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Tag Archives: children

Are Books A Threat To Our Children, Or An Innovative New Food Source?

Is that a Prussian Robot Death Squad Commando, or a Prussian Robot Squash Commando?

It’s a fun Xmas story and serves as a better-than-expected shield when fending off blows from siblings.

Kids do the damnedest things.

Particularly to books.

Especially when they can’t read.

Let’s face it, if you hand a book to a young enough kid, he or she will try to eat it (and sometimes succeed). Even if they aren’t hungry.

Which makes me wonder, if you can buy edible underwear, why has no one come out with an edible book?

This lack of fresh and healthy edible books is why I only buy my toddlers hardback books. They can try, but they aren’t getting those down. At least, not easy.

Sadly, that all changes once they discover the knife drawer. Damn you, Williams-Sonoma!

But the resilience of the format is what really makes me wish CreateSpace offered a hardback option.

The paperback proof of my latest offering, the Marlowe and the Spacewoman short story The Santa Claus Gang, arrived in the mail yesterday.

I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out (and have subsequently released the book for publication).

My kids seemed pretty excited too, until they discovered there were no pictures inside.

Then it was just another weird, seemingly pointless toy kept in the special shelf next to similar weird, seemingly pointless toys that you go to when you want to tear yourself a sheet of paper.

Philistines.

But if nothing else, they deemed the cover a huge success, which is more than can be said about their views of my previous book, Marlowe and the Spacewoman. They were very unimpressed with that cover. Perhaps because of the bar of soap that features so prominently on it.

There, that takes care of the shameless plug for my new book. Back to the topic at hand: kids and books.

The other night my kids barricaded themselves in their bedroom, pushed the toy box over to the door, and started removing books from the hanging shelves on said door.

Not every book, mind you. One kiddo would pull a book out and show it to the other kiddo, who would judge it either ‘scary’ or ‘not scary’.

The scary books were handed down and dumped into a basket in the corner of the room furthest from the beds, behind a dresser.

“Why are you putting the books there?” I asked.

“They’re scary books,” Kiddo #2 answered solemnly. “We don’t want them to get us.”

I’m not sure exactly what the perceived threat was from these books, but they were definitely taking it seriously.

Now I can understand my deranged foray into children’s books, Kleencut, ending up exiled to the ‘Danger Zone’ – after all, it’s a terrible, 1-star review freebie on Amazon that really shouldn’t be read to children no matter how much they clamor for it.

But the Berenstain Bears?

Apparently, the Berenstain Bears book Safe and Sound! is particularly scary, because it was at the bottom of the pile.

I would have given them ‘boring’, because man it does drag, but scary?

I guess my kids feel safer knowing I am more likely to be injured as I contort myself in an attempt to get at that book so I can read it to them.

And that, in itself, is pretty damn scary.

And now, a word from our sponsor: me! My books are available!
 

The Santa Claus Gang:

The Santa Claus Gang: A Marlowe and the Spacewoman short story

Marlowe and the Spacewoman:

Marlowe and the Spacewoman

Kleencut (FREE!):

So bad it won a Voidy for the next THREE consecutive years (would have been FOUR, but 2012 was a leap year)

 

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Fever Dream

I am  sick.

I would kill the parties responsible for giving me this plague, but they are my children, and I’d probably regret it later.

Plus I am too weak to hurt anyone just now.

I am not accustomed to this state of being. I take great comfort in believing I am able to hurt anyone I want on a whim. Now I just feel … nervous.

And woolly headed.

Somehow one of my spawn (or perhaps both working in tandem) managed to rename this computer ‘5’. I had no idea they were so proficient with Windows.

I should have bought a Mac.

If I’m not careful, they’ll find this blog and know I am too weak to stop them.

This makes me more nervous.

But not as nervous as this. It’s from a book for my kids: Just Go To Bed by Mercer Mayer.

The creepy dad, a.k.a. El Bandito Daddy-O

If I was a two-year old and I saw this man, I'd need a diaper change, stat!

It isn’t supposed to be creepy, in context, but if you only look at the bit I’ve got cropped above?

Now that’s creepy.

And now, a word from our sponsor: me!

Marlowe and the SpacewomanClick here to check out my forthcoming book, Marlowe and the Spacewoman, coming out January 9th, 2012 (Balloon Ascension Day)!

 
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Posted by on 21 November 2011 in Life

 

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A Sad Farewell

A friend died this week. She was my wife’s best friend.

It’s been a tough week.

She was a mom. A seven month old baby boy and a nine-year old daughter. Her passing plays up on one of my own fears – dying and leaving my kids without their daddy.

