Farmer Kim

When I was a kid, I always wanted to live in a big city, like Harriet the Spy, or Eloise. Never mind that I would have made the single worst city dweller in the world at the time, as I was terrified of buses and unable to function in large crowds, but I just assumed that I would naturally adapt, navigating the subways with ease and learning the difference between puddles of rain and human urine.

Instead, I lived in the suburbs with parents who had a secret love of all things farm. Every fall, we would go on farm tours, visiting everywhere from dairy farms (awesome) to chicken farms (deeply gross). Most of these tours involved me doing only two things, over and over again– happily inserting my arm up to the elbow into the mouth of a baby cow, and desperately searching for feral farm cats that I could attempt to persuade my parents to let me smuggle home in my gigantic denim purse.

Farm tours don’t seem to really be a thing anymore– maybe too many baby cows ended up gagging to death on the arms of overeager preteens– but luckily for me, I can still take my girls to the Lake County Farm Park, a working farm about ten minutes from my house.

We went today, and I can tell you, there is almost nothing better in this world than a working farm on a cold Saturday morning in April, for a number of reasons:

  1. Almost no one was there, allowing me to indulge in my favorite pastime– pretending that I am a celebrity and that venues have been closed to the public for my own amusement
  2. With little to no crowd, the staff becomes very lax, so you can basically do everything but ride the animals around the farm while screaming “I’M A COWGIRL!”
  3. All the animals are having babies right now, offering me a plethora of tiny, fluffy animals to manhandle and fantasize about taking home (I nearly lamb-napped this one guy, who kept closing his eyes and lamb-smiling every time I pet him under his chin, until I remembered that eventually he would grow into a gross giant sheep)

The girls are mostly into it because of the free tractor rides and the indoor playground that pops up around this time each year. Addie, in particular, has also developed an intense interest in what is probably the single most boring room on the farm, if not in the entire world– the Grain Room, which tells the harrowing story of the evolution of different grains over time, and also appears to be the employee break room, as it contains a coffee pot and mini-fridge that are decidedly un-grain-related.

But for me, it’s all about the animals. It’s all the best parts of every farm tour I’ve ever taken, only with way fewer chickens. Trust me, there is nothing you want to see at a chicken farm.

The Great Potato Fire

When Ben goes out of town, I generally eat only two things for dinner– Panera Thai chopped chicken salad, or Manwich sloppy joes. The Panera salad would be my number one choice at all times, as I love restaurants but hate buying gigantic pants, so the salad is a good compromise, but it is also fairly expensive, so I have to limit myself. Which leaves me with the Manwich, because I never learned how to cook, and sloppy joes push my culinary skills to the max.

My mother tried to teach me, but I just wasn’t interested. Why learn to cook, when food could just magically appear when someone else cooked it? And as a very anxious person, I tend to worry far too much about cooking to actually enjoy the process– what if I’m doing it wrong? What if this tastes disgusting? What if I poison someone with my inferiorly prepared chicken breast?

But I think the true reason I steer clear of cooking is The Great Potato Fire of 2001.

Allow me to set the scene– it was the end of my first semester in graduate school. My roommate had just moved out, taking with her all of the furniture and the means to pay the cable bill, so I was sitting on the floor in the living room in my pajamas at 3 pm on a Wednesday, sewing a sock monkey as a Christmas present and watching a video cassette of The Mikado that I had gotten from the library. You know, as one does from time to time. I was hungry, but I had no money– and not the “oh, I couldn’t possibly afford sushi and sake!” kind of no money, but the “it’s cool to use washcloths as toilet paper until I can afford to buy more as long as I wash them, right?” kind.

There was no money. But there was a potato.

One big, fat, perfect potato. The kind of potato that begs you to give its worthless existence some meaning by turning it into french fries.

Where I got the idea that I knew how to prepare french fries, I have no idea. I guess when you have no furniture and you’re watching light opera in your pajamas on a weekday afternoon, you develop a sort of hubris that you wouldn’t normally exhibit out in the world. But I went to work, carefully slicing the potato into fries, warming oil on the stove, sliding the potatoes into the pan. Yes, yes! This was all going according to plan! I can cook! Someone call my mom!

I had vague memories of my dad making fries in the Fry Daddy when I was growing up, and it didn’t seem like you needed to stand guard over the Fry Daddy at all times. So I went to check my e-mail.

