The Weird and The Wonderful.

If you’re ever bored waiting for your kids to pick out books at the library (or play endless games on the library computers), here’s my library entertainment secret.

Go to the children’s biography section and imagine it as a dinner party. Each book is a person sitting around the table, making small talk with those sitting nearby.

Pioneer Girl gets sat next to Snoop Dogg. While Snoop is asking her what kind of weeds they found on the Oregon Trail, whoever that fashion designer is and the composer John Philip Sousa have the job of preventing Hernando de Soto from murdering Squanto.

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Meanwhile, across the table, Taylor Swift and President Taft commiserate on how hard it is when your squad turns against you, while Dr. Suzuki plays the world’s tiniest violin for them.

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I guarantee your visits to the library will never be the same.

We ran across this house not long ago and gaped at its modern wonders.

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…And its ability to be a mass human female milking stall.

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Apparently this hotel feels that balloon animals make their patrons feel most at home. Which makes me fear the clowns that are nearly certainly staying next door.

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Someone posted this with an “awwww!” in my feed.

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So naturally my next goal in life is to pose roadkill in such a way to get animal lovers to believe they’re asleep and say “awwwww!”

This was the end of a story in one of Noah’s library books. I feel like we might need an epilogue…

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…But maybe Nell had asked her mother too many questions that day. In which case it totally makes sense.

I never believed in the Elvis is Alive conspiracy theories. UNTIL I passed this church in the middle of nowhere Alabama. At least we now know where he’s been hiding.

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A friend snapped this one for me and sent it. Never have I ever seen such fantasticness displayed on the back of a car.

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In case you need me to translate:

Peace ● Love ● Breastfeed ● Cloth Diaper ● Babywear ● Leave your male child’s penis in tact.

(If you ever need some delightful reading on that last point, check out this post and the comments on it. I don’t mean to make you jealous since I’m positive it is all of your life dreams to be attacked by an angry mob of intactivists.)

And speaking of breastfeeding, how long did it take to squeeze these nuts hard enough to get that milk out?

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Was this eye meant to have pink eye?  Lesson: when adding stickers to your car, always consider where the brake light will be.

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These were a set of floats for sale at Target. I understand the giant Unicorn floats that are in style right now. They’re so instagrammable. But is it Instragram worthy to be hugging a five foot long pickle? Don’t answer that. But nobody likes a brown gummy bear.

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And….WHO DID THIS TO THIS AVOCADO? You cut out only the MIDDLE OF THE PIT?? This is just heinous.

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Also if this is movie night in a can, you might need to plan a bit ahead for movie night.

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This was in a gas station bathroom I frequent regularly (it’s the closest bathroom to a nature preserve that only has port-a-potties – don’t judge.)

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The next time I visited, the sign simply had the bottom half torn off – problem solved. They don’t appreciate criticism. Or apparently paper towels.

I saw these poor gummies in the grocery store and felt compelled to buy them and set them free in the parking lot. Nobody puts Freedom Bears in a box.

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WALL-E is real. And it’s coming to a Sam’s Club near you.

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There have been so many delightful news stories about Uranus lately. Are you aware at the fact that Uranus is ALL OVER the internet? You should be.

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This is my favorite. I will never think of Uranus again without thinking of diamonds raining on it. (Or is it from it? Hard to tell.)

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This is in the window of my local Starbucks. I don’t feel like I have quite enough information to choose the center option. Is that a police sketch? Did the Pirate do a crime, or is he a missing pop?

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When this showed up in my Facebook feed a few months ago, I knew I had finally found the gold at the end of the internet rainbow. NEVER HAVE I EVER been so happy about a cat photo in my feed. From the picture being screen shot from a Google search to the comments, I was in love.

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Oh and also, their hashtag is right. You should absolutely spay and neuter any leprechaun cats you see running around out there. They’re a spunky bunch.

The Last (Beach) Stand.

It was our last trip of the summer, and our twelfth(ish) annual family vacation – the one we take with my family instead of buying each other presents. Not having to buy presents AND a “free” vacation? It’s such a win.

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We started this tradition when there were no kids, then eventually began adding one kid per year for a half-decade.

The first year that we had all five cousins on the trip, they looked like this:

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And now they look like this.

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I’ll let you guess which of those years was easier.

This year, did all the Florida things.

