Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Tale of the Labia Spider

Children are notoriously interpretive artists. They can draw scribbles and lines that are supposed to represent horses, rainbows, their parents...really anything. Jagged shapes and swirls satisfy their artistic sensibilities in their early years and, honestly, it goes both ways at that stage. A kid could say "Draw Elsa and Anna for me!" and you provide two stick figures and they are BLOWN AWAY by your amazing skills. When presented with the artwork of a very young child, we as adults are meant to squint at these creations and then go on about how great of artist they are. 
As kids get older, the weirdness factor of their art definitely increases alongside their abilities. At a certain point they show you a drawing that you think you know what it is, but you still don't have it quite right. After they explain what they have put to the page, you as the adult have to be like, "Oh, but of course this is a picture of your cat riding a hot dog rocket ship to the moon. I was just making sure I knew all of the nuances of your art".
I once went over to my friend’s house where she had displayed her preschooler’s artwork on the fridge. Nothing weird about that, right? But the more I stared at it, the more I began to question what I was looking at. It was a circle, with little lines radiating out from it and a few letters. So, I figured I’d just ask what it was supposed to be. It went like this:
Me: Hey, what is this a picture of?
Friend: Oh that? It’s Laura’s ABC spider. She's learning the alphabet at school.
Me: Really? Because it kind of…sort of….definitely looks like it spells out the word “labia”
She whipped her head around and took a really good look at the picture and I watched the expression on her face change. By some chance, her kid had wrote the letters “ABA”, but the legs of the spider visually filled in the “L” and the “I”.
It looked kind of like this:

At this point, I was convinced this was the most amazing thing ever created by a preschooler. Looking at this drawing on their fridge brought me so much joy every time I came over, as my friend rolled her eyes at me. One day, they were having family over and her husband insisted on hiding the “Labia Spider” (as it had become known), but their child threw a FIT screaming for her ABC spider to be returned to its rightful place on the fridge. They hesitantly hung it up again, but no one else seemed to notice. It was odd, for whatever reason no one really saw the word "Labia" in it unless it was pointed out to them first. When they moved to their new place they “lost” it, I was disappointed because I would have kept that as a memento. Baby in the bathtub photos have NOTHING on Labia Spider pictures for future teenage embarrassment.

**This entire post was inspired by a question I answered on Quora that gained a surprising amount of interest.**
#children #art #labiaspiders #ABCs
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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Yes, but why wine and razors?

I have a question that I am going just put out there to the world:  Why wine and razors? Bear with me here for a moment and I will circle back to the beginning. I, like most other people I know, am online somewhat frequently. Because of this, I run into my fair share of advertisements throughout my browsing. On a number of websites and social media I come across advertisements for the Dollar Shave Club. I don’t have an issue with Dollar Shave Club; I can respect the need to save money in the razor department because they can get EXPENSIVE.

I also find nothing wrong with using the same type of razor as your husband. I’ve been using men’s razors since I was a teen because it meant I could just steal from my father’s refill pack; that is until he started using the dreaded disposable Bic kind. Ouch, ouch, ouch! Curse you, you orange plastic torture devices! With my lesson learned, I started purchasing my own refill packs and hiding them in my bedroom away from my dad and little brother.  

I’ve been using the Gillette Mach 3 for longer than I have even been married, in fact, the Mister adjusted to my razor preferences when we moved in together. He picked up one of his own so that we could buy one refill pack and be done with it. His is a silver Mach 3 and mine is more of a gray color, this is so that we can tell them apart. Although, I do suspect him of “accidentally” using mine when his has gone dull and we are out of refills, but he will never implicate himself.

Personally, I have not found a way to multi-task in the bath or shower. I tend to be fairly straightforward with the process, I get in and do what I need to do and I get out. (Not to say that sometimes what I “need” to do is just stand there for a minute doing nothing). The whole “reading a book in the tub” thing  is very mysterious to me. Books are made of paper and tablets are created by expensive electronic pieces and possibly magic (it’s science). Either way, I don’t want to get them wet. I also want to get out of the tub before the water turns cold, so I’m not sure when I would have time do anything other than bathe before I got frozen out. I always worried that if I tried to drink tea in the tub I would spill it on myself, same with wine. I can see the appeal though, they are very relaxing beverages (for very different reasons). Since becoming a mom, I don’t drink much because I need to be constantly “on” for my toddler, so I don’t have a great tolerance.

