Blog Archive

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Reviews of a few children's shows on the Sprout channel

I'm not even calling this post "totally legit product reviews" because there is nothing legit about these reviews.

My favorite channel to watch with Audrey is Sprout, especially on weekdays. We get our Disney Channel in on the weekends, but Monday through Friday we are an all Sprout household.

Sprout has shows from all over the former British Empire (MAY THE SUN NEVER SET!), and they are ... ummm ... great?

Here are my thoughts on some of the ones we watch most frequently:

(pronounced "zoo")

This is a show about a family of zebras with giant heads that wear human clothes and live in suburbia. It's fine I guess, and Audrey seems to like it ... but in the intro music, the singer refers to "a fine young zebra by the name of Zou" and he pronounces "zebra" like it rhymes with the name "Debra" and that is just unacceptable. The zebras all talk in American accents, and none of them pronounce zebra like this, so I'm confused as to where this bizarre pronunciation even came from? Do British people pronounce the word this way? If so, KNOCK IT OFF!

So, I don't really like this show because every time I hear the intro, it bothers me like nails on a chalkboard. Just thinking about it now is getting me all riled up again.

Zee-bra. Zee-bra. Zeh-bra. Zeh-bra.


Okay that kind of fixed it.

Sarah and Duck

This show is most definitely British, and it is WTF incarnate. It's a show about a young girl named Sarah and her ... pet? ... duck. They live in a house with no adults (as far as I can tell), and there's this mysterious narrator who always encourages them to do weird things.

Let me put it this way: I have never been a fan of marijuana or the way it makes me feel, so I don't partake in it and haven't in a very long time. But watching Sarah and Duck makes me feel high in a way that helps me understand why stoners would want to smoke as much as they do. I f***ing love this show.

It makes no sense. No. Sense. Just to give you a feel for the weirdness ... in one episode, Sarah and Duck find one of those machines that you put coins into and it dispenses bouncy balls: 

She buys one for Duck, and then buys one for herself, but unfortunately her ball doesn't bounce when she tosses it at the ground -- it just plops like a little sandbag. So she writes a customer complaint letter saying that she's upset that her ball doesn't bounce ... and then shit gets seriously sideways.

She somehow puts the note back up into the ball machine, and then a door opens in the side of the machine to allow her and Duck to enter. 


Inside, they find a weird little elf who explains that she can trade her defective ball for another one. They are in a huge cathedral-like room filled with balls bouncing from floor to ceiling. Sarah is about to trade, but then she decides she feels bad for her poor ball that can't bounce, and doesn't want to trade it for another one.

Then the narrator suggests that she "teach" her ball how to bounce. And she's like "yeah, let's do that!"

Among other strategies to teach the ball to bounce, Sarah and Duck ask the sentient shallots growing in the front garden of her house to show the ball how to bounce. Because the sentient shallots are excellent bouncers.


At this point in the episode, I was lying prostrate on the ground absolutely covered in Flaming Hot Cheeto dust while Audrey and I called each other "man" and "dude" and wondered about things like "what if shallots really could teach a ball how to bounce, but we didn't know it because we didn't speak their language?"

And every f***ing episode is this weird. All of them.

Go watch some Sarah and Duck. Then share your thoughts with me. And eat some Cheetos. It's the right thing to do.


Caillou is a show about the most insufferable four-year-old boy that has ever walked the earth. How much do I hate Caillou? If there were an episode where a piece of space garbage fell onto Caillou's house and put him in a coma for six years, that would be my favorite episode. If there were an episode where Caillou left the gas on in the kitchen despite his parents telling him it was dangerous (because Caillou is an idiot who doesn't listen to anyone) and it blew up his house, that would be my second favorite episode.

Caillou is awful, and the theme song for this show gets stuck in your head forever, and also his name is really stupid, which isn't his fault but I still hold it against him. The episode where he became school Safety Helper for a day made me suicidal.

Go f*** yourself, Caillou.

Anyway, we also watch Astroblast (love it), Pajanimals (Audrey is all about it), and Stella and Sam (though by the time this show comes on, Audrey just wants me to read her books instead of actually watching the show). But I don't really have anything to say about those, except to wonder why Stella spends so much time with her brother who is clearly significantly younger than her. Why doesn't she have any friends of her own? Anyone her own age to hang out with? And where are their parents?

I'm just saying, Stella, that it's a little weird. A liiiiittle weird.

Oh, and Chica the chicken that only "speaks" in hideous squeaks and squeals? You'd better pray you never run into me on the street. Because let me tell you what I like to do with chickens that annoy me:

I'm not threatening you, though. I'm just ... making conversation.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Common everyday behaviors that my daughter is ABSOLUTELY AGAINST

My one-year-old is a lot of things ... but dammit, she's got one strong moral compass. She believes what she believes, and I respect her for it!

The problem is, she insists on enforcing her beliefs on me, even though I don't agree with most of them. I think it's a really unfair and shitty thing to do, but no matter how many times I explain that to her, she just doesn't seem to get it. Maybe someday, right?

