Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pregnancy Tests: A Pictorial of Pee Sticks

The most important test
you will ever take
This was originally run in the summer of 2011. Rerunning it now because OHMYGOD, it just totally happened to me.
Recently I was reading through posts that people had sent to us.  They were all amazing and the topics ranged from middle aged moms, to teen moms and trying to be a moms.  And it occurred to me that I could illustrate a theory I have long held dear.  Here is the theory:

Pregnancy tests measure more than the presence of a bun in your oven.  They are also bizarro barometers of a woman's reproductive life.  They mean a lot.

For example, pregnancy tests will almost always make you cry.  The reason WHY you're crying, however, varies widely:
  • Oh shit. I am pregnant.
  • Oh shit. I am not pregnant.
  • Oh shit. I am ambivalent about the result and what the hell does that say about me as a person?
  • Slow blooming happiness.
  • Despair.
  • Utter Bliss.
  • Relief.
  • Whuck. Have. I. Done?
  • Deer in headlights, blinding, all-encompassing fear.
  • Well, that explains why my tits hurt so much.
It depends on where are you are in your life how you will respond to the the results.  For several months of my life, the lonely single line staring back at me every 28 days was the saddest thing I had ever seen.  (But it was only for a couple of months so I should prolly shut the hell up and be grateful for that fact alone.)  I think pregnancy tests should tell you different things based on your age and phase of life.  The following is a total generalization, but well... You'll get the picture. 

At age 18, the test should actually look like this:

At age 30, it should look like this:

At 40, it should probably look like this:

And at 50, it should definitely look like this:

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Oh Dear God I Think I'm Pregnant

Dude. I know EXACTLY how you feel.
Here's the thing. I don't want to have any more kids. I have three and they're awesome and beautiful and healthy. On most days, if I'm being honest, I'm completely over-matched. On a good day, it all works. On a bad day, they are tornadoes and I am a trailer park. Being the mom they need is an ongoing struggle for me. Being the mom they deserve is simply not something I'm able do. At least not every day.

So no more kids for me and Cap'n Coupon. Plus we are both getting really, really old. Even though I won't be 40 for a very long time (about 12 weeks), lately I feel elderly and fragile and perpetually exhausted. But in the past month there was this one time where we both felt young and frisky and maybe a little careless and maybe something could have happened. And by "something", I mean possibly one of my last remaining eggos becoming slightly preggo.

But it was statistically completely unlikely. I mean, this had to be nothing. NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT, STUPID. Because nothing is happening.

Then a couple of days after nothing happened I got this weird cramping. Like a tiny little something burrowing it's way my geriatric uterine lining. And I got a teensy bit scared and I maybe said: "OH SHIT THIS CAN NOT BE HAPPENING." Then a couple of weeks later, I started having really vivid dreams about the Blue Wiggle and other bizarro things, like having to breastfeed kittens.

And a few days ago I started smelling chicken. Like I could smell it when it was wrapped in plastic inside my fridge. And when I tried to eat it, I couldn't shake the idea that I was chewing flesh and I would involuntarily gag. Even Chick Fil A.

I do not want to be pregnant. I can't do this. This has to be nothing.

When that bite of spicy chicken sandwich made me gag, I knew something was up. I mentioned it to the Cap'n. He smiled and said "Let's get a test, honey" but the look in his eyes was saying "OH SHIT THIS CAN NOT BE HAPPENING."

So I went to Walmart with Mini. I haven't bought a pregnancy test in a long time. I walked over to the part of the store that sells things like shampoo, feminine hygiene products, toothpaste and band aids. My kids call this part of the store "The Bathroom Area". I asked why they call it this when the bathrooms are on the other side of the store, a full football field away. In truth, I was worried that Mini called it that because she had once dropped a deuce there or was currently planning to. Instead she looked at me like I was moron and said: "Momma, all dis stuff is suppose to be in your bafroom."

Fortified by her preschool logic, it occurred to me that I had no idea where the tests were (within the bounds of the bathroom area). So I headed for tampons. And I began looking carefully up and down the aisle. There were no tests anywhere. I started to get nervous because it was becoming apparent that I might have to ask someone where the pregnancy tests were. I would have to ask them that out loud.

