I Hope the Stories Never End

Now that Emily has finished reading Harry Potter, she’s back to her old ways of reading multiple books at once.

Currently, she’s reading:

  • Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends
  • Happy Birthday, Bad Kitty
  • Emily Windsnap and the Monster From the Deep

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But even though her current reading list is longer than mine, even though she’s 8 years old, and even though I still get teased by a friend for it, Emily and I still love reading together a few nights a week.  Neither of us think that she’s too old to snuggle up under a blanket together with a good book while I read it aloud – crazy voices and all. As a teacher I love that it gives her an opportunity to hear me read with expression, but as a mom I love that it gives us something to bond over.

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One of our favorites that we’ve read together was Charlotte’s Web, a book that my first grade teacher read aloud to the class.  It was wonderful sharing something I’d fallen in love with as a child, and we had fun laughing at the characters and talking about how amazing it would be to see a word written in a spider’s web. When we got to the last line of the book, Emily and I had a good, long cry together.  She loved it so much that we dove right into another classic by E.B. White, The Trumpet of the Swan. It too became a fast favorite.

This time though, we’ve set our sights higher.  We’ve decided to dig into one of my other all-time favorite books, The Neverending Story. We had a crazy rainy day here not too long ago, and while looking for a new movie to watch we stumbled across the film version of the book on Amazon Prime. Something told me she’d love the story as much as I did as a kid, and I was totally right. After the movie was over I told her that it was based on a book, and I pulled it out of the cabinet.  Her eyes bulged.

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The Neverending Story is a book unlike any I’ve ever read, not just because of the unbelievable imagination and storytelling behind it, but also because instead of being typewritten in black or gray ink, this book’s text is printed in green and red. If you are unfamiliar with the story, it’s about a little boy, Bastian, who reads a book called The Neverending Story.  The book is printed in two colors to represent the parts of the story that focus on Bastian (red), and what Bastian is reading in his book (green).

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In addition to this unique feature, it also handles chapters differently.  In addition to giving each chapter a number and title, the first word in each chapter also begins with a different letter of the alphabet – starting with “A” and running all the way through “Z,” for a total of 26 chapters. For example, in the photo below the chapter starts off talking about Xayide, one of the many characters in the book. The only pictures in the book are illustrated around that chapter’s letter in the same red and green ink the text is printed in, and features key elements contained in that chapter.

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The book is pure magic, and I’m excited to dive into it with my book-loving daughter. But the real magic is those special moments we share over books like this. Those are the real never-ending stories, for those moments will be cherished forever in my heart. I know one day they will end, but for now I’ll hold on tightly. <3

Summer Lovin’

This summer was hands down one of the BEST I’ve ever had in my life.  And that’s not just because I can’t remember most of my summers and two of them involved newborn babies.  No, this summer just totally kicked tushie.  And I feel like a huge part of that is due to the fun checklist we made as soon as school let out. Get ready for a photo overload!

photo-1We did it ALL.  Every last bit of it. Sure, we were scrambling about near the end to ensure that every last item was completed, but that only helped to keep up from moping about the last week, waiting for the school year to start. Some things were pretty easy to check off because they already happen regularly, like going to church, eating lunch, and hunting for bugs in the backyard.  Other things were bound to happen anyway, such as Emily’s bug-themed birthday party, sleepovers at Grandma’s and Grandpa’s house, getting ice cream, and of course, getting frozen cokes. We also did loads of arts & crafts projects – check out these groovy tie-dye shirts we made!

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We did other artsy-type projects that were on the list too – we painted, made sun catchers out of pony beads, created jewelry, and even dabbled in architecture when we tried to make buildings using marshmallows and toothpicks. Julia gave up and ate them when we weren’t looking. :D

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Our list included trips to Ocala (where we also crossed off swimming in a natural spring), a visit to Dinosaur World, and a stay at the Nickelodeon Studios Hotel.

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And of course there were other highlights, like water park playdates…

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…trips to the library…

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…board games…

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…fireworks shows…

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…trips to the pet store (one of the girls’ favorite things to do)…

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…and beach days, too!

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The last thing we checked off on our chart was a trip to the movies.  We managed to squeeze in a movie at a local theater the last week of summer break.  Whew!
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Looking back through these pictures makes me so overwhelmed with joy at the wonderful memories our family created this summer. Granted, many of the items on the checklist were things that were already on the calendar, but there many more unplanned activities than planned. It wasn’t always easy to find time to do some of the things we wanted to do, but it definitely kept us from staying inside everyday watching movies because it was too hot or rainy to go anywhere. 

