Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween! Prepare for TERROR!

Happy Halloween! 

We hope you're having a great time with your kiddos.  Right now we're dressing up small people and decorating things and trying not to eat candy.  Here's hoping all our little darlings have fun and don't get too strung out. 

We thought we'd share a couple of awesome and creepy things with you because we love this holiday.  First is a 1970's TV ad.  We don't think this commercial was intended to be horrifyingly scary but Lydia peed her pants and ran out of the room while Kate laughed and laughed at her stupidness.  Enjoy!

And then there's this charming photo that is scary because Kate was like, "I think she's smiling because she just read our vasectomy post and now she has ideas..." 

Evil laugh time: Mwah! HA HA HA!!

xo, Kate and Lydia

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

So You Just Had A Vasectomy!

A couple of weeks ago, a mutual friend of ours had a vasectomy. And because I am stupid and immature, I immediately began mentally composing jokes about his junk.  Fortunately, he thought they were funny, too and did not roundhouse kick me in the face like Chuck Norris (as I very well deserved).  So with his permission, I have created this missive for any and all to share with anyone who has had a vasectomy.  And especially for those who've been recently snipped.

Here are some things you might not want to say unless you’re sure the pain medication has not yet worn off:
  • “Good morning! I hear your huevos got soft-boiled!”
  • “So your balls are now safe for scrimmage?”
  • “I hear you’re just brewing decaf now…”
  • “Does it still count as elective surgery is your wife is the one who elected it?”
  • “Hey dude! How’s your satchel?”
  • “You totally pickled your onions.”
  • “How would you describe the experience? Unique or eunuch?”
  • “How did it go? I hope they didn’t bruise the produce.”
  • "Did they pierce it while they were down there?"
  • “I brought you this book to read while you recover. It’s by Balzac.”
  •  “Damn… You got a v-job”

Or you could play him this song (originally from Family Guy - which is Kate's favorite show) --

If you’re on Twitter – you can add your two cents under #justhadavasectomy

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Postcards from Kate: Happy Hour

What is it when Kate goes out of town? Does she just naturally gravitate toward weird stuff? Yes. Should she keep going on work trips, just so she can send back this stuff? Oh, even yesser.

E-mail Subject: I may not be *that* thirsty...

Lydia, Do you think it just automatically comes with an antibiotics chaser? Or, do you just itch later? Ewwwww. But, the price is decent...

xoxo Kate

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010

I Partied with Chuck E.

A couple of weeks ago, my kids handed me an invitation they had received to a birthday party. At Chuck E. Cheese. They were ecstatic and buzzing with joy. The mom who sent the invitation is a friend of mine. I asked her straight up what the hell she was thinking about. Cat explained to me that it was all her husband’s doing.  She just shook her head. “He has no idea what he’s done.”

She looked slightly wary, as if I might start screaming or swinging at her because there was no way out of it now. I couldn’t say no. My kids would kill me in my sleep. So it meant that I had to go, too. And this was after five years of telling them that mommies weren’t allowed at Chuck E Cheese – only grandmas and babysitters. But it was all about to go down…Two hours on a Saturday afternoon at Satan’s Playground.
We arrived straight from a T-ball game. My husband and I were running a zone defense. He took the baby and went home with a smile. I took the two big kids and headed into battle. The line to get in extended out of the waiting area, out of the building and down the side walk.

The family in front of us consisted of a harried-looking father with two small, school-aged children literally bouncing with excitement and a large toddler, sucking on a binky that was adhered to his face by two thick, lime green snail trails so viscous that the sight of it actually caused to me to throw up in my mouth. The family behind us was also pretty interesting. Did you know that seven year olds can have neck tattoos? Well, they can. Unless that was a very short adult in a Bratz t-shirt.

Slowly, we made it to the front of the line. I think it may have taken less time to get into Studio 54 in the late 70’s. The guy working the velvet rope looked a prison guard at Gitmo who’s just worked a 36 hour shift. He seemed about 2 seconds away from either quitting his job in spectacular fashion or bursting into tears. He grunted at us, stamped our hands and vaguely pointed to the back of the room. We were in and it was on like Donkey Kong.

At this point, my children were getting restless. I could tell they wanted to take off and disappear into the seething, writhing, squealing, snotty mass of pediatric humanity that is the Mouse’s Hole. I literally dragged them through them the crowds until I got to the “party area” and found our friends. The kids were all there, glassy-eyed and twitchy. The grown-ups all looked like they wanted to hide under the table or self-medicate. The little cups of “money” were handed off and before the kids sprinted away, I went over the ground rules with them one more time.

“Remember – don’t talk to any adults that you don’t know. Check in with me every five minutes. Stay away from mean kids.  Tell me before you go up in the hamster tubes. Tell me as soon as you get out of the hamster tubes. Don’t go to the bathroom alone. And don’t touch your face! Here’s some Purell and for God’s sake be careful.”

And then they were gone…

It took about ten seconds for the panic to set in. You see, I have a disorder that makes me think that every adult that I don’t know is a serial sex offender. And there were hundreds of them and I couldn’t see my children. And it was super noisy. And sort of dark. And everywhere I looked there were kids crying and screaming like Mariah Carey sings and fighting like Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots. And the parents all looked as whacked out as I felt. And that’s saying something because it was a very diverse group to all be wearing identical expressions of horror.

I eventually tracked my son to the entrance of the slime drenched-hamster tubes. I found his dirty cleats kicked off with the laces still tied but I couldn’t see him anywhere. I looked around for my daughter, suddenly aware that I was drenched in a flop sweat and certain that I was five minutes too late to stop her abduction. Just then I felt a tap on my shoulder and I screamed long and loud as if I’d been bitten by a large, venomous snake. No one noticed. My daughter furtively shoved fistfuls of tickets at me and told me “to guard them with my life” and then darted back out into the crowd.

