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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wait, he did WHAT??

First, I have to apologize to my son for sharing this.  In about, oh, five years, he's really going to hate me for this.  But, it's too good not to share.  So, sorry Gavin, but you should've thought twice before you did this.  Plus, laughing at the ridiculous things you did as a child (and for me, as an adult) will make you a better person.  I swear.

It's the last day of school (with students), around 9:30 a.m., and I'm trying to restrain myself from throwing my laptop out of the window because it has, yet again, crashed and given me the blue screen of death.  My students are quietly taking their exams, and all is well.  Suddenly, Mindy, one of the school secretaries, appears outside of my classroom door.  (Okay, she didn't just "appear," she walked to the door and stood outside of it.  "Appears" just sounded cooler)  She has her cell phone in hand and is frantically waving for me to come outside of the classroom and talk to her.  I give my students an evil glare, just try to cheat while I'm in the hallway, and rush to see what the problem is.  I knew it would have to be something serious because we were right in the middle of exams.

Me:  What's up?

Mindy: Peas in the Pod is on the phone (Gavin's daycare), and they need to talk to you.  They're on hold in the office, but you can just use my cell phone and call them.

Image c/o

Now, parents, you know that if you get a call from daycare it's usually because your child is sick or they've done something naughty.  My first thought was that Gavin was "not listening and hitting his friends" again, and I was going to have to get on the phone with him and threaten him with his life.  My second thought was that he was sick, and I'd have to leave right after exams to get him.  Neither of these things constituted an emergency in my eyes.

I tried to call from Mindy's phone, but the line was busy.  So, I hurried down to the teacher's lounge to pick up the call on the phone in there.

Me:  This is Andrea.

Katelynn:  Hi Andrea, it's Katelynn.  Sorry to bother you, but we had a little incident with Gavin.

Me:  Okay . . .

Katelynn:  While we were outside on the playground, he pulled down his pants, and well, . . . he went poop on the playground . . . with all the other kids watching.

Me:  He did what?

Katelynn:  Yeah, he just pulled down his pants and pooped. 

Seriously?  Wait, he did what?  He took a shit on the playground?!?  I have to admit, I was in shock.  I'm sure my mouth was hanging wide open.

Katelynn:  So, we were just wondering what you wanted us to do with him?

Me:  (Still in shock)  Well, um, did he go on his pants or his underwear?  Does he not have any clean clothes?

Katelynn:  No, he's fine; his clothes are fine.  We just weren't sure what you wanted us to do.

Oh, I see.  They were wondering, "What the hell do we do with this kid that just crapped on the playground?  Do we punish him?"  Clearly, this is not an occurance that they're used to dealing with.

Me:  Um.  Is he right there?  Can I talk to him?

Image c/o

So, Katelynn hands the phone to Gavin.

Gavin:  Hi, Mommy.  (All cheerful and cute like he didn't just drop his shorts and crap outside)

Me:  Gavin, did you go poop on the playground?

Gavin:  Yes.

Me:  Why did you poop on the playground?  (Am I really having this conversation right now???)

Gavin:  Because I did.  (Okay, thanks for explaining that.  It makes perfect sense).

Me:  Are you supposed to poop on the playground?  (This seems like a question with a very obvious answer)

Gavin:  No.

Me:  Okay, well, you did something you know you're not supposed to do, so I'm going to have Miss Katelynn put you in timeout.  I'm going to call Daddy and have him talk to you, too.  Daddy's going to tell you that you don't get to go to the tractor store now.  (Yes, the tractor store is a treat for my kid.  What can I say?)

Gavin:  Okay, Mommy.

So, I get off the phone, give Andy a call, and leave him a voice mail explaining the situation and tell him to give daycare a call when he gets a chance.  What the hell.  At this point, I don't really know what to think.  First, I can't get past the fact that this is funny.  No, wait, this is hilarious.  I can just imagine the entire scenario in my head.  Second, is there something wrong with my kid?  Why does he think he can drop a deuce anywhere he wants?  Third, I can't help but feel that I'm stuck in a really bad movie, and I'm the only one who doesn't know that it's a movie.  Did this seriously just happen?  Why does the weirdest shit (no pun intended) always happen to me?

So, we gave Gavin his punishment, had a talk with him, and let it drop.  I mean, I'm not going to punish the kid for days on end for pooping on the playground  . . . so long as it doesn't become a habit.  Looking back, there were signs that maybe something like this was going to happen.  Maybe I shouldn't have let him pee outside when we went camping.  Maybe his dad shouldn't have let him pee in the woods when they went hiking.  Maybe we should have done a better job of explaining when he was so curious as to why the dogs pooped outside.  Either way, lesson learned.  And, we have an awesome story to tell for years to come!

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Liar, Liar, . . .

Fact: We all lie.

Some people tell really big lies, but most people tell relatively small ones, and most of us do this on a daily basis.

"Wow, (insert name of relative here), I really love the (insert name of really crappy gift here) that you got me.  I can't wait to wear/use it!"

"I would love to come to your candle/purse/really-expensive-cookware party, but I have the (insert a random but common illness here)."

"That haircut looks really great on you!  You look so much younger/thinner!"

"I don't know what happened to your M&M's, Gavin.  You must have ate them all!"  (Okay, I confess.  I ate them.  They were good, and once I had one I just couldn't stop.  I deserve a little chocolate now and then, don't I?  Not the whole bag?  Oh, okay.  My fault.)

Little white lies.  No big deal.  Right?  Well, that's what I thought, too, until a certain three-year-old started telling little white lies to me.

Me:  Gavin, did you pick up your toys?

Gavin: Yes, Mommy, I picked up my toys.

Me:  Are you sure you picked them all up?  Every single toy?

Gavin: Yes, Momma, come look!

And this is what I found . . .


My first thought was that maybe he didn't understand what I meant when I asked if he picked up all of his toys.  I mean, he did pick up some. (By "some" I mean maybe five, and that's being generous.)  "Hmmm," I thought, and told him he needed to finish picking up the rest of his toys.  While I was a little perplexed at this, I didn't really give it a lot of thought, until later that same day.

Gavin: Mommy, can I have my treat now?

Me:  Did you eat all of your Poptart?

Gavin: Yes, I ate it all.

Me: Okay, I'm going come check.

And this is what I found . . .

Oh, you mean that Poptart?

