Thursday, September 29, 2011

THE VIDEOS ARE HERE!!!

Guess what?! For some reason we don't really understand, Totino's Pizza Stuffers and Second City Communications are letting us run these videos as a preview before they get widely released on YouTube.  So if you were interested in checking them out, at least for right now you can only see them here.

I know, right? We're so professional, it's not even f*cking funny.

Hey, also? If you have any trouble seeing these videos, just hit refresh and they should pop right up. We have no idea why that sometimes happens.



The dude in the wig in that video is named Tim Robinson and he wrote the play we talked about before (South Side of Heaven). We heard that he's about to blow up.  We say that like we're a reliable source for any sort of information. But for realsies, keep an eye out for that guy.




Next, be sure you watch the whole video. Because I thought it was over but then Kate's soulmate/stalker says one more thing and it's exactly like something she'd say.


And there you have the awesomeness that is the Totina'sPeeperSnatchers videos.

Leave us a comment and let us know what you thought and most importantly, which one you liked best.

xo, Kate & Lydia
(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Why Did You Even Go to Chicago Anyway?! Part 4

This is the conclusion of our epic 24 hour adventure where we went to Chicago to do some sort of project with Totino's Pizza Stuffers and Second City Communications except once we got there we had no idea what it was. Parts One, Two, and Three can be found right here.

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For sure, observing the actors was the best part of the whole experience. We got to eavesdrop on them in between takes and listen to their conversations. OF COURSE, Kate wrote down things she heard with a sharpie. Like the following conversation:


ACTOR 1: They don’t even cast actors anymore.
ACTOR 2: I know. They cast cartoon bears who rub their asses on trees.
ACTOR 1: They should actually have a tree with like a—
ACTOR 2: [interrupting] A poo stain?
ACTOR 1: No. A bump. A rub bump. For their asses.

Can I just say? I want a tree with rub bump for MY ass. And as we were giggling over that, we got run over by a truck carrying a metric f-ton of funny named Robyn Scott.

Her character was a pageant mom from Texas. Kate is from Texas (that’s why she has so much hair) and she is willing to testify to the veracity of this woman’s performance. I can’t even describe it except to say that they filmed her in character improv’ing for an hour and Kate had to leave, because even behind closed doors she was scared they would hear her (and the sounds of her choking, muffled shrieking) and it would ruin the take. One of the advertising guys was actually bent over. Like he was in pain. I cried off three coats of mascara because I was laughing so hard. My nose was running. By the end of it, I looked like I had just watched Steel Magnolias while drunk on wine coolers.

Then I interviewed her. Looking like I just escaped from the nervous hospital. And honestly? It was maybe the most fun ten minutes I have ever had with another woman. I haven’t seen the edited video yet – or the interview I did with her. I can only hope that they are half as funny as I remember them.

Then, I interviewed Katie Rich (the casting director). But I didn’t realize that I was going to do it. So I had nothing prepared. So I had to improv. I was apologizing to her the whole time and she was like – “Don’t worry about it, it’s easy!”

Easy for you to say, mofo.

I think the interview speaks for itself. Me flailing around and searching for words, awkward pauses, Katie carrying the whole thing. Sigh… I haven’t seen the video of this either but I hope I’m only half as bad as I remember.

Then came Sue Salvi – the woman rumored to be the brains behind the whole concept for the videos. Also? A mother of two who admitted that she had recently fed her toddler lunch with a plastic knife in the back of her car. I was like “OH YESSER. YOU ARE OF MY TRIBE.”

She was super cute and funny and her segment was great and painfully realistic (as she is a real mom). But the weirdest thing was going on in my brain. Maybe it was because I was exhausted (I’d been awake and running for close to 16 hours at this point). Maybe it was because she had such a mom vibe. Or maybe it's because of the following reason.

Completely Imaginary Conversation between Sue and Lydia

SUE: Hi. It’s nice to meet you! Tell me about your blog.
LYDIA: Hi. You look exactly like my dead step-mother.
SUE: [Starts to slowly back away]
LYDIA: Do not be afraid. She was awesome – not evil. Will you hold me and tell me everything will be ok? And then maybe make some chicken cacciatore?
SUE: [Looks worried]
LYDIA: This is awkward for you, isn’t it? I think we should just be best friends. No? That’s ok –I understand. Why is security here?

I kept not paying attention to her filming because my mind was trying to wrap itself around the right way to tell someone you just met that they look exactly like your dead step-mother who was awesome. I decided there was no good way to do that and so I just looked at her face and didn’t say anything. You know how when you talk to a dog and they cock their head to one side to let you know they’re really paying attention?

That’s how I looked at her face. That’s how I watched the whole filming of her video segment and then her interview with Kate. It was sort embarrassing. Maybe at this point I should bring up the whole “I am socially awkward” issue again. Also, the “I do not belong here among the hipsters” thing. But as I said, they were very kind to me. Maybe they thought I was part of an outreach program.

Then it was all over.

And we said good-bye to them and we went to our hotel. And later that night, we saw a performance on the Second City main stage called "South Side of Heaven” that was amazing. And I started doing some thinking about the whole experience.

Even though we were flown out to Chicago by Totino’s Pizza Stuffers – the experience for me wasn’t really about working with a national brand. They were very cool about the fact that neither Kate nor I have ever actually eaten their product. And they said we could write whatever we wanted on our blog. They were really very cool to work with and we’re extremely grateful for the opportunity they gave us. I mean really.  I submitted a post to Huffington about their ad campaign that included a joke about giving hand jobs and they were like - you're idiots, but fine because we said we wouldn't censor you.  So in my book, they're pretty darn cool. 

No thanks! We're good right here in the dork section of the cafeteria.
But this branding thing seems to have become the Holy Grail of blogging. Building a Brand. Working with a Brand. Branding yourself. GO BRAND YOURSELF.
But that’s not why we do this. Kate & I will always be bad at blogging and we’ve given up even trying to make money off this website. We do it because we love it. But we are dabblers. We aren’t even real writers, for Maude’s sake. WE ARE BLOGGERS.