To avoid that horrible fate, I began to look more carefully all over the tampon aisle. My inner monologue began: "COME ON, WALMART. Where are the pregnancy tests? WHY AREN'T THEY HERE IN THE AISLE THAT HAS TO DO WITH VAGINAS? This is the damn vagina aisle, is it not?" [Editor's note: Yes. Yes! I vow to call that aisle the 'Vagina Aisle' for the rest of my life. -Guru]

I started sweating a little. I walked over to where there were vitamins and supplements and other things that had nothing whatsoever to do with vaginas. Not surprisingly, there were no pregnancy tests there either. I saw an old man in a blue vest and I started to feel faint because I was going to have to ask him using my mouth. And dear Lord. My dear sweet baby lemur. He was talking to my daughter's third grade teacher.

So I ran away and hid in the corner where the vagina aisle intersects with body wash. There is douche in between those sections, in case you were wondering.

I waited five minutes and looked again, but I couldn't see the teacher or the man in vest. I started to get worried because the only thing worse than having to ask him with my mouthhole was for him not to be there. And for me to never, ever find the pregnancy tests. I started to feel light-headed. I walked to the next aisle and looked up. There he was, the man in the vest. He smiled at me. His face seemed kind and understanding, so I opened my mouth to speak but before any words came out, my eyes flicked over to his nametag.

It said "HO". I slowly blinked. It still said "HO". It flashed at me as if written in lights. I closed my eyes, counted to five and opened them again. No change, still "HO". I walked closer to him, staring at his name tag, to make sure that I was seeing it right. He started to back away, very slowly, while conspicuously avoiding eye contact.  Mini looked at me from her perch in the shopping cart and said: "Momma. What. Are. You. Even. Doing?"

It was a suitable wake-up call. I decided it might be best to avoid asking Ho where the pregnancy tests were, given that he may have just called security. I quickly spun around to make a break for it and right there at eye level was an enormous bottle of lube. Inner monologue: "GAH! What the hell, Walmart? That is A LOT of lube for this time of day."

Below the lube were many, many boxes of condoms and above it? Pregnancy tests. BINGO.

Hello there, Lube.
My inner monologue began again: "I don't get it. I mean - I understand why you would put pregnancy tests with lube and condoms in the sex aisle. But really? It's more of a vag item. Am I wrong?" Then I saw that the only other things in the aisle were antacids and hemorrhoid treatments and I was like: "That's why they're here. Because pregnant women totally need Rolaids and Tucks wipes. They should put ice cream over here, too. And non-alcoholic beer."

I nodded to myself in satisfaction that finally something was making sense and then I realized that I'd said that last part out loud. Mini was looking at me with one small eyebrow raised and Ho was peering around the corner looking concerned. This has happened to me before. Thankfully, no one was filming me for People of Walmart this time.

I quickly scooted my boot to the register and paid for my purchases. The woman checking us out was wearing a nametag that said "Noneya" and I was like WALMART, WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON WITH YOU TODAY?

I went home and when I pulled in the driveway, I noticed that Mini had just fallen asleep. GAH! The dreaded 5 Minute Car Nap was going to wreck whatever chance at a reasonable bedtime and/or evening I had hoped for. I carefully picked her up and carried my ginormous three year old inside. I felt her chubby hands go around my neck, her little face nuzzle into my neck, and I smelled her sweet head.

I plopped her down on the couch and watched her sleep for a moment. Her little toes scrunched up and I bent down and kissed them. These were the only kid toes in my house that were kissable anymore. The other ones were now all too big and stinky. 

I decided to take advantage of these few minutes of quiet and quickly ran upstairs. I took the test. I should've waited 2 minutes but I knew right away. It was negative. I expected to feel relief. I expected that I would want to go back to Walmart and high five Ho and Noneya after shotgunning a victory beer with the Cap'n. But I cried in the bathroom for what seemed like a very long time. And I tried to stop myself from feeling like I'd lost something. Because I'd lost nothing. It was always nothing.

So I went downstairs and held my littlest until she got too squirmy. And I fervently thanked my lucky stars for the somethings I already have.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Eye Patch T-Shirts and Stuff

Yesterday, we posted a really good conversation between Miss E (a totally rad 7 year old girl who also happens to wear an eye patch) and her mom. Miss E is starting to get a little embarrassed when people make comments about her eye patch. She wishes she had a shirt that would just explain it for her so she wouldn't have to.

