The Birth of a Playroom

Once upon a time, Pop Culture Dad and I had a formal study. It was a beautiful and rich red, drybrush-painted by yours truly. It was such a fantastic room that it housed many of our family pictures. Actually, that’s pretty much all it did unless we were throwing a party.
Ah… Sigh… So adult…
Two of many family pictures taken in this room
Then one day… I got tired—not of the room, mind you—of picking my kids’ toys up from the living room floor and dragging them upstairs to the playroom. Suddenly, I had an idea: Wouldn’t it be awesome if we had a playroom downstairs?? Granted, this wasn’t an earth-shattering idea, but, still, it took me four and a half years to figure that out.
So one day when I was home alone, I moved most of the study furniture upstairs to the play area and moved all the toys downstairs to the former study. But something still wasn’t right… So I decided to give my kids a magnetic chalkboard.
They love it!!
But me being me [an ADD mind at rest can be a very dangerous thing], the chalkboard wasn’t enough… So I decided to paint a meadow on the back wall and a beach on the front. 
And that still wasn’t enough, so I decided to… well… see for yourself:
Yes, that’s brick (well, Flexi-Brick). And, yes, I did that ♬♪♩ all by myseeeeelf ♩♪♬ (as is kind of apparent from the workmanship, ha ha)

And somehow, the murals, the magnetic chalkboard, and the awesome brick were just not enough for me. So Pop Culture Dad and I enlisted the help of a couple of my uncles, who do a lot of construction work. We had them add a wall and French doors to the previously open room, along with some molding. Once we had a brand-spanking new wall, I connected the meadow and the beach. We’ve added some furniture (comfortable seating for adults, a thick rug from Home Goods, the train table Super Girl got for her second birthday, and toys, toys, and more toys). 
An earlier stage of “completion”

“Where did that come from??” (Little Diva on the morning of her 2nd birthday)

Now that we have less (okay, NO) adult parties and more (alright, ALL) kiddie-friendly ones, this downstairs room really comes in handy!

partygoers in “Marina’s Makeover Salon” at Little Diva’s Fresh Beat Band-themed 5th birthday party

This transformation took me quite a bit of time. I started in late March and have been slowly making changes whenever I could find the time. I did all of the painting and bricking myself. Most of the decals and stickers (the Disney Fairies, the flowers, the little girls, and the owl) were done by the Pop Culture Girls [and by “done,” I of course mean they fought over them, ripped them, put them in hopelessly illogical places, and then eventually asked me for help putting them somewhere normal].

You’ll also notice that I am readily sharing pictures of a non-tidy playroom. It is a playroom. Yes, the Pop Culture Girls are required to put their toys away (to the best of their two- and five-year old abilities). Yes, the adults come in later and really clean the room (not every day, geez!). But this is the room in its natural and intended state. The whole purpose of this room was to keep these toys out of my living room. While that goal has not been met 100% (and I have the Lego-related foot injuries to prove it), the situation has improved 1000%. Not to mention, this room has become a pretty amazing conversation piece whenever someone enters our house for the first time (or the first time in forever).

To recap…

People Will Apparently Believe Anything (Odd Baby Names)

I was listening to a replay of an earlier episode of Lance Bass’s Dirty Pop the other day, and Lance and his co-hosts were talking about the Tennessee judge who changed a child’s name from “Messiah” to “Martin.” This topic lead into a discussion of weird baby names people have heard, and several people called in with some whoppers. And when I mean whoppers, I mean these were outright lies.

What is it about you teachers and nurses (the biggest offenders) that you apparently think your job isn’t interest enough on its own that you have to make up names of students? I’m not saying teachers and nurses don’t have interesting jobs. In fact, most of the teachers and nurses I know have much better war stories (assuming any of them are true) than pretty much any other profession I’ve met. But either you people are so greedy that you want to have a lock on “In addition to all the crazy stories I can tell you about my day, let me tell you this name I heard!” or you for some reason think that the rest of the world finds your job so boring that you’re just making up stuff. Either that, or you’re pathological liars. I dunno. But nearly everyone of these obviously fake “baby names” that are easily debunked by anyone who wants to spend 10 seconds on Google come from a nurse, a teacher, or a person who heard the name from a nurse or teacher. Heck, even my own mother used to make up these, “There’s a child at my school named [insert name that’s never appeared in the U.S. birth records ever]. Her mom is so uneducated she didn’t know what it meant!”

