Sunday, December 30, 2007

Damn straight, Dorothy

I'm back from our Christmas odyssey and I have to say, it kind of sucked. Although I didn't face lost loved ones, illness, major family dysfunction, or insane travel snafus, the small annoyances piled up until I couldn't pick out which one was worst.

Was it the 15-hour outbound journey, including a six-and-a-half-hour layover in Detroit?

Or was it the snide comments about my children's hygiene/my parenting? (what? no daily baths? wearing pajamas MORE THAN ONCE?)

Was it having to wrap all the Santa gifts at midnight on Christmas Eve because all the cousin's presents were wrapped, and would it make sense for hers to be wrapped and our kids' to be unwrapped? Of course not.

Was it our niece getting two of the items on Jo's wish list and Jo getting none (because they were too heavy to be shipped halfway across the country and then back, just so they could be under the right tree on the right day)?

Maybe it was the ridiculously archaic ideas about hospitality and etiquette that resulted in my being offered food every 10 minutes, like it or not; to the point where I maturely respond by refusing to accept anything, then sneak into the kitchen later to help my own damn self. And that also result in far more discomfort among the part of guests than if you would just stop TRYING SO HARD.

Or! Was it spending literally hours every night putting one or the other child to bed, a parenting chore I loathe anywhere, but especially away from home. Waiting for them to fall asleep is like watching paint dry. In a white room. With no windows.

Hmm ... Maybe the worst was counting the minutes until we could go home, only to be delayed a full 24 hours by a snowstorm. At that point I -- who rarely cries, unless watching a particularly sappy TV commercial -- shed several fat salty tears.

Actually, I know what was the worst. It was knowing how childish I was being. That while I was being facetious with my list of rules, deep down I still have a very hard time letting go of those childhood traditions and realizing that Christmas can go on without them. It might not be the same Christmas, but it can still be a good one. After all, I still got to share it with the ones who are at the very tip-top of my list.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Yep, this one's a keeper

These two are, actually.

all it took were two candy canes

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! See you next week.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas rules and regulations.

From Wicked Good Cookies on PicasaNB: I will be checking this list twice.
  1. The tree: must be live, with delicate lights and non-generic ornaments. See details.

  2. The outdoor decorations: must be composed of white lights and natural materials only. Nothing that requires a motor.

  3. The cards: must show at least some small effort beyond stuffing, licking, and stamping.

  4. The wish list: must contain ideas and suggestions, but not be so specific as to stifle all creativity on the part of the gift-giver.

  5. The cookies: Must include thumbprints with frosting. Never jelly.

  6. The schedule: Gifts must be opened on Christmas morning. Not Christmas Eve. Except one or two just to take the edge off.

  7. The stockings: Must contain an orange. What can I say? It's a rule.

  8. The gift-opening: Must occur in sequence from youngest opener to oldest, one gift at a time so all can be properly displayed and admired.

  9. The traveling: Must be of the grandparents to the grandchildren, and not the other way around.
    a. Exception 1: presence of great-grandparents over the age of 85.
    b. Exception 2: Hawaii.

  10. The menu: Must not include turkey. What do you think this is, Thanksgiving or something?

  11. The clothing: Must not be thematic, unless worn by a small child.

  12. The songs: Must be sung loudly and with gusto, preferably while seated alongside Harry Connick, Jr., at the piano.

  13. The weather: Must be white. Sparkly, even.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Nothing says Christmas like a big frosty mug

Jo did a worksheet at school about the five senses, with a Christmas theme. "At Christmas I see...", "At Christmas I hear...", and so on. My favorite was "At Christmas I taste... rut biey." Mmm! I know I always enjoy a nice A&W with my roast beast.

And now: The 2007 Holiday Photo Outtakes Post.

Merry Christmas from your friends at the Headbangers' Ball!

When I'm done with this candy cane, I'm coming for you, Blondie

What he doesn't realize is that I've rigged up my extra super strong vacuum cleaner inside that fireplace. Perfect for sucking up little brothers.

As soon as he loosens his grip on that candy wrapper, he's out of here.

And then he was gone, leaving behind only a cheap ukulele. Happy holidays!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Good Thing

Happy discoveries this weekend:
  • Ginger Beef with Kale from the 1/08 issue of Martha Stewart Living (not online yet, apparently). Easy and tasty, if slightly too spicy for the kids.
  • Halloween with Morris and Boris. Jo brought this home from the school library and apparently it is the funniest thing Opie has ever seen. He busts a gut every time we read it.
  • will print your holiday cards and then you can pick them up at a local store. Saved my procrastinating butt.
  • "Mommy! Look! The snow is sparkling!"

And, to boot: I am guest-posting today at the calm before the stork. Click over to find out whether or not I was calm in my pre-stork days.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Hoot w00t!

Wise Owl AwardAn embarrassingly long time ago, the lovely G. from so, what do you do all day? bestowed me with this cute guy. The fine print reads "for esteemed blog mentors and the otherwise inspirational." Moi? Thank you!

Now, to pass it along. I'm sure you've heard this from me ad nauseam, but I'm sure I never would've started blogging without my good friend Julie to hold my hand.

All of my fellow Full Mommies -- Amy, Binky, Jodi, Lady M., Lara, Leighann, Mona, Mrs. Chicken, and Tammie -- have inspired me in one way or another (or several) as we collaborate on that project. To be frank, I started that blog because I needed a place to stash my reviews, and invited others to join me so I wouldn't be lonely. But they've done so much more than keep me company. Thanks, all.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Decorating: check

The stockings have been hung by the chimney. With care, even! So I'm feeling (a little) better about this whole Christmas thing. On Saturday we acquired and decorated the tree and put Santa in his rightful place. On Sunday we dragged the whole fam damily to the mall for a gift shopping blitz and accomplished quite a bit.

Jo picked out a really elegant nightgown for my mom. She had her little change purse with her, containing her entire life savings, and wanted to buy the bright red socks that matched the night-shirt. "How do I make fifteen dollars?" she asked. "You'd need sixty quarters," I said. She consulted her purse. "How else do I make fifteen dollars?" I hated to break it to her: "Well ... you would have to have one hundred and fifty dimes." As her other grandma would say, the poor lamb. Fifteen dollars might as well have been a million. I offered to buy the socks and all was well.

...until we returned home that evening, and realized the little pink change purse was gone. Cue waterworks. We checked all our pockets and bags -- nothing. We distracted Jo, coaxed her and Opie into the bathtub and then into bed. But more than an hour and a half after she'd fallen asleep (when I was deep into my online shopping session, getting everything I hadn't picked up at the mall) she woke up and burst into tears, brokenhearted at her loss. I couldn't do anything to calm her and she eventually cried herself to sleep.

But! Happy ending! It only took two phone calls the next day to locate the precious purse, carefully stowed in a locked drawer at Williams-Sonoma. Jeff picked it up and couldn't resist buying this as well. So much for present overload.

Unrelated (well, draw your own conclusions): Care to comment?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Found gems haiku

Surely there must be
Someone on my gift list for
Whom I can buy this?


Local newspaper
Champion of the townsfolk
Exposes "deadbeat"

--Inspired by this item in our paper's "From the archives" column:
1882: A man was in [Mayberry] to solicit advertisements for a card he said would
be displayed in all the railroad depots in the state. Inasmuch as he tried to
bargain at the newspaper office for only 150 of the cards, we are led in the
interests of honesty to declare him a deadbeat.
Haiku Friday

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Gender ... politics ... innnnnn ... space!

Pigs in Space at Muppet WikiI'm ashamed to admit this. A few days ago, Jo announced that she wanted to have a playdate with a boy in her class. And for some reason, I was a little freaked out at the idea of a boy-girl playdate. I have no idea where this came from because she has at least three other pals, who happen to be boys, who she's been playing with for years; I would never blink at a request to play with any of them.

