Tag Archives: humor

{Review} Big Basin: Our Family’s Big Adventure

16 Aug

Every family has that one story.

You know, like our dad friend who traveled with his four sick kids on a transatlantic flight and had to sit in a layered mess of spit-up, vomit and diarrhea for the entire flight while he tended to his brood single-handedly.

After today, if there was any doubt whether we’re really and truly a family, there isn’t any now.

The day started out nicely.

Low 70s, sunny skies, a cool breeze:  the perfect day for light hike and a picnic under the redwoods at Big Basin Redwoods State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

I drove, instead of Hubby, since the road through the mountains is so windy and I’m very prone to car sickness.  The drive was easy enough, though a bit long for my young ones.

When we finally arrived, Jane and Sam took to the forest, running around and exploring every nook and cranny:

It was difficult, but Jane managed harrowing escape from some trolls living under a bridge:

We looked for insects and I pointed out the various trees and plant growth along the path:

Upon spotting a rock covered in green moss, I asked: “What do you think that is?”

I think it smells like allergies,” Jane replied matter of factly.

After our picnic, we planned to stop for ice cream at the General Store.

Good thing we didn’t.

On our drive home, just as we had made it down the 45 minutes of winding road into the flatland of Saratoga proper, Jane yelled,

“Look at Sam!”

Hubby and I whirled around to see Jane pointing at her little brother who had fallen victim to the sway of the windy roads (and my speeding).  We stopped the car and then heard gurgling noises from Jane’s side.

Who knew that a 2.5 year old’s stomach had a two gallon capacity?

My only consolation:  Jane’s sympathetic reaction to Sam’s plight must mean that somehow – somewhere way down deep – she likes, and maybe even loves, her pest of a brother.

Luckily, it was only a short 15-minute straight shot home and I dunked them into the tub as soon as we arrived home.  Looking at their poor, pale little faces, I thought I would jump in, too, and play with them to make up for putting them through the day’s ordeal.

I stepped into the tub and felt the soap underfoot.

It must have fallen down from the soap dish and gotten a little soggy from the bath.  It squished between my toes, so I bent down to pick it up.

It wasn’t soap.  And there was a whole bathtub full of it.  Apparently, I was right – the misery of the car ride that Jane and Sam shared did indeed bring them closer together.  Minutes earlier while I was putting their soiled clothes into the washing machine, I had heard them curiously giggling together (instead of the usual clobbering and crying from Jane trying to drown her brother in the bath).  I now realize that the children were conspiring to seek revenge for my car-sickness-inducing driving through a cleverly crafted Simultaneous Number Two plot.

After everyone was cleaned up, I gave Jane a recap of the day, including the last two messy events, and asked her what kind of day she had.  “Was it a good day?”

She smiled quietly and said,”We had a big adventure.”

Details for your big adventure:

Happy Trails!


{Guest Post} Curious Mom Questions About Kids’ Programming

25 Jul

The Outlaw Mom’s Disclaimer:  The views expressed in the following review of children’s television programming are not necessarily those of The Outlaw Mom.  In The Outlaw Mom’s household, Special Agent Oso is king and it is clear to us that he has cleverly devised a foil of the fumbling, bumbling, cuddly bear in order to hide the undeniable cunning that lies beneath.  But go ahead … read on if you want to laugh your socks off.

Okay, so sometimes I wonder about things that some people might find odd. Sometimes, I might ponder what it would be like in a quantum parallel universe where our reality is reversed – would people eat their corn on the cob from top to bottom? If there are 11 known dimensions in the multi-verse, which one are we in? How in the world did that amazing young female scientist figure out where all the missing matter in the universe had been “misplaced” after all these years – and can she find my missing socks?

