Thmell Thomthing Thursday

By all means, stop to smell the flowers–but does it have to be on the way to the bathroom?

At the end of the 2 1/2 hour drive to Flagstaff to escape the heat, my full bladder and I leapt from the car and bolted toward the restroom in the Safeway, Mbot in tow. Surely he had to go, too? Someone sadistic had located the restroom beyond the floral department. Mbot broke away. “Mom! Can we smell the flowers?”

I said yes, and squeezed.

He plunged his head in bouquet after bouquet. At last, he came up for breath from a bunch of roses. “Mom! Smell these roses! They smell deLIGHTful!”

I did. They did. And then we bolted for the bathroom. In another six months I will find it difficult to grasp why exactly this exclamation was so delightful itself: not only because Mbot was stopping to smell the roses, but because it is a delightful word for a 50-month-old to utter. It may have been the first time he’d used it. And no matter how inaccurate my memory has become since giving birth, I seem to have an acute sense for when I’ve heard a word uttered from either bots’ mouth. I know for sure that, last week, when Gbot climbed into his brother’s car seat that he’d finally inherited, the one with the coveted cup holder, and announced, “This car seat is spectacular!” it was the first time he had used that word.

It was spectacular.


Blockbuster a Bust, and a Lesson in Neurology

I am a total novice in the collage department, but our trip to the Blockbuster yesterday called for a little something special. It was, perhaps, the shortest and most infuriating trip to a video store ever to be recorded in human history and memorialized with an amateur cut-and-paste project.

Always in the past (always being three times, past being the last five weeks, since I initiated our $5/month “family membership” in lieu of Netflix’s impoverished streaming options), there’s been a movie playing on multiple screens around the store. Always it’s been a kid’s movie. Today was no different, except that today we happened to walk in during the scary part.

I have no idea what movie it was, except as I dropped Elmo’s Alphabet into the return slot, thunder growled, ominous music rose, and shrieking broke out behind me. I turned to find that Mbot had plastered his back to the windows and was yelling to get out. Of course Blockbuster is set up so you can’t go out through the in door (Led Zeppelin almost named an album after this problem). You have to go all the way around the checkout counter in order to escape.

As we made our way around, in fits and starts, I dragging Mbot by the hand as I issued orders for Gbot to follow, between uttering soothing yet urgent words to Mbot, I asked the young man behind the counter to turn off the movie. He looked at me blankly and, over Mbot’s shrieks of, “It’s scary! It’s scary! Get us out of here!”, I repeated myself. The employee moved, slowly, three feet. But it was not toward the video control; it was toward the counter to help the only other customer in the store. “Please turn off the movie!” I repeated again over Mbot’s  howling. He did not, nor did he offer any indication that he understood it might be the right time to move swiftly in order to Make a Difference. Does Blockbuster management encourage employees to take drugs before their shifts, or do they have a hiring policy that includes the vastly stupid?

I was furious at his lack of response. I managed to drag both bots past the double doors out into the 103 degree heat, still soothing Mbot and then asking if Mbot was okay. He answered, tearfully, that he was, and once in the car, began the usual barrage of questions that attends any event, good, bad, in or out-of the ordinary: “Why did that man have on a scary movie? What was that bad movie? Did he not know boys would come into the movie store? How about that cloud with the fangs? Why did he not turn it off?”

In answer to the last question, I said, unable to help myself, “Because he is a dopey man.”

“Why is he dopey?”

And I’m afraid I responded, “Because he doesn’t have enough brain cells.”

Mbot (who has apparently learned a little about God at preschool inspite of my less-than-god-in-heavenish approach): “Why did God not think he needed more brain cells?”

Me: “Because God is wrong sometimes.”

Mbot: “Would he not be dopey if I gave him some of my brain cells?”

Me: “He might still be dopey. Besides, you need to keep yours, Moon Pie. We need all the brain cells we’ve got.”

