Nose Monkeys

This is going to be an adorable post about my adorable son and his adorableness. If you’re the type of scrooge who hates hearing stories about how other people’s kids are adorable, I mean, I am obviously not about judging people, but seriously you probably shouldn’t have kids. Unless you are a fan of eating crow? Because when you have kids, you will suddenly want to share their adorableness with the world. It just happens, you can’t help it.

The Hubs has been telling The Boy that there are monkeys living in his nose. The Nose Monkeys, we call them. The Boy gets that it’s a joke (I love that he is old enough now to get these kinds of jokes), and he and The Hubs will have long conversations about what the Nose Monkey is up to lately. The following is a typical conversation about the Nose Monkey.

“Hey, how is your Nose Monkey doing?”
“Good, Dad.”
“Have you talked to him lately?”
“We’ll, I did put my finger up there.”
“He didn’t bite it, did he?”
“No, he eats boogers, not fingers.”

I asked The Boy to tell me more about his Nose Monkey. Here’s what The Boy said.

“He’s crazy.”
“He crawls on the booger vines in my nose.”
“I have 100 nose monkeys in there, but MINE is the one who hits me when I stick my finger up there, because he is trying to protect the nose monkey king who is in the back. He has a booger spear that he puts boogers on.”
“I beat up my Nose Monkey a lot. With my nose. Like, I squish my nose and he gets squished. I do it more in the winter because that’s when they’re really active.”
“He tries to get in Lambie’s ear, but he can’t because she’s a stuffed animal.”

Actually, strike that, this is not a post about my son’s adorableness. This is a post about my son’s very bizarre fantasy life. 6 year olds are FASCINATING, don’t you think?

On Assholery: Part 2

A few weeks ago, my angry blaspheme-filled blog post On Assholery blew up. By blew up, I mean I had 200 times the usual hits on my blog, and zillions of comments. You’d think that would be a good thing, but it turns out that when your blog gets a lot of visitors, it doesn’t mean people actually read the blog and understood what you were saying. And the comments got extremely nasty. One woman posted about her post-partum depression and another commenter called her weak (in less nice terms) for having a mental illness. On a post about NOT BEING AN ASSHOLE. I deleted that one. My first deleted comment, pretty sure that means I am a real blogger now, right? Sigh. The little troll-free corner of the internet I had was fun while it lasted.

There were also a zillion “yeah, fuck breast feeders, they’re assholes” comments on that post. In fact, yesterday (which you may recall was CHRISTMAS), someone posted that breast feeding is child molestation and that women who breast feed are mentally ill. No, I am not making that up. I deleted that one too.

Guess what? I breast fed and pumped for The Girl, and I exclusively pumped for The Boy, for a year with each of them. The Boy got formula added to his breast milk in the NICU to help fatten him up faster, and we fed our kids the free can of formula you get in the mail unsolicited when you get pregnant, but otherwise, I fed them from my boobs. In fact, with both kids, I produced so much breast milk, we gave it away to other families to feed their kids with. I had boobs of steel, I was a poster child for the model breast feeding working mom. And you know what? I STILL think people who shit on formula-feeding moms are assholes. AND, I also think people who shit on breast feeding moms are assholes. Breast feeding is a perfectly healthy normal way to feed your child. It is not child molestation. It is not a mental illness. If you call someone a mentally ill child molester for feeding their child from their breast, you are an asshole. You are the reason we can’t have nice things. You are ruining our world.

Like, do I not make it clear, in every fucking post on this blog, that I think people who shit on other moms for doing it differently are being assholes? How could I be more clear about it? What would I need to do to make it more clear that this blog is, and always has been, about accepting that there are lots of different ways to parent, and there is no one right answer? DO I NEED TO WRITE IN ALL CAPS TO GET THAT THROUGH TO PEOPLE?!?! Christ on a cracker.

And what makes me the most frustrated is that I am probably feeding some trolls with this post. I wanted to share a post today about The Boy and his adorableness, because it’s the fucking holidays, and instead here I am, asking people yet again to stop being assholes. Just, seriously, stop it. I don’t want to have to write any more posts like this.

