My four-year-old is really interested in sea creatures and in zombies. One of her very favorite water dwellers is the mysterious and lovely Sea Star (or the star formally known as fish).
In our morning search on Youtube we came across a true-to-life ‘Zombie Starfish’ mash up that peaked Ella’s curiosity. The video is from a BBC-two popular show called Nature’s Weirdest Events.
Just what is happening here? The images shows what looks to be Sea Stars actually ripping off their own limbs. If that wasn’t alarming enough, those limbs then look to crawl away, zombie like on their own. Could this be a real life undeadliest catch happening on the West Coast from Alaska to Mexico? My daughter wanted to know more. Continue reading Zombie Starfish: Nature’s Undeadliest Catch
Meet Mommy. She only has 15 seconds to record her thoughts while hiding from her children in the closet or bathroom. No one knows how many kids she has or what her real first name is, but one thing is certain, whether she is inventing things to make life easier or sharing poopie stories, she sure is funny!
For Valentine’s Day, Mommy got a great idea that backfired horribly…
“No, I prefer Quarterest. I don’t gallonterest because they charge.” – my witty fourteen-year-old.
I could browse through Pinterest for hours, and have. It’s a great place to waste time, to find oodles of inspiration. As a mom and writer, I love Pinterest. And now that I can keep some boards secret, I love it even more. In addition to being the keeper of the family schedule, I also coordinate our teacher gifts, Halloween costumes, and meals. As a writer, I could use a little inspiration to get me back on task, while keeping track of all the ideas that gradually coalesce into a writing project.
I am by no means a Pinterest pro. But other than the usual Food, Fashion, and Fun Boards, here are a few ideas on how to use Pinterest to organize our crazy lives: Continue reading Do You Pinterest?
I’m a hypocrite. There, I said it. I’ve heard it from my kids before (they’re 14, 11, and 9, and quick to point out the unfairness of different rules for different kids, and I too am included in this), and as I strive to be the perfect parent, always practicing what I preach, it’s a tough criticism to encounter.
But frankly, my kids and I are not equals, our lives are not to be viewed as being on a level playing field, and I refuse to feel guilty for it. In fact, I would argue that being a hypocrite makes me a better parent. Continue reading In Defense of Hypocrisy
I am lazy. Like, Capital L Capital A Capital Z Capital Y Lazy. All my hobbies involve sitting. I read. I knit. Here I am writing while sitting.
The last time I did something physical? I took my kid’s pink daisy Razor scooter down the ramp at the skate park and broke my leg THROUGH my leg. Let me tell you, three months of recovery on the couch reaffirmed my Philosophy of Lazy Parenting.
The Lazy Parenting Method (patent pending) is a method in which you do very little work for your child while they do a lot of work for themselves. See all those moms out there lugging their children’s things? Ohhhh no. That is Too Much Work for Me. The Lazy Parenting Method requires that you look at all the things you do and triage which ones don’t really need to be done by you. This way you save energy because that little succubus that you birthed is just waiting to steal all of it.
I still remember the moment. I remember the moment when the ultrasound tech told me that I was having a son. I remember fist punching the air. I specifically remember the tech telling me she’d never seen someone bounce up off the table so high.
I’ve always been a tomboy, the “guy’s girl” who has a lot of male friends. I grew up in the 1980s with a wide array of light pink and lavender, elastic waist-banded wide wale Healthtex corduroys. At some point, I turned into the Girl Who Hated Pink.
Hearing that I was giving birth to a son solidified my excitement about not being inundated with the two most traumatizing colors in my life. The fist bump and bouncing were less about sex or gender role and much more about my excitement over not having to see all. that. pink. and. lavender.
Disney has decided to withhold Rey toys, because, you know, no boy would want to play with a girl doll, and girls don’t want to play Star Wars. The magic marketers know it all.
Left unchecked, you will crush my daughter, who plays house with boys and superheroes with girls, loves her ballet, and has a huge stack of unused princess toys because many of her relatives and friends won’t shop for her outside of the girl section.
Don’t worry, I will not let you pull the joy from my four-year-old’s play, no matter how she doesn’t fit the segmentation you believe she is in. I will help her find the toys she likes best.