Still, like a loser I tried to stall her a bit on this particular playdate request. I asked her what she and D. would play with if he came over. Right away she mentioned her telescope, her art supplies, and her puppet theatre. And almost as quickly I came to my senses and said "OK, I'll call D's mom."

We haven't had the playdate yet, but Jo's idea to show off her telescope is perfect. We've loved playing with this toy (received for review via Parent Bloggers Network) and I'm sure D. will too. Get the full scoop at the Full Mommy.

And is anyone else as intimidated as I am about calling other parents for playdates? Instant transportation back to 4th grade and fearing that no one likes me. It didn't help when one of the first kids we called this year didn't respond for about three solid weeks. She finally did, but not before the damage had already been done to my psyche.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

We're seriously, totally obsessed over here

OPIE: No, my name is not Opie.

MOM: It's not? What is it?

OPIE: It's ... Nothing! [laughs maniacally]

JO: Why don't you say your name is ... Zac!

OPIE: Yeah! Zac!

JO: Zac Efron!

OPIE: No, TROY Efron!

J & O: [die laughing]

*All hail Aimee for the awesome photoshoppage.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Things for which I am not (in the slightest) ready

1. Hosting book club tonight.*

2. It goes without saying, but if I don't say it then this will just be a blank page: Christmas. My score is: Presents 4 (of, I don't know, 40?), Cards 0, Wrapping 0, Decorating 0, Cooking/Baking HA HA HA.

3. Winter. Who is hoarding all the girls' size 6 snowpants? I have dragged two kids to three stores already (that means past all the ridiculously huge displays of TOYS TOYS TOYS) trying to find some. Please God don't make me go to Wal-Hell. I might come out with something inflatable for my front lawn by mistake.

4. [screeek! Sharp turn toward the sentimental!] A 5-year-old girl who, during a stage production of High School Musical, alternately stood in front of her seat shaking her booty ... and cuddled up to me with her thumb in her mouth.

*Actually, scratch that. I have read the book, and I have four bottles of wine and a box of brownie mix. I'm good.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Rock around the Christmas tree

For a musician's daughter, I have done a woeful job of exposing my children to music. We have a few CDs that we play in the car on endless repeat and that is nearly it. Once in awhile we rock out in the laundry room or have an after-dinner dance party, but I confess we are just not a household where tunes are always spinning in the background.

So the new That Baby DVD I recently reviewed (along with its companion, That Baby CD) has been a welcome addition. For the full review, as always, please click over to The Full Mommy. This one could definitely fill a few slots on your holiday shopping list--and there's a coupon code available too.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Yup. There's no place like it.

I will freely admit that I am a creature of habit. A homebody, a Cancer, a don't-rock-the-boat, status quo kind of girl. So these trips throw me entirely out of whack. I love to go, to get back to New York. It's like visiting the old me, tasting what my life would have been like if we'd stayed. But as the days go by (and this past trip was a long one), I start to itch for my real life, my current one, with its precise routines and familiar comforts.

Now that I'm home, my first task is to restore those routines, that order. My first day back, I had an awful, nauseating headache, along with a pile of urgent work that couldn't wait another day. And not being able to stop and unpack, reorganize, dig through the towering stack of mail, reply to any but the most essential emails -- was almost physically painful.

Today I'm feeling better. My stomach is back to normal, my suitcase is empty and I've done four loads of laundry. My to-do list still unspools behind me a mile long (do not remind me how many shopping days are left until Christmas, I beg you) but just being home is, for now, enough.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Product review features Quentin Tarantino

As my kids get older and busier (okay fine ... as I get older and shed brain cells) I have come to the grim realization that my method of scribbling a few notes on a wall calendar and hoping for the best is no longer cutting it. I've forgotten important events, double-booked playdates, and missed RSVPs far more times than I really care to admit. So what do I do?

Enter Day Runner's new family matters line of goodies, which parachuted in to save my butt. Read the full review at the Full Mommy to find out more and learn how Mr. Tarantino plays a part. And happy Friday! I'll be reading all 744 of your posts as soon as I can block out some free time on my new calendar.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

That's my little rainbow boy

OPIE: Where TJ's two moms? [TJ is the neighbor kid.]
ME: One of them is right over there.
OPIE: Where TJ's TWO moms?
ME: She is at work.
OPIE: Okay. *wanders off*

Sunday, November 25, 2007

File this away for next year

Crisp apple-scented roast turkey with cider-Calvados gravy

I've had it twice this month (actually, six or seven times, if you count the leftovers) and it is SO. GOOD.

(Why twice? Because two weeks before Thanksgiving, my husband, apparently weakened by the presence of so much fowl in the supermarket, decided he needed to roast a turkey. So he did. It was excellent. Yes, he rocks in many ways ... but that also meant that there was an entire weekend in there where I had to be on 100% kid detail because he was up to his elbows in poultry. It was worth it though.)

Don't skip the gravy, either. It's the best part.

And here is Jo's summary of the trip, entitled "Jo New York Book."

A Turkey Dinner on Thanksgiving.
And a Tea Party.
And a Dinosaur Museum.
And spin on the Whee Chair.
And P.J.'s Secret Hideout Place With Toys.
And make a Paper Penguin.

Hope you all had a terrifically tryptophanic weekend.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Over the river and through the woods

... to a loft in Brooklyn we go.

This is one of two turkeys Jo made this year. The other one was the classic "write what you're thankful for on the feathers" turkey. Her responses were frankly run-of-the-mill: My mommy, ice cream, my daddy, chocolate, my brother, my puppy. I was more entertained by some of her classmates' responses: police and "fire figh," Jesus and God, and especially (all on one bird) bricks, vans, and wheels. Yes. This is a kid who's thinking things through.

Happy Thanksgiving! See you next week.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Life-us interruptus

"Approximately 156" is the number of:

a) diapers I change in a month
b) times this fall we have raked our yard
c) pieces of Halloween candy still lurking in our pantry
d) times per day I am interrupted by my children

If you guessed D, you win (and I suspect your tally is similar). By 2 p.m. Saturday, my vaunted patience had long since been exhausted by the constant demands--many of them perfectly reasonable and age-appropriate--which interrupted my shower/pee/meal/sentence spoken/sentence read/chore attempted. I spent the next several hours snapping at everyone in my path for the slightest infraction. It really wasn't fun.

Sunday was better because I fled the house in protest to go shopping. Only to be interrupted by my husband reporting that he "didn't know" the snacks in the plastic bag hidden on top of the fridge were to be used for class snack this week.


At least they are funny.

1. OPIE, to JEFF, who is trying to set an example for a certain reluctant potty-trainer: Are you going pee with your penis?

2. JO: Wakes up at 4 a.m. and comes into our room. But first, she makes her bed, complete with artful arrangement of two stuffed animals resting on her pillow.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I provided tissues

I think she still misses himRoger: strange old coot
Jowls, limp, cranky attitude
Eyes crossed, heart mighty

When we lived in the city, like real city people we had a dogwalker. He came once a day to dispense biscuits and walkies to the dog and lots of opinions to the humans. That's if we happened to cross paths, which we'd do our best to avoid. Roger was one of those people who'd just plunk down on a kitchen chair and rattle on about who knows what, oblivious to any signs that we were ready for him to move along. It was only the other "animal children" on his route that kept him from staying parked for hours. Once I came home from work early to take something to the post office and discovered he hadn't yet arrived. As I gathered my things I heard him huffing up the front stairs of our building. Like a total coward I actually sneaked out the back door just to avoid being waylaid.