Here are a few of her more hard-line beliefs that she insists on enforcing against me:


She is always taking off her own jacket, but hey, that's her right. (no it's not, Audrey, YOU'RE JUST A BABY AND IT'S THIRTY DEGREES OUTSIDE. YOU NEED TO WEAR A JACKET)

But the other day, I was a bit cold in the living room so I grabbed my zippered hoodie jacket off the arm of the couch and put it on. I didn't zip it up or anything; just put my arms through it and went back to the book we were reading.

Audrey would have none of it. She refused to sit back on my lap and return to the book. Instead, she stood in front of me making a grumpy face and tugging my sweatshirt down off my shoulder.

At first, I thought that maybe she was just trying to play with the string that tightens the hood? But no, she was definitely trying to take the jacket off me. She pulled it down, I pulled it back up. She grunted in disapproval and started to pull it down again.

Eventually, I gave up and started to remove the coat. This made her happy again, and she helped me take my arms out. Once it was off, she picked it up and carried it to the laundry room, throwing it on the floor. No indoor jackets on my watch, Mommy.


Her rules on this one are both arbitrary and incredibly frustrating. We'll be at the grocery store together, with her sitting in the cart shouting and throwing stuff on the ground like a normal happy kid, and then all of a sudden she's grabbing my hand and trying to take it off the cart handle. Like she's suddenly decided that the cart handle belongs to her, and I can't touch it without her permission.

There's just one problem, Audrey: I CAN'T PUSH THE EFFING CART WITHOUT TOUCHING IT NOW CAN I??!?

She doesn't care about that, though. She will just keep trying to take my hand off the cart handle, and I'll keep putting it back, and she'll keep getting pissed, and that's just how our life is now.

Even more baffling is that she sometimes doesn't want my hands on my own phone when we are playing a game on it. I'll be holding the phone in front of her face as she plays Peekaboo Sesame Street, and suddenly she'll be tugging at my fingers on the edge of the phone, as if they are offending her. So I move the finger that is pissing her off, but it has to be replaced by another finger somewhere else because my phone doesn't just levitate through magic, Audrey, but then the new finger pisses her off and she starts poking at that one instead.

It has gotten to the point where sometimes, while playing Peekaboo Sesame Street, I have to grip the phone carefully with my knuckles while supporting the back of it and keeping my hands out of sight. Because she wants to sit on my lap and play a game that I bought for her on my phone, but if she can so much as see a single one of my fingers she is just going to blow a f***ing gasket.



Audrey loves opening cabinets and going 'shopping' for toys among whatever dangerous cleaning chemicals are contained within (we put the actual dangerous cleaning chemicals up out of reach, don't worry. I don't think a few Lysol wipes ever killed anyone).

But apparently, this privilege is reserved for her alone. If she's nearby and I try to open a cabinet, she will close it immediately. Immediately. She will close it on my hand if needed, and then give me this dirty look like "you know you're not supposed to be in there."

She is also rather fanatical about the refrigerator door. You'd think she's the one paying the electricity bill or something. It's fine to open the fridge for a moment, but if you want to hold it open while you stand in front of it debating what you want to snack on, you'll have Audrey to deal with. She leans her full weight into both hands as she pushes it closed, which is pretty damned effective. Bonus efficacy points because if I wanted to reopen it, I'd have to knock her over to do so.

The bright side is that I really think about what I want before I open the fridge, though, which I guess is good for the environment. Thanks, Audrey.


This is just a no-brainer. It doesn't matter what I'm eating -- it could be ghost peppers straight out of a 500-degree oven and she'd still demand that I share with her.

Even giving her her own serving doesn't usually help. The other day, I cut up a banana with some bran flakes in a little baby bowl and gave it to her. I then poured myself a bowl of the exact same, the only difference being that mine had milk on it too. Audrey immediately climbed into my lap on the floor, facing me, and started shoving her fingers into my bowl to pull out pieces of banana. She had her own helping of banana, but she only wanted to steal mine.

I ended up pouring the entire contents of her baby bowl into my bowl because clearly, she wasn't interested in eating her own food. She ate at least 60% of the banana slices.

Also, the other day, I had a moment of weakness and got some fast food french fries on the way home from the grocery store. Audrey spent the next thirty minutes walking around with a french fry gripped tightly in each hand. She didn't even want to eat them; she just wanted to have them because I was having them and she wasn't about to just let that happen.

And don't even get me started on how much of my black bean chocolate muffin she ate. WE WERE SUPPOSED TO BE SHARING THAT, AUDREY. SHARING IT.

When I was a kid, I was always so annoyed when my mom would take french fries or a chicken nugget from my Happy Meal. Now I understand it, though. It's just payback for all the shit I probably stole from her when I was a baby.

Eventually, I hope Audrey learns that everyone else doesn't have to follow her moral code. I can open cabinets, wear jackets, and push shopping carts whenever I like, and that's just something she's gonna have to deal with.

But if she never learns that lesson, then god help us all when she goes through her teenage "meat is murder" phase, or when she starts ranting about the dangers of 'binge drinking' as I enjoy a glass of wine with dinner. If she's anywhere near as stubborn about it as she is now, it's going to be WWIII up in our house.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

In which my daughter absolutely terrorizes her older cousin

This past weekend, we had the lovely opportunity to spend some quality time with my niece as my parents looked after her. My niece is a year older than Audrey, making her a solid two-and-a-quarter years old.

