Monday, April 30, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Thomas' Day Out - part 1

Before we get rolling today, we want to share with you the huge team-up love fest that our good buddy, the Consummate Chef, and Awkward Mom have going on right now. You can read our ode to her here. But make sure to read her latest post; which has a bazillion excellent tips for getting your child to adulthood with the least therapy bills possible, a super fun story about Awkward Grandma's idea of a good sleep-over, and an ancient picture of Awkward Mom in all her 80s finery. Good times.

We also want to ask you all if spring is a giant mutated version of spring where you are? Spring has always been a friend of ours, here in Awkwardville, but we are starting to think he has gone rogue because he is downright nasty this year. But then, just when you have hauled out the winter coats, he is nice again. Maybe he is a conflicted villain, a la Magneto or even (movie-version) Doctor Octopus. Don't know. All we do know is that he was definitely leaning to the villain-side this weekend for our outing with Thomas.

Quiz time, Readers! What is a Day out with Thomas?

a. A rousing reflection on religion and the Reformation with the ghost of Thomas More.
b. A murder mystery party with Thomas Crown where everyone attempts to steal a priceless painting while debating the merits of remakes.
c. A crowded and expensive event at the Henry Ford Museum where children ride a train made to resemble the fictional steam locomotive that has been hypnotizing children since 1946.

If you guessed anything but c, can you please email me and tell me how you get an Internet connection on that isolated island of yours? Then, strap yourself in for an education in childhood obsessions.

Thomas the Tank Engine is an institution unto itself, and dealing with this institution is a rite of passage for all parents. An institution just slightly less expensive than that other institution parents get to deal with: college. I really hope all the money made on Thomas books, TV shows, toys, train tables, games, hats, clothes, furniture, balloons, legos, and Pez dispensers is going to the Wilbert Awdry family, mostly because he seemed like a nice man who liked trains and tweed, but I have my doubts. Not sure whose pockets our money is lining but I am gonna line them all day long if it keeps doing this:

This, my dear Readers, is the face of pure joy. It is the face of happiness brought on by the indescribable exhilaration of riding on a train. It is also a face in need of a wash and some aloe...pick a side, Spring! This strange combo of windburn and sunburn is getting on my nerves!

OK, I am all over the place today. Let me back up a tad. As you all know, Awkward Dad and I got a membership to the Henry Ford Museum back in December. It was mostly so that Super Preschooler could indulge his Wizard of Oz obsession in their Wizard of Oz visiting exhibit, but the rest of the museum is super cool too and well worth the membership. Especially considering that the Henry Ford Museum is connected to Greenfield Village. (Take your time, readers. It is amazing and I can wait here all day; 2/3rds of the Supers are napping right now.) Our pass gives us complete access to Greenfield Village. Any time we want. Holy Historical-Disneyland-by-way-of-billionaire-American-industrialists-with-questionable-politics-but-good-taste-in-architecture, Batman. We have already been to Greenfield Village 3 times since it opened for the season on April 14th and the Supers have now shortened to the "village." As in, "Mommy! Mommy! We want to go to the Village!! Right Now! Doesn't matter that it is 6am and they aren't open. We need to go to the Village!" It just occurred to me that I might be taking them to the wrong place; could be that my children just have a thing for M. Night Shyamalan movies. (Oh! She is on a pop-culture reference high today, Readers! Look out!)

OK. Greefield Village = Cool. What else do I need to back up on? Oh, trains. OK. Well, here is the thing. Super Toddler loves trains. Like love love. Like trains rank up there with food, water, and anything Pixar love. Why does he love trains so much, you ask? Well, because he is a 2 year old boy. And trains are cool. Duh. Everyone (except those of you on the isolated islands out there who don't know any children and were never children yourselves apparently) knows that most children go through certain phases with regards to toys and interests. The train phase. The superhero phase. The dinosaur phase. The princess phase. The car phase. The dress-up phase. The horse phase. The (shudder) boy band phase. Certain phases hit certain children harder than others. For example, Super Preschooler has enough dress-up clothes to put on a show at the MET. Some phases turn into lifestyles. Awkward Dad still collects comics. Awkward Grandma never outgrew her horse phase and has graduated from dreamily drawing horse pictures to having a real live horse to love. We have yet to see if Super Toddler will become an engineer, a toy train enthusiast, or a hobo, but for now, he loves trains. Along with many other children. Most of whom appear to be here at Greenfield Village with us right now.

Day out with Thomas (which the over-achievers in the crowd already read about on the Greenfield Village web page) is a 3 weekend event held at Greenfield Village where a real live Thomas the Tank Engine (with creepy rolling eyes) replaces their normal steam train and gives children rides around the park (for a special, separate fee). There are train-related games, storytelling, numerous gift shops, kettle corn, and a chance to get your very own awkwardfamilyphoto and pose your child with Sir Topham Hatt. Here is ours:

Ah, family outings. Check on back here later this week and I will tell you all about it. The festive fun! The diesel drama! The derailment that Super Toddler caused in the toy train tent. Oh, and spring was totally villainous and rained the whole time. (Projected weather for the other 5 Day Out with Thomas days? 70s and sunny.) Have I already said it? AH, family outings!

What are you still doing here? Go check out CC's tips for raising great kids. I am gonna go work on tips 9 and 10!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Awkward Mom and the Consummate Chef

It's Morphin' time! Wonder Twins Powers - Activate! The game's a'foot, Watson! Avengers Assemble! We were thinking of heading over here and beating up this bad guy; wanna come? Oh, you know what time it is, Readers! Team-up time!

