Category - Candy’s Column

The House Hunt

Miss Skye will go to kindergarten next year (say WHA–?!), which means I have been obsessively researching schools and options in the Los Angeles area.  And by “obsessively,” I mean spending pretty much every waking second on it.  I no longer have time for mundane tasks such as feeding my children and acknowledging my family’s presence — LEAVE MOMMY ALONE, SHE HAS TO GOOGLE “WHAT THE HELL IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MAGNET AND A CHARTER SCHOOL AND WHY IS THIS ALL SO FREAKING HARD WHEN ALL I HAD TO DO AS A KID WAS WALK TO THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL DOWN THE STREET?!?!?!”  To which Google responds, “Lay off the Caps Lock, woman.  You’re giving me a headache.”

Yeah, well, I’ll tell you what a headache is — navigating the L.A. school system.  We’re not fortunate enough to be assigned to one of the better elementary schools, so I’ve been wading through private school brochures, dozens of sites explaining the district’s point system (you need a Ph.D in Mathematics to understand it, true story), inter-district applications, intra-district applications, and charter and magnet school reviews.  After my endless research and hand-wringing, Mr. Candy and I arrived at a very thoughtful conclusion:

Screw it.  We’re moving to a good school district.

So we’re movin’ on down…to the beach side.  We’ve been in the process of looking at houses down there — a process that means very little to a two-year-old (Drew is just irritated that it takes precious time away from playing outside) and getting your hopes repeatedly raised and crushed to a four-year-old.  Every time we go to an open house, it goes like this:

Every.  Single.  Time.  It also raises the hopes of the realtors showing the houses, who can’t help but notice Skye’s excitement and coo:  “Awww.  I think SHE’S ready to move in right now!”  I’m sure this tactic is in the Selling Houses for Dummies book — “If your potential buyers are parents, note that their weak spot is their children:  POUNCE!” — but when the child declares she wants to buy every house she steps foot in, said parents become decidedly less moved by the child’s enthusiasm.

“Yeah, she acts that way at all the open houses,” I say and roll my eyes, much to the realtor’s chagrin.  But it’s true.  Even if we went to, say, a trash dump, I’m confident it would go like this:

(Actually, we have seen places like this that have sold for seven figures.  Welcome to L.A.!)  And when I explained to Skye that it was a DUMP…?  A literal dump?  Her answer invariably would be:

*Sigh*  Poor kid.

 

The Right Way Versus The Wrong Way to Respond When a Person’s Cat Dies

Perhaps the only debate that gets folks more riled up than the PRO-LIFE VERSUS PRO-CHOICE argument is one of equal importance: CATS VERSUS DOGS!  This is no surprise, considering we’re encouraged to side with one animal or the other from an early age.  Many of us grew up in a house with either a dog or a cat — rarely both — thereby giving us a one-sided perspective as to which is the “best” pet.  Not to mention all of the Disney movies portraying cats as evil villains ultimately foiled by the dumb-but-sweet dogs.  To wit:

Clearly, a cat puked in Walt Disney’s loafers and he never got over it.

Me…?  I’m just an animal lover who even tries to save spiders and crickets that infiltrate the house, much to the chagrin of Mr. Candy who prefers a less kind welcome involving the sole of his shoe.  I founded a “Save the Whales” group in sixth grade, stopped wearing leather when I was 16 and started wearing leather again when I was 16-and-a-half (my concern for animals only extends so far, apparently).  If I had to label myself, I suppose I am a “cat person,” given I grew up with cats and currently have three rescue Persians — and have zero desire for a dog.  This doesn’t mean I don’t like dogs or that I don’t lavish them with the expected pat on the head when greeted by one.  Cats just complement my personality more.  They crap in a box, clean themselves, cuddle with me for a few minutes, then give me my space while they nap for hours on-end.

If only I could get my kids to do that.

Dogs, well, I understand their appeal; they are just too high-maintenance for me.  However, if your beloved dog were to pass away…?   Please know I would never, EVER respond with:

“Oh.  I’m not a dog person, so…”

Then leave it hanging there awkwardly, as if I, being a CAT PERSON and all, couldn’t possibly relate to why you would mourn a CANINE.  Good riddance, I say!