After that, it was all kind of a blur. I started stress eating the most disgusting pizza in the history of ever. I drank iced tea that tasted like a cross between Chloraseptic and feet.  I debated playing a game of Skeeball but my children apparently could not spare a token.  I finally found my son having his cleats tied by a random dude who was looking around suspiciously. I started to freak out: “What! Did! I! Tell! You! About! Talking! To! Strangers?!” My kid shrugged and darted off. The dad was all: “I’m so sorry. I debated tying his shoes because I thought, his mother is going to think I’m a pedophile, but he asked for help and I didn’t want him to trip and I’m here with my daughter at a birthday party and I swear to God I’m about to lose my mind is it four o’clock yet?” I nodded. We understood each other perfectly. Then we both took off running after our children in opposite directions.

It was suddenly time for cake. I took my kids to that bathroom to wash up. We got as far as the doorway before the stench hit us, followed by my neighbor’s daughter saying: “What. Could. Have. Possibly. Happened. Here?”

We opted for Purell at the table.

When we got back to party area, it was time for the Mouse himself to make his appearance. A row of about six teenagers in red Chuck E Cheese shirts stood up and started doing a group dance. It scared me. The joyless dance of the automaton, the teenagers clapped and stepped in unison with all of the enthusiasm I feel for changing the cat box. Then the Mouse appeared. He seemed to be wearing a Lakers uniform. He went around giving people high fives but I could sense a deep evil coming from his abnormally large head. Who was in that suit? I started to feel like maybe I should attack him and rip his mouse head off so we could see if it was a sex offender under there but then I realized that was crazy.

Then they put the birthday kids, one at a time, into a random plexi-glass contraption called the Ticket Blaster and all hell broke loose. All the children lost their damn minds. If you put me into a phone booth and blew $100 bills around and told me I could keep all the ones I could catch, I would be less excited and happy than the kids who just got to watch someone else grab for tickets.

What is about those tickets? It’s like beads at Mardi Gras. They seem really important until the next morning when all of a sudden you’re like “Whuck? These are tacky plastic beads made in China and I saw some girl commit a misdemeanor to get some.” These kids will do anything to get more tickets. Then they wait for what seems like hours to feed them into the Chomp Chomp Chomp machine and trade them in for… Mardi Gras beads. And stale candy.

And they walk out of the party feeling awesome and happy and jacked up on cake. And I walk out needing a Silkwood-style shower, a nap and a double of Johnny Walker Black. Oh Chuck E… You miserable rat bastard… The kids had the best time ever. Curse you.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ointment: Funniest F**king Thing I Heard All Day

So, a few weeks ago, I wrote a post about how my house is a disaster and that I can’t find anything.

In it, I included this photo of my desk.

Which elicited this comment:

And, now here’s the photo close up:

And, being that this commenter has the same name as our Church Preschool Principal, I of course felt the need to explain myself, lest she think I’m a person who keeps ointment on her desk. Gross. So I texted her:

Me: It’s LOTION! But that was f**king hilarious! I didn’t even notice it. Thank Maude it wasn’t ointment. Because I’m sure there’s some of that here too.

And then got this text back:

CPP: Huh? Who is this?

Me: It’s Kate! Wait. Did you comment on the blog? If not, I’m stupid.

CPP: Uhh, no. But I’ll read the comments to see what it means.

Me: Basically it means I’m a jackhole. 

The. End.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010

Five Questions for My Children

Here are five questions I would like to ask my children.  Because I don't get it.  But it wouldn't matter if I did ask them about this stuff because all the same things would just happen anyway.

How is it that you don't understand how car doors work?
When it's time to get in the car, why do you grab the door handles and attempt to wrench them off the car 42 times per minute? Given the slowness with which you got ready to leave the house, how is it possible that you can yank on the door handle with the approximate rapidity of a hummingbird beating its wings? At least three times a day I drive you somewhere and we have the exact same conversation every single time and it always ends with me shrieking: "FOR THE LOVE OF PETE! WAIT FOR THE CLICK! DON'T TOUCH THE HANDLE TIL YOU HEAR THE CLICK! GAHHHHHHHHH!"

Also, when asked to close a car door - why is it that you're unable to use anything close to the approxiomate force required to actually close it.  Either it looks closed but isn't - causing me to have unlock it, re-close it and then re-lock it or risk finding a dead battery in the morning.  Or you slam it closed like there were snarling, rabid wolves on the other side about to leap on you and eat you for dinner. But there are no wolves. So I don't understand.

Whuck about your socks?
Why are there socks scattered across my floor? Why am I forever picking up filthy, sweaty kid socks? Are socks supposed to drift across the hardwood like tumbleweeds in your world?  How is it you can remember to put away shoes but not socks?  How do socks end up on the dining room table?  In my purse?  Under the front passenger seat in the van?  In the guest room closet?  Under the stove?  Why are they always turned halfway inside out? And out of curiosity - how do you get the bottom of all your socks to turn black, son?  Is it difficult? Is it because you break the Cardinal Rule of Socks ("Don't Go Outside in Socks and No Shoes") when I'm not looking?

Why do you have to act like mini-litigators all the time?
Why do you even try and argue about certain things?  Your father is a lawyer.  This family does not need any more of them.  My toddler says "NO" to every question you ask her.  Is this blue? NO. Is this the number 3? NO.  Did you go shopping with Daddy today? NO. And the big kids pick the oddest things to fight with me about.  It is not possible for the new Karate Kid to fight the old Karate Kid because the old Karate Kid is actually 49 years old. Then they yell at me because they don't believe that he is older than Daddy. They think I'm just making it up because no one is actually that old.

What is going on in there?
What do you do in the bathroom that takes so long? For the love of Maude, you were sent in there to brush your teeth and 23 minutes later you walk out with the Little Bear toothpaste telling me that you can't get the cap off. Have you been trying to get the cap off the toothpaste this whole time? Did a bipartisan dance troupe of elves trained by Randy Jackson sneak in and entertain you by clogging for 22 of these minutes? Did you watch an imaginary TV show in that time? Did you fall asleep while peeing?

Because here's my other question, you say that you went to the bathroom and yet I did not hear a flush... 

