Saturday, June 4, 2016

Open Letter to the CEO of Disney...Top 12 Suggested Improvements to Make Disneyland even More Magical!

Dear Mr. Robert Iger, Chairman and CEO of Walt Disney Company,

As a new annual pass holder, my family and I had the distinct pleasure of spending two full days at Disneyland California and California Adventure Park. The experience was both delightful and enchanting, and we certainly made memories we will cherish forever! That being said, after some careful thinking, I’ve come up with a few ideas to improve the Disney experience. Things I believe will make the happiest place on earth even MORE magical for the entire family.  I hope you find them useful.

Top 12 Suggested Improvements to Disneyland

1.    As soon as you walk in the gates, Goofy greets you with a happy pill. You’re not sure what’s in it, but it gets you high enough to survive the 40 minute wait at Peter Pan.
2.    Put a live gorilla in Tarzan’s Treehouse. If your kid is being an asshole or you’re simply feeling negligent, you can leave your kid in the gorilla’s care. It will watch your kid and protect it while you visit other attractions, or if you just want to eat a Dole Pineapple Whip in peace. 
3.    Install Hydration Stations at key points around the park. They should be outfitted with IVs and also offer B-12 shots. It’s so easy to get dehydrated at Disneyland!
4.    Parent Meltdown Help. If you cuss, snap at your spouse or threaten your children, a magic white train whisks you away to mitigate your parent meltdown. It will be silent and cool and air conditioned and soft.
5.    A happy hour twerk-off at Aladdins Oasis featuring Jasmine and Ariel. You can reward your husband with this at the end of the day if he uses his kind words and exhibits patience and understanding.
6.    A fake app on your phone that shows impossibly long wait times for less desirable rides.  Sorry honey, Dumbo is running a 5 HOUR WAIT! We simply can’t go back there.
7.    Disney drinking games. You get a free tequila shot anytime you get bumped by a double stroller,  witness public breastfeeding or someone says “cast member.”
8.    Anytime your kid has a tantrum, Donald Duck drops off a kid who’s being even a BIGGER asshole. This new kid is screaming AND hitting someone’s baby AND eating their boogers AND using inappropriate language. Your kid over there kicking his sister? What an angel.
9.    Bippity Boppity Botox Boutique. Perfect for a quick refresher while Dad takes the kids on Casey Jr. They also offer brow shaping and blow outs.
10.  Anytime your kid pees his pants, you get a free light up toy to wave around at the parade. Because let’s be real…that shit is cool and adults like it too.
11.  Diet Management. Anytime you stop at a Churro counter, Kylo Ren jumps out of a bush and slaps you across the face. If you try to buy a pretzel or candy corn, it’s a direct hit to the kidneys.
12.  Piglet is waiting for you at the entrance of Winnie the Pooh with a basket of magic mushrooms.  Why? Why not? Winnie the Pooh is a funny ride.

As you can see, Mr. Iger, I’ve really thought this through. I’m certain that if you implement these improvements you will notice that adults and kids alike are having a more magical and enchanting visit. Thanks for your consideration.

Christine Van Tuyl

Here we are at Grizzly Peak at California Adventure. What would make this experience even better? If you said shots of whisky with bits of real grizzly in them, you’d be right!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Top 10 Reasons Tortoises are Totally Badass

I know. It’s been over a year since I’ve written in this blog. But I’ve been trying. I really have!

Last month when we all got the stomach flu I wrote an AWESOME blog post on the 10 Best Things About Getting the Stomach Flu. Because there are some fringe benefits. Things like dramatic, unplanned weight loss. Binge watching the Magic School Bus with the whole family. The thrill of throwing some kid jammies in the trash instead of washing them because they are so nasty. You know, stuff like that. Then my stupid computer shut down and deleted the entire post. And I went to go throw up.

So I’m trying to get back into the groove again. You know what I’m thinking about today? I’m thinking about our pet tortoises, and how fucking badass they are.

When our beloved dog Pagoda passed away, I was 100% against getting another pet. Nothing could ever replace Pagoda. And nothing ever will.

