Saturday, September 29, 2012

Out being Awkward

Pumpkins, apples, and donuts, oh my!

OK, so here at Awkward Manor, we have fallen headlong into fall. Like no bracing with your arms fall. Like deep-end of the now empty public pool fall. Like free fall into a pile of leaves, what the bleep are these children gonna be for Halloween, why are there Christmas decorations at Target, where's my sweater, put on your socks, and Awkward Dad, quit turning on the heat already, fall.

And we'll be back to tell you all about it. And school. And the new Reptile Zoo. And playing in the parking lot at Culver's. And why Super Preschooler wants to be a fairy for Halloween. And how Awkward Dad is dealing with that with amazing maturity and a lot of microscopic jaw clenching. And loads of other fallish things. (We refuse. Refuse, Readers. Refuse to acknowledge the Christmas decorations at Target or even think about winter yet.) So, check back soon. We'll be here. Carving pumpkins and what-have-you. Pumpkins that we are off to get today. Well, the Supers and Awkward Dad are off to get pumpkins. I am going for the donuts.

Well, at least our dining room table has got the fall spirit....

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Church

Sounds like some backwards and way less effective crusade....

Hey Readers, check this out:

Give the amount of angelic-ness going on in this picture; you would expect that church would be a breeze for the Awkward family, right? Oh, ye of little faith; faith in our true awkward abilities, that is!

Church isn't easy for anyone with little children. Well, anyone normal, that is. I don't know how the Perfect Parents do it; flanking an idyllic row of miniature Norman Rockwell models, with perfectly combed hair and perfectly serene expressions. Each perfect parent able to truly pay attention and absorb all kinds of holiness, while occasionally glancing, with infinite patience and love, at their adorable children. And occasionally glaring at the pew behind and to the left of them, where the Awkward Family is housed.

And I don’t blame them; I am glaring at us too. Awkward Dad and I have to sit in-between the boys or it gets even worse. Hard to imagine, but it does. So, Super Toddler is on the end, until he decides to make a break for it and head for the baptismal font; guess he fancies a swim. I race after him and ignore the tiny part of my brain that wants to throw him in there, in the hopes that this one might actually take a little better. Super Preschooler is talking, at the top of his lungs, about the stained glass and how beautiful it is, what kinds of jewelry that he would make from it, and which balls he would wear it to. Awkward Dad totally has his hands full, shushing the second coming of Louis Comfort Tiffany, so I pick up a howling Super Baby, only to lose Super Toddler to his font dash yet again. I fall into the aisle, while holding Super Baby, which does nothing on the scream front, and I catch Super Toddler by the collar. I secure death grips on both of them, shove a bottle in Super Baby’s mouth, and try to give Super Toddler the “the golden stare.” You know, that stony gaze that my mother, your mother, every mother from the dawn of time, can do at a moment’s notice, that says “I-love-you-God-loves-you-but-if-you-don’t-stop-it-right-now-you-are-going-to-be-meeting-Him-a-lot-sooner-than-you-expected.” Legend tells that my grandfather crossed gender restrictions and developed a fairly frightening golden stare himself, so Dads can do it too. In fact, Perfect Dad is doing a really good one at me from the pew up and over. I try to imitate it at Super Toddler, but something must get lost in the translation because he laughs at me. Very loudly. During the consecration.

Luckily for us, this is an awkward situation that we are very rarely in these days, due to our church’s extremely non-awkward nursery. We leave the Super boys in the care of whichever lucky family is volunteering that week, grab a pager, and gleefully head upstairs for whine-free spiritual nourishment. Well, unless it is Lent. Then, to be honest, Awkward Dad may whine a little, something about too much kneeling…But seriously, the nursery has to be the greatest thing to happen to the Church since Vatican II. These days the only Super we need to worry about during church is Super Baby, but let me tell you, she is firing on all cylinders today.

Let me paint the scene for you: I am sitting in “Baby Row;” which is a couple pews in the back, right by the baptismal font. Since Super Toddler is safely tucked away downstairs, it is okay to sit here again; you know, without the risk of going on a holy water splash ride. (Come on, picture it, wouldn’t that be a great way to formally join the church?) We are flanked by the Awesome and Wonderful families, and Beautiful Baby and Co. are sitting right in front of us. It is Phenomenal Family’s week to volunteer in the nursery, so I am totally relaxed about the Super boys and ready to wholly embrace some holiness. Super Baby, however, has other ideas.

She starts in my arms, but she keeps reaching for Awkward Dad. So, she goes to Awkward Dad and starts reaching for me. It takes us through the entire opening song (which an embarrassing long time for experienced parents like us) to figure out that it is the hymnal she wants. Which we hand to her, just to get through the opening prayers. She drops it at a particularly quiet moment, so we put it away and hand her a teething ring. She drops that on Beautiful Baby's head and then steals her teething ring. Beautiful Baby's mom just shrugs her acceptance of this, so we attempt to focus on the first reading. I can't quite remember the first reading because I am distracted by being hit in the face repeatedly with the teething ring. (Offer it up, Awkward Mom. Offer it up.) The second reading I absorb more of, but that could be because it is mercifully short and Awkward Dad has taken on being hit in the face. We stand for the Gospel and usually this shift of position entertains Super Baby just long enough for the reading of said Gospel. Well, not today. She starts howling pretty much right away, most of which is, thankfully, drowned out by a particularly lovely Gospel Acclamation. (Literally, thank God for the choir.) I spend this time rummaging around for a bottle, which gives me time to glance around and notice that Awesome Baby is asleep, Wonderful Baby is staring beatifically at his mother, and Beautiful Baby, adept at adapting, is gently chewing on Super Baby's teething ring. If we were casting the Christmas Pageant, any of them could swap into the Manger, no problem. I am seething with envy (Nice, Awkward Mom. Isn't that one of the big 7?) and stuffed with self-pity and about 18 thoughts that are not only inappropriate for this space, but pretty much any space. I sigh and shove the bottle into her mouth. Well, at least she is quiet.

