Monday, July 31, 2006

Back from BlogHer

No thanks to O'Hare airport, I am home--but have no time to post due to this annoying "job" I still seem to have. So if you're visiting for the first time, please enjoy the archives and know that I'll be back ASAP with a real entry. And to fix my painfully out-of-date blogroll.

And hey, midwestern moms, did you hear the news? BlogHer 2007 will be in Chicago!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

BlogHer BlatHer

In preparation for That Which You Are All Sick Of Already, I have:

  • Imported my mother-in-law and her gentleman friend to distract the children from my absence
  • Saved up several NY Times Sunday crossword puzzles and trashy magazines to enjoy on the airplane, something I dreamt about doing during each of the many, many recent flights I spent doling out freeze-dried apples and Color Wonder markers instead
  • Upped my alcohol intake in a (useless) effort to boost my tolerance
  • Quit my job and given away my children and dog so I’ll have time to read all the new bloggers I’ll want to follow after I return. Just kidding. But I’m so jealous of Amalah’s job, aren’t you?
  • Unearthed a bunch of old business cards (haven't used them in two years since I started telecommuting) and added my URL to them—is that cheesy?
  • NOT written a bunch of posts and set them up to publish in my absence. Even if I had the wherewithal to come up with the posts, I don’t think Blogger would let a freeloader like me set up a “publish on” date. So you’re stuck with this lame entry until Monday, because …(true confession time) I don’t have a laptop. I know! Have a good weekend, wherever you’ll be.

Monday, July 24, 2006

There was this madeleine...

The lovely and talented Her Bad Mother proposed the following Proustian Blogger questions, and dangled the promise of a Muppet alter ego to anyone who answered them. Who needs any more incentive than that?

What is the quality you most admire in a blogger?
The noble answer is bravery. The easy answer is humor. The true-confession answer is prolificacy.

How would you describe your blog?
It’s life, sliced. What I’m doing, what I’m thinking, what I’ve noticed—sprinkled liberally with kid quotes and pictures.

What do you most like about your blog?
I think I have the most fun coming up with the titles for each post.

What do you regard as the principle defect of your blog?
I wish I could post daily.

What character of fiction do you most wish had a blog?
Today, my answer is any one of Jane Austen’s feisty heroines. Tomorrow, I’d probably say something different.

What historical or real life person do you most wish had a blog?
I’d love it if my mom, grandmother, or great-grandmother had a blog and I could go back and scour the archives.

What is your present state of blog (present state of mind as a blogger)?
Excited (for BlogHer). Intimidated (ditto BlogHer and I’m also reading a David Sedaris collection at the moment).

What is your blog motto?
“Raising Opie and his sister in the most wholesome town in America.” The last bit is a slight exaggeration, of course, but I really do have a boy who we call Opie, and many of my posts are about my fairly recent move to small-town life.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Indulge me

Recent artwork:

That's Opie on the far left, Jo is the huge one next to him, I'm next to her, and over in the right corner is "just a smiley face." Not sure what the collection of Hs and Ls is about.

And here is her foray into photography--I rather like how it turned out. And now you can recognize me at BlogHer.

And you can read my BlogMe interview over at mothergoosemouse's, which I spaced on linking to on the actual day it was published... duh. If you're going and haven't been interviewed yet, you're welcome here, so let me know.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

You snooze, you lose

There are some rifts that stretch a marriage to its very edges, if not beyond. Illness, infidelity, financial woes—and the godforsaken snooze button. Because there are two kinds of people: snoozers and just-get-your-ass-out-of-bed-for-the-love-of-Pete people. And they really should not be married to each other.

We have struggled with this problem for many years. It waxes and wanes in severity. In the early, idyllic days (you know, pre-kids, when I was actually sleeping at night anyway) I tolerated the snoozing—which meant the alarm would go off nearly an hour before Jeff really needed to get up, and he’d proceed to hit the snooze button every 8 minutes until he reached the actual critical wake-up moment. I, of course, would be wide awake for this entire procedure, but I looked at as extra snuggle time with my sweetie (gag).

Soon after our wedding, when Jeff took a job farther away that required an earlier wake-up time, I happened to be taking yoga classes at the crack of dawn, so I just got up at or before the first alarm and left him to snooze. When I was expecting Jo, I played the “pregnant person needs sleep” card, which worked to some degree. When she was a little baby, it didn’t much matter when the alarm went off, because I was already up.

But after she started sleeping later in the morning, I lost my patience with the snooze. I was bone-tired, like any mom, and damned if I was going to be cheated out of 45 minutes or more of sleep every morning just because “It’s the only way I can wake up.” He turned down the volume, and I took catnaps in between alarms, but I’d still be jolted awake over and over again. We honestly had knock-down drag-out fights over this.

