Category Archives: Culture

Married To Underdog

Tiny-Small wants to get married to Underdog. She’s already planning the wedding and says they are going to have ten kids.  Which seems entirely possible since one of them is a dog. Tiny-Small has some funny notions about weddings and marriage. For instance, she thinks dancing alone is a binding, marriage contract and that the state of New Mexico recognizes marriage between a human and a cartoon dog. I’m not going to break the news to her that both of her assumptions are false until she’s at least 16.


She does, however, have some concerns about being married to a dog. For instance just this morning she said, “You can’t get in love unless you brush your teeth. Nobody wants to kiss you if you have dog breath. I hope Underdog brushes his teeth like I do.” I’m kind of shocked that she is worrying about kissing and getting in love at the ripe old age of four, but since it’s with a cartoon dog I feel pretty safe about it.

Dog breath is a serious concern. As a child who lives with three dogs, she knows first hand how bad dog breath can be. I am pretty sure she’ll be handing out tooth-brush wedding favors at their reception. Maybe she’ll even schedule a pre-honeymoon teeth cleaning for her canine paramour. I know I would.

The funny thing is I know exactly how Tiny-Small feels. When I was a kid I fell in love with several cartoon characters. The one that comes to mind first is Justin, a rat, from The Secret of Nimh. I would have married him in a heartbeat if I could have. He was so gallant and brave. Like a knight in shining rat armor protecting Mrs. Brisby from all of the mean rats. Remember them? They had been given some toxic potion in an experiment that turned them into highly intelligent, furry beings. Or they were electrocuted or something. It’s all sort of fuzzy. Probably because I only had eyes for Justin. Anyway they were kind of like the rat versions of Spider Man…another character I wanted to marry.  Justin seemed like the ideal man, except for the whole being a rat thing. He still does in some ways.


Tiny-Small is in love with Underdog at the age of four and brushing her teeth meticulously in preparation for the day they meet in person, dance, and fly away together. It’s lovely. I am happy for her. As the future mother of the bride I am all a glow.

I’m also glad she is brushing her teeth. Even if it is just to prevent having dog breath. Because we all benefit from that, except for the dentist. He won’t be buying a yacht because of us. Underdog is keeping us out of trouble already!

There’s no need to fear–
Underdog is here!

 With fresh breath, fluoride, and a side of dental floss.

Weather Is No Longer A Polite Topic Of Conversation

Weather is no longer a polite topic of conversation. It’s suddenly, or not so suddenly depending on how you look at, very controversial. Weather used to be something you could talk about with strangers, your grandparents friends, and family without too much trouble.

“It sure is a nice day” you might say, or, “It’s unseasonably cold for May.” You might complain about it being a hard winter. You might complain it’s too humid. You might just be basking in the sunny, balmy perfection of a lovely June morning. It was all an acceptable topic of conversation. Mostly because weather oddities were, well, oddities. We could pretty much count on the next season getting back to “normal” with summer being summer and winter being winter.

Winter Robin Alcohol Ink Painting by Lillian Connelly
“Winter Robin” based on a photo by Gary Jones. Alcohol inks on yupo paper, 11×14.

Now weather is not an acceptable topic of conversation. Now talking about weather is talking about politics, which can often be dangerous and divisive when speaking with strangers, your grandparents friends, or family members. My political views are probably almost at the opposite spectrum of most of my extended family. I’m a bleeding heart liberal swimming in a sea of republicans. It’s entertaining and I spend a lot of time biting my tongue. Or rolling my eyes, or with my mouth open in disbelief. Especially on Facebook.  Don’t even get me started on the insanity I see on Facebook. I just put on my horse blinders and skim past it all as much as possible. I am pretty sure my family does the same thing with me. I mean, we’re still family. We still care about each other. We just see the world in very different ways. That’s not always a bad thing. I’m open to different ideas and opinions. I like to debate. I like to learn about another point of view. Sometimes I even change my mind. Mostly though, you do what you can to get along. You stick to those polite topics of conversation whenever possible.

I try not to talk about the weather too much, even though it’s sometimes really hard to avoid talking about it. I mean, we are in a drought here in New Mexico. One that keeps getting worse with each passing year. California, Texas, and Arizona want our water which means we might have even less eventually. It makes me thirsty just thinking about it. My rain dances aren’t getting the results I had hoped for. Meanwhile, my friends back East are just putting away their winter jackets, with some trepidation I might add. There still may be a flash of freezing rain or a night that requires the heat be turned back on. There is flooding and forest fires. There is rampant fungus in Central America on coffee beans. I don’t know if that is caused by the weather changes for sure, but it seems likely. I could list all sorts of problems that seem to be developing from our weather problems, but you watch the news and read the Internet newspapers. You know what’s going on.

Weather is no longer a polite topic of conversation.

When I was in college studying environmental science I was running around like Al Gore talking to anyone who would listen. I was reading about the bees and the butterflies and the ocean rising and the earth warming. I was obsessed with ants.

Nobody wanted to hear about it.

I remember being out with some of my Grandmother’s friends and somehow the weather came up. I had all of these scientific facts to add to the conversation. I remember this older gentleman sort of laughed at my “child-like” ways and politely told me I was full of crap. I was young and I was taught to respect my elders so I just stopped talking about the weather. It seemed like a lost cause. It was no longer a polite topic of conversation. It was politics.

