The Sleep Summit

While Ben was out of town last week, the girls evidently held a secret conference. I don’t know where I was—maybe on my 100th milk run of the evening, waylaid in the kitchen by an over-affectionate Coconut, who, unbeknownst to me, was acting under orders. The conference took place in Addie’s room. In attendance: Addie, Rosie, Chris and Martin Kratt, and seven thousand Shopkins.

Addie: I feel like maybe Mom has gotten a little too comfortable around here.

Rosie: I don’t know, I mean, I feel like we’ve done a good job slowly eroding her spirit, right, Chris?

Chris Kratt: TO THE CREATURE RESCUE!

Addie: Yeah, during waking hours. But then there are all those sweet, sweet hours after we go to bed when she has control of the house.

Rosie: I thought Mommy was a robot that turned off after we went to bed.

Addie: I used to think so, too, but then, one night, when I thought I could come to the kitchen and help myself to some mini-muffins, guess who was standing there, completely not a robot, and took the muffins from me?

Rosie: [Gasps audibly.]

Addie: So I’m telling you, we’ve gotta hit her where it hurts.

Rosie: The boobies?

Addie: No, her bed, moron. But also her boobies.

Shopkins: [Lay on floor, saying nothing, preparing to stab Mommy in the foot as soon as she dares enter the room after dark.]

And so it came to pass that every night for the past week, Addie and Rosie have come to sleep in bed with me at some point during the evening. Addie will generally wake me up to inform me that she has arrived; when questioned, she makes up an elaborate story about a bad dream involving a spider and glowing green eyes out her window and sometimes killer unicorns, which is pretty badass, because those guys would make amazing impaling machines. Rosie, on the other hand, sneaks in using ninja-like skills, wedging herself between Addie and me until we form a capital H.

I’m not really sure how I’m going to undo this—I assume there is some parenting book about how to get your children to sleep in their own beds, but I’ve gotta believe that their method involves me waking up repeatedly in the middle of the night, and I would really rather just end up relegated to eight inches of mattress at the very edge of the bed than deal with that noise. I just keep telling myself that eventually they would be caught dead than spend their evenings snuggled up with their mama.

Even if their idea of “snuggling” is really just “sleep-punching me in my boobies.”

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:

IMG_5193

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.

IMG_5239

IMG_5248

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:

IMG_5255

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:

IMG_5258

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”.

Book review: Dietland

I’m generally not one to share my opinions on things, because my opinions are about things that are stupid, like which Kratt Brother is better (Martin) or which day of the week is the worst (Tuesday– none of the fun of catching up with your work friends of a Monday, but so far from Friday that you feel like you might die). When I do have opinions on things that might matter, I tend to keep them to myself, because I worry that my opinion isn’t well-researched or thought out enough, and I don’t want to come across as ill-informed (which, in general, I am).

But lately, I’ve been finding myself noticing more and more the slight undercurrent of sexism that exists in every day life. Strangers at the playground always assume that I stay home with my kids, and when I tell them I don’t, their demeanors change, indicating their belief that I am some sort of garbage monster who drops her children into an ill-ventilated hole in my basement each morning before I leave for work, with only a banana peel and some crystal meth to keep them company. (So stupid– I obviously also give them a copy of the Enquirer.) There are tool kits with pink handles and pens with soft pink grips, all the better to be daintily grasped by my weak lady hands.

Ben subscribes to Esquire, which is filled with thought-provoking articles about politics and literature and entertainment, and I subscribe to Real Simple, which exhorts me to update my wardrobe for spring and find the all-in-one concealer/moisturizer/sunscreen that’s right for me. (And yes, I realize I could just stop getting Real Simple, but then how will I find out all the alternate uses there are for bobby pins and tin foil?) There are no Esquire-type magazines for women. Once upon a time, there was Jane, which at least mixed in actual articles of substance with lip gloss road tests, but Jane has been defunct for awhile, and no one has attempted to fill that void.