We had ourselves a BLAST! And we will definitely be making another checklist next summer!

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Another Visit to Rainbow Springs

IMG_0639I realize I’ve written about Rainbow Springs before, but I cannot begin to describe how much I love this place. We always stop off there when visiting my parents, and I promise I’ve fought off the urge to blog about it every time we go. But this trip was special, since it was Julia’s first time getting in the water with us – so it totally warranted its own post.

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This time we were travelling with my friend and her two kids, and it really made the whole experience more fun – mainly because none of them had been there before and weren’t exactly thrilled at the idea of jumping in the cold water.

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Emily and my friend’s daughter jumped right in and swam around using their noodles. Both girls are strong swimmers, but its so deep that you can’t put your feet down anywhere in the spring. Julia had a new swim vest, and I tried getting her to go in, but she’d step down, get her feet wet, then immediately turn around and climb back out. Eventually I just jumped in, swam back to her, grabbed her arm, and dragged her in. She hated it at first, but as she got used to the water she was less disagreeable. Sometimes you just gotta show tough love. ;)

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My friend had brought a water camera with her, so we were able to get some really great pictures of ourselves underwater. I’d never had an underwater photo taken before!  My nose bubbles crack me up. Emily looks like she should get a job at Weeki Wachee.

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At some point the kids started jumping off the dock, and we were able to capture some great shots of that too. Julia even gave it a try twice, although she insisted I had my foot on the ladder before she’d leap into my arms.

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I know I’ve recommended it before, but if you ever find yourself in Central Florida, be sure to make a detour to see Rainbow Springs – it’s a swimming experience like no other!

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PS – My entomologist daughter wanted me to add this photo she had my friend take of dragonflies mating at Rainbow Springs.  You’re welcome.

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Although now that I think about it, my last post on Rainbow Springs also ended with an insect photo.  I’m just glad these didn’t sting anyone! :D

Pony Bead Sun Catchers

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 5.56.19 PMOne of the things the girls and I had on our summer checklist was to make sun catchers out of pony beads.  I love my patio area, and I love the idea of my girls’ creativity being displayed out there.  I came across this idea on Pinterest, and it seemed to be a perfect summer craft – simple enough for Julia, intricate enough for Emily, and great for a rainy day – which is pretty much a daily guarantee where we live.

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The process is super easy – buy beads, place beads in pan, bake beads, remove beads, drill beads, hang beads.  But just in case there are more of me out there who love details, I’ll break it down a little better. :)

Materials

  • pony beads
  • cake pan
  • muffin tin
  • oven
  • drill
  • twine / fishing line / string

Steps

  1. Acquire pony beads.  I recommend getting the most vividly-colored beads you can find.  Ours seemed to be on the paler side, and the colors don’t pop as much as I expected.
  2. Arrange beads in cake pan or muffin tin. I’m not sure that it makes much difference, since the beads will melt out flat anyway, but we placed them so that we could easily see the hole in the middle of each bead.  The muffin tins were a perfect size for Julia, Emily, and her friend Leila to fill, but it was easier to create an image in the cake pan. Julia’s on a Humpty Dumpty kick right now, so I was ordered to make him sitting on his wall (see bottom right).
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  3. Bake in the oven.  We set the oven for 400 degrees and 25 minutes, but I pulled them out after 20 minutes… the melting beads emitted the worst smell while in the oven (melting plastic, ya know), but I opened a door and turned on a fan and it completely dissipated within 15 minutes. I placed the pans outside on cookie sheets to cool, then just popped them right out of the pans.IMG_0410
  4. Drill holes for hanging.  Pretty simple.  The suncatchers didn’t seem to be brittle, but I made my holes a little away from the edges anyway.IMG_0446
  5. Tie on string and enjoy!

We decided to hang ours along our patio fence.  Since our community requires us to paint our fences white, the colors in the suncatchers really pop!

