electric boogaloo

First of all I want to say that there aren’t any closeup pictures of you in this year’s post, mostly because you won’t stop making the Chloe face every time I look over at you.

They will flat out say they like you best. I mean, they like being with me because I’m their mother and when they were little I brainwashed them with that Are You My Mother book. But I don’t have the same credibility that you do. They roll their eyes and say “Yeah but you’re our mother. You basically have to think we have good ideas.” Which is absurd and unfair; I think they have dumb ideas all the time! But still, when I tell them they’re awesome it doesn’t carry much weight because all moms think that. Where did our kids learn to stereotype people?
I don’t remember what brought it up but the other day Graham chimed in, “No offense? But yeah. Daddy’s just so much cooler. Like honestly there’s just no comparison, and I really do not mean that offensively.”

And I said oh no, of course! None taken… I did marry the guy on purpose.

Because oh my gosh if DADDY thinks something is a good idea, it must be a fantastic idea. If Daddy thinks something is funny, it must be hilarious. And if Daddy says things will work out and be alright, everything’s going to be better than fine.

I’m glad one of us has serious influence because this year our children turned into pre-adolescents. No more little kid stuff. Sometime this year the bath toys were dragged out for the last time before both kids decided to start taking quick showers instead. There was a last time for Graham getting up to say “I’m scared” at bedtime, a last time that Nicolaus fit in his stripey adorable winter hat with the hangy down ear flaps. Bittersweet doesn’t quite cover the shifts that happen as our kids become more independent. It’s like nostalgicbummer/FANTASTIC. I love little kids but oh holy heck big kids are easier. For every last time some adorable thing happened, there was a last time for wetting the bed or clinging to us at the playground or oh my god why is there poop on the wall.

They almost never play with toys anymore, not even Legos unless they’ve invented a game. Whenever they’re not hanging out with friends, life is all computers, reading books, drawing, board games, building things. They are happiest when you’re making something and they can work nearby.

Even if they’re working on something totally separate, they want to be near you and talk talk talk talk. Which isn’t easy for your brain I know but you seem to enjoy it as long as they aren’t bickering.

So our life is filled with things you’ve made. That’s their normal. Doesn’t everyone make their own dishes or have their dog’s collar decorated and tagged with hand-cut sterling silver? It’s awesome because you’re giving them access to something a lot of people find intimidating: of course you can make things, and if you don’t know how you can take a class or look it up.

This year we deepened our social life, folding friends into our plans almost every day. It can be overload, but our guys have this core group of creative, compassionate, hilarious kids. They make puns. They openly mock adults in ways that are too funny to be considered disrespectful. They play Dungeons and Dragons types of games, and talk about Tolkien and science and oh my god Minecraft.

It’s a relief, isn’t it? You and I were both shy kids who tried to avoid talking to other kids in elementary school. Our boys are a little shy, but this year they’ve learned to work their way into a group of kids, how to negotiate and be a good friend. The non-stop socializationathon has radically changed our groove and it can be mentally exhausting but that’s okay. It’s totally worth the energy we put in. Bonus! They generally don’t care one flip about blending in, and their friends accept them despite their interesting style decisions.

Pre-teen hormones make life rough for Nicolaus some days, and when he’s feeling down or overwhelmed and stressed he will still talk openly with me about it. But he would rather talk to you because you, I’m told, “Get the exact perfect amount angry about things in life that are annoying.”

He also describes what it feels like to be stressed out: My brain has all these strings hanging down, little threads that are vibrating, and I need them. But people — ALL people, even people I like being around! — people zip around waving scissors. And I can repair the threads or put in new ones, but when there’s too much… that’s when I feel completely stressed out. But Daddy is the only person who doesn’t wave scissors around. Like he HAS them, but he just naturally like keeps them closed and walks around slowly. That is a bizarre metaphor but I get it. So whenever his brain makes him worried or sad, he looks for you. You navigated the little kid years plenty fine but this big kid stuff is where you’re a viking. You sat down for more Full House “Hey, Deej…” talks in the last twelve months than you probably ever imagined. Thanks for that. I do a lot of those talks too, but you know? There’s a reason Full House writers ditched mom before the pilot.