My ally, the Consummate Chef is back in the saddle! Or kitchen, since that makes more sense. After a huge dry spell, during which I was quite sad and missing her unique recipe of irreverence and brilliance, she has blogged once again! I adore CC (as I have taken to calling her) for many reasons; her love of the Muppets would be enough, but she has much to offer as an ally. She is fun. She is knowledgeable. And she is a great cook, hence her appropriate alias. CC is a true friend; after my disastrous dinner awhile back, she didn't mock me or call DCFS, she posted an entire alternate dinner that I could try (complete with recipes!) and linked it to my blog. She is my Sue Storm; feisty, loving, smart, and fabulous. CC has this on Sue though, I do not think she would ever allow Malice to posses her. She is way too clever to let that happen. A little harmless flirting with Namor? Yeah....I could see that.

In CC's most recent post, she talks about the science behind some of her recent cooking and her knowledge is perfectly amazing. I was quite interested to hear about this new "lifestyle change" she is working on, but just the paragraph describing cheese was worth the read. I am gonna go rummage around in my kitchen for some "sexy fresh mozzarella" and let you all get to reading her delightful, detailed, delicious prose. You will want to feast, read, and laugh all at once, but mostly, you will wish you had a CC on your superteam!

All of our allies are awesome, Readers, including yourselves! Catch you next time! Same awkward time, same awkward channel!

And for no reason, here is a photo of Super Preschooler getting a haircut!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Awkward Mom and the Muppets

We interrupt your normal web surfing (Don't worry, that article about Lilo's bad fashion choices will be there when you get back, but spoiler alert: it is all of them.) to bring you this awesome announcement! Oh, and Awkward Mom is gonna bore you with tales of her childhood...

Like any other child of the 70s-80s, I do near daily battle with the Great and Powerful Nostalgia Monster. (Believe me, he is just as mighty behind the curtain.) My childhood burns in my mind like a blindingly bright filament from some decidedly not-earth-friendly light bulb. Friends and family loom large and troop by in a messy mix of color and endless time. (Why are hours so long when you are 10? And so short when you are 35?) The fact that these friends are often car-morphing robots, bears with stomach tattoos, scantly-clad escapees from the Savage Land, and little blue folks who live in German mushrooms is one best left for our therapists to ponder. The fact that the family members are sporting creepy mustaches, Joan-Crawford-level shoulder pads, and an obscene number of sweatbands is one that I face every day on AwkwardFamilyPhotos. Despite these facts, or maybe a little bit because of them, my childhood was amazing. You won't be seeing my name on the bestseller list because my writing would be child-trauma free; no demons to exercise here.

Now, lest you think that this post is going to turn into a country song about how everything was better back in the day, be assured that I am a fan of most progress. I am very pleased to be parenting in the early 2010s, mostly because I couldn't pull off some of those outfits my mother had to deal with, but there is other stuff too. Car seats. Modern medical advancement. Netflix. Oh, there is so much. Not that I am a fan of all advancement, mind you. Am I the only one who wonders if this is entirely needed? But I digress. What I really want to tell you about is this:

An early photo of me lives in a picture album in my parents' house; with slightly round edges, a little faded with time. (Post semi-colon adjectives are intended for every noun in that sentence, by the way.) The picture is of me around 8 months or so, pulling myself up with, and simultaneously chewing on, the side of a crib that looks like it is held together with hope. I am sporting a face only my mother could love: strawberry-blond fuzz on my huge head, 18 chins all dripping with drool, a huge red birth mark on my lower right jaw (which has faded, but is still there, by the way). I, clad only in a diaper and a filmy-white shirt, somehow grin around my mouthful of lead paint and wood at my adoring, camera-wilding parents. (Did they not have pants in the seventies? Because no one in our house seemed to be a fan.) I am resplendent in babyness; it is a great picture. But what makes this picture so special to me is the enormous Muppet Show poster that is hanging on the wall above my crib and the Rowlf the Dog I am clutching by one ear. The Muppet Show poster they left on the wall when we moved into our house, but the Rowlf lives in a stuffed animal net in my sons' room. He is smiling at me as I type this.

My parents were big Muppet fans. They still are. I don't know if there are people who used to be Muppet fans; they kinda never let you go. I have carried my love and my Rowlf everywhere I have gone. He was there for my absolutely magical childhood. He had a Miss Piggy colleague for awhile, but she, sadly, did not make it after one too many basement stuffed animal fights.

He went with me to college, where I remember meeting people and asking name, major, and favorite Muppet, in that order. If someone couldn't answer that third one, I knew that we were NOT going to get along. If you can't answer that one; stop reading this and go watch some Muppets (anything, it is all good). Within about 20 minutes, you will have a favorite Muppet. And yes, Sesame Street ones count. Come on back and tell me. You can list it in the comments if you like. My favorite is obviously Rowlf (although, I am quite partial to Gonzo as well).

Rowlf came with me to my first married home; he sat in a little alcove in the wall with our wedding picture and a stuffed bear of Awkward Dad's. They all watched us play house and mess up until we matured and learned to not get so mad about socks on the floor. Oh wait, I still get mad about that. Well, they watched us mature a little.

