Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I Was Electrocuted And You'll Never Guess What Happened Next

When I was in middle school, sometimes dumb kids would ask me if my frizzy hair was a result of me sticking my finger in an electrical outlet. Then I cried myself to sleep every night. Just kidding: usually I said something rude back to them. I was kind of a know-it-all, self-righteous, frizzy-haired pill in middle school and high school. I probably still am. But an open letter of apology to my former peers is the subject of another post ... this post is about an electrocution that actually happened.

From my 2006 Halloween costume: dandelion.

Scene: My kitchen. Our unsuspecting victim (me), a twenty-something mother dressed in a bathrobe floral sun dress and coordinating sky-blue, peep-toe pumps, dances from cupboard to cupboard, collecting ingredients for a highly-technical recipe: no-bake lemon cheesecake.

She sets about combining the cream cheese, sugar, and lemon drink mix (real lemon zest? Ain't nobody got time for that) in her Empire Red Artisan Series 5-qt Kitchenaid Stand Mixer (buy a mixer from this link to contribute to my taco fund). After adjusting the mixing speed, she rests her arm against the top of the powerful piece of machinery, forearm grazing the metal attachment hub cover. An annoying tingle zings up her arm, sending the message to her brain that the Kitchenaid mixer has evolved into a sentient being, and is, in a dark act of subversion, trying to kill her. She moves her arm, halting the rebellion, and finishes making her cheesecake (fold in some cool whip, pour into graham cracker crust, chill, and top with fresh berries).

I don't care what anyone says; Papyrus is the font of champions. Odysseus used this font for his wedding invitations.

I put up with these minor electric shocks for about a year. Then I googled it to see if this was normal ... apparently it's not (duh), and I read the story of another lady with an unruly, Milgram-esque Kitchenaid who had contacted customer service and gotten hers replaced.

I chatted customer service, and when the lady on the other end (Susan) heard the issue, immediately requested to call me because Kitchenaid takes this issue very seriously. Susan called me, asked me a few questions about the serial number, my address, and whether I had been injured. Apparently they want to avoid having their products electrocute people, because Susan told me a replacement would be shipped to me right away, in the meantime I should stop using the mixer and unplug it (in case it spontaneously erupts into an electrical storm of fury over culinary slavery), and did I have any questions?

I did have a scandalous question ... could I get a different color? Of course, Susan assured me.

Oh my heck. Kitchenaid color decisions are usually made after years of yearning for the machine, planning out your dream kitchen colors, and finding the perfect hue that matches both your aura and patronus' favorite color! How was I to pick a new color in a mere moment? I scanned the options online with the panic of a baker forced to make a wedding cake at an unfamiliar altitude. Should I stick with Empire Red, making my mixer a charmingly bold statement piece on the counter? Though I do have dark green countertops that clash horribly ... What about the soothing Aqua Sky? The retro Pistachio? Sassy Green Apple? SUSAN IS WAITING. Cheerful Citrus Yellow? The classic Cobalt, the tradition of my father? SUSAN IS WAITING!!!!


Guys, I picked silver.

I am so mature and lame. Silver will not go out of style. Silver will go with any kitchen I ever have. Silver is the color my hair will be when this mixer finally dies and I can get a new color.

I am a yo-yo of emotions over here, one minute full of crippling regret, the next confident I made the correct choice. MOSTLY REGRET.

Validate my super-boring Kitchenaid color choice. Or make me jealous by telling me what color you have/would pick if your grandmother loved you enough (like mine) to get you one for your wedding.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Laundry and House-hunting

I'm sitting on my couch, the children are asleep, and I am thinking to myself, "I should write something, but I have no idea what to write about ..."

Then I realized I was surrounded by the most exciting thing, ever, and that I should write about it.


Laundry, and a blanket featuring polar bears and other arctic animals, oh my!

Oh my heck, it's everywhere. I'm thiiiis close to adopting my brother-in-law's uniform system, which is exactly what it sounds like. I think he owns ten black polos and half as many pairs of khaki shorts. When he's not working or exercising (there's another uniform for that), this is all he wears. I think this would make life easier, if a lot more drab. I wouldn't waste a second thinking about what I should wear, though.

This is not exciting to write about at all. Here is the recipe I use for homemade laundry detergent, though. It's saved me a ton of money, although sometimes the lack of scent makes me glum. I guess I could add essential oils (or something? I have no idea what I'm doing) to make my laundry smell not bland. That might help me adjust to a uniform system, if they at least smelled like they had a personality.