Which is why I found Dietland by Sarai Walker such a thought-provoking read, even though I was terrified the entire time that it appeared on my Currently Reading list on Goodreads that everyone would assume, based on the title, that I was reading a kooky rom-com set at a fat camp where a size 12 (GASP!) finds love with one of the trainers, who accepts her for who she is on the inside. (NO ONE STEAL THIS IDEA, I COULD TOTALLY WRITE THIS BOOK.)

Instead, two distinct stories unfold within the pages of Dietland– the deeply personal story of Plum Kettle, an obese woman counting the days until her stomach-stapling surgery, when she can finally free the thin woman living inside her and begin her life, and the emergence of Jennifer, a terrorist (or maybe band of terrorists?) bent on righting the wrongs perpetrated against women across the globe. In London, Jennifer coerces a chain of magazine shops to replace their racks of Penthouse and Playboy with hardcore gay pornography; men are suddenly too uncomfortable to enter these stores, while women flock to London from around the world, eager to experience a world in which they are not the objectified, but the objectifiers. In America, Jennifer issues a Penis Black List of 100 men that all women are to avoid sexual contact with or face the consequences. Then, people start dying.

Plum’s journey is influenced by Jennifer, and Jennifer’s story is in turn altered by Plum. And the reader– or, at least, this reader– picks up some valuable perspective and insights from both. Does Plum go too far? Or Jennifer? Or does neither go far enough? It’s left to the reader to decide, and my reaction to the end of the book– which I’m afraid I can’t share, for spoiler’s sake– honestly surprised me.

I don’t know that I’ll ever be a full-blown feminist– I’m certainly not amassing a Penis Black List of my own, and I don’t know how to properly apply black eyeliner. But Dietland has certainly furthered my education, and inspired me to seek out more works like this one.

Right after I let my kids out of the basement.

 

 

Addie Kratt

According to the many judgy articles I have read over the years, my older daughter has watched what appears to be a lethal amount of television over the course of her short life. I tend to allow it, because I myself watched a lot of television as a child and I turned out fine (except for that time that I watched the movie IT and now I can’t be within 500 feet of a clown), and also because I need something to distract my children while I take a shower, and if it isn’t TV, it will involve either arson or nudity, or nude arson.

As a result, I am now on a first-name basis with all of the glittering superstars of children’s television– first there was Mickey and his gang, and then our brief but intense love affair with Yo Gabba Gabba. We learned Spanish with Dora and Diego, math from Team Umizoomi, and parental fat-shaming from Peppa Pig.

Every one has burned brightly in the evening hours at our house, and every one has eventually fizzled– except Wild Kratts.

wildkratts

In case you are unfamiliar with this show, it involves two real-life brothers, Chris and Martin Kratt, who transform at the beginning of each episode into cartoon versions of themselves. Their cartoon selves possess special creature power suits that allow them to exhibit the “creature powers” of any animal they come in contact with. Sometimes, this is awesome, like when they become lions or elephants. And sometimes they become lame animals like groundhogs or beavers. Once, Martin became a tree, which I feel like may have stretched the narrative conceit a bit too far, but I have sort of a crush on Martin, so I let it slide.

Addie may throw a few other shows in the mix from time to time, but Wild Kratts is always only a button-click away. We have seen every episode at least five times. We once watched an episode in Spanish on YouTube. (I actually don’t recommend looking up the Wild Kratts on YouTube, because for some reason, there is a whole lot of gay fan fiction out there for it? Like this video, which Addie loves, and I don’t have the heart to point out that there’s not actually a scene in the show where the brothers lie in bed naked, Martin holding Chris as he cries.) We’ve played all the Wild Kratt games on PBS Kids.

She owns her own creature power suit, and her own Chris and Martin dolls, with whom she sleeps every night (presumably not naked and crying). Addie’s favorite game is called Addie Kratt, in which she is the third Kratt sibling and I am the Kratt mommy but also all of the villains. Rosie is usually a gecko. She does not have a speaking role.

