Thursday, January 31, 2013

In Which I Become the Poster Child for the "Indoorsy" Crowd

Ask my cousin Amy if I'd like to go camping some time. Ask her if she thinks I want to join you on a fishing trip or a 5-mile run. Ask her if it's possible that I might have some golf clubs you can borrow while you're in town.

I can feel her tectonic plate shifting eye roll from halfway across the country.

When we were kids, she constantly tried to convince me to put down my book and join her in the great outdoors to run and frolic and poke at things with sticks. She failed. I never liked to get wet or muddy or dusty or touch bugs or get mosquito bites or have to climb things or run or play games that make you sweaty.

To this day, the sun is always too bright or the wind is too cold and the heat makes me lethargic or there's snow in my boots. I have weak ankles and hay fever. Sitting on the ground makes my butt go numb and I hate to get too close to things that make me feel itchy. Meanwhile, it's always about 70° and comfy on my couch. My books are there, my crossword puzzles, the wifi; I can have a nice cup of coffee and watch some TV. Why bother to put on shoes and go outside? What is out there that is so fascinating?

Everything I like to do is inside. Everything I think is interesting or time-consuming is found inside my house. I mean, yes, you can read a magazine or listen to music outside. You can cook outside, but why would you bother? It's less comfortable and messier out there. There's nowhere to wash your hands. The light is better for reading inside and I won't get a sunburn and bugs won't fly up my nose while I'm trying to relax. All my cooking implements are in my kitchen drawers and I own an expensive dishwasher, so why make things extra hard on myself by pretending that cooking like a Mongolian tribal yurt-dweller is more fun. It isn't. Cuisinarts are more fun. Watching cat videos on the Internet is more fun than getting poison ivy and blisters. Don't try to convince me that it isn't.

And I never understand people's obsession with fresh air. Fresh air? Seriously, is the air outside my back door really all that much fresher than the air inside the door? And I live in a city, so I'll bet you a hundred bucks that the air out there isn't fresh at all, in any way, shape, or form. Besides, my kitchen air often smells like tacos or chocolate chip cookies. How could the smell of stagnant pond water or wild animals ever beat tacos? It can't. Fresh air is totally overrated.

Oh, don't even start with the whole exercise is good for you, endorphins, blah blah blah. Sure, sure, you feel so great after you attempt to murder yourself riding your bike up a huge hill or falling off the side of a mountain. BS. You know what makes me feel really great? Running water and central heat/air. A nice soak in the tub or a hot, steamy shower and an afternoon nap in a cozy bed with flannel sheets and extra pillows. If I want to get my heart rate up, I'll put some Rage Against the Machine on the stereo and read one of Bill O'Reilly's books about "history." That's a much cheaper way to make myself have a stroke than taking up cross-country skiing.

The worst thing of all, the worst thing EVER, is the mother-guilt trip society likes to lay on us indoorsy types. Human children are apparently feral primates who must spend every waking moment in all weathers getting in touch with their primal side by wallowing in a mud pit somewhere and eating rocks. Any mother who doesn't want to spend all her time trapped on a park bench listening to a stranger go on and on about her divorce so that her chimp offspring can jump from the top of a slide and break their clavicle (hence, everyone misses dinner while sitting in the ER for five hours) is a lousy, negligent mother. What, kids can't be "free range" in the basement? That's why we put carpet in down there. I need to see a return on my investment.

I promise you, the last thing in the world I want to do is go down there and helicopter over them. If I go anywhere near them while they're playing, they might try to "fix" my hair again. No thanks. They actually have more freedom in the playroom than they do outside because they are still too young to remember not to run into traffic so I have to sit out there and yell at them the whole afternoon. My time is really better spent making sure they have clean underwear for school tomorrow.

Isn't that what Dads are for, anyway? They can't match outfits to save their lives and they never know when the kid's last dose of Tylenol was, so why can't they be the ones to go out into the world and build snowmen and drag 50 lbs. of tantrum down the street on a sled and get a kid all wrapped from head to toe in gear only to have to come right back inside ten seconds later to pee?? Why do I have to do everything? Despite his impressive collection of merit badges, Mike is secretly as indoorsy as I am, but I have to give him credit for taking one for the team when it comes to the bikes and the sprinklers and the mud pits. Just as he's somehow always the one to end up raking the leaves in the Fall (Don't look at me! I like the way they look out there. Let's just leave 'em...), he's usually the one standing out in the driveway yelling at the kids not to run into the street. God bless him.