And it’s not ALL weepy heartfelt talks. The kid had a mostly excellent year. Elevens are allowed to watch movies with bad words in them. Elevens can tell when adults are joking. Elevens are allowed to start campfires and own real hatchets. Littler kids look up to elevens. Good stuff.

Graham too has benefited from the overall oldening of our kids. He got to watch Zoolander, Airplane, and The Jerk! He got to know all the bad words. He got to have his own bow and arrows, he can play outside without an adult, he can have more grownuppish pocket knives. Why do they love knives so much? They don’t stab stuff with them. It’s more about the collecting and occasional tiny boat making.

We must prepare. Teenagers are coming. They’re going to idolize someone as they hit this stage; it was going to be you or the Mythbusters or those idiots from gamer YouTube channels. The more I see them gaining confidence as they form their identity, the more I am so thankful that they picked you and that you and I have the same basic values. This is the point where it would suck to realize I’d married some kind of weird douchey materialist selfish a-wordhole. Moreso than it would’ve already sucked just from having to live with that kind of person, because now I’d be stuck living with two copycat a-wordholes.

Another year or two, you might become uncool. Who knows? But for right now they would follow you anywhere and you should take full advantage of that while it lasts.

Like trick them into going with you to insurance seminars or something.

“Well son, it looks like Graham and your mom’s head done fell off.”

posted by electric boogaloo in Journal and have Comments (4)

Things I’ve felt sort of bad about recently

1. A few weeks ago while all of Atlanta was sliding around smashing into itself, I was safe at home having a lovely day which included a nice hot soak in the bath, a bit of homemade granola, baking of yummy-smelling root vegetable, and time spent with my three favoritemost people.

2. Not updating my blog or my facebook pages or the twitter thing or anything. Last year was a rough one for Nerdy Baby, even though we had a lot of good things happen (Natural History Museum! Boston Science Museum! And MORE.) things were feast or famine. Costs went up, sales went down, and I worked my absolute bottom to the ground trying to make everything GO. Survived the holiday season! Yay! And then fell down dead from exhaustion. That happens every year for a couple of weeks, but then I re-charge and jump back in. This year it’s been… um six weeks? I’m just now starting to feel ready to roll again.

In the meantime I’ve gone completely quiet except for a few bright spots on the internet where I got into fights. If I’m ever too frazzled to engage in internet fights that’s when you’ll know something is really wrong. I’ll internet fight anyone, any time. Not over any old topic but there are some that launch me into auto-duel mode every time. Can’t help it because I don’t want to. Everyone needs a hobby, according to… well I thought it was according to Oscar Wilde but I just googled and couldn’t find it. Everyone needs a vice according to Mark Twain and as a non-smoker who rarely even has a glass of wine, I have internet fights. I dare you to say something racist or sexist, or to judge other people for stuff that doesn’t affect you or to talk about how Obamacare is literally Hitler. I’ll fight you right now.

3. A friend moved away, and I’ve been pouting like a little child ever since. WTF? Normally in life *I’m* the one who moves away! Totally unacceptable.

4. “Want me to tell you about what I’m working on in Minecraft?”


“It’s really quick! It’s this (stream of words that I willfully do not comprehend). Isn’t that cool?”

“YES.” I say it confidently because I am desperate for that yes not to be followed up upon. I learned early on that there’s no faking paying attention to these conversations, but sometimes I can fake comprehension.

“I also built a game that works like Battleship.”

Oh hey, that’s a game I understand! We can completely have a conversation about this! This kid likes to invent board games, role-playing games, in-the-car-oh-god-mom-and-dad-are-boring word games. So yes, totally, tell me about your new game you made.

Until I realize that no, we are still talking about Minecraft and I am tragically still not at all interested. I get the appeal. It’s objectively a great game, and my kids are learning a lot from it. My brain just can’t care about creepers in the nether with the server doing /warp PVP and putting everything into a chest with a mule who is running around punching trees in its inventory.

When Nicolaus was a toddler he wanted to talk about tools. I listened even though most stuff in Home Depot has sort of a fog made of boring settled around it. I enjoyed those conversations though, because the person talking to me was so little and cute.