In addition to being older and wiser, Audrey's cousin also has a very different personality than Audrey. She is very fastidious in her dealings, and likes things done a certain way. She is neat, polite, and generally a treat to be around.

On the other hand, Audrey (bless her heart) is like a train wreck through a paint store. I love her to death, but between her age (which makes her curious, reckless, and immune to discipline) and the personality she inherited from us (which makes her curious, reckless, and immune to discipline), she can be quite a handful.

Put the two girls together and ... it's like someone wrote a sitcom, but accidentally cast a couple of toddlers in the main roles. Their interactions are exactly what you'd expect from an adult Odd Couple.

For instance, Cousin enjoys activities such as quietly coloring, quietly watching shows on Netflix on my parents' iPad, and quietly looking through books.

Audrey enjoys activities such as taking away Cousin's crayons and scribbling violently over whatever she is coloring, repeatedly touching the screen or pressing the "home" button on the iPad and thus closing out of the videos on Netflix, and trying to take away the books and rip the pop-ups out.

Every time Cousin is doing something that Audrey wants to join, we will ask her "is it okay if Audrey watches Netflix with you?" or "can Audrey color too?" And every time, she will look at us in horror and shriek "no!"

"Why not just ask me to kill a man with my bare hands?"

And I totally empathize with her. If I were her, I wouldn't want to play with Audrey either. Audrey is like that guy who walks up to a group of people chatting, and suddenly everyone remembers they have somewhere else to be and the group disbands in seconds. 

"Hey guys, what are you all talking about and can I join in your banter with some banter of my own?"
"Uhh ... I have a conference call to get to."

Of course this will get better as she gets older, but right now it's hilarious because she is so completely oblivious to the effect she's having. She just wants to play whatever her cousin is playing, but her version of "play" involves completely destroying it.

When it's time for snacks, Cousin will neatly dip snap peas in ranch dressing and eat them. Audrey just buries the entire snap pea in dressing and then throws it on the floor.

We couldn't even play with the bowling set because Audrey would knock the pins over as fast as I could set them up, and then take the ball and throw it into the kitchen.

She's a monster.

I love her so much.

"Eatin' some bananas on SCHOOOOOL PICTURE DAY yeah!"

This rampant destruction means that Cousin does not want to share with Audrey ... and I don't blame her. Would you want to share with someone who always wrecked everything and got boogers on it?

"Thanks for letting me borrow your phone! Sorry for getting it all sticky -- honestly I don't even know what happened to it!"

Alas, part of growing up is learning to interact with people even when they irritate you, and Cousin is learning this lesson every minute she spends with Audrey.

She was coloring, and Audrey was trying to edge her way in on that as usual. So we asked Cousin to share her crayons. And how did she oblige? By handing Audrey a crayon whose color could only be described as "putrid." It was like brown and green had a baby and it died and decayed for three weeks in a swamp before being made into a crayon. This was the only crayon Cousin was willing to part with.

Audrey, of course, was happy as a pig in shit to scribble on some butcher paper with her lone putrid crayon.

We didn't end up keeping her masterpiece afterwards, but it looked something like this. 
Better than this, though, obviously.

When snack time arrives, we have long since learned to give the girls separate plates. Because Cousin knows well that Audrey will smear ranch dressing everywhere, and will get it on the apple pieces too (which Audrey won't care about, but the rest of us think is pretty gross). Let Audrey destroy her own snack plate instead of forcing them to share and making Cousin eat ranch apples.

At one point, Audrey grabbed Cousin's treasured Sleeping Beauty Barbie doll. Cousin's reaction was about what you'd expect if she'd seen Audrey pulling at the pin on a live grenade. It is pretty hilarious to hear a two-year-old scream "NO, AUDREY! YOU CAN'T PLAY WITH THAT!" in her squeaky little two-year-old voice. So bossy. She'll go far in life.

In addition to all this, there's the more basic problem that Audrey disgusts her cousin, viscerally.

The two girls were sitting next to each other in high chairs eating dinner, which was ziti noodles with spaghetti sauce on them. Cousin was carefully eating noodles one by one with a fork. Audrey was grabbing fistfuls of food and shoving them into her mouth with gusto.

At one point, for no good reason, Audrey reached over and grabbed Cousin's bare arm with her sauce-covered hand. Why did she do it? No idea. But how did Cousin react? With absolute horror and disgust. Audrey might as well have smeared actual shit on her, for how grossed out she looked. She stared at the big red hand print on her skin, then stared at Audrey, then stared pleadingly at me. This is a kid who does not even like to finger paint because she prefers to keep her hands clean. And now she has someone else's dinner wiped across her arm.

I jumped up to get a wet rag and clean up the mess, and then we moved the high chairs farther apart. Audrey, you monster. I love you.

And if Cousin catches Audrey drinking from the wrong sippy cup, ooooh boy. You'd best have a new sippy cup handy for her. She don't want NOTHIN' that's been tainted by Audrey's filthy mouth. Fate worse than death right there.