The Holidays

I have a theory that many of us are our shittiest selves at the holidays. Our mental illnesses seem to be inflamed. We stick our feet in our mouths more. We lose patience in lines and behave badly to strangers. We drink too much. We fall into the same tired, ugly arguments with our loved ones that have made our family gatherings shitty for eons. Maybe it’s just me, but talking to others, I think I am not alone. It’s like, all that joy and love and togetherness is just too much stimulation. There’s too many holiday events to go to, too many presents to wrap, too many people wanting a piece of our time–it’s too much pressure. TOO MUCH.

Last year, I finally said I had had enough and put my foot down. I realized it had been years since I had actually enjoyed Christmas. I was trying to help everyone around me have a great holiday, not wanting to let anyone down. Almost all our family lives in town, so everyone wants us to come over for a family event, which means multiple family events at Christmas time. And the kids seemed happy, and our parents seemed happy. But I was finding that every year I dreaded Christmas more and more. I was letting myself down, I guess. And I was getting angrier and more stressed out and more overwhelmed every year. Which made me my shittiest self to the people around me.

So, I called my parents and I said, “We’re not doing Christmas with you. It’s not that we don’t love you, it’s that I hate Christmas now and I hope by dialing it waaaaaaay down, I will learn to like it again.” My parents were understanding, and sounded genuinely concerned about me when I told them this, so they didn’t give me grief about our choice. My big sister was even more understanding, I think her response was “good for you for taking care of yourself and your family.” (She kinda kicks ass. What do I mean, kinda.)

And that’s why we had a very quiet Christmas last year. We didn’t drive all over town to 100 different holiday parties in December for all the different wings of our family. And on Christmas Day, it was just the four of us in our PJ’s, enjoying each other and the gifts we had received and watching A Christmas Story over and over. It was pretty damn awesome and when people asked me how it was, I told them, “It was FANTASTIC. BEST CHRISTMAS EVER.”

I can’t even begin to tell you how many of our friends expressed jealousy at our lovely quiet Christmas. Like, honestly, I was surprised how many people, of all ages, are doing the Christmas rounds out of a sense of obligation instead of because it brings them joy. Actually, it seemed to me that the world was made up of a mix of people who really DO get joy from all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, and they are always happy to squeeze one more sleigh ride into their holiday schedule–those folks were shocked that I would want to be alone with the Hubs and the Kids on Christmas–and people like me, who were pretending to be the first people and wondering why they found no joy at the holidays.

I guess what I am saying is, if you feel like you aren’t your best self at the holidays, and you aren’t finding your joy in celebrating them, you aren’t alone. And this Christmas, my wish for you is a family as understanding as mine about my need to de-stress my life, and the courage to tell the people in your life that you love them, but you are going to dial it down for the holidays from now on.

Happy Holidays, you guys!

West Cracktown

The Hubs and I call our neighborhood West Cracktown. We live on a nice quiet residential street and our neighbors are a nice mix of 30-40-something professionals, older blue collar folks, and a group home for people with disabilities. Every year we have a block party that is really fun (although, it was more fun before the musicians on the block moved away–those were some cool jam sessions) and considering how strong the Seattle Freeze is, we have a pretty good community.

But, our block is very close to a major arterial known for its prostitution and drug activity. There are a lot of no-tell motels nearby where you can rent by the week. Rent by the week is code for “You can stay here when no apartment would rent to you because you look like a bad credit risk/you are a drug addict/you don’t have first and last month’s rent/etc.” When we first bought our house, the closest motel was mostly inhabited by construction workers, immigrant families with kids–folks trying to get themselves sorted so they could move into more stable housing. Perfectly lovely people to wait with at the bus stop on my commute to work. Good neighbors.

Then that motel went downhill and most of the occupants were pimps and hookers and drug dealers. The immigrant families and construction workers were gone. Crime started to be a problem in the neighborhood. Our car was broken into. Condoms started to appear on the street in front of our house–brightly colored ones, like orange or neon yellow. We started hearing news stories about the nearest motel–hookers stabbing their johns, or someone shooting someone else over drugs. Waiting at the bus stop became scarier, so I started riding a different route that was farther away and less nerve-wracking.

Then the nearest motel closed. Suddenly the pimps were gone, and we saw less condoms, and the bus stop wasn’t so scary anymore. That lasted a couple years before the crime settled into another nearby motel. Then our car was broken into again and we began chasing off johns and hookers. Basically, the neighborhood improves, and then falls back into sketchiness, over and over.