I liked her so much that I decided to write her a little note:

Dear Miss E,

There are now about a couple of thousand moms who read the conversation you had with your mom and they don't think you're awesome. THEY KNOW YOU'RE AWESOME. And probably now we all want to be your dancemates. And guess what each of these moms is going to do?

First, we're going to teach our children that when they see another kid with a eye patch (or something else like an eye patch, that looks a little different) that they should say this: "Hi!" And then they can ask if that kid wants to play. Or if they're at the store or something, they can just keep walking with their moms (but keeping one hand on the cart and not running around where their mom can't see them or being too noisy).

This is me high fiving you.
And us moms are also going to mention to other grown-ups they know that it's not OK to embarrass very cool kids by asking them silly questions. And if we see it happening, we're going to step up and change the subject like this:

Weird old man who smells like cheese: "Hey little girl! Why are you wearing an eye patch?"
Me: "Hey old man, why do you smell like foot cheese?" "Hey kiddo! How was school today? You look like you're in second grade. Do you have to memorize math facts?"

You know why we're all going to do this? Two reasons: one is because you're awesome (obviously). And because there are other kids just like you who are also awesome. The second reason is that your mom loves you so much that she just got a whole army of other moms to start making the world an easier place for you to be. Because she knows you are that special and amazing. You're pretty lucky to have mom who loves you like that.

Your friend, Lydia

Now about those t-shirts... I think these are the slogans the kiddo liked best:
  • Ninja Fight. I won.
  • I fought a tiger and I won.
  • If you can pronounce esotropic amblyopia, you can ask about my eye patch.
  • The eyepatch? It's so I don't go blind.
  • Vision is repairable, manners are a choice
Also, someone linked to this one on Cafepress, that is also really great. There are a bunch more right here from a group called Amblyopia Awareness.

If someone is very creative and designery-irsh, we'd love it if you'd whip up some designs of these slogans. Pretty please? Somebody talented? Otherwise, we'll just use the slogans and that's fine, too.

This is how we'll do it.
1) Get the designs/Type up the slogans
2) Throw 'em on t-shirts at our Cafe Press store where they will be sold at cost 
3) Try and post the design images (in mirror view) for folks who are crafty enough to print them onto iron-on transfers (you can buy them at Walmart for about $5)

So that's the plan.

xoxo, Lyd

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2012

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Eye Patch T-Shirt Slogan Discussion

You can actually buy this, see the watermark for the store.
So a couple of weeks ago, a very cool mom emailed me about how her little girl, who just turned 7, has to wear an eye patch. And how pretty much every day, people say things about the eye patch and they're starting to upset her daughter. She asked if we could come up with a t-shirt slogan that would encourage people not to mention it when they see her girl.

And then you guys lefts hundreds of comments here and on Facebook. Thank you. Seriously, Thank you.

The mom sat down with her kiddo and read her all the suggestions to see what she thought and see if there was one she liked best. Here's what she sent me about her conversation with Miss E, her daughter. I loved it so  much, I just stuck it all here for you guys to see:


Mom: So basically, I'm going to read these to you, and you can tell me if you like it. And if there's a bad word I'll say "BLEEP!" Here we go: "If you ask me about my eye patch I'll start to cry and then you'll be the ass who upset the adorable little girl and everyone will think you're a jerk."

Miss E: I would not cry. I would NOT cry. And if you do that, everyone is going to think I'm a silly kid. Now you're going to embarrass me for my whole life!

Mom: Moving on. "I have to wear an eye patch because you are so BLEEP!ing ugly, I can only take half of you at a time."

Miss E: Nobody will understand that. Are you trying to make my brain explode? [Editor's note: I love this kid already. - Lydia]

Mom: What about a t-shirt that says Pirate in Training?

Miss E: I am NOT a pirate in training.

Mom: Yeah, but you could pretend you are.

Miss E: No, I'm going for things that are real, not fake. 

Mom: OK, what about this shirt, that would say that you were mauled by a tiger?

Miss E: No way. That would be creepy. Like everyone's gonna think I'm dangerous. Like going in the woods and getting in a fight with a tiger.

Mom: How about this: "I'm supposed to have two?"

Miss E: No, that would be silly, like they are going to think that I'm 4, and my parents never told me I'm supposed to have 2.

Mom: (She's muttering under her breath right now about how I'm trying to embarrass that a 7 year old thing?)

