Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Air Tantrum Control

Okay, okay, I know I'm a few days late.  If you didn't notice, it was Christmas this past weekend.  Chaos ensued. 

So, my sister lives in Texas these days.  We decided we would all gather at her house to celebrate over the weekend.  It was me, my husband, my parents, my children, my sister, her husband, their daughter and his mother.  That's a full house, people. 

We should've known it was going to be crazy just based on Thursday morning's little trip to the airport.  We flew this year because both girls are under 2 and free as a lap child.  I love the word free, so of course we took advantage of this.  At any rate, we woke up at 4:30 a.m. to head off to the airport.  As we drove my husband did such things as contemplate stopping for a "sody."  Yep, not a soda, a "so-dee."  Where did I find this guy?  Anyway, he also repeatedly asked why we had to be at the airport an hour before our flight.  I have now had this conversation with him at least 6 times.  Once for every time we have flown together.  These comments will send me into a full-blown panic attack at 5 a.m. 

When we arrived to the airport he discovered why we need to get there early.  Apparently everyone in St. Louis was flying out of Lambert International at 6 a.m., too.  They were actually all in front of us in line for security.  As I panicked and my children squirmed, my husband did something that nearly made my head explode:  he cut in line. 

If you know me, or my sister for that matter, you know we are habitual rule followers (heavy on the bitch).  So cutting in line for security is unheard of and certainly never done.  Now, I must add that he asked if we could cut because our flight was boarding and the gate agents were making last calls.  The couple he asked were kind and polite and let us right in and then we barreled forward, through security, and ran (barefoot) to our terminal.  We made it, whew!  The flight wasn't full so Claire got to sit in a seat.  She was thrilled. 

So here's my weekly tangent: Kids on planes.  When I didn't have kids I loathed those tiny frequent fliers.  I thought the fact that they got to have special boarding was ridiculous.  I glared at their parents (if I was a character in a Stephanie Meyers book I would have glowered).  If so much as a peep escaped their lips I whipped my head around to give the offender that look that says, "really?  Didn't your mother teach you any manners?" 

Now that I have two darlings of my own, I feared this plane ride of judgment.  When we piled onto the plane with babies, blankets, shoes, and coats in hand, drivers licenses clinched in our teeth, I saw the looks.  They said, "oh no..."  I didn't blame those passengers for their stares.  We must have looked like a hot mess.  We quickly found a row and got situated.  Claire sat between us and I whipped out a brand-new Thomas & Friends magnadoodle with attached book thingie that I had gotten just for the trip. 

Claire was more well-behaved than most of the adults on that plane.  Certainly better than the hens clucking behind me about how much they'd spent on Christmas.  Gross.  Miss Baby, she was a different story.  She wasn't a fan of the ride.  I wandered the aisle with her once and got a few eye rolls.  Had I identified these eye-rollers earlier I would've hit them with my carry-on as I lumbered past.  However, after about 5 minutes we hit turbulence that could only be described as dirt road mixed with rolling hills and she was out like a light. 

My fears assuaged, I tried to relax and enjoy the rest of the flight. So here's the Full House moment of this blog (you know where they bring up that music and then DJ learns some life lesson).  Don't hate on parents flying with their kids.  They're freaking out about their kid annoying you more than you could ever freak out about their kid annoying you.  They're desperately trying to entertain their child(ren), drink their ginger ale, and keep everyone's toys off that disgusting floor.  If there were an airline that just flew families around, trust me, people would take advantage of it.  No one wants to be glared at just for boarding a plane.  No one wants the child they adore more than anything on earth to be the subject of hateful glares.  What we(I'm speaking for all parents) do want is our child to sit in their seat, be quiet, drink their juice, and appreciate that they don't have to be the car for 10 hours just to see their auntie.  I rode in that car many times.  It's not fun.  It doesn't have air conditioning.  It does have a granny with coffee habit, a tiny bladder and a fondness for Double Mint gum.  Come on, you didn't like those rides either as a child.  No one develops a liking for a road trip until they develop a drinking habit first and a need to make a pilgrimage to some spring break locale.  So give us a break.  We're trying to keep the wailing and crying to a minimum...and the kids happy, too.  Ba-da-ba ching. 

Claire watched way too much TV this past week.  It was super-rough.  Between packing, traveling and being with family there was a TV on everywhere we turned.  I did discover, thanks to the TV, that my child is a fancy dancer when it comes to Dance Central.  She can bust a serious move, certainly better than her father (who was beaten by a 5 year badly.  Maybe 78k to 7k.  Sad showing, Rob.)  I didn't marry him for his dance skills, clearly. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Posting on Post-Partum

I feel compelled to discuss something this week that probably affects more women than you know.  Women who seem perfectly content and happy.  I want to talk about post-partum depression. 

I think I've read about a handful of celebrities that have suffered in silence from this but it seems like no one talks about when they're going through it.  I want to change that.  So here goes...

Hi, my name is Jesse and I think I have post-partum depression.  No, I've not been to a doctor and received an official diagnosis but Dr. Google seems to think this is what's going on...along with a possible brain aneurysm and a few types of cancer and maybe an enlarged prostate.   

I used to think that this wasn't such a real thing.  I'm sure a lot of people think it should be better titled "Can't Get Your Shit Together Disease."  Let me be the first to tell you that this is serious stuff and so beyond not being able to get your shit together. 

I have had several friends who have shared with me that they suffered from PPD after the birth(s) of their child(ren).  It occurs to me now that they never talked to me about it at the time.  Or maybe they did, but I didn't realize what they were experiencing because I had never experienced it myself. 

