better luck if you fanned out a little bit -
why's everyone looking in the same place?
Then again, she's an elephant.  She shouldn't be that hard to find.

Meanwhile, do you think Isabelle gives one thought to anyone else's feelings?  Nooooo.  She's off cavorting in the woods.

Elephants are surprisingly agile.

I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking, Defiance? Running away? TRUMPETS? Surely this is where the poor behavior modeling ends.  Or at least Isabelle will be getting her comeuppance soon, right?  And why does the word 'comeuppance' look so ridiculous?  Oh well, I'm sure you Googled it to make sure it was correct.

Well, you're right, I did Google it, and it is correct though it does indeed look ridiculous.  But you're wrong about Isabelle.  She neither starts making better choices nor learns a Tough Lesson brought about by her naughtiness.  Instead of going home or waiting at a predesignated Safety Zone for her parents to find her, she does the last thing we'd want our  kids to do - she hitches a ride with a transient drifter.

Hey there creepy old man, can I hop in your boat
so you can take me to a secondary location?

As bad as that sounds, what comes next is actually the part of the book I detest reading to the kids the most, just because I can hardly manage to do it without pausing to give a twenty minute lecture about Stranger Danger.  After being ferried across the river by some random elephant (who, if I may digress, slightly resembles Walter Matthau), she does one of the most dangerous things an unsupervised child can do, aside from juggling flaming knives while staring into an eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.  She runs right up to a house owned by two unknown male weirdos, where she announces, of all things, "I'm looking for someone to play with."

Way to make a bad situation worse, moron.

"Can I come in? I always wanted to be on the side of a milk carton."

I don't even know what these guys are  - a moose and a giant beagle?  Bullwinkle's grandpa and the love child of an albino Barney and a lump of Play Doh?  We probably don't want to think about it too much - and besides, there's no time to guess while you're reading the book, because you're too busy being horrified by all the stuff she agrees to do while she hangs out with these suspected pedophiles.

"Hey, let's have a snack, which you could easily have laced with rat poison or psychotropic drugs!  Then let's play hide and seek - I'll hide in the room covered in mirrors without ever once wondering what possible reason there could be for you to have an entire room covered in mirrors!  No encounter with strangers is complete without testing out some yoga positions together - that goes without saying.  And don't forget to teach me how to play poker - my parents will be thrilled with my new gambling addiction - if I happen to make it out of here alive, of course!"

So finally it occurs to them (after  seeing her parents' televised impassioned plea for her safe return - yes, they were even letting her watch TV - those monsters) that she probably has a home and a family somewhere.  While they discuss their options, you can almost hear the shallow grave being dug as they lament that - oh no, big surprise - their car is in the shop, so they have no way to take her home.

Luckily, they eventually remember their other mode of transportation - their hang gliders!

Here, climb on my back!  And don't ask a lot of questions,
like why I happen to have a child-sized tandem harness lying around.

Miraculously, Isabelle makes it home without being kidnapped, murdered, drugged, molested, or breaking all her bones in a freak hang gliding accident, although I couldn't help but wish (just a little bit) that SOMETHING bad would happen to her just so that my kids' eyes wouldn't be all glazed over with the implied consequence-free adventure to be had by wandering off, talking to strangers, riding in a boat without wearing a life jacket, and just generally disobeying everything I've ever taught them.

Our one last hope for a moral to the story is at the very end, after her siblings greet her and tell her how jealous they are of all the awesome fun and excitement she always gets to have, and she has to face her parents.  Look out, Isabelle, you're gonna get it now!  I don't know if your dad wears a belt with that lime green pimp suit or what, but you're in for some kind  of whupping.

Or maybe not.

Nope, they listen to her story, and their only response is, "Our Isabelle is certainly special," followed by hugs and a nap.

What?  No lecture for running off?  No attempt to find, question, and possibly strangle the adult male strangers who held your daughter captive all day and then suspiciously slunk away before anyone at the castle could see them?  She's not going to be locked in her room for all eternity, forced to watch back-to-back episodes of "To Catch A Predator" and "48 Hours Mystery" on endless loop until she's properly paranoid that danger lurks around every corner?