Miss E: This is all silly. I just want one that explains my, the thing of my life, why my eye isn't broken, why I gotta wear this eye patch.

Mom: So not funny at all? Not like, "I got in a tiger or shark fight."?

Miss E: Well, I try to explain, but to me it just doesn't make much sense. And how of the time I try to just tell people to forget about it, because it's not their business.

Mom: So you just want a t-shirt that explains it?

Miss E: Yeah, I'll only have a joke that has a real thing in it.

Mom: OK, let's keep reading. Here's one: "Bet you wish you had one too!"

Miss E: Nobody would want to wear an itchy eye patch. Totally, I'm telling you, nobody.

Mom: That's the eye that shoots lasers. You should be thankful its covered

Miss E: Ummmm, hehehehe, that patch wouldn't stop a laser from shooting right out of the patch.

Mom: But you could pretend it did.

Miss E: Oh, like rubber? Ok. It's sort of funny, but kind of weird. It's not too bad.

Mom: I may wear an eye patch but you need manners

Miss E: That would be rude! (pauses)

Miss E: Wouldn't it be weird if a baby tiger lived in my eye, like it just wanted to bounce out? That might be funny or weird. I kind of do think that would do good, sort of.

Mom: If you can pronounce esotropic amblyopia, you can ask about my eye patch.

Miss E: What if an adult came and asked, or a really smart kid?

Mom: But probably a lot of people couldn't even say it.

Miss E: Like a passage word? Like if you want to ask me you gotta say the passage word? And I'm not gonna tell you, and even if I did say it, you couldn't even say it. (She meant password, we think)

Mom: If all you see is an eye-patch, the problem is yours.

Miss E:: But then I gotta keep explaining!

Mom: No, it will make them shut up.

Miss E: Oh, ok. Maybe. I remember when all the kids in my 4H made me all beautiful patches. [Editor's note: Kids and teachers and 4-H leaders who do things like this for other people are the most wonderful thing in the world. **wipes tear**. - Lydia]

Mom: This eye patch keeps my super powers under control!

Miss E: Ok, if I did that shirt, I would have to have a super hero eye patch all the time.  A good thing, because if I didn't, they wouldn't believe it. It's just to go with the shirt.

Mom: What about a t-shirt that says "none of your business"?

Miss E: Mmmmm, ok. Yeah.

Mom: Ninja Fight. I won.

Miss E:: Uhh, ok. Alright. That works.

Mom: Even though it's not technically real?

Miss E: Yeah. That can work. Even though it's not technically real.

Mom: If you cant say something nice... don't say nothing at all.

Miss E: Yeah, because I don't want them to not say something nice.

Mom: If you ask about my eye be prepared to listen to all the GORY details.

Miss E: Ok, maybe that will work. But I will just want them to know that it's not really real. Wait, I know! I fell in the ocean and I got in a fight by a squid and I won, and I got blacked in the eye by the squid and I gotta have an eyepatch to make my eye look weird....does that work?

Mom: Errr... My eye is temporarily shut down for repairs.

Miss E: Ok, that works.

Mom: You could wear a shirt that says, "It's so I don't go blind."

Miss E: Yeah! That's what I need! I used to say it's none of your business but I could just say, "HEY! If I don't wear this I'm gonna go blind!!"

Mom: Guess how often strangers ask me rude questions?

Miss E: Umm, ok.

Mom: Words can hurt, think before you speak.

Miss E: Ok, maybe that.

Mom: Not every question deserves an answer. Not every question should be asked.

Miss E: Hmm, naybe that.

Mom: Vision is repairable, manners are a choice.

Miss E: Ok, that works.

Mom: My eye went on a vacation.

Miss E:Ok, that works. My bout that?

(End of blog suggestions. Onto Facebook suggestions.)

Mom: I only use one eye, what's your super power?

Miss E: Ok, that might work.

Mom: How about an arrow pointing to her head and the words "THIS person knows she's wearing a patch and will explain it when she feels like it."

Miss E: Hmm, ok.

Mom: Before you ask what is wrong with my eye, ask yourself what is wrong with your manners.

Miss E: I guess that might go ok.

Mom: 1. It's an eyepatch
2. I can see just fine
3. No, it doesn't hurt
4. Yes, I am awesome.
Any more questions?