This, in hindsight, may have been a mistake.

It only took a few minutes before I noticed that something seemed wrong. At first, it was almost imperceptible– the air just started to feel oily, as if I had chosen to skip eating the french fries and intended to inhale them in vapor form instead (a not altogether unpleasant experience– someone call the vape people and get them on this!). By the time I thought to investigate, the vapor had evolved into a white, voluminous smoke– a smoke that turned tornado gray and then erupted into flames before I even made it all the way to the stove.

I had finally done it. I had set my kitchen on fire.

Unsure of how to proceed, but unwilling to die in my pajamas surrounded by sock monkey detritus, I sprinted into the parking lot and began screaming for help. As luck would have it, the maintenance man just happened to be out doing his rounds, and he trotted over, much more slowly than one would hope when one is standing in a parking lot screaming for help. Upon surveying the situation, he calmly opened the cabinet under my sink, removed the fire extinguisher that apparently had been there all along, and put the fire out, simultaneously saving my life and robbing me of the only opportunity I had ever had to use a fire extinguisher under legitimate circumstances.

“There you go,” he said. “Enjoy your day.”

After he departed, I surveyed the damage. The walls behind the stove were scorched black, and the stove itself was enveloped in the pinkish-white foam of the fire extinguisher. I looked forlornly at the cremains of my last potato, swimming in rapidly congealing grease and foam. I had no money. I had no potato. And now I had a giant mess. That I was going to have to clean up myself.

I thought for a moment of simply abandoning the apartment, allowing it to be annexed by the two angry pit bulls that lived next door. But, knowing that if I did so, I would never get my security deposit back (and blissfully unaware in the moment that setting your kitchen on fire pretty much automatically costs you your security deposit, anyway), I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. The pan containing the fries had warped, so rather than try to salvage it, I just carried the whole situation out to the dumpster and threw it in, grease, fries, foam and all. I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning out the nooks and crannies of my stove, and scrubbing (futilely) at the scorch marks on the walls. And in those moments, I learned two very important things:

  1. I had just physically passed through the portal from childhood to adulthood
  2. I was never, ever, ever going to cook anything again if I didn’t absolutely have to

That night, my best friend Ashley took pity on me and bought me a Chick-Fil-A dinner. Soon after, I flew home for Christmas, and when I returned, flush with parent money, I found a second job to ensure that I would always have enough money to keep myself in cereal and restaurant food for the rest of my days.

Ben loves to cook and he is terrific at it, and he has tried to teach me several times, but nothing ever sticks. Maybe if I hadn’t left to check my e-mail the day of the Great Potato Fire, things would have turned out very differently, and I would be a world class cook by now. I like to think that’s true, but honestly, given my attention span, it was never really a question of if I would set the kitchen on fire. It was just a question of when. 

To the creature adventure!

After weeks of waiting (and repeatedly and increasingly hostilely asking if it was time yet), we finally got our chance to see the Wild Kratts live and in person on Sunday, and it was basically everything I’d hoped it be. Except that I had really hoped that they might have a sloth with them, and that they would call Addie onstage to hold it, and I would hip-check her out of the way and grab the sloth and run until my legs gave out. But other than that—perfection.

I will say that the big reveal of the fact that Addie was going to actually get to meet the Wild Kratts after the show was rather underwhelming, because it turns out five-year-olds always naturally assume that they will be meeting the stars of any show they see, so this just reaffirmed that belief. This is going to be problematic when she gets older and I start taking her to concerts and she doesn’t understand why we’re not just sauntering up to unabashedly kiss Justin Timberlake all over his face, but for now, it worked out fine.

Considering Wild Kratts is a cartoon, I really didn’t know what to expect from the live show. Would there be actual animals? Would the other characters from the show be there? Would Addie freak the fuck out and yell at me if I even attempted to sing along with the show’s theme song when it started playing? It turns out the answers, in order, were no, sort of, and unequivocally yes.

The stage show, it turns out, features live-action Martin and Chris demonstrating the awesome abilities they gain from donning their creature power suits. At this point, I have no choice but to point out that Martin seems to have gotten sorta fat since this tour began, as Chris’ power suit fit like one would assume a power suit would fit (I’m thinking everyone has an idea how a creature power suit fits, right? No? Just me?), while Martin’s fit very much like a piece of highly uncomfortable scuba gear.

