Wednesday, April 30, 2008

One more step and the monkey gets it.

I have been trying to decide for some time the best way to explain some of the fundamental concepts of evolution to my children. I figure if they are never too young to learn about the Buy-Bull then they are never too young to start learning how to think critically about life. Books that attempt to explain the elegance of evolution to small children are hard to come by. Therefore, you can imagine how happy I was to learn in this week’s issue of New York magazine that even the Four Horsemen are throwing their hats into the ring.

However, until that children’s book is published I am left to my own devices. I have been trying different tactics to see what elicits some interest from my target audience. More on that later.

And while I’m not deliberately trying to persuade my kids one way or the other, I do start off the lecture by holding up this stuffed animal and telling them that if they fail to see the logic in what I am saying the monkey loses a finger. This works wonders in getting my point across, especially after the part where I tell them that the monkey is actually a relative.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mind you don't sniff the broom love.

If you’re a parent or a member of the human race Harry Potter lingo has more than likely become a regular part of your vocabulary. I am relatively certain that any Harry Potter factoid would qualify as a gigantic cross-cultural meme.

Recently Charlie has made me convert my household broom (aka my second car) into variations of the Nimbus 2000. First it was crucial to his survival that he have a Nimbus 2000, then 2001, then 2020, then 3,000, and so on. He seems to think the higher the number the faster it can go. I was hoping he would find the flaw in his logic when old lighting rod (grandma) made her way over this afternoon, but no such luck.

My permanent marker hasn’t seen this much action since the time I tried to label the toys. And I was almost successful then too. In fact I got all the way to P-P-Puzzle before I started talking to the yellow giraffe in the middle of the room. And while I'm starting to feel the inklings of a headache coming on, I'm not talking to any imaginary animals...yet. But, I have a feeling things are about to get really Harry because Charlie just flew into the room asking, "Mom is 1 million greater than 10 thousand?"


Monday, April 28, 2008

Rice Rice Baby!

Please take a moment and play this game with your kids (or by yourself).

It is a great vocabulary builder and can be played while you stir a pot, sip a drink, or bounce a baby. I am overwhelmed by the simple brilliance of this.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Don't make me go get the Belt of Truth.

This was one of my sons Christmas gifts from his dear old grandma, it's called Armour of God Play Set. And I don't know about you, but every time I read the contents I get all warm and fuzzy.

But seriously, being able to ask your child if they would rather wear The Helmet of Salvation or the Shield of Faith to the grocery store gives me a supreme sense of unjustifiable self-righteousness. And I like that.

Question, if he pairs the Shin Guards of Peace with the Spirit-of-the-Word Sword is that considered a wash? Cause I'm thinking it's like a paper covers rock situation.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

This is me on zero caffeine. Counterintuitive, isn't it?

As Charlie and I are driving in the car to get me a coffee, I’m asking him what he did at his friend Riley’s house last night. He proceeds to tell me that he played the video game Lego Star Wars. And he was upset because he couldn’t get to the next level.

“Why is it so hard to get the next level?”

“Because General Gree-V-Oss is really hard to beat Mom. He has TEN WIVES and I only have FOUR WIVES.”

And I’m wondering to myself what in the heck is going on with video games today? Just how do we let these video companies get away with this? This kind of blatant agenda pushing is unacceptable. Did you know that in certain countries they don’t even allow advertisers to target kids at all, at least not until they are over twelve. I should probably write a letter, definitely need to write a letter. I am going to tell them exactly what I think about this. How dare they use such manipulative tactics to push their ideology onto a small child, am I right? Am I right? Polygamy is just plain wrong. Have you seen these compounds, where those poor young girls are forced to marry old men? Does anyone think for a second what it does to these girl’s lives?

Just what’s the message here? Just what are we trying to tell little boys? One wife is never enough. You need to get as many wives as you can?!? Why don’t they just have Ron Jeremy promote their video games, or better yet, put a picture of Luke Skywalker sitting on a throne surrounded by fifteen Princess Leah’s in gold bikinis. The box could read:
Lego Star Wars: Using the force, one sister at a time.

Oh. No. Wait a second. Charlie just asked me yesterday about what marrying someone means. I bet he’s already thinking that one wife isn’t enough. He’s gonna become a Polygamist! I’m going to write a letter, no, I’m going to get an attorney to write the letter! This has to stop. Someone needs to take a stand for once and for all. I bet the people that designed this video game are Mormon. Ah-Ha! You know those Mormons have their hands in a lot of things; they own Coca-Cola for Gods Sake. You can never have just one of those either. Oh boy am I steamed!