Several months ago a friend who’s a magazine editor appealed to her network for stories of petty little disagreements couples have, for an article she was working on. The idea was to pose them to a marriage counselor, who’d then reveal the underlying problem and how to solve it. Like the couple who fought over who ate the last banana = control issues!

So I sent her our dilemma. And get this: we stumped the therapist. He said, “Though they’ll have to find some way to compromise, I don’t feel too optimistic. I think she’s going to find an awful fight.”

I felt 100% vindicated, even though he didn’t provide any real advice at all. As soon as Opie is sleeping through the night (dream on, sister) my plan is to get up when Jeff’s alarm goes off, then leave the house to work out. That way he’s completely responsible for any kid needs that arise during my absence. Now that’s alarming.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Mayberry moment

Tonight after dinner Jo and I went out to play. We heard music coming from the park across the street, so we wandered over. Turns out it was the weekly community band concert, complete with show tunes, a Norwegian march, and the state university fight song (Go Badgers!). Is that classic or what? We watched and listened until bedtime.

We’re so lucky to have this park right outside our front door, and another one, complete with man-made sledding hill, just two blocks from our back door. Lately I’ve been worrying about parks and other communal spaces. Drive by any upscale subdivision and you’ll see that every yard has its own swingset. (And here I have to disclose that after two years of persuasion, I finally gave in to my husband’s wish to buy one for our yard too; so everything that follows is frankly hypocritical.) If every family has its own swingset, what’s the point of the neighborhood playground? Will anyone go there anymore? And if no one does, how will kids meet other kids, and moms meet other moms?

I realize I sound like a crotchety old man talking about how “in my day, we didn’t have ‘playdates,’ we just went outside and played!” But it’s true, isn’t it? I think it’s sad that our homes and yards and cars keep getting bigger and bigger, while our public spaces lose value (or move into the computer, but that’s a whole ‘nother post). I hope I can help my kids see that libraries and city pools and farmer’s markets and playgrounds are part of what makes a place liveable, a community that means something and gives something to every resident.

Maybe I should start a commune, what with the waxing rhapsodic about togetherness. Who’s with me?

Sunday, July 16, 2006


stroller snooze
At eight weeks old, Jo found her thumb. They’ve been inseparable ever since, even becoming a party of three when, at 16 months, she began poking her finger into her bellybutton anytime her thumb was in position.

assuming the position
In those days, I was thrilled. If her thumb was in her mouth, part of my body wasn’t. And she slept a fraction better, too, with her Thumbelina to help her. The bellybutton also became a critical part of the equation, to the point where we couldn’t ever put her in one-piece pajamas. Except the one pair that her aunt and great-grandmother actually tailored to allow navel access.

So now she’s four years old and she’s still a determined thumbsucker. Anytime she’s tired, pop goes the thumb. If she’s feeling anxious or ill or just out of sorts—cue thumb (and bellybutton, even if it means hiking up her sundress and displaying her Strawberry Shortcake undies to the world). While I, of course, still think she looks adorable, thumb or no thumb, I’m aware that most of the rest of the world probably thinks it’s about damn time she gave up this habit.

The very first time she went to the dentist, she was three and Opie was only a few weeks old. As I sat in the examining room with my newborn on my lap, the dentist lectured me about the evils of thumbsucking. Suuuure, I’ll get right on that. It’s the perfect time to break this habit!

By the time Jo had her most recent checkup, around her fourth birthday, we’d switched to a new dentist. I’ll admit that her teeth are clearly crooked. She’s got a strange cross-bite and her front teeth are in a lopsided arc (mostly noticeable only if you’re looking at them from below, though). But this new dentist (who, BTW, looked about 27 years old and, the hygienist assured me later, did not have any kids) gave me a good scolding. He told me that if I couldn’t get her to stop through punishment, rewards, a sock on her hand while she slept, or whatever, she’d need to be fitted for an orthodontic device that would physically prevent her from putting her thumb into her mouth.

I nodded and smiled. I spent a few days worrying about it, and then decided I wasn’t going to take my daughter’s chief means of comfort away from her. She’s FOUR. Our family doctor, bless him, assuaged my fears considerably. He said, “You know the expression, ‘if you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail’? That’s the dentist—he only cares about the teeth, not the rest of the kid. It’s a self-extinguishing behavior. She’ll stop sometime this year or next, and the more you draw attention to it, the harder it will be for her to stop.”