But never fear - I've fixed the book!  If you own a copy, please feel free to print out the following pages and glue them in the back, so that when you read the story to your children, instead of leaving them with the impression that running away from home is a fun, rewarding activity with no repercussions, it will end with a moral, justice, and (finally) Isabelle's comeuppance.

You're welcome.  Now just rip out all the other  pages in the book, and it'll be perfect.

Whew, I feel so much better!  Don't forget to check out the blogs linked up above (right after you click the banner below, of course) for laughs and possibly a ride on an elephant's boat, though I can't make any promises about that last part!
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I'll Be The Judge of That

I believe we all know the feeling.

Your blood pressure spikes.  The back of your neck heats up.  Words rush to your mouth, bubbling up from the deepest, darkest, snarkiest part of your boiling soul.  The words fight, beg, plead to be let loose, but you grit your teeth and press your lips into a thin, humorless smile to hold them back.

You know the feeling.  It's that feeling you get when someone is judging your parenting.

Judgy McJudgersons are everywhere.
Sometimes it's the neighbor calling oh-so-helpfully  over the fence that you're probably going to kill your baby with a case of the Mongolian Death Flu if you absolutely insist  on taking her for a walk without putting a hat on her.  Hey dummy, it's 60 degrees out here.
Sometimes it's another mom at play group casting you a snide sideways glance when she pulls out organic apple slices and sparkling water for her child's snack at the same time you whip out a snack-size bag of Doritos and a Hi-C juice box.  Back off, I haven't been able to leave the house, let alone go to the grocery store, for a month.  You're lucky I didn't fish a snack out of the garbage can.
They're at Target dialing Child Protective Services while your toddler's throwing a tantrum.  Look Judgy, he started it.  I'm the one getting screamed at because there are no more Goldfish crackers.  Where's MY sympathy?
They're at the playground tsking as you hover over your kid too much.  FYI, I'm not helicoptering - I have to stay right behind my kid to hide the fact that her diaper is leaking and I forgot to bring the diaper bag.   Of course then there's always someone there to judge you for that, too.
Sometimes it's your own mother (no, I'm not talking about YOU, Mom - it's hypothetical)  questioning whether you're absolutely sure her Darling Angel Grandchild isn't watching too much television, and wouldn't it be nicer if you entertained Darling Angel Grandchild with some wholesome crafts and possibly taught him Latin instead of fooling around on that silly old blog?  (Again, I'm not talking about my own Mom here - she would never say that.  Because I told her the kids already speak Latin.)

Anyway, it's an unfortunate truth that there will always be other adults out there who'll be quick to make assumptions about our parenting ability based on 0.02 seconds of observation.  We've pretty much come to expect that.

What I didn't expect was to be judged by a 4th grader.

Let me back up a bit.  I volunteer at the kids' school.

I know, I'm a saint - actually they tricked me into it, and it's only 25 minutes one morning a week, but I sound like a better mom if I leave that part out.
I supervise the kids outside the school until the teachers are ready to take them to the classroom, so the students don't get in a fight or set a fire or shave anybody's head or do whatever kids do when no Authority Figures are around.  I showed up with Maddie on my hip, her little socked foot sticking out from under the blanket I'd wrapped around her.

Almost immediately, one of the 4th grade girls said, "Excuse me,  but where are your baby's shoes?"

I cut her a look that I hoped said, Watch the tone, missy,  and replied politely, "She doesn't have shoes."

Apparently unable to drop it or mind her own business, she gave us a distasteful up-and-down perusal and continued, "What do you mean she doesn't have shoes?  You obviously must've just left the house in a big hurry or something."