While they're out there getting their primate on, I'll be hiding under a blanket with my iPhone and a box of Girl Scout cookies (Now, THAT is what Scouting is actually good for!) if anyone REALLY needs me. But somebody better be bleeding out of their eyeballs or I don't want to hear about it. Go outside now and give Mother some peace and quiet. My stories are about to be on...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Proof that our parenting is succeeding...

Maggie's favorite:

Kate's favorite:

She calls it "Dixie Down."

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Dinner Conversation

At dinner tonight:

Maggie: Mazhician is hard to say.

Kate: Mazhician

Maggie: Mazhician, magician, magician... There! I said it! Mazhician. Ugh!

Kate: Mazhician

Maggie: Meow-gician! A cat magician!

Kate: *giggle* Moo-gician! A cow mazhician!

Maggie: Those are my favorite kinds of mazhicians. Mazhicians. Mazhicians! Man!


Also, Katie Sez...

... Dad, am I right or is Maggie wrong?


Mike: Guess what! There are only two more football games this season, one more tonight and then the Super Bowl!

Kate: *Throws both fists in the air* YES!


Kate: There's Tom Brady!

Mike: No, that's number 32 not number 12.

Me: And, that guy is black.

Kate: Arrrggh! *smacks her forehead with her hand*

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Katie Sez...

...i'm playing a new game i made up called cat box i'm playing with turtle and earl and we're cats UH HUH and i'm a cat named snickers and i renamed earl yodeyo and turtle i named her naughty COOL and i'm a cat and yodeyo and naughty are the brother and sister and we're living in this box and this box is our house GREAT and its a cat house a cat box and i'm going to decorate this box with stickers and we're going to have a garden where we can jump and twirl and smell the flowers MM HMM and when it's raining we can go in our cat box and when it's snowing we can play in the snow in the garden but also go inside our cat box if it's too cold if we wanna and we can drink hot cocoa THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKIN' ABOUT cuz pretend cats like me and yodeyo and naughty love hot cocoa and we can color on the house cuz its just a box ya know NO PROBLEM and we can color with crayons cuz you won't let me take the markers in the living room and thats just mean! you're just being mean mom! WHATEVS can i have some hot cocoa with marshmallows? in the living room? NO i don't want it if I can't have it in the living room you're so mean YUP me and yodeyo and naughty are having a birthday party for our baby cat baby socks and it's her birthday NEAT-O and she's one year old today RAD and we're going to have cake and balloons and a tea party in the garden cuz its not raining today in our cat town and you're not invited because you are mean TOTALLY and there's no hot cocoa and do you want a cup of tea mom? SURE THING do you want to come sit in the garden and have some tea for baby socks' birthday party because i sent you an invitation here it is SUPER i colored it with crayons because all the markers are in the kitchen and here it is WOW and you can come to our garden party in the cat box garden and there's gonna be snacks YOU DON'T SAY can you bring some snacks in here in the living room cat box garden for our birthday party MM HMM and you can come and sit and have a cat birthday party and we need snacks like pretzels RIGHT get the pretzels mom cuz cats love snacks RIGHT ON and i wanna watch a show i wanna watch jake and the neverland pirates UH HUH and pirates are crazy because they always have to mess around with captain hook and they have a hideout and pixie dust and i wish i had pixie dust RIGHTY RIGHT-O and we should go to the beach is it summer yet mom? WHAT? is it summer now? can we go to the beach and dig for pirate treasure cuz you know they always bury it and that's why it's so tricky and we have to go to the beach and dig for it SURE and i'll need my beach shovel so I can find that pirate treasure and then we'll have a box of gold monies and we can get a hideout I BET and my cat box is a hideout for pirate treasure and i can hide out in there and hunt for gold doubloons UH HUH and when it's raining and storming and the cats are scared and we can hide out in the cat box hideout and be warm and cozy and safe HMMM and the cats were scared mom scared of the thunder and the lightening and the hurricanes and the volcanoes SURE and so I put them in the cat box hideout where they can be safe and warm and cozy and i got some gorilla glue out of your drawer in the kitchen and i glued the box up so they can't get out and get all scared of the hurricane...