Gbot entered the conversation: “I do not need brain cells.”

Me: “You really do.”

Gbot: “I will give him some of my brain cells.”

Me: “Well that’s very kind, Spice Bear. Look. We’re home. Let’s watch the Backyardigans go to Mars…again!”

The cloud with fangs. What can I say? I was on a roll.

That Old Burny Feeling

Don’t let this guy’s snowman-like appearance fool you. (

Question of the Week

Mbot: “Mom, is PlayDoh kind of burny up your nose?”

The answer, it turns out, is:yes! And, with a mighty blow, out it came.

I hope it was too burny to try that again.

PS: is a neat site–click here for a recipe for homemade playdough that looks great, although I haven’t made it yet. And adding a little Tabasco might keep it out of noses…

Overly Astute Four-Year-Old Expresses Skepticism Over Mother’s Explanation of Chlorophyll

So we were driving along, chatting about poop or, more specifically, what can make poop green. (Don’t you love a story that starts that way?)

Alarmed earlier in the day, I had consulted the internet and among the short list of perpetrators are excess bile, food coloring, and green veggies. I decided it was the food coloring in the sprinkles on the cut-out cookies Mbot had helped make after breakfast.  Mbot decided he had eaten too much broccoli, which he likes to eat but tends to whine about while it’s cooking because of the odor. He decided that food coloring makes broccoli green.

No, I explained. Something called chlorophyll makes broccoli and other plants green. “Chlorophyll can turn sunshine into nutrients,” I said brightly. “It’s kind of like magic. So when we eat broccoli, we’re really eating sunshine!”

Mbot paused, then asked in a voice that betrayed his suspicion: “You mean when I smelled broccoli, I really smelled sun?”

“Kind of!” I chirped.

At least he didn’t make the next connection, which would be: if broccoli smells like sun, and broccoli turns into green poop, then does sun smell like poop?

It’s a question for another day.

Argument for Staying Culturally Current

“Good job, Mom. You finally got it.”

I have transcribed below the conversation Mbot and I had at the pool at the Y on Saturday. In my defense, I will point out that the background noise consisted of squealing children and splashing water, as we were in the kid zone, with its array of eternally splashy spouts and spigots. (Note: I have transcribed not the conversation as it actually occurred, but as I experienced it.)

Mbot: “Did you ever see octopus pie?”

Me: “Octopus pie? No.”

Mbot: “Octopus cry!”

Me: “Octopus cry?”

Mbot, becoming impatient: “Octopus crime! Did you ever see that movie?”

Me: “Oh! Optimus Prime! From The Transformers! Sorry, Bug, I couldn’t hear you. No. I have not seen the movie.”

Maybe I should, though, so he and I can continue to inhabit the same holodeck.

Revenge of the Fallen Leader Class Optimus Pri...

Class Optimus Prime figure and the truck he transforms into. Definitely not a seafood dish. Picture from Revenge of the Fallen Leader(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Food for Thought

(image via

Aren’t lives apples and stories oranges? What really goes on when you try to change one into the other?

– Joan Wickersham, “The Suicide Index”

I love these words, and I think a lot about their truth in relation to blogging. What is said, what is left unsaid; what is picked up and woven into a narrative; what is discarded because either it does not lend itself to brief essay form, or is too complicated, or too disturbing, or doesn’t fit the blog’s tone, or requires too much analysis?

I had come to think of lives as grapes, stories as wine, and blogs as grape juice. But the apples and oranges cliche–which is so unexpected in this context as to rise above cliche-dom–may be a truer description of the relation of the two. Food for thought.

Question of the Day

But once you’re on the plank, you could always turn into Batman and fly away. (Photo from the archives: October 2011.)

Mbot is on a roll. Today, from the breakfast table:

“How does Captain Hook give time outs, Mom?”

We decided together that he makes the time-outee walk the plank and sit at the end of it and if the crocodile comes up and bites his feet…oh well!