At this point, several things were running through my head.  I have no doubt we looked like we left the house in a big hurry, because we did.  Maddie's nose needed to be wiped.  She had mango in her eyebrow resulting from her very animated refusal to eat it for breakfast.  As for myself, I hadn't showered since Easter.  And no, Maddie was not wearing shoes.  Still, what right did this little brat have?  Maybe I was feeling a little touchy and getting overly defensive, but I couldn't help feeling like she'd crossed a line.  Maybe it was her sassy tone, or the smirk on her face as she eyeballed us, or her friends standing in a semi-circle beside her, waiting to see what would happen next.  Whatever it was, I let the words percolate and spill right out of my mouth.

"No, I mean she doesn't have shoes, as in she doesn't own any shoes.  She's a baby.  Babies need to learn to walk in bare feet for stronger muscles and better balance; the only time they wear shoes is if their feet need protection, and since we weren't going mountain climbing or walking through hot coals this morning, I thought socks would be sufficient."

She Hmphed and turned away, but I continued to think about it.  Was I overreacting?  It sure seemed like a lot of know-it-all sass-mouth from a 10-year-old girl speaking to an adult.  I replayed what she'd said and how she'd said it in my head, and determined that I'd definitely be horrified if one of my kids spoke to anyone that way.

So I was left to wonder - what kind of parent would let their kid behave like that?  Did they encourage it?  Was she one of those ballerina-princess-precious girls whose parents consider her rude comments to be a sign of intelligence?  Do they describe her flippant attitude as "precocious"?  Do they think that a 10-year-old speaking to an adult like that is a sign that she's mature beyond her years?  Because where I come from, that's just considered disrespectful.

Oh wait - did that sound judgy?

Hey, I'm not perfect - I get judgy too.  And sometimes I release some snark on 10-year-old girls.  But only when they deserve it, and I'm tired, and I really need a shower.  Please consider clicking below to vote for me anyway... :)
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I'm Putting the "Hell" Back in Healthy

Dear Body,

Some complaints have recently come to my attention regarding the lack of nutrition we're getting around here lately.

The Brain is aware of this issue and would like you to know that it is (hopefully) a temporary condition caused by the Deluxe Super-Extended Sucktastic two-week case of PMS we've been enjoying, and the resulting bizarre cravings being sent to us via Urgent Instant Message from the Taste Buds.

These urgent messages tell us which dietary choices will keep the Deluxe Murderous PMS Hormones at bay, and they override any requests from various other sectors of the body for Real Food. Failure to comply with the Taste Buds' demands could result in a flood of Deluxe PMS Hormones washing over the Brain, and cause the subsequent loss of the Brain's control over the Muscles. Left to their own devices, the Muscles would likely begin strangling nearby life forms within minutes.

Any complaints can be taken up with the Uterus directly.

To help combat the problem, the following new Nutrition Rules will be in effect until further notice.
  1. Jellybeans and Sour Patch Kids will now be processed as fruit.
  2. Likewise, anything dipped in ranch dressing will be considered a vegetable.
  3. Acceptable substitutes for our former allotment of wheat bread include (but are not limited to) pancakes, soft pretzels with extra salt, graham crackers in chocolate pudding, Cheetos, and Pop Tarts.
  4. Speaking of chocolate pudding, we have re-categorized it under Beverages.
  5. The modified Food Portion Scale is as follows:
    • 1 cup = 2 gallons
    • 1 tbsp = 2 gallons
    • 1 oz = 2 gallons
    • 1 gallon = 2 metric tons
  6. Foods that do not come prepackaged will be scarce. To encourage consumption of more Fresh Foods, "deep fat frying" has been upgraded to Super Healthy. (Note to Heart: We're sorry. Brace yourself.)
  7. Any food that is not coated in chocolate should be coated in melted cheese.
  8. Be prepared to consume Midol in quantities normally reserved to measure elephant tranquilizers. This dosage may be washed down with coffee, straight Coffee Mate without the coffee, soda, wine, or maple syrup.
If we stick together, Body, we can get through this. If the condition lasts too much longer, the Liver may be called upon to put in some overtime. Which reminds me, Alcohol is also temporarily being considered a vegetable.