Here's the thing:  if you see me on the street, at the store, at story time, etc, you won't notice it.  I'm pretty good at putting on a big smile or at least a sarcastic grin and dealing.  But everyone has their breaking point.  Apparently I hit mine this past weekend.

My poor husband arrived home to find me in a wreck on the floor (now I see where Claire gets her skillz).  He demanded that I pack my things and go have a mommy weekend to recharge.  That sounded awful.  What?  Really?  A weekend away to rest and relax sounds terrible?  I'll tell you why:  I already feel pretty isolated and lonely (no sad music please) out here in Where-ever-the-f-this-is where we live.  I didn't want to leave my babies(the very babies that were driving me crazy) for even an hour.  I just wanted to sleep. 

My precious baby, now 4 months, is extremely attached to me.  I mean that literally.  She nurses  Oh, and did I mention all.night.long.too.  If she wasn't so damn cute I'd think she wanted me dead.  Her incredibly chubby cheeks are where she keeps her super powers.  You can't deny those cheeks.  Sleep deprivation like this has been likened to torture.  Like actual torture, not like "OMG, they didn't have my color at the nail salon so instead of a pedicure in Linkin Park After Dark, I had to get Midnight in Moscow."  Although I'm sure that would be tough. 

So, instead of leaving all weekend I took two morning naps, I went shopping(which may have been crazier than the craziest I've ever been), I had lunch with a friend and her sons, I shopped some more and then I went to a movie.  It was amazing.  Did you know it takes less than a minute to get out of your car when you don't have a stroller and a toddler to herd? 

The weirdest thing happened while I was running amuck in the wilds of CoMo.  I missed my children.  I wondered what they were doing.  I couldn't wait to get home, but I took my time and savored the minutes as they ticked away as this may not happen again for a while.

When I got home I couldn't wait to hug those little girls.  And I did hug them, until they no longer wanted to be hugged.  I have koala-type children (huggy, not fur-covered and Australian) so that's pretty significant. 

Long story, well, I guess long, I am still in the midst of this whole PPD thing.  It's rough at times.  I hope my hormones will fix all this when they finally even out.  All of this wouldn't be so bad if I didn't desperately love my children and want more for them than I ever had (and that's saying a lot).  If I didn't care about them I wouldn't try to hide it when I need to just have a good cry, the ugly kind.  You know the ugly cry.  If I didn't care about them I would just switch on the TV, grab a box of bon-bons and eat myself into a chocolate-induced coma.  That's what stay-at-homes do, right?  Ha. If you think that, I invite you to blow it out your ass.

Television is an evil mistress in this house.  Claire still gets to have the TV on for an hour a day so that I can feed her partner in crime.  This week the worst thing ever came on Sprout.  A Caillou Christmas movie.  Sprout has decided it's war apparently and is offering this movie in a 6-hour marathon format on Christmas Day. Alright, Sprout.  I'll see your marathon and I'll raise you a house full of Nanas, Aunties, Uncles, and cousins who will distract Claire from anything even resembling a balding, Canadian, whine-bag of a cartoon.  Check and mate.  Honestly, though, the Caillou movie isn't any worse than the Rudolph movie from my childhood.  Man, that thing's disturbing.  Happy Holidays to you all! 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tackling Princesses...not literally

I'm just going to go ahead and start this week with a disclaimer:  this week's topic might piss you off.  You might not agree with what I'm saying, but please read until the end.  Through my jumbled prose, I'm trying to make a point.  I hope you'll stick around (and around and around) to read it.

Okay, so as I was driving home from a lovely birthday party on Saturday night, Happy Bday Jules, I saw something that made me stop and think.(Well, okay, I was already stopped because the light was red).  There were five ladies crossing a street in cocktail dresses.  Not a one of them had on a coat and most of them looked like they were actually missing both the top and bottom halves of their dress.  First, put on a damn coat.  It's 20 degrees out.

Sidebar:  I, too, have worn a tiny dress.  Granted, that was what the kids refer to as "back in the day."  Keep reading.  I always wore a coat though.  Don't these bars have coat checks anymore?  Geez.

So these ladies in their "clothes" got me thinking about the Barbie epidemic.  Uh-oh, here's where somebody might get pissed.  Look, I played with Barbie.  I had the Corvette.  I had Ken in his white suit with purple flower in the lapel.  I had Hawaiian Barbie, whose arms were straight so she could do the back stroke, I assume.  I also had piles of clothes and shoes.  One of these shoes led to the demise of my water bed...strong little suckers. 

My Barbies are not the Barbies of today, however.  Today's Barbies bare their mid-drift freely, cheer-lead in a skirt with a thong bloomer, and have pillow talk with Ken...I shit you not.  Check out this little piece of 'splainin' you'll have to do should you venture into the Barbie aisle with a child who can read.  "What's pillow talk, mom?"  "I don't even have the energy to tell you right now."  (This conversation actually took place between my friend and her son.  This is real life, people.)  Okay, granted Pillow Talk Barbie is a collectable.  But does that make it okay?  I understand that most people aren't buying a $54.00 Barbie for their child to play tea party with.  But these Barbies are sitting there on the shelf beckoning your child to have that tantrum when you say no. 

Which brings me to the princess epidemic.  Again, don't get pissed, just keep reading.  I wanted to buy my niece some fun dress-up items for Christmas.  My sister is a doctor, so I thought, perfect, I'll get her a doctor set.  When I looked in the dress-up sections of two major stores the only thing I could find was princess crap...and it was crap...very poorly made, etc.  One doctor set I found was pink.  Really?  Why is this the only thing that little girls can dress-up as?  Why if my daughter wants to play pretend does she have to be a princess?  Why can't she be anything else?  Finally, in the "educational" section of the store I found a doctor dress-up set.  It was also with the boy stuff.  Go %*&# yourself Toys-r-Us.

