The most read posts of 2012 and a Christmas present from me to you

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Christmas is just a few days away and, well here's the thing. I didn't get you a gift. I started to do some baking but after making several batches of cookies for my neighbors, I ran out of cinnamon and honestly, going to the supermarket to buy more is just hard.

Here for you instead is a list of my most read posts from 2012. By most read, I mean that they were viewed by more people than you might find in a grocery store. On a Saturday.   Except for this one particular Publix in Tallahassee. A LOT of people shop there.

Enjoy. Maybe? And Merry Christmas. Everyone.

Also, I lied. I did get you something. It's at the bottom of this list. You're welcome.

How to out-crazy a school bus bully
Cozy up while I explain how apeshit is way worse than batshit.

Is that a stye in your eye or are you flirting with me
Where my eye took a leave of absence from my head.

Tampons are not toys
Seriously. They aren't. What kind of parent are you anyway?

Between you, me and the girls 
Yeah, so I almost flashed a truck driver. What about it?

There were ten in the bed - and then things got weird
This is where I draw you in with a headline...

Another reason to keep my mouth shut 
Like I needed another one.

Lose 10 pounds in 10 minutes. And find them somewhere else.
I didn't have to look very far.

And that is why the modeling career didn't pan out
We all have our sad moments of realization. This is mine.

Remarkably good penmanship - for a deer 
If I could talk to the animals... I'd just send Geoff instead.

It snot, what you think?
Then again, it might be exactly what you think.

I didn't take a babymoon. You're welcome.
Because really, no one deserves to be exposed to what was going on with my body.

Potato chips and antiseptic 
If you've never had a date in the emergency room, well then you're just not living right.

What would Mary pin?
An introduction to Pinterest, with the help of my friends from the Mary Tyler Moore show. And they say I don't have a grip on reality.

Chickens freak me out
No lead in necessary. They. Freak. Me. Out.

Damn you Tim Roth. Damn you.
Remember that time, when Tim Roth interrupted my sleep? I do.

Oh crap, that's no elephant...
Herein you discover how easy it is to mistake a pile of crap, for a hat. I couldn't make this shit up. 

Strangers sharing garbage - it's a beautiful thing 
Where my mom and I dump our crap on the side of the road.

Kathy Griffin, have I got a job for you 
Because she's not busy enough already. I'm guessing.

Thanks for reading me! Here's your present.
I've been practicing my ass off, so I hope you like it.

No, really.

Cinnamon Girl

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

It was supposed to be an enjoyable afternoon of crafting. The 4 year old and I decided to make homemade play dough – as we so often do. The ingredients are few: water, salt, flour, cream of tartar and oil, with a touch of food coloring thrown in for fun.

The play dough making process goes a little something like this:

Me:  Ok, now pour in the salt. Careful – don’t touch the pan. The pan is hot. Don’t touch the pan!

The 4 year old: Ok mommy. I won’t touch it.

Me: Perfect, now pour in the flour. The pan is hot. Don’t touch the pan!

The 4 year old: I won’t touch the pan.

And on it goes. Until I burn my hand on the hot pan and my girl eats a handful of salt, hoping it might taste like sugar.

There are times when I look at the wise little person before me and see the mature grown up she will soon become. Then, there are times that send me hurtling head first into the imaginary corner of my mind where bluebirds sing, ladybugs dance and no one can hear me crying.

The thing is, on this day, I decided to add cinnamon to our play dough mixture. The holidays are coming and quite frankly, plain play dough smells of old feet and the sour breath of a dog we once owned.  

My daughter was all for it and helpfully shook the jar, releasing the pungent spice into the bowl while I kneaded the ingredients into a pile.

What happened next wasn’t pretty.

“I need water!”

My little girl jumped down from the step stool she had been standing on and ran to the sink.

“Did you eat more salt?” I questioned, searching frantically for a cup.

“No” she sobbed, “cinnamon.”

I ran to my daughter’s side with a cup of water and tried to comfort her as thoughts began to race through my head - fast and furious. Cinnamon is edible. It’s a food. People eat it. We eat it. It can’t be harmful. Could it be harmful? Is it harmful???!

“My throat is hurting!” she screamed as she tried to gulp down the water.

What the hell, cinnamon?

Then, it hit me. When I was a kid, I once ate a handful of peppercorns, thinking they were chocolate chips. As in - the apple doesn’t far from the tree. Also, I remembered the remedy for my pepper pain was milk.

I opened the fridge, grabbed the carton and poured.  Within seconds of ingesting the milk, cinnamon shot out of my girl like a frightened squirrel running from a pissed off crow.

It was far from poetic.

Geoff was out on a coffee run, but Jan was in the office so while trying to remain calm, I called her into the kitchen. She immediately paged Dr. Google and what she discovered was disturbing.  For one thing, as it happens, sucking in cinnamon has become somewhat of a party game with curious – no… idiotic adolescents.

I phoned Geoff who headed straight for home. Meanwhile, the poor kid was improving slightly, but was still experiencing waves of distress - partly from the discomfort, but also from the thought of additional cinnamon ejections. After all, this was only the second time in her life that food made it’s way out of her the wrong way around. The first involved the phrase “spitting spaghetti”. 

After calling Telehealth who transferred me to Poison Control, we sped our way to the emergency room, "just to be safe." Then, I burped. A lot. You see, I have a familial habit of belching when nervous. It's neither helpful, nor ladylike. Kind of like my 9th grade gym teacher.

By the time we arrived, things had calmed down enormously and after witnessing the casual gait of the doctor on call as he entered our room, I was fairly certain that everything would be all right. After a thorough heart, lung and throat inspection, he informed us that cinnamon is an irritant and should not be eaten dry.  Duly noted.

But - most of all, he told us my daughter was 100% fine.

We all left the hospital in a far better state than when we had arrived and on the way home, decided to stop off for fish & chips and fuel. Because that’s how we roll.