What else can I write about? How about how we are NOT moving to Qatar. Nathan heard at work that he was up for an overseas assignment to Qatar, the little pimple of land poking off of Saudi Arabia, so for a while I was excited about all the great Indian food I've heard is over there, and also for a maid (because YOLO EXPAT), but then today he heard it's probably not going to happen. So we are back to our plan of buying a house in Houston suburbia, ie Spring, TX. I've been perusing the Houston real estate website, har.com, and feeling judgy about Texas architecture. Also the photos some realtors take are embarrassing. Seriously, just put the toilet seat down and make sure there aren't any creepy people lurking in the background. Not that hard.

Not moving here.

A few months ago, har.com had an almost-perfect house for sale (gone now, of course). You could tell Mormons lived there (garden, telling artwork, general vibe--fellow Saints, you know what I'm talking about), and I just wanted to buy up the house and their entire life with it. I know that sounds super creepy, but I just want to find somewhere where I know a family like ours would be happy. I want Graham to have a ready-made buddy with a cool mom living next door, and a library close enough so we can go to story time together. I want my other next-door neighbor to have a catering business so she brings me sweet leftovers all the time. Across the street could be an empty-nester couple who dote on my children and Nate can mow their lawn while they offer me iced sweet tea on the porch, and then I say, "I actually don't drink tea because I'm Mormon, but here's some zucchini bread!" and then they laugh and we share some bread, and then I turn around to see Ruby drinking some iced tea straight out of the pitcher and it's funny but also a little awkward. Further down the street would live a mysterious old woman whom my children grow up thinking is a witch.

Other than that, I want a house with four bedrooms, an office with French doors, a decent-sized yard, an open floor plan, and vaulted ceilings and a ton of natural light in the living room. And Nathan insists on two sinks in the master bathroom. Also, no tile in living areas (because I am excited to lounge on a comfy floor while my children frolic in chaos around me).

If you are selling this house, please contact me ASAP.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

RIP, J.Crew Flip Flop

You know what's worse than breaking your flip flop as you are entering the Denver International Airport, late for your flight, pushing your preschooler in an unwieldy umbrella stroller with a car seat balanced precariously on top, a tired baby strapped to your chest whilst you are simultaneously struggling to, unsuccessfully, pull two suitcases behind you?

Breaking your J.Crew flip flop as you are entering the Denver International Airport, late for your flight, pushing your preschooler in an unwieldy umbrella stroller with a car seat balanced precariously on top, a tired baby strapped to your chest whilst you are simultaneously struggling to, unsuccessfully, pull two suitcases behind you.

Why was this such a crushing blow to my mother-ego? Because now I have been thrust back to that corduroy-lined circle of fashion hell: the place where mothers who own nothing from J.Crew sit around in synthetic-blend Walmart sweatpants and snotted-on t-shirts. There are no tailored blouses. Everyone still uses a flip phone. There is no Chick-fil-A there.

I've only ever owned three items from J.Crew, that mecca of stylish moms who can pull off wearing weird chambray jumpsuits or anything ever made out of linen. The first two items were a gift: a matching flip flop/headscarf combo. I promptly lost the headscarf thingy in the abyss that is my "hair things that aren't elastics that I think I'll use someday but who am I kidding?" bag/pile/bin.

Pair your sequined J.Crew mother-onesie with satin pumps for the perfect park look! #ootd #headedtomommyandmeceramicpaintingclassnext

But the flip flops--oh, the flip flops! They were the most comfortable flip flops to ever grace my feet (original Old Navy style included--gasp!). Soft cotton straps and foamy soles made me feel like I was walking through an Asian spa paradise. I wore them for three glorious years until a hole appeared in one of the soles ... and another in my own soul as I threw them away sent them to flip flop paradise aboard a flaming pyre set adrift in the Gulf of Mexico.

I was determined to replace them with an identical pair. I scoured J.Crew's website with no success, then turned to ebay with the hope that the old model still existed somewhere besides my dreams. No luck.

My destiny thwarted, I went on with my nearly-purposeless existence, walking the sad path of footwear-mediocrity in my ill-fitting, faux-leather Target sandals. (No disrespect, Target.)

Then one day I found myself at the mall, outside J.Crew. I hesitantly crossed the store's threshold. It smelled expensive, delicious, impractical. Would I find my Holy Grail flip flops? Perfectly-coiffed women perused the displays around me, neatly sidestepping my stroller ... the stroller that held the only child in the store. I spotted a jacket I loved ... I checked the price tag and almost shriveled into a raisin ... the kind of raisin you might find on the floor of the almost-expired specialty foods aisle at Ross.

Then I spotted a bin of ... flip flops. Clearance flip flops. There weren't any with the foamy soles I preferred, but there were plenty of the typical variety, marked down from $28 (!?!?) to $5. Huzzah! Cheap enough for me to look past the limited and weird color options. I snatched a dark gray pair with two-toned straps (gray on top, white underneath), and tried them on. Not as good as my foamy dream-pair, but way better than Old Navy.


