Google Something Clever 2.0: July 2012

Jul 28, 2012

I Can Haz Political Career?

You may have heard recently that there’s a cat in Alaska that’s celebrating his 15th year as mayor of a small town. First off, I must congratulate him for doing anything for 15 years; that’s quite a tenure for a cat.

It got me thinking about the possibility of political careers for my cats. Molly is absolutely not interested, because she is a princess, and princesses aren’t really involved with real government. But I convinced Chevelle to give me a candid interview on how she feels about the issues. I think she may have a real shot at the presidency in four years.

Yes, this is the same one who spite-poops
on the rug when she's mad at me.

What is your stance on abortion?

As I don’t have a uterus (because you had it removed), I feel that it’s not my place to judge. But if I have to, I would say, I’m for it. I remember when you got pregnant. I couldn’t sit on your lap for months, because it disappeared. Then you went away for three days, you bitch. When you came back, you brought that noisy little human with you. I guess I like him fine now, but he is still really loud. If I can prevent one cat from having their nap interrupted by a tiny human, I’ve done my job.

What are your plans for the economy?

I believe there should be two bowls in every kitchen, and a stuffed mouse on every living room floor.

How about gay marriage?

When you brought me home, you didn’t know my gender for nine days, until we went to the vet. You still loved me. I’m pretty sure it didn’t affect the guy down the street.

How would you approach the War on Drugs?

Dude, catnip… It’s not for me. I’ve tried it. Didn’t like it. If other cats want to try it in their own home, I have no problem with that. Just don’t run around town scratching other people’s shit.

Tell me about your thoughts on the environment.

You are a terrible human who will not let me out in the environment, so I really don’t give a fuck. It looks nice from the window, but what do I know?

What’s your stance on gun control?

What is a gun? [I tell her.] Holy shit, are you kidding me? That is fucked up! Why would you invent such a thing? I kind of don’t want to talk to you anymore. Weren’t you born with claws? What in the hell do you need a gun for?

What are your thoughts on health care?

Man, fuck the vet. That place smells funny and strangers are always touching me. I say, no health care.

What is your policy on immigration?

My people come from Egypt. It’s hot there, or so I hear. It’s nice to be in America, where it’s not as hot. But nobody worships us here… [I tell her about the Internet.] What? Why am I not a LOLCAT? Jesus Christ, I don’t even remember the question anymore. What exactly is a cheezburger? I think I want that.

Mom Porn

I’m starting to feel like the only straight broad in the world who has zero interest in Mom Porn. Where did all of this come from? Everywhere I turn, bitches are losing their minds for “Magic Mike” and “50 Shades of Gray.”

As far as I can tell, it all started with moms who read their daughters’ copies of “Twilight.” I’m sorry, that is weird, lady. I’m not saying it’s just weird in general for adults to read books meant for children; I read the “Harry Potter” series and loved it. But “Twilight” isn’t literature. It’s an abstinence campaign disguised as a romance novel (or three, or five, or something).

 Then some sick lady in Australia decided ratchet up the nasty factor and rewrite “Twilight” for adults. That’s “50 Shades.” Since when is every damn housewife on Planet Earth secretly into S&M? What the hell? I mean, I guess I get it if you want to get pinched a little or whatever, but from what I understand, this book has some really disturbing stuff going on in it. A friend of mine saw it at Target (!) and was curious, so she opened it to a random page to see if it would offend her. Um. How can I put this delicately? What she read  was something involving a fist, but not punching. Are you kidding me? I know, I know, to each his own, but if you are actually into that, I truly believe that you have serious psychological problems.

Then we have “Magic Mike.” I have never heard of a male strip club anywhere near me, and I always assumed it was because there’s no market for that. Gentlemen, I’m sorry to break this to you, but your junk isn’t cute. It gets the job done, and we thank you for that, but it’s not something I would ever pay to look at. That’s why works of art almost never feature naked men. Hell, Michelangelo practically forgot to give David anything. As far as Channing Tatum goes, he doesn’t do it for me. He’s a fine looking young man, sure, but he’s so generic. He looks like a mannequin. I like a human with some character. Maybe that’s just me.

I never really understood why men liked porn, but I always figured it was because I’m not a man, and I just couldn’t think the way they think. But now we’re supposed to be getting into it, too? Is there something wrong with me, or am I just not interested because I’m not from the Midwest? I get the feeling that a lot of these ladies are from the Midwest, and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because we here in New England are too buttoned-up. We burned women for showing ankles and emotions. Most of us are Irish, and our very biology prevents us from showing skin. Also, we don’t like to get too crazy over anything other than the Red Sox.

Survey time. Are you into Mom Porn, or not? And where are you from?

Jul 26, 2012

About Me (as told by my son)

For Fathers’ Day this year, I quizzed my son about my husband and made up a card with his answers. It went over really well. I was just thinking about how I don’t have an “About Me” section on this page, because I don’t know what to say, so I decided to let the boy tell you. I’ve also added my clarifications.

What do I do for fun?

Play “Draw Something.” This is absolutely true. I often have him help me guess. He’s only three, but you’d be surprised how many he gets right, or close, anyway.

What’s my favorite TV show?

“Dino Dan.” Incorrect. Dino Dan actually drives me crazy because he pronounces a lot of the dinosaurs names wrong, he’s schizophrenic, and his Canadian accent is distracting. No offense, Canada, I just think it’s weird that all kids’ shows are secretly Canadian. It’s really hard for me to pick one favorite show, since I DVR over 80, but I guess I could pick one from each genre… Comedy- “Parks and Recreation,” Drama- “Criminal Minds,” “Sci-fi- “Haven,” Reality/competiton- “America’s Got Talent” (obviously), Children’s- “The Aquabats Super Show”

What do I drink?

Coffee. Well, it’s technically true. I hate coffee, but after multiple trips to the doctor to rule out Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, hormone issues, thyroid issues and depression, it was decided that the reason I am always tired is because I am a mother. I’ve learned to tolerate caramel-flavored iced coffee- one to three a day. I also drink water and Diet Mountain Dew. I drink a shitload of wine, but rarely in front of the boy.