After the meal which included multiple belches and numerous assurances that no more cinnamon would try to escape, we left to fill our car with gasoline. With the rest of the family outside, I went to pay the bill. Inside, as a line formed behind me, the delicate, kind faced boy behind the counter looked at me earnestly and queried, “Do you have gas?”

“Yes.” I answered without skipping a beat. It was the truth, times two.

The two of us stared at one another for a moment. My left eyebrow went up - the mirror image of his. We smirked at the ground and said nothing more. It was just the levity I needed for what could have been a very heavy day.

The moral of this story is, keep all spices away from your children. Place them in a high cupboard. Do it now. And always supervise them closely when they assist with the cooking. Eating dry cinnamon can result in a sore throat and upset stomach  - which is bad enough - but inhaling it (or other spices) can be life threatening. So, don’t be lax. Also, try not to burp while in line paying for gas.

No, really.

This post has been edited and republished on Erica Ehm's Yummy Mummy Club with the title: The Serious Health Threat in your Spice Cupboard.

A couple of paintings...

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

When I'm not busy trying to be funny, I'm busy making art.

Which reminds me...

I have two little paintings (8" x 8") currently available for sale (hint, hint) on Etsy.

Where the River Meets the Sea is an acrylic on canvas painting of the mouth of a river. The actual location is where the St. Croix River meets St. Andrews Harbour - Passamaquoddy Bay (part of the Bay of Fundy) in St. Andrews by-the-Sea.

It can be yours for just $60. I know, right?!

Moody Weathered Lighthouse is an acrylic on canvas painting of a lighthouse. A really old lighthouse. The actualbuilding  is Pendlebury Light in St. Andrews by-the-Sea - prior to restoration.

It too is only $60. What a steal. Seriously.

Thanks for looking.

No, really.

Can you spare a square?

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

In the time it took for me to wrestle a Brazil nut out of its shell, my three-year-old daughter stealthily transported 7 rolls of toilet paper from the bathroom to the living room. 

When I pulled myself away from the nutcracker, it was too late. She had created a pathway of "wipe-away" in the living room, around the corner and down the hall. She even used tape. The amazing thing was that all of this had taken place, in a matter of mere minutes.

It was highly creative – and really, I couldn’t bring myself to scold her for such an imaginative performance. Instead, I let her continue to play – to see what else developed. After the path, the toilet paper morphed into a dog named Max. Later, it became ribbon “like the ballerinas use”. Eventually, my daughter became a orchestra conductor - throwing Charmin shreds in the air with gusto, while singing the Wonderpets theme song. 

I was reminded of when I was a kid and my parents and I flew out to Calgary to visit my mom’s brother and his wife. Being in a city was far different from my life back home in the country. For one thing, my aunt and uncle had neighbors. Who lived right next door! In one of the houses was a girl – a bit older than me. Since I don’t remember her name, I’ll just call her girl.

The thing about girl was that she knew stuff, about things. Specifically, she knew about toilet paper. Somehow, she and I ended up in someone’s downstairs powder room. And because it was a downstairs powder room, girl and I were able to play there, undetected. Probably for longer than we should have.

Girl showed me that if you took a wad of toilet paper and stuck it under the tap in the sink, amazing things happened - especially when you added Kleenex to the mix. We spent nearly an hour, turning someone’s White Cloud (or maybe it was Cottonelle – either way, it was pink and blue) into a several balls of mush that when dry became… giant, hard, purple balls. 

Wow - that sounds way more dirty than it was.

Needless to say, when the adults found us, we were in deep doodoo because apparently, toilet paper was expensive in the 70s. I'm talking diamond ring expensive. Must have been all those pink and blue dyes. Meanwhile, when I returned home from the Calgary trip, I developed a nasty case of chicken pox. 

Thanks a lot girl. 

No, really.

Food safety, circa 1974

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

So I was sorting through some boxes today and came across one of my mom's old go-to guides.

The book is called "Your Freezer and You" and it contains tips and suggestions on how to properly handle and freeze your groceries. It was written in 1974, which might explain the publisher’s cavalier approach to food safety.

I mean, just look at the cover.

Do you notice anything - oh, I don't know - unsafe?

Here's a hint, or two...

Muffins and apples are touching a piece of RAW STEAK. And, oh hey. Look at the loaf of bread situated on top of a BLOODY ROAST. And what is that round thing under the strawberries? Shrimp pie? Please let it be apple. Nevermind. Whatever it is, it's in contact with the uncooked meat too.

Of course - as Jantje pointed out - this book was printed during the days when folks didn't think twice about sticking raw ground beef in their mouths to see if more spices were needed for the burgers. Raw eggs were regularly consumed as a health drink and lettuce couldn't kill you.

Things were different in the 70s. In so many ways.

No, really.

Objects on movie screens are smaller than they appear

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Geoff and I were in Paris. It was getting late and we were hungry so we decided to venture one street over from our hotel to the Champs-Élysées because someone told us that the Champs-Élysées is where everything happens in Paris. Also, it is the street where vacationing pedestrians provide motorists with comic relief. I've heard.

It was early November – slightly cool but mild enough for lightweight jackets. Still, we walked quickly so as not to catch a chill.

The street was busy and in spite of the late hour, there were people all over the place and every shop and restaurant was open. As we walked along the sidewalk, we came upon a particularly large crowd. Because I am paranoid cautious, my first instinct was to run as thoughts of murders, robberies and rumbles (yes, rumbles) entered my brain. 

The Champs-Élysées - but not on that night because
on that night we had no camera. Or common sense.

Geoff explained to me that because we were in a city, we might run into more people than the three or four I was used to seeing back home. Still, it was strange to see a big group of humans just standing around, doing nothing - except maybe smoking.

We were about to walk past when we noticed a large purple carpet being rolled out onto the sidewalk. And by we I mean me.

Me: Something is happening!

Geoff: No kidding.

Me: Seriously – it must be special.

Geoff: I’m hungry, let’s go.

Me: We can’t go, what if we miss it?!