I bought them. Because $5 J.Crew (chanted to the cadence of $5 footlong, please ... which reminds me of the leftover white chocolate macadamia nut cookie I have in my bag ... from a week ago. Nooooo!!!).

I will admit, the mere fact that they were J.Crew influenced my purchase. They weren't labeled "J.Crew" in any way, but in my style-crippled heart I knew that wearing elitist-brand footwear, however weirdly two-toned and clearance-pocked, would add at least a smidgen of fashion happiness to my poser's heart. I could be wearing the worst stretchy pants and pit-stained high school t-shirt, but if I was wearing those flip flops, I was wearing J.Crew. They were my secret weapon against complete surrender to frumpiness and the oblivion of my stretch-knit-plagued closet.

"We'll always have J.Crew."

Then they broke. My J.Crew horcrux destroyed, a part of my soul was lost as well, the part responsible for style ambition and caring what I look like. 

There are no words.
This happened three weeks ago, and it's only now that I feel like I'm in a place where I can feel safe writing about it. Now that I'm a J.Crew-less lump, I only have the filters on my VSCO Cam app to make me presentable. Before and after below.

Treasure your J.Crew while you still can. Or else donate it to the Goodwill on 20th street in the Heights and give me a heads up so I can go buy it for cheap.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Poodle Reviews: Franklin and the Duckling

To my twelve loyal readers (including you seven from India), may I explain the blogging hiatus. The last eight weeks have been fraught with that most dreaded sucker of energy, appetite, and the will to do anything but moan on my floor whilst wearing only my unmentionables and a pilling bathrobe: morning sickness. And by morning I mean all freaking night and day. Yes, we are adding a third cherub to our collection. The bebe is due to arrive sometime around Christmas (surprise! No really, SURPRISE!). We are excited (except for the part where I get out of the habit of grooming). Especially Graham, who has declared that there are five babies in his tummy, and that the one in mine is named "Michael" or "Uncle," depending on the day. Hurrah for babies! Hurrah for microwaveable taquitos! Hurrah for generic Zofran covered by insurance!

Meanwhile, I've been anxious to review a library book that has been plaguing my book bin for a few weeks now. I give you an abomination of children's literature: Franklin and the Duckling.

It's all fun and games until someone fracks up your pond.

Graham picked it randomly from a shelf, was seduced by the playful cover, and in my pregnant daze, I checked it out for him without vetting it for inane content. There is no author named on the cover, which should have told me something, but I found the names of the guilty parties buried on the page with all the Library of Congress boring stuff. I also discovered this book is based on a television episode from a series inspired by the canonical Franklin and Friends book series written by Paulette Bourgeois and illustrated by Brenda Clark. So this book is like a chocolate croissant that you reheated in the microwave because you were too lazy to wait for the toaster oven, and then when it came out all gross and chewy you wish you could unmicrowave it back to it's original baked glory, but you can't unmicrowave something, you just can't (true story). Such are the perils of book to television to book adaptations. I hope this metaphor makes sense.

Basic plot: Franklin goes for a swim at the pond and a duckling follows him home. Franklin decides to keep him as a "secret pet," despite his mother's earlier mandate of "no more pets," and a swirling tale of chaos and deception ensues.

My problems with Frankling and the Duckling:

1. Inconsistent worldbuilding. Because this story takes place in a universe where animals are anthropomorphic (Canada), I would classify it as fantasy. I believe that fantasy should still follow logical rules, however. Franklin lacks any decipherable set of rules governing the universe. Franklin, a turtle, speaks, wears clothing, lives in a house with electricity ... and yet sleeps on a rug in the middle of his room, which is otherwise full of modern furnishings and toys (a full bookshelf, a toy chest, and a hockey stick?!). So Franklin's society has mastered mass printing, carpentry, textile production, electricity, and more ... but he still sleeps on the floor.


Also, his dining room table looks like this:

Franklin's dishonesty has no impact on his appetite.

So apparently humanized turtles prefer to eat their meals on something that looks like a pagan altar. Happy summer solstice.

2. Inconsistencies in the application of anthropomorphism. Ok, so the turtles are basically humans. I'm fine with that. But the anthropomorphism is grossly inconsistent from species to species, with no indication that there is any method to the system. Franklin's best friend is a bear named ... wait for it ... "Bear." So the turtle gets a lovely, Anglo-Franco name, but his best friend (who is higher on the food chain and of a more intelligent species) is called "Bear." Find me a kid with sober parents named, "Human," and then I'll roll with "Bear."

