Geek. Pirate. Mom

The Life and Times of Whitney Drake

Archive for the 'Mom' Category (164)

Everyday magic.

This weekend, TheBoy and I went to Days of the Wolf, a Teen Wolf convention. But that isn’t what that post is about.  (I’ll post about that on Wed)

We surprised the Kidlets with a trip to Disneyland and a stay last night in a hotel. (We haven’t left yet, right now we’re waiting for breakfast to get her)

After we left Denny’s for dinner, the Little Kidlet realized he forgot his current favorite stuffed animal at home. The tears began.

But it was already late and we knew it would take at least Ann hour to go home get Carrots and drive back. So TheBoy tried to distract the Little Kidlet. “What’s your favorite: bacon or fries?”

“Bacon and fries.”

This went on, along with quiet sobs of, “I want Carrots,” all the way back to the hotel room.

The Kidlets got out their Nooks, and the Oldest Kidlet started to draw something.  After a few minutes, he held it up. “I drew Carrots!”  And true enough, he’d drawn the brown bunny. “This way you can look at his picture when you miss him.”


The crying stopped as the Little Kidlet looked at it. “Thank you.”

It was one of those moments where it felt like we’ve done everything right.

(True story, I’m posting this from my phone to avoid paying for the internet for only two hours of usage. And when I was part way through this post, TheBoy informed me he was probably going to pay for it anyways.  Just my luck.)

I didn’t think it would be this hard.

Since I was released from the hospital (wow, that makes me sound like a wild animal, doesn’t it?), I’ve been cooking for myself regularly.

Which is fun. I love cooking, and it’s the easiest way for me to manage my restrictions and make sure I’m eating healthily. Is that a word? It is now.

So I thought I’d start filming me making some of the dishes that I enjoy. Quick, flavorful stuff like ramen or curries- things that make your tastebuds happy, but won’t take up all of your time. But I’ve run into a couple problems.

All my previous vlogs have been shot on my laptop. There’s no real way to set up my laptop in the kitchen to film a cooking vid. There just isn’t. So I can shoot it on my phone – I have a tripod and an adapter to put my smartphone on the tripod.

But then I just keep running into more problems. Our kitchen is narrow and not exactly set up in a way where I can put the camera where I want it, so most of the video would need to be my back to the camera. Then, the lighting in the kitchen is terrible – so I want to rely on as much natural light as possible. Which only works if it isn’t overcast. And it’s Southern California in February – it’s going to be overcast.

Plus, I have no control over the camera if it’s just me shooting it. I can’t see if I moved out of frame (which I did in my test shoot last week)

So…. what have I learned?

I need a camera person. I need to figure out a better angle. And apparently I need to invest in some sort of lighting that I can diffuse to so that it looks natural.

Adding all of those to my to-figure-out list.

Kidlets and Conversations About Parallel Universes

Earlier this week, as we walked from our car to the elementary school, the Oldest Kidlet asked me something interesting. And no, it had nothing to do with the Titanic.

He asked what my life would be like if TheBoy and I hadn’t had them (the Kidlets). And I know that was never an option. We wanted children too much.

The moment after, I thought about what life was like before them. Having the freedom to walk around naked. Getting to sleep in on the weekend. Staying up all night playing video games. Impromptu trips to Las Vegas. Midnight showings of movies. Being able to make dates without checking with anyone first.

It was a fun life, and I’m sure that in whatever parallel universe exists where TheBoy and I decided not to have kids, we’re probably traveling around the world and eating up a storm. Good for AU!us. It’s just not the life I want, or ever wanted, really.

Even with the sleepless nights, the midnight trips to the ER (because kids rarely get violently ill at convenient hours), the broken arm, learning to travel with an epi-pen and constant paranoia about whether or not something’s made with allergens, realizing I’ll seldom have control of my television, and the endless discussions about the Titanic* – I would never give any of that up just for a few more hours of sleep or traveling the world whenever I feel like it.

So I squeezed his hand, grateful that at age 8 he still wants to hold my hand, and smiled. “I have no idea, kiddo. It’s hard to think of any life without you two.”

He squeezed my hand in return, and smiled a dazzling smile that looks so much like his father’s.