Geoff: Miss what?

Me: Whatever it is that's happening.

We tried to glean some details from the chats that were taking place around us – but everyone was speaking French. So it was a futile exercise.

Time passed. We started to get cold.

I made an attempt to have a conversation with a gentleman who looked like he might be helpful. He wasn’t, but in the process of exchanging my dirty looks for his indifference, I glanced above his head and noticed a giant movie poster on the side of the building towering above us all.

It read, L'Age De Raison and it featured the faces of Renee Zellweger, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth.

I couldn’t believe it. We had stumbled onto a real live honest-to-goodness movie premiere for a Bridget Jones film.  It was then I realized we didn’t have a camera on us.

Me: I can't believe I don't have the camera.

Geoff: Let's go get it.

Me: We can't! We'll lose our spots.

Geoff: Okay, I'll go get it. 

Me: And leave me here alone! Are you nuts?!

Geoff: You won't be alone. There are over a hundred people here.

I was unconvinced. We stayed put. Minutes passed. Nothing happened. It got colder. Some people left. Others arrived – some even walked on the purple carpet, but they were nobodies. We knew this because no one in the crowd bothered to take photographs.

At some stage in the evening, I freaked out at Geoff and said, "I have to get out of here. I think I'm having a breakdown. Get me out of here!!!" But by that point, he was so committed to the process that he wouldn’t leave. He also might have said something like, "You pulled me into this Hell, so now you're sticking it out with me."

So we waited a while longer.

Suddenly, a man with perfect hair wandered down the purple carpet. He moved slowly. He even paused - a few times - but no one seemed to care… so he continued on. Minutes later, the same man appeared again, only this time his presence was announced over an invisible speaker system in the street.

“Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Colin Firth!”

The poor bugger hadn’t been recognized the first go around. I'll bet he thinks we're all suckers now after having won that Oscar for The King's Speech.  

Shortly after his arrival, Renee Zellweger and Hugh Grant appeared. They looked around at the group and stuck close to one another. Hugh shook hands with a couple of aggressive spectators, Renee smiled shyly, and within seconds, they both vanished into the warmth of the theater.

And that was it. 

This is the photo I would have taken that night.
If I had a camera with me.
And if I followed them into the theatre.
Which I didn't. That wasn't me.

Three effing hours of waiting in the cold, for a teeny glimpse of two of the tiniest people we had ever seen. Honestly. From the side, Renee completely disappeared. She and Hugh were like little figurines you could hold in the palm of your hand. They were smaller than small things. Like chihuahuas. And rabbits.

I'm not kidding. They are this small.

At least Colin Firth cast a shadow. Which probably had something to do with that Academy Award win. I'm just guessing here.

No, really.

Lose 10 pounds in 10 minutes. And find them somewhere else.

This is kind of like a sequel to my previous post about boobs. That is, if my posts were movies and I was an actor – or a producer or a screenwriter. Which I’m not. But I do have boobs. This is relevant. 

I’m the first to admit that my body is not what it used to be, y’know, before the giant baby. That and the getting older. And possibly the consumption of massive amounts of chocolate. Whichever. Either way, I’m 20 pounds heavier today than I was in college. This is not entirely a bad thing considering that back then, I was once mistaken for a feather that had fallen off of a 3rd year jewelry student’s boa. Drinking coffee nonstop and eating nothing but dry popcorn will do that to a girl. My friend Sharon agrees. She too followed the supermodel waif diet back in the day. Caffeine and air with a side of nicotine. What were we thinking? Not much, because as it turns out, the brain requires fat in order to function properly. This might explain several of my choices during the 90s.

Still - like so many others - my goal weight is always exactly 10 pounds less than my actual weight. So you can imagine my excitement when, while at Macy's not so long ago, I saw this giant claim calling out to me like gluten-free buckwheat pancakes. With honey.

Look 10 pounds lighter in 10 seconds? Are you freaking kidding me? I was SO in.

Instead of having to spend months with my Everyday Workout VHS tape in the hopes of tightening up a stomach that was once stretched out like a Macy's Thanksgiving day parade balloonicle, all I had to do was slip on a piece of shapewear, while standing in a Macy's store.

Shapewear. What a lovely word. It rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Nevermind that today’s body slimming garments are what grand ‘ol dames back in the day referred to as girdles or corsets or compression restraints. Shapewear sounds so much less painful. Sexy almost.

I decided on two items. An Extra Firm High Waisted Control Brief and an Extra Firm Support Camisole. Nothing says comfort like “extra firm”. Am I right?

I read the fine print and selected my size based on the chart on the packaging. How deflating. Then, I procured a fitting room, giddy with the possibility of being able to wear one of those crepe paper shirts without having to grab and pull the fabric in an outward motion -- a feeble, far-from-delicate attempt to conceal my gut every time I sit down to enjoy a warm cup of hot chocolate. With whipped cream.

Here’s the thing. Shapewear is hard. And by hard, I mean it’s difficult and stiff. I started with the briefs. I pulled, yanked, grunted and groaned my way into a pair. By the time they were on, I realized that the manufacturers claim of looking lighter in just 10 seconds was off – by about 290 seconds. While I did look 10 pounds lighter (from my crotch to my ribs) that extra bit of stomach had to go somewhere. Mostly up, where it settled nicely, just beneath my boobs. I was a dead ringer for a sci-fi movie siren with three sets of breasts. Four boobs in front, two in the back. Not really the look I was going for.

I decided that in order to pull off the illusion of a 10 pound drop, I probably needed to combine shapewear items. Understand, most of the blood flow to my brain had been cut off by the knickers.

The camisole was even trickier to get on than the briefs. But I persisted, in part due to the reduced brain activity. By the time I was through, my arms were bruised and I looked like a contortionist from that weird S&M circus that used to travel to big cities. An injured gymnast with a substantial amount of back fat – again, far from the appearance I was trying to achieve.

Much better on the hanger.