I'm pretty sure it equals disaster
This leads me back to my disconnect with the advertisements I keep seeing, they feature a glass of wine by the tub with a razor. Am I the only one who thinks this is a terrible idea? It’s like, “Oh you know what would be super relaxing? Cutting myself.” Because that is exactly what I would do, one good sized glass in and I would lose my ability to navigate the indents of my knees or, even more scary, down by the “danger zone” aka my bikini line. Honestly, it plays like a horror movie in my mind as my beautiful bubble bath turns pink and then red with a mixture of blood and wine at my own hands. I'm not saying I'd Sweeney Todd myself, but it wouldn't be pretty.

For me, an effective advertisement would feature how much money I’d save by using the same brand of razor as my husband or highlight the convenience of it all. Think about it, no matter who is doing the shopping, you both know what brand to buy. But the best ad of all would be a woman in desperate need of shaving realizing she’s out of refills and snagging one out of her husband’s stash; with her crisis averted THEN she can go drink wine, hair-free and without the responsibility of not cutting herself.

#razors #wine #bathtub #baths
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Sunday, August 7, 2016

I Don't Want Your 7 Day Spouse Challenge

You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.
-Inigo Montoya
I keep getting tagged in these statuses online. You know the ones, “Motherhood Dare” or “7 Day Spouse Challenge”. Have you done one? Or do you just roll your eyes and keep scrolling? I’m going to level with you, anything with the word “7 Day Spouse Challenge” makes it sound as though I am either trying out 7 different spouses or about to enter into some kind of duel.

I have news for you: there is nothing daring or challenging about doing what you do all of the time anyway. If you are already posting pictures online of your spouse/children/puppy, guess what? You aren’t being asked to do anything out of the ordinary other than copy a status word for word. If it’s not scary, new, or hard it doesn’t count.

I don’t feel challenged by these statuses and I don’t interpret other people’s postings as risky in any way. We live in a world where we can show as much or as little as we please online to friends and strangers alike. We can #TBT or #FBF on any day of the week if we’re going to be real about this. I can't work out a situation in my mind where sorting through photos (that I already like and have probably already posted) and then sharing them would be challenging.

If someone told me they were going to eat nothing but fruits and vegetables for 7 days and I know they aren’t normally about that life, I would agree that was a challenge. If I committed to doing pilates every day for a month (which I’m not, by the way, because I am also not about that life) I would consider that challenging because it’s new and it’s difficult. If I dared you to run up to a stranger and slap them in the mouth that would be risky (and mean, don’t do that) and that risk qualifies it as an actual dare. Or if I said you had to forgive someone from your past and then tell them you forgive them, THAT is a dare. I'm getting a sick feeling in my stomach just considering that one.



It feels like the words are losing their power amongst photos of smiling children and wedding flowers that you would already gladly share. Just ask yourself, what would actually be a challenge for your marriage? I imagine it could be something simple, like putting down your electronics and having a conversation every day. I think that would be tough considering how accustomed we are to always being connected to our phones, it would take mindfulness and effort to break out of bad habits and routines. Or, maybe it’s finally being brave enough to voice that thought you’ve been too scared to share with your spouse. That thing that feels too frightening or silly to ever breathe out loud. A challenge for you and your spouse isn't something you can get from what is essentially a social media chain-letter. Whatever it is, only you can say.

You want a motherhood dare? Write your will/living trust and last wishes if you haven’t already, because it’s an act of pure love for your family’s future and because it’s scary as shit. It’s terrifying to think that you might die one day and leave your child without you. Even worse, that your family won’t know what to do and maybe…just maybe your kid winds up being raised by that relative you hate because you never specified one way or the other. Think about it. Yes, that relative.