What do I eat?

Dinosaurs. Ouch. That is also true. I have a few recipes in my repertoire, but on poker night, when I don’t have to cook for my husband, I totally have Bagel Bites and dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets for dinner. Oh, shut up, I get the ones that are made with all white meat.

What do I like to read?

Your book you got for your birthday. That would be “Sacre Bleu” by Christopher Moore. Unfortunately, I finished it. He is my favorite writer and you should go out and get all of his books immediately, starting with “Lamb.” He writes humorous fiction, which is all I’m interested in. I also love Vonnegut, but I’ve read all his stuff and now he’s dead.

What do I wear?

The Alf shirt. That’s embarrassing. I do have a dumpy, XL Alf t-shirt. It’s about 15 years old and the screen print is peeling. I almost never wear it, I swear. Normally, I wear those $8 Mossimo t-shirts from Target that come in 20 colors. You know, the ones with the v-neck and the tiny pocket. Yeah, you know them. You have some, too.

What do I do with my friends?

You go to Tarjay. I’m not even sure if he knows that “Tarjay” means Target, but my best friend and I went there about a month ago, and she called it “Tarjay” in front of him. More often, we sit around and drink wine.

What is my favorite song?

“Thriller.” That is definitely in my top five. Anything by MJ, the Rolling Stones, Devo or the bird and the bee.

What do I do when you’re napping?

Sing. Um, not so much. I do sing a lot, though. But when he’s napping, I blog and clean the house… or nap. Hey, I work 13-hour days; I deserve a break.

What do I do when you’re in bed at night?

Work on your computer. Sometimes I do. But as you’ve probably guessed by now, that’s when the wine and 80 TV shows usually come into play.

Let me know if you want to know more about me, like my blood type or something.

Jul 21, 2012

Game Instructions by a Three-Year-Old

Ants in the Pants

Pull out all the ants. Choose everyone else’s colors for them. Pay no mind to whose turn it is; try to flip all your ants into the pants. Fail. Decide that the color you chose is the problem. Take your opponents’ ants. Fail again. Whine that the game is too hard. Make the ants fight each other.

Let’s Go Fishin

Break your fishing rod as soon as you take it out of the box. Once it’s fixed, begin “fishing” while your mother is still trying to load the fish. Once the fish are loaded and begin to spin, complain that it’s too hard to catch them. Try to catch them by inserting the hook right into the fish’s mouths. When you are caught, go back to fishing again. After 30 seconds of fishing, abandon your rod and turn to hillybilly hand-fishing.

Angry Birds

Change your mind four times before you settle on which level you’d like to play. Send all your birds flying in the wrong direction while grunting like a pig. Yell “I WON!” Ask your father to find “the one with the guy.” Do not offer any more information. 20 minutes later, when he finds what you were looking for, instruct your mother to play while you watch. Grunt like a pig some more.


As soon as the cards are laid out, flip over five of them. Squirm while the rules are explained to you. Play according to the rules until you flip over an interesting card, like the one with an ice cream cone on it. Pretend that it’s real, lick it, and offer it to others. Ask for real ice cream. Abandon the game.

Hungry Hungry Hippos

Assign everyone’s hippo for them. Immediately lose two marbles. Invite the cat to play. Wait patiently while the rules of releasing one marble at a time are outlined. Release all your marbles. Release everyone else’s marbles. Demand that you trade hippos with another player halfway through the game.  Bang on your hippo’s lever until its neck jams in the “out” position. Scream.

Go Fish

Insist on shuffling the cards. Drop them on the floor and cry. Allow your mother to shuffle and deal. Group together all your “pairs” of cards with guys on them. Ask for threes every turn, although you have no threes in your hand. Yell “GO FISH!” every 20 seconds, unless someone is asking you for a card you don’t have. When that happens, say, “No.”

Jul 20, 2012

Handicapped Parking

Wanna see something outrageous?

This guy. This truck is taking up three handicapped parking spots and the van ramp area. “So what?” you say, because you have Oppositional Defiant Disorder. “He has a placard. Maybe he needs that giant truck to carry a motorized wheelchair or something.” No, look again. See the commercial plate? Hmm, that’s odd.

He has a truck because he needs it to haul his lawnmover. For work. So somehow, this guy is physically unable to travel more than 20 feet to the door of the grocery store, yet he can operate a lawnmower? That’s not a ride-on.

I checked the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles website, and they say that placards are for “Anyone who is legally blind or whose medical professional provides a clinical diagnosis and certifies that the person cannot walk 200 feet without rest or use of an ambulatory aide.”

It would seem to me that a landscaper has to walk more than 200 feet on your average day. I have a very small yard, but mowing it definitely tires me out. But walking through a parking lot? Not much of a challenge.

Maybe if it wasn’t for guys like this abusing the system, we wouldn’t need to have such a ridiculous amount of handicapped spots. At a larger store, like Target, sometimes the first five spots in every row are handicapped. There cannot be that many truly disabled people shopping at Target in a week, never mind all at once. Callahan State Park in Framingham is a 100-acre expanse of trails and fields, and they have a handicapped spot in their dirt parking lot. Again, trails and fields. Because we wouldn’t want some poor disabled soul over-exerting themselves walking through the tiny parking lot on their way to… hike? Cross-country ski?

What the hell!

I should add that of course it's possible that a landscaper was giving his blind uncle a ride or something. But he still took up three spots and the ramp area. There's no excuse for that.

Jul 18, 2012

The Kid Across the Street -or- How I Learned the Meaning of the Word "Spoiled"

We all want to give our kids everything. We want them to have a better childhood than we did, to never want for anything, to be happy every waking moment of the day. But I've learned an important lesson from the kid across the street: why we cannot let that happen.

I don’t know the kid’s name (nor would I use it if I did), so let’s call him Johnny. Johnny is probably about eleven or twelve years old. He lives in a very nice house. Nothing wrong with that. Johnny’s backyard abuts a lake. His family has a dock and a boat. Johnny will bring a gaggle of kids home from school on a Tuesday afternoon and have his mom take them waterskiing.