Seriously, what do you do with them?
We hate to beat a dead horse with this, but WHAT THE HELL HAPPENS TO YOUR UNDERPANTS? 
The boy's underpants disappear to the degree that we have had to add a "Size 6 Spiderman Underwear" line item to the family budget.  Meanwhile, my daughter's underpants seem to multiply in the wash (do they reproduce when they get wet - like Gremlins?) so that each load of laundry contains approximately 37 pairs of pink and purple My Little Pony drawers.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Little Things: Funniest F**king Thing I Heard All Day

As told to Kate by Guru Louise:

My husband was giving the baby boy a bath in the sink and our two-year old daughter was helping. 

Daughter: [in her baby-talk voice] "Baby, are these your teeny, tiny toes? Are these your teeny, tiny feet? Is that your teeny, tiny belly button? Is that your teeny, tiny penis??"

Husband: "OK! Bathtime OVER...!!!"

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010

On Friendship

Lydia and I talk a lot about making mom friends, and the different kinds of mom friends, and how important they are, and what foods they represent and IF they're even friends at all, but probably not...and how most of them just sort of drift into and out of our lives kinda haphazardly. It's the mom version of going out when you were single.

Single Days: You show up with a couple of already established girlfriends in tow to the *it* bar or restaurant or club. You chat and gossip and possibly dance and you keep the notion in the back of your mind that maybe there's an awesome guy there that you will keep around for a while.

Mom Days: You show up with a couple of already established children in tow to the *nearest* preschool, fast food joint or park. You sit and chat and possibly push a few kids on a few swings and keep the notion in the back of your mind that maybe there's an awesome friend out there who will totally put up with your crap when you're too busy to call and your 373 phone calls a day when you aren't too busy and probably clearly need to do a few extra loads of laundry and it's painfully evident that you're trying to win some Guinness record for number of texts because, Good Maude, their phone is vibrating in their purse so much someone is bound to think maybe you brought *one toy* too many to this play date and willyoupleasestopmessagingmeKate?!?!?
And then Lydia will calmly text me back: "At Girl Scout meeting. Will call at 6:40pm." which is her deep-breath-and-calm-voice way of saying "cut it out Fancy or I will shove your Choo through your hoo....HA!"

Lydia has written about it before. It's hard to make Mom Friends. And I don't make it any easier; either before someone is my friend, or after they decide they want to take that particular Matrix pill. My dearest childhood friend calls me her Boomerang. I'm all close and tight and talk fourish-eleventy thousand times a day, and then I'll venture off into the unknown for however long, and then return at some point all super involved again.

And I'm pushy and mouthy and say what I think like 167% of the time. And then whine and moan because I can't say the other 32% because, really, no one wants to hear that stuff. My television hero is Karen from Will & Grace because she just said whatever she thought. Did it make her a bitch? Yep. Was she probably half in the bag? Yes! Did I still want to have that characteristic anyway? Oh, even yesser.

But, as we teach our children, words have consequences. So, I keep my yap shut a lot of the time, and then, when I stumble onto another person who is either 1) biting her tongue equally as hard; 2) opting not to take opportunity to shut up, which means there's a chance we take turns being Snarky Bitch; or 3) tells me to "Suck It Fancy" when I DO say something...well, that's a person I have to keep around.

And, that person is Lydia.

It's no secret I have a thing about hugging. I don't love to do it. I WILL, when the kid or need or the occasion or the too fast-moving-person-to-dodge-out-of-it arises, but I'm all about using my words.
  • Subject: In case I don't say it enough...
  • Or let's be frank...ever. You are amazing. You're funny and a brilliant writer and in all my imaginings there is no one I'd rather do this with than you.
  • You make me believe. And no one does that. I'm too cynical. Thank you for going on this adventure with me...I would totally hug you, but no.
  • Love you,
  • Kate

And Lydia is all about hugging...and it's really cool. She hugs kids, grown ups, pets, plants, strangers, people at the grocery store when they pick up something she dropped, bank tellers when she correctly balances her checkbook. And it's for this reason that I send her messages like this when she's in another state. Because she would totally drive to my house and hug me, and then slap me with a sandwich for making her cry. Possibly call me a name. On this particular occasion, I was 1 for 4. The out of town part helped:
  • Subject: re: In case I don't say it enough...
  • Shut up you stupid whore, because you're making me cry. Again. I couldn't do any of this without you. I would be all sad and snarky and all by myself.
  • You're the whole enchilada: hilarious, observant, irreverent, talented, whip smart, fabulous, supportive, *awesome*. So thank you. I would be so lost without MommyLand. And you.
  • Sniffle.
  • Lydia Bennet Wickham Coupon 
It's a strange thing to think I may have never been friends with her. Nor her with me. McLovin will come downstairs at the end of the night and see me at my desk, typing away, laughing to myself and drinking a glass of wine. He said something about how much I seemed to enjoy the blog...I nodded and smiled and told him that I did. He said, "I'm glad it makes you happy...and how is Mrs. Coupon today?"

Mrs. Coupon. She's awesome. Today and all the time.
  • Subject: re: re: In case I don't say it enough...
  • You made me cry. Now I have to punch you. Monkey balls...oh, and you smell, but not like enchiladas...
  • xoxo Kate
  • P.S. Mmmmm...enchiladas.
I'm texting her...again...I think there's a chance her phone might explode. Even yesser.

xoxo Kate 

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How Crazy Will Mommy Be?

Today we posted the "Halloween to Holiday Death Spiral".  The following graphic describes just how that phenomenon affects mommies - week by week - by measuring how crazy they will feel.  This is science.   You are our peers, so please review this scholarly missive so we can claim our contribution to Learning has been peer-reviewed.  We aim for excellence around here (sorry about the typos).  Perhaps print it out and hang it on the fridge?  So that the people who live with you can consider themselves duly warned. 

For our Hanukkah Mamas, just cram everything into less time, try not lose your schmidt and please pass the brisket.  And a second helping of latkes just for me because they're my favorite.

xo, Lydia

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dear Literary Characters In My Kids Books...

We read a lot of books in our house. My youngest son, Happy will have us read three or four books a night, and we usually knock out at least three chapters of a "big kids" book for Lefty and his big sister McGee before I'm either tired of reading, or Lefty will -- with his last bit of awakedness -- tap me on my arm and say, "Stop here, Mommy. My ears went to sleep..." and then he's done.