Addie Kratt

Thankfully, Wild Kratts is one of the few actually enjoyable children’s television shows out there (along with another PBS Kids show, Odd Squad, which I once unapologetically watched by myself after Addie went to bed just because it’s pretty funny). The Kratt brothers are entertaining; the show is educational and doesn’t shy away from the concept of predators and prey; and it made me look like the greatest mother in the world at the playground once when Addie pointed at some kids swinging on the monkey bars and said “Look, Mommy! Those boys are brachiating!

Addie is turning six in May, and as her present, we’re taking her to see the Wild Kratts live and in person. What she doesn’t know is that after the show, we’re also going to a meet and greet, so she will finally get to talk to her idols in person. Or, rather, Ben and I will make awkward small talk with them while Addie spazzes the fuck out, as she is prone to do whenever she is within ten feet of anyone she even remotely likes.

All I know is this: when she saw me placing the picture of Chris and Martin earlier in this post, she looked me right in the eye and said “Mommy, one day I will kiss Chris.” Then she walked out of the room, a glint of determination in her eye.

And soon, I will have the chance to make that creepy dream a reality. Best mom ever.

 

Killer Coconut

While the rest of the nation prepares for the biggest sporting event of the year, we Ojas are gearing up for a more insidious battle: humans versus cat.

This is our cat, Coconut. She wants us dead.

IMG_4167

I’m not really sure why. We treat her really well. She eats Iams cat food, which is probably of better quality than like 60% of what I feed my kids. I run the sink for her each morning so that she can drink fresh water, and I even let her sleep under the covers, even though she is a champion farter.

But for whatever reason, she is hell-bent on our destruction. Sometimes she’ll be subtle about it, weaving in and out of our feet as we climb the stairs to the basement, acting all shocked when we squawk in protest as we almost tumble to our deaths– “OMG, my bad, I didn’t see you there even though you are 40 times my size! Share the road, asshole!” But sometimes, she doesn’t even try to hide her intent from us. The other day, I watched in horror (and by horror I actually mean “really wished I’d gotten this on video because it was so funny) as Coconut charged an unassuming Rosie as she strolled through the kitchen, delivering a flying kick to her midsection and knocking her to the ground. I swear, she stood over Rosie for a good few seconds before scampering off, looking exactly like that famous picture of Muhammad Ali, but if Ali were a tiny cat and Liston were a pantsless baby flailing around on his back like an overturned turtle.

I really wish I could figure out why she insists on doing this. Maybe she spent too long terrorizing this Wild Kratts playset and developed a taste for human blood.

IMG_4172

The one guy left standing is like “YES… LET THE HATE FLOW THROUGH YOU.”

Or it could have something to do with the fact that Rosie insists on carrying her around like this:

IMG_3321 (1)

But whatever the reason (spoiler alert: it’s the “being carried by the neck” reason), we now live in a constant state of readiness for Coconut attacks. Everyone knows not to walk in bare feet within eight inches of a piece of furniture under which a cat could be lurking. Ben and I are working on toughening up our leg skin to better withstand the constant attempts to climb us like water towers, and I’m considering equipping Rosie with airbags. We also have to keep all beverages above eye level, as Coconut will make every attempt to poison any cup she can fit her head into (I caught her drinking leftover whiskey this morning like a boss).

One would think that it would be an easy decision to get rid of a cat that was clearly trying to wipe you out of existence, but unfortunately, it’s not that simple. When not attempting to kill us, Coconut is actually quite delightful– a loud and generous purr-er, she is all about cuddling down for the night while you read or watch a movie (but she will FUCK YOU UP if you try to cross stitch, because she HATES DIY). Plus, she has the distinction of being our first cat after the awesomely-named but ultimately deeply unsatisfying Yoko Oja, who lived under our bed for five days before making a break for it and (I’m assuming) almost immediately being devoured by coyotes. So it’s not hard to earn the love of a family whose last cat hated them so much that it chose certain death over spending time with them.

So we’re keeping her. I am well aware that it is not wise to bed down with a pet who spends most of her time staring at me as I sleep and thinking “soon.” But I also know that she makes a killer snuggling partner, and if I’m going to die, I’d rather do it with the sound of helicopter purring in my ears.