If he wants to walk out on his deck and go play in the yard, he doesn’t need to schlep down the stairs; he has a spiral slide. That is so cool! If I had one, even at my age, I would absolutely never use the stairs.

The first time I saw him, he was riding bikes with a friend in the road outside my house. “Do you like my bike?” he asked his friend. After getting confirmation that his bike was nice, he followed up with, “Yeah, it’s pretty cool, but I’m getting a new one.” A moment later, “Wanna go inside and see my new cleats?” I don’t think I heard one thing come out of this kid’s mouth that wasn’t a brag. “Ugh, I don’t have any pockets, so I have to keep my iPhone in my shoe!”

Johnny has a basketball hoop in his driveway. Whenever he wants to play, his parents will move their cars to the street to make room for him. “Mike, you stand there. No, not there; there! Watch me make this shot. Watch me! Are you watching?” If Johnny’s not bragging, he’s bossing. He tells his guests what to do, where to do it, and above all, to look at him!

Today, I saw him horsing around in the lake while his friend stood on the dock, watching. He did impressions of various sea creatures. Matt was not allowed to get in the water. “Lookit, Matt! Lookit! Here’s my great white shark. Did you see? Did you see? Lookit! No, stand right there! I’m gonna do it again. Are you watching? No, don’t get in! Stay there! Watch me! Watch! Ten points for Gryffindor!” (Uh, no, sorry, kid. You would totally be in Slytherin.) He screamed at Matt to “lookit” so many times that the poor boy eventually wandered off and went home. Two minutes later: “Mom! Mom, are you watching? Lookit me! This is a dolphin, okay? Mom? Are you watching? Lookit!” Of course, Mom watched.

Wouldn’t you watch? He’s her little boy. Unfortunately, Johnny never learned that, although his parents’ worlds do indeed revolve around him, the rest of the world does not. I’ve never seen the same kid at his house twice. They come for the promise of rich-kid toys, and leave when they realize that it comes at the price of dealing with Johnny. I doubt he has one true friend, and who could blame them? Would you want to hang around a kid like that?

Thank you, Johnny, and Johnny’s parents, for showing me the light. The reason they call it “spoiling” your kid is that if you give them everything their little heart desires, they will literally be spoiled. Ruined. An unlikable little braggart and show-off who can’t function if every eye in the room is not on them.

Last Saturday, we went to my friend’s annual cookout. It coincides with her town’s carnival and fireworks, and both of our birthdays. It’s the one day a year when we all let the kids stay up super late and have way too much fun. The 10 PM popsicles came out. The boy had been rotten all week, and he did not deserve any more treats. I made my decision. Not for you. Not this year. You need to learn a lesson. After a couple of minutes, he noticed that all his friends had popsicles and he didn’t. He asked me for one. I said no, and distracted him with a toy.

He still loved me the next day.

Jul 16, 2012

What the Hell is Wrong With Kids' Shows?? (Part 2)

About 8 months ago, I wrote What the Hell is Wrong With Kids' Shows?? (Part 1). Now that my kid is a little older, and watching some new stuff, I have finally gotten around to writing Part 2.

Gaspard and Lisa

Gaspard and Lisa are the most codependent characters on TV. They cannot go five minutes without reminding someone that they’re best friends. And what the hell are these things? I thought they were dogs, but a recent episode centered around Gaspard trying to convince his parents to buy him a dog, so unless he meant a dog-slave…

Doc McStuffins

All I want to know about Doc is what her name is. Everyone on the show, from her parents to the neighbors, calls her Doc. Is she really named Doc, or is it a nickname? Either option is weird. Her mother is an actual doctor, so that’s got to be confusing when the kid next door makes a reference to her.  “Mom, can I have a sleepover with Doc McStuffins?” “Um, that depends. Do you mean the grown woman, or the kid who thinks her toys are real? You know what, either way, no.”

Mike the Knight

“Mike the Knight is a brave young hero,” says the theme song. Wrong. I’ve never seen this kid do anything even slightly heroic. He’s actually a selfish, rotten, annoying little brat, and two minutes before the end of each episode, somebody finally gets through to him about what a jerk he’s being. Then he says he’s “sorey,” because all children’s shows are made in Canada, and all is forgiven.

Franklin and Friends

There are now two Franklin shows. One is a regular cartoon, the other is this CGI reboot. They are both currently airing on the same channel, which is really confusing. I don’t care for either, but the new one is worse because they tried to make it hip by giving Franklin a catchphrase. The new Franklin says “coolio” all the time. As in, “Mother, you baked a pie for me to share with my friends? Coolio!” That makes the reboot even more square than the original (which is almost impossible to tell apart from Little Bear, by the way).

Animal Mechanicals

This show makes so little sense, if the boy told me about it without me having watched it myself, I would probably assume he was making it up. It follows five Animal Mechanicals, which I guess are robots, who save the day for other robot animal things. The team in comprised of a dinosaur, a dragon, a unicorn, a sasquatch, and a mouse. Their boss is an owl. This reminds me of when my son makes Iron Man, Luke Skywalker and a stuffed giraffe play together. They live in… I think it’s space? And there are like, these space islands that they live on, which can be connected by tracks? This show seems to have been created by employing the improvisational game “Yes, and….”

Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends

This show is not allowed in my house because it is gross. It's all about these creepy looking bugs who live in a bug foster home, I guess, because the "mother" is a spider, but her children are all different bugs. Bugs are gross. The first and only episode I’ve even seen featured a mushroom infestation in their home, which is possibly even grosser than bugs. I have to stop thinking about it now, before I start dry-heaving.

Little Einsteins

This show is about a diverse group of kids who cram classical music and fine art down your throat.  I dare any child to stay interested more than five minutes. I love to hate this show because of its roots in the Baby Einstein brand. Baby Einstein is this ridiculous collection of products that started with DVDs you’re supposed to show to infants. To make them smart. The reality is that “educating” a baby with DVDs will likely lead to language delays, which is absolutely hilarious because rumor has it Einstein didn’t speak until he was three. So I guess it works? Anyway, this show is obnoxious. Mozart won’t make your kid smart, and a kid who’s into classical music would be creepy.


