June 30, 2010

Lipstick and Rat Poison

I wanted to extend a sincere thank you to TLC for airing such shows as "Toddlers & Tiaras" and "Your Kid Ate What?!". Nothing makes my parenting skills sparkle like a shiny pot of gold than a woman in cutoff short-shorts putting lipstick and fake nails on her toddler and yelling at the girl to "flirt with her eyes".

Even before I became a parent myself, I could name a whole list of things parents should do (or should NOT do) that are just plain common sense. Feed your kid, bathe your kid, don't dress your kid like Ru Paul. However, it was the less obvious things that murkied the waters a bit. What do you do when they cry? What gets baby puke/blood/jelly stains out of a white shirt? How do you answer their questions about sex without making them want to dry heave and hide in their room for a month? At the hospital they just send you and your new child on your way - no instructions, no direction, just a wave and a smile and a $50 charge for both added to your bill. The first few weeks is a crapshoot. Is she hungry? Does he have a dirty diaper? Did I shower yet this week? Eventually your parenting niche comes to the surface as you start getting used to having a kid hanging on you 24/7. Some parents become hyper sensitive, dressing their baby in bubble wrap and immediately feeling like a big pile of steaming failure when their child says "NO!" for the first time. Others gossip on the phone for an hour while their daughter, who has a track record of eating things that in no way resemble actual food, plays in a room full of rat poison.

I'd like to think that I'm the kind of mom who falls somewhere in the middle. I do not own any lipstick or short-shorts, cutoff or otherwise. My daughter can sing the chorus of a Miley Cyrus song, which I confess is an Epic Parenting Fail on my part, but her dancing is more "frantic gerbil" than it is "gentlemen's club". And as far as I know, the worst thing my kids have ingested is cat fur and a questionable piece of hotdog. No "D" batteries, no giant foam hearts. That isn't to say though that I'm one of the bubble-wrap toting moms (my last entry should be proof positive of that). I'd be dead of a heart attack three times over if I flew into a panic every time my daughter defied me or did something that might result in a scrape or a bruise. She is a redhead, after all.

For once it would be nice to see a show for the rest of us - no one eating clothes hangers, no one blowing kisses to the audience as they pole dance to "Baby Got Back", no Kate Gosselin (because who are they kidding, she is more drama than Desperate Housewives and Jersey Shores put together). Just normal parents with (relatively) normal kids. Heck, maybe I should volunteer. I know at least 8 people who would watch, which would already guarantee them a higher viewership than "Extreme Poodles". Whatcha think, TLC?

June 28, 2010

Reason I Love Being a Mom #81

Reason I Love Being a Mom #81: Because despite having bits of pavement lodged in her cheek, my beautiful little girl can still manage to flash me her trademark mischevious grin. Don't worry Lainey, I took care of the invisible rock that tripped you down the stairs...

June 27, 2010

The Big Clean

My husband and I have decided that after five years of living in this house, it might be a good idea to clean some of it. So we have undertaken a major home overhaul - no room is exempt, no unmarked bottle safe. Here is what we have accomplished thus far:

The Kitchen. Surprisingly, one of the easiest of all the rooms (I say, as someone who was barely involved in the cleaning of this particular room). This included dragging out every pot, every pan, every 3-year-old package of Ramen noodles - 18, to be exact - and then scrubbing the shelves down. I supervised most of this, coming in periodically to eat a snack and thus lessen the load for my husband...because that's the kind of nice wife I am. We also determined that we can no longer live with the faucet that's cracked and looks as though it was installed by a toddler. Therefore we made a trip to Lowe's and purchased a brand new and shiny stainless steel sink. I'll bet we'll be able to keep that clean for TWO WHOLE DAYS!

The Closet. Our bedroom has a walk-in closet that we have not been able to walk in to for a couple years. It is basically a clothing graveyard. There were shirts in there that we haven't seen since we moved in, a prehistoric towel, as well as two belts that neither of us recall purchasing and look as if they belonged to an 80's drag queen. In addition to the clothes, there was an entire plastic bin of books that was half-caved in due to crap being piled on top of it. Not that I have time to read anyway, but even if I did, I'm not sure why half of these books would have ever even made it to my possession. Who needs an entire book of doctor jokes? Not me. Six, SIX, entire boxes came out of that closet and went to Goodwill. Sadly, this accomplishment is lost due to the fact that we still cannot walk into our walk-in closet. Darn these old houses and their lack of storage...