I was in shock.  Wait, what just happened here?  I think he lied to me.  Oh my gosh, I think he just LIED to me!  I couldn't believe this!  It's not that I am living in some fantasy world where I think my kid is a precious little angel who never does anything wrong (I mean, have you read some of my other posts?), but he's never lied.  In fact, he's sometimes honest to a fault.  He tells on himself when he says words that he's not supposed to.  "Mommy, I just said 'stupid' when I was in the bathroom."  He even tells on himself for being mean to the dog (A common occurrence around here.  Might explain why the dog is a psychopath.).  "Mommy, I just hit Arnie, and he's very sad."

Okay, Andrea, try not to overreact.  Maybe he thought he finished most of his Poptart and now he could have a treat?  I was only comforted by that thought for a little while, though, because the lies just kept coming.

- "Yes, I finished my quesadilla."
- "Yes, I put my shoes on."
- "Yes, I put my clothes on." (see below)

Totally dressed.  Sun's out, guns out!

And on and on and on.  I was to the point where I could no longer deny the fact that this tiny person was not telling me the truth.  So, how was I going to handle it?  I didn't have to wait long for another opportunity to address the matter.

Me: Gavin, did you pick up all of the clothes that were on the floor in your bedroom?

Gavin:  Yes, Mommy, come look and see.  (Okay, so he's not getting the point that he shouldn't want me to come look and SEE that he's lying).

And this is what I found . . .

Clothes?  What clothes?

So, what did I do?  Oh, I used a fancy little trick known as "timeout."  I explained to him that since he lied and told me he picked up all his clothes when he didn't that he would have to go in timeout for lying.  Luckily, timeouts still work relatively well for Gavin, so he was pretty sad that he'd have to spend some time alone in his room. (I'll admit, I was a little elated.  Five minutes of quiet?  To myself?  Yippee!!!)  After his timeout was over, I told him he had to really pick up all of the clothes this time, and he did.  I'm not sold on the idea that he understood the lying part, but only time will tell...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Why We Don't Eat Our Young

As humans, there is a reason we don't eat our young.  It's not because our brains are so much more advanced than other mammals, it's not because kids don't taste very good (I am not speaking from experience.  Seriously.), and it's not because we mostly have some kind of moral compass that prevents us from devouring our offspring.  The reason we don't eat our young is simple: they look so damn cute when they sleep.  Yep, it's the truth.  Sleep is not only necessary for proper growth, it's necessary for survival. And by survival I mean giving your parents a break so they don't kill you, and reminding them of how incredibly adorable you are so that they'll allow to live long enough to see your next birthday.

Post-tantrum nap.  Awww.
I love my kid, don't get me wrong, but there are times when I am counting down the seconds until it is his bedtime.  These are usually the days when I'm convinced he woke up with the mission to single-handedly send me over the edge into insanity.  You know, the days when he goes from room to room making catastrophic messes in world-record time; the days when he decides Mommy's comforter would look really pretty if it had some "artwork" on it (preferably in black Sharpie ink); the days when he somehow manages to use a toy hammer to whack my kitchen table to the point of near-destruction (Really, toy makers, they don't need to be that sturdy).  Those are the days when I'm counting.

Sleeping in style.

Oh, there have been days where I thought about putting him in a perma-timeout, like the time (while potty training) he decided to take a dump in our deck box rather than in the toilet.  Or, there was the time he threw a 45-minute, knock-down, drag-out tantrum in Meijer (at 7 am, mind you).  But, on those days, no timeout is going to cut it.  I need him to sleep - for a very long time.  I need a good 8 - 10 hours to recharge my emotional battery and just enjoy some peace and quiet (minus the dog snoring.  Seriously, dog for sale!) and not have to worry about what he's getting into that he's not supposed to or what he's destroying.  It's not just the sleeping I need him to do, though.  I need that glimpse of my sweet, innocent, precious little boy that always appears when he's far off in dreamland to remind me that my child is not the devil's spawn (despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary).

Drooling on the iPad

Let's face it, kids are adorable when they sleep.  They're all peaceful and innocent . . . and silent and still and not breaking things and not clinging to my leg and not crying because they want a Poptart that they always get themselves but they want you to get it for them this time because they just want you to.  They look like little angels (contrary to their behavior from earlier in the day), and they almost make you forget how awful they were earlier.  Almost.  Luckily, it's just enough to prevent you from going primal on them and devouring them like an angry lion tearing the flesh from a freshly killed gazelle (A little too graphic, huh?  Sorry.).  So, there is my theory on why we don't eat our young.  I'm pretty sure this will be verified in some highly-respected science journal in no time at all.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Late-Night Visitor: The Saga Unfolds

I'm sure you're all dying to know what's going on with my evil garage creature; you've got nothing else going on, right?  Well, my friends, today is your lucky day!  Feel like you just won the lottery, huh?  I understand.  Before I tell you how the saga unfolded, I think I should give a short recap.

Recap:  Something in my garage.  Coming in at night.  Poop.  Rat poison.  Raccoon party?  Cat!

Image c/o
So, when we last left off, I was convinced that my new BFF was a cat - a sneaky, dirty cat with well-regulated bowels.  I also thought that said feline was coming into the garage in the middle of the night, through the side door, and tormenting me.  Well, I had a plan to take care of this: I was going to STOP this evil kitty from entering the garage.  How was I going to do that?  Well, I was going to put something really heavy in front of the door, duh.  So, that's what I did.  I found some paving stones (the kind that make a circle around a tree), and I barricaded the door.  Ha, cat!  I've defeated you at last! 

Not so much.  I awoke the next morning to more destruction in my garage.  More poop, more pee, more messes, AND the jerk had moved the pavers away from the door.  What the hell!??!  Clearly, I was dealing with some kind of freakish cat-mutant.  Upon entering my car, however, I discovered yet another clue: footprints.  Alas, my guest was not a cat.  Back to my original idea of raccoon or possum.  Whatever it was, it was strong, and I was getting a little nervous for my safety (note: I just added that last part for dramatic effect).

Image c/o

After discussing the issue, the idea was brought to my attention that maybe this evil critter was trapped in my garage.  It wasn't coming IN at night, it was trying to get OUT.  The more I thought about, the more it made sense.  Frat-Boy-Raccoon was hiding in my garage during the day and trying to escape at night.  It was being so destructive because it couldn't figure out how to get the heck out and onto that night's kegger.  Alright.  Now at least I had an idea of the issue I was facing; I just needed a plan.  I somehow had to get this alcohol-deprive marsupial out of my garage.

