Saturday, December 29, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Zoo Lights

A winter wonderland prevented their road trip, so Awkward Mom and the gang stayed home and did what they do best; awkwardly adventure around Ann Arbor!

So, I am vacuuming the dried-up play dough crumbs off the dining room table (judge away, it was way easier than any other method) and I happen to glance at the Christmas cards and Holiday letters taped around the doorway. I am not supposed to be doing this. Vacuuming or staring at stationary. It is 5 minutes to 4pm and we are supposed to be getting ready to leave for the Zoo Lights. It probably stands to reason that we should have done this 2 weeks ago since we aren't really supposed to be in town, but those are just details at this point. Awkward Dad wants to make some Christmas memories (whether or not Christmas is really 12 days long), and when Awkward Dad wants to make some memories it is usually best to just go along with it. Which I was. Until Super Preschooler's mind left his body and he started climbing the walls. Literally. The child must think he is equal parts Spiderman and Donald O'Conner the way he is flying around here. His brother is close on his heels, brandishing some sort of weapon, and I am just counting the seconds until the conch shell and war paint shows up. There is actual screaming going on in here; loud, nonsensical whoops and manic, mocking laughter. It says something about the severity of the situation that I found cleaning the table to be an escape from the current chaos.

Which I was doing until I saw the cards. Cards that I slapped up in a fit of "oh-holy-cats-Christmas-is-3-days-away-and-I-need-to-decorate-like-now." Cards I didn't exactly read, other than to make sure I had that person's current address. Not that I sent my cards until, um, today. (You'll notice I have been leaving the Christmas part off of Christmas cards.) So, I am looking at the cards and letters, tuning out the roars of my children, when I decide that if Awkward Dad can pick this moment to update his cell phone, I can sit here at my, mostly clean, table and read the happenings of my friends and family. Upon reflection, I probably should have just entered the fray.

(All "quotes" are completely paraphrased and exaggerated in the storm of Awkward Mom's questionable mind, so please, do not hunt for yours within. It is more how they make her feel, not the actual message. That said; if you were bragging in your Christmas letter, tsk, tsk. Didn't your mother tell you not to brag? Awkward Grandma is quite clear on no bragging, and the one about fluids when you are sick. She loves that one.) 

Who knew that I knew so many Perfects? I sink further and further down the sinkhole of my own inadequacy with every line of "Perfect Coed is president of her sorority and getting all As and thinking about Med School" and "Perfect Toddler has already said 1500 words, half of them in French!" and "Our trip to the Bahamas was, sadly, a week shorter than last year, but still the restful and relaxing time that we needed to recharge for our duel-career, homeschooling family of 6." I fend off repeated preschooler punches and toddler tackles with vague murmurings to "oh no, stop that, Mommy isn't a jungle gym," while I continue a more punishing mental torture with "Making my all-natural, completely organic baby food isn't easy, but it is so rewarding to know that my humble hands are feeding my child the best the world has to offer." I can feel my blood pressure rising with "not that there are grades in preschool, but the teacher told me, confidentially, that he is completely above-average," and that same blood starts to pulse violently in my left temple with, "Perfect Baby, at 14 months, is just so young to be potty-trained. I really take no credit, she totally did it herself." And I finally erupt after reading "I find so much reward in my work; so glad I went back because I simply couldn't imagine sitting at home all day with the kids, doing nothing."

I explode out of my chair and start yelling, "Stop it! Stop it! Super Preschooler, go get your shoes! Super Toddler, put down that stick! Where is the baby?! Awkward Dad, get off the computer already; we have to go! Do I have to start taking away toys? Do I? Maybe I will just leave you all here and go to Zoo Lights myself? Would that be fun? No, it wouldn't. Now, go get ready. GO. GET. READY. NOW!" Turns out that in our personal Lords of the Flies, I am not Piggy. I am Jack.

I am yelling, Readers. Like real yelling. This is not that fake, slight raising of the voice, firm but fair, totally in control, yelling that you pull out at the park when your kid hits another kid and that other kid's mom totally saw. No. I am in Joan Crawford wire hanger land, and it is like pouring gasoline on a fire. Super Preschooler starts speaking in tongues or, more likely, it is more of an Exorcist-type sound, and he won't stop running in circles. Super Toddler just starts laughing at me and continues to ride his bike down the stairs. Awkward Dad pokes his head around the corner and says, "One minute. Oh, and remember that tone affects them more than what you say, Sweetie." And I finally find Super Baby, pouring dill weed and cinnamon into some dishwasher soap that she has found and upended into the middle of the kitchen floor.

I, quite honestly, have no memory of how we get to Zoo Lights. I think crying might have been involved. All I know is that things do not improve in the grand wonder of over 1 million lights. (It's true, the conductor on the Safari Railway said so.) It is beautiful, but it is also cold and snowing. The Supers are bundled, but probably not that well, given that we left in a rush and I am the worst mother on the planet, if those letters were anything to go on. Awkward Dad leads our forced march in unfailing cheerfulness, pushing a double stroller crammed with 3 children in various degrees of whine and trailed by a completely mopey mommy, consumed with her own self-pity. Whee.

We all plod along and try to make some memories, but I am afraid most of them I would like to block out. The melt-down in the Reptile House where Super Preschooler accuses me of trying to "kill him with my meanness" is particularly note-worthy. Super Baby is pretty good, but her odd citrus/clove smell keeps me thinking that maybe we should have called Poison Control after all. No, the star of this epic night is Super Toddler and Super Toddler's insistence on getting on the carousel, only to scream the entire time that he wants off; only once it has started, mind you. He pretty much continues that move after that, unless he is held. By me. Not Awkward Dad, who is miles stronger. Or the stroller, whose sole purpose is to carry him. No. Only me. No idea why. I am the worst mother in creation.

We are heading toward the parking lot, pretty much calling it a wash and trudging like, well, trudging doesn't really need a metaphor, does it? We are tired and terribly tense and tearful and thinking tumultuous thoughts of terror; we are trudging. When a little boy, definitely and defiantly not trudging, comes flying around the corner and plows right into Super Baby, who is the figurehead on our barge-like double stroller. She squeaks a protest and then smiles, because she is an angel who deserves a much better mother. But her beatific grace is aimed at this boy's back, as he is already fleeing the scene. I am bemused, we aren't that scary looking, just slightly crabby and tired. But no, it isn't us he is afraid of. With a roar that I mistakenly attribute to the nearby lions, this little boy's father comes racing after him, slipping on the snowy path, as he lunges past us to grab after his son's coat. He comes up with nothing but air, but this only serves to make him madder and faster. He is in full-on-crazy-Jack-wire-hanger mode and his fury alone seems to propel him past the eagle enclosure to sweep his son into a bear hug that is way more bear than hug. Little Hit-and-Run is marched back to us and forced to apologize to each of us, including Super Baby, who finds the whole experience hilarious. They round the corner, and we continue on our way, but in the wind I can hear the whole episode play itself out again, a little further down the path. Guess Little Hit-and-Run's brakes aren't working this evening.

