Sunday, December 19, 2010

My Brush With Widowhood

We had a major scare for our family the other day, just before noon on a sunny winter day. Luckily everyone is 100% fine, so I can blog about it now.

DH was driving home to meet us for lunch (I generally work from home and don't have any more business for the year), when a woman in her car very suddenly pulled out in front of him without looking, and t-boned the front passenger side of his car. Our car is totaled, and will be in the shop for at least a month. No one was hurt - and that's what really matters! Cars can be fixed. The other driver admitted total fault. One of DH's fantasy football buddies, B, who we've had longstanding plans to get together with for their holiday Open House, was one of the police officers immediately on the scene. He drove DH home. B is a widower who remarried after his first wife was killed in a car accident at age 45.

When they arrived on our doorstep, I had a horrible flash of what it would have been like if DH had been hurt or worse, and B was the one who showed up on our doorstep to give me the news, with DS standing next to me and DD napping upstairs.

We are just so lucky that neither of the kids were in the car with him. The impact would have been on DS's side of the car. Oh, my heart hurts just thinking about it!

You believers out there, say your prayers tonight. The rest of us, hug your kids tight, because the simple fact that we're even alive and kicking right now means we are so lucky, I can't even fully comprehend it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

We heart the Pediatric Dentist

Today I took both the kids to the Pediatric Dentists' office, who are relatively new in town, and have actual fellowship training in the field of pediatrics. But their biggest qualification in my son's eyes is the cool train set and tunnel slide they have in the waiting room, along with the kids' movies they play on ceiling-mounted TVs over every exam chair. There is one other local, self-proclaimed "Pediatric Dentist" in Podunkville who is suspect, and is all about cheesy marketing tactics like pictures of himself with each patient turned into a refrigerator magnet in primary colors with a fugly font (design snob coming out here), and pushing of freaky baby teeth extraction, which is IMHO way too aggressive of an approach for a child under the age of 6 without any permanent teeth! Anyway... DS has been going every few months just to have his teeth brushed well, and to acclimate him to sitting in the exam chair. It has taken about 9 months, but he has finally warmed up to the idea of letting the dentist look in his mouth for several minutes at a time. And today was his first tear-free visit!

Because DS was on the bottle for a ridiculously long time (3 years, ugh).... I was sure he'd have massive teeth problems, so we have been extremely proactive about dental care. Happy to report there isn't anything wrong with his teeth as a result of our inability to get him bottle-free on a more normal timeframe. He is a big fan of strawberry flavored toothpaste and mouth rinse at home, and chocolate flavored toothpaste is a special treat reserved for going to the dentist.

As we were leaving, and DS was about to get a prize, he suddenly asked the hygienist where the potty was, and he went. I had a realization: holy shit, my kid finally is really, truly, and actually potty-trained! Thank you baby Jebus!!

DD did really great during her very first dental visit today, as well! She loves to get her teeth brushed - all 6 and a half of them. She has 4 on top, two on the bottom, and the dentist discovered that about half of a molar has erupted on her top right side. Hmm, so that explains the nighttime crankiness we experienced recently. I had a damn hard time going back to sleep after her first wake-up, but I had mis-attributed it to having watched a superscary episode of "Celebrity Ghost Stories" on the Biography Channel. Note: it is not only the tales of hauntings that are scary, it is the visuals of these once-beautiful celebs I recall from childhood having turned into old people and/or bad plastic surgery cases! Yikes!!

Speaking of ghost stories, I want to send a thank you shout-out to Caramama and Paola for their recommendation of the delicious gothic book "The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Setterfield. It was my pick for the non-shitty book club I just joined, and so far it seems to have raised my esteem in some of the other members' eyes.

Monday, December 6, 2010

'Benign Neglect' of the '70s and '80s

"One sometimes sees these exhausted, devoted, slightly drab parents, piling out of the car, and thinks, Is all of this high-level watching and steering and analyzing really making anyone happier? Can we, for a moment, flash back to the benign neglect of the 1970s and '80s? I can remember my parents having parties, wild children running around until dark, catching fireflies. If these children helped themselves to three slices of cake, or ingested secondhand smoke from cigarettes, or carried cocktails to adults who were ever so slightly slurring their words, they were not noticed; they were loved, just not monitored. Those warm summer nights of not being focused on were liberating. In the long sticky hours of boredom, in the lonely, unsupervised, unstructured time, something blooms; it was in those margins that we became ourselves." -- Katie Roiphe in the Financial Times (as quoted in the December 3, 2010 issue of The Week)

Does Roiphe's jaunt down memory lane/dig at modern parenting strike you as gospel or gorilla shit? ( steal a delightful line from "True Blood"'s Queen Sophie-Anne)?? Discuss.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

We have a daughter, too, who gets short shrift like 24/7

Thirteen and a half months ago, I gave birth to a healthy, sweet, and dare I say, perfect little daughter. And no lie, it has taken me just about that long to finally catch my breath! At long last I feel like my old self again. I haven't mentioned my once-troubled marriage in awhile, and I think that old adage "no news is good news" definitely fits. We're really good, actually. Finally. Whew. Survival Mode is officially over. Now I think I can finally process it all.

If I'm honest, I do have some regrets. Which sucks. I regret not reading to DD more, not holding her more; not trying to co-sleep a little longer than we did - we had our reasons at the time, but I regret the fact that DD is not quite as cuddly as I assumed every baby would be, like her older brother was and is. Her room is not even fully decorated yet - and decor is one of my passions!

DH admitted to me the other day that it took him about a year to really, truly form a bond with DD. And I hate to say it, but it took me awhile, too.

I feel like so many of my posts have been about my firstborn. When I was a new parent reading other parent bloggers it always seemed like their first child was their favorite because it was all they ever really talked about. Now I get it. So I want to write a few things about DD that make us smile: (bragging alert)

* She is seriously a beautiful kid. (I know, every parent thinks that. But seriously, a part of me does worry about her being way too cute in this life, and how this might have a negative impact on her ability to be treated fairly in some future corporate-type career. Silly, I know.)
* The girl can eat like a champ! And she demands to hold large pieces of food by herself, and run around with them like she did recently with the turkey leg at Thanksgiving.
* She walked ridiculously early, and now she is such an amazingly graceful little toddler. She can go up and down the stairs all by herself, she can carefully climb pretty much anything, as well as open and close the back door to let the dogs out upon request. People always think she is older than she is because of it - especially when she walked into the exam room at her 9 mos. check-up. The dr. (a father of 4) could not believe his eyes.
* She is a by-the-book sleeper. Yes, THAT book. The same one I fucking hated when I read it back in 2007 for some other child who shall remain nameless. Eff you, Doktor Wize Blue Tooth!
* Her first name is something that most dumbass Americans cannot seem to pronounce, even though it looks just like it sounds. Hooked on phonics didn't work for us. On the bright side, it is a top 25 name currently in most of the countries in western Europe, so hopefully she won't seem so stereotypically American when she backpacks around the globe someday.
* Her poops are the smelliest things DH and I have ever had the privilege of smelling. For real.

Brag to me about yours - and show some love to those later-born kids.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bilingual vs. Regular School

School options here in Podunkville are extremely limited. When the time comes to enroll DS into K only 2 short years from now, there are 2 local public school districts we could select from; either of which are basically good enough for me & mine, but neither is perfect (alas, exactly as it is with most things in life!!)... There are also loads of Christian schools and one Catholic school that honestly don't provide a very good non-religious education, and there is also a strong homeschooling community - which I personally don't have the teaching skills nor the intestinal fortitude to manage. So public school it will almost certainly be.

We live in WA state, and there is a choice program through which you can apply to send your kids to a school outside of your home district. You provide the transport - not a problem, because we live close enough to Away District, where DH works. Here is our dilemma:

Away District has a robust bilingual elementary school (English/Spanish) that gets awesome reviews on the language instruction, but not very good reviews on any of the other subjects. But most disturbingly, the discipline program Away District uses is not one that is based upon any research whatsoever; it's not among the recommended programs approved by the Federal Department of Education, and it has gotten the panties of many of the local parents who are professionals so extremely bunched up as to make me think the people on the school board are actually trying to get voted out of office. In a nutshell, the way the discipline program works is that kids are incentivized to tell on each other and have other kids get sent to time out (they call it something else though) for "interfering with their learning." The discipline piece of the puzzle is a total shitshow that everyone hates... except the part where the kids are learning their non-native language so amazingly well tends to make up for it enough in some friends' minds.

Home District has a discipline program that nobody bitches about. Test scores are about the same, for whatever that is actually worth. Class sizes are much smaller. I like how they break up the grades into different schools, so there are elementary schools, an intermediate school, the jr high, then a high school with grades 10-12. The smaller Home District high school doesn't offer as many AP classes as the larger Away District 's high school does, but then again due to a smaller size, there are fewer kids falling through the proverbial cracks. There is no bilingual education for English-speaking students to learn Spanish, apart from standard high school Spanish classes which IMHO by then it is way too late to ideally start learning a foreign language. In short, it is more like a run of the mill, average suburban/rural American public school.

Why am I thinking about something I don't need to even think about until 2 years from now? Because if we want to choice in to Away District, I've been advised to meet right now with the very nice principal at the bilingual school so that he is familiar with our family, in case they decide in the future to no longer accept choice applications. (I'm told in a small town, it can't hurt to actually know someone, and that has always proven true for us so far.) That idea has been bounced around so they can appear more "selective"- because right now so many of the higher SES in-district students have opted-out of the school, either because ideologically, they are on the political right and don't want to encourage anyone to speak anything but English in this country, or they are afraid the discipline program is going to scar their children and/or cause the kids to hate school, or they are really religious or feeling like homeschooling is the way.

Oh, and I should also say that my kids' babysitter speaks to them in her native Spanish a lot of the time she watches them, which is 3 days/week.

Give a sister your thoughts, please.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I finally feel like I have actual friends in this town!