The Basement. Don't even get me started! Half of our basement is "finished" (well, it has a ceiling, overhead lighting, and a pool table. We don't venture down there much except to scoop cat turds and do laundry, though...). Anyhow, we actually had an entire sofa buried underneath all of my art supplies. Whodathunk? And I finally decided to throw out the fake tree that I had purchased in hopes of making that room more "lively". Unfortunately, it did make it more lively - but not the way that I wanted. When I noticed entire colonies of spiders living amongst the leaves, I ran at lightening speed and used full force to pitch the tree as far into the yard as I could. Then I did the famous "GET IT OFF ME" dance for a few minutes before heading back downstairs to douse the corner with Windex and Febreeze (the only two chemical cleaners I possess), just to make sure that the invisible spider babies would not form some kind of vengeful army against me. My husband then vacuumed up a gazillion tiny pieces of cat litter and scrubbed the stairs.

The Sofa. We lifted up all of the sofa cushions to vacuum underneath. I found, in no particular order: three pens, a crayon, a hair tie, a pair of earrings I thought I had lost forever, an undistinguishable melted? piece of plastic, Goldfish crackers, a lonely Franken Berry, and only one measly penny. All that work, I would have hoped to have found at LEAST a quarter... Hmph.

The Bathroom. This one is still a work-in-progress. I started on it today during naptime, emptying out each of the four drawers in the vanity and wiping them down. When I went to return the items to their appropriate places, I made a couple shocking discoveries. 1) Each one of us would have to get some kind of life-threatening cut at least twice a day for the next four years to use up all of the BandAids and gauze pads we have accumulated. 2) We had a jar of Vicks VapoRub that expired in 1999. It still smelled potent, too. I'm not sure which one of those facts is worse...but either way, it lives in the trash can now. Also, we currently have seven brand new spare toothbrushes, five things of floss, as well as four samples of toothpaste and one of those flossers-on-a-stick. I swear we really aren't some dental hygiene freaks, we just have a dentist that leaves baskets of samples all around the office - it's like moths to a flame.

There is still work to be done, and I'd like to say that I feel really accomplished due to our three carloads of stuff that has now become Goodwill's problem, but I don't. We have SO MUCH STUFF that it's still overwhelming. But at least we can say that we tried, right?

June 22, 2010

The Crime Scene

I stumbled upon a horrific scene today that I just simply cannot explain. There were no witnesses, and judging by the nature of the accident I did not initially believe that there were any survivors either. Who was at fault here? Was it simply driver error, or is there more to the story?
Don't be alarmed though, later in the day Johnny was spotted climbing in and out of a circus train so despite the gruesome scene, he apparently emerged from the accident unharmed. The fellow without a body, however, may not have fared so well. I have not seen him since.

June 21, 2010

The Amazing String of Drool

Yes, I felt the need to document my son's amazing talent. His salivary glands have always been pretty toned, but I think he's almost ready for his own show in Vegas. To the left you will find a picture of what I imagine to be one of the world's longest continuous strings of drool. It stretches from his mouth, all the way down the length of his body, cascading down his diaper, curling around and coming to rest in a small pool on the blanket. That has to be nearly 16 inches of pure drool.

And just think, he isn't even teething yet. I ought to get in touch with the folks over at Guinness....

Just because he's so danged cute, here's another one I took pre-drool:

June 19, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me

Happy Birthday to Me
Happy Birthday to Me
I once was mid-twenties,
Now I'm almost thirty!

Happy Birthday to Me
Happy Birthday to Me
I act like a child,
But I'm an old fogey!

Happy Birthday to Me
Happy Birthday to Me
Been 10 years since high school,
So....aw crud, nevermind. How depressing. Pour me a daquiri.

June 18, 2010

Oddly Fanatic

I heard the term "oddly fanatic" the other day. At first, my natural assumption was that such a title is meant to be offensive. However, when I contemplated the definitions:

1. Oddly (adv.) variation of Odd: - in a manner differing from the usual or expected;
2. Fanatic (adj.) - marked by excessive enthusiasm for and intense devotion to a cause or idea;

I decided that I not only do I want to embrace this label for myself, but that my daughter Lainey practically deserves her photo next to it in the dictionary. For example, she is currently obsessed with tambourines. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. But just yesterday she approached me at a random point in the day and declared "I love ants, and Mommy, and Owen Edward, and...(long pause, enter excessive enthusiasm and razzle dazzle dance)...TAMBOURINES!" Her favorite activity right now, which takes place at least three times daily, is to take an old red frisbee and bang on it like a tambourine and then insist that I march along with her in her invisible parade. Sometimes she just takes the frisbee and throws it at me saying "Mommy, YOU tambourine." (Because apparently, tambourine is a verb too).

So while the subject of her enthusiasm may change weekly, she clearly has an oddly fanatical personality. And I love every minute of it.