Half an hour later, I was back in my street clothes, breathless from the exhaustion. Still, a extraordinary event did occur on that fateful day in the Macy's department store.

It was a miracle I got the shapewear off.

No, really.

I didn't take a babymoon. You're welcome.

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

I first saw the word babymoon printed in a guilty-pleasure - trashy magazine - along with photographs of a bikini-clad celebrity gallivanting in the sand during a pre-labor getaway with her pelvic affiliate and her diminutive ankles.

It's kind of hard to ignore the concept, what with circulars like this shoved in every other newspaper. 

But here's the thing. The babymoon trend has me feeling completely unconvinced.

I’ll be honest here. When I was pregnant, the furthest thing from my mind was cherishing together time while experiencing a romantic fling on the beach - or anywhere for that matter.

Reason being,  I was far too busy working out the logistics of ejecting a small-but-mighty organism through a part of my body I hadn’t been able to get a clear visual on for months.

Between my ever-expanding feet, my wildly indiscreet chest and my puffy reality-television-star pout, I was more concerned with just trying to appear human while I was in the process of producing one.

Even if I had wanted a babymoon I would certainly have been banned at the departing gate because - let’s face it - an exhausted, gassy hippopotamus wearing a catsuit and knitted shoes, tends to draw attention at all-inclusive beachfront resorts. And not in a good way.

See what I mean? 

Don't look directly at it.

So instead, my husband and I stayed home for the duration of my pregnancy and while I persistently weathered the relentless thrusts of hostile baby heels pressed firmly into my ribs, he diligently ran through several worst-case labor scenarios while staring in disbelief at the cartoon-like expansion of the figure waddling before him.

We were a less-than idyllic pair.

Bottom line -- babymoons are best left to those who believe in the concept of push presents. Mind you, I suppose I did fall victim to that trend. After a three day labor peppered with complications, I requested (and received!) a giant bottle of prune juice, which incidentally was worth its weight in diamonds.

And beach sand. 

No, really.

Hello, are you at Walmart?

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Yesterday I called my local Walmart store to see if it was open.

Walmart is always open, just like gas stations, and that guy named Slippy who sells acetaminophen at cost. Still, I felt the need to call because I am philosophically skeptical. Unlike Slippy.

I held the phone to my ear. There was no ring – only some muffled noises somewhat reminiscent of the sound a cocker spaniel makes when he licks a goldfish. I’m only guessing here.

As so often happens to me, I was dialing out, while - at the exact moment -  someone else was doing the same. Only, the man on the other end was not aware of this phenomenon and instead thought I was his wife. Or God. Whichever. I on the other hand, grew up in the country - with a party line - so hearing confused strangers on my telephone line is nothing new to me.

ME: Hello? Is anyone there?

Voice: Margaret? Is that you?

ME: Are you at Walmart?

Voice: How did you know I was at Walmart?

ME: I can see you.

Voice: You can?

ME: Yes.

Voice: Where are you?

ME: I'm here. Where are you?

Voice: I’m at Walmart.

ME: I'm sorry. I'm not Margaret. I can't see you. We must have just dialed our phones at the same time.

Voice: What do you mean?

ME: I was calling to see if Walmart was open.

Voice: But my phone didn’t ring.

ME: Neither did mine. That’s the point. So, how long are you open?

Voice: I’m not open. I’m trying to call my wife.

ME: She’s not here.

Voice: Ok. Thanks.

ME: WAIT! Don’t hang up! Is Walmart open?

Voice: I don't work here. Here's a cashier.

Cashier: Hello?

ME: Oh, thank God. I was just checking to see if you are open but someone was calling out from there while I was calling in.

(For the record, I always get this excited when I find out stores are open on a major holiday. I don't know why.  I may need counseling.) 

Cashier: I’ve never heard of that happening. I just loaned a guy my phone so he could make a call.

ME: I. Can’t. Not. Blog... about this.

Cashier: I'm sorry?

ME: Don't be. Seriously.

The moral of this story is to never, ever call Walmart. Or anyone who goes by the name of Slippy. Your choice.

No, really.

You need to leave now. Fortunately, you have train tickets.

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

My husband and I were in London, waiting to board the Eurostar train to Paris.

We were happy to sit - after making it through customs - and with the pause had a chance to scan our travel mates.

Some were sleeping. Others were reading newspapers. A few were deep in conversation with imaginary cats. One gentleman in particular was doing all three at once.

My husband offered to get me a snack in an effort to help ease my fears of traveling deep beneath the English Channel with potentially delusional companions.

He returned within seconds.

"Show me our tickets," he hissed.

"Why?" I questioned, "Are we at the wrong station? Did we come on the wrong day? Are we going to train jail?"

"Just show them to me, will ya?"

I did, and from there, our trip took an exciting turn.

We had First Class tickets, which meant we would be fed during our journey and possibly secluded from the masses. What it also meant was we had access to the First Class Lounge my adventurous partner had just discovered.

Through the glass walls, we could see soft leather chairs and elegant people gliding about with nary a make-believe cat in sight. We walked up to the door and it opened automatically for us. I heard angels singing. We transitioned from the loud sounds and obnoxious smells of the station proper, to the calm serenity of the lounge. It was breathtaking. Classical music played  as we were enveloped by the scent of fresh lavender. People in business suits were being fed grapes and oatmeal cookies. It was the closest I had ever been to heaven.

We were busy absorbing our luxurious surroundings when a man in uniform approached. 

He asked to see our tickets. I happily obliged. Then suddenly, the music stopped, all eyes turned to us and all I could smell was feet.

Man: You need to leave. Now.

Us: Pardon?

Man: Your tickets do not give you access to this lounge.

Me (confidently): We have First Class tickets.

Man (smugly): This lounge is for Business Class. First Class does not have a lounge. 

Husband: We forgot our suits.

Man:  Do you have an American Express card?

Husband (lying): Yes. Yes we do.

Man: May I see it?

Us: Nevermind.

Walking out of the lounge was not nearly as much fun as it was going in. 

