We made it, but not without much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Here is our view at dinner in a deserted tiki hut.
Back with a photo on Thursday. All is excellence.
February 18, 2014
February 14, 2014
A couple of quickies before the weekend:
1. The wonderful humor site, Aiming Low, is going to close up shop today. Its founder, Anissa Mayhew, has written a final post that will go up today. I only wrote for Aiming Low for a few months, but I was honored to be a part of it. Thanks to Anissa for the amazing site she put together and the crazy awesome writers she got to write on it. Here is my last piece on Aiming Low, published on Tuesday:
2. I will be out of town next week. The husband and I are taking the kids to DISNEYLAND, MOTHERFUCKERS. So there won’t be any posts, but on Tuesday and Thursday I will try to put up one photo from the trip. And I’ll tell you all about it next Tuesday.
3. I have achieved a milestone, people. I was nominated for an award that I didn’t know about. It’s the first annual Best of Blogs award, and it is being hosted by My So-Called Chaos. I was nominated for “Favorite Funny Blog.” It is the first award that I have neither a) nominated myself for nor b) asked other people to nominate me for. Someone just went out and nominated of their own free will.
Being the understated, diginified woman that I am, I think my feelings here are best summed up by Prince Akeem from the film Coming to America:
Thanks, all! Wish me luck next week in the magical world of Disney!
February 13, 2014
It’s no secret that kindergartners aren’t great at competition. Well, actually, they’re great at competing but only if they win.
My six-year-old twins, for example, have a lot to learn about competing gracefully. Behavior that was okay when they were three isn’t so cute anymore: when you’re in a foot race with a toddler, it’s adorable (and the right thing to do, unless you’re an asshole) to let them win and marvel at their supernatural speed. Once they get to elementary school, however, it’s time to start learning that sometimes we win and sometimes WE DO NOT. It is no longer okay to challenge someone to a race and then yell “go!” after you’re already halfway down the block. Or, when you’re losing at a game of chess, make new rules where your lost pieces can come back to life, and if you are certain to lose, angrily swipe all of the pieces off the board.
Those are just off the top of my head.
So I was pessimistic but interested when I saw that this month’s Netflix Stream Team theme (RHYMING!) is “inspiration, teamwork, and competition,” in honor of the Olympics. They had a list of suggestions for big kids and little kids. I have no idea where six-year-olds fall, so I went with the little kid list because who doesn’t love some Super Why?
Here are their suggestions:
I let each of my kids choose one. My daughter chose Angelina Ballerina, and my son chose Caillou. We settled in for some TV watching and lesson learning, and accomplished one of the two. Guess which one.
The first episode was about Angelina wishing bad things upon her little brother when he got the lead role in the ballet instead of her, but when he is almost replaced she shapes the heck up and starts to help him succeed.
The lesson: It’s not cool to want things for yourself even if it means bad things will happen to others.
What my kids took away: “At the end, she was like a servant to her brother.” Not so much the point. But there you go.
We watched a second episode in which the entertainment-starved mice of her town watched Angelina and a friend participate in a tandem bike race. At one point their opponents, the evil sisters, race their bike down a hill and into a river. Angelina and her friend stop racing to help them. And here was the best part — they can’t reach the other girls at first, so Angelina’s friend goes, “It’s no good, Angelina,” and just peace outs off the screen. I like to think she then sat down, lit a cigarette, and prepared to watch her friends die.
The lesson: Sometimes, it’s more important to help others than win the race.
What my kids took away: They cheered when those mice ended up in the river. Nice.
I was pretty psyched when Ben chose this one, because there is MUCH online hatred among my parent friends for Caillou. I haven’t watched it before, so I was really interested to see what this little bastard did to deserve such ill will.
The first episode we watched was called “Ringette.” Ringette is, I gather from Caillou, the French Canadian girl’s version of hockey. Caillou and his buddy are all, “Hockey is better than ringette! Long live the patriarchy!” And Caillou’s mom is all, “Gee, I was actually captain of the ringette team and now watch while I kick your ass at it. BOOM.”
Lesson: Don’t be a sexist four-year-old. And also, practice makes perfect.
What my kids took away: Nothing. Not a damn thing.
The second episode we watched was called “Rainy Day at the Beach.” In it, Caillou and his family go to the beach in a rainy day like a bunch of morons, and Caillou convinces them that they can have all kinds of fun in wet sand.
Lesson: Make the best of your circumstances. Have fun in unexpected ways.