My first plan revolved around the fact that I have a dog.  I have a dog.  Dogs chase animals.  My dog will chase the animal out of the garage.  Well, that plan was shot as soon as I took one look at my dog.  If you've met my beagle (Arnie), then this requires no explanation.  But, if you don't, let me tell you a little bit about Arnie:  He's a wuss.  He's afraid to cross the threshold from the kitchen to the living room, he's afraid of his own water bowl, and he's nuts.  Really, he's crazy.  He's the reason they invented Doggy Prozac.  If they had doggy mental institutions, they wouldn't even need to do an evaluation to admit him.  He's that nuts.  Well, scratch that idea.  Damn dog.


On to Plan B: lure the creature out of the garage by putting some dog food outside of the garage and leaving the garage door cracked.  Great idea, but it had some potential downfalls.  1.  What if I lured it out and it went right back in?  2.  What if I lured the entire partying-raccoon fraternity into the garage?  3.  What if it liked the dog food so much that it kept coming back or decided to move in permanently?  (I mean, I do buy the good dog food.  It's "all-natural" which means it's probably made the same as all other dog food but it costs $5 more a bag.)  While my plan had some drawbacks, I had to give it a try; I was so over picking up disgusting feces every morning while Gavin yelled from the kitchen, "Momma, did the raccoon poop in our garage again?  Can I see the poop?"  Ugh.  No, you may not. 

Image c/o
So, that night, I cracked the garage door (I couldn't leave it all the way open.  Someone might see that as an invitation to raid my garage or kill me.  I was mostly worried about the latter).  I strategically placed some "all-natural" dog food outside of the garage door, and I went to bed.  At that point, I was feeling pretty clever.  The next morning, I woke with a mixture of excitement and fear; excitement that I had possibly outsmarted this clever creature and fear that I would only find more shit.  I opened the garage door to find . . .  SUCCESS!  Nothing was amiss, there was no poop, nothing was stolen, and the dog food was gone.  Hooray!

Try not to be too impressed.  Don't feel bad about yourself because you might not have been as clever as I was in coming up with a strategy-filled-creature-ridding plan.  It's okay.  Maybe one day you'll have a chance to come up with a really great plan of your own.  Until then, I will bask in my glory.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

I Want to Hit My Mommy!

If you have a toddler, have ever had a toddler, or have ever been within 100 feet of a toddler, you know all about temper tantrums.  I'm pretty sure that somewhere there is a manual titled How to be a Successful Toddler, and the first five chapters are all about how to execute a good temper tantrum.  They're almost like a rite of passage.  You will never grow up to be a successful adult who contributes to society if you don't throw some amazing tantrums.  So, if tantrums are a requirement for being a well-adjusted and contributory adult, then my son is going to win the Nobel Peace Prize as he has perfected the art of tantrum throwing.

Now, back when Gavin was younger, say around 2, he threw some decent tantrums (or so I thought at the time).  Sure, we had the the "I don't want to go" tantrums and the "I don't want to eat that" tantrums, but who doesn't?  At the time, these pesky little tantrums tested my patience and frustrated me, but looking back, they were nothing.  At best, they lasted five minutes, involved some crying, screaming, and an occasional throwing of the body onto the ground.  I had no idea what they could manifest into.

Suddenly, shortly before Gavin turned 3, he gained a whole new set of skills relating to temper tantrums.  The first really good one occurred after we left a McDonald's play place.  The problems started the moment Gavin entered the play place.  He wanted to slide and go through the tunnels, but he was scared.  So, he would get halfway up, into some hard-to-see and not easily accessed area of the play place, and then start crying.  "I don't want to slide down the slide."  Then don't.  Just come back down, and we'll go home.  So, down he would come, only to start crying, "I want to slide down the slide."  But you just said you didn't want to slide down the slide.  Back into the play place he would go, only to decide he didn't want to slide.  And back and forth we went, until finally, exhausted, I told him we were leaving. 

Commence tantrum.  He crawled back into the play place, and I crawled in after him, picked him up, and set him on the chair to put his shoes on.  As I did this, all hell broke loose.  He started swinging at me, and he even connected a few times.  He screamed, "Mommy, STOP!" over and over until every person in the place was staring at me like I was hurting my child.  There was spitting and kicking; it was a sight to see.  I somehow managed to stay calm, carry him over my shoulder (still kicking, screaming, and acting like I was torturing him), and strap his naughty butt in the car seat.  Whew!  I thought.  Now that were out of there, he'll calm down.  Oh, how naive I was.

The famous McDonald's Tantrum.
Once we were on the road, he didn't stop crying, he didn't calm down, and he took the tantrum to a whole new level.  He screamed and screamed and screamed.  I thought to myself: I'll just ignore him.  That's what you're supposed to do, right?  Ignore him, and he'll stop.  So, I stared straight ahead and turned up the radio.  Well, that clearly just pissed him off.  The next thing I know, shoes are flying at me and hitting me square in the back of the head.  He's cries of "I want to go down the slide" changed to "I don't like you Mommy!  I want my Daddy!"  So, how did I handle this?  I whipped out my phone and snapped a picture of him.  Let me tell you, that went over well.  He screamed and cried the rest of the 15 minute drive home (after his socks, there was nothing else to throw at me), and then I took him (kicking and screaming), put him in his room, and shut the door.  I estimate that, by the time he finally calmed down, 30 minutes has elasped.

This tantrum was a 9 out of 10.  Notice he has no shoes on.

