Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Girl Scouts & Boy Scouts Are Trying to Ruin My Life

I love scouting. My two big kids are both scouts and they get a lot out of it. But this time of year is a killer for parents. I don't know how the leaders do it. To you brave souls, I salute you. I admire you. I pity you. You must be exhausted. Here, let me bring you a large Starbucks and pat your shoulder while murmuring "there, there."

The boy has the Pinewood Derby this month and then something called the Blue Gold dinner. The Pinewood Derby, in case you didn't know, is a BFD. For little dudes, it's huge. They make a car out of a small piece of pine and then they race them. It's this big thing. I never knew anything about it because my brother was never a boy scout (my father thought it was a stupid para-military group and a waste of time).

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Tao of My Dad

My dad is a handsome old geezer named Ed Miller. He lives in the woods in Maine. If the truth be told, he is a bit of a character. There is really no way to describe him, so I won't try. Instead, I will share with you some of his bon mots which over a lifetime have collectively become (what I call) "The Tao of My Dad". If you've ever wondered why I am this way, perhaps this will give you some insight.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Oh, I will pin it ALL DAY LONG.

It's time for a Pinterest update. OH YES IT IS. Let's start with items pinned to:

A Pinterest board dedicated to punishing Kate for abandoning all of us 
(or as she very selfishly puts it, "having priorities" and "working for a living").
It's actually just kind of a fun way to include her even though she's not with us all the time.


Let's start with a functioning pan flute made from tampon applicators. 
Guess who may be getting one of these next Christmas?!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Letter to My Kids Because I'm 40 and That's Old

Not wiser. Just a bigger ass.  Literally.
Hello my very beloved offspring,

Someday when you read this, I will be even more ancient than I am right now. Someday I hope very much to be a crotchety old lady who says wildly inappropriate things and embarrasses you by grabbing your father's keister in the retirement community where we live. But for now, I'm only 40.

Everyone says turning 40 is a really big deal but I have not found that to be so. But upon this occasion (and just in case I drop dead tomorrow), I thought I'd tell you what my perspective on life is at this particular moment. Then when you turn 40 and start wondering "Why don't I feel like a real grown up yet?" you can read this and feel better. Because at least you will realize that your immaturity is in part hereditary. Sorry about that.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Few Ways I Suck at Having a Sick Kid

I'm heading into year 10 of being a mom and there are some things I should know by now. One of them is how to deal when one of my kids gets sick. AND YET NO.

I love my littles more than sandwich bread and pumpkin pie. My husband and I have designed our whole lives around being good and attentive parents. We are present, loving and paying attention. AND YET NO.

Because as soon as one of my kids gets a tickle in their throat, I start screwing things up. It's as if I have total amnesia from the thousand times I've had to care for a sick child in the past. It's like The Blur takes over and I just react, moment-to-moment, until the crisis subsides. And then I collapse, exhausted, into a puddle while my newly re-engergized offspring use my flabby mid-section as a springboard into chaos.

Friday, January 18, 2013

It's a Round-up!



Over the past couple of weeks, I've posted a lot of stuff here, on Babble Pets and on my Babble Voices blog (also called "Rants in my Pants" - a name that I'm now rethinking because try saying that to one of your husband's work colleagues with any amount of dignity).

So here's some stuff you may be interested in...

I made a video about all the things I say to my kids that I don't actually mean. Because saying "if you don't stop bothering your sister, I'm locking you in the basement until camels rule the earth" is not what experts call good parentingClick here.

I went on TV and was supposed to talk about kids and finances but I took a bunch of Benadryl and babbled incoherently for 8 minutes instead. You can watch the clip here.

Because I actually care about that topic, I asked for your advice, collected your feedback, and came up with 15 very useful tips on teaching your kids about money. You can read them here and see if your suggestion is on the list.

I wrote a post about making chicken salad from chicken schmidt when I was on bed rest (while pregnant with Mini). Warning - it's not funny, it's kind of personal. You can read it here or just skip it and move onto something important like...