Still, he found other ways to dispense his wisdom. Three-minute long voicemail messages, say; or his daily notes reporting exactly what happened during the walk. Not just what the dog produced, but anything they saw or people they met. Once there was a page-long tale of a "Young Girl" who accused Roger of not picking up after our dog. He defended himself by pointing out that the "feces" she had indicated were not fresh, since they were no longer warm. To prove this, he wrote, he made her touch them ("I provided tissues," he noted). I'm sure the Young Girl was sorry she ever tangled with Rog.

If only I'd saved more of those notes (or had a blog back then). We did preserve the final missive. Here it is, with only a few identifying details changed.

Well here we are! Down to the final walk. These past four (almost) walking F. have been good. She will be missed. The years go by as quickly as a wink. It was good to work with you & I tried my best.

Of course I knew Jeff from the times at [his former address] when he would take care of [a friend's dog/fellow Roger client] & I would travel down to walk the canine

Please enjoy the new page of your collective lives in [Mayberry]. I am very happy for you also especially Jo who will have a chance to attend good Public schools when she is ready.

Until we meet again


I do wonder about him still. If he's still shuttling up and down the Boulevard with his animal children, living with his cats, complaining about his landlord, his neighbors, and most of humankind. I hope so.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

18 miles of books

Shopping the Strand, 1938 New York's famous bookstore, The Strand, is celebrating its 80th anniversary with The Strand 80, a list of its customers' 80 favorite books. I've read over 50 of them (yes! go double literature major) and several are among my personal favorites. I discussed it a bit with a friend and she pointed out these are not necessarily meant to be classics -- they are popular picks. Of course, many are undisputed classics (Les Miserables, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Crime and Punishment, Homer's Odyssey). Others might more commonly be called pop-culture phenomena (The Da Vinci Code, Harry Potter).

That led us to wonder, though: What makes a classic? Obviously a work that can stand the test of time is often called a classic. If you can read a book written 50, 100, 200 or more years ago and find that it resonates with you today, then that's classic. There have to be more criteria than that, though. What do you think?

By the way, there is exactly one picture book on the list: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Go on, I dare you

When The Dangerous Book for Boys came out earlier this year, I was unmoved by the "but what about the girls?" outrage. Maybe because the kid population in my household is evenly split between the pink team and the blue team, so I have my own little stereotype experiment under my nose every day; but I don't have a problem with a book declaring itself "for boys."

Still, it seemed like an awesome resource, so I was pleased to review The Daring Book for Girls by Andrea J. Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz. Much like the boy book, it's really less about danger and daring than about those tidbits of information, instruction, and inspiration that your girl might not pick up in school or at the playground -- but that are really cool for her to know.

For the full review, visit the Full Mommy!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Merry Christmas! Have a rock and some sticks!

best gift ever, 2002 I confess to being overly laidback about the toy recalls up to this point. So far, the only recalled products we have are several of the Thomas trains and accessories. We opted not to return them, out of laziness since our kids don't put anything (except thumbs and pacifiers, sigh) in their mouths anymore.

But this week's news that the CPSC only has one person testing toys (link via WhyMommy), and that a hugely popular toy may be laced with a date-rape drug? OK, that got my attention. So I'm participating in today's blog blast on toy safety, a joint effort of the Parent Bloggers Network and the Consumers Union.

As it is, I am constantly looking for ways to discourage relatives from giving my kids so much stuff (I know, cry me a river). I rarely buy my children anything (for special occasions or just because) because their grandparents and other family members are so generous. I mean, one sent a big box full of stuff for Halloween! Wasn't the door-to-door begging enough?

I hope I can use this toy disaster as a way to encourage the family to buy fewer, but more meaningful (and, hello, safer) gifts for us all. We already have far, far more than we need. At the same time, I know that giving is just as much about the giver as the receiver. I don't want to deny the grandmas the great pleasure they get from shopping for the kids.

Do you face this issue? What do you do about it?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Peace be with you

I just found out a few days ago that my uncle will not be coming to our family's Thanksgiving celebration this year. This is the uncle that I grew up with -- who is my godfather; who lived a block away; who could and did fix anything we needed; who told jokes with punchlines like "I left my harp in Sam Clam's disco" and "Silly rabbi, kicks are for Trids!" and offered milk by asking if we'd like a glass of "Chateau le Meyer." (Mmm, Meyer Dairy ... but that's another story for another post.)

He can't come because he is under house arrest after his second DUI. He has an ankle bracelet and can't leave the house except to go to work, nor can he have any alcohol in the house. The good news is that the punishment seems to be working. He hasn't, as far as anyone can tell, had a drink in a few months and he is seeing a counselor for the first time in his life.

I'm hopeful. I had been very concerned about him. For several years he had been in a downward spiral, existing on little more than coffee and cigarettes during the day and alcohol in the evenings. He lost a part-time job, one he very much enjoyed, when he showed up drunk. In his regular work, he builds houses so I worried about injuries on top of the possibility of car wrecks and disease. His wife tried to help and got nowhere.

Of course there's no one reason why anyone becomes an alcoholic. In his case, I speculate that it was a complicated soup of genetics, unresolved grief at the loss of his parents, perhaps an undiagnosed learning disability that caused him to do poorly in school and lack self-esteem.

I also believe that post-traumatic stress from his time in Viet Nam was involved. His brother (another uncle, whom I barely knew) also served and also suffered in the years that followed: abandoning his family, bouncing from city to city and job to job; eventually dying of cirrhosis and cancer in a VA hospital.

This post was inspired by today's Blog Blast for Peace. Because in the same way that I worried, and still worry, about my uncles, I worry about those soldiers, sailors, and airmen serving today, and about the repercussions that they and their families will experience for decades to come. Just like those commercials that proclaim "Depression hurts everyone," so does war, and in so many hidden ways.

For today, I am thankful that my uncle may be, just may be, healing. I hope he finds peace and comfort, and I hope the same for all victims of war.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

It's a toddler's prerogative to change his mind

up to no good Tonight's meltdown: Wanted to sit in a high chair (which he hasn't done since he was about 12 months old). High chair unavailable; booster chair (which he also hasn't used in well over a year) not an acceptable subsitute. Chair with a pillow? Nooooooo! Phone book? "Want Daddy make a high chair!" Ended up switching seats with his very patient sister several times before finally succumbing to the booster.

Last night's: Wanted to listen to Jo's book in Jo's room. NO! NO JO'S BOOK! Okay then. Back to Opie's room. NO! Want Jo's book! Okay, let's go. NO! NO JO'S BOOK! Okay then ... and so forth. Finally Mommy decided NO JO'S BOOK.

Can't wait for tomorrow's Indecision Tantrum!

Monday, November 05, 2007

8 is enough ... to fill our lives with looooove

Julie tagged me for this Crazy 8s meme and who am I to say no to a woman who is about to give birth any second?

8 things I’m passionate about:
1. My big girl
2. My little boy
3. Old houses
4. New books
5. Food (but only eating it. Not shopping for it or cooking it.)
6. Family
7. Friends
8. Blogging (if only based on time spent!)

8 things I say often:
1. I just need a little snack.
2. Time to go! We're late!
3. Give Mommy a kiss.
4. No, no candy right now.
5. No, we're done with TV for today.
6. Yes, I'll read that to you.
7. I'll just check my email.
8. Crap! Is it 2:45 already?