We are not committed to writing or growing MommyLand into something big the way that those actors are committed to what they’re doing. We always aim for 100% honesty. But we hold things back. Sometimes to protect other people and sometimes to protect ourselves. In our real lives, we are constantly holding things back. Always editing. Don't say that. Don't eat that. There's no time for that. Hurry up! Wait. Wait some more.

So what was remarkable to me about hanging out with these actors all day – and especially about seeing the show "South Side of Heaven" – was the degree to which they were not holding anything back. They were putting it all out there and looking like assholes and offending people and not giving a shit and it was brilliant. And brave.

And a little inspiring. We're going to try really hard in the future to suck less.

So I wrote a post about the videos for The Huffington Post, as I'd promised.  And then I sat down and wrote this 4,000 word ridiculously long blog post trying to share with you guys what it was like to be there.  And for the first time in ages, I feel sort of inspired to write more.

Right after a snack. Pizza stuffers, anyone?

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What Are We Doing in Chicago Again? Part 3

For those of you who missed the first two installments of this epic odyssey, Kate & Lydia flew to Chicago to watch Second City improv actors film a series of internet videos depicting casting sessions to be the next Totino’s Pizza Stuffers Mom. We felt pretty cool about the whole thing until we got there and realized we had no idea what the hell was going on. Part One and Part Two are right here.

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It was easy for me to forget that I had no business being anywhere near all the cool kids because.... They were ready to start filming! We got to sit in an adjoining room in director’s chairs and wear headphones and watch the proceedings on some large monitors. The nice PR lady whispered to us that this actress was working from a script and would only be using improv a little bit. The actress was really funny and sweet and it was a great monologue. Then she did it again about 300 times.

But here’s the thing. A joke might be super funny - but it’s not that funny the 30th time you’ve heard it. Somehow, this actress (Wendy Mateo) brought something a little different to each take – even though she had to say the same words again and again and again. But I won’t lie – after two hours I got bored and started foraging for food.

When Wendy was finally done, she sat down with me for an interview and we totally knocked it out of the park. For someone who wasn't a mom, she totally answered those questions like a breeder.  She called Chuck E Cheese by a name that made me proud to be sitting next to her.  It was all super funny and I got her to say a curse word in Spanish and everyone seemed really happy with it. Then Kate made a growly noise and informed us that the camera had only recorded 37 seconds.

CRAPPITTY CRAP.

Wendy is awesome &
Lydia is an idiot.
So we had to get a new camera* and do the exact same five minute interview again. And I sucked monkey balls because I was all flustered at having to repeat myself while Wendy, improv queen and professional actress – got better. And funnier. And I finally started to understand how hard it was to do what they do. And I felt like sort of a tool for eating biscuits and gravy during the last ten minutes of her video shoot.

*Technically what we got was a cameraman. His name was Ryan and he was so awesome that he may in fact not even be real.

Next up was an actor named Christy Bonstell. She was all sweet and pretty and showed us pictures of her kiddo on her phone. And let me just say that kid is practically edible – that cute, y’all. And we were chatting and making small talk and admiring her costume and her hair and remarking that it sort of made her look like a banker or something. Then she started filming.

We were blown away. First, because she was so funny. Her video was unscripted. She had just created this character and was going from there. Her character was supposed to a VERY BAD MOMMY. She morphed from this very sweet person into a total flaming nightmare and it was completely awesome. But the second, and most magical part of the whole thing – was this VERY BAD MOMMY character started saying things. Things I had heard before. The exact same things that I have heard Kate say a million times.

Things about not hugging mommy in her nice clothes and “isn’t that what nannies are for?” and please don’t even look at my iPhone. We both totally freaked out the first time it happened. Then it happened again. We were like – this actor has obviously been stalking Kate.

Of course you all know by now that our Kate is actually an excellent mommy with amazing kids – but I will not even lie. If this character were real, she would be Kate’s new best friend and I would be crying into my Venti Ralph Macchio outside the Starbucks drive-thru in my dirty van, all alone. This is evidenced by the love-fest that was their one-on-one interview.
The switch from using a script to improvisation allowed us see how AMAZEBALLS the other actors on the set (playing the casting director, ad exec and production assistant) really were. I should probably mention at this point that the dude playing the ad exec (Brian Boland) looks a lot like Liev Shreiber. So you can imagine what a terrible tragedy it was for us to have to look at him all day.  In real life he’s a dad who talked about his wife and kids in such a way that made me think that this dude totally gets it.

Then there was the casting director, played by Katie Rich. We later developed a substantial girl crush on her because in addition to being hilarious all day long, we then saw her in a performance on the Second City Main Stage that night and it blew our wittle minds. Also, remember The Birth Control Ninja? That was all her idea. She’s the reason I now go around my house screaming: “WHITE TAILED PENIS DEMONS!” and “PREGNANT BABY NO HAPPEN!” at my husband.

There was even a woman (Aidy Bryant) playing a production assistant and by mid-afternoon I forgot she was an actor and thought she really was a production assistant. I mentioned that to Kate and she was all:

 “Yes. It’s called acting, dumbass.”

Part four, the conclusion - runs tomorrow.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"Professional" Bloggers on Assignment - Part 2

For those of you who missed yesterday, Kate & I got a real honest to goodness blogger job that meant we got to fly to Chicago and watch a bunch of Second City improv actors film a series of internet videos depicting casting sessions to be the next Totino’s Pizza Stuffers Mom. By job I mean of course “not paid in actual money, even Candian dollars which are probably made up anyway (no offense, Amy).” Anyway notwithstanding that fact, Lydia was filled with Paltrow-like smugness that Rants from Mommyland had been chosen for this gig. And as all sane people know, being that self-satisfied is always a precursor for humiliation.