This saves my evening. We actually don't leave, but continue on to the polar bears, the Safari Train (with the knowledgeable conductor), and even see some wolves. The children don't behave any better; Super Baby blows out a diaper, Super Toddler still insists on being carried, and Super Preschooler must be working on a PhD in whining. Awkward Dad meanders like it is the middle of May, but I don't care. I now have proof that there are other parents like me. I am not a bad mother anymore than Hit-and-Run's Dad is a bad father; we are just having an off night/week/parenthood. We are imperfect parents trying to raise imperfect children in an imperfect world. So, I lose my temper. So, I don't make baby food. So, I don't have self-potty-training children. So, I didn't prepare enough to write a Christmas opus telling everyone I know about my happenings. (Oh wait, I do that like twice a week....) Point is, who cares? Certainly no one that matters. The three children being pushed/carried through the snow and blindingly beautiful twinkle lights don't care. My adorably upbeat husband who wants to know if I want some insanely over-priced zoo lemonade, doesn't care. My parents don't care. My friends don't care. Pretty much everyone who sent me a Christmas card, with the tiny little handwritten notes at the bottom saying, "love the blog!" don't care. Why should I care? So, there in the cold Zoo Lights, I make my new years resolution:

Stop caring.

And then I clarify, because "stop caring" isn't going to look too good on a motivational poster on my fridge.

Stop Caring about Perfection.

Just stop, Awkward Mom. It's OK: Life's messy. You're imperfect. And we fairly certain Super Baby did not actually eat any dishwasher soap. Fairly certain.


Mommy, I am cool with your new year's resolution and I am not shooting for perfection.
Maybe just a scarf? My nose has me looking like W.C. Fields over here.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a...

Awkward Dad: Get off your blog and help me! This tricycle isn't going to put itself together!

Me: Well, if someone hadn't drunk an entire gallon of spiked egg-nog, he might not need so much help.

Awkward Dad: It's the holidays, just come here and help me. I think these directions are in Swedish.

Me: No, they are just upside-down.

May your Christmas be festive, fun, and just slightly awkward.
Not egg-nog drunk, forgot to buy ribbon, up until 3am putting together a tricycle that won't be ridden for 4 more months awkward.
Just thinking you are taking a picture when you are taking a video awkward.
That is the best kind.

The Awkward Family is taking off for a road-trip the day after Christmas and shall return, full of thrilling toddler tales of terror, in the new year. Merry Christmas, Readers! You are our best present!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Barnes and Noble

Next year, we are buying everything on Amazon. Just warning you all now.

For the record, I just want to run in. I only need 3 books and I know exactly where they are. We are on our way home from a lovely dinner with the Awesomes and the Supers are sated and sleepy. I find the idea of dragging them out of the warm cocoon of the mini-van fairly repellent, but Awkward Dad thinks that it will be "fun" to all go in together. Fun. Barnes and Noble. 5 days before Christmas. At 8pm. With 3 children under the age of 4. Just look at those numbers, Readers, and tell me if they add up to anything less than certain disaster.

Oh, and it's raining.

We stand around next to the van for awhile because Super Toddler is looking for a Hotel Transylvania McDonalds toy that he recently unearthed from under the backseat. Actually, it is only half of the Mummy toy. So, when Super Toddler is finally armed with a mummy bottom and ready to go, we are completely soaked and already regretting this decision.

Well, just me, I suppose. Awkward Dad strides off, full of purpose and arms full of Super Baby, Super Toddler, the mummy bottom, and the umbrella. I am left to trail behind with a soggy Super Preschooler, who is talking about getting an Angry Birds cookie. Who told this child that Barnes and Noble had cookies? I am glaring holes into Awkward Dad's head but he just starts humming We Wish you a Merry Christmas and waving at fellow shoppers.

We tumble into the store and immediately have a fight. The books I need are upstairs. Upstairs can be reached via Escalator or Elevator. Super Preschooler thinks that the idea of moving stairs rivals the invention of the wheel. Super Toddler thinks that whoever invented moving stairs needs to be burned at the stake. The Super brothers start screaming at each other over the dulcet tones of Michael Buble.

Super Preschooler: Come on, Super T. Let's go upstairs and see the toys.

Super Toddler: No stairs! No scary stairs!

Super Preschooler: It isn't that bad, I'll hold your hand, let's go. Come on!

Super Toddler: No! Elevator. Elevator!

Super Preschooler: Escalators are magical.

Super Toddler: NO!!

Super Preschooler: Come on, they are so cool. You ride stairs. You really ride the stairs. Come on, Super T. That is pretty cool.

Super Toddler: NO!!

This goes on way too long, but we are at an impasse. Super Preschooler will not use the elevator and Super Toddler will not use the escalator. Eventually, I head up the escalator with Super P. and Awkward Dad goes to the elevator with Super T. and a Super Baby who has somehow snagged a copy of People magazine that she is chewing on. Oh good, well, I suppose we have to buy that now even though I completely read about Kate Middleton's pregnancy in the checkout yesterday.

Escalators truly are magical and we beat everyone else to the children's section. I get the 3 books that I need in under 30 seconds, which is about half of what this trip would have taken if I have just been allowed to run in. By the time the rest of the Awkward family makes it upstairs, Super Preschooler is already bored and ready to move on.

Super Preschooler: Come on, Super T. Let's go downstairs and see the games.

Super Toddler: No stairs! No scary stairs!

Super Preschooler: It isn't that bad, I'll hold your hand, let's go. Come on!

Super Toddler: No! Elevator. Elevator!

Super Preschooler: Escalators are magical.

Super Toddler: NO!!

Only this time, the store has turned Micheal Buble off because a folk singer is setting up in the coffee shop part of the store. We easily drown out his sound check.

So, after about 2 minutes arguing upstairs, we repeat the split and journey downstairs separately. Once together again, I grab Super Baby and the damp People Magazine, and we go to buy a card. Awkward Dad heads into the game section with the Super boys, and it is, quite literately, 45 seconds before this happens:

Super Toddler: I want!

Awkward Dad: No, Super T. Not today, maybe next time.

Super Toddler: *Horrifying scream that I think they heard in space.*

Awkward Dad: No, not this time.