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Updates

I’ve been writing here for a while now, and I realized the other day that I have a bad habit of mentioning things that I want to change or problems I’m facing, but never seem to get around to sharing how (or if) I’ve resolved them. So without further adieu, here are recaps on some things I’ve mentioned on my blog, along with updates on where I am now on them. :)

Threshold

I publicly declared my addiction to Target’s Threshold line not too long ago. As my budget from my yard sale and Craigslist earnings diminished, sadly, so did my spending. But Target has some pretty killer clearance deals from time to time. All that to say my collection of Threshold products still continues to grow…

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Patio Pillows

At the end of a post about me ignoring Julia’s stinky diaper in Target so I could snag some cute Threshold pillows for my patio bench, I mentioned that I wasn’t sure I even liked them. As it turns out I didn’t, and after enduring all those evil stares I ended up returning the pillows after all. They looked very green in the store, but when I put them on the bench they just looked gold. Instead, I found this cute fish pillow and a colorful striped pillow at WalMart for about $6 each (almost half the price of the Target pillows). Perfect.

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Holey Shirts

This is one thing I am ECSTATIC to report on. Many of my shirts had been getting minute holes in them, right about in the bellybutton area. I posted some theories about what could be causing them in this post, as well as some thoughts on how I might avoid getting them on my newer shirts. I’m happy to report that I’ve succeeded! Since writing that post I’ve been careful to do the three things I mentioned: stop leaning up against kitchen counters, only wear a belt without harsh edges on the buckle, and pull my shirt out from beneath my seatbelt when in the car. I had to constantly keep reminding myself of these things, but eventually they became second nature and I haven’t seen a single hole appear on any of my new shirts – bought at the same stores as before. Can I get a WHOOP WHOOP? :)

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Patio Plants

So, solving the problem of holey shirts was not as tricky as keeping my cute planter of plants alive. The biggest problem is that I planted right before our crazy rainy season, and apparently some of those plants weren’t meant to get that wet. Then there was the lone swallowtail caterpillar that managed to eat all my parsley, then happily moved on to eat all my cilantro.

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To be honest, I don’t know why I planted herbs. I don’t cook enough to warrant needing fresh herbs. The kalanchoe (orange flowers) held out for a long time, but eventually died too. The lone survivor is the stonecrop. It flourished, and I had to replant it into a larger pot. It’s currently outgrowing that pot though, so I think I’m going to plant it where the rocks are near the wall and let it spread out as a groundcover.  Especially since it’s already started doing that on its own…

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I’m sure this post will interest my mom more than anyone, but it feels kinda nice to put closure to some of these.  I’ve been wanting to tell the world about those dumb holes for months now!

 

 

The Giver: It Didn’t Give Me What I Wanted

* Warning: There will be spoilers in this post.  Plus, it’s my first movie review, so it might not be that great. :)

I was about 13 years old when The Giver was published.  I was immediately entranced by this seemingly perfect utopian community: one that is free of sadnesses such as crime, starvation, and pain.  The citizens of the community have clear rules to follow and very specific roles, no matter their age. This perfect society comes at a cost though – in order to maintain the “sameness” (the reason for peace in the community), citizens are denied things that set us apart.  Things like music… color… race… love. Memories of these, along with more painful memories such as war, poverty, and loss are kept by the Receiver of Memories.  A new Receiver, Jonas, is appointed to receive the memories, and the current Receiver now becomes the Giver.  Jonas and the Giver create a plan for Jonas to leave the community, which will cause all of the memories – the beautiful and the painful – to be released into the community.  He succeeds in escaping, and the Giver remains to help the citizens cope with the shock.

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The Giver immediately became one of my favorite books and has had a profound effect on me. It is by far the most thought-provoking book I’ve encountered, simultaneously helping me to enjoy the things in life that I take for granted and deeply disturbing me at the same time. I have reread the book almost every year since it was published in 1993, and every time I read it I’m impressed by this well-maintained community yet angered and saddened at what it costs to obtain it.

Like so many other devoted fans, I have spent the past 21 years anxiously awaiting a film version to be released. I think it took only about 10 seconds into the preview before I knew what it was, and I was beside myself with excitement. Despite the numerous inconsistencies there were, I decided to go into the movie with an open mind.

I saw The Giver this past weekend, and I’m at a loss.  I feel like I’ve been cheated – like I’d been waiting most of my life to go to Vegas only to have all my money stolen the moment I finally get there.  There were many things I absolutely loved, things that were exactly as I’d pictured them in my head all these years.  There were things that I hadn’t really thought about yet made perfect sense onscreen.  There were things that were inconsistent with the book, as expected, although I couldn’t see any real reason for them to be.  And there were things that were so completely off base, they almost ruined the whole experience for me.