So what were the baby names (and how they were pronounced) reported by teachers, nurses, and friends of teachers/nurses to the Dirty Pop crew? Shithead (shah-threed), La-a (lah-dash-ah), twins named Lemonjello and Orangejello (lu-mon-jah-lo and oh-ron-jah-lo), Placenta (play-ceen-tah), and Meconium (mek-oh-nam). Seriously?! Not only have everybody and their grandmothers heard these urban legend child names before, but Snopes has debunked Every. Single. One. Of. Them. The only name missing from this “common urban legend” list was Female (fem-uh-lee; rhymes with “Emily”).

There were a couple of reported names that were probably real, like Dick Wiener (Richard Wiener is easy to believe. Not to mention, there was once a mayor in Indiana named Harry Baals, and the “First Lady” of my home state of Texas was named Ima Hogg). And there was at least one name that I completely called bullshit on, which turns out is actually real… because people suck [that name, in case you were wondering is Abcde (ab-sa-duh), which, while apparently a real name, is claimed to belong to someone actually known to the reporter more often than the vital records would support. That’s just lazy, people! (and stupid)].

Overwhelmingly, though, these names were clearly and lazily made up. Just the fact that Snopes has two articles on them, and I’ve heard no less than a dozen comedy routines using a number of these names is proof positive that people need to find new material. If you’re going to make things up, at least be original! Though, really, I would prefer people just didn’t make these things up. There are enough people in the world with unbelievably horrible names because of their parents’ stupidity, that you really shouldn’t even need to make up names. Not to mention, as the Snopes writer points out, many of these names have their origins in racism. Even if these urban legends aren’t thought of as racist in today’s times, they are, at best, classist. Personally, I don’t find it particularly amusing to make fun of people because they are poor and have low education.

Now, a note about Messiah:
Look, it’s no secret that I loathe kr8v names. But that judge was way over the line. In addition to the complete overstepping of her bounds [the only issue before her was the baby’s last name, not his first], her reasoning for the name change really bothers me. “There’s only one Messiah” smacks the legal system stepping its bounds into religion. Since the government shall establish no religion, and there’s only one religion that believes there has been the one Messiah, it sure looks like that judge was establishing a religion in violation of the First Amendment. I don’t foresee this withstanding appeal. I’m not a fan of naming a kid Messiah, but that wasn’t this judge’s call to make.

(Heidi Wigdahl / Associated Press)
Sorry, little guy. Whatever your name is, you sure are cute.


Sandra Boynton is My Sherpa, BUT…

Sandra Boynton has been a goddess in the Pop Culture Family home.

Little Diva had The Going To Bed Book memorized before she was two. Super Girl learned some of her animal sounds from Moo Baa La La La. There are few things she likes better than watching all the Hippos Go Beserk! At some point, I had a Boynton Mom’s Family Desk Planner. And who doesn’t love a BEE-BO (a tiny hippo’s way of saying “Belly Button” [Book]) or a good Barnyard Dance? We are truly the house that Boynton built. That being said… I’m afraid I’ve ruined my child.
The Going to Bed Book is a staple in the Pop Culture household. When Little Diva was approximately the same age Super Girl is now, we had read the book so many times that she had the book memorized, page by page, line by line. I had hoped for the same thing for Super Girl. But I took a wrong turn at some point… I downloaded the interactive app.

Let me say, I stalked this app until it finally came out. Really, all I had hoped for was a version of the book that could read itself, like the version Pop Culture Dad has on his Nook Color; but what we ended up with is so much more. So much better. Every single page is interactive, and every time we open the interactive book, we discover a new feature we hadn’t seen before.

The pages are generally the same, minus some subtle differences.

This is a page from the book
This is the same page in the app. 
Notice they are identical except the faucet. On the left page of the app, you can open and close the window, and the animals move on the stairs. They also make sounds. On the right side, the animals soap up. You can also turn the faucet on and off, and when it is on, bubbles fly out of the tub, which you can pop. This is the page we were reading (in the actual book) last night when I discovered I have messed up my kid.
At some point, our board book was (temporarily) lost, which meant all we had was the app. The app then became the norm. And I guess Super Girl is also still too young to comprehend the difference between the two things. Or at least I’m guessing that’s the problem… because last night… while reading the book… Super Girl tried to move the animals down the stairs. And close the window. And turn on the faucet. And scrub the elephant. In. The. Book. I laughed at first, because the whole thing was really cute. But the poor girl was confused and frustrated. She threw up her hands and declared (over and over), “It not working!!!”.
I guess I really should have thought this through better. Once you go app, you never go back.

