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January 26, 2015

Putting Toddlers to Work

Because I longingly dreamt of the day I could finally pass off crappy chores to my kin, I didn’t waste any time training my son to make me coffee at 8 months old. Call me lazy or call me resourceful, but you’ll be met with laughter if you dare deny that toddlers run circles, barrel rolls, and somersaults around us. I mean, that energy has to be good for something, right? Well in my world, it’s called work. Though I’m not suggesting we allow tots to operate heavy machinery or pesticides, there are some skills that they possess that make them highly employable: 

They’re fast learners. Putting them in charge of nuclear waste disposal might be a stretch (though if they could dispose of their own nuclear waste, that would be great), but training kids to wait on us is a no brainer. Bring me the remote peasant! 

They know their stuff. They can tell you if a meal is delicious or if your joke sucks almost instantly. And since they’re going to let you know regardless, might as well turn a profit from their no-holds barred brutality. Consulting gigs? Yes. 

They perform magic. Somehow, someway, toddlers transform safe items into deadly weapons and the durable into the delicate. How do they do this? I don’t know, but quality assurance departments should take note (or applications). 

They are willing…mostly. My son wants to do whatever I’m doing. He hasn’t quite figured out that sweeping is a highly undesirable task. Though such willingness may stem from nativity, it’s an asset I’m willing to exploit. 

They can put in the time. Kids have more energy in 1 day than I have all week. If anyone can work a long shift, it’s a kid. Throw some sugar at them and no sleep needed! They may be unpleasant and grumpy but so are a lot of employed adults. 

So with all these qualifications, why are we enrolling our kids into preschools instead of trade schools? What exactly are we afraid of? 

That a bunch of babies will take our jobs from us? Preposterous. 
That a mob of skillful children will use their mastery as power to ultimately revolt against us? Plausible. 
The workforce expediting the childhood of our precious bitty babies’, causing them to grow up too quickly and as an unintended consequence, aging the parents? Oh. 

Suddenly I’m okay with child labor laws protecting my youth. I mean my son. But this doesn’t mean he’s completely off the hook. Somebody's' gotta make momma some coffee!

January 20, 2015

How to Survive the Terrible Twos: Mombie Mode

Sometimes I’m a mom and other times I’m a mombie. Though I have some experience in drowning out incessant noise (a skilled learned from growing up with four sisters), the mombie performance is a new and critical survival tactic for me as Dylan ventures through terrible twodom. Activating mombie mode is easy. There’s no full moon required, I need not be bitten by a fellow mombie (though being bitten by the child will trigger a transformation), and there’s no pathogen causing the non-communicative, unemotional, distant gazing mom I mutate into. The mombie culprit? Toddlers. Specifically when: 

There’s no way out. Like when I’m driving home with Mr. Sunshine in the backseat and he suddenly comes down with a loud case of Goldilocks Syndrome. The straps to his carseat are too tight, too loose, and are never ever, ever just right. Screams and whines from the backseat ensue. ZONE OUT ACTIVATED

There’s no reasoning. It’s time to eat but the food is too hot- a major offense to my wittle big boy. And instead of blowing on the dish or patiently waiting for the meal to cool, loud pangs of dissatisfaction are spewed, food is tossed on the floor, and cries for the dejected “yum yum” on the tile are made. Meal time zombie mommy. 

There’s no explanation. The child wants up, now he wants down. And in both instances, he’s pissed. The more pissed off my toddler gets, the less I’m able to understand. My husband looks to me, “What’s wrong with him?” I stare, I grunt, and I shrug my shoulders, defeated. Full blown mombie. 

Nothing works. I’ve mastered the art of diversion- practically a parenthood requisite…but it’s far from bulletproof. I only have so many tricks in my Mary Poppins bag and though I’m willing to scrape its bottom, sometimes nothing works. Like when the memory of a donut surfaces in my toddler’s mind and he wont let it go- I’m done. I don’t have any donuts kid. Does it look like Mombie cares? 