Raising kids here has thus required some thoughtful choices, but so far hasn’t been a real problem. In daytime, the neighborhood actually feels 100% safe, because hookers and pimps work the night shift, so you don’t see much of them in the daytime. The folks at the bus stop during daylight hours are usually commuters, or extremely polite homeless people who are kind to the kids and say how cute they are. So, we take the kids to the park to play with the other neighborhood kids, and we let them get in the ditch and all that good stuff. At night, well, our kids are pretty young, it’s not like they’re out roaming the neighborhood at 10PM. And therein lies the rub, because our kids won’t be small forever, and we want them to be able to be out at night without worrying about them. I want them to be able to ride the bus home from a concert without worrying about them getting jumped by a junkie.

And so, in a few years when The Girl starts kindergarten and isn’t going to the awesome perfect daycare by us any more, it will be time for us to move out of West Cracktown. We’ll miss our kind neighbors and our quiet street, but parenting kids of different ages sometimes means you make different choices. And the things that work for a family with young kids may not work for a family with older kids. Yet another reason not to judge other parents for doing it differently than you.

Cocktails with the Cult: Dave

My senior year of college, my roommate and I threw a lot of the parties for our group of friends. Some of those parties were seriously awesome, like the one that featured red Jell-O shots that one of my friends ended up eating with a spoon because they got melty, inspiring another friend, who wrote for the student paper, to name his regular column “Hot Dish with Red Jell-O.” Or the Christmas party, where the building manager called us down during it and we were sure we were being evicted for noise complaints, but it turned out she just wanted to give us leftovers from the official building party that afternoon to share with our guests. Man, that apartment kicked ass.

I had a friend from band named Dave who was a regular at our parties. On Dave’s birthday, we decided to invent a drink and name it after Dave, as a present. And to make it truly awesome, we made sure when people talked about the drink, they called it simply Dave. Not “a Dave” or “some Dave” or “the Dave,” but just “Dave.” So when you talked about the drink, you had to say things like “I want Dave” or “Dave tastes good” or “Pour me a big glass of Dave.” It’s the gift that keeps on giving, and now I share it with you.

Now to be honest, it’s been 15 years since I graduated from college, and damned if I remember exactly what was in Dave. I do know it sure as hell wasn’t measured or precise, I mean, we’re talking college students inventing a drink here. So really, feel free to adjust this one to taste. But the key ingredients are chocolate ice cream and creme de banana. (“Dave has some delicious banana.”) Put them in a blender, add some milk, and whatever other booze you have lying around that would go well with it, like Kahlua or Bailey’s or vodka. And blender it up until it’s smooth.

Pour it in a red plastic cup, take a sip, and say, “Mmmmmmm Dave.” And somewhere, my friend Dave will be smiling.

On Assholery

I am kinda pissed off right now. And when I say kinda, I mean I AM FUCKING PISSED OFF RIGHT NOW. I am pissed off enough that I am going to move beyond cursing and into the realm of blaspheming. Which, if you know me, you know that means that my frustration level is now at 11. And after you read this, you’re gonna be like “Damn, that Beth sure has a temper…but she also has a point.” Get the popcorn, because here I go.

Here’s the scenario, and you’ve probably seen this happen too: the Facebook page of a major retailer announced coupons on formula. Which is a good thing because formula is so ridiculously expensive. I mean seriously, is it made of Jesus poop or something? Why the hell is it so expensive? Anyway, of course because it has to do with feeding your child, a bunch of pompous windbags start commenting on the post that breast is best and formula is poison and anyone who feeds their kids formula is a horrible mother because they just didn’t try hard enough to nurse.

I CAN’T EVEN WITH THESE PEOPLE. Who the fuck do you think you are, Jesus Joseph and Mary? Seriously, what gives you the right to tell other parents how to care for their children? Do you honestly believe that calling someone a bad mother is going to make them change their ways? No really, I want to know if someone called you a bad mother for feeding your child a particular way, would that asshole’s behavior be the thing that made you say “I am going to give up breast feeding and buy some expensive formula?” Really?