I considered running back in and finding a spot under a table - but that would have been difficult, given the two large male escorts assisting us out the door. And by large male escorts, I don't mean the kind you see in expensive hotels and restaurants with really old wine. 

As the din of the station pierced my ears, I took a rock hard seat beside the sleep-talking, newspaper-reading cat-man, while my deflated husband went to buy one exorbitantly priced bag of stale crisps for us to share.

Once home - our trip over - I glued those tickets in a scrapbook with the words: Don't sneak into the business lounge at St. Pancras station in London (unless you like male escorts, in which case you should go ahead).

No, really.

Do not call us. Seriously.

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

The telephone rang. Geoff picked it up...

Geoff: Hello.

Caller: Yes, hello. My name is Steve. I am calling to you to let you know your computer is broken.

Geoff: That's amazing.

Caller: Yes. We have scanned your computer. It is full of viruses. I will help you remove the viruses.

Geoff: (silence)

Caller: Sir? Hello?

Geoff: What is this about again?

Caller: Viruses.

Geoff:  I'm not sick.

Caller: Your computer sir. Your computer is full of viruses.

Geoff: That's impossible.

Caller: But, we have done a scan on your computer.

Geoff:  I don't have a computer.

Caller: You don't have a computer?

Geoff: No.

Caller: But, everyone has a computer.

Geoff: I don't.

Caller : (silence)

Geoff: I have a tractor.

Caller: (stunned silence)

Geoff: My tractor is broken. Maybe you could help me fix it.

Caller: I. Um. I'm not sure I understand what you...

Geoff: It's the front tire. It just won't hold air.

Caller: I really don't think...

Geoff: I've tried everything but she leaks like a son of a bitch. I need my tractor. I farm you know. I can't farm without my tractor. I love my tractor. Listen, if you could fix my tractor you would really be helping me out a lot.

Caller: I can't do that.

Geoff: You mean, you can't fix my tractor?

Caller: No.

Geoff: Well then, why are you calling me?

Caller: I. Uh. I don't know.

More proof that we are the reason the do not call list was created.

No, really. 

11 free toys every child should enjoy

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

I've been stockpiling the funny stuff in my head, but in the meantime, have a peek at my latest post for Today's Parent magazine. It's all about creativity folks...
 No, really.

Yeah, this is a rant. Minus the bitterness. Mostly.

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Several weeks ago, I received a letter of request from an organization, written by me, sent to me, yet signed by someone else.

My words, my writing style, my heartfelt pleas were all there - in black on white. They were staring at me. Taunting me. As if to say, “Look, I’m sorry. You gave us up sweetheart, and so now we belong to someone else. Someone with better hair than you.”

You know that feeling you get when you think you’ve lost your keys and so you look around the house frantically until you finally give up and make yourself a cup of coffee only to realize, once you’ve sat down to drink your brew, that you don’t have any coffee cream in the house and worse yet, you still haven’t found your damn keys and so you get up to look again and by the time you find them a full hour later you feel like a perspiration-drenched fool because your keys were in the bottom of your purse the entire freaking time?

Yeah, that’s how that letter made me feel.

Irritated and sweaty. And craving caffeine.

No, really.

By the way - when I'm not ranting, I'm writing. And sometimes I'm funny. Like that time when I lost 10 pounds in a dressing room... and found them somewhere else:

The lights of Paris

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

It was the first time Geoff and I had ever stayed in such luxurious surroundings. Ornate furnishings, a marble sink and endless lengths of cascading fabric filled our Paris hotel suite. Of particular note were the plush velvet curtains that reached clear up to the 14-foot ceilings.

After our first full day of sightseeing, we were eager to get some sleep.

We tucked ourselves under the blankets and turned off the bedside lamps only to find the room still flooded with light. We must have missed a switch, I thought while getting up to find it. Then I realized… the light was coming from outside our room.

As it turned out, we were positioned at the precise location of the hotel sign, which was awash with intense, white light. It was so bright; we could have performed open-heart surgery (had we the tools, knowledge or patient).

“It is the city of lights,” Geoff joked.

I was not amused.

Because he knows me well, Geoff proceeded to do what he could to make the brightness go away.

He dragged the hotel table to the window and on it, placed a chair, followed by the firmest cushion we could find. Using the wall as balance, he ascended the makeshift tower and began shoving blankets and pillows at the top edge of the curtains, to seal off the light.

Slowly, our room was transformed from luxurious retreat to rock star party aftermath.

Just as Geoff was placing the last bolster, the lights went off - automatically - just as they did every night thereafter. Precisely… at one minute past midnight.  

No, really.

Tampons are not toys

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Because not everyone enjoys impromptu discussions about poop, our local coffee shop features a not-so-secret upstairs room where mothers of toddlers congregate to have conversations punctuated by phrases like, “What happened to your other shoe?”, "How long has that worm been in your pocket?" and "Can you please take that dolphin out of your brother's ear?" without disturbing the street-level caffeine imbibers below.

The other day, after a chance meeting on the sidewalk, my friend Sharon and I made tracks to “the room” to swig copious amounts of coffee while our kids ate giant ginger cookies.

Two seconds in, our children asked if we had any toys. You think they would know us better by now. The only remotely kid-friendly items in my purse were a marble, two Band-Aids, a hotel pen and a miniature Spirograph toy that can only be operated by someone with Barbie doll sized hands. So, you know, I’ve given up on any aspirations of becoming Mother of the Year.

Sharon on the other hand was slightly more prepared and was able to produce four crayons, a tiny pack of playing cards and a handful of magnetic sticks. These items, along with a couple of pages ripped from my journal, kept everyone happy for at least as long as it took to drink two medium French Roasts. I won't lie though - there was a brief moment in time when we both contemplated handing each kid a mini rocket (they might have been tampons) in order to buy ourselves just a few more minutes of cafe culture - mom style.  But, we refrained.

Later on, Sharon reminded me of why she and I get along so well, when she started the following email exchange.

