Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thursday, November 01, 2012

2012 Costume Post (Mortem)

1. Nathan Jr

He wore the braid! He wore the braid!
His cooperation may have been related to the threat of no braid = no lightsaber.

(Winning!)

I made the tunic using Simplicity pattern 5840, which is sized for adults. (I know, HAWT, right? Adult male Jedi costume. I just. . . )

Anyway, you know where this is going, right? I made a smaller version of the tunic and it was waaaaay too big for Nathan Jr.

Solution? Lumpyhead's school costume = Origami Yoda.
(The tunic was also slightly too big for Lumpyhead. Shut up.)

I then made another - smaller - one for Nathan Jr, which, as you can probably tell, is almost too small. Awesome.

2. Lula 

Lula was Leia on Bespin, which I guess technically made her a Disney Princess.
She chose Leia on Bespin because she wanted to wear her hair like that.

Boy & Girl Costumes 
I used Simplicity pattern 4797 for the most part, but borrowed heavily from Maggie. I had plans to include the embroidered embellishments - Maggie kindly sent me the pattern - but using a paint pen or a sharpie instead of actual embroidery (I think I just heard Maggie wince).

I decided the costume was "representative" enough, and gave up on the whole idea. The cloak was more see-through than it appears in the photos; it was the cheapest plain white cotton fabric I could find, which - surprise, surprise - was quite sheer.

3. Lumpyhead

Lumpyhead was Darth Maul, and we totally bought that entire costume for slightly less than I spent on the materials for either of the other two costumes.
I'm an idiot.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Halloween Costume Preview

Yesterday, I went to not one, but TWO beauty supply stores for a fake hair braid.

1. Beauty supply stores are freaky, godawful places that frighten me. Like that first time you stepped into Babies R Us for a shower gift and had to run screaming from the place. It's like that, but with wigs.

2. I also went to Auto Zone and bought new wiper blades. That was much less baffling, but still not my regular kind of venue. Wiper blades always remind me of my friend Emily, who once had a mechanic tell her that "all right-thinking people change their wiper blades every six months." I hope she doesn't use that mechanic any more. Because all right-thinking people are obviously like me, and change their wiper blades three rainstorms after it becomes painfully apparent that their wiper blades are shot.

3. [hysterical aside] HURRICANE SANDY IS GOING TO END US ALL! AHHHHHHHH! (I bought the new wiper blades before I learned a franken-cane was going to kill us all to death, bee tee dubs.)

4. Numbers 2 and 3 have nothing to do with Halloween costumes.

5. My son refuses to wear a fake braid.

"Hoods are better than braids," he told me, as he casually leaned against the couch this morning. Here's the photo his father took at the preschool costume parade this morning:
Whatever. Maybe he'll wear the $9 fake braid for trick-or-treating.

Lula is going to be Leia on Bespin, and Lumpyhead is going to be Darth Maul. If the HURRICANE OF DOOM doesn't get us first, that is.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Next Up, String Theory

I had this exchange with Nathan Jr in the car last week:

Nathan Jr: Do you know Kate?
Me: Kate who?
NJ: [indignant] No! This isn't a knock-knock joke.
Me: [not laughing, no really] Okay. [maybe snickering a little]
NJ: [slowly, like I'm an idiot] Do you know Kate?
Me: [mentally ticking through all the Kates with whom I am acquainted; and they are many] Which Kate do you mean?
NJ: He's in my class at school.
Me: [Now legitimately confused. Kate's a dude?]
Bump: You mean Kate Something-Something (I'm not protecting identities here, I don't remember what he said) from school?
NJ: Yes.
Me: No, I don't know her.
NJ: [getting to the damn point, already] Sometimes she calls me Nate-Nate.
Me: She does? (Awwwwww)
NJ: [sternly] Yes. And that's not appropriate.
Me: Okay.

I love that my four-year-old is exploring the concept of appropriate, something I have clearly not yet mastered. Also? It's funny to hear a four-year-old say the word "appropriate."

Monday, October 22, 2012

Bingo Night at Chez Lumpyhead

Aunt Bob and Pete came over on Friday night. Over dinner, one of the children asked, "What's a tyrant?"