But of course, for a well-rounded sitcom Odd Couple, the messy one also has to bring out some good qualities in the tidy one. And that totally happens with these two as well.

We were at the playground one morning, and it was pretty foggy so the play structure was covered in dew. We had a towel with us, and dried off the slide and the steps as best we could so the kids wouldn't slip. Cousin immediately started to climb the steps, but discovered that the railing was still wet. So she stopped climbing and waited for my mom to come over with the towel to dry it off before she would continue.

Audrey, of course, didn't give a rip about the railing being wet and barreled past her cousin up to the top of the play structure. Cousin would have none of this, and promptly forgot her prior objections to the wet railing. What a magic sitcom moment this could have been! Get those hands dirty, kid! Both went down the slide, and great fun was had.

They took a bath together. Audrey started splashing water everywhere. Cousin realized this was great fun, and it's okay to make a bit of a mess from time to time, so pretty soon they were both shrieking and splashing. Get outside your comfort zone, kid! Soak that bathroom.

They were sitting in their high chairs eating lunch, which was some of the same spaghetti from the night before. Audrey stuck her finger in a ziti noodle and realized that it fit perfectly over her whole finger. She was elated, and soon had ziti gloves over most of her hand. Cousin saw this, and shocked us all by ... putting her finger through a ziti noodle too. SHE GOT ACTUAL RED SAUCE ON HER HAND, ON PURPOSE, BECAUSE AUDREY DID IT AND IT LOOKED FUN. If this had been a movie, the credits could have rolled.

Do the girls love each other? Absolutely.

Does Cousin get excited about spending time with Audrey? Most definitely.

As soon as Audrey is around, does she start to wonder just exactly why she was so excited to see her in the first place?

... yes.

But that's what cousins are for. :-D

Playing the "leave me the hell alone" game:

Trying to read a nice book together:

What I'm really excited for is to come back and read this post again in a couple of years, when every part of it is still true, except it's Audrey's little brother or sister annoying the shit out of her instead. What goes around comes around, kid. You're getting someone else's dinner on your arm, and you're gonna like it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Fun with taxes!

It's that time of year again when we Americans saddle up to complete and submit our federal and state income taxes! Woop woop!!!

I like tax season, because between Jesse's military service, our child and childcare expenses, and my student loan interest, we usually get a pretty decent refund. Nothing like a big pot of free money!*

*"free money" = money that we made at our jobs that the government took but shouldn't have. So really it was our money the whole time. But don't you dare ruin my good mood by pointing that out!


Since our tax situation is not overly complicated, I do our taxes myself using TurboTax. TurboTax is pretty idiot-proof, and works by asking you a series of questions until it knows everything it needs to know to file your taxes. Some of those questions amused the shit out of me, so I decided to blog about it.

Early on in the process, TurboTax tries to determine if you have any dependents, because claiming dependents gets you a pretty burly deduction. So it asks if I have any children, and I say yes, and it's like "oh cool, how many? How old are they? What are their names?" and I'm like "it's so nice of you to ask! Most people really don't care. Anyway, I just have the one kid, her name is Audrey and she is a year old. Walking, running, learning how to talk, really cute k--"

And then TurboTax cuts me off and is like "yeah I don't really care about all that. What I really want to know is:

This screenshot is from last year's tax filing, and it forced me to take a hard look at what kind of child I was raising. Not only did Audrey not pay half of her living expenses -- she didn't pay a single goddamned cent. It upset me last year, but let me tell you, this year it made me FURIOUS!

A full year of full-time daycare expense, and Audrey doesn't chip in a dime. Do you think that's cheap? IT ISN'T. A full year of first formula, then solid food; whole milk; diapers. The clothes she grows out of in months; the toys she only plays with for a few days before moving on to something else. Her ketchup budget alone has got to be in the hundreds, if not thousands. And how much did she waste throwing pieces of chicken nugget on the floor and then saying "uh oh!" like it was an accident? Not much, because I always ate them anyway, but still! 

I mean I know she's too young to get a "job" per se, but she could at least mow a few lawns, maybe do a bit of babysitting. Even a few bucks here and there would make a big difference.

Why can't you be more like this kid.

By next year, Audrey, I expect to see some improvements here. But you'd best not actually cover half your living expenses, because I need to claim you as a dependent. If you covered like 49%, that would be the tits.

Next, I moved on to the section on childcare. Apparently, childcare expenses qualify us for a deduction as well. So TurboTax started asking me about that. "Do you pay for childcare? Where?" Once again, I was excited that they were so interested. "Oh, we have this great daycare that's just south of us and we love it!" 

And once again, TurboTax cut me off. "No, just tell me the name and the tax ID number. You sound like you could really use some friends."

So I told TurboTax the required information, ignored the hurtful remark about my lack of friends, and then moved on to the next question: "WHO ARE THESE CHILDCARE EXPENSES FOR?"

And there was a little drop-down menu, offering three choices: 
   Audrey, age 1
   Jamie, age 29
   Jesse, age 32

This set off a whole fantasy sequence in my mind that went on for far longer than it should have. Imagining Jesse, age 32, being sent to daycare each day. I drop him off and kiss his forehead before heading off to work. Audrey, age 1, left for work hours ago. She was out of the house before Jesse even woke up for the day!

