Friday, January 31, 2014

The Diorama That Lead to Despair

I have been waiting for years to get to make another diorama.

As a kid, there was nothing cooler than building a little scene in a shoebox. Perhaps I would have become a Rhode Scholar if I could have continued building dioramas in high school and college, but when they were replaced by projects involving diagrams and essays a little part of me died and I have been mourning the Death of the Diorama and my enthusiasm for learning ever since. 

After many excruciating years of waiting, Big Pants finally got to make his first diorama! 
I was ecstatic. It was all I could do to let him do it on his own.  I secretly considering pushing him out of the way and taking over, but I had to be a Good Mom and let him do it, even if he wasn't doing it my way. 

But he did a fine job! We talked about possible scenarios, and although he did not take my advice, he was able to bring his vision to life using PlayMobile people and hot glue.  It stayed at school for about a million years, and he finally brought it back home. (I was really worried that "our" diorama would wind up at Daddy's house. That sucker was mine-all-mine, and I was going to keep it forever.)

I opened the box to admire it, and for the first time read the "paragraph" he had written.  I admit I may have fallen down on this part of the job. I had helped him find all the pieces and even found a bit of fabric that could pass as carpeting.  I carefully supervised the hot glue.

When he said he had to write a paragraph, though, I never bothered to look at what he had written.  I mean, who cares about all that writing anyway? It's not like I'm a writer or someone who thinks words matter.

This is what my little darling wrote:

I chose this scene because I thought it would be easy to do. I also had a doctor, someone who looked like Little Bear and a horse.

Ahhh, the shameless honesty of my lazy child!  And the lazy mother who sent it to school for everyone to see!  Well, what can I say. It runs in the family, I guess. And at least the teacher knows I didn't do it for him or hover over his shoulder too much. 

I'm going to make my own diorama of someone who may or may not resemble myself proof-reading their kid's homework -- with hot glue, Play Mobile people, and a bit of fabric to look like carpeting.  


Thursday, January 30, 2014

My Hotel Hates Old People

I am staying in a hotel for a few nights while my mother has surgery. I couldn't help but notice this sign by the elevator:

Umm, OK. But where are these stairs of which they speak?  

It wasn't until the third time I looked at this sign that I found them at the top of the weird box-like room diagram:

Obviously, they only want young people who have good vision to live in case of a fire.  Management finds it perfectly acceptable for the rest of us over forty to perish.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

This Awkward Conversation Was Brought to You By Myth Busters

I was really excited to find Myth Busters on Netflix.  Maybe now the kids and I could watch something we all enjoy!  I'm always a little jealous of Daddy, because he loves to watch football with the kids and fart and do all that boy stuff.  He loves the same stuff they do.

I love some stuff that they boys love, but farts and sports are not my thing. Myth Busters, however, I can totally get behind.  It's science-y. They use math.  OK,  true confession- I don't love math really at all, but I want my kids to be more open-minded about it than I am. On Myth Busters they are always blowing stuff up, and in my house we all like blowing stuff up, and if we can't do it, watching other people do it is second best. 

It took all of one episode for both boys to get hooked. 

"Mama, can we power watch this?" Big Pants asked.  I have recently introduced him to power watching shows on Netflix, where you watch one show for hours on end. Next Episode? Click.  Fine, fine parenting I tell you. 

Well, of course we can power watch Myth Busters.  In bed, while Mama snoozes. Then we can have breakfast and watch more on the couch, while Mama snoozes.  Have I mentioned how much I love my Roku internet streaming device? I need to find out how to get them to sponsor my blog. I'll willingly talk about them all the time for cash. Here I am talking about them for free.   

So we watched Adam and Jamie blow up a toilet.  We watched them try to make a frozen bullet.  We learn about exploding pants while I keep up my Rah-rah science! refrain in the background. 

(Look! You could blow stuff up for a living! Look! Science is fun!)

I was holding Myth Busters by the hand and walking down the aisle with them, ready to love the show forever and ever, and then they had to treacherously betray my innocent trust with Exploding Breast Implants on Airplanes.

Those pig f*ckers.

BIG PANTS: Mama, what are breast implants?

Lord, I am not ready for this conversation.

