Teno Lately

Posted in Uncategorized on March 1, 2011 by Natalie

Oh hi, Teno blog. Sorry you’ve been sitting here all lonely-like for a few months. So here are a few things Teno has said lately that kinda ruled:

Teno: “Some bread has meat in it.”

Me: “Really?”

Teno: “Yeah, whole meat bread!”


“I can take care of myself! Bad care.”

“Them teachers is real bossy!” (After taking his placement tests for kindergarten… ahhhhhhhhh!!!!!)

“Your heart tells your butt to make poop and your bones tell your wiener to make pee.”

“I’m going to open a wiener store so’s girls can buy wieners.”

“Hey mom. When we get in the car you wanna beatbox with me?”

“Woah, mom! Your butt’s HUGE! I bet you poop huge poops!”

“Hey, I have a ‘dea. Let’s make a delicious recipe!”

And many, many more.

PS You can see Teno beatboxing here.


Karl Buechner Jr

Posted in Uncategorized on November 11, 2010 by Natalie

Tony likes to call Teno mini Karl Buechner. It’s a nickname he earned about a year ago upon becoming very outspoken on whether or not people should eat animals.

I’ve been a vegetarian for just over 10 years, Tony has been one for closer to 20. I spent a few years as a vegan, and I still bake without dairy more often than not. (Tony was also a vegan in the mid-90s during the same Krishna core craze that convinced me to go vegetarian, but he snuck Hostess fruit pies when no one was looking.)

I’ve gone through all the stages – the first stage, where I wasn’t sure I could live without bacon; the next stage where I was so disgusted with what I’d been eating all my life I couldn’t think about anything else; the stage in college where I decided vegetarian wasn’t enough and went vegan; the next stage, years later, where I found myself in a tour van in Toledo, OH, starving because not even the hamburger buns at the only diner open at 4am were vegan and I was too young and stupid to have thought about packing food. I dated an omnivore who went out of his way to only take me places to eat that had no vegan options. I ate grapefruit for dinner. Finally, I gave in and had pancakes, with no butter. For one an entire year I was terrified to eat cheese or to put sour cream on my torta. Then once day I accidentally had some and my ass didn’t explode I officially became a lacto-ovo once again.

Anyway, this isn’t about me. This is about my kid, Teno, who is a vegetarian. When I was pregnant a lot of people asked me if I’d raise Teno as a veggie. Seemed like a weird question. Would you ask a Catholic person if they were raising their kid Catholic? Or a black person if they were raising their child black? (OK that poor analogy offended people. Let’s try this one:) Or a German person if they were raising their child German? Not eating meat is as much a part of my and Tony’s lives as religion or race or creed. You are what you eat, right? (For the record, if you’re baptized into the Catholic church, you are forever a Catholic unless you are excommunicated. Believe me, I’ve been trying to find legal ways to get myself excommunicated for years.)

Most of my friends are vegetarians and vegans, so they knew what was up – but the occasional old lady would ask, and then politely inquire as to whether or not I was worried a meatless existence would stunt Teno’s growth. “Perhaps you’ve seen my grizzly bear of a husband?” I’d ask. Or sometimes, “funny, no one asks a 300 gorilla where he gets his protein!” But being a soon-to-be mom, I had to ask my doctor if it would be OK. His answer, of course, was that there couldn’t be a healthier diet for a growing child than one rich in fruits and veggies. Meat consumption is completely unnecessary for normal growth, he said. Just don’t load him up with soy as it can be hard to digest and he’ll be as big and bouncy as any other baby boy.

For the first three or so years of his life, Teno had no idea he was a vegetarian. We’d take him to the zoo (I know, zoos suck… but as a city kid it’s his only chance to see any animals besides rats) and show him every animal show we could find on TV. Finally, one day, we were watching Food Network and Alton Brown was demonstrating how to cut a chicken in half with kitchen scissors. “What’s hims doing?” Teno asked me. “He’s cutting up a chicken,” I said.

“That’s not a chicken! A chicken is a buuuuurd!” Teno laughed at me for being so stupid. I looked at Tony and Tony looked at me. “Hey babe,” I explained, “That’s what a chicken looks like with no feathers and no head. Because some people eat chickens.”

Teno laughed at the idea, but I convinced him it was true. “Some people eat pigs, and cows, and other animals, too.” He wanted to know some of the details, so I explained that the animals have to be killed in order to be eaten. That they die, and they can’t run or play or see their moms anymore when they’re dead.

His eyes welled up with tears, “But I don’t want to eat hims! I love animals!”

“I know, babe. Mama and dad love animals too. That’s why we don’t eat them. And you don’t eat them, either. You never, ever have and if you don’t want to, you never ever have to.”

