Hollow Tree Ventures parenting humor
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Invention Ideas Rife with Awesomeness

In today's modern world, parents are given a lot of tools to help them raise their children that prior generations didn't have.  Heck, when I was pregnant with Maddie there were already a whole bunch of new developments that had arisen since I was toting Zoe around, and that was only a span of six years or so.  For example, despite the incredible elegance of poking a rubber band through the button hole of your pants and looping it over the button, I can tell you the Belly Band is a lot more comfortable for keeping non-maternity pants in place as you gradually outgrow them.  And did you know that there's a spoon gizmo out there that screws onto a special baby food pouch that looks like it belongs on the Space Shuttle (R.I.P.), so when you squeeze the food pouch it squirts directly into the spoon?  Now I can feed Maddie with one hand and have the other hand free to do my taxes, just like I've always wanted!

I know, it's great - we parents today have it super-easy and barely have to lift a finger from the delivery room through high school graduation.  But I'm greedy, and I could use just a few more helpful inventions to smooth out some of the remaining complications of motherhood, because if my life were just slightly more effortless I might be able to slip in an extra nap in the afternoon.  So somebody out there get started on these - I'll be expecting my royalty checks to come rolling in any day now.

1. Better baby toys
Yes, there are approximately a milliondy jillion baby toys out there to choose from.  I should know - I step on most of them on a daily basis.  But here is my problem.

Toy Manufacturers, my baby is not stupid.  This remote control isn't fooling anyone; it doesn't look any more like a real remote than Barney looks like a real dinosaur.  All I'm asking for is a decoy remote control that looks real enough to keep her content, so she'll stop spring-boarding off my lap in an attempt to get the real one.  As you can tell, babies are very interested in plain, old, boring remote controls just the way they are; there's no need to add spinning hypnotic elements or make them in colors so bright I can find them in the dark.  This doesn't seem like it'd be that difficult to figure out, but apparently no one in your Marketing Department has come up with the idea yet.  So there you go.

2. The Nose Bib
That's right, a bib to put under a baby's nose.  When Maddie recently had a cold, Gerry and I spent roughly 82% of our time wiping her nose, and the other 18% worrying that we were going to rub off all her delicate baby skin by wiping her nose so much.  Plus, if we didn't quite get there in time, you can use your imagination to figure out where gravity took the runoff.  That's just not sanitary (though she sure didn't seem to mind).  So Gerry came up with the idea of a nose bib to catch the drips, which at the time seemed fairly brilliant.  I'm not saying babies would like wearing them, or that they would stay on for long, or that they might not become choking hazards when they slip off.  But I was on board the moment I realized you could put a mustache on it - who doesn't love a baby with a mustache?

(For those of you saying, "What an adorable picture of Madeline - I can't believe you've ruined it with your hilarious joke," just keep your shorts on.  I'll put an unedited version on the Photoz page for you to Oooh and Ahhh at. Because that's just the kind of gal I am.)

3. Scratch-n-Sniff Deodorant
I used to have a gigantic collection of stickers, and some of my favorites were scratch and sniffs.

Classic!  The hobby of sticker collecting has fallen out of favor with The Youth these days, presumably because the idea of compiling small pieces of adhesive-backed paper in a book can't really compete with the allure of shooting zombies or playing with Pooper Scooper Barbie.  However, we could still put the scratch-n-sniff technology to good use for those of us whose occupations are time-consuming and require our full attention, and therefore make it difficult for us to manage to take regular showers while on the job (moms, prison guards, storm chasers, etc) - just one quick scratch and the rejuvenating scent of Freshly Washed Mom is released anew (I would not recommend using the pickle scent for this particular application, but I'll leave the final decision up to the product developers).

4. New Photoshop Edits
Not that my children aren't naturally adorable (BECAUSE THEY ARE), but sometimes a little editing is necessary to correct my sub-par photography of their perfection.  Take this photo, for example.

Adorable, right?  Well trust me, it became a lot more adorable after I removed the electric blue beanbag chair and power strip that used to be focal points due to my inability to get a different angle combined with the messiness of our living room.  Since parents take so many pictures of their offspring, and because there are so many factors in those photos that are out of our control, I think some additional Photoshop edits are in order.  For example, in reference to Item #2 on this list, I believe all parents would appreciate a Snotty Face Fix option; like Red Eye Removal, I'd like to be able to click on a pic and instantly remove the evidence that I've been neglecting to wipe my kid's nose.  Or that I've been wiping it too much.

Also on my wish list:
  • Clothing Color Correction (easily eliminate the ridiculous, mismatched clothes I allow my kids to wear and replace with selections from the J. Crew Kids catalog)
  • Background Reduction (with a single click, remove the existing background in the photo - my cluttered kitchen, a panoramic view of my neighbors' crappy cars parked on the street, etc - and replace it with a picture lifted from Better Homes and Gardens)
  • Evil Eye Removal (erase the scornful sideways glances the kids are shooting at each other, and replace them with loving gazes filled with mutual adoration).

5. Roomba Attachments
I don't have one of these self-propelled little vacuums, but lots of parents do and I'm sure they could use some snap-on accessories.  I might be tempted to get one myself if I could get an optional Snow Plow Attachment to corral all the tiny LEGO guys and 800 tubes of flavored Chap Stick on our floor and quickly deposit them under the coffee table or the kids' beds when company's coming over.

Also, Roomba People, if you have time, I could also use a tiny Roomba I could set loose in my couch, because someone seems to be breaking in at night and crumbling up entire packages of Saltines under the cushions, and frankly I'm tired of sitting on so much food.  And speaking of food...

6. A Realistic Recipe Book
I can't tell you how tired I am of looking for new dinner ideas in an effort to keep my kids from overdosing on frozen tortellini and pizza, only to discover that every recipe I find requires at least one ingredient that I know, in my heart of hearts, I will never have in my kitchen.  These include, but are not limited to:
  • Fresh basil (Or oregano. Or parsley. Or any herbs.  I'm not running a greenhouse, people.)
  • Lemon zest
  • Shallots
  • Fresh poultry stock (I rarely find myself boiling a whole chicken.)
  • Tomato paste
  • Baking soda (This is probably horrifying to those of you who eat my baked goods, but I just leave it out. Chemistry, shemistry. All the baking soda in my house is busy absorbing odors.)
I would like to see a cookbook that only includes ingredients found in real  kitchens in homes with kids, such as:
  • 1/4 cup potato chip crumbs that someone (okay, it was usually me) left in the bottom of the bag and put back in the cabinet
  • Three small containers of assorted refrigerated side-dish leftovers, none of which is enough to serve again as a side dish on its own but is too much to just throw out
  • One banana that's browning and slightly mushy, which is still perfectly good but the kids refuse to touch it
  • A full bottle of mustard
  • Hamburger meat that's frozen into a block so solid it's almost turned into a diamond
  • Part of a block of cheese that's been removed from its original packaging and put in a baggie, so you don't have confirmation of the expiration date but it smells fine
  • Half a bagel that was forgotten in the bread basket, which isn't moldy but is  hard enough to be used as a catapult projectile
Try to make THAT delicious every night at dinner, Rachael Ray.

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