Plus, trying to explain how “global warming” meant we were going to have extreme weather, not just warmer weather was impossible to convey. I just got emails from people, buried in the snow, saying “Where is your global warming now?” I just gave up on talking about the weather. Nobody was listening anyway.

Here I am, over a decade later, and judging by the arguments I read on the Internet everyday, talking about the weather is still pretty impolite. It’s still a political issue. That doesn’t make much sense to me. The seas are rising. My friends in the East are getting buried in snow. There are hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes making headlines in the news far more often than I remember ever happening before. Our weather is a problem.

Maybe it’s time to start talking about it politely again. So we can make some decisions. So we can do what we can to make our planet more habitable. So we don’t run out of water in New Mexico and my friends back East don’t have to start building arks. Maybe we can stop making the weather a political issue where people have to take sides. Maybe we can start working together.


I know, I sound like a dreamer, but did you read that part where I said I was a bleeding heart liberal? When I look at my daughter I see the future. I want it to be a good place. So, please, talk about the weather. Collaborate. Find solutions. Americans are known for their creativity and ingenuity. Why aren’t we focused on that instead of on who is right and wrong? Why aren’t we focused on fixing the problem? Why aren’t we dreaming bigger, creating more, and offering some hope to future generations?

When did we stop caring about our children’s children?


Swearing Preschool Girl: Embracing Parental Failure With Pride

Swearing is not supposed to happen among the kid crowd, but we all know it does. I have mixed feelings about kids swearing. On some level I think swears are just words and the bigger a child’s vocabulary is the better. Of course, the other side of that coin is your kid swearing at school, at church, in front of a bunch of nuns, in front of the grandparents, or when other kids might be listening. Anyway, Tiny-Small has been swearing. Not a lot, but enough to get my attention.

We recently had this conversation about it in the car:

Me: Those words you are using are adult words. They aren’t really for kids.

Tiny-Small: You mean damnit and friggen aren’t for kids?

Me: Yeah, they are for adults to use, but not for kids.

Tiny-Small: Dad says damnit and friggen.

Me: I know. Maybe you could remind him not to say those words when he forgets.

Tiny-Small: Yeah, but I say damnit and friggen sometimes.

Me: I know, but if you say them around other adults they won’t like it because those aren’t words for kids. You might even get in trouble.

Tiny-Small: What if I say them like this instead  <whispers>  Damnit. Friggen.

Me: Well, I think someone might still hear you.

Tiny-Small: Dad shouldn’t say damnit or friggen. I’ll tell him not too.

Me: Maybe you shouldn’t say them anymore either.

Tiny-Small: OK. I’m not suppose to lie either, but sometimes dad tells lies.

Me: What?!

But, that’s another blog post for another day….

My Swearing Preschool Girl: Embracing Parental Failure With Pride
First it’s swearing…then it’s tattoos.


The whole swearing thing is kind of odd. I mean, when I was a kid I’d get my mouth washed out with soap for uttering an adult word. So, I am going against everything I’ve been taught about using “bad” words and letting this slide a bit. Words are words. Are they really “bad” words? Not to mention, isn’t it a bit hypocritical to use them and expect your child not to? Why do we expect kids to have more self-control and better behavior than their parents do, right? Just smile and nod. I am pretty sure most of you disagree with me, but we can still be friends, right? Just smile and nod again…seriously. I know I have this bad parenting thing down. It’s what I excel at! I’m clinging to my strengths here, you guys. If this post doesn’t do anything but make you feel like a superior parent, well I am pretty sure that’s enough of a reason to keep me around.

Sometimes, I’m just glad she is using swear words correctly. I know I am reaching here. Pretending to feel pride in my daughter’s potty mouth ways, but still she IS using those words correctly and experimenting with them. Much like she is tossing out words like “distracted” and “unfortunate” right now. I am pretty proud of the fact that she’s not afraid to try out new words to make sure she understands how to use them…even if they make all of the other adults on the planet cringe and give me the evil eye…I totally see you looking at me with your evil eye right now by the way.

My Swearing Preschool Girl: Embracing Parental Failure With Pride
My Swearing Preschool Girl

Not to mention, at least she’ll be a somewhat normal kid because of her dad’s swearing. If she had only me teaching her the modern lingo she’d be a weird kid. Whenever she farts I say, “Oh, you have gas!” So now Tiny-Small says, “I gassed” instead of “I farted.” I’m pretty sure her little friends are just going to think she’s an odd child, especially when she chases them around the room screaming, “Hahahaha…I just gassed on you!” Which she has done to me…it’s not pretty, but it is funny because who says that?? Only my child because that’s how we roll…a little off kilter. She’s getting her eccentric label a little early on for this family. I may have to start buying her tweed suits with elbow patches and making sure she never combs her hair again. Well, that last part would be easy because she never wants to comb her hair again anyway…ever.

What’s your take on childhood swearing? I’m pretty sure I wrote about this before. My ideas on swearing and childhood and picking my battles have changed in just a few short months. Who knew parenting would make me such a wishy-washy, decision-making, rule bending, words are just words, I give up on this woman? Certainly not me. I thought I was going to be better than this. That thought both warms my heart and sets me into fits of laughter…sometimes at the same time. Oh the joys of pre-parent dreaming are so fondly remembered. The smack down of reality still has me reeling 4 years later.