Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I love your blog!

The news is all GLOOM! DOOM! World! Ending!

And yes--pretty much true. But let's put that aside for a moment and talk about the fact that Kimberly loves my blog. So, happy thoughts! Thank you, Kimberly.

And now I get to say which blogs I love. Which seven blogs I love, which as you can imagine is not really possible. Seventy-seven, I could do.

So here are the most recent additions to my reader, because if they've earned a spot there then I must love them. (And if you're not listed, that just means I already loved you.)

Dirt & Noise. A few good rants about Sarah Palin and I was sold.

It's Lovely! I'll Take It! Click over there. You will not regret it.

Motherhood in NYC. Marinka? Is very funny.

Nyack Backyard. Vicarious gardening!

Total Mom Haircut. She taught Martha Stewart a thing or two about blogging.

The Wink. I know, everyone already knows about Amanda, apparently except me.

And my 7th spot (since I always have to find a way to cheat on every meme) goes to all the mom bloggers participating in the Donors Choose 2008 Blogger Challenge. Thanks for supporting such a great cause!

Fine print:
  • You can put the award picture on your blog.
  • Link to the person who awarded you.
  • Nominate at least seven other blogs that you love.
  • Put up links to those blogs.
  • Leave messages with the blogs you nominated.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Overthinking the yard sign

The McCain-Palin signs have started to pop up around our neighborhood. There are a few Obama-Biden ones, too, but not as many.

I'm on record as being a strong Obama supporter. So what am I waiting for, with the sign? I think about this all the time when I'm biking around town. I've gone back and forth 100 times about whether or not to get a sign.

It's not that I'm ashamed to proclaim my choice. It's not that I'm afraid someone will steal my sign, like Magpie's. It's not even that I don't want to be perceived as a stark raving liberal (which, let's face it, I am).

It's not that I don't want to be confronted. In fact, my fear is that I wouldn't be confronted, that I wouldn't have a chance to explain why I think Obama is the best choice for our country. The fact is this is a small town. Many of my friends and neighbors are staunch Catholics. For them the election revolves solely around the abortion issue.

What about the death penalty, I say. What about the war? What about the poor, the homeless, the immigrants? These are all high priorities for the Catholic church as well. What about the fact that unless you're a millionaire, I'll bet you that million that your taxes will go up in a McCain administration?

That's a lot to fit on one little yard sign.

This still feels like a big fat rationalization to me. But I did put a sign up on my blog.

It's a start.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Bend it like (Victoria) Beckham

(I've been learning a lot about SEO lately. I should probably include some pictures of David Beckham in his skimpy briefs to bring in a coupla more page views.)

So today was my last day of work. More accurately, it was my last day in the employ of a big ol' company (and not to sound dramatic, but it feels like I'll never, ever, ever be a salaried employee again). From now on, I work for ME. While I have editors and oversight at my new gig, my day-to-day tasks, how much I work, and when I do it is up to me. If I work more, theoretically I'll be paid more. Which translates, for me, into "if I goof around all day on Twitter while my kids are at school, I'll be staying up much later than I'd like to catch up on writing."

This is scary. For the past couple of months I've been juggling both jobs (oh and a few other freelance writing gigs thrown in for good measure) and it's meant a lot of burning the candle at both ends. While the kids are at school I work, unload the dishwasher, work some more, fold the laundry while on a conference call, work, write a blog post, work, etc. I take 5 or so hours off for kid pick-up, play time, dinner-bath-bed, and then it's back to working again until I roll into bed, by midnight if I'm lucky.

I know this is the new reality for so many of us. Forget balancing work and family; we stretch and contort and juggle family and home responsibilities with not just one job, but several. Blogging is a quasi-job (I just "earned" $200 from Parent Bloggers Network for my recent blog blast post!) too. The lines between "work" and "family" are so fluid they've become nearly invisible.

I wouldn't trade the flexibility I have now--the ability to run to school to help out for 15 minutes at 11 a.m., or to stop working at 2:30 p.m. and start up again at 9, or to file a story from anyplace in the world with an Internet connection. But there's something to be said, sometimes, for leaving work at work. And when you work at home, you just can't do that.

Image: Not-David-Beckham demonstrating the patented one-armed push-up ice-cream-eating technique.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pop, swap, sweet!

I know it's been all blasty, prompty, memey around here lately but I have to do this Mix 'n' Match, Pop 'n' Swap (warning, links to headless dolls! But they do seem to be a good solution to the typical Polly Pocket Problem) one too (via Parent Bloggers Network):

Because that picture just needs to be shared.

It's hard to get a good look at the socks but they're red with a yellow windowpane pattern and navy trim. Of course.

My kids pick out their own clothes every day and I pretty much never make them change. I won't let them wear jeans to church or swimsuits to the grocery store, but I will let them wear whatever wackjob color/pattern combinations they come up with. I will let them wear pajamas under (sometimes over) their clothes if that's what gets them out of the door smiling. I will let my toddler boy wear a tutu with his tool-emblazoned long johns.

Choose your battles, mamas. Choose your battles.