Then my husband got this stupid idea to get TORTOISES for the girls. One turtle for each kid. I told him this was completely retarded because a) they are reptiles b) you can’t snuggle them and c) they don’t do anything cool. Why would anyone want such a lame, fake pet?

Finally I changed my mind.  It had been a rough week and our little family felt like it was coming apart at the seams. We needed something to pull us together. We needed PETS!

Two hours later, Ian and the girls returned from Pet Kingdom with two male Herman’s Tortoises. Marley named hers Speedy. Holland named hers Michael Jackson. And our adventure in tortoise parenting began.

Top 10 Reasons Tortoises are Totally Badass
1.  They have awesome personalities. From day one, Speedy was curious, sweet and energetic. He came out of his shell right away, and always responds to your voice, and sometimes will come to you when you call him. Michael Jackson was a little more reclusive at first, then quickly established himself as the alpha tortoise. He’s boisterous and brave, and is always climbing over things and loves bursting through the obstacle course the girls make him with their magna-tiles.  He loves exploring the first floor of Holland’s Elsa castle. He also takes huge dumps.

Me and Michael Jackson 
2. They keep you on your toes. Tortoises are mischievious little fuckers. They are incredibly active; always on the move except when they are sleeping or taking a sunbath. They are always getting stuck in between the slider and the screen to the patio, or getting a nail caught in the front gate and you have to go rescue them.
3. They are faster than you think. Think it’s easy to keep track of a tortoise? Think again. Our cleaners left the patio open for less than a minute and both tortoises booked it out of there. We found Speedy five townhomes down almost to the street, and Michael Jackson had buried himself in the dirt by our front yard and was completely hidden.
4. They look super cute when they’re walking. Their little legs are adorable, and their shells are majestic. The camoflauge is legit! It’s really hard to keep track of them when we take them out front for free play in the grass. It messes with your head, but in a cool sort of way.

Speedy on the move

5. They are tough little fuckers. They have shells, see? Thank God. If they can survive my girls, they can survive anything.
6.  They live to be like 80 years old or something. Michael Jackson is five and Speedy is four. That means the turtles will outlive us! The girls will inherit them, and then maybe THEIR KIDS make tortoise obstacle courses with magna-tiles. Cool, huh?
7. They turn your house into an attraction. Neighbor kids come from far and wide to check out our tortoises. The girls love showing them off and take pride in their reptiles.
8. They are easy to take care of.  They live outside in our front patio, and we have a waterproof heating pad covered with grass. They sleep on this and stay nice and cozy. You don’t even need to give them water. Once a week, you get to “soak” the tortoises in a bath. We just fill the bathwater up to their chins and they drink the water. And...the big bonus...they eat the juicer pulp! How badass is that? Every morning the girls bring out the pulp from the carrots and kale and the tortoises feast. 

Girls feeding the tortoises carrots and kale. They will watch them for hours. The tortoises actually babysit my kids.

  9. They get you outside in the grass, and barefoot in the earth. We have been outside so much more since we got the tortoises, enjoying our front lawn area. Its really peaceful chillin’ with the tortoises, out in nature.
  10. Tortoises make for great bribes. Are the girls being bad listeners? They don’t get to take the turtles up to their room for story time. Did Holland eat someone else’s snack again in preschool? She doesn’t get to feed Michael Jackson some watermelon. 60% of the time, it works every time. 

As you can see from my comprehensive list, tortoises are indeed badass. I highly recommend tortoises to anyone looking to add a new critter to their family. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

This is a Blog Post about Young Living Oils, Doterra Oils, Arbonne, Nerium and Rodan + Fields

Do you sense where I am going with this?

First things first. I happen to really love some of these products. Take this, my starter kit from Young Living Essential Oils.

I freaking LOVE IT. It has all these oils. And it comes with a nifty little diffuser. 

Here it is, chugging away in my living room, spewing a lovely aroma of Purification into my home. I use the oils daily now. Lavender behind the ears and Thieves on the soles of the feet at bedtime, Peppermint for headaches and nausea, and lemon for focus. The oils are now part of the natural rhythm of my life. My husband and kids like them too.