Have you ever wondered what it would be like if Fred Savage was a really depressed ocotopus? Here is your answer. This show is where actors go when their souls die. Oswald is friends, or neighbors, anyway, with a penguin played by Squiggy. They go through the motions of their mundane lives, nobody has a particularly good or bad time, and few lessons are learned. If your kid ever sees you taking your Prozac in the morning and asks what it’s like, show him this.

Made-For-TV Pregnancy

TV and movies get a lot of things wrong. We all know that. DNA tests don’t really come back in ten minutes, doctors aren’t really allowed to abuse Vicodin and act like asses just because they’re brilliant, and not everybody has a wacky, oversexed next-door neighbor.

We give the writers a little leeway, because we don’t expect them to be experts in the field they’re writing about. But one thing I’ve never seen any show or movie get even remotely right is pregnancy. How hard is it to research that? Everyone knows a mother, right? If you’re getting all your pregnancy information from TV, you are in for many, many unpleasant surprises if you ever plan on breeding.

Here are a few misconceptions I’d like to clear up for you.

Nobody in the history of humanity has ever figured out that she was pregnant because she vomited up her breakfast

Plenty of women don’t ever experience morning sickness.  I didn’t. If you do get morning sickness, it can happen at any time of day. You find out you’re pregnant when you pee on a stick because your period is a week late. Meaning you are already five weeks pregnant.

Also, if this is how you're planning on telling your husband 
the good news, please shut down your computer now.

If you didn’t like pickles and ice cream before, you won’t like them now

If you have any cravings at all, they will most likely be for things that you already enjoyed before you were pregnant. Much more common are food aversions, meaning you will come to loathe certain things, particularly smelly things, and sometimes even the thought of them can make you nauseous. When I was pregnant, I once had a salad with onions, and I felt like I couldn’t get the taste out of my mouth for two days. I couldn’t eat raw onions again until my son was almost a year old.

While we're on the subject, you can't eat whatever you want

Yes, you do get to eat more, because technically you are eating for two, but one of those two is the size of a walnut. If you gain 100 pounds when you're pregnant, you should not expect to give birth to a 50-pound child, 50 pounds of placenta, and go home in skinny jeans. You have to straddle a fine line of eating just the right amount- not too little, not too much. 

And you have to eat right. You have to take giant smelly vitamins and your husband will make you eat your vegetables. And you wouldn't believe all the things you can't have. Lunch meat, soft cheese, sushi, swordfish, pate, smoked meats... And the things you can only have a little of, like tuna and caffeine. You may have heard that you can have a little wine. That depends on your doctor, and you will still get judged if you drink in front of anyone. I got comments for drinking soda, and I've heard similar stories from others.

It is not a beautiful, magical experience that makes you glow with love and womanly goddess-power

Pregnancy causes a whole mess of beauty-related problems, not the least of which is that you are 40 pounds heavier. Ever heard of The Mask of Pregnancy? Go check it out; I’ll wait.

Some women also grow extra unwanted hair, and of course you can barely reach to shave your usual unwanted hair with that belly in the way. You can’t color your hair for the first three months, which will lead to some scandalous roots. And your face gets fat (now that you know this, it will be so easy to tell when an actress is hiding a real-life pregnancy for a TV show).

My skin was never awesome to begin with, but pregnancy caused the worst acne I’d ever had. And guess what? You can’t use Retin-A when you’re pregnant, because it will eat the baby. Oh, excuse me, might eat the baby. They can’t really do a study on that, because they want to prevent babies getting eaten by zit cream.

Your labor will probably not start with five gallons of “water” falling out of you, or with horrifically painful contractions

Out of every mother I’ve ever known, I have heard exactly one story of water breaking at home. And even if that does happen, it’s not a tsunami. If you’re standing (in a dress; it’s always a dress), your baby will helpfully act as a cork because, hey, gravity.

Contractions also do not come out of the blue, and they don’t start at a full Frowny Face on the pain scale. Have you ever had cramps? Did you collapse and scream at someone to call 911? If you said no, congratulations, you’ve already experienced something very similar to the start of contractions, and lived through it. (If you said yes, you should probably adopt.)

Usually, it will start with your stomach feeling “tight,” your back feeling twitchy, or feeling like you have to poop. If you’re disappointed by that, don’t worry; you will have plenty of time to work your way up to screaming, sweating, clawing-your-eyes-out pain. Like 36 hours.

You don't know this guy yet? YOU WILL.

Jul 12, 2012

You Have GOT to See This Commercial

At the insistence of friends, my husband and I have been catching up on Breaking Bad in time for the final season, which premieres next week. AMC re-ran the entire series over the course of a couple weeks, we DVRed it, and we watch a couple episodes every night. This is easier than dealing with DVDs, but it also means that we’ve seen the same five commercials about 100 times each in the past three weeks. You try to avoid them, of course, but little snippets sneak through.

One commercial in particular was so intriguing that I just had to rewind it and watch it intentionally. I’ve embedded it below. My comments follow.

0:05 What the hell operating system is Grandma using? She’s trying to read an email and this is the error message that pops up? Does she think that computers only work if you’re constantly hammering on the keys, like some lab technician from “NCIS”?

0:15 Um, no it’s not. I hope you don’t get sued by the National Board of Ergonomic Shit for making false claims, Telebrands.

0:20 OMG you guys! Don’t give away your secret formula!

0:31 Grandma does not have a Mac. Not unless she’s a hipster chick in disguise, conning some family into thinking that she’s their Grandma, because afghans and ribbon candy are hilarious.

0:39 Show me one elderly person who can read those. I dare you.

0:42 Why would the kid have one?

0:53 Grandma does not have a laptop, either.

0:58 How much do you love this guy?! “Hey, thanks! Because my eyes suck, right?”

1:01 Are you kidding me? That kid is like eleven years old! If he doesn’t know his letters by now, you need a highly specialized team teaching them to him, not Pop-Pop. And there is no way he can’t operate a computer. My 3-year-old can operate both Windows and Mac.