Learning what a porcupine sounds like. YOUR MIND WILL BE BLOWN. Play it for your kids when they're being particularly tedious and see if it doesn't snap them out of it. Watch it here.

Or you could show them this video of a big puppy teaching a little puppy how to walk down stairs. It's so cute it's not even right. It's here.

You guys know how I feel about hedgehogs, right? Well look at this guy. He's one of 25 hedgehog memes I collected for a slideshow of hedgey goodness. Here it is.

Guru Louise has been up in the hizzy, too. She wrote an amazing post about when her little boy lost his lovey. It's really wonderful and it's right here.

She also wrote about potty training because you know what? It is not easy. It's like pimpin', which is also not easy. You can read it here.

Lastly, you can read what happened when my weird family discussed super powers in the car. You can check it out here. There are two very important updates to this post:

  1. My super power, in case any one is interested, would be the ability to stop time because I'm f*cking exhausted and no one lets me sleep.
  2. My children no longer sing "this squirrel is on fire" when they hear Alicia Keys. It has now been replaced with "this squirrell is a liar" because we are a very, very professional family
The last thing in this round up is something I didn't write but my good friend, the incrediballs Pregnant Chicken did. IT'S THE PREGNANT CHICKEN WEEKLY PREGNANCY CALENDAR! It's so awesome and helpful and hilarious that even non-preggos such as myself will enjoy reading it.  Here it is, hookers.

Thank you for joining me on this round up and I wish you a merry long weekend, free from both fevers and vomit.
xoxo, Lydia


(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2012

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I Would Have the Power to Make You Listen to Me

We are very lucky. We live in a neighborhood with lots of kids and they sometimes play epic games outside. I love it when this happens as it means they are outside getting fresh air and exercise and not inside watching TV or nagging at each other (or bugging me).

I don't even know what the games are that they play these days. It used to just be Toilet Tag. Now the games have evolved in scope, breadth and majesty. The rules and the characters change all the time, based on who is around and what they feel like on any given day.

The games don't last for hours anymore either, they last for days. I suspect they sometimes involve Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. For example, last month I saw a lot of medium-sized little boys running behind my house pointing sticks at each other and screaming: "PROTEGO!"

Based on some of the things I was observing out the window yesterday, I guessed that the afternoon's adventure was pretty cool. So here is last night's conversation with the kids on the way to dinner.


Me: It seems like you guys had a great time playing in the neighborhood with all the kids.
Thumbelina (9 years old): YES. It was so fun.
Hawk (7 years old): We had powers.
Mini (4 years old): I was inside wif you, Mama. Because I'm small. [Snuggles into her car seat like a precious little stink bug, until I realize she is going to fall asleep in the two minutes before we arrive at the restaurant, thereby detonating any chance for a nice meal. I begin tickling her feet in a vain attempt to avoid this.]
Me: What kind of powers did you have? I only ask because I saw that one kid run by the house and it looked he had garden claws where his hands used to be.
Thumbelina: Yeah... That was awesome. [Hawk nods in agreement]
Me: So what was his power?
Hawk: At first he had lightning power. But then he sort of changed into a Phoenix that was as big as a dragon. You can see how that would happen, right?
Cap'n Coupon: Of course. Especially since he had a pair of garden claws right there.
[Kids heads are bobbing up and down as Daddy clearly gets it]
Me: And what were your powers?
Thumbelina: I had the power of water and vapor and moisture - even from clouds.
Me: Amazing. So you were a water bender?
Thumbelina: [glares at me] NO. I HAD WATER POWER.
Me: All righty then. What was your power, son?
Hawk: I had the power of fire and lava. [Shrugs as if expecting congratulations for picking the best power imaginable].
Me: What about the other kids?
Hawk: The one guy, he had the power of ants.
Me: Ants?
[Thumbelina and Hawk exchange a glance confirming that I am an moron who understands nothing]
Thumbelina: Yes - ants. He had an entire ant army. Ants are very powerful insects, mom. [Clearly implying that I should have already known that]
Cap'n Coupon: If I had to pick a super power, I would definitely be Wyatt so that I could use the power of words to read. And be Super Why.
[children snort derisively from back seat, even Mini]
Thumbelina: Super Why? Come on, dad. He can only use the power of words in English. That's ridiculous. He would be powerless in Thailand. He can't even speak French.
Hawk: Or Elvish.
Thumbelina: EXACTLY. Good point.
Me: Mini, what would your power be? [praying she answers me, which means she's still awake.]
Mini: I would fly. On a uni-corn! Dat is also a Pegasus. And is my pet and my best fwiend.
Me: AWWW! That sounds great. And is he super snuggly and lovey?
Mini: [Giving me side eye, loaded with contempt] Cece is a GULL.
Me: Your unicorn pegasus is a GULL?
Everyone else in the car: A GIRL.
Cap'n Coupon: It's like you can't even speak Mini.
Mini: Yah, momma. Like my favowite song. [starts belting] DIS GULL IS ON FI-YAAAAA!
(other kids exchange a glance and then start singing)
Big Kids:  THIS SQUIRRELL IS ON FIRE!
(everyone cracks up, in spite of the fact that this joke has now been in rotation for three weeks)
Me: Does anyone want to know what my power would be?
Kids: WE'RE HERE!! WE'RE HERE!  [pile out of the car at a pace ten thousand times faster than it took to get them in the car] 
Me: Sigh...

