F-Bombin' Baby

Kids are embarrassing. Whether they're explaining to the lady at the ice cream shop that they like the colored kind because it turns their poop green, or pointing at a dude in a tie and saying "THAT GUY LOOKS LIKE SPONGEBOB!" in an outside voice, parenting brings a plethora of cringe-worthy moments.

The aforementioned lovely incidents are only a couple of the ways my kids have made me want to bury my head in the sand. But most of them have come from my oldest. And now that he's nine, he's getting a better sense of what's socially appropriate and what's not (thank you sweet baby Jesus). So for a while, I haven't experienced much to be embarrassed about, at least not because of them.

Until yesterday.

Let me give you a little background. My kids love to watch YouTube videos of other people playing Minecraft. (I have no idea why, but that's beside the point.) Anyway, even my two-year-old has gotten into watching. So for that very reason, I have a link to kid-friendly Minecraft videos on my computer's "favorites" bar. It's a collection of videos that I have watched and approved, and Corbin knows how to click on it by himself.

However, because of the nature of YouTube, sometimes a couple of rogue clicks can lead to videos that are NOT Mom-approved. And my most freewheeling clicker is, of course, my toddler. Which is why one night, while he and my husband were watching Minecraft videos together, I walked in just in time to hear the video's narrator say, "WHAT THE FUCK?!" followed by a huge explosion.

My eyes practically bugged out of my head, and Curtis scrambled to close out of the video or mute it or something, but it was too late.

"What the fuck?!" chirped Corbin in his happiest little voice.

Curtis and I looked at each other, frozen. Should we scold him? Our eyes silently communicated (mine were saying OMG I thought you clicked on the kid-friendly link!). Both of us were clearly on the fence. It needed to be addressed, but then again, calling attention to it might make matters worse. Finally I just said, "That's not a nice thing to say," and we quickly changed the subject. This was weeks ago, and since the expression hadn't resurfaced in daily conversations, we figured he had forgotten it.

Anyway. Yesterday we took the kids out to lunch at Pizza Ranch. It's a very family-oriented, squeaky-clean buffet restaurant. I always get the impression that the fresh-faced teenagers working there came straight to work from some church youth group (and considering it's a Christian-based business, that wouldn't surprise me). It's kinda like Chick-fil-A but with, like, pizza.

The place was busy. We were seated amid a sea of other families. I put Corbin at the end of the table, where he was chowing down on his lunch like a good boy, smiling at people. And then, above the din of diners, he crowed - in a voice loud enough to be considered a yell, lifting over all the other voices in the room -


Did I mention he speaks very plainly?

Yeah. I'm usually proud of that fact. Not so much at that moment, though.

My older children looked at me in utter shock, then started snickering so hard I thought they'd choke. (My husband was filling his plate at the buffet, so he missed out on the whole debacle ... lucky him.) My eyes were the size of saucers, I'm sure. I tried not to look at the other tables, but I swear I heard the sound of jaws dropping and a few judgmental murmurs. There they were with their well-behaved kids, and here I was, sitting beside a two-year-old who obviously thinks nothing of bellowing not just a curse word, but THE curse word. Like a toddler with Tourette's. I may as well have handed him a cigarette and a beer and then twerked my way around the table to complete the display of my less-than-stellar parenting skills.

I spent the rest of the meal trying to use my Mom Eyes to convey to my other kids that their behavior had to be nothing less than perfect to make up for their baby brother's social snafu. That they were supposed to sit there and eat in the way angels would eat. You know, if angels ate.

Thankfully, from that point on, everything went smoothly. Corbin returned to his usual charming, profanity-free ways. No one around us seemed permanently scandalized, so I'm hoping that Child Protective Services isn't about to come knocking on my door.

... But I'm putting a bra on, just in case.