Here's the thing:  I want Claire and Zora to be whatever they want to be.  I love them and will support their dreams as much as I can.  But judging by today's toy stores, the only thing they can be is a princess.  To me, they are so much more.  I want them to be strong, independent, intelligent, kind ladies.  I'm not saying that they couldn't be all of these things and a princess, but I feel like with princesses comes fitting into some mold of what is beautiful.  So here comes Barbie back in the mix.  You cannot deny that she has a freakish body.  If this is the standard  by which my girls will be judging themselves, they will fail every time.

So let me share with you a little tale of body image and what it can do to a girl.  For whatever reason, when I was young I started worrying about being fat.  Blame whomever you like, Barbie, TV, no one, etc.  I have even read my old diary entries from the age of 9 and I say things like, "I am so fat.  If I could just lose weight I'd be so much happier."  This breaks the 32 year old me's heart for the 9 year old me.  Later, in high school, I developed a very nasty eating disorder or two. Ultimately, I battled both bulimia and anorexia for a decade.  These diseases and my battle with body image took away a lot of my childhood I have come to realize.  I wish I could go back in time and shake the 9 year old me(not hard, just a good jostle).  Fat, skinny, whatever, I was a kid.  I should've been enjoying every last second of it.     

Now I see girls who look like they're dressing for their prom and they're headed to elementary school.  Can't kids just be kids?  Do they have to be princesses?  Can't make-up be for fun play, not everyday wear for little girls?  I'm going to steal back Claire and Zora's childhood before it's even close to being threatened.  Oh, sure they'll get to have Barbies eventually and yes, they'll get to be princesses, but only when they can request these things.  Until then, we'll talk about doctors(shout out Dr. Auntie), astronauts, rocket scientists(shout out Auntie Elizabeth), nurses(shout out Mimi), judges and teachers(shout out Kaki).  Because, for my girls, seeing as how we're not royalty, the only way they can become a real princess is by marrying a prince.  I want their goals and aspirations to involve things other than seeking men's hands in marriage...don't even get me started on boys...I'm not ready for that one by a long shot.

So 'round and 'round we went and here's my point:  life is hard, childhood should be the simple part, devoid of unrealistic expectations.  Unrealistic expectations like looking like Barbie or actually becoming a princess.  Of course, I guess I should include astronaut in there with the unrealistic expectations since NASA will be the stuff of history books by the time Claire and Zora are writing essays on what they want to be.  (Tear, sniff)

TV, TV, right...well, it seems TV has crept back into our lives.  I have decided that Claire may view less than one hour of TV a day so that I can have that time to feed this ravenous child of mine and get her to nap without loving sisters climbing all over us trying to "help."  I don't know if this means I've lost this battle or that we've reached a compromise, but it's not over, not by a long shot.  I plan to re-up my anti-TV crusade after the holidays.  Hopefully then this baby will be eating from a bottle and giving me a break.  Fingers crossed.

P.S.  If you let your child have Barbies and dress up like a princess every day, that's great.  I'm sure they love every second of it and it's fun for you, too.  Understand that my views are based on my own experiences.  As I said from the first post to this blog, I'm not a fan of judgey moms and I'm trying to not be one of them.      

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Arm Your Babies!

Ah the holidays are here.  In our house that means we've argued at least once about whether or not to put the Christmas lights on the house.  Maybe this year my husband will get them actually on the house rather than lying in the front yard like last year.  I'll hold my breath.

So, whilst trolling Ye Olde Book o'Face last week I discovered what could be the most disturbing/guilt-inducing/amazing product of all baby-time.

But first, an aside regarding Facebook.  I am one of those people that "likes" everyone's posts.  I will comment on your pictures and posts.  I will click on your YouTube videos and weblinks.  You know why? Because this is how I stay connected to the world outside of this house.  Sometimes Facebook is my only interaction with an adult other than my husband all day(s).  Sad?  Not really.  This isn't a complaint, it's an explanation.  As I have mentioned before, I like my kids and I like staying home with them.  However, I also like the grown-folks of this world.  So the next time you feel the need to tease or criticize someone for their constant Facebook-ing, stop and think about it and don't be an asshole.

Okay, so back to my trolling.  I get the Healthy Child, Healthy World newsfeed because I have "liked" their page.  Most of the time I do actually like their content.  They tend to post helpful information about baby/child related things.  They even broke the arsenic apple juice story weeks before Dr. Oz and his studio full of horny middle-aged women dying to wear that white coat, stand next to him, and drool inappropriately, even thought about toxic juice.  This week though, they really caught my attention but not in a good way.

I saw this.  This little company is trying to save the world, one radiation-free fetus at a time.  The product that ended up on Healthy Child's Facebook wall was this "Belly Armor."  You read that right, armor.  This device/blanket/piece of lead? will allegedly keep your in-womb baby safe from all of the radiation that is just floating around us at any given moment waiting to dart through your belly and get your unborn child.  Holy shit.  I didn't have this for either of my pregnancies.  I must have inadvertently exposed my children to radiation all over the place.  But it only covers the front.  What about all of that sneaky radiation that gets you from behind?  What about the kind that swoops in from the top?  Okay, all kidding and snark aside, I recognize that there are many schools of thought on this whole radiation issue.  Some people are truly concerned, some more dismissive.  I am sure that if there were a baby in my tummy right now it would be offended by the laptop perched so rudely...on my lap.  I'm sure my cellphone is giving me brain cancer and ear cancer or the like.  If you read the studies, they say radiation is everywhere.  EVERYWHERE!!!!  It's like squirrels but more evil and less fuzzy. 