But if anyone has a better answer, please share.

Practicing Speech and Speaking of Religion in Our House

Gbot: “Now I have all my cards, so I am ready to go.” Mbot: “Now we are pretty like you, Mom.”

I’m thinking that if our revolutionary brothers had just broken into the queen’s powder room and stolen her lipstick and credit cards two hundred and forty-four years ago, she might have laughed and said, “You go, boys.” Of course, her credit limit was substantially higher than mine, so maybe not.

Due to things like pinatas (Mbot’s) and death (Nora’s), I’ve been neglecting to share stories of daily life and conversations in our household. And so, in celebration of American Independence, I will briefly wallow here in the splendor of the rights provided by Amendment One of the Constitution of the United States as practiced in our house. (If you need a refresher, here it is: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

In our household, although I wish we assembled peacefully more often, and although often a redress of grievances results in a time out anyway, we take full advantage of our other rights. On Sunday, Mbot asked, about Nora Ephron, “Does she have a ladder so she can climb down from Heaven?”

I was able to reply, without breaking any laws: “Moon Pie, every essay she wrote and movie she made is a rung in that ladder.”

And this morning, from the breakfast table:

Mbot: “I’m NOT going to marry you, Gbot.”

Gbot: “But you HAVE to marry me.”

Mbot: “I’m not going to. I’m going to marry Ybot.”

Although it’s still illegal–in the U.S. for one good reason, in the state of Arizona for one bad reason–at least they won’t get thrown in the stocks for talking about it.

Later,  when I told Mbot we WERE going to the Y, whether he wanted to or not: “You’re a bad mommy. I don’t like you.”

Instead of getting tossed in the dungeon, he got a hug. Although we went to the Y anyway.

I do admit to cronyism with my biggest corporate affiliate (Husbot), and I know I get it wrong sometimes. But I’d like to think I’m a kind and benevolent dictator with the best interests of my subjects at the fore. The U.S. government gets a LOT wrong. (Don’t get me started. There is a reason this is a mommyblog, not a political blog.) But it gets a lot right, too.

Here’s to US.

The Amazing Powers of Weebots

Tara Gaffney Photography

Aside from last night, when Gbot shook an enormous red thigh until a lone, leftover Tootsie Pop fell out, life P.I. (Post Ironman) has returned to normal. It’s a heavy, pre-monsoon 106 degrees outside our air-conditioned box, and so we went to the zoo early. The fun of visiting the zoo often and at different times of day is that it offers the opportunity to see all of the animals active some of the time. Yesterday, one of the normally sedate Colobus monkeys was zooming back and forth across forty feet of tree branch, long white fringes flying, making him look like a throwback from the seventies; any minute I expected him to hop on a mechanical bull.

Mbot wanted to ride the merry-go-round, but the zoo was in sleepy summer weekday mode and it wasn’t open. As we walked past the silent carousel, Mbot asked thoughtfully, “Do you think the guy who works there has to stay home and listen to his mother?”

A little further on, Gbot broke free, raced past the monkeys and the birds, and disappeared around the eucalyptus trees. I knew where he was heading: to the reptile house. The bots are in thrall to reptiles these days, as long as they are alive and not just a reconstructed set of ancient bones. I found him using his whole small body to angle open the glass door. It was all his thirty-seven pounds could do to keep it open long enough for me to slip through, too. He looked up, his rump and shoulders still pressed hard against the glass, and said from beneath sweaty curls, “I opened the door with my AMAZING POWERS!”

It occurred to me that he had never opened that door before. Had never been allowed to; had never been able to. And now he could. It wouldn’t have been any more amazing if I had suddenly shot a web out of my index finger and pinkie and swung on it into the top of the eucalyptus.

My single-minded pursuit of the perfect Ironman last week removed me from the daily reminders of how amazing the weebots’ world is, and mine. The most amazing power, I think, is the power to be amazed.

Tara Gaffney Photography


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