(Just don't do what I did, and open your kit after drinking all day at a Christmas party, and apply all the oils at once, whilly-nilly. That shit will make you sick, YOU COULD EVEN PUKE. Oils are not to be trifled with!)

I regress.

I really like the oils. I ordered them from a friend who mentioned on Facebook that she was becoming a rep. I ordered the oils, and they came. It was a drama-free experience.

I also have some Doterra oils too. See? I'm not a brand loyalist, I'm more like an oil slut. I have these great blends from Boneys, and I also (gasp) ordered some oil from Amazon, to the dismay of oil reps everywhere, because the discounted oil on Amazon could be ALTERED.

I really love some Arbonne products too, like this body scrub.

It smells like heaven, and it makes your skin so smooth and soft its crazy. My friend swears by the Sleep Well Spray, and sprays her kids with it when they wake up too early, but it doesn't seem to work on my kids. (So sad.)

I've never tried Nerium or Rodan + Fields, although I'm sure they have some great products too. Thousands of women can't be wrong, can they?

Here is my beef. My friend who sold me the Young Living Oils was super cool, classy, and not weird or creepy. She never called me, pressured me to buy, or sent me annoying messages on Facebook. Her Facebook feed isn't full of a bunch of oil shit, and she doesn't bug me to host an oil party. (Although at some point I might.)

Then, there are others. People who I haven't talked to in YEARS who send me weird Facebook messages like, "Christine! I love the latest pictures of your girls, they are getting so big! (Insert another few sentences of assorted bullshit.) So I wanted to share some exciting news with you and let you know about an amazing business opportunity. Are you interested in making some extra cash from home? How can we connect to discuss?"  ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME??? You are supposed to me my FRIEND, why are you trying to sell me on your Mid-Level Marketing scheme? (I'm not sure what the messages were for, but I suspect Nerium or Rodan + Fields.)

No, I don't want to connect with you and your bullshit. I'd rather get a bikini wax.

Then there are people who send me random group emails on their amazing products or company retreats. I don't open them. Sorry, I don't have time for that.

Then there are people who use Facebook ONLY to post sales pitches or product info.

And then, there are people like a girl I encountered last night. She mentioned in a Facebook group  that I'm a part of that she uses some essential oils for her kid who has ADHD. I commented, "Wow, that's cool! I have an ADHD kiddo too, what oils do you use?" In less than five minutes, I had a friend request from the girl, and also a PM on Facebook, asking me if I'd used oils before, which brand, did I have a rep, and we could host a class together, and if I joined Doterra I'd get 25% off. Good grief. I'm sure she's a nice, well-meaning person, but...really?

Now, I'm not against all these companies, or completely against this way of selling. I think it's great these businesses are enabling stay-at-home moms to do something cool and earn some extra cash.  I'm a child of the 80s, after all, and saw more than a few neighborhood moms proudly driving the pink Mary Kay Cadillac.

But ladies, please: Keep it Classy. Be authentic. Don't send canned Facebook messages (we see right through them) or invite us to an evening of "Wine and Fun!" when you really want to push product on us (we see through this too.) We are your friends, and we shouldn't be your business conquests. Don't "friend" me on Facebook because you want to broaden your social media reach. And definitely don't call me or PM me with your sales pitch!

Be informative. Be resourceful. Be transparent. Be respectful. Be cool. Don't be an asshole about it.

And then...well, who knows. I might even buy some of your shit.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Top 12 (Almost) Appropriate Music Videos for Kids

It was time to take our dance party to the next level. Sure, we were having a great time dancing around to Iggy Azalea, Billie Jean and the Star Wars Mega Mix on iTunes, but it was time to shake things up. It was time to add some...wait for it... MUSIC VIDEOS to the lineup.

I conjured up old memories from the 1980s, dancing around to Wham and Paula Abdul and Whitney Houston on MTV. It would be just like that for me and my girls! I would dance around with them, and teach them cool new moves like...the snake? The Running Man? Never mind.