8 books I’ve recently read:
1. Beauty Confidential, Nadine Haobsh
2. The Boy in Striped Pajamas, John Boyne
3. The Lion King souvenir program (both my son and I have this one committed to memory)
4. Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen
5. The Last of Her Kind, Sigrid Nunez
6. Purple Hibiscus, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
7. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
8. (several months ago but I'm still inordinately proud) The Count of Monte Cristo, Andre Dumas

8 songs I could listen to over and over:
1. Hey, Julie (Fountains of Wayne)
2. Almost any Christmas carol or song
3. When You and I Were Young Maggie Blues (Grandpa)
4. Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard (Paul Simon)
5. More Pretty Girls Than One (Lyle Lovett)
6. Any 80s/early 90s R.E.M.
7. Inch By Inch (That Baby -- if my daughter is singing along)
8. Love Shack (B-52's)

8 things that attract me to my best friends:
1. wit
2. smarts
3. shared experiences
4. well-placed swear words
5. comic timing
6. good grammar
7. kid-friendly homes
8. parenting style

8 things I’ve learned in the past year:
1. All the words to every song on the Lion King soundtrack
2. That annoying cliquey stuff among girls starts in kindergarten
3. To do my own pedicures
4. Who Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, and Miley Cyrus are
5. That turkey slices and cookie cutters don't mix
6. That I will never catch up on everything I want to read, as long as I live
7. That every Catholic church has a relic inside its altar. I've been in 12 million churches and I never knew that. I don't know why I find it so fascinating, but I do.
8. I should go to bed earlier, but I never do.

8 of my peeps I think should do crazy 8s if they haven't already:
1. I am shy
2. about tagging
3. so if you feel
4. like 8-ing it up
5. go for it!
6. makes good
7. NaBloPoMo
8. fodder.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

You're high maintenance, but you think you're low maintenance

I am not particularly a girly girl when it comes to hair, makeup, and all things beauty. While it's true that I can't bear to leave the house without a bit of makeup, the operative words are "a bit" (concealer, eye pencil, mascara, done). I have my hair highlighted every four or five months, but I don't wear perfume ever. I own both daytime and nighttime moisturizers, but both of them came from Walgreens, not Sephora.

So why did I want to read Beauty Confidential when Parent Bloggers Network offered it for review? Head over to The Full Mommy to find out.

And don't miss my other post today, below: It's Blog Exchange time, and we're itchin' for a fight.

Well, spank my ...

I am not a spanker.

(Just a clarification for you Googlers: I am talking about disciplining kids here.)

There are no scenarios in which I can imagine hitting my kids on purpose. As a parent, my two biggest responsibilities are to keep my children safe from harm, and to love them unconditionally. If I strike them, either in anger or in an attempt to teach them a lesson, I have failed in both those responsibilities. Even if that lesson is an important one (don't run in the street; respect your elders; calm down now). Even if I just tap a diapered bottom. Even if I count to 10 first.

Sure, I want them to obey me. I want them to be well behaved. But I don't want to achieve those goals through intimidation and anger. I want to help my children learn values, so that they behave because they know it's the right thing to do. I want them to feel good about themselves and their decisions. If they're obeying the rules simply because they fear a whuppin', they haven't learned the skills they need to make good choices later. And once again, I've let them down as a parent.

I'll admit this all sounds mighty hippie. Like in our house we all sit around and talk about our feeeeeelings instead of doing anything. Like we are those ineffective parents who sit on the sidelines and feebly call out "No sweetie! Let's be nice to our friends!"

Let me assure you that we do discipline our children. We remove privileges, we use time-outs, we are consistent and firm. We allow natural consequences to make their own points. And nope, these strategies don't always work, so sometimes we get frustrated.

But we don't hit. I would be livid if anyone else laid a hand on my children, so why would I ever think it's okay for me to be the one delivering the blow? I read a post recently in which a mom said that the only time she ever spanks is if her child intentionally hurts another person or an animal. Where, oh where, is the logic there? "No hitting!" [whack!] "You know you're not supposed to hit!" [smack!] "This is what you get when you hit!" [slap!]

Yeah. That seems effective.

Do I sound a little more ... provocative than usual today? That's because we're debating! Today's Blog Exchange is a series of arguments on hot topics. So be sure to click over to Webkittyn Warbles for the flip side on spanking -- she does make a good case. You can also visit the BE site for more juicy debates.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Worst Halloween picture ever

My camera was recently dropped on its head. Can you tell? Plus my daughter seems to be affecting some kind of American Gothic vibe. But for the record:


Stick guy and Cheetah (not to be confused with Cheetah Girl), 2007.

Happy Halloween!

P.S. Here's our 2006 retrospective.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Declutter debrief

Several weeks ago I promised to spend my free Friday afternoons tackling the clutter that's threatening to overtake my house.

I got off to a great start:

out with the old
Then weeks went by where I wasted my so-called "free" afternoons working. But I did manage to do a 10-minute project this past Friday -- culling coats for a coat drive. I pulled out 8 or 9 of my coats and my kids' and dropped them off that very afternoon. Very freeing!

Here, by the way, is what I found in the pockets of all those coats:

  • 4 heart-shaped rubber bracelets
  • 1 ghost pencil topper
  • 1 pacifier
  • 1 daycare tracking sheet (infant room)
  • 3 rubber bands, and
  • a great deal of (clean) Kleenex

Monday, October 29, 2007

Gimme a merit badge in "grumpy"

Mama Merit Badges: Click to check them out My child has been a school-ager for all of 7 weeks now and I have decided I hate enrichment activities. I hate gymnastics because it is too far away and there is nowhere to wait safely and sanely with a 2-year-old in tow. I usually flee to Wal-Hell (to borrow Jamie's term) and that should give you an idea of how awful it is to stay at the gym.

I hate swimming because of the changing into suits/changing back to clothes, the grungy showers, the (again) dealing with the toddler in the locker room.

I hate soccer because I had to sign up two weeks ago (and pay $85) for a season that starts next May. And I had to pay an extra $25 so I wouldn't have to be an assistant coach or some other ill-defined volunteer job that I have no interest in or time for.

I hate dance because of the inappropriate songs and costumes (Chicago's "All That Jazz" for 4-year-olds, anyone?).

I hate music because my son opts to stand in the corner, crawl under the table, or throw things and I'm left scraping sandpaper all by myself.

I do like Sunday school. It amounts to free babysitting and there are doughnuts after.

Tell me it gets better when the kids get older, and I just sit in the car with a book while they're off somersaulting or playing the French horn or whatever.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Rosy-fingered haiku

Small boy up at dawn
Declares "Mommy, it's oh-clock!"
Abandon all hope

haiku friday

Thursday, October 25, 2007

An experience is worth a thousand toys

ready for takeoff Last week I wrote about awe-inspiring places I've seen, and we collaborated on an amazing list of more sights to see. I said I'd write about what got me thinking about that. I was cuddling with Opie before bed, and we had the Lion King soundtrack playing. I thought about how he'd be seeing the traveling production again in a few months--his second Broadway show, before he even turns three. And I worried "Is this going to ruin him? Is he going to think this is the norm, that he's entitled to these exciting, expensive adventures as a matter of course--until they are no longer exciting?"

Because we live far from our families, which in turn are spread across the U.S. and even beyond, we have traveled extensively with our kids. They have their own frequent-flyer accounts. They have seen the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the busy streets of London, New York, Chicago, and more. If one day we take them to Venice or Agra or Belize, will they see it with jaded eyes?

Tammie says (in the comments to that first post) that she doesn't think we can spoil our kids with experiences "if we teach them how sacred they are. Just as we teach them to value their belongings."

Bon says "yes, in a way kids can be spoiled by too much experience, but I'm not sure it's the same type of spoiled. I dunno. It depends on whether they lose the appreciation and the wonder of travel."

I agree that it's up to us to teach our children the value in what they see and do, not just what they have. A tall order; but then again so is flying internationally, overnight, with a 2-year-old, when you are 6 weeks pregnant and imminently barfing.