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Reasons Why I Am Not Cut Out to Be a Parent

Reasons why I am not cut out to be a parent:

1. I hate messes.

2. I hate noise.

3. I'm not good at pretending to be stuff. (Mommy, you be a unicorn and I'll be a fairy cat princess. Only if unicorns sit on the couch drinking coffee and working a crossword puzzle.)

4. I find it difficult not to curse, especially when I'm angry. Or frustrated, or telling a joke, or having a good time, or being silly, or trying to make a point, or...

5. I hate it when people behave irrationally or are overly emotional. (Isn't this the definition of a child?)

6. I like to hang out in bars.

7. I like to spend a lot of time alone.

8. I hate to get up early in the morning.

9. I don't like to be bossed around by people who are shorter than me.

10. Stepping on Legos!!!! (*primal scream*)

Reasons why I am cut out to be a parent:

1. I have two kids. (You signed up for this so get back to work, slacker!!)


Check these kids out. Whoa!

If you just can't bear to listen to Metallica for almost 5 minutes (I know, me neither, usually), just fast forward to 2:30 to hear the guitar solo. Rock out, little sister! Her name is Zoe Thomson, and she's nine years old. Here's another video of her:

She might have a bit of a stage parent, but she's pretty awesome anyway. Oh, those tiny little child fingers - so good for cleaning the machinery in textile mills and finger picking electric guitar. Too bad about all those child labor laws.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Notes from the Nightstand: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

My friend, Wendy, sent me this book for Christmas after she read this post on my blog about how much I like to read Native American history and literature. I had mentioned a movie called Smoke Signals, which is based on another Sherman Alexie book of short stories, The Long Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.

Wen is a public school librarian and always sends me Young Adult literature, all of which I have to admit (Ow! My arm - it's twisting!) is superb. (She has excellent taste - that helps.) So, this book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, is of course also written for teens, although the rest of Alexie's work isn't necessarily aimed at YA readers.

In real life, Sherman Alexie left the Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington state as a teenager to attend a nearby, predominantly white public school in search of a better education. In The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Alexie tells the fictional story of Arnold (Junior) Spirit as he walks the gauntlet between the accusations of betrayal and abandonment that come from his tribe on the Rez and his own need to belong and succeed at his new white high school. Junior is a cartoonist, so the book is illustrated by Ellen Forney with hilarious and heartbreaking cartoons that perfectly reflect the humor and melancholy of the writing.

Alexie's hyper-real portrait of a typical American teenage boy is as brilliant as his hyper-real portrayal of modern day American Indian life. He is unapologetic, poetic, emotionally honest, gross, and funny. It's a quick, easy read (my sister-in-law, Jasmin, stole it from me and read it all over the Christmas break while I was distracted with bourbon and conversation with the relatives) that tells a story that feels like a punch in the gut. Wendy says it's perfect for boys who say they don't like to read, and I think it's perfect for people who are looking for an authentic Native voice.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Christmas Extravaganza

If you are one of our female relatives or you are mentally ill and stalking me, then you are dying to see all 467 photos of our Christmas(es) and Kate's birthday. Here they are. Knock yourself out.

**We are Maggie and Kate and we approve these Christmas outfits, unlike last year.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Katie Kate is Four!

January 2012 - 3 years old












January 2013 - Four!

Scooter Fairy Princess

Happy Birthday, Kate!

20 Questions with Kate, age 4

  1. What is your favorite color? red
  2. What is your favorite toy? my earth ball (a beach ball that looks like a globe)
  3. What is your favorite fruit? strawberries
  4. What is your favorite TV show? Octonauts
  5. What is your favorite outfit? my summer pink and white dress
  6. What is your favorite game? Pet Pals
  7. What is your favorite snack? pretzel goldfish
  8. What is your favorite animal? a cat
  9. What is your favorite song? the ABC's
  10. What is your favorite book? um.... I fink... Tangled
  11. Who is your best friend? Viola
  12. What is your favorite thing to do outside? play in  my pool
  13. What is your favorite meal? pepperoni and cheese
  14. What is your favorite drink? hot chocolate
  15. What is your favorite holiday? every day!
  16. What do you want to be when you grow up? a person that grows babies - which is YOU! - I want to be like you when I grow up! (Awww, that is terribly sweet.)
  17. Where is your favorite place to go? the mall
  18. What is the best thing about school? sliding on the slide
  19. If you could do anything you wanted, what would you do? eat breakfast (she already had breakfast... ??)
  20. If you could have anything you wanted, what would it be? hugs and kisses from my mommy