We beached (count five kids – they’re all there. Did you find them? That’s what we do on the beach – count to five over and over),

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We rainbowed,

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We ran to and from the beach in our pajamas to get a better view,

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We learned what was REALLY at the end of the rainbow,

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(Is she taking a picture of her dog pooping at the end of the rainbow? I did, so I guess I can’t judge.)

We ran into random men with parrots,

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We complained about our hands being covered in parrot germs,

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We sand castled,

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We sunsetted,

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We crab hunted at least three different species (and/or goaded the bravest children into doing it for us),

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(Cape San Blas is apparently the most popular Crab Hangout Spot in the world. See all those dots? Crabs. All crabs.)

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We corralled everyone for family photos, which first requires one tribute for a lighting check, and MY GOODNESS did my tribute offer some flair with his role.

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He’s for sure going to get picked up by a modeling agency solely because of this blog post.

Okay on to those family photos…

(Nope, not that one.)

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(Nope again.)

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(Definitely not.)

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(Okay that one will work.)

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(Since we’re on a roll, we should try a different location.)

(Nope, there’s always that one kid.)

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Oh and every now and then we relaxed.

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We also taught all the kids how to play Mafia, which they then became OBSESSED with, and I realized how remarkably good I was at swaying their collective opinions. I could make them turn on someone with just five words. I felt the addictive rush of power after being on the winning side for 8 out of 8 of our games, and realized that I really should consider a career change to either detective or member of the actual mafia. I’ll let you know what I decide.

And finally, we all studied intensely a pair of giant Walkingstick bugs. When Chris brought them up “as a large gift” for me (then lifted the lid and they jumped toward me and I screamed), he told the kids, “Look! It’s a baby riding on a Mommy’s back!”

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We all oohed and aahed at how adorable this was, and I fussed at the children for trying to detach the precious family.

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“Don’t do that to the baby!! He could DIE!!!”

After asking my resident Twitter Scientist, I discovered that actually, the males of this species are a lot smaller than the females, and the actual connection of the creatures at the rear as opposed to what I suppose I imagined – at the mother’s tiny teat – began to make so much more sense.

That poor female. She thought she had a chance of escape with our kid’s help. And then I stepped in and made them end their detaching process.

I went and found Chris. “THAT WAS NO BABY RIDING ON ITS MOTHER’S BACK!!”

He laughed at me. “I know that! I just made that story up for the kids.”

Five hours later, they were still on the porch. And still very much attached.

That night as I was lying in bed thinking about that exhausted female Walkingstick, I googled and discovered that this particular variety have an extremely unique “odiferous secretion” that they can shoot, with surprising accuracy, up to 15 inches. And furthermore, if this secretion is shot into one’s eye, which is a usual target, it can cause pain as severe as if you’d had molten lead poured in your eye socket. The pain fades in a few hours. The next morning, you wake up with a completely scarlet eye that makes light and pressure so unbearable that you are incapacitated for 48 hours. Your vision continues to be impaired for five days.

Hey, y’all – Alabama isn’t the only Hunger Games stadium.

After sharing these findings with the family, along with my relief that the children were not attacked by that feisty little male, my mom had an aha moment. She said that as we were all crowded around observing our new friends, she suddenly felt like she had something in her eye. It got worse, so she ran inside before we’d realized she was hurting. She couldn’t get it to quit, and finally threw her contacts away, and the pain subsided.

We can clearly conclude that the joy of our vacation was saved solely by a contact lens. We should all be so lucky as to have horrible vision.

So, thanks to Gramamma for taking it in the eye from a pair of amorous sticks for the rest of us, we can safely call this vacation a Thumbs-Up success.

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Theories on a Grand Target Adventure.

As I was driving down Highway 280 on Saturday afternoon, lost in thought about all I had to accomplish in the next day and week and year and lifetime, I approached a set of flashing police lights in the median. I slowed down, as one does, out of caution and to ensure that it wasn’t a tricky speed trap.

The cars in front of me slowed as well and then we all slowed much slower than we should have slowed because what was going on was super curious in a fantastic sort of way.

The median was only a few feet wide, but it held a lot of items at that moment:

1. A single cop car.
2. A cop, standing in the median, currently occupied with handcuffing and emptying the pockets of an
3. Extraordinarily tall and skinny gentleman.
4. The gentleman’s apparent mode of transportation, which was a Target shopping cart, containing
5. Two industrial-sized mops and a
6. Mop water bucket (uncertain if it still contained dirty mop water.)