Whatever. So which music videos to download for my 6-year-old and 3-year-old? I was stumped. Since giving up cable five years ago, we didn't really watch music videos. I had no idea what to download.

And it seemed like such dangerous territory these days, with all the over-sexualized content and rampant eagle-dropping. I decided to do some research and preview some videos on Apple TV before downloading them for the girls. Good thing I waited until they were in bed.

Jennifer Lopez, great! I thought as I previewed her latest video. I loved the "Waiting for Tonight" video from the 90s, and the Jenny-from-the-Block tune. Good clean fun! The new video was...uh...different. As in, soft porn. What the hell? Giant asses shaking around in leotards (apparently one of them is J-Lo's ass), some serious pelvic thrusting, topped off with a smattering of girl-on-girl groping. Seriously? It's like the entire video was made for the explicit purpose of showcasing J-Lo's ass, and how great it looked rubbing up against someone else's ass. FAIL. Onto the next.

Nicki Minaj, great! I thought as I previewed her new Anaconda video. I know, I know, I should have known better by the name. It was a DISASTER. Rabid ass shaking, eagle-dropping, and...again...girl on girl grinding.  And once again, big, giant asses. When did giant asses become such a THING? Thank God they weren't so popular when I was single; I would have been screwed. (Or not screwed, depending on how you look at it.)

Ok, Chandelier by Sia, I love this song...doesn't everyone want to swing from the chandelier? I was disappointed to see that the music video consisted of what appears to be a heroin addict coming down from a drug high, flailing around in a crash pad.

Where was the choreography? Where was the artistry? Where was the fun? This is all our kids get? It's not their fault they were born in the 2000s.

There have to be some cool music videos with awesome choreography that don't look like they were made at a strip club, I fumed. If I can find size 11.5 wide Stride Rites for 50% off before they sell out on Zullily, I can do this.

And I did. I'm here to tell you that there ARE some cool music videos you can download for your kids, that are--well, almost--appropriate! (Please keep in mind, due to the limited avabaility of said "appropriate" music videos, I had to draw from the last 3 decades.)

Top 12 (Almost) Appropriate Music Videos for Kids

1. Shake it Off by Taylor Swift.  I know, I know, it seems like the low-hanging fruit, but seriously this video is super fun. The constant wardrobe changes will delight any girl, especially if she has ADHD. The choreography is clean (except for some rump-shaking in one of the scenes) and no one talks about eating pussy or S&M. Thank you, Taylor.

2. Remember the Time by Michael Jackson. Anytime you showcase an MJ video, it's a great time to discuss topics like death (Mommy, is Janet dead too?) drug use (what does "overdose" mean?) and geography (where exactly is Egypt?) It also helps you introduce great personalities of the 1990s like Eddie Murphy, Magic Johnson and Iman.  This video pops with cool special effects, but the badass dance sequences seal the deal.

3. What Does the Fox Say by Ylvis. Whoever thought of this video is a damn genius. Electronica + nursery rhyme = amazeballs. Nothing gets the party started faster then all the random and funny dance moves. When the fox actually appears at the end and we find out what he "says?" Fucking epic.

4. Oops I did it Again, by Britney Spears.  Again, this video is a great opportunity to educate and enlighten. Do alien lifeforms exist? What do they look like? Do you think it would be hot dancing in head-to-toe red spandex? What if Britney was wearing a different material that breathed more, would she be more comfortable? Is Britney still alive? No. Wait, yes, she is! Warning: your child will inevitably bounce around singing "I'm not that innocent," pissing off Dads everywhere.

5. Happy by Pharrell.  What's not to love about this music video? It's! It has minions in it, from Despicable Me. Need I say more?

6. I Wanna Dance with Somebody by Whitney Houston.  Big hair! Bandanas! Splatter paint! Plucky lyrics! Neon tights! Mixed media! Frosted lipstick! Within seconds of seeing this video, Marley declared Whitney the "Most Beautiful Girl in the World." Too bad she asked me if she was still alive.

7. Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars. I know, he's a little annoying, but Uptown Funk is impossible not to love. He's wearing a pink blazer. He's wearing a Cubano hat. You can't help but dance to it. Warning: When your kid starts singing the lyrics "Uptown funk you up" in school, things might get interesting.

8. Hideaway by Kiesza. Oh my gosh this is the BEST MUSIC VIDEO EVER. Trust me, just download it. The entire video is busting at the seems with rad choreography, and was shot in one take in the streets of Brooklyn. The whole thing is a throwback to the 1990s, and you'll love the bustiers, high-waisted pants and old-school moves. The singer is dancing throughout the entire video, and she's an amazing dancer. I am so obsessed with this video that I did some research on it. Turns out this chick is Canadian (shocker, all Canadians are cool) and she's a trained ballerina-turned-sniper for the Navy. She actually broke a rib practicing one of the dance sequences and SHOT THE ENTIRE VIDEO WITH A BROKEN RIB IN IMMENSE PAIN. You would never know. She couldn't move for a month after this video was shot.

9. Take on Me by A-ha. My girls LOVE watching when the comic book hero reaches out and grabs the girls hand in the diner, inviting her into the eccentric world of sidecar motorcycle racing. Its weird, it's fun...sadly, my husband hates this video and freaks out whenever it comes on.

10. Boom Boom Pow by the Black Eyed Peas.  Space-age special effects and gravity-defying beats make this one a favorite. The flavor is futuristic, the sound is sweet and the visuals are va-va-voom. Can you believe this video is 8 years old? What??

11. Mickey by Toni Basil. First off, this video initiates some great questions about the use of makeup, including "how much blush is too much?" It also raises some interesting questions on casting...such as why is the main cheerleader so cute and skinny and the rest are big and husky, like boys with wigs? (Marley said this, not me.) But when it comes down to it, the video is flippant and fun, and even your 3-year-old can chant the lyrics.

12. Material Girl by Madonna. Material Girl has lots of life lessons going for it. First, you get to explain what it means to live in a "material world" and what it means when Madonna sings, "Only boys who save their pennies make my rainy day." A powerful voucher for the simplicity of life, Madonna trashes the fancy necklace and goes for the dude with the small bouquet of flowers. Also, why do all the boys run after Madonna? Because she runs away from them, and doesn't give them any attention, which IS WHAT YOU SHOULD DO TOO. Marley asks who Madonna's real husband is. You have to explain that she is divorced. But you decide not to tell her that Sean Penn tied her up in a chair and beat the crap out of her in 80s. We aren't ready for THAT life lesson yet. (Notice "Luca" is not on this list.)

So that's it folks, my list of (almost) appropriate music videos for kids. Is there anything I missed? If so, please share because I'm always looking for new material to put in rotation.

So start downloading, and start dancing!

Monday, December 15, 2014

First World Problems on the Family Ski Trip

I know, I know. I shouldn't complain about first-world problems on a family ski trip. I'm lucky to even GO on a ski trip. It's elitist and bourgeois to complain about it.

Furthermore, you might think it's terribly self-centered--even rude--to write this post when there are things like riots, poverty, melting polar ice caps, and whatever the rest of the world is worried about. But I can assure you, that's not entirely true. All problems are relative, and the issues we faced on our skip trip may have lasting and damaging effects, both psychological and emotional. The consequences are far-reaching!

Don't believe me? Read on.