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2012

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Lost Bunny

As I’m writing this my almost three year-old is tucked under his Thomas blanket blissfully napping. Oh, but he wasn't so sweet and cuddly-looking about 30 minutes ago when I tried to put him down for nap. The process involved a lot of sobbing, snot, and boneless tantruming (on his part) and a lot of cajoling and then pleading (on my part).

This is Bunny.
It’s not his fault. Usually his little two year-old body is so wiped out by 1pm that he is happy to collapse in his bed. But this week everything has been messed up. 

We lost Bunny.

It pains me to even type the words. I've had more than my fair share of parenting fails but this one ranks near the top of the list. I swear when I got home from work on Monday that Bunny was sitting on the ottoman and then somewhere between me cooking dinner and scrubbing them and books and pajamas and teeth and wondering when the f@ck dad is getting home, we just lost him. It’s actually kind of impressive, given that our house is only 1,100 square feet and he is not allowed in two of our three bedrooms.

This isn't the first time Bunny has been misplaced. In fact, it’s not unusual for me to tuck my son in at night and for him to then frantically realize Bunny isn't in bed. “WHERE. BUNNY.” he demands. And with that statement I am sprinting out the bedroom door, combing the house for the little blue jacket and fuzzy ears. I usually find Bunny in the last place my son was playing before bed…in the couch cushions where we were reading books or sitting on the potty chair where he watches my son brush his teeth. Though on occasion we have had to really hunt for him. Like that time he was wrapped up in the living room curtains. What was Bunny even doing in there? What game was he playing? Death by fabric suffocation?

Anyway, I couldn't find Bunny anywhere this time. I offered my son a teddy bear as a replacement and he gave me a huge Maude Face and I had to watch his small face crumple up. I promised to spend the whole night looking for him while he slept but I still heard muffled, soft sobs through the door after lights out.

When my husband got home from work soon after he found me looking in all the usual places and he silently started pulling the couches out from the walls. We spent an hour looking. No dice. So I spent the remainder of the week having to remind my son that Bunny was gone. Two year-olds seem to have very selective memory…like he can remember that 6 hours ago I promised him a cookie after dinner but every 20 minutes he looks surprised and exclaims, ‘Oh! I go get my bunny now.” And then he is crushed when he can’t find it. Again.

Even more mystifying was that by Thursday night he stopped asking for Bunny. He was fine to settle into bed with his bear, who has always been second fiddle. So it took only three days for him to move on? Seriously???