P.S. I don't know a great deal about anatomy, but if whoever in there who's closest to the Uterus could give it a swift kick in the Fallopian Tubes, I'd be much obliged.

Please click the banner below to vote, while I go fry up a gallon of cheese and wash it down with a cool, refreshing glass of pudding (don't judge me, I'm just taking orders).
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Oh S---, My Kids Know the S Word!

Yesterday, I was all concerned about my son, Jake, figuring out the horrible truth about the Tooth Fairy, namely that the creature who sneaks into his room at night, rummages around under his pillow while he sleeps, and steals his teeth is none other than yours truly.

Actually, when you think about it like that, you'd think kids would be relieved there's no real Tooth Fairy. She sounds creepy.

Anyway, I should have known better than to concern myself with that. I forgot one of the top Rules of Parenting, which is Keep things in perspective, because no matter what you think the problem is, it's about to get worse, stupid.
Your copy of The Rules probably doesn't have the "stupid" part in it - I penciled that in the margin of my copy because I keep forgetting, despite all the smack-in-the-face reminders I always get.
So as I walked my kids to school this morning, trying to convince myself that I did the right thing by perpetuating the Tooth Fairy Lie when my son has clearly outgrown it, we got on the subject of dating (oh good, this is sure to go well). We went from talking about Zoe's first "playdate" planned for this weekend, to me reassuring her that playdates are different from "regular dates," to the concept of "blind dates" as I tried to come up with examples of how many different kids of dates there are. Obviously I had quickly lost control of the conversation.

Zoe:  Did you and Gerry meet on a blind date?
Me:  No, we were friends for lots of years before we went on a date.
Zoe:  Did Daddy meet Cindy [his girlfriend - not her real name] on a blind date?
Jake:  They met at work.
Zoe:  Is that why they aren't married?
Jake:  They probably aren't married because she doesn't want the stress of having a whole family.
I didn't want to touch that topic with a ten-foot pole, so at first I was grateful that Zoe jumped right in at this point - until I heard what she said.
Zoe:  Oh, I bet they aren't married because they have to [giggle]... do that other thing first.
Me (overly casual): What?
Zoe:  You know, that thing. It's for boyfriends and girlfriends. It makes kids! It ends with an "x" and starts with an "s"...
Unfortunately, this didn't sound like an exhaustive list of the Facts of Life that she knew; it sounded more like she was giving me hints to help me figure out what she was talking about, in case I really didn't know.
Me:  Is that so? What do you know about it?
Zoe:  We know more than you think.
We were nearing our destination, so I only had a few minutes to gently and calmly drill them for information about what they knew, which didn't get far before we got derailed by an argument between the two of them over whether or not Jake was the one who told her about The Birds and The Bees.

That's not the POINT, my brain screamed, as my uterus tried to quickly devise a plan to get them back safely inside where I could still control everything they hear and see.

At this point we were outside the school, and Jake's face was about the color and temperature of lava, so I mustered everything I could remember from my Panicked Parenting 101 class and said something about how there's nothing wrong with the subject and I'm always happy to answer any questions they ever have about it (which, I'm here to tell you, is a big fat lie - oh, I'll answer their questions, but there won't be a cell in my body that's happy about it).

Jake couldn't scuttle into the school fast enough, but Zoe sauntered slowly, giggling and taking about "babies coming out," until I had to call her back to me. I said, "Look, there's nothing wrong with...," please don't make me say this word to my 7 year old daughter, not yet, nooooo...

But she cut in and bailed me out. "I know, I won't say it in class."

Thank you.

So while I was at home fretting about piddly little Baby Stuff like the Tooth Fairy, it seems my kids were out in the Real Word learning all about the dreaded S Word. And to think how upset I would've been if we'd had to have a discussion about the 4-letter S Word, when it turns out the 3-letter one is proving to be much more traumatic. For me, anyway.

Hey, there's some of that perspective I was looking for.