You will, however, lose any revenue you might get by properly conducting your market research and your segmentation, and actually create toys my daughter would like, then market them to her. That choice and loss is yours.
After writing about Target’s failure to invite my daughter into their children’s section, many questioned, among other things, how a store could sort toys in the traditional manner, limited by the toy manufacturers. Several called for a look at the manufacturers, not the toy stores. They failed to grasp the most important part of the article:
My little princess has a very different feel for Target than she does for another toy section, one in our local Fred Meyer. So today, I am looking at why Fred Meyer invites my daughter deep into its “boy” section. So I walked through the toy section, with one rule, I could not touch anything. I had to see the invite where my daughter did, with my eyes.
There are two differences I saw between the stores. The obvious one, the size of the toy section, ended up taking a back seat to the very subtle one, inclusiveness. Further, the lack of a third, different section breakout, is equally interesting. Which brings up the key question:
If Fred Meyer and Target have the same section break out, one probably required by the toy manufacturers, how does Fred Meyer bring inclusiveness into its toy section?
A close look at the toys showed a possible answer to this question.
There’s no way to explain this without the nitty-gritty details, so if you’re still avoiding The Force Awakens spoilers (I know, you’re a parent, getting out of the house is hard!), you might want to stop here. But even if you never intend to see it and you hate Star Wars and you just wish the hype would die already—you, on the other hand, can keep reading. You should keep reading. Because this post (like my last Star Wars post) isn’t actually about Star Wars. Not really. It’s about what it means to be bad, and what it’s like to wonder if your child could ever fall to the Dark Side. Star Wars, like all good stories, is a metaphor for real life.
“Why” is a common question in our home as I’m sure it is in yours. Right now, the kidlets still think I’m a genius because I can read more easily and faster than they can, though I know those days are rapidly coming to a close. And thank goodness for the internet and the quick Google… I think their tiny little heads would explode if they had to wait for me to look something up in a book.
One of the activities we enjoy most is baking and both kids, but Stinky 2 especially, is starting to express an interest in why things happen the way they do in the baking process. So, this is really me crib sheeting various answers before the fact. Hopefully, they’ll come in handy for you too.
Why Does Yeast Make Things Rise?
Yeast is a single celled fungus. That’s right, a fungus. For those of you who hate mushrooms but love bread, I have news for you.
I adore video games. Ever since I played that first Atari game when I was a kid I’ve been hooked. Later I had a Nintendo NES and I’ve yet to find anyone that can beat me at Dr. Mario. Let me know if you’re up to the challenge, though. I’m more than happy to show you how wrong you are.
I’ve tried many different types of games through the years and found my favorites in MMORPGs. In my 20’s I discovered Everquest and would spend hours every evening camping spawns, training to zone (I was epically notorious for this one), and running all over the place turning in quest items for special gear. Even more hours on the weekends were spent questing with my guild. And there have been many other games since then.
I’m pretty sure she didn’t consider herself a geek.
In fact, if I had used the term to describe her in her presence, I probably would have gotten The Glare. Maybe not. Maybe I would just have earned a smile.
Because it was true. My mother-in-law was a geek, in the best sense of the word, and I offer that up as a compliment. I just wish she could here me say it. We lost her recently, a loss we’re all still coming to grips with.
It’s that time of year again to starting thinking of bettering yourself. Each year we put together a list of ways to make us better people, and every year many of us fall flat on our faces trying to keep up with the cadre of good-intentioned self-help advice.
Well, here’s my advice on following that good advice this year: DON’T.
This year, give yourself a little leeway in the self-improvement area, and work on giving yourself a year to remember, one where you dove into the pool of experience, and swam boldly against to tide of “in my opinions,” and be the boss of your fate, no matter how ill-fated some “experts” say it may be.
To get you started, her are five pieces of bad advice I hope that little red devil on your shoulder convinces you to follow:
Beat Yourself Up. In this world of embracing one’s flaws, and improving self-esteem, nothing helps get a person motivated more than that proverbial chewing out.