This next concern is not confined to Franklin's universe. It is common in children's media featuring anthropomorphic characters (Arthur comes to mind): animals owning other animals. Again with no explanation for how the authors decided to stratify the species, we see Franklin perusing a pet store with a cat and dog in the window (again, how is a reptile more advanced than mammals??). He already owns a fish, and the entire plot revolves around his failed attempt to adopt a "wild" duckling. The whole system reeks with the subtle stench of ethnocentricism, racism, and slavery. Did you know that "Franklin" is an anagram for "Canadian Supremacy League"? Look for my upcoming Change.org campaign to get this book banned from our schools.

"So I can't have another pet, not because of their inherent right to freedom as fellow animals, but because I can barely keep the fish I do have alive? Makes sense, Mom."

I don't like when a character's animal-ness is meaningless and unacknowledged. Franklin's turtle-ness has no impact on the story at all ... so why is he a turtle? The first Franklin book of the original series was about a turtle afraid of the dark inside his shell--that's good animal literature. In this story, however, every depiction of Franklin could be seamlessly replaced with a picture of a little boy (hopefully wearing more than a neckerchief). Franklin's identity as a turtle is ignored, and the story is worse for it.

3. Weak grasp of animal biology. First, why is Franklin just a bit smaller than a bear cub? That's one creepy-big turtle. I predict a pregnancy-augmented nightmare in my future.

It looks like the duckling just told Bear that his mom got shot and made into a rug that now graces the living room floor of a lifestyle blogger.

Also, why does a turtle own earmuffs and a hockey stick, when a quick google search reveals that turtles in cold climates (Canada) spend the winter in hibernation (the term is actually "brumation" when referencing reptiles)? Franklin shouldn't be able to play hockey because he should be spending all winter burrowed under a foot of mud.

Finally, Franklin isn't even a turtle. He's a tortoise.

4. Stupid plot with a horrible message. Franklin's mother declares "no more pets" on the first page. Franklin ignores this and tries to domesticate a duckling, in secret, in his room. The duckling destroys his room, twice. He lies to his mother's face about the quacking she hears, twice. After Franklin's little sister exposes him for the deceptive little reptile he is and the duckling's family collects their prodigal, how does Franklin's mother respond? She praises him for "taking such good care of the duckling" and offers him another pet. In what universe does lying to your mother and letting a wild animal rip apart your room merit greater privileges and responsibility?! Not even Canada, people. We can blame Franklin's mom for the entitlement generation.


The story ends differently in my house. In my version, Franklin's mother expresses disappointment that her son acted in a way so contrary to what he had been taught about honesty. She tells him that trust takes much longer to gain than to lose. Then she flushes Franklin's goldfish down the toilet. Just kidding: these anthropomorphic turtles don't have indoor plumbing, so she feeds it to the duckling.

Franklin's face when he finds out what happens to "Goldie."

Throw this reheated croissant in the garbage, parents. It's not worth the calories.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

What Kind of Legume are You?

I've been seeing a bunch of time-wasting quizzes all over Facebook lately, with topics like What is your mental age?, Are you a hipster? (if you have to ask ...), or other really deep topics, like What sea creature are you?

These remind me of the quizzes in the Girls' Life magazine I subscribed to as a teenager, except more pointless. At least the GL quizzes told me things actually relevant to my life (What's your dream first date? An afternoon at a bookstore perusing the poetry section followed by a casual dinner at the new Asian fusion crêperie downtown!!!). The quizzes I see popping up on my Facebook feed, courtesy of my friends with shameful amounts of free time, are ridiculous.

So I decided to make my own. Here it is, a wonderful opportunity for deeper insight into the darkest recesses of your psyche ...


Let's begin.

1. What kind of first impression do you usually give?

A. I'm nice, but also a little intimidating because I have all these wonderfully unique and hip interests (I love obscure bands, I speak an indigenous language, and/or I pull off a dramatic haircut).
B. I'm a lovable weirdo.
C. I don't really leave a first impression ... I'm like a shy, boring, misty shadow.
D. I'm, like, super great. Everyone. Loves. Me. And. My. Hair.
E. I'm down to earth and easy to relate to.

2. Your greatest weakness?

A. My uniqueness makes people uncomfortable.
B. I've accidentally killed a few people.
C. I'm soooo boring. After I'm done taking this quiz I'm going to go think about cardboard.
D. I'm a little hormonal.
E. I don't like to rock the boat.

3. What is your dream pair of shoes?

A. An ironic pair of geta sandals.
B. Barefoot, everywhere.
C. Black Mary Janes.
D. Peep-toe wedge booties.
E. Chuck Taylors.

4. What is your life's ambition?
A. To travel this exciting world.
B. To get Joss Whedon to autograph my baby.
C. To live with complete integrity.
D. To acquire as many fans and possessions as possible.
E. To be a kind person.