Two more cop cars came barreling up the hill toward the party, lights flashing and sirens blaring, because obviously this situation required at least six policemen, especially since those mops were INDUSTRIAL-SIZED.

My mind busied itself for the rest of the day, mapping out this scene and analyzing it in a studious forensic fashion.

Highway 280, for those of you who aren’t from around here, is our everybody-hates-it highway. It’s huge, always crowded, a continual source of irritation to the entire population, and also the victim of constant reworking to attempt to fix the eternal traffic problems. Currently, there are all these you-can’t-turn-left-but-you-can-U-turn lanes, complete with traffic lights that show the U-Turn symbol instead of a left-turn signal. They’ve barricaded other former left-hand turns and even straight-across pathways, one of which added 15 minutes onto my personal travel situation.

So you get the picture – this isn’t some backwoods country lane. It’s a SERIOUS road.

The location of the Target Cart Incident was directly in front of the Water Works reservoir. Mapping quickly in my head and then confirming the mileage with the help of Google Maps, the closest two Targets were…

1. 1.8 miles away, but up a seriously steep incline on Highway 280,
2. 4.4 miles away, on Highway 280, but crossing over the interstate, passing a huge shopping mall (and therefore much traffic), and containing a slight uphill climb, then a fairly good downhill coast.

Target Mop GuyMap not to scale. Curves on 280 attempting to show elevation change. Because I’m super good at maps like that.

I decided option two was where he’d come from, as option one’s steep uphill would have been impossible while riding a Target Cart in traffic traveling at 55 miles per hour. Which means that, coming from the other direction, if he’d only made it to that steep downhill section, he’d have had the ride of his life. Who needs roller coasters when you have a Target Cart and Highway 280?

I envisioned the journey as this: Extraordinarily Tall Gentleman (ETG) riding on the back of the cart, kid-style, while holding onto the handlebars. He would push himself like a skateboard to get going, then put his feet up on the crossbar, lean over (quite a bit due to his height), and coast when he could, hopefully with minimal dirty mop water backsplash.

That covered the where and the how, but more importantly was the why.

Maybe he was the janitor at one of these Targets.

Maybe some snot-nosed kid had spilled the LAST Slushie he was going to clean up.

Maybe some suburbia Mom had sloshed the LAST Starbucks double Frappe from which he was going to destickify the floor.

Maybe in a revolt against Target’s gross misuse of the word clearance, some angry Tennis Housewife had smashed a case of 10% off “clearance” La Croix.

Maybe there’d been a puker in the home goods section. And maybe it’d splashed all over the sheets and towels.

Whatever happened, I envisioned ETG looking at that Last Mess, saying “Oh no. Uh uh. I’m done here”, and walking his Cart de Mop right out the front sliding doors, pushing it to the end of the parking lot, holding on for dear life, giving a loud Braveheart-Style war whoop, and riding his way to FREEDOM from the tyranny of the Kingdom Tarzhey.

I feel like ETG could have had a slightly better escape route planned beforehand, though. 280 drivers are known for spotting – and tweeting – oddities very quickly. Such as Naked Guy with the tripod (not an innuendo) taking selfies of himself – there were two dozen tweets about him before he could snap his first duckface. No, ETG riding a Target Cart with Two Industrial Mops and a Mop Bucket didn’t have a chance. But he did hold on longer than Naked Guy (not an innuendo), so there’s that.

(As an aside, I did in 2014 have a brief(less) Twitter conversation with Naked Guy. I did not get to the bottom of his motive.)

Later that evening, we passed back by the scene of the crime. I was hoping that the cart would still be there – as a memorial to the ET(and Brave)G. But it was gone. Which led to a whole different slew of questions. Did the cops somehow tow the cart back to the correct Target? Did Target come and retrieve their property themselves? Or was that cart and its contents booked as evidence of a Crime of Passion and Adventure?

The world will probably never know. But I feel like ETG deserves accolades for his attempt to escape the oppression of The Target Empire, not to mention for distracting my mind completely from all I had to do that day and week and month and year and life.

And so I’m here to offer it.

I salute you, ETG.

And I promise to attempt to keep my coffee in my cup and the puke in my kid while I’m in the confines of all Targets from here on out – as a memorial to you and your valiant Stand Against Messes.