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I loved the way the community was laid out – very symmetrical, clean lines, orderly. Everything is identical and balanced with a futuristic yet non-spacey feel. Some of the details were well-thought out – I especially loved how the bicycles didn’t have spokes – one less way for someone to potentially injure themselves, thereby avoiding potential pain. The movie began in black and white, exactly the way I’d imagined it would be.  As Jonas receives memories, viewers are shown footage of various events – both good and bad – around the world: people of different races, celebrations, murder, animals, weather, war, and the small joyful moments in life we take for granted, like blowing out birthday candles and playing on the beach.  While some have reviewed these parts of the film as “cheap stock footage,” they made me feel much more connected to the story.

But where the book made me think about humanity and what we might have to sacrifice to create a perfect and peaceful world, the film did nothing even remotely close to that.  The movie felt shallow, and the injustices of this society were brushed over without any time for them to make an impact.  Major scenes in the book, such as the Ceremony, felt rushed and lost the importance and heaviness they held in the book.  The “releasing” of the infant twin was heartbreaking, but nowhere nearly as haunting as it was when I read it. At some point the movie took a very disappointing turn, and tasers, motorcycle chase scenes, and jail cells were involved – in my opinion, cheapening the entire story.

I find it completely frustrating that this movie was not done right.  That the slow, deep undertones of the book were completely brushed over by a rushed and forced script. After recently reading and watching The Fault in Our Stars, where the book and film matched nearly scene-for-scene, I don’t understand why it took 21 years to make this movie… and so poorly at that. The director had an opportunity to tell an incredibly deep and unique story written in an incredibly deep and unique way, and instead chose to follow the footsteps of the current dystopian novels and aim for cookie-cutter action and romance scenes.  Sad.

Now, I’ll admit that I was in full-on tears at the end. Despite the many flaws in the movie, the story still cuts me right through the heart.  But that’s a testimony to Lois Lowry’s talents, not to those of the director, special effects team, or the actors. I shall remain a loyal fan of the novel, but I’m okay not seeing the movie again.  Instead, I’ll stick to what I’ve been imagining in my own head for the past 21 years. :)

I am NOT a Burnout

This is something I’ve had to remind myself of almost daily since I stopped teaching.

School is about to begin, and for the past two years the first few weeks of school have been incredibly and surprisingly difficult for me. It feels unfair for me to even say that, because I know firsthand how had it is to go back to work at the end of the summer, and especially how hard it is to say goodbye to my beauties and head off to be with other children all day when I so desperately wanted to be with my own.  I know there are teachers who dread the beginning of the school year for the same reasons I did.

IMG_1255But watching my colleagues post photos of their new classrooms and school supplies – even their vents about new principals and meetings – makes me want to break down and cry. I feel so many emotions when I see those posts. Excitement for their new adventure… sadness that I’m no longer a part of that world… jealousy for their dedication… anger over the injustices I know they’ll face throughout the year… eagerness to help any way I can… and immense guilt for walking away from it all.

I was a good teacher. It’s one of the few things I feel confident enough about myself to say out loud. I worked in inner-city schools with intense behavioral issues and almost no parental support. I loved my students as much as anyone can love children, and like most teachers I invested hours beyond what I was paid for into making my students’ days fun, unique, and educational.

But I had to step away.

My priorities shifted.

I’d been blessed to stay home with each of my girls the first year after they were born. Emily was born after my fourth year was completed, and when it was time for me to go back to work I was ready.  I missed everything about teaching.  Of course, I missed Emily too, but she adapted so easily to her new school and was so independent that it wasn’t hard to dive back into teaching.  I noticed a slight change in myself though – now that I had my own child it was difficult to love my students like they were my own, because, well, they weren’t.

Another four years went by, and then I had Julia.  She was an extremely difficult baby, and it was emotionally one of the most difficult years of my life.  It was also the year Emily started Kindergarten, and as I watched her walk to class everyday it started to occur to me how much of her life I’d missed by being at work.  And despite the fact that Julia wasn’t easy, the thought of missing out on her life too started to gnaw away at me.