For a few weeks Teno was very curious about other things people eat. Do they eat dogs? Sometimes. Do they eat frogs? Yes. Do they eat other people? Well… not usually. Would they eat my shoe? Maybe, but probably not.

Then Teno started tattling on people who do eat meat. Grandma likes to eat meat. She likes to eat haaaaaaaam and that’s a pig! Leslie eats meat to. She said so.

I know, babe. Some people eat meat.

Then once day we were in a restaurant and Teno caught a glimpse of someone’s sandwich coming out from the kitchen. He identified the offending pile of meat on top, pointed at the woman who’d ordered it and yelled, “That lady’s eating MEAT! She wants the animals to DIE!!!”

“OK, Karl Buechner,” Tony said, “Sit down and drink your juice.”

Now people ask me what I’ll do if Teno wants to eat meat when he gets older. I’m reminded of my mom’s line, “This isn’t a restaurant. You’ll eat what I make.” Will I make him meat? No way. First of all, it’s my house. Second, I don’t know how to cook meat. I’m 30 years old and I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 19. Before then I lived on pancakes and tacos.

Will I stop him from eating meat when he’s not at home? How can I? I can hope that I’ve exposed him to so many delicious vegetarian options, and been honest enough with him about the way animals raised for food are treated that he’ll never want any part of it. But that’s all I can do.

Until then, little Karl and I will keep having our frank discussions, keep eating veggie dogs, and keep having family mosh time whenever New Ethic plays.

Steve’s Going to College

Posted in Uncategorized on October 29, 2010 by Natalie

Teno Luigi

It’s Friday night and I’m in bed with two dudes again. Tony is snoring already, and Teno seems content to stay awake a while longer, sticking his fingers up my nose and giggling. Every few minutes he insists that there’s a monster and we hide under the blankets until we’re safe again. It’s only 8pm but I’m getting tired. The fact that I’ve had both pillows hijacked and someone’s kicking me in the back motivates me to get out of bed.

Once they’re both knocked out it’s tempting to go sleep in Teno’s Thomas the Train bed. I know we’ll be up at 6am watching Tom and Jerry and eating Cocoa Pebbles in bed even though it sends Tony into a dust-busting frenzy. But Tony’s out of bed now, saying he wants to make out before the little Führer realizes we’re not in the room with him. I remind him of my rule – no talking about Teno for at least 30 minutes afterwards. It makes me feel gross. And the kind of thing your parents did, but that you always told yourself they never did goes down in a kind of disturbingly close vicinity to a plastic, train-shaped bed.

Steve’s going to collage. I know, because he’s wearing the Spitfire hat he always puts on when he goes to college. He’s looking mighty preppy in his khaki pants and long-sleeved, green-striped polo. I’m not sure his hat or his black Old Skool Vans really complete the look, but I had a hard enough time getting him to let me comb his hair today so I’m not asking any questions.

“College” is a cat-clawed green couch that my landlords left behind when they moved to Florida. And Steve is my three-year-old son, Teno. Most of the time, thankfully, he’s just Teno – a poorly behaved little kid who will only eat food off of toothpicks and who will only sleep in jeans, never pajamas. Once in a while he’s Spider-Man, wearing his skateboard helmet and jumping off our Ikea furniture. But today he’s Steve, the doofusy guy from Blue’s Clues, and he’s off to college just like real Steve was on his finale episode before the even more doofusy Joe took over. As much as I hate the Steve outfit, I am glad he’s never Joe. I don’t know where I would ever find him a purple sweater with purple squares on it.

Every time Steve goes to college it reminds me that Steve will probably really go to college. He’ll be a grown up and do what I’m doing right now, only instead of messing around with his iPhone he’ll be messing around with a way better iPhone. Or maybe our cell phone towers will have succeeded in killing off most of the bee population by then, leaving plants unfertilized and sending us into a global famine. Cell phones will have been banned and Steve will be reading a digital magazine while his kid gets Play-Doh all over the carpet, if kids still play with Play-Doh then.

But the bees will make a comeback, mostly thanks to Steve’s amazing work in insect biology. Which is good news, because on top of being a world-reknown bee scientist, Steve is also an award-winning pastry chef and his nougat was suffering from lack of honey.

Tony and I have no idea what we’re doing. I think most parents feel that way, but most of the parents we hang out with wanted to be parents in the first place. It’s not really a fair comparison. It’s like, yeah, a shark and a tiger can both swim. But the shark was built for the water. The tiger only swims when she’s forced into the water by danger or hunger – or the fear that she might be too old to swim if she tries to swim after she turns 30 and gets her shit together a little bit – or something like that. We used to do our laundry in Boystown because there were no children there. We were tigers.

Mama BearWe hadn’t even been together for a year when I became pregnant with Teno. Of course Tony told me he loved me the night we first kissed, so we had a tendency to move quickly. The day I saw the little plus sign on the pregnancy test I waited to tell him until we got home from the Spin Cycle Laundromat on Halsted because I knew if I told him earlier we’d never get our laundry done and I really needed socks.