Please click below to vote for me, if for no other reason than out of pity for the conversation I'll be having after school. Jake will probably avoid me for a week, but Zoe's gonna want to talk about it endlessly, if only for an excuse to say "boobies" as much as she wants.
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Ding Dong the Tooth Fairy's (Almost) Dead

Jake had a wiggly tooth driving him bonkers for quite a while. He tried everything to get it to fall out, short of what my brother used to convince me to do when I was little, which was tie a string from my tooth to a doorknob and then slam the door. (Oh, how many tortured moments of my youth were spent cringing by the basement door, mouth open, eyes squeezed shut, waiting for my brother to fling the door closed and rip my entire jaw out of its socket?) I still don't know if that method works since I always chickened out, but I don't intend to ever let my kids test it.

As a last resort, Jake decided to brush his teeth really hard... and out popped the tooth. So to review, yes - he cleaned his teeth, which is what I always tell my kids they have to do or else their teeth will fall out, and that's what made his tooth fall out. Anyway, he was pretty relieved.
This is where I should put the obligatory photo of my child posing with his bloody tooth and his mouth agape, showcasing the pulpy, disgusting spot where the tooth used to be. But I would never do that to you. You're welcome.
I used one of my old business cards (Finally, they serve a practical purpose!) to fashion an easily-located-under-the-pillow envelope into which he could insert the tiny chunk of calcium that was once part of his face (I mean, his adorable tooth). Last time, I nearly lost all circulation in my arm trying to oh-so-gently  feel around under his pillow; I never did find that tooth, so I had to just leave the money and make up some story about how the Tooth Fairy must've decided to let him keep that one.

Not this time!

While I dug through the junk drawer in search of tape to hold my Tooth Trapper (patent pending) together, Jake was daydreaming (emphasis on the "dreaming" part) about how much money he was going to get.

"What if I looked under my pillow in the morning and there was, like, fifty bucks under there?"

"That'd have to be quite a tooth," I dodged.

"I bet if I found a giant dinosaur tooth and put it under there I'd get about a million trillion dollars," he theorized excitedly.

"Well, the Tooth Fairy's been doing her job an awfully long time. I'm willing to bet she'd know the difference between your tooth and a dinosaur's." Where's that stupid tape?

And then he said it. "Or maybe the Tooth Fairy is you."

His voice came from behind me, jovial, almost... smug? No, not smug, but certainly confident. My Parenting Clock slowed time down so I could think. Are we there already? He knows? But he's only ten! Well, he's clearly ready, and he's probably already at least 80% sure he's right about his guess. Maybe it's time to let him in on the secret, tell him it's his job now to help make sure the magic continues for his sisters for a few more years... My hands fumbled around in the drawer, hoping Jake didn't notice my elongated pause, the fact that my search for tape had become WAY more animated and theatrical as I stalled.

What I came up with was a squeaky chuckle and, "I wish  I were the tooth fairy - what I wouldn't give for a sack full of cash and random kids' repulsive teeth. Hahaha! Oh look, here's the tape!" I finished making the envelope and turned around. If Jake wanted to press it further, it didn't show.

It was a golden opportunity, an opening to seamlessly transition to the next phase, a chance I can only hope  I have in regard to Santa Claus one day. But I just couldn't do it. I couldn't confirm his suspicions, couldn't let him through that first door that leads to the relentless progression called Maturing To Adulthood. I withheld his rite of passage, just for a little while longer. He may be ten, but he's still my little boy, and this Tooth Fairy isn't quite ready yet to give up her wings.

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!

My Face Is Here But My Brain Is Everywhere Else

To say I'm distracted lately is a bit of an understatement.