“Your boyfriend got fat,” Addie told me.

Once their power suits were on, they were able to assume the powers of any animal for whom they had a creature power disc. Chris went first, demonstrating caracal powers (a caracal, for those not in the know, is a badass looking wild cat whose overall tough guy look is completely ruined by a pair of comically oversized novelty ears), while Martin followed up as a rhino:

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Everything was grand, until Zach Varmitech showed up with his evil Zachbots and stole the brothers’ miniaturizer (trust me, this would all make sense if you would just go watch the show). After that, the race was on to find and defeat the Zachbots and regain control of the miniaturizer.

And what better way to do that than with more creature powers? Because it’s not like they were going to be like, “eff this, let’s leave behind all this creature power stuff and just go kill them with baseball bats.” It might have made a little more sense, logically, but it would have made the whole thing take a pretty dark turn, and besides, I paid for creature powers, god dammit.

Whenever a Zachbot would show up on stage, Addie would lose her mind, standing up in her seat and screaming “THERE! HE’S RIGHT THERE! HURRY! HE’S GETTING AWAY!” Which was both really cute, and also sort of annoying, because she inevitably fails to tell me when her sister is about to do something life-threatening, but she’s right on top of it when a Zachbot shows up on the scene.

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Finally the bros overcame the Zachbots (I am pleased to report that Chris failed in his endeavor as a woodpecker, but Martin totally saved the day as an orangutan), the miniaturizer was saved, and the show was over. Having never seen a live show for little kids before, I have to say, this one was honestly pretty fun– there were a few times I laughed out loud, and I think Addie would have rushed the stage and wrestled the Zachbot on her own if she could have, so she was definitely interested the whole time.

After everyone cleared out, it came time for us to meet the Kratt brothers, and tensions were high. Addie, having refused to pee during intermission, suddenly now had to go urgently, even if it meant sacrificing our place in line. Luckily, I forgot that all things involving small children move frighteningly slowly, so we were back in plenty of time to take our turn.

When she met Chris, who is her favorite, she was full of questions, mostly about Zoboomafoo, a live-action show the brothers had before Wild Kratts that Addie also loves and watches on Netflix. Did the brothers really live at Animal Junction? Was Zoboomafoo really their pet? Chris was super sweet and answered all of her questions– yes, they really lived there, no, Zoboomafoo was just their friend who happened to come visit them there, because all creatures should be living free and in the wild (way to stay on brand there, man!). You can see that Addie is absolutely besotted in her picture:

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While we were waiting in line to meet Martin, she asked me, “What should I ask him?” I suggested finding out his favorite animal, or his favorite episode of the show, but she shooed me off, saying, “I got it.” When she got to him, he asked “Do you have any questions for me?”

“Nope!” she said with a satisfied grin. Defeated, Martin asked her to at least pose for a picture, which he got, grudgingly:

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Poor Martin. You will always have the creature power disc to my heart, at least.

Back in business

You may have noticed that I’ve been away for the past three days. I mean, you probably didn’t, but there’s a small chance that you did. But fear not– I’m ready to get back in the saddle. A perfect storm of craziness hit here that sidelined me, including:

  • We went to see the Wild Kratts live, which deserves a post of its own, so I won’t elaborate much here, except to say that we didn’t get home until 10, and I was full of McDonald’s and the thrill of meeting Martin Kratt in person, and just couldn’t get it together enough to write anything.
  • My husband is out of town for the week, and I swear to God, my children have sensors inside them that detect the very second he leaves the Cleveland area for more than five minutes. Before he even would have been home from work that day normally, Addie and Rosie had entered MAXIMUM NEEDINESS MODE. After an evening in the park, two overly wrought bedtime routines, and Rosie’s furtive 3 a.m. visit to Netflix and Chill (which to her means “watch Daniel Tiger for three hours and eat gummies”), I was just spent.
  • Somehow, I ended up with food poisoning yesterday evening, leading to one of the most epic barfathons I have ever had the displeasure of participating in. Luckily, Addie and Rosie were able to suspend their utter disregard for my happiness or well-being for the night, but at the moment I still haven’t eaten anything in nearly 20 hours and am maintaining the absolute lowest limit of Gatorade in my stomach to keep me alive until this passes. I mean, I wanted a way to stay home and watch the new episodes of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, but this wasn’t really what I was going for.
  • Quite frankly, I was starting to burn out. It turns out that after 90 days of blogging, it becomes really difficult to come up with new things to say that are still funny. By now, you probably get that my kids are both evil and hilarious, and that I am concerned about my weight, and that I was a giant dork until I turned 25 (at which point I remained a giant dork, but finally put some effort into my appearance and managed to shed my dork-like exterior). There are only so many times I can tell you that Rosie woke up in the middle of the night to get her Daniel Tiger fix (I’m referring to it as the DT’s), or that I don’t like sandwiches (although I’m probably never going to shut up about that, because you guys, sandwiches are an affront to humanity).