But, admittedly, some of the most vexing questions since having children seem to pop up when watching PBS Kids, Nick Junior or Disney Junior. Here are just a few that have been bugging me over the last few years. If you’re an exceptional parent whose children have never seen a television, none of these may make any sense to you. And, Bravo! But, if you’re a normal parent who, well, just-needs-half-an-hour-to-do-the-dishes-or-laundry-or-read-a-book-or-cook-or-pay-bills-or-no-it’s-not-a-babysitter-I-just-freaking-need-30-minutes-to-do-something-that-I-want-to-do-for-just-thirty-friggin’-minutes, okay??!!!, then maybe you can send me some that I’m missing.

And here they are:

1) The omni-present question: Where are Max and Ruby’s Parents?


2) How did Mama Bear give birth to Sister Bear, shower, change, get her newborn to sleep and lose her distended uterus while Papa and Brother Bear were out chopping wood?


3) How did that one-eyed pimply orange cylindrical monster on Yo Gabba Gabba ever make it past the Parent’s Television Council?


4) Who lets their kid play with a baby jaguar? And, for that matter, where is baby Jaguar’s momma?


5) Why doesn’t YehYeh buy Kai Lan another outfit?

6) WTH is a “Uniqua?” ….yeah, yeah, I know, a play on the word “unique”, a tip to diversity…but, I think I’ve figured out the formula:


7) And since, we’re talking Backyardigans, what the heck is Austin supposed to be?)


8) Why are Goofy and Pete dogs that can talk and walk upright, but Pluto barks and walks on all fours?


9) Who laced Dino Dan’s carrot sticks with hallucinogens?



10) How did such an intellectually-challenged bear become a Special Agent?



11) Why hasn’t Buddy the T-Rex ever tried to eat Tiny the Pteranadon?


12) And who do you think hates themselves more? The Fresh Beat Band or The Imagination Movers?


Now, if you’ll excuse me. I’ve gotta run. SuperWhy is about to come on!

Today, we’re going to unlock the mystery of why Sleeping Beauty can’t wake up

by using our super reading powers. 🙂

The Outlaw Mom thanks Tricia, the hilarious and ever-insightful woman behind Critters and Crayons, for guest posting today.  After serving as a U.S. Army Officer for nearly ten years, Tricia worked as a research analyst and technical writer for another four.  She chose to take a break from full-time work to raise her two toddlers and now tries to put her skills to use as a mom and freelance writer.  She writes, researches and reviews family and kid activities in her small border town of Laredo, Texas.  It’s a place just minutes away from the extreme violence plaguing Nuevo, Laredo, Mexico and she hopes to bring a little positivity and levity to the sister cities through her blog.  She also writes about greener living, cooking, literature, and other things that bring happiness and laughter.  Want to read more from this fabulous mom and blogger?  Hop over to Critters and Crayons!

Survival Of The Fittest {Paul Smith Spectacles Review}

21 Jun

When I was little, my mother thought I had muscular dystrophy because I couldn’t squat, sit and run like the other kids.

It didn’t help that I was duck footed (thanks, Dad) and waddled around, hips swaying from side to side led by wayward outward pointing toes.

A few years later, in the first grade, it was also apparent that I couldn’t see.  I’ve donned a pair of spectacles – or contact lenses – since then to perfect my less than perfect minus 10 prescription.

Those are just a few of the traits that would have made me easy sabre tooth cat prey if these were Paleolithic times.

Can you imagine:  while my father and brothers were out hunting woolly mammoth and my mother was busy  harvesting berries, I would have blindly wandered off into the blurry distance and straight into the fangs of any number of eager carnivores.

As far as survival of the fittest goes, I would be dead meat.

Recently – and to my vain horror – my opthamologist told me that my eyes are not happy with the amount of time they spend trapped under anaerobic hydrogel material and that I need to wear my glasses more often.  I hate wearing glasses.

For one, I try to mask every indication that I would not be here today if it were not for modern science keeping me and my progeny from going the way of the Dodo.

Secondly, glasses are a pain.  They fog, they slip, they mess with your depth perception.

The worst thing about glasses:  they’re ugly.  I know countless of people wear glasses, including everyone in my family and Hubby, but I have never warmed to the idea of wearing 5-inch thick coke bottles over my otherwise attractive eyes.

