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.

Weirdo.

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.

Consequences.

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 ...

WHAT KIND OF LEGUME ARE YOU?

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.

Results:

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).

PB

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.


Lentillusion.

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 

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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.

DUH.

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.
  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Book Review: The Lost Teachings of Jesus on the Sacred Place of Women

For the past couple years, I have been studying the role of women in the plan of salvation, so when I read a review of The Lost Teachings of Jesus on the Sacred Place of Women on one of my favorite blogs, I jumped at the chance to also read this book. In exchange for this review, I received an electronic copy of the book.

Anyone else think of this?

Written by Dr. Alonzo L Gaskill, an assistant professor at BYU with a Ph.D. in biblical studies, The Lost Teachings of Jesus on the Sacred Place of Women is an examination of a portion of an extra-biblical text allegedly recounting teachings of Jesus. Indian merchants had traveled to Judea and heard Jesus preach, and their accounts were soon after recorded. Scrolls containing these records (reportedly including the words of Jesus) eventually made their way to a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in northern India, where a Russian journalist encountered and recorded a translation of the discourse in the late 19th century. In this book, Gaskill examines a portion of the text that deals with the sacredness of women.

The book shares 13 verses of Christ's teachings on the role, worth, and proper treatment of women. These were fascinating, and I would buy the book just for these verses, in my opinion. Just a few of my favorites:

Verse 10: Verily I say unto you: Respect woman, for she is the mother of the universe, and all the truth of divine creation dwells within her.

Ok, isn't this awesome? For some reason it makes me think of the all the amazing symbolism within a woman's body (menstrual cycle=creation, fall, and atonement; lactation=living water; etc.).

Verse 17: Even as the God of hosts separated of old the light from the darkness and the land from the waters, woman possesses the divine talent of separating in a man good intentions from evil thoughts.

I love how this one hearkens back to Eve's decision to partake of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Verse 18: Wherefore I say unto you, after God your best thoughts should belong to women and to wives, woman being for you the temple wherein you will most easily obtain perfect happiness.

I believe women's bodies are literal temples where the ordinances of conception, pregnancy, and birth take place (which lead to the joy of having a family). I love that Jesus specifically called women temples here.

The rest of the book is broken into sections examining small groups of like verses. Gaskill summarizes the verse(s), then offers "counsel to men and children" and "counsel to women," drawing on scripture and the words of Latter-day prophets. The information and analysis he offered was a great overview of the wonderful potential of women, their honored place in God's plan, and the ways we should treat the women in our lives. While I sometimes felt the "counsel to women" sections were a little patronizing, I do think a lot of women would appreciate his style and approach in those areas. I'm kind of in the middle of my own feminist awakening of sorts, so some of his "women-should-be-on-a-pedestal"-style rhetoric was a little off-putting, but again, I think the majority of readers would welcome his tone as one that is seeking to honor and inspire women.

Some of my favorite parts of the book were when Gaskill's insights as a biblical scholar came through, such as when he noted that the original Hebrew word translated as "mercy/compassion" is originally "womb love," or when he elaborated on the most accurate meaning of "help meet." I just wish there were more of this! I understand that the aim of this book wasn't especially scholarly, but I would have loved more insights into the deeper meanings of the text.

I was fascinated by the origin story of this text, and Gaskill provides two great appendices elaborating on sacred texts outside the canon (both known and yet-to-be-known) as well as a thorough investigation into the legitimacy of the Russian journalist's claims (apparently there is much controversy about the authenticity of the Russian journalist's account). The scholar in me wishes these had been included earlier in the book, but I can understand how this material might not appeal to most readers.

Overall, I really enjoyed this little book. It is a quick, enjoyable read with some lovely ideas on how Jesus views the importance of women. I would definitely recommend it as a gift for Mother's day or for a girl entering the Young Women's program, or else as an addition to your personal library.

You can purchase this book on Amazon or at Barnes & Noble.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

I'm Going Pro

That's right ... I am a professional blogger now.

When did I get to this lofty status? Was it when I succumbed to my vanity and ditched the ".blogspot" from my domain? Was it when I published my 100th post (a gripping exposé on Graham's refusal to eat normal amounts of food)? Or what about that time I dared to blog about the ethical implications of peeing in my bishop's pool, thus catapulting the literary caliber of this blog from "random neurons bumping into each other within Kimber's brain" to "deep, sensual journalism that exposes the inner workings of small-bladdered mothers in the gritty metropolis that is Houston, TX"?

No. Because as wonderful as those blogging moments were, they didn't make me any money, which is kind of the standard criteria in determining whether someone is "professional" at something (except being a mom blah blah blah preaching to the choir!).

But all that changed recently, when I received a lovely email from Amazon informing me that they needed more information from me in order to MAKE PAYMENT for advertising fees, meaning someone had clicked an Amazon link on my blog AND ACTUALLY BOUGHT SOMETHING.

I logged into my Amazon affiliate account like a cheetah, curious to see what had been purchased and, more importantly, how big my payday would be. Maybe it would be enough for some trendy baby moccs (because we all know that is really the mark of a professional blogger). Or maybe just enough for the blue nail polish I've been lusting after as of five minutes ago when I was trying to think of a low-priced item that I would like. Heck, maybe a song on iTunes?

Or maybe 72¢.    ....so not even enough for a song.

And I don't even get paid until I've accrued at least $10, which will probably happen when I'm forty.

Do you want to know what the mystery shopper purchased on Amazon?


A Superman snuggie.

For some reason this seems very appropriate. I'd like to think my readers are lovers of art, fashion, and America, and let's face it, this snuggie embodies all three. It's not something I ever linked to, so I'm assuming it was found through a particularly treacherous Amazon rabbit hole, fraught with banana slicers and unicorn meat. I hope whoever has it is reading my professional blog right now, wrapped in their cozy polyester Superman pelt.
 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Why?

When Graham was just a little burrito in the crook of my arm, his eyes wide with wonder at anything from a lock of my hair to our ceiling fan, I would hear mothers complain about their toddlers' incessant lines of questioning. "Why this? Why that? Why can't I put Cheerios up my nose? Why is my nostril too small?" I would sigh at their exasperation, promising myself that I would never blunt my child's quest for enlightenment, but would rather greet his appetite for discovery with the lush fruits of knowledge from the garden of his mother's wisdom. Once intellectually fed, my cherub would return to his imaginative play, and I would resume lotus pose.

Calm amidst the storm ... call me Mother Earth (as it is depicted on my toddler's train table)
Fast forward two years.

**

Me: (insert any statement)

Graham: Why?
 
Me: (insert any statement)

 Graham: Why?
 
TIMES INFINITY PLUS ONE.
 
Me: BECAUSE GOD MADE IT THAT WAY!

Graham: Why?

**
In the Costco parking lot today. "Where is the sun?" "Behind the clouds." "Why?" "Because it's a cloudy day." "Why?"

The boy is insatiable, and now I understand the exasperation. Why? Why? Why? Why?

Because Mom needs some ice cream.

Sat Nam.