Then it was dinosaurs. Hey I like dinosaurs! Heck yes, let’s talk about dinosaurs for six months.

Then it was how things are made. Streets. Light bulbs. Refrigerators. I indulged, repeating the steps over and over.

Next he had a brief obsession with listing all the dog breeds we could think of. I was all over that one. Dogs are excellent.

After that his passion was… hm. I’m missing a few. I was really tired okay? But then it was his Naturalist Scouts Troop of One. After that we had the Titanic disaster. Then ancient Rome, then Greece, then history in general, then penguins, then medieval Europe, then weaponry through history, then dirigibles, then bats. Then metalsmithing, then chemistry. Chemistry lasted a long time. I want on record that for each of these obsessions I showed up, I read late into the night so I could answer his questions the next day, we talked and I listened. I let him make costumes, we pretended to be Titanic passengers — though I did eventually refuse to play if he couldn’t be bothered to reserve a spot in an imaginary lifeboat for his own mother.

I learned to like Greek mythology, history, and chemistry. Science and animals and crafts and things — I get those. But you can’t make me care about Minecraft. I don’t know why not.

So when he talks for an hour about Minecraft, I say noncommital things like: “It sounds like that was really hard to do!” or “Man! How frustrating was that?”

5. I also cannot care about Middle Earth. Sorry, kid. Yes there are podcasts and books about books about books about Middle Earth. There are whole segments of academia devoted to poring over Tolkein’s work and discussing it all in immense detail. Personally I felt that Tolkein’s work was plenty detailed on its own. Like seriously. Fricking PLENTY.

6. Floors. Dishes. Laundry. The fact that I can’t talk about putting a load of laundry on without saying something about Mondrian. I don’t really feel bad about old Piet Mondrian. He’s dead and probably wouldn’t have cared that much anyway. But the floors, dishes, and laundering must happen soon.

8. I bought a new vacuum cleaner. I know that for a lot of people, spending $80 on a vacuum cleaner sounds pathetic but let me tell you what: You go from a $28 vacuum cleaner to an $80 vacuum cleaner and all of a sudden you are at a whole new level of being a human being in modern society. Sweet LORD our floors were so much more disgusting than I ever imagined. You know that old vacuum salesman trick where they clean your floor first with the old vacuum and then with the new one and show you your hideous shame that lies within that canister?

Yeah you don’t have to get the $600 model to experience that. Especially if you have pets. Humans and animals are nasty, y’all. No one with carpet should have either living in their homes.

9. My kids are sort of unschooling lately. I like the concept, and I’ve seen families where it works really well, but have never been able to completely let go of the steering wheel like that. Well the last 2 months (three if you count their winter vacation) things have been pretty much as academically mellow as can be. So on the one hand, there’s merit to letting kids guide their own learning (see above previous obsessions). But on the other hand it’s hard to let go of the nagging feeling that education should look more like work. So this is my compromise: I’m unschooling them for a bit, but I’m also feeling guilty about it.

10. I haven’t been reading or following the news in Ukraine or Venezuela. This is a time of unplugging, simplifying, paring things down while I recharge and figure out the best way to move ahead. Normally I’m all about trying to connect to what’s going on in the world but right now I’m taking a break. Sorry, protestors. You picked an inconvenient time to overthrow your government. For me I mean.

11. I want another dog. It’s not a good idea, I’m not getting one, don’t need one, am maxed out in too many ways. But understanding that doesn’t stop my stupid childish brain from imagining what kind of dog Beezus might like to play with.

posted by electric boogaloo in Journal and have Comments (3)

Hollyday/wood pitch #1

This year for Christmas my 10 year old is getting a hatchet, 100 crazy strong little magnets and 5 glow marbles with real Uranium in them.

And now I want someone to make a holiday movie where Santa brings kids gifts and it turns out that this whole time he doesn’t have any kind of liability coverage so a mean lawyer who doesn’t know the true meaning of Christmas brings a class action suit against him. There will be a lot of puns about the Santa Suit in the news. I mean really just that one pun, but the news people will say it a lot of times.