Super Toddler: No! Ahh! Please! I want! *more screaming*

I go racing over there; greeting cards and drooled-on princesses flying in my wake. Turns out that Super Toddler has spied a remote controlled helicopter, (Why is this in Barnes and Noble?) and it also turns out that he can't live without it.

Super Toddler: You are killing me! Killing me! AHHHH!!

Awkward Dad: Good, you are here. I am going to buy some Christmas CDs.

Super Preschooler: Angry Birds Cookie!!

Awkward Dad: And an Angry Birds cookie. I'll even take the baby.

Super Toddler: AHHHHHHH!!!

Me: Gee. Thanks.

Coffee Shop Folk Singer: This one goes out to all the parents out there.

Super Toddler: I want! I want! I have to have. Helicopter!!

Me: Sweetie, that is a really big toy. We are only here to get gifts for other people right now. But Daddy is buying you a cookie.

Super Toddler: NO! No cookie! Helicopter!

Coffee Shop Folk Singer: Children are special, children are lovely. Children are the reason for life.

Me: Honey, not tonight.

Super Toddler: You are making me cry! You are making me dead! AHHHHH!!

Awkward Dad: Hey, which do you like better; the Beach Boys Christmas or Christmas with the Three Tenors?

Super Toddler: AHHHH!!

Super Preschooler: Cookie! Cookie please!

Me: Is this really a question for right now?

Awkward Dad: The Three Tenors, it is!

Coffee Shop Folk Singer: Children are life. Children are amazing. Children are why I get up in the morning.

Super Toddler: *hyperventilating*

Me: Sweetie, maybe Santa will bring you a helicopter.

Super Toddler: NO! NO! Right now!!!

Random Woman: Ummm, excuse me. Is this yours? I nearly tripped on it.

Me: Oh, thank you. Sorry about that.

Random Woman: What is it?

Me: It's a mummy. Part of one, that is. It's a McDonald's toy, not that I let them have McDonald's a lot. I really don't!

Random Woman: Right. Well, Merry Christmas.

Coffee Shop Folk Singer: Children are the reason for the season.

Super Preschooler: Hey guys, check out my cookie! It's an angry bird.

Super Toddler: I HATE ANGRY BIRDS!!

Me: Shush, Sweetie. Just calm down.

Super Toddler: AHHHHHH!!! HELICOPTER!!

Coffee Shop Folk Singer: Children are peace. Children are love.


Awkward Dad: OK, now how about between Frank Sinatra and the Muppets.

Super Preschooler: Hey Mom, can we get more Angry Birds stuff? Look, here's a real angry bird as big as Super Baby. Can we get that? Huh? Mom, excuse me. Excuse me!!


Super Preschooler: Mom! Mom! Mom! Come on, I said Excuse me!

Coffee Shop Folk Singer: Children. Children. I love them. They are the best.

Me: Ummm....I don't know. I am kinda in the middle of something here.

Awkward Dad: OK, I'll get both.

Super Preschooler: Mom said I could get this stuffed bird.

Super Toddler: Daddy got gift! Super P. got gift!! I want helicopter!!! HELICOPTER! HELICOPTER!!!

Barnes and Noble Staff Member: Hello, Ma'am, can I help you find anything?

Me: Um, no. We are good. We are just leaving.

Barnes and Noble Staff Member: Good. I mean, the line is pretty short right now. Do you need help finding it?

Awkward Dad: You haven't checkout out yet? Well, I have. I got 7 CDs and this magazine that Super Baby ate the cover off of.

Super Preschooler: And Angry Birds cookies! Want one? Well, a bite of one?

Super Toddler: HELICOPTER!!!

Coffee Shop Folk Singer: Thank you, thank you. That was our song, "Children are Great." Here is our song, "Children Grow up too Fast, so Enjoy it Now." Our CDs are for sale by the checkout.

Awkward Mom may be paraphrasing the song a little bit. Since that CD wasn't one of Awkward Dad's 7, we may never know for sure how accurate her memory is, musically. As far as the other quotes in this go, they are all true; Super Toddler's contribution to the evening is burned into her brain forever. As is Awkward Dad turning to her in the car on the way home saying, "Why didn't you just run in? You should've just run in."

Angry Birds cookie-face is slightly redder, but this gives you the general idea.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Writer's Block

The writing is blocked because there is a total villain-clog going on in Awkward Mom's head. Sadly, there is no such thing as Braino.

OK. Netflix is watching the children for an hour and I need to write something. What should I write? Hmmm..OK. No pressure, Awkward Mom. Just let the words flow. Come on. Let the words flow. Gush. Pour. Trickle. Anything. What is going on?

Potty Training? No, that is still way too raw. And gross. Super Toddler's current case of the middles? Nah, haven't quite figured that one out yet enough to write about it. Super Baby's recent extreme attachment to me? Nope, boring. Our complete and utter Christmas unpreparedness might be beneficial for folks who want to feel better than someone? No, I think our readers probably feel better about themselves when they read most of what I write and if I start writing about my Christmas to-do list (which is about 14 pages long), I will just start clicking over to Amazon and ordering things and I gave myself this hour to write.

Why are you writing, Awkward Mom? You aren't very good at it. Oh Lord, who invited Self-Doubt to my writing time?! Oh, who am I kidding; he never leaves. Why should I leave, Awkward Mom? You have made such a hospitable home for me here with your neurotic self-loathing. It is way too cozy here, I am never leaving. In fact, I invited my friend, Envy, over to hang out too.

Ugh. Envy. I just got her to leave! Well, she is back, so get to reading all those other blogs by all those other (much funnier and socially aware) Moms so that we can do a duet about your inadequacy and failure as a writer. Of course, calling yourself a writer is kinda a stretch, isn't it? It isn't like you are published or paid or producing proud and potent prose. In fact, you are mostly typing out awkward alliterative arguments for why Awkward Dad should be the one staying home with the kids. Are you serious, Self-Doubt? You are gonna pull that one? I thought I got over that one after Super Toddler's birth. Well, it appears not. Of course, he can't stay home, can he? Since he is a doctor who makes way more money that you ever would have made as a social worker.

Super Preschooler: Hey Mom, it is time to change the video and I want an orange.

Responsible Me Out-Loud: OK. I'll be right there. Wouldn't you rather have an apple? I think the apples are riper.

Selfish Me In-My-Head: Ugh! Aren't you old enough to figure out the remote control yet? An orange? Really? So that my hands can reek of orange for the rest of this little hour that is supposed to be mine. Just mine.

Super Preschooler: Ummm...Mom? You coming?

Me: Yes, hang on!