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

$10 plus tax

10 dollars plus tax ... and worth every penny.

Update on the lil' slugger in the post below. Thank you all for your sympathy and advice. Can you believe this sweet child punched a classmate in the stomach? I think she was framed.

the inchworm did it

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A milestone I would have preferred to put off for awhile

10/23/07: First Call from the Principal (Regarding a Disciplinary Issue).

So apparently Jo decided to let her fists do the talking during a.m. recess today. And then she and her sparring partner kept up their beef once they returned to the classroom. Pretty soon they both earned themselves a trip to the principal's office. I don't know about the other kid (the principal intimated that there was more than enough blame to be shared by the two of them), but Jo's punishment was to miss the next recess and to sit by herself at the "behavior table" during lunch.

The thought of her small little self eating her lunch all alone makes me want to cry.

Setting that aside, I am wondering what the etiquette of all this is. Obviously I will reinforce the "use your words" lesson at home, but do I also have her write a note of apology? To the other kid, the teacher, the principal, all of the above? When I see the teacher after school, do I say something (keep in mind she'll be in the doorway of the school with tons of other kids and parents swarming around)?

And what did the other kid say that made Jo want to punch him in the stomach?

Update, 10/24: I've now talked to Jo, the teacher, and another mother who happened to witness the big fight. Apparently the other child was all up in Jo's face calling her "stupid." She told him several times to stop and he wouldn't, so she slugged him. The two adults corroborated Jo's contention that she was provoked by this child, so I am going to let it go. No apology for him! And since I spoke to the teacher (she called me yesterday afternoon, which I appreciated; I had quickly caught her eye at pick-up time and said "I'm sorry, I'll talk to her"), I don't think we need to get into an apology note for her either.

I do feel bad that this dispute interrupted class time, but then again, kindergarten is about learning social skills and how to interact in a group. I reminded Jo this morning to steer clear of the name-caller, and to ask for help from an adult if she needed it. I think she'll be fine, and honestly? I'd rather have an assertive girl than a pushover.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Friends don't let friends ...

When he was about eight years old, my younger brother had a red cotton jacket with a baseball patch on it. Kid loved that jacket and wore it nonstop, until it turned from a cheery cherry red to a dingy brick hue. Finally one evening my mother managed to get it away from him and into the washing machine. I'm not sure what she used on it, but the end result was so astonishingly wonderful that she hiked up two flights of steps to my bedroom and woke me up just to show me how clean the jacket had become.

Rush over to The Full Mommy to find out about my similar moment of laundry exaltation.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Cheerer-upper art

For the Baddest Mother of them all:


Mermaids cavorting beneath magic flying cat. Jo, 2007.
Collection the artist's mother.

If this is what I can do to ease the suffering of my morning-sick sisters, I am so there. Someday soon (very very soon) may your stomachs settle and your appetites return.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Let's go spanning the world

I love audience participation--especially when I get to live vicariously through all your amazing travels! Herewith, assembled from your comments (plus a few of my own, added as promised):

The Official Mayberry Mom Readers Most Awe-Inspiring Places in the World

Living on a prayer:
Cathedral of St. Paul, St. Paul, Minnesota
Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C.
National Holocaust Museum, Washington, D.C.
St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York
An unnamed church, the Cayman Islands
Our Lady of San Juan de Los Lagos in the town of the same name, Jalisco, Mexico
Westminster Abbey, London
Canterbury Cathedral, Canterbury, U.K.
Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres, Chartres, France
Notre Dame, Paris
The Alhambra, Granada, Spain
Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
St. Peter's Basilica, Rome
Hagia Sophia, Istanbul
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

For love or money:
Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee
Versailles Palace, Versailles, France
The Taj Mahal, Agra, India

Once upon a time:
Salinas Pueblo Missions, New Mexico
Mayan ruins, Belize
Mayan ruins, Tulum, Mexico
Ruined castle, Marmorera, Switzerland
Anne Frank's home, Amsterdam
Eastern Czech Republic
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
Roman Baths, Bath, England
Pre-Roman ruins in Turkey
Ephesus, Turkey
Fairy castles, Cappadocia, Turkey
Greek island of Delos

Urban paradises:
New York City--streets, skyline, and during a blizzard
The Bean, Chicago
A moonlit San Francisco bridge
Vancouver, BC (view from Stanley Park)
The Berlin Wall, mid-demolition
Bucharest, Romania
Hong Kong

Fiddler on the roof:
Sunsets over ...
The desert outside Las Vegas, Nevada
The Rocky Mountains, from the air
The Gulf of Mexico, from the Florida Keys
A beach in Mexico
The cliffs of Santorini
Mount Warning in Eastern Australia

Sunrises in ...
The Valley of the Gods, southern Utah
The waters off Molokai Island, Hawaii

High and low:
Mt. Washington, Oregon
Rocky Mountains, Telluride, Colorado
Santa Fe, New Mexico, in the snow
Grand Canyon, Arizona
Awaawapuhi trail, Kauai, Hawaii
Hierve el Agua, Mexico
Cliffs, east coast of Ireland
Mountain views, Lugano, Switzerland
Mountains and fjords, Norway
Samaria Gorge, Crete

Wet and dry:
Arches national park, Utah
Red rock formations, Bryce and Zion, Utah
White Sands, New Mexico
Petrified Forest, Arizona
Northern California coast
Cola De Caballo waterfall, Monterrey, Mexico
Todos Santos, Baja, Mexico
The Blue Pool, Hana, Hawaii
The Gobi Desert
The ocean--from the shore, from a ship, from underwater

Check the comments on the previous post for more details on many of these; thank you to all who shared (especially those who are new or infrequent commenters!).

Monday, October 15, 2007

Totally awe-some

The other night as I was waiting for Opie to fall asleep (or at least settle down enough so that I could safely exit the room), I started thinking* about places I've been that were truly awe-inspiring. Places that really stopped me dead in my tracks the first time I saw them. At first, I only came up with two. I later thought of a bunch more, when I pushed myself to think beyond the borders of Western Europe (and the Catholic church, I guess), and out into the natural world. But the very first two that popped into my head were Ste.-Chappelle, in Paris, and St. Peter's Basilica.

I'm curious to know what would be on your list. Tell me a few and then I'll share the others that I came up with after more thought.

*And then maybe in a future post I'll explain the train of thought that got me to this particular station because it brings up another topic worth discussing -- can kids be spoiled by experiences (as well as material goods)?

Friday, October 12, 2007

It's a tur-ku kind of day

Snack duty this week
Daughter insists on lunchmeat
Just like Grace's mom brought

But wait there is more
We must use cookie cutters
To style our turkey

Guess what? Turkey's thin
Rips, shreds, grease on my fingers
Kid, never again

True story! Our turn to bring snack and we have to live up to the Platonic ideal set by Grace's mom, who brought some unspecified "meat" and cheese slices cut into acorn and leaf shapes. I at least talked Jo into storebought, pre-cut cheese but no such luck in the meat category. Trying to be healthful, I bought thickly sliced turkey. Word to the wise: It totally fell apart. Next time you need to cut lunchmeat into cute shapes, I recommend salami or bologna. Just FYI.

What are your kids learning in school?

Haiku Friday

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

But never, not ever, in a bathroom

My nursing days ended--most likely for good--over a year ago, so I can't participate in today's Great Virtual Breast Fest (brainchild of the League of Maternal Justice). But if you can't see me nursing, perhaps some of these other absolutely beautiful babies and mamas?