I am not even going to go into the whole part about how there are lots of reasons that are completely beyond the control of a mother that would make her avoid breast feeding. Oh wait, yes I am. How about cancer treatment? Taking medications that are unsafe for baby? Milk production problems? Nipple trauma? HIV? A traumatic birth experience that made nursing impossible? Tuberculosis? Hepatitis C? Or, how about the kid is adopted? Shall I go on? Oh, you say, but that’s only a handful of people, you say, everyone else should be nursing, you say. A handful, really? How about one in 9 babies are born premature in the US every year, for a starter? Holy Mary mother of God, are you kidding me?

But that isn’t really the point. Because, this isn’t actually about breast vs. bottle, is it? The point isn’t whether a mom has a good reason to feed their baby a certain way. The point is, YOU have no good reason to be judging someone else for making choices about how to raise their own children. And this is the part where I go all libertarian liberal on you: how you choose to raise you kids is NONE OF MY BUSINESS. If you’re not abusing or neglecting them, or raising them in a way that harms my children, then who the hell I am to tell you how to be a parent? I am nobody, that’s who. AND SO ARE YOU. Speaking of blaspheming, how about a little judge not lest ye be judged? You think Jesus, or Buddha for that matter, would get on a message board and say “That is a bad mother right there, she feeds her kid formula”? REALLY?

Here is the thing, I’m gonna take a deep breath because clearly I am pissed, and screaming at you isn’t helping things. Iiiiiiiiinnnnnnhale, and exhaaaaaaaaalllle. OK. When you shit on another parent, what you are doing is keeping all of us, all moms, from moving forward. Your comments keep us from advocating for each other. Because of you, another mom will hide the truth of her life, out of fear that someone will tell her she is a bad mom. In short, it is your fault we don’t have universal preschool for our children and paid maternity leave. Because unless we stop shitting on each other and come together to fight for the things we need, we’re gonna keep right on working to pay for preschool for our kids when we should be on maternity leave with their younger sibling, which makes it much harder to breast feed, WHICH WAS THE THING YOU WERE TRYING TO PRMOTE WITH YOUR ASSHOLERY IN THE FIRST PLACE. THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS.

Christ on a cracker, I can’t even with these people. Just, everyone stop it. Stop trying to convince the world that they should live YOUR way, and parent YOUR way, and just handle your OWN business. Just, STOP.

Children’s Television Survival Guide: Word Girl

It’s time once again for another installment in our Children’s Television Survival Guide! I feel like I need to back up a bit before I start talking about our show for this post and talk for a minute about why I write this series. It’s because there is so, so, sooooooo much crap in the world of children’s television. I mean, a LOT of crap. So, I am focusing on shows that parents can find some way to enjoy, even if it’s just appreciating them on an ironic level. That’s why I haven’t talked about Dora or Caillou. Because I hate those shows. Those shows are irredeemably bad. There is no attitude or perspective that can make them enjoyable. So let’s talk about some shows that you CAN find a way to like.

OK, onto our Survival Guide! This time we’re back to PBS Kids for a show that was probably designed by someone who hangs out at Comicons and also scored very high on the vocabulary section of the SAT. That’s right, it’s Word Girl!

Word Girl is a child super hero who fights battles against villains such as a bratty rich kid whose parents have spoiled her, and Lady Redundant Woman. Word Girl’s superpower is her amazing vocabulary.

The slightly-above-the-heads-of-kids jokes in this show are FANTASTIC. Seriously, the writing on this show is really outstandng. Here’s an exchange she has with a homeschooled kid named Tobey who she has play dates with, who is also a super villain who builds robots that destroy buildings.

Tobey: Oh, you think you’re so smart, don’t you, WordGirl? With your superpowers and your vocabulary skills..and your luminous smile! But you can be beaten, just like everyone else! I’m going to prove I’m smarter than you, and then you’ll be mine! All mine!
WordGirl: What do you mean, I’ll be ‘all yours’?
Tobey: Urmm….nothing!

There are a lot of shows that The Boy simply will not watch, because it’s obvious to him that they are “girl shows.” Sophia the First immediately comes to mind (and that show isn’t so great anyway). But Word Girl is not one of those shows. It has enough super hero stuff in it that despite the lead character being a girl, he does not think of the show as being for girls. Which is awesome, because he gets to see a girl kicking ass and be reminded that girls aren’t just princesses.