You all know I've had a lot of insecurity about making friends in Podunkville. I swear, for the longest time I was feeling like I had one, maybe two real friends in this wacky little town we've been calling home for the last 28 months. Early on, I met a few douchey types who were haters and had issues. I can't stand Mean Girl stuff, and like Flock of Seagulls, I ran, I ran so far away at the first whiff of it. (Sing along if you like.)

So I waited, and watched, and accepted invitations to shit I really didn't want to go to where they were reading books I didn't want to read, and selling things I didn't want to buy, and I just diligently, genuinely tried to get to know as many people as I could.

I got obsessive about remembering people's names & stories & little tidbits of info about their lives, and I wrote lots of thank you notes and sent lots of random emails & texts of things like 'hey, this reminded me of you,' and of my gratitude, and openness to new friendships, and I brought dinner to people I hardly knew when they had babies or were sick, and I remembered birthdays, and I got involved in some charities... Soon I was going to the park, and to baby showers, and to happy hours where I knew several of the people and they knew me, and small talk became so much less awkward.

Then one day (last Friday actually) I'm sitting there at dinner... with 13 local women who all showed up to take me out on the town for my birthday. I could not fucking believe it, but I actually have made some real friends here. I went into the ladies room and looked at myself in the mirror in disbelief. Finally!!! I'm not anonymous anymore in this town. People would actually notice if I went missing.

If you would have told me that this time last year & even a few months ago, when I seriously thought there was something wrong with me because nothing was clicking with anyone, I never would have believed you. BUT... let's be real, I'm not going around flying my atheist flag in people's faces, and we're definitely not talking politics... and I have to say, things are very pleasant, and finally feel comfortable about it.

Anyway. "Keep putting yourself out there" and "give of yourself" turned out to be damn spot on advice.

Thank you to all my bloggy friends who have been here for me, listening to my cursing and whining, and reassuring me that I wasn't a total loser.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Discipline... it takes a lot of work

October was the month when pretty much the entire world started telling us that our delightful little 3-year-old needed some discipline. DH has been trying to tell me that for some time now, and I was in denial. Not anymore. When his sweet babysitter who takes care of him 3 days a week told me in tears that she thought he needed some discipline because he called her a "fucking bitch" who is "not my mama" and can't tell him what to do as he threw blocks at her and his baby sister, and screamed "nooooo" whenever she asked anything of him... um, yeah. I knew we needed to get serious about it. Did I mention she raised 3 kids of her own, so this is not some childless ninny who has never dealt with a kid throwing a tantrum-- she knows her shit about kids. That was quite a wake-up call.

So pretty much that's what I've been doing with my free time lately, instead of blogging and enjoying the blogs of others. But I'm back now. Allow me to share what I've been learning.

We started off by incorporating what seems to be the most popular discipline method these day: The Time Out. I found the book "1,2,3 Magic" at the thrift store, read it in about 20 minutes, and discovered it is really easy method to do, and seems to work as long as DS is not supertired. Don't go buy the book though, seriously here is all you need to know: Kid does something you want him to STOP doing. You say "That's 1." He continues? You say "That's 2." He keeps doing it? You say "That's 3. Take 5." (All of this is said calmly and without anger, BTW, with no other talking and explanations on your part.) Then you escort him to time out. Serious infractions like hitting and pushing are an immediate "That's 3. Take 5." Rinse. Repeat. In our house, the time out area is the back porch outside, because there is no way my son will sit still on a step or on the sofa. And he certainly won't go to time out on his own.

We actually had success with this method in terms of teaching that certain behavior has consequences. He says "fucking bitch" or pushes down his baby sister = he goes to time out, and we know he gets it.

That all being said, I had some reservations about the use of Time Outs generally based on conversations I have had over the last several years with certain child psychologists and parents I know. One of my best friends is an expert in this area, and I went to her and described what was going on in my home. Her opinion is that Time Outs in general do help to protect children from potentially greater harms like spanking and verbal/emotional abuse, and they are useful for parents who have multiple children and not a lot of time to talk with and to work individually with each child; but they are not the ideal method, especially for dealing with boys. (Ouch!) Her belief is that Time Outs risk teaching kids that when they are feeling these kinds of out-of-control, big scary emotions, the people who love them most will withdraw from them and make them be by themselves because they can't handle the child and don't accept them at that moment. And that sense of rejection over time, and the inability to work together with their parents on managing those tough emotions can allegedly hurt a child's emotional development. (Definitely food for thought, but not what I wanted to hear. I'd ideally like a quicker fix - note above the time-crunched parents... yep, that's me!)

She suggested instead of putting him in Time Out every time he crosses the line, we should think about incorporating some therapeutic techniques to help teach him emotional self-regulation. Things like proper breathing from the diaphragm, using words to name the emotion he is experiencing, role playing with dolls, and doing art together. At first my thought was "this is kind of touchy feely for me, but I'm willing to give it a try"... and now I'm glad I did, because I have been pleasantly surprised. DS has really enjoyed the art we have been doing with him - things like getting a crayon and paper and asking him to draw a bunch of circles to show opposite emotional states: "draw HAPPY!!, ok, now draw sad." "draw EXCITED!!, now draw bored." etc. It has been interesting. And I have noticed that he is a bit more aware of the effect of his behavior on others, and a bit more able to explain what he is feeling in a much more verbal way. Who would have thought that therapeutic play could work so quickly? My friend suggested a book for me about children's art therapy for laypeople that I hope to read for more activities for us to do.

The final lesson we've been trying to incorporate is to remember to give attention to, and to realistically praise his "good" behavior. Like those rare moments when he is quietly playing with a toy for awhile, we try to remember to give him the same level of attention we would give him if he were doing something "naughty" like trying to throw that toy through the window. I have seen many parents who only really pay attention to misbehavior because it is so hard to ignore - but it is challenging to remember to notice the good behavior, too: the sharing, the respectful play, the spontaneous kisses he gives his sister when he thinks no one is watching...

Anyway, it has been quite a journey for all of us this month, and I'm happy to say I'm feeling better about DS and his current place in the world as a spirited, determined, sharp little dude.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Have you figured out what you, and/or your children, and/or your pets are going to be on Oct 31st? (Luckily, we only need to dress up the kids, as DH hates grown-up costume parties with some serious passion.) Just curious - are there any similar costume festivities in Italy, Denmark, or France?

My son first decided he wanted to be a pumpkin for Halloween (but I figured he just might change his mind everyday). So I went off to the thrift store and just so happened to find the perfect pumpkin suit in a 4T (the exact size which my supertall 2.5 year old has been wearing for awhile now), plus a warm and cozy looking little ladybug outfit for our one year old daughter. I'm feeling like a winner.

I bring all of my loot home, feeling great about having the costumes figured out so far in advance, and all for only $5!! Then DH had to go and burst my bubble saying, "Oh hell no! My son is not wearing that thing!" Apparently, he was concerned about his masculinity. Um, he's not even 3 yet. Ok whatever. I suppose he is entitled to one fashion veto a year. But the trouble is, I want to keep DS looking little and cuddly for as long as I can. He's going to say he wants to be something more big boy and tough and violence-prone probably way too soon for me. And lord help me the day he finds out you can actually dress up as one of the characters from "Soy Glory."

We went back to the drawing board, and asked DS again what he wants to be for Halloween. (Actually he said "a pumpkin" like 4 more times, but DH pretended not to hear and I just smirked.)

"Um, I want to be a green frog and a super man." Where do they come up with this stuff? Pretty sure I won't be able to find that combination in a 4T at Tarjay or Wally World. And I can't sew. So I made another trip to the thrift store.

And guess what was on the rack right next to a size 4T (!!!) frog suit? A superman cape! Done and done, bitches. Like it was meant to be. I love me some thrifting like Tiger Woods loves Hooters waitresses.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Dealing Compassionately with Bat Shit Crazy

Long story short, there is a woman who has stopped by my kid's preschool twice, unexpectedly, to ask the teacher for copies of any old school records of her son's, whom she claims attended the preschool about 5 years ago. Word on the street in our small town is that this woman suffers from some sort of mental illness. (I g00gled her and found out some disturbing shit, but I digress.) Turns out her son never officially attended the school, but he sat in on a class with her once.

Then parents at the school started gossiping. Now some members of the preschool's Board are wondering if filing a restraining order would help keep everyone safe.

I think they are right to be a little freaked out at a gut-level, but I feel that perhaps they are jumping the gun with all the restraining order talk. The fact is, she may be bat shit crazy, but she has technically done nothing wrong: she showed up 2 times so far, both were times when the Board was meeting and the public was invited. Not during class times when kids were present. Not at times when members of the public were uninvited.

My personal feeling is that sometimes, when it comes to the mentally ill (i.e. people like this who blog about the CIA coming after them at the doctor's office, and who also have lawsuits pending against the city, the police dept, the fire dept, her son's foster family, etc) restraining orders don't necessarily work like magic at keeping them away. I understand the knee-jerk, mama bear reaction is to come at her with proverbial guns blazing. But I wonder if that would be counterproductive, and would just inflame the situation.

I just feel bad for her, and for people like her. If the truly insane don't know they are insane, then what an incredibly horrible existence. To actually believe g-men are coming for you, and that your kid was taken away for no good reason, and that no one believes you?? Holy hell that would be so unimaginably awful. Thank the lawd for mental health... even if I don't always have as firm a grip on it as I would like.

Part of me thinks we should re-think our current social policy of letting the mentally ill roam around unmedicated, too often creating real problems and harrassing people. My mom always talks about the old state homes they used to have - full of awful abuses too, no doubt. But the alternative need not be a scene from "Shock Corridor." I realize there were coercive mis-institutionalizations. Surely we can do better.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Maternal Failings... again

At 9am today, I took my almost-3-year old son to a toddler gymnastics class that he has been to many, many times and usually loves. But today he decided he didn't want to participate. At all. Both of the teachers kept trying to persuade him to join the other kids as they jumped, laughed and played. And honestly, I was feeling really angry that he wouldn't join in. And also embarrassed that all of these others kids his same age were able to be part of the fun class, and have a great time together, while my son sidelined himself and threw a tantrum about wanting to sit with me in the place where the grown-ups watch so he could play with the baby toys. I ended up taking him home early and gave him the silent treatment all the way home because I knew if I spoke I'd say something ugly.