At the memorial, I held her son. So innocent, his eyes wide and looking around with wonder and joy because he had no idea what had happened, how much of a sharp turn his life had just taken.

The daughter wasn’t there. She was with her dad, the ex-husband, who, due to some sort of feud, decided none of his family would attend. This also plays into my fears about dying before my kids are grown up – them being left at the mercy of others who may not behave or raise them in ways I would want.

So a sad day, a sad week, tinged with anger and disbelief.

The world has lost a very kind, very generous woman who was also a loving mother.

My wife has lost a dear friend.

A seven month old baby has lost his mother, will grow up never knowing her, never fully grasping what he lost.

A nine-year old girl will continue on, knowing exactly who she has lost, exactly how her life has changed.

I don’t know which is worse, to be that infant robbed of having memories of a mommy, or the little girl who has those memories and has seen them cut off forever.

Make no mistake, both situations are terrible and tragic and unfair. But which one is worse?

I honestly don’t know.

All I can say is that there is no justice in a world that would rob us of a friend, a confidant, a fiance, a mommy.

 
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Posted by on 22 August 2011 in Life

 

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Why I’m In Such A Hurry To Find A Parking Space

I wanted to blog about the unenviable state of parking lot etiquette in the United States.  It’s a crisis of horrific importance that needs to be addressed, honestly and dispassionately, but it turns out I don’t have the time.

And that, unbelievable as it may sound, is an even bigger problem than the shameful behavior displayed by Americans in parking lots (I’m looking at you, a-hole at IKEA this morning).

I am faced with a time-management crisis.

I work full-time.

I have two toddlers and a wonderful wife who has worn her sanity to the bone dealing with those toddlers while I’m at work.

I’m a writer.  As such, I have critique groups, writing to do, a small press I’ve founded, and for the last seven years, I’ve been a NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison.

I am addicted to reruns of T.J. Hooker, and have to watch at least one episode every night.

I won’t even bring up the lawn I have to mow and maintain.

(Curse you, Kentucky bluegrass!)

It has recently become painfully apparent that I can’t do all of this.

Quitting my job seemed like the obvious first choice for a solution.  But the missus was quick to point out some of the disadvantages: no income, no health insurance, and even worse, I’d lose an 8+ hour window each day where I don’t have to deal with my spawn, who seem to relish sucking the marrow out of people’s sanity bones.

(Yes, it’s a real bone. It’s in your arm somewhere, near the funny bone, I think.  Look it up.)

The missus can be a real killjoy sometimes.

Which led me to my second idea – ditch the killjoy and the tykes.  But there was just something about that idea that felt wrong.  I haven’t quite put my finger on what exactly it was, but the closest way to describe it is a horrible, burning void-like emptiness in my soul that manifested immediately after I considered this option.

Dashed inconvenient, that.

And as is obvious to anyone who has experienced the delight that is a William Shatner performance, T.J. Hooker is staying on the agenda.

With those three options off the table, I’ve sort of painted myself into a corner.  The area where I need to make a sacrifice appears to be my writing.

Oh, I won’t stop writing.  The kids still have a (reasonably) early bedtime, and some nights they even go to sleep when put down.  So I can, in theory, squeeze some words in there.

(That said, in the twenty minutes I’ve been (trying to) work on this entry, I’ve had to deal with crying babies twice, and they were put to bed three hours ago.)

Some of these writing commitments are huge time-sucks, and I’m not sure how I’ll address that, given the rapidly shrinking amount of time I have for writing.

OK, that’s a total lie.  I know exactly how I’ll have to address them.  I’m just not happy about it.

I’m going to have to choose.  I’m going to have to make cuts and sacrifices.  And unlike our current national debt ceiling crisis, there aren’t any tax revenue options on the table that can be used as offsets to help me scale back the cuts.

(Damn, I miss the days of the writing time surplus.  Curse my shortsightedness in not stockpiling some of those precious minutes then, when they were readily available!)

So I have to take a long, hard look at my craft and the activities that surround it.  Where can I eek out more efficiency?  What can I do to strip out the cost of fraud?  How do I determine which writing activities provide the biggest return on the time I invest in them?

It’s going to be ugly.  There will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth.  And once I’ve calmed the toddlers down, I will most likely cry too.

Maybe the pharmaceutical companies will come up with a pill for horrible, burning void-like emptiness in the soul.

A writer can hope, right?

What about you writers out there?  How do you fit the literary compulsion into your life?  Have you had to make cuts to this most beloved of entitlements?  Once the kids grow up, can you reclaim that time, or does it just get worse and worse the older they get?  Is selling your kids off for scientific experimentation still an option these days?  If so, how much does a two year old go for?

