We accidentally bought the “lite” Babybel cheese and I guess Bridget noticed.
We didn’t mean to. Ours is not a house of low-fat cheese. Or low-fat anything, for that matter.
I didn’t notice it until Brontë dug it out of the fridge and handed it to me. “Open for me, mommy?” she asked. “One for me and one for sister.”
“Okay,” I replied, while snipping into the blue mesh bag. I figured I’d grab a couple of mini cheese circles and start the red wax strip for them. That’s when I noticed it was “lite.”
Ah well, I figured I’d try to slip it past them…
The kids pulled off the rest of the wax and each took a bite.
Brontë gave a thousand-yard stare for a moment before politely setting down her cheese circle and leaving the table.
Bridget, on the other hand, got a crazed look in her eye before EATING the red wax in protest then slamming her filthy lying chunk of diet cheese to the ground. She jumped off her chair and started doing what I could only assume was an interpretive dance about the horrors of cheese oppression.
My kids LOVE good cheese and pilfer it all the time. They go on cheese bingers and hide the evidence all over the house. They know EXACTLY what good cheese is supposed to taste like and this clearly wasn’t it.
What do you think is the most stolen item in the world?
Jewelry? It’s valuable and seems easy to conceal…
Booze? It’s available all over and some folks are desperate for it…
Gold bars? Okay, maybe I watch too many pirate and bank heist movies.
Well, if you thought it was any of these things, you were wrong. The most shoplifted item in the entire world is:
While it seems to me that you could get your hands on more cheese with a gold bar in your pocket (stop it with the pirates already), it otherwise makes a lot of sense. My love of cheese is well-documented, and apparently, I’m not alone.
People are so desperate for the tangy goodness of cheese, they are willing to lie, cheat, and steal for it. Plus, it’s probably easier to conceal than roasted chicken.
I guess the great anti-dairy movement hasn’t been as successful as its advocates would like. Maybe it’s the “got milk” ads, but frankly, I’m surprised cheese needs any marketing. It’s incredibly delicious.
Now kale promotion, I get. Kale tastes horrible.
I keep reading about how fantastic kale is for you, how it will turn back the clock and do your laundry for you. People say it’s delicious, but I keep buying these so-called delicious kale chips then staring at them like they’re fried cockroaches.
I can only eat kale in morning smoothies because you can’t tell it’s there. I’m suspicious of the idea that Mother Nature intended us to eat kale anyway. Why would it taste so awful to us, if she did?
Cheese, on the other hand, tastes like the feet of angels.
And I’m not sure why everyone is claiming lactose intolerance all of a sudden. Yes, I get that some people are legitimately lactose intolerant… their bellies make it obvious. It especially makes sense in Asian populations because dairy hasn’t historically been part of the Asian diet, so lactose-intolerance wouldn’t have been weeded out of the gene pool.
Still, we’ve been hit with much anti-dairy propaganda of late. A lot of cheese opponents, for example, like to point out that we’re the only animals that drink milk past infancy and harvest the milk of another species.
True enough, but we’re also the only animal that drives, uses air-conditioning and practices modern dentistry.
I bet plenty of other animals would eat cheese too if they could just figure out how to milk cows. It would probably be a high priority item, right after toilet paper.
According to a mic.com survey recently covered by Glamour and Women’s Health, most people start farting around their significant others sometime between two and six months of dating. About ten percent let it rip from the start.
Reading this reminded me of something a guy friend posted on Facebook. He had seen a female coworker walk into the bathroom with a newspaper and couldn’t get over the shock. Apparently, it was the most horrifying, unfeminine behavior he had ever witnessed.
I couldn’t help but respond: “You know women have to use the bathroom too, right? We have working bodies just like you.”
“Sure, sure,” he said. “But I picture them floating above toilets with yards of fluffy dresses, totally unconnected from what’s happening below. The newspaper makes it all too real.”
“If it makes you feel any better,” I told him, “Sometimes I used to take a book into the bathroom at work when I didn’t even have to go. I just wanted a break.”
It did make him feel better, which was hilarious since he was hardly some teenage boy living in dreamland. He’d been married to his high school sweetheart for fifteen years… how could he still be so touchy?
