Don’t Squeal If It’s No Big Deal

Approximately four thousand times a day, I say to my kids, “Just worry about yourself.” For example: “Mom, J told you he was going to READ AND NOW HE IS DRAWING! He is DRAWING on PAPER with a PENCIL!” Um, OK, just worry about yourself. Or “MOM, L is doing ballet REALLY LOUDLY and in ballet you are supposed to land SOFTLY!” Oh my god, just worry about yourself, and for the record, you were doing the running man while making fart noises with your armpits earlier. Or “MOM, J just found your black eye make-up and is coloring in his eyebrows HUGE!” Sweet Jesus, just worry about yourself, and excuse me while I sneak up on him to take some video.

But now, thanks to the wonder of the intranets, instead of feeling frustrated when I say “Just worry about yourself,” I giggle a little. All because of this little jewel.

I wish I could have that little girl in my pocket and just pull her out when my kids need to calm themselves. She would totally handle them. Also, I can imagine her telling her dad, “Snitches get stitches.” Very soon. I hope he is ready.

And here is a more grownup and slightly more pleasant-sounding version of just worry about yourself. Kacey Musgraves was born about 2 minutes ago, sings “new” country music about trailer parks and gay marriage (I’m kind of serious), and reminds me of my Missouri roots even though she’s from Texas. I love this song – it is catchy, and sad, and lovely. Please enjoy.

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Panda Tales

Have you guys heard the news about the baby panda born at the National Zoo? Well, it’s very exciting, although my kids’ reactions were strange. When I told them the girl panda had a baby, my son immediately said, “THEY SHOULD NAME IT MICHAEL.” When I asked why, he said, “I don’t know, I just want a panda named Michael to live at our zoo.” Um. Then I told my daughter about it, and she asked to see a picture. Here is the picture I think she was expecting to see:
BabyPanda
SO adorable, right? Well, here is the picture I showed her:
BabyPanda2
She said, “That is not a panda.”

Can we all agree that pandas should not exist? Really. If they weren’t so adorable (after their hair comes in, I mean, and they stop looking like a smiling hairy penis with tiny claws), we would not go to such ridiculous lengths to keep them alive. I read a New Yorker article recently about all the horrifying lengths zookeepers go to to help the pandas reproduce – including building platforms and weird plastic cylinder structures to help them, um, get comfortable. Some even dress up in panda COSTUMES so they can go in the enclosure and, I don’t know, get them in the mood or something? I hope zookeepers get paid a lot.

ZookeeperPanda

Also, if the pandas are fooled by that crappy costume, then they really are doomed.

I imagine that someday we will find ancient cave drawings about unicorns that are exactly like our modern day panda story: all the cavemen thought that unicorns were so adorable and magical, and then the unicorns stopped reproducing, and the cavemen were all “Ohhg og grunt what the hell grunt?” and used all of their caveman know-how to save the unicorns, and eventually said, “Eh, what are you going to do.” And bam, no more unicorns. Yes, I am basically an anthropologist.

My father-in-law is Chinese. He visited us once shortly after the National Zoo got its first panda years ago, and we asked him if he wanted to go see it. And he said, “No. I’ve already seen a panda in China. They all look alike.” Which is TOTALLY TRUE.

So I guess the point of this is: when the pandas all die, they really had it coming. The end.

Bee-yoo-tiful

Before school started this year, we squeezed in one last summer trip out west to California. We started in San Francisco and drove down the Pacific Coast Highway to Irvine. I don’t know why everyone thinks San Francisco is full of hipster-artsy-weirdo types; it is not like we saw a group of interpretive hula hoop dancers performing to tambourine music in the park. Oh wait.

HulaHoopers

[Note: that picture is blurry because I was worried if I got too close they would sense my incredible hula hooping talent and try to steal me away.]

The roadtrip was fun. We saw family and friends, and also, gigantic snorting elephant seals:
ElephantSeals
They were smelly and made obscene noises and fought constantly. I am talking about the seals, not the family and friends we saw. Just to be clear.

The hubz and I had done this road trip nearly a decade ago, right after I took the bar exam. That time we stopped at every charming coastal town along the way, drank wine, stared at the ocean, and wandered through boutiques and galleries with nothing but disposable income and free time. I knew the trip would be different this time with the kids in tow – less wine, more whine (ba dum, ching!) – but I couldn’t wait for them to see the coast. Because don’t all 4- and 6-year-olds appreciate scenic natural beauty? Answer: no. No, they do not.

I spent the first hour or two of our drive demanding calmly suggesting that they look out the window and enjoy the view. Here is a good example of the scenery:
Binky
That is a picture taken high above the ocean, while the marine layer rolled in over the water and melted away as it hit the mountains in the morning sun. The kids did a nice job of faking it, but they were not impressed. (And yes, that is a fake binky in my daughter’s mouth. The kids entertained themselves by pretending to be babies and “baby talking” for most of the drive, which did not drive me insane at all.)