MAMA: Well, some women want larger breasts, so they have a surgery put those things (pointing at TV screen) into their bodies.

image: wikipedia

No judgement. Just the facts. Good job, Mama!

TINY PANTS: What are breasts?

BIG PANTS: You know what breasts are! Everybody knows what breasts are!

TINY PANTS: But you don't have breast implants, do you Mama?

MAMA: No, I don't have breast implants.

TINY PANTS: So your breasts will never explode???

MAMA: Don't worry, Mama's breasts won't explode on an airline. Ever.

BIG PANTS: But look, they don't explode anyway!

(We are all a little disappointed, actually. We really like to watch things explode.)

Maybe I will start watching football after all. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

An Introduction to The Dancing Only-Slightly-Creepy Cat

Some of you might remember my Ode to The Dancing Gopher post a while back.  I wanted to inform you that I have now obtained a new dancing animal. Although the Dancing Gopher can never be replaced, the Dancing Kitty is pretty awesome in it's own right, but with the added benefit of being kinda creepy, too.

Here's the long version:

Around Christmas time Rite Aid sold these dancing stuffed animal things that you can hook up to your iPod and they dance along and act as a speaker.  Daddy was thinking about getting the boys iPods for Christmas, so I was thinking of buying them dancing animals, except he didn't so I didn't, but I still kinda fell in love with them at the store and was a little sad about it.

After Christmas, on a RiteAid trip down at school, I found a delightful little dancing creature on sale 60% off.  If that wasn't a sign from Heaven I don't know what one is. Of course I bought it for myself. Those children get enough presents. Besides, they don't own iPods and I do.

While I was away from home I tried mightily to open the battery compartment of Dancing Kitty with the wrong kind of screwdriver and managed to strip the screw entirely.  Today, however, I once again proved that a wiliness to permanently destroy something in the hopes of making it functional is occasionally a good idea.

I took some wire cutters and an old kitchen knife and broke that battery compartment door off in a shower of tiny plastic bits.  I have overcome.

I put batteries in and  that creepy cat shakes his money maker likes it's nobody's business!  I know it's dumb and childish and a whole lot of other things, but dammit, that cat has brought me huge heaping piles of happiness today, way beyond his pricetag. (And the kids dig him too.)

Yes, I know what you are thinking: that story was way longer and less funny than you had anticipated, and that's a solid ten minutes of your life you will never get back.  Yup. sometimes the prize at the bottom of the crackerjack box is just a fuzzy green temporary tattoo of a bear instead of a secret decoder ring.  This is one of those times.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Carpe Lemur - Hasta La Vaca Diablo!

Yes, you read that right. Seize the lemur- until the devil cow!
I spent a lot of my married life regretting things I didn't do that I no longer had the chance to do, and both times when i got divorced I swore that I would take any opportunity to try something new that presented itself.  I wasn't going to be couch girl for the rest of my life.
Except that I'm lazy a lot. And I think I have less energy and motivation than most people. And, dammit, my couch is really nice.  It took me years to teach the children the fine art of lying on the couch all day, and I don't want their skills to get rusty.
But deep down inside, I know I am not getting any younger. I don't have a written bucket list, but I do have a firm desire that I want to be the person that says "YES" to adventure. 
This week I was invited to join a group of women doing the Dirty Girl mud run.  While I think of myself as someone who would always support events called Dirty Girl, I get the idea this is more the mud kind of dirty than the stripper heels kind of dirty, but I am in favor of mud, or I used to be back when I was a wild and unkempt girl-child.
3. I acknowledge that the Dirty Girl™ Event presents extreme obstacles including, but not limited to, difficult climbs, fire, mud pits, water obstacles, and hills.
My ex ran the ToughMudder a few years back, and I had to say that I was a bit jealous. My ego doesn't allow for my ex-husband to be more bad-ass than I am. Inconceivable!  Maybe I should do this thing. I want to be that tough dirty girl climbing obstacles and running.
Wait - running? In between the fun obstacles which may or may not include fire and mud pits, I have to run?  
If you have read my blog, you will know that my boobs clap when I run up the stairs, let alone for 5 whole Ks. And also did I mention that I am lazy?
6. I acknowledge and agree that participation in the Dirty Girl™ Event requires extreme feats of a person’s physical and mental limits and carries with it the potential for death, serious injury or property loss. 
Mental limits? My mental stamina is also lacking. As in, I am the girl who says, "This is stupid and it will hurt. Why bother?"  Also, I whine a lot. Property damage - well, I wasn't going to bring any property with me. That's dumb. Who carries a laptop to one of these things? 
12. I assume all risks associated with competing in the Dirty Girl™ Event, including but not limited to falls, contact with other participants, negligent or wanton acts of other participants, completing all obstacles, defects or condition of premises, the effects of the weather, including high heat and/or humidity, cold weather, rainy and wet weather, tornados or any other adverse weather conditions, and all such risks being known and appreciated by me.
Ooh! I might have other participants acting wantonly on me! Now I'm definitely in. Maybe dirty girl will involve stripper shoes after all? No?
This definition was brought to you by Apple's built in dictionary
Well, that first definition is NOT the kind of wanton behavior I am in favor of.  Perhaps I can specify what wanton-ness is preferable to the other participants in advance. 
15. I acknowledge and will abide by the rule that no wheeled baby conveyances or other wheeled devices of conveyance, are permitted in the race.
OK, What mother would ever see the words mud pit and fire and think, oh, I'll just bring my stroller? Who do these people think I am???