But health is health.  So I’ve decided to go for it and toss the contact lenses for a while.  Lucky for me, I stumbled upon these supremely awesome spectacles from Paul Smith:

Aren’t these just a vision of beauty?

They’re so lightweight it’s like not even wearing glasses at all.  Plus, the funky blue color means I can shorten my makeup routine and go without my usual blue shadow.

Best of all, they can handle a heavyweight prescription like mine.

{These are the high index lenses if you can believe it}

They also come in a light gunmetal-ish grey if you’re not so adventurous and a metallic red if you’re bolder than I am.  Find them here.

Why Aren’t You Sleeping? {Part 2}

20 Jun

“I have to do something important.”

What do you have to do?

“I have to work on my Blackberry.  Please stop being so loud, I need to check my e-mail.”

Jane, age 2.25

Why Aren’t You Sleeping? {Part 1}

14 Jun

“This pillow isn’t working.'”

-Jane, age 2.25

{Guest Post} Surviving Five Kids and Fundraisers

13 Jun

Hello there, would you like to buy a $3 candy bar? How about seven pounds of frozen cookie dough? Not much of a sweet tooth, huh? That’s okay, how about a pepperoni roll, tickets to the pancake breakfast—or maybe the spaghetti dinner? Oh. You’re on a diet. I understand—I would be, too, if I didn’t have kids. Maybe you would be more interested in a magazine subscription? Or a high-fragrance, flameless, candle substitute? Maybe a discount card that offers insignificant savings from places you rarely visit? Ooh, better yet, forget the card; I’m selling a whole discount book. Where are you going? Wait! Don’t forget to swing by the carwash so kids who have never washed a vehicle in their lives can scratch up yours! Just drop your spare change in the can on your way out!

Most of us would never dream of asking our coworkers for money and are naturally averse to peddling subpar ware to our friends and loved ones. But, as always, our children can lead us to do crazy things. As soon as those babies are born, you find yourself abandoning civilized banter around the water cooler in favor of pressuring everyone to buy Bingo cards for basketball, coffee mugs for Cub Scouts, and potted plants for PTA.

My children and their non-stop roster of activities have turned me into a one-woman mini-mall of useless, overpriced purchasing opportunities. Not only do the kids bring them home from school, fundraising is a part of every sports team, club, and organization that they join. Some are optional, some are mandatory, but all come with a healthy dose of guilt to show your support by sacrificing your friends. I used to try to participate in every fundraiser that my children were asked to join, but it didn’t take long to realize that not only was this an impossible task, it was also the quickest way to alienate my entire peer group. I needed to choose my sales carefully.

School fundraisers are sneaky. They claim to be optional, which leads me to chuck them out, along with all of the fliers, advertisements, and other folder spam that seems to come home with my children every week. But, without fail, within a few days, the kids begin to ask how much “we’ve” sold so far, and I’m stuck like a deer in the headlights. Telling them that “we” aren’t participating leads to whining and fear that they are going to be the only children in the school who won’t win a fluorescent plastic yoyo boomerang for every hundred dollars’ worth of coffee they sell.

I was once suckered into a school fundraiser that “just” required me to fill in the names and addresses of 15 innocent friends and family members so that the company could hound them mercilessly (but with no obligation!).My son begged me to participate; he had already been primed at school that he would get a prize just for turning in those addresses, and he couldn’t bear to miss out on a prize. So I gleaned names from my rolodex and solicited for contact information on Facebook, pointing out to friends that my sweet little boy would win just through their cooperation. I compiled the list, sent it off to school with my son, and waited anxiously to see what kind of little trinket he would score from my hard work.

He walked through the door that afternoon with a huge smile on his face. Oh boy! He dug through his book bag for his prize and proudly pulled out… a piece of butterscotch candy. And they didn’t even spring for the Werther’s Originals! It was just a tiny, generic piece of hard candy wrapped in clear cellophane, as though the Fundraising Gods had fished it out of the pocket of their grandmother’s sweater, blew the lint off, and dangled it in front of my child like a carrot.