Roku App Alone Makes the Roku Worth It

It has been increasingly hard to buy good gifts for Pop Culture Dad. We pretty much buy things as we want them, save for really large purchases, and we’ve been trying to scale back on the over-the-top gifts the last couple of years. He doesn’t maintain a wish list and doesn’t have very many hobbies, and there’s only so much St. Louis Cardinals stuff you can buy before it gets really duplicative. After giving a birthday present this year that did not receive a very enthusiastic response, I had to think really hard to come up with a present that Pop Culture Dad actually wanted, but that wasn’t overly practical. Enter the Roku.

Pop Culture Dad had mentioned several times that the Roku or something similar might be a good purchase. We have two Blu Ray players with internet connection and one is connected to an internet-ready TV. Add the various tablets and smart phones, and it didn’t seem like we really needed another internet-content player for the television. But we have one oft-used television without any internet content, and it looked like the Roku also traveled easily, so I went ahead and bought it. The gift went over like gangbusters. It probably didn’t hurt that there is a lot of sports content. 
Fast forward to today. Super Girl has been sick within ear infection and 102-degree fever for the last three days. Since today was my ETR day, it was my turn to stay home with her. There are only a few summer programs worth watching, and we’ve pretty much cleaned out all of the shows on the DVR that aren’t for the kids. I was hoping to fold some laundry upstairs while caring for my little patient, but i needed to keep us entertained, so enter the Roku. 
I watched a couple of shows and then we dozed off on the couch…. And when I woke up, the itty bitty Roku remote was nowhere to be found. I swear I looked everywhere logical, but it was just gone. On a whim, I went to iTunes to look for a Roku remote app. Sure enough, there was one! 
And the app was free!
Not only did it control the Roku like a remote, but it had options to download more channels and—my favorite feature of all—”Play on Roku,” which allows me to send the music, videos, and pictures on my iPhone or iPad directly to the television through the Roku.

This is Super Girl’s favorite feature too. She had me play the video of her at the circus, watching the elephants and dancing, at least 30 times today. 
The video on my app
Super Girl watching herself on TV watching the elephants… for the 20th time

Despite the two Blu Ray players, Pop Culture Dad had been talking about getting a Chrome TV to stream our phone content to the television [he refuses to buy anything with iOS, so an Apple TV is out]. Now that we each have the Roku app (it is on Android also), looks like we won’t need that. Huzzah!

But If Gay People Have Families, What Will You Tell Your Kids?

One (ignorant) argument I always hear against marriage equality or adoption equality is that if gay couples get married and/or have children, the bigots some people don’t know how to explain the concept to children. Well,bigots confused people, be confused no more! We addressed that issue in my house tonight with our four year old, and I would like to share with you how it went.

There’s a boy in Little Diva’s class we will call B. B and Little Diva have known each other since they were 18 months old and went to The Little Gym and then eventually preschool together. When they were in the same class at The Little Gym and at their first school, one of B’s mommies was always with him. Same when they had swim class together. Since the kids started their new school last year, B’s other mommy (who stopped working when she had twins) has been the one we see all the time. In the three years Little Diva has known B, it has never occurred to her that she used to see one lady all the time and then she started seeing another lady all the time. It didn’t even occur to her when she saw them together and heard mention of B’s mommies.

Flash-forward to tonight: At dinner, Little Diva is telling us how B’s older sister got sick, so his mommy came to pick her up, but he stayed at school. And then she paused for a minute and started marveling at how big B’s family was. When trying to count his family members, Little Diva said “Omigosh! He has daddy and his mommy and his older sister and his baby sister and his baby brother! That’s, like seven [sic] people in his family!”. When she said “his daddy,” Pop Culture Dad and I looked at each other, and he gave me a glance that said “you take this one!”.

When Little Diva was done with her (erroneous) counting, I first corrected the number and then the family structure. “Honey,” I said, “[B] doesn’t have a daddy; he has two mommies.” So how did Little Diva react to this earth shattering news? “Oh! Okay! So he has two mommies and his older sister and his baby brother and his baby sister and him. Six. That’s six people. That’s a big family!” Yeah, I’d say she handled it just fine.

So if you’re one of those assholespeople who thinks that others should be denied the basic and fundamental civil right of marriage and family simply *because you’re worried about how in the world we’re supposed to explain this kind of thing to our kids, worry no more. Chances are, they’ll probably handle the issue better than you apparently have.

*Side bar: If you’re one of those people who thinks we should deny others the basic and fundamental civil right of marriage and family (and the thousands of legal benefits granted in this country that come with the status of marriage) simply because your interpretation of your religion forbids it, then might I remind you: (I) of the anti-establishment clause of the First Amendment and that we don’t live on a theocracy [try Iran. I’m sure you’ll love it there]; and (II) no one’s forcing you to marry someone of the same sex.