As soon as we arrived on the set (a restored firehouse - complete with a pole for Kate), we started to meet people. It was hard to keep them all straight – both because I am a moron and also because I had gotten no sleep the night before. Here’s a quick list:
  • The nice PR lady who’d invited us (LOVE HER and tiny, blonde cuteness),
  • The dude from the ad agency (who showed me pictures of his dog on his phone which of course made me like him instantly)
  • The director of the videos (who I managed to offend within 60 seconds of meeting him because I made the observation that the last four letters of his name were D-I-C-K)*
  • A really nice young man who worked there in some capacity that I don’t understand (who showed me how to connect my iPad to their internet and also offered to help me in any way I needed and I almost asked him if he could periodically remind me not to say anything to anyone but that would’ve been weird).
  • The lady from The Brand (who seemed very nice but I couldn't tell whether she was amused by us or slightly disappointed).
  • The producer of the videos (extremely professional and please note the lack of sarcastic quotation marks here).**
  • The actors (all of them awesome, talented and friendly).
  • Various other professionals (also lovely folks and very nice to us). 
*I actually did that. I told him his name had dick in it. I think I have some sort of disorder because normal people just don’t act like that.

**She was a slightly terrifying platinum-pixie’d type person with a neck tattoo that Kate swears is of a pizza. I was like ,“Shut your whore mouth – a pizza?” But then I looked at it closer and Kate was right - it really did look just like a pizza.

Most of these people were cool. And by cool, I don’t mean not warm. I mean hipster. Like maybe they weren’t cool in high school, but they are totally bad ass now. They were certainly the coolest collection of adults I have ever seen in one place. Not that that means anything given that the last adult-type gathering I attended was a discussion about whether or not our church should have a compost pile.

These people were attractive. They smoked. They cursed fluently without glancing around to see if small children were listening. Everything they said was clever and funny. They wore clothes that they probably bought someplace that you can’t also buy diapers – so pretty much NOT at Target. If any of them were approaching fashion trainwreck status (the place where I live), it was either because they had just put on a costume or because they were being ironic. They laughed and were friendly and wore interesting shoes and where do you even buy a pair of glasses that looks like that?

It is not an exaggeration to say that I am not cool. Not even a little. I am a fat housewife from the suburbs who managed to trick a PR person into thinking that she was a “professional” blogger. And here’s where the smugness downfall hit me like a face slap with a sandwich. Every single person I met (with the exception of the nice PR lady) was like “Oh hi! You’re one of the bloggers! Nice to meet you!” And then there silently followed their internal monologue -that went something like this (in the nicest possible way): Who is this woman and what is she doing here?

And of course, my internal monologue responded with: F*ck if I know. I should be at home cleaning the toddler potty right now.

Maybe it’s because they didn’t get the whole mommy-blog thing. Or they got it and were like – Really? A mommy-blogger? Don’t they make those by the thousand in China now? Couldn’t you at least get a good one? Was Jenny Lawson not available? But they tried to cover it up with good manners. Or maybe because this whole being a professional in the entertainment business was their real job and they were unaccustomed to random women in Pajama Jeans crashing their video shoots. Or maybe I’m just socially awkward.

In any case, whatever I was anticipating - that wasn’t it. If I had begged and pleaded and offered up a kidney to be allowed to watch everything (which for the record, I absolutely would have done), I would’ve expected the overwhelming sense that no one had any idea what we were there for. But we had been asked to come – whisked away from our real lives to participate in this venture. So we got there, and immediately got sort of confused as to our purpose. Mostly, because everyone else seemed affably confused by the same thing. I mean, we had a general idea of why were there:
  • Watch filming of funny videos
  • Interview actors as their mom characters
  • Write posts for our blog and The Huffington Post about the experience
  • Have fun while also reveling in the fact that for 24 hours I was far, far away from all my responsibilities.
  • Try to look like I was not a total fish out of water.

Meanwhile, stupid Kate looked just like all of them with her tiny ass and her white pants and her hair that had been brushed. Also, she had to spend a lot of time on the phone when we first got there because something from her real job needed her attention. So I got to be everyone’s first impression of Mommyland.

And of course, I’m an idiot, so that was probably no bueno. Then the filming started.

Part one of the epic odyssey is right here. Part three is tomorrow.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

We're So Professional It's Not Even F*cking Funny

A couple of weeks ago, we got an email from someone who was all “I’ve got a proposition for you, Kate & Lydia!” We get those emails all the time. Mostly, they’re from nice ladies in Sierra Leone who just need our bank account numbers and PINS and then we can be rich and help orphans at the same time.

But this time it was different. This was a nice lady who works for a big PR company. And her client makes a product called Totino’s Pizza Stuffers. And her client was about to start filming a series of videos with Second City Communications. Funny ones. Like really, really ridiculously over the top, whuck are they even talking about funny internet videos.

We knew what they were talking about because we’re both huge fans of the Sassy Gay Friend videos. And they had partnered with a company who makes this stuff that you put in your water bottle and then the company sponsored a series of slightly less funny but still awesome videos where the Sassy Gay Friend does his thing and talks about the water bottle thingee.

So the Totino’s Pizza Stuffers people were working with these actors to create a series of videos about moms. The comedians would develop mom characters who would be auditioning to be in a Totino’s commercial. And the videos would be of the pretend casting sessions.

Didn’t that sound awesome? And did we want to fly out to Chicago to watch the filming and interview all the actors? And could we come next week? AND THEY WOULD PAY FOR OUR TICKETS & HOTEL & WE COULD STILL WRITE WHATEVER THE HELL WE WANTED.

What?! Was this even real? Was this actually happening to us? I called the nice lady. She seemed serious about it. I asked her on several occasions if we were being punked or if we would land in Chicago only to find out that she was actually an old Russian man with candy in his pants. But no. She started emailing us stuff like itineraries and hotel confirmation numbers and tickets to go see a performance at Second City.

THIS WAS REALLY HAPPENING.

Keep several things in mind. I am a HUGE fan of Second City and their history of face-meltingly amazing comedy awesomeness. Their alumni include pretty much everyone really, really funny and innovative in the history of ever. Also keep in mind that the last time I spent the night away from my kids, I was in the hospital giving birth to the littlest one – who is now almost three. Prior to that, my excursions away from my kids included hawt, hawt, hawt excitement like funerals and trips to the hospice. I’m not kidding.

So this was a huge deal. Plus, it was this bizzare and really meaningful validation that we were professional bloggers. Because a big company – that I had actually heard of before – was flying us to Chicago to write about their new ad campaign.