 
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Posted by on 20 July 2011 in Angst, Life, Other Blogs

 

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Tread Carefully, O Muse, or at least wear shoes…

So last week I talked about the joys of mowing my lawn.  This week I want to talk about maintaining my lawn.

These are not the same thing.

You know what’s stressful? Trying to keep your kids from drawing on every single flat surface they can find once they’ve gotten their little hands on a crayon.

A crayon, to a toddler, is an invitation to leave their mark on the world. And by mark, I mean marks. And when I say marks, I am not conveying clearly enough the extreme plural nature of the marks. These kids draw on walls, floors, drawers, doors, windows, screens, television sets, chairs, shoes, other crayons, and occasionally, themselves.

And this is an extremely small subset of the things they will draw on with those god-forsaken crayons.

(It’s a well-known fact: every time a child is handed a crayon, a demon gets his horns.)

What does this have to do with maintaining my lawn? I’ll get there.

I own dogs. This means that they leave lots of little presents for me on the lawn in the backyard. But that’s okay. Because I knew what I was getting into when I decided I wanted to own dogs. So while I don’t exactly enjoy cleaning up these little pee-mail attachments, it comes with the territory.

My front lawn is a different story. Maintaining my front lawn is extremely stressful. Almost as stressful as dealing with my kids and their crayons.

Why is maintaining my front lawn extremely stressful? Let me tell you.

Maintaining my front lawn is extremely stressful because I live in a Third World neighborhood.

What do I mean by that? Let me tell you.

My neighborhood is overrun by cats.

I’m not talking about the fluffy Persian cats that turn their nose up at the wrong brand of cat food, or that sashay back and forth across their house’s front window, showing off their ‘Best In Show’ ribbon.

I’m talking about feral cats.  And when I say cats, I am not conveying clearly enough the extreme plural nature of the cats.

This confederation of feral cats is thriving because I have a well-intentioned neighbor who insists on feeding them. He loves these cats. LOVES them. He leaves out several bowls of food for them each day, and he leaves the door open to one of his cars, so they have someplace dry to stay during the rainy season.

Aw, how touching.

Despite this affection, he avoids all other aspects of pet ownership, such as tags and collars, regularly scheduled veterinary visits, and, more importantly, being responsible enough to neuter said feral cats. And as the old saying goes, “An unneutered feral cat community that lives together loves forever, eventually producing enough offspring to overrun an entire neighborhood.”

Why, you ask, do I care? Let me tell you while I sit here, serenaded by the yowls of a couple of feral cats rutting just on the other side of my fence, driving my dogs into an apoplectic barking frenzy that I am convinced is going to end in an aneurysm, either for one of the dogs, or for me.

You know the one thing the cats won’t do in the area where they are fed? If you said, “Go to the bathroom,” then ding ding ding! you win a prize.  Instead, they go somewhere else to do that particular business. Which is where my front lawn comes in.

(If you’re one of those lawyer types and you’re going to start shouting about getting your prize, just send me your address. As soon as I get it, I’ll go out to my front lawn and scoop up your reward.)

I’ve tried everything to keep them off my lawn. I have a spotlight on a motion sensor. I’ve left out mothballs. I’ve sprinkled the essence of jalapeno pepper around my lawn. I scattered granules of a particularly nasty smelling repellent on my lawn (made with, among other things, spoiled egg and dried blood). I’ve even tried watering my lawn every single night so that it’s soaking wet.

(I have even thought [SHUDDER] of leaving food out for them so they’ll do their business elsewhere.  But that’s just forcing the problem onto someone else.)

The cats don’t care what I do to discourage them. They love my lawn. It is the best kitty litter box they have ever encountered. They tell other cats passing through the neighborhood, “Hey dude, if you ever need to take a dump, have we got the perfect lawn for you!”

It’s driving me crazy.

Oh, I’ve thought of more extreme measures. I looked into traps so I could take them to the local shelter and have them fixed (and let me be clear – by fixed I mean neutered, NOT euthanized). Traps cost $65. And one of my neighbors, who’s already tried this approach, reports that the local shelter simply brought the cat back unaltered.

I’ve also thought about slingshots, pellet guns, even a .22 rifle (they’re not that loud). The old SNL yard-a-pult skit has also come to mind. But as a pet owner and all around decent human being, I could never harm another animal. Even if I have just stepped, barefoot, in that animal’s still warm and most-recent-in-a-long-string-of fecal deposits on my lawn.

However, I think I’ve finally come upon a humane solution. It involves my children and crayons.

The only problem is crayons don’t work very well on cat fur.

Does anyone have any advice on how to minimize the level of injury sustained while shaving a cat?

 
 

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