Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How to survive the summer with your kids

This is the first in a series of "how-to" blog posts I'll be writing this week. Why? Because Annie from PhD in Parenting (who's brain I have a crush on) wrote an informative article on blog stats, and it made me realize that I need to write something people actually search for. If you own a blog - especially a parenting-oriented one - you should definitely read her article. Anyway, apparently a lot of people end up searching for how to do things, and I'm missing out on all that great traffic. So I decided I should write my own, Maven style. Feel free to find them through Google so I can feel like I've accomplished something.


They have screamed. They have cried. You have cried. There are mystery stains on the couch and sunscreen art sinking into your drywall. You just found the meatloaf lovingly baked during yesterday's sweltering temperatures fed to the dog and brought back up - on your bed.

And it's not even August.

Unless your offspring are ushered off to daycamp or daycare or into the care of long-distance relatives for several weeks (and if they are, I'm very jealous and we can never be friends), you probably have your hands full during the warmer months of the year.

You might feel like you're losing your mind right about now. It's okay, I'm here for you. Here are some tricks I've learned in the last few years:

This seasonal method of keeping children still does not work work.
They eventually want you to uncover them.
Even when you're not done reading your magazine yet.
Children are SO selfish.

1. Don't worry about losing your mind. Good news: If you deliberately stay home with young children then you are already clinically insane. Stop telling yourself it's because of unconditional love or what's best for your family or what you've always wanted to do; denial is a major symptom of ones solar panels facing north. Just own it like I did. It's very liberating.

2. Try to get out more. You know, by yourself. If you can't do that, then take your kids to the park and pretend they're someone else's. This is where you get to use that newly-admitted crazy of yours. See that mom over on the bench who looks like she has her act together? They're her kids for now. She's doing a great job parenting them, being all calm and stuff - not even watching them, really, which is totally free-range parenting and all the rage. You can plop your childless ass under that tree and read your now-overdue library book. If the Individuals Formally Known as Your Children come by to ask for a snack, just point at her picnic basket. It's not like she can't feed her own kids. There are rules against that sort of thing.

3. It's absolutely okay to Google - and perhaps loosely relate to - "why mammals eat their young." Just do it. You'll feel so much better*.

4. Just. Chill. Out. You know those parents who only give their kids, like, 18.4 minutes of screen time a day - even during those impossibly long summer days - and leave you with that gnawing "I'm doing something terribly wrong" feeling? They are more insane than you are. Or they're picking special mushrooms every time they take the kids out for "nature walks". Or they have the best behaved, self-amusing children ever, which CLEARLY means the kids are half-alien. Hey, when daddy comes from the Gamma-Granola quadrant and met mommy when he crash-landed on Hempseed Hill, those offspring will be too advanced for television. The rest of us can loosen up and let our average human children watch reruns of Sponge-Bob if it means they're not pulling each others hair for a morning.

5. It'll be over before you know it. In the blink of an eye school will be back in session. Playgroup registration will be in full swing. Or, if you took the summer off because you thought it would be "relaxing" (yes, I'm laughing at you), you'll be back at work and having adult conversation before you can say "I already told you that can't be flushed down the toilet" again. Soon you'll be trading in last minute library trips for lunch-making, and hour-long hikes for homework. And the worst part? By November you'll probably be missing the summer terribly. You sick individual, you.

*By "Just do it. You'll feel so much better" I do not mean you should actually eat your young. As tempting as that might sound after you discover they've been using your car as a scooter ramp, you'll likely wind up with bad indigestion and a side of remorse - after the scratches are buffed out, anyway. Also, you can only take the clinically insane defence so far.

Any other advice you'd give overwhelmed parental units of young humans? I know I'd love to hear it. We still have a month go to over here.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

And this is why gardening and Photoshop do not mix

Dear Husband,

The next time you pluck a carrot from the garden and it looks like this:

please do not show it to me. Eat it on the spot, or feed it to a bunny, or at least snap its little root-a-dingle off before you bring it into the house and lay it on the counter like it's just a typical vegetable. Because it is not a typical vegetable, Geekster. IT HAS A PENIS. Don't even deny it. That's the Willy McCocklington of edible vegetation, ready to release its load of beta carotene all over the place.