We spent about a week thinking about what to do. On the one hand, we had a lot of plans together that would basically be put on an 18-year hiatus if we decided to keep the baby. On the other hand, our kid would be the most crucial kid ever – he’d be born with X’s on his hands. We decided the world was ready for one person who possessed the combined forces of our bad tempers and juivinile senses of humor and I proceeded to grow a Teno in my belly.

Tony had diarrhea for 9 months straight and I got so fat I couldn’t get up by myself once I sat down. I was in maternity pants about 6 weeks in and by the time Teno was born I was just under 200 lbs. I was pissed. Everything hurt, I hated my clothes and I was tired all the time. I figured it had to get better. So maybe I hated being pregnant, but once Teno was born I’d see his face and I’d get mom feelings and mom instincts and Tony would get awesome dad strength and he’d know how to fix everything in the house.

But it didn’t happen. When we took him home we weren’t happy – neither of us. I don’t think Teno particularly cared for us either. We were all tired and hungry and ill-prepared for this living arrangement. None of us slept more than an hour and a half at a time for over one year. I’ve never done drugs, so I don’t know which one I felt like I was on, but I felt like I was on something gnarly. I pushed all my friends away, argued with them about stupid stuff, told Tony he was a bad husband… I even tried to fight some girl at a Sweet Cobra show who was three times the size of me. My brain went crazy.

I always try to remember when things changed. I wish I could put my finger on it because now that more of my friends are having kids I see them going through the same stuff. Trying to argue with me about stupid shit, driving their families away, being mean to their husbands. I wish I could tell them that once their baby smiles at them the whole world is going to make sense again but I remember that day and as cute as it was, I was still tired and I was still angry.

Being back in school is my first really clear memory of not feeling sorry for myself anymore. It was also the first time I was able to admit that maybe I was such a dick all the time because I had accomplished basically nothing in 26 years. I still had to wait until Teno was in bed to do my homework, and there were plenty of times when I threatened to quit because I didn’t want to be a writer, I just wanted to watch Cheaters and sleep in. Maybe we could just go on welfare and move to a shittier neighborhood.

Sad StacheBut I was too far in student loan debt to quit, and by the time I walked across the stage to collect my diploma I didn’t doubt myself anymore. Ok, so maybe I was almost 30 when I graduated from college – but I did it with a toddler, a part-time job and in the middle of the biggest personal revelation I’ve ever experienced. Looking into the audience and seeing my husband eating nachos, my dad messing around on his phone and my mom knitting socks – I knew it was all worth it.

Three years in and we’re finally figuring this family thing out.

The older he gets, the more Teno makes sense to me. I didn’t understand never sleeping or hating car rides, but I understand monsters in the closet and making blanket forts. He won’t remember the parts where Tony and I Googled things like “why babies cry” and “6 months old never stops pooping” and he doesn’t know how afraid I was that I was completely screwing him up because I didn’t know how to be a mom. I’ll probably tell him someday, probably when he tells me I did something to screw him up.

And I’m still not really sure what I’m doing. But Steve has a plan, and I’m going to go with it.

Also published in Remnants available here: http://www.deadxstop.com/webstore.php

Shameless, and why not?

Posted in Uncategorized on October 7, 2010 by Natalie

Today some guys came over to install our new Euro-style washer/dryer. The laundry closet (because Euro machines don’t require a vent and, therefore, fit in a linen closet) is right next to the bathroom.

After witnessing Teno tearing past them both screaming “I gotta poop! I gotta poop!” Tony heard Teno say “It’s gonna be a big one!” and then one of the installation guys laughing.

And that’s the story of the time Teno took a crap with the door open right next to two complete strangers.

The Year of the Nomad

Posted in Uncategorized on October 6, 2010 by Natalie

Oh hai, it’s been a year since I’ve updated this blog. As Teno would say, “Sorry boss!” Would you accept “We’ve moved three times since my last blog update” as an excuse? Because that’s the best I’ve got.

The past year has been way too huge to go through blow-by-blow. But there are some things worth mentioning:

Teno carved his first pumpkin and thought it was “gwoss.” He also drew a face on another pumpkin and named it “Jack Off.” Tony and I were thrilled. He was old school batman for Halloween, proclaiming the slick new black Batman “stupid.”

In November Teno resumed his position as the only person who can make Tony and I smile in times of complete and utter sadness. We lost our friend Mat to a long battle with cancer and spent our winter holidays hiding in bathrooms and crying. Teno’s funny face gave us what we needed to make it through the end of 2009.

Early in 2010 we took Teno to Disney World. Of course the flight resulted in an ear infection and he was too sick to really enjoy it. Poor kid.