1:07 What kind of urgent Jack Bauer situation has Pop-Pop gotten himself into, that he can’t stop typing even while he’s spilling things? “No time to spare, I’ve got to finish this 'Matlock' fan fiction and email it to Andy Griffith before- aw, man!”

1:14 You could. But if you’re the type that is still looking at the keyboard while you type, painstakingly punching one letter at a time, maybe it’s about time to let someone else make your big purchases for you.

1:19 I love how they make the keyboard on the left blurry. “I thought I could make out the letters on a standard keyboard, but I guess I can’t. Better call now!” That’s like running a commercial for a cable provider that pixelates every few seconds. “Look how shitty your current provider is! See?”

1:29 Not that it matters, but how exactly is that “matching”? They both plug into a USB port?

1:39 Now I see why the kid has one. What a crappy Christmas that must have been.

I apologize for the Andy Griffith remark. He was a great actor, and I’ll miss him.

Jul 9, 2012

Vacation, Day 3, Part 2

This is the last in a series of five posts about our mini-vacation. You can go to the home page and scroll down to start at Day 1, if you haven't read it already.

Today, we went back to Story Land. They have a deal where if you arrive after 3 PM, as we did on Friday, you get a free ticket to come back any day. I think a lot of people who came for the Fourth of July week or weekend must have left first thing Sunday morning, because it was a lot slower today. There were virtually no lines for any of the rides.

On Friday, when we rode the Bamboo Chutes, we ended up buying the $12 picture of us taking the final drop, because it was absolutely hilarious. All three of us had genuine looks of joy/horror on our faces. Today, my husband wanted to get a companion picture where we did something silly. On our first ride, he wanted us all to pretend to be asleep. That would have been funny if it worked out, but the boy covered his face with his hands, and I couldn't smiling, so I ducked and hid from the camera. We rode it again. This time, at my suggestion, we did a "Charlie's Angels" pose. It's hard to teach a three-year-old to make a gun with his hands without telling him what a gun is. We still weren't sure of the exact location of the camera, so two of us were facing the wrong way. One more try! We forgot to coordinate, so the boy hid again, my husband did the sleeping thing, and I did an overzealous WOO! pose and ended up blocking his face with my arms. It is still an awesome ride.

We rode two more water rides. I brought bathing suits for everyone, but the guys didn't want to wear theirs, and ended up in very damp clothes for the next couple hours. We ended up spending way more time there than we planned.

We went to the barbecue place from last night for lunch. It turns out that Moat Mountain Smokehouse & Brewing Co. was not exactly what I expected. It wasn't so much a barbecue restaurant as it was a restaurant that had a couple barbecue items on the menu. The "smokehouse" bit threw me. I don't eat fish or mammals, so I'm pretty limited at restaurants (I've eaten more chicken Cesar salads than all of you combined). If you like to eat pigs, my husband says their pulled pork burrito was the best burrito he's ever had.

We left the restaurant at 4:00. If you read Day 3, Part 1, you may recall that the original plan was to be home by 5:00. If you read Day 1, you'll know that it's about a three hour drive. If you've ever driven on the Spaulding Turnpike, you should know that you will be stuck in traffic for at least an hour. I say "should," because we were stuck in that very traffic returning from a Labor Day weekend wedding last year, and we hit it again. We finally talked the boy into taking a nap at 5:00. He woke up briefly at 7:00, then drifted in and out for the next hour, waking up to shout random things at us that made little sense: "My shoe is too tight! No, not that one, the other one!" "I'm having trouble closing my eyes!" "Are we going to drive past a polar bear?"

We got home at 8:30, which is half an hour past bedtime. I jumped out of the car before the engine was even off to go check on my cats, because I'm a mother, and I worry. The air conditioners were still on, and the food and water dishes were still half full, so they were good. They greeted me at the door and everything. By 9:00, the boy was in bed with a full belly, the laundry was in the dryer, and we were fully unpacked. That's about when Chevelle decided to shit on the area rug to let me know she was pissed that I had left her.

"I'm the sassy one."

My husband got Chinese delivery, I ate my leftovers from Tuckerman's, and we resumed our normal TV schedule. I'm so glad to be back on my couch.

If you liked reading about my travels, you're pretty much S.O.L., since I only do long weekends in the Northeast, with a small child in tow, and not very often. If you want to hear from someone who really travels, I encourage you to read Aspiring to the Middle, written by a friend of mine. It's more than just a travel blog, but she's on a different continent every other month, so it's a better option if you want to hear about glaciers and currency-exchange and such. I don't know what you travel people talk about.

Seriously, though, here are some of her best travel-related posts:

6 Reasons NOT to Travel Light
Ode to 2011: 11 Events that defined my 2011
Reykjavik, Iceland

Vacation, Day 3, Part 1

The boy slept until 7:30, his normal time. I still wasn't satisfied, and got him into the bed until 8. Then I found a kids' channel for him and let my husband sleep for a few more minutes. Does anyone else wake up with itchy, bloodshot eyes whenever you stay at a hotel? Is it the detergent they use? I'm bringing my own pillowcase next time we go away. I couldn't wear my contacts all weekend, and glasses really suck when you go on rides at amusement parks, particularly water rides.

The whining commenced at about 8:30. He didn't want to use the potty. He didn't want new Band-aids. He didn't want to change out of his pajamas. He finally changed while I was out of the room and my husband was in the shower, and he'd chosen the "just in case" jeans and long-sleeved shirt I packed. It's going to be in the high seventies today. He didn't want to change into shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. He didn't want sunblock. He still didn't want to use the potty. This went down over the course of half an hour.

We had buffet breakfast again, and it was still awesome, except that the waitress took our orange juice order and never delivered. The plan today is to go to a cool waterfall thing and a weird store that we saw near the hotel, then back to Story Land, lunch, and drive home. My husband really wants to get home by five, and is getting super annoyed with the boy. He thinks we should skip Story Land, but there are rides I haven't been on, so we give the boy a Big Serious Talk about behaving, and tell him we'll take him back to Story Land, but if he acts up, we're leaving. He tells us, "Okay, I'll watch my tone." I guess all my yelling really is sinking in.