Miss E: No, mom! It does hurt, it makes my skin all itchy. But I guess it might go fine...ok, I can't read books but I can see fine, but not the words....

Mom: Ok, so that's all of them. Which ones do you like the best?

Miss E: Uhhh, I don't know. I seem to remember them all. I like the travel in time one. And I remember I fought a ninja, I won. Ok, I'll have the tiger. I fought a tiger I won. Or, it could be I fought a tiger, I losed, but I would rather have won.

Mom: But won't kids think you're dangerous?

Miss E: Maybe, they'll probably just think I'm awesome, totally, even my dancemate will.

Come back tomorrow for more info on t-shirts and a quick response to Miss E for her total awesomeness.

xoxo, Lyd

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2012

Friday, September 21, 2012

Cats are Better Than Dogs

I love this so much that I might have to marry it. Well done, Buzzfeed. You are brilliant and I bow to you, perhaps like a dog would to a cat.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2012

The Talk - Live with Lydia

This really couldn't be more embarrassing. First of all, they start the clip with the hosts literally bracing themselves for my presence on the set. Am I imagining this? Am I reading too much into their body language?

Oh no. Of course not.

Because then Natasha says: "Compose yourselves because it's about to get not composed in here." THIS IS NOT A SURPRISE, HOOKER.* I have been "not composed" on your show for almost 2 whole years. Remember that time Kate said "strap on" and I snorted and almost started crying? And how I forgot the word for that thing that goes on top of your car so I called it a "hoo haw" and you gave me the stink eye? And that other time when you kicked me with your fancy high heeled boot and I was like: "DO YOU WANT SOME?!" and then we got into a slap fight? (That last part was a lie). 

*She is not really a hooker. I use that as a term of endearment (as you all know) because I love her.

But honestly, a slap fight may have been the only thing to have saved my performance in this clip. It is just too painful to watch and I'm a total jackhole with no business going on TV ever. But I'll show it to you because we're friends and because maybe you need a hearty laugh at someone else's expense right now. So here we go.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

5 Things I Learned from my 55 Hour Labor

Here they are. Plotting their life in fashionable shoes... without me.
Last year, Kate and I went to Chicago to do a project with Totina's Peeper Snatchers Totino's Pizza Stuffers and Second City Communications. By "do a project", I mean that we watched awkwardly while they did the project. But it was still awesome and we were amazed by how talented and cool all of the people were. 

Including the woman who wrote today's post. She is both a hooker and motherpucker by proxy, because in addition to being an incredible performer, a mom of an adorable 5 year old, and a smoking hot fox, she is also the kind of person who organizes a drive for school supplies for homeless kids. I know this because she lets me stalk her on Facebook.

This is Christy Bonstell. And here's her post:


5 Things I Learned from my 55 Hour Labor
Alternate Title: How giving birth made sure I will never, ever be scared of anything ever again.

My son, Patrick the Giant, is approaching his fifth birthday. I still, to this day, have not written his birth story in his baby book. Because it is not a birth story. It is a HORROR story that no child should ever read ever, unless we no longer want to propagate the earth.

You see, I was in labor for 55 hours. Yes, you read that right...55 hours. My son, who was estimated to be a polite 7 pounds, turned out to be a 10-pounder with a head the size of a bowling ball. We now share hats.

Since the tale in question essentially gave me PTSD, I’ve done my damndest to try and forget the whole damn thing. However, as time moves on, I realise now it taught me some things. Here are those things:

1. I would make a terrible secret agent. By hour 53 I was shouting out any secret I may have known about anything ever, to get the perceived “torture” to end. Of course those secrets were things from fifth grade, but still. I’ve watched enough “24” to know I did poorly.

2. I will never, ever be afraid of a spider again. Please know that late in labor I saw death as a viable and desirable option. In fact, I begged for it. LOUDLY. I realise now that there must have been some nice young couple arriving for their scheduled birth at the same time I was filling the whole preggo ward with the sounds of “Do whatever you have to do to get this baby out of my body alive and just kill me.”

3. I don’t handle drugs very well. Near the end I was given “something to take the edge off.” Whatever that was (I have no clue) did not do as promised. It did, however, send me on a very nice trip where I was running down a hallway full of crayons. That’s the best my subconscious could come up with in my time of need? Crayons? Running? Where was Ryan Gosling serving me single-malt whiskey? Brain. FAIL.