"It's an adult who acts like a two-year-old," I said.

The adults ignored me. I muttered to Pete that I defied him to prove me wrong. Bump played it straight. "It's a ruler who uses power unfairly," he said.

I looked at Pete pointedly. "See? How is that not how a two-year-old acts?"

Pete continued to ignore me.

"Like a ferowa?" Lumpyhead asked.

"A what?" everyone responded.

"A fah-row-ah. Or maybe it's a pah-row-ah."

Oh, it was on. A puzzle cannot be left unsolved - not in this company - and you could see four adult brains scanning all that he could mean. Pete and I went the video game route. Mario character? Someone in Rayman?

"Tell me more about it," Bump asked.

"Like in ancient Egypt," Lumpyhead said.

Bump got there first. "Do you mean a pharaoh?"

"AH-HAH!" the other three of us yelled.

A fah-ROW-ah.

Also, we're huge dorks.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

At Least I Got a Corndog

Bump considered bringing Nathan Jr to the Nationals game this afternoon, but the cheap tickets dried up and he changed his mind. He opted to bring Nathan Jr in to have lunch with me instead.

But when Aunt Bob called with an extra ticket, he was sorely tempted. In the end, he decided he needed to run the errands he had put off this morning. He declined.

When we met for lunch, I tried to get him to go to the game. I offered to take Nathan Jr to Costco and pick up Lumpyhead and Lula from school.

"Really?" Bump said, looking at me as though I had just claimed I could move a pull-out sleeper sofa by myself.

"I'm not saying it would be without disaster," I clarified, "but I could do it."

I'm sure Bump weighed the attraction of an afternoon baseball game in the sun, with discount beer and no children, against the impending doom of me driving the van, trying to navigate a warehouse store with a sugar-saturated four-year-old, and picking up two children from elementary school.

Yeah, it would have been a shitfest of apocalyptic proportions.
We had a good lunch, though.

Monday, September 24, 2012

It's Better Than Calling Them "Choking Hazards"

My kids refer to those decorative things you stick into your crocs as "giblets."

I can't think of a single reason to correct them.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Stellar Moment in Parenting

Last night I let Lumpyhead and Lula watch Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. The whole thing.

They've seen bits and pieces of it before, but never the ending. They like the songs, and I think I just talked over the one snide sexual reference in the show during previous partial screenings.

I turned on the TV planning to stream a Phineas and Ferb when they begged ("but we haven't seen it in a looooong time, and I like it") and pleaded ("pleeeeeeease"), so I relented ("eh, they've seen most of it already").

I kind of wanted to see it, too. Bump hummed along with some of the songs. Then it ended.

Lumpyhead shouted, "Wait! What just happened?" in a tone that dripped of seven-year-old WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT.

I told them, "Well, Dr. Horrible got what he wanted, but it turns out that wasn't really what he wanted at all."

They shrugged and went off to bed, but of course this morning Lula kept repeating "the hammer is my penis" and giggling. We've been talking about "appropriate" without mentioning the irony that "appropriate" might have included not letting them watch a musical tragedy in three acts that was first broadcast on the internet. AM A GENIUS.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Progress

I'm getting better about not cursing around the kids, but one day my children will be very confused when they discover the word "nonsense" does not actually begin with the letters BULLSH.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Vader Bobblehead is Bewildered

Lumpyhead got a set of Star Wars bobbleheads from Nana for his birthday. Nathan Jr got to this one before Bump could stop him, and Darth suffered the indignity of being handled by a three-year-old.

I bet Admiral Ozzel and Captain Needa think this is hilarious.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Summer Activities

Last year I made a list of summer activities, for Bump and the tormentors to consult should the "I'm bored" chorus become too much for Bump to bear.
 It was even double-sided.
It was used approximately ZERO times.

The image I have in my head when I'm at work, of stir-crazy summer days with idle hands and grumpy slouching, is actually harried hours full of errands and lunchtime and playdates and snacks and pool visits. They rarely search for "activities," and when they do, "watch TV" works just fine.