OK. Back. Is Self-Doubt gone? Sometimes, if I am really busy with the kids, he gets bored and leaves. Don't see him. Of course, he left Envy here, sleeping right on my heart. Shush, don't wake her. I have been doing a fair amount of battle with her recently. I kinda want to be a writer. Not that I am pursuing this with any vigor or passion; Self-Doubt sees to that. But I have an interest, so I read a lot of other Mom blogs, just to see what is out there and well, that is totally blowing up in my face because of this heart-guest I have. Envy climbs into my mind and builds up these walls of resentment and jealously; they are so thick that I can't see over them to the clever writing and brilliant insights of my sister bloggers.

Super Preschooler: Mom...

Me: Honey, it is Mommy's writing hour and she is having an identity crisis here. Could this wait?

Super Preschooler: No. I need some grapes.

Me: Sigh. OK, hang on.

Where was I? Ah yes, women who I want to be happy for, who I want to champion like an entire pep squad. Women who I just end up glaring at through the little green-tinged holes Envy leaves in her hate-walls; holes that distort and blur until all I see are women who have it easier/better and are cleaner/more organized/funnier/smart/better. Women who certainly wouldn't want to bother with me. Women who I should just leave the blogging to already; I mean, who really wants to read anything I write. Oh, hi, Self-Doubt, I was wondering where you went. Just had to grab a snack, but I brought back some friends. Say hi to the twins; Frantic and Scattered Thoughts. Great, I am sure they will fit in just fine around here. Just shove Envy over, she won't wake, she had a busy day yesterday.

Super Toddler: My turn! My turn! I want Bo! Bo on the Go!

Me: Oh, Honey. That show is kinda (awful/stupid/pointless/confusing/written by people clearly on drugs/weird with a theme song that will haunt me all evening) not my favorite...maybe...

Super Toddler: BO! BO! BO! BO!

Me: Sigh. OK. Fine.

Back. Where is everyone? Could they all really be gone? Here, quick, before they get back. Look at this:
It's me. 4-year-old me, to be exact. My mother is a much more organized mother than me, and the back says, in her perfect tiny handwriting, "Erin. May '82. Evanston." I look at 4-year-old me and wonder many things. What am I thinking? What on earth am I wearing? Why am I holding an upside-down colander/UFO? But mostly, where did the steely determination in those little eyes and purpose set in that little mouth go? Look at me; I am pondering something. I am gonna shake things up. I am destined for greatness. I am heading out into the world and I have plans. I may be lounging here in the cool spring grass for the moment, but don't be fooled; I am on the move.

Well, you could be like that but you prefer to lounge in the harsh prickly grass of what-ifs and should-haves, don't you? Certainly are hungry today, aren't you, Self-Doubt? Who did you bring this time? Oh, some folks you know: Regret, Inertia, and Self-Pity. Good friends with that last one, aren't you? Getting a little crowded in here, Self-Doubt. This was supposed to be my writing time, not my self-exploration time, you know. With you, dear Awkward Mom, they are usually one and the same. Can you tell me the last time that you wrote some actual fiction? A poem? Anything that wasn't about your failed attempts at motherhood?

Super Preschooler: Mom, I need a banana.

Me: Good Lord, are you the fruit bandit? Sweetie, they are on the counter, and Baby, Mommy is fighting some serious demons over here, maybe we could pick a longer show this time, maybe?

Super Preschooler: Wonder Pets?

Me: Really? (ugh.) Wouldn't you rather watch Sesame Street or Word World? No? OK.

Back. Is he serious? Self-Doubt is gone again! Probably to go round-up more minions to mock my motherhood. Fabulous. Well, while he is gone, check this out:

This is two-month-old Super Cat. He came to us after being stepped on by a horse and developing a chronic immune problem that lasts to this day. See his good eye? The one blazing and not covered in ick? Yes, that one. It continues to blaze with spunk and a blatant disregard for the impossible. Nothing is impossible to Super Cat. He did this shortly after this picture was taken:

He is fearless. And when he cuddles up to me, sometimes I feel fearless too.
Well, that is awesome, Awkward Mom, but Super Cat is sacked out on the bed and I thought you could use some more company, so I brought Frustrated Perfectionism and Sluggish Self-Esteem out of retirement, just for you. Oh, OK, well, thanks, Self-Doubt. Ummm, just stash them somewhere over there, I guess. So, what are you talking about? Your lack of writing ability? Your failed wit? Your messy house? The well is so full here, Awkward Mom. We could go on for days really. Yeah, that isn't really my idea of a good time, Self-Doubt. I am kinda trying to pull it together over here and write something that might benefit someone. Maybe just me, but you know, something helpful. Gee, Awkward Mom, I don't know where you would get the idea that anyone in their right mind would want to read anything that you have to write. I mean, you aren't exactly Perfect Mom, now are you? In fact, I don't even think you are in the running for Perfect Mom's slightly less perfect cousin-in-law. In fact, I would say that you are, without doubt, one of the biggest, more complete, total and utter, absolutely....
Me: Ouch! Watch it! Why are you swinging that over here?
Super Preschooler: I thought you might need help with the dragons you are fighting.
Me: Demons...Oh, never mind. Yes, thank you, Super P. But remember, poofing doesn't need contact to work, right?
Super Preschooler: Right. Sorry. Did I get them?
Me: Yeah. You know what? I think you got all of them! Of course, I might need some help to chase them away again tomorrow, but you poofed them very well. Thank you.
Super Preschooler: No problem. Now, about that orange.....
Awkward Mom is currently sacked out on the bed with Super Cat, a very attached Super Baby, a bouncing Super Toddler, and a Super Preschooler singing a Bo on the Go/Wonder Pets theme song mash-up. And she totally reeks of oranges. 
If anyone feels like wrapping gifts, Awkward Mom's got the job for you! She pays in Egg Nog and Candy Canes. Catch ya later, Readers!

Kinda makes me wish we hadn't gone to the flat screen. It is a lot easier to battle Self-Doubt and his minions when you have a guard cat.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Stomach Flu

Oh Readers. Don't eat while you read this. Just don't.

So, Sunday is not a good day anyway. We make it to church, only to hang out in the nursery the whole time, due to some crab-tastic kids. Then, we go to the outdoor "Christmas Market," which would have been nice, except it is pouring rain and about 31 degrees. That icky above freezing place where the rain feels like wet ice daggers. We brave through and buy some gifts that we can't afford, and then we make our way to the relative dry used book store. I am looking for quarter paperbacks, but find $150 first editions instead. After we endure the pointed stares of the proprietor as long as we can, we make our way back outside. The second we are in the doorway, I crouch down to rearrange Super Baby's blanket for the cold wet trip back to the car. I am crouching there in front of her, thinking, "Man, she looks green. Why does she look green?" The importance of this thought has 2 seconds to make it to my feet, alerting them to the urgency of moving back. Right now. Unfortunately, Super Baby only take 1 second to vomit. All over me. And herself. But thankfully not the $150 original Hardy Book hardcovers. This thankfulness is pretty much the only thankfulness that I feel for the entire week. We all got this stomach thing. Every last one of us. All week.