My reaction really surprised me. I guess we have entered the Horrible 3's a few weeks early.

I hate the feeling that my kid has this shitty tendency to misbehave loudly, publicly, and to a seemingly greater degree than his peers. I feel like none of the many techniques we've tried have worked. It seems the only solution is to keep him home because that way, at least we're not feeling so humiliated about it (she typed as both of her children wailed and pulled at her feet....)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Cheap, Battery-Powered Crap!

DS (who will turn 3 in late Oct) recently saw that popular animated movie trilogy that rhymes with "Soy Glory," and it is like toddler crack to the child. Which on the one hand is nice because if I need him to just sit for awhile while I take care of something uber important like food or changing an exploded shit-filled diaper, I can use it as a babysitter. But as it turns out, I created a monster, with several downsides...

First, it has caused some behavioral issues: "Soy Glory" taught him how to say "SHUT UP!" Which he says all the time and has become a Real Issue around here. Ok, so truthfully, he probably heard us saying it, too. But in the great American tradition, I'd rather blame The Media for all of my parenting failures.

Then came the introduction of the Cheap, Battery-Powered Crap featuring all of this movie trilogy's cast of licensed characters that started finding its way into our home. People found out DS liked the movies, so they keep giving him more of everything emblazoned with it. It's on helmets, and sippy cups, and Pull-ups, and potty seats, and butt wipes, and more Cheap Plastic Battery Powered Shizz! And it is even at the friggin' supermarket! DH came home from getting groceries with this Cheap Talking Stuffed "Fuzz Brightbeer" toy in tow, that cost about 1000 times more than it cost to make in China (so like $6). DS played with it so much the very first day that the batteries ran out. Oh holy hell. Not good. Not good at all people. Let's just say DS was pissed to the highest level of pisstivity that his beloved Fuzz had suddenly started "ignoring" him.

Time to change the batteries then. But wait, unlike other toys, this one was apparently designed to be thrown away after only a few weeks of play? There was no velcro opening to access the battery panel. So I had to pull out the cheap stitching and remove Fuzz's furry white innards to get at the battery pack, which was encased inside a fabric pocket that was sewn shut. Then I had to cut that mofo open, and find a tiny ass screwdriver to finally open it up. Then I see that instead of using the more popular toy battery sizes like AA or AAA that we coincidentally have loads of both in bulk and in rechargeable form, it requires 3 of those 1.5 volt round silver batteries.... The ones that mama can't find anywhere in Podunkville... except of course at the big box store that is FULL OF LICENSED CHARACTER SHIZZ FROM THE SAME MOVIE!! And that we can't take DS into because the temptation is just too great, and because I don't want to have to leave a cart full of stuff I didn't even need so I can carry a tantruming toddler back to the car to go home early. Thank gawd... without being reminded, DH saved the day by bringing some of the requisite batteries home one day. (He correctly sensed that the need was acute.) Luckily I had some no-sew Res-Q Tape on hand to put a freshly-batteried Fuzz back together again. The smile returned to my child's face as he hugged his cheap little friend tightly, and then scampered off into the sunset to play.

A friend of a now 7-year old girl was recently lamenting the fact that for years all of this Princess shizz kept somehow seeping into their house under the front door. Now I totally get what she was talking about. IT'S EVERYWHERE!! All of this marketing of cheap plastic crap, of fast food, etc to little kids using all of these licensed characters really is unsavory. Yet, short of keeping the kid at home all day with no TV - or running off into the woods - there is just no avoiding it. Or maybe there is avoiding it, but I am too lazy to do all of the rearranging of our lives that would make it possible. Like no TV.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I Must Have Friendship Vaginosis

It is one of those rotten days for me, and for no good reason at all. I am really feeling like I am never going to have any real friends here. (For those who haven't heard me go on about this here before, I live in a place I call Podunkville, where everyone except for me & DH falls into one of 2 camps: 1) the uber-Christian, Fox News lovers who definitely wouldn't laugh at any of our jokes, and 2) the cool liberals who are extremely outdoorsy & don't really want to spend time with anyone who is not.)

Luckily, I have good friends elsewhere, which is something I should be grateful for. If I do ever find a real local friend, I will probably totally suffocate her because I will be so hyper-excited to be able to spend time locally with Someone Who Gets It for a fucking change. I just wish my dream of having a few close friends here wasn't something I perseverated on so much! I'm annoying to myself. Maybe the people with same-aged kids who are moving here next year will fit the bill. Maybe DS will meet someone with cool 'rents in his preschool class. I probably shouldn't get my hopes up though. The last time I got my hopes up it sucked. Remember Food Court Mama who seemed interested at first but then never called or emailed me back? Must be my vaginosis. I guess I shouldn't have worn a skirt that day.

I need to quit with the negative self-talk. I actually do have some friends, I think. Or I used to. In fact, a sweet older lady who helped us move here 2 years ago was saying this weekend how impressed she is that we have made so many connections so quickly. Fo' rizzle? So I guess we seem popular to people who don't know us very well, which is nuts. I'm not completely lonely, I suppose. Sure, there's Stitch, my one local friend who I can usually be my authentic self around. However, to be perfectly honest Stitch took a step back from me this summer, and I think the reason has to do with some bad advice she asked me for, which I gave despite my hesitations and now I regret it, and then she didn't follow it, and now I think she thinks I want to say I told her so but I truly don't, and now that she knows I was right I think she feels like she can't talk to me about her problems now... I need to respect boundaries more and refrain from giving advice - just listen! People are going to do what they want to do so JUST LISTEN. Like I should tattoo that on my forehead.

This is another one of those areas in life where I don't want to become my mother. My mother had no friends. Even her sister can't stand spending holidays with her. She married my dad, who was the prom king in college, and turned him into a man with no social life. So that's why I'm so worried about it. But really, if I can't fit in with a bunch of people who have zero in common with me ideologically, culturally, aesthetically, etc, it doesn't mean I'm becoming my mother. It means I live in a place where it is simply more challenging. Right? Right?

Anyway, did I tell you I'm joining a new book club? This one has a slightly older membership than me - women in their early 40s who apparently wondered if I was "too young" when they thought about inviting me last year. One of the members told me she felt bad that I was in the stupid people's book club that chose books like "Twilight" and "Gone with the Wind," and had to convince the other members that I'm not vapid even though I'm 33. (My vapidity has nothing to do with my age, I assure you). Don't you love women's group politics? Good times! So, yeah, given the way I apparently got my invitation over the period of like a year, I am keeping the expectations low. Lower than a snail's tail low.

In other news, now that glorious Fall is here I am feeling the need to watch some scary movies and drink hot cocoa. Watched "The Unborn" and " The Fourth Kind" on DVD recently. Both are scary and hella schlocky. But neither was as over the top as "Drag Me To Hell." Nobody liked that one but me and some nerdy dude who still works at Blockbuster and is a total Sam Raimi fanatic like me.

Friday, September 3, 2010

School as Scapegoat

So I'm going to share a story with you all that I started to tell (rather poorly) in the comments on @Cloud's awesome blog. It's about Ms. R, the friend of a friend here in Podunkville who is someone with an education and resources, who should probably know better...

When I first heard about Mrs. R, she was in the local paper for her newsworthy 'badgering' of the School Board, as she was trying to make a point at their meeting, by applying to them the same techniques used in the school district's discipline policy. (Basically, she put the Superintendent in a time out-equivalent because he forgot some statistic during his remarks, and she tried to draw an analogy between him, and how she felt her son was being unfairly treated in K for "simply not knowing things.") So I thought she was a bit of a badass, and that it is pretty cool to have someone like her disturbing shit in our conservative little hamlet.

Then DH got to know Mrs. R's husband, Mr. J. In the course of getting to know him, Mr. J eventually told DH that their son, N, was suddenly going to be homeschooled after one semester of K, in which they decided "the school district was out to get him, and hates our son." DH came home and told me all of this and I was thinking, "Hmm, something about this story doesn't add up. But ok, whatever."

Fast forward to several months later, when we start to make friends with a couple, The A's, who has kids who attend the school little N used to attend. One day they bring up Mrs. R, and the other side of the story finally comes out. Apparently, N was repeatedly verbally abusive to other children in his class, and was having out-of-control rage fits, by all accounts. To the point that everyone in class was disrupted by him, and some other kids started getting afraid to go to school. I'm not talking about normal kid tantrums, I'm talking about behavior that just seemed totally out of proportion & abnormal. As in it would be clear to the outside observer that N could benefit from an evaluation to determine what is going on with him. The A's felt like they had known a boy with this same issue before, and actually called up their old friend who was the father of the similar boy to see how they should broach the topic with Mrs. R and Mr. J., out of concern for the family. Incidentally, the Superintendent of that other boy's school district actually took a trip to a school in Portland that addresses how to teach kids with these issues so he could incorporate the curriculum into the boy's education plan - talk about an awesome public school leader.

Mrs. A mentioned the friend's son's story to Mrs. R and was met with total denial. Mrs. R first blamed the school district's discipline policy for "shaming her son." Then she blamed the son of another friend for turning the children against her son. Then she said that public school is just not made for boys like hers, who are "intelligent and just super energetic." So now they're homeschooling. Mrs. R doesn't want to be friends with Mrs. A anymore. Mrs. A hopes she'll change her mind and realize that her suggestion was not intended as any sort of judgment about Mrs. R's parenting. Unfortuntely, the writing on the wall seems to be that there is something off about N, and Mrs. R is too in denial to get it checked out, even though they have the means.