But I made a list, dammit.

And for some baffling reason, I thought I should update it this year. Because it was so useful last year.

I did a google search and clicked a random link and went here:
Dudes.

Cork stamping.

And I laughed and laughed and laughed.

I imagined ruined clothing, furniture, and carpeting. Permanently stained fingers and faces.

The next project was chocolate pudding "potted plants" and I envisioned sneering faces and revolted grimaces.

For a moment I considered attempting each of these activities and posting the hilarious results, side-by-side with Martha's artful presentations. "Adorable butterfly cupcakes" and "tic-tac-towel," my ass.

Then I realized that in order to do cork stamping, we would need corks.

Lots of lots of corks.

Which means you would have to come to my house and help me drink lots of wine.

Camp Lumpyhead is totally taking on cork stamping this summer, bitches.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Hi.

How ya doing? The name's Nathan Jr. How's your day going?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Take Your/Our Daughter/Son/Gender Nonspecific Child to Work Day

Apparently yesterday was Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. Next year Lumpyhead will be within the target age range for this, and for a moment I thought "He would like that" and the next moment I thought "What the hell would I do with him all day?"

I guess some organizations have a program. They assign some junior admin staffer to babysit the children for the day. The poor sucker scrambles to plan workshops and discussions and office tours, then spent yesterday shepherding munchkins around. Today she is furiously trying to catch up from a whole day away from her regular duties.

I was going to say "he or she," but I'm guessing it was a she.

Am I wrong about this? Did you take part? Did your office? Do you know anyone whose company plans activities, without dumping all the work on some already overworked assistant?

My colleague said she used to do it with her kids, but I realized she was just being snarky when she said, "Back then we called them 'Snow Days.'"

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Playground Stop - Trenton NJ

The Washington Post told us about this place.

Veterans Park
2206 Kuser Road
Hamilton Township, New Jersey 08690

This park is about ten minutes from the New Jersey Turnpike, off I-195 (exit 3). Not the first place I would expect to find a great playground -- no offense, Trenton -- but it's worth the detour. (New Jersey, man. It's like a real place off the toll roads. Where people live, and stuff. Who knew?)

There is another park entrance off Klockner Rd, and that parking lot is closer to the playground equipment. The Kuser Rd entrance gets you to ball fields, a helicopter/memorial, and trails that will lead you to the play area.


We haven't been there since 2009.  Nathan Jr is almost too big for that entire outfit Lumpyhead is wearing.

Sunrise, sunset, all that bullshit. Go to this park.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Playground Stop - Florence SC

During my fit of madness compiling playgrounds and rest stops, I didn't think this place existed. There was a mention of it on Kaboom, misspelled and in the wrong spot. I couldn't find anything else about it online, but when it popped up on our GPS, at just the right time in our drive, we decided to check it out.
Ebenezer Park
842 South Ebenezer Road
Florence, SC 29501

It's located just south of I-20 on I-95. You can get on and off I-95 at exits 160 and 157 without losing much time at all, and isn't too far out of your way if you're headed to Columbia on I-20.

The park has nice options for bigger and smaller kids, with enough separation to keep menacing hordes of 8-year-olds away from toddlers. Not that it was an issue when we visited - the place was nearly deserted - we simply had to keep about our menacing just-turned-three-year-old from injuring his siblings.





I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Playground Stop - Richmond VA

We stumbled upon this place after a Wild Gas Chase (you know, when you exit the highway expecting to find a service station at the top of the off-ramp, but instead you're sent seven miles into some tiny town) with some help from the GPS. It is now built in to every southbound trip. The distance is just right; by the time we hit this area, the kids are ready for a run.

If we have our act together, we pack a lunch and this park doubles as our food stop.

It is located north of Richmond, just south of where 95 and 295 split. You can slip back onto either road pretty easily. It's not as convenient as a playspace in a fast food joint, but it's worth the slight detour.
400 Sausiluta Dr
Henrico, VA 23227

The park boasts several large playgrounds and lots of open space. We have never ventured onto the trails or lake area, but those look cool, too.
2009
Oh, the smallness. How it kills me.
2011
I think this is the time we carefully planned lunch on the road, but left the sandwiches to rot for a week in the fridge. We remembered the cooler - which Bump packed - and the grocery bag with rest of the lunch in it - which I packed - but we both assumed the sandwiches were in the other thing. The lesson here is to always let your spouse handle all of the lunch details.