If you want to challenge me, ask me to do something authentic, encourage me to go beyond what is comfortable. Dare me to be brave or to have trust in ways that don't come so easily to me. Because I will willingly post photos of the highlight reel of my life without prompting, no copy and pasting of a message necessary; but asking me to address the pieces on the editing room that is a challenge.

#Dare # Challenge #Spouse #Motherhood #Bravery
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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Mystery Adventures (and the Case of the Naked Women)

When I was little, my grandmother would pick up my brother and I for something called a “Mystery Adventure”. We never knew what it was or where we were going, only that we were excited.  Sometimes we would wind up at mine digging for fluorescent rocks or at a tiny museum that didn’t mind having small children running around with their voices echoing off the walls. Other days she would take us to her house and we would create our very own recipes. For the most part, they were terrible; we were children and had no idea what we were doing. She wouldn’t intervene in any way; she would sit back and stick it in the oven once we announced it was ready to be cooked. In the end, we would give each creation a group taste test and rarely, if ever, was it palatable enough to move to Phase Two (which was offering some to Grandpa). One “Mystery Adventure” in particular has always stuck with me, even as an adult.

Grandma was always the Queen of Garage Sales, Empress of Estate Auctions, the Explorer of All Bargain Bins. She had come through with many much-needed items (fencing equipment, softball cleats, and a tiny suit of armor when my brother was obsessed with knights to name a few), but also her fair share of junk. 

Garage. Sale. QUEEN.
Image via Pixabay
At one of these sales, she picked up paint by numbers for our next adventure together. My grandmother is an artist herself, her home has always been adorned with large canvases covered in mermaids and flowers of her own creation. So, she was very pleased to find a way that we could paint with her. When Grandma came and swept us away to her house, we found real artist’s easels, brushes, paint, and the paint by numbers boards.  We squealed with delight and immediately got to work matching colors to numbers on our masterpieces.

It was beautiful outside; we painted in her yard at first only stopping for lemonade and lunch. It was truly an idyllic scene. Just picture it: standing in the garden, watching your young grandchildren paint at their tiny easels, eagerly working to see what the final products will look like. While you, their doting grandmother, work on your latest floral piece for your collection. Because they had come from a garage sale, we did not have the box cover to tell us what exactly it was we were painting a picture of, so each new completed portion was like peeling back the mystery to unveil what it was.

Image via Pixabay
As my brother moved ahead excitedly painting away he declared, “Look! This is hair! I think there’s a woman on mine.” I was slower and more careful with my paint, but sure enough a woman began to materialize on my little canvas board as well. We painted more and began to feel confused. Finally, my brother called out, “Grandma?  Why isn’t the lady wearing any clothes?”. My grandmother stepped over to our little easels, her mouth open in horror. Both of our paint by numbers kits were of nude women in repose on chaise lounges.  She hadn’t really been able to tell what they were pictures of before we filled in the paint, but now here it was. We were creating naked women while she was supposed to be babysitting.

Grandma paused and then shrieked. Peals of laughter came from her and tears sprang from her eyes.  Once she calmed herself down, she explained that there is so much art out there in the world that is just like this, only they aren’t normally created by little boys and girls. My brother, not fully grasping that this was what the painting was actually supposed to look like said, “It’s okay Grandma, I’ll make it better for the lady” and proceeded to paint a solid red dress over the nude figure on his canvas board. After doing so much work on my piece, I was unwilling to abandon my art and also began to paint clothing onto my woman. By the time we were done, we had paintings in paint by number style of women, with the exception of their solid red dresses.

When our mother came to pick us up, Grandma fessed up immediately and the laughter began anew. She inspected the work of her children and told my brother that his idea was very kind and modest for the nameless, naked women. My mother also requested that Grandma steer clear of paint by numbers for the time being. We created art many other times with Grandma over the years, but only once did we paint naked women together. Funny enough, that’s the only subject that I can clearly recall.

#mystery #adventure #grandma #art #nudeart #paintbynumbers
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