Belly Armor may have its heart(lead heart) in the right place but for me this feels like another way to play on parents' insecurities and guilt.  Look, Belly Armor, and every company like you:  I am one of those parents that tries to have my kids eat organic, avoid BPA at any cost, wear sunscreen, not kick animals and generally be healthy.  I need for you to stop putting more bullshit out there for me to worry about.  I have enough to freak out about without your radiation-avoiding fannypack. I am trying to raise smart, kind, well-adjusted future members of society.  Honestly, if you want to tell me something causes cancer, can't it be Barbie?  She is just awful these days.  I mean who rides a bike in a mini-skirt with pink thigh-high fishnets and no panties?  (It's Barbie, p.s.) 

My clever friend Michelle offered to film the infomercial: "Looking for a way to ensure your second child doesn't also come out with a tail?"  I think this would be a really popular least as popular as Carve Abs in Bed.  Who knows maybe as popular as the Magic Bullet one with the chain-smoking, drunk neighbor.

Well, if said infomercial was available for viewing, alas, Claire would not be allowed to watch it.  We are still aspiring to be TV-free...but just like last week, I succumbed to the stress/irritation of screaming child/ren and switched on the tube.  We'll call this past week "The Week Mommy Gave Up."  That pretty much describes how the past seven days went.  Oh well, we'll get back on the wagon.  After all, as with trying to kick any habit, one bad week shouldn't make you give up all together.  One episode of Caillou here and there won't ruin Claire, she'll just say "oat" instead of "out."(Because he's Canadian, get it?)  Seriously. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Horrible Bosses

I'd like to say that we didn't watch television this past week, but that would be a blatant lie and not nearly as interesting.  We'll get back to that.

One of  my friends from high school posed an interesting question to me last week on the book of face.  She said that at a recent social gathering a few people had asked her what she did.  She responded that she stays home with her daughter and apparently received a few eye rolls.  Now, this particular high school friend(who played a mean saxophone if I recall) is an attorney as well as a mom.  Her husband suggested that she lead with attorney and then say that she's staying home with her daughter right now.

Okay, really people?  Does staying at home with your child really necessitate an eye roll?  Uh-oh, here comes my rant...

I realized when she posed this that I often lead with the fact that I am an attorney but that I'm currently staying home with my children.  For whose benefit am I providing this information?   Is it me?  Am I ashamed of my status of homemaker (and I make a mean home)?  Do I lead with my credentials because I think raising children isn't a legitimate job?  I'm not sure what I think, but this is definitely a subconscious/self-conscious thing that I do. 

The bottom line is that staying home with your children is a job.  It's a big, tiring, smelly, sticky(at times), thankless, wage-less job.  Think about it this way:  when your boss yells at you, does he ever get mad enough to vomit?  Do you have to change your co-workers' diapers?  Do all of your colleagues speak a foreign language for which there is no translation?  Do they demand things of you all day in said foreign language?  Do you spend literally all day every day with them?     

Sidebar:  I am not discounting or dismissing the real stress that any job can cause.  Whatever you do, I'm sure you get stressed.  This is merely my comparison of my current job to my previous employment experiences.

Back to my rant.  If you answered "no" to any of the above, then let me tell you, I'd trade jobs with you for at least an hour every day.  Unless you work for my former boss.  I'm pretty sure at least one of the above applies to him. 

So if motherhood and raising children is this difficult then why do I feel the need to qualify my responses to "what do you do?" with an addendum that lists my work experience and how many letters follow my name?  The only possible answer can be, "it's not you, it's me."  It's me that while I stand with diaper bag on shoulder and sippy cup in hand at story time, feels the need to say:  "I'm actually an attorney and an adjunct professor.  I choose to stay home with my children."  It's not like anyone has ever responded with: "Oh, well since you said that I won't decide immediately that you are _____."  (Insert anything here, i.e. uneducated, traditionalist, controlled, backwards, etc, I could keep going.)  I guess this is what I'm afraid of.  

The funny thing is that I don't think those things about my friends who also stay home with their children.  I admire most of them.  They're a bunch of crafty, creative, caring, intelligent, ambitious women who decided to stay home with their kids.  I actually have an in-law that is a rocket scientist...yeah, like a real rocket scientist.  She works from home, too.  Does she have these same issues?  Does she say I'm a mom and a rocket scientist?  Do rocket scientists actually call themselves that?  These are the pressing issues of my day. 

The more I blog, the more I realize that I may be, in fact, a lunatic.  Oh I could claim that I don't care what other people think about me, my children, my parenting, etc.  But I do.  Sometimes more than others but honestly, I usually care enough to have those after-the-fact conversations with myself in the car where I say something really clever in response to that bitchy remark.  Beyond that though, I guess I'm not losing sleep (well, no more sleep than you lose when you have a baby who thinks you're an all-night buffet).

I'm challenging myself from this point forward to tell only half of the truth when asked what I do.  The truth is that I am an attorney and adjunct professor.  I'm also a mom and proud of it.  If that's not good enough for the people asking, well they can politely dismiss themselves from my presence.  Until then, I'll save my teething, temper tantrum and diaper stories for someone who cares or can at least relate.

So...TV...yeah, this past week wasn't so great for the non-TV viewing.  Claire has been sick for a few weeks and I decided that she needed a true day of rest.  I set her up on her tiny Sesame Street couch with Sprout, her blanket, her doll and a sippy of milk.  What do you know, she got bored with it.  Well, until Caillou came on then I don't think she even breathed for 20 minutes.  I've also discovered that the little one (little as in age, she's actually quite a chunk of baby cuteness) is just as enthralled by television.  Great, let's start 'em young.  I have to say though, that Sprout is the lesser of all the television evils out there.  I watched a bit of Nickelodeon this weekend and thought surely I'd taken some sort of hallucinogen.  Scary. 