Now, a word or two about vomit. (And no, it wasn't spit-up. You know the difference, and if you don't, I wish for you to never have to find out.) All children vomit differently. All adults vomit like they are at the Kappa Sigma house after losing several games of beer pong and their shoes on the night that Steven Pulaski broke up with them for Shelly Taylor. Basically; dramatically, with sobbing and repeated declarations that one wants to die. No, children have not yet learned this and they vomit in their own ways.

Super Baby vomits silently. This is way worse then loud vomiting, where you at least have some warning of the impeding doom. (Still not eating, right, Readers?) Way worse; Super Baby vomits and this ooze just starts pouring out of her mouth. Kinda like the elevator of blood from The Shining; all slow motion and horrifying, yet strangely fascinating. I can't look away. Heck, I can't even move, which is the only reason it hits me. This vomit has no reach, it just trails down her chin and chest until she resembles a baby Cthulhu. She doesn't even cry. Just looks up at me with those huge eyes, brimming with pain and confusion, and I don't have any choice but to pick her up and cuddle her. All of her, even her ZZ-top tentacles of sour milk and spent sausage. I am covered in it anyway, which made it slightly less disgusting. Slightly.

Super Preschool is gonna win an Oscar for his vomiting. He rears back and gives it his all; all over the place. It is exactly like the split-pea soup scene in The Exorcist, and I always give him a minute to spin his head around afterward. He hasn't done it yet, unless he does it so fast that I can't see it being done. There is heaving, reeling, and lots and lots of projection. I will have to wash every item in the room he is in, even the stuff behind him, which is giving credence to my head-spinning theory. He isn't particularly loud, but it is full bodied and explosive. Literally.

Super Toddler is a lesson is stoicism. Not only is he the Super that has vomited the least in his tenure as a Super, but he is the best at it. He is the only one to feel it coming in enough time to make it to the bathroom, aim into the toilet or sink, and get the job done quickly and efficiently. He endures some brief cuddling, and then he saunters away in the direction of the kitchen, one hand in his pocket, the other clutching the toy gun that he never let go of, mumbling about needing some cheese. He will probably be John Blutarsky someday; which is a horror movie of a different ilk and thus in keeping with my blog post theme.

So, this has been my week. Now, if you will excuse me, I am currently washing all the sheets in the house, I need to light a few more scented candles, and I have to go to the bathroom and shout about Shelly Taylor. Catch ya'll later. Or whenever we are no longer able to infect you with the plague. Kisses!

Air kisses. Just air kisses, Readers. And you may now resume eating.

Cutest Cthulhu I have ever seen.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Professor PhD vs. Being single

Oh! We are in for a treat! Professor PhD, Awkward Mom's ridiculously smart ally, has written a post:

Professor PhD here. I met Awkward Mom when we were both awkward technical theatre students at Creighton. My parents weren't exactly thrilled I wanted to major in theatre and encouraged me to double major in Communication Studies... One undergraduate honors paper, 7 years of graduate school and a 200-page dissertation and here I am a PhD without a school to professor at... but this post isn't about the aggravation of job hunting in your thirties. You see during all those years of school I dated occasionally but never really "dated" anybody. I am single. I have been single. There has not yet been a possible Mr. Right in my life. I am perfectly okay with this. And, while I am open to marriage and family, I am also okay with the idea of getting a great job and simply helping hundreds of young adults find their voice as they enter the wider world. Other people, however, see this as problem that needs fixing.

People like my older sister who is very concerned that I find a job so I can finally "settle down and find someone and start a family, because she "knows having kids is so important to me." (It's important to her.) Or my mother, who every time I cut my hair short, or even talk about cutting it short, reminds me that "men love long hair" and "wouldn't it be a shame if some guy was getting up the courage to ask me out and by cutting my hair I turned him off." (Apparently, it happened to her in college.) Or my younger sister who is worried that I will give up entirely because the guy I met at her wedding wanted a commitment after 2 dates and I wasn't feeling it after 2 dates. (For the record I was willing to give it some more time, I just wasn't willing to "be seriously committed.") Or all the relatives who were so concerned about how I was doing with my younger sister getting married before me. Interestingly, none of the people in my life want to set me up with anyone, they just have suggestions about what I should be doing to "get myself out there," and little sympathy for any rejection of these unsolicited suggestions.
My lack of desire for a domestic nest also seems to baffle people because I am "so domestic." 

I love to sew. I have made complete wardrobes for 4 18inch American Girl type dolls to be sold at the school fundraising auction for my Church. I make PJ's for all 5 of my nieces and nephews for Christmas every year. I have made clothing for myself and for others. I made costumes for Super P. This year I even made Advent Calendars for my nieces and nephews.



I also love to cook and bake. I made my first chocolate soufflĂ© at age 7 (that's a whole other post) and since then have yet to meet a recipe I was afraid to try. Being single, I often have leftovers which I would bring to share at work, especially baked goods. (Mostly because if I have the whole batch of cookies sitting on my counter I will eat the whole batch.)  


It's true that I hate cleaning, especially the putting away step (seriously, I would consider marrying a man who enjoyed folding the laundry and putting it back in the drawers.) but most people are spared that characteristic. They just see a young woman who loves to cook and sew, the perfect skills for a homemaker. I had a co-worker go so far as to tell me how lucky my future husband was going to be and say if he weren't gay he'd consider marrying me just to be so well taken care of.  (Just what every girl wants to hear).

This infuriates me. I hate the idea the idea that good cooking skills and crafting are necessarily related to motherhood and homemaking. I feel like it both cheapens my hobbies and talents and insults stay-at-home moms.
It cheapens my cooking and crafting by suggesting they are really only valuable in so far as they will help me catch a man and raise children (and post things on Pintrest to make other moms feel inferior.) It also is insulting to stay-at-home moms whose talents lie in the cuddling, vanquishing dragons, and other less Pinnable realms.
These people don't get that I spend a year making the doll for my Church, not because it takes a year, but because I make it one outfit at a time when I'm feeling crafty, or really want to avoid grading a pile of essays. And, despite the fact I can and have made Beef Burgundy, I'm just as likely to microwave a Hot Pocket for dinner because I don't feel like cooking. And, as a single gal, I get away with it. I don't relish the idea of making gourmet meals every night, and if I were married and had kids I probably wouldn't. I do these hobbies when I am in the mood to do them and put them away when I am not in the mood. I love that I can put them away, and I do, sometimes for months at a time.
I am an intelligent, independent, and talented young woman. I am also awkward, at times lazy, and prone to intense self-doubt on occasion. And I am single. That is something that doesn't need fixing. My ability to bake a cake from scratch makes me no more qualified to be a wife or mother than it makes me qualified to be a nutritionist.
Right now, I am happy with just me and my 20 lb bundle of white fur (also known as my American Eskimo dog 'Milkdud'.)  I am happy for all my friends and family who have started families of their own. Please be happy for me even if I never chose that path.