I'd like to pretend that this type of tantrum only happened once, but you'd have to give me a seriously strong whack on the head (and not with a shoe, please) to make me forget some of the other ones.  Gavin seems to have a preference to grocery store tantrums.  These usually involve screaming, kicking, standing up in the front of the cart,  hitting, throwing things, and (of course) statements that make people think I'm beating him.  My favorite part, though, is when he starts yelling, "I want to hit my mommy!"  Nice, kid, nice.  I'm sorry, let me just go ahead and allow you hit me.  Feel better now?  Great!  Once, I walked through Meijer, pulling the cart from the front (my solution to him trying to hit me, which makes him yell about how he wants to hit me), while he hollered for almost 35 minutes.  And the whole time, I smiled at all the other shoppers like I was trying out to be the next Miss America. (I momentarily stopped to document the tantrum with a photo, of course)

So, how do I get him to calm down and eventually stop throwing a tantrum.  I just let it run its course.  I'm sure there are better methods, but my thinking is this:  It's pretty hard being a toddler, having all these feelings and not knowing how to express them.  Sometimes, they just need to get them all out.  So, purge my child, purge.  And you know what, when he's done and all the bad feelings are purged, he's really great the rest of the day.  (I do, of course, dole out consequences for the hitting - but more on that another time.) Seems like a fair trade for 35 minutes of embarrassing and frustrating hell!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Things Toddlers Don't Understand

At the ripe-old age of three, my son apparently knows way more than I thought he did.  For instance, even though he's 13 years away from his driver's license, and about 2 feet from being able to reach the gas peddle, he is already a better drive than I am.  And, he has no problem letting me know by shouting his little backseat-driver directions from his five-point harness car seat.  "Momma, that's a stop sign.  You have to stop".  What he doesn't get is that stop signs in the Meijer parking lot don't really count as stop signs.  They're just there for decoration.  "Momma why are you going slow?"  Well, because if I go any faster, I'm going to ram into the car in front of me, and that just wouldn't be fun, now would it?  (Well, maybe a little.).  "Momma, stop turning like that. If I don't turn, we're going to go off the road and into the ditch.  Not what I had on my agenda today.  So, as my son was kindly informing me of my faults as a driver, it led me to think that, although he knows a lot, there are some things he just doesn't get.

Image c/o
Boxer Shorts:
One day, on an impulse-purchase shopping spree, I bought my son some boxer shorts.  How cute, little tiny boxer shorts!  I took them home, showed them to him, and he was not impressed.  First, they didn't have Thomas the Train or Toy Story on them.  Boring.  Second, they didn't look like the whitey-tighties he's used to wearing.  So, in a moment of sheer brilliance (which would later turn out to be sheer madness), I explained to him that they were "underwear shorts."  What I meant was that they were underwear that looked like shorts.  His interpretation: they're underwear and shorts in one.  "Awesome," he's thinking in his tiny little mind, "now I only have to put one thing on in the morning because these count as underwear AND shorts."  So, to this day, I'm still fighting the battle of trying to get him to understand that he can't go to daycare in just boxer shorts.  "But, Momma, they're underwear shorts."  Sigh.

Image c/o
The nice thing about my son is that he's pretty good at communicating what he's thinking.  The bad thing?  He has no tact.  He just opens his adorable little mouth and spits out  gems like, "Momma, why does that lady look like a boy?" or (to my friend), "YaYa, why is your house so messy?" or (even better) "Uncle Matt, I dropped a big poop in your toilet."  Sure, the rest of us might be thinking those things, but at some point we've learned that it's not "polite" to say them.  He clearly has not learned that lesson yet.  Coupled with this is the fact that he doesn't understand whispering.  Oh, he tries to whisper - cups his little hands around my ear, usually putting me in a head-lock at the same time - but it is not quiet.  So, when he whispers, "Momma, that boy is wearing pink.  Boys don't wear pink," in the grocery store, everyone hears it - including the man wearing the pink polo shirt.

No One Wants to Snuggle When You're Sweaty:
Now, let me clarify:  My son doesn't want to snuggle when he's sweaty, he wants to snuggle when I'm sweaty.  Here I am, fresh off the treadmill, drenched in sweat, every part of my body is sticky, I have sweat rolling off of my forehead and down my back, and I stink.  All I want to do is take a shower.  I like running, but I'm so sweaty, I'm even a little disgusted with myself.  What does my son want to do?  Crawl in my lap, have me carry him around, and give me a big hug.  He does not understand that no human being in their right mind would touch me with a ten-foot pole right now; I'm gross.  He is clearly oblivious to this fact. 

So, while my son might understand important things like, "Stop signs mean stop," and, "Green lights means go," he still has a lot to learn.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Late-Night Visitor

First, I apologize for this post being "off-topic."  It is not about my kid, nor is it about my job. Did anything humorous happen today involving my child?  Yes.  But this is much more important: There is something in my garage.  Let's venture back in time to about two days ago . . .

Upon entering my garage in the morning, things were . . . amiss.  The rack (not that kind of rack, people) holding the basketballs was knocked over and the balls (not those kinds of balls, come on) were everywhere.  A container of empty cans (you know which "cans" I'm referring to) was knocked off of the side of the boat and onto the ground.  Various items including light bulbs, a can of WD-40, some wood glue (seriously, focus!), and windshield cleaner were scattered on the ground, far below the workbench they normally sit on.  Now, my first thought was that, since I hadn't closed the garage door until well after dark the night before,  someone had been in my garage.  A thief!  The only problem with this theory: nothing was missing.  So, perhaps, it was someone harassing me.  A serial killer?  A vandalizing teenager?  Or maybe, it was something like this:

Image c/o
After further inspection of the garage, I ruled out all of the above options.  Why?  Well, whatever had been in my garage had eaten a fair amount of rat poison.  (Okay, so I still didn't totally rule out serial killer at this point).  While the discovery of the partially-eaten rat poison did calm my nerves a little, it brought a new dilemma to light: whatever ate this poison could potentially be dead.  In my garage.  Ugh.  So, I grudgingly searched the garage for a dead carcass (And by "searched," I mean I looked around for all of 15 seconds.  If something died, I'd smell it in a few days, right?). 

So, that night, I closed the garage door early, well before dusk.  Truthfully, at this point, I figured whatever had been in the garage had crawled off and died somewhere.  I mean, it ate A LOT of poison.  Problem solved!  Or so I thought. . .

The next morning, I gleefully went out into the garage to get the dog's food, not even worrying about my visitor from the other day.  It was dead, right?  Wrong.  My guest had been back, and this time, it made a bigger mess.  This time, not only did it get into the same stuff as before (basketballs and rat poison included), it also knocked over a handful of glass bottles (yep, those glass bottles) and left broken glass all over the garage floor.  So, at this point, I'm irritated, and imagining my visitor is something like this . . .