5. Would you rather be:
A. Pressure cooked.
B. Dry roasted.
C. Boiled.
D. Raw.
E. Steamed.


Mostly A's: You are the sweet and exotic adzuki bean. You're uniqueness is attractive, but can also be off-putting if you don't make an effort to relate to others and their ordinariness. You are most compatible with Turtlenecks (see the What kind of Mom-wear from the 80's are you? quiz).

My hand is fatter in real life.

Mostly B's: You are the peanut. You are nutty and don't really fit in with the crowd, but you are also friggin' delicious when coated in chocolate, so there's that. Everyone loves you (except when they are deathly allergic to you).


Mostly C's: You are the noble, long-suffering lentil. People think you are lame and boring at first, but when they get to know you, they appreciate your solid friendship and dependability. You are a hard worker.


Mostly D's: You are edamame, a sociopath in an approachable, fuzzy green shell. You are a social predator who feeds off the aspirations and insecurities of others. An Instagramming exhibitionist, you delight in your on-trend superiority. Your nemesis is the chickpea.

There's a reason you've been in my fridge for over a year.

Mostly E's: You are the humble chickpea, the everyman of legumes. You are a friends to everyone, and your adaptability is your greatest strength. You bring out the best in those around you.

Three chickpeas, talking about their weekend.

What legume are you?


Also, we have a giveaway winner! JANET! Mr. Toot Toot Toucan is yours (I'm also throwing in a special treat for you, because I don't believe in giving babies presents without also acknowledging their mothers). Email me your shipping address and I'll send Toot Toot your way!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Kimber vs the Koala ... and a Giveaway!

I got an email a while ago asking me if I was interested in getting free stuff to blog about. The brands involved would be Lamaze, Boon, John Deere, and more. Of course I said yes, because free stuff! Any niggling doubts about "maintaining the artistic integrity of this space"? Uh, what artistic integrity? I blog about leftovers and hating pandas. It's not like I'm pimping out anything Pulitzer-worthy. But then they wanted to see my blog stats ... and let's just say my blog is pretty "boutique" if you know what I mean (you, dear reader, are one of a very select few). So I sent my feeble pageview report, along with a rambling note about how my life's biggest regret is not taking a spin on my dad's riding lawn mower before he sold it when I was twelve (now I realize they are involved with the John Deere toy brand and cannot actually hook me up with an actual mower to review ...). Apparently they didn't care that my blog is a mere freckle on the ginger's face that is the internet, because they sent me these colorful little things to review.

May I present: "Shine-a-light, Freddie," and "Cuddle and Squeak Koalas" of the Play and Grow collection.

Really, though, I think Ruby should be the first one to weigh in.

Ruby, here's the keyboard.

Thanks, Mom. I'll take it from here. 

I like the Cuddle and Squeak Koalas the best. I told Mom to keep the tag on the book because I don't really get the whole soft book craze. Is it a toy? Is it a book? Does it go on the bookshelf? Or the toy bin? Personally, I don't think literature needs any added tactile element. I need to feel the story, not the crinkly pages. But that's just me. I'm letting Mom give it to someone else's baby.

I do like the koalas. They are soft and colorful (I'm crushing on the teal color scheme--primary colors are so overdone), and the mama koala even has a black and white pattern on her booty that really catches my contrast-attracted baby eyes.

First contact.

The mama koala (I guess her name is Cuddle, because she doesn't squeak. And big props to Lamaze for not calling her Kuddle--eww.) also has ears made of potato chip bags. This is where I want my crinkles. She also has a silk tummy pouch thingy where her baby, Squeak, can hang out.

Koalas are so cute. They're like the love children of Yoda and a Muppet.

Squeak, as you may guess, squeaks when I grip her in my adorably dimpled baby fist. She's also holding on to a eucalyptus leaf replica, made of a softish plastic--just right for chewing.

Incisors are coming in ... nom nom nom.

Unfortunately, I lost Squeak immediately after this picture was taken. Mom finally found her behind the couch a week later, along with the baby fingernail clippers. So now I get a manicure out of this, too. Score. Back to you, Mom.

A baby koala with her mama koala with a baby who hangs onto her mom like a koala. ....INCEPTION KOALA.

Thanks, Ruby. Now for my review of Cuddle and Squeak. Like Ruby said, Squeak was a victim of Graham's creative toy storage ideas, so this will be about Cuddle. At first I was a bit wary of the mother koala with her matronly eyes, and those arms sewn permanently into a demurely peaceful clasp at her tummy. I'm a perfect mother, she seemed to taunt. But you already lost your baby! I responded. She ignored me, and instead went about proving how superior she was to me.

First, she cleaned out my fridge.