What my kids took away: Mom will never take us to the beach in a rainy day because no matter what Caillou and his broken, defeated parents say, that is not fun.
Soooooo…mixed results for the first Netflix month. Hopefully next month’s theme will be “pasta is awesome but only with white sauce” and my kids will be 100% on board.
February 11, 2014
Over the weekend, I helped organize books for my kids’ elementary school’s used book sale. I ended up with the adult non-fiction section. Oh my word…now, I know that people will donate ridiculous things sometimes. When I worked at a battered women’s shelter, we used to have people donate half-used bottles of shampoo and moisturizer, and stained tee shirts with holes in them. You have to assume they meant well, but if the question you’re asking yourself is, “do I give this to battered women or throw it in the trash,” and you have a pretty compelling argument for “trash”? Then it’s time to throw it out. But, you know, thanks for thinking of those in need just slightly before your trash can.
Given that experience, I was a little giddy to see what I would find in the stacks of used books.
I was not disappointed.
First of all, someone must have recently died, and their children, while cleaning out the house, said, “I can’t make one more trip to the dump!” I can think of no other reason why someone would think we could sell a stack of old National Geographic magazines.
There was quite the treasure trove of finds. I had no idea, for example, that people had so many books about weddings and dogs. There had to be a separate box just for the wedding and dog books, for crying out loud. There were, however, no books on dog weddings. I was super sad about that. I did find this treat, however:
I didn’t look inside this book, but I imagine an “eco-chic wedding” means giving people seeds as take-home gifts and feeding your leftover quinoa wedding cake to organically raised pigs. Also, you need to make your own dress from carpet remnants.
There were also a ton of cookbooks at the sale, though this was my favorite.
“Take one pallet of salmon fillets and a four-gallon tub of mayonnaise. Simmer on your forty-eight-inch professional grade stove, and sweeten with a packet of Stevia from your 1000 count box. Serve with white wine from your 142-bottle wine cooler.”
I firmly believe in the saying, “to each his own.” But my god, “The Amazing Story of the Volkswagon?” This must have come from the same house as the National Geographics.
Some donations took me deep into the private lives of the donors.
The massage gift certificate was tucked into the pages of “Passionate Marriage.” Ouch…I’m guessing this didn’t go over quite the way they had hoped.
And by the way, if I may humbly offer a small piece of advice — if you are looking for a book to improve your marital sex life, please don’t buy it at a public school fund raiser. That’s what the internet is for.
This one was pocket-sized! Because who doesn’t need one of these babies in their pocket at all times? People who aren’t communists. That’s who.
Some of the donations obviously came from people who were so exhausted sorting through their books that they decided they were just going to wash their hands of all of it and let us figure it out. That has to be how we ended up with the ”1996 People Magazine Entertainment Almanac.”
Thanks. This is going to sell like hot cakes eighteen years ago.
Here we have “The ESSENTIAL Guinea Pig.” There isn’t any of that superfluous guinea pig info that other books try to give you. The Essential Guinea Pig: when all you want is the basics — namely, what does it eat and how long will it live.
But THIS was the pièce de résistance:
I took it home with me, because how could I not?
February 6, 2014
Live to play again:
A dad’s guide to surviving a horrific Super Bowl experience
Hello Pile of Babies readers! My name is Jeff Kent, I live in Denver and I write a blog called Dad on Arrival, which is mostly about the misadventures of raising three kids born within three years (now four years old, almost three and one). A couple weeks ago, I made a wager on the Super Bowl with the fabulous author of this here treatise on modern culture, Pile of Babies. If Denver won the Super Bowl, Pile of Babies would pony up a couple posts for my blog, timed at my discretion. If Seattle won, I would contribute a couple posts to Pile of Babies, as your favorite blogette put it, “One right after the Seahawks win, and then one during another week when the winner and Seahawks fan is feeling lazy.”
I didn’t consider the latter scenario very likely. After all, the Broncos shattered all kinds of records for offense this past season. They were amazing, legendary. The receivers walked on air and could catch speeding bullets in their teeth. The coach took a 37-minute break to recover from heart surgery and then lead the team through the playoffs without breaking a sweat. Peyton Manning farted gold doubloons, rode to games on magical rainbows and could throw the ball through the eye of a needle to a quadruple-covered receiver, all while blindfolded and rescuing an adorable kitten from a tree. In short, we were unstoppable. Who cares if we didn’t really have a defense?