Except she isn't. I start praying, in earnest, that the floor will open up and hide me, when her bottle smacking noises start to ricochet off the glorious acoustics of the church. Awkward Dad just chuckles and nudges Awesome Dad; I don't know why. Is this some manly point of pride, how loud one's child can be? I am all set to shame him about this when I actually start to listen to the Gospel.

"Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said, Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me."

Super Preschooler's stained glass windows start to glow in a whole new way and I can't hear any smacking from Super Baby anymore. Well, I can hear it, but it sounds like the beautiful music now. I am not gonna cheapen the moment with my bad writing, you have all had moments like this. You know what I am talking about and could probably articulate it much better. That magical moment when the divine touches you. It could be in a religious space or a mountain top or in the frozen food section of Aldi; doesn't matter, God is everywhere and we have all had experiences of that. Unexpected, unexplainable, and unforgettable.

My spiritual life right now is very much in the right now. I don't have a lot of time for long elaborate prayers or silent serene contemplation. My spiritual life tends to happen right in the middle of the chaos. Little "oh help me figure this out" and "thank you so much for these beautiful angels" and "Saint Anthony, please, please, where are my keys?" The spiritual upbringing of my children dictates much of my religious pondering currently; "Does God like pizza?" "Why did we hurt Jesus like that?" "If everyone has wings, how do they dance in heaven?" "Why can't I drink the holy water? I am thirsty." "Are angels holy princesses?" I don't feel very spiritually aware most of the time, I feel like I am hanging on to a massive holy water splash ride and just praying to make it through. And I look around, especially at church, and I think, "These other moms have it all together. Their children aren't making noises that sound like something out of Aliens. Their children aren't trying to re baptize themselves just to get away from them. Their children aren't plotting to dismantle the windows to make necklaces. Those Moms are imparting holy and wonderful messages to their children; they are, oh so gracefully, encouraging a new generation of spiritually fulfilled people. And I still can't answer whether or not God likes pizza."

But in that moment today, I feel like God is telling me that it's okay. He is like "Hey, Awkward Mom, it's all good. I made your children. I made them noisy and silly and full of beautiful energy and speed. I like that about them and you should to. Praise me in the chaos, I can hear you just fine. I'm God, my hearing is pretty good. I didn't give your children to the Perfects, I gave them to you. You might not be perfect, but you are perfect for them. I love you, and you might want to try loving you too. PS...Pizza is great."

Super Baby talked through the entire rest of the mass, but, for some reason, Awkward Mom didn't seem to mind. Awkward Dad did seem to mind it when Super Baby spit-up all over him right before Communion, but that is a different story for another time.

Awkward Dad, ever cheerfully gazing ahead.
Awkward Mom, ever awkwardly looking around.
Super Baby, ever laughing. May it always be so.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Poetry - take 3

The muse keeps a' moving, and Awkward Mom keeps getting run over.

Super Baby-

We stand in the doorway, watching your brothers play.
Your dangling legs pump up and down against my hip; you are so eager to be gone.
You tap your directions,
a frenzied air dance that heralds the force you will become.

Let me hold you awhile longer.
Watch out the window with me,
drawing your first masterpieces on the cold glass.
Cuddle up to me as you fall asleep.
Let your little hands pluck lullabies on my shirt and aimlessly paint my shoulder.
I know that you want to dance, but please, let me hold you.
Just a little while.
Just while you wait to leave me in your inevitable burst of bold brilliance.
Just until then.

Awkward Mom

Nothing quite as awkward as a beautiful picture of Super Baby with a date and incorrect time stamped on her face....

That muse needs to learn not to strike at quarter to 6 when Awkward Mom is just looking for a reason to avoid making dinner. Super Kids gotta eat!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Guest Post by Manga Mom

When it rains, it pours! Awesome guest posts, that is; I mean, who wouldn't want to be rained on by that? Manga Mom mailed over this magnificent massive missive for your marvelling. Most marvelous and magical, methinks!

Konnichiwa! *wave*

I'm a geek. Should be pretty obvious from Awkward Mom's introduction. :) Right now I'm big into Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. That's right. The Napoleonic Wars and billowing sails and weevil-infested biscuits! All that great stuff. And, you know, I'm pretty laid back about what Chibi-kun (my four year old) watches. But when I invited one of my mom friends over to watch Master and Commander with me, I made sure we'd be starting the movie after he went to bed because it has some fairly bloody scenes in it. Naval battles and all that. Anyway, it was going pretty well. Neighbor mom actually seemed to be enjoying it, despite initial reservations, and we'd managed to get to one of my favorite bits, when I heard Chibi-kun start moaning upstairs. I sighed, figuring he wanted to go potty. He still has accidents sometimes, and for some reason is reluctant to leave his room at night unless he's escorted. So I headed upstairs to check on him, leaving the film running as the captain weighs the benefits of catching the French man of war against saving his surgeon's life. When I talk to Chibi-kun, he seems really upset but I manage to get him to go potty and try to escort him back to bed. Meanwhile, I can hear the surgeon downstairs saying he'll never be able to repay his best friend and scurrying off to explore the Galapagos Islands. After a couple of gentle attempts, I give up on getting Chibi-kun to go back to sleep and offer to let him sit on my lap until the movie's over. Big mistake, right? But what could I do? The movie was actually almost over. It had about ten minutes left and I felt bad asking Neighbor Mom to leave just because my kid couldn't get back to sleep. So I held an unusually clingy Chibi-kun on my lap for the final, climactic showdown. Cannons and pistols and swords, oh my! He was transfixed, but thankfully also a bit confused. He thought the blood on the uniforms was fire (associated with candles on birthday cakes, not danger, my friends) and that the dead midshipman the camera lingered on was "sleeping." I did nothing to dissuade him on those fronts. Shameful, I know, but I'm a bit squeamish myself when it comes to violence and I didn't want him to have nightmares. Neighbor Mom sensibly took off the minute the movie finished, and I led Chibi-kun back to bed. He slept for a few fitful hours and then woke up again at 3:00 a.m. with a fever and a cough. Surprise, surprise, right? But, on the plus side, he didn't have any nightmares and now squeals "Master and Commander!" every time he sees a boat, especially one with sails. ;) I even read him a few passages from O'Brian's book when I borrowed it from the library and he loved the ships on its cover. So, are geeky parents doomed to raise geeky kids? No, but we definitely enjoy it when it happens. And, yes, I'm really, really lucky he wasn't freaked out. Normally, we watch Finding Nemo and Shawn the Sheep. (And sometimes Sherlock and Star Trek, but who doesn't?) May all your geeky endeavors, whatever they may be, bring you joy.

