Mom? What about the Wii?

Recently, we found out that our family will be moving. Hubby has a new job, and since, you know, we all kinda really love him and stuff, we’re going along with him. 🙂

So we told the kids at dinner one night. Had everybody sitting at the table together and everything. He said, “Well, we have some exciting news. We’re all going to move to Colorado!

It’s difficult to know what thoughts zip through the brains of children at a moment like that. For about two seconds, their eyes and jaws were wide open, and then… the questions.

Can we bring the Wii? What about the Wii?”

Really? Wow. I guess it takes a looming major life change to expose one’s priorities. I suppose it makes sense that they would be concerned about their Nintendo. We don’t have any pets, due to allergies and asthma. I suppose the Wii is the closest thing they have to a puppy.

And I must tell you that the second thing they asked, after we assured them that the Wii and everything else in the house would be making the trip with us, was whether they could bring their friends. So it’s not like they don’t have any human friends.

It got me to wondering about the popularity of video games among kids these days. When I was a young girl, my favorite things were dolls, horses, a BB gun, and an Easy-Bake Oven. My brother collected Hot Wheels cars and played baseball. Other kids collected baseball cards and action figures.

Few families in my town had cable television back in the late 1970s, and almost nobody had a video game system. Now, lots of families have game consoles or handheld devices. My kids would play constantly if I let them. Does anybody collect baseball cards anymore? I don’t know. My kids don’t.

And before you judge me a terrible mother, you should know that my kids do enjoy playing outdoors and doing non-video game activities (when I make them), like reading, running around, getting dirty, building with Legos, etc. But video games are still their favorite hobby. I’d bet there are lots of other kids who are the same way. What’s it like at your house?

A “You’ve got to be kidding!” GeekMom rant

My kids love flexible bendy straws, and I brought home a package from Bed Bath & Beyond a couple of days ago. After I opened the package, I happened to read the “Use and Care Instructions” on the back, and this is what I saw…

bendy straw instructions

In case that’s too small for you to read, here is what it says.

Perfect for rootbeer floats, sodas, cocktails and more. Three fun colors. Handwash before use. (emphasis added)

You’ve got to be kidding me! Who has the time or inclination to wash a bunch of plastic straws before use?! Sorry, but the most I can manage is a quick rinse with tap water. What am I supposed to do? Get out the pipe cleaners to scrub the skinny tubes?

I guess I’ll be looking for Made in USA bendy straws from now on, and these will go into the craft bin.

GeekMom’s Memory Lane: Smells of Springtime in the Heartland

flowering pear treeI live in the midwestern United States, in a suburban area. Although I wouldn’t consider this a rural community, you don’t have to drive far to be “out in the country.”

I consider myself a country girl at heart. I grew up on a wooded lot in rural Wisconsin, and loved playing outside without worrying about traffic. It was nice to sleep with the windows open, and not hear the noise of the neighbors’ televisions. We had room for a big garden (although we hated it when Dad made us pull weeds), and lots of space to explore and play. The ditches along our road were full of berry bushes, and we picked and ate all we wanted in the summer. I think I’d like to move to a nice, quiet piece of land again someday. But for now, we’re stuck in the ‘burbs, conveniently close to shopping and schools, and a little too close to a few obnoxious neighbors…

However, there are a couple of times each year when the country seems very near, and I am taken back to my childhood in my mind. Today, I opened the windows to let in the fresh breeze, and clear out the last of winter’s stale air. The weather is perfect today. The pear trees are in bloom, the daffodils have finally opened, and my purple and yellow pansies are smiling at the sky.

As the gentle current of air swirls through my house, I take a deep breath. Ahhhh.

Wait. What’s that smell? Oh, I know.

Even though I can’t see any fields from my window, I can smell the aroma of agriculture. Somewhere, some farmer is working today. Perhaps he is turning the soil or spraying on some kind of organic fertilizer (manure?). The odor is faint and dilute, but unmistakably earthy, and somewhat sour.

Should I close my windows? No. I will leave them open. Let in the air. Let in the smell of agriculture; the smell of good, honest, dirty work. It may not be an entirely pleasant smell, but the memories it brings are sweet, indeed. 🙂

GeekMom on life: What’s in your intellectual junk drawer?

Since I finished graduate school and became a full-time mother (nine years ago), my life has become extremely cluttered. There are school papers, coupons, tiny Lego blocks, snack wrappers, odd socks, unlabeled CDs, and mountains of laundry… I could go on, but I won’t. Everything from the important things, like my kids, to the dirty, dusty detritus of life, it all takes up space in my home and in my head.

The point is, with a wonderful husband and three dear children to take care of, and so many truly important codes, passwords, dates, and numbers to remember, why do I still have old, useless bits of trivial information taking up space in my brain? I don’t have room for extra stuff! It makes it really difficult to find what I’m looking for!