But then, who was I to talk? I was so shy when my husband and I were first dating that I’d turn the water on whenever I had to go number one. I didn’t want him hearing my pee sounds.
And if I needed to do anything more elaborate, I’d make him take his dog for a walk: “Your Rottweiler just told me she needs to go for a walk around the neighborhood.”
John, bless him, would actually do it. He’d grab the leash with a big smirk on his face because he knew exactly what was going in but found it cute that I went to such lengths to maintain the princess illusion.
He had no such hangups, transitioning into open-farting and walking around in ratty shorts early on. He’d pop one and I’d scowl at him and he’d tell me it was just because he felt comfortable around me now.
“A little too comfortable,” I’d grumble.
My friend Steph thought I was crazy. One evening she took my hand and sat me down, looked deep into my eyes and had a serious talk with me about bodily function acceptance.
“You have needs too,” she said. “You have to pee and fart like everybody else and there’s no call for this amount of shame.”
“I know,” I said. “I just think contorting your body while grunting out farts all the time isn’t good for romance.”
She rolled her eyes but needn’t have worried, because pregnancy would be a game changer. Beyond throwing up left and right, you reach a stage during pregnancy where you have to pee every ten minutes, very urgently and often with little warning. There just isn’t enough time for elaborate preparations, so the faucet-starting subterfuge had to quit.
But that wasn’t all.
I remember distinctly the moment it happened. I was nine months pregnant and John and I were standing in the garage when I felt a fart coming on….
I clenched my butt-cheeks as per normal, but began to panic as I realized it wasn’t going to cut it this time. I felt the tingle of a thousand air bubbles straining my lower intestines as my butt cheeks valiantly struggled to hold back the dam…
But it was no good. I had a ten pound bowling ball collapsing my intestines and realized this fart was about to happen, like it or not.
I tried to let it out slowly, hoping it would pass quietly and inconspicuously , but it began audibly rumbling from the gates. It started with a balloon squeal, then as my muscles faltered, it crescendoed into a growling roar.
It was the longest, most horrible fart I ever farted, beating any night alone after cauliflower and beer. I don’t know if it was the pregnancy hormones or if the baby was farting simultaneously, but the thing just kept on going and going, amplified by garage acoustics.
Echoing throughout the garage, I may as well have had a microphone by my butt, and there was no point in pretending anymore. I started nervously laughing in horrified embarrassment and each flex of my stomach muscles popped the fart noise out louder until it sounded like the fart was laughing too.
I swear this thing lasted at least a minute and a half. It was such a ridiculous fart that you wouldn’t think it was real if you saw it on a slapstick comedy. “That’s just stupid,” you’d think.”No authentic farts could possibly go on for that long. Some special effects guy needs to back off the whoopee cushion.”
Well, pregnancy farts do. Somewhere halfway through mine, my husband John broke into hysterics. His delicate wife who wouldn’t even pee without the faucet on was now farting right in front of him like the champion frat boy of alpha epsilon omega. By the time it was over, John was grabbing his stomach and rolling on the ground with tears pouring out.
The weird thing is, I think the Great Fart made John happy. It meant we were really a couple and could finally let down our guard. He was now the guy I trusted enough to fart around, and once you’ve farted like that, there’s just no going back. The princess illusion is over.
Thank god for that.
Not so for my four-year-old, however, who sees no conflict between farting and princessery. She’ll happily run around in elaborate princess dresses and rip farts whenever she feels like it. She’ll giggle while telling us “my butt said ‘thurp'” before going back to her tea party like she’s the fairy unicorn sorceress of Glitterland.
Everywhere I look, Americans are hating on poor little owls. We think owls are lazy, undisciplined loners who really need to get their crap together. Probably immoral too.
I know this because I’m an owl myself.
No, not the cute birds who can swivel their heads around backwards and spot mice from dark forest skies. I’m talking about people with a later circadian rhythm, AKA those of us who are not “morning people.”
Sleep researchers call morning people “larks.” You know these folks, the ones who show up to work first, freshly showered after a bracing jog. The ones that drive owls crazy with their morning cheerfulness as we whimper into our coffee cups and try not to walk into walls.