But if I sign up I will have to buy some new shoes. Something practical and athletic, because I don't own anything like that. Perhaps in a fine shade of orange. New shoes = win. Plus I think i get a free t-shirt. 
I am assuming these will not work.

OK,OK I hit the "submit" button. After all, I want to say YES to things that get me bad-ass points and a free t-shirt. Besides, I have months to back out train. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

In Which "She Blinded Me With Science" Becomes Stuck in my Head

Big Pants had to do a science fair project.  I want very much for him to love science. I want him to love science more than football and hockey. I want him to have an inquisitive mind and a willingness to work hard at difficult tasks.  

Except he really doesn't love science, crave discovery, or want to work hard. He wants to watch football and read books about mice and play games.  Sigh.  the kid is too much like me.

A while ago we were given a list of science fair projects we could do. I read through the list and mentally marked off the ones I wanted him to pick, but said nothing. 

He picked the one about making batteries out of lemons and potatoes. Fuck.  I fear electricity, diagrams, and Radio Shack. I feared this would be out of my league, and pressed a friend into service to help.

Unfortunately, Friend felt like the best help was to give me a list of materials to buy, a youtube video of the experiment, and a hand written diagram.  Fuck.  Did I swear that already? Double-fuck. I prepared a thorough and convincing argument to sway Friend into doing experiment with Kid for me.  I failed. Friend seemed to think it was Important, even Imperative that I do the experiment with Big Pants on my own. In my vastly grownup way, I wanted to stick out my tongue and call Friend a big meanie, but I refrained, though it was really hard. 

I started science day by forcing the kids to clear off the table, using the opportunity to teach them the fine distinction between "cleaning" which we did not do, and "stuffing" which we did do.  Stuffing is a very fast method of decluttering a large area by taking everything that is visible and stuffing it into closets, cracks, and crevices that are out of sight. The boys, being my progeny, excelled at it. In five minutes flat we had stuffed everything on the table into and under and around everywhere else so we could take pictures that would not betray my lack of housekeeping skill. 

Next, we started our science. I guided them, but I made them do it. I made my bossy-ass shut up and sit down. For that alone I should get a medal.

Mama:  Today we are going to do the science fair project!
Big Pants: Good, I was afraid we'd forget and it would be late and I'm not sure but it might be due tomorrow. 
Mama: No, it is due Thursday. We have all the time in the world. 
Tiny Pants: Do we get to blow something up?
Mama: No, we don't get to blow anything up, but you can use a screwdriver.
Tiny Pants: Can I keep it?
Mama: No, you can't keep it, but you can use it all by yourself.

I have unfortunately regaled the boys with too many stories, both mine and of my relatives blowing things up in the name of science. My kids now are horribly disappointed every time we run an experiment that does not result in blowing anything up. Tiny Pants was somewhat appeased by the promise of being able to use his very own screwdriver. He does love tools, but he clearly thought the experiment would be much improved by ending with bits of lemons and potatoes dripping form the walls and ceiling.  I hate to say it, but I could see his point. Lighting an LED seemed anticlimactic. 