For instance, say I’m looking for that very small screwdriver. You know the one I mean? It’s very thin, and it has a standard shaped end, which makes it perfect for unlocking the bathroom door when there’s nobody in there. Oh, yes. This happens sometimes! It’s quite mysterious.

So the first place I look is the kitchen junk drawer. I’m looking for the special little screwdriver, but what do I find? Everything else we’ve stashed in there since we moved into this house! Rubber bands, vegetable seeds, lip balm, marbles, tape, pens and pencils, an old checkbook, super ball, assorted coins, little rocks, and various things with sharp edges that find their way under the fingernails. Ouch! No screwdriver.

Sometimes, that’s how I feel when I’m trying to think of something important, like… my own phone number. Yes, I forgot my phone number. Picture me on the phone, leaving a message for an acquaintance. “So if you could call me back, that would be great. My number is… Four… I’m so sorry, but I’ll have to call you back with my phone number.” I couldn’t believe it. After that, I wrote my number on a sticker and kept it inside the kitchen cupboard, so I would never have to sound so stupid again! (At least not while leaving a phone message.)

I might not feel so bad about having forgotten my phone number, if the data taking its place were actually important, but they’re not. It’s just a bunch of stuff that I’ve stashed in there for the last 35 years. I’ll show you. Let’s give the old noggin a shake and see what falls out

  • High school locker combination (35-9-35)
  • Names and colors of all four Wiggles
  • First telephone number, from 30 years ago
  • Memorized lines from Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • Ex-boyfriend’s birthdate
  • Mnemonic phrase for the 12 cranial nerves (On Old Olympus’ Towering Top A Family Very German Viewed Armadillos Hop), but not the actual names of the nerves
  • and more…

I’d say my brain is in need of a good sorting out, but I guess that’s life. Maybe I’ll need this stuff someday, like if I’m in a coma, and my family will be sitting around the hospital bed, talking quietly. Some young doctor will say, “Oh, by the way, do you know a good mnemonic for the 12 cranial nerves? I’m having trouble remembering them.” And one of my brilliant relatives will say, “Of course! On Old Olympus’ Towering Top…” And then, I’ll wake up! It could happen.

So, what’s in your intellectual junk drawer? Care to share your most useless bits of trivia with us? 🙂

Ten Signs Your Blog Might Be Annoying

Okay, I usually try to keep my snarky thoughts to myself, but every now and then, I have to let them out. Otherwise, the pressure would just build up until I had a huge snark explosion, and that would not be pretty, right? So in the interest of mental health, and snarky humor, here is my list of Ten Signs Your Blog Might Be Annoying.

  1. Your background and text colors are similar.
  2. Your sidebars are way longer than your content column.
  3. Your graphics feature seizure-inducing blinkies and glitter text.
  4. Your main page plays music automatically.
  5. Your sidebar is full of buttons, ads, badges, and awards, of all different shapes and sizes.
  6. Your page features automatic audio ads.
  7. Your banners or graphics are wider than your columns, and they overflow into the margins, or overlap other elements.
  8. First-time visitors have a hard time finding your actual post on the page.
  9. You routinely change languages mid-post.
  10. More than 10% of your blog is written in leetspeek or lolcatz style.

If your blog contains one of these elements, that doesn’t mean it’s terrible. But if you have lots of these, you might want to consider cleaning things up a bit. This concludes my snark for the day. 🙂

Darn those Girl Scouts and their Thin Mints

Once a year, the Girl Scouts set up shop in the foyer of our local grocery store. They stack up boxes and boxes of cookies, put on their sashes, smiles, and best manners. I try to resist, but I just can’t!

I must have the cookies!

Last year, my husband mistakenly brought home some peanut butter sandwich cookies. I wanted Peanut Butter Patties. They are soooo not the same. Peanut Butter Patties are covered in chocolate. The sandwiches are not. The Patties are my favorites!

Coming in a close second are the Thin Mints. When I was a Girl Scout, I think there were lots more Thin Mints per box. Also, each box was much cheaper back then. Yes, the cookies are expensive. Yes, they are not good for me. But I just can’t help it!

This is embarrassing, but I just did a line of Thin Mints. I tried to stop, but I couldn’t, and before I knew it, the whole tube was empty. Darn those Girl Scouts and their tiny, delicious, overpriced cookies!

Addicted to the Internet?

After I got my kids off to school this morning, I was sitting in my usual spot, at the computer. I started opening all my favorite sites in tabs, glanced out the window to watch the snow falling, checked to see whether the pages were loading fast enough… Fired up Mail and a couple of other applications, checked Firefox again, started reading headlines.

My husband came down the stairs and was putting on his coat to leave for the office. He said, “Did you see that news story on people who are addicted to the internet?

I said, “How could I have seen that if I was over here working on the computer?”

I’m hilarious, I know. 🙂 I admit it; I have an internet dependency.

How addicted are you? How long can you go without checking something online? Days? Hours? Minutes?