Well, wouldn’t you know it, that proved to be a liability. And then the offense went ahead and took February 2nd off as well. The result, as about a billion people saw on TV, was not pretty.
So here I am, penning my first bet-mandated blog post for Pile of Babies. Since the unfortunate circumstance that led to this post is still so fresh, I thought I’d stay on that topic. Don’t worry, we don’t need to rehash the Super Bowl. I doubt even the Seattle fans want to relive that awkward beat-down. No, instead, I’m going to share some of my tips for surviving a horrible Super Bowl experience—specifically, how a parent of small kids can make it through a colossal cluster like we had on Sunday.
Let’s set the scene: Some good friends were hosting what promised to be an incredible Super Bowl party. Multiple HDTVs, good food, great people and plentiful drink. Everyone was in orange and amped up. Kids roamed the house in Broncos jerseys and painted faces. My four-year-old son wore a complete Peyton manning uniform, complete with helmet. We were ready.
Well, you know how things went. Within 12 seconds, Seattle had scored on a safety and the mood dipped, never to recover. By the end of the first half, there were grown men on the brink of tears. Party guests dispersed throughout the house and sat in corners despondently. My son, Manning’s biggest fan, kept asking, “What is wrong with Peyton?” It wasn’t pretty. So I quickly went to my Emergency Sports Catastrophe Action Plan. It goes like this:
1. Apply beer to mouth.
After I’ve had about three and a half adult beverages, nearly everything is amusing to me, including hideous things like my two-year-old daughter’s temper tantrums and horribly lopsided Super Bowl games. So when the going gets tough, the tough head for the fridge—or at least I do. This works to a point …
The point at which the beer-drinking strategy no longer works is somewhere around when your team goes down by four touchdowns and there’s still an entire half of football to be played. At that point, not even Kentucky moonshine can make what you’re watching tolerable. That’s when you change strategies. By halftime of this year’s Super Bowl, I had switched from nervously sipping beer to all-out gorging myself on chocolate chip cookies. The resulting sugar high nicely offset the natural depressant of the Belgian ales, and also my belt size by a notch or two. But it eased the pain and cleared my head just enough to move to step #3 …
3. Lie to your kids.
Our kids, though very young, are big Broncos fans. Big football fans in general, really. Sundays are happy family days that revolve around long breakfasts and the NFL. So the idea of their beloved Broncos getting blown out was not going to go over well. Thankfully, my kids can’t read numbers as high as 43, or subtract astronomical figures like 8 from 43 to determine how bad their team is getting whipped. So it’s easy to sugarcoat things a bit. I heard myself saying, more than once, “It’s a close game, buddy. We just need to get a first down here.” And then under my breath, “or at any time during this game.” Sometimes, it’s best to protect the sensibilities of the innocent.
4. Bail out early.
It’s bad enough when one or more of the parents are on the brink of a temper tantrum because of a bad game, but if you push small kids too far beyond their bedtime, it’s going to be a battle royale just getting to the door. Fortunately, while my kids may be pint-sized super fans, they don’t know the difference between the end of the game and a commercial break at 3:58 left in the third quarter. My wife and I have a pre-established signal that we give when it’s time to cut our losses and expedite a hasty retreat. It’s usually something subtle like her waving at me frantically, nodding toward the front door and mouthing the words, “Let’s get the hell out of here.”
5. Return home and regroup.
Once you’ve escaped the party, it’s time to compose yourself and put on a happy face for the kids. The whole way home, my older two kids (the ones who can actually talk) were full of questions about the Broncos’ shitty performance (though they phrased it in much cuter, preschool parlance). I spouted all kinds of upbeat stuff that I didn’t really believe, like “It’s just a game. You can’t win them all. They’ll get ‘em next time.” All the while, I’m thinking to myself, “How can you kick so much ass all season just to get to the biggest game of your life and lay a craptastic turd on international TV?”
Well, my four year old must have noticed my internal conflict, and he stepped up with a can-do attitude that I simply couldn’t muster. While we were driving home and getting ready for bed, he got very quiet. He didn’t say much while brushing his teeth or putting on his jammies. Then as I was putting him to bed, he reached up, patted me on the shoulder and said, “Don’t worry, Daddy. We’ll play a football game tomorrow in the backyard. You can be the Denver Broncos, and I will be the Seahawks. And if you lose, we can play again.”
You know what, that’s good enough for me.