I remember dropping the girls off at camp and heading to work the first day teachers were due back.  Julia was 14 months old and Emily was 6.  I tried my best to be excited about setting up my classroom, starting at a new school, meeting new people.  But I hadn’t been in my classroom for 10 minutes before the tears started to fall.  I crumbled to the floor, bawling like a spoiled brat.  I missed my girls so much it was hard to breathe, and in that moment I would have given anything to walk away and pick up my babies.  I even called my parents crying hysterically, secretly hoping that they’d take pity on me, tell me to quit, and offer to help us financially if we needed it.

420004_3552538224139_520728729_nI ended up surviving, but it was an incredibly difficult school year for me.  I missed Emily’s open house at her school because my school’s open house was the same night. I couldn’t attend field trips or be there for holiday events because my class needed me.  I saw Julia for a little over an hour a day – since she didn’t nap she’d go to bed at 6:30p, within an hour of me picking her up.  Near the end of the school year Jay began working at a new job, one that required him to travel quite a bit.  It quickly became apparent that it would cost our family both balance and joy if we continued the way we were.

So Jay and I decided that the best choice for our family was for me to focus on our family as a stay-at-home-mom.  And it’s proved to be an amazing improvement in our lives on almost every level imaginable.  Julia is much happier now, much more compliant and manageable.  Emily has become more relaxed, and our relationship is better than it’s ever been.  Jay is able to dive into the work he loves so much since I can bear more of the load on the homefront.  And I’m no longer depressed because I can’t be with my girls.

I’ve wanted to teach since I was 6 years old, and I never thought that anything would have the power to take that passion to teach away from me.  But my girls did that. They had the power.  It’s also been hard to not feel like a statistic – another burned-out teacher who couldn’t “hack it” anymore.  Deep down though, I know that’s just not true.  I do intend to join the workforce again – I’m just not ready yet.  My girls won’t stay little for long.  And I can’t bear the thought of missing any more of their lives than I already have.

I’m going to send Emily off to her first day of 3rd grade tomorrow.  I’m going to smile as she gets out of the car, and cry as she walks away to her classroom.  Part of me will wish I was getting out of the car and walking to my own room too.  But a bigger part of me will be eagerly watching the clock until it’s time to go pick her up again – something I wouldn’t be able to do if I hadn’t taken a break from teaching. <3

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KID Hero 5K – A Super Race!

I’ve been completely honest about my lack of running this summer.

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But there’s a funny thing that I’ve begun to notice, at least for myself.  I’m calling it the I’ve-Signed-Up-For-Another-Race-So-I’d-Better-Start-Running-Again phenomenon. Basically, I’m finding that when I’m too busy, too hot, or too lazy to run, an upcoming run is the kick in the butt I need to keep going.

And fortunately for my mushier-by-the-day butt, I just completed another 5K. :)

IMG_0473This time it was the KID Hero 5K, benefitting Kids in Distress.  Our registration fees and any other funds raised went straight to the organization, which works to prevent child abuse and treats children who have been abused or neglected.

My friends Jen and Tina invited me to join them for this event, which was their first 5K, and I eagerly accepted. Runners and walkers were encouraged to wear costumes representing their favorite superheros, and we were only too happy to get in on the fun. Tina found some shirts with the Batman logo on them – hers even had a cape -and we were ready to go!

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I picked them both up the morning of the run and we headed off to the race location. We had to sign in at the registration tent once we got there, and they gave us our bib numbers and pins (walkers did not receive a bib).  At another tent we received a bag, water bottle, and T-shirt.  Right after I signed in I ran into another good friend, Gillian, who also happened to be wearing Batman attire.  I grew up with Gillian but hadn’t seen her for years, so it was pretty amazing running into her at this event. :)

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It rained a little right before we headed off to the starting line, but fortunately stopped right before they sang the National Anthem.  Then everyone counted down, and we were off!

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The race took us through the streets of the city and neighborhoods downtown, right in the same area Emily and I ran for the Color Run (although it was a different route).  It was awesome running with so many other “heros.”  There were all sorts of costumed walkers and runners, from the head-to-toe Hulk muscle suit to cute little babies with capes on to groups sporting matching shirts.  I ran with Tina for the first mile or so, then caught up with Jen and finished the race with her.  It rained off and on throughout the run, which helped counteract the crazy summer morning heat.