June 15, 2010

Wisconsin: Waterslides, Fireworks, and Recapturing My Youth

My wonderful husband arranged a short little getaway for us last week, up to the Wisconsin Dells. Believe it or not, even though I am a native midwesterner, I have never been to the Dells before. We decided before we went that we had absolutely no interest in acting our age while we were gone, and therefore came up with a list of activities that would make any 10 year old drool. I will run down the list with you now, in order of childishness:

5) We visited a Tanger Outlet Mall. Surprisingly, this was probably the most adult thing we did the whole time we were gone. And, not surprisingly, the only thing we left with was kids' clothes. Yes, they have too much, I am aware of that....

4) We went mini golfing. I have always loved mini golf. It's so much better than real golf because it has fun decorations, and because it requires a much shorter attention span. The one we went to was called Pirate's Cove, which made it awesome by default. We played two rounds, and I was pretty much horrible at both however I did not loose my ball or send it down a waterfall so I consider it an overall success.

3) We went to Knuckleheads. Just the name itself really should've guaranteed this activity a top spot on the "Ridiculously Childish Activity-o-Meter". It was a cross between an arcade, a bowling alley, and an amusement park, and suffice to say that it looked as though a clown had thrown up all over it. We watched a 4.3 second 4D movie, played oodles of Skeeball and won some lead-paint ridden plastic Stegasaurus for Lainey to play with. We stopped long enough to have a bite to eat, and then headed back in for a couple rounds of not-so-cosmic bowling (as in, they were too lazy to dim the lights so we just got music). Despite what my husband says, I came out the winner at 2 games to 1.

2) We went to Noah's Ark. This place is the self-professed water park capital of the world, claiming to be the largest in the entire country. Considering that it's really the only water park I've ever been to, I cannot confirm nor deny this. However, I can say without a doubt that this slide:
made me want to simultaneously scream, vomit, and purchase life insurance. You climb 32984382 flights of stairs (which, given my fear of heights, was already asking too much) and then stand in a capsule as if you're going to be sent into space. Or buried alive. And then, just when you get comfortable in there, the floor drops out from underneath you and you go straight down. STRAIGHT DOWN. Five seconds later you land in a pool so hard that water gets shoved up your nose and your brain floats. Will I be going on that ever again? NO.

For the record, the rest of the park earned an A-. I say A- because I'm pretty sure the park was also paved in glass shards. I realize they did this to make it easier to "grip" with wet feet and to protect them from being sued by that chubby, balance-impaired guy in the speedo who bit the pavement. But the only way I could've saved myself from the pain was to purchase water socks, so needless to say - I suffered through it. (This park was also a pretty prime people-watching spot, too. Regular people-watching is fun, but put those people in bathing suits and WHOA NELLY!)

1) We bought fireworks. Fireworks - and I mean, GOOD fireworks - are illegal in Illinois, so we took it upon ourselves to seize this over-the-border opportunity. We stopped into a veritable firework warehouse and were immediately overwhelmed. How do you know what to get? We wandered up and down the aisles for a bit, taking in all the firecrackers, rockets, and smoke bombs until we realized that we had no idea what we were doing. There is no way to know what any of these things do, since 90% of the label is a gigantic FIRE HAZARD warning and the other 10% is nothing but fancy firework talk like "explodes into a plume of colored flowers" and "rains unicorn sprinkles". So, we just started grabbing things that looked pretty. I am especially excited to unveil one titled "Jumping Jelly Beans". With a name like that, it HAS to be good, right?

Things that didn't make the list, but were still noteworthy:

We went on the infamous Wisconsin Ducks boat tour. It was loud and smelled like diesel fuel, but the guy that sat next to me had the most awesome comb-over I've ever seen and our tour guide was pretty funny so it turned out ok. Want to see some pretty scenery?

We also bought some obligatory cheese, however that was more of a "Let's stop and pee and oh YUM! Cheese curds!" kind of thing. It is already long since gone, and now I'm a little sad that I didn't have the foresight to invest in more than one small little bag.

All in all, it was a great trip. The perfect way to recapture my youth a mere week before yet another birthday rolls around. I may be turning 28, but last week I barely made it past 13 - and it was glorious.

**Another thanks to my husband who made the whole trip possible. He really ironed out all the details AND managed to secure this hotel room:
Be jealous.

June 12, 2010

Caption THIS!

During a recent trip to the zoo, amongst all of the cuddly little foxes and adorable baby turtles, I came across THIS:

Naturally, a whole slew of captions and jokes came to mind (as I slowly backed away from the cage). However, I think I'm going to open the floor and welcome some suggestions - a contest**, if you will. Leave a comment with caption suggestions, I'll pick the best to use in my future Ode to the Zoo.