Some day the children will learn to hide part of the picnic before we leave, so they can stop at a kickass playground for a snack, but still get french fries for lunch.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Roadtrip Ideas

In 2011, we drove to Florida, Maine, and South Carolina. I like to think I learned something from each trip, and packed more planning into the SC drive than I did my own wedding.

(Ahem, full disclosure: I eloped on April Fool's Day.)

These are the things that enabled my survival (in addition, of course, to my husband -- who does all the driving and provides the wisdom of full-time childcare experience, vetoing countless irredeemably stupid ideas before I'm hip-deep in them -- and alcohol).

Lumpyhead's Mom's Roadtrip Checklist:

1. DVD player

How do people go on roadtrips with kids without these? Before we left, I transferred some of the kids' favorite TV shows to DVD, so I didn't feel so bad about their viewing choices. Nothing assuages nonstop-screentime guilt like a few episodes of The Electric Company. (See? They're learning. Sure, they could be discovering geography through first-hand experience, or building literacy by finding letters on billboards, but that Hector is kind of hot.)

Everyone gets a chance to pick the show. We establish the rotation as we're pulling out of the driveway -- by age, height, next birthday, whatever -- and stick to it until we get home. Bump and I are included in the batting order, even though we cannot see the screen from the front seats. This ensures that a few PBS titles get sandwiched in between every Pixar film ever made.

We only use the DVD player on long trips, and it goes dark between 2pm and 4-ish, when Quiet Time (you don't have to sleep, but you gotta go to your room and shut up) is enforced in our house.

The definition of "long" trip, as well as the official end of Quiet Time, is always at our discretion.

2. Games and activities

Lumpyhead spent the entire drive to Maine asking "What state is this?"

Toll booths prompted the question without fail, but sometimes he would just randomly spout it. We got really tired of saying "We're still in New Jersey, Buddy."

For SC, I made him a checklist of towns along the route. I used a map and picked ones near the highway. Most - but not all - were listed on the exits.
I printed one for Lula, too.
I made a packet for each kid, with coloring pages and scavenger hunts and a box of crayons. In a nod to <airquote> learning <airquote>, I found some coloring pages with state facts that I stuck in there. Ooooh, geography.

I found Mom's Minivan through Devra, and it is probably the best thing to happen to long drives since the in-car DVD player. Laurel has a great collection of games and printouts and ideas. Lula often asks to play the "Lines and Dots" game - which we called "Corn" when I was little, I have no idea why - when we are sitting in the living room.

The bigger kids also got highway maps in their packets, which they both completely ignored. Poor Nathan Jr didn't even get a real packet - it was more of a folder - that he didn't give a rat's ass about anyway.

The town checklist was by far the biggest success, adequately ending the "where are we/are we there yet" chorus. Predictably, when we reached our destination I realized that I didn't have a version for the trip back.

3. Playground stops

This is probably the point at which I crossed over into madness. I compiled a list of rest stops and playgrounds along the way - along with Chick-fil-A's and McDonald's with playspaces. Using the KaBOOM playground finder and Google Earth, I made a nine-page list of possibilities for when we encountered that inevitable "Oh my god, we have got to get these rabid monkeys out of this car immediately" moment.

Our GPS has a "Parks and Recreation Area" feature, but it cannot reliably distinguish a swingset-slide combo from a boat launch. On weekends, a "find elementary school" command might work, but that's not always an option.

I'll share the list if you want it, but you really don't. I'm planning some future posts about our favorite roadside playground stops, which I'll probably publish in time for your Thanksgiving travels.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

As If You Needed It

Further proof that I lack the maturity necessary to be a parent: Every time Dora says "unicorn" in spanish, I swear she's saying "Cornholio."

Friday, April 20, 2012

Just in Time for Spring Break

Last spring we drove to Orlando, and there was lots of stuff I meant to tell you about.