Let me be very clear about something, if you’re under the impression that we’re (a) good at blogging (b) understand how the internet works (c) making money from this or (d) have any idea what we’re doing - then you’re totally wrong. We’re a couple of idiots who two years ago had never even read a blog. And then we started one and did everything wrong. Ask us how we got here and we’ll just be like “I dunno. What day is it? Is there coffee?”

So this was a big deal. It was like we had arrived. We were big girl bloggers. I should know this by now, but whenever I start to feel smug - that’s usually right before a brick drops on my head. But did I remember that? I did not. I was too busy telling everyone I have ever met that I was going to Chicago for work. I justified saying it was “for work” because I have been a stay at home for several years now and that doesn’t pay anything either.

The day finally came. It was going to be action-packed as the whole trip was going to take 28 hours total, because neither of us wanted to be away from home for too long and also because they would only pay for one night. Pretty much the same thing. Kate picked me up for the airport at 4:15 am. Her hair was done and she had make-up on. I was wearing Pajama Jeans and was barely able to form sentences.

That’s just us in a nutsack, isn’t it?

After an uneventful flight and a very long cab ride, we arrived at the location where the videos would be filmed. It was called Firehouse Studios and it was awesome. A very old, beautifully restored firehouse with a tin ceiling that was so pretty you couldn’t stand it. I looked around, smiled and said to Kate with warmth and happiness brimming in my voice: “Good news, hooker - there’s a pole.”

We had arrived.

--Stay tuned for part two tomorrow--

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Letter from Lydia

Hi.

I’m sort of a head case right now. People keep asking me if I’m losing weight, which normally would make me super happy and want to wiggle my fanny for them a little bit. But today it just reminds me that I’ve forgotten to eat again. If you know me, you will understand the significance of that statement. I don’t forget to eat. That’s not me. Once my blood sugar bottoms out, it takes a day to get me right again and that day is not fun (thank you, PCOS).

Here’s the dealio: We close on a house next week. We start working on it three days later. We move one week after that. We’ve been saving for this house for ten years. It is so exciting and wonderful. But I feel like I’m climbing a mountain trying to get us there. To all the military mommies out there: HOW THE HELL DO YOU EVEN DO IT?

Not one box has been packed. Van loads of items have been purged and de-cluttered and space-bagged into bizarro plastic hoo-haws. But not one box is done yet. And today, Cap'n Coupon let me know that he will have to travel for work for ten of the next 14 days.

So I will be doing this all by myself with three kids. Which I shouldn't complain about. He'll be back in 2 weeks. He's not in Iraq.  But I'm still freaking out a little.

About the kids… They’re being wonderful about all the changes. Actually, let me amend that statement. They’re being wonderful at school. At home, they’re stressed and snappy and exhausted. And then sweet and snugly and wanting to pull up the drawbridge and have a quiet movie night with just us. Probably because I'm all those things, too. My mental state has such a profound effect on theirs. And at the moment I’m struggling to maintain composure and calmness when I want to rock in the corner and randomly screech out expletives.

But the real reason I’m a head case right now is only partially due to the move. The other reason is both the cause of some anguish and the source of whatever strength I have right now.

Two weeks ago, a little boy was killed by flash floods right near where we live in Virginia. He was 12 years old.  His mom is a blogger. She’s one of us. It could have been my family. It could have been my son. But it was hers.

[WARNING: Do not click that link unless you want to cry for hours and hours.]

I keep thinking of her. Of her unimaginable pain. Of her little girl having to go through the rest of her life without her big brother. Of her husband needing to be strong for his family, while mourning the loss of his only son. Of their grace in the face of this horrible tragedy.

I read her blog and her words are so kind. It is all so heartbreaking.

The story of her child’s life and his death has left me feeling haunted and broken.
I find myself crying in the car. I find myself telling my kids how lucky they are to have each other and please stop using hurtful words they will regret saying out loud. Why can’t they understand how lucky they are?

I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude for every day that I have them here with me. I hold them tighter. I tell them I love them no matter what. I embarrass them by smooching them in front of their friends.

I find myself paralyzed by The Fear.

I am missing those that are gone so very much. I am thinking about them more and talking about them more. And I feel their presence in my life more as a result.

I’m filled with appreciation for my friends. Womens’ friendships can be so complicated. So very complicated. And yet right now, I’m just happy to have people in my life who understand me and forgive me for being such a douchebag sometimes. And whether they’re near or far or moving to Indonesia (Ellen, I’m looking at you) – they are the family that I chose. And they chose me back.

I’m praying again. After a long break filled with doubts and questions and justifications for why I was not living and parenting the way I should be. Well… Maybe I’m not praying as much as I’m begging for the strength to do a better job.

I feel a little better now.

I cry a lot and then I let the stress and fear subside as much as I can. Because I am the luckiest, most unworthy hooker on the planet. I have healthy children. I am able to care for them and provide for them. We have food and clean water. My husband is a good man and a great father, even if I occasionally have a little trouble remembering that. He has work when so many do not. For the first time in years, no one in our family has cancer or is fighting for their life. Good things are happening. We are weeks away from actually having a family home that is ours.

And I can always find things to laugh about. Inappropriate things. And I can share them with you anytime I want and feel part of an amazing community of like-minded women for whom I am so very, very grateful.

I take to heart the words of the Bloggess in her famous Beyonce the Metal Chicken post:

Perspective. Now you have it.”

The loss of that precious boy will never, ever be right. But in thinking of him all the time, I am keeping my Beyonce perspective. I am trying to see things clearly, to wake up every day and do better. And to get through our move and the next month with my sense of humor intact and without losing my schmidt.

To that effect, I’ll be taking the month of October off. I’ll still be checking in every day and have a few posts already scheduled so you don’t forget about me. Next week will be filled with cool stuff about our trip to Chicago and our shenanigans there.  But after that, I'll be MIA for a few weeks.

But Kate is in charge while I’m gone, y’all – so watch out.