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 9.20.08 PMAfter the race we checked out our finishing times – I somehow managed to come in 6th in my age group!  Not too shabby considering I haven’t really run much all summer, although looking at these other times I think the best I could have done might be 5th place.  Thank goodness my only goal is to finish, no matter how long it takes me. :D

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I had so much fun!  It was an awesome 5K, one I’d definitely do again.  Tina and Jen have caught the Race Bug though, and we’re already planning on doing a few more together in the upcoming months. These races are much more fun with friends!

20140802_091831The three of us parted ways after the race, and of course I went and picked up my traditional post-run treat at Starbucks.

Is there any other way to reward yourself for completing a super 3.1-mile run? ;)

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Bucket List Date Night

IMG_0851Marriage is hard.

Jay and I are 12 years in, and although we love each other more than ever, we still easily fall into a rhythm that looks more like we are just good friends or roommates instead of the newlyweds we used to be.  We try to have regular date nights, but busy schedules, babysitters, and the expense of going out makes that difficult.  And date nights at home tend to result in us sitting on the couch eating dinner while catching up with whatever’s on the DVR.

Jay and I just went through one of those hum-drum phases of our marriage, and at some point we both realized that we hadn’t had a date night in months.  And that’s when my amazing man stepped up and planned one of the most romantic and fun in-house date nights we’ve ever had.

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He ordered take out (including dessert!), and told me that we’d be writing down our bucket list ideas.  In 12 years of marriage we’d never talked about the things that we’d love to do before we die.  The funny thing is that I’d just returned from a trip with a friend, and she and I had spent some time discussing our bucket lists with each other. So even though I’d never really given it any thought a few days prior to that trip, I had the start of my list ready to go for date night the day after I got back!

We decided to write our items down on index cards and share them one at a time. This way we could (try) to prioritize them, as well as see which things fell on both of our lists. We took turns diving into the backstories and reasons for the things on our lists, as well as plotting out how we could make them come true.

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It was fun to learn things about each other that we’d never known before.  I knew that Jay loves to drive fast, but I’d never heard of the Skip Barber school and didn’t know that just anyone could get a racing license.  He knew I love swimming in cold water, but wasn’t aware of how badly I wanted to complete a Polar Bear plunge.  The best part was seeing that some of our bucket list cards were almost identical.  We’d talked about taking a trip to Alaska, and almost chose to take our upcoming cruise there instead of the Carribbean. Now that we know how much we’d both love to go – and especially take a train ride through the mountains there – we’ve already begun looking into that as our next big trip.

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After we finished our lists and our dinner we headed out to the couch to watch The Office and eat our yummy sogno di cioccolata from Carrabba’s.  It was a fabulous evening that left us both feeling more connected than we’d felt in months.  And now we’ve got ideas on how to spend the upcoming years of our marriage! <3

One of the Great Mysteries of My Life

I may have gone off my rocker, but I’m going to put this out there.  But I want answers. Shoot, I’ll even settle for plausible theories.

What I’m about to show you has bothered me for ages.  I’ve pondered, hypothesized, and undoubtably given this much more of my brain power than it deserves.  I’m confident that others out there have taken notice of it too – although they are probably too well-mannered to admit it – and I’m hoping that someone can help me out.

Here’s what I want to know: exactly how does this happen?

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I apologize if it wasn’t what you were expecting.  But every time I see a toilet seat that’s all scratched up or peeling I’m seriously disturbed for hours later.

I just don’t get it.  I’m going to make a generalized statement here based on what I know about bottoms, but as far as I’ve experienced, tushies are smooth… soft… mushy.  A bare behind will give easily, conforming somewhat to the shape it is sitting on.  Don’t believe me?  Spend some time on the potty and then look at your tush in the mirror.  That red mark you see is proof that our rear ends don’t offer much resistance.

So what on earth is causing these toilet seats to peel & scratch off?  Faulty plastic? People with spiky pants constantly forgetting to remove them before sitting to do their business?  Impatient toddlers beating on the seats while waiting for their mommies to button back up?  Disgruntled employees sick of cleaning the bathroom beating the toilet with the bottle of spray cleaner?

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I’m at a loss.  In this particular restaurant, there were 4 stalls.  I checked, and two of the toilets had smooth seats, the other two looked like this.  It looks to me like there’s a smooth toilet seat under that peeling mess yearning to be set free.

I’m aware that this may haunt me for life – that I may never know the answer.  I’m no germaphobe, but for the record this is the only attention one of these seats has ever gotten from me.  Blech.