Professor PhD, we are totally happy for you, whatever path you chose. Of course, we like the path that makes you friends with Awkward Mom, and we would like a closer path so that we can enjoy the side effects of that friendship more; i.e. souffles and other yummies. And of course, Super P. wants to hang out so he can get some more fashions. I wouldn't let him though, he is likely to steal the dolls.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Homemaking

A battle 5 years in the making; brace yourself.
Might wanna brace your expectations too. The battle may be colossal. But the post? Well, she wrote most of it in her head, on the way home from the Henry Ford Museum.
Low-ball the expectations, just a thought.

Super Preschooler will be 5 next February, and with this milestone of his, I reach a milestone of my own. 5 years as a stay-at-home mom. Which we all know involves very little staying at home, but that is beside the point and a whole other post. I am not here to debate the reality of what staying at home (i.e. running all over town) looks like. I am here to talk about the philosophical implications of this vocation of mine that is now nearly half a decade old. Basically mopey, moody moans, so, if you are way too in the holiday spirit to mess with that, skip to the end; there is an awesomely awkward photo of the Supers in feeted-pajamas!

If my recent posts are any indication, I am struggling a little with my role in this family and my identity as a woman. You know, little things. In case you guys don't know this, Awkward Dad is about halfway finished with his medical residency. This makes me a doctor's wife. That is what I am these days. Oh, and mother to our three children. Doctor's wife and mother of three. Starting to feel like 1953 over here....You see, this wasn't my plan. I wanted to work. I wanted to change the world. I wanted it all. And that is, of course, exactly what I have, when I take the time to actually look around and not just be mopey, moany, and moody.

Now, this post is not going to be about about how staying at home is harder than working a paying job. It isn't harder. Oh, did you hear that sound, Readers? That was the sound of every stay at home mom ever slamming the door and kicking me out of the staying at home club. Whatever, I am gonna tell you the truth. It isn't harder. I have worked a paying job, Readers, and, my memories, though getting further into the haze of everything before children, aren't all that hot. Work is hard. Answering to a boss is hard. Reviews are hard. Getting up every morning and going somewhere for 8plus hours is hard. Doing all that, while leaving your children in the care of someone else is damn near impossible. And some woman have to do that every day. I am not one of them. I am fortunate to stay at home with our children. I make my own hours. I can go to work in jeans every day of my life. I can take a 2 hour break in the middle of the day, as long as the DVD player is working. I can put my boss in a time-out if I don't like the review he gives me. Is this because Awkward Dad and I made some sacrifices? Is this because Awkward Dad works ridiculously hard? Is this because we are incredibly lucky? Yes. To all of it. It is a privilege to be able to stay at home with my children, and I do not find it harder than working a paying job.

However, this post is also not going to be about how staying at home is a picnic in the sunshine with the Care Bears and My Little Ponies frolicking through rainbows and sugar-plum dreams. Mostly because that sounds horrifying. But also, just because staying at home isn't harder than going to work doesn't mean that it is easy. I go days without talking to adults. I changed 18 diapers yesterday alone. I have to read the same book over and over and over, complete with goofy voices. I have to remember how to spell at the drop of a hat. I have to watch every word that comes out of my mouth. As much as I joke, Netflix isn't raising my children. I am. I am the sole person responsible for getting these 3 human beings to adulthood in one piece and with as little therapy as possible. If that isn't pressure, I don't know what is.

No, staying at home is not a Care Bear picnic. And that doesn't even begin to touch the homemaking aspect of my day. I can clean; I don't love it, but I can do it. We run into problems when I try to cook. I don't think I have blogged about my lack of kitchen prowess lately, and, if that entire box of Vanilla Wafers that Super Toddler just ate is any indication, it is probably time. I don't excel in the culinary arts. Awkward Dad does, which is why it is such a pity that he isn't the one cooking around here, but the man is working 12-15 hours days and is so sleep deprived that he is leaving his laundry in the middle of the living room. Wait, he was doing that before! Oh well, he is still too tired and cooking falls to me. All the home stuff is currently falling to me, hence, my 5 year battle with it.

So, I have told you what this post is not. What exactly is this post about? Well, if you guys figure that out, please let me know. I went to the Henry Ford museum today, the Supers are playing the same singing Christmas toy over and over and over, and I seem to be out of chocolate. I can't remember what I was talking about, but I think it is like Gilligan's Island. Come on, Readers, come down the rabbit hole with me. You see, it is like your vocation or calling. You are called to be a mom, right? Or a teacher, or a nun, or a financial planner. Whatever it is, you feel a calling to do something with your life. This call happens and then you listen to it and then what? Well, Calling pulls a Skipper and sacks out in a hammock and you Gilligan it up trying to build a boat or financially plan or whatever. And Calling/Skipper acts all surprised when you can't figure it out and he hits you with his hat. If Calling would do more than shout occasional stuff from the safety of his hammock or if Calling was at least the Professor, I would have better luck being a stay-at-home mom. Makes sense to me.

I wasn't planning on this. I wasn't one of those girls who knew they wanted children. Those girls, who turn into women who know exactly what they are going to do with those children. My children got here and I just held them. And stared at them. I loved them like it was going out of style, but I didn't have the slightest plan for them. Just held them and waited for the revelation of what to do with them to hit. I am still waiting.

Wanna know why I am still waiting, Readers? Well, I can't read the parenting books. I can't pick a method. I can't homeschool. I can't get excited about Elf on the Shelf or Pinterest or making my own Play Dough. I can't cook. I don't clean well. I can't make homemade wreathes for our door. I can't take artful photos of my children. I can't bake. I can't sing. I can't sew elaborate costumes. I can't. I have failed staying at home, and as I have shared with you, (thereby kissing my support system goodbye) it isn't harder than working, so what exactly is the problem here?

The thing is this: all those can'ts up there are really won'ts. I am just not interested in "traditional stay at home stuff." Yes, I know there is really no such thing, but we live in the digital age, Readers. (That is kinda how you are reading this right now.) I go online and I feel like I am assaulted by the right way to stay-at-home. I feel like I am being told left and right how to stay-at-home, and we all know how well I react to being told what to do. I feel like it is right there in front of me: the right crafty homey happy healthy natural upbeat positive elaborate wonderful interesting creative thoughtful environmentally-conscious beautiful perfect way to stay-at-home. Ah, there it is. There you are. My nemesis; Prefect Mom. Should have known that she would be behind this.