Monday, September 22, 2008

V-Motion = Junior Wii?

When the Parent Bloggers Network asked me to review VTech's V-Motion Active Learning System, I said "It's like a baby Wii! Send it over right now!"

Click over to The Full Mommy to find out whether it lived up to my wildest hopes and dreams.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Corndog with cheese

What can't I live without as a mom, ask to Yoplait Kids and Parent Bloggers Network?

I'm going to have to go the totally corny route and say other moms. Other moms have taught me what to carry, what to buy, and what to ignore. They've taught me what to wear, what to sweat, and what not to. They've lent me baby gear and dropped off meals in times of crisis. They've kept me company on long stroller sojourns and on trips to the mall squeezed in after bedtime. They've kept me sane at the playground or cooped up inside when there's two feet of snow on the ground. (I am so much better at spending long hours with my children when I have a peer of my own at my side.)

They've reminded me over and over that I'm not alone. And while I loved my Boppy and my Bjorn and even my breast pump, while I'd never want to give up my bike trailer or chai tea lattes or the DVR or god forbid the Internet, I think I could get through just about anything if a fellow mom was there to hold my hand.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Stock up on snuggles

I went to Back-to-School Night at Jo's school yesterday and completely ignored the principal's friendly speech as well as just about everything else that went on. Why? Because the sweetest little budgie baby was in her mother's lap just inches away from me. Who wants to listen to some gray-haired man talking about parking lot policies when there is an adorable, barefooted, cooing infant in the room?

I mean, come on. There is a reason why actors don't want to work with kids or dogs. This little girl had the entire crowd in the palms of her bitty pattycake hands.

There is so much to love about a new baby: those impossibly tiny toes, that fuzzy head, those adorable oohs and aahs. When my children were tiny, I think I loved their snuggliness the most--the way they burrowed into my neck; the way their heads fit right under my chin; the way their bottoms rested just so in the crook of my arm.

Kristen and Rebecca, wishing you lots of sweet snuggles with your new little girls!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Show-tune haters, click away now

You don't have to be an Obama Mama to appreciate this, but you probably do have to not loathe Broadway musicals.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sharing the news

On my way to and from Jo's school I pass the hospital where Opie was born. A few days ago a fluorescent pink sign appeared in one of the windows, facing the street: IT'S A GIRL! It made me smile each time I passed.

When Jo was born, I had a c-section after many hours of labor. By the time my OB ordered the section, I had no problem giving up on the idea of vaginal birth. (I believe my exact words were "I don't care how you do it. Just get it out so I can have a drink of water!") After Jo was delivered, I was a basket case, given that I'd been in labor for nearly two full days without eating or sleeping. I was in no shape to call anyone to deliver the biggest news I'd ever be able to share. (AND they still wouldn't give me any water. Boy was I mad.)

I realized later that that was one of the things that made me the saddest about the c-section. I hadn't realized how badly I wanted that big Announcement Moment, where I got to tell family and friends about our baby girl. Instead, Jeff had to leave the room to go make the calls--since we'd told everyone hours and hours before that the birth was imminent, and our mothers were starting to completely lose their minds.

When Opie was born, I again had a c-section preceded by labor, just not quite so much of it. I recovered from the surgery more quickly and was able to make a few phone calls. No giant posters or candy cigars or clever websites--just a few spoken words, but it felt amazing.

Did you do anything special to announce your children's births?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Vanity unfair

I don't get vanity license plates. I mean, not like "what is the deal with vanity plates," but like I see them, and then spend precious minutes trying to figure out what the hell they meant.

BHAPIE: This one lives in my neighborhood and I swear to you, it took me a year to determine what it means. I couldn't get past "bha-pye" (rhymes with pop-eye). No. "Be happy!" I'm not happy--I just wasted a year of my life on your dumb license plate.

STAUPL8R: Stop-lighter? Stop-later? Staple-a-tor? Stay up later -- now why would I want to do that? I don't get enough sleep as it is.

ICNCYDU: I see Nancy Drew? Inky dinky doo? I can see why, do you? Well, no, I don't. I have no idea what you're trying to express, here.

DCK HTR: Duck hunter? Dock heater? Dick hater? WHAT?

I'm thinking if you have such an important message to get across, maybe spring for a bumper sticker or a magnet or something. PLZ?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The eleventh of never

Seven years later
I still cannot live today
Like every other.

I have a hard time knowing how to be today. It feels wrong to ignore the anniversary, but I don't know how to observe it meaningfully either. I've always found it odd that other cities around the country (including the small town that neighbors Mayberry) have 9/11 ceremonies and memorials. I guess everyone felt their country was under attack that day. But even though I was there that day, I didn't lose anyone close to me, so any remembrance, anything I could offer, feels false and disconnected, like those memorial observances hundreds of miles away.

Instead, today I'll choose to be grateful.

For the doctors and nurses who healed our daughter this summer, and for the insurance that paid for all but $500 of the nearly $100,000 cost.

For the men and women who teach and care for my children every day, who help them learn and grow.

For the sturdy old house that shelters my family and me.