Why am I telling this story about people I barely know? Because I think, so often in life, the truth is somewhere in between. This is a great example of that reality. On the one hand, I'm sure the school could have handled it better, but understandably, they are not made to handle little boys with serious rage issues when they have 18 other kids to educate. I'm not saying give up on kids like that - they failed to reach the parents on the benefits of their recommendation for an evaluation. And as for the parents, sometimes the conventional wisdom is right. If the data points that the subjective lens of the school structure is showing you indicate something might be really wrong with a kid, shouldn't we put aside our own parental insecurities and get answers? It is too easy to think "oh my poor baby" and make the school the problem, instead of saying "maybe we both have shit going on that played a role in this problem and maybe we can work cooperatively to solve it." Honestly, sometimes school is the problem. But sometimes parents try to make life way too much like Burger King, have it your way. I can't help but feel N is going to miss opportunities long term by not being around other kids. And N's former classmates - what might they be thinking about his absence after he behaved that way? Maybe that bad behavior does get punished? Or that we get rid of people who can't fit in?

Am I taking crazy pills by thinking about it this way?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"The Toys Are Going Back To The Store!!"

I hate when life and Actual Work get in the way of blogging. Sorry for the recent absence here & at other bloggy friends' places. I'm brain dead today. I was up more times last night than I can count - I had a nagging cough that no medicine could address, plus both kids woke me up multiple times... and DH eventually told DS to "SHUT UP!!!" (And he honestly wonders where DS learns those kinds of phrases! "I learned it from you, dad! I learned it by watching you!!" Remember those lame anti-drug ads of the 80s anyone?) But I have to say, this is where the work we've been doing in marriage counseling has started to pay off. We didn't fight at 4am. We mentioned it calmly this morning and agreed to discuss it later and come up with a plan. I hardly recognized us! We actually sounded functional. I need DH to stop yelling "The Toys Are Going Back To The Store!!" whenever DS misbehaves. He needs me to stop letting DH be the bad guy all the time. We'll get there.

So all I've got are some random thoughts I feel the need to share.

The last 3 times I've heard an interesting, catchy tune on the radio lately that's made me sit up and take notice, and jot down the lyrics so I could google to find out what band it is - it has turned out to be a song by The Killers. ("Smile Like You Mean It," "Read My Mind," & "When You Were Young.) Yeah, I know they've been out for awhile. It's that rock I've been living under. I should probably just go ahead and download all of their albums. You know, this is making me feel old, not knowing what the kids are listening to anymore.

I just found out that "Weeds" is not over yet! Last year I swear I heard a rumor that it was their final season, now they're baaackk. I don't get Showtime though, so we'll probably Netflix it next summer. I have a friend who thinks I look exactly like Mary-Louise Parker (only about 60 lbs heavier and with ginormous boobies.) I think she's wrong. I've also been told I look exactly like Mariah Carey - and those ladies don't look alike at all.

DS is now 34 months and is finally daytime potty trained - um, that is, only when we keep him completely naked on the bottom. As in, he doesn't need any reminders (any parental reminders just piss him off) - he puts his skinny little butt right on the big potty whenever nature calls, and even remembers to flush. BUT the minute we put cloth underwear or a pullup on him, he treats it like a diaper. We hope someday soon it will click in his brain that he can pull pants down, but for the last month we have had a half naked toddler running around and it has really eased the load (pun intended.. gross right).

Only one episode of True Blood left! What the fuck am I going to do with myself? ;)

I really really hate working out, but I got pudgy enough that I looked in the mirror and stepped on the scale and was like "I need to get my lard ass to the gym!" I really don't hate my body, believe it or not, I have lovely curves (or so DH lies to me) it is just that my thighs were rubbing together and that needed to stop. There is this crazy ass gym around here that does really odd but cool exercises where you basically lift and pull heavy shit using this proper form the owners teach you. The workouts are only 25 minutes but you either want to pass out or puke after each one. Good times. After 5 sessions, my thighs stopped rubbing together and I'm getting those "have you lost weight?" comments that can sound totally backhanded if not said with the right tone.

DD turns 11 months at the end of this week, and I am sad thinking of how her infancy went by in a heartbeat. I'm also thinking some odd negative/regretful thoughts about choices we've had to make to survive this last almost-year. How I don't have the energy to dress her as cute as I did her brother at her age; how her room is still not decorated!! How the dream doesn't always match the reality. But it's ok. The things that truly mattered are taken care of.

What have you got?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Houseguests Are Like Fish

A future colleague of my DH's, and his wife, and two young children are currently staying at our place while they house hunt. It is pure, unadulterated mayhem around here. Their 3.5 year old son and our 2.5 year old DS have been fighting over literally the same race car for the past 48 hours. Both of our 10 month olds are teething and have heads full of snot, and no one is getting any sleep. And it is starting to feel too warm in here, as I look at the thermostat reading 77 degrees but set on 70... I know this will require a service call because we had the same problem last summer. And I have too much work shit scheduled for when they finally leave so I can't be at home to meet a repairman. Even a hot one who looks like Eric Bana. Because in Podunkville, land of no hustle, people take their sweet time with things and are slow talkers and slow movers in general. But enough bitching from me about houseguests - they are truly lovely people, it is just that all of the kids are getting in the way of anyone enjoying a relaxing time with people we are hoping to eventually become good friends with.

I need a drink - just something cold. Though if someone handed one to me I wouldn't turn down a Hendricks' gin & tonic with lime.

What are you drinking? Who is crashing your place? Who are you Kato Kaelin-ing on this summer?

Monday, August 16, 2010

More like Aug 16th

So I am 8 days behind on blogging... what can I say, it was a great trip. And my laundry still isn't done. Best part: tie between the following - I slept like the dead, AND I was randomly upgraded to business class on the return trip, and it seriously felt like I had just won the lottery. (I'm lame like that & get excited over little luxuries.) Drank a ton. Ate amazeballs Indian food on Brick Lane, and also found this kebab place that I swear is putting opiates into its food! Had a great visit with my soon-to-be-involuntarily divorced BFF, with the no good very bad cheating gambling addict ex who she is still in love with more than a little bit. I think she is going to be just fine. She has made some very sweet friends - all non-UK foreigners who have totally been looking out for her.

We rode the trains to various UK locales including my new fave, Bath. Johnny Depp has a place there - duh of course he does, because there is something very unique about the town that I can't quite put my finger on. I also got to see that week's ep of "Mad Men." Unlike my other TV addiction, "True Blood," it is possible for folks in the UK to download episodes of the current season. Speaking of "Mad Men," I watched last night's ep with DS, who started repeating a phrase angrily-uttered by Peggy Olsen: "Your problem is not my problem!" Which is kind of funny to hear coming out of the little dude's mouth. Also a good reminder that perhaps young folks should not be watching this kind of programming with their moms.

I need to catch up on my blog reading now, so comments will be coming your way soon. Thanks for stopping by. More substantive posts soon once I deal with the fucking laundry etc.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Leaving On a Jet Plane

Tomorrow I leave for a blissful week in the UK, where I'm going to visit my newly-divorced BFF who recently moved there for a fresh start. This is my BFF since middle school who is ridiculously beautiful, and who will probably be married 3 or 4 times in her life and never have any children. But she is a total joy, and the closest thing I have to a sister. I actually hope she moves back to the states soon though. I think her living there aimlessly in the UK - jobless & childless, I might add... wait, that sounds heavenly - is not a tenable proposition for the long-term. She is already getting a rather generous pre-alimony payment but it is not enough for her to keep up with the exorbitant cost of urban living. And having nothing to do and nowhere to be is simply not good for her, because all she does with her time is think about her ex and how he totally rejected her. She seems stuck.

There is a part of me that wants to say to her: Um, how are you going to pay for your retirement? How are you going to psychologically move on from this? Because sitting in a flat you can't afford while claiming you also can't afford therapy makes no fucking sense really. What are your priorities? But I have been working very hard to keep my mouth shut and just LISTEN without judgment. She has a tendency to rebel against anyone who sounds remotely parental. She will figure it out for herself eventually. She always does. She is just one of those people who always lands on her feet, but often dangles very close off the edge. I swear her life has been a total roller coaster. She's poor. She's comfortable. She's poor. She's dirt poor! She's comfortable. She's rich! She's poor... not to mention her love life, which is, well, enviable to most men and probably to the Samantha character from SATC. (BTW the 2nd movie sucked out loud, except for the part about Lawrence of my Labia. But seriously, don't see it.) She's the friend I would call if I ever thought I had VD or needed an abortion. She doesn't even know the number of partners she's had in her life - I recall it was 22 at age 21 and she joked that she'd be one of those people with more partners than years on the planet. Meanwhile, I'm still on one hand. And still married. And with children - things she finds bizarrely intriguing now. Talk about vicarious living!

Drama follows her, and she definitely creates it. Oddly enough, I almost cancelled the trip because as of last week she thought she had bedbugs... and I can't afford a hotel and neither can she. Turns out she has a bad dust mite allergy that has given her eczema. Just glad bedbugs will not be following me home in my suitcase. Ick. Now I'm itching.

Anyway, this means ol' Hushie pie won't be back here until about Aug 8th or so... until then, hugs and kisses to you all. Thanks for stopping by. I'm going to need to watch next Sunday's episodes of "True Blood" and "Mad Men" though before I post, heck, before I unpack my suitcase and let those little bed buggies infest my house, right along with the mice!

Anyone else feeling me on the drama queen friend who you love & who is actually a great friend? Or on the mice or bedbugs? Or crabs? (just kidding)...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Do "Bad Seeds" Really Exist?

A recent program on NPR about parenting really made me stop and think. It made me question some of my prior assumptions that "there are no bad kids" (read: there are only bad parents/bad adults in their lives who fuck them up). It was the July 15, 2010 edition of Neal Conan's excellent "Talk of the Nation" program, with guests Dr. Richard Friedman, and NurtureShock author Po Bronson, called: "Sometimes, Good Parents Produce Bad Kids." Read the transcript or listen to it here.