Since I am a lawyer, my kids have a pretty big vocabulary for their age. I mean, when Mom is a lawyer, it’s no surprise that you are a very good talker. But even The Boy learns new words from watching Word Girl. It’s words like bobble and glum and stampede. Words that I don’t use in my everyday conversations, so the kids wouldn’t necessarily pick them up on their own. And what’s great about it is, the characters use the words in ways that are really conversational, as well as defining them.

To sum up, this show seriously kicks ass, just like Word Girl does. Kudos, PBS!

I’m OK, You’re OK

I had a conversation with a friend the other day about people who don’t have kids who go on and on about how they don’t want to have kids and how awful kids are. And she said I should write a blog post about it, and I said, “You’re right, I should.” Except, I also want to write about people who have kids and who say “What a shame they don’t have kids, they’re wasting their life” about people who don’t have kids. Or married people who say “You need to find a life partner, it’s not good to be alone” to single people. Or single people who say “How dumb are you to give up your freedom” to married people.

In short, I am writing today about people who think everyone should live like they do, who think their choices are the ONLY right ones. That anyone who chooses differently must be stupid. These people are assholes.

My dad has a saying, “Everyone ELSE’s hobby is crazy.” What he means is, we all have our own thing that makes us happy, and to other people that thing is completely unappealing. My local BFF loves running. My dad likes to write computer programs that calculate all the prime numbers up to one million. My mom makes cross stitch Christmas ornaments by the dozens. The Hubs has Dungeons and Dragons play dates with his work buddies. None of those things sounds like fun to me. Their hobbies are crazy…to me. But so what? So what if I find my joy in a different way than someone else? Wouldn’t the world be boring if we all liked the same things?

It’s easy to shrug off the “wow, that is crazy” talk when we’re talking about hobbies. But when we’re talking about more major life choices, it’s a lot harder. It feels like a very personal attack when it’s about your choice to have kids, or your choice to get married, or not.

I think where this all comes from is that a lot of people who make the asshole comments feel they have to justify their choices because some Judgy McJudgerson is gonna shit on them for that choice. So the childless person talks about how kids are such a burden all the time, because they feel like the couple with kids is going to think less of them for choosing not to have kids. Or the married and divorced and remarried person feels like they have to justify choosing marriage over singlehood, so they go on and on to the single person about how bad it is to be alone. Like, just own your choices, asshole–they work for you, and that’s OK. We are not all sitting around judging you for them, so stop trying to make yourself feel more secure about your choices by shitting on ours.

I also think people just too often don’t stop and think about how their words are going to be received. I mean, think of how the couple who is secretly struggling with infertility are gonna feel when that mom goes on and on about how kids complete your life. Or think how a person who wants to find love but hasn’t is going to feel when you tell them to hurry up because they’re not getting any younger. It’s not really helpful, is it? Sometimes we don’t actually have the ability to make the choices we want in our lives. Sometimes that choice to have a kid, or not, isn’t really a choice.

What I am trying to say to these assholes is, you’re being an asshole. Your choices are great for you, and mine are great for me, so stop trying to convince me that everyone should do what you do. I’m OK, you’re OK.

Grown-Up Movies for Kids: Secretariat

Time for another Grown-Up Movie for Kids! This one really is The Boy’s favorite movie, and when I tell people about it, they look at me like I am insane. But it’s true: my 6-year-old son’s favorite movie is Secretariat.

So, in case you know nothing about horse racing, Secretariat is the most awesome race horse ever to have lived. That horse fucking kicked ass. He won the Triple Crown, which is practically impossible, and he was horse of the year, and whatever, he was just a seriously amazing horse. The boy loves the movie because there are a bunch of race scenes, and he finds them gripping. GRIPPING. Even though he totally knows Secretariat is the most awesome race horse ever and of course he is going to win. But kids don’t care that there is no suspense in this movie, they just love the horses racing.

The other thing awesome about this film is John Malkovich. He’s fantastic in his role as the crotchety trainer. I love when he yells insults in French, it reminds me of Dangerous Liasons (man that movie was hot, but alas, not kid friendly). The Boy’s favorite line from John, and mine frankly, is when he insults another trainer by saying “He couldn’t train a monkey to pick at his own butt.” He also says “He couldn’t train his own bowel movements.” You see? What’s not to love about this movie?