Then he paused, and looked up at me again. “So, Mommy. Do you think that if the Titanic’s hull had been made out of-” And it was back to life as usual.

*He has been in a Titanic phase for the last three months. I am not kidding when I say that at least 75% of his conversations are about the Titanic or some other cruise ship, but mostly the Titanic. He has built about 30 different versions of it using LEGO, DUPLO and even cardboard boxes. And the sneaky kid keeps sneaking onto my Netflix profile to watch documentaries about the Titanic.

Cartoon Network: no girls allowed?

It isn’t very often that I find a blog topic that manages to ping all three parts of my blog title, but when it does happen, it gets me all riled up. Or maybe it’s just the subject at hand that has me in a mood.

Recently, Paul Dini spoke with Kevin Smith about why Cartoon Network canceled his show, Tower Prep. The long and the short of it was that too much of its audience were girls. No, really. Cartoon Network wanted an audience of boys. And because the show couldn’t deliver, they cancelled it to replace it with something less likely to appeal to girls.

Why? Because boys buy toys. That was their logic.

To Smith’s credit, he says that it’s bull that girls don’t buy merchandise, but you probably have to approach it differently.

And he’s right. Barbie has built an entire industry on girls buying merchandise. Same with My Little Pony – and MLP has done so through cartoons. Barbie sells movies based off the dolls, but it’s sort of the same thing.

I once was a little girl. A little girl who watched a ton of Saturday Morning cartoons. And you know what? I bought She-Ra toys. My Little Ponies. I asked people to buy them for me for birthday and Christmas. I bought GI Joes, too. And pretty much all sorts of associated merchandise. Lunchboxes, pencil boxes, notebooks, t-shirts… All the girls I knew growing up? The girls I babysat in high school? Same.

Girls today aren’t any different. Because frankly, Disney’s merchandising machine is proof that if you show it and offer merchandise, girls will buy it. Ignore the dig in the article about how it’s because girls want princesses – the fact of the matter is that girls watch the Disney movies growing up and want merchandise related to it. If anything, girls today have much more diverse interests. I know a lot of little girls who own Avengers action figures because they watched the movies with their families. Star Wars figures, too. They ask for video games for the systems the family owns, and apps for tablets and phones.

However, these studio execs are so invested in a financial model and the idea that there are only girl shows and boy shows (when let’s be honest, most children’s programming as of late has been tearing down gender lines when it comes to appeal) that they’d cancel a show with an audience because it wasn’t the audience they wanted.

Frankly, when I put it that way, it just makes the execs seem like toddlers who aren’t getting their way. Honestly, it reminds me of when the Oldest Kidlet (then age three) threw this hilarious fit: “But I didn’t want ice cream, I wanted CAKE.”

Ridiculous, right? At the time we laughed, and OK clenched his little fists and got even more worked up.

(Edit: I can’t believe I didn’t even mention the double standard here – My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic appeals to just about everyone, exceeding it’s intended target of girls to include, amongst other demos, grown men. But nobody cares. Why? The merchandise sells. So why the double standard?)

Like a girl.

I try my hardest to teach my boys that toys aren’t gendered, neither are TV shows or other interests.

But I’m still battling their peers, so there are a lot of follow-up conversations. Yesterday, I was working with the Little Kidlet on his homework and the Oldest Kidlet was going on about something.

I honestly don’t remember what, but it was probably movie related- they’d been watching promos on a new DVD. I do remember is that he’d been pouring himself orange juice when he shook his head, and seriously said. “But that’s a girl thing.”

The Little Kidlet gasped.

I froze, and turned around. “Sweetie. I have to tell you that I’m not mad at you.” Because he was already flinching, because I must have been giving him the death glare. “But it does hurt when I hear you say that something is just for boys or just for girls. Because very few things are just for boys or girls- and even then, they’re usually health related. If you wanted to take ballet, and someone said it was just for girls, I’d probably get in their face and set them straight. If either of you had been a girl and said you wanted to go into space or be a physicist, I would do the same if anyone said you couldn’t. If it’s what makes you happy, and it isn’t hurting anyone- it doesn’t matter if you’re a boy or a girl. Capisce?”

He looked at me, sort of pleased and afraid. “You’d do that?”