There's been plenty of times, like when we were reading Harry Potter for the first time and I had promised not to get ahead of them so we could all be surprised and scared and excited together, and Lefty would stop me and I'd be all, "WHUCK?! We're right at the part when they're about to find out who the Half Blood Prince is!!" and then I'd sorta cheat and keep reading and they only found out because I fell asleep in Lefty's bed with the book open to a page that was like 127 pages past where I had stopped. Now they take the book away. Little Snitches.

But after all these years of reading and just going along with it all, I actually do have a few questions:

Dear Jack & Annie's Parents, 

We know you're sorta around. We hear you beckoning them for PB&Js and that it's time for a bath or bed or stuff like that. And I think it's super cool you built them a Magic Tree House (that apparently you still don't realize is magic).  Mostly I think this is awesome because I always wanted a tree house but we didn't have trees where I grew up. We had cactuses. [Editor's Note: I KNOW. That's not how you say it. But I'm tired of saying, "we had cacti..." because then people squinch up their faces and wonder if antibiotics were necessary. I'd rather them correct my grammar than think I'm harboring germs. -Kate] And trust me when I say you don't want to climb a cactus. My sister Bianca once accidentally stepped on those dome-y looking ones to make a phone call at a pay phone, and instead of the spikes just breaking under her, about ten jillion of them stabbed through the bottom of her sneakers into her foot. Umm, who's bright idea was it to put a cactus in front of a pay phone?

Anyway, I digress. Aren't you a little concerned? If not for the fact that your kids go venturing off into the world at random hours, but that -- well, don't you feel like, when they're gone that time kinda comes to a crawl? Or, possibly stops?? Because when I'm left alone in my house, I don't know what time vortex I hit, but that time vanishes! I barely get to enjoy the silence and WHAM! they're back. Wait. They're gone for hours, but to me it feels like seconds?? Crap.

Well, now that I've figured that one out...any concern that your tree house vanishes? No? OK, then.

xoxo Kate


Dear Runaway Bunny,

I think you possibly may need a spanking.

xoxo Kate


Dear Victoria's Secret,

I know. You're a catalog and not actually a story nor do you remotely resemble literature. But Happy is like the mail thief and when I come into his room to read to him, he's got this giddy look of anticipation on his face and I'm all, "what book tonight, buddy?" and he whips it out from its hiding place and is all, "THE BOOBY BOOK!" and then I'm like "ewww, you're already hiding the Victoria's Secret catalog in your room?" and abjectly refuse to read The Booby Book as a bedtime story. So then he just evicts me and his Daddy is more than happy to read it and all I hear for the next 25 minutes is "Oooh, boobies" after every turn of the page and stuff like "...straps can be configured seventeen different ways to..."

I guess what I'm asking here is, maybe tell a story? In the margins perhaps?



Dear V. H. Caterpillar,

It would be super if you just ate the whole apple or strawberry or even the chocolate cake. Because my four year old thinks it's just fine to take one bite of something and then leave the rest and move on to the next yummy food that crosses his path. And, frankly, I'm tired of grabbing an apple out of the fruit bowl and finding his teeth marks in it.

May I suggest a slight edit: "In the light of the moon, a little egg lay on a leaf. One Sunday morning the warm sun came up and POP! - out of the egg came a tiny and very hungry caterpillar. He started to look for some food. On Monday he ate every bite of the dinner his mom made for him and didn't complain at all. The End."

By the way, Lefty learned about you at school, and taught his little brother that when you turn into a butterfly, you're "pupating" -- super. That doesn't sound gross at all.

xoxo Kate

PS You also ate through my book. There are holes everywhere. Can you please send a replacement?


Dear Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle,

First, I love you and wish you were real because I would send the my children to you on a regular basis. And the truth is, I use a lot of your lessons, like the Teeny-Tiny Biter-Takers Cure and the Talker Backer Cure, minus the parrot; I just mimic them and it seems to work.

And a lot of times, all I have to say when they're acting like rabid monkeys (is that possible? Mental note: Google rabid monkeys) that I can just say, "Oh, I think it's time we re-read about Mrs. PiggleWiggle and what we do when everything is mine mine mine..." and then they stop because - apparently -- they like your lessons better than mine.

Oh, and I give you a really awesome voice. You're British, by the way. And one time, a colleague from work called my house and Lefty answered and he got all BIG EYED and yelled, "MOM! MRS. PIGGLE WIGGLE IS ON THE PHONE!!!" and was super excited and then scared because he thought that meant I had called you to fix them. Which just goes to prove that I do an awesome British accent.

So, beside the fact that I feel that your feet are far far too small to support the rest of you, I really only have one question. Xanax? And, if yes, what's the dosage? [Editor's Note: It's a follow-up question. That's *totally* allowed. -Kate]

xoxo, Kate

Finally, just as an aside, I'd really love it if someone would do a mash-up of all these books. I'm pretty sure it would be awesome. I wonder what Mrs. PiggleWiggle would say to the catalog models. I have a feeling it would be something called the No-Jiggle Button-Up Cure and the Magic Tree House could take them to TJ Maxx for a shirt.

Oh yeah:

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Help Me, Obi Wan.

Remember when I wrote about Losing Weight and Using the Force?  I want to apologize right now to anyone who is like: "Ugh.  Another weight loss post.  That's so NOT why I come here."  I understand and I'm sorry and I promise to keep it short. 

But I am committed to living healthy and having a smaller ass!  Well, sort of... You see, in the two weeks since I wrote that post about dieting and getting healthy, I haven't gained any weight.  But I also haven't lost any either.  I'm slowly getting sloppy.  It's the trifecta of PMS, cooler weather and getting over a bad cold (which, of course, calls for the intake of salty snacks and scotch).  For a couple of days if my choices were DO (diet) or DO NOT (diet)  - I went with do not

OK.  I'll be honest.  For some reason I have been starving for the past four days and, instead of drinking more water, I've been stuffing my face like the damn Cookie Monster.  Cookie starts with "C", y'all.  Lettuce starts with "L", and I hate that crap.