Being a mombie is me being the best mom I can be in the moment. Non-reactive, unemotional, with one single purpose driving me to keep moving forward. And if you think that’s scary, you should see the alternative- she’s a real monster. But based upon my assessment of equally distressed children I’ve witnessed in public places, I can confirm that there are many mombies amongst us. Even dad-ombies. (Only the name for them is less cute.)

January 15, 2015

Changing My Son's Name

Back when I was an expectant mother, I spent many a night prodding, fiddling, and planning my unborn’s future in my head. There were certain things I knew I wanted to veer away from being and becoming, like the mom that builds a box around their child and expects encourages them to stay inside- pushing them into activities that don’t necessarily interest the child as much as it does the parent (as I force him to gas up his power wheels, lol). And there were things I knew I couldn’t control or predict, like what exactly those interests would be (great, he likes “The Doodlebops?” See mom twitch.). But beneath the mass of infinite unknowns emerged one major power within my control: His name. 

Well that was too easy. For one, I didn’t have to care whether or not he liked his name because you get what you get. (Hah!) And secondly, I had already picked out and stowed a name away in my back pocket years ago. However, a potential deal breaker did exist and was completely dependent on one thing: the initials. Initials may seem frivolous to some, but trust me- they’re important. Just ask George Owen Davis, who ended up a lawyer and is forever dubbed “God” by his colleagues and clients. (Though Georgie boy doesn’t have it as bad as Farrah Alexandra Thomas.) That wouldn’t be my kid, I promised myself. I was going to do him right, be responsible, and give my son a decent set of initials. 

And it worked out! My first choice, Dylan, fit perfectly with my husband’s “one mandate” of a middle name (“Isaiah”). The final product? D.I.Z. I loved it! DIZ BABY! This made me DIZ MOMMY! Yay! I began making big proclamations that Dylan’s official nickname would be “Diz.” Diz would be what I called him around the house, what name I’d cheer from the sidelines, and the name others would pick up by mere exposure. I had it all figured out (in theory). Only now that I have a Diz and he’s a big time talker who knows his own name, he’s not “Dylan” and he ain’t a “Diz.” According to my son, he’s “Ding Ding.” 

Yup. Ding Ding. At first I was all, “Aww! That’s so cute! He can’t say Dylan so he says DING DING!” I chuckled, I partook, and I called out for my little Ding Ding as time went on until one day I stopped and realized that everyone else was calling him Ding Ding, too. How could I blame them? It’s infectious, this whole “ding ding” business. 

And I still chuckle at the use of Ding Ding; only now, I'm chuckling at myself for assuming I had a super naming power to begin with. So when you hear me shouting Ding Ding from afar, please know that I’m not announcing Table 4’s order is ready from the back of a kitchen diner, I’m referring to my son. (And yes, table 4’s order is probably ready.) 

Welcome to parenthood, where even your child’s name is to be determined (especially for Thomas Bradley Daniels).

January 13, 2015

Abusing Old Goldie

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #DropShopAndOil #CollectiveBias

Looking at me, you probably wouldn't suspect that I am extremely abusive...to my car. It’s not because I don’t love her, because I really, REALLY do- she takes me everywhere! Everyday! But it’s just too easy to avoid auto maintenance when its so dang boring. The last thing I want to do in my "free" time (lol does that even exist?) is sit in some drabby auto lobby and deal with mechanics who try to up sell me (it's always some sort of filter). Add a restless and equally impatient Dylan into the mix and the whole thing becomes a full-fledged nightmare waiting to happen.

So when the opportunity to review a Pennzoil oil change at Walmart came up it was not only great timing (my light was on, cue Britney- oops I did it again), but it was also exciting! Like, wait- Walmart does oil changes? Yes, yes they do. But still, my history of auto-abuse is the real deal and the residual trauma of past oil changes had me all kinds of apprehensive. So when the time finally came to bring Old Goldie (is she silver?) to get her Pennzoil fix, I was dreading it. But then...