I am not perfect. I am awkward. That has got to be painfully obvious to just about everyone by now. I could say that it is because I can't be perfect; that I am too flawed and too messy and too whatever, but that isn't true. The reality is that I won't be perfect. I find perfect boring, pompous, and more work than actually working. Basically, I think perfect is just not healthy for any child who is trying to make a way for his/herself in a world that is anything but perfect.

So, I return to my earlier thought, I really do have it all. I am working. I am changing the world. And I have been for 5 years. In my working life, I was a social worker. (Well, after a foray into costume design that may be one of my only contributions to Super Preschooler's personality.) 
"Social work is a professional and academic discipline that seeks to improve the quality of life and well being of an individual, group, or community." (Wikipedia. Hence the different color text that I can't get rid of now. And yes, I have donated to them this week.) Well, lookie here. It appears that I may still be a social worker after all. And I will tell you this; if the only thing that I ever achieve in my life is to improve the lives and well beings of the three children in my care to the point that they enter the world as kind, responsible, funny, and loving adults who are intent on improving the lives and well beings of those they share that world with, then I will homemake all the day long. Might even learn to cook a little too.
Yeah, we'll see about that, don't wanna get ahead of ourselves now....
Saint Nicholas visited us yesterday, and, since I don't have any daughters in need of a dowry, he left Skittles instead. Seems reasonable.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Variety

You know, the spice of life kind and not the magazine. If Awkward Mom is gonna tussle with a magazine, it is gonna be Real Simple. Quit putting $235 shirts in your "Everyday Fashion" section, Real Simple, and then maybe I will start actually buying you, instead of borrowing Awesome Mom's copy all the time.

Watch any action movie ever, from Battleground to the Avengers, and you will see a varied group of plucky characters, with nothing in common but their need to overcome a mutual adversary. They will all have different interests and skills that are all eventually needed in order to take down the villain. In the aforementioned films, we are talking about Nazis and Aliens, the two biggest and baddest villains to ever grace the silver screen, but this theory works in any action movie not starring Chuck Norris, most ensemble films in general, this Lego cartoon the boys made me watch at Legoland, and when raising siblings.

Here is what happened yesterday; my earring kept falling out. The first time, Super Preschooler found it and tried to wear it. He wore it as a ring for a while, tired of that, and then put it over his ear lobe. He looked like a pirate afraid of commitment. The second time, Super Baby found it and tried to eat it. The third time, Super Toddler found it. I found him jamming my lovely silver hoop into the Buzz Lightyear laser gun that shoots little discs at about the speed of light (and that Awkward Dad thought was an appropriate toy for a 2 year old with no anger management skills). He got it in there, shot half of my 5th wedding anniversary gift across the room and into the garbage can, where I rescued it out of a blob of cold oatmeal. Took my earrings off for the day and debated taking the day off myself.

The Supers are all different, from how they act to how they sound to how they eat. They all have the same flyaway blond hair, tiny little noses from my side of the family, and they all smell the same come bath-time, but that is really where the similarities end. The variety in this house is massive, and sometimes I think that the only thing keeping them from killing each other is their ongoing campaign to kill my sanity. And my jewelry.

The Supers all entered the world in their own way. (Fair warning: there are a few icky details here and if birth stories make you feel queasy or just bored, feel free to skip to the next paragraph, after the shirtless baby pictures that my children are going to hate me for in about 10 years. I won't be offended and actually won't know at all!) Super Preschooler was 10 days late and had to be encouraged to enter the world with heaps of pitocin, a bevy of doctors and nurses, and an eventual and emergency C-section. My doctor used this as evidence to discourage my fantasies of a V-bac, telling me that I probably wouldn't labor on my own with the next baby. I believed him and therefore planned Super Toddler's C-section, and then went into labor with him, 3 weeks early, at the movies. I made it to the hospital, and, while Awkward Dad chased Super Preschooler in circles around the bed, the nurse inserted a catheter, and at the exact same time, asked me if I had considered a V-bac. Went ahead with the C-section, only to have a colleague of Awkward Dad's assist; we just bring the awkward with us, Readers. Super Baby came, via V-bac, on her due date, which was day 2 into Awkward Dad's planned time off. After the best epidural in history (judge if you want to, but it was amazing), I pushed for maybe 20 minutes and Super Baby entered the world with a lusty and lovely yell. Here they all are, as different as the day is long:

They are in birth order, but the personalities shining out of these pictures kinda give away who is who. Super Preschooler is sticking out his tongue, Super Toddler looks a bit stoned, and Super Baby is making her presence known, while loudly demanding another family. One a bit less awkward.

The Supers are different in a million ways. Shall I tell you? Of course I shall tell you; I am a mom, I love talking about my kids! Consider this the blog-version of me whipping out a photo book of pictures and talking your ears off about a million milestones and marvels. Also consider stopping your reading this at any time. Another wonder of the internet; graceful departures from uncomfortable or boring conversations are just a mouse-click away!

Speech: Super Preschooler's first word was cookie and then he just never stopped talking. He was telling us his own bedtime story by about 18 months. He still won't stop talking. He is talking right now. "Mommy, I want some cheese. And then, can you change the video to the other Fantasia? You know, the one with the whales? We watched the whole other one, the one with the fairies, while you were looking at Facebook. Like the whole thing, even the scary part at the end with the devils. You really like Facebook, Mommy...." He is still talking, but you don't have all day. Super Toddler announced his first word, cake, on his birthday and then didn't really say much else until his second birthday. One could argue that it is hard to get a word in with Super P. around, but I think he was just saving up so that he could hit me with these beauties: "Mommy, where my gun?" "I think Dino with gun-arms win against Robot with gun-arms because of teeth. What you think, Mommy?" and "I'll dress-up, but I bad guy!" Super Baby's first word was sock. She also says cat, Daddy, and, on occasion, Mama. Mostly she just talks to the cats in an advanced language the rest of us don't understand, complete with sweeping gestures and frequent nods. I think they are planning to take over.

Mobility: Super Preschooler walked relatively late, about 18 months. After that, he opted to dance, skip, or "poof" everywhere. Due to Super Preschooler's late walking, I thought I was ready for anything. I wasn't quite ready for Super Toddler's adamant refusal to do anything but crawl until he was 22 months old and Super Baby was 3 weeks from birth. He crawled like a little tank, rolling over anything in his path. He runs the same way. Super Baby uses a combo crawl-climb that is less tank-like and more like Spiderman scaling a wall. Or she teleports, because I never see her get onto the table and yet I continue to find her there.