It's not fair. We both know what happens when you leave stuff like that lying around.

I find it.

And I can't help myself.

And then I spend hours sitting in the dark office, giggling as I do terrible, disturbing things with Photoshop and the digital tablet my grandma gave me. Things like this:

And this:

And, um, this:

You are an enabler of the worst kind.

The Maven

PS: I expect you to compose an apology letter to my grandmother immediately. Do not enclose any carrots. (For all we know, this sickness runs in the family.)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

My sister's artistic, um, talent.

My sister keeps sending me these drawings.

I think she's trying her hand at digital artistry and is seeking my approval. That's fine. I know what it's like to be a budding artist; It's always nice to hear that you have talent, right? It helps stoke the fire until the self-confidence train leaves the station. Goodness knows I still love hearing how awesome I am. I mean, I totally know already, but please feel free to keep telling me.

With her express permission - and a reminder that she needs to keep her ego in check when the compliments start flooding in - I have decided to share a couple of her best pieces on my blog. These are from a series called "Celebrity Tuesdays." I get one each week from her work address. (She's a civil servant - lots of time to draw.)

Don't know what Justin's doing on the left, but I'm totally digging this first celebrity creation! Now that Robin has his mask on he's ready to hop in the Batmobile and fight some crime. Maybe a crime against art.

Holy shitballs, Batman!
What the fuck did she do to my hair?

Next, we have one of the most beloved celebrities of all time:

(This is totally going in the twins' playroom.)

The smile gives it away immediately:

Mister Ed

Don't you love that she made it in black and white for added authenticity? Man, she's good. I'm so proud of you, Katie.

Please show my sister your love. Let Katie know what a talented artist she is and maybe she'll keep creating pieces that move us to tears-- uh, in a good way, of course.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A robbery, lots of noise and a unicorn

I need to preface this post by thanking Ottawa's CHEZ106 for totally making my weekend by reading 50 Plates of Bacon on the radio last Friday. That was a completely unplanned event - so much so that I slept through the entire thing because I didn't know it was on. I woke up to about 800 text messages, some emails and half a dozen Facebook posts about it. Oops. I was told there will be more 50 Plates read this week, which has me feeling a little giddy. 

I also need to thank Applegate Farms for posting that amazing photo on their Facebook page that sparked my smutty creativity. They've been great sports about the whole thing. Social media connects us all in the weirdest ways. In this case, Applegate Farms and I will forever be connected though pork erotica. That's special. 

Overall it was an excellent week for me as a writer. I have another exciting project going on that I can't talk about just yet, but rest assured that it's taking my writing in a whole new direction. It, too, was unexpected. But life loves to smack me in the face with surprises. 

Speaking of which, I was in a foul mood yesterday thanks to some unexpected events. 

I got up early to go work out. I detest getting up early, but I'd rather get my gym on and back home again before the Gremlins Three scuttle out of bed to torment their father while he's trying to work. This scores me serious relationship brownie points (or so I thought - keep reading). It took every ounce of motivation I had to leave the house this morning.

And I get out to the car to find I had forgotten to lock it.

And someone had gone through it.

And made a mess.

And stolen my iPhone car kit (minus the iPhone, thankfully, which was tucked away in the house) and, even worse, my coffee money.

And did I mention they made a mess? Like I don't have enough to clean up in my life. Thanks, asshole. 

Not exactly the great start to the week I had imagined. I'm contemplating putting a fisher cat in the car every night. Nobody fucks with a fisher. One minute you lean in to steal someone's change and the next minute, BLAMMO! Fisher gnawing at your larcenous face. 

Step away from the hybrid, bitch.
(Photo credit: Tilly's Nest)

Anyway, I got to the gym and ended up having angry exercise. It's kind of like having angry sex, but worse.

Angry sex is great in its own the way. In the end you're all, "I am still very angry with you, but at least I had an orgasm." The problem with angry exercise is that, in the end, you're all, "I am still very angry with you, but I did not have an orgasm. I did, however, have a heart attack." I worked out really hard, iPod up loud enough to pop an eardrum, hair dripping with sweat, cheeks as red as that bad blush your grandma used to wear when her eyesight started going, a scowl on my face. Nobody talked to me. Nobody even waved to me. And if you know how insanely popular I am, you know that's as rare as a nun at a Britney Spears concert. 