Love you guys,

Lydia

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ten Things Not to Say to the Spouse of a Deployed Soldier

Today's guest post comes from our pal Becky, who was one of the first people to read our blog that we were not actually related to.  So we totally love her.  Here's a little blurbitty blurb all about her:

Hi! My name is Becky and I’m a SAH Military Mom to 3 adorable monsters ages 6,4 and 2. My husband is currently deployed to Againistan and this is our third deployment although the other two were to Iraq. I live on a military installation so in general I am surrounded by people who understand what we are going through as a family. Unfortunately, on a very regular basis I am asked QUESTIONS. I try to attribute them to a perfect storm of curiosity and ignorance. I order to alleviate both I present: 10 things that no one better say to me again or I will lose my ever loving mind not to say to a military spouse. You can read more about our crazy fun life at cullinanfamily.blogspot.com
Ten Things
that no one better say to me again or I will lose my ever loving mind
not to say to a spouse of a deployed military person.

10. He’ll be back in no time – Keep busy, he’ll be back before you know it!
Are you freaking kidding me? No – he won’t be back before I know it. You know what happens before I know it? We run out of milk at 7 pm and there’s no one to stay with the kids while I run out - so we don’t have milk at breakfast. You know what else happens? Trash day comes and since he’s not here I have to take it out – and back in – again. It’s only been 5 months and it seems like 5 years. 

9. At least he’s not on the ground!
True – he’s not on the ground. He’s IN THE AIR. Just a reminder about this funny thing we have called GRAVITY and these things that they have called rocket propelled grenades. Just sayin’...

8. How much longer does he have until he can get out?
And when I answer the response is, “Oh, so he’s CAREER???” Like there isn’t much worse in the world than that? Seriously people there are sooooo many worse things than being actively employed in a profession that he enjoys and feels like he’s contributing to the world and whatnot. It’s not a jail sentence. He’s certainly not a prisoner and we have made a choice for him to be in the Army. This one bugs me. It just drips with condescension because what you’re REALLY saying is, “When is he going to get serious and get a real job where he actually takes care of his family.”

7. I wish my husband would deploy.
Seriously – someone said this too me – MORE.THAN.ONCE. “My husband is being sooooo annoying. He just won’t leave me alone these days. I wish that he was in the Army and would deploy.” There.are.no.words.

6. It’s not that bad – you can talk everyday.
Yes, that’s true. We COULD talk everyday. I could tell him that the kids got up, ate Cheerios, went to school, I cleaned up the dishes and changed the baby, did laundry, got the mail, picked up at preschool, made lunch, cleaned up from lunch and so on. I could tell him this EVERYDAY but then he might die from boredom before the enemy got to him.

SKYPE: It's exactly like this.
We do the same this deployment as we have the other ones. We talk once a week but now we get to add Skype – once a week with the kids. No boredom, no fighting, lots of I love you’s. So it IS still that bad. The dishwasher breaks – you don’t tell him. Flat tire – you don’t tell him. Kids are barfing all night and you have to change the sheets 5 times – you don’t tell him. He needs to stay in the game there. I want him to come home safe and he needs to focus on ONLY that.

5. The kids are young – they don’t even realize he’s gone.
In what world do small children not notice that a parent is suddenly gone? OK, it’s different for kids of different ages – heck it’s different for different kids. Some kids are more resilient and some are less – just like adults but it’s not fair to say that they don’t realize it! We listen to a recording of Daddy reading a book before bed and even the baby asks to hear the Daddy Book. She knows at 20 months and my son knew when he was 8 months old.

4. Come and visit us!
Thank you very much.  But no thanks. Do you really want to help? If so then come and visit ME. Stay home at night while I go to Walmart so I don’t have to pay a sitter $10/hour to go frigging grocery shopping. Stay with the little ones in the morning so I don’t have to drag them all to school drop off in the stroller in the rain. Make dinner or clean the dishes while I give the kids a bath or pick up the toys so it’s not 9:30 pm before I even have a chance to sit down. Now THAT would be helpful.

3. What should I send him?
Honestly, I don’t know.  What would you want if you lived in a plywood building and shared a shower with 25 of your closest friends? If I have to answer this question again I’m just going to answer PORN – actually I’m not. They aren’t allowed to have that – or alcohol. Now you can feel worse for them.

2. Are you scared something will happen to him?
No – I actually hadn’t thought about until just now when you said that – so thanks for that! How in the world could I not be worried about raising my 3 kids alone and losing the best friend I’ve ever had? I worry constantly about someone showing up at my door and if you know better you’ll text me that you’re coming over before you’d EVER ring the doorbell unannounced.

1. I don’t know how you do it. I don’t think I could.
What exactly do you mean by that? Would you divorce the father of your children because he’s going away? I’m actually not quite sure how we do it either but I know one thing – you’re right - not everyone could.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Why Being a Mom is so Gross

And why is it warm?
I deal with disgusting crap all the time. Its one of the things no one tells you about parenting. That within ten minutes of becoming a mom you will begin constantly dealing with things that would make most Marines puke. 

I had no idea, but I have come to accept it as normal.  In fact, in addition to being somewhat famous for being a giant boobstain - I am also well known for the fact that I am so gross that I have no idea what other people think is nasty.  And so I say disgusting things all the time like it's no big deal and people are actually turning green all around me and I'm totally oblivious.

Hence the saying: "Oh. That was gross, wasn't it?"*

*I say at least ten times a day.

Here's why. My life is a constant struggle to minimize chaos and to wipe up other people's body fluids.
And that's why my threshold for such things is so high.  Here are some examples. You can even vote on them. In fact, please vote on them. Because it will let me know I'm not alone in this. That it's not just me mired in the sticky, foul-smelling miasma of family life.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Domestic Enemy of the Mom of Mixed Race Kids

We've been waiting for this post for a loooooong time.  It came to us from our awesome new friend Jenster, who you can read all about on her blog Visitors' Day at the Institute.

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We are a half-Asian, half-Scandinavian family. My son is 14 and my daughter is 10. And yes, we do kind of look like a Gap ad, if the Gap models had teen acne, bigger butts and stretch marks. But other that, totally Gap. I would like to tell you all about the...

Domestic Enemies of Moms with Mixed-Race Kids

People who view your children as a special and wondrous species, the same way they admire mixed-breed dogs.
Yes, they are pretty darned good-looking, aren't they? Even if I weren't contractually obligated as their mom to think that way, I would still agree with your assessment. However, I wish you'd pay your nice compliment and then stop there, because my kids aren't really flattered to hear you discuss their skin/hair coloring or their nose shapes right in front of them. I'm flattered if you ask me privately about their features and show interest in their heritage, but they're not interesting little puppies at the pound who are going home with you. They've been mixed-race all their lives and, frankly, they're completely over it.