I feel inclined to note this because more than a handful of self-identifying Dog People said this to me when our cat, Marcy, died last year.  As loyal followers (and bless your hearts for being so) of this here blog know, we didn’t have the best of luck during the holidays of  ’10 and ’12, with our two long-time pets dying right before Christmas each year.  We welcomed two children, then soon thereafter said good-bye to our beloved cats.  It was a sad and emotional time, with me breaking down at the mere mention of their names.  And when I shared the news of their passing with friends and teachers, a jarring number of people dismissed it with:

“Oh.  I’m not a cat person, so…”

That’s IT.  No “I’m sorry.”  No “That sucks.”  Just altogether dismissing the animal as not worthy of their sympathies.

Look, I’m not telling people to get a cat.  Why would I?  I don’t even tell people to have kids.  (Although eating in restaurants with a cat is way easier.)  I’m not even asking them to like cats.  (Although, really?  You don’t like ANY cats?  That’s a little weird.  I can only assume a cat puked in your loafers, too.)  I’m just asking that, when presented with a person who is on the verge of sobbing because her cat died in her the arms the night before, that you at least manage more than “I’m not a cat person.”

Don’t worry.  A display of sympathy will not brand you a — GASP! — cat lover by association.  We won’t start tagging you on stupid cat memes on Facebook.  Seriously, though, don’t even preface your condolences with “I’m not a cat person…”  It just makes the already sensitive mourner even sadder (unless that is your intention, in which case, carry on!) and perhaps mad enough to puke in your loafer.  If you’re still not sure what an appropriate response is and, more importantly, would like to avoid bodily fluids in your shoes, here is a handy-dandy guide:

THE RIGHT VERSUS WRONG WAY TO RESPOND TO A BELOVED CAT’S DEATH

RIGHT:  What a shame.
WRONG:  What a shame the car didn’t run over it AND back up for good measure!

RIGHT: I’m sorry.
WRONG:  I’m sorry, but I don’t care.

RIGHT:  You must be heartbroken.
WRONG:  You must be heartbroken this didn’t happen sooner.

RIGHT:  Oh no.  How did s/he pass away?
WRONG:  Oh no.  How did it come to pass that you got a cat instead of a GOOD pet?

RIGHT:  That reminds me of the time I lost a dear pet…
WRONG:  That reminds me of the joke about the cat in a blender…

Take that advice for what it’s worth.  If “I’m not a cat person” is still all you can muster, well, so be it.  In the interest of mending fences between CAT and DOG people, I extend this peace offering — an offering I wholeheartedly believe could even end the Israeli–Palestinian conflict — that I like to call: RIDICULOUSLY CUTE PICTURES OF DOGS AND CATS (cue the “Thank You for Being a Friend” background music):

How to Dance Like a Pro (Well, Like a Preschooler)

Dance parties are a big part of being a parent, especially when you’re the parent of younger children.  I love them because when I am hosting (or am summoned to) a dance party with my kids, they generally are staying out of trouble, getting along and having fun.  There is also the bonus of getting to dance like a complete loon. Which, to be honest, is the only kind of dancing I’m good at.

My two-year-old son, Drew, has two signature dance moves: 1) running back and forth over and over again with great intensity; and 2) launching himself onto the carpet, as if he’s sliding into first base.  I call it the “Pete Rose.”  (Where my old-school Phillies fans at?!)  I also call it the “Future Concussion.”  It is important to pretend that move doesn’t hurt, despite your parent’s repeated cries of “Are you okay?” as you lie on the ground deciding whether to give in and cry.

Then there is my four-year-old daughter, Miss Skye, who has declared herself the family dance instructor.  And I’m inclined to agree she’s the most qualified of our bunch.  In fact, I received quite the dance lesson tonight, complete with the names of her moves.  If you happen to be looking to expand your personal arsenal of dance moves, here’s how to cut a rug, preschooler-style:

TECHNIQUE:  March around in circles and pop imaginary bubbles above your head.  Demand that your mother follow suit:  “POP THE BUBBLES, MOM!  POP ‘EM!  POP ‘EM!”