So as a result, I’m going to amend my original blog project as follows: I will blog every day no matter what, unless:

  1. I meet a celebrity, children’s or otherwise
  2. My children or my work prevent me from doing so
  3. I am hardcore barfing
  4. I just really, really don’t want to.

I’m hopeful that, having taken this little forced hiatus, you won’t see many more further interruptions, but going forward, I’m giving myself a little wiggle room, because no one wants to read a blog where every article is entitled “Time to write in this stupid fucking blog again”.

Cold germs are my kryptonite

Before I had children, I prided myself on my iron-clad immune system. For nearly two decades, I enjoyed years with only one, maybe two colds, looking on with disdain at my sneezing, sniveling friends and co-workers. “Foolish mortals!” I would proclaim as they reached for their hundredth Kleenex of the day. “Why must you be so weak? Surely you are unclean, to be so sick so often!” And then I would usually laugh a maniacal laugh as I savored the joy of breathing through my nose.

But then I had kids.

Foolishly, I thought my track record of health would protect me. Surely I wouldn’t fall prey to Addie’s runny nose, or Rosie’s raging case of pinkeye. I had done my time in the trenches of ear infections and barking coughs in my youth! But apparently, today’s illnesses are different, stronger, more wily. Or maybe it’s just that my kids have a penchant for sneezing directly into my open mouth, but whatever the reason, I am powerless against their germy wiles.

When Addie was a toddler, she once had a cold that lasted from August until April. Rosie has been a little more hardy than that, but even she tends to have a permanent dried snot mustache most of the time. As for me, I have a low-level cold about 70% of the time, which I mostly manage to keep under control with Airborne and coffee.

It does come with a handy side effect, though– I have grown so used to having a cold that when it finally abates, I feel like a god-damned superhero. When your baseline is a foggy head and achy muscles, the dissipation of a cold means you can smell colors and lift cars off babies (maybe, I’m assuming, I have yet to have the chance to try, but it seems like it would definitely be a thing). I’m in the midst of a cold right now, but I’m expecting to come out of this one with the ability to fly.

Which might come in handy, because once you get to 10,000 feet, there’s no one around to sneeze into your mouth.

Gigantic pants

I am in need of gigantic pants.

The last time I lost a lot of weight, I donated my gigantic pants to Goodwill, triumphantly. “Never again will I need such gigantic pants!” I decreed, high on metabolism and the heady glee that accompanies being a size 8. “I am invincible, and obviously things will never change again!”

But what I had forgotten is that, for some reason, something very weird happens to me after I have a baby, and my metabolism ramps up to that of a teenage boy. Weight flies off me, as if I sat up from the delivery bed and left behind a pool of congealed fat. I am the only person I know who comes back to work after having a baby weighing less than I did when I got pregnant in the first place.

And it lulled me into a sense of false security both times. With Rosie, in particular, not only did I not have to do anything, I could eat literally anything and I just kept losing. It was a miracle! A miracle that would never stop happening! I was the patron saint of undeserved weight loss!

But oh, it always catches up to me eventually. And that time is now.

So now I’m left with only two options: get pregnant again, or actually attempt to diet. Not just say I’m dieting while simultaneously smashing a colossal cupcake in my gaping maw, but actually, seriously doing it.

And honestly, getting pregnant sounds like a better option.

But as I’ve previously mentioned, my uterus has shuttered its doors, so that’s just not in the cards for me. Which only leaves the actually dieting plan, a gross and rumbly path down Salad Lane and Sweaty Elliptical Hellscape.

Still, I will give in and buy some more gigantic pants, knowing full well that I will gleefully discard them as soon as I’m able. I need something to wear while I hoe this craptastic road, and sadly, sweatpants are expressly banned in my work’s dress code.