People who wonder if your kids are good at math and science since they're part-Asian.
I've been Asian all my life and I suck at math. You know that iPhone app that helps you calculate restaurant tips? The one that has people wondering what idiot would need to use that? That would be me. Being half-Asian doesn't automatically make my kids smart (although I like to think they get their excellent reading skills from me). They also happen to be half-Scandinavian, but no one asks if they eat pickled herring. Funny how that works.

People who insist on telling you about other mixed-race families that they know.
This is similar to when you meet someone for the first time and they're compelled to inform you that their best friend/sister's roomate/gynecologist is Asian. I totally get that you want to find a way to connect with us. But the fact that you find my family a novelty and insist on telling us about another family JUST LIKE US is a total turn-off. Especially when it turns out the other family has nothing in common with us other than race. News flash -- It's 2011 and there are a lot of families out there JUST LIKE US.

People who assume that you're like that dragon-mom chick.
Don't even get me started on that Asian woman who forced her mixed-race children to practice piano for hours each day and now reaps their appreciation and achievements. In our house, if my kids eat something green and avoid slamming the car doors, it's a good day.

Less you think of me as an overly defensive race-baiter, I have to inform you that I enjoy discussing my kids' racial background with people who view them first as the goofy goobers that they are and not just representatives of the "It's a Small World" ride at Disneyland. I was really pleased when a mom asked me about my daughter's eye color at soccer practice recently, because it led to a discussion of how her own child (who is not mixed race) has eyes that are two different colors. Now THAT is a cool trick.

People who view your family as their ticket to diversity and awesomeness.

Hurray! You know us. That makes you so very diverse and continental. Now you can discuss us with your friends while you eat mediocre sushi and say, "My neighborhood is very diverse." But there's something you don't know, and that is that we are AWESOME, and not because we're a mixed-race family. We're awesome because my kids can actually fart out songs. Because my husband has a loose piece of cartilage at the tip of his nose, resulting from an old ski accident, and if you're not squeamish, he'll let you WIGGLE it. And because just recently, at the ripe old age of XX (a number higher than 25 but lower than 80), I slapped on a swimsuit and took swim lessons for the very first time. From a male twenty-something college student lifeguard/swim instructor I could have once bounced on my knee. And guess what? It was AWESOME.

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Yah. I know - isn't the Jenster magical and rad? Here's her blog again: Visitor's Day at the Institute

xo, Lydia & Kate

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

It's Movie Day!

Yesterday's post was all about dealing with other people's kids in your house. It reminded me of a video I saw last week, created by the BRILLIANT AND AMAZING GENIUSES at Second City.  I am totally in awe of them and their awesomeness.  Last week, Kate & I went to Chicago to observe their antics first hand and we laughed so hard we cried pretty much all day long. More on that next week...

So here are three videos from them that we thought you'd like.  I'm assuming you've already seen the Sassy Gay Friend videos, so you know how much of a potential time suck fun you can have digging through all their archives. I could do it all day long.*  First, the video that is the perfect follow-up to yesterday's post

*That's what she said. Sorry. I can't help myself. It's still funny.

Foolproof Birth Control, a comedy video from the Second City Network


Next, a video that discusses the same general topic but is filled with such random-ness and total awesomeness and whuck-ness that it makes the drunken bees in my brain buzz much, much louder.  Also, it stars an actor named Katie Rich (the girl with the brown hair and the hat), who we got to meet and hang out with last week. She's so talented she literally made me soil my own britches. She was in a show called "South Side of Heaven", which if you can possibly get to Chicago to go see it - I really, really would.**

**I say that like it's something I do all the time.  I mean, I get to the movies like twice a year, so I totally understand that putting on big girl panties and booking a babysitter and going out to see a show that is not geared for pre-literate chimpansloths is a very big deal. But it really would be worth it in this case.



Next, is a video about... Whatever - the title says it all. And the Ed Hardy shirt? Brilliant. The last time I saw a shirt like that it was on Jon Gosselin.

 [NOTE: Maybe have the little ones go watch TV for a minute, mmmkay? This wouldn't be a good one for them to watch.]


(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011
Birth Control Ninja, a comedy video from the Second City Network

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Help This Woman: My Friend's Kids

We've all been there.  Someone else's kids behaving really badly and you have to deal with it diplomatically when you really want to lose your schmidt.  But this case is a little more complicated. Please help this woman.

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Dear Kate & Lydia,


I've had this dilemma and I've been trying to get some perspective on it. Let me preface my questions by saying that I just had my first baby last year, so while I'm a mommy, I'm aware that I'm a new mommy and still have much to learn. I'm not trying to be a Sanctimommy here (though if I'm being one, please tell me).

At any rate, we had a special family party recently. We invited our friends and their kids. One pair of kids are somewhat of a problem. They're young (both under 5) and have been to our house on several occassions.  Every time they come over, I count the minutes until they leave. They act like complete monsters and their parents? Do. Nothing. It's like they're on a parenting vacation.

Now, after the last time they were at our house (which was an adult-only event that their parents brought them to anyway) I spent a week cleaning up the food the kids smeared all over my house (curtains, under the sofas, on the sofas, etc.). I got to thinking that perhaps since their parents don't bring anything for them to do, I should pony up and buy some toys and stuff for them to do the next time they came over.
At any rate, the kids absolutely destroyed the toys and furniture I bought. Play-doh smeared over everything, fish crackers ground into the floor, bubbles coating every surface of the table and all over the floor, crayon drawings all over the table and chairs I JUST bought... I could go on. Plus, they ran around screaming at the top of their lungs, shoved an adult attendee of the party, backtalked any adult that attempted to intervene and - the worst - put their hands ALL OVER the food. Like, bare-handed dipping into the hummus, which they then wiped all over the walls.
Ladies, when I tell you the parents did nothing, I mean they did nothing. Dad was outside enjoying a beer, mom was in the kitchen talking with other ladies enjoying her vino. My own mother was about to jump out of her skin and we had a very... tense... conversation about how it would be unwise for her to mention any of this to the parents. It was extremely stressful to say the least.