He came with us when we bought our first house and he lived quite happily in a corner of my bedroom. He was still there when Super P. was born and I kept him there. You see, the nursery had a lot of new stuffed animals and I was a little nervous about Rowlf's ability to keep up with a baby. He was 30 years old at that point. I was also more than a little nervous about Super P.'s interest. It would have broken my heart to have him reject my beloved Muppets for something I didn't understand, like Teletebbies or something. I shouldn't have worried. The moment Super P. was tall enough to see Rowlf; he reached up to him, gathered him in his arms, and they paraded on down the hallway. I cried for about an hour; happy tears, Readers!

My sons are third-generation Muppet fans and my daughter is well on her way. They love the original Muppet movie, the new Muppet movie, and everything in between. They even get into the Muppet Show, although their knowledge of 70s celebrities is pretty sparse. ("Mommy, mommy! Look at that colorful lady! Yes, Honey; that is Elton John though.") They belt out the Rainbow Connection, and when they play Pigs in Space, they make their own space sound effects. A Beaker has joined Rowlf, along with an Ernie, Cookie Monster, and no less than 4 Elmos. I could not be happier. And just because I know you really need to know: Miss Piggy is Super P.'s favorite Muppet and Gonzo is Super Toddler's. Super Baby is still pondering, but Fozzie seems to make her laugh.

There is something so special about the Muppets. I can't really even explain it. I don't even know why I am trying to put my feelings about them into words because, frankly, I can't. This post is actually very hard for me to write because words do not come close to how deeply the Muppets touch me. Do the Muppets take me back to my youth? Yes, but so do pop-rocks, neon-green jackets, and numerous other things that I am never, ever, passing onto my children. Do the Muppets take me back and help me remember my parents as young parents? Yes, but Simon and Garfunkel and other "Mom's-sad-hippie-music" (as Awkward Dad has dubbed it) does the same thing. No, there is something timeless about the Muppets. Yes, it is nostalgic for me, but it is also a very now thing for me. Muppets are magical, there is nothing else I need to say. But it appears Dr. Teeth has something he would like to say:

"Fact is, there's nothing out there you can't do.
Yeah, even Santa Claus believes in you.
Beat down the walls,
Begin, believe, behold, begat.
Be a better drummer; be an up-an'-comer.
Can you picture that!?"

Words to live by....and rock out by too.

Thanks for indulging her, Readers. Every now and again, it is good to let Awkward Mom just completely give in to her sentimental nature. You know, it is a scientific fact that it is good to rest one's sass once in awhile, Makes it more powerful. And get ready for some sass. We have been to the park a lot since we last blogged about it and the helicopter moms are out in full force...or full hover, to be more accurate. See ya next time, Readers!

Did I stage this picture just for this blog post? Only Rowlf and Super P. know for sure....

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Blog Awards

We'd like to thank the academy....

Hey, turns out that our ally, The Fearless Fabulous Frugaler, thinks we are kinda neat and she gave us this award:

Not being up on my blog etiquette (someone get Emily Post on that, right away), I wasn't sure how to react to this honor. Some digging informed me that I am to pass on the sunshine (more on that later) and answer some questions. So, here is a little Q & A with Awkward Mom:

1. What is your favorite color:

I could be dorky and say something like my children's eyes, but I think I will just say blue. My favorite shade of blue is my children's eyes.

2. What is your favorite animal?

Well, the Awkward Family usually has a cat or 12 around, so I would have to say that cats are my favorite animal. I am also partial to their larger cousins; lions, tigers, pumas, jaguars, leopards. I also like flamingos. I don't like flamingos and cats of any size together though; if I am gonna party with the cats, the flamingos aren't invited and vice versa. You know how it is, you all have friends that don't mix well.

3. What is your favorite number?

Well, at the moment, I am partial to 3.

4. What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink?

If I say anything I can sneak alcohol into, am I ineligible for the sunshine award? I tease. I need diet Pepsi to function, but I really like to drink any of the Crystal Light drinks, even lemonade. It is no Country Time, but it will do.

5. Which do you prefer, Facebook or Twitter?

Ummm...I am pretty sure everyone who reached this post via Facebook knows the answer to this one.

6. What is your passion?

Well, now, Blogger, I am not sure we know each other well enough for that....oh! You mean like life type passion. Well, I would say superheroing, but I am not very good at it. I suppose my passion is parenting in a relaxed way and talking about parenting in a relaxing way; being parents is tough work, let's stop making it so hard by competing with each other. Besides, I heard that the mother-of-the-year prize is some June Cleaver pearls, the hatred of other moms, and some lame plaque. Come whine and wine with me, it's more fun!

7. Do you prefer giving or receiving presents?

Well, my question here is: is there food involved? Because I would much rather receive food than give it. Mostly because I am gluttonous, but also because I don't want to kill anyone with my less than stellar cooking. If it is other types of gifts, I am all over the giving.

8. What is your favorite pattern?

Anything that hides the stains.

9. What is your favorite day of the week?

Well, can I say any day Awkward Dad has off? It moves around. A lot. Whatever day he is off, we pretend it is Saturday. So, I suppose I should just say Saturday then. But why answer in 1 word when I can use 35 is what I always say!

10. What is your favorite flower?

My favorite flowers are daisies and here is an impossibly old picture of me wearing some:

OK, there you have it. Hopefully it was semi-interesting. It was a lot more interesting than my Academy Award speech that I have written out and stuck in a high school yearbook somewhere, so count yourself lucky that you didn't have to listen to that. And the pretentious Shakespeare quotes that it contained. Thank you, Lena (she has no fear and uses no secret identity!), for this award.