Well, we owls can feel vindicated by a new Oxford study that says working before 10 AM is “equivalent to the ravages of torture,” leading to more stress, illness, and exhaustion. It claims that our workforce would be healthier and more productive if we started the day a couple of hours later.
Sounds great, right? It does to me, at least. No matter how many years I’ve kept to a corporate schedule, I’m still a wreck before ten. My husband finally learned he needs to write down anything he wants me to know in the morning, because any actual early conversations will fade from my memory with the remnants of last night’s dream.
Even my Army days, a torturous era of jogging before the sun rose, couldn’t break my owlish rhythm. Seems we owls will probably be fighting the great nocturnal pull to our final days, no matter how disciplined we try to be.
On the bright side, research shows that owls tend to be smarter and more creative. I’m guessing there’s a disproportionately high number of owls in the writing, music and other artistic professions.
The question is, however, whether we’re inherently more neurotic or just more likely to become that way. We’re forced to live out-of-synch with our natural rhythms and constant exhaustion can’t be good for one’s mood.
Nor can the ingrained American belief that late-risers are lazy and morally corrupt. You don’t need to look at the ample research to know Americans look down on late-risers. Just look at our popular sayings:
“The early bird gets the worm.”
“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
I can’t think of any pro-owl equivalents.
Why are we so convinced that late-risers are bad apples? There’s really no logical reason. Owls often stay up and work later into the night, so they aren’t necessarily getting more sleep or less done.
I blame our Puritanical roots. Waking up earlier is more painful, and therefore better.
We Americans have a gut sense that self-denial is inherently good for you. We’re certain that suffering leads to better outcomes, which makes as much sense to me as trying to solve your problems by repeatedly hammering your thumb.
Plus, we seem to associate mornings with purity and nights with sin. Everyone can see what you’re doing in the morning, so you’d better be good. Morning are for church and hard work, whereas evenings are for drinking and revealing clothes.
So, anyone choosing to live more hours in the night is choosing a life in the sinful realm. Obviously.
I don’t know about you, but I’d love to start my day at ten and apparently, Sweden is on board. Swedish workplaces not only offer more flexible start times, but have also moved to a six-hour day.
And it’s working… Studies show that workers are more productive during a six-hour day because they stay focused. Employees spend less time goofing off and enjoy a better work/life balance.
With these kinds of proven results, will we be seeing a 10 AM, six-hour workday in the US?
I doubt it. Despite the research, Americans hold deeply-entrenched beliefs about the superiority of early risers and long workdays that I don’t see going away any time soon.
As I’ve previously mentioned, dedicated bloggers can find detailed information about who’s checking out their blogs. They can find out how popular they are with different age groups, for example, or in different cities, and what kinds of topics interest their readers.
There are so many blogs out there that figuring out your niche is critical for growing an audience, or so I’ve read. Looking at your audience demographics is supposed to help.
Weird Search Terms
WordPress tells you what search terms people used to navigate to your site and my all-time favorite has to be “what is a dick beebot?”
Clearly, the term “beebot” led to my site, but I really wish I knew who that person was and what they were trying to find. I doubt it was a mommy blog about hilarious moments in parenting.
But I had another interesting one a few days ago: “wearing red, tips for guys.”
This google search led him (I’m assuming it’s a him) to my article about wearing red, where he was undoubtedly frustrated. My advice not to go overboard with the red by simultaneously wearing red lipstick, heels and a dress was less than helpful, I’m sure.
I never even suspected guys worried about wearing red effectively. Who knew?
As my blog wears on and I accumulate more experience, I’m beginning to see consistent patterns within my audience demographics.
Some of them seem logical enough. For instance, my blog is most popular among 25 to 35 year olds. That makes sense, because I write about having two kids under five and I’m guessing most parents with children under five are in the 25 to 35 year old age group.
Next highest is 18 to 25, which is probably the next most common age for parents of young kids, in addition to blog readership skewing young because blogging is more hip and tech-savvy than dusty library books (which I also love, by the way).
This is probably why people aged 50+ are my least common readers.