“Charlie, Charlie. Why do you care if General Gree-V-Oss has more than one wife? One wife is more than enough. Do you understand? Do you? Honey, talk to me. Daddy only has one wife, and isn’t that nice? Don’t you like having only one mommy? You don’t want five other mommies do you? Charlie? Charlie?”

“Mommy I said General Gree-V-Oss is hard to beat because he has TEN LIVES.”


p.s. The Mormons do not own Coca-Cola as I discovered here.

Godless Girl and Seed Mother: A Likely Story

Seedmother: So this new “valley girl” speech pattern found on the blog you sent Here:
"And I'm, like, a pretty positive person?" really bothers me. The basic thought is "I'm a person." But she can't quite say that. She's like. Like what? Does she mean she's not a positive person, she's just like a positive person. If so, she should explain why she's like a positive person but she's not actually a positive person.

Me: I don't know why we talk like that, but that’s the deal. I say “like” a lot too so you must think I’m like, a real idiot?

Seedmother: What is the correct punctuation to like, use? Then do we actually use it? Or, like use it? What's it like? Is it like, like or just like? I think I'll take a drive down the LikeLike highway and try to find out. In Hawaii, Princess Likelike (pronounced Leekayleekay) has a road like, named after her.

Me: Like, if you don't like it then like, use another word. But you'll soon see that we are more likely to get along with others if we look for our likenesses instead of like, being difficult.

Seedmother: I'm like, standing corrected!

Me: Like its ok. Just don't like let it happen again. I just really need to be liked right now.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Mom! I found a Horny!

Today Charlie took his regular walk through the neighborhood with his dad. And not fifteen minutes of peace had passed me by before I heard a loud and highly excitable knocking on my sliding glass door. I walked over to find him standing on the other side of the glass with a GIANT one of these in his hand.

It was missing a tail (thanks to my dog) and seemed a little more than put out by my sons affections. Now, as much in favor of rational observation as I am; please understand that I loathe lizards, snakes, and anything else with horns, scales, fangs, and a need to abandon its offspring thirty seconds after birth.

Me: Sweet Jesus! What the hell is that thing?!?

Charlie: It's a Horny.

And he just stood there holding this thing up to me all confused by my reaction like, Jeese you're really flippin out. There, there, you just need me to come a little closer, you know, so you can see that he's really cute, and friendly, and would make a really perfect pet. And as he got closer the seven-year old girl in me screamed even louder. And ya! It was arguably the ugliest sounding scream in the history of the world. So frickin what? Have you ever been that close to a horny? Well? And the worst part is I couldn't stop long enough to make a thoughtful comment. Way to go Ms. "I wanna be a rational person." Little Ms. "I simply LOVE LOVE LOVE Nature."

Just what was I so disgusted by? What is wrong with me? What is it with scaled creatures and us girls? And I know its not just me. I've read about this phenomenon before in Steven Pinkers book called 'The Blank Slate.'

Steven Pinker relates the theory from evolutionary psychology
that the emotion disgust evolved to keep us away from objects that can carry or
pass on diseases. Instead of having to eat something rotten, diseased, or worm
ridden, and then vomiting violently, our big brains let us merely look at the
object and feel the reaction, sometimes so severely that we react as if we had
touched or eaten it.

After I stared at both of them through the glass door for a minute or two contemplating an escape route, I tried (really hard) to remind myself that I want to encourage my kids to discover new things and learn about them, especially in nature. Sure there was a small part of me interested in the creature, but it was a very small part.

As he held this horned lizard up towards my face emphatically pleading with me, “Please mommy, he needs water and a good home!” my heart really softened up in spite of my revulsion. I wanted to assist him in his pursuit, but my brain just kept repeating ABOUT. TO. LOSE. MY. SHIT.

Did I really think that poor little injured reptile was going to crawl up my leg, give me an STD, drink all the wine, and never call again? Really? Apparently so. And now I am left to deal with the sad truth--I am irrationally disgusted by horniness.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Farting Grandpa helps explain science to small child.

Me: You know old boy the earth is made from solids, gases, and liquids.

Charlie: Lick-Quods?

Me: Yes, like water. And solids like this bed.

I knocked the wood three times to show him that it was in fact, solid.

