Thursday, April 30, 2015

Man in the Mirror

"Mom, did you know that scary thing Bloody Mary is supposed to make your face all bloody and pull you through the bathroom mirror?" little kid asked.

I told him I did know because I was playing that game in third grade too and that it was just imaginary folklore kids use to scare each other.

"Seriously. How would that even work? Pulling someone through a mirror?" Big Kid asked.

"She would smash your head, I guess."

"No. If your reflection pulled you into the mirror, it would replace you outside of the mirror. Both of you couldn't be in there. So to your family and friends it would be like nothing ever happened."

"But what if your friends and family liked the reflection you more? What if we were all like, 'Man, that Big Kid has been extra cool and fun the last two days!" I asked.

"Nope, wouldn't happen. If the me looking in the mirror was a grump, the reflection would be a grump, too. Obviously."

"You're not a grump! You're already extra cool and fun. It's been a long time since you were a gloomy Gus." I assured him.

"Eh, I'm just better at hiding it now. You should hear the things I think!"

"Like what?"

"I spend about 90% of my day thinking, 'Can you just get out of my way?' or 'Would you move your legs -- some of us are trying to get to class!' or 'Oh, is that the one-minute bell? Don’t let me interrupt your leisurely stroll!' Trust me, I am a grump."

"No, I think other people are just annoying. Either that or we're both grumps."

Pretty sure it's everyone else.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

End of an Era

On the eve of Easter, I was finishing up some work online when my 11-year-old appeared in the doorway.

 "Mom, can you please come to my room?" he asked with some urgency.

 "Okay, let me wrap this up first."

 "Can we do it now?"

 Concerned and curious, I followed him into his bedroom, where he closed the door behind us. As he turned to face me, I could see angst in his watery eyes and that his face was flushed pink. I thought something was seriously wrong. My heart pounded as I waited for a grave confession. I already felt concerned about the consequences of whatever conversation was about to unfold.

 "I know they aren't real," he blurted out.

 I knew immediately what he was talking about but I was trying not to laugh and cry all at the same time so I asked "Who?" anyway.

"The Easter bunny, Santa, the Tooth Fairy, you know." He frowned. "I've known since 4th grade." He's now in 6th grade.

 Although my eyes were full of unshed tears over his disappointment, I felt tremendous relief. I mean, I figured he must know -- he's incredibly logical and intelligent and has the internet at his disposal. He's always played along so well but I figured he was working a long con; not quite ready to sacrifice the loot. There was a tiny part of me that was concerned, though, because I wasn't as confident in his acting skills as I am his reasoning abilities. I had been agonizing over whether to continue on with my practice of light-hearted evasion, fearing that he might be the kid arguing with other middle schoolers about the existence of the Easter bunny.

 "Oh, hon," I said, pulling him in for a hug and choking back a laugh at the seriousness of the scene. "Just so you know, I'm not laughing at you. I'm trying not to cry just as hard as I'm trying not to laugh. I have all of these confused feelings right now because I remember when I realized and how sad I felt that magic might not exist in the world."

 He nodded, solemnly.

"But there is magic in the world, right? The tradition of Saint Nicholas has continued for all of these generations in the spirit of kindness and unselfish giving. Creativity and imagination work together to make their own magic for kids all over the world through these stories. And it's so sad when it's over but then the magic comes back to life when you get to help make it for others. You know? I hope you don't feel like I've lied to you or betrayed you. Some parents don't do those traditions at all for that reason and I'm sorry if you wish I hadn't."

"No, no," he said. "I'm glad I had those experiences. I feel like that's a big part of childhood. That's also what made it so hard to say -- knowing it is one thing but admitting it is another. I mean, I knew it."

"Yeah, the bunny kind of blows it, doesn't he? That's what did it all in for me. That and the Tooth Fairy, they're both pretty weird."

"It's an 8-foot-tall anthropomorphic rabbit," he said emphatically. "Also, Santa would have to go to 871 houses per second to get all the gifts delivered. It all goes against the basic laws of nature and physics."

 "Right, I hear you. I'm also glad you brought it up; honestly, I was starting to worry a little bit and was wondering if I should sit you down and tell you or if you were just pretending and wanted to continue. Hey, do me a favor and don't be the jerk that ruins it for other kids, though."

"I heard some 5th graders talking about it last year and I was glad to have my suspicions confirmed, but I also saw a YouTube video that said, 'If you didn't know Santa wasn't real, you do now!' and I thought that was a jerk move," he said.