There was no line. I don't know if I'm just a lucky ducky or what, but there was no line. It was almost too easy. I walked right up to the front and asked the Automotive Care Specialist for a Pennzoil oil change. There were three: ConventionalHigh Mileage, and Platinum. I opted for High Mileage because I run my baby to the ground; but in hindsight, I wish I would've gone Platinum just to say that I did. Ultimately though, all Pennzoil products help clean out the sludge lesser oils leave behind and is designed to be a "complete protection" that affords me 550 miles extra per year vs. the dirty engine I normally run on

BUT. Let's be real. I still hate being bored when I get oil changes. So the whole Walmart Automotive Care Center quickly became my thing. Instead of sitting around waiting for my car in some stinky lobby, I spent 45 minutes (though the oil change was done in 30), doing the following (and much more)

BROWSING (who has time for that?) and REMEMBERING (OMG 2 #MOMLIFE WINS) to buy hair ties. Don't ask me how I lose them because I'm convinced they run away from home.

Scoping out some sort of heated brush that would probably get knotted in my hair. Still wanted it.

Checking out what this Pennzoil High Mileage product was all about. Then making a joke of myself.

Spying on my vehicle because I have time to kill and I can be creepy if I want. (I didn't take Dylan, lol. The kid keeps me normal.)

Swooning over chips. My husband photographer for this project made a very real observation: I am the happiest in the chip aisle. I agree.

And when my car was done, she was waiting for meIt was easy, cheap, and being able to shop while my car got Pennzoil'd up has made me a better person. Or at least less abusive, since my car is happy now. But I'm still impatient...like, "Come on honey, we're done now. Let's go..."

Please tell me I'm not the only [recovering] impatient auto-abuser.

January 8, 2015

Pretending I Didn't Hear That

For Californians, it was the coldest day of the year with a 46 degree high. Despite the unusual chill, I was feeling optimistic. After all, it was New Year’s Eve and I was finally putting the Lego Land tickets Dylan got for his 1st birthday 10 months ago (which by the way, were to expire the following day) to use. It was a procrastination win! But twenty minutes into the drive, Dylan began showing signs of restless toddler vehicle syndrome. I knew things could be taking a turn for the worse because such a condition not only affects the child, causing rowdy behavior, unbearable screeching, temperamental mood swings, and unpredictable aggression, but it also affects everyone else in the world car. So naturally, like a boss- I ignored him. 

Dylan eventually took my negligence as a hint and downgraded his screams into mere grunts and whines before putting in a request for a toy truck. I reached in the backseat and offered said truck, which was quickly whisked out of my hand. But Dylan wasn’t done with me. You see, this kid knows his stuff and pulls all kinds of attention-seeking tricks. Like when I tell him “no,” his finger suddenly develops a debilitating injury that must be addressed immediately, pleading, “Owee? Owee?” His most successful manipulation technique comes in the form of kisses, which he often uses when he simply must have a treat he knows is a long shot- tugging at my leg and begging, “Mommy?” right before laying the smack down smooch and sealing the deal with a, “Please Mommy?” UGH. HOW CAN I DENY YOU CHILD? And then I heard his truck fall. 

Okay, it didn’t fall. Dylan violently tossed it on the floor which is quite typical of him, as he frequently throws things then follows up his very intentional acts with fake-shock and, “OH NO!!” But instead of an “oh no," I got an, “OH FUCK!” 

Wait- hold on. NO NO NO NO NO! That can’t be right- there was no way my toddler said the f word, right? “Fox? You see a fox Dylan?” I questioned, knowing how ridiculous and nonsensical my method of damage control sounded out loud. 
“Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck!” Dylan contended. 
This was so not happening, I couldn’t possibly have THAT kid! Clueless, I decided to disengage. Option B involved advising him that we don’t drop f bombs and explaining that it’s a “bad” word, but that option reeked of backfirey. I mean come on, the kid is 2 and a thorough bred rebel-rebel who loves defiantly pushing the envelope...just like me someone I know. Oh and here's a fun fact, one of Dylan’s favorite songs to sing is “Bad boys bad boys, whatcha gonna do…?” 

I don’t know where on earth the little shit picked up such foul (yet contextually correct) verbatim. If Dylan’s New Year potty mouth is any indication of how 2015 is going to go, please pray for me, for I have a high absorption sponge toddler.