Marvelous, Magna Mom! You are right, whether the geeky is passed on or not, it is best not to fight it when it pops up. Readers, Magna Mom is incredibly smart and has a variety of interests; a true Renaissance mom. She blogs at It is totally political, but don't let that scare you away! After all, it is an election year; we should all be discussing big and important topics. Some of us do this more awkwardly than others. Manga Mom does not, she is massively magnanimous and mindful. She is also mildly misfit-ish; hence her friendship with me. Thanks for the guest post, Magna Mom! I have an unexplainable urge to go watch Russell Crowe now....OK, well, I suppose that it is pretty explainable.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Guest Post by Incredible Mom

Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness! Readers, I can't believe it! Someone actually wants to post on this blog! I mean, someone other than Awkward Mom. Holy cats, hold the phone and your hat and any nearby children; Incredible Mom is here!

(Incredible Mom..AKA Ja Nelle...actually posted this in the comments section of the blog post requesting guest posts; Girl does not let grass grow under her feet. I have copy and pasted it exactly as she wrote it....all 4 comments of it.) Plus, I had to include her Facebook message to me, alerting me to this feat; it was too awkward to miss!

Facebook Message: SO I am super ticked right now I wrote out almost two whole pages to be a guest on your blog only to have my stupid computer break down and close without my permission I will try again after supper.

Will post after I feed my tribe!

Super Friend Ja Nelle here with the power to lose her mind at any given moment!Hey Super Awkward Mom! OK so and Awkward moment.... well I didn't have to dig too deep for this one. Hold on to your hats here it goes.So I would like to discuss potty teaching moments with little boys. So while on our way to our local library my two year old (whom we are potty training at the moment) informs me that the time has come to visit the potty. Seeing as we just got off the bus and the door to the building is over 100 feet away not to mention the elevator needed to take to the 1st level where the washrooms are located. I brave the brisk air which I am sure by now has sent a signal of emergency to his brain and genitals. I race to get in, oh did I mention that i had my baby stroller 3000 in tow. Yeah this thing can hold kids, grocery, and in the event I can't walk anymore, my 200lb behind. It's a beast! Anyhoo we make it too the washroom when my little guy informs me yet again that he is ready to enter into the guys restroom. I briefly remind him of the "rules" I have laid in place when going to a public restroom. After about 2 secs and the strange look on his face he says hmmmmm (his favorite saying BTW) alright so in I rush to find a stall suitable to sustain the baby stroller 3000 I proceed to get him in when he stops abruptly turns to me and gives me this look that said. "I dare you to cross this threshold. I am a young man now and I do not need you to help me right now." I sigh and back away slowly while he proceeds to close the door. Few moments go by and I hear "AWW Shoot" I quickly open the door to see that he was having a hard time getting his little guy bits out of the properly placed hole in his Lighting McQueen underoos. I bend down to assist him and just as I get things in order I hear two ladies enter in. I get the "OK mom I am good, now get out look." and proceed to find a way to let the now very annoyed ladies in so they can find a stall. They really don't have kids I say to myself. Well while I wait I hear my son say in a very low voice (you know we mothers have super power hearing when we want to use it) he says uh oh. next thing I know I open the stall door and see a lovely stream of urine sliding on the stall wall and into the stall next to use which of course just happen to have one of the annoyed ladies in it. As I look down two things run through my mind. One is How can someone so small hold that much pee, and two well that's motherhood for you. With a quick wipe of the floor and a apologetic look to the lady , who looks utterly disgusted I wash our hands and we make our way back into civilization. After collecting all the super letters for today's blog this is what the message spells out."I AM GOING TO GO CRAZY, WANT TO COME?" LOL until next time, my friend keep doing what you do because you keep women like me on the somewhat sane tip. (I did say somewhat) Love ya!

OH yeah I am not well verse in the English language so if my grammar offends anyone I blame the meds. LOL

Here is a pic of our super family just in case you wanted to see us!!

Incredible Toddler sounds like he has prowess in the pee department, and it sounds like your patience was pushing its perimeters, Incredible Mom. I just love the letter P, but I really loved your guest post and I am sure our Readers did too! If you want to hear more from Incredible Mom, or, more accurately, her other alter-ego, Design Diva, check her out at Royel Bijou! (Didn't I tell you that no grass grew under her? I have never actually seen the woman sit down...) She will also be joining my blog list with our other fearless allies. Thank you so much, Incredible Mom; keep on being incredible!