"What a jerk! I agree. I'm sorry you saw that."

"I am too, it was sad. I almost said this at Christmas when we were alone and you asked if there was anything I wanted to talk about but...I couldn't do it. I don't know, I guess I wasn't ready yet. Then I regretted not getting it off of my chest when I had the chance."

"But that's okay! There's no rush to be ready. Enjoy every last bit of childhood. We can either pretend we never had this conversation or you can help make the magic for your brother."

"I'm going to do both. I want to keep the magic alive for him for as long as I can."

"See? That's the magic. You go from the fantasy of Santa Claus to the reality of getting to become him. You get to be the magic!"

I didn't tell him that I'm 95% sure his little brother already knows.

 Maybe I'm not ready for it to be over yet either. (Except for the tooth fairy. She's an asshole.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Marathon Runner

I had to pick Big Kid up early from school today because he has a fever, and now he's not allowed back for 24 hours (but they still want a doctor's note to excuse the absence...even though they are the ones who took his temperature and declared him sick.) I'm pretty sure he got the fever because I booked a long overdue hair appointment for the morning and those childhood spidey-senses set off the "Mom's doing something for herself" alarm which triggers an immune system reaction. So we're snuggled up on the couch watching Who Framed Roger Rabbit on Netflix.

I was actually looking forward to sharing my Netflix activity this month because it's not full of murder and crime but I just realized it's still kind of embarrassing, just in a new way. 

I watched Vanilla Ice Goes Amish. A lot. 

That counts as crime, right?

It's as bad as it sounds but I got kind of hooked on the bizarreness of how he'd wear "Ice Ice Baby" clothes because I didn't even know that was a thing and I'm pretty sure the Amish won't be buying his latest album. Does he have a latest album? Not sure but he can muck stalls and renovate kitchens. He actually seems kind of nice. Don't tell him I said that though, I don't want him to rob my house.

I also binge watched Mysteries at the Museum like it was my job. It's not actually my job, no matter how many times I yell, "Mommy is WORKING right now!" when the kids try to interrupt me. It's good, not great, but good enough for me to spend hours watching it. I just like history, okay? For hours and hours on end.

Speaking of history, I also watched Lizzie Borden Took an Ax and this might be my favorite thing I watched all month. There was an amazing episode about this case on Stuff You Missed in History Class. The movie was really well-done for a made for television movie, the music was modern and interesting and Christina Ricci is fantastic. I am aware that this counts in both the murder and crime categories that I swore I moved away from this month but we're calling it history so I seem less morbid.

For documentaries, I really enjoyed Tent City, U.S.A. It's about a group of homeless people who have created a little community of tent dwellings. They take care of each other and have rules and seemed to have a (fairly) good thing going until they were displaced. It really illustrated the struggles of not being wanted anywhere, and how hard it is to get ahead when you can barely get a shower, and eventually there's even some triumph. I really admired the people who dedicated their time to helping these individuals get somewhere in life.

I also watched Winnebago Man for the second time. It's about this crotchety old RV salesman whose commercial outtakes went viral in the time of VHS tapes. One of my friends was interviewed in it so I'd seen it before but it still cracks me up and was surprisingly touching at times. There's something impressive in this guy's authenticity, and in his ability to utilize the f-word so often.

Love Me was about mail order brides and was sad, funny, infuriating, and sweet all at once. It was even a little bit romantic at times, but I'd love to see a 10 year update on the success stories. 

So, I'm really only embarrassed about the Vanilla Ice and the binge watching -- let's remember that I'm old enough to remember when he was cool and I don't have cable. And I'm WORKING. Kind of. 

The above post was written as a member of the Netflix Stream Team but, as usual, the opinions are my own. I'm not really working.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Feline File

"What's up with the folder full of cat apps?" I asked little kid after downloading an update for his iPad.

 "Why? You got a problem with it? A guy can't have a folder full of cat apps without being hassled?" 


 I'm just mad I didn't think of it first.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Super Stupid Powers

"If you could have any super power, what would it be?" little kid asked.

This is one of his favorite questions. It is not the first time he's asked.

"Hmmm," I said, because an important part of parenting is feigning interest as often as possible. "I think I'd want the ability to see the future."

"Why would you want that?" he asked with genuine confusion.

"I could win the lotto and avoid bad things and maybe play tricks on people."

"You'd use your super power to win the lotto?"

"Yes. I'd also consider invisibility, that could be cool. Could also get weird though. What if you saw something you wish you hadn't? I guess flying would be awesome if I can't win the lotto."