I breastfed for a total of 32 months (holy cow) and guess what? I occasionally left my home, with my babies during that nearly three-year period. That means I have nursed:
  • on airplanes and in airports
  • on busses
  • in (parked) cars
  • in dozens of restaurants
  • in stores and shopping malls
  • in Central Park
  • in many other parks
  • in my boss's office (during a meeting)
  • in my own office (sometimes with baby, sometimes with pump)
  • at the hair salon and the dentist's
  • during a pelvic exam (I wish I were kidding)
  • at church
  • in front of my dad, my brother, my uncle, my brother-in-law, and my mother-in-law's "gentleman friend"

I only wish I had some photographic evidence to stick in Facebook's eye. Well, maybe not from that time during the pelvic.

Friday, October 05, 2007

About 978.58 miles, give or take

That's exactly how far I'd go for my kids. It's how far I went when we moved from New York City to Mayberry.

OK, so that's not really what the Parent Bloggers Network meant with today's Blog Blast question, but watch while I string this together.

We moved because we wanted more space, safety, and time (which we'd get by eliminating commuting from our daily routine). And we wanted good schools, without having to pay exorbitant tuition or be a part of the loony urban private school admissions scene.

I believe in public school. Every child has a right to a free, high-quality education, one that will prepare him to be a successful, productive adult. And everyone in a community--young or old, parent or not--has a responsibility to make sure that education is available.

But was I willing to stand on principle and send my kid to a school where only two-thirds of her class could be considered "proficient" in language arts? Where 80% of her classmates would qualify for free or reduced lunch? Where the paint was probably chock full of lead, and the textbooks out of date? Where she'd be Left Behind before she even finished kindergarten?

I wasn't. It was enough for me to juggle a job (with commute), a child, a husband, and an apartment, without trying to add "singlehandedly reform crappy public school" to my list.

My ethics, in this case, took a back seat to my child's immediate needs--and I still feel bad about it. Because this is how we got into this mess. The smart, savvy parents walk: to the suburbs, to the private schools, even to their own home-school classrooms. The just-trying-to-keep-their-heads-above-water parents stay. They don't have the time (courage, wherewithal, awareness, language skills, etc.) to agitate for change. Things get worse and the cycle continues.

Since moving back to the crummy school district is not an option for us, and neither is coming up with a magic answer to this country's public school crisis, I'll have to start smaller. If I win the prize on this blog blast, I'll take my winnings and donate them to a public school teacher through Donors Choose. If doesn't smile on me this time, I'll take all my BlogHer Ads earnings from now through the end of the school year and donate them instead.

I'll tell my kids how lucky they are to live in a place where school is free, fun, and actually educational. I'll tell them that not every child is so blessed. And I'll tell them that they just might be the ones who could make it right.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Hit me with your best guess

mom and kids reading

I sent my parents the picture of toothless Jo, which prompted my dad to retaliate with a picture of toothless me (on the far left above).

The first person who correctly guesses the year this photo was taken wins a copy of the book we're reading there. Well, a contemporary copy.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

High School Musical is a gateway drug

I should have known. I should have known! She started watching HSM when Jeff brought a DVD home from work. We thought it was cute that she liked the big kids singing and dancing (she also likes Singin' in the Rain). It seemed harmless enough and she even caught on to some of the lessons about peer pressure and why it isn't nice to act like Sharpay does.

Fast-forward to last month, when HSM2 came out ... and one or the other of those movies, or some portion thereof, is showing daily in my living room. Patois warned me to pull the plug, but did I listen? Of course not. As long as the daily intake didn't exceed recommended allowances, I let her keep watching, figuring the appeal would wear off eventually. (Hey, it worked for Maisy.)

So. All you parents of older kids can guess what happened. While I was out of town last week, those wily geniuses at Disney sunk their hooks ever deeper into my child. And now? She wants to watch this. And this.

Oh dear God.

P.S. We do not have the creepy bedding with the creepy Zac Efron pillow. In fact, the only merch we have so far is the DVD that started it all. So at least there's that.

Cross-posted at The Full Mommy.

Monday, October 01, 2007


I remember last year about this time when Fa discovered her favorite color.

She was in her first week of "Mommy & Me". She was painfully shy and she found some comfort in her spot behind the easel. (She is still very comfortable there, but for different reasons and she creates some gorgeous artwork.)

Armed and double fisted with paint brushes, two yogurt cups placed in front of her filled with red and yellow paint, she began her exploration.

Broad strokes of cherry red paint covered the butcher paper. She used thick layers of red on top of red. Satisfied with her work, she placed the red brush in the red yogurt cup.

Seemingly complete, she pondered her work. You could see the thought bubble rising from her head..."Something's missing, I'm not done yet."

Gently, she raised her second brush loaded with yellow paint and slid it across the red background. The colors magically changing right in front of her eyes. Woah!

"Look at what you discovered!", sang her teacher with glee...
"I don't see that color in your paint cups. I only see yellow and red. What happened?"

And it has been her favorite color ever since.

Fa is an almost four year old who lives with her Bloggin' Mamma ~JJ! in a suburb outside of NYC. She loves to paint and draw pictures all day long and go to art museums. She just started preschool and her mom is having major separation anxiety. You can read all about her and their separation woes over at ~JJ!'s Blog Gaining Balance.

Thank you from the bottom of our paint cups to Mayberry Mom for sharing her creative space with us for this month's Blog Exchange. The Blog Exchange is a monthly blog share that allows all participants to share their creativity on a new and different canvas. Come, be creative with us. And go read Mayberry Mom's artwork over at Gaining Balance today.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Let me 'splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

1. Work: Eh. Lovely catching up with coworkers and demonstrating that I am, indeed, more than just a voice wafting through the speakerphone. Much slower pace than last visit. Project that I went to launch didn't launch, thanks to no help at all from other parts of our group. Blah blah story of our little team's life blah blah.

2. Opie: excellent companion. Befriended many fellow travelers. Dug the subway (except when it was "too woud"). Can demonstrate Statue of Liberty pose. Wants to be a "stick guy" for Halloween.

3. Neighbor child doting on Opie: Largely annoying (mostly because he riled Opie up so that it took me an average of one hour each night to get him to fall asleep). All forgiven when I learned he'd written in his school journal that "the best part of this week is taking care of the Baby Opie."

4. Celeb sightings: No Clooney, but Opie saw Chris Noth and Eric Bogosian and we both saw John McCain.

5. This weekend, aka The Return:

Guess whose is whose?

The lost tooth, by the way, is literally lost, somewhere in the depths of Home Depot. I only hope the next person rummaging through one of those drawers full of nuts and bolts doesn't find a small, bloody incisor instead. Jo wrote the following note to the fairy (punctuation emphatically hers):

Jo! lost! my! Tooth!
Look! for! it! at!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Gimme a muffin to go

For the record, this is what I brought to entertain one 2.5-year-old boy during two airplane flights and an airport layover:

6-8 miniature vehicles, including motorcycle, airplane, and various cars and trucks
4 books
2 coloring books/markers
2 pacifiers
1 laptop/5 DVDs
1 string of beads (vehicle theme)
1 baggie goldfish crackers
1 baggie trail mix
1 apple
1 turkey sandwich
1 sippy cup

This is what proved to be most entertaining of all:

1 overpriced, very dry blueberry muffin (place both hands on top of muffin; squeeze. A good 10 minutes of hilarity!)

I'm in New York this week with 1 junior sidekick. So posting will be light as I am busy massaging unused-to-high-heels feet, playing Frogger trying to cross Atlantic Avenue (see: feet too sore to reach crosswalk), catching up with friends, and -- oh yeah. Working.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Indian summer
Pool closed, sprinklers put away
Just soak up the warmth

Tell me dear husband
Why it's so hard to grasp
what's recyclable?