Tree-asco 2014

*Don't forget to check the "Giveaways and Reviews" page! I've got a new giveaway going on and it's perfect for the new year. :)

I'm the kind of person who will arrange the shit out of a Christmas tree, like I'm composing a still life, trying to artfully balance the spaces between ornaments and achieve the perfect ratio of lights and tinsel. I'm a Christmas tree perfectionist. I like everything just so, and all twinkly and beautiful.

But, like ... I have kids. And cats.

That's why this year, my dream Christmas tree looks more like a freaking nightmare.

I was delusional enough to think that this year, maybe, finally, I'd get to have a nice tree. But here's why I can't.

#1: THE TODDLER. Okay, so everybody knows that toddlers and Christmas trees pair about as well as hemorrhoids and a G-string: put the two together and it's just painful. (You're welcome for the mental image, by the way.) But I was hopeful this year. My two-year-old likes to pattern his behavior after his older brothers - who, at ages nine, six, and five, are old enough to stay out of the tree. So I figured since the toddler didn't see his brothers getting into the tree, he'd leave it alone.

Only ... he doesn't. And he can't stop at just rearranging ornaments ... oh, no. He pulls off (and unravels) tinsel. He throws toys into the branches (see the little orange dump truck in the photo above? It didn't drive there by itself). The other day I heard whomp! whomp! whomp! and walked in to find him literally beating the thing with a plastic baseball bat. He pulls the hangers off the tops of the ornaments and, inexplicably, throws them into the kitchen sink. The child is hazardous to the poor tree. Not to mention my mental health.

#2: THE CATS. We have two cats: Nick and Nessa. Last Christmas, when we had Nessa and our old cat Ava, they stayed out of the tree for the most part (Ava was old and didn't climb, so neither did Nessa).

But Ava died a few months ago, and we adopted Nick (who, despite his name, is no saint). And, well, this pretty much sums up Nick's involvement with the tree:

See how it's, like, narrow where he's sitting? That's because he's at the top of the tree. He scales it like it's his own personal Mt. Everest. And while Nessa doesn't climb through it like Nick does, she like to get underneath it, and then they fight in the branches. The tree starts hissing and spitting and rocking back and forth as though it's possessed. It would actually be amusing if it weren't my damn Christmas tree.

#3: MY GERIATRIC TREE. I love our tree, but it has definitely seen better days. Curtis and I bought it in November of 1999, so this is its fifteenth year. To put its age in perspective, we got it when Justin Timberlake looked like this:

... Yeah.

As Christmas trees go, this one is ancient. It's like the Methuselah of Christmas trees. And like anything old, it's falling apart. The branches no longer snap firmly into place. They're getting saggy and loose. It constantly sheds its little polyester needles (or whatever the hell fake tree needles are made of) all over my carpet. It simply can't stand up to the beatings of a toddler or the cat infestation like it used to. It's been unpacked and repacked, fluffed up and compressed again, shipped overseas, and washed and blow-dried in case of rodents and other creepy things.

The poor thing is just on its last legs. Er, branches.

I'm about to say screw it and just take the damn thing down. Every time I pass by it, I cringe at the drooping lights, the bare spots, the ornaments strewn all haphazardly. I'm tired of telling the toddler to get out of the tree (because, to add insult to injury, he doesn't understand the whole Santa concept yet so a "Santa's watching" threat is futile). I'm tired of seeing it wobble precariously back and forth as the cats have a field day within its depths.

But I guess that if all that weren't happening, I wouldn't have any pictures like this:

(He was saying, "Nick! Hold my hand!" Ugh, the cuteness.)

So I guess I'll leave it up, but that still doesn't stop me from fantasizing about a perfectly decorated, un-bothered tree.

There's always next year.

(Gingerbread) House of Horrors

Saturday morning, for reasons unknown, I woke up thinking about gingerbread.

And then I thought, "A gingerbread house would be pretty cool."

And then Pinterest Me and Practical Me started their internal struggle. "You've never made one!" shouted the practical side. "You don't even have a kit! You'd have to make everything from scratch! You don't even have a printer - you can't even print out a template for the pieces! You'd have to freehand draw them! This is nuts!"