Monday, November 21, 2011

Giraffes and Hippos and Babies, Oh My!

Last week in the House of Hayes was very exciting, indeed.  We had visitors, we ate turkey, we learned what a giraffe says...

So Claire has this peg puzzle with six little animals on it:  a tiger, a lion, a zebra, a giraffe, a hippo and a sheep.  Now, if you say, "Sheep?  Why is there a sheep in a puzzle with exotic animals?"  My answer to you is who knows?  But, I found this puzzle in the dollar bins at Target.  I guess you get what you pay for?  In this case, a barnyard/exotic animal mix.  Reminds me of the Exotic Animal Paradise outside of Springfield...shudder.

Anyway, Claire loves this puzzle.  She likes to grab the lion and tiger and growl like said animals.  It's just about the cutest thing in the world.  She also says, "Baa!" for the sheep and we're working on "Nay!" for the zebra.  Here's where we run into trouble.  What in the world does a giraffe say?  I went on a mission to find out.  Okay, it was more like I asked my mom while we were on the phone and she googled, but it felt a lot more dramatic than it sounds.  It turns out that giraffes say nothing.  Well, nothing that we can hear at least.  I call bullshit.  Apparently baby giraffes make noises.  Of course they do.  I'm sure they cry and scream bloody murder every time someone puts them in their bouncer, too...

Back to the grown-up giraffes.  I'm sure they make some noise.  I've decided they say "Giraffe!  Giraffe!" like this SNL bit.  Claire isn't so convinced.  Maybe they just glare at each other like my sister and I when our parents are being ridiculous at dinner and we have that eye brow conversation that says, "Can you believe these people produced us?"  "No, dude, they're so lame."  "Will you pass the wine?"  "Yes, and here's the gravy, your potatoes look naked."  If you aren't having these conversations with your sibling, I'm sorry.

Whatever, if giraffes have decided to be mute I guess I'll accept it.  But then we come to Mr. Hippo.  Other than being hungry, hungry, what the hell does this guy say?  Claire has decided the hippo moos.  Okay, I'll bite.  Maybe a hippo does moo.  Here's another hippo inquiry, do they really produce pink milk?  I've never had the occasion to milk a hippo so I have no idea and while HyVee carries a lot of organic and otherwise fancy-shmancy things, sadly I've never found hippo milk.  If it is pink, I hope it's also strawberry flavored because how pissed would you be if you grabbed the pink milk only to discover it's not strawberry?  I'll tell you, you'd be very pissed.

So after Claire and I answered all of the important questions of the universe, see above, we moved on to general play, reading and the like.  Claire, I have discovered, likes her baby sister a lot, I mean a lot.  This has lead me to label her as an "Aggressive Lover of Babies."  This is an upgrade from her previous label of "Aggressive Lover of Cats."  Unfortunately for Miss Baby, she can't flee Claire's attacks, I mean hugs, like the cat.  These love session usually start with a greeting of, "Hi, B!" and continue until Zora has been squished, kissed, hugged and otherwise loved into a fit of what I would like to think is reciprocal love that she is so far unable to express.  I'm pretty sure she's just really angry, though. 

Ah and we reach the purported subject of this blog, TV.  Last week I let Claire watch Thomas and Friends so that I could clip her nails before my family arrived.  It worked like a charm.  She stood perfectly still, mouth agape, while I clipped and filed her nails.  We also had a bit of TV here and there while my family was visiting over the weekend.  Nothing kid-oriented, mostly Travel, Food and football.  We had the first of a series of Thanksgiving feasts so there was an apparent need for football.  Thankfully all pertinent teams won their games so there wasn't an uprising or anything and watching Kansas get beaten to pulp was a glorious Thanksgiving miracle.

This week should be interesting because it's a holiday and we're traveling to visit Rob's family.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  Go eat too much turkey and pass out on your couch on the person sitting next to you. 


Monday, November 14, 2011

Kitchenware and Candybars

Week 2 was about as uneventful as Week 1.  Except for several injuries and revelations (not the four horseman kind, the you-can-use-twice-as-much-peanut-butter-in-these-cookies kind).

I went super homemaker on that ass and whipped up not only the best pulled pork to ever be crock-potted, but I baked!  I baked a mess of peanut butter cookies for Rob's officemates for Veterans' Day, as most of them are vets.  Apparently, I cannot read directions anymore because I've been really messing up some recipes lately.  This time it was putting way too much peanut butter in the cookies.  Well, my subconscious loves peanut butter and knows better than the "cooks" at because these cookies were delicious.  I also had a few Milk Duds lying about just begging to be baked into a peanut butter cookie.  I am a cookie genius. 

This week Christmas came early for Claire in the form of her first kitchen playset.  Okay, if any of you are getting all "You shouldn't enforce gender roles and stereotyping," on me, refer to my first post and get the f off my blog.  If Claire had been Clarence he/she would still have gotten said kitchen playset.  Pretending is fun and a very important part of development, so get off my back.  Besides, Claire makes a mean plastic skillet of sticker bacon and eggs.  I'm sure it's laden with BPA or something.

Back to the kitchen set.  Whilst putting together this thing I nearly severed an artery and died.  Okay, so it was more like I stabbed myself in the thumb while screwing the faucet together.  Then, today I kicked the edge of Miss Baby's bouncer so hard I broke my toe (Rob says it's not broken, but unless he's got x-ray eyes, I'm saying broken).  Parenting can be hazardous to your health!  Oh, I should mention that I didn't kick it on purpose.  It's tan colored and blends in with virtually every flooring surface we have.  I swear I'm not kicking babies.