Awkward Mom and Guest Posts

Calling all super friends!
Calling all super friends!
It is that awkward time and this is the awkward channel.
Time for some guest posts on this here blog.
Awkward Mom is ok, but we like to shake it up one in awhile.
We don't care what you want to discuss; children, work,
your obsession with Mob Wives.
Anything and everything is welcome, as long as it is awkward.
And considering that you are all on a super team with Awkward Mom, I am pretty sure you are slightly awkward yourselves.
So, don't leave us hanging, who wants to go first?

Come on, Readers! Super Baby is fighting a battle with boredom over here!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Flaws

Well, hello there, Awkward Mom. It appears that you finished your book club books early. Or you are battling your arch-villain, Procrastination. I don't think I would lay odds on the former here....

I am sitting at a red light, looking into the rear view mirror, admiring my brood. They are sitting there, all in a row. OK, well, not quite in a row. My deep-seated paranoia that Baby Center is somehow monitoring my activity compels me to reassure you that Super Baby is still in a backwards-facing car seat and not rolling around loose next to her brothers. She is still visible though, thanks to a mirror attached to her headrest, and thus appears to be right there on the end, next to them. My point is that I can see them all together (a rare feat); so I sigh with contentment at the beauteous sight of all three of them lined up together, like angels perched on a cloud of cotton-candy and sugar-plum dreams, and I do what every other mother in creation does; I start to compare them.

Now, judge away, Readers. It is okay. I know that you are worried about Baby Center's spies too. But, I'll be brave and say it, "I compare my children to each other." And I know that you do the same thing. Maybe not out loud. Maybe not even on purpose. And certainly not all the time. But it happens; it is a dirty little lie of parenting, this "we never compare our children". Much like the "we always take a shower before we enter the pool" or "we never prefer one child over the other." (Holy ghost of Dr. Spock! Did she really say that?!) Yes, Readers, I said it; calm down already. You know that I don't mean the Joan-Crawford-kind of deranged preference, I am talking about kinda-sorta-maybe liking the one who isn't screaming at you, just slightly-sorta-a-little-bit better, for the moment in which the screaming takes place. Or maybe for the rest of that day. Or until the screaming one is asleep and being all angel-like again. Don't be afraid for the Supers, Readers. They will be fine. Or they will be rich (having written successful tell-alls). Either way, don't worry; I am totally cool with wire hangers.

But, preference doesn't really come into comparison right now. I am not actually preferring one of them over the other. They are all sleeping, all their little heads cocked to the left, identical blond hair waving in the wind. That is where the similarities end. Super Preschooler cuddles into a ball and furrows his brow at some dream. Super Toddler sprawls and moves every 2 seconds, not even still in sleep. And Super Baby snores and drools like the little lady that she is. They are totally unique and so beautiful, but instead of appreciating this, like every grandmother I run into at the grocery store and every Hallmark Mother's Day card in creation tells me to do, all I am doing is wondering how each one managed to get a completely complete, yet utterly different, set of my flaws.

Because that is the other dirty little lie about parenting, isn't it? Everyone goes on and on about how little Super inherited your eyes or hair or sense of humor, but no one thinks to wonder where the short temper, pear-shape, or worry-worting went. Now, let's not concern ourselves with the physical right now because there will be plenty of time for that in adolescence. I am talking about personality stuff. You know, important stuff. Friend-making stuff. Getting ahead in life stuff. Being a fully functioning and well-balanced member of society stuff. How are my children going to do that stuff when I am stuffing them full of awkward?

I'll be specific. Super Preschooler got my tendency toward worry, my sensitivity, and my perfectionism. Super Toddler has my quick temper and complete late of rationality when angry. And Super Baby might have my tendency to be an overly enthusiastic people-pleaser, but it is a little early to tell. Maybe she dodged the bullet and will only get my wide hips and freckles.

Now, before the pity starts to flow, they got a lot of good stuff too. That most of it came from Awkward Dad is something that we can just gloss right on over. I am in no way saying that my children are all bad or messed-up or causing me to lose sleep at night. OK, strike that last one. I am just concerned about these tendencies that I see in them. Tendencies that I have seen in myself for the last 34 years. And full disclosure here, we have encountered situations this week where these tendencies were on full display, so it feels timely.

Maybe you are a Prefect Mom. Not sure why are you reading this and not making a cake from scratch then, but you might be slumming. Then, of course, you wouldn't know what I am talking about, so I shall explain. When one is awkward, one tends to make mistakes. Mistakes that have a lovely tendency of showing up in one's children; more specifically, their behavior. Like that time the pitcher of orange juice fell off the counter, and Super Preschooler dropped the F-bomb, right before I did. Or that time that Super Toddler did a fine imitation of what Mommy sounds like when everyone is late for church, complete with foot stomping. Or when I hear my words coming out of their mouths; words that were rattled off in a moment of panic or stress or exhaustion. Words that, when applied in the cold light of day, glare with all the damage of a Joan Crawford upbringing.

Thank goodness that they got all those good qualities from Awkward Dad to counteract the lessons they are learning from me. Wow, Battle Royale going on with Self-Pity today! Oh Readers, don't you worry. (Unless, of course, your worry takes the form of chocolate bars; then, feel free to worry.) It has been a rough week and it is only Tuesday and I am sure that is where a lot of this self-pity is coming from.

But the thing is, I don't know how to stop making mistakes, Readers. How do you do it? How do you raise these little people so that they are smart without being arrogant. Kind without being doormats. Beautiful without being vain. Strong without being cruel. Organized without being inflexible. Thoughtful without being neurotic. Open without being spineless. Steady without being dull. Awkward without being awful. This all seems daunting enough, and then we add into the mix that I daily gift them with such clear examples of how not to do things.