For comparison's sake, here's her list from last year. And here's Maggie's list.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

(Post) Christmas (Pre)view

I wrote this post about two weeks ago, the day before we flew to Oklahoma for ten days for Christmas. After reading it through a couple of times, trying to rewrite it, and then forcing Mike to read it, we both decided that I couldn't post it since I necessarily had to tell the Internet that we were going out of town in order to explain why the girls were already opening presents. Now that we're home again and the laundry pile is massive and the house is filthy and I'm in my post-vacation exhaustion mode, I just can't be bothered to rewrite it again, so here it is...

I know many of you will think this is just blasphemous, but I grew up believing that Christmas is a destination where all your loved ones are waiting for you to celebrate and be merry instead of just a single day, so I have no qualms about letting my children open their Christmas presents before December 25th. Here's my confession: we let the kids open their big presents (and a few smaller ones) from us last night so they would have an evening or two to play with them before we fly away to where Christmas awaits us.

[Note: Our neighbors, who are going to be home the whole holiday, are feeding our cats and bringing in the mail and watching our house. So don't get any nasty ideas, Grinches.]

And here comes blasphemous statement Number Two... we didn't even get them toys. Oh, there are a few small toys for later that are travelling with us (shh... don't tell!), but their primary gifts this year weren't even toys at all. What cruel parents! What a way to ruin Christmas! Those poor girls must be devastated by the worst holiday on record!

Nope. I think we absolutely hit the nail on the head present-wise this year as both girls were thrilled with their gifts. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!


No, Smile! A real smile this time! Stand still!

No, stand together and smile!

Never mind.

Maggie asked for pastels for Christmas. Really. Our 5-year-old asked for pastels for Christmas. They had used them in her art class at school, and that's what she wanted. OK. So we found this case of semi-professional art supplies designed for children with a serious artistic bent. She opened it as though it were a treasure chest and absolutely beamed at all that colorful loveliness. We also got her a magnetic wipe-off board and a cork board for her art projects, and she cheerfully got right down to business this morning before school and drew a portrait of our Christmas tree.

Kate asked for a ukulele. A specific red electric Epiphone ukulele that she saw online at Guitar Center while window shopping with Mike one evening. She also wanted a banjo, a flute, and a harmonica. (Maggie also wants a flute and a harmonica.) She even told Santa at her school Christmas party on Wednesday that she wants a ukulele, a banjo, a flute, and a harmonica. OK. So she was very excited to unwrap her strangely shaped box and get her hands on the uke of her dreams! Chew on that, Santa - you'll have to get up earlier in the morning if you want to beat Mom and Dad to the best gifts! We don't mess around. You can get her some socks, Mr. Kringle.

After Mike tuned it for her, she asked him to plug it in to his amp so she could, and I quote, "Blast it!" Rock out on that ukulele, little missy!

She and Mike have been happily playing it together all morning and listening to Eddie Vedder's Ukulele Songs for inspiration.

So there you go, it's a lawless, toyless, punk Christmas up in here. We're flouting all the rules and thumbing our noses at conformity and tradition. My girls are weirdos who asked for crazy stuff for Christmas (I love those girls! This whole post is my humble brag about them because they truly are the bomb. I hope they never grow up and become normal people), and I think we made a couple of their loony little dreams come true. In that sense, we already had the best Christmas any parent could hope to achieve.

...Now on to the next Yuletide adventure! See y'all in the New Year!

Santa Claus did bring the ladies their harmonicas and recorders/flutaphones, among other things of course. Kate (who spent most of the holiday asking everyone if they had more presents for her - greedy!) said, "Mom, let's hurry back to Nana's house so we can see if Santa left my banjo there!! Poor girl, Santa is so disappointing. Maybe Daddy will buy you a banjo for Christmas next year if you practice your ukulele diligently.

Happy New Year, Everyone!