This waterfall thing is not an advertised attraction. It's just running along the side of Carter Notch Road. It barely slopes down at all, and there are lots of rocks you can walk on, and little ankle-deep puddles, so you can walk around in it. My husband told the boy it was "nature's water table."

I took these pictures standing right in the middle of it.

We hung out there for half an hour or so. Driving past it the last couple days, it was swarming with people sitting in the little pools and climbing all over. It was only about 70 degrees when we arrived, so we couldn't really splash around or anything, but the cool weather meant that it was almost deserted, which is great if you hate people, like I do. I was wearing flip-flops, as always, so I was able to get my feet a little wet.

I was so nervous that Ravenwood Curio Shoppe would be closed, since it was 10 AM on a Sunday. It's just down the street from the hotel, and we've driven by it every time we went out. My husband and I were both really excited to visit. It looks like a friendly wizard's house.


You probably can't tell from this picture, but there are bottles and jars and spark plugs and things embedded in the cement of the stone wall. How friggin' cool is that?! The front and side yards were full of amazing outdoor decor, some really expensive (thousands), but a lot was very reasonable (stone tortoises the size of your hand for under twenty bucks). To the right, there is a sign that says, "Sorry! No children in the garden, please." My husband went in first while I hung out with the boy. He was gone for at least fifteen minutes. I was getting more and more excited. He finally came back with this look on his face like he'd just seen a unicorn, and just said, "Go."

The gravel path led down the side of the house and into the back yard. There was a fence made out of driftwood that looked like it could only have been assembled by a witch's spell. There were statues, fountains, and mosaic stepping stones. They had Japanese fishing floats, which I'd been wanting for months. I got a string of multicolored ones for a very good price.

Then I came around to the large, open part of the garden, and I swear "Pure Imagination" started playing, although I guess it was probably just in my head. This was the first thing I saw:

Oh, hi, crazy giant shard of glass fountain. Wish I had a few thousand bucks to spare.

The garden was huge, and the path wound all over the place. There were themed areas, like Asian-inspired stuff, and creepy stuffed men in a little workshop full of junk that had been turned into art.

Why, yes, we do carry exploded typewriters with plants growing out of them. Why do you ask?

 Where does that door lead? The place where dreams are made.

Can you tell yet what my favorite part of this vacation was? I wish reincarnation was real, so I could come back as a butterfly or a chipmunk and live there. Promise me right now, all of you, that you will go to this store someday. Oh, and there was an indoor area, too, of course, but I'm all about outdoor decor, so if you want to see that, you'll just have to go there.

Stay tuned for the final chapter, Day 3, Part 2, coming soon.

Vacation, Day 2, Part 2

After we couldn't stand the Thomas thing anymore, we walked back to the main drag to shop. I love tourist stores. You know how every vacation spot has that one hippie store, and/or witch store? This two-block strip had at least ten! It felt more like Oregon than New Hampshire, although I guess the two are similar. At The Naked Bohemian, I got a dragonfly sun dial. I've been wanting a sun dial really bad for a week or so, and this one was perfect!

I can't wait to install it.

The boy only wanted a couple small toys, under ten bucks total, so that was awesome. Then we ate lunch in what pretended to be a restaurant, but I suspect it was actually some hippie's house. I mean that as a compliment. The Stairway Cafe is absolutely bananas, and the food is awesome. I had the Cali Burger.

I saw this, and still took my son to lunch there.

The "napkins" are dish towels, and no two tables are alike.

We went back to the hotel and the boy napped for an hour. Then we were off to Pirate's Cove mini-golf. My son is three and a half, so he's not the best golfer ever. He's only been once before, just this past Fathers' Day. We pulled up and he asked, "Why did you bring me here? I'm bad at golf." Hilarious, but sad. Aren't you supposed to think you're awesome at everything until you're at least seven or so?

At the shack where you pay, they had a board that displayed the best and worst scores of the day. Someone named Ryan was the worst so far, with 67 strokes. We knew he could beat that. So we played, and would you believe this kid got a hole in one twice? However, he now holds the Pirate's Cove high score, with 96 strokes in total. I swear, though, for the first five holes, the three of us were all tied up. He just can't focus for 18 holes.

We saw a barbecue place up the street and tried to go to dinner there, but there was a forty minute wait, and it was already only an hour before bedtime. The hostess was very thoughtful, and recommended two other restaurants to us. We followed her directions and ended up at the restaurant where my friends had their wedding rehearsal dinner last September! Small world. The most exciting part about ending up at Tuckerman's, though, was that I remembered when we arrived last year, some patrons eating on the patio told us we had just missed seeing a mother bear and two cubs. I've been clamoring for bears this whole trip, so I really got my hopes up when I realized that we were at a confirmed bear hangout.

I had a lovely barbecue Greek pizza. Our waitress was very friendly. After seating a boisterous party of twelve next to us, she offered to move us if they were too loud for our taste. We declined. I'm so glad we did, because that led to the highlight of the evening: the boy put down his food, turned to them and shouted, "Hey!" The last four or so people on the end heard him, and then he began to sing "Thriller" and do the dance moves in his seat. They laughed their asses off. One guy sang along with him. I had to stop him so he could finish eating, though. When we were done, it was already well past bedtime, but I allowed him to do the full choreography, at the request of his audience. I bet they will tell that story all the time. It's nice that he brought a little ridiculousness their night.

On the way to the car, we saw proof that we had once again just missed the bears.

Does a bear shit in the woods? Not this one.

Back at the hotel, we watched some stand-up comedy and a couple episodes of one of those pawn shop shows, which was awful. I miss my DVR so much! Looking forward to our reunion tomorrow.

Vacation, Day 2, Part 1

The boy woke up at 6:00. Six o'clock in the damn morning. Unacceptable. I had five and half hours of sleep on a weird pillow and my neck was not well. We got him into the big bed with us for another hour or so, although it felt like 10 minutes. I forgot to pack the shower floofs. Sorry, that's our family's word for "netted sponges." What do you call them? Let me know. When is the last time you showered with a washcloth? It's so weird and wrong. It makes me feel like a caveman.