At daycare, Jesse does a lot of activities to expand his mind. He colors, he draws, he reads books and learns about body parts and which animals make which sounds. He takes a nap in the middle of the day, and eats a healthy lunch at 10:45AM because that's what time he gets hungry. Every day, when I pick him up, he's covered in cracker crumbs from his most recent snack but he's so happy to see me that I don't care when he gets the crumbs on me.

This fantasy sequence alone was funny enough that I almost selected "Jesse, age 32" from the list ... but TurboTax had already shown me that it didn't really share my sense of humor, so I clicked "Audrey, age 1" and marched steadily on throughout the program, frowning.

Once federal taxes were finished, it was time to do state taxes. Jesse's military home of record is California, which sucks in a big, huge, massive way. California is a garbage state. I mean I guess it's okay if you live there, and the weather is nice, but from a tax perspective, I hope that place burns down (actually, it does burn down regularly and putting those fires out costs a lot of money that comes from taxpayers so I take that back -- I hope California never burns down again).

Luckily, since we don't actually live there, we get most of our money from California back, which is nice. But before they'll put it in my grubby hands, I first have to click through page after page of ridiculous tax incentives to see if I qualify for any of them. Insane shit like "does your car run on composted human waste?" "Is your house heated mainly by positive thoughts and the natural warmth provided by the love of Gaia, our Mother Earth?" And I guess if you answer "yes" to any of these, then you get a tax deduction.

None of these things are true for us, so I was mindlessly scrolling through these lists until I saw something that caught my interest: "Ottoman Turkish Empire Settlement Payment".

The Ottoman Empire: 1350 - 1918. The Empire was dismantled after WWI.

Okay time out: I have had it in for the Ottoman Turkish Empire pretty much since birth. I'm not sure why, but I've been carrying this chip on my shoulder for decades. Those jerks think they can just sit there, being the Ottoman Turkish Empire for hundreds of years? Like there's no consequences for that?


Look at these bastards, taking over so much of the known world during the Middle Ages. Like it's nothing.

And now, finally, the Ottoman Turkish Empire is getting their comeuppance. The people of California will NOT be trod upon by any more Ottoman Turkish Empires, no sir. 

But then I had a terrible realization. Since neither one of us lived in California this year, we weren't entitled to the Ottoman Turkish Empire Settlement Payment. We weren't going to collect a nickel from it.

And so, my grudge against the Ottoman Turkish Empire continues.

Someday, you bastards will pay for what you did. Don't act like you don't know what it was.

Anyway, that's how you do taxes. It's fun, it's easy, and you might even get a tax break! If you really want to play it smart, spend your refund on upgrading your house to run on used tampons, hatred, and banana peels. Next year, you'll be getting even MORE back!

... at least, you will if you live in California. Good luck convincing the federal government that's worth anything.

And if anyone has any job openings for a precocious one-year-old, let me know. Ketchup doesn't pay for itself.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What if newborn babies had the same capacity for understanding as adults?

The other day, after a doctors' appointment at the hospital, Jesse and I were getting lunch when he broke some pretty shocking news to me: one of the two swans that lives in the pond on the hospital grounds died recently. You hear me? The swan died. He told me he heard there was going to be a swan memorial service, but that he hadn't been invited to it so he probably wasn't going to write a swan eulogy. 

I was absolutely willing to put together a slide show of pictures of swans I found on Google Images and set it to Aerosmith's "Don't Want To Miss A Thing" but Jesse told me not to waste my time.

I had just begun to digest this horrible news when I heard the little song over the speakers that plays all throughout the hospital whenever a baby is born.

"Oh god," I murmured. "Someone is going to have to tell that baby about the swan."

"I wouldn't want to be the one to break that news," Jesse responded soberly.

"I know. The baby will be heartbroken. Only in the world for a few minutes and already faced with something as awful and unfair as swan death."

"The world isn't a fair place."

"Do you think the baby will be invited to the swan memorial?" I asked.

"I doubt it. If I wasn't even invited ..."

"You're right. Wow, that's a double whammy. 'Hey, new baby, a swan is dead but you're not important enough to go to its memorial and pay your respects.'"

"That's a lot of bad news for one baby to handle."

We laughed, but then I started to imagine what kinds of things you would say to a newborn baby if they had the same capacity for understanding as adults. If they understood English perfectly (though they still couldn't speak it); if they grasped concepts like death, loss, abandonment, love, hope, and selflessness ...

Here are some Dos and Don'ts of speaking to newborn babies in this situation:

DO: Tell them that they are loved, and list the family members who are most excited about their birth

Who wouldn't want their first experiences in the world to be a recitation of "Mommy loves you, and Daddy loves you, and Grandma loves you, and Grandpa loves you, and ..."? I wish I got to start every single day that way! What a positive note to kick things off on!

None of these people love you, though. They have no idea who you are.
Seriously, you could die tomorrow and they'd just eat their bran flakes like it was any other day.