And now, I get to pass it on to the people who are the superheroes that add sunshine to my life (and my daily blog reading). I will totally be using secret identities because I am a complete and utter nerd:

Magnificent Mom; for her complete honesty and fearless blogging.

Excellent Mom; for her warmth, wonderfulness, and for posting adorable pictures of Excellent Toddler.

Marvelous Mom; for all her amazing craftiness and equally amazing sass.

The Consummate Chef; for her easy to follow directions and refreshing candour.

Crunchy Mom; for excelling at some of the enviable perfect-mom-behaviors and still being relatable.

Thank you all for the sunshine!

Hey, Readers, guess where we went today? Oh, holy awesome, Batman. We will be posting about it super soon! Same awkward time, same awkward channel. Tune in soon!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Opera

Tired of talking about awkward? Let's try singing about it!

So, Awkward Dad and I like opera. I know. I know. I'll give you a minute to pick your collective jaw up off the floor. And no, I am not talking about the soap variety, either. We are into full-on, dressed-up, divas flinging themselves from the ramparts opera. Not that we know a whole lot about it. I know less then beans about vibrato, legato, and tone color. Awkward Dad knows slightly more, but he is a heck of a lot smarter than I am. Frankly, I couldn't tell you a bel canto from a del taco, although I do know that I really need to start making donations to Wikipedia... Anywho, there is one other thing I do know: I like spectacle; the bigger, the better. And they don't get much bigger than opera. Except maybe the circus, but we all know that my coulrophobia keeps me well away from the big top. So, opera it is!

Now, we don't live near the MET, the Sydney Opera House, or the Santa Fe Opera . (Oh! Click on it, it is gorgeous!) Plus, I believe I have mentioned our lack of Tony-Stark-level money around here. This left us with the library's collection of operas or Youtube, which was fine for awhile. But then, dear Readers, we discovered MET at the Movies (which is actually called Live in HD, but you all know I prefer alliteration, always).

Now, before some true opera fan stumbles in here and tells me about how I should be rocking out to old records of Maria Callas or listening to the MET broadcasts on NPR to truly embrace the richness of tone and enjoy the true artistry of pure music, I will let you know that my father has beat you to it. I sat through that lecture quite patiently, and it wasn't pretty. But here is my ugly, little secret: it all sounds the same to me. (AH! Did she really say that?! Yes, I did. Pretty sure my father fainted when I said it to him. Or I actually killed him...I really should call him back...) The point is, it is all beautiful to me, and their voices sound perfect no matter what. If this is because I just have a very forgiving ear or am completely tone deaf, so be it. Auditory awesomeness is not in my arsenal of superpowers.

But appreciation of the pomp and pageantry of an opera? Yes, I am all over that. So, now we go to the movies and get to see live opera about once a month. The season runs like a school year, so we just went to the last one of the season, La Traviata, last weekend. It is not my favorite, but if you wanna watch someone die of consumption for 3 hours, run right out and rent it! (PS...the song you know from it is the fun drinking song from the first act. Things get rather more serious from there.) There will be some encores through out the summer, including the entire Ring Cycle. Oh, Readers, if I make it to that, it will be a post unto itself. But for the most part, we are in an opera drought until September. Of course, there is the library, the MET web page even lets you rent operas streaming and, naturally, my father has offered to loan me some opera records, but let's be real about my interest here. I enjoy watching the operas themselves, but I really really enjoy watching the people who are watching the operas.

I don't know how people behave at the MET. Well, that isn't true. I get to see them for about 5 minutes before the curtain goes up, as the camera pans the audience. Apparently, well dressed couples and a smattering of adorable children in suits and party dresses go to the opera...that, or the MET is wee bit concerned about the aging of its core audience and wants to reassure us that young opera fans do exist. The fact that they show the same 3 kids from different angles is rather telling, but I'll let you make up your own mind there. The point is, the people there are well-dressed, well-behaved, and, well, look exactly like the opera scene from Moonstruck. Without the 1980s Cher, that is.

Which is disappointing, really. Because the opera fans at my movie theater are all about the 80s and I think Cher was there a couple months ago. Or it was a drag queen. But either way, MET at the Movies is a veritable goldmine for people watching. Real play within a play stuff and super fun, especially if you are nosy and catty like me.

Now, among opera fans, there are many camps. And have no illusions, my Friends, these camps are at war. You have your Wagnerians and your Verdi-heads. People who like modern opera and people who think it is scandalizing. The divide between those who love Anna Netrebko and those who hate her is particularly vicious and, interestingly, seems to fall along gender lines. (Awkward Dad is a big fan...wonder why.) No one is blase here; each and every aspect of the production is an opportunity to disagree and pick apart and show off knowledge. (Is our opera love starting to make more sense to you? The Awkwards are comic nerds after all...) Think about the last time you discussed politics with your whole family. That is what an intermission at an opera feels like.

If you think the opera fan camps sound fun, you will adore the MET at the Movies camps:

There is the "let's pretend we are really at the MET" camp. They can be identified by their love of sequins and their tendency to applaud after every aria and set change. Locally, the gentleman in the Russian fur hat and raccoon overcoat appears to be their leader. I think this camp is pretty elite, but if you show up in your finery enough, you just might get an invite.