Sharon: I Googled it. Tampons are not toys. Whatever. Maybe one day I'll be in a restaurant and really desperate for a distraction. Glass of water, tampon… how is that different from those other toys that grow in water!?

Me: I think you may have just unlocked the secret of the Sea Monkeys! Tampons + googly eyes + a glass of water... voila --- purse puffers.

Sharon: Nevermind toys. I've done a lot of camping and I can't believe I didn't know this. Using Cheezies to start a fire I knew... but tampons?! Brilliant.

Me: First of all -- whoa! And second of all -- I feel like I've just lost the last bit of innocence I still had. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm about to write a blog post about snot.

And then I did.

Sharon: I know blows your mind eh? And I just realized, as ex-smokers we should be grateful that a stray spark didn't set our crotches ablaze. Who do I talk to get this warning on cigarette packs!!? Forget about your teeth people -- a CROTCH could start on FIRE!  And before you think I'm off my rocker let's just remember who is carrying snot in her purse.

Me: You just made me laugh so hard I cried. For a really, really long time. Now my tummy hurts. If we're not related, we must have been in a past life. You know, before we both spontaneously combusted. See you tomorrow. I'll be the one with the snot.

And that's what stay at home moms discuss after a visit to the not-so-secret upstairs room at the local coffee shop. I suggest booking your time in advance.

No, really.

WTF Sears?

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

The arrival of a new Sears catalog is usually loads of fun at our house. We all love looking at all the items we don't need, at prices we can't pass up.

But this catalog was different from others we've received in the past.

For one thing, the models appear as though they are dead. Or rather, undead. Which begs the question... WTF Sears?

Am I wrong? I'm not wrong. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

No, really.

It snot what you think

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

While cleaning out my purse this morning, I found the usual items...

Receipts, tissues, wipes, marbles, one sock, a mystery toy from a Kinder Surprise egg and other assorted bits of stuff were mingling amongst the spare change and raisin box escapees.

Then, I discovered a small plastic bubble - a forgotten gumball machine acquisition, the contents of which had remained unknown. Until today.

I’ll admit it. I regularly fall prey to the lure of gumball machine booty and I’ve passed my  penchant on to my 3-year-old daughter. I blame my mother. Time and again she and I have dropped quarters into the colorful contraptions at the supermarket in the hopes of obtaining a hacky sack, a glow ring or a tiny porcelain mug emblazoned with the face of an ex-President.

Instead, we typically end up with plastic mummies, temporary tattoos or little alien figurines playing soccer - all of which delight my daughter to no end.

However, inside the forgotten plastic bubble lodged at the bottom of my purse, was something entirely different – unlike anything I had ever seen come out of a gumball machine before.

Behold – the contents…


Now, my memory may not be as clear as it was before childbirth, but I’m fairly certain that I would never knowingly put my money into a machine selling snot.

Which begs the question. Why sell fake snot to kids? Are gumball machine company execs unaware of the fact that children produce enough of their own snot to fill small wading pools? Seriously. My kid is rarely sick and still she accumulates the stuff.

I touched it. I don't know why.

As I was holding the goo, I got to thinking. What if it isn’t fake? What if this is real, honest-to-goodness snot? And more importantly, why the eff am I rolling it around in my fingers?!!??

So I stuffed the mess back into the little bubble with the green bottom and contemplated what I would do if I were an investigator on a crime drama television show (yeah, I've been watching Monk on Netflix again). I would say, "Send this to the lab for analysis Randy." And Randy would come back with a file full of details I really wouldn't care to know about. Also, a coffee. With cream. I have a pretty active imagination, after all.

But alas... the reality is, I'm just a mom with a heavy purse and a pocket full of snot that I purchased for twenty-five cents.

No, really.

Do they serve that at Dennys?

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

This morning, I asked my 3 year old daughter what she would like for breakfast. It's a pretty safe bet since her response is usually "Goldilocks porridge" (oat bran with cinnamon) or "ice cream" (healthy homemade version made with banana, avocado, fruit and rice milk).

But today, she hit me with something entirely new.

Her request was (get ready for it), "Squash miracle garden yuck."

Now, I don't know about you, but I don't have an effing clue what squash miracle garden yuck is. Nor do I have any idea where she might have heard of such a delicacy. Is this kid sneaking out to roadside diners while I'm on Twitter sleeping? Perhaps Max & Ruby have been cooking on Netflix again. Why not? They've got no parents to feed them.

Either way, I was up for the challenge. And so, I served up this delectable treat.

Squash miracle garden yuck

I scooped some leftover butternut squash into a glass. It might have been a brandy glass. Because I'm classy like that. Then, I stuck a couple of Sociables and a pair of crackers-with-cheese-in-the-middle into the mush. An ice cream sundae spoon completed the meal.

Now that I look at it, this breakfast appears strikingly like Beaker from the Muppet Show -- if someone melted him into a glass. A brandy glass.

Am I wrong? You know I'm not wrong. Wow. And I wasn't even trying.

Doesn't matter. The point is that my daughter's breakfast contained everything she asked for. It had squash. The squash came from a garden and honestly, even I know it was dripping with yuck.

Then came the miracle.

Squash miracle garden yuck gone

She ate the entire freaking thing.

I win.

No, really.

Remarkably good penmanship - for a deer

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

From time to time, Geoff disappears on his mountain bike and heads off somewhere -  into the wilderness. I used to worry but now, truthfully? Meh. Nine lives. Maybe even ten.

Meanwhile, the major highway near us has been under construction for the summer. It's being twinned. Y'know to help folks who are passing through our province get out a little bit safer. And quicker. We're coming Nova Scotia! Ready the highland dancers and save us some scallops!

This highway business has put a damper on Geoff's exploration. Where once he was able to just "hop across" the road, has been barricaded with a long stretch of deer fence. Not that the engineers haven't planned this project out exceptionally well. They have. There are gates, leading to tunnels and pathways - all designed to let Bambi and his mother (and, I suspect - ATVs) travel safely. I think they may have even pumped in some ambient moose music. It's like freakin' Disneyland for cervidae. Yeah, I used the word cervidae in a sentence. Did you read that my ninth grade science teacher? Did you?