By the way, I was in no way being rhetorical. How do you do it? You can send your advice, and your chocolate, to Awkward Manor, Ann Arbor, Michigan. I imagine that it will get here safely, don't you think?

We are gonna sit Awkward Mom down and make her read this. Interestingly, that post also took place the week that she had a book club meeting she was ill-prepared for. After she reads a little of her book, we are gonna make her look at this:

And this:

And then this:

What flaws?

Out being Awkward!

We're out being awkward; back soon! Well, we are really in being awkward....oh, nevermind, here's a cute picture of the Supers and a message from Super Toddler.

Hey Readers-

Hold on, now just relax, Super Toddler here. No need to worry about new Awkward Mom posts. We'll be back soon; we are out collecting material for our next awkward adventure and will return soon to tell you about it.

psst...we really have plenty of material, but Mommy put off reading her book club books, and they are both meeting this week. Silly Mommy. We are gonna take advantage of her nose being in those books to give her even more material for her next post. I think she should call it "Awkward Mom vs. the giant lake that we made in the Bathroom." What do you guys think?

Super Toddler

P.S. FYI, don't mention the words circle and time around Mommy. They seem to make her sad for some reason.....they make me want to run and play and throw toys at other kids, but everyone is different.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Awkward Mom and Reading Mom

Super Mom powers unite! It is time for another team-up!

Dearest Readers, I want to introduce a new ally for Awkward Mom; Reading Mom! I have been lurking on Reading Mom's blog for awhile. Getting to know her, (Stalking her, if you want to be technical about it.), and I think she is fabulous! Her organization skills make me jealous, but I still like her. She doesn't pretend to be a Perfect Mom, and she writes honest posts about the realities of being a mom of three kids. She also deals with the villain Three, which is enough of a reason to give her some reading love.

Speaking of reading, the woman is truly a Super Reader! And not in the PBS sense, but I bet she would be a great ally for them too. She does near weekly book reviews! Holy cats; I am still trying to get through my book club book for this month; and she reads and writes reviews and writes her blog daily/weekly. Oh, and did I mention that her super kids also love to read? Well, they do! A family of Reading Superheros! I love it and I am sure you will too. Go give her a peek. She will be listed on my blog list under "Living Better One Day at a Time." (Yet another brave superhero Mom blogging under her own name....I am just way too dependant on my secret identity for that. Or I never outgrew dress-up, which is probably more likely....)

So, let's give her an awkward welcome, Readers! Wait, maybe don't, that doesn't sound good at all......Anyway, Reading Mom, keep up the great writing (and reading)!

Super Preschooler has liked to read for awhile too. Here he is around age 2; he may have some directional issues to work out, but the intent was good.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. the Church Photo Shoot

This post is really just a teaser for the real Church Photo Shoot, and, yes, we know, that is totally unfair. But Readers, look at what we are working with here:

I don't even know if you can see that, but it is 6 photos that the Borrowers might have had hanging in their stairwell. Our real photos will arrive in a few weeks; I bought 1 copy of each proof just for your amusement. That is how much I love you guys. But really, it will be worth it; I am planning to send all 6 to

Just to get you in the mood, I am gonna let you listen in on our conversation in the car, post photo shoot.

Awkward Dad: "I am just saying that she could have let me mop up my face before she took that one. I'm positively glazed here."

Super Preschooler: "You promised us ice cream!"

Me: "That was if you behaved and actually looked at the camera. What is going on here? We look like refugees from Ellis Island."

Super Baby: "Dada. Dada. Dada. Dada."

Awkward Dad: "Where was all that love for me when we were taking pictures? You acted like I was trying to kidnap you!"

Me: "I kinda like this one."

Awkward Dad: "Are you kidding?! I don't end. Why did she put me on the edge like that? You didn't use that one for the directory, did you?"

Me: ...

Super Toddler: "ICE CREAM!!"

Awkward Dad: "You did?!?! I look awful! And huge! People at church are going to think we had more kids but I ate them! Why did you pick that one?"

Me: "Well, it's the only one where I don't look insane."

Awkward Dad: "You don't look insane in this one."

Super Preschooler: "Ice Cream, please!"

Me: "Maybe, just hold on. I totally look insane; I am not even looking at the camera!"

Awkward Dad: "Well, what was wrong with this one?"

Me: "Are you serious? Super P. is holding a football in front of his face! Where did he even get that anyway?"

Awkward Dad: "The photographer seemed to think that it made the picture more interesting."

Me: "As if Super Toddler's face here wasn't doing that already. What is in his mouth?"

Super Toddler: "ICE CREAM!"

Awkward Dad: "Well, I hope you are happy. Everyone is gonna think that I just came from an eating competition and have the meat sweats. Even our current church friends are gonna shun us and you can forget about making any new ones."

Me: "It isn't that bad. You can just tell people that you had a cold and the lights were really hot. But..."

Super Preschooler and Super Toddler: "ICE CREAM!"

Awkward Dad and Me: "IN A MINUTE!"

Super Baby: "Dada. Dada. Dada."

Awkward Dad: "You aren't fooling anybody, Super Traitor. But what?"

Me: "What?"

Awkward Dad: "You said But..."

Super Preschooler: "BUTT!!"

Awkward Dad: "No, I didn't mean that kind. And that kind of talk isn't funny."

Super Toddler: "Funny! Butt!"

Me: "I was just wondering where your glasses were. Why weren't you wearing your glasses?"

Awkward Dad: "They were smeared and I thought they would look weird."

Me: "Well, it might have broken up some of the sheen. You know, just a little."

Awkward Dad: "I HAVE A COLD! You better tell people I have a cold when you go blogging about this, because I know that you are gonna blog about this and not tell people that I am not usually this sweaty because you are gonna think it is funny, so you better make sure they know that I HAVE A COLD!"