I mean, Bunny has been with my son since he was 5 months old. Bunny has been tucked under his baby arm through meals and diaper changes; Bunny has withstood being shoved into our toy fire truck and cooked in our toy kitchen; Bunny has been with him all night, every night, through every fever and head cold, and even through those nights last winter when my son had the croup and he couldn't breathe and we were so scared. Bunny was there.

My baby son and Bunny (awkwardly) napping in 2010
And all along I thought my son needed him because he’s a lot like me. The world scares him a bit. He finds busy, loud places overwhelming, not invigorating. He needs a little extra hug and some extra reassurance to go sit with the other kids on the blanket at Story Time at the library. That was me. He is me. I am him. That’s why I know the reason he even has a lovey is that it helps him manage the world around him…it gives him some safety when he is feeling unsure of himself. Hell, I was so hesitant as a small child that I had two loveys and I needed them both by my side well into Kindergarten. His Dad and Big Sister are fearless. But us timid folks gotta stick together, loveys and all.

So now I have to ask...where's the loyalty, kid? Days later I'm still frantically searching the house and you've just moved on. This morning I was still searching, desperately checking inane locations in the house, like the top cabinet full of cleaners (why would Bunny be there?). I took a moment and realized how crazy I was acting. My son is okay without Bunny, so why am I still looking? I was standing on a chair in the kitchen searching behind the bottle of bleach for a plush toy and I realized that I wasn't really looking for Bunny...I was looking for my baby boy. And all I saw in front of me is an almost-three-year-old who can wash his own hands and get his own cup of water and, oh dear Maude, he doesn't need Bunny anymore and soon he won't need me either.
 
This motherhood thing really gouges me sometimes. I have bent over backwards the last three years teaching him to stand alone, walk, run, feed himself, make his own choices. And now I feel sad and lonely for my baby who used to need help with things. He used to need me. Siiiiiigh. I have to go find my loveys now.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2012

Monday, January 14, 2013

Lydia on TV: Kids and Money

So last week, I got the following email from the producer of the show Let's Talk Live. I'm supposed to be a guest on the show on the first Friday of every month. Last week was the first Friday:
"Hey lady! So glad you're coming on the show tomorrow. What do you want to talk about?"
To which I responded:
"WHHAAAAT?? Oh God. I have no bloody idea. My house flooded & my new laptop crashed in the past 48 hours. On my way to the Apple store now in the hopes that they can perform a miracle. If you come up with a topic, I promise to do a good job. But at the moment I am neck deep in a river of dukey water."
So the producer sent me a link to an article on how to teach your kids about money and finances. I studied it and added some talking points and thought very carefully about why this issue was so important. Then I had a sudden and severe allergic reaction to something, blew up like a ballon and slept for 12 hours.

I woke up the next morning looking like a cross between the Elephant Man and the emperor from Star Wars. So I took a bunch of Benadryl, put on enough make-up to embarrass the contestants on Ru Paul's Drag Race, and did the interview. I was so punch drunk on anti-histimines that I don't think we discussed a single one of the talking points. I'm pretty sure I didn't slur my words. My face is only a little puffy on the sides.

All in all, it could have been worse.

OH! And because I actually really love this topic - I collected all your comments and turned them into a advice post over at Babble. To check it out - click here. It's pretty awesome because it's all your ideas.




(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2012

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Potty Training for Dummies: The Amnesia Edition

Dear readers, I have BIG news. I hesitate to even type it, for fear that I will jinx myself into an afternoon full of disgusting accidents but...I think my son is potty trained.

His big sister had pneumonia for the full two weeks of Christmas break and was a hacking, coughing, feverish mess. At some point I realized this meant a) we cannot leave the house, b) no one can come over and c) we had no activities, birthday parties and very little shopping to do and few errands to run. Therefore, as social hermits, conditions were perfect for potty training.