Then the months got away from me and I thought: I'll just wait and post it next year, so it will be "topical" again.

Right.

So, this is what I wanted to tell you:
1) Playground Find
2) Roadtrip Ideas
3) I'm a terrible blogger.

I'm going to go ahead and post this right now - assuming it will take me another several months to get my act together.

In the meantime, you can tell me about what you did for Spring Break this year. Because while I took a week off, I spent it at home, answering work emails. Yep, I can even half-ass Spring Break.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Huggies Blowout

Oops. I guess they thought they could sneak in their Hapless Dads campaign while all the penised parent bloggers were distracted by the Dad 2.0 Summit. Nice try.

The internet's abuzz and dads are rightly outraged. My husband is no longer buying their diapers.

Granted, my household's brand loyalty was built solely upon the diaper's "available for a reasonable price at Costco" feature.

Bump is too busy caring for the children to engage in philosophical debates over how dads are perceived by society. He's too busy preparing for a fantasy baseball draft to discuss his feelings about the depiction of fatherhood in ad campaigns. He's fast-forwarding through all the TV commercials anyway.

Also, we no longer need diapers.

Right. It's mostly that last thing.

Because we're still fully pull-up dependent, and I'm pretty sure Huggies makes the pull-ups.

But the "Dad Test" ad insults me. (Wait, this is not all about me?)

Those moms still exist, I suppose, who martyr themselves on the altar of Only *I* Can Do This Right. Who relish the idea of being validated when her partner in parenting flails and fails without her. Who can't finish her rant of HOW COME NO ONE APPRECIATES ME because she has to stop in the middle of it to tell you how you're doing something wrong.

Is this campaign for her?

Because I really hate her.

But then, I don't buy diapers.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Rawr

Yes, Aunt Bob is right (Aunt Bob is always right), at least Three-and-a-Half is cute.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Oh HAI

Hey look, Three-and-a-Half is back in our lives. And Three-and-a-Half is still an asshole.

Somehow I had forgotten that. Or I hoped that Two-and-a-Half was so miserable it meant that Three-and-a-Half wouldn't be so bad. Or would skip us altogether.

I was wrong. Woe.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Half-Ass Household Tip #1

Because I know this site is the first one you click on for helpful household hints.

(And I put a "#1" up there in the title, but honestly, if I'm half-assing it right, there won't be any more. Because after this one, I'm kind of tapped out.)

So: Are you like me? Is your maple syrup actually maple syrup, and not maple-flavored corn syrup?
PRO: It tastes a lot better. CON: Instead of a convenient squeeze bottle with a log cabin or a mammy on it, it arrives in a glass bottle or something with a top that looks like this.
Now, I know you think you can use something like that to adorn your children's toaster waffles. But you can't. You will spend months trying to achieve the perfect angle, one that does not leave you standing in the kitchen for fourteen hours over now-cold waffles and won't deposit a huge glop of syrup in the wrong spot.

Let me tell you: that angle does not exist. Something about the viscosity of the syrup and the rate at which it leaves the bottle . . . okay, I'm making that shit up. Ask the Mythbusters or something. But I'm telling you that you will end up with unsatisfactory syrup results. Every time.

This is what you should do. Go buy one of these:
This is a candy-making one from a craft store, but I've also seen them at party stores and kitchen places. Sometimes they're called ketchup and mustard bottles. They're super cheap - I think this one came in a set of two for less than a dollar. (I'd get the clear ones, though, so you don't mistake it for another condiment in your fridge.)
Ta da! Perfect syrup placement, every time. You can draw faces or swirls on pancakes, or place decorative dots in each square of a waffle. Or, if you're like me, you can just squirt it on haphazardly and rejoice that you're not cleaning huge globs of syrup from sleeves every damn morning.

You're welcome. Now, where did I put that tiny red cap?

Monday, February 06, 2012

Friday, February 03, 2012

So, That Was a Thing

When the first Promoted Tweet slipped in, I was confused.

When the second one showed up, it prompted an internet search.