“Of course, baby.” I might seem meek, but my mom made sure that few people told me I couldn’t do something. I’m going to follow in her footsteps. Fear me. “I’m your mom, it’s my job to try to make sure that you have a happy life, and that mean people back off. Until you’re old enough to handle it, anyways.”

He blinked. “You and the girls I know are pretty scary. I have no idea why people say that doing something ‘like a girl’ is a bad thing.” And then he walked off.

For the record, some of the girls he know are absolutely terrifying. 7 years old, and not afraid of the world at all- one’s a bit of a tomboy (but wears a Harajuku Mini hoodie), the other is all glamour girl (and can tell you everything about Star Wars and Batman). They’re pretty awesome.

So I guess I’m not too worried about the Oldest Kidlet. He makes comments like this when he isn’t thinking, and then the minute he stops to consider it, follows up with something incredibly insightful. We’ll keep fighting against society’s idea that women are somehow weak. But I think that so far as my kids are concerned, they’ll at least understand that isn’t true.

(And through all of this? The Little Kidlet just gaped, because he knew the second his brother said that first comment, I was not going to be happy. I’ve heard him tell classmates at recess that they can play Marvel heroes with him, and that he knows a few girl characters they could be, but it’s okay if they play as a guy if they want to.)

In which I know it all.

Once upon a time, three years ago, to be precise. The Oldest Kidlet was in preschool and was obsessed with pirates. He dressed like a pirate for Halloween (in a costume sewn by yours truly). When asked how he knew as much as he did, he told his friends that I’d taught him. Because I know everything about pirates.

That was the year I bought my thigh high boots. I also have a piece of cursed Aztec gold from POTC as a keychain on my key ring.

Within a week, the kids at the preschool were convinced that I was a pirate. Not a pirate expert, but secretly a pirate. They’d ask if I had a sword. I do! They’d ask if I had a compass. I do. They were disappointed I didn’t have a monkey or a ship. I told them that it was a tough market to keep a crew and a tall ship. It sounded important enough that they didn’t ask about the ship anymore.

So today, I was volunteering in the Little Kidlet’s kindergarten class. His teacher was reading to the kids, table by table- so I was keeping an eye on the other tables. That’s when I heard this from LK’s table. “Who would win in a fight,” said one little boy. “A werewolf or a whale shark.” A second little boy considered this. “Can werewolves swim?” My son, bless him, shook his head. “Whale sharks are big, but they aren’t mean. My brother knows all about them. You could ask my mom about werewolves. She knows about them, too.” The entire table turned to look at me. But nobody came over to ask.

Until I had LK at my table so that we could go over flashcards, and as we finished, he started to get a serious look on his face. “Can werewolves swim?” (I should point out that he addressed me the way that his teacher introduces me – because when I’m there, I’m technically not ‘Mom’.)

“Can all people swim?”

“No,” he said. “Some people don’t know how.”

“Then I’m guessing some werewolves can swim, some can’t.”

“Who would win?”

I leaned over. “I’m guessing the werewolf. Unless it didn’t have a boat and had to swim out to find the whale shark. It’d probably be too tired to do much of anything.”

“I’m going to tell them that.” He sad down in his seat. “My mom said that werewolves are like people, so some can swim and some can’t. I told you she knows things.”

“How does she know them?”

“I dunno.”

How long do you think until they’ve decided that either I am a werewolf or that I’m married to one?

Back to the grind.

The first day back after a vacation is always interesting.

The Kidlets were excited to go back to school. It didn’t take much convincing to get them going this morning. But most every adult in the house was dragging their heels.

And me? I know that I wanted to shove them all out the door so that I could get my few hours of silence in the house. I admit, I’m still exhausted from flying Saturday night. But it’s nice to get back into a routine.

In unrelated news, I bought some stuff for the front yard and put it up without telling my father-in-law. It was already cleared with my mother-in-law, but now it occurs to me that I probably should have mentioned it to him. Hmm.

Happy Thanksgiving!

And a Happy Birthday to the Oldest Kidlet, who has amused us all with the ways he’s responded to Happy Birthday.

When I said it to him, he was still in bed, playing the new Legend of Zelda game on his 3DS. He looked at me, somewhat sleepily. “Happy Birthday to you,” he said.

“Babe, that’s not how that works. It’s just your birthday.”