I'll admit it: at first, I was a bit arrogant about the whole thing. I vaguely remembered training his older sister at the same age (just shy of 3 years-old) and it took two days. Nooooo problem, right?

Lydia, the next time I say something so asinine, please just slap me with a sandwich.

By the end of Day 2 with my son I slowly realized I'm a huge dummy. Or I had severe potty training amnesia. Or both. You see, I forgot a few certain truths about potty training:

1. They have to be bothered by the mess. This is one of those things veteran moms tell you--that if your kid is bothered by messy underpants then he will be more motivated to get to the potty in time. Well, only a few minutes after I took off my son's diaper for the first time he peed through his undies onto the floor. I held my breath and waited for his reaction...feeling sure he would be upset or cry. Instead he looked at the puddle on the floor, looked up me, smiled and said gleefully, "Oh well! Accidents happen!" Then I'm pretty sure he proudly backed away doing jazz hands.

2. Boys have to point their junk down. DOWN. Yeah, so the thing about being a girl and raising another girl is that I kind of forgot that his junk has to be pointing down. Let's just say Big Sister and I, who were crouching by the potty, yelling encouragement, both got a *big* surprise. In the face. Eeeeeeew.

3. They don't understand how disgusting poop is. My friend Lulu has a son the same age mine and as it happens, we are both potty training at the same time. When I saw her at the library yesterday she looked worn out and defeated. She explained that her son is doing a great job at peeing on the potty but is hesitant to poop and, as of earlier that day, he hadn't gone in two full days. That morning she walked into his bedroom and discovered that he had unloaded 2+ days of poop on his floor and then decided he would clean it up himself. Using his dump truck. Because he is 2 years old and that makes total sense. *Gag*

The only silver lining was that he has wood floors in his room, but Lulu said he has been playing long enough that it was seriously ground into the grains of the wood. She concluded her story by saying, "I think I still smell it. Is it on me? Don't stand next to me."

4. I'm not actually doing less wiping. Same butt, different location in the house. And now I'm wiping a butt AND a potty chair. So this is actually double the wiping. Shiiiiiiit.

5. You pay dearly for all your own flexibility. Like many parents, I have strayed from certain rules, routines, and codes of social conduct while potty training. For example, if you are the 86 year-old man who lives across the street from us then last night you maaaay have seen my son jumping on the couch in our bay window with his junk flapping as free as the wind. Sorry, Vito. But letting him go naked saves us a few precious seconds when nature calls. However, I'm now paying dearly for this break in routine because this morning the kid couldn't understand why he had to wear pants to the supermarket. "Noooo, I no need pants." Uh, it's 20 degrees out. You kinda do. Plus, that's like a real rule...no shirt, no shoes, no pants, no service.

6. Potty training makes me twitchy. I'm now entering week 3 of training and at this point if my son even looks at me funny I leap up dramatically and scream, "OH MY MAUDE! DO YOU HAVE TO USE THE POTTY?!?" This morning he came running up to me yelling, "Mom! Mom!" and I just assumed it was too late, so I hung my head and reached for the Clorox wipes. But the poor kid just wanted to show me his trucks. I'm a little, uh, edgy. Target, if you are reading this, you would make a killing if you placed t-boxes on the shelf next to potty chairs. I'm just sayin'.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2012

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What I Say to My Kids vs. What I Actually Mean

Lately, I find myself saying things to my kids that I don't entirely mean. It's not that I'm lying to them or anything. It's just that what I want to say and what I should say are often not the same things.

Because I see them doing stuff like throwing mulch in the air. Then when it lands in their face and gets in their eyes, I want to say something like "I told you not to throw mulch. Like possibly a million times. You think maybe this was why?"

But then I see other parents saying things like: "When you throw mulch, it can get in your eyes and that hurts. Let's make another choice."