Super Preschooler: "I would like some ice cream, Mommy. Please."

Me: "OK, ice cream, it is. And I still don't think it is that bad."

Awkward Dad: "humph. I have a cold."

Oh sure, now they smile.

So, basically, the church photo shoot went down with typical awkwardness. Stay tuned for photos large enough to actually see! Oh, and by the way, Awkward Dad had a cold.

I just thank the good Lord that she waited until we were home to pull this pose.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. the Anime Convention

Now, to be clear, she is not really taking on anime itself; Awkward Mom is awkward, not crazy. I mean, those people are robots, airbenders, teenaged bikers, bounty hunters, alchemists, cyborgs, ninjas, goldfish, police officers, vampire hunters, steampunks, hedgehogs, master thieves, man-wolves, mobsters, dream invaders, and monsters, of both the duel and pockets variety. No way is she dealing with that motley crew. She is talking about decent, but mostly awkward, people who dress up like anime characters and show up to confuse and delight her dress-up obsessed son. Them, she is taking on.

They are called Cosplayers, narrator o' mine. And they are currently everywhere in the Great Wolf Lodge. They are pretty much hanging off the surfaces, just like the lodgey decor. So, now, we have the Cracker Barrel of lodge/anime. And frankly, it is totally freaky looking.

I have no beef with cosplayers. I have never been one because I don't have the energy, sewing skills, or the desire to explain what obscure character from "Cyborg 009" I am dressed as. (Fran├žoise Arnoul, by the way, but that really isn't fair, because that is a magna, not an anime... Are we loving this post yet, Readers? So super nerdy! ) Moreover, although I love some good manga, my reading material is usually reserved for the magical world of Marvel comics (house of M withstanding). I am no expert on magna or anime. My good ally (and the aptly named), Magna Mom is, and her son, Charming Preschooler is a pretty big fan too. Maybe I will ask her to guest post about the use of anime/magna in parenting one day (I have a feeling there is a ton of material there), but that will have to wait, because today I am telling you about the craziness going on in this here lodge.

But first, I have to sidetrack again (huge shock there) and tell you about Magic Quest. As you can see (and hear; yikes! Is it as loud on your computer?) from the above link, Magic Quest is "the World's Largest Live Action Game!" OK, here's how it works: you buy your child a wand. (I assume that you could play it yourself but it is aimed to ages 6-12.) Your child takes this wand and waves it at things (strategically placed all over the lodge) that have the Magic Quest logo on them (a M and a Q all intertwined to look cool) and the things open/talk/move around. I have no idea how this works. Awkward Dad went on and on about infra-red technology, but I think it is real magic, as does Super P. You wave your wand at some fake trees and a computer screen pops out to give you quests or adventures to complete. You look for runes/crystals or find treasure or save fairies or battle dragons. You end up talking to all manner of storybook folk (including the wizard who shouts at you if you click on the above link)and there is a medieval/Renaissance Fair vibe to the whole thing; understandably, Super Preschooler loses his mind with glee. And for the record, no, I did not know that this game was at our hotel until we got there.

None of our questing pictures turned out, I think there was too much wand waving going on, but here is a picture of Super Preschooler with his:

It is ultra him. The Magic Quest proprietor (a pimply young man in a tunic) tries to talk Super P. into a brown wand with a dragon on it, but our hero knows his own mind. It is shocking pink with a unicorn topper, and every time that he waves it at a computer screen in the game, a giant unicorn appears, to bound over a rainbow and neigh loud enough to be heard in the water park. Oh, it is epic.

Super P. has been happily playing this for 2 days at this point and even Super Toddler has a wand (a utilitarian blue with no topper...all business, that Super T.); they are romping through the halls. Awkward Dad is lagging behind with the stroller and I am trying to keep up. You see, I am the keeper of the "the Ancient Book of Wisdom" (a booklet with the rules and some hints) because I am the only one of our merry trio of questers who can read. We are seeking the Enchant Creature Rune, and actually making some headway, when Super Preschooler comes to a screeching halt on the balcony and stares over into the lobby. Super Toddler, never known for his breaks, slams right into Super Preschooler and nearly tumbles over the railing. I grab him and examine him for injuries and therefore miss Super Preschooler's face as he intones (in a voice about as loud as the Wizard's), "Princesses!" Awkward Dad told me later that Super Preschooler's face resembled one's as one gazes upon the Shroud of Turin.

Thinking he has spied some aspect of the game, I casually look over the railing to be confronted by something like this. Except, of course, these girls do not have eyes the size of plates and are dealing with little things like gravity and the third and fourth dimensions. Foes that their inspirations never had to tangle with. They are standing in a line by a table, and they are trailed by (in no particular order): a girl dressed as Mario (as in the game), a girl dressed as Link (also as in the game) a traditional Catholic schoolgirl waving a flag, 2 ghosts, something fishy-looking with a tail, a homemade approximation of this, a panda, and numerous gothy looking girls with brightly colored wigs. Incredulous, I turn to Awkward Dad, who simply smiles and points to a sign across the lobby that proclaims, "Welcome Northern Michigan Anime Convention. Cosplay judging located outside the gift shop."

Thinking that his Magic Quest wand just opened a portal into a fairy land, Super Preschooler goes running down the stairs and dives into the wild world of nerdom, about 10 years ahead of schedule. Oh boy. So, we go trailing after and find him chatting up a rather sweet girl in a puffy white dress who is only too pleased to tell us all about Princess Tutu. Super Preschooler is entranced. Super Toddler is bored, so he wanders off to find out what the Cowboy Bebop guys are up to. The cosplayer girls come running over to ooh and aah at Super Baby and I am reminded that teenage girls are teenage girls, regardless of their hair color. Although, Super Baby really does have eyes the size of plates, so that might be helping her case here. Awkward Dad, who has a decent history with comic conventions, seems right at home, so I give in and just let the awkward flow.