Image c/o

Yep, that has to be it: a beer-drinking, basketball-playing, rat poison-munching raccoon.  It made perfect sense.  Well, Mr. Party-Boy Raccoon, I will beat you at your own game.  I shut the garage door very early.  I cleaned up the mess.  I got rid of all the rat poison (Seriously, how is it not dead from eating all that poison?).  I shut AND locked the door leading from the garage into the backyard.  I even made sure the garage light was shut off.  Ha ha, sucker (I'm trying to keep this PG-13, so you know what word I really used).  I went to bed totally convinced that my new friend would not be back.  And, if it did come back, it would be so upset (almost to the point of depression) that I got rid of its tasty snack that it would just leave and find another garage to call home. . . .

Wrong again.  Whatever it is (and I have a theory on this, just wait), came back AGAIN.  It was clearly NOT in a deep state of depression over the fact that I threw away its late-night treat.  This time, it was back with a vengeance.  It knocked the basketballs over again.  It knocked over more bottles.  It knocked things off of shelves, knocked over crates, and it left EVIDENCE.  Now, if you're not sure what I mean by evidence, think about it: wild animal, in the garage, angry that I took away its food . . . yep, it peed and pooped in my garage.  What the hell!  Now, before I found the evidence, I was still thinking raccoon, or even this . . .(actually this is more of what I was thinking at this point)

Image c/o
But, the evidence suggests that it is nothing more than a cat.  A stupid, disgusting, filthy, troublesome, beer-drinking, rat poison-eating, nuisance of a CAT.  Well, guess what?  IT'S ON CAT!

I'll keep you posted as to how the rest of the saga unfolds . . .

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Questions, questions, questions!

Gavin and I have this little ritual of sorts.  When he wakes up in the morning (which is usually way earlier than I would like for him to wake up), he comes into my room, climbs into my bed, and snuggles up next to me.  Usually, Buzz, Woody, and up to six other toys snuggle up with us.  Not so comfy, but I've learned to adjust.  I would love to say that he snuggles up next to me and falls back asleep, but that is far from what takes place.  Instead, after laying still for all of five seconds, he begins hammering me with questions.  Oh, they're often cute and funny, but my brain is usually not ready for such at workout at this time of day.  The fact is, I don't know the answers to half of the questions he asks, so I just have to make stuff up.  And, it has to sound good too, or he just keeps asking me.

This morning, the first words out of his mouth were, "Momma, is Paws sleeping?"  Now, if you don't know who Paws is, he's the mascot for the Detroit Tigers.  Paws has been an object of my son's obsession for a few months now, and this obsession was fed by the fact that he's been to two Tigers' games already this season.  My response to this is, "Yes, honey, Paws is sleeping."  What I'm thinking in my head is: It's 5:30 in the morning.  A lot of people are still sleeping, except you.  Does he stop there, roll over, lay quietly, and let Mommy get a little more rest.  No way.  We've only just begun.

Image c/o

"Mommy, is Paws tired?"

"Yes, honey, he's tired."  Of course he's tired.  It's 5:30 a.m.

"Mommy, does Paws have hot cocoa when he wakes up."

"Probably."  Probably not.  He's a grown man in a tiger costume.  If he drinks hot cocoa every morning when he wakes up, I'm concerned.

"Mommy, does Paws sleep with his hat on?"

"Yes, honey."  Well, I believe the hat is permanently attached to his costume.  So, if the freak sleeps in the costume every night then, yes.  Yes, he sleeps with his hat on.

"Mommy, does Paws wear a hat because he's a boy."

"Paws wears a hat because he likes to."  There isn't a rule that says only boys can wear hats, kid.  Plus, it's part of his costume.  He has to wear the hat.

And on, and on, and on we went for well over 20 minutes, before I finally said, "Hey, let's go get some breakfast."  And now, my brain hurts, like it does almost every morning.  In these early morning chats, we've discussed topics ranging from whether or not fans (ceiling fans) can fly to why the grass is thirsty to why we can't just wear our underwear out in public.  Most of the time, I can't really explain in three-year-old language why the grass needs water.  It just does.  Gavin, however, is not a fan of the "It just does" response, so I shamelessly lie.  Too bad it doesn't buy me any more sleep time.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Oh, the Things They Will Say . . .

Kids say some incredibly hilarious things, and my child is no exception.  I find myself laughing almost hourly at some of the words and phrases that come out of his mouth.  Often, I hear him repeating expressions that I have used towards him.  A few months ago, my two-year-old niece stayed the night at our house.  Around 7:30 p.m., she became ill (i.e. puking all over the floor), and my sweet little guy covered her up with a blanket and said, "Are you feeling okay, baby?"  It was adorable, and it made me feel like, at least for that very minute, that I was in contention for Mom of the Year.  Look how sympathetic he is; how sweet!

Sometimes, he comes up with things all on his own that send me into an uncontrollable laughing fit.  Not that long ago, he looked at me in all seriousness and said, "Momma, your booty is kind of big."  Now, I might have been offended (How rude of him!) if he had not followed immediately with, "My booty is kind of big, too."  Alright, so what you're saying is that, comparatively speaking, my booty and your booty are the same size?  I'll take it!  In fact, I'll celebrate this fact by eating a bowl of ice cream!

My son is also very adept at making up stories.  There was the time he told me that his dad had chopped the dog's head off and then sewed it back on (He should really consider a career in veterinary surgery if he can perform those kinds of miracles at home!).  When I asked him why Daddy did that, he simply replied, "Because he did."  Good enough.  (And, animal activists, please note that no animals were actually hurt.  Just something my kid made up.  Really.  I checked the dog out; he's fine.) 

The other day, however, I was wondering at what point do I become concerned about some of the things he says?  Should I have been concerned when he took his straw out of his lemonade glass, held it up, and said, "Cheers with our beers, Mommy!"?  Or, should I have been concerned when he opened up the cooler on the boat and said, "Ice cold beer!  Who wants an ice cold beer!" baseball vendor style? (Yes, he's been to a few ball games lately.  This isn't something I run around the house saying all the time.)  Sure, it's cute to me, but at what point do I start expecting concerned phone calls from his preschool teacher?

Image c/o
Probably the most concerning thing  is when I hear him repeating lines from his favorite movie, Toy Story.  It's cute when he walks around saying, "Run like the wind, Bullseye," or, "To infinity and beyond," but it starts to get a little sketchy when he repeats lines like, "Somebody poisoned the waterhole," which quickly progresses to, "Get out of here you stupid dog," and "I'm going to kill you, Buzz Light Year."  (I just want to briefly thank the creators of those movies for teaching my kid words like stupid and phrases like shut up.)  Sure, he's just repeating what they say in the movie, but I'm not really interested in a phone call from day care telling me he just threatened to "end" another kid.  Believe me, I get enough calls from day care.