TECHNIQUE:  “Point at the ground like you’re mad, Mommy!”

POTENTIAL DRAWBACK:  You desperately want to laugh when your four-year-old says this to you (and demonstrates it with passion), thus undermining the whole suggested “mad effect.”

TECHNIQUE:  Pretty self-explanatory.  Pretend you’re smashing a marshmallow into your hand.  Repeatedly.  More advanced dancers can trying smashing it below their knees with a wide, sweeping arm, not unlike a chimpanzee.

TECHNIQUE:  Hug yourself and give your mom a sweet smile while rocking back and forth.  Tell her that the move is named after her.  A move most wisely performed right before bedtime, to soften up your mother in hopes of delaying bedtime. (P.S.  It works.)

These were all real dance moves I learned tonight, all aptly named by Skylar.  When I told her I wanted to write them down (to share with y’all, of course), she nodded vehemently:  “Yes!  Good idea, Mommy!  Leave the paper by the stairs so Daddy sees it and makes his dancing better.”

Oh yes, she did.

You see this, Mr. Candy?  No more White Man Overbite — SMASH THE MARSHMALLOW!

 

Guest Post from the Cats: Human Memes

Cats-Bio Today’s guest bloggers are Candy’s cats, Larry and Lucy, who are considered trailblazers among the feline community in the realm of kitty-blogging. Lucy and Larry enjoy sleeping in sinks, sleeping in boxes, sleeping on floors, sleeping on forbidden tables and furniture, staring down non-existent enemies on walls, and regurgitating hairballs in their mom’s new shoes.

HUMAN MEMES

by Larry and Lucy

Humans think they are oh-so-clever with their grammatically appalling cat memes that have taken over the Internet, but little do they know that WE have turned the tables on them with our underground forum of HUMAN MEMES.  Bwa-ha-haaaa!  Thank you, kitties, for all of your submissions.  Your humans are indeed brimming with potential for humiliation.  However, we thought we would kick things off with a handful of memes that WE created, based on pictures we covertly took of our humans.

Check out Grumpy Human:

A Grumpy Human 2014 calendar will be available soon!

She really does look dumb, does she not?  LOLZ!

DREW-POOP2

AND STAY OUT OF OUR LITTER BOX.  It’s not a sandbox, you fool.

Pretty disgusting to watch, actually.  That’s why we shoved our butts in his face at 5AM — to wipe the copious amounts of saliva off.

Oh yeah, PWNED!

Wherein I Explain to My Four-Year-Old Daughter Why Rihanna Wears a Loincloth as a Shirt

I put our four-year-old daughter to bed every night.  Miss Skye is a shameless Mommy’s Girl who requests — nay, DEMANDS — my daily bedtime services, namely giving her a piggyback ride up the TWO FLIGHTS to her bedroom (with kids like her, who need StairMasters?), making sure she brushes her teeth for more than a nano-second, crushing her dreams of wearing a princess dress to bed, reading her a book, watching a music video on the iPad, telling her a made-up story and, sometimes, also singing a song to her — then trying to make an escape as she desperately searches for more excuses to make me linger in her room.  Quite the bedtime extravaganza, eh?  It is exhausting.  Ridiculously time-consuming.  Yet I wouldn’t have it any other way.  She wants to spend time with me!  She showers me with hugs and kisses!   Okay, yes, I may even let her wear a princess dress to bed from time to time. Because I’m easy like that.  Also because I’m too weak to argue after hoisting 40 pounds of preschooler up TWO FLIGHTS OF STAIRS.  Which I’m sure is all part of her master bedtime plan.

Well-played, Miss Skye.  Well-played, indeed.

The trickiest part of our routine — beyond how to get out of Skye’s room before she asks for her 155th cup of water — is deciding on a music video to watch.  Not to get all Old Lady on you, but they don’t make videos like they did way back in my day before electricity and running water and Google Plus.  Heck, Robin Thicke’s not-so-Blurred topless models and Miley Cyrus’… well, Miley Cyrus-ness… make me long for more innocent music scandals, like Madonna’s cone bra.  Remember the outrage about that thing?  MADONNA’S BRA!  SO SHINY!  SO POINTY!  My god, at least she was wearing a bra.  Which is more than we can ever say for Miley.