My trouble is that the dad in this family is my husband's BFF. Hence, it's likely they'll be invited again. How the heck do I deal with this?!? How can I manage to tactfully get the parents to oversee their kids even a little while they're at my house? It's really bothering me. I don't expect perfect behavior, but I honestly getting to the point where I don't want to spend time with the kids or the parents, because of their behavior and the inattentiveness that goes along with it. Plus, I'm terrified that they'll get hurt, or that I'll absolutely lose it and say something I'll regret. Then there's the whole thing where my own kid gets older and sees them acting this way.

Help.

xo, Confused & Upset

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Good Nutrition Can Bite Me

I care about nutrition. I really do. As a mom, its my job to make sure my kids aren't eating crap all the time.  When it comes to what I feed myself, however - it's pretty sad.  Like many other mothers I know, I am fixated on having happy, healthy, emotionally stable children while slowly going insane and totally ignoring my own needs and health. My tooth broke in half last year and it took my two weeks to get to a dentist.  If one of my kids gets a rash, they're at the pediatrician's office that very damn day.

So my kids follow all kinds of wonderful rules about healthy eating like "dessert is not an everyday treat" and "I need to finish my water before I can have seconds".  And I enforce these rules while pounding cold coffee and eating all my meals either over the sink or while driving.

And so I was only sort of paying attention when the USDA recently replaced the food pyramid with something else.  They replaced it with this:

This is apparently how all good families are supposed to be eating, while not watching more than two hours of TV per day.  Let's take it a step further.  Let's apply this concept to how moms eat in real life.  To the landscape we actually live in. Where healthy eating becomes a competitive sport. This is the actual "My Plate" for moms...


This is sort of Paltrow-y and annoying but at least honest about how it sucks and is too expensive and requires you to shop for your groceries at about 400 diffrent stores.  If you actually eat like this, congratulations. I don't mean to poke fun.  Seriously. If you eat like that all the time, without being all smug and needing to mention it to other people at the bus stop first thing in the morning - then I say YAY FOR YOU and your tiny, firm ass.

But here's how it actually works at my house:


Please tell me that its not just me, alone in my yoga pants and nutritional shame.  I'm pretty sure it's not just me though, because I saw a total Gwyneth at Chipolte last week and I gave that bitch a high five.

xo, Lydia

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Domestic Enemies of the Ex-Pat Mom

This awesome post was submitted to us by our friend Jay. She is a (somewhat voluntary) stay-at-home-mother to two (mostly) darling little boys, almost 4 years old and 15 months old. Once a professional with an interesting paying job, she now spends her days payless, begging interesting small people to pee and poop and scanning the skies for potentially laundry-soaking rain clouds in an English speaking country that is not the US.

We proudly present the:

Domestic Enemies of the Ex-Pat Mom
or, International Enemies of the Ex-Pat Mum

I am an American who met and married a foreign national while he was working in America. We made the move back to my Husband’s Home Country [HHC] last year with our two kids, now a pre-schooler and a toddler. Let me say from the outset that most of the people here in my adopted country are wonderful and really cool. Sometimes they’re even delighted to meet an American. Thus the following list, with perhaps the exception of evil Laundry, involves a tiny but very annoying fraction of what I deal with on a regular basis.

#1 The Accent: Like most Americans abroad, the accent gives me away every time. When I’m alone and silent I can sometimes blend in, but I have to talk to/at the kids when I have them around which is, like, always, so I might as well have an American flag tattooed on my forehead. This can cause “The Look” whereby everything about me, my kids, my possible purchases, etc. are summarily judged and found to be American and, thus, inappropriate and wasteful. My cart is full because I have a family of 4; my 3-year-old is halfway down the next aisle because I’m still trying to find the peanut butter; and I have no backlog of staples such as flour and coffee because I just moved here, Judgy McJudgersen. I’m also not in your local store to spread Truth, Justice, and the American Way (well, not today, anyway), I just want to get my groceries and get out with my kids and my sanity intact.

#2 Perceptions of American weight: If one more person brings up the “American obesity epidemic” while pointedly looking at my *skinny* children, I’m totally gonna square up, international incident-style.

#3 Cultural differences: These can range from tiny to thorny, peculiar to profound. Oh, the weirdness that is discovering baffling behavior like going barefoot on the playground is being *encouraged* at preschool. Things like paper towels have only recently become cheaper so most hostesses still only buy paper napkins on special occasions and then only the really nice, expensive kind, thus ensuring that they will get twitchy when seeing my 3-year-old with one.

#4 Laundry: I’ve stepped back into the mid-20th century. I don’t have a dryer. Anyone here who does won’t admit to using it, probably because local TV commercials equate using a dryer to being a baby-seal-hating environmental terrorist. So, it’s a clothesline for me -- a clothesline on the edge of a rock cliff that leads to the backyard. Now, it is pretty standard here for the laundry room be outside only access, but, through a weird quirk of taste, our landlord decided that a spa bathtub was more important than a laundry room, so we don’t have one at all.

Yep, our washing machine is ON THE BACK DECK. It is, at least, convenient to the cliffy clothes line. So, to do laundry I have to a) wait for naptime b) strap the toddler in the stroller on the back deck and/or c) wait until my husband comes home. No laundry room also means no safe, away-from-curious-toddler place to put a clothes rack, so if it rains for more than a day or two my family runs out of clean, or at least dry, clothes. And one random rain shower can ruin an entire day’s work. At least I can take comfort in the image of Randy freezing his backside off trying to steal my socks…

#5 Shopping: As a kid myself, they were a mere inconvenience; now dealing with them as an adult I’ve become convinced blue laws were written by men who didn’t have to shop and certainly didn’t have to shop with children. Where I live, most stores on most days close at 6 pm. Let’s let that sink in. No more popping out to Target alone after the kids go to bed, because the stores are closed before my husband even gets home from work. On top of this, most significant stores occur in large shopping centers with large, multi-level parking structures.