There is the "I am not paying for movie theater food" camp. Now, you may think you already know these folks from regular movie trips. You might know their children. These people would have survived the Great Depression, the Great Potato Famine, and Great Awkward Thanksgiving Stove Fire of '09, and they would still have had leftovers. Now, I know that operas are long, but these people are packing for more than a 3 hour tour. We are talking about sandwiches, thermoses of soup, styrofoam containers of orange chicken with rice, rotisserie chickens, slices of pie. About Act III, picnics start appearing all over the theater, and it isn't just the ladies with the big purses. In fact, most of the "I am not paying for movie theater food" camp is male, which leaves one with a host of uncomfortable questions about storage, but let's move on.

Book clubs or Dining clubs out on a field trip are always worth sitting near. They will be chatty and not shush you (the shushers are coming), and they have almost always done research. Listen in for tons of fun information about the opera or, even better, juicy gossip about the opera singers.

Thankfully, Singers themselves rarely attend the opera, and by that I mean people who sing from the audience during the opera. Do NOT sit by this camp. There is usually a reason they are not on stage.

Another rare sighting is the college student who is clearly in an intro to music class. Members of this camp are almost always alone, have an enormous (movie theater bought) soda, and a laptop. They will vacillate between looks of confusion and horror as they gaze out from their center seat. Lacking knowledge, they will sit by a Hypnotized (more on them later), and I assume this experience alone prevents their further study into classical music.

Those in the Sleeper camp have usually been brought by someone else. That person will usually deal with any snoring issues that come up, so don't worry too much about it. Unless it makes you tired yourself, then you might want to move.

Finally, there is the "Shush" camp. They are the largest of the MET at the Movies camps and have several sub camps. The "I am trying to listen for the timbre" people can best be found by their closed eyes and occasional nodding. I really don't know why they aren't at my Dad's place, listening to NPR, but whatever. There is an entire group of people who seem only to be bothered by the opening of a cough drop. Do NOT sit near them if you have a cold, it will ruin your entire opera. Then there are "the Hypnotized"; they are noted for their staring eyes and bodies pitched forward toward the screen. They sway slightly in time to the conductor's baton, and they will never, ever, let you back into your row if you go to the bathroom during the opera, which is annoying because they always, inexplicably, sit on the end. Awkward Dad learned this the hard way and had to watch the whole first act of The Enchanted Island from the front row, as a result. No, the "Hypnotized" are not to be trifled with. Nor are "the Hypocrites," who are best known by the way they talk and talk at the top of their lungs about vibrato, but glare at you if you so much as sneeze. They also tend to be the ones who bemoan that no one listens to opera anymore in the same breath that they condemn the young people who "tart up the operas." (Actual quote, Readers.)

Awkward Dad and I are not quite sure which camp we belong to. We are definitely not classy enough to be in the "let's pretend we are really at the MET" camp and we don't bring enough food to be in the "I am not paying for movie theater food" camp. We are way too young and not serious enough to hang with the Shushers, not weird enough for the Singers, and we aren't with the Sleepers. Maybe we are our own camp! I should invite the MET people to point their cameras at us to encourage more snarky young adults who tart up the place with their whispers and lack of sequins and furs, while they sneak in a few sodas and some Raisinets! If that sounds like you, join us; the Ring Cycle starts in mid-May!

Maybe you are wondering what camp the Supers fall into. Alas, they are not little New Yorkers with party dresses and suits, so they get left at home with the new babysitter. Yes indeed, Awkward Mom has found herself a babysitter! Tune in next time to hear about that awkward hiring...we are surprised the woman came back after Super Baby threw up on her and Super P. explained how to play Plants vs. Zombies, but angels really do walk among us. Love ya, Readers, you are all angels in our book!

How we think we look at the opera:

How we really look at the opera:

Friday, April 13, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Count von Why (battle 6429)

Come on now, we all know that there have been more battles than that!

So, I have no real post for ya. Looks like any real writing is gonna have to wait until Super Baby finishes a solo battle with Cold-of-Death, the weather stops being so parkarific, I get over my obsession with watching old Who's Line is it Anyway episodes on Youtube, and I find a hiding spot for the Easter candy that Awkward Dad can't find. Basically, it could be a good long while. I want to write something for you, but it is taking all my limited energy to deal with Count von Why. I think he is making our place his evil castle away from evil castle.

Today I dealt with this beauty:

Super P.: What is chicken made out of?

Me: Chicken.

Super P.: But what is it made out of?

Me: It is made out of chicken.

Super P.: But what is it made out of?

Me: Well, the chicken that we eat is made out of chicken, the bird.

At this point, I am waiting to see if this answer gets to what he is asking or if I am going to have to get graphic before the inevitable freak-out and the declared vegetarianism (about 10 years ahead of schedule). I am mentally reviewing tofu recipes when he busts out with this:

Super P.: Mommy! Everyone knows that chickens are made out of eggs!

I am still trying to decide if I dodged a bullet there. But needless to say, most of my battles with Count von Why end up looking like vaudeville acts.

Super P.: What is that?

Me: That is a bus stop.

Super P.: I don't see a bus.

Me: Well, when the bus comes, it will stop there.

Super P.: But there is no bus.

Me: I know, but it will stop there when it comes.

Super P.: There are some people there. It is a people stop.

Me: Yes, but the people will get on the bus.

Super P.: What bus?

Me: The bus that will stop there.

Super P.: But there isn't a bus.