So, as a parent, I often wonder when we've crossed the line from funny things he says to things I really shouldn't let him repeat.  I guess only time, and phone calls from day care, will tell.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Battles Ensue

We've all been told to "pick our battles," and this is probably the Golden Rule of parenting.  Being a parent is all about give-and . . .well, give.  It's an excellent lesson is choosing which battles to fight, and which ones to leave alone.  Parenting is practically a synonym for compromise, except that you're the one doing most of the compromising.  Finally, parenting is all about choice.  For instance, when you have a newborn, you often have to make choices that involve some sort of compromise.  Do I take a shower and wash this spit-up out of my hair, or do I take a nap?  Which really means: Do I compromise sleep or cleanliness?  Unfortunately, trying to do both never seems to work out.

Lately, my parenting battles are a little more interesting (And by interesting, I mean entertaining to the general public).  I'm elated that my three-year-old is willing to dress himself.  It's just one less thing I have to worry about in the morning.  However, it would appear that he is not an expert in style (or matching for that matter).  So, which battle do I fight; trying to get him to dress himself, or trying to get him to match?  I choose to pretend that the matching battle doesn't even exist.  Oh, honey, that outfit is great.  You did such a good job of dressing yourself.

Gavin's most recent fashion statement.
Toddlers love to be autonomous; so "good" parenting is all about giving them choices.  Often, these choices tend to eat up a little more of my time, but I guess I'd rather lose time and spare myself the enjoyment of a thirty-minute-kicking-screaming-wailing temper tantrum.  Lately, Gavin's choices include: which door of the car he's going to exit from (Usually the trunk.  And, no, I don't put my kid in the trunk.  I have an SUV.), which part of the grocery cart he's going to ride in (Lately, this is underside of the cart.  A lot of people laugh when they see this; many shake their heads in disgust and think, "I would never let my child do that."), which shirt or shoes he's going to wear, what he's going to have for a snack, and so on. 

All of these choices are really tiny little battles that I'm choosing not to fight.  I'd really like for him to just get out of the car quickly, but I'm compromising by giving him the choice to crawl out the back - even though this generally adds five minutes to the getting-out-of-the-car process.  I'd rather he just sit in the front of the grocery cart, like a normal child, but I'm willing to let him sit where he wants.  (Plus, riding on the underside of the cart looks, well, fun.  I'd do it if I could.)  In a perfect world, he'd just eat whatever snack I prepared for him, but he likes to choose it for himself.  (I have had to limit his choices.  I mean, the kid would seriously eat fruit snacks for every meal and snack if I allowed him to).

The good news is, he's happy when I let him choose rather than forcing something upon him.  The bad news is, I have to take him out in public wearing mismatched outfits, carrying his favorite six toys, and eating two packages of fruit snacks.  But, I'd rather deal with the stares of disapproval than try to grocery shop with a screaming toddler. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

First Soccer Class

Let's be honest.  Sometimes, as parents, we're judgey.  I confess; I am a judgey parent.  I'm quite often a judgey parent.  I say things like, "Oh, I would never let my kid behave like that," or, "I would never let my kid eat like that."  Take, for example, the lady I ran into at the doctor's office waiting room the other day.  She had two kids who were, well, not exactly well-behaved.  They were so not well-behaved that an elderly gentleman (and by elderly I mean old and cranky) actually yelled at one of the children and told the mom her kids were "brats."  (They were.  It's true).  Every other parent in the place looked at that mother with their "I would never let my children act like that" eyes (I fully admit to being one of those parents).  The reality is, however, that what we were all thinking was, "Thank goodness my kid is somewhat behaving today," and we all breathed a sigh of relief.

Well, today, I was that parent; the one that every other parent in the place looks at with the "I'm so glad my child isn't acting like yours" look.   Today was Gavin's first day of soccer class: forty-five minutes, once a week, with kids his age, kicking around soccer balls and running around like wild animals.  And, we were so excited, right?  He was dressed to impress with his new soccer shoes, shinguards, soccer socks, and soccer shorts.  He was going to have a blast, burn some energy, and hone his skills so he could one day score the winning goal in the World Cup, right?  Wrong.

Apparently, Gavin was still a little tired from his adventures with his cousins yesterday.  What this translated to was a tired, whiny, pathetic toddler who cried 90% of the time, clung to my legs, refused to pay attention, and pretty much hated the whole experience.  Five minutes into the class, he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, "Mommy, I'm tired.  I just want to go home."  Great.  Now I can't use that as a threat. 

Oh, I tried to get him to have fun and participate.  Heck, I even participated.  There I was, the only parent on the field, dribbling the ball, running and touching the wall, and whatever other silly things they asked the kids to do.  Alas, nothing worked.  Ignoring him made him cry more; threatening to leave him alone the field made him cry more; acting like I was having fun only made him cling to my legs more.  It was a lost cause.  There was no way this kid was going to participate.  But, damn if I didn't try.  I tried anything and everything that came to mind in those forty minutes (Why only forty minutes you ask?  Just wait.) to get him to at least give it a try.

The frustrating part is he's normally a happy, fun-loving kid who LOVES to play soccer and pretty much any other sport that involves some type of ball (Minds out of the gutter, folks).  All my attempts failed.  They failed so miserably that, in the last five minutes of class, he was sobbing uncontrollably and threw himself to the ground.  At that point, nothing was going to work.  No soothing words, no negotiation tactics, were going to make him stop crying and go kick the ball into the net.  So, I waved my white flag, pick him up, carried him off of the field, and parked his pathetic little butt on the bleachers so he could watch everyone else finish the class. 

So, today, I should be humbled by the fact that I was that parent.  The parent everyone is judging, while at the same time secretly rejoicing in the fact that their kid was far better behaved then mine (except for the parents of the one kid who refused to do anything but sit in the goal).  This whole experience should probably make me way more sympathetic towards other parents in the future.  Eh, doubt it.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Toddler Takeover

There are times in my life when I really begin to question my sanity.  Okay, let me rephrase that.  At least two times a day, I question my sanity.  That's more accurate.  Today, it was more like 100 times.  In fact, I'm considering calling a mental health crisis line right now.  Maybe when I'm done writing this.