Now here’s where I’ve been quite surprised. Considering I’m a woman who writes a mommy blog about her two daughters and occasionally throws in a yoga or fashion article, I expected my audience to skew largely female.
Boy, was I wrong.
My audience is generally around 70 percent male and 30 percent female, or somewhere close to it.
So, while I have a sizable chunk of female readers (mostly women who have a fabulous sense of humor as well as awesome blogs), I’m clearly attracting more men than I expected and I’m scratching my head about why that is.
Many of them are fathers, which I think is fantastic. They like reading about parenting and must really love their kids.
Maybe it’s because I’m more likely to tell poop stories than give crafting advice. Or maybe it’s despite the poop stories, who can tell? I guess I’m suggesting my blog is more about funny stories than beautiful projects, which maybe resonates with dads.
Also, I like video games. Maybe gamer dads are just accidentally landing here then kicking their shoes off for a spell.
Another way for bloggers to better define their audience is by looking at what articles really took off.
Mine seem like a crapshoot sometimes. I’ll write something I thought was hysterical then hear crickets for the next week, whereas some other random post gets thousands and thousands of views.
I’ve heard other bloggers say the same–sometimes your post hits at just the right time. I’m sure there’s a science to it that I have yet to figure out.
But when I look at a couple of my really popular posts, like this one and this one, I notice they say something about gender differences I’ve noticed in parents and children. Maybe it has something to do with my tendency to openly analyze what I’m seeing without being either a full-blown traditionalist or refusing to believe any different tendencies exist.
Or maybe people just thought they were funny. I don’t know.
So having looked over my current audience, I have to wonder if I should be throwing out a few more articles with a male audience in mind. Like, tips on wearing red, for example.
I couldn’t begin to analyze male clothing to the degree that male experts do (it’s like asking a guy to distinguish between 50 different shades of red lipstick), but maybe I could give a female perspective. Like, “Guy Style that Women find Hot” or “Ten Things In Your Closet Your Wife Secretly Wants to Burn.”
Food for thought.
I wonder if other bloggers have found demographics useful and have tailored their posts with their audience in mind. There’s a huge science to this whole blogging gig that I’m just beginning to unravel.
She studies the game pieces while quietly calculating her next move. Deftly flipping over multiple cards from the draw pile with one hand, she seizes the one she wants before they hit the table. “TWO PURPLE!” she shouts.
“Let me see.”
She flips up her palm, revealing a card with a giant purple square. “ONE purple,” I correct her as she grumbles, inching her piece one purple square forward.
I draw another card from the pile, flipping it to reveal a chocolate ice cream cone: “I move to the ice cream cone!”
“NO, YOU NOT MOVE TO ICE CREAM BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT HUNGRY!” she screams, banging her fist on the table. “YOU NOT WIN! ONLY I WIN!”
She is my daughter, Brontë, we are playing Candyland, and I’m thinking some lessons in good sportsmanship may be in order.
But not today, because today is her fourth birthday and we are just killing time playing toddler board games until her father gets home from work and the family arrives for cake and presents. I don’t want power struggles about brightly-colored plastic gingerbread men to sour the afternoon.
But I’ll have to revisit the idea, teaching her better manners or at least better cheating skills, because I’ve never seen such a blatant cheat. She flips over multiple cards and grabs the one she wants, hides cards and lies about them, and slowly inches her piece forward (and mine back) whenever she thinks I’m not looking.
We’ve played several times this afternoon, and once when my piece was too far ahead, she picked it up and cast it into the licorice land of doom, pointing out its mustache-twirling overseer and declaring me “trapped.”
Once, when her piece was too far behind, she claimed to have found a secret shortcut to popsicle land with its benevolent blonde fairy. Brontë makes up impromptu rules on the spot and throws diva fits whenever I win: “NO, YOU NOT WIN! YOU HEAR ME MOMMY?”
Being a parent often brings back early memories you would otherwise forget, and watching the Candyland saga play out suddenly brought to mind childhood games of Go Fish with my cousin Vanessa. We cheated too.
Vanessa would pretend she didn’t have the cards I asked her for. I knew she was lying, you see, because I’d positioned the game in front of a mirror where I could see all the cards she held. I knew she was cheating, but couldn’t prove it without revealing my own subterfuge.