Okay, so I went all Old Lady on you.  I actually think I’m pretty laid-back when it comes to this stuff — I’ve been known to let my kids dance around to the Jimmy Fallon version of Blurred Lines and I may or may not have giggled when my four-year-old daughter belted out, “I KISSED A GIRL AND I LIKED IT!” at my mother-in-law’s house — but I still have to scan my mental checklist when considering options for our nightly music video viewing:

This requires a knowledge of music videos I previously did not possess (I mean, does anybody watch videos except for curious four-year-olds and concerned parents assessing them for unexpected nipple appearances* and oral sex references?).  Now, however, I have a pretty good handle on the contents of any video featuring Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber (or “Justin Beaver,” as Skye calls him… and I do not correct her), Beyonce, Katy Perry, Christina Aguilera and other performers of that ilk.  Although I usually try to persuade Skye to go the safer route, with fare such as illegally uploaded YouTube princess videos (you have to be careful with those, too — some really creepy dudes with unsavory princess fantasies out there), old Hannah Montana videos or anything involving Taylor Swift (*YAWN*  *BUT-OH-SO-CATCHY*), she will sometimes want to push the envelope with, say, Selena Gomez. Even a generally harmless Selena Gomez video can lead to, um, less-than-desirable conversation.

I, being a cool mom and all, am of course as honest as possible with my daughter.

In my defense, they never specify that it’s not a Curious George book.

And even when you are certain you’re in safe territory?  Like, you’re watching a scene from Annie or Sesame Street?  YouTube will find a way to totally screw you over.

Yup, there she appears:  Half-naked in a thumbnail in the sidebar during an otherwise innocent performance of It’s the Hard-Knock Life.  So I use the opportunity to tsk-tsk Rihanna’s loincloth-as-a-shirt and suggest she may want to stop shopping in the children’s department.  Skye nods in vehement agreement and I am happy to have imparted that lesson to my impressionable daughter.  Then the next night, as we’re watching a Maroon 5 video:

ipad-chats-with-skye3

Not to be outshone by the ladies, Adam Levine is, not surprisingly, also half-naked.  I recognize this as my opportunity to underscore that I am not sexist, that men should display a certain sense of decency, too — and, more to the point, that both Skye and her brother should remain fully clothed from head-to-toe until they are 50 or I am dead, whichever comes first.  With this responsibility weighing heavily on my prudish shoulders, I respond by shrugging, “I don’t know.  Maybe he got hot.  But he should probably cover up with a shirt, don’t you think?”

Skye ponders this for a good moment before a big smile crosses her face.

ipad-chats-with-skye5

Oh, boy.  We are in SO much trouble.

*Mr. Candy has offered to be the family’s official Unexpected Nipple Appearance Monitor.  So generous of him!

With thanks to Martin at How to Draw Funny Cartoons for creating these (actually animated) characters based on our family that I can manipulate and use to help relate my silly stories!

Crash. Burn. Refuel.

No, Los Angeles, that was not a Santa Ana wind that just nearly knocked Nic Cage’s hair piece off.  That was me.  Exhaling.  (My apologies, Nic.)

The kids just returned to preschool after a two-and-a-half week summer break — and my, oh my, am I exhausted.  All of the teachers looked bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, while us parents…?  Yeah, we looked like we had been hit by a Mack Truck.  A Mack Truck in the form of two adorable, blond, curly-haired preschoolers who NEVER STOP MOVING.  Did you know this about two- and four-year-olds?   They are in a constant state of motion, just like Earth — spinning, spinning, spinning — while their parents teeter on the brink of crashing and burning, just like an asteroid.

asteroid-earth

And do you know what happens when an asteroid crashes and burns?  Earth just keeps on FREAKIN’ SPINNING like nothing ever happened.  And insists on following the asteroid to the kitchen when all she wants is 15 seconds to sneak a cookie without having to share.  (Hey, I was like an only child.  Sharing is not my forté.)

You full-time stay-at-home parents are surely smirking at your monitors right now.  “Welcome to my world, weakling” you cackle knowingly.  Well, that’s what my mom said when I mentioned my exhaustion, before admitting she has no idea how she raised three kids over the span of 35 years.

