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.