So I would give her just enough of the cards she asked for to keep things believable before winning the game. That’s the trick to successful cheating: you have to mess up just enough to keep things realistic. You don’t go from totally sucking at something to instant genius: that’s the Fool’s Way. You gotta throw a hand every now and then or you’ll make everyone suspicious.
This principle works for all childhood cheating opportunities. You don’t call “fish out of water” the second someone steps outside the pool when you’re opening your eyes underwater during a Marco Polo game. Give it a minute or two instead… no one is that lucky.
I wonder briefly if I should share this with my daughter someday, or just stick to pushing the rules of good sportsmanship. It’s the first of what’s likely to be an endless series of parenting compromises about teaching the right way to behave versus being realistic.
The funny thing is, before remembering all of this, my default assumption was that people only cheated in order to gain something: win the poker pot, reap the reward, get the promotion… why risk your reputation when there’s nothing at stake, right?
No… watching little kids teaches us so much about human nature. We see how our kids behave when motivated by pure instinct, before they develop enough adult finesse to make up better-sounding reasons why they are doing whatever they do.
And apparently, people like to win. Even without tangible rewards. My daughter’s conquering fury proves it.
Maybe platitudes about doing the right thing will never work as well as appealing to self-interest.
So, maybe the most effective lesson becomes: don’t cheat, or other people won’t play with you.
The One Lovely Blog Award comes to me from Art by Rob Goldstein, a beautifully artistic blog that examines a great range of human struggles and emotions.
Thank you for the nomination! I nearly missed it, since it went to my spam folder and I only found it by chance. The lesson here is that bloggers should occasionally check their spam folders because they sometimes make mistakes.
Thank the person that nominated you and give a link to their blog
List the rules.
Display the award on your post of the award.
List seven facts about yourself.
Nominate (up to) 15 bloggers for this award and comment on one of their posts to let them know you have nominated them.
Seven Facts About Me:
I was raised around foreigners and travelled to several other countries during my childhood. I believe these experiences opened my perspective.
I’m both an Anglophile and a Francophile, resulting in more than a little cognitive dissonance.
I love detective stories and British murder mysteries. I’m fascinated by what motivates people to take drastic measures.
I’m a history buff who loves old buildings and antiques. Sometimes I fantasize about living somewhere like Downton Abbey, then I remember I’m a Social Democrat.
There are both born-again Christians and spell-casting witches in my family, so holiday get-togethers are “interesting.”
When I was a little girl, I reenacted the French Revolution and Salem Witch trials with my Barbies. I got really into it, making powdered wigs out of cotton balls and a Tinker Toy guillotine.
I won my first writing contest at age ten for a story I wrote from the perspective of a turkey whose wife was chosen for Thanksgiving dinner. All the other kids were making cute little cards, but I got carried away. Luckily, our teacher saw my dark side’s potential and entered the story on my behalf.
I’m not going to use up the full fifteen slots, because some bloggers like participating in these things while others don’t.
I was never much of a zombie fan until I fell in love with The Walking Dead after my husband finally talked me into watching it.
My cousin was also reluctant, but I talked her into trying it and before long, we were furiously texting back and forth about how Rick should fortify the prison and whether fire should be involved in the scheme. Clearly, the show appeals to a wider audience than you’d expect.
So I wondered if my mom might like it too, but at first, she wasn’t on board.
“I don’t like zombies,” she kept telling me. “Zombies will give me nightmares.”
I persisted: “Mom, it’s the number one show watched by women right now and women don’t usually like zombie stuff. It’s violent but the storyline is great. Just give it a few episodes and if you hate it, I’ll never bring it up again.”
Eventually my folks were worn down enough to try it out. Maybe it would shut me up, if nothing else.
But as we settled down on the couch, I started getting a little nervous about just how graphic it gets and whether or not my mom could handle it.
Mom hasn’t historically done well with violent scenes. After all, this is the women who once panicked while watching Grumpy Old Men since the men were, in fact, somewhat grumpy.
She reserved her judgment, however, only wincing a little through the buckets of gore. Then Carol walked onscreen…
Mom sucked in her breath. “Why is that woman’s hair so short?”