I was later guilted into participating in the school’s annual candy bar sale. Once committed to selling a box, if you couldn’t peddle all $50 worth of the chocolate, you were obligated to foot the remainder of the bill yourself. But the box featured name-brand candy bars of a decent size, so I figured we could probably manage to sell a box to put a smile on the kids’ faces. But what we didn’t take into account was the fact that every child in a 20-mile radius would also be selling the exact same thing. Our student-saturated neighborhood became a ridiculous display of children nagging their parents for money and selling candy bars to each other, all happy to have not only sold their entire box, but to have purchased a pile of candy in the process. Never again.

Sports teams and dance classes, however—now those are fundraisers I will sell my soul (and dignity) for. These sales don’t earn my kids plastic knick-knacks that I’ll step on in the middle of the night. Instead, the sales’ profits chisel away at the mountainous accumulation of tuitions, fees, and uniform purchases that threaten to bury my family and move us into a luxury refrigerator box downtown. Every nickel or dime I can squeeze from my loved ones is less dough that I have to shell out to every extracurricular institution in the tri-county area.

So the next time you see your friend coming toward you with a guilty grin, trying to interest you in some lollipops for Little League or raffle tickets for racquetball, pull out your wallet and contribute what you can. Putting out a few bucks not only helps a friend in need, but when the time comes for your child to bring home a catalog of wrapping paper and stationary to sell, you will have a list of people who are already indebted to your cause.

The Outlaw Mom would like to thank Leigh Ann Wilson of Surviving Five for guest blogging today and for her incredibly helpful – and hilarious – insight into the world of children’s fundraisers!  At Surviving Five, Leigh Ann blogs about her “crazy, often chaotic” life as a stay at home mom with 5 small children (ages 7, 6, 4, 3, and 2).  For more pricelessly heartwarming and humorous posts on family and motherhood, hop on over to her blog now!

Gender Roles

7 Jun

Jane is at the age when she soaks in absolutely everything we say and do.  Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s not exactly model-worthy behavior.

In some ways, it’s great that she absorbs everything.  For instance, she can count to ten in Spanish, not because we taught her or because anyone speaks Spanish at home, but because she’s a veritable Sesame Street sponge and memorizes everything from the program.

But I wonder what else she’s soaking in.

Does she already know who and what she is?  Is she aware that she is a girl and of the social rules that inevitably will apply to her just by virtue of being female?  Does she know that she’s supposed to be a member of the “weaker” sex?

According to a physician source, when a child with ambiguous genitalia undergoes surgery to receive definite girl parts or boy parts before the age of 3, he or she is more likely to make the transition smoothly than a child over three.  Apparently, the idea of being a girl or a boy does not completely gel before then.

Looks like I have just a few more months to influence Jane’s notion of what it means to be a girl or a boy.  And maybe I can get this concept to work to her advantage so she isn’t so aware of – and trapped by – traditional, outdated notions of male and female roles.

Or maybe I already have:

Jane:  I need help fixing this toy.  I think it’s broken.

Hubby:  I’ll help you.  Should we get the tool box?

Jane:  No.  Mommy will fix it.  She has a hammer.  You need to go wash the dishes.

Image from Porn for Women.

Bedtime Stories

1 Jun

This is my toddler’s brain:

Image via Elements4Health

This is my toddler’s brain on TV:

Once upon a time there was a brother and a sister.  They lived in a castle in a land that’s not so far away.  One day they wanted to eat at a restaurant.  But then they saw a dragon.  He wanted to eat their graham crackers.  So they said, “Swiper, no swiping!”  But they weren’t scared.  Ghosts are just pretend.  Come on, Super Readers:  to the rescue!  How do you pretend to be a ghost?  The first step is to be white.  What else can we use?  “Oh, Toodles!”  What does the word “ghost” start with?  The letter G.  What sound does the letter G make?  “Guh.”  Hooray!  We’re on our way to save the day!  Let’s build a doghouse for the dragon and the ghost.  But what if they don’t want to be rescued?  Mission completion, Mateys.