Which brings me to a point I want to make (in the most round-about way possible) this week on behalf of moms, dads, whomever.  Sometimes my children drive me crazy, like literally, they give me anxiety attacks.  Sometimes I want to kill them, not literally.  These times, however, don't make me love them any less or be any less grateful for my beautiful daughters.  It's the same way with my husband, whom I want to kill daily.  He's a great dad and an awesome husband, but sometimes when I get up in the morning and I can trace his steps through the house based on the cabinets he's left open...well, let's just say I have furiously typed many an angry text message.

Can we all just be honest with ourselves for a minute and acknowledge that having kids is freaking hard?  No one is really that good at it, but we all try our hardest.  I'm tired of parents who claim that each and every moment of their life is rainbows and sunshine.  This can be the most aggravating, tiring, trying job on the planet but it's also the best and most rewarding.  Let's just congratulate ourselves on the small stuff like getting out of pjs before 5 p.m. and stop with the "My child knew_____ before she was 2." (Insert ABCs, numbers to 100, Latin, cold fusion science, etc)

There's a Drew Carey quote that goes, "Oh, you hate your job? Why didn't you say so? There's a support group for that. It's called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar."  For us parents, we meet at story time, and we don't hate our job per se, but it's not for the faint of heart or the tender of toes.  I'll admit it, sometimes I'm not a fan of this job.  Okay, stop gasping and read on:  that doesn't mean I don't love my children, my husband or my life.  I love them more than I ever thought I could love anything.  Sometimes, though, momma needs a break. *and end sad story and violin music*  What?  You've never locked yourself in the bathroom for a fleeting moment of peace?  Liar. 

Oh yeah, TV.  Rob decided that we should watch the 6:00 news last week.  This is a sneaky way for him to get to watch some Sportscenter.  I acquiesced only because I realized that I have no idea what is going on out there.  Of course the first day we have it on there is a meteor-earth near miss.  I cried and hugged my babies like the crazy person I am.  Maybe the news isn't such a good idea.  On to Week 3! 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Week 1 and an open apology...

Well, we've made it through one whole week without television.  Sort of.  It turns out that my husband is, in fact, a sucker.  Claire knew this far before I did.  I'll get back to that after a few rants and at least one tangent.

Last week we did the usual things: Claire went to Bear Care (daycare for those of you not familiar with raising a Claire Bear); Zora ate and slept; Rob worked and I cooked, cleaned, taught, advised, etc.  Friday, Claire, Miss Z and I hit the local library's story hour.  It's actually only a half hour, but that's not very catchy.  It was great.  Claire seemed to have fun.  Zora fell asleep in the front carrier thingie.  I was amused by the grown adults singing along with the children's songs, but of course I was singing, too.

When the stories and singing ceased we all headed out into the library's children's area.  I guess libraries have changed because I remember them being places where children were supposed to quietly select a Clifford book and move along.  In this library there is an entire area devoted to children being anything but quiet.  While Claire was playing with the other children one of the moms actually complimented me on how well behaved she was.  I nearly choked.  My child?  Another mother joined in with the complimenting.  What is this?  Why are you people lying to me? 

Sidebar:  I'm used to the park moms.  They're a really special brand of bitch.  Sorry for the language and label, but they are.  They only hand out snarky, jabby "compliments."  Things like, "Wow, isn't she cute when she goes all catatonic on you like that."  "She must never get lost, yelling so loudly like that."  These comments make me want to say things like, "She's probably tired because she's been curing cancer all morning...Doesn't your son do that?  Well, I'm sure he will some day."  "Yes, her opera instructor often compliments her on her vocal range and volume."  These are competimoms as one blogger labeled them.  They will ruin your day.  Most of the time these moms won't even look our direction, which is fine by me.  They stand around in their yoga pants (the mom uniform, I have mine on currently) clutching their Starbucks, completely ignoring their child who just threw sand at my child, and talk about vacations or some shit.  I try to block them out.  They are everything bad you remember about high school, but with several children and nicer stroller than you would ever spend money on.

Back to the library moms.  These moms were really nice!  They even encouraged us to come back next week.  They were not only paying attention to their own child, but mine, too.  I heart these moms.  Then, up walks green glass dad.  If you read my mid-week post from last week you're familiar with this guy.  I don't know why it surprised me to see him there.  Of course he's at story hour.  He's like the perfect parent in his hipster glasses and camel blazer (the dad uniform...hipster dad uniform).  So Green Glass and I got to talking.  He was super nice, too.  This library is a parallel universe or something where parents are supportive and friendly.  I'm not used to this.  His precious 27 month old daughter dances over with an alphabet book and identifies every.single.letter.  Yep, there's those damn periods again.  Instead of being all self-congratulating about the fact that his child is clearly quite intelligent, he offered a few tips for how she got that way.  Most importantly, he never once said, "Oh, your child doesn't do that?"

This whole exchange got me thinking about what has soured me on the whole playdate business.  I started to wonder if I had ever taken that competimom tone with any of my friends.  So here's the open apology part.  If at any point I have said the words, "Is he/she doing ______ yet?" or "Just wait until he/she does ____." I am sorry.  These may be the most annoying phrases ever spoken by a parent.  I heard the first one a lot when I was pregnant.  It completely devalues whatever you're experiencing at the time and implies you basically don't know what you're talking about.   So, if I have uttered these words to you or something similar, I sincerely apologize.  What can I say?  Parenting can make you an asshole, or a bigger asshole if you were already one.  My sister told me this is what happens when you take ambitious women, remove their career and insert children.  Who knows. 