"Good one. You know what I'd choose?"


"The ability to bend metal!"

"Seriously?? What would you do with that?" I asked.

"I'd, like, change metals and stuff."

"Like alchemy? Making metal into gold?"

"I was talking about bending but maybe I'd do that too." I guess he has an innate desire to be a blacksmith or something?

"You know what I'd pick?" Big Kid piped up.


"The ability to summon a flock of birds to peck the eyes out of people I hated."

"...Hmm," I said. "That's a good one. I change my answer to that."

God, let's hope no one gives either one of them super powers.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Buddha the Crime Fighter

My kids are at such great ages. Not only are they easy, but they are hilarious and great conversationalists. I often hear news stories or podcasts that I can't wait to share with them because they are such interested little sponges of knowledge.

Recently I heard a podcast on Criminal about a man who was tired of the area across from his house being a dumping spot for trash and a magnet for drug dealers and crime. After trying everything he could think of, for reasons kind of unknown even to himself, he went to the hardware store and purchased a concrete Buddha and stuck it there.

He wasn't religious, just fed up and desperate.

Soon after, he looked out and saw that someone had painted the statue a nice shade of white. Then he noticed that the Buddha had offerings of fruit and trinkets left near it. Eventually, Vietnamese women in robes were out there chanting and praying. A crowd began to assemble in the mornings to worship.

Crime dropped by 82%. Graffiti was practically non-existent. Prostitutes and drug dealers relocated.

Word got out that he had installed the statue, and people began knocking on his door with offerings of food, alcohol and candy. He would wave them away, explaining that it was their statue now and to do what they want with it and leave him out of it, but the offerings continue even now.

The lawn ornament has become a full-on shrine with flowers and a wooden structure and regular ceremonies dedicated to it with people coming from all over to visit. A happy ending for all.

The boys loved this story as much as I did.

"Mom, why a Buddha? Why did that work? The drug dealers are Buddhist or something?"

"No. The guy even said he picked Buddha because he's neutral. I don't know why, I guess it's no longer the right atmosphere for crime. He's just a calm, peaceful dude."

"Well, that's amazing." Big Kid declared. "This guy sat under a tree for 7 weeks and ended up solving crime centuries later."

"I don't know that it was 7 weeks, I think it was for years or something. I'm not sure though..."

"Mom, I think I would know, I've studied him." (I feel like I should know as someone who practices yoga and holds a teaching certification and who has certainly heard the story, but I dropped it because he probably does know.) "It was 7 weeks. Anyway, we should put Buddhas on all of the things. Can you imagine if we could time travel to Nazi Germany and just cover the place in Buddhas?"

"We should put one everywhere there's war!" little kid exclaimed. "Oh, oh, we should put one on top of every coffin and then grave robbers would stop robbing graves."

"Uh, I don't know that grave robbing is that common of an issue these days," I said.

"Why not?"

"Well, I don't know. I guess a few freaks out there do it but I think that was more an issue in the olden days where dead bodies were needed for doctors to study, or when people were buried with a lot of jewelry or gold teeth. Nowadays, they're in concrete vaults and stuff."

"Well, I'm sure there's still some."

"Yes, probably."

"A Buddha could stop it."

"Maybe so."

Ever since they've heard this story, "Shoulda put a Buddha on it," is the refrain to any sighting of graffiti or mention of crime.

My kids are convinced that Buddha can save the world and maybe they're right.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Assisted Fish Suicide

So nine million years ago, we won a fish at the fair. I don't know, maybe it was 3 or 4 years ago but same difference.

Let me preface this by saying that I want to be a fish person. I like fish. I frequently suggest we replace our television with a fish tank because who gives a crap about t.v.? But apparently you can't play video games on a fish tank and that is a constant sticking point to this plan.

The other issue is that I'm not the greatest at taking care of fish. I feel like if we had fish more beautiful and interesting than Mr. Gobbles the fair fish, who I clearly did not name, that I would feel more attached. He's not even cute, he's hardly even orange.

Mr. Gobbles used to live in the kids' bathroom and at one point, tired of changing his nasty water and asking people if he'd eaten, I spent several weeks fantasizing about becoming the Dr. Kevorkian of fish. My plan was to flush him, tell the kids that he died, and then relish in my everlasting freedom. I seriously considered this. Often. Once I even got up and retrieved his little net so I could scoop him up and murder him but I chickened out at the last minute. I also considered dumping him in a pond but thought that was a certain, even scarier death than a quick flush, and also too much work.