Me: Hey, let's play the everyone stays quiet as long as they can game!

And then, sometimes my battles with the good Count more closely resemble burlesque.

Super P.: What does P. E. E. P. spell?

Me: Peep. Like those yellow sugary things Daddy keeps eating when he thinks we aren't looking. It's a candy, it is super bad for your teeth, and no, you can't have one.

Super P.: I wasn't done.

Me: What?

Super P.: P. E. E. P. S. H. O. W.

Me: .....

Super P.: Mommy?

Me: Ummm...where did you see that, Honey?

Super P.: Out the window. It is a store?

Me: Sorta.

Super P.: What do they sell?

Me: ummm...

Super P.: Do they sell candy?

Me: Well, kinda.

Super P.: Do they sell the candy that Daddy likes?

Me: I certainly hope not!

Super P.: Why?

Me: Well, honey....there are just...well, it is like's bad....

Super P.: Like bad for teeth?

Me: What?!

Super P.: Like the yellow sugary ones.

Me: Ah. Yes, just like that.

Don't judge her too harshly, dear Readers. It's been a long week. Hopefully, we'll be back next week with some scintillating tales and less complaining. Fingers crossed!!

Still on the hunt for the elusive photo of everyone looking, and smiling, at once.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Back soon; out being awkward!

Nothing says Happy Awkward Easter quite like hunting for eggs in Christmas pjs....

Oh we have tales to tell; tales of titanic proportions! (seriously, the Henry Ford Museum has a new Titanic exhibit.) We have tales of coloring Easter eggs and Super Toddler; turns out blue dye really takes to blonde hair. Tales of our ongoing hunt for a new base for awkward operations.; i.e. a house. (Looking forward to yard awkward, personally.) Tales of park pranks and museum mayhem. Tales of visiting cheerful and charming cousins. Oh, tales a'plenty! Awkward Mom even ventured into that most insidious, villainous lair....the mall. You won't want to miss the next few Awkward Moms, dear Readers; they will be outlandishly odd, terribly terrifying, and, as always, awesomely, awkwardly, alliterative!

They will be....just as soon as she finishes eating and reading "quirks and phobias that make celebs go nuts" on Nice to see that college education of hers being put to use....

See ya super soon!

Hey, turns out that Johnny Depp shares Awkward Mom's clown fear! Who'd have guessed?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. the Zoo (team-up edition)

Sometimes adventures don't go according to plan. Strike that. Adventures never go according to plan.

I believe the plan was "It is rainy and cold, so let's take advantage of the fact that we have zoo memberships; pop in to the indoor exhibits really fast, eat some zoo food, and take off." That did not happen. Apparently no one told the children about that plan because what happens is an all day zoo extravaganza. Complete with lingering outdoor strolls and seeing every single animal foolhardy enough to be outside on such a rainy, cold day.

We start with great guns, busting in the entrance and racing for the nearest shelter to wait for the Awesome and Excellent families. But that first shelter is the gift shop; mistake number 1. And then, I make mistake number 2 in short order; having seen Excellent Mom pulling into the parking lot, I leave Awkward Dad and the Supers in the gift shop to meet her at the entrance. I return to them quickly, but it is too late. They have purchased the most expensive bag of trail mix and the second most expensive bag of Red Vines we will ever eat. (The most expensive bag of Red Vines we will ever eat currently lives at the Movie Theater.)

Oh well, we rally and make our way to the penguins. Or the Pingus, as everyone under 4 seems to call them now. Penguins are Awkward Dad's favorite animal and we make a pilgrimage to the penguin house every time we are at the zoo, even if it is the dead of July and we have to fight our way through the air-conditioning-seeking hordes. Today we fight no one but a relatively sedate field trip of middle schoolers, who shout a few lewd things at the penguins and move on. I think they are lewd; I am not up on my middle schooler humor. We meet up with Awesome Dad in the penguin house; he wisely skipped the gift shop. Super Baby takes one look at this:

And decides she is hungry too. Awkward Dad decides to do the honors. He is in heaven; out of the rain, with penguins and a snugly baby. I am left to monitor this:

While trying to remember if there is a "no eating or drinking" sign on the front of the penguin house and really hoping no one with a nut allergy comes by. Guess penguins make everyone hungry. Which makes no sense at all. Unless everyone is polar bears. Wait, they are later in this story. I'm confused, let's move on.

We leave the comfort of the penguin house and the children immediately do this forever:

It is probably 5 minutes, but it's cold! They frolic and romp atop some stones and 2 statues of penguins, adorably and with minimal pushing and shoving. They refuse to pose for any pictures, of course.

The Dads, pushing the strollers, take off down the path, seeking warmer locales. The toddlers, who are immune to cold, take their time and dawdle down the path like a bunch of, well, penguins. Excellent Mom and I have great herding skills, but we are quickly left in the dust by the Dads. We turn a corner and are confronted with a dilemma. There is the backdoor to the aviary and a path toward the front of the aviary; with no idea where the Dads went. Oh well, it all must lead to the same place, right? We take the backdoor; it is cold after all. Mistake 3.