But I'm getting so close to needing new pants.  Maybe I'll even get fancy pants.  Probably I will just get more yoga pants, but in a smaller size.  The point is - if I lose like ten more pounds, I get to go shopping. Gahhhhhhh! I was doing so well and now I all want to do is drink my Cab-Shiraz t-box and eat chocolate. 

Help me, mommies - you're my only hope.  If you have any links or tips or books or articles or songs or Aqua Buddas or ideas or anything to keep me motivated, I would really appreciate hearing it.  Also, if you have any really good recipes for food that has practically no calories and absolutely no lettuce, I'd like to hear about that too.  Please don't send me pictures of Jabba the Hut with "this looks like you, Lydia" written on it because then I'll just cry and eat brie. 

Mmmmmm..... brie.


xo, Lydia

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Leaving on a Jet Plane...Or Not

Something happened yesterday and I needed and wanted to share because it's important and because I'm a jackhole if I don't.

Yesterday morning, I was sitting alone in the house for those blissful 2.5 hours when there are no children here. I had melted into the sofa, and had *officially* surrendered. Big time surrender. Glasses, yoga pants, whack t-shirt (but not the Boobs Akimbo T-shirt) and sneakers. And I was NOT headed to the gym, or coming home from the gym. I was looking at the Doomsday clock in my house and watching it basically say, "thirteen hours until McLovin leaves..." and hating life.

I'm watching the Big Bang Theory and McLovin calls and we're blathering back and forth, mostly me, because I've worked overnights all this week, which just makes me stupid because I sleep for about 18 minutes between when I get home from work and when I have to get up for kids and school and breakfast and why do we have time zones? Because if London was on the same time zone as us, then 2am would be 2am everywhere and everyone could get some freakin' sleep. They just need to get used to it being sunrise at 11:45pm. I think it's only fair. I'm invoking the "We're Bigger" Rule here. That's what she said.

[Editor's note: Kate works for English people. - Lydia]

So, he says something about, "hey! so, I'm in the office in a meeting with..." and then I'm super interested because Sheldon is reciting all the stars that are closest to Earth and "isn't that great?" and what?

Four important lessons here:
  1. Talking to me during Big Bang Theory is maybe not the best idea...
  2. It was TiVo'ed so maybe I could have hit pause...
  3. Starting any sentence with "I was in a meeting..." guarantees I'm not listening anymore...sorry, but it's true. That man spends six thousand hours a day in meetings. I was in a day long meeting for ten minutes last week.
  4. What's great is not that I now know the stars in decreasing proximity to Earth, but that McLovin is not going to Again-istan.
Which should have elicited a scream and a touchdown dance and possibly even a THAT'S RIGHT! yelled out into my front yard. Which you think might be rare but not really. Must be odd for our neighbor across the street to be out pruning her begonias, see me come outside right to the curb, do the double pointing fingers like you're in the beginning of a snap-off brawl/dance between the Sharks and the Jets and yell out "THAAAAAAAT'S RIGHT!" and then just walk back inside. Maybe I should consider the back yard as an alternative?

But because I'm -- me, I think I said something awesome and understanding like, "what...ugh. Are you kidding? Why?" because all I'm thinking is that I had cereal and tomatoes out for dinner tonight because that's what the kids love and he just looks very confused when I do that and, well, c'mon. You wrap your brain around a plan -- even if that plan sucks hot monkey balls, like your husband going to Again-istan -- and you do what you gotta do. The Bride was coming over that night to help me manage the kids take my mind off it be supportive drink and we were just going to make the best of it. See friends, eat weird things for dinner, and possibly let the house and the dog and the kids and me surrender because that's what you're allowed to do when your husband goes to Again-istan.

Here's how our week went:
  • Lefty spent days glaring at everyone because Again-istan was so far away that even Google -- the end-all, be-all, know-all of his universe -- couldn't figure it out. And if Google can't find it, then how were we supposed to be able to find a phone there so we could talk to him?
  • Happy -- HAPPY! he has that name for a reason -- was King of the Meltdowns. All week. At preschool, the grocery store, when he woke up, when he went to sleep...when he couldn't figure out Blue's Clues, and when Diego was a re-run.
  • McGee just looked wounded. And took this week to start reading the newspaper, and asking things like, "Mom, which country is Kabul in? What about Kandahar? They're both in Afghanistan. Didja read this?" and would thrust a paper under my nose talking about explosions and such.
I broke down on Wednesday morning. Called Lydia on the verge of tears. OK, fine...full tears. I had a bad feeling, this trip wasn't going to go well. How many times can you avoid bad things happening to you when you're in a country where bad things happen all the time? She was everything a friend is supposed to be during my Chernobyl meltdown. "He's going to be fine. Cherish your time together now. You can't do this to yourself, the kids will fall apart." She probably really really needed me to stop flipping out. It's like if she showed up at my house saying, "I'm going to the runway show at Prada. You in?" Well, the first answer would be YES! but I'd be like, "umm, Lydia? Prada?" and then my head would implode, which is WAY harder to do because the brain-y parts get in the way.

Look, don't get me wrong. We're THRILLED he's not going. But we also know that 1) it only means he's not going RIGHT NOW; and 2) it's kinda hard to brace and prep and dread and then sorta reconcile it and just make plans around it only to have it all sproing! back. I think we all kind of have whiplash.

As for me, well, let me step back for a minute. Thursday morning, after the 9:20am Happy Meltdown in front of EVERYONE at the preschool, I lost it.

And got weepy, because we only had one more day and I was scared and bombs and things like "collateral damage" were going through my head and the point is I saw Mrs. Darling - who is awesome and funny and totally gets my weirdness AND I saw the Preschool Principal who is kinda hardcore, which makes me love her even more because she's always just this side of Chuck Norris-ing something but since they're little kids she keeps it in check. Add in the whack novelty headbands with the springs and bouncy spiders that she puts in her hair and you know the kids are like, "OH! I loooooove your headband!" and she's all "Thanks little dude!" and if you said the exact same words she'd punch you in the throat, but only after you walked your kid into class because she wants to lurk and wait for you to slowly wander back and then you're on the floor and the only evidence is this flash of long blonde curly hair and bouncy spiders on springs. The point is, I. Almost. Hugged. Them.