We got back to Chicago just in time to move – again – and to celebrate Teno’s 4th birthday in our new place. He had a Super Mario party, as that was (and remains) his obsession. My parents got him a DS and it’s definitely kept us from killing him on several road trips since.

Shortly after that we found out we had to move again. Yes, had to. One thing I really got sick of this year was people making fun of us for moving so much. Guess who likes to move over and over again with a four-year-old? No one. We HAD to move. So shut up.

We were barely settled into our new place (where we thankfully still live) when I was invited to judge a pie bake off in Madison. This kid was a champ all the way there and we ended up having the most fun week end ever. Who knew Teno, the biggest creature of habit on the planet would LOVE hotels? One awesome moment: A guy on the street told Teno he liked his Seibei “Make me a sandwich” shirt. Teno responded, “I live in a hotel!”

Oh, we also discovered Teno’s favorite food on that trip: macaroni and cheese pizza from Ian’s. Luckily there’s another Ian’s right by us in Wrigleyville so it’s become a staple.

We spent most of the summer scrambling to get Teno into pre-school. Having moved so many times in one year we didn’t realize we were no longer in the school district where he was originally registered. After a lot of absolutely no help at all from Chicago Public School employees, we got stuck on a waiting list for pre-school. We’re still on it. It’s October. I’m pretty sure Teno isn’t going to pre-school.

While I am slightly terrified about what’s going to happen when the kid who coined the phrase “shit-shocker” goes to kindergarten full-time, with absolutely no school experience under his belt, I admit I’m happy he’s my little baby for another year yet.

So that’s kind of the season-by-season. Some general themes this past year have been:

Teno’s militant vegetarianism. He gives me daily reports on who eats meat and who doesn’t, scrunching up his nose when he rattles off the names of offenders. He also occasionally gets all PETA on people in restaurants yelling, “That lady eats meat! She wants the animals to DIIIIIEEEE!” My vegan friends are all very proud of him, but I’ll still waiting for the day he turns into Ted Nugent and out efforts to make him a compassionate eater blow up in our faces.

Super Mario Bros. Like I said, he’s obsessed. For a hot minute he was Mario, wearing a propeller helmet (or, as he calls it “flying apple hat”) absolutely everywhere. But these days he’s Luigi most of the time… which is cool. I respect a kid who roots for the lesser-known hero. He’s going to be Yoshi for Halloween.

Oh, and he is also REALLY good at Nintendo and X-box. I know people are really hot on kids getting out and running around and not just playing video games, but I think he has a pretty fair balance of both. His grandma brings him to the park for three hours at a time. More than I can handle. Me? I was an inside kid. I preferred reading and video games to running round outside – and when I was outside, I was building some sort of shanty and pretending to live in it. And I turned out fine. White people love to make you feel bad about not being outside.

Cussing. I know I wrote about this before, but oh man does this kid cuss now. I swear we don’t encourage it. In fact, I’ve turned into the official soap-in-the-mouth-threatener around here. (I would never actually do that to Teno. And anyway, I buy Lush so the soap would taste delicious.) We catch him dropping f-bombs at video games ALL the time. When we tell him he’s naughty he just goes “sorry boss.” He’s also found ways to swear without actually swearing. I caught him yelling “Ugggghhhh! You stupid FOXer!” at Super Mario Bros 3. Foxer is not a bad word. What am I supposed to do?

He also invented, as I mentioned, “shit-shocker,” which is the greatest insult of all time. But since he’s not allowed to say it, he now says “crap-shocker.” But my friends have been thoroughly enjoying shit-shocker.

Life is awesome now that Teno doesn’t need to be carried, is potty trained and sleeps through the night. I know people get babymania, but I think four is my absolute favorite age so far. I can still impress him with an episode of The Muppet Show he hasn’t seen yet and the promise of a bag of MnMs can get him to do almost anything. He can’t wait to trick-or-treat, or for Santa to come and all he wants in the world is for it to be Saturday so he can stay up late and watch movies with me and Tony. It’s the best.

I’m going to try and do a better job of making quick updates here. We’ll see how that goes. Sorry boss.

Destructo goes to Kiddieland

Posted in Uncategorized on September 10, 2009 by Natalie

In a cruel twist of fate, The Slaters discovered Teno’s favorite place on Earth only a few weeks before that place was set to close its doors forever. Teno thought he knew what he was getting into, but he had no idea.

There were thrills & spills!

Death-defying acts of courage!

Check out Teno on his first roller coaster.

Free Mt. Dew!

Cannibal hot dogs!

Underage drivers!

Man-eating cotton candies!

It will leave you comatose.

Steve’s Going to College

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on July 13, 2009 by Natalie

Steve’s Going to College – the terrifying true story of being Teno Slater’s mom. Available for pre-sale now through DeadXStop Publishing