Breakfast at the hotel was amazeballs. It was a buffet today, and They. Had. Everything. I had scrambled egss, a warm cinnamon bun and watermelon. The boy had Froot Loops, scrambled eggs, bacon and a waffle. My husband had scrambled eggs, bacon, home fries, cheese danish, sausage and beans. He went back for seconds, and got more eggs, bacon and beans. He also got strawberries, because I am a nag. Vitamins are important.

We had tickets for Day Out With Thomas at Conway Scenic Railroad. This is where a real-live train, a life-sized Thomas, pulls cars, and you get to ride on them. OMFG, if you're a boy under five! Parking was a serious issue, and we had to walk about ten minutes through the most touristy area ever. The boy fell on the sidewalk, and got two epic skinned knees and a skinned foot (we're a flip-flop family). Luckily, I carry Neo-To-Go and Jolly Roger band-aids in my purse.

To be honest, the Thomas thing was not that awesome. Seeing Thomas ten feet tall was surreal, but the feeling lasted about 30 seconds. The train ride was... a train ride. The windows opened, so I started blowing bubbles out the window, and some flew back into the car. All the passengers were beyond excited about that. To reiterate, bubbles were the most exciting part of the train ride. Bubbles that I brought for free, because I carry them on me at all times. I figured out after a couple hours that attendance was free; we had paid about $90 just for the train ride. Fuck.

There was a gift shop tent, where already-overpriced Thomas toys were even more overpriced. Dude, a lighthouse was fifty bucks. I was very honest with the boy, and told him if he really wanted any of that stuff, we would get it at Toys R Us when we got home for 2/3 of the price. We ended up buying him an umbrella. He's been wanting one for months, and $12 was not unreasonable.

My favorite thing at Day Out With Thomas was the mist tent. Do you know about mist tents? Best invention ever! It's a tent that sprays mist inside. On a hot day. At an outdoor kid thing. There were two or three at Story Land yesterday, and there were two more at this thing. I don't know if they're new, or exclusive to New Hampshire, but I totally want one for my yard.

My weird kid, using an umbrella in the place 
where you're supposed to get wet

The most perplexing event was when we visited the concession car. This was like those metal boxes at carnivals that sell soft-serve and caramel apples. The boy and I were fading, so we got him some ice cream, and I got an iced coffee. I've only been drinking coffee for about a year, and I can only stand iced. Coffee is gross, and hot beverages weird me out. They offered hazelnut or French vanilla syrup. No, thank you. I drink caramel-flavored coffee. After a couple sips, I noticed that they sold caramel apples. I wondered if they'd drizzle some caramel for me. Boy, was this kid confused. Here's a summary of our conversation:

Me: I noticed you have caramel apples.... Would it be possible to get a squirt of caramel in this?
Kid: Uh, car-mle? In your coffee?
Me: Yes, please.
Kid: Like, car-mle.
Me: Yes, please.
Kid: Let me check... [Goes off to ask the boss]
[Boss arrives.]
Boss: Uh, we have hazelnut and French vanilla.
Me: Yeah, I know, I was hoping to get some caramel. Like what you put on the apples.
[Boss and kid both take off, presumably to whisper about me. Kid comes back]
Kid: Okay, um, I guess we can do it? But, like, I have to charge you?
Me: How much?
Kid: Fifty cents.
Me: Deal.
Kid: So, how much do you want? Like, a scoop?
[WTF is a scoop??]
Me: Um, a tablespoon or so would be great, thank you.

I guess there is no Starbucks in New Hampshire. What do you bet they're selling caramel iced coffee for eight bucks next weekend?

Stay tuned for Vacation, Day 2, Part 2...

Jul 8, 2012

Vacation, Day 1

I wanted to live-Facebook our vacation to North Conway, New Hampshire, so you all could live vicariously through me, but my husband won't allow me to publish the fact that we're away from home because he's crazy. I'm not a bitch; in the same sentence where he forbade me from doing this, he told me I was free to shit-talk about him. What a guy.

So I'll be writing a post every night, and post-dating them so you won't see them until we're back in our house in Massachusetts, carefully guarding our 5-year-old TV. I don't know what else you'd want to steal, besides my laptop, which I obviously brought with me. We did not bring his Mac because Macs suck. Deal with it.

So here's the vacation so far: the boy woke us at 7:30, as usual, and we packed some snacks and showered and dicked around until 10:00. I gave our two beloved cats two heaping bowls of food, three bowls of water, and about 10 treats. I hugged them and gave them pep talks about taking care of each other. Then they hid for the last 10 minutes that we were in the house, because they are passive-aggressive bitches. It's okay for me to say that about them; we're family.

We drove for about 17 hours, and the boy ate a day and a half's worth of snacks. Then I looked at the clock and learned that we had actually been on the road for only an hour. Rough. The Tom Tom (narrated by C3P0 for an extra $12.95) tells us that it takes a little over 3 hours to get there. I have had no breakfast or snacks and I'm starving. We decide to stop at 11:30 and get lunch. We ended up at Martin's Drive In, because the Yelp app on my phone told me to. Four and a half stars, they say. I think we ordered the wrong things. Their onion rings are supposedly "famous," and they seem to specialize in seafood. We didn't get those things. I got a "chicken burger" that looked like public school food (but tasted slightly better than it looked). The boy subbed mac & cheese for his fries and received a cup of Easy Mac. Seriously. I think it must be a townie place that people love because of nostalgia, not so much for the food itself. I did not try their signature dessert.

Guess. Just guess which one I'm referring to.

Back on the road, we used the empty threat of turning around and going home in order to get the boy to take a nap. We arrived at our hotel, the Eagle Mountain House in Jackson, a little early for check-in, but luckily our room was ready. Have you ever read or seen "The Shining"? Okay, then you know everything you need to know about this place.  Eagle Mountain House is a "historic" hotel, which means they have an elevator from 1782, no air conditoners, and a 19-inch Zenith TV. We chose this place because it met our parent-specific criteria: living room and bedroom separated by an actual door, Wi-Fi, mini-fridge, and $100/night cheaper than the hotels in North Conway proper. Although I really wanted to stay here. Maybe someday.