Between homework, staying on top of bills, Spring Break going on this week, laundry, a basement that still needs to finish getting Finished, my mile-long to-do list, and... what else... oh yeah, this blog,  my brain seems to always be a whirling storm of loose ends, forgotten commitments, and tasks to keeps track of.  Sometimes I feel completely disconnected from my real life, even when I'm totally immersed in my Real Life by trying to get Real Things accomplished, because I'm rarely doing just one thing.  When you're overwhelmed, multitasking is key.
  • Sit on the floor to play with Madeline while folding laundry - pretend to be injured every time Zoe's imaginary horse, Butterscotch, bites my arm
  • Let photos upload to computer while checking email - Google "steam cleaner rental" while waiting for ridiculously overflowing email inbox to open
  • Spend Quality Time with husband by sitting next to him on the couch, reading blogs on my phone and refreshing my Twitter feed
  • Sort mail - pretend to listen to a recap of the battle that just transpired on Pokemon video game, but actually make mental list of things that need to be added to the grocery list
  • Plan route for Relaxed Outing With Children to strategically include the Post Office, the library, the bank drive-thru, and Lowes
I could go on, but you know the drill - I'm certainly not the only one with a full dance card.  I'm not the only person who's had back-to-back panic attacks - one for the length of your to-do list, then another one when you remember an errand that wasn't on the list and you wonder, "If I forget about that,  what else  am I forgetting???"   I'm not alone when I feel like there aren't enough hours between now and the sweet, sweet release of death to fulfill even half my obligations.  And I'm quite sure there are plenty of parents torn between taking care of their Grown Up Responsibilities and the guilt of not taking time to construct Lego fortresses and frolic at the playground all day long.

Yet though I know  this is true, I can't help feeling like everyone else has it all pulled together, or at least they've somehow managed to create the illusion that they're not drowning in a sea of Shoulds and Need Tos and I'd Betters.  This is the part I'm missing - I'm pretty transparent when it comes to trying to do too much at once.  I'm not fooling anyone into thinking I have it all pulled together, or that I even have two or three things pulled into the same zip code.

Zoe called this to my attention recently.  My kids love to read (I know - SHOCKER - a mom expounding on what Great Little Readers her precious angels are), and Zoe especially is still at the age when she wants to show  you how much she loves to read by doing it out loud.

If she had her way she would read out loud to me pretty much all day, pausing occasionally to gallop around the house on Butterscotch, ask for more string cheese, and change into a different set of dress-up clothes.  Of course I don't want to discourage her, so pleas of, "Mommy, can I read this to you?" are always met with, "Sure, honey!"

She gets pretty involved in her books, so a lot of the time once she gets going she doesn't even really seem to know you're there.  That's why, after she'd been reading for a few minutes, I started to get all twitchy and distracted.  How much time can I afford to spend listening to this story (again) about fairies and goblins?   I asked myself.  I have things I need to get done - Maddie needs to get in her high chair so I can put some lunch in front of her, which she'll dump on the floor while I unload the dishwasher, then I can distract her with yogurt melts while I make sandwiches for the kids and check my email, at which point Maddie will be ready for her nap and I can...

"...and then they put a hot tub out in the yard and drank it," Zoe read.

Huh?  I don't remember that part of the story from the first eleventy times I heard it.  "What was that?" I asked.

"Nothing," Zoe said, glancing up at me from the pages of her book.  "I was just seeing if you were paying attention."


So today I'm going to unplug a little bit.  I officially give myself permission to check my email once a day (let's not be ridiculous) every hour instead of every five minutes.  When Gerry tells me about one of his crazy ideas or rewinds the DVR so I can see someone's 80's hair while I'm commenting on blogs, I will briefly pause and make actual eye contact when I thoughtfully respond, "Oh, uh-huh?  Is that right?  You don't say."  When I go online to pay the mortgage, I'll do my best not to get sidetracked and end up spending two hours looking for images to use in a blog post I may or may not ever even write.

I'll let you know how it goes.  You know, in a few minutes when I'm back on the computer, updating my Amazon Mom orders and listening to the kids tell me about what just happened on SpongeBob.

I just checked my to-do list, and one of the things on there is to ask you to PLEASE CLICK THE BANNER BELOW to vote!  Whew, one thing down, eleventy million to go...
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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!