In any case, with all the careful development, the highway builders neglected to take into account the exact location where Geoff likes to cross the road. So, my husband decided to take matters into his own hands. So to speak. His initial plan of traveling with wire cutters and short lengths of chain was quickly shot down by someone. It might have been me. So instead, he tried a different approach.

On a day, just a day quite like any other, Geoff wrote a note on a piece of paper, sealed it in a plastic baggie and attached it to the deer fence with a zip tie.

The note read:

Deer gate here please.


A deer

And do you know what happened?

That son of a bitch got himself a deer gate, right where he asked for it.

Someone saw the note, read it, cut a hole in the fence and installed a gate. A gate!

This can only mean one thing. Either the folks working on our highway: A) Regularly communicate with one another by using notes like this; B) Have a tremendous sense of humor (and extra deer gates); or C) Think the wildlife around here are highly advanced and have decided not to question evolution.

Either way... mountain bike trails.

No, really.

I may have reached my chicken limit

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

By now, you probably know how I feel about chickens. If not, let me remind you. I don't like them. They freak me out. So you can imagine my horror when I came across this.

It's a game created by a real estate blog in which you can calculate how many goats, sheep, guinea pigs, cows or (shudder) chickens it would take to keep your yard  manicured. And covered in crap.

Now that we've moved to the country, we have somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 acres of land. That's a lot of mowing. Assuming we had grass. At some point -  once we've been out here a few years, removed from society as we know it, living like recluses, growing our own food and braiding each others hair while wearing orange jumpsuits - we might in fact turn to the animals for help. Mostly because by that time, no one else will be brave enough to come near us.

I had to try it. I selected chickens. Of course I did:

I entered my acreage:

And was presented with this:

Eight thousand one hundred and thirty one chickens - in my yard?! I would be forever trapped in my house. My daughter on the other hand, would be in pure heaven. The kid loves those birds so much she once did a somersault right through a pile of fresh chicken shit while eating marshmallows.

Don't ask.

Let me assure you, you haven't lived until you've had to wash poultry turds out of a toddler's head at ten o'clock at night.

Try it yourself. I mean the game. Not the late night crap removal. Unless of course you decide to gather 12,197 guinea pigs to mow your lawn - in which case you are totally on your own.

Reduce Animal Unemployment: Hire A Goat By Movoto Real Estate

No, really.

That time I was discovered...

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

I was sitting at the downtown art studio, on one of the comfy Adirondack chairs. The sun was low in the sky - the day drawing to a close. 

I had dragged the chair to the side of the studio, so it faced the ocean. And, as it had been a rather warm day, a large bottle of Evian water was sitting on the ground next to me.

As I contemplated whether or not to lock up a little early, a man wandered around the corner. 

He glanced at me - several times - before gazing out on the view. Then he turned around, looked me up and down and asked if I would be okay with him taking a few photographs. 

Here's what I thought: "Photos? Of me? I'm being discovered! This is just like in the movies!"

Here's what I said: "Sure, okay."

"I'll be back in a bit with my equipment," he said, "I hope you don't mind waiting."

As soon as he disappeared from sight, I headed for the washroom to make sure I had no lettuce in my teeth. 

Then, I waited.

When the man came back carrying a pile of professional equipment, I knew this was serious. I felt the need to rustle up an entourage.

While he set up his giant camera, I asked, "Where should I sit, or do you want me to stand?" 

He looked at me - strangely - and told me it didn't really matter to him either way.

Of course! I thought. He wants to get some candid shots, you know, to capture my natural beauty.

Then, he asked me where the Evian bottle went. I told him I had cleaned up "the set" and put it in the trash. 

That's when things got weird.

The photographer insisted on having the water bottle back where it was -  next to the Adirondack chair, outside.

I obliged and watched as the pro got down on the ground, directed his lens out the door and starting clicking like crazy - without me in the frame.

It was then that the subject of his shot became abundantly clear. 

It was the Evian bottle, with the ocean as a backdrop.

So. Very. Deflated.

No, really.

Then again, in case you're wondering why the modeling career never panned out... read THIS.

Another reason to keep my mouth shut

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

We went to a classical music event held at a community college this past weekend. No sooner were we in the door and someone had to pee.

It might have been me.

I left the 3 year old with Geoff and headed to the restroom. There were three stalls. The door on the left had an Out of Order sign taped to it and the stall on the right was wheelchair accessible - so I walked to the middle door, grabbed hold of the top edge and pulled.

It was locked.

"Oh, I'm sorry." I said, backing up.

There was no response.

I glanced under the door - because that's always my first instinct in a public restroom. I think it might be an inappropriate reflex. I saw no evidence of a shadow, so I assumed that it too was out of order. Either that or some college kid had locked it up and crawled out as a joke. I briefly wondered if I might fit under the metal partition - mostly because I’m weird like that. Instead I went behind door number three. Literally.

After taking care of business, I began to pull my clothes back on. This was no easy deed as I had opted that evening to wear a one-piece jumpsuit with a button in the back – just out of reach of my hands. As I contorted my arms into an advanced level martial arts move, I made a mental note to not do that again. I also thought about how lovely the new tile work in the washroom looked - even with the gaping hole in the ceiling in the corner. Must be water damage. Wasn’t that hole there last year too? All that work retiling, just to leave a giant bloody hole in the ceiling? And what an awful paint color. Who the hell chose that? What’s with pink bathrooms for college aged kids anyway? What are they, toddlers? And on (and on) I went. In fact, a variety of random topics - from armpit hair to turtles (don’t ask) - floated in and out of my head. There were more musings, but really… useless information bounces around in there so incessantly, I regularly lose track.

After successfully grunting myself back into my jumpsuit I went to hit the flush.