And there will be adorable scenes where kids take the stand and give speeches defending Santa. They’ll drive home the point that it’s not Santa’s fault; he wouldn’t have brought them dangerous gifts if they hadn’t asked him to. And the parents will be shocked to realize that they haven’t read their kid’s letter to Santa in years because even though they’re controlling helicopter parents, they also spend too much time on their ipads and iphones and things. And then they’ll feel really bad because if only they had known their kids were begging a stranger for Uranium they would’ve gotten more involved and maybe taken their child to therapy.

Meanwhile there’s a side plot where the NSA has been intercepting these letters to Santa, and they want to know what exactly this kid intends to do with uranium, a hatchet, and strong magnets. The parents end up on the no fly list and the dad who is too caught up in his career gets fired because he has to fly a lot for his important job.

Finally it will come out that the kid asked for those things because he spends all day watching You Tube and Netflix, and has fantasies that his real dad turns out to be Bear Grylls or Bill Nye or Theodore Gray or the guy with the crazy hair from Periodic Table of Videos.

In the end the jury will find that Santa is not liable because leaving out milk and cookies implies consent for him to enter people’s homes, and because he doesn’t leave these things unless kids ask for them.

And we all learn an important lesson about the importance of getting to do dangerous stuff sometimes, and not putting your career before your children, and not being so controlling of your kids’ safety. With a side lesson about the True meaning of CAUTION: Contains small magnets — which is to never ever ever swallow more than one magnet at a time.

posted by electric boogaloo in Journal and have Comments (4)

Jackson Pollen

Something I like: my kids notice textures and patterns and find beautifulness in every day stuff. This morning started with Nicolaus explaining this really pretty thing that happens with water when he was washing his hands, and the other night Graham didn’t want to throw away a broken cheap holiday ornament because LOOK how amazing! Look at the inside of it! They’re visual experience packrats.

So one evening last spring we were trudging across a road to get to our car, in a bit of a hurry for some boring grownup reason, when Graham stopped. “LOOK!!” I looked. Ugh, so in Georgia there is pollen everywhere that time of year. It’s so gross. Yellow powder dusts all over everything. It coats your car, it coats your clothes, it coats sidewalks. And then it rains and turns into a slimy, nasty, no-kidding-people-die traffic hazard before it runs off to the sides of the road. So this is what it looks like:

dried pollen road slime

dried pollen road slime

And it turns out that to a seven year old, that looks AMAZING. He begged for my phone and snapped a few pictures of the amazing mountains he saw on the road. It’s been months, but last night I found those photos and he got really excited. My kid who remembers disturbingly little about life jumped up; he remembered exactly where and why he took them. “Can we edit them?”

Now this kid has three loves in photoshop: Contrast, Color balance, and Liquify (”I’m making it ABSTRACT!”).

Here’s where these went and I have to say it: I genuinely, not-humoring-him, totally really LOVE the way these turned out.

Then he worked on this one until I made him stop and come eat dinner.

He is going to Liquify it tomorrow.

posted by electric boogaloo in It's school! In HOME FORM., Journal and have Comments (3)

New holiday tradition ideas for market testing

August 03, 2005
SUBJ: New holiday tradition

All: As promised here are results of yesterday’s brainstorm meeting, re: new holiday tradition. I will update you after initial focus group.

poop on a stoop
whore on the floor
rat on a hat
elf on a shelf
scotty on the potty
shill on a sill
crook on a book
clark gable on a table
dork on a fork
mouse on a spouse
santa on mylanta
fairy on some dairy
manticora on whatever the hell a manticora wants to be on
basilisk on a compact disk
brownie on a brownie
dwarf on a wharf
gnome on a tome
ass on the grass (as in donkey? + what kind of grass – ask Judy to clarify)
vampire on a lamp wire
troll on a pole
shade on a spade
orc on a fork
witch on a dish
slug on a rug
brave little toaster on a coaster (trademark v?)
hare on a chair
wyvern on a Boston fern
cub in your tub

Let me know if I am missing any of the top ideas that were discussed.


posted by electric boogaloo in Journal and have Comment (1)