DON'T: Tell them that unfortunately, their Great Grandma just died last week so they'll never get to meet her

"... and Uncle Bob loves you. Great Grandma Jane would have loved you, but unfortunately she died last week. Actually, the coroner said she probably died two weeks ago, but she lived alone and nobody thought to check on her, so she just sat in there decomposing while her cats ate her corpse for a week! Ha ha, what a crazy world! Anyway, Great Grandma Jane was a wonderful lady. Boy was she funny. She had the best stories. I can't remember any of them right now, and really you kind of had to be there when she told them because it was like, her inflection or something that really sold them.

But yeah, she's dead and you'll never meet her. Bummer, right?"

Man, what a dick move. You must be the kind of person who talks up how much fun a party was to people who weren't invited! "You guys seriously missed out!! The strippers were all making out with each other!"


DO: Tell them what a joy it is to be alive, and how every day will be an exciting new adventure for them

Put a positive spin on the sometimes-scary but never boring adventure they're about to embark on! Every day you'll see something you've never seen before!

I mean I guess eventually you'll get older and have seen most things, but we don't really need to get into that just yet. You've only been out of my body for like 40 seconds, after all.

This guy can't WAIT. When he discovers the internet and how many weird videos there are of people putting things in their butts ...

DON'T: Tell them about the tragic and unnecessary pass interception that cost the Seahawks the Super Bowl

I'm an adult and I'm still not ready to live in a world where this happened.

DO: Sing them a soothing lullaby

The world is scary when a baby experiences it for the first time. A lullaby will make them feel better.

DON'T: Sing them "F*** It (I Don't Want You Back)" by Eamon

This is just the chorus. The verses are even worse:

This song is not appropriate for a newborn baby. Between the coarse language, advanced concepts like monogamy, cheating, and betrayal, and the even more coarse referrals to sexual activities ("you even gave him head" is a line from the song), nothing good can come of exposing your newborn to this type of music. Just don't do it.

DO: Tell them you love them!

DON'T: Tell them about the Holocaust, Rwandan genocide, The "Rape of Nanking", the Spanish Inquisition, etc.

Babies don't need to learn about this kind of thing until they are AT LEAST three months old. It is preferable to wait even longer, though. I mean, can you imagine being mere hours old and suddenly finding out that a guy named Hitler hated Jewish people so much that he built camps to systematically murder them and burn their bodies to ash? And that thousands of otherwise perfectly-normal people participated in this scheme? 

Why, that would probably turn me off the whole "life" thing right from the start. Much better to start your life out thinking about all the love and happiness there is in the world, and then only add in the bad stuff a bit at a time. "Yes, there are people out there who beat their loved ones, and that is awful. BUT -- have you ever seen a car get stuck in a snowbank and then five complete strangers come together to help push the car free for no reason other than because they wanted to help? It sucks that there are people who hate others because of the color of their skin. BUT -- what about the people who drop everything to run towards a national disaster in the hopes of helping people? What about the people who devote their lives to improving the world a little bit?"

What about the people who recycle aluminum??

As long as people are still recycling aluminum, you know the world can't be all bad. I still have plenty of faith in humanity.

This brings a tear to my eye.

But most of all ...

DON'T: Tell them about dead swans


Don't wanna cloooose my eyeeeeeeees ...

Don't wanna falllllll asleep ...

'cause I'd miss you babe ...

and I don't want to miss a thing!


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Things that should not surprise me, but always do anyway

Every time I feel like I've got a decent grip on how the world works, the same old shit will manage to surprise me time and again. It's entirely possible I'm just a moron, but I still manage to be consistently surprised when:

Two ugly people have a child, and that child is also ugly

I was scrolling through Facebook the other day and saw a comment on someone else's status from a girl I used to know but am not directly friends with. I'm not gonna beat around the bush here: she is hideously ugly. Her husband is also hideously ugly. I mean really, everything that can go wrong in a face -- big nose, unibrow, no chin, narrow mouth, crooked teeth, bad tooth-to-gum ratio ... Bless them both; I hope they're very happy together.

I knew that she had had a baby about a year or so prior, and noticed that her profile picture was a photo of said baby. Curious, I hover-zoomed on the picture to get a closer look.

DEAR GOD THE CHILD WAS A NIGHTMARE. I actually cringed and pulled away from my computer screen reflexively, and the exact thought that crossed my mind was "ugh, it looks exactly like a cross between the two of them! How ugly!"


And then I realized that that was probably one of the dumbest thoughts I'd ever had. My thought basically translated to: "This child, composed of 50% DNA from its ugly mother and 50% DNA from its ugly father, looks like a combination of them both and is ugly just like they are." F***ING DUH, THAT'S HOW GENETICS WORK, DIPSHIT.

Somehow, I always expect the ugly to cancel out. I mean, it happens sometimes -- I've seen ugly couples produce a good-looking kid or two. But it's the exception, not the rule. When two hideous people share DNA, the result is usually going to be hideous. This should not surprise me.

But it does. Every time.

A person who is universally disliked turns out to be an asshole

Scene: you walk into a room and find a group of people gossiping/trash-talking someone you don't really know very well. They clearly dislike the person.