It starts off like this: "In a recent article in the New York Times, psychiatrist Richard Friedman pointed out that mental health professionals have long been trained to see children as products of their environment, intrinsically good until influenced otherwise, and he disagrees. While there are all too many bad parents around, he argues, chronic bad behavior by a child does not necessarily mean bad parenting is responsible. Some kids are just bad seeds."


Of course there's that old yarn from both the real Boys & Girls Town and its film version - "As the twig is bent, so grows the tree." There's also, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree." Probably there some other arborial metaphors for child development in other languages, too. But perhaps these old adages have it wrong?

What say you, parents?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Holy Fucking Shit!

My 9-month-old DD slept all the way through the night last night! As in a real deal Holyfield 12+ hours of precious sleep from 7:30pm until 8:15am. But did her mama also sleep through the night? Hell no! Because apparently I am so used to the shitty routine of her waking my ass up between 2 and 4 am that I actually woke myself up imagining I had heard her cries on the monitor. When I went to check she was sound asleep on her tummy with her head in the corner of her crib. Yes, it was my mind playing tricks on me. Fuck!

Now I'm obsessed with replicating last night's conditions. She was wearing jeans and a blue polo shirt to bed (no time for jammies - when I saw her rub her eyes and yawn I just put her to bed as is). Check. Last night was the first night I had put her in a size 4 disposable diaper. Check. I put a half-full bottle of formula in the crib with her and 2 blankets. Check. Check. The fan was on a medium setting. Check. I put her down drowsy but awake at 7:31pm and let her cry, watching the clock for a looooong 6 minutes, until she fell asleep = tension releaser. Check. We shall see what transpires tonight, bitches...

I was fully awake and out of bed by 4:30 am after about an hour of unsuccessfully trying to go back to sleep. So I decided to just get up and get shit done until one of my kids woke up. Turns out it was DS at 7:15. But I got a lot done in almost 3 uninterrupted hours there: Uploaded & shared vacation photos from almost a month ago. Sprayed weeds. Wrote an encouraging note to Skeletor in anorexia rehab. Showered. I like that feeling of accomplishment so early on a Saturday before the heat of the day sets in, so much so that I might make the extreme early wake up a habit.... or not!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Friend Ain't Getting Any

Mrs. P, one of my two IRL BFF's, and I had a long phone conversation today, covering a lot of territory, mainly marriage and kids. I told her about my recent marital trubs, dramatic hotel stay, and how therapy was certainly helping. And then she went and dropped what I felt was a total bomb - that she hasn't had sex with her DH for almost a year!

Wait, what???!!!

I now realize we often have no idea what is going on in other people's marriages. Hell, I'm sure mine looks great from the outside... little do they know.

Mrs. P is mama to an adorable 21-mos-old, who she Attachment Parents (her term) to an extreme. As in she and her DH have not been on a date since before the kid was born. Like, whoa. As in full-boat AP: co-sleeping, BF'ing, cloth diapering, no babysitters ever - all the hard core shit. I'm a bit of an APer-light, but I think I'd jump out of a window if I never had any time away from my kids.

My sense is that Mrs. P has trouble finding balance. She tends to go to extremes with things. And her DH is kind of a pushover - he just does whatever she says, and doesn't feel confident enough to ever initiate sex, or plan a date, or do anything. It would be nice if he knew how to balance her out. I think she has contributed to it by not acting like intimacy is any sort of priority for her.

Your thoughts?

Friday, July 9, 2010

It's Been a Bad Day (please don't take a picture)

Last night was date night, and it was supposed to be fun. Instead it sucked, and turned into a big fight at 4:30 am this morning with both kids suddenly in bed with us.

Which had the effect of making me realize that some Very Important Something just might be missing between DH and me.

I know I have been bitching a lot... you all out there on the internets are probably sick of it. But I told myself I would always keep it real on my blog, because I am unable to in my real life. So please bear with me.

This morning was the first time I have ever really wanted to leave my marriage in a real, granular way. I actually started to plan it in my head, and that scared me. Why? Because for the first time I felt truly hopeless about DH's ability to make the changes we've recently discovered in therapy that he needs to be making. In his behavior, I saw visions of his fucked up parents. Let me be clear: I'm NOT talking abuse, nor any of the Four A's that for me would be an automatic "adios" to my marriage.

To be more specific, DH made me feel like the worst mother in the world - and I might add, like I am operating as a single parent here- for no good reason. He basically said I was "coddling" the kids by letting them be in our bed (after they had spent the entire night up until 4:30am in their own beds), and "coddling" them by not letting DD cry it out in her crib (CIO doesn't work at that hour when she is already standing up in the crib), and "coddling" DS because at 2.75 years of age I let him drink from a bottle and because he won't sit still and cooperate for a diaper change. (the only way to rid DS of bottles is to rid DD of them and she is only 9 mos old.) Why am I putting my excuses/responses in parentheses anyway? I know what the fuck I am doing - it is called SURVIVING!

I love how DH only has actual parenting opinions in the middle of a fight at 4:30am. I also love how DH arrogantly assumes he knows better than I do despite never having read a single fucking book about raising a child nor even looking at a single fucking parenting blog.

So there's that, plus the date night from hell where I realized, if I were just meeting this guy for the first time tonight and he acted like this, I'd never see him again. He just had the personality of a grapefruit last night. This was the same guy who last week got an email from the place we went to and forwarded it to me and said "let's get a sitter and go to this" - so I set everything up and at 5 o'clock yesterday he had forgotten all about it and said "do we have to go?" I said no, we could do something else, and by the time he got home he changed his mind and wanted to go. Then he had nothing to say the entire time. I kept trying to talk about something, anything, light things like what's going on in the world, and he was just not there. And I realized I no longer have the patience for him. I needed to be able to look forward to a good night out and have it happen. And there was no good reason it shouldn't have.

Reading back over this it all seems trite - but I can no longer deny it - for me, the connection is just no longer there. The intellectual spark, the fascination about the world, SOMETHING, fuck even LeBron James's announcement I would have been happy to talk about, but instead he was a total dud. And for the life of me, I cannot deal with it. Then he is a total unhelpful dick this morning? I may be at the end of my rope. I am seriously contemplating checking into a hotel this weekend.

I need a sign.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Second and Final Child

DD just turned 9 months old, and I can't even believe how fast the time has gone. She recently started walking (oh holy hell....) at 8.5 months. My mother tells me after a cursory check at her diligent entries in my baby book circa 1977, I also happened to walk at the exact same age. (DS was also an early walker, though at 9.5 mos he was a full month behind his sis. I suspect a strong genetic component to early walking). Yesterday was the first time we "lost" DD in the house and seriously didn't know where she was for a very scary 5 minutes. Turned out she had crawled all the way upstairs and was playing with a tent & tunnel toy she recently discovered. Another favorite activity of hers is splashing around in the dog's water bowl, so we've had to find a new location for it, much to our dear pooch's chagrin. She is so squirmy, and just wants to move!! She recently went swimming for the first time and totally loved it. She would start kicking her legs at just the right time, and enjoyed standing on the pool stairs. And of course watching her big brother jump off the diving board.

What I also can't believe is how vastly different her first 9 months have been compared to her older brother's first 9 months. He was born in the big city, where I went back after my 19-week maternity leave, to working a high pressure job, while he spent 4 months in a great center-based daycare. Then we moved to Podunkville (land of no good daycare, and no office job for me) when he was the exact age that DD is now. And that was 2 years ago this weekend. Wow - how time flies. My grandma always said time flies much faster the older we get, and I am discovering that to be true.

After way too much ruminating, DH and I have decided that DD is going to be our last baby. We once had aspirations of having as many as 4 kids. Pass me my crazy pills, I know! After actually having 2 we now see what a naive little dream that was. At the rate we're going, we wouldn't have even been able to remember the 4th kid's name, let alone when little what's its name took his first steps! Anyway, our decision to be done at 2 healthy kids has turned out to be oddly freeing. I feel like I now have extra encouragement to savor the sweet little moments everyday. Smelling the proverbial roses. And even to buy small things that are just hers alone, like a silly pink bib with polka dots, even though I know I'll never have another baby to wear it. And I'm also feeling the need to tone up my body and buy properly-fitting bras. (I'm a size 39 DD and a half...) And visit my newly-single BFF in London this summer. Because if you think about it, we're saving at least $225,136* over the next 18+ years by not having any more kids. (*figure pulled from my ass).

I confess it has been much harder to remember even the basic things about DD's babyhood. I think it is because I already have one set of memories of having witnessed the miracle of a tiny newborn turning into a walking, talking, egg-smashing, defiant, clever, spontaneous hug-giving & kiss-planting toddler who is newly-obsessed with "Toy Story," not sharing, and berating other kids who even dare look at his baby sister. And having a firstborn who is just such a vibrant, overwhelming personality in our house has honestly made it harder to carve out unique time and memories only of DD. I used to think parents who talked so much about their firstborn must secretly love them more, but now I realize that's not necessarily true. First anythings are just inherently more memorable (primacy effect?). Everything and everyone who follows will at some level be compared to how the first was. It is a struggle to give DD equal time -- no wait, forget equal time, how about just sufficient time? I feel like I need to read and talk just to her a lot more than I have been doing.