I tried to be friendly on my way out the door by smiling at everyone, but I think it came out more of a twisted grimace than a smile, and I likely resembled a sweaty clown on bath salts.

An hour later, I was at my friend Robyn's house attempting to turn my frown upside down by quietly drinking a coffee and chitchatting. Apparently this heat wave has rendered me all kinds of stupid. Nobody can quietly do anything or enjoy coffee in any way when they bring three kids with them. I know this. I do. I practically wrote the book on impractical parenting, including a chapter on how to ensure maximum conversation disruption. I spent three hours negotiating hostile toy takeovers and giving out attitude citations. In the end, I threw all three gremlins in the car and told them they weren't getting their computers back until further notice. I then had to deal with two sulky kids and one that threw a tantrum. Fantastic.

Then - you know, because he likes to time these things oh-so-perfectly - my husband decided to buy a drumset. Yep. A drumset. Awesome. 

He was obviously reading my mind. I was totally thinking that what this house needs is more noise. 

The best part? We have a multipurpose room called the Moffice*. It's the music room/office.

You know, MY office?

Okay, also his office, but that's not the point. The point is that a drumset is not conducive to writing. It's like a bad college roommate sitcom come to life. There is no need to explain this further.

But I love him, and he's cute, and he's not generally inconsiderate, and he almost never argues when I really want something, so I did not veto the purchase. I may have sulked and whined a little bit, but I didn't yell, which, given the day I was having, was rather great of me.

Oh, and I made him buy me headphones. Nice ones that make noise go away by playing other noise of my choosing into them. 

I didn't like those headphones. They were tinny. So I whined about that until he gave me his nicer headphones. 

They look better on me anyway.
Minus the greasy hair.
PS: Sorry for the greasy hair shot.

Then I took myself out for a latte while he set up the divorceset drumset and put the kids to bed. Two hours later I came home with an actual smile on my face. 

I woke up feeling a lot better today. I hit the gym again and actually spoke to people, and I have a plan in place to Bedazzle the bass drum to look like this: 

 He can't be home all the time.
(Photo credit: Mommywantsvodka.com)
(Amazing idea credit: My friend Melissa at Refashionista)

*We don't actually call it a "moffice." I'm totally making that up. We call it the "office" which is a really stupid name when you think about it, because offices don't have music studios in them. We should call it the "studio", considering that studios sometimes have desks. Neither offices nor studios, however, tend to have pictures of half-naked unicorn men in them, thus making me think this room should have an entirely new name.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


There's a lot of talk surrounding the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy. Some of my friends are as obsessed with it as 12-year-olds at a Justin Bieber concert. Some other friends, however, were less than impressed.

What do I think of the books? I think I'm not interested in reading them at all, actually. I'm probably the only straight woman on the planet who doesn't want to read them or see the Magic Mike movie. I realize that makes me sound like a sexually repressed 1950's housewife, but it's quite the contrary. I like sex just as much as the next girl, and in fact am one of the most open-minded people I know on the subject. No, really. If you know me in person and we haven't discussed the joys of multiple orgasms, it's probably because I'm not sure how you feel on the subject and I don't want to make you uncomfortable.

Or you're a nun.

Or my mom.

At any rate, the whole 50 Shades thing just doesn't tickle my fancy. But today I saw this picture on Facebook:

Finally, some smut I can get behind!

Who doesn't get turned on by bacon? Even as a vegetarian I loved the stuff. In fact, it was my gateway meat back into the life of an omnivore. It has the taste of angel but just enough nitrates to make it dangerous.

So I decided I should write some porkrotica in honour of this sexy picture. And hey, maybe it'll get popular and we can turn it into a porknography movie.


He stood in the hallway - a coy smile on his face - and reached for my hand. I let him guide me into the kitchen. Candles stood alight on the granite counter, their flames reflected in the pot rack above. Lagostina, I noticed. And not the cheap kind with the plastic handles, either. This guy meant business.