But you, always the nice, benevolent one in the room, decide to give the disliked person the benefit of the doubt. "Maybe he's just misunderstood!" you think. "Maybe they've got him all wrong and he's not nearly as bad as they all say."

So you join the disliked person for lunch, or you sit next to him on the bus, or you chat with him in the hallway for a while ...

And it turns out that motherf***er isn't just as bad as the others made him sound -- HE'S WORSE! Racist, sexist, awkward, smelly, stupid, lazy, and pronounces certain words weird in a way that is like nails on a chalkboard in your brain.

I don't think I can help you.

Every time I meet someone whose shitty reputation has preceded them, I always hope that the reputation was wrong and maybe all the gossip was just lies spread by a jilted ex-lover or something. And every time, I am shocked to discover that when someone is universally disliked, it's probably for a good f***ing reason.

Hey, maybe someday I'll meet that hooker with the heart of gold that I've been searching for. It could happen, guys.

Strangers on the internet try to pick a fight

"Strangers on the internet will be assholes" is an axiom as old as the internet itself. They're anonymous and hidden behind a screen; why wouldn't they act like dicks?

But still, the majority don't. I post on reddit quite a lot, and I find that most of the responses I get are friendly, funny, and positive. People are on there to have a good time and to laugh, not to start drama (and get downvoted to hell for it). And this lulls me into a false sense of security.

Because every once in a while, there will be an asshole. Someone who CLEARLY is just trying to pick a fight. They'll respond to a joke with something like "wow, you sound like a real peach", or "glad I'm not the one married to you." They'll accuse me of being a bad parent, a bad wife, a bad daughter, a bad friend. Any role I have in this world, they'll accuse me of sucking at. And not because I've told a story that clearly shows this to be the case, but because they're assholes and want to pick a fight for the sake of their own entertainment.

And every time, I'm surprised. I open up my inbox and see someone saying something rude to me, and there's this momentary pang of "ohmygod, is this person right? Have I been living my whole life wrong??!"

No, no I have not. It's just easy to forget when you're having fun that THERE ARE PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO ARE SHITHEADS AND THEY WANT YOUR FUN TO STOP.

This honestly shouldn't come as any surprise to me especially because when I was like 11, we used to go on AOL chatrooms and do nothing but try to start fights with people. I literally WAS that asshole on the internet, and yet I'm STILL surprised to find that there are assholes on the internet.

So let this be a warning to you all: it turns out there are assholes on the internet. Odds are, they are 11 years old. No need to take them seriously.

"What's the worst curse word you know? Let's call her that!"
"I heard my dad call my mom a 'c***' the other day. I don't know what it means, but Mom got really mad about it, so let's try it!"

Grown-ass adults don't even pretend to wash their hands after using the bathroom

Everyone knows that they're supposed to wash their hands after using the bathroom, right? Like, this isn't news to anyone, is it?

You've seen this kind of thing in a bathroom before, no?

Okay, so we're all on the same page.

If everyone knows that everyone is supposed to wash their hands after using the bathroom, then why the f*** do some people just walk right out of there after dropping a wicked shit in the second stall, making eye contact with me as they put their shit-hands directly on the door handle?


I get that we all have lazy moments sometimes. You won't catch my soaping up after my 3AM pee at home.

I also get that there are germaphobes out there who don't want to use the hand-washing facilities in a public restroom, as they've convinced themselves that touching the sink will make their hands even filthier than they already are. But if that's you, please note that 1) I won't know about the hand sanitizer you keep in your office unless you say something, and 2) don't f***ing touch the door handle with shit-hands you disgusting pig. If you're so concerned about germs, then wash your hands in the bathroom and THEN use the hand sanitizer you keep in your purse. This has the added bonus of not making everyone think you are an utterly unhygienic pig person.

It truly surprises me every single time I see someone just walk right out of the bathroom without even pretending to wash their hands, right in front of people they know and interact with regularly. Without even running some water over them. Without saying "I prefer to use my own hand sanitizer" to any of the people who are watching them with open, abject disgust. Don't you know they're judging you? 

It's like they enjoy completely horrifying their coworkers and friends with their disregard for this universally accepted social convention and hygiene standard. Or do they think they're special? That they are somehow magically clean and don't need to wash their hands like everyone else does?

I guarantee you she washed her hands regularly.

Truly, it makes my jaw drop. I know it happens, but to see it with my own eyes ...


There's a woman in my office who went to the bathroom at the same time as me, and when we both came out of the stalls, she stood next to me chatting as I washed my hands. She watched me wash my hands but made no effort to do the same and offered no explanation.

It was baffling. Baffling and disgusting. I'll never go near that woman again.

Wash your goddamned hands, people. Jesus.

I kind of need this right now. I hope you understand.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Baby names that sounded good at first ... until they didn't

I blogged last week about one of the challenges we're facing with this pregnancy, which is how much harder it is to name a second kid than a first kid.

The name needs to be different enough from Kid #1 that people can easily remember whose name is whose. It needs to be a name appropriate for a second child, who I imagine being more creative and less responsibly uptight than Kid #1 (because birth order stereotypes are completely true).

