Scout’s Honor

Addie came home from school recently and announced that she would be joining the Girl Scouts. There was really no discussion– she had seen her friends in their uniforms and sashes, and was driven mad with jealousy. This isn’t the first time she’s come home from school announcing her intent to join an organization– there was a brief but torturous two-week period in which she was officially a member of the elementary school wrestling team– but it’s the first time I have seriously entertained the notion of her joining a club, mainly because this one doesn’t end with her getting cauliflower ear.

This is uncharted territory for me, as I myself was never a Girl Scout. Or, that is to say, I was one for exactly one day. The Day of the Sit-Upon.

I’m not really sure where I got the idea that I would enjoy joining a group that combined salesmanship and outdoorsy-ness, two things I hated more than almost anything. Maybe it was just the pressure to fit in with all the other girls in my class, or maybe I did it because an American Girl doll catalog told me to (I took a lot of life advice from the American Girl doll catalog, like always being myself and wearing a crown of ivy with flaming candles sticking out of it).


Seems legit

But for whatever reason, I begged my mom to let me join the Brownies, and, thrilled that I was actually opting to do something even remotely normal, she happily obliged.

When I got there, the room was already full of girls, most of whom I knew from school. They all looked so cool in their Brownie uniforms, like they were badass bitches who got things done and had the patches to prove it. I can do this, I thought to myself, already planning on which patch I would go for first (I hoped they had one for Endlessly Throwing a Pink Rubber Ball at a Brick Wall For Hours, because I already had that in the bag).

But then the troop leader announced that we would be going on a camp out in a few weeks, and because I was an expert at controlling my emotions, I immediately burst into tears. I had known there was an outdoor component to this, but I was hoping I’d be able to skirt it somehow, like maybe I could always be the one who stayed behind and guarded the patch closet against marauders while everyone else went outside and got covered in bugs and mud. And now this woman wanted me to camp out? Overnight? Away from my parents? Outside? Whoa, whoa, lady. I didn’t realize I had signed up for Army Ranger training.

Trying her hardest to ignore my barking walrus sobs, the troop leader raised her voice and explained that we would all be making sit-upons for the camping trip. In case you’re unfamiliar with this graceful piece of outdoor furniture, a sit-upon is a piece of vinyl fabric stuffed with packing peanuts and sewn shut. When fully assembled, one can sit upon it, keeping one’s butt marginally elevated from the ground. Out of pity, she gave me the materials needed to create a sit-upon, as well, even though I’m sure she knew it would never be sat upon.

Unaware, at the tender age of eight, that I was allowed to simply get up and leave situations that were unpleasant or uncomfortable, possibly flipping a table or two on my way out the door, I soldiered on and made my sit-upon, which for some reason I remember in great detail– it was neon orange, with thick twine holding it shut, and I wrote my name on it in black permanent marker. As soon as I was able, I booked it out of there and never returned.

For some reason, though, I held on to my sit-upon for far longer than was necessary. It’s lost to the ages now, but I distinctly remember still having it in high school, where it lived in my closet, awaiting the day I could finally man up and get my Outdoor Camping patch. Considering I couldn’t even attend band camp without displaying histrionics usually only seen in families torn apart by war, I am sad to say that my sit-upon went un-sat-upon for the duration of its sad life.

I hope Addie will fare a little bit better than me. At the age of five, she has already camped out more times than I have in my entire life (once), and is generally much more brave and badass than I could ever hope to be. But when it comes time to make that sit-upon, I’ll be ready to help. Through my instinctive, terrified tears.

How to paint pottery: a step by step tutorial

This afternoon, I went pottery painting with my mom and cousin. I am generally leery of anything that involves artistic skill, but I was hopeful, after my recent forays into the art world with the 100 Days project and the Bottle of Fun that my skills would have improved since my last attempt.


“Shitshow,” paint and glaze on ceramic, Kim Oja, 2012

I decided that an updated family portrait was in order, as Rosie constantly points to this masterpiece and shouts “MEEEE!” (which I guess means that she can at least vaguely recognize that the adults depicted are supposed to be Ben and me, so that’s something?). Things started out so promisingly:


Look at those heads! So round and perfect! I honestly should have stopped here, called it a minimalist representation, and kicked back and played Best Fiends until my mom and cousin were done. But then I immediately proceeded to fuck it up by attempting to give us bodies:


I knew even as I was doing it that my sleeves were a huge mistake. I should have just had everyone standing with their hands behind their backs, which is how I have drawn basically every person ever, because arms and hands are hard. Now, I look like a braless woman with huge boobs flopping off in opposite directions. But this is folk art! I will persevere!

Meanwhile, my mom and my cousin Katie were working on their perfectly legitimate pieces of art.


But instead I pressed on. Since matching clothes were a theme in the original portrait, I proceeded to continue the thread here.


Okay, I made the puff sleeves work on my outfit. Other than Ben’s massive drop crotch, this was all going very well. But then– DISASTER!


It turns out glasses are not nearly as easy to paint onto a plate as one might think! So now the rest of us are just chilling out with Batman. At this point, the pottery painting staff confiscated my plate for about 20 minutes to attempt to undo the damage I had inflicted upon my poor, unsuspecting husband. (They were kind of snide about it, too, I wanted to be like, you know, you don’t know for certain that my husband isn’t actually Batman.)

By this point, I was becoming impatient. Katie and my mom had turned in masterpieces:


And I was waiting for the staff to attempt to salvage the remains of my Batman family portrait. When they brought it back to me with the top half of Ben’s head obliterated, I gritted my teeth and dove back in. Who needs shoes? We will rock bare feet rendered lovingly in the exact shape of baked potatoes! Hair is an abstract concept! Slap some retro typewriter stamps on that baby for added kitsch effect and call it good!

Finally, my masterpiece was complete.


I feel like I did an excellent job of capturing the true personality and aesthetic of my children.

IMG_3351-COLLAGE (1).jpg

Nailed it.

And in my opinion, the piece de resistance here is the cat, which I added only after Katie pointed out that my children would be super pissed if she wasn’t there. I tried using a stamp to just add in a rudimentary cat shape, but it came out as a black blob, and so I had no choice but to attempt to freehand this beauty.


We had to leave our pottery behind to be glazed and fired, and, in my case, laughed at and mocked incessantly, and probably put up on several Pinterest Fail boards. We won’t see the finished products until Friday, but I’m assuming it’s not really going to help mine any, unless they glaze it so heavily that you can’t actually see the design underneath. But when it comes home, I will still hang it proudly next to our original family portrait, where it can be admired for all eternity until we put our house on the market some day in the future and the realtor demands I take it down because it’s scaring away potential clients.