4. I will never feel bad about my body again. Why? Because I’ve seen what it looks like post-birth and post three-days-on-a-saline drip. It ain’t pretty. You ever see that movie where Eddie Murphy wears a fat suit? Yeah...I looked like that. Not Eddie Murphy--though I would have rather looked like Eddie Murphy than what I did in my own, water-induced fat suit.

5. I will always make jokes. And I will always sleep. In hour 55, when they finally decided a c-section was in order, I fell asleep on the table. They kept waking me up to make sure I was awake for the BIRTH OF MY SON, but sleeping was kind of won at that point. The one time they did get me to wake up I asked “Am I a size 4 again?” They laughed. I went back to sleep.

So, it’s funny now, I guess. And in the end, everything turned out great. Since Patrick turned out to be 11 pounds by the end of his first week, he slept through the night almost immediately and I got plenty of rest. And my little giant, who is in a mixed Kindergarten-First grade and is the biggest kid in his class, has given me almost no trouble at all since those fateful three days.

I guess, this is the birth story I should write in his baby book.

Maybe I’ll just make one up instead.
Christy L. Bonstell is a Chicago-based comedian and writer. Her website is

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2012

Monday, September 17, 2012

When it's Time to Have The Talk

From an epic slideshow by Joslyn Gray
This summer, my oldest daughter began asking me about bras. She is heading into 4th grade, the age when I noticed (sigh...) some girls begin to need one and even (gasp!) might get their period. And I freaked a little which is odd considering that I had The Talk with my little sister when she was in middle school and I'm a former HIV/AIDS health educator and used to talk to literally thousands of kids about safe sex. 

But it's all different when it's your kid. And she just turned 9. So what now? Like I always do, I asked the most intelligent and attractive women on the internet (you fine hookers - via Facebook) for advice. Specifically I asked you what books I should read and then give my daughter for part one of The Talk. I got hundreds of amazing suggestions and my friend Joslyn Gray (aka Stark.Raving.Mad.Mommy) turned it into a really great slideshow over at Babble. (The book suggestions are also in list form at the bottom of this post.)

About once a month, I go on a local TV show and chat about something that has to do with moms. This week, they asked me to discuss THE TALK (mortifying video clip to follow later this week). So here are my thoughts on the subject:
Start the dialogue a little early so you get to set the tone. Having the conversation sooner than you might be comfortable with is a good idea for several reasons:
  • You get to pick the vocabulary you want your kid to use. Are you going to be talking about penises and vaginas or using some adorable euphemisms like wang and ladybits?
  • You get in there with some facts before little Trevor on the playground gives an impromptu sex ed tutorial that includes a detailed description of the movie he watched on Cinemax last weekend. 
  • You can help them figure it all out before they draw their own (sometimes very creative) conclusions as to how things work.
Read up first, do a little research. This does three things:
  • Helps you get comfortable with the information and anticipate the kinds of questions your child might ask.
  • Gives you the chance to identify some books that might be appropriate to give your individual kid and the things he or she is thinking about.
  • If you're really nervous, you can plan out what you're going to say or use the book as a prop to make it all a little less awkward.
Make sure to keep it low key. This was next to impossible for me, despite my best efforts. I'm sure my flop sweat and frenetic stuttering made me look like a perfect sitcom mom, except coming off a meth binge. So my tips here are:
  • Avoid being like me.
  • Let your kid know that it's not a big deal and they should always feel comfortable coming to you and that you'll be cool about answering their questions. This sets the stage for the next conversation, or for when questions inevitably come up. 
  • Joslyn suggests having the conversation while you’re driving, which limits the need for eye contact and allows people to process things in their own way. 
Here is my very real fear of that scenario playing out while I'm driving:
Me: "And that's how ovulation works! You should feel free to come to me whenever you have any questions."
Three weeks later while driving to church...
Daughter: "Mommy?"
Me: "Yes? Let me just turn down the radio. What is it, sweetie?"
Daughter: "Is it true ladies put things inside their vaginas? Like penises and tampons and stuff? How old are you when you start doing that? Fourth grade or nineteen or what?"
Other children: (screaming and jumping like hyperactive primates)"WHAT?! HUH?! SAY THAT AGAIN! SAY IT LOUDER! VAGINA VAGINA VAGINA!!!"  