“That’s Carol. She just has short hair.”
“But why is it so short?” She waited to hear a reasonable explanation. Maybe chemo.
“I don’t know mom, but she’s an awesome character. You’ll end up really liking her.”
Mom looked skeptical that any woman with such short hair could end up being awesome, but tried to keep an open mind as she continued to watch.
By this point, my parents were hooked enough to keep watching the show over the next several weeks. Once Rick’s gang made it to Herschel’s farm, I was curious about how my parents felt about the characters so far, so I asked them.
“Hmm,” Mom replied. “Glenn seems nice and Maggie’s alright. As for who I don’t like, hmm…”
I awaited her judgment, expecting to hear about Shane’s ruthlessness or Lori’s betrayal. Maybe even about how Dale is impractical and out-of-touch…
“I can’t put my finger on exactly why, but I just don’t like that Carol. It may be her hair.”
“She’s fairly nondescript right now,” I admitted. “But watching it again, I’m noticing how much her character changes over the series. Give her a chance. She ends up being one of your favorites.”
Mom took my point under advisement as we continued plowing through the series. We finally hit the prison section when Carol is missing, presumed dead. Even after T-Dog heroically sacrifices himself to the walkers to give her a fighting chance, the gang finds her bloody headscarf and realizes she never made it out.
They arrange a makeshift grave marker for Carol, where Daryl touchingly leaves white Cherokee roses in tribute. He later finds her knife in a prison hallway and in a moment of pained emotional fury, tears open the jammed door supposedly trapping the walkers that probably killed her.
But instead of zombies, he finds an emaciated Carol, who has survived after all. He picks up the weakened Carol, wedding-threshhold style, and carries her out of the prison in a tearjerking scene.
Mom furrows her brow, squints at the television, and frowns.
“How has her hair not grown any longer yet?”
I couldn’t keep my cool any longer. “That’s IT,” I announce. “I’M SO GOING TO WRITE A BLOG POST ABOUT YOUR OBSESSION WITH CAROL’S HAIRCUT!”
“What? Why?” Mom asked.
“You’re fixated on Carol’s hair to a baffling degree. Why does it matter to you so much?”
“It’s just… SO SHORT.”
“I just don’t understand why it doesn’t get any longer. Maggie’s hair is getting longer, so why isn’t Carol’s? Does she keep cutting it? Is she cutting it that short on purpose?”
“I don’t know! Who cares? Maybe she doesn’t want it in her way when she’s fleeing all the zombies trying to disembowel her! ”
“Don’t you think it’s weird?”
“Well, I wouldn’t keep MY hair that short but I don’t care what Carol does. Is this a generational thing?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, I can’t grasp your inability to get past Carol’s hairstyle. Weren’t you guys from the 60’s hippy generation that challenged all the uptight haircut standards?”
“Yes we were,” Mom said proudly, “But we kept our hair LONG, not short. There was a 60’s musical called Hair that was all about challenging the Old Guard by growing our hair out.”
Dad starts singing the “long, beautiful hair” line from the title song of Hair in the background as I continue.
“Okay, but wasn’t the whole point about NOT judging someone’s worth or character by their hairstyle? About keeping your hair however you want it instead of conforming to the rigid lengths of the status quo?”
“Now that you mention it,” Mom started,”You may be onto something about this being a generational perspective. Why, back in France during World War II, French women who prostituted themselves to the Nazis had their hair shorn off as a mark of shame. Maybe when I see Carol, her hair makes her look shameful to me.”
“So… you don’t like Carol because her hairstyle indicates she’s been cavorting with Germans?
“Now Erin, that’s enough!”
And that was that. So bizarre.
I have to wonder whether this attitude represents a personal quirk or part of a larger generational divide. Are any of you Baby Boomers also fans of The Walking Dead, and if so, do you find yourselves struggling to get past the inexplicable shortness of Carol’s hair?
Do you suspect she’s been cavorting with Germans? (This seems like it should be more of a Greatest Generation thing.)
And as long as I’m asking, do any other Gen X/Millennials find themselves at odds with their parents about Carol’s hairstyling choices?