Now, I’m not saying this is an Oscar-worthy film. Diane Lane is kinda flat in several of the scenes, and the guy who plays her husband is a terrible actor. Or at least, he’s terrible in this movie. But the woman who plays the family’s assistant is great, and the guy who plays Seth Hancock who was in Hannah Montana? He’s dreeeaaammmmyyyy. Oh, and the costumes! So awesome, I want to own Diane Lane’s wardrobe from this movie.

If you are the type to not let your kids watch anything that includes death in it, well, sorry, this movie is not for you. Diane Lane’s parents are old and they both die during the film, peacefully. Then again, if you can’t stand a death in a movie, you probably can’t handle almost every Disney movie, including Cinderella, Finding Nemo, and The Lion King. Also, you probably don’t read this blog.

So there you have it! Another kid friendly film that adults can stand too. Grab a blanker and cuddle on the couch with your little one, and enjoy!


The other night, The Hubs and I had a long discussion about my blog. The Hubs is an IT guy who gets a high from being useful. So, whenever friends have IT problems, I tell The Hubs to go help them out, and he does. The day of our discussion, The Hubs had helped a friend out with her blog’s technical side. The Hubs said, “That reminds me, I need to do some stuff so your blog pops up more in search engines.”


Look, I am not a professional blogger. You will notice there are no ads on this page. Nobody pays me to write any of this stuff. I don’t get people sending me free products asking me to write about them (I did have someone once ask me to share her product’s website on my Facebook page, but she didn’t offer me a free one and I didn’t ask for one because it felt too spammy.) Professional blogging is wicked awesome, and maybe I would want to do that some day, but today is not that day. So, I don’t need people to find this blog.

“But, why not?” asked The Hubs. “What you write is good, more people should read it. There are people out there who need to hear what you’re your saying.”

OK, so, this is where I admit that I am suuuuuuuuuper selfish. Because, I don’t write all this for you, dear readers. I mean, it feels good to have people say they dug something I wrote, and on the couple of occasions that someone really big has shared my blog and I got 100 times my normal hits? Yeah, that was exciting. But honestly? I would write all this if nobody read it, or if nobody liked it. I write it because I have something to say, period, full stop. That it speaks to other people is a pleasant byproduct, but it isn’t the point. I’m not saying I don’t give a shit what people think of my blog…except yeah, I kind of am saying that. Actually, take the “kind of” out of that last sentence.

Because, I feel like if I wrote this blog to generate readers, I would write a lot differently. I would take on whatever the hot topic was that day on the Internet, the one that gets a lot of hits and that they start talking about on Ellen and Conan and CNN. Instead of writing what I have to say that day, just letting the ideas vomit out here in run on sentences with the words “so” and “like” starting every other paragraph. In short, it wouldn’t be me anymore, and honestly? I spend too much of my professional life not writing for myself, to spend my free time writing for someone else. It feels too good, after so many years of having someone else tell me what to write, to just say what is on my mind, at that exact moment.

NOT THAT I AM SHITTING ON PROFESSIONAL BLOGGERS. Look, there are a lot of serious enterprising writers on the net who are speaking their truth and who have interesting, funny, powerful things to say about the hot issue of the day. It works for them to write that way, and it’s awesome that they can make a living from their writing and be happy and proud of their work. I give them mad props. I am just not one of them. It’s just not how I roll. If I tried to be them, I am pretty sure I would lose my joy that I am finding with this blog. And then, why bother?

The Hubs then said, “But what’s wrong with writing what you do and having more people read it? I’m not saying change what you write, I’m saying, reach more people.” And that’s when my ego really showed how ginormous it is, and also how small it is. See, I think this blog kicks ass. I am proud of what I write here. And I think if lots and lots of people saw it, it might take off. In my head, my enormous ego says that I might get calls from literary agents and TV shows. And I am sooooooo not interested in that right now. I am sooooooo not ready to be famous. I like my little pond–frankly, it took me a while to decide to dip my toe into the pond at all. So, I don’t feel comfortable or safe or ready to swim into a big ocean filled with sharks right now.

The Hubs thinks I am being silly and that I’d beat the shit out of the sharks. Maybe he’s right. But, he agreed not to use whatever Internet magic voodoo you use to increase your page views these days. And for now, I can live with the fantasy that although my writing is on the Internet for the whole world to see, I am really just having a conversation with a few people.