You don't have to say everything at once - start with what kids NEED to know. This summer, we needed to talk about what happens to girls' bodies as they start to approach puberty. That conversation has led to others and I'm sure it will lead to still more. But we needed to start with just that
  • Hitting all bases at once (heh heh) would have been totally overwhelming for my kid. A lot of people benefit from having some time to think over new things, and then later adding more information to the mix.
  • Joslyn had a great suggestion that you should start by ask your child what he or she already knows. That way you can figure out where their head is, where they picked up those tidbits of information, and if they have their facts straight. 
Warn friends/family/teachers that you're having The Talk. I told the parents of my kid's best friends that we'd discussed this stuff.  Because I expected that she might want to talk about it at some point with her buds, and if she did - I wanted those parents to have a heads up that some questions might follow.

I think I sent a text that looked something like this: "Just thought you should know that I told Thumbelina all about how periods work so tomorrow's sleep-over at your house is probably going to turn into the second coming of "Are You There God, It's Me Margaret". You're very welcome. I'm sure it will be an extremely special evening for you. xoxo, Lydia"
Give your kids some appropriate resources so they can think about it and precess it on their own. The list you see below is based on the suggestions that you gave us on Facebook in July. 
  • If you look on Amazon, all the book reviews have the same two issues: 1) This book is too mature/advanced or 2) it’s too juvenile/babyish.  So please take the time to at least skim the books before you share them with your kids.
  • I used the American Girl books as well as the companion journal and my daughter absolutely loved them, especially the book "Is This Normal?" which is structured like an advice column. 
  • Ultimately, my talk went really well  - thanks to your advice and suggestions. So thank you.
For Boys and Girls:
What’s the Big Secret? Talking About Sex With Girls and Boys by Laurie Krasny Brown and Illustrated by Marc Brown. Ages 4 to 8.

For Girls:
The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Girls (American Girl Library) by Valorie Schaefer. Age 8 and up.
The Feelings Book: The Care and Keeping of Your Emotions (American Girl Library) by Dr. Lynda Madison. Age 8 and up.
(Companion journals are available for both The Care and Keeping of You and The Feelings Book.)
What’s Happening to My Body? Book for Girls by Lynda Madaras. Age 12 and up.
Period. A Girl’s Guide by JoAnn Loulan. Age 6 and up.
Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret (novel) by Judy Blume. Age 9 and up.
Website: (for parents and girls age 8 to 15).

For Boys:
The Body Book for Boys by Rebecca Paley. Age 10 and up
What’s Happening to My Body? Book for Boys by Lynda Madaras. Ages 9 to 15

For Parents:
Everything You Never Wanted Your Kids to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid They’d Ask) by Justin Richardson. A one-of-a-kind survival guide to staying sane through every stage of your child’s development.
Website: for Parents Explains birth control so that you can explain it, and answers questions like “How can I reassure my daughter that she’ll get her period?” and “Is it normal for an 11-year-old boy to fondle himself?” (Answer: yes.)
Website: by sex educator Amy Lang, MA. To help parents talk to kids about uncomfortable things.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2012

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Five Things I Did NOT Learn on my Summer Vacation

Hieeee! Oh, I missed you all so much! How was your summer? I’m sorry this post is a little late…Lydia gave me last week off because we spent the last two weeks of summer sick with roseola.

Have you had that one yet? Good times, good times…it’s several days of 103 fever followed by several more days of a decidedly unattractive (though not contagious) rash. The thing about a NON-contagious rash is that it doesn’t really matter that you can technically take your kid out to the supermarket or the playground…you don’t want to. Because even though your pediatrician and the pharmacist and your MIL and the dude at the Mobil station all say your kids are fine, they sure as hell *look* wicked contagious and you don’t want to be THAT mom. And my two kids perfectly staggered their contraction of this illness, so just when we had reached the end of quarantine with the older one and I thought we just might get to go see a friend or return the overdue library books…Bam! The younger one wakes up red hot and droopy. And then I got it, too! Weeeeee!
Anyway, I really enjoyed reading Lydia’s post last week about what she learned on her summer vacation. But it got me thinking that I didn’t really learn all that much during mine. In fact, I may have devolved a bit in some areas. Without further ado, five things I did NOT learn on my summer vacation:

How to potty train my son.
My little guy is lingering between two and three years-old, which means, yes, I could/should potty train him. But I don’t wwaaaaaannnnnnaaaaaaaaaaa! I have done this once before. I know it ends with no more butt wiping and lots of money saved on wipes, diapers, etc. I know if you get them at the right moment and make it fun and exciting then it doesn’t have to be a big, horrid ordeal. But I ask you…is there ever a good week to have all the surfaces of your house covered in feces and urine? Is there ever a good week to NOT leave the house for fear that your little one will suddenly shart in the middle of Target? That’s what I thought. Maaaaybe I’ll tackle it this winter…

How to keep my car clean.
Like Lydia, as my children have aged I’ve tried really hard to get control over how disheveled my life can be. I’m happy to report that my house was in semi-decent shape this summer and the laundry was pretty much done regularly. However, my car…my poor car really saw the brunt of my laziness this summer. We made two road trips to PA, one to NH and many, many day trips to the local lake and playground. Each time I thought about cleaning it out I realized we just had another trip coming up, so why bother? Then on Labor Day morning I remembered that my daughter’s preschool teachers and staff would, the very next day, be opening her car door to unbuckle her. I shrieked and ran out to tackle the beast. I sucked up at least a gallon’s worth of sand, dirt and broken snacks into our wet/dry vac.Seriously:

This is the floor under my son's car seat after 10 weeks of fun. *Gag.*

I didn’t dare look in the trunk.<<Shutter>>

How to change the music in my car.
Also like Lydia, my husband and I have a lot of conflicts about vehicular music. Unlike Cap'n Coupon, my husband doesn't care about four letter words, he cares purely about the quality of the music. My kids call his car the "Rock Car" and on the weekends there is a lot of child-fist-pumping to Foo Fighters and Radiohead on the way to the supermarket. My taste is a lot less discerning, which is how the conflicts occur. This summer when he got in my car at the start of a family road trip and Carly Rae Jepsen blasted on the speakers he frantically jabbed at the radio power button and turned to give me a full-on Maude face. And then, on cue, our son continued singing even though the radio was off..."And! All dee udder boys, dey try to chaaaase me!Here my number, call me baby." Wooooops.

We did reach a happy compromise by August, thanks to our rad friends who introduced us to a Hall and Oates tribute album by The Bird and the Bee. (Lydia, do you have this?? I'm mailing you a copy!) We agreed this was a fun album of classics and when we play it in the car all four of us are happy and bopping along. I might have started playing it a lot during the week in my car, too, because tonight while I was cooking I was singing to myself, "You can rely on the old man's money / You can rely on the old man's money..." at which point my son marched through the kitchen yelling, "It's a B!TCH girl, and it gone too far!" I *really* have to remember to change the CD tomorrow morning.

How to keep in touch with old friends.
I’m really ashamed of this one. I have awesome friends from high school, college, old jobs and other cities and for some reason they seem to like me, too. But oh man, did my communication skills with people outside my house and job go in the shitter this summer. Does this ever happen to you guys? I just went through a stage where I couldn’t be bothered to return a phone call and writing a long email felt laborious. My work schedule was just busy enough that I felt like my free time just got swallowed up and I just kept getting more and more behind on my correspondence. I want all the people I love to be around the corner so they can come over for happy hour on my deck and just be here with me while our kids trash my yard and eat hot dogs and get filthy. I’m just going to rearrange the whole world so everyone is within a 45 minute drive of my house.

How to make new friends.
I am lucky enough to say that I have a circle of local friends nearby who do come over and sit on my deck for a Friday night beer. It’s so awesome. But there is a certain amount of social stupidity that comes with such comfort. So when preschool orientation rolled around two weeks ago and I was suddenly surrounded by many new faces I felt a bit shy! And then I spotted the husband of my friend, Amy…you know, the one who had that whucktastic vomit photo last Easter. We have never met but I recognized him immediately from the famous photo so I decided I’d be a grown-up and go introduce myself. And what do I say to him? Do I approach him and calmly say, “Hello. I’m Louise. I’m a friend of your wife’s.” No, instead I go flying at him and yell, “HI! I’M LOUISE! I PUT YOUR FAMILY’S VOMIT PHOTO ON THE INTERNET!” at which point he gave me a sheepish grin while I launched into a five minute monologue about puke. He was super nice about it, but later I thought maaaaybe I shouldn’t have led with that. Ah, well. There's always next summer.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2012

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