Still, we did it. We followed the diagram, attached our leads, and lit a really tiny red light using lemons and potatoes.  Then, using my time-honored technique of rerunning the experiment using everything possible just to see what happens, (which once resulted in blowing up a beaker in high school chemistry, my one glory moment of science which the children are dying to replicate) we connected all the lemons and potatoes together and lit a larger blue LED light.  (sorry, Tiny Pants, no explosion. Maybe next time.)

You know what? It was fun. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, and we were able to actually make a power source from fruit.  We even used a freaking voltmeter successfully. We rocked it!

I wanted this science fair project to teach Big Pants to have an inquisitive mind and not to be intimidated by things that seem too hard to accomplish.  I don't know about the kids, but I walked away brimming over with Science Mama Rock Star Juju.  I was glad he picked something I thought was out of my league, and glad infamous Friend made me do it with him.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

I Think my Children Have Been Replaced by Alien Robots

Tiny Pants walked into the kitchen. "Do you know what you are Mama?" He asked.
"Totally lovable!" he proclaimed, then turned around and walked out of th kitchen. He didn't even ask for food. 

"Mama, can you make me some toast?" Big Pants asked.

"Sure," I replied, "Did you get enough bacon?"

"I didn't really like the bacon."

I took his plate into the kitchen, barely unable to contain my glee. I had four pieces of bacon to eat guilt free! (everyone knows cleaning up after kids does not count as breaking your diet.)

It was only after I had scarfed down two pieces of bacon that it hit me; my children were being a little weird.  Being sweet for no reason.  Not eating bacon.  Sleeping through the night in their own beds.  Plus, the internet was loading slower than usual.

They must have been abducted and replaced with alien robots. I walked into the living room, where Tiny Pants was saying, "I'm loading, I'm loading, please wait, please wait," either in imitation of the Roku or because he was communicating with the mother ship I am not sure.  I looked in his ears. I peered in his mouth. I prodded his soft little belly. I found no proof.

But that doesn't mean I won't. I just need to be trickier about it. Tiny Pants has, after all, watched the skydiving episode of Ruff Ruffman five times in a row this morning. I think he is gathering data.

"Mama, can I lick your glasses?"

Yup, things are a little weird around here…

(Dog is currently humping the cat, so obviously they are not robot aliens. Interspecies love is something I think robot aliens would not try to replicate.)

So I pulled up this picture and asked Tiny Pants deep down inside, which one he was.


"Deep down insde? Easy, Mama. I'm the cute orange one. Can't you tell?"

Can't fool Mama.

Update: Tiny Pants has stolen a photo of a voltmeter from his brother's science fair poster and is running in circles yelling, "Must dance with it! Must dance with it!" 

Monday, January 6, 2014

A Word of Advice

So let's just say you have a Mac Book Pro, and for the sake of argument, let's say you got it a few years ago for Christmas and you love it a lot. And perhaps one day, you see a microscopic bug crawling along happily underneath the glass of your screen, do not poke it with your finger through the glass. 

If, for some reason, you find yourself unable to resist poking the tiny microscopic bug, for the love of all that is holy, wait until it is at the edge of your screen before you smoosh it underneath the glass of your screen. 

Obviously I have no first hand knowledge of such a thing.  I am only suggesting a, ahem, hypothetical situation.  

Because no one who owned a Mac Book Pro that they got for Christmas a few years ago and which costs a hell of a lot of money would ever intentionally squish a bug in the middle of their screen. No one, especially not someone who is emotionally attached to their Mac and uses words to describe it like electronic teddy bear.  

That would be foolish and impulsive, and, I'll say it, flighty. That would not be the action of someone like me, someone who loved and appreciated their Mac and treated it like family and didn't ever - for the love of all that is holy - never, ever let their children touch it  let alone would ever smoosh a bug under the screen. 

But if I did happen to do such a thing, which of course I would not ever do, it just might leave a burned up bug in the middle of the screen which just might hypothetically look like this:

So if you have such a tiny microscopic bug crawling underneath the glass of your laptop screen, don't touch it. Just don't. Not that I would know or anything.