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The god damned Halloween Fun Fair

Addie, nefarious genius that she is, has figured out the golden ticket for getting out of school– all she has to do is so much as mouth the word “diarrhea”, and the whole school goes into lockdown until the offending party has been removed. Never mind that she didn’t actually have diarrhea– no one will check. The threat of it is enough to get her booted from school for 24 hours.

Never a big believer in dignity, Addie pulled this move earlier today, getting herself banned from school until Monday, and I think she thought she was pretty smart. Until, that is, I pointed out with no small amount of glee that this meant she would miss the Tropical Fun Fair.

The Tropical Fun Fair has been looming large in my late-night anxiety sessions since the first flyer came home a few weeks ago. Of course I would have to take her– what kind of monster doesn’t take their child to a world of bounce houses, inflatable slides and unlimited candy? But the specter of the Halloween Fun Fair was always there, just beyond the edges of my Instagram-worthy photo ops at the obstacle course and the treat walk.

The god damned Halloween Fun Fair.

It started out so promisingly– I loaded Rosie into her stroller and slapped Addie’s Minion costume on her, and we were on our way. I had envisioned something sort of lame and amateurish, but the whole thing was actually sort of awesome– games with prizes, a haunted classroom, a pumpkin decorating contest, and inflatables as far as the eye could see.

It was in front of one of these bounce houses that another parent cornered me and began talking about Addie– I was prepared for a lecture about Addie’s introduction of the word “fartknocker” into her son’s lexicon, but instead, she surprised me, telling me how sweet Addie had been to her son, and how she had really helped him get acclimated to school and was taking really good care of him.

“You’re doing a good job raising her,” she said to me with a smile. “You’re a good mom.”

And it was at that exact moment that I realized that Rosie had gone missing. My good mom cred! Destroyed before my very eyes! I hadn’t even gotten her to put it in writing!

I spotted Rosie inside the inflatable obstacle course, guarding the entrance like some sort of sugar-crazed Cerberus. There was a crowd gathered around, gawking, and I trotted up, shouting “that’s my daughter! I’ll get her out, I’m sorry!”

But before I could do anything, the teenage volunteers working the obstacle course decided that the best way to extricate her from the situation was to force her to go all the way through the obstacle course, rather than just pull her the eight inches she was from the entrance. So now, everyone is staring, Rosie is screaming, and I’m sprinting to the end of the obstacle course to rescue her. As soon as I reached the mouth of the obstacle course, my foot caught on a wrestling mat, and I fell to my knee, hard enough to elicit immediate tears.

“FUCK!” I screamed, just as my baby emerged from the course, plopping happily to the ground and giggling as if nothing had happened.

So now I am crying, and have just screamed a swear word in an auditorium jammed with children, and a gaggle of eighth-grade girls materializes as if from nowhere and begins laughing at me, and suddenly I am back in middle school.

“It’s time to go,” I told the girls, still crying, but Addie begged me to stay just a little longer. It wasn’t their fault that I was experiencing intense sixth-grade gym flashbacks, so I relented, retreating to a bathroom to wipe my face with toilet paper and reassemble myself into the confident, 36-year-old woman I was. I am a motherfucking manager, you little shits. Your laughter cannot hurt me!

The rest of the Halloween Fun Fair passed without incident, the other mothers politely ignoring my tear-swollen face. Addie won her eight billionth bouncy ball, Rosie scored a plastic spider, and they were finally appeased.

When I got home, ready to spin the story into something hilarious for Ben, he cut me off before I could even start.

“You’ve got some shit on your face,” he said.

And sure enough, it turns out that elementary school toilet paper is powerless against grown woman tears, and dried shreds of it clung to my cheeks, my eyelashes, the tip of my nose. I looked like a failed papier mache project, and I frantically combed my memory banks to think of everyone I had interacted with after the obstacle course incident.

Everyone. I had basically interacted with everyone. With toilet paper stuck to my face.

So I am perfectly willing to use Addie’s diarrhea incident to put the kibosh on the Tropical Fun Fair. It really has no downside– I get to teach her a valuable lesson about lying to get out of school, and I can avoid making a spectacle of myself in front of every mother in the tri-state area.

I’ll never get out of the Fun Fair business entirely. But you can bet that next time, I’m bringing a leash and my own box of Kleenex.

Cool thing

My whole life, I have wanted to be cool.