**By contest I mean, a fun one that has no prize involved whatsoever. I'm poor and not nearly popular enough to have any sort of sponsorship. Unless, of course, you want a 5x7 glossy of the photo in question, which I would be glad to send along to the winner at no charge.

June 5, 2010

Reason I Love Being a Mom #52

Reason I Love Being a Mom #52: Because vampire toddlers is a sadly undermarketed movie genre.

June 4, 2010

Adventures in Haircutting

So today is our 5th anniversary, and we decided to celebrate by testing out the new haircutting kit my husband purchased. Yeah, I know, we're wild and crazy.

This purchase came about when I realized that my husband actually pays his elderly barber $10 every few weeks to shave his head nearly bald. In yet another attempt at being thrifty, I concluded that a haircutting kit is only about $30 so theoretically it would pay for itself in a matter of a couple months. Besides, how much skill could possibly be involved in shaving someone's head?

Plenty, as it turns out.

First and foremost, if you plan on doing such a thing in your own home, please - for the love of Dog - put a garbage bag down underneath you. You may think that a broom will do the trick, but really it just seperates the hairs and spreads them all around. Believe me when I say that there is nothing worse than sharp invisible man hairs sticking out of your bare foot. Which reminds me, also don't do this in bare feet.

I grabbed what I imagined would be the correct guide - the one that would take my husband's hair down past Marine level but not so far that he'd get confused for Mr. Clean. I snapped it into place and got ready to buzz. Ever the pessimist though, my husband decided that it might be a good idea for me to at least LOOK at the directions before I put the blades to his head. So I pulled out the sheet and looked at it, all the while imagining the cool designs I could draw into the side of his head once I gained mastery of my new little tool. When I determined that I had looked at the sheet long enough to convince him I was indeed competent enough to do what his ancient barber does, I clicked the razor on and away we went.

Ears are tricky. The knob on the back of your skull is tricky. But the neckline in back? That proved to be my biggest challenge. Not because of the blue painter's tape I used in order to get a nice straight line, but because I threw caution to the wind and took off the guide. This, my friends, is a little bit like jumping out of the plane before your skydiving lesson is finished. Did you know that the razor, without a guide, is really just a bunch of blades? I'll show you the red and partially bloody lines on the back of my husband's neck to prove to you it's true.

All in all though, despite the minor bloodshed, and the fact that I dropped the razor on the hard kitchen floor and broke the #2 guide that is pretty much the most vital piece of the whole haircutting kit, and the fact that I will forever have tiny razorblade hairs scattered around my kitchen floor, I think I did an ok job. He has a lot less hair, which was the goal after all. Hopefully, by the time Owen grows three or four more hairs himself, I will be able to wield that razor like a haircutting ninja.

Full-Time Goddess, Part-Time Barber.

June 3, 2010

Peace, Love, and Chocolate Milk

It was a beautiful day outside, so we took to the backyard for some necessary energy expenditure. Typically Lainey hits the playhouse first, just to check and make sure her soggy bits of sidewalk chalk are still lined up on the shelf where she left them.

Today was different though, today she torpedoed herself towards the slide as fast as her little legs could carry her. She climbed up to the top platform and looked at me triumphantly, as if she had just conquered the Little Tikes version of Mt. Everest. She raised both arms in the air and proclaimed loud enough for the entire neighborhood to hear, "Chocolate milk for EVERYONE!"

Here I thought I was just raising an artistic, out-of-the-box, singer songwriter type, and she goes and throws out the activist card too. I worry about a lot of things - global warming, the BP oil spill, the socks that go missing in my dryer. Chocolate milk has never really been on the top of my list. Or heck, it's never even been ON my list.

But my little politician was so emphatic that I couldn't help but think that maybe she was right. Maybe chocolate milk IS the answer? Milk itself is just ho-hum, but mix in a bit of that Hershey's deliciousness and you have yourself a little glass of happiness. So what if everyone could have some chocolate milk? I'll tell you what - the world would be a better place.

Kids would be happier, that's for sure. Their grades would go up, which would lead to a smarter and more peaceful generation. PMSing women everywhere would rejoice, for that touch of chocolate is just what they needed to keep from ripping some guy's head off. The elderly would sing out in praise, for finally there was a chocolate treat they could enjoy even without teeth. People everywhere would come together, people of all colors, ages, religions, and cultures, and in every language they would declare their love of this sweet and creamy drink. Even the lactose intolerant could pour themselves a glass of soy whateveritscalled and toast to a better life.

Yes, I think chocolate milk is the answer. Thank you, Lainey, for bringing your unique vision to the world. Peace, love, and chocolate milk for everyone - that's my new motto.