Note the contrast-patterned derriere. Showoff. 

Despite her sewn-immobile arms (and lack of hands, if you get down to it), she managed to do that condescending thing where you pick something up with just two fingers, holding it as far away from your nose as possible, pinky up ... you know what I mean. What she asked is this? 

Liquefied cilantro, get a hold of yourself.

Then she moved on to the dishes, utilizing her silky, anatomically-incorrect tummy pouch to wield a toy koala-sized scrub brush.

"This mess is unseemly."

Next, she tackled my two-week backlog of laundry. She did give me a nod when she saw I use homemade laundry detergent.

I just reuse an old dispenser. Don't think I'm lying.
"Where did all the laundry go? Oh, I just washed, folded, collated, and put it away according to color and frequency of use. Except your favorite, grody old t-shirt. I cut that into scrap rags to use when I refinish that end table you've been neglecting to tackle for years. Hope you don't mind."

My ego shredded, I offered to let her adopt Graham and Ruby. They'd certainly fare better in her plush hands. Oh dear, she clucked, I'm not here to replace you! I'm here to inspire you to embrace the nurturing mother koala that is inside you! Be soft, cuddle your children a little closer, and get off your lazy, non-eye-catching duff and clean your house more often.

I accepted her counsel, and then watched an episode of The Mindy Project while she made tomato soup. A recipe from her bff Gabby over at designmom.com, she tells me.

When I found out she sourced her basil from Kroger, and not her own windowsill herb garden, I felt a little better.

So I got shown up by a plush koala. That's okay. I had been a little cocky in my mothering since Ruby did her first sign ("all done"--a beautiful double-handed princess wave, ahem).

In other, exciting news, today I get to give away Cuddle's second cousin (and preferred babysitter when she and her husband, Snuggle, go out), the adorable Toot Toot Toucan! His stripy beak squeaks, his ribbon tail is so on trend, and wouldn't the removable bead ring he's clutching make a killer bangle?

It's like Toucan Sam, but with no sugar guilt!

To enter the giveaway for Toot Toot, leave a comment about what chore you wish Cuddle would take over for you. Also, for additional entries, you may choose to provide my blog with free marketing by tweeting, Facebooking, instagramming, or whatevering this giveaway. The winner will be announced this Sunday ... my birthday! Good luck, and may this toucan's large, embroidered eye look upon you with favor.

P.S. Lamaze is also running a sweepstakes for the entire Play and Grow collection. Check it out below!

Lamaze Spring Smiles Sweepstakes
We're all smiles now that spring has sprung! Parents, does your baby have an adorable smile? Through Thursday (May 1), enter the Lamaze Spring Smiles Sweepstakes at http://a.pgtb.me/xdmhfS, and you'll have the chance to win a fabulous prize pack that includes brand new spring toys from Lamaze. Just upload a photo of your child with any Lamaze toy, tag it with #TOMY and #Lamaze, and ask your friends to vote for your photo.

Voting takes place today through Monday, May 5. The lucky parents who receive the most votes for their cute photo will receive more than $100 worth of adorable new Lamaze toys that include Play and Grow, a peekaboo book and an activity gym that grows with your baby! So...get out your Smartphones and share those baby smiles with the world! 

Lamaze toys make a perfect shower gift, since their products engage babies’ senses to spark creativity, introduce discovery and support healthy sensory development. You can learn more about Lamaze at http://tomy.com/lamaze 

Inline image 1

Monday, April 21, 2014

Things I've Stolen

-Halloween candy, from my sisters. Let's just call this "assisted sharing." I'm pretty sure you get extra credit for ignorant benevolence. Warning to my sisters: if you get mad about it now, you lose all eternal benefits. You may also consider it my efforts to help you avoid childhood obesity. Every calorie I ate was one you didn't have to! (also I may have read your diaries a few times ... although you both were horrible at writing regularly so the only significant thing I gleaned from those pages was enduring guilt)

-Sports bra, from the Centennial High School girls' locker room lost and found bin. I had have this weird complex about exercising in non-sports bras. I can't do. Hate it. I might die if I do it. One day in the locker room after school, while getting changed for soccer practice, I noticed I'd forgotten my sports bra. CRISIS. For some reason I thought theft would be better than just keeping my regular bra on. I skulked over to the lost and found bin, a treasure trove of sweat and lycra, hoping no one was watching me paw through its contents. I found a white, Champion-brand sports bra that looked like it would fit. Apparently wearing someone else's used gym bra wasn't as bad as getting my own underwire bra sweaty ... give me a break, my frontal lobe hadn't finished developing. I was just going to borrow it for that day, and it had probably been in there forever, I rationalized. Then I put it on. It was super comfy, my friends. You know how valuable that is in a bra. Naturally, I had to take it home after practice to wash it! Then I figured I may as well leave it in my locker in case I forgot my own again. Then the season ended and I took it home--its owner had forgotten it long ago, surely! No harm, no red card! Then I kept it for eight more years. Then I descended a guilt- and drug-fueled spiral into America's hellish underworld, a dark place ruled by slick-talking immigrant mobsters and the broken women who love them. Then I realized I still had the darn bra and felt guilty about the last eight years I've been living in mammarial sin. What do I do about it now? It is, believe it or not, still a comfy bra, even after motherhood has, ahem, shifted my size. It's like the bra of requirement. Should I burn it, on principle (thus channeling both my moral and feminist impulses)? Donate a new sports bra to a needy high school athlete? Tell me what to do.