By the third, I was annoyed enough to quit using twitter. Sorry if you've been posting all your best stuff in less than 140 characters, but I am no longer reading you over there.

Monday, January 30, 2012

I Bet Netflix Has Erratic Handwriting

Netflix is totally turning into that tragic crazy chic from college, isn't it? First it was all those drunk emails from Reed whatshisname (I'm raising prices! I'm splitting into two companies! Why don't the boys think I'm pretty?) and lately I feel like Netflix is threatening me. Those emails entitled "How was the picture quality on ______?" feel slightly menacing. I'm monitoring your viewing habits, and I'm ready to tell your spouse about them at any time. Don't think you can just stream Mannequin 2, then delete it from your queue before she sees it. Don't you take me for granted, dammit. I'm cuter and thinner than she is. Wait, don't run, I bought you some flowers. . .

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Lego Ninjago

Are your kids as into this as mine are? Oh, the love. They can't wait until Wednesday night, when the next episode airs. Even Lula is hooked, rooting for the little sister who kicks ass and is promised that with patience, she will also be rewarded.

We watched some of the videos on the Lego website, and things took a turn for the unfortunate. There's a clip of the girl character, right properly kicking butt while one of the boys waits outside, trying to muster the courage to ask her out. When he hears a sign of trouble and swoops in to help, she's already taken out the bad guys (and has a pretty new bracelet too). The bad guys are mortified that they have been "beaten by a girl," but they're bad guys and not very bright, so it's possible to spin that into a not horrible moment. But why is this clip on the website, and not in the show itself? Scared of alienating the boy audience, are we Lego? ("I'm a white male, aged 18 to 49, everybody listens to me. Ah, nuts and gum, together at last.")

I'm willing to let it go, time constraints, maximizing the target audience and all, but in the next clip the girl character calls her brother "Stupid," and well, let's just say my children reacted as though she had just called him a Fucking Fuckwad. No, wait, it would have actually been better if she had called him a Fucking Fuckwad. Because in my house, stupid is a very powerful word that we might, in very dire circumstances, use to describe things; but not ever, ever use to describe people. And Nya, the only character Lego has given my daughter to identify with, drops the S-bomb on her brother. Bravo.

You know, the last time I used the word stupid in my house was to describe the new "Girl Legos," come to think of it. I told a friend that "making some of the bricks pink and making the minifigures look stupid is not the key to grabbing a girl audience." Lumpyhead was in the room and looked at me very gravely and whispered "You said stupid," and I retorted "and that's what I meant" and he trumpeted "I think they're stupid too" and we had to talk about things grown ups can do but kids can't. Like drink beer. So thanks for that.

So, what's my point? I don't have a point. I've been sick for three days and the nyquill has only half kicked-in and I can't get that damn theme song out of my head. Oh, and Nathan Jr is using everything he can get his hands on to spinjitsu his brother and sister, so we've got gold stars for brilliance all over this damn joint. Bring me some tea.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

If Lucas Hadn't Sold Pixar

I'm not sure Lumpyhead is aware of the backstory, but eventually everything runs together in his head anyway.

I give you the SCARIEST of the Sith Lords:
Darth Zurg

He's evil. (Obviously) You can tell by the eyebrows.

Monday, January 23, 2012

This Is Why You Should Not Have a Blog

There seems to be a natural lull in parent blogging when the children reach a certain age. Maybe it's because the stories are no longer yours, or because you get a glimmer of life aside from parenting, or because once you step away from the habit it's hard to take it up again.

It's not just that I haven't been posting here. I haven't been reading elsewhere, either. My days are full and when I get home I just can't find the urge to sit back down in front of the screen.

But I miss the community that accompanies blogging. I miss you guys. Today I had a spare moment and used it to catch up with some of you.

And you broke my heart.

When last I checked, Susan was going to Cars 2 and space conferences. She was cutting a foam egg crate on twitter. I clicked over to her blog and had one of those "Wait, where am I?" moments.

You should not have a blog because you eventually neglect it. You should not have a blog because through it you make connections with dear friends who write beautifully. You should not have a blog because on a Monday morning you will have to close your door and cry.