-as told to me by Jane, 2.25 years old

Is too much television helping or harming her brain development?

That’s a whole ‘nother blog post.  I just had to share this oddity of spontaneous storytelling with you.

Bonus points if you can name all of the children’s television programs referenced.

{Answer:  Team Umizoomi; Bubble Guppies; Dora The Explorer; Go Diego Go; Super Why!; Elmo’s World; Sesame Street; Mickey Mouse Clubhouse; Special Agent Oso; Word World; Wonder Pets; Backyardigans; Little Einsteins; Jake and the Neverland Pirates}

A Twilight Anniversary

19 May

After receiving an Edward and Bella calendar for Valentine’s Day (which prompted me to buy my own gift), I thought that the Twilight gifting was over . . . but, here is what happened on the morning of our anniversary:

Me:  (sleeping soundly)

Hubby & Jane:  (trying to muffle their activities downstairs)

Hubby:  Happy Anniversary!  (brings hot tea, a small gift-wrapped present and Jane to me in bed)

Me:  Happy Anniversary (ooh, what’s that pretty little package?!)

Jane:  (before I can get it unwrapped, flings it across the room, then shouts in random TV character voice) You’ll never find that again!  Ha ha ha HA.

Me:  Where is it?!  Where did you throw my present?!

Jane:  (brings me the half-unwrapped gift)

Me:  (What could it be, what could it be?!  I frantically open the present)  A palm-sized book on Edward Cullen?

Hubby:  That’s the last of the Twilight presents, I promise.

Jane:  Happy Grocery!

Me:  You mean “anniversary.”

Jane:  Happy Grocery!

Hubby:  Hey, yeah, what do we need at the store?  Do you want to go grocery shopping this morning?

Me:  (closing my eyes and trying to get back to sleep while visions of grocery lists and teenage vampires dance in my head)

A Happy Day for Mothers

8 May

You could say that becoming a mother of two in a span of less than 1.5 years has thrown me for a bit of a loop.  The contrast between life before kids and life after two under two is ever so stark and has me loving, hating and laughing at the differences between now and then.  What do I mean?  Well, consider my definitions of happiness before and after children.

Happiness Before Children Was

  1. Being able to sleep the day away and wake up in time for dinner.
  2. The whole complicated getting ready ritual, which could take up to two hours before a night out.
  3. Being able to spend 1.5 hours at the gym to finish my entire cardio and weights routine every day.
  4. Leisurely browsing through Gourmet magazine for recipes and then strolling down the grocery aisles deciding whether to buy imported or domestic mustard.
  5. Spending entire days canvassing every mall and boutique in a 100 mile radius to fashion the perfect outfit.
  6. Conquering my hunger and successfully adhering to my strict diet of steamed vegetables and boiled egg whites.
  7. Zipping around town in my fancy sports coupe with red leather seats.
  8. Watching movies on our large flat screen in the peace and quiet of the living room.
  9. Planning nights out with the girls and ideas for dates.
  10. Being with family.

Happiness After Kids Is

  1. One uninterrupted night of sleep every two weeks.
  2. A shower without any little people underfoot and using a separate shampoo and conditioner.
  3. Running after the kids – even if it means getting dirty and sweaty before heading to the office.
  4. Correctly guessing what Jane might agree to eat today – and luckily finding the ingredients in the back of the refrigerator.
  5. Finding something without dirty handprints and dried baby food on it to squeeze into that makes me look not totally offensive.
  6. Watching my children stuff their cheeks full of food like little squirrels who will be hibernating for the longest winter in history.
  7. Driving around in my comfy, crumb-filled car with my two sleeping babies in the backseat.
  8. Watching 10 minutes of 30 Rock on the tiny tube in the family room between the time the kids go down and falling asleep.
  9. Planning kids’ birthday parties and playdates.
  10. Being a family.

All in all, I suppose that whatever happiness happens to mean at any given moment, to be happy is happiness enough for me.

What makes you happy about life after becoming a mom?

Hope you are having a Happy Mother’s Day!

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