I might be wearing it in this picture ... don't look closely, perv!

-A gallon of milk, accidentally, from Kroger. I was shopping with my double stroller, and I forgot about the milk in the bottom basket. I got home and realized my Cheerios would be made with devil milk for the next week. Hopefully the dark creatures I've started seeing out of the corner of my eye disappear when I repay Kroger this week.

This is not how it happened. (Or when, if you notice my pre-baby hair and body.)

-Downton Abbey episodes, from the internet. I couldn't wait! I had to know how Lady Mary was recovering as a widow, I just had to! And what of Edith's lost lover? I couldn't wait another month like the rest of America to find out. Why should the Brits get to see it before me? Doesn't the 4th of July mean anything? But now I feel guilty. As an aspiring author I should be more sensitive to intellectual property. Maybe the best way to make it up is to go watch a bunch of commercials on PBS so they get the advertising revenue I cheated them out of.

I bet you they read each others' diaries.

-All the songs from mix CDs made by high school friends. There's something so charming about a set of songs curated by your best friends. There's the "Songs from my heart" mix by Roseanne*, and the best soundtrack mix ever, culled by my friend Guillermo* to help me through a breakup. And I can't forget that I have Enrique Iglesias' entire Insomniac album burned illegally in my itunes. (*names changed to protect the pirates.) I will delete them all this week, as this blog is my witness.

I bet he can't sleep because he stole some Milk Maid caramels from the bulk bin.

Really, I feel guilty about everything but the milk, because that was an honest mistake. What do you do about mistakes you simply can't make restitution for?

What have you stolen? Feel free to comment anonymously, unless you are an Asian robot trolling my blog.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Stating the Obvi

I was folding laundry a few days ago when I came across one of Ruby's onesies. "Mommy loves me" was printed across the front in a velvety pink font.


Zebra booty.

How is that any different than a onesie that says "I breathe air," or "I am a human baby"? Moms love their babies, people.

There are more subtle ways to communicate that you love your baby. Maybe a t-shirt with "This is free-trade organic hemp" screen-printed with sustainably harvested blueberry ink (only the softest fibres for little Pashmina). Or for the less environmentally inclined, how about something like, "I only watched one Daniel Tiger today, but it was while Mom was glassblowing a succulent terrarium to hang in my nursery." Inferred maternal love right there. Don't make it too easy for people to know you love your kid, and also never pass up an opportunity to mombrag.

Other obvious displays I feel uneasy about include broadcasting words like "EAT" decoratively in kitchens. (I dare you to not think the word "EAT" is weird after browsing that link.) EAT EAT EAT. Gah! On one hand, typography can be mathematically and organically beautiful ... but on the other hand, I imagine what a similar display would spell out in a bathroom. I think I'm going to be smugly clever and spell out "epsilon alpha tau" on my dining room walls. Or, if we're just dealing with imperatives, let's be a little more creative. I think "Oh my heck don't eat that cockroach, Ruby," "Slam that ice cream quick before your toddler wanders in," or maybe "Procrastinate" on the wall above my kitchen desk would be nice decor additions, in glitter-decoupaged, natch.

Here's something that should have been obvious ... that this picture might not be best for selling pioneer garb in the Deseret Book catalog.

And for the record, I love my baby. This is a blog. You are on the internet.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How to Feel Intellectually Posh When Surrounded by Poo

Sometimes I feel like my life lacks depth that doesn't have anything to do with how far a berry is lodged in my toddler's nose. Eating Kroger-bought naan is probably the most cultural experience I get in a typical week, and I haven't read any heavy literature since I abandoned The Brothers Karamazov after making it barely halfway through. I understand I am kind of just in that season of life where I can identify with songs from Daniel Tiger more than I can with an aria by Mozart, but sometimes I look back on my college days and pine for evenings at the International Cinema, weekends enjoying BYU theatre (ooo fancy spelling!), and afternoons lounging in my regular chair at the Wilk, a copy of The Oresteia propped open in my hands. Contrast this with my morning today, spent cleaning poop off the legs and hands of both my children (don't ask).