I tried my hardest to pretend I didn’t. I was aggressively anti-cool. I pretended my haircut was an ironic choice, rather than just a terrible, shitty haircut. I wanted clothes from Abercrombie and Fitch, but I wore men’s XXL t-shirts from K-Mart, because A & F didn’t sell women’s clothes in my size (not that my size was men’s XXL, either). I wanted to be on the homecoming court, despite my lack of a homecoming dress, or homecoming tickets, or, you know, a homecoming date.

And I knew it wasn’t cool to want to be cool. But I still wanted it. In secret.

Over time, the definition of cool changed, but I still wasn’t it. In high school, it was the clothes, and the car, and the parties. In college, I secretly pined to be invited to a sorority, despite my steadfast refusal to attend any rush events or go within 1000 yards of any the sorority dorm. I wanted to be so outsider edgy cool that they would pursue me, like I would be some major get. Surprisingly, this strategy did not work at all, although I did manage to finagle my way into several honorary fraternities, so I have a lifelong network of nerds that were really into English and marching band.

In grad school, it was cool to hate everything that was cool. You would only admit to liking Britney Spears ironically. Your favorite author absolutely could not be Stephen King. Your favorite movie had to be in black and white, and a foreign language. I proudly displayed my collection of Elvis Costello CDs while hiding my vast cache of Smashmouth and KC and the Sunshine Band retrospectives, only admitting to my abiding love of Neil Diamond while absolutely annihilated in a friend’s living room once. (I made everyone listen to “Soolaimon/Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show” on Hot August Night and kept loudly announcing to everyone that “this is where Neil really starts rocking out!”) Now, as a mom, I am supposed to be into yoga, and farm fresh meals for my kids and wooden, not electronic, toys and all organic everything.

And you know what? I’m over it. I’m uncool, and I’m proud.

I enjoy playing games on my phone. I love the song “Barbie Girl.” My favorite movie is “Clue.” The other day, an episode of Jessie made me cry. My clothes all come from Target and Old Navy. I don’t like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. I don’t understand the popularity of kale and I refuse to figure it out.

It’s okay to fall in love with every one hit wonder. It’s all right to still know every word to Skee-lo’s “I Wish.” It’s even better to teach them to your kids, because kids rapping are badass. It’s fine that you don’t like Akira Kurosawa.

I am never going to be cool. And I’m done trying to fake my way into it. Although I think Ben is getting tired of me asking him to take me to homecoming.

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).

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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.

A sh*tty situation

[Warning: this post is about poop. If you are under the impression that women don’t poop, or that when we do poop, it just comes out in a daisy-scented spray of rainbows, you might want to skip this one.]

I have never been known for my iron stomach. As a teenager, almost all outings featured a painfully awkward intermission during which I had to play a game of Can I Use Your Bathroom Without Buying Something? wherever we happened to go after dinner. This is the one and only reason I am thankful that I never had a serious boyfriend in high school, because it’s one thing to explain your dire need to poop to your girlfriends, and entirely another to explain it to a guy from whom you’re hoping to get some sweet, sweet first-base action (possibly another reason I didn’t have a serious boyfriend).

This continued until my mid-twenties, when I finally broke down and got a colonoscopy, which revealed polyps in my colon, but not much else. (Side note: I was unaware how strong the anesthesia was going to be, and the next day I drove myself to work and attended our company Christmas party still completely out of it, and spent the whole party making googly eyes at a baby at the next table.) Somehow, though, the threat of another colonoscopy seemed to clear up my problems, and for years I became a respectable member of poop society (poopciety?).

But lately, my colon has decided it is once again unhappy, which makes no sense, because I give it super delicious food and never swallow safety pins or anything like that. Today, my colon demanded I go home in the middle of the day and finish work from there, cordoned off from the rest of my office in the Poop Corner of Shame. Which was fine, because the Poop Corner of Shame also includes my refrigerator and an endless supply of free Diet Pepsi, but still.

According to my doctor, I was supposed to go back for another colonoscopy every five years for the rest of my life, but so far, I have successfully avoided it by getting pregnant every time it was time to have it done (I will go to any lengths not to have to take the pre-colonoscopy colon destroyer). But now my uterus is closed for business, and I’m wondering if it’s time I take my colon’s advice, do the adult thing and schedule my long-overdue colonoscopy.

Or I guess I could adjust my diet and exercise more. But that sounds even less appealing.