Top 11 First-World Problems on the Family Ski Trip*

1. Your airline will offer a complementary glass of wine on the flight over. You graciously accept, because there's no sense in being rude. Apparently the other passengers thought that 9am was too early to drink Chardonnay, and the flight attendant keeps coming by to refill your glass otherwise she will have to throw the bottle away, and it makes her "feel really sad to waste." (I couldn't agree more, sister. ) Now, you're drunk.
2. Your kids are so engrossed in mindless electronics that you are able to read an Elle magazine from start to finish. That damn magazine has been sitting on your bedside table for 3 months and it gives you indescribable satisfaction to read it. But now you've finished it, your kids are playing happily on their iPads, and you have nothing left to do but talk to your husband. But he doesn't want to talk because he's wearing his new noise cancellation headphones.
3. When you get to the hotel, you make a grisly discovery: All humidifers are not created equal. The humidifier in you and your husband's side of the suite is much louder and less effective than the newer model in your children's room. Do you selfishly swipe humidifiers or suffer in silence?
4. Your kids look so damn cute in their ski outfits you are tempted to dangerously over-post to Facebook. You realize you're morphing into one of those people that you hate. You promise to take some really lame and unflattering pictures of yourself and the kids to balance things out. Your husband looks like a male model in every pic, so you avoid posting photos of him unless absolutely necessary.
5. Ski school. The resort makes it too easy to dump your kids and snowboard virtually all day. Throw enough money at them, and they will take your 3-year-old and 6-year-old from 9am to 3pm and teach them out to ski. What? Are you fucking kidding me? Granted, your 3-year-old was a train wreck, but you couldn't REALLY hear her crying when you were zooming overhead on the chairlift. No harm, no foul. But now your 6-year-old thinks its normal to attend ski school every day of the vacation and freaks out when you tell her she can't go the last day.   What, Daddy doesn't sell enough boats to go to ski school three days in a row?
6. You couldn't pack your nice juicer so you are forced to drink non-organic, processed, store-bought juice. The horror! You miss your zesty blend of spinach, kale, carrot, cucumber and jalapeƱo. But you find yourself rather enjoying the fun spike in blood sugar!
7. A family member can--and will--contract a stomach virus and puke all over the bed in the middle of the night. (Ahem. Your 3-year-old.) You will conveniently come down with this virus at your husband's Christmas Party several days later.
8. A second family member can--and will--contract a nasty cough, and will proceed to cough REPEATEDLY IN YOUR EAR ALL NIGHT for 2 days running. (Ahem, your 6-year-old.)
9. The ski conditions are so beautiful that you feel guilty for NOT snowboarding all day. The truth is, you haven't boarded all day since you were 25. And now, at 37, you're old and tired and only want to board half-days, because you're old and tired. But you feel like such a pussy for going in early. You secretly pray for some weather so you can sit on your ass by the fire, drink wine, and watch TV.
10. Are there any elevators in the resort? Great! Your 3-year-old will inevitably dart ahead of you and disappear into an elevator for about 12 minutes while everyone searches for her on multiple floors.
11. On the plane ride home, your family is ordained to sit behind Perfect Organic Mom and her Perfect 2-Year-Old. The Perfect Organic 2-Year-Old is content to sit quietly on Mom's lap, flipping through her HANDMADE BOOK made up of pictures from magazines, cut-out, glued to each page and labeled. We're talking stuff like "Dog" and "Jumprope" and "Rainbow" and "House." Obviously the mom made this stupid book, and you want to slap her. Who has time for this shit? The Perfect Organic 2-Year-Old has better speech and articulation than your 3-year-old who throws her iPad at you when Peter Pan doesn't load. Your eyes bore holes into Perfect Organic Mom and you're pretty sure you have a visible snarl on your face.

*Disclaimer: We are not the type of family to spend thousands of dollars on a beautiful, pristine ski-in, ski-out resort in Park City. Not because we don't want to, but because we are too damn cheap. This trip was courtesy of a generous grant by the Donna Van Tuyl Foundation. Because mother-in-laws can, and do, plan amazing vacations for their children and grandkids. But we did pay for our airfare, so go ahead and judge us.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

You Know Your 3-Year-Old is a Thug When...

You've always suspected it. Part of you knows it. You've seen the warning signs. You know all the red flags. Is it time to seek help? Is your 3-year-old a THUG?

If you can't pick your child up at school without getting an "incident report," I'm talking to you. If you're currently researching anti-anxiety meds because you can't handle taking your kid to the park, I'm talking to you. If your child's behavior chart offers stars for "Not biting," "not throwing produce in the grocery store" and "not riding the dog," I'm talking to you.

If your child does ANY of the following things, chances are...Your 3-year old is a thug. Know the signs--act early!