(Don't send me the articles about goldfish messing up the ecosystem because of dumb asses who do this, I've read them.)

Finally, I realized I just don't have what it takes to be a cold-blooded killer and moved the little fucker to a corner of the kitchen where he could be properly supervised.

Every morning and every evening, Mr. Gobbles would get so excited to see me because his stupid little fish brain equates me with his food source. He'd squiggle and swim around the front of the tank and open and close his mouth idiotically. Ugh.

I kind of stopped hating him, though. I wouldn't say I loved him, but I gave up on my plans to orchestrate his demise and no longer minded the act of feeding him.

This weekend I was cleaning the little asshole's tank and I was rushed and careless about it, because as I had learned during my period of murderous intentions, Mr. Gobbles is a hardy little jerk who won't die on his own.

I mean, I added water conditioner and made him hang out in a Ziploc as he acclimated to the temperature but not as strictly as I would for a fish I loved. I sort of just dumped him back into his water so I could go about my day and stop thinking about the little waste of space.

As I re-entered the kitchen for a snack, I saw Mr. Gobbles floating sideways at the top of the tank, slowly gasping for air.

It was the scene I had been hoping for, had envisioned for so long...and what did I do? Did I calmly and quietly turn away and wait for the deed to be done? Did I thank the sweet baby Jesus for calling Mr. Gobbles home, ending the inane torture of his daily life for both of us?

No. No, I did not.

I became overwhelmingly sad. I frantically googled for solutions to this situation. I paced back and forth and loudly blamed myself for his impending death. I frantically dragged his aquarium outside into the sun, splashing his gross fish water on my clean clothes in an effort to warm him up.

I BOILED A FREAKING PEA AND MASHED IT UP AND FED IT TO HIS STUPID SELF. I did that -- the internet told me to. I barely cook for my kids and here I was, cooking for a stupid fish who I hated.

Big Kid and I checked on him every five minutes. I swore that if he survived, I would buy him a nice hidey-hole rock and look into a bigger tank. I would check the ph of his water and change it the suggested way instead of the easy way. I would feed him a boiled pea every week and I would never dump too much food in and hope he OD'd, as I've been known to do in the past.

Within an hour, Mr. Gobbles was back up and swimming. He even looked a little more orange.

And then I considered how nice the corner of my kitchen looked without him in it.

I dragged him back inside, splashing his gross fish water on myself again and set him back up in his spot, where I feed him twice a day and am reluctantly glad he's alive.

I guess.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Polish Pick Up

Today as I was leaving the Dollar Store, a guy approached me as I was putting stuff into my trunk.

It made me nervous. I figured he was either going to mug me, try to sell me something, or Jehovah's Witness me.

"Excuse me, ma'am? Are you from Poland?"

What the hell? " I'm from Indiana."

"Maybe that's your heritage, though? I have a friend from Poland and you two could be twins."

"Hmm. No, I'm Irish." I sidled closer to my car and considered stabbing him with my keys if things went downhill.

"Oh. Well, my name's Chris. I just moved here from Kansas."

"Okay. Hi, Chris," I answered, hand on door.

He pulled a folded piece of paper out of his pocket and pushed it towards me. "Look, I don't ever do this but I wondered if I could give you my phone number..."

I waited for him to finish with "--so we can talk about Jesus" or "--so I can tell you about this amazing business opportunity," and he just stood there, looking as uncomfortable as I felt.

Then I realized. "Oh! Oh, wow. No. I'm married. Very married. Kids and all."

"Ahhh, I thought it was worth a try, you're looking good in those yoga pants."

Now, I know the feminist in me should have been mad that he was obviously looking at my butt and 25 year old me would have been exasperated and disgusted but...these things don't happen often these days. I was flattered. Not going to lie. I'm glad I didn't stab him with my keys.

Also, that Lululemon discount is paying off after all.

Friday, April 3, 2015


"We have to get some catnip for the cats for Easter," I told the boys.

"Isn't that like putting weed in an Easter basket?" Big Kid replied.

"What?!?" I was shocked that he said that. "Seriously?? Big Kid...if anyone is getting weed in their Easter basket it should be mommy."

(Don't worry, I then went on to explain that I was totally kidding and drugs are bad. And I always start that conversation with "Drugs are bad, mmmmkay?" because what drug abstinence conversation would be complete without a reference to South Park?)

(Don't worry, they don't watch South Park.)