And flow it does. There are cosplayers dressed as everything under the sun. We watch a gaggle of giggling Ghost Hounds gather by the fireplace. I am able to cover Super Preschooler's eyes when I catch him eyeing some Samurai Girls, but Awkward Dad is a grown man, there was little I could do about that. We observe what looks like a business meeting of vampire hunters, and admire the stitching of many a homemade cloak. We witness a frantic Princess Resurrection call her father about some missing supplies, and we are delighted to see the King himself, when he drives over to bring her the hair straightener and corset that she forgot at home. The best part is watching Super Preschooler interact with all these teenagers. Little know fact, Readers: all teenagers think they are too cool, even when they are wearing the equivalent of a Madi Gras float on their person. Awkward Dad and I are treated like oh so much background noise, but the Supers? The Supers are embraced like long lost relatives. Is it the fact that they have wands or that Super Preschooler deems most of the costumes there "stunning" or "gorgeous"? Are Super Baby's enormous eyes the tipping point? Maybe. But I think the gentle, creative, magic that lurks within the person brave enough to play pretend well into their teens and beyond knows how to treat little kids with kindness and respect. For some reason, cosplayers have managed to hang on to their childlike wonder at the prospect of dress-up, and for that reason alone, I admire them. Despite some of the more questionable aspects of their costumes, I would have let any of these folks babysit. I mean, come on; think about what kind of amazing pretend play that would be!

So, it is all weird and crazy and delightfully awkward, and then the awkward level goes right through the beam-laden lodge roof. I know that I have hinted at the clock tower in the main lobby. I can't really explain it and pictures do NOT do it justice. Just go check it out at youtube, right here. Take your time, but it really gets going around minute 3. Now, try to picture all those refugees from an eighties Chuck E. Cheese singing for me, Awkward Dad, a wand waving Super Preschooler, a completely overtired Super Toddler manically running in circles, a Super Baby that has decided the fireplace is the place to pull up, about a dozen more exhausted families with young, over-stimulated children, about 45 cosplayers (including one dressed as Steve from Blues Clues...I wanna see that anime right now!), someone dressed up as Oliver (the lodge's resident raccoon), and 3 employees from the Great Wolf Lodge, trying to act like this is totally normal. Let it sink in. Got it? Yes, pure awkward (nerd-tinged) bliss. You really have to soak that in when you are lucky enough to come across it. Watching all those cosplayers doing the "Great Wolf Lodge Wolf Howl" is one of the truly awkwardly epic moments of my life and it will lodge in my memory forever. Pun totally intended.

It is a little hard to adjust to normal life after an experience like that, and we were worried that all other awkward experiences would seem flat and, well, normal. Should have has more faith in the Supers and their ability to locate the awkward among us. For, Super Preschooler has started Preschool again and Super Toddler is in a class of his own at First Steps. Super Toddler even has a new nemesis; Circle Time....oh, you won't want to miss the fall follies and frolics around here, Readers. They should prove to be awkward indeed. Catch you later!!

Words fail me, Readers. Words fail here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Lodge Expectations

When Awkward Mom presented the idea of going to northern Michigan for the first Awkward Family Vacation ever, she talked about the unspoiled scenery, the beaches, the lighthouses, the rolling hills. It painted a picture of a Norman Rockwellian summer vacation with barefoot children collecting shells and romping in the bounty of nature. Who wouldn't want that? So, therefore, it makes perfect sense that she would book the Supers in a hotel that has a waterpark in it. Oh, and an arcade. And an interactive video game. And animatronic Chucky-Cheese-like creatures that pop out of a clock and sing once an hour. And an anime convention. Did I mention the salon or the gift shop? No? Well, let's let Awkward Mom tell you, shall we?

For the record, I had no idea about the anime convention.

I really did not intend to take the children to a resort for their vacation. I really didn't. What happened was that I did a search on Travelocity. Or was it Expedia? Which one does Captain Kirk work for? Oh well, nevermind; one of those sites. I was looking for a hotel that wasn't a chain. Something fun and quaint and unique. Something to perfectly capture the great family vacation to northern Michigan that I was looking for. And this Great Wolf Lodge thing popped up. The rates seemed fair and I thought it would be nice to stay in a lodge for our trip to northern Michigan. It just seemed a lodgey place, you know?

Well, for those of you too lazy to click on the link above, the Great Wolf Lodge is a chain. Don't feel bad about being lazy, I clearly didn't click on it because I didn't even know it was a chain until I walked into the lobby and saw all the flags from their different locations. Flags, Readers. There was a theme-song playing too. A theme song. In a lobby about as un-lodgey as can be, by the way. Well, that isn't really fair. It was actually massively lodgey. There were stuffed animals everywhere. Like Norman-Bates-taxidermy stuffed animals. Not children's playthings; although there were plenty of those in the gift shop. There was a big fireplace. There were wooden beams and tons of wooden furniture and bear pelts and lodge stuff. Like a ton of lodge stuff. Lodge stuff hanging off of nearly everything and nailed to every single wall. It was like the Cracker Barrel of lodge-stuff. But mostly, it was kinda like if Disneyland made a lodge, you know. Totally lodged out in every direction, and therefore, not really lodgey at all. Does that make sense at all? Here, this might help:

This is a photo of the clock tower (and residents) that sings throughout the day (more on that later). Do you see what I mean? Lodgey but Disney-lodgey.