And ... well ... I kind of want something a little bit more fun for this one, know what I mean? Not 'fun' like all the ridiculous names I've made fun of in the past, but fun like ... generationally appropriate, I guess. Just something ever-so-slightly off the beaten path, enough that it will stand out as a very different name than Audrey's.

And so, with that in mind, here are some names that totally sounded cool for a second ... until I realized that they were RIDICULOUS and there was no way I could possibly name my child that:

Female: Conifer

At first: The mental image this conjures is really strong and awesome. Conifer, the big tall eternal trees, living in the forest and reaching forever for the sky. Strong, solid, beautiful. What more could you want from a name?

Behold, the beautiful conifer forest!

But then: Uhhh ... it kinda sounds like you don't understand how to spell or pronounce "Jennifer." And especially combined with our last name, it sounds like we were trying to make an anagram for "Jennifer Connelly." I mean, granted, Jennifer Connelly is beautiful and I'd love to capture her essence in a baby name, but ... yeah, no. Not naming our kid "Conifer."

"Jennifer Connelly"

"Conifer Flennily"
(Also, Flennily is not our last name but you get the idea. Also also, I am sorry for doing this and I do regret it.)

A swing, and a miss.

Male: Kevlar

At first: What a kickass name!!! It starts off with a hard KAH sound, which is already awesome because KAH is how words like KICK and KILL start and I like the idea of having a son with a name that makes you cower a little bit. And the rest of the name just gets better! It's like someone took the name "Kevin" and fed it steroids until it ripped its shirt off and punched a baby. KEVLAR DOESN'T TAKE SHIT FROM ANYBODY!!!

But then: Kevlar is a registered trademark for an ultra-strong bullet-stopping fabric made by DuPont. It's a f***ing brand name. Might as well name the kid Kleenex. Well, except there's nothing badass about Kleenex. Okay, might as well name the kid ... Smith & Wesson. Or Blackhawk.

Holy shit Blackhawk sounds like the coolest name.

Or wait! APACHE!!!


Wait, no. Stop. I need to stop.

Female: Skylark

At first: Skylar is a name that already exists and is already pretty popular. Add that k to the end, and now you've got something just the slightest bit more original, but even lovelier. Skylark is a bird's name, and it sounds like a bird with a beautiful song who flits about in the open sky, wild and free. It sounds like a super good name, basically.

This looks like the kind of place where "Skylark" would hang out

But then: This is what a Skylark looks like:


Male: Graphite

At first: It's a bit like Graham, which is a fine, studious-sounding name. But it's also a bit harder, with that -ite at the end, like a geological formation. Meteorite. Dragonite. Graphite. If you say the word out loud rather than looking at it written down, it totally sounds like it could be a cool man's name.

And he's gonna Gra-FIGHT YOU TO THE DEATH

But then: Ugh. The "ph" kills it ... plus, you know, the fact that pencil lead is made of graphite and pencils are like pens' impotent little brothers. Pencils can be erased. Pencils smear. They wear down and need to be sharpened constantly.

Ah f*** this picture makes me so angry.
Plus, imagine this photo as a human male. Ah god, he'd be the kind of guy who always asks in a really whiny voice if he can borrow your stuff.

No Graphite for me.

Female: Whisper

At first: "Whisper" is just such an awesome word. It's beautiful and it's full of sounds I love. Wind whispering through the willows. Wandering through the woods hearing the whisper of the trees. Whisper.

I did an image search for "whispering wind" and this was the first result. And it is beautiful.

But then: The meaning. It's no good. Whispering is what you do when you don't want anyone to hear you. What you do when you're afraid. You describe someone as a "wisp" when they're nearly starved, so thin and frail you could knock them over just by looking at them. "Whisper", for all its beauty, suggests weakness.

And it suggests it very, very quietly, so as not to bother anyone or make a scene.

But, like ... whispered.

No daughter of mine will be a Whisper. Hell no.

Male: Codek

At first: Ugh, I almost love this one too. It's full of good, strong sounds. It feels good to say. Codek. All those KAH sounds! Codek is not someone you can ignore! You have to take the time to really finish saying the name -- there's no breezing through it. There's always going to be a built-in pause before the next word is spoken, because hitting that final K and finishing it up takes just an extra fraction of a second. Just try it out. Codek. Codek. That extra fraction of a second makes Codek hard to forget.

But then: "Codek" is just "codec" misspelled. The word "codec" is a portmanteau of coder-decoder, and is a device or computer program used to encode and decode digital data. It's a computer thing, not a name for a human. And if I named my kid after a computer thing I hardly understand, someday he's going to hate me. Imagine an adult named "Pentium" because their parents thought it sounded cool the first time they heard it, and didn't realize that word was going to become a big thing later on. It would be impossible to take that person seriously.

But if he gets a girlfriend named Intel ... I dunno, it might be worth it just for the jokes.

Nope nope nope. Codek will just have to wait until we get a dog or something.

I bet this guy could pull it off.

So, in conclusion, I have no idea what to name my kid because all the awesome names I come up with turn out to be absolute shit. WHY IS THIS SO HARD.