[Editor's Note: Kate does not hug. Does NOT. - Lydia]
I was so whacked out I almost hugged people. And I came here and boo-hoo'ed all over the blog and I pulled myself out of work on Friday so I could be with McLovin and do the dramatic cab pulls up to the driveway and we all stand there weepy when he got in and drove away and then he didn't go and now I'm an a**hole.  For lots of reasons...because part of me was like, "Whuck?! We're all planned for you to go..." and I didn't just WOOT! all over the place instead. Because there's a million moms out there in America -- and here in MommyLand  -- that don't get that last minute reprieve and ALSO don't whine and moan all over the place like I did for the past week...because I'm irritated that this could all change next week and then we do it all over again...because I couldn't just suck it up and be the freakin' grown-up in this house and had to make it all about me me me. And everyone was so awesome yesterday, sending messages and then I had to be all "oh, never bad" like a dick. Ugh. I'm totally Chicken Little. And let's not forget about the hugging. Gross.

You know who's thrilled that McLovin isn't in Again-istan right now? McLovin. And that's enough for all of us. I'm so so so happy you're home baby. Truly and really and I'm sorry I didn't say that the first time.

By the way, all I have planned for dinner this week is cereal and sliced tomatoes. Hope that's OK. It's actually awesome. But you being home? Even awesomer.

xoxo Kate

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Have You Heard About Single Dad Laughing?

In August, we noticed that we were getting these great comments from a blogger called "Single Dad Laughing".  We read his stuff and we loved it.  Lydia tried to reply to one of his comments and accidentally rejected it.  Because she is stupid and also because she tried to do it on her phone and she has fat thumbs.  So she reached out to the SDL to apologize and he turned out to be a really nice guy named Dan Pearce.  We asked him if he maybe wanted to do a guest post for us, since we thought his work was awesome and we don't get a lot of rants from Daddyland.  He very graciously said yes and we were happy.

And then something happened.

He wrote a couple of amazing posts that went viral.  Dan done BLOWED up. His posts are often funny, but the ones that launched him to fame were not.  They were real and heartfelt and amazing.  They talked about rejecting the notion of "perfect" and his experiences as a bullied kid.  He talked about his anger at how cruel some parents can be and how strangers would ask him awful things about his beautiful son, just because Noah is adopted

His first full month of writing was August.  He's already gotten millions hits this month.  He's not just writing a blog - he's starting a movement to encourage acceptance, self-love and a very kid-focused way to be a loving parent.  His success is unreal and we were all like: "WHUCK?! That's awesome! Well, I guess we'll never hear from him again but at least we have the satisfaction of knowing we can spot talent when we see it. Woo hoo! Go Dan!" Then we did a touchdown dance.

But he wrote us back!  Again he was gracious and funny and not only did he still want to guest for us (check back in a couple of weeks), but he's letting us guest for him!  TODAY!  If you haven't read his posts or seen them forwarded on Facebook on Twitter, you'll thank us.  Please consider following him on his blog, Facebook and Twitter.  His message is entirely sincere.  His awesomeness is reaching t-box levels.  We've never actually met him, but we heart him.  He's generous and cool and his little boy is the cutest thing ever.  Just look...

xo, Kate & Lydia

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sibling Squirmishes and The Puppy Accords

While driving my children around in the Big White Ford Tampon recently, I noticed a break in the near-constant bickering between my five year old son Hawk and his seven year old sister Thumbelina.  It was an Ominous Silence.  Hawk suddenly started raising his hand and screaming "Mommmy! MOM! MOMMY! I have to ask you something!"

Here it comes.  "What is it, son?"

"I want a baby brother so much. Please can I have a brother?" His little voice started to break. The next thing I knew he was crying.  "You just have the baby and I'll take care of him and he'll be my brother. OK? I asked Daddy and he said fine so can I please a brother, PLEASE?"

Before I could answer him, his big sister hollered: "NOOOOOOOOO!"

Hawk was devastated, as he interpreted this as Thumbelina not loving brothers and therefore not loving him, so he began wailing and keening like an Irish widow in a Joyce novel while simultaneously trying to explain to his sister why she was so hurtful and mean.  She appeared to feel bad for causing his histrionic meltdown and began to explain herself...

"Hawk, I love brothers and I love you but every time mom has another baby it's that much longer I have to wait until we get a new puppy."

It was like she'd turned on a light switch.  Suddenly, he got it.  But let's take a good look at this statement:  "Every time mom has a new baby it's that much longer I have to wait until we get a new puppy."

First of all, every time I have a new baby?  What am I - a Dugger? She only remembers one baby being born.  One!  That's not even plural.  What the hell is she talking about?  Second, it's that much longer she has to wait until we get a new puppy? Whuck? Our beloved Woody dog died four months ago.  She acts like I've been breeding younger siblings in a long-standing plot to avoid getting her a puppy.  But in her world, the enemies of the canine world include cats, Michael Vick, and my womb.

Before I could address this, she started talking again: "See, Mommy says we can't get a new dog until Mini-mini-me is bigger and going to preschool every day.  That's in two whole years.  Oh and also, that you and me are bigger so we can help take care of it and stuff."  (That last part was sort of a throw-away).

Hawk began giving the matter some serious consideration.