Now, I have to confess something right away. I have never been to Disneyland. Or Disneyworld. Or EuroDisney. Or any of them. Is there one on the moon yet? Anywho, the point is, I don't really know what Disneyland is like. I have an idea about what it might be like. A prejudiced, exaggerated, mostly based on a Jim Gaffigan video I once saw, idea about Disneyland. I think of Disneyland as someplace rather sanitized, really bright, ultra peppy, super clean, and kinda fake. Now Readers, don't get the wrong idea! An idea like: "Hey, Awkward Mom wants to take her kids to dirty, dark, dank, real places." I would love to go to Disneyland. Or Disneyworld. Or Disneymoon. It hasn't been in the cards yet (as in the credit cards), but we'll make it there. I just wouldn't have referred to the Great Wolf Lodge as a lodge. I would have called it a resort. And here is the rub, I have never been to one of those either.

Now, before you get more wrong ideas and start thinking that the Awkward Grandparents had us working in sweatshops and kept us chained to our desks, we totally took vacations. Have you meet my mother? Of course, we took vacations. What is that? Oh no, I didn't mean literally, although I am sure she would love to have you over. She loves guests. We should all hang out sometime. What I really mean is: have you read about my mother here and here? The woman adores adventure and travel. She just never seems to adore staying at a resort or going on a cruise, and I am pretty sure she has never been to Disneyland. She is creative and wants to plan her own travel. She always wants to see something off the beaten path. This is the woman who once planned an entire Illinois road trip based around weird Abraham Lincoln statues. She had us trolling graveyards and peeking around trees on that one. Of course, the best part was when we nearly drove into a demolition derby to see a water tower with "an angry Abraham Lincoln, clutching the Emancipation Proclamation" on the side of it. I'll tell you about it sometime. My parents took us to Yellowstone, the Black Hills, the Badlands, the Rocky Mountains, Washington D.C., the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the Alamo, Alaska, and even Northern Michigan. I have seen Hitler's Bicycle and a double-decker outhouse, but those are tales for another time.

My point is (I seem to be saying that a lot this post....) that my childhood vacations tended to be the home-grown, put it together yourself, travel book at the ready, Ikea-like vacations. The hiking around, picking rocks off the beach, going were the wind takes you, dirty, gas station bathrooms, meeting locals, eating fast food, getting ice in a bucket with no liner, entering the motel from an outside door (you know what I am talking about), nomadic vacation. Now, don't you feel sorry for me, Readers. I had it great. Talk to Awkward Dad if you wanna hear about traveling west in the summer with no air-conditioning, a basket of baloney sandwiches and RC colas, and just 1 Huey Lewis tape to listen to. You'll pull out your violins for that one. Unless, of course, you love baloney and rocking out to the Power of Love.

OK, here is my point (last time, I swear): while I would love to take a cruise or a tour or go to a resort or go to Disneyland, I never have. To me, a family vacation involves a lot of driving, a lot of walking, and a lot of really weird sight-seeing. Now, this Great Wolf Lodge is acing that last one, but it wasn't what I was expecting. And we all know how dangerous expectations are. The ugly dirty shameful truth is that I kinda wanted to recapture my childhood a little bit. (Horrors!)

But I did. You know, watch my kids go romping down the beach, oohing and aahing over pretty rocks. Actually watch them. Have the time to sit there and watch them play without having to race here or do this or feel all the million tiny pressures of the house. I wanted that feeling of adventure and freedom again. I wanted to see them pleased; I just thought it would be with things other than giant water slides. But if there is one thing I have learned about parenting, it is that your expectations will always be shattered. But I could have the idyllic family vacation I wanted with my family. I just had to recalculate my expectations a little. And I did. Very quickly. Like the second the Supers went tearing across the lobby to press their faces up against the windows into the water park. Well, it might have taken until second 2, when Awkward Dad went tearing after them to do that same thing. Or maybe, it was second 3, when they all turned to me with grins the size of Texas and asked, "Can we go?"

"Yes, we can go."

"Just let me check out this weird clock thingie first."

And we'll tell you all about the clock thingie when you tune in next time, Readers! Stay tuned. And don't feel too bad for Awkward Mom and her expectations. Sometimes, they are met perfectly:

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. the Family Vacation

And this little piggy said "are we there yet? are we there yet?" all the way home....

Well, we did it! We survived our first family vacation. We travelled to 4 states in all and had numerous adventures. We went to a water park, a year-round Christmas store full of breakable baubles, beaches full of my arch-nemesis (aka: SAND), and a resort full of my other arch-nemesis (aka: Perfect Moms); all with 3 children under the age of 4. Why? I am not sure, we must be insane. No, not quite insane, it isn't like we ran a marathon in Disneyland or anything. We are just really awkward.

And Readers, I am not kidding; the awkward follows us. For who was at our hotel this week but the northern Michigan anime convention. An Awesomely Awkward Anime Convention; Holy nerdtastic Batman! You will just have to stay tuned to hear all about it. I am off to unload a week's worth of sand from the Awkward Mobile....ugh.....why was that little piggy in such a hurry to get home again?

And now, a preview of the awkward:

Super Baby, who spent the vacation crawling where she wasn't supposed to and pulling up on a variety of hotel furniture. And Super Baby's anime-huge eyes, which had me clinging to her for dear life anytime I ventured out among the Cosplayers.

Super Toddler and his pretty much permanent vacation expression.

Super Preschooler and his Magic Quest wand. More on that later, but needless to say, someone decided to LARP a little earlier than I was prepared for.

Did I mention the Arcade we went to? No? Ah well, here we have a collection of very "appropriate" prizes. Huge snake for Super P. and baby snake for Super Baby. Super Toddler is the one holding the blaster that makes at least 14 different sounds. Sigh.

Double Sigh.

Nothing says Awkward Summer Vacation quite like posing with a coy and fairly creepy Santa.