That’s when I heard it.

From the stall next to me came the sound of someone clearing her throat. And after that - a sigh.  I bent down to look beneath the barrier. Because, as you know, that’s what I do.

The middle bathroom stall was not unoccupied after all.

It was then I realized that I had not been keeping my thoughts to myself. I had been rambling out loud. The. Entire. Time.

And that’s the problem. Some people sing in the shower. Others whistle while they work. I on the other hand, (though shy and quiet as a klipspringer in normal social situations) have a habit of blathering steadily to myself about topics inane and otherwise - while alone in the ladies room.  It's involuntary and happens without warning.

As I washed my hands, I recalled several awkward moments at highway rest stops, restaurant washrooms, holiday trailer parks and the girl's locker room in high school. I'm terrible at detecting people in the crapper. Apparently.

I exited the restroom without ever seeing my lone toilet mate. She was likely too afraid to come out before I was gone. And in all fairness… who wouldn’t be? I mean, turtles and armpit hair? Seriously?

No, really.

Vroom vroom (photo)

Seen on the parking lot while waiting for our car to be repaired. Must be the practice car.

Daily Snap - 07.10.12 | by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Stay small (photo)

Lately, the 3 year old has been worried about getting bigger --- as in: "If I get bigger, I won't be able to sit on my dad anymore." Stay small kiddo.

Daily Snap - 07.09.12 | by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Potato chips and antiseptic

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

“I think I broke my ankle.”

The words slipped out of my mouth almost as fast as I had fallen down the stairs.

Here’s the thing. When I walk down a set of steps, if I don’t suppress the urge, I flap my arms – not so much like a bird… more like an excited toddler, or a 1960s housewife who has just spotted a mouse. It’s neither a safe (nor particularly effective) habit. It’s a genetic flaw. My mother does it too. And so, as I raced from upstairs to down with an oscillating fan in one hand and nothing in the other (flap, flap) I didn’t stand a chance when my flip-flop festooned foot slipped tidily off the second last step.

 Sitting at the base of the staircase, I could hear the voices of my family members somewhere off in the distance. Geoff was chatting with a delivery driver about the death of Andy Griffith while Jan was trying to convince the 3 year old to “set that damn frog free.”

“Hello. Anyone. My foot just went numb. Is that bad?”

I thought about that guy – you know, the one who had to amputate his own arm in order to survive after falling into a gully in the wilds of Utah or somewhere just as dangerous...

I surveyed my surroundings. I didn’t have a knife nearby, but I was lying on a partially crushed oscillating fan with several sharp bits. Then, it occurred to me that I wasn’t trapped in a gully. Nor was I in Utah. Also, since I am unable to effectively cut through a piece of cardboard, I decided I was probably not a survivalist.

When I was eventually found (it may or may not have been 5 seconds later), Geoff and Jan convinced me to go to the hospital, just in case the pain I was experiencing was the result of bone rubbing on bone.

Me: It doesn’t hurt that much. I don’t need to go to the hospital.

Geoff & Jan: Ok, then go ahead and walk on it.

Me: I can’t. It hurts too much.

At the emergency room check-in, I was asked about any allergies (aspirin, ibuprofen, close talkers) and given a special allergic reaction armband to prevent anyone from killing me, you know, accidentally. Shortly after, the triage nurse (after confirming my allergies) asked me to rate my pain on a scale of 1 to 10.

Back in the waiting room, Geoff was pretty ticked at my answer.

Geoff: Two? Are you kidding me? Two? We’re going to be here all night.

Me: I told her I had fleeting shots of six.

Geoff: Fleeting shots don’t count. I can’t believe you said two.

Me: I was in labor for 48 hours and delivered a 9-pound human without an epidural. That was a 10. This is a 2. Maybe I should go back and tell her about my birthing experience.

Geoff: I’ll get us some snacks. Then I will leave you here to die.

Me: Yay! It’ll be like our first date.

People came and went, including a boy who refused to let anyone look at his finger (hangnail), a man with a bloody arm and sliced boot (chainsaw massacre?) and a girl with an iced cappuccino and a smartphone who appeared to just be searching for good reception. Through it all, the room remained pretty well populated.

Star Trek was playing on the teeny tiny corner television, which was set on the Space Channel. Someone in the room was wanting to go where no man had gone before and I suspect it was the bearded gentleman wearing track pants and elf shoes. The poor bugger had been waiting since early morning and had taken to telling the nurse, whenever she called a name, that everyone else had tired of waiting and since he was the only one left (in the crowded room) he’d be happy to come on down. Hello – we’re all RIGHT here.

Even he got in before I did.

Two bags of chips, one Star Trek, one Stargate, half of a Deep Space Nine (which I think is technically still Star Trek) and several mind-altering commercial breaks later… my name was called. By that time, my foot really didn’t hurt much at all. I contemplated faking another ailment but became concerned at possible cures.

When the doctor entered the examining room, I explained to him that I was fine, thank you, and that my husband and I were just here on a Sci-Fi date. If he was puzzled, he didn’t show it as he persistently poked around at my foot.

“It’s a sprain.” He said with a smile. “We’re going to wrap it and my suggestion to you is to not go over on it again for at least a week.” Then he told me to go and get myself some ibuprofen.

That’s when everything became clear. Geoff had contracted the doctor to kill me, which was almost exactly like our second date – minus the close talker.

No, really.

The sky is falling (photo)

It was a sideways rain kind of day yesterday. Mid-afternoon (while in town) the world went from sunny to scary in a matter of seconds. Geoff was caught on his bike somewhere out in the ridges while Jan, the girl and I were flooded in our downtown studio. Then, as fast as it came - it was over. Until later that day when (while at home) I looked out the window to see this.

Daily Snap - 07.08.12 | by Andrea Mulder-Slater

After the storm (photo)

There's just something about kids and puddles. Mine would sleep in one if I let her. 

Daily Snap - 07.07.12 | by Andrea Mulder-Slater