There is no man in a little hat.

After moving in, we were off to Story Land. I was apprehensive about Story Land. I know I went there as a child, and although I don't have any specific memories, I recall a general feeling of it being lame. I mean, I was probably 4, and I still thought it was lame. Apparently it's under new management. That could be the reason it's no longer lame, or it could be that I went with my mom and grandmother, and they refused to accompany me on rides. I could easily believe either.

Story Land still absolutely has some lame elements, but most of the rides are rad. The first ride we went on, Bamboo Chutes, was the best. It's a very short roller coaster that ends in a splashdown. I hated everyone there, because they were people, and I hate people. Story Land actually has designated smoking areas, which is insane, since it's for children, but "Live Free or Die," and all that. Would you believe I saw multiple people smoking outside the designated areas, that I had to drag my kid away from? I mean, come on! I smoke, so please don't think I'm insensitive to smokers. But I have never smoked in front of my son, and I make it a point to avoid smoking near any kids. We frequent Davis Farmland, which does not allow smoking at all, and it's never been an issue to wait until we get home. I've actually tattled on people for smoking there.

I was concerned that the boy wouldn't get the full experience, since he's not familiar with any fairy tales, nursery rhymes, or classic children's songs. I mean, we've never even taught him "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." He has no clue who Cinderella or the Three Little Pigs are. My husband always questioned this, but kind of shrugged his shoulders and deferred to me. He finally got it when we walked by the "Goosey Goosey Gander" exhibit. This was a goose in a pen, with a sign that showed the first half of  "Goosey Goosey Gander." We walked by, and the goose honked angrily at him. I told him it was because he is an atheist. For those who don't know, here's the complete poem:

Goosey goosey gander,
Whither shall I wander?
Upstairs and downstairs
And in my lady's chamber.
There I met an old man
Who wouldn't say his prayers,
So I took him by his left leg
And threw him down the stairs.

After learning the second half, he agreed that this was something our son didn't need to hear.

After Story Land, the boy kept complaining that he was tired, which those of you with kids know is super rare and really weird. We got dinner, then stopped at a gas station for wine and Twisted Tea (yay, New Hampshire!). Then, went back to the hotel, and put him to bed on the floor in his brand-new Mario sleeping bag.

For the next couple hours, we sat on the couch, him watching "The Empire Strikes Back"* on Spike, me reading Entertainment Weekly. He went to bed at 11:00, and then I wrote this. Look how I sacrifice myself for you people.

Good night.

*The new, edited version

Jul 4, 2012

The Five Guests Who Will Ruin Your Party

Happy Fourth of July! If you're having a party today, like I am, you will probably not have a great time. Your Evite still has 20 people who didn't reply, so you will definitely have either too much or not enough food. You will worry so much about everyone else having fun that you will forget to sit down, eat, drink or mingle. You will realize tomorrow morning that you forgot to serve the dessert you spent 5 hours making, and throw it away. You will discover a horrible mess someone neglected to clean up or even report to you, which is now dried up, stuck on, and permanently stained.

But above all that, you should be aware of the five fun-sucks who you probably invited. They will wreck your good time, if nothing else does.

Johnny Offer Lately

This guy will text you four hours before the party to ask if he can bring anything, as if your menu hasn't been planned for two weeks. Does he genuinely want to bring something? Does he really think this offer is helpful?  He probably didn't want to bring anything, but figured that if he offered at the last minute, he would still get Brownie points for being such a thoughtful guest.

The Gift Horse With Shitty Teeth

This person will offer to bring something well in advance. She'll ask what to bring, and you'll suggest a side dish. She'll offer to bring you a tossed salad. So thoughtful! Yay! She will show up two hours late with an unwashed head of iceberg lettuce and a tomato. She will make a big production of handing them to you, so that you feel compelled to thank her twice. She will sit in your favorite chair and drink and laugh a lot while you make the salad for her, just so you can see what a good time she's having.

Lewis and Clark

This couple will call you just as ten guests walk in the door. You will sit in your bathroom with your finger in your ear trying to hear them over the din. They will tell you that they think they're about fifteen minutes away, but they're not 100% sure, as they're completely and hopelessly lost. There are no discernible landmarks anywhere, other than what "looks like a store or something." They remember seeing a sign a while back for Route 20, or was it 2. You will spend 45 minutes on the phone with them, trying to pinpoint their location on Google Maps while they yell at each other. You will have to walk to the end of your street to collect them when they pull into their fourth wrong driveway.

The Little Lamb

The lamb cannot function in your home without direct supervision. She does not know where anything is, how anything works, or how to figure these things out on her own. When she walks in the door, she'll immediately ask where to put her coat, purse, and shoes. She will be sure to spread these out over three separate questions to maximize the amount of your time she wastes. She can't find the bathroom or the bottle opener. She needs to know if there is any pepper in the chicken dish. She is too hot, so she asks you to open the window for her. She's too cold, and would like to borrow a sweater, but doesn't know which door in your bedroom leads to the closet- is it the one she just walked through, or the other one? She is always standing right behind you, unless she's calling to you from another room while you're in the middle of a conversation. When she finally leaves, she will send your an unsolicited text to tell you that she's home safe, but she left her umbrella, so she'll be back tomorrow morning at 8 to pick it up.

Helpful Harry

Harry has eaten more than his fair share of food, and somehow got the last serving of every single thing you put out. He got into your personal stash of good wine and drank all that, too. He took over your playlist, turned on the tv because the game was on, and yelled loudly at the players while everyone else was trying to play charades five feet away. He's a good guy, though, and you invited him to your home to show him a good time, so you let it slide. At the end of the night, Harry is one of the last guests still lingering the the living room. You are in the kitchen, dead tired, cleaning up. You've wiped down all the counters, picked up all the empties, and mopped up all the spills (which were probably mostly his). As you are putting the last dish into the dishwasher, he will saunter in and ask if he can help you with anything.

Kick him the hell out of your house.