For my own health and that of my husband and children and parents and siblings and mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law.

For my work and the colleagues with whom I share it.

For my friends online and off.

And I pray that those who don't have these blessings may one day know them.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Well, it IS a series of tubes ...

Today at the playground Opie hopped onto the sand digger and announced: "I'm makin' a website!"

Well! So am I. My new site is live and I'd love for you to take a look: I am the new Family Fitness Guide at About.com. I'll be blogging there a couple of times a week and posting new articles at least once a week. I would love any and all visits and feedback!

I've had quite a spotty relationship with fitness over the years, so the irony of this is not lost on me. As a kid I was a skinny (one might even say "scrawny" or "weak") bookworm. It wasn't until I tried yoga in my late 20s that I realized I could actually enjoy exercise. For the first time I loved working hard and really sweating (this was bikram yoga--everyone would be literally standing in a pool of perspiration by the end of the 90-minute class). I loved seeing those incremental improvements, being able to balance for just a tiny bit longer or reach my nose just a little closer to my knee or twist my spine just that much more. Then I got pregnant and was too sick and tired to get up early and sweat. Then I had a baby and couldn't make a two-hour commitment more than once every six months. Then I moved to Mayberry and there's no Bikram here.

Still, I took a (non-Bikram) yoga class this morning, in honor of my new (and reduced) work schedule and my new status as Fitness Advocate.

It felt really, really good. Almost as good as digging a really good hole and finding a brand-new website at the bottom.


Also in honor of my new site, a wee giveaway: If you can find the photo of my kid and another blogger's on the site, email me--mayberrymom2006 @ yahoo--and tell me where it is. First person to get it right gets my copy of Sleep Is for the Weak. (I'll buy myself a new one when I go to a signing.)

Monday, September 08, 2008

Sleep is for suckers!

1. My review of mom-blog-thology Sleep Is for the Weak is up today at The Full Mommy.

2. Speaking of sleep, my son is trying to kill me. No matter what we try, it takes an hour to put him to bed. An hour of hands-on shushing, corraling, returning-to-bed time. It just seems to take him that hour to wind down enough to fall asleep. Short of drugs (which believe me I have contemplated), what else can we do?

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Blog to Fight Diabetes

My friend and Full Mommy collaborator extraordinaire, Leeanthro, is hosting a big giveaway at her site to raise funds for her Step Out Walk to Fight Diabetes.

So many of our kids and adults are affected by this condition, which has no cure and requires a lifetime of care and attention. It runs in my family and my sister's boyfriend was diagnosed with Type I (juvenile) diabetes just last year in his 30s.

Please consider making a donation or spreading the word! Enter by September 15.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

10 commandments of dishwasher use

1. I am the automatic dishwasher; thou shalt not have any other gods before me, and believe that a five-second spin under the faucet is my equal.

2. Thou shalt not take the name of the dishwasher in vain, and curse it for not unloading itself.

3. Remember the dishwasher and keep it holy; thou shalt not run it during the dinner hour.

4. Honor thy father and thy mother, and learn to place your dirty dishes in the dishwasher, and not under the couch.

5. Thou shalt not kill your meltable objects by placing them in the lower rack.

6. Thou shalt not cheat by running the dishwasher when it is not full.

7. Thou shalt not steal space through inefficient loading.

8. Thou shalt not bear false witness by claiming disposable items are meant to be washed and reused. And that includes 100-to-a-box drinking straws.

9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, if it has two dishwashers instead of one.

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, who unloads the dishwasher in a more timely manner.

This post may possibly have been inspired by the people in this house with whom I share a dishwasher. Maybe.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Yeah, I'll take dying in my sleep, thanks

Occasionally our neighbors gather for a summer potluck. There is an older man who always attends; he's more than 90 and lives alone--and a bit lonely since his wife died several years ago. He's always in good spirits at these events and basks in the attention of kids and adults alike.

At one such party, he started choking on a hunk of meat. Luckily for him, there were several doctors in attendance. One of them Heimliched the man and he was soon fine again, although those of us who witnessed all this were shaken.

As the party drew to a close another neighbor said goodbye to Mr. G., giggled, and noted "Glad you are OK! That would have been an awful way to go, after you've lived this long!"

Oh yes, she did.

Jen's post inspired Magpie's which inspired mine. Are you next?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Grade 1, Day 1

(Here's last year's, for comparison.)
We were almost late this morning, due to preschooler freak-outs including:
  • I wanted to see you in your PAJAMAS! [to me when I went into his room already dressed]
  • No you CAN'T come out of MY ROOM!
  • My shirt is TOO BIG!
  • NO! Don't put your arm around me. Jo! I put MY ARM around YOU!
  • NO bike trailer! NO silver car! ONLY THE BLACK CAR!

In the end he rode in the silver car (Daddy's) and then the bike trailer. So there.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Speaking of Labor Day

Jo: Did it hurt when your babies came out?

Me: [saying] Yes. But it was worth it. [thinking] Please don't make have The Talk right here in the bathroom at day care.

Jo: I'm not going to have any babies when I'm a grown-up. I've been through enough as a kid!