“It was hard,” she sighed.  “Life sure is good now.”

No empty nest syndrome there, my friends.  “FLY AWAY, BIRDS, FLY!  No need to come back until you have my grandkids!  Even then, make sure you schedule visits around my casino plans!”

Actually, hanging out with the kids was great — I may have even had a tear in my eye when I took them to school yesterday — but I am indeed relieved to have some time to myself again.  I am a loner at heart — when I misbehaved as a youngster, my parents would punish me by making me STAY in the living room with them, rather than sending me to my room by myself, which I would have relished — and require a certain amount of time by myself to work and recharge the batteries.  I’m not ashamed to admit that; it makes me a better mom.  Plus, preschool provides things for them that I’m not always able to.  Like art classes and ample social interaction with their peers and home-cooked meals that require some knowledge of how an oven works.

Any loyal Laughing Stork followers out there have undoubtedly noticed I haven’t been writing about my life much the past few months.  I know this because I have received a few e-mails from loyal followers saying, “Hey, Candy!  I’ve noticed you haven’t been writing about your life much the past few months.  What gives?”  Well, I’ve been taking time to reflect on the direction of The Laughing Stork.  You’ll be happy to know (I hope) that I’ve realized I can write about the craziness of parenthood without compromising the kids’ privacy, which is a high priority for me.  So please, keep following along!  I’ve got stories to tell!  Oh, do I have stories.  I’m also going to continue to expand the scope of our content to include more funny stuff about pop culture and just general everyday absurdity that we encounter as women.   Oh, is there ever absurdity.

You may have also noticed the site has gotten a facelift.  (Well, it is an LA-based site.  You shouldn’t be surprised if it gets a nip/tuck here and there.)  Hope you like the new look.  AND… I’ve spun off my pregnancy content into a new sister site:  Pregnancy Humor.  (Straightforward title, yes?)  So if you’re pregnant or know anyone who is pregnant, please share the maternity-fueled laughter.

If you do, I may just share my cookie with you.  Maybe.

Top 10 Things My Parents Taught Me

Important life lessons that I will, no doubt, pass down to my daughter and son…

10.  Medicine:  1)  “If you don’t stop crossing your eyes, they are going to freeze that way!”  2)  If you don’t stop cracking your knuckles, you’re going to get arthritis.  Or worse — big knuckles!”  BONUS (courtesy of my dad):  “If you don’t drink more water, your insides are going to shrivel up and they’re going to have to cut you open!”

9.  Poetry:  “Your ass is grass and I’m the lawnmower.”

8.  Suspense:  “Can you guess what I found in your closet today?”

7.  Optimism:  “You are going to enjoy yourself at that Girl Scout Camp you begged to go to, or I am going to hit you upside the head.”

6.  Finance:  “Turn off the lights.  We don’t own stock in the electric company.”

5.  Entomology:  “Keep your mouth open like that, and you’re going to catch bugs.”

4.  Genealogy:  “I’m not Sarah’s mother.  I’m YOUR mother.”

3.  Culinary Arts:  “How would you like a knuckle sandwich?”

2.  Realism:  “Be good. But if you can’t be good, be careful.”

1.  Justice:  “If you ever have kids, I hope they act just like you.”

Awkward Family Photoblog: Parenting a Preschooler

Once in a lifetime comes a parenting blog with photographs so touching, it makes your ovaries ache.  This is not that blog.

Mr. Candy and I agree that this picture captures 99% of parenting a preschooler:

wedding-funny

What’s included:

  • One (1) preschooler clearly faking-slash-exaggerating the “wrong” being forced upon her (in this instance, me handing her off to her father — the horror!)
  • One (1) weary mom
  • One (1) dad trying to suppress his irritation about this all-too-familiar scenario

What’s missing:

  • The audio of the preschooler yelling “Poopy!” or “Booger!”  Because our preschooler likes to interject them into most all conversations, especially when we’re at a venue such as a church.

On the bright side, the photographer also managed to capture one of our best family photos to date (not shown here, obviously).  And isn’t that why we really attend family weddings — to take advantage of their professional photographers?