So, call me lazy, call me stupid, call me a … sucker, but the Thumbelina is welcome to stay. I like to say that I’m choosing mental health over dental. If Jo gets upset when she needs braces or a retainer, I’ll show her this post—and these pictures.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Gratuitous cuteness

My vacation post was pretty whiny, so to make up for that I present:

That's my dad walking with Opie. And in both shots Opie is wearing the hat that he became famous for throughout the condo complex: People I'd never seen before were constantly walking by saying, "Hiiiiii, Opie! Where's your hat?" It's the only one he'll actually keep on his head, so he'll be wearing it for the rest of the summer. Maybe I can teach him to say "Extry, extry! Read all about it!"

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Am I the only one who about to throw up every time I open my yahoo mail because of the revolting ads for toe fungus treatment (click if you dare)?

...can't fall asleep at night because I am too busy mulling over potential blog posts?

...should really not be allowed to work from home, what with the constant checking of Sitemeter and Bloglines and the fungus-polluted email?

...doesn't understand why those bathub tint tablets come in yellow, so that my child looks like she's soaking in a large tub of urine?

...has a toddler with a jones for choking hazards, having consumed, this evening, not only popcorn but also large dried cherries, raw carrots, and giant chunks of sausage?

...can't understand the appeal of Crocs? They look Smurfish to me.


My take on Julie's meme challenge. I have a new appreciation for still-life photographers.

Five things in my car:
No means no, no is always no

why 2 identical maps?

fine art


so pretty

Five things in my refrigerator:

we do live in america's dairyland

yum--zoo pals


it's like crack

again with the dairy

Five things in my closet:

no pregnant woman should be without one

not D&G but pretty cute

straight outta the streets of SoHo


yes there really is a window in the closet

Five things in my purse:

i can't believe i saw a movie

the mother's day necklace met a sad end

crumpled, but still usable

no mommy, it makes my thumb taste yucky

the end

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Out of the mouths

Jo (each and every time we enter a public restroom; hands clamped firmly over ears): Mommy! Does this one have youmagic flushers?


Jo: Mommy, I'm going to say something you're not going to like, but it's okay because no one else is here. That [bathtub/sand pail/doll shoe/banana] is...... stupid! [clamps hand over mouth, giggles hysterically]


Opie: New words every day! Not sure if it is the ear tubes or just his age, but his current vocabulary includes: mama, dada, gaga (we think it means Grandpa), dah! (dog or duck), ka or ki-ka (cat), ish (fish), uh-oh, and the charming "Nnnn! Nnnnnnnnn! Nnnnnnnnnnnnnn!" which seems to mean "nuk" or "nurse." Words we've heard just once or twice: apple, bubble, please, shoe, woof. Not a lot of usefulness, but plenty of cuteness.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

American girl

It wouldn't be Mayberry without an all-out 4th of July, including a kiddie bike parade.

Little brother shows little interest in posing for the camera. Maybe he's just mad because nobody pimped his $15 stroller. In spite of it, we all had a nice 4th.

Now that's sexy

A few weeks ago I read the following headline in our local newspaper: "Today's 'hot moms' are reinventing motherhood." After I threw up a little, I read the story (that's a link to a version that appeared in a Memphis paper). It left me a Hopping Mad Mom, thanks to comments like "I refuse to look like a disheveled mom. I have a husband I love and I want to look good for him," and "I still want to be fashionable. I absolutely don't want to let myself go."

What is this, 1957? Yes, I like to wear cute outfits (although the other day, when I showed up at day-care pickup wearing a shirt with actual buttons, Jo stared at me quizzically for several long seconds, then asked, "Mommy, where did you get those clothes?") and keep my toes polished. And I've already mentioned my million-dollar bikini wax. But can we have a little perspective here? Isn't it enough for us to keep the kids, husband, pets, and house clean, happy, healthy, fed, clothed, and entertained? Isn't our to-do list long enough? Now we have to add "Shop for latest fashions" and "diet until we fit into them" to it, lest we be accused of being un-hot moms who've "let ourselves go"?

My ex-boss had her face lifted at age 42. In the following decade she followed that up with Botox, teeth whitening and veneers, having her leg veins stripped, and more. And all this was happening under the watchful eye of her daughter, then a teenager. As if it's not enough to be surrounded by images of airbrushed celebrities served by personal trainers and diet gurus -- now our girls should learn this vanity at our own knees?

Sure, of course I support the proclamation of the Hot Mom's Club (no I'm not linking to it) that "a hot mom is a woman who knows how to balance her needs as well as the needs of her family." Well, bravo. But count me out if honoring my own needs means spouting inanities like "When I became pregnant, I vowed that [my baby] would be integrated into the life we already had. Sure, we don't go out as much and maybe we don't go clubbing until 4 a.m., but I'm not going to to stop doing the things I like."