So, why do I think I'm losing my mind?  First, I agreed to watch my two nieces, who are both two and a half, overnight.  Add to that my three-year-old son, and I'm clearly outnumbered.  Okay, not so bad, right?  Well, it gets worse.  You see, this is what really makes me question my mental health.  In my mind, I imagined that the day would be filled with lots of playing, fun activities, projects, and more.  I imagined all of us playing in the backyard, running through the sprinkler, sitting at the picnic table and having a nice lunch, painting pictures, baking cookies, watching a movie, eating popcorn, and on and on.  And, everyone was going to be happy, play nicely, and have an amazing time.  (If you're beginning to question my sanity, just wait - it gets worse.)

Well, there was playing in the pool and backyard, but not by me.  There were fun activities like building train tracks and riding bikes, but I didn't partake in any of these.  Painting was replaced with coloring, but I didn't get to color.  A movie was shown, but I'm pretty sure no one saw more than five continuous minutes of it.  Harmony was replaced by a new World Record for time-outs.  There was occasional happiness, but toddlers are apparently really into tantrums these days.

Instead of joining in on the fun, I had another job: damage control.  These three kids moved from room to room, house to yard, like little tornadoes of destruction.  By the time I finished cleaning up one room, they were bored with the current one they were destroying and moved on.  Oh, I tried to get them to clean up, and they (kind of) tried to, but this resulted in more time-outs than I can count using all my fingers and toes.  In fact, I think they preferred time-outs to picking up.

Playing in the pool.

So, as they were having a ball playing in the pool, coloring, and building train tracks, I was racing behind them trying to uncover my living room floor or clear a pathway to the bathroom.  And, when I wasn't picking up millions of toys (I swear these toys multiply while I'm sleeping), I was getting food ready.  It seemed they were telling me they were hungry every hour.  So, I made snacks and lunch and snacks and dinner and cupcakes.  (Yes, I made cupcakes.  In the midst of all of this chaos, I baked cupcakes.  Not from the box, oh no.  From scratch.  With homemade frosting.  I'll expect my white jacket to be arriving shortly)  By the time I got the snack or meal ready, they were (surprise!) no longer hungry.

Eating cupcakes.

Getting three toddlers to eat can prepare anyone to become a really good negotiator.  Okay, if you eat three more bites of hot dog, you can go in the pool.  If you eat two bites of chicken and one bite of cottage cheese, you can have a cupcake.  (Yes, if you're still sitting there in disbelief, I made cupcakes).  Somehow, I managed to talk them into getting just enough food down that they were refueled and ready to wage war on my house once again.  And bedtime, ha!  I'll be recovering from that for the next two days.  Traumatic.

They sat still for 30 seconds!

I have these sanity-questioning moments often, like when I decide to take my son camping overnight alone.  But, at the end of the day, he's had a great time.  Today, my nieces and my son had a lot of fun.  They played and played (and cried and whined) their little hearts out.  I'm exhausted, but it was worth it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Yes, I have a mom purse, but . . .

I've known for awhile that I am now an official Mom Purse carrier.  It's been that way since my son was born.  I'm not in denial about the fact that I now buy my purses based on size rather than looks.  And, I'm fine with it.  What strikes me as odd is just how excited I get about how much crap I can fit into it, and how much crap I really do carry around with me.

I can recount for you numerous times that I've been trying to find something in purse (usually my keys) in front of friends, colleagues, store clerks, family, waiters - pretty much anyone you can think of - only to see them watch in amazement at the collection of junk I extract from my purse.

"My credit card?  Oh, it's right here in my purse, hold on."  Now imagine as I begin pulling out various food items, toys, feminine products, beverages, books, etc.  "Really, I just had it.  It must have fallen to the bottom."  And, in their minds they're thinking, "Does this thing even have a bottom?  It's like a black hole.  Do you need a shovel?"

Just to give you a better understanding: Today, I was innocently looking for my keys in my purse.  In doing so, these are the items I removed from my purse: three Matchbox cars, two granola bars (peanut butter and chocolate chip), a Capri Sun, a Nalgene bottle half-full of water, two kinds of breath mints (I refuse to be the teacher with coffee breath), Bullseye, Woody (yes, I'm chuckling, too), my cell phone, my wallet, about three weeks worth of receipts and other miscellaneous garbage, napkins, an assortment of change, an apple (Golden Delicious, in case you're curious), sunglasses, three dollars, Gavin's toothbrush (don't ask because I don't even know), half of a piece of railroad track (pretty sure this is from the doctor's office), and two sets of keys (of course, they were the last things I found).

The contents of my purse earlier today.

 What I used to carry in my purse before I became a mom.

I'll admit, there was a brief point when I stopped and thought, "Wow.  I can't believe I have all of this stuff in my purse."  But, that thought was fleeting.  The truth is, most of this stuff is potentially life-saving.    Cranky toddler in the grocery store?  No problem, he's probably hungry.  Here's a granola bar, dear.  Ansty toddler in the doctor's office?  Piece of cake.  Here, Gavin, Mommy brought you cars.  Oh, you're bored with the cars?  It's okay, I brought Woody and Bullseye, too.  Thirsty toddler on a long drive home?  Got it covered.  Mommy has a Capri Sun in her purse

I could probably get myself out of almost any child-related jam with what I carry around in my purse.  Hell, I could most likely survive being stranded in the desert for weeks - living only off of the items in my purse.  So, when you see me in the store, digging through mounds and mounds of miscellaneous junk in an effort to find my debit card, go ahead and roll your eyes.  Shake your head, even.  It's fine with me.  Just don't ask me for a mint.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bad Mom Syndrome

Today is one of those days when I'm having a particularly intense flare-up of what I fondly refer to as "Bad Mom Syndrome."  What, you might be thinking, is Bad Mom Syndrome?  Well, Bad Mom Syndrome is an ailment that affects many mothers across the world - more than you would imagine.  However, the disease is not widely discussed, as many women are ashamed to admit that they have it.  I mean, what self-respecting woman would openly admit to feeling like a failure at the one thing we're supposedly put on this Earth to do.  We're born to be mothers; how can we not be perfect at it?

Now, you might be thinking, "How do I know if I have Bad Mom Syndrome?"  Actually, the symptoms are very easy to recognize.  Have you ever burst into tears when you realized you forgot little Timmy's show-and-tell item for kindergarten?  Have you ever felt extreme guilt for allowing your child to eat Lucky Charms for dinner?  Ever felt like every other mother in the world was glaring at, and judging, you for the epic tantrum your child just threw in the McDonald's playplace?  Ever stayed up well past midnight to make a homemade (and amazingly creative) snack for little Jenny's first grade Halloween party?  If you answered "yes" to any of these, you know exactly what Bad Mom Syndrome is.