Diet: I think Super Preschool lives on air and an occasional banana. The child never eats. Well, never eats anything I try to feed him. Don't ever tell him where your chocolate stash is because the boy has a sweet tooth nearly as large as his father's. Super Toddler is not encumbered with a sweet tooth because he has a salt one; chips, fries, plain salt right from the shaker. Oh, and cheese. Child would eat cheese all day long if I let him. And since I gave him that salt tooth and am so busy trying not to eat cheese all day long myself, I take responsibility for redirecting Super Toddler's cheese love. Then there is Super Baby, who eats everything else. Everything. Her food. Their food. Food that fell on the floor. The cat food, if she can get it. Random toys. The curtains. Her shirt sleeves. Books. Her brothers, if they sit still long enough. Everything. Basically, I think she is part goat.

General Interest: Oh lord, Readers, if we get into this, this little post will become a tome. Well, more of a tome. In short, Super Preschooler likes imagination games, all forms of dress-up, and storytelling. Super Toddler likes to hit things with sticks, his toy guns, or his head. And Super Baby likes to eat, watch her brothers, and laugh.

The thing is, variety really is an amazing thing. My children are stronger for their differences and you can see it in their play. I can also see it years ahead in the thousand fantasies I have during the day. The Supers at school; Super P. finding his home with the drama club, Super Toddler bruising it up on the football field, Super Baby nearly blowing up the chemistry lab with her experiments. The Supers at college: Super P.'s political phase, a shoeless Super Toddler playing hacky sack on the quad, Super Baby's goth period. The Supers start a band: Super Preschooler's earnest and flamboyant lead singer, Super Baby's totally talented and rocking lead guitarist, and Super Toddler's drums, a la Keith Moon. The Supers change the world with Super P.'s empathy, Super T.'s enthusiasm, and Super B.'s eating skills. The Supers fly into space and are exposed to cosmic rays: Super Preschooler's natural charm and flexibility becoming Mr. Fantasic, Super Toddler's easy-going nature and strength morphing into the Thing, and Super Baby's genius and tolerance altering her into the Invisible Woman. Guess we need a Johnny Storm/Human Torch for this fantasy to really take shape, but since Awkward Dad and I haven't closed the door on that idea, we shall see if our next one is an arrogant hothead with humor and bravery unparalleled. He/she can play bass for the Super family band.

Everyone talked about Christmas at dinner last night. Super Preschooler would like a guitar and a new crown. Super Toddler would like a motorcycle but will settle for a bike. And Super Baby seems to just want someone to pass her some more sausage. Awkward Dad wants some time off to be with everyone, and Awkward Mom just wants Christmas to not be in 20 days. 20 days, Readers. 20.

Soda pop, popcorn, and hot dog are different,
but they are mostly just delicious.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Christmas photo shoots

Awkward Mom truly walks with the greats; in the superhero tradition of arrogance and shortsightedness, that is. Superman never seems to figure out that Lex Luther has a seemingly endless supply of kryptonite, and Batman continues to forget the the Joker will always have a bomb somewhere on his person. I am assuming in his pants; seriously, those things are big enough to snuggle some states in. This shortsightedness on Batman's part means he is on Robin number 34 or something, and you would think that Superman would have lined his cape in lead by now. But no, of course not. Even Luke Skywalker decided that he could take down the Death Star with some knowledge of womp rats and the voice of a dead Jedi. The Death Star. That thing is the size of a moon and capable of destroying a planet with one single destructive energy beam. The fact that he actually took down the Death Star changes nothing, except maybe to increase the already infinite coolness of Han Solo. No, it is still arrogance itself to take on something like that. Awkward Mom knows this, and she is still taking on a psychotic moon-sized gun bathed in radioactive matter from destroyed planets. In the form of Christmas photos at Sears. She never learns.

We are doing pictures at Sears, yet again. If you are new here and don't know how awkward I truly am, Here is what happened last time I documented our pictures at Sears. Oh, and here. It was so awkward that it needed 2 posts. And this is just the last time I documented it; there have been other times since, including the now infamous Church Photo Shoot. I think I need to side with the voodooists and just concede that cameras steal souls. Especially the easy to twist souls of the under 5 set.

And before you ask, no, these are not photos with Santa. My children are still a little leery of Santa. They are cool with the idea of a huge elf breaking into their home at night and leaving action figures and candy in socks that we nailed on the wall. But actually seeing the man, in the beard, as it were? No, that is terrifying to them. They might wave at him from across the safety of the mall, but that is about as close as they are willing to get. The one and only time that we made them take a picture with Santa, it looked like a hostage situation:

Don't really need to say anything else here, right?

No, our Sears photos are prop-less for the most part. Sometimes we get a big number or some toy blocks, but usually the beauty of the children are all we need. I think the reality is that the Sears staff don't want to give my beautiful children any potential projectiles.

Now, I am not going to clutter up this post with my words. None are really needed, as you will see in a moment. Just a tiny bit of back story here: Super Baby had the cold this year (one always has a cold), and she refused any picture that Awkward Dad wasn't in. Awkward Dad was not informed that he would be posing until 2 seconds before he is posed. We have no idea what Super Toddler injured his forehead on; it mysteriously appeared the night before as if by magic. Evil magic. Super Preschooler is going through a "why take a nice picture when I can stick my tongue out and ruin everything instead" phase. The Sears photographers are saints, and next year I am wrapping myself in lead, teaming up with murderous clowns and womp rats, and attacking armed moons instead.

The "Oh maybe this won't be so bad" pose to trick Mommy.

The "Nope, this will be exactly as awful as you expect" pose.

Combo "Oh the camera is over there?" and "Why didn't we bring a comb?"

The "I'm flying" pose. Would be cute expect he lost balance and fell into the backdrop directly after this.

The "Why don't you just tattoo: I have a negligent mother on your face and get it over with?" pose, complete with windburned cheeks.

The "we are just totally messing with you" poses:

Now for some crabby baby poses:
Crabby baby on a sled.
Crabby baby with some blocks.

Crabby baby with a crabby Daddy.

Happy baby with a Daddy plotting his revenge on Mommy.
And now, proof that Super Toddler is headed for a life of crime:

There are more, but you get it. Professional photos are Awkward Mom's kryptonite; she knows it is bad for her and yet she can't stop. She keeps thinking that it is gemstone kryptonite, which (because comics are so wonderfully weird) has the ability to make others want to fulfill your wishes. But no, professional photos are straight-up green kryptonite. Expect when they do this:

Turns out that the photographers at Sears do have some gemstone kryptonite after all.