We are warm, which is great. However, the aviary is one of those "rainforesty" set-ups where you wander along simulated overgrown paths and the birds fly free and buzz your head, which always makes me think of poor Tippi Hedren. It also makes herding children even more difficult, as you chase them, careening around corners, while yelling at them to stop chasing the birds, always keeping a wary eye skyward; Tippi and her woes firmly in your mind. It is not my favorite part of the zoo, but it is Super Toddler's:

In fact, hurling leaves into the fake river becomes such a good game that it attracts a big brother:

So, now I have lost my baby, the Dads, and Excellent Mom, who has the rest of the kids. I may bribe my children with expensive Red Vines (only the birds know for sure and they aren't telling), and we all leave the fake river to bustle along the twists and turns of the aviary to meet Excellent Mom and the other toddlers, who are throwing leaves into a tributary of the fake river. The Supers join them and I ponder the fact that we seem to be at a dead end. There is a wall of glass which looks in on the butterfly sanctuary but no door. I peek into the butterfly sanctuary and am startled to be peeking into my husband's face. He makes Super Baby give me a friendly wave, as he settles himself on the ledge next to Awesome Dad, who is serenely feeding Awesome Baby. I am distracted from this pastoral scene when a leaf misses the water and hits me in the eye. Super P. gives me a sheepish grin and I am all set to lecture him, but I follow his pointing finger to see that Super Toddler is climbing over the rocks and into the water below. Plus, those birds over there are starting to look shifty. It is time to go.

We find our way out the backdoor of the aviary and around to the front, where we join the Dads, who think it would be just fine to go see the butterflies again. Big shock. We head in there. Readers, I wish I could tell you that it is as restful and serene as it looked from the outside. But I forgot that the addition of 4 toddlers will disrupt the force faster than Darth Vadar and some Imperial Guards at a party on the Death Star. I spend the next 15 minutes completely freaked out that someone is going to step on a butterfly. No one does and I do get this picture:

It's hazy beauty is not artful photography on my part, but evidence of how muggy it is in the butterfly room. However, this doesn't detract from the loveliness of my son in the sightliest.

The warmth of the butterfly house warms us and fools us into trekking along to see some otters. The otters are sleeping behind a rock. We journey on to see camels. The camels are sleeping behind a rock. We proceed to see some snow monkeys. The snow monkeys are sleeping on a rock. What mistake are we on now? 17? We decide it is probably time to find a shelter, so we go see some frogs. The frogs are fun, they always are. Super P. kisses a few through the glass, but alas, no princesses or princes this time. Thwarted in finding the love of his life, Super P. decides to ride giant frogs instead:

Sounds like more fun anyway.

We race out of the frog house and go right into the snake house. There are a ton of people in here. Sensible people who don't meander around the zoo in the cold. We stay here as long as 4 active toddlers can stand it. I think it is about 5 minutes.

Who wants zoo food? I want zoo food! Surprisingly, I actually think I do. I did not pack a lunch today (thinking this zoo jaunt was going to be fairly quick...and, well, I am pretty lazy), and it is the end of a fairly staying-in-the-budget month. I am cool with zoo food today. Of course, Awkward Dad decides that today is the day to be frugal. He buys his cheap-due-to-his-reusable-cup lemonade and 1 hot dog and 1 cookie for us to share. Granted the cookie is the size of my head. But I am still forced to rely on the generosity of Excellent Mom and share her lunch, which, being excellent, she packed, complete with homemade granola bars! Her excellence knows no bounds!

Thus sated (sorta), we head over to the polar bears. Because why be warm when you can look at polar bears, right? The children race from trash can to trash can (it is a game Excellent Mom invented to keep them from running ahead....telling you, no bounds!), but I, who somehow get stuck carrying Super Toddler, despite a perfectly acceptable and available stroller, lag way behind. We catch up finally and experience this:

Super Cute. But not one to let his little brother hog all the photo ops, it is quickly followed by this:

Which is followed by this:

I'm not sure, but I do believe he is trying to phase through the glass, a la Kitty Pryde. Since we don't have mutations in the Awkward Family (yet...some are known to manifest at puberty, you know), he finally gives up on this quest. Thank goodness because that tank was home to this fellow:

Yikes! And double yikes, because you would think that after all that, we would all have some sense and stop. (cue mistakes 18-24) No, we sally forth. To zebras. And ostriches. And lions. And tigers. know the rest. There are no real elephants at this zoo, but Super P. makes due:

Readers, it is endless! And their energy is endless. Endless that is, until we reach the end. Of the zoo that is. We are way in the back of the zoo when every toddler with us just putters out. And wants to ride. Oh Readers, it is a slow journey back to the parking lot. Here is everyone, riding in style:

Excellent Toddler knows that the best kind of snake is a cat toy snake.

But where, oh where, is Awesome Toddler?

Well, it appears that she wants to see the one animal here that we haven't seen yet. I am gonna let you go, Readers. This could take awhile...

Yep, not according to plan. Frankly, we are not even sure why Awkward Mom makes plans anymore. But whatever you do, Plan on reading some exciting tales here next week. Easter is always fodder for the awkward; visiting family, long church services, letting children hurl fragile eggs in and out of staining substances. Oh, the possibilities are endless! Hope your Easters are more holy and sedate than ours, with just enough awkward to make them memorable. See ya next week!

Another stunning fashion creation brought to you by my-mom-got-excited-by-that-one-warm-week-in-March-and-put-away-the-winter-coats.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Cute Overload

Awkward Mom is being lazy; shock of the year!

I really want to bring you the zoo (insert amazing string of awesome and appropriate adjectives here) adventure team-up. I really do. But my kids won't stop being cute.

Isn't that what love is? Letting someone chew on your hand?