My scalp is itchy
Please don't tell me it's that--No,
It's all in my head

Thursday, September 20, 2007

My stay at the Home for Wayward Girls

'Gramercy Park' by George BellowsLast Sunday's New York Times blasted me to the past with this article about the Salvation Army's Parkside Evangeline Residence. When I first moved to New York City after college, I needed a place to stay while I was interviewing for jobs and looking for an apartment. I spent about 10 days at the Parkside Evangeline, which I insisted, then and now, on calling the Home for Wayward Girls. I think it cost $35 a night.

This women-only, single-room-occupancy, extended-stay hotel was a throwback even then, with its dingy decor and prim rules about male visitors to your room (as in, none allowed. Not that I had anyone to invite up). I didn't eat in the dining room or spend any time in the lobby -- if I wasn't out prowling for a job or an apartment, I holed up in my room with a few books and a tiny radio for company.

I did have friends in the city but I mostly remember feeling lonely and scared. I'd lived in Philadelphia for the past four years but was still felt like a total rube in NYC. Sleeping alone in a dim, narrow room, skulking down the hall to use the bathroom, and communicating with the outside world via the hallway pay phone didn't help at all. Nor did the bank screwup that left me with almost no cash (or credit) for a few days, weighing whether to spend my last $1.50 on a subway token or a bagel on the morning of an interview.

And I never availed myself of my one and only chance to visit Gramercy Park! Curses.

As for the plan to evict the remaining tenants from the Parkside Evangeline and sell the building, I can't say I blame the Salvation Army. Yes, the deal stinks for the current residents and for people in the position I was in. And it's a shame to see one of those places that makes New York New York be turned into yet another luxury condo. But all that sentiment and $1.50 will not even get you a ride on the subway.

A real pain in the wrasse

All I didn't really need to know I learned in the first three weeks of kindergarten:

1. If the teacher says it, then It Is So. "Mommy, we can eat that brown stuff on the apple. It's just from air."

2. There is a fish called a wrasse that specializes in cleaning the teeth of other fish by swimming into their mouths and eating leftover food. Yum!

3. "Dear Parents: We have had a case of head lice reported in your child's classroom ... "

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Beer, breastmilk -- whatever gets you through the night

Yesterday I opened up my fantasy football scoreboard to see if my come-from-behind victory was proceeding as planned. Indeed it was, but that's not what made me do a doubletake.

So if the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the Ad Council think that a sports website -- with a beer sponsorship, no less -- is a good place for an ad encouraging breastfeeding, what is Facebook's problem? Or Bill Maher's?

I've read many eloquent posts on the subject of what an idiot Maher is and how ridiculous Facebook is, and I completely agree with them. So I'm not going to add anything else except this little Moment of Zen from the world of sports.

And, no comments from the peanut gallery (ahemKyleahem) about my crappy team. It may have been an ugly win, but it was a win.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Stop the world, I want to get off, I caught Opie singing "There's not a star in heaven that we can't reach..."

That's from High School Musical, for the uninitiated. My baby!

And this evening, we discovered that Jo has a loose tooth. MY BABY!

Friday, September 14, 2007


Three free hours today
To-do list goes on for miles
Maybe I’ll just blog

It's Haiku Friday again!

Now that school has started, my schedule has changed and I am giving myself Friday afternoons off from both work and kid care. That means they are on for freelance jobs, household stuff, and maybe once in a while even something fun. My plan for the next several weeks is to slowly, surely purge this house of about a metric ton of accumulated crap. I will pick one closet/storage area/black hole per Friday and devote an hour to clearing it out. Realizing I still had a 15-year-old dress in my closet was definitely a kick in the ass, as was the change in weather that arrived this week. This happens every time the seasons change: I feel like I have no idea how to dress. I need to reset my brain from "capris" to "jeans" and back again, to find the long-sleeved shirts that have been buried under the short-sleeved ones for four months. But since very few of my clothes would really pass the Clinton/Stacy/Tim Gunn test, I feel the need to start fresh.

Wish me luck -- and I am counting on you to hold me accountable to my goal. Stay tuned for photographic evidence!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Every mother's dream: 1st place in the tractor pull

Being the mother of a girl is a tough, scary job. On top of general health, happiness, and welfare, you have to worry about plummeting self-esteem, body image issues, an overly sexualizing culture.

So when it comes to my little xx-chromosome bearer, I praise her athleticism in addition to her adorableness. I ban Bratz dolls and their skanky sisters. When, a few months ago, a classmate told Jo she had fat legs (!) (I know), we talked about strong muscles and how it's not kind to call anyone fat or skinny.

And today, I'm going to pat myself on the back just a little because I think some of this is sinking in. We stayed after school yesterday afternoon, hanging around at the playground as many kids and moms do. As we left, Jo told me that one of the girls had been telling her about the "secret pee places" (!) (?) (I know) in the schoolyard. "Like places you can go pee if you need to. When you are outside."

I reminded her that we most certainly do not pee in the yard. She replied that her friend said she had to or else they couldn't be friends.

My mind raced, trying to think of the best way to respond. Then Jo nonchalantly added that she didn't have to pee, so she just told the other girl that she didn't need to go right now, and they both carried on. Minor peer-pressure crisis averted.

On a roll, once in the car I reminded her of the birthday party invitation she'd received recently, for an "utimate hula girl party." And I quote: "Each girl comes in her swimsuit, gets a hula skirt to wear and is treated to a Hawaiian makeover with up-do, make-up, and nail polish. Then the whole group learns the hula!"

Win #2: She stands by her first instinct, to decline the invite. She'd said she wanted to go, but she did not want to "wear the bathing suit or do the part with the lipstick or the dancing." That's my little feminist! When I told her that she couldn't really avoid that stuff if she attended the party, she decided she wouldn't go at all.

Oh, and win #3? That would be the tractor pull she won this weekend. Oh yeah. At "family farm" day at the zoo (where, how lucky are we, we also got to meet two lovely residents of Binkytown), she pedaled a mini John Deere more than 8 feet -- the second-place finisher eked out 3.5 feet.

tractor pullin' girl

You go, girl. (Also, tell those guys to get out of my shot.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Igneous, sedimentary, and highly questionable
Has anyone else seen the ads for the new line of Secret deodorants, Scent Expressions? One of the fragrances is Vanilla Chai. I am not kidding. Does anyone out there want their underarms to smell like a nice frothy latte (or arctic apple, for that matter)? I can't stop thinking of that scene in Flirting with Disaster where some guy licked Patricia Arquette's pit "because it's my favorite part of a woman's body."

For a review of a product I do think is worthwhile--a kids' science show called "The Zula Patrol"--please visit The Full Mommy today. While you're there, help a girl out: Amy is bootless and bereft in Binkytown.

Another sunny Tuesday

Image US Air Force
My September 11 story is here. Six years seems like forever ago but I can recall every minute of that day in sharp detail. I can't let it pass without a moment of remembrance and a prayer for peace -- the peace that means "no more wars" and the peace that means grace and comfort too.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Salvation Army, lock your doors 'cause here I come

pretty pretty flowers

God only knows why
This shapeless sack of rayon
Wastes good closet space

I'm only showing it to you because I'm participating in today's Parent Bloggers Network Blog Blast for the new book The Little Black Book of Style, by Nina Garcia of ELLE and Project Runway fame.

I decided it would be too easy to bring out the forest green velvet bridesmaid dress from 1993 or anything maternity. Anyway this particular example is pretty bad on its own. Nina would roll her eyes all the way back into her head if she saw this gem, which I've been toting around since before the first (and I don't mean Bill vs. Hillary) Clinton administration. I wore it for my college graduation party and somewhere there is a picture of me and about 5 of my friends at that occasion. Each one of us is wearing a print dress of this ilk and let me tell you, it's a pretty scary sight.