Warning Signs 
1. Your child mugs babies at the park. Like a dirty criminal trolling the streets for an old lady with a purse, your child knows her chances of success are higher when her victims can't fight back. Babies are the low-hanging fruit of the park scene. They can't walk, they can't talk, and they're usually surrounded by interesting toys and snacks like yogurt pouches and goldfish. My daughter knows this, so when you're not looking and I'm picking a wood chip out of my flip flop, she's darting over to your baby's picnic to load up on everything she can get her hands on. I've seen her grab a board book, a pack of Teddy Grahams, stuff a bottle of breastmilk down her shirt and run off to a nearby tree to inspect her loot before you can say "Early Intervention."
2.  Your kid steals binkies from babies. This takes park muggings to a whole new level. Yup...That's me, over there. I'm the mom dying in embarrassment when my 3-year-old calmly walks up to your darling toddler on the play structure, plucks the binkie out of his mouth and puts it in her own. She then pats your baby on the head, saunters off and heads down the slide. I mean, other Mom, what are you THINKING when this occurs? I shudder in horror.
3. Your kid physically removes other children from playground equipment when she's tired of waiting. Instead of selecting a different activity or simply waiting her turn, she will nocholantly pick up the other child from the swing, place her on the ground, and climb on.
4. The child develops a strategic and calculated approach in dealing with confrontations with older children. For example, a cute little girl in pigtails in a My Little Pony Shirt approaches the play structure upon which--until now--Holland has had to herself.  Holland scans the child, and I imagine a screen appearing before her eyes, Terminator-style to assess her opponent.
Sex: Female
Age: Appx 4 years
Developmental Age: 3.5 years
Apparel: My Little Pony (this is a big plus and I see Holland hesitate, distracted by the shirt)
Reflexes: Adequate.
Weight: 28 pounds.
A trigger in Holland's head. "I've got ten pounds on this chick!" Holland climbs to the tallest point of the structure, raises her arms high above her head, and yells, "Hey-ya! This is HOLLAND'S PARK. GO AWAY!" Then she bangs on the structure like a gorilla. My Little Pony runs off crying for mommy.
5. You consider getting a prescription to anti-anxiety medication for park outings with your child. See above.
6. Your child shoplifts yogurt and fruit from the grocery store on a regular basis. You find the items later when she digs into your purse and pulls out organic Almond Dream Strawberry-top.
7. She prefers to ink her face up Braveheart-style with markers instead of actually coloring on paper. You see her get out the markers and you cringe. You ask her, "Would you like some paper?" She answers, "NO," like, what, are you crazy? I'm getting ready to graffiti up some furniture, bitch!
8. The first thing she does when she gets to school in the morning is look for some sort of tower, block structure or puzzle to dismantle, and yells, "Wreck-it Ralph!" When the other kids look on in dismay, she shrugs and says, "I'm bad...and that's good."
9. Your child is drawn to mean-looking dogs. On her morning scooter ride along the Ferry Landing, she seeks out the largest, most dangerous looking dog she can find. She barrels towards it full speed, brakes, then give the dog a big hug. (Good thing that pit pull with all the bite wounds was so friendly.)
10. She gets road rage. Using the bike trailer is now problematic, because she likes to start fights with motorists. She'll often launch her sippy cup at cars she thinks are moving too slowly, and yells "Go, idiot!"
11. She magically has to poop every time you put her in time out. So you let her go to the bathroom. And she produces poop. Every time. It's like she wills it to come, and it does.
12. She likes to wreck her ride-on motorized pink car. Just yesterday she rammed it into the fridge as fast as she could, launched it vertically up the kitchen wall, flipped off it backwards and was stunned. She lies on her back, and the car is partially on top of her, upright against the fridge. Instead of crying, she yells, "Awesome. Mommy, look!"
13. She likes to drink beer. If you leave a Tecate lying around, she'll roll up and take a big swig, spill half of it down her shirt and say, "Beer! Yummy."

So there it is, folks. These are the warning signs. If your child exhibits ANY of these behaviors, I advise you to grab a bottle of wine, and start

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Top 10 Benefits of Having a Speech Delayed Child

You're probably asking yourself, "Why would ANYONE want to have a speech-delayed child?"