On top of THAT, there is a curious and arbitrary division of what stores sell which items. I cannot seem buy deodorant, toilet paper, and [reasonably-priced] diapers in the same store. I have to go to three different stores, with two kids in tow. Inevitably we’re out long enough that everyone needs to be feed and/or be watered and/or pee and/or play. At least the shopping centers have parents’ rooms. Using the teensy outdoor restrooms at “downtown” stores with a toddler and a preschooler involves contortions, swearing, indecent exposure, and a bucket of hand sanitizer.

Also, stores seem to have not mastered the art of ordering enough of basics such as mittens or pajamas or oatmeal. So I have to go to multiple stores on multiple days with multiple kids jabbering at them with my American accent to for-the-love-of-pete-just-stay-with-me-while-I-figure-out-if-they-have-deordorant-here-don’t-put-that-in-your-mouth-where-did-you-go-no-we’re-not-going-to-play-now-get-back-here-put-that-down...

#6 Visas: In America, my husband needs a visa. Here in HHC, I need a visa. The kids are dual citizens. There are mountains of paperwork, copious fees, and ridiculously long phone calls with voice-recognition software that does not, in fact, recognize a single word that comes out of my American mouth but loves to register random choices at the sound of my children squabbling. The crux of all this, is, however, that it doesn’t matter which side of the stay-at-home/working mother debate I’m on, I’m not allowed by HHC government to work yet. I can’t even volunteer because I can’t afford childcare because I don’t work.

#7 International moving [or, how to replace all your stuff while still paying for your old stuff]:
Take a look around your children’s bedrooms and imagine paring down their possessions, including clothes, to 2 suitcases each. How do you explain to your two-year-old that they will have to live without most of their beloved toys, stuffed animals, and books for many months? By the time our stuff actually arrives, I doubt my older son will remember half of it and will be too old for the rest.

Of course, he’s already been traumatized by having to leave it behind in the first place. Meanwhile all the possible hand-me-downs I carefully laundered and boxed for my younger son are now inaccessible, so I’ve had to buy the toddler all new clothes anyway. And while we’re waiting for our stuff we still need “luxuries” like dishes, highchairs, tables, towels… I have no idea where I’m going to put our old stuff once we finally get it!

#8 Regional DVD coding:
Between us we have a TV, 1 new DVD player, 3 computers, and lots of kid DVDs. The old, comforting DVDs from America that my 3-year-old loves won’t work on our TV or the grandparents’ TV because local DVD players won’t play American region DVDs. DVDs from our local library won’t play on our computers without intimidating warnings that we have X number of times to change our minds before a region will be selected FOREVER. Trying to watch DVDs becomes a crapshoot of which screen to use at which time in whose house, and someone is bound to end up in tears [usually me.]

All in all, it’s an adventure that I probably wouldn’t trade, and my husband is happy to have his children immersed in his culture for a change. Now if I could just get the local Target to sell T-boxes…

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

Oh Art Fail, We Love You...Part 5

 "My mom is a grate cock..." OhmyMaude, this is the best sentence in the history of ever. 

And, as we've officially depleted our coffers of Art Fails, please feel free to send us some more. After all, the school year is just about to start up. Nothing says love like a drawing of giant penis -- wait. What?

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I just found your blog and had to share. From Jackson’s (age 6) alphabet book:




 By way of explanation...I own a small decorated sugar cookie business. So I'm making cocks a lot!


It did seem awfully quiet downstairs......and then I found out why. And he found the SHARPIE to boot.

Hey, at least he was working on his alphabet. Just think, it COULD have been a big penis on your wall...K&L


Below is a special work of art my son Luke produced last year when he was 5 years old, in Grade R. The theme of the week was ‘a long time ago’. We had been reading about Egypt- he was hugely into the idea of zombie mummies. I was pleased to see that he got some of the most important elements right: the Nile River , the Pyramid of Giza, a camel…but hold on, what’s that in the camel’s mouth? Did somebody say, “Dad’s a smoker”? It gave me massive insight into what ideas the teachers must form about us delinquent parents. We are decent people. We just have a bad habit, which we indulge in outside of the house. You see, I even feel like I have to justify it to you



I picked up my 5yo daughter from school one afternoon, who was excited to tell me about the ladybug she made today, but Miss Susan didn't want her to keep it in her cubby. Weird, I thought . . . until Petunia handed it to me. I took a picture of it right then and there to share with my Facebook friends . . . and now I, respectfully, submit this misunderstood art for your enjoyment.



(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ten Reasons Why My Dogs is Less Annoying Than My Kids

I got a puppy a couple of months ago and everyone talks about how much work it must be.  PLEASE.  The puppy is nothing.  He barely hits my "a lot of work" radar.  I have a toddler whose stealth-like cunning and ninja skills may lead to her CIA recruitment at any moment.  I have two other kids who can not speak to each other without fighting. Or speak to me without interrupting, forgetting their manners or talking over each other in increasingly loud voices so no one can hear anything that is being said. At which point I am sullenly accused of not listening to them.

Now I love my kids more than butter or bacon or wine on the weekends.  I adore them.  I work my (inexplicably larger every year) ass off to try and not ruin them through my total ineptitude as a mother. But parenting? It's really hard. And it's getting more complicated the older they get. So the dog? That's easy. That's simple. 


Ten Reasons Why My Dog is (MUCH) Easier Than My Kids

My dog is awesome.
10.  Two words: crate training.

9. Dogs don’t like Justin Beiber.

8. Dogs really like to go to sleep.

7. When a dog makes a mess, he feels really bad about it.

6. Dogs don’t watch endless re-runs of the Wiggles that make your brain spiral into blackness.

5. When you give a dog his dinner, he doesn’t sigh and ask for McDonald’s.

4. Picking up #2 in a plastic bag off the sidewalk is actually much less disgusting than changing the diaper of a toddler who gets a lot of dietary fiber.

3. When dogs sigh and roll their eyes, it’s cute. And most dogs only whine when they really need something.

2. Dogs don’t incessantly wheedle you to allow them to play Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga more than can possibly be good for them.

1. Kids drop food all over the floor and claim it was an accident. Then they act all surly if you ask them to clean it up. Dogs will cheerfully hoover up Cheerios and act like you did them a favor.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

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