Super Baby's 2 modes continue to be: Oh-so-adorable and sloth. This particular oh-so-adorable was flipped on by some of Excellent Mom's best funny faces.

To my credit, this one was actually taken at the zoo!

They are relentless! They are even sleeping cute!

Fear not, Impatient Readers, we all know that cuteness can not maintain at this level. A tantrum front should blow through here in the next few hours and Awkward Mom will be hiding herself in the office to write you a riveting zoo story. Well, she might eat some chocolate first, but then she will be right on this whole story thing!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Super Preschooler and Super Friends

You know what, just think of it as our zoo team-up's Origin Story.

Whether one is 4 years old, 44 years old, or 444 years old, every Superhero needs Super Friends. Super Preschooler has 4. Because he is 4 years old. I know, I know, I have tried to talk him into being a little less literal with his limitations, but he is quirky. I wonder where he gets it?

Super P.'s 3 besties are Awesome Preschooler, Excellent Toddler, and Marvelous Preschooler (no relation to Marvelous Mom, or even Marvelous Marvin, for that matter). Super P. hasn't really settled on a 4th friend yet and routinely waffles between a couple of buddies in his class, several from church, and quite a few imaginary ones. Sometimes, even a Super Cat is pressed into service as his fourth. He'll probably pick one about the time he needs to add a fifth friend. No matter, his core trio is enough to defeat Dr. Doom, Galactus, and an entire plate of Graham Crackers.

Just a quick note on names, dearest Readers. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to Awkward Mom's methods on this matter. Big surprise. Obviously, the original intention was to protect secret identities, but given the presence of so many maskless pictures and the fact that most of you are her Facebook friends, it seems her secret identity is about as secret as Hannah Montana's. But she is still protecting a few other blogless folks, and basically she just enjoys naming. (Ask Awkward Grandpa about her tendency to name cats after random Greek deities and you will get an earful.)

Awkward Mom's name seems pretty clear and apt, but her marriage to another awkward did not necessarily result in awkward children. They are all pretty super, hence their names. The poor Supers are kinda like Muggle-borns that way. Now, some families all have the same moniker; i.e. Superman, Supergirl, Superboy, and Superdog, whose real name is Krypto the Superdog, but let's not split hairs. In the Awkward Universe, the Awesome and Excellent families are like this. However, Marvelous Preschooler hails from a family a lot more like the Fantastic Four. Each member of her family has a unique name, and these are, in no particular order, Marvelous Preschooler, Engineer Dad, Magical Mom, and the Baby Beautiful. Are these names merely reflective of their amazingness as families? Are we perhaps inspired by the first letter of the eldest child? Sometimes. Maybe. We're not telling.

Most of Awkward Mom's foes tend to be clearly identified by their main evil attribute or they belong to the Perfect Family. (I can't defend Awkward Mom here, she is really passive aggressive.) You will get to know them all as you read, and if you ever get confused, just send her a message. Lord knows, she likes to talk.

Speaking of liking to talk....Let's get back to Super P. and his pals, shall we? Super P.'s current cohort is all female and fabulous. (What can I say? He is way more PC than DC.) His friends are all wonderful examples of this glorious new generation of girls who are being raised by these girls. Who were raised by ladies like this. Who were raised by girls like this. Heck, I could do this all day. Basically, girls are super cool, and Super P.'s friends are no exception. Wanna meet them?

Awesome Preschooler is a lot like Ms. Marvel, who possesses "superhuman strength, endurance, stamina, flight, physical durability, and a limited precognitive seventh sense." Yeah, I don't know what a seventh sense is either, but you can bet your boots that Awesome P. has it. She is the whole package, with seemingly endless superpowers and a divaness to match. She is, quite simply, awesome, and it is no wonder that Super P. likes her a ton.

Marvelous Preschooler is much like Wonder Woman; strong, proud, and with a fondness for sparkly accessories. She is independent and feisty, with a will almost as strong as Super P.'s when it comes to who gets to play Cinderella. Like Wonder Woman, she teams up rarely, but when she does, it is amazingly powerful and super fun.

Excellent Toddler is the Black Widow of the Awkward Universe. She certainly has the hair. Black Widow (the original, mind you) is a spy extraordinaire; she is also a gymnast, a ballerina, a linguist, skilled in numerous marital arts, a weapons specialist, and a high ranking member of S.H.I.E.L.D. Excellent Toddler has all these skills, and she is also highly skilled in acting, chalk art, and grape consumption. Plus, she collects toy horses. Like Iron Man (movieverse version), Excellent Toddler is bold and has no need for secret identities.

There you have it, Super Preschooler and his Amazing Friends; where is our super cool 80s TV cartoon? And so far, no one has gone rouge, turned out to be a secret villain, broken Super P.'s heart, been mind-controlled by Mastermind, hogged all the fruit snacks, or fallen under a spell. I mean, I are sure friend dramas will come, they are kinda par for the course in any Superhero's life, but I am glad that his 3 besties have so far been true blue. Being 4 is hard enough; on top of all the growing and learning, you have to pick that fourth friend!
Now that we know all the players, get ready to hear about the zoo drama! Here is a little taste:

Everyone knows that the best animals at the zoo are the ones you can climb on! Head on back here soon and hear the whole zoo-rific tale of tails! (that pun never gets old....mostly because it was never fresh, but we try...) See ya soon, Readers; you are always Super Friends in our book!