“Oh, right.”

Then when my mom said it about 15 minutes later, he said, “Oh yeah.”

And 10 minutes after that when my dad said it, Oldest Kidlet looked up and said, “Why did you kiss me?”

Then last but not least, when TheBoy woke up and said it to him, he said “Happy Birthday…. to me.” Yes, he almost said the exact same thing he said to me, but caught himself. Ridiculous kid.

Last night, we prepared the turkey. We’re in Florida right now, staying with my parents. (Thieves beware, the only reason I’m posting this now is that we live with my in-laws, and they’re home. I live in the house that’s never empty) But since my mom’s a vegetarian, and my dad isn’t- we realized it’d be pretty silly to leave a ton of turkey leftovers. There’s only so much turkey one man can eat. We also made mashed potatoes last night.

Today we’ll be doing a pork tenderloin, sweet potatoes, stuffing- and pulling out yesterday’s leftovers. My mom’s having shrimp and mahi mahi. Should be delicious. I’m also trying to make a mushroom gravy so that everyone can have it.

But it’s a great trip so far. I get to cook in my mom’s brand new kitchen (as in, they hooked up the stove on Tuesday), and do what my mom and I do best- goof off in the kitchen together.

Here’s to hoping that you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving (for those in the States – I wish anyone else a happy Thursday).

What are you enjoying today?

Does anyone RSVP anymore?

Last weekend was the Kidlets’ joint Birthday Party. Being that their birthdays are a month and a half apart, and the Oldest Kidlet’s birthday is so close to Thanksgiving, it just makes sense to throw them together.

Invitations went out to about 4 friends of the Little Kidlet (he was very specific) and about 12 of the Oldest Kidlet’s closest friends. And nobody RSVP’d.

We wound up with a good turnout, but it was sort of mind-wracking. I had to guess how many people would actually show up (adults and children) and order food to accommodate that.

We wound up with a lot of leftovers (Hawaiian BBQ – TheBoy’s idea, and he gets a gold star for that) and a few extra goody bags.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a great party. The kids had a really great time, and it turned into sort of an extended play date vs an organized party. Kids begged to stay because they were having fun tearing through the house playing team hide and seek.

I just don’t understand why people are so hesitant to call to say they’re coming. Maybe next year I’ll just put my number and say – call or text! Maybe people are just as scared of social interaction as I am.

Thankfully, I knew about food limitations for two of the kids we were inviting (both with peanut allergies), so I’d made sure that the ice cream, cookies and food were all peanut free. Only one of the kids with allergies came, but the mother was relieved I’d thought of it.

Is it just a California thing, or is the lack of RSVP more of a national plague?

Everyone Hail to to the Pumpkin Song

(I’m 90% sure I’ve already used ‘This is Halloween’ as a post title)

I really don’t have much to say, other than I’m in the midst of a lot of things. With Halloween on Thursday, I’ve got character parades to prepare for and a class Halloween Party to supervise.

I love the way that the elementary school handles the costume parade. In order to walk in it, the students have to bring a book that relates to their costume- they mention going to the public library or school library if they can’t find a book. Two years back, the Oldest Kidlet brought a book on Pirates (we have a plethora of those). Last year, he brought a Spider-man comic book. This year, he’s taking a book for Thor: The Dark World. Little Kidlet is bringing a child’s illustrated encyclopedia of Marvel Superheroes. I really should have anticipated it being harder to find Captain America since his movie isn’t coming out soon.

But I really do like the idea- it gets kids reading, and that’s always a good thing.

And one of the few things I promised LK’s teacher was that I’d always volunteer during the kindergarten class parties.

We went to a Halloween Party last weekend, and I have to share my two favorite Avengers. The original plan was for TheBoy and I to dress up, but I couldn’t figure out Loki’s horns, so I didn’t go for it. I wore my Abaddon costume instead. And TheBoy was going to dress as Tony Stark (using ThinkGeek’s shirt), but it didn’t get here in time. In typical fashion, the Little Kidlet went home early (he’s not much of a party animal) and we had to tear his big brother away.

The Kidlets

So far as the rest of the week goes, we’re going to carve pumpkins today… so I’m sure I’ll have more pictures of the week.

What are your plans for Halloween? Any traditions?

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