But like a psycho girlfriend, Pinterest Me came whirling in with a fervent insistence. "Gingerbread is easy to make! You have the ingredients! And the kids would love it! Look at this mental image of their happy faces! You love to make them happy! Happy holiday memories! HAPPY HOLIDAY MEMORIES FOREVER!!!!" 

*crazy eyes and lots of panting*

So that's how I ended up spending, like, half the day on a project that my kids were mostly interested in picking apart. Still, they did enjoy decorating it. So if you have a "Pinterest You" and she's trying to encourage this ... fun holiday tradition, here's how you get it done in twelve easy steps.

Okay, I'm lying. It's not all that easy. Not even if the Food Network says so.

Step one: find a good recipe.

So there you have it: how to make a gingerbread house. Your experience may vary.

Actually, let's hope it does.

Do You Wanna Build a Snowman(-like Ornament)?

I'm not one of those crafty, creative moms. I don't use my Pinterest boards to share pictures of things I've done ... I use them to pin projects that look awesome, but that I will never actually attempt. (Or if I do attempt, will fail so miserably as to glue my fingers together or lacquer my eyelids shut.)

And I pin pictures like this ... because PIGLETS IN BOOTS!!!!!

Photo via WeHeartIt

I don't do the whole Elf on the Shelf thing, either. It's because a.) I would inevitably forget to move the elf, and b.) I've got enough to deal with - like Turds on the Floor (thanks, dog) - without having to figure out creative ways for the elf to make mischief (and then cleaning it up afterward). Because, like ... if I wanted snow angels on the counter made out of flour I'm sure all I'd have to do is leave the canister within easy reach of my two-year-old. No creepy elf necessary!

But I suppose I'm not totally devoid of motherly craftiness and holiday spirit, because I agreed to help the Kindergartners at my sons' school with a cute little snowman ornament craft. It's actually REALLY adorable, and fairly easy.

... Unless you're doing it with like sixty Kindergartners.

It's pretty straightforward. You fill a clear ornament with fake snow, have the kids draw a snowman face using black and orange Sharpies, and hot-glue the earmuffs on in the form of two sparkly pom-poms and a pipe cleaner. Voila! There's a tutorial here (and a picture of an ornament NOT made by a five-year-old). I helped out last year, and the kids had fun with it, and nobody glued themselves to anything. So there's that.

This year, my son's teacher asked me if I could help again. She asked me this while I was standing in subzero temperatures with chattering teeth, so all I could do was stammer out "S-s-s-sure!" (well played, Mrs. L.). But this year it wasn't only her class doing the craft ... it was all three Kindergarten classes.

And last year, we had a little difficulty shoving the fake snowflakes through the funnel-hole, so this year she decided to use tiny little styrofoam beads from the inside of an old beanbag.

Do you know how badly tiny little styrofoam beads cling to EVERYTHING? Your hair, your hands, your clothes, your shoes, the carpet, the table, and especially to a Kindergartner's entire arm up to the armpit when they decide to sink it into the open beanbag while you're hot-gluing someone's earmuffs on?

For the most part, it went okay - it was just a lengthy process. Because if you've ever hung out with a five- or six-year-old you know that they like to talk. A lot. And they want to argue about why there are only black and orange markers available when theeeeey want their snowman to have bluuuuuue eyes. And they want to look at what their friends are doing and poke them with pipe cleaners and tattle because someone is poking them with pipe cleaners. And they want to know why they shouldn't write their name so big on the back that it wraps all the way around the front to cover the snowman's face.

It took over three hours to get all three classes' ornaments put together. That's a lot of tiny styrofoam beads, y'all. And a lot of patience (which I'm pretty much lacking to begin with). Seriously, I think I used up my patience reserve through about 2017.

But the kids had a lot of fun and were proud of the finished product, and they got to hang them on the school Christmas tree. And I missed lunch and spent at least an hour and a half in a squatting position, which probably counts as a workout, right?


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