If you have something you want to accomplish this year, whether it’s a project, fitness goal or family matter, put aside those daily affirmations be your own Drill Sergeant.
If you are needing to finish writing, give yourself heck for looking at a Twitter feed instead of your manuscript, Slacker! If you need to lose weight for health reasons, mentally kick your lazy butt of the couch, and scream at yourself until you do those sit ups you promised yourself you’d do.
A pat on the back is always nice, but sometimes you also need the occasional kick in the pants to get things done.
Quit Caring Who You Offend. This is not an invitation to be as disgusting or blue as you can around the wrong crowds. Don’t deliberately drop the F-Bomb around other mothers at a toddler’s birthday party, or tell others how much their favorite show, book or band sucks just to show how much better you are than them. That’s not being forward-thinking, cutting edge or even clever. That’s just being a jerk. Continue reading Bad Advice To Follow in 2016
Jessica Drew had no intention of ever being a mother.
During Secret Wars she got pregnant.
Jessica isn’t revealing the father’s identity, not even to her best friend, Carol Danvers. She reminds the rest of the crew it’s none of their damn business when Tony Stark makes a not-so-polite inquiry; Jess zaps him and dumps her food over his head. If you’ve ever been eight months pregnant, you know how pissed a girl has to be to give up her dinner at that stage. Continue reading Gather ‘Round Padawans (Part 9): Spider-Woman
My husband and I have this little trick we play on our children.
Every night, we try to get our three children in bed as close to 7:00 pm as possible. Our rule is that they need to stay in their rooms quietly and lights must be off. Oh, unless they feel like using this.
Who among us has never dreamed of being a superhero? If you clicked the link to this article, I imagine you have done so at least once in your life. I have done so many a time. I am thirty-seven and I still do it. I even wrote a superhero novel because if I can’t do it, my imaginary friends can.
When you envision yourself as part of the cape and tights brigade, are you being you or are you someone else? In fantasy land, I’m usually at least three inches taller and definitely fifty pounds thinner, I have ringlets instead of barely tamable frizz, a much cuter nose, and I can run in heels while brandishing my rapier wit. And a katana.
Battle Sheep is an abstract strategy game from Blue Orange in which players try to fill fields with their herd of sheep. Sounds pretty easy in concept, so I jumped at the chance to play it recently. I grabbed a couple of kids (9, 11, and 12) and we dove right in. Continue reading Tabletop Game: Battle Sheep
It began when I tested out of the math requirement as a college freshman. High school calculus had drained my confidence and scoring a pass was a tremendous relief. Nearly a decade later, I realized my mistake.
As a grad student, I rediscovered that not only was I good at math but I also kind of loved it. For reasons that made sense at the time, I didn’t allow this revelation to alter my humanities-leaning career trajectory. But it nagged at me.
Last year I presented you with the idea of choosing a simple one-word mantra to represent your new year rather than a resolution. What I love about it is that you can give your new year a theme, something you choose to embrace, rather than focus on passing or failing some arbitrary goal. As I wrote, “Rather than define success as a goal, success would be my journey.”
In 2014, my word was “opportunity.” I had just had my second child and didn’t want motherhood to consume all of me. At the end of 2014, I decided my word for 2015 would be “roots.” I had focused so much on new opportunities, I didn’t want to forget to embrace my past.
With “roots,” I had intended to share more of my French Canadian heritage with my husband and children. I would start speaking French to them at home. We would travel back to my hometown, Montreal, so we could spend time with my extended family and visit Quebec’s countryside as I had as a child.
But it’s now the end of 2015 and I did none of those things.
Did I fail at following my mantra? No. I don’t think so. I failed at meeting the goals I had attached to my mantra, yes. One the other hand, I did learn exactly what “roots” could mean to me.
We had a very hard year: my husband and I both took on more responsibilities at work, everyone was always sick, oh and did I also mention all the sickness? It was never-ending to the point of becoming comical. My husband and I sacrificed more sleep than we ever thought possible just trying to meet our various commitments while managing sick kids out of daycare/school practically every other day.
If you can’t tell by our sweaters, my kids are hardcore Star Wars fans like me. It isn’t a secret and my family knows it.