Oh yeah, so back to TV.  That's what this blog is about.  Saturday Claire not only got to stay up way past her bedtime, but she ate too much cake.  This equation apparently equals inconsolable child at 2:00 a.m. in our family.  Awesome.  I love having snot smeared on me in the middle of the night by my screaming toddler while simultaneously feeding a ravenous baby. (She's like a freaking vampire people, or a super cute, cuddly tape worm.  I don't know.  I've never encountered either.)  Since I can only play super mom for so long, eventually I handed Claire off to Daddy.  What does he do?  He flips on Sprout.  What was on, you ask: Caillou.  Of course it's Caillou, it's always Caillou.  The good news is that Claire fell asleep shortly thereafter.  I guess the bad news is that she watched TV?  Seeing as how her brain didn't rot and fall out, I'm calling this one even.  Yep, a sucker is born everyday, they say.  Apparently toddlers have sucker-radar.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A mid-week post...don't get used to this

First, I wanted to direct you all to my friend Sarah's blog, La Casa di Frigerio.  She asked me to write a guest post about imperfect parenting.  Being an expert on the topic, I was obliged to do so.  Warning:  my post is about my breastfeeding failures.  So if the words boob, nipple or breast bother you then don't read the post but do check out the rest of her blog.  She's super smart and witty as hell.  I often have to grab my thesaurus when we talk or I just nod like I know what she's saying.

Second, I had to share my experience from the park: 

Today, because it's still 70 degrees outside for some bizarre reason, I took the girls to the park.  There is a lovely park here that is full of mature trees and encircles a lake.  It has paved walking trails and several separate play structures.  We like to park the car and walk the trail loop hitting both playgrounds and hopefully wearing out a certain little girl. 

I don't often go by myself with an infant and a very brave 20 month old, but sometimes I'm stupid brave enough.  Today was such a day.  When I arrived at the first playground there was a father arriving as well with his very cute little girl in an extremely complex looking child carrier/backpack thingie.  We exchanged the usual pleasantries, "how old is she?"  "She's adorable." etc.  Then as I am attempting to feed Claire her snack I note that this daddy has pulled out his green glass water bottle and one of those clearly-purchased-from-the-organic-section containers of dried fruit.  I looked down at my Sonic bag of cheddar bites, ranch, apples and styrofoam cup of high fructose corn syrup(for me, not Claire) and got all sorts of self-conscious. 

At that moment, and right on cue, my child refuses to eat the apples Sonic had so lovingly sliced and bagged for her and insists on having a cheddar bite.  Shit.  I mean, really?  It's not just that it's cheese, it's fried cheese.  So I say to Claire as I hand her a half piece of lard dipped in lard and fried in lard, *nervous laugh* "don't tell daddy!"  Okay, so if you know my husband you probably know that while he does care what the girls eat, he would likely deem cheddar bites an appropriate meal.  I said meal, not snack.  He once fed Claire tator-tots as dinner.  This was my way of implying that we don't usually eat cheddar bites, eh-hem, cough cough.  Like, this is a one time thing, I swear, man I don't even know.  I'm sure he didn't even notice.  I all but threw the bites on the ground while shouting, "How dare those Sonic employees give us cheddar bites!  Don't they know we only eat local, organic foods?  Whew, that was close!"

Moral of the story, I am absolutely out of  my mind and the world is judging me for it.  Okay, maybe just the first part. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

One down...

Well, we made it through day 1 with no television.  Let me say now that I don't think I will be posting a daily entry.  It just wouldn't be that entertaining.  Plus I actually do have a job, two children to raise and a husband I like most of the time.  Oh, and Pinterest, of course. 

Day 1: 

6:05 a.m. Claire wakes up.

6:30 a.m. Daddy gets Claire out of her bed when it is apparent that she is not going to fall back asleep.  Don't judge us on the time lapse here, you know you do it too.  You lay there and think, surely this kid is going to go back to sleep...and then they don't so you lay there for another minute and then begrudgingly get your all-too-chipper-for-this-hour-child out of bed. 

6:35 a.m. I wander through the house only to discover my child and my husband watching Sprout in Zora's room, which is also our guest room as Zora does not yet sleep there.  Failure?  Already?  Really Daddy? WTF Rob? (we use his proper name when he's in trouble)

6:36 a.m. Conversation with Daddy that goes something like, "Daddy, didn't we agree no TV like, yesterday?"  Daddy:  "Well, what?  Do you want her to sit here in the dark by herself?"  Me:  Confused stares..blinking...finally, "You know we're awake so she's not really by herself."  It's really hard to punctuate conversations with my husband. 

6:37 a.m. Daddy turns off Sprout and Claire melts into a puddle of toddler-fit on the floor.  This fit is why we're not watching TV anymore.  This shouldn't be so important to my child.  She doesn't even have a blankie or a stuffed animal she's attached to, but she freaks if the Wiggles aren't on TV.  This is not okay behavior.

6:39 a.m. Claire is over the fit and playing quietly in the living room.  Okay, that wasn't too bad. 

For the remainder of the day we played with toys, read the same book at least 15 times (want to hear it?  I have it memorized, I could recite it in another language perhaps) , colored and danced to The Beatles album Help!(that's The Beatles' exclamation point, not mine).  Apparently Claire enjoys Help! as she applauded after each song.  She even broke it down a few times.  My child is about as talented a dancer as her father.  People who know him know what that means.  Her future ballet instructor is going to have a blast with that rhythm. 