I pulled out my laptop and found this site.
An easy way to explain the concept to kids is to say that the main difference between the two states of matter is that solids do not change shape when “poured” into another container and liquids do. This seemed to make sense to him as evidenced by his pause.

Charlie: And oxygen is like a gas?

Me: Yeah kid, just like when you breathe. Air is a gas and gases are invisible.

Charlie: So you don’t see them?

Me: Right.

Charlie: How you know that they are there?

Me: Is Grandpa Jim still here?

Charlie: Yeah.

Me: Go sit by him for like 5 minutes.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Do you want your teeth to smell like this egg? Is that what you want? Is it?

One of the things about being an atheist and a mother is that you have to be willing to do some research with the kids. I often fantasize about how easy it would be to say, “God did it.”
Or, “Jesus can see you.”

Because every time I say, “I don’t know” there is an immediate conditioned response, “Okay, let’s go look it up.” I do not know how the world ever survived before Google but I’m sure that if you studied the statistical relationship between religiosity and Internet use it would show a negative correlation. It just gets harder to trick kids (and people) when they can go look it up for themselves. Bummer. It's so easy to control people when you claim to have all the answers.

Every night I routinely nag Charlie to brush his teeth and I check for bugs afterward. You know, because I have amazing superpowers that allow me to see microscopic parasites invading my child’s mouth. What? You don’t? And up until this point Charlie has believed my bullshit and simultaneously lived in fear knowing that if he didn’t brush long or hard enough I would know and then something bad would happen. Incidentally, this is the same argument I use to encourage foreplay with my husband.

But tonight Charlie was not in the mood to brush his teeth and he put up a fight. And I was like, “Just do it! And if you don’t do it right I will be able to tell!” To which he replied, “But Mom, I have the same size eyeballs as you, and I don’ see any bugs. How do you see them?”

Now here lies the choice. I could totally make up something like, “Because I’m frickin’ omnipotent, okay, okay? That’s right kid, I can see dental plaque the way Grandma Jackie sees Jesus in her toast.”

Instead, I promised him that in the morning we would research the tooth and how bacteria can cause decay, and how that can hurt. Bad.
I figure, if he understands the process maybe he’ll understand the necessity of it.

Here’s the webpage we landed on. This eggsperiment ought to do the trick.
Egg Experiment

Better hold onto something ladies

I look to the future of my youngest son Henry and wonder many things. But one thing I can be sure of is that he is not going to be inadequate at expressing his appreciation for the opposite sex.

I can rest at ease knowing I will never have to cross paths with an ex of his and hear the words, “I’m like sorry that it didn’t work out ma'am. He’s just bad in bed.”

In the future, if things don't work out with the ladies it will not be due to a lack of enthusiasm on his part but rather their inability to cope with the depth of his passion.

If he isn’t trying to pry his way down a females shirt to see Bah-BEEZE then he is relentlessly searching for an area to kiss. If he can find your face he never hesitates to lay one on. This kids got potential. No fear of commitment here. Uh-Uh. Henry is so good at kissing he deserves his own theme song. I mean I don’t want to brag but I think we have a prodigy here.

Yeah, so what if he still thinks everything is called a circle (including me). And yeah, it's true, I often find him eating dog food in a complete state of bliss. But really when you think about it, everything is kind of like a circle now isn’t it? And how do you know that the particular brand of dog food I buy isn’t amazing?

Yesterday as I picked him up in my arms he grabbed my face between both of his palms and pulled me into his lips. He pressed so hard that I had to grab a hold of the counter to prevent myself from falling over.

Two days ago when he went to kiss his eighty-year old grandma he nearly knocked her chair over. All I heard coming from the living room was “Oh my word! Oh my word!”

I’m just so glad he didn’t kill her. Just imagine that epitaph. Here lies Jackie Eastin, devoted wife, mother, and grandmother, killed in the throes of passion.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Rest assured great thinkers of both past and present. We now know the ultimate test for measuring reality.

Charlie: Mom what’s real?

Me: I don’t know Charlie. Is your imaginary friend Luke real?

Charlie: I don’ know. I think he might be just pretend.

Me: Evidence my boy, perhaps the answer lies in evidence.
If there’s enough evidence then I say to myself, maybe this could be real.

Charlie: Well, you know what I do?

Me: Nope.

Charlie: I just say to myself, is someone driving this spaceship or is this thing on?