Bad Mom Syndrome is this prevailing idea that mothers should be able to do everything and do it well.  No, not just well,  perfectly - perfectly so that every other mother in the world will be in awe of how put-together you are.  People will be in utter shock at how you're able to pull everything off - the successful career, the spotless house, the homemade baked goods, the happy and well-adjusted children - and still look happy and rested.

In only three short years, I've been afflicted with Bad Mom Syndrome more times that I can count.  I think it took me two years to forgive myself for forgetting to send valentines to Gavin's daycare . . . when he was 10 months old.  Yes, I beat myself up quite a bit over this one.  Never mind the fact that all of the kids were under the age of 1, had no idea what the hell was going on, nor would they every remember it.  But, I sure cried for a good two hours over this one.  I mean, how could I forget to send valentines???  So I was working three jobs; that's not an excuse.

 Gavin's most recent birthday cake.  It only took me two hours to frost it.  Next year's cake will somehow have to top this one.

Even right now, I feel a little guilty for indulging in writing this.  There's laundry to be done, dishes to be washed, the bathroom needs to be cleaned, I have papers to grade, and wouldn't Gavin like homemade toaster pastries when he wakes up tomorrow morning?  Shouldn't I be getting all of my chores and tasks out of the way while he's sleeping (or at least I think he's sleeping) so that tomorrow I can spend every spare moment doing fun and educational things with him that will help him to feel loved and stimulate his curiosity at the same time?  And then, after he goes to bed, I should probably start working on ideas as to how I can become an incredibly successful career woman.  I won't even tell you about the first time I had to send a (gasp!) Lunchable in his lunchbox. 

The reality is that there's not enough time in the day, nor should women be expected to do all of the things we ask ourselves to do.  The reality is also that we put this pressure on ourselves (I'm totally fine with blaming society a little, too.   And men.  I'm all for blaming men.).  So, here's to another day where the laundry isn't done (okay, so it's been in the washer for two days . . . I should probably do something about that), there are toys everywhere, I didn't read Gavin a bedtime story, and I let him watch t.v. for two hours.  Days like this happen, and acceptance that we are only human is the best way to combat Bad Mom Syndrome.  We're all in this together, and we're all (well, most of us - definitely not the lady at the doctor's office the other day) are doing the best we can.  Some days, it's impossible to get everything done that we want and need to, but it's all about balance. 

I wonder if I have time to bake cookies before I go to bed ?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Dentist and Why I Hate Packaging Engineers

Today was Gavin's first trip to the dentist.  Now, me, I hate the dentist.  In fact, I don't know that hate is a strong enough word.  I loathe and despise the dentist.  In fact, I would rather have my toes run over by a semi-truck six times a day than go to the dentist for a cleaning.  So, given my disdain, I was prepared for Gavin to have an awful, terrible time.  I prepared us both by promising him a "surprise" if he was a really good boy at the dentist.  Of course, as fate would have it, this turned out to bite me in the ass.  But, we'll get to that later.

As it turns out, Gavin was GREAT at the dentist.  So great that he almost fell asleep at one point.  He did have a cavity, unfortunately.  Yes, he's THREE, and he already has a cavity.  It seems he's getting the best of both Mom and Dad, including Andy's pasty white skin and my horrible teeth.  I can only imagine how the filling will go, but maybe he'll surprise me with good behavior again?

Early in the day, Gavin broke one of his Buzz Light Year action figures (whom he fondly calls Buzz Light so it sounds like he's saying Bud Light - awesome).  I figured that, if he was good, I would take him to Meijer afterward and get him a new one (I mean, we only have five Buzz Lights....).  And, he was good, so a new Buzz Light it was . . .

Now, let me explain how I imagined this in my head:  We go to Meijer.  We head to the toy department.  We find a new Buzz Light Year for, oh, $5.99 or maybe even $9.99 (if it has "karate chop action").  It would be roughly 6 - 8 inches in size, and everyone is happy.

Upon arriving in the Toy Story section at Meijer (yes, an entire Toy Story section), I discover that there is only ONE Buzz Light Year action figure in stock.  It's not $5.99; it's not even $9.99.  At this point, I would've even splurged for $14.99, but no.  No, they didn't have any of those Buzz Lights.  The only Buzz Light they have is $34.99, and it's enormous - like, half the size of my three-year-old enormous.  Of course, Gavin is beyond excited.  How can I say "no" to him?  He was great at the dentist, and really good at the ENT yesterday, . . . so, I cough up the money and buy him this ridiculous toy.  (I know what you're thinking, and yes, he's spoiled.  I'm not in denial here.)

 Old Buzz (tiny) and new Buzz

As I'm putting Gavin in his car seat after we leave the store, he asks me, "Mommy, can you open Buzz Light in the car?"  Sure, honey, I can open Buzz Light in the car.  Or so I thought.

Who are these people that design the packaging for kid's toys?  I mean, do you have children?  Do you know what it's like to have an incredibly excited three-year-child that just wants to play with his new toy but you can't get the damn packaging open?  I hate these people.  I'm sorry, but it's true.  I'm sure they're nice; I'm sure they're smart, but have they even tried to OPEN one of the packages they designed?  I get that it needs to look good; I get that kids need to see the toy, but it's a TOY.  Kids would want a toy even if there was only a teeny, tiny picture of the toy on the front of the box.  Hell, if it just said "toy," they'd want it.

It literally took me 15 minutes to get the package open and the action figure out of the box.  I bled in three places, I had to utilize my Swiss Army Knife, and I was sweaty by the time I was done.  Yes, Buzz Light was so difficult to get out of the box that I actually started sweating at one point.  The whole time I was trying to get the toy out of the package, I was dreaming up sadistic ways to torture the people who designed this package.  And, by torture, I mean sticking them in a room with 100 sugar-filled three-year-olds who are promised their favorite toy, and all they have to do is open the package for each kid. . . in 15 seconds or less, or they get zapped with a taser and EVERY kid has a temper tantrum on cue.

So, to all those packaging engineers out there, . . . oh, I probably shouldn't say that.  I'll just go have a beer.