Tonight Jo crowned herself "Princess Belle with the No Stinky Feet At All" as she dipped her toes, dirty from a day of playing outside, into the bathtub. That's the kind of inner beauty that our daughters -- and their moms -- really need.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Talk about a rip-off

Before our recent vacation I had a few ...let's call them "concerns." I've already professed to not being much of a worrier, but a couple things about this trip were stressing me out. Since I didn't get a chance to post them before I left (what with all the packing and the worrying and the laundry and oh yes, the job), I present them now along with the update on what actually happened.

Concern: Food. We (two kids with typical kid diets, + omnivore/sweet-tooth me) spent this vacation with my parents (low-carb, low-fat), my sister (vegetarian), and my brother and sister-in-law (vegan). While none of them are at all dogmatic or judgmental about their diets, I thought things might get a bit uncomfortable in the kitchen.
Result: Sort of valid. No one batted an eye at what I or the kids ate (and they both liked tofu and curried buckwheat noodles) but I was starving quite a lot of the time. Two years of pregnancy and nursing have really revved up the ol' metabolism. After a few days my sister and I begged for ice cream and things were much better after that.

Concern: Single parenting. Jeff couldn't come with us on this trip so I was the PIC (parent in charge) for a solid week. I knew I'd have lots of help (including on the plane, thank goodness) from my family, but it would generally be confined to daylight hours.
Result: Oh so valid. Opie did not sleep well and each and every wake-up was all mine. One night he was up at 10:30, 12, 2:30, and 5:30, with a bonus, gory nosebleed for Jo at 5. The following night he was only up twice, but each waking lasted for a good hour. Yeah, so that part sucked.

Concern: Seaside kitsch. Would there be cheesiness at every turn, as Nancy described?
Results: Invalid. Tackiness was generally limited to the shops selling innuendo-laced t-shirts, personalized shot glasses, and "tan enhancing" lotions. The condo complex we stayed in was quite tasteful as were the areas we visited on foot and by car. Of course, our unit had some questionable design choices (stenciled seashells, anyone? fake plants [seriously, why bother]? rattan?) but overall, absolutely tolerable.

Concern: Lack of internet access. I wasn't sure I could last a week without my friends in the computer.
Result: Valid! I only made it to the Internet cafe once during the trip, and I had 15 minutes there--only enough time to do a quick email check, not look at my bloglines or squeeze out a quick post. My fingers ached for you, oh keyboard!

And here's what I should have been concerned about, but was blissfully unaware prior to the trip:
  • Sunscreen application. For the love of George Hamilton. Smearing the kids and myself twice a day (minimum) was really enough to drive me right around the bend. Why hasn't anyone yet invited some kind of sun-protective soap (wash it on, it works for 24 hours)? Or how about a pill? There has to be a better way. Although, from the looks of the people baking themselves around the pool each day, perhaps there is little market for such products.
  • A dull razor. Yeah, probably would've been a good idea to check that before popping it into my cosmetic bag. At least I took care of the bikini wax before I left. To the tune of $ it just me or is that extortionate?
  • Feeling cheated. You all know I love my kids. I loved spending time with them. I had lots of help with them (my brother spent literally hours playing with Jo in the pool). But I never got to just sit on the beach and read a book. I didn't get to enjoy any of the three meals we ate in restaurants. I didn't get to go see a movie with my sister or play an uninterrupted round of Scrabble.
  • How glad I'd be to get back. Great trip, lovely family, nice break from work, but I truly am a homebody at heart.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Airport playspace rules

(Corollary to Kristen's baby pool rules.)

1. If your child is 10 years old and dwarfs not only the other children playing nearby, but their mothers as well, she's probably too old/large for the play area, whether or not there is a sign nearby clearly stating that the area is for children 8 years old and younger.

2. If your child is jumping from the top of a 6-foot plastic slide onto a floor covered with a carpet approximately 2 microns thick, and all you do is laugh and tell your other child to get out of the way so her brother doesn't cannonball onto her: again, perhaps you all would be more comfortable at a play area suited to older children, or chimpanzees.

3. Let's define "under the supervision of a parent or adult caretaker," shall we? It means you should be within spitting distance of your child, not all the way across the interstate of a hallway running down the middle of the terminal. It means YOU, the "parent or adult," should be there, instead of leaving your younger child in the care of your 10-year-old (see rule #1) so she can chase him manically around the play structure, leaving a dozen terrified toddlers in her wake. And it means if you're on the phone while your kid is beating up another kid, HANG UP.


So! Back from vacation. Missed you all. More soon!