Hawk: "I want a puppy, too. MOMMY! Can we get a new dog and a baby brother?"
Lydia: "No."
Hawk: "Thumbelina, let's say I want a dog, too... Would it be a girl dog or a boy dog?"
Thumbelina: "I really don't care. As long I can put bows on it."
Hawk: "Hmmmmm... gross.  Would it be a dog or a puppy?"
Thumbelina: "A puppy."
Hawk: "Big dog or little dog?"
Thumbelina: "Don't care."
Hawk: "And you really want a dog more than a brother?"
Thumbelina: "I wouldn't mind another brother.  As long as you can promise me that he'll hate Star Wars."
Hawk: "You have to be kidding me."
Thumbelina: "I'm serious. If there are two Star Wars boys in our house, that's all I'll ever hear about and then I'll get annoyed and then I'll have a bad attitude and then I'll get in trouble with Mommy and that's why I want a dog instead of a brother."
Hawk: "Wow. Well, you should know that when I get my brother I'm going to teach him to be exactly like me.  And we're going to play Star Wars and build ships with Legos all day long."
Thumbelina: "Then I vote for a puppy."
Hawk: "You know what you don't understand about puppies? They get big and then you have to deal with them."
Lydia: "You know that even if we decided to have another baby right now and God decided that it would be OK, it would be years before the baby was born and grew big enough to build Lego ships."
Hawk: "How many years?"
Lydia: "I don't know. Maybe three? Also, the baby might turn out to be a girl. Or a boy who likes Barbies or Thomas the Train or something.  Maybe the new baby would hate Star Wars. We don't get to pick.  Think about Mini-mini-me, you can't make her do anything.  You probably couldn't make a little brother do stuff either.  He'd probably do what he wanted.  Or what she wanted."
(long, silent pause.)
Hawk: "Then let's get a puppy.  Right now."

Hawk and Thumbelina looked at each other as if they had just solved the Middle East peace problem.  "Come on, Mommy.  Let's go get our dog!"

Sigh... At least they're in agreement for once.  Let's call it "The Puppy Accords". 

xo, Lydia

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I've Gotta Go

It was quiet in my house two days, happily quiet. And not the three-seconds-before-screaming-and-tattling-quiet, but actual calm, playing in the same room while I wrote q.u.i.e.t. Right as it dawned on me that it was happening, Happy said, "Mom, I gotta go!"

Which instantly springs me into action. Because unless that kid is wearing clothes made of tear-away fabric, I have about nine seconds to help him get undressed and to the bathroom. Why? Why does he do this? Why is a simple trip to the potty predicated upon a mad dash to strip and haul (naked) a$$ across the house to the bathroom? Is there a pee-wee league for College Streaking or something that he signed up for?

I'm pretty sure that, like most things, it's my fault. I think I yell "I GOTTA GO!" about sixty-eight times a day. To school, to preschool, to attempt to get off the phone, to try and get out of the driveway, to get someone out of the bathroom who is sitting on the pot but really just playing with certain action figures because that's the only place where someone's brother can't come in and take away certain action figures. Plus, I always think if you sit there too long, just shouldn't sit there that long. We're talking Parade Magazine length of time is sufficient, not the op/ed page of the Sunday New York Times.

[Editor's Note: You know, while I'm on that for a moment. Men, when you take the section of the newspaper into the loo for 20 minutes, I don't care if there's a nude picture of George Clooney in there. I. Do. Not. Want. That. Section. Back. I'm sure you washed and all, but...just no. How about taking in the Sports or Automotive pages, OK? Or one I've already finished reading. Just not the classifieds. That's research. - Kate]

The point is, you call 'I gotta go', you basically have called dibs on the schedule for the next fifteen minutes. It's like Shotgun, but for the toilet, or karate, or Girl Scouts. It's almost like calling "ACTION!" in a movie. Someone says it, and everyone else starts moving. Well, everyone except for one person...

Two nights ago, McLovin is trapped in the center ring that is the Circus of our House and the only thing we're missing is flying monkeys and poo and he says, "Umm, guys. Looks like I gotta go."

And then everything stopped. The boys were smashing open Bakugans. McGee was in the middle of a screeching lovely clarinet rendition of -- of -- something that I'm sure was a song at one point. I was in the middle of dinner. Actually I was pouring a glass of wine. Semantics...

"Umm, guys. Looks like I gotta go..."

Again-istan. Again.

McGee: When?
McLovin: Friday.
McGee: What?! What about the Halloween thing?
McLovin: I'm sorry. You can still go with Mommy.
Happy: You're going to Again-istan? Again? No Daddy. No.
McLovin: Just for a while buddy.
McGee: How long?
McLovin: Until they don't need me to be there.
Lefty: So, other people get to come home now?
McLovin: Yep.
Lefty: Well, they'll be happy. And maybe we wouldn't be so sad if they just wouldn't shoot people over there.

His bag is set up in our closet - again. And all the travel stuff is out on the countertops. Again. And it's written up on our calendar in the kitchen. And we all know that nothing is really happening until it's written on the calendar in the kitchen. They stood there and stared at me while I wrote it. It's a long f**king word. It takes up a whole week of squares just to write it.

Lefty came to me last night and wanted to know how far away it is. We looked it up. It's 6,930 miles away. But this is what we saw when we typed it into Google:

Lefty read it out loud. "We could not cal - cal -cu- late -- what does calculate mean?" I told him it meant add it all up. He kept reading, "...calculate directions between Washington D-C and Kabul, Again-istan. They can't tell us?! It's so far they can't tell us how far it is??"

And then he deflated. When he was little, he and McGee loved that song "How Far is Heaven?" by the Los Lonely Boys. They'd sing along and then ask how many planes away were places they'd been. Boston? One plane. Texas? Two planes. The fun beach? Three planes and Mommy's not so happy when they arrive and then Papa gives her a pina colada. Heaven was two hundred planes. Too many to try and take until you were old and ready. And everyone you love is there waiting for you.

He asked me how many planes it was. I told him it was just two, but he didn't like that answer.

"Again-istan is like ten million planes and no one you love is there."

Yes there is baby. McLovin is there. And we love him a lot.

On Friday, he's gotta go.  We'll spend the next two days imagining him on planes.  We'll spend the next several weeks (oh please God weeks and not months) praying we'll get the call that he's coming home.  I'll try my best not to let The Fear keep me from taking care of everything while he's gone.  I'll think of all the other families who are praying for the safe return of those they can't live without.  And how places like Again-istan are actually only two planes away and are filled with people we love.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ouch: Funniest F**king Thing I Heard All Day

Kate: [on the phone with her friend] Oh, owww! You know when you take a ponytail out after it's been in your hair all day and suddenly your head hurts? I just did that.

Colleen: You know what else makes your head hurt?

Kate: [slams her hand on the table like she's on a game show and has to hit a buzzer before she can answer] Ice cream!