So. What've you got? It's worth a $250 gift certificate to Coach, so bring it on (anytime before midnight PST). And just for fun, caption it with a haiku!

Thursday, September 06, 2007 be continued...

Once upon a time, after the evil stepmom had put up a Barbed wire fence around everything, the Empress came and shouted: "I've come to give you A little piece of me mind!"

The evil stepmom, Shelby, came out to see what all the Rambling from this Crazy person was about. The cranky, evil stepmom watched in horror as the insane person began to parade around singing "A Boy Named Sue."

It seemed like forever this insane person would sing and for miles he would parade, all the while twisting and dancing to the song.

It was nothing short of sheer brilliance, though, this Empress, dancing like a wild monkey in an accordian store, waving goodbye to the evil (and I mean very evil) stepmom and heading off to her job as a Kelly Girl on a military base in South Carolina. It was there she was swept off her feet by Officer Gorgeous and signed up to be part of the USO.

It was day by day living with Officer Gorgeous. They went to dances, watched movies, star-gazed, & drank their fountain drinks from the same glass. Then, her Mother, Sister, and Friend came along.....She hadn't seen them for years, and couldn't wait to introduce her new love to them. "This is Officer Gorgeous," she said. "He's really a misplaced midwesterner. We're crazy in love!"

"You must come all the way home with us!" her family cried.

She countered their pleas by saying, "I can't go all the way back to Mayberry, Mom."

Her brother stepped in and said, "Hey, while your Officer Gorgeous has been keeping your fires burning on the homefront, his wife -- yeah, I said wife -- is raising their screaming masses."

"His wife?" shouted the Empress. "He messed with the wrong woman. You better get me out of here now before I smother him with his prized eucalyptus pillow."

Undaunted by Officer Gorgeous's treachery, the Empress set out to taste the world. She believed that life is an ongoing education. Still, she wasn't prepared for the lesson she learned when she arrived in Istanbul that sultry April evening.


Thanks for the tag, Patois!

1. Copy and paste the story, and the rules, on your blog.
2. Find out who you're going to tag. (2-3 people, or more, if you wish)
3. Write one or two sentences to continue the story, and use the titles of the blogs you're tagging or any word(s) associated with them as keywords in the links you include in your part of the story.
4. Remember to tell your taggees that you've tagged them!
5. Feel free to use this and start your own viral link story. I'd very much appreciate a link back to Mother's Home if you do. (Or a tag, if you prefer!)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Bone appetit!

So, the kindergarten report: All was well. Drop-off and pick-up, while logistically messy (wait outside! no, wait near the cafeteria! no, go to the classroom!), were emotionally pretty easy. In four hours, Jo and her class squeezed in group time, an art project, a story, and a snack (Scooby-Doo animal crackers--Mrs. B. taught the kids to say "Bone appetit. Let's eat" first), plus trips to the bathroom, playground, library, and cafeteria. She's thoroughly ready to go back for more tomorrow.

So now I turn my attention to my first baby, our 9-year-old dog. Paradoxically (and I'm sure this is familiar to many of you who've made similar moves), she often got more exercise back when we lived in a 1200-square-foot apartment. Then, we had to take her for regular walks. Now, we turn her out into the backyard a few times a day and that's about it. If we're spending time outside, she'll run around and play; but regular walks are, shall we say, irregular.

I've noted before that my attempts to exercise, including long dog-walks, seem to be constantly thwarted by children. So unfair. So it was kind of a stretch for me to tell the good people of Parent Bloggers Network that "Yes! I'm an exerciser! Sign me up for them free shoes!" But follow my logic: If I replace my six-year-old (yeah, six) cross-trainers with new, wonderfully comfortable, designed-for-women walking shoes by Ryka, I will be forced to use them.

Cliffhanger: Did I? What do I think of the shoes? And more importantly, what does my dog think? To find out, please check out my review over at The Full Mommy. There's more good stuff there too: a cool building toy endorsed by our resident preschool teacher, a how-to video for dads, even our top picks for kiddie snacks. Plus, we're welcoming a new reviewer: Mrs. Chicken!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Hot saucy hedgehogs

Two conversations that made me go hmmmm.

1. Indoors, having lunch (which isn't PB&Js).

JO: I smell ... Mr. B.!
ME (slightly afraid of the response): Uh... what does Mr. B. smell like?
JO: Peanut butter sandwiches!
OPIE: No! He smells like ... hedgehogs!

2. The bathtub.

JO: Opie is my hot saucy boyfriend and I am his hot saucy girlfriend!
ME: ...
JO (singing): Hot saucy girlfriend! Hot saucy girlfriend!
ME (deciding to go all child psych 101): Hot saucy girlfriend? What does that mean?
JO: It means your girlfriend is in a volcano and she is hot from lava!
ME: I see. And how about "saucy"?
JO: Saucy, like she is covered with tomato sauce!

Mayberry is burning

Yesterday was a pretty average Saturday. My parents were visiting and we walked downtown to the farmer's market and the bakery. We played outside with the neighbor kids. We ate dinner and gave the kids a bath and put on their jammies. Then we walked over to another neighbor's backyard for a performance like this:

The neighbors have a new foreign exchange student and this is her hobby. Performances nightly!

(That's not her -- I didn't want to show up toting a videocamera -- but it's similar to what she did.)

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Dear Mr. President

Dear Mr. President,
I understand that you are used to getting your way, in fact have never not gotten what you loudly demand, but I feel there are some things that we should discuss. I’d like to take a minute to review your take on the environment, your foreign policy, and even weapons of mass destruction. Is that OK? Do you have a minute? Good.

Let’s start with the environment. Seriously, what do you have against the landfills? Why do you feel the need to wait until I change your diaper to have a poop? Couldn’t you use the slightly wet diaper that’s already on your tush? No, you wait until I’ve changed you to let loose, forcing me to use yet another diaper. One of these days the landfills are going to overflow and it’ll all be your fault. OK. Maybe my fault a little for not using cloth diapers, but still! You’re the one who wastes perfectly good diapers. (Not to mention the fact that you are wasting away your college tuition. Just sayin’.)

Moving on to my foreign policy issues. How exactly do you decide who will be friend or foe? We walk into a room and you’ll befriend someone and latch on to them for the rest of the day. Everyone else who tries to talk to you or play with you gets the cold shoulder. I have yet to understand what draws you to one person, but not to another. Is it the color of their shirt, or something more abstract? It would really help me if you could give me a hint or two so that I can clue in the people who really want to bond with you.

Maybe it’s a bit of an exaggeration to categorize your gas as a weapon of mass destruction, but when you come into our bed early in the morning, snuggle under the covers, and let one rip, well, let’s just say that you can get us to get up pretty darn fast. I really wish you would refrain from using your secret weapon, especially when we’re in the closed car on a warm day. It’s really uncalled for, I’d even go so far as to say downright evil.

Now that you have acquired a Vice President your father and I are quite worried about our little democracy. Aside from the few issues I’ve mentioned above we feel that you’ve been quite a reasonable ruler. We hope that now that there are two of you and two of us you will not take advantage of the situation. If you do we might have to consider impeaching you, or at least taking away your Dora privileges. Consider yourself warned.

Your mommy

This was a guest post written by Rose at It’s My Life... in honor of this month’s blog exchange.

When I’m not busy working, cooking, or running after my toddler, C, I’m usually hiding in the bathroom thinking up my next blog post or trying to read a chapter or two of the book I’m currently wading through. When I do come up with something witty to write about, you can read it here where your usual blogger extraordinaire is blogging today.