Any advice from those of you who have 2 or more little ones?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" Book Discussion

So I had planned for several weeks to write a really nice review of this book, because as pretty much every reviewer on the internets will tell you, it is a fantastic, unique work of considerable significance. Life has gotten in the way of blogging (again). Long story short: my marriage is good (shocking!), kids are healthy, though our 2.75 year-old DS seems to be stuttering lately (as he says defiant, funny things like "Don't tell me what to do!") and DH and I are mildly concerned about it (but not yet concerned enough to get him evaluated), our almost 9-month old DD just started walking and none of us were at all prepared for the wonderful havoc of a fully mobile baby. And things haven't quite gotten back on track for me work-wise ever since our babysitter quit last month to get married at age 20, and her replacement who we have fallen in love with just told me today that she has another job offer and is confused about what she wants to do... Argh! How does anyone actually work in Podunkville when there is no reliable childcare!!?? But enough whining from me... let's talk about what we all came here for... The true story of the HeLa cells and all of the crazybad fucked up shit that Mrs. Lacks' family has had to go through for years.

No worries if you haven't read it/read all of it. Here's my take on it. Everyone should read it. And if you can't read it, wait until Alan Ball produces an HBO special about it in a few years. But please do learn Henrietta Lacks' story.

There are a few things in this book that are going to stay with me for a long time. Namely, Elsie Lacks' horrible story. I think the author buried the lead/lede with Elsie's story, telling it towards the end of the book, concerning what happened to Henrietta Lacks' eldest child who had mental disabilities, and was institutionalized, tortured, and experimented on in an asylum in Maryland in the 1950s. I'm getting choked up typing this. I actually had a nightmare about the Night Doctors, and am convinced that 'urban legend' sprang from a place of truth.

The other thing that will stay with me is the book's epilogue. It boggles my mind the total helplessness of people who have had & in the future will continue to have parts of their bodies used by others for profit, probably unbeknownst to them. Who's to say some of your tissues aren't being used right now in ways you wouldn't approve of? And yet the law provides you no remedy. There is no guarantee that there will not be future families left in the same sad situation as the Lacks family.

What about this book resonated with you? If you didn't like it, feel free to say why - I won't hate on you.

Monday, June 14, 2010


1. The first episode of True Blood Season 3 rocked my world!!! Especially Sheriff Eric Northman's first scene.... yum.... and Pam was so hilarious.

2. Skeletor and Bill Clinton are getting divorced. She is in in-patient rehab halfway across the country, and he plans to drop the bomb on her when she gets back. Now that's the ultimate dick move, particularly the part about letting everyone else in town know before he tells her.

3. Remember our friend who is the father of 3, whose alcoholic wife is divorcing him, and I spoke with the girls' Guardian ad Litem on his behalf? The Judge has awarded him primary residential custody and has ordered his ex-wife to pay child support and attend a substance abuse evaluation. I'm so happy!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Sorry for the disappearing act. We were out of town. For work and play. With the kids. It kind of sucked logistically, but at the same time it was so nice to escape Podunkville, eat good food, and meet up with some cool mofos. Part of the suckiness was a huge fight we had in front of the kids - just like a bunch of assholes. Then we neglected to make up in front of them, which my reading of "Nurture Shock" (in time for the upcoming book discussion of it on Ask Moxie) tells me is what can really screw kids up. So that royally sucked.

A strange thing happened on our last day in the big city. I met someone. A man. A married man with kids. A man who, if it had been a mere 9 years ago and had he also been single, I strongly suspect I would have had a relationship with. And it freaked my shit right the fuck out. Nothing happened. Rest assured, Hush ain't no cheater, so everyone calm down! Nothing was even said. It was all just crazywild VIBE stuff. My DH and his wife were there the whole time. I probably shouldn't say anything more. I am going to avoid this person like the plague, and I doubt our paths will ever cross again... I know other women in relationships have experienced one-off things like this, and I believe the best policy is open communication with my husband about the attraction, coupled with total avoidance. Thank the lawd for therapy!

Relatedly, DH seems to have gotten scared about counseling in the last 2 weeks, and has been slowly retreating from it. I think he is afraid of finally opening the can of worms he needs to open. Childhood pain stuff. However, he claims he is trying to schedule his next appointment. I say "no TRY, just DO." (In my best Yoda voice). The counselor doesn't want to see me alone again, nor us both together again, until he has had the chance to meet 1-on-1 with DH. To further annoy/confound me, DH is also not reading either of the books the counselor recommended: "Getting the Love You Want" by Harville Hendrix, and John Gottman's "The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work." Both of which we own, and I have already read several times like a self-help dweeb that I am. So I am hoping DH comes around. I think he will.

But all is not so bad because... drumroll please... the TRUE BLOOD season 3 premiere is this Sunday on HBO (6pm my time, yipee!). Is it kind of sad that I am looking so forward to a freaking TV show? Like the people on it are long lost friends? Nah. ;)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

July 1st - "Henrietta Lacks" Book Discussion Here!

Be there or be square. July 1st. Our book is "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot. It's a compelling one. So much so that Oprah and "True Blood" creator Alan Ball are doing an HBO film project based on it. Hooray!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Our First Counseling Session

The long-awaited marriage counseling appointment finally came & went. And wow. We really put it off for far too long.

Our therapist, Dr. R, surprised and impressed me on many levels - I guess I wasn't expecting much from a professional working here in Podunkville. His tone was a great fit for us. When I read on his CV that he also does "Pastoral Counseling," I asked him if he would have any problem working with an atheist like me, and he said no problem at all. He mentioned that he is a mentee of Dr. John Gottman's, whose work I really believe in- and that sealed the deal for me.

What can I say about the hour-long session? DH and I both cried multiple times. My DH has an issue with me that he finally figured out is not really about me, but is about deep-seated family-of-origin pain. Basically, his anger that I am not a better housekeeper has nothing to do with the dirty dishes in the sink, which is what I knew deep down all along. That was validating for me (and for the record, our house is quite clean thank you very fucking much). I didn't say much this time. I had trouble finding the right words for what I was feeling. And I wanted DH to keep talking. I knew I needed to think about these things a lot more. Afterwards, we went for a walk in the park and I suddenly got really angry with DH as I started really thinking about all of the stuff I have been putting under the rug. I need to learn to express my anger in a healthier way. My issue (I think) is that I am good at making things seem like everything is ok when actually DH's moods are killing me inside - just like my dad handles my effed up, emotionally-abusive mom!

I just love dysfunctional family legacies, don't you?

We will definitely be coming back to see Dr. R, and hopefully in time we can come up with some strategies so we don't scar our poor babies for life, end up in divorce court, or worse yet, end up remarrying the exact same effed up pattern-having spouse. Hooray!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

When Bad Things Happen to Ok-ish People

I try not to be a hater. I think a lot of shitty people just lack awareness about how their behavior affects others.

I've probably talked before about the one woman I really can't stand here in Podunkville. DH and I affectionately (privately) call her Skeletor, because she looks, well, skeletal. More on that later. Skeletor is the wife of one of DH's business partners, who I call Bill Clinton, because he is one of those guys who just oozes sleaze - I don't know how else to describe it. He has never done anything inappropriate in front of me, but trust me, the name works.

Anyway, Skeletor and Bill Clinton moved here 5 years before us, and actually helped convince us to move here. Skeletor warned me that she had been unhappy here initially, because she had a hard time finding a best friend, and she missed the shopping opportunities of a bigger city. She is only 2 years older than me, and her youngest child is only 22 months older than DS, and actually when we first met I thought she was ok. So, given her history here, I assumed she would get that a new person like myself might appreciate the occasional phone call or invitation to play at the park, or even just some friendly advice about things to do here with kids, when we first moved here almost 2 years ago. Nope. I was always the one who had to call and eventually I stopped trying. She never lifted a finger to help me fit in. Familiarity turned to contempt. Luckily, DH's older partners' wives took me under their wings, and did all the things a well-adjusted person would do to welcome folks to their new lives in the middle of nowhere.

Small town life really shows you a person's true character - that is, if you believe the gossip. And there was and is plenty to go around about Skeletor. Things like "OMG, Becky, Skeletor hangs around with this one woman who is like her only friend, who dresses like a total slut, she has breast implants," etc, plus the ones I've personally witnessed where she says things that make other people feel bad like "the high school play was horrible" to the kid with the lead role's mother. Oddly, Bill Clinton is a very well-liked guy, but a few people have seen how he really is. DH is one who has seen Bill Clinton's true colors, and has had to explain to me the concept of "guy code" as the reason why Skeletor needs to continue not knowing certain things about her husband's extracurricular activities. But the whole town knows. Yeah, life here is like high school.

Then Skeletor went and joined my shitty book club a few months back - the one that I am in the middle of quitting, to beat that poor dead horse yet again. It was awkward because once she realized I had been invited to be a member by some of her own friends she had never introduced me to (and who had been trying to keep her out sadly enough) somehow that raised my esteem in her eyes. And she started calling and asking me to do things, way out of left field. By that point DH had decided that any friendship between me and Skeletor would just inherently be a bad thing given all of the carnal knowledge I had of Bill Clinton's deceit, so he said to me "Hush, I never tell you what to do, right? Well I'm telling you now so you'd better hear me: don't be friends with Skeletor!!!" So I didn't - and it was easy because clearly I never got along with her anyway.

Now I feel bad. Because it has finally come out that Skeletor's family including Bill Clinton just did a full-blown intervention on her and sent her to an in-patient program to help her through her exercise anorexia, which she has apparently been grappling with for ages. So I guess mom was right: be nice to everyone, you don't know what they're going through. And when you live in a small town, never take the gossip bait.

I really don't know where I was going with this post. It has just been on my mind as I think about why we are where we are and what that all means. What do you think?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Unfriendable in this Land

Yesterday, after watching "Lost," DH and I were lamenting the fact that we have very few "couple friends" here in Podunkville. (Marriage counseling begins on the 17th - maybe we'll meet a nice couple in the waiting room...). While it seems like there is no shortage of kids for DS to play with at the park, and the moms of those kids for me to chat with, somehow that next, more elusive level of friendship - the "hey, let's get our spouses together, get sitters for the kids, and go out for a double dinner date next Saturday" - that has been a lot harder to find.