You wouldn't! It sucks. I know; I have one.

Now you're thinking, "What could possibly be a BENEFIT of having a speech-delayed child?"

Relax, I'm getting to that. There ARE in fact some pretty badass benefits of having a kid who is...uh...verbally challenged. So if Princess Junior didn't come out spouting Shakespeare, if little Billy isn't waxing poetic in preschool, take heart, and read on.

Top Ten Benefits of Having a Speech Delayed Child
1. You can feign ignorance. Let's face it...sometimes its helpful not to understand a damn word your kid is saying.  Case in point: Your kid is in the backseat asking for something, and you're pretty sure it's the Frozen CD. Again. You're sick and tired of Frozen, and conclude your kid wants Flo Rida instead. Excellent! (This might upset your child, but its her own fault. She needs to work on her articulation.)
2. Other parents don't give you dirty looks when your kid is being an asshole at the park. When they hear her speak, they assume she is retarded. Then they feel sorry for you.
3. You get to celebrate swearing. When your kid drops a dozen farmer's market eggs on the garage floor and says, "Oh FUCK,"  you squeal with delight, high-five your kid and immediately email her speech therapist about the exciting new development. Not only did she use the phrase in the appropriate context, but the articulation was PERFECT!
4. When your kid is watching Wreck-it-Ralph for the 50th time this week, you can justify it: She's picking up LANGUAGE from this show. Just the other day you heard her say "I'm bad, and that's good," and "I live in a dump."
5. If your kid's speech is REALLY jacked up, she might qualify for FREE PRESCHOOL. That's right. FREE PRESCHOOL every day of the week. Yes, please.
6. You can blame her temper tantrums on "frustration" instead of bad parenting or lack of discipline. This technique is helpful in many situations and can overcome a multitude of sins. For example, your kid is freaking out because you won't let her open up a quart of milk and drink it from the carton in the middle of the grocery store. She screams, throws an orange, and bites you in the arm.  A horrified onlooker is cowering in citrus. You simply turn to the person and say, "She's speech-delayed." The person will inevitably sigh, "Ah..." then nod in sympathy and understanding.
7. Your kid's speech is so bad, you are forced to find new and exciting ways to brag about your child. When you dig deep, you discover that your kid is actually pretty cool. She can ride her scooter like a champion. She can even launch off curbs (on purpose, you think.) She can swim better than most 5-year-olds and climb up the jungle gym like a rabid monkey, when she isn't busy shoving other kids out of the way or stealing bottles of breast milk from strollers.
8. You can justify sending her to after-care, even though you're a stay-at-home mom...hey, she's learning SPEECH there! Aftercare is populated mainly by kids who are developmentally on-track. After all, what parent would send their speech-delayed child to AFTERCARE if they didn't have to? Me, that's who. Since after-care is made up of mainly "normal" kids, it's the perfect environment to force your kid to communicate with other children with minimal adult supervision. Sink or swim, bitches! Besides, she's learning a heck of a lot more language there, among her peers, than she is at home while you're screwing around on Facebook.
9. If you're a stay-at-home mom, you just upped your street cred by 50%. When people ask you what you do all day, you can add a bevy of other responsibilities to your list. In addition to laundry, dishes, cooking, paying bills, running errands, driving your kids to school/cheerleading/gymnastics, /art/swim/ can say you drive your kid to speech therapy and OT. You're also busy setting IEP meetings, canceling IEP meetings, rescheduling IEP meetings, reviewing goals, emailing the school psychologist, reading The Sensory Child Gets Organized, making sure she gets her "heavy work" in and practicing biting on her chewy tubes, in addition to reading her like 20 books a day to foster language development.
10. You get to celebrate every little thing. When things come easily to your kid, you take it for granted. They are on schedule, moving ahead, progressing as expected. When things happen more slowly, your forced to sit back and take stock of all the improvements. And these small steps? These little improvements? They are magical. 

Oh, what's that? So your kid ISN'T speech delayed?  Eat your heart out. (Just kidding. Sort of.)