However, if you look closely at my family photo, you will notice this above sign at the top right corner of my fire mantle. Sent to me from a loving family member as a Christmas gift: my in-laws. I think they are trying to hint at something–what do you think?
Maybe being a Star Wars fan while your in-laws are Star Trek fans might invite unwanted gifts like the above sign.
I am thinking next year we will send them a family Christmas photo of us sitting by the fire place eating milk and cookies, and a message stating: Come to the darkside. We have cookies!
The good news: I have an entire year to plan my next attack.
DC Comics, in a nod to the adult coloring book craze, is producing four variant covers next week that can become your own personal coloring project.
I’ve already received the Green Lantern variant. It’s a high-quality paper and it’s placed over the regular comic cover, so no worries about tearing the cover off and wrecking the comic.
Here’s the other three: Green Arrow, Superman: Action Comics, and Detective. DC’s press release encouraged printing out of the covers, so you don’t have to wait until next week to get started. Download, print, and have at it.
Captain America. The quintessential all-American hero. Nice Brooklyn boy willing to subject his body to medical experimentation to win the opportunity to fight for the little guy, freedom, and your grandma. Always has been. Still is even though someone else has taken up the title, the mantle, and the shield.
Steve’s thoughts on his chosen successor? “When I handed that shield over to Sam, it didn’t come with a rule book. I trust him to do what he thinks is best for our country.”
A large sector of the population, however, isn’t willing to accept the new Cap as “their” Cap despite Steve’s endorsement. Why? A questionable past? Does he booze it up with Stark? Go on shooting rampages? Run people down with his car on the sidewalk in Vegas? Sell drugs? Do drugs? Embezzle SHIELD funds? Play his music too loud? Kick puppies?
Sam Wilson is daring, daring, to Cap while African American.
I have a confession: I struggle with the week between Christmas and New Year’s. The presents are unwrapped, the festivities at a lull, but life hasn’t returned to normal. With no bustle and swing to occupy my time, I tend to get a little blue.
My youngest tends to be a worrier and focuses a bit too heavily on the negatives. So when things are getting rough, we help him stay positive by listing five things he has to look forward to the next day.
Since I try not to be one of those do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do parents, I’m practicing what I preach. I’ve made a list (and checked it twice) of things I’m looking forward to in 2016. Hopefully, just thinking of all these upcoming treasures will help shake loose those end of year blues.
With so many fantastic titles upcoming, I had to group them all into one category. I’m looking forward to so many, in fact, I probably should have made this the last, and best, item on the list. But I’m too excited!
Having just let the theatre after seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens for the second time, my brain is abuzz with previews. What am I looking forward to? It might be a shorter list to say what I’m not excited about, but here goes:
It’s that time of year again. The holidays are in full swing and there is time to spend with our families and enjoy time off from school and work. This time of year also brings about a least a quarter of a million photos to share on social media.
At this point there are many images of people’s trees all over their social media. With different ornaments and presents all neatly wrapped up under the tree. While that is important, I wanted to share some fun photography trick I’ve learned while taking Christmas tree photos. This technique utilizes “bokeh,” which is the Japanese word for “blurry”. The intentional use of blur in your photos can make your tree standout against the sea of photos on social media.
It is the bane of fandom in general. Don’t be fooled. This isn’t a “teenage girl” thing. It’s everywhere.
DC Comics used shipping to promote their Superman/Wonder Woman comic book. Look here everyone! The ultimate “power couple” has their own book.
Any time anybody dismisses shippers as a sideshow? Talk to me. I have stories from way back when to Usenet days and even before to the old letter columns in my Bronze age comic books. Letters from people arguing over who belongs with whom.
Christmas is a time when we all seem to embrace, or run screaming from, one of the oldest geekdoms in existence: philately. No matter what your holiday inclination, it is hard to escape this season without a visit to the post office to pick up, purchase, or peruse the postage. This week, while mailing coffee from Maine to Ohio, my husband got an education in shipping that tickles my love of the absurd.