We're wondering why. We have a couple of theories. We are not outdoorsy enough to attract the liberals who live here, and we're not religious enough to mesh with everyone else. So we need to find the in-between-ers like us who maybe do outdoorsy things like hiking but not all the time and not to crazy extremes like base jumping, and who maybe respect religion but are closet atheists who don't hate certain groups, thinking everyone who doesn't agree with us is going to have a hot time in the afterlife.

So we have plenty of superficial "friends" here (as in people who don't know the real us), but few close friends. We decided we'd like that to change. So we started taking stock of our friendships to try to figure out what we need to be doing to meet that goal. (Gah, reading that again, I know how cheesy and oddly obvious this sounds...)

There are 3 other couples with kids with whom we are part of an official "Dinner Group," where we rotate houses, and every 6 weeks or so, we all help cook a big dinner, while we leave the kids with sitters. One of the couples is even newer to the area than we are, so they've been open to our invitations and even though their kids are 4 and 7 years older than ours, they do really seem like a good fit with us. The other 2 couples are great, but they are a lot more outdoorsy than we are and their hobbies don't really mesh with ours very well - the only commonality really is a love of good food and left-liberal leaning conversation. Which hasn't been enough to inspire get-togethers with them beyond the Dinner Group meetings.

It seems like the only people open to new friends like us are the people who, like us, have recently moved here. Everyone else seems pretty settled into their lives and friendships. Is it like that everywhere?

I've also been spending my time poorly as far as making close friends goes - as you know from my previous post, I've been wasting away in a shitty book club that has 23 members. I haven't really clicked with anyone there. The truth is I haven't spent time with any of the book club women 1-on-1 in the year and a half I've been a member. They haven't asked me and vice versa. That's shorthand for "I have no real friends there." It was a good way to meet people early on, but now I'm looking for a new place to fish. Not sure how my slowly-fade-away-over-time-style exit is going to play out.

DH recently joined a male book club which meets like every 3 months, and is full of triathlon-mountain-biking-teleskiing dudes who don't really watch sports on TV, nor do fantasy teams like DH does, and thus have little on the surface stuff in common with DH - but we'll see if he forms any connections there. He just might.

Some friendships we thought for sure would happen just never did - like remember that mom & son I blogged about over a month ago who I met at the food court and thought we'd definitely start seeing? She totally has not responded to any of my (2) emails, or to the one phone call I placed. I'm pretty shocked, because when we first met it seemed like she was more into it than me. Maybe she got hit by a bus, to borrow that misguided dating analogy.

I've mentioned my friend Stitch before, and her husband, Cowboy. Stitch is like the only woman here who knows the real me, and she lives even further off into the country than we do, so we have to really plan to see each other. DH is really not into Cowboy, but he thinks he is a nice guy, and so that has made it hard to do couple stuff with them, and I know Stitch wants to, which is awkward and sucky.

I've rambled enough. If any of you are really good at making friends, or really bad at making friends, and think you know why, I'd love to hear about it.

UPDATE: Poor DH's male book club meeting the other night totally made him feel like shit. First of all, the book SUCKED out loud. (It's old & out of print for a reason.) These Ironman-crazy-outdoors dudes decided they would all do a 2 mile run straight up a fucking mountain... and DH was left in the dust. He said he felt like he was the fat kid in high school gym class all over again (and DH is in great shape I might add). And they didn't even read the shitty book, but DH did! And they had no idea who Betty White was, and why she was going to be hosting Saturday Night Live. So he is going to quit. These really aren't bad guys, it's just that he had nothing in common with this group who does Ironman races, and were raised that way, and know zero about pop culture or sports. I feel so bad for him because I know he had high hopes, and feels like a loser.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Marriage Counseling

DH just texted me that he has the name of a local psychologist who can provide us with marriage counseling. I have to admit I am a little scared - that our confidentiality will be breached in our little town, that when people find out they will think we're on the brink of divorce (we're really not - this is a very proactive step, as things fortunately have not gotten ugly thus far), that the psychologist will hate me for being an atheist, and if it ever comes up that it will quickly get around town, that it won't be worth the money, that the therapist will be podunk and dr.phil-like... perhaps many of the usual things we fret about when meeting a new therapist.

Why now? I know we're in Survival Mode (with a 6.5 mo old girl and a 2.5 year old boy).. but the thing is, we need more of a structure to our conversations, and a scheduled time to truly work on things. Instead of me going through what I feel the issues are, I'm just going to copy and paste some emails between me & DH from this morning (one upside to anonny-blogging?). Oh boy....

Email from DH to me this morning:

You asked me in the last email why I was upset and not seeming like I gave shit. Rather than hold things in and be passive aggressive, I'm going to try and be more direct.

I feel last night was an example of why, at times, I feel like I'm alone in our marraige.

Between 5:00 and 10:00 pm last night, when DS was awake until he fell asleep, here is what I did:

- Cooked dinner
- Cleaned the majority of the dishes (you did put the detergent in the dishwasher)
- Showered with the kids
- Cleaned and dressed DS
- Played with DS
- Booked flights
- Made dinner reservations
- Starting booking rental property
- Took DS in bed and took an hour to get him asleep

During this same time you did:

- Dress DD
- Hold both children, mainly DD, while watching about 5 hours of TV (including TV watched while I cooked).

This is not meant to be a "scoreboard" to see who's a better spouse/parent etc. But it illustrates my frustration at times when I get home and I don't feel our marraige is a partnership. I loved it yesterday when you came out and helped me pull weeds. We had time together, we talked, it actually meant a lot to me. (I'm actually crying right now as I write this email to you thinking about us to illustrate my sincerity).

When I have to ask you several times to turn off the TV to eat dinner with me, that really hurts my feelings. When the opportunity presents itself, both kids asleep and/or playing, and you choose to watch TV or read on the internet, it makes me feel like I'm not very important to you.

I empathize that there are times when we both need "me time" but I just want to feel like I matter to you. You'll find that my mood improves greatly the more I feel like you want to be a partner with me. Whether we like it or not, as parents, there are daily responsibilities that we need to take care of EVERYday: walking dogs, feeding dogs, cooking/buying dinner, cleaning the dishes, making bottles, getting the kids asleep.

Email from me to DH this morning:

I'm flabbergasted.

What do you do when your spouse insists that you in fact did only 2 things in a 5 hour period, and totally ignores and minimizes at least 15 other daily chores you did after he went to bed that he routinely takes for granted? And then uses that as a bizarre rationalization for his unexplained bad behavior for the last 2 weeks, including his 5-day vacation with his buddies?

Do you respond by cataloguing the things you did? Or do you just stop doing them until he finally gets it?

What is your issue with saying you "help" in your own home? Do you get how patronizing and inaccurate that is? And why are you so obsessed with who does what around here anyway? Why do you feel the need to control and micromanage these things that don't even matter in the grand scheme of things? It is as though there is a part of you deep down that gets off on discrediting what I do.

I just don't know what to do with you anymore. You are really not getting it.

God, I hate how cold I sounded! DH really is a wonderful husband - sometimes a r'tard and sometimes unbelievably selfish, but mostly really, really good. I think this is worth working on.

Any words of wisdom for us?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Talking Bout Guernsey

Our topic is the book "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

I freaking ADORED this book. However a good friend of mine did not - and I totally respect her opinion about that and think she has better taste in literature than I do. So let's discuss.

My initial thoughts:

Great example about a guy who looks perfect on paper but doesn't make you shiver, and therefore is not marriage material. Though I have to say the one she ended up with didn't seem to really make her shiver either - or perhaps he actually did, but the fact that it was written in letters & telegrams obscured that.

Oh, sending the children away for years! Having to make that fateful decision based on such little information? And to have to live with yourself as a parent?!

I wished Juliet could have found a diary in Elizabeth's house in which she chronicled her love affair with Christian. But isn't that how life is - we rarely get the full story.

Does the fact that the name Christian, which means follower of Christ, allude to the fact that Elizabeth was perhaps a Christ figure, who made Christ-like sacrifices for others? Did anyone else think Elizabeth was foolish, and that an argument could be made that for her daughter's sake she could have tried harder at self-preservation?


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I Don't Sleep, I Read

For some reason (two small children, cough cough...), I don't get enough sleep. And even when I am able to sleep, because everyone else in my house is sleeping at that moment, I sometimes experience insomnia. So I bust out a book in bed (because I sleep alone in the room next to DD while DH is in our bed with DS). I've managed to read a few more books than usual lately. (I'm omitting the authors' names because I can't be bothered to get up and look at the pile of books). Here's my list of good, finished reads:

The Help
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Prospect Park West
The Big Short

And I am about 10 pages into "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" (and loving it). Anyone want to discuss it here with me at the end of May? Or any of these other titles now? Or anything you would recommend?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What Would You Do?

Some friends of ours in Podunkville are divorcing, and their three daughters are really suffering and having many behavioral problems at school. Thankfully their dad has taken the middle daughter's Kindergarten teacher's advice to get the girls into therapy. I'll cut to the chase: I think their dad is a far better parent to the girls, and is the only one of the pair who truly wants his children in his home as much as possible. Their mother, on the other hand, does not really want full custody of her girls, but also does not want to have to pay child support. I will spare you the gory details, but I think she is an alcoholic. She is also about to get married to her supervisor, with whom she was carrying on an extramarital affair... and mom's new fiance has been divorced twice because he was unfaithful to his last two wives.

The dad has asked me to fill out a form for the girls's Guardian Ad Litem, which asks for honest feedback about what I have seen, heard, and believe to be in their best interests. So if I'm honest, I'll be throwing mom under the bus. And I'm a little worried she might make a smear campaign against me for speaking out. And yet the truth needs to be told. But few of us in town are willing and able to tell the truth because of where we work, and our fear of whatever psycho shit mom might do.

If you were in my shoes, what would you do?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Getting It Together

I had an appointment on Friday with my attorney - the good kind of attorney - a trusts & estates lawyer. He's helping DH and I get our proverbial shit together so in case we die or become incapacitated, our little ones will be provided for and will have a home with someone on our guardian list of 10 couples.