Fowl Fossil

I took Charlie and his friend Riley to the Museum of Natural History today. The kids seemed to really enjoy it even though my throat is sore from all the growling. I jumped out from behind walls just to scare them. At one point, I mimicked a giant Terradactyl (I do things like this just to illustrate my point, be grateful you’re not married to me). I flapped my arms up and down and screeched like Yoda caught in a blender. I looked over to find a young mother pointing to her purse while mouthing the word VALIUM.

You’d think the boys would catch on after awhile like, Oh, she disappeared again, huh, there’s a wall over there! I bet she’s hiding behind it! But, no. They never did. If only Darwin could see us now, would he have converted to Christianity?

While we were there, I made them spend an extra amount of time at the latest exhibit called The Origin of Flight. The exhibit came here all the way from China where they recently discovered dinosaurs, with wings! This appears to indicate that the modern day bird has an stronger link with these prehistoric creatures than previously thought. Viva La Evolution!

Did dinosaurs turn into birds?

Before today the oldest thing Charlie had seen was Grandpa Jim. However, after close observation I think Charlie would conclude that the fossils smiled more. How scary must it have been to be out in the great wide open and have these enormous beasts circling the sky? It’s a bird! No, It’s a plane! No, it’s a giant turkey?!? They were so huge, so feathered, so ferocious, and yet so fowl!

Giant Prehistoric Turkey

I let the boys buy a miniature toy dinosaur to take home as a souvenir. They played with their reptiles the entire drive home. It was magic. Well, almost.

Riley: My dinosaur is gonna buck your dinosaur right off!

Charlie: Na-Uh! My dinosaur is gonna buck YOUR dinosaur right out the window!

Riley: Well, my dinosaur can buck your dinosaur right into outer space!

Charlie: Silent.

Riley: Yeah, my dinosaur can buck YOUR dinosaur into the next galaxy.

Charlie: Mommy! Tell Riley to stop sayin’ that.

Me: Don’t worry about it Charlie.

Charlie: But Mom.

Me: Just relax.

Charlie: But Mom!

Me: Listen, there is no buckin way that a rhinoceros could buck with a T-Rex. Okay, so drop it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Elucidating as usual

I never thought a question like, “did you stick your finger in your butt again” would fall so effortlessly out of my mouth as it did today.

My son is having a challenging time figuring out the right ratio of toilet paper to tush lately. He exits the bathroom with a face like, somehow I think I got this wrong, again. I usually go in to find one of two things.

A. Massive amounts of toilet paper scattered aimlessly around the toilet bowl. I immediately start looking for the mummy.

B. No toilet paper (just poop) in the bowl.

Here's the thing, how can I turn this into a life lesson? I mean you see the problem don’t you? I don’t really want to turn this into a lesson, but here it is right in front of me. It’s the same problem day after day and Charlie doesn’t seem to grasp this basic human postulate: If you smell like doodie people won’t want to be around you. And by people, I mean me. So last night after he climbed into bed and I caught a smell of what can only be described as “Jesus Christ Charlie!” I had to take him into the bathroom and give a lesson on how to wipe better. It wasn’t “fun.” It was not “glamorous.” It was however, necessary.

I kept wondering what he must have been thinking. Amidst all the giggling-- I’m thinking he was rather pleased with himself and that is just plain rude! Now right in the middle of my “wipe and repeat as necessary” lecture he is laughing so hard he is having to hold onto the toilet bowl to keep from sliding into it. And he keeps laughing, “Mommy smell my finger” So I told him that doodie is full of bacteria and getting it anywhere near your own or another human beings face is totally wrong because it can make you and others sick. Of course, now I have to explain why this is true, and I cannot say to him, “like dah!”

Here is the website we landed on and it does a pretty good job of explaining poop and why it is full of bacteria, you know, because I’m sure you’re simply dying to know this, immediately.
Poop Page

And because boys regard anything that occurs south of their navel to be, well, FASCINATING, Charlie really enjoyed this lesson.

If you have a son you will understand this better than if you have a daughter because poop is magical to boys. If poop were in a band, it would be Led Zeppelin. If poop were a religion, it would most certainly be Christian, and if poop could talk it would be like, “Vote for me. I stink less than Bush.”

I feel bad Einstein spent the latter part of his life in a reclusive state determined to find the link between electromagnetism and gravity when he could have been wiping four-year old bottom. Yes genius, the mystery to all things comes down to this, shit just happens.

Em-K? You’re welcome.