My children care that I feed them at semi-regular intervals, not that I graduated with honors (ok, so nobody else cares about that, either ... but I did! I graduated with University Honors!!)

I'm not ready to completely abandon any intellectual sophistication I acquired in the past, so I've devised a few methods for keeping up cultural morale:

-Listen to music with lyrics in a foreign language. This always makes me feel posh and like I'm living in a new and exciting place, even if I'm just listening while stuck in traffic in my minivan. You can even be really dorky like me and try to sing along with made up words. Your kids won't judge. My favorite Pandora stations right now are Carla Bruni (Italian model turned musician turned former first lady of France) and Rodrigo y Gabriela (This is acoustic, so you can't belt out your feelings with it, but it is great flamenco guitar that makes an excellent soundtrack that livens up even your most boring chores. Doing the dishes was never so sexy.). Any stations/musicians you listen to when you are feeling too much like a bowl of vanilla ice cream from the suburbs?

-Eat weird food. It doesn't have to be prohibitively weird, but I think trying foods that scare you a little bit is fun and it makes you feel smart and fancy. Again, I'm not saying you need to go eat balut, but try eating some type of meat/animal you never saw on your dinner table growing up. You'll feel sophisticated as you ladle mussel curry onto your toddler's plate, check the cook on your bison roast, or Instagram your spring squab with persimmon compote. Frozen pizza never made me feel like Gwyneth Paltrow.

-Watch a foreign film/black and white film. Also, you have to call it a "film." Just try saying it: "Honey, do you want to watch a film tonight?" Your brain just got bigger. Pair your film with an artisan soda float for maximum enjoyment. (Cheat hint: UK films count as foreign! This means Pride & Prejudice, The King's Speech, and yes, even Hot Fuzz).

Watching foreign films will make you as posh as my top hat!

-Read a book from this list. If you need to, just read a few lines a day so you can namedrop that you're "in the middle of Leviathan" without lying. I've been doing that with The Brothers Karamazov for over a year. But really, these books will do more than look great on the arm of your couch when your sophisticated friends come over to share the sea urchin roe you sourced from the excellent fishmonger you met at the midtown screening of Citizen Kane (don't forget a strategically placed bookmark!). These are great books that will make you think, expose you to new ideas, and help you feel like an adult whose literary prowess extends beyond Little Critter.

-Make friends interesting. Don't I mean "make interesting friends"? No. What I mean is that pretty much everyone you meet has some awesome, intelligent hobby or passion that they would love to talk about and share with you if you are willing to stop talking about sleep schedules for thirty seconds. I know how important it is to collab with other parents about kid issues, but I find that my friendships really flourish and provide intellectual nourishment when I dig a little deeper, beyond the obvious, easy talk about babies and weather. Small talk is fun, but it is small! Ask your friends what they do when their kids are asleep or when they get off work. Then ask them what they love about doing that. Talk about what books you're reading, what projects you're working on, and what you're planning for the future. I am consistently amazed at how interesting people are.

If you want to upgrade your brain from a minivan to a Tesla, even if just for a little while, try one of these methods out. Or do you have some of your own cultural coping mechanisms? Please share.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Bath Nightmares

You know what's horrifying? Going to get your three-year-old out of the bath and finding the water full of little brown things ... especially after a week of said toddler battling a particularly virulent GI bug.

A mother's nightmare.

"WHAT is that, Graham?!"

"Ruby gave it to me." (Ruby did, in fact, pass the illness on to Graham, but I doubt he realized that.)

"What do you mean Ruby gave it to you? Did you poop?!"

"No. Ruby picked it up and put it here (gestures to side of the tub)."

Images of Ruby fishing poop from the toilet with her little bare hands swirl through my mind ... thank goodness she didn't try and eat it. At least I hope she didn't eat it. And who left the toilet unflushed and opened? Is Graham just fibbing?

I look closer at the brown bits in the tub. They aren't the usual organic shapes that poo takes on when waterborn ... in fact, they are rather planar, though with jagged edges ... almost like ripped, wet cardboard ... from a toilet paper roll.

I remember finishing a roll earlier in the day, saving the cardboard tube, thoughts of toddler art projects dancing with ambition through my mind. Maybe I'd help Graham fill it with dried beans to make a maraca. Perhaps I'd cut it in half and Graham would construct a charmingly goofy pair of goggles. Or maybe he'd seize it from the side of the tub where I'd lazily left it and proceed to shred it into hundreds of soggy bits that will clog the 70-year-old plumbing beneath our house.

Maybe I'll throw some glitter in the tub to really make it Pinterest-worthy.