One of our main goals of this exercise is to make sure that under no circumstances are DH's parents ever to be granted custody of our children. Long story short, DH and I have no relationship with either of his parents, who are divorced and remarried to some poor schmucks and live miserably ever after on the other side of the country. They have never met our kids, and we doubt that will ever change. To put it mildly, they are scumbags who engage in illegal and unethical stuff. To this day we still get collection calls for them - they are apparently on the lam from creditors, but I digress.

Anyway, it feels good to be putting these plans on paper finally. Now that we have planned for it, it will never happen I'm sure (knock on wood.)

Do you have an exit strategy or any kind of estate plan in case of zombie takeover?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Thank You Notes

Another odd thing about Podunkville: very few people write thank you notes. Or even thank you emails for that matter.

I am a bit old school about certain points of etiquette. "Obsessive" is how you could describe my affinity for writing thank you notes on pretty paper. But in my little podunk hamlet, of the last five gifts I've given, I haven't received a single thank you note, email, text, call, hand wave, high five or what have you. Which strikes me as odd. Three of the 5 non-thank you note writers were not raised in Podunkville, so it is not a "podunk thing" necessarily. As a matter of fact, some expat English friends of ours who just moved to Northern NJ, way on the other end of the socioeconomic spectrum, report the same thing: nobody there sends written thank you's anymore. And I'm not talking about people who are superbusy because they just had a baby or a serious illness. No, I'm talking people with school aged children who threw over the top birthday fetes for their little ones. Or even worse, for themselves.

Am I hopelessly old fashioned and out of touch to think a written thank you note for a gift unopened in front of the giver (and also for pretty much all gifts & all nice things done for you) is still the social norm? Help me out here. No shame if you generally don't write them - I really want to know how it is. Is it because I'm not on FB? Is that the new forum for gratitude? I think not. Do tell.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Love Scenes

DH and I noticed a funny thing when we were watching the first episode of "Mad Men" Season 3, with DS (29 mos) sitting next to us on the couch (as usual, refusing to go to bed). Suddenly, a love scene came on, and DS averted his eyes with a sly smile, and made an "ugghh" sound as if it grossed him out! Which DH said was the exact reaction he used to have as a child, whenever sensual images appeared on TV.

As far as I know, we haven't done anything to reinforce any sort of 'yuck factor' about these kinds of images. I wonder if this is some sort of innate human reaction he had, or if perhaps we are somehow reinforcing it subconsciously?

Any experiences with this? How do you handle it?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spirited Boy

I finally checked out the "Spirited Child" book from the library, the same one that folks have been recommending on "Ask Moxie" for ages. I admit I have been in denial about how challenging my 29-month-old DS can be. Like I was somehow afraid of labeling him unfairly, though "spirited" is just about the perfect euphemistic term for a kid like DS. I'm having trouble putting into words why I feel this particular shoe fits him.

He is a wonderful boy, don't get me wrong. And super cute - the kind of beautiful kid that middle-aged women in public always comment on literally every single day - "Where did he get those amazing long lashes, big brown eyes, sweet smile, sandy brown hair???" Probably from the same gene pool that gave him his low sleep needs, a predilection for climbing and jumping, and a very stubborn, determined personality. I'm glad he is happy most of the time.... because he is so very hard to keep up with! At least he is fun to be around and has a sweet personality while he is raising hell! Yesterday we had our second broken eggs incident. I was doing the dishes and heard the fridge door open and shut - he does that all the time - he is strong enough to break open the fridge lock we used to have. Minutes later, I walked towards the entryway where I heard him laughing, and on the floor and in the hall closet were 10 broken, raw eggs. It took so much restraint not to break down and cry right there. It took hours to clean up.

Other people's kids don't do stuff like this all the time, like DS does. (I'm sure they do, somewhere. Just not anyone around me.) And I really do mean "all the time." I am so exhausted from cleaning up after him, collecting piles of his broken things in the garage, wiping stuff off of every surface of our house, trying to hide things he's found all over again (he is like a heat-seeking missile for search and destroy of pens, chapstick, chocolate), etc...

I feel like he is either going to be a huge success or a complete failure - isn't that an odd thing to think?

My Podunk neighbor thinks I should start spanking him. Um, no.

This is not a discipline issue, it is a personality issue. That's what I really feel. Anybody else get what I'm saying?

EDIT: I'm halfway through the book. BTW, the book is "Raising Your Spirited Child, A Guide for Parents Whose Child is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent and Energetic" by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. Excellent read. Extremely validating for me. Avoids mislabeling. It concerns developmentally normal child behavior. Deals with the real emotions I feel, primarily the loss of a dream/phantom "easy" child I thought he once was and would forever be - naive, I know. It also gets wonderfully specific. Turns out that DS is "spirited" alright. Of the various categories explored, DS is only "more" in the "Persistent" and "Energetic" areas. Which explains why he is happy-go-lucky while destroying everything in sight and going non-stop. His hapless parents are "spunky," so there is a temperamental mismatch we need to work through. Great, great book!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Little Lessons

A few little lessons I've learned recently--

People like to be asked & they like to be thanked.

Despite its name, the garbage disposal is not the place to dispose of garbage.

I have been using way too much laundry & dishwasher detergent for my appliances.

Wearing a proper-fitting bra causes people to ask me if I've lost weight. I haven't.

There is this dessert called "Crack Pie" because it is supposedly as addictive as crack cocaine. It is.

Children still play Bloody Mary, and Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board at slumber parties!

On a related note, I have an old Ouija board in my upstairs closet that I suddenly feel an urge to part with...

We recently got upgraded to business class on a flight, and soon I realized what that old yarn means: "The luxury, once sampled, becomes necessity."

It is hard to find cute, non-clunky, affordable shoes for boys. That's why DS has several of the same pairs in multiple sizes & colors. And also why I love thrift stores.

It saves so much time to mix baby formula in a pitcher, then pour it into bottles. I'm a failed breast feeder, and I'm making peace with that.

DS just attended his first Easter egg hunt today. I didn't know that these days, most kids hunt for plastic eggs with goodies inside them. I brought real ones, hard-boiled & dyed with simple vinegar and food coloring. I swear I wasn't trying to be Martha fucking Stewart. Kids fought over them. Who knew? Must be their novelty.

Your comments, your tips, and/or your own life lessons are welcome!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mommy Pick-Up

I've been waiting for it to happen, and today my time finally came. When I was least expecting it, in the middle of a large, bulk-buying retailer.... I got picked up by another mom with a same-aged kid! And she was coolballs! And liberal! And lives right here in Podunk-motherfucking-ville, but is originally from a large city, just like us! Hooray!

I really have my charming, defiant son to thank. My DS ran away from me in the food court and sat at the table next to this cute pregnant lady and her son. Her boy was sitting in one of those portable kid chairs that clips on to the edge of a table. We have the same chair at home! In the same color! And it is not available here in Podunkville, so I knew she must shop a lot online, and that there just had to be many common threads between us. And I really liked her son's shoes. Random - I'm not really into appearances, but for some odd reason I care about boys' footwear. But I didn't say anything.

Then her son threw a cup of ice everywhere, started screaming, and I was thinking - I should say something helpful? But then DS flipped a piece of pizza on my leg, so I got distracted...

Then suddenly she turned to us once the screams stopped, and she opened with "how old is he?" And we ended up sitting there for over half an hour and our boys played - really nicely. Turns out we know some of the same people and think the exact same things about them - isn't that a key basis for friendship? Not only that, but she's about to have her second baby in a month or so and I have a 5.5 month old. We're both Catholic but not religious. And I shared my tip on how to clean the clip-on chair: put that mofo in the dishwasher! We exchanged numbers & emails, and free days. Pretty sure the rest is going to be history.

So I can only imagine that this is what it would feel like to meet some of you in person. ;) Got any good friend/mommy friend pick-up tales?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Median Voter Theory

Democrats, Health Care Reform, And The Center | The New Republic

The above link is to a really interesting piece critiquing "median voter theory" vis-a-vis health care reform. One of the best comments was by @blackton: "I hope the Democrats label [the next bill attempting to get a public option] the "No abortion on demand Public option," since the Hyde amendment would prohibit it anyway it will be the truth, and let the Republicans stand up and be forced to vote no for it."

That would be genius.

Then they should repeal the Hyde Amendment. The fact that it is good law today is so effed up I can't even fully express it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Historic Vote

The House votes on health care reform today. I can hardly believe the day has finally come. Maybe that's why I am awake before 6 am on a Sunday. It is a rare thing that I wake up before my kids.

On these issues, I am 100% for everything the liberals want to do. In fact, I'm even for many of the things the liberals never said they wanted to do, but Fox News warned us they wanted to do. I don't think the current bill goes far enough to reign in the powerful insurance industry. Call me a Socialist.

I have an ethical problem with the existence of for-profit health insurance companies. They incentivize ripping people off and sending sick people to an early grave, all because it benefits the bottom line.

For those of you who get HBO, (and I don't mean 'human body odor' heh heh... I kill me) and feel like I do, I recommended watching this past Friday night's episode of "Real Time With Bill Maher." It has nice Gavin Newsom eye candy to boot. Note: the non-sleep habits of my kids make it so I have to tivo all of the tv I watch, and don't always get to it before the tivo runs out of room and starts deleting shit. But the gods were on my side on Friday night, when the kids actually fell asleep around 8pm, so DH and I got to watch Bill Maher together. First and last time that will ever happen!

In other political news, have any of you read "Game Change"? I hear it rips Elizabeth Edwards a new one for being abusive to campaign staff. She can't catch a break at all, can she?

Oh, by the way, I totally won't be offended if you disagree with me. Some people don't think Gavin Newsom is very attractive. Everyone here is entitled to their incorrect opinions, I promise!