Colleen: No. When you're not watching where you're going and you walk into a wall face first. Yeah, that hurts for like two days.

Kate: [slams table again] OH! And chewing gum too long!

Colleen:  And you.

Kate: Huh?

Colleen: Seriously, the wall faceplant has nothing on you.

Kate: It was the ice cream comment, wasn't it?

Apparently Kate thinks every question is a potential game show. Specifically Family Feud.  Someday Lydia may slap her with a sandwich.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010

The Gold Star Winner

I may be the world’s worst mother and the world’s biggest hypocrite. Yay me! Would you like to know why? Because I recently had the opportunity to test one of my convictions and before I even realized that I was being tested – I HAD FAILED. You see, I believe that the Competitive Mommies of the world are a truly destructive force. I try and avoid them but they’re a fairly ubiquitous presence where I live. There are all kinds, but the ones that are the most frightening to me are the “Super Stars." These are the highly educated moms who gave up successful careers to focus on raising their kids. My kids and I are also super stars, but a totally different and more awesome kind.

There are moms out there who feel like, if their kids don’t succeed at everything, then they’re failing as parents. That’s a huge mistake. I mean, how much pressure can a nine-year-old take? If they don’t make it into the “good” math group, they have to hear their parents moan crap like “where did I go wrong?” If these kids DO make it into the “good” math group, then the parents preen like it’s their accomplishment instead of allowing their kids to feel like they’ve earned their own accolades. Children learn a valuable lesson from this; that their parents will take responsibility for everything that they do – good or bad. Doesn’t that set off ginormous warning bells? These kids have the potential to either become success-hungry weasels or total slackers who figure, why bother? (And get to put the screws to their parents, to boot).

And let’s not gloss over the fact that the Super Star Mommies also have the effect of making the rest of us feel like crap. You know what I’m talking about. Their kid was potty trained at 18 months and all her kids could read (Latin) before kindergarten. And if you’ve ever talked to her for fifteen minutes, she’s told you all about it. And if she finds out that one of yours needs speech therapy, she looks at you with such pity that you want to square up and kick her in the lady parts or her perfect teeth.

But sadly, I recently discovered that I'm not much better.  I have been so vocal in my opposition to Perfect Mommy. I have been so strident in my cries of “Let kids be kids!”, “Just relax, Lady!” and the lesser known pirate cry, “Loosen yer sphincter!” I have said again and again that I would rather have a child with backbone and heart at community college than a liar and a cheater at Harvard. Then Thumbelina won the first Gold Star in her class, and I went temporarily insane. Gold Stars are monthly awards for kids who exemplify one of the school’s values. They’re a big deal. That was when all my walls came tumbling down and (at least between when school let out and dinner) I became all that I abhor.

First, I called the Cap’n and the grandparents. Then I casually mentioned it to a couple of dozen people (and strangers). I contemplated updating my Facebook status and then decided to wait until I had a picture of her with the gold star pinned to her shirt so I could really send the message home. I started having the following really repulsive thoughts:

• She got the gold star on the first month, which means her teacher must really like her. (I may have done the Mr. Burns wicked hand thing at this point, there’s no telling)
• If the teacher likes her, then she’ll get extra attention and good grades. (Then came the evil laugh)
• She’s starting the year off strong and that’s great because this is the year they start tracking student achievement. (And my little precious must be tracked into the extra special group… My precious… Yes, by then I was Gollum - imaginary conversations and all - I’m not proud.)
• She’s right on schedule to take over the entire world. And all because I made her copy out her challenge words ten times… (And that’s when I became Super Star Mommy, because it was all about ME.)

I spent an inordinate amount of time at dinner that night telling Thumbelina how proud I was and how wonderful she was. Then Hawk, her little brother, asked the million dollar question: “Yah yah yah. Gold star. But what’s it for?” Thumbelina replied that the value that she exemplified was responsibility. She was really proud because in our family, we always talk about how important it is take responsibility for the things we say and do.

Oh my sweet melons… I am such an ass hat.

I crumpled. I actually started sniffling at the dinner table. I hadn’t even asked her. I only cared about The Gold Star. I didn’t care about what it was for. Responsibility. I was suddenly so proud and this time, for her. For who she was. For all the good things that she must have done that whole month of school. For the recognition that SHE earned.

“Thumbelina. I couldn’t ask for a better girl. And Hawk, if you get any more awesome, they’re going to give you a Gold Star for being a dang Jedi. And you baby – are the sweetest, stinkiest little monkey in the world, and I love you all day, every day.” And the kids looked at me like I was all crazy and just kept eating like things were normal.  If they knew how to whistle, they would've done so to break the awkward tension.

I owed my daughter an apology and she got it. But I think I may also owe Super Star Mommy an apology, too.

Dear Super Star Mommy,

Is it possible that I’ve gotten you all wrong? That you’re struggling and doing your best – just like me? Except without all of the visible flailing and boobstains? Is it that you can’t help yourself and then poof! You act like a braggy snitch and you don’t even know that you’re doing it? Because all this time I thought you were behaving this way to make other people feel bad because you weren’t very nice or you just didn’t get it. I thought you were trying to build up your kids and your ability as a mom at the expense of others. And I don’t like that. . . at all. Just because a baby needs to wear a helmet or a pre-schooler needs speech therapy is no reason to look smug. Or Maude forbid, say something obnoxious. I’ve got a sandwich in the van I’m saving just for slapping.

But then it sort of happened to me. The braggy part, anyway. Not the snitch part (I took a pledge on how to treat other people’s kids). So I tell you right now, I know that I’m no better than you. I’m sorry if I misjudged you and I promise to give you a chance. I’m going to listen to you. If I hear you say something yucky, I’ll go get the sandwich and return with a fiery vengeance of sammy slappage. But if I hear you brag, I’ll listen politely and then I’m going to challenge you to tell the truth. Because honestly, I’d rather hear about how you try not to drink before Oprah is over than how perfect your life is. I mean, Kate and I once thought we were too different to be friends.

Maybe there’s hope for all of us.

xo, Lydia

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010

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