"What are you cook--" I began to ask, but he put a finger to my lips and stopped me cold.

 "Don't speak," he insisted, and reached into the pocket of his apron, pulling out a silk scarf. He grabbed my hair and gently forced my head back, tying the scarf so that all I could see was blackness. "On your knees."

Cold air blasted me from the fridge door.

The last time I was on my knees, I was scrubbing dried pee from beside the toilet bowl. Sure, no one was bossing me around at the time, but at least this situation smelled a lot better. In fact, it smelled incredible.

His curly moustache tickled my cheek as he leaned down to whisper in my ear. "I've been getting my meat ready for you all day, lover. Now it's time for things to get hot."

Excitement rushed through me at the sound of something unzipping in front of my face. Freezer bag!

The sound of dish sliding against dish behind me, then the intense pounding of microwave keys. Not a word was spoken for what felt like at least thirty seconds, Then, a beep cut through the silence like a knife.

"I want you to taste my meat," he said. "But first I want you to beg for it."

I wanted his meat. I wanted it so badly. But I kept quiet.

The scent was getting stronger, smokier, closer. I breathed it in lustfully.  Sweat began to trickle down my face. Oh God, I thought. I know that smell. That amazing, breakfast-like smell.

I soon realized that wasn't sweat trickling down my chin, but drool.

I could hold my porkly passion no longer. "Feed me your meat." I said quietly.

He got behind me, put a foot on my back, and held the plate just under my nose.  His chef hat fell in my lap."Louder! Tell me how much you want it!"

"Feed me your long, hard strip!" I yelled.

He pulled off the blindfold. A pound of perfectly processed pork product sat steaming on a plate. "Take it all! Cram it in you mouth! I want to watch you eat it."

And so I did. He looked at me and cocked his head. "Good girl. Only 49 more plates to go."

I never knew such desire until that night.

Monday, July 09, 2012

So, how's YOUR summer going?

Lucky for Spawnling, he is gorgeous.
Totally a survival tactic.
(Photo by Gutsy. Seriously. The kid has a great eye.)

Texts exchanged this morning with my friend, Liliane:

Me: Is it okay to send Spawnling to space camp... in space? He's driving me insane and I think he should be the cosmonauts' problem because they're trained to deal with high-stress situations and I'm not.

Liliane: I don't believe you. He was so good when you guys were over this weekend.

Me: That's his superpower! All supervillains have one. His is to be charming and make people think I'm insane while he plots to take over the city. I just saw this ploy used in the new Spiderman movie. Don't let him fool you!

Liliane: I'm skeptical, Maven. What's wrong with him? Does he need to burn off some energy?

Me: No. He just needs to tell people off and kick everything and not listen and not go to bed well AT ALL and yell oh-so-very-much and demand things. It's just... unholy. Maybe we should have had him baptized after all. Not because we're religious, but because he may be possessed.

Liliane: So, just to clarify, you're having a bad morning, then?

Me: Not such a good morning, no. I think I'm going to try and sneak him into a locker right before they film an episode of Storage Wars. Why? Because they have to bid on the contents of the ENTIRE LOCKER, even if there's a screaming kid in it. It's a rule.

Me: Also, I just saw a woman wearing earth tones while sporting a very bright red lipstick. I nearly pulled her into my car for a makeup intervention. Then I realized that would probably still fall under the whole "kidnapping"thing, even if my intentions were to save her from herself.

Liliane: I don't get bright red lipstick. We're not in the 1980's anymore.

This is why I text Lil whenever I'm having a bad day. I just word-vomit my problems and fashion observations all over her and she cleans it up without complaining. Also, by texting her in my car outside the gym, I extended my "me" time outside the house this morning and my work-at-home husband couldn't exactly give me the stink-eye upon my return because it's for my health and can you really be mad at your wife for wanting to be healthy? No. You can't.

Not even if, while I was gone, the five-year-old threw a fit over not getting a popsicle, grabbed two toys from his room and deliberately hit the stair railing until a piece chipped off, and then sobbed his way through helping to glue it back together and was still loudly crying when I got home. Not even then, because it was for my health.

And by all of this I mean: Our summer's going great. How's yours?