And I'm so impressed by these parents. I just hang my head and think to myself that I'm nearly ten years into motherhood, and all my instincts still suck. So I actively make an effort NOT to say what I really mean to my kids. Instead - I try to imagine what a good parent would do and I say that. And I made little video about it and here it is:



(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2012

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Help This Woman: Teaching Kids About Money

Last week I got invited to talk about teaching kids about money and finances on a local TV show called Let's Talk Live. They gave me the topic and a list of suggestions from an article on MSNBC. I then went on TV in the middle of a severe allergic reaction (completely doped up on Benadryl) and babbled for 8 minutes about none of the talking points they gave me.

Because I am awesome and a professional.

BUT... It's a great topic. And it really matters to me, because my big kids are old enough to start getting it. And also one of their friends in 5th grade got a MacBook Air for Christmas and when I found out I spit my coffee across the room. Because I mean - COME ON.

So I want to know - how do you teach your kids about money? About being responsible with it? About the value of both money and the things they want?

I would love your suggestions and also - I would love to know your thoughts on what age to start introducing these concepts.

xoxo,
Lydia

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2013

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Requisite New Year's Post


I really hope you're not expecting some pensive reflection on 2012 and hopeful inspiring words for 2013. I would love to have done that for you guys. BUT GUESS WHAT HAPPENED?

All. It all happened. And I wrote nothing. Except this ridiculous missive that isn't even a post. OK, so here's what happened.

Last week, the disposal broke and started leaking all over my kitchen but we didn't notice where the water was coming from until Monday. We just thought things were damper than usual. Then I saw water running into my basement because it turns out that the dishwasher very conveniently broke at the same time. And also leaked water everywhere.

You know what? I had no idea how much I hated and feared water until today. DAMN YOU, DIRTY DISHWASHER WATER THAT SMELLS LIKE DUKEY AND SOAKED HALF MY HOUSE AND COULD HAVE TOTALLY BROKEN IT.

F you water. Don't break my house.

Also, my abode looks like Christmas got the stomach flu and then got violently ill all over everywhere. On both the inside and the outside of my house. And keep in mind that I don't know how to decorate things to make them look nice and my holiday decor has no order at all. It looks exactly like a girl from New Jersey and a boy from West Virginia (the perfect white trash marriage combo) got married too young and decided to pretend they were grown-ups and get a bunch of random holiday crap from K-mart and throw it around their house every Christmas for 15 years until it got old and moldy but then they don't throw any of it away because that would be wasting money.

Why does it look exactly like that? Because that's what it is. That's what we are. But it gets better.

Because my 15 year old geriatric dick of a cat is now too curmudgeonly to care about anything except his dinner and squeezing in 20 hours of sleep per day, so he decided to give me the very special holiday gift of shitting behind the Christmas tree every day for a month. So now I have to clean the carpets and of course, I'm attempting to do it myself because my friend lent me his carpet cleaner. And really the whole house needs it because we are a dirty people.

And we still need to write thank you notes for Christmas. OH DEAR LORD. We also need to write them for Mini's birthday party that took place on November 11th. Those cards will read something like:
"I am so sorry this note is now almost 2 months late. Thank you the wonderful gift and for coming to our party. We're very sorry we only had pretzels and oddly mis-shapen cake pops. Also that we had no cold drinks because I accidentally left the fridge door open all night the night before and we had to throw everything out. I'm also very sorry we exposed your entire family to a communicable disease but at the time we really had no idea that Hawk even had Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease. Thanks again and Happy New Years! 
xo, Lydia B. Coupon"
Oh, also I haven't had the laundry all the way done since Hurricane Sandy and that was right before Halloween. And right now the piles are out of control. We have returned to the days of Mt. Laundry.

And there's no food in the house.

And I should probably pay bills.

And I'm supposed to run a cub scout meeting, I think. I need to check on that.

So guess what, hookers? For me 2013 starts next week. I'll get it together  - I promise - I just need a few more days. Really productive days.

I missed you guys a lot over winter break and I hope you guys all had a good time and everything and your dishwasher didn't break and leak dukey water all over all your stuff. So far 2013 is looking a lot like 2012.

xo, Lydia

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2012

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