Here is some more beautiful scenery from our drive:
Waterfall
You can just make out a tiny, thin waterfall splashing down onto a pristine beach, near turquoise ocean waters crashing into beautiful, rugged rock formations. Did my kids like that amazing scene? Sure, for about two seconds, and then they saw this:
Tunnel
That is a drainpipe/tunnel. They ran through that thing, laughed, made fart noises, giggled, and were thrilled to be running through a huge rusty pipe.

So after the tunnel o’ fun, I backed off and let them enjoy the car ride however they wanted. And along with enjoying the view and having uninterrupted conversations with the hubz (what?!), I was able to appreciate that my kids were cracking each other up in the backseat of our rental car for mile after mile after mile. They were whispering, and giggling, and saying totally naughty things, and making up silly games, and it was beautiful.

Not as beautiful as that freaking waterfall, but still pretty good. And now they’re back to school and I miss them like crazy. Even the baby talk.

Overrated

Last week I took my kids to see the famous smelly corpse flower at the National Botanical Garden.

The trip from the ‘burbs took us an hour door-to-door, which included 15 minutes of waiting in line outside while it was 4,000 degrees with 9 million percent humidity. By the time we were almost in, the only thing keeping the kids from acting like wild animals was the promise that this flower was going to smell like the worst thing they could possibly imagine. My daughter asked me very earnestly if it would be “worse than a poop and vomit bubble,” and I said, “WELL OF COURSE.”

And then we overheard this conversation between a guy standing in line and a Botanical Garden worker:
Guy: “So this thing must be pretty stinky, huh?!”
Worker: “Nah, not really. There are so many people.”
Guy: [Stunned silence.] “Uh, what? It’s supposed to smell like dead bodies. And why does it matter how many people are here?”
Worker: “Yeah, it’s not really THAT bad. And with all the people around, it just doesn’t smell as much. I don’t know, it sort of dissipates or doesn’t make as much smell during the day or something.”

So to recap, this 10-foot-tall uncomfortably phallic looking plant that is plastered all over the intrawebs gets a little shy around crowds. I am pretty sure no one ever mentioned that to me.

Once we finally got up close to the thing, sure enough, it did not smell at all. My kids told me that they thought they could smell something stinky, but I’m pretty sure it was just all the sweaty tourists.
Titus Anum

Which reminds me: what the hell happened with the cicadas? I will tell you what. Nothing. I did not see one all summer long. Back in the spring I read article after disgusting article about the impending East Coast invasion, describing how the cicadas would take over the East Coast, steal our children, ruin our crops, and enslave us, AND NOTHING HAPPENED.

So I am grumpy about a not-smelly-enough stinky plant, and also about missing an invasion of noisy, creepy insects. Perhaps I need a nap. Or perhaps YOU do, DC, with your nature-hype machine.

Tomorrow it’s supposed to be beautiful out, and I’m taking my kids to the movies. So there.

Home Sweet Home

The kids and I went to Grandma’s house in Missouri a few days after our return from paradise. After chilling by turquoise Caribbean ocean waters, you may think that the kids would feel a little let down by a trip to Missouri. But you would be wrong. Because:

1. This is a bakery in Missouri:
Candy
Why, yes, that is an entire aisle of bulk candy. On sale. The “bakery” had sugary versions of things that should not be candy, including candied veggie fries, gummy fried eggs, sour bone-shaped candy, and chocolate life-sized fish. My son is a blur in that picture because his pancreas is trying to jump out of his body.

2. This is what happens when you go fishing in Missouri:
Catfish2
That is a toddler-sized, barking catfish that was 2 feet long and weighed 30 pounds. For all you city folk, catfish do not live on land or fall from the sky. OH no. I caught that thing from a lake with a line, a pole, and a whole truckload of gumption. In all my years on the East Coast, I have never caught a catfish like that. I have also never tried, but that is really not the point.

3. These are some wardrobe choices in Missouri:
Wiener Dog
Missouri summers can be brutal. When it is 104 degrees with 4,000% humidity, wearing clothing of any kind is awful — why not wear something hilarious? That way, the people walking by (who are likely experiencing heat exhaustion, and may be slipping in to some sort of diabetic coma after grabbing breakfast at the “bakery”) can get a little chuckle on their way to the ER.

4. And finally, there is really good ice cream everywhere in Missouri. And our super awesome Grandma took us to all the best ice cream spots.
Central Dairy

On the plane heading home, the kids said they liked Grandma’s house better than the Caribbean. And once Grandma stocks up on some rum punch and has an ocean view, I will totally agree with them.