The woman in line in front of him was shipping Maple Syrup to family. Now to my mind, this is a liquid, and so I’d have headed straight to UPS or FedEx, but no, oh no. There is a Maple Syrup exception to the liquid exemptions. There is even a special form and a special sticker for the box you are mailing. The postmaster gave everyone waiting in line a quick history lesson this week, and all learned that when the post office first banned liquid goods, a mighty fuss was raised by the New England states, and thus the Maple Syrup exemption was born. I can find no trace of this on usps.com; Google searches come to naught. But I know this Christmas tale is true; it came direct from the Postmaster. An online search on the Maple Syrup forums will tell me that a large flat rate box will hold three 1/2 gallons or two 1/2 gallons and one quart, and then that a medium flat rate box will hold two 1/2 gallons or one 1/2 gallon and one quart or pint, but nothing about this secret club that is the shippers of Maple Syrup.
On the Twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… With three children under the age of six, and both my husband and I working full time, I fear a trend where Christmas Eve becomes our last minute chore day. If I can just have the laundry put away, I’ll be okay on Christmas day…. If I can just get those cookies made, the kids will be okay on Christmas day… Well this year I’m rebelling. Instead of focusing on what is still left to do before Christmas, I’m making that to-do list and tossing it out. All that need happen between now and Friday is a trip to the grocery store, and the kids presents getting wrapped. Clean underwear is a bonus this week, so here are twelve things I will not be doing this Christmas week. More importantly, here are twelve things I had planned on having done but will not be stressing about not doing this week.
On the Twelfth day of Christmas… I will not be making a dozen Christmas cookies. Be they chocolate chip, or sugar cookie cut outs, this year Santa’s Christmas cookies can come from a store and I am going to save myself the baking time.
On the Eleventh day of Christmas… I will not be hanging the rest of the Christmas cards that came this week. I’ve run out of miniature clips, I’ve run out of tape. They can sit on the bookshelf until after Christmas.
On the Tenth day of Christmas… I will not be painting ten fingernails with the delightful seasonal Jamberry wraps I have left from last year when I ran out of time to do my nails.
On the Ninth day of Christmas… I will not be worried about the nine times I forgot to move the elf on the blasted shelf this month, after we eventually found him in mid-December that is!
On the Eighth day of Christmas… I will not be finishing the last two years of Christmas scrapbooking (four pages a year, so I have eight still to do) and I will not feel guilty every time I walk past my craft desk and see cards from 2013 sitting there.
On the Seventh day of Christmas… I will not be fretting over a seven course meal. I have my Paxo stuffing and Bisto on hand, I have a beef roast in the fridge. Anything else that we eat is a blessing. After spending the last six years trying to find the perfect breakfast for Christmas morning and balance for Christmas lunch, the kids can eat cookies and milk for breakfast and be all the merrier.
On the Fifth day of Christmas… I will not be putting away those five baskets of laundry. Five people in our house and their clothes are all clean, this is a miracle in itself, they can get put away next week (or not).
On the Fourth day of Christmas… I will not be doing those last four loads of dirty laundry. Okay I lied, there’s always more dirty laundry in a house with three kids in it!
On the Third day of Christmas… I will not be worried about three sets of matching pajamas. Yes I made my new baby a jumper that perfectly matches the reversible Christmas pants I made her brothers. And yes her oldest brother wants to wear his store bought ones instead. So I will not worry about whether they are wearing them in Christmas Eve, and I will not worry about the prefect picture of three perfect pajamed children.
On the Second day of Christmas… I will not stay up late making two more Christmas stockings, for myself and my husband. The kids have them, that’s all that matters. I’ll make ours in February!
On the First day of Christmas… I will not go and see the new Star Wars movie. It was vitally important to see this opening weekend, but I have three kids, one of which is a newborn. It was vitally important to see this before Christmas, but did I mention the three kids. I’ll see the movie eventually, and it will be just as epic after Christmas as I’m told it was before.
Instead I will be doing wonderful things with my family and not worrying about the things left undone. Not getting to my to-do list is nothing new, but not worrying about not getting to it is my Christmas present to me and my family.
What are you going to not worry about on Christmas Eve?