I realized that a lot of my anxiety wasn't based on Claire's need for the TV, but my own.  I recall considering our move to Texas and thinking, what if they don't offer Sprout?  What am I going to do?  Wow.  Today, I actually missed Kelly, Sean, Dennisha, Liz and Chica.  I wondered what they were up to and who was hosting this week and what the theme of the week might be.  For those of you who don't have Sprout, they're the inhabitants of the Sunshine Barn on a show called the Sunny Side Up Show.  Chica is a cute little yellow chicken puppet that sounds like a kazoo when she speaks/squeaks.  If you watch too much of this show you can actually figure out what the chicken is saying.  Then you know you've watched it too much.  I think it might also be a sign of insanity.  Color me crazy, because I swear I speak chicken.

For a moment this afternoon I almost caved when it was naptime and time for Caillou (inexplicably pronounced KI-yoo, which is allegedly French Canadian).  Let me describe this show to you and I'll try not to use derogatory language.  This kid, Caillou, is maybe the whiniest child in the history of permanently bald, Canadian children.  He doesn't say "please," he doesn't like to share, his mother rarely tells him no and his sister refers to herself in the third person, which drives my f-ing crazy.  This is same reason why I don't like Elmo.  Yes, I know he's cute and fuzzy, but come on!  Just once can he toss a pronoun in the mix? 

Okay, so back to Caillou.  The theme music for this show calls out to Claire and she will drop what she's doing to watch the same six episodes over and over.  Kill me.  I have them all memorized.  Please God, someday when I am on Jeopardy, let "Caillou Episodes" be a category.  This show is so terrible there are many a website devoted to complaining about it.  Yet, PBS and Sprout seem to think it's educational.  I guess if you want your children to grow up to be assholes.  A good friend of mine has a child who is also quite fond of Caillou.  She uses it as a teaching tool, though, and her child will actually correct Caillou's bad behavior.  Yes, it's so blatantly awful that a child can recognize the issues (albeit a brilliant, really adorable child).

So the moral of the Caillou story is that I didn't cave.  Claire didn't even need Caillou before nap to have a completely successful nap.  I even got a nap.  Oh sweet, sweet midday nap. 

The afternoon was uneventful as we usually don't watch TV after nap.  I did note that my child was attached to me  Yes, I did just add punctuation there.  There was no TV to distract her.  Let me first say that my child is super awesome.  Let me also say that she is a holy handful.  I may have to start drinking coffee...spiked with whiskey...just joking, I don't like coffee...    

This evening was easier than usual because it's Halloween and we had things to do outside of the house.  Claire was a vampire and Zora was an M&M.  Claire is super shy and when she meets new people she puts her arm over her face, hence the vampire costume.  The baby, well, she's just round.  M&M it is!

Tomorrow maybe we will continue our exploration of The Beatles with a little Abbey Road.  

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tap, tap, this thing on?

Well, hell hath frozen over, I'm blogging.

Let me start from the beginning.  I live in middle America, literally, smack-dab.  I have two lovely, loving daughters.  Claire is 20 months and Zora is nearly 3 months.  I am a stay-at-home, work-at-home, domestic goddess extraordinaire.  I consider myself to be somewhat intellectual although the some of my most frequently used words would imply otherwise as I tend to add a "y" to end of most words these days.  What?  If you have kids, you know what I mean.  Here in middle America (which is nothing like Middle Earth, unfortunately) we have very long, irritatingly cold seasons.  So, we have to stay indoors for many, many months.  We run out of things to do by day, um, 2?

So, these kids I mentioned.  I really want them to go to Harvard or at the very least any state school other than KU.  What the f is a jayhawk anyway?  Be something respectable like a tiger or an alligator or even a bear.  I'm certain the only thing a jayhawk can do to you is shit on your car windshield.  Wait, it's not a bird?  Oh, that's right, I don't care.

Like any good mother I am a member of many spamming mommy sites that shall remain nameless because this blog doesn't have a budget for royalties.  So, I get emails with detailed information about how almost everything I own is either going to kill us or cause us to be sorely attention-defunct.  Some of them catch my eye.  Not in a positive way, but in the way that causes me to panic and toss half my pots and pans for fear of non-stick coating.  Some of them I ignore completely.  One of them caught my eye today, though.  It was an AAP study on how watching television affects children under 2.  My children are under 2, so I read on.  Now, these studies pretty much always tell you no TV is best, but limited TV is okay if you must.

Here's where shit gets real, people.  I let my kid (the baby doesn't really watch much but her own limbs at this point) watch way too much TV.  So much so that I am embarrassed by it.  I admit it, Claire loves Sprout, the 24 hour PBS affiliated kids' channel.  She's a zombie-esque Sprout-aholic.  They have all sorts of educational shows on this channel and it's on basically every morning in our house...and maybe every night.  She loves the Wiggles, Roary the Racing Car, Play With Me Sesame, Caillou, not so much Dive Olly Dive, and Thomas.  My child has more "programs" than a 70 year old cat lady.  I will ease up on myself a bit and say that she doesn't just sit and watch them, eh-hem Caillou, but she does pause for a minute or 5 to see what Bert is counting today, etc.  So, if your reaction to any of the preceding statements was, "Wow, what a terrible mother."  Get the f off my blog.  If it was something less than that, you can stay...for now.

Anyway, today I read that my kid is 9% more likely to be a bully because of this TV watching.  What?!  I'm single-handedly creating a bully with Sprout?  I'm not sure I buy it.  However, I'm done with letting Claire watch TV.

I plan to chronicle the next weeks, months, etc of how this goes for me.  I hope that other moms will be able to sigh that sigh of relief when they realize that other moms let their kids watch too much TV, eat sugar, stay up too late, and generally f up all while truly trying to create an outstanding future member of society.  This is my journey as I try to fix one thing that very well may not be broken.

Endnote:  This is in no way a condemnation of other moms who let their kids watch tv, eat sugar, plan jewelry store heists, whatever.  This is my personal choice.  I have spent way too much time feeling judged by other moms to do that to any of you reading this.