Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Three-Year-Old Making Babysitter Cry

Even though I have a shitload of work-related things going on right now, I need to take a break from it to blog about the following situation I'm finding myself in. I just got back from a lunch meeting where I was asked to start taking on a new business opportunity that I'm really excited/scared-in-a-good-way about. Of course it will require me to make sure I have adequately backed-up childcare, because unlike some of my other work, I can't rely upon being able to do most of it from home. I'm also pretty sure our regular babysitter is at the end of her rope when it comes to our charming 3.5-year-old DS.

Isn't that how life works? You get a great professional opportunity, and the very same day your babysitter tells you how unhappy some little one is all of the sudden making her. "I was crying in bed last night and my husband asked me what was wrong...." Noooooo!!!

Sitter approached me just a few minutes ago with tears in her eyes telling me she believes that DS really does not like her at all. The last 3 times she's watched him he has been a holy terror towards her because he misses his mama. I've had to leave my house with DS kicking and screaming. (Side note: I'm guessing at least a part of this is a developmentally-normal 3.5 year-old thing, because a lot of friends with same-aged kids have reported the same fits of Erratic, Sudden-Onset Clinginess). We've been down this road before with Sitter whenever DS has been in one of his phases. Talking through it with him has sometimes helped. Today she insinuated that she thinks DS would be happier without her - I had to ask if she was quitting. She said "No way." Whew.

DH feels that Sitter needs to develop a thicker skin and stop taking a 3-year-old's pissed-off protestations that he "hates you" because his mama just left for work as Gospel truth. I tend to agree. Sitter takes what DS says to her very, very personally. On the one hand she says she understands it, "He's only 3, I know that's how 3-year-olds are, but the way he talks it is like talking to a grown-up. He's just different than all of my 3 daughters and DD." Yeah, he's one special snowflake alright.

I asked her "so what do you want me and DH to do about it" - three times.

"I don't know."

"Do you want us to keep talking to him and letting him know what our expectations are?"


"What else do you think would help?"

"I really don't know."

"Does he need more discipline?'

"No, I just think he hates me, and I'm sad..."


Monday, June 27, 2011

True Blood recap - Season 4 Premiere

True Blood is finally back on the air. And I've got that old Xmas song, "It's the most wonnn-der-fullll tiiii-me of the year!" in my head.

Allow me to share some of my thoughts on the very first episode of 'The Season of the Witch' as A-Ball calls it. He must be a Hitchcock fan because he seems to enjoy both the macabre and directly addressing the audience on camera - he gave a brief introduction to the new season right before it premiered. Which personally made me wonder, does A-Ball ever actually blink while talking? Isn't non-blinking supposed to be a sign of deep honesty? Anyway...

Obviously: SPOILER ALERT. (Duh.)

It started with a bunch of Fairyland shizz. Sorry, not really a fan of this part of the storyline, neither in the show, nor in the books. It all got way too weird for me, though pleasantly reminded me of some of the tropes of the original Star Trek series where the protagonists are suddenly running from hideous creatures, across the landscape of some forbidden planet. And then a proverbial red shirt guy maybe gets killed.

Moving on...

Then Sookie is back home again after time-travelling for a year (well, sort of), only to find out someone has pulled an Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on the Stackhouse property, and it looks like Jason is selling the home out from under her. I like what they've done with her place. Martha Stewart would definitely approve. Though nothing will ever beat Pam's delicious line about Sookie's post-Maryanne disaster of a home last season: "Now, why'd you have to go kill that Maenad? She was a terrific decorator."

Both Beel and Eric suddenly arrive on Sookie's porch again. I liked how we saw their immediate awareness of Sookie's return while they slept during the day and their eyes popped open - excellent 'showing' instead of 'telling.' I also loved the subtle way we initially find out about Beel's new job when Eric immediately follows Beel's suggestion to go back to Fangtasia only a few moments after reuniting with Sookie. Eric tells her he's the only one who believed in her. Hmm...

Sookie isn't the only one in Bon Temps to get a swanky home remodel - the Compton estate has gotten a serious facelift. I'm really loving that circular wallpaper with dark background in Beel's office. It is odd to see Beel on top of the food chain finally, no longer having to kiss anyone's ass anymore. I'm dying to see how that supposed Queen Sophie-Anne ass-whuppin went down. Maybe that's why he needed to remodel his whole house - their fight must have ripped the shit out of the place completely. That, or Hoyt's mama inadvertently took Sophie-Anne out - she was gunning for Jessica, another redheaded female vamp, and expected to find her at Beel's house. That's my guess anyway.

We also finally met Ms. Portia Bellefleur, Esq. I seriously, seriously hope the show does not follow the books' storyline with regard to Portia and a certain male relative (I don't think they will...) Her brother, police officer Andy Bellefleur, is hooked on V, as was alluded to last season. Jason is his enabler - they have an interesting, effed up friendship. Together they infringe upon the civil liberties of the African-American residents of Bon Temps and it goes completely unpunished. That scene with Lafayette in the kitchen at Merlotte's was really hard for me to watch. Spot-on critique of typical white male law enforcement macho bullshit there, A-Ball.

I'm skipping over the stuff that doesn't really grab me - stuff I don't really mind watching, but that I tend to think of as filler: (Tara has a new identity and is dating a very hot woman, Sam is in anger management and has made some shifter friends, Lafayette is still dating a hot nurse/presumable witch, Jessica and Hoyt are playing house and having issues, etc.) But I LOVE me some Arlene Fowler and some Terry Bellefleur. That scene with Arlene's reaction to baby Michael taking the heads off all of the barbie dolls was such a classic. Todd Lowe and Carrie Fowler are just pitch perfect character actors in these roles, and are so fun to watch.

Now for the scene I had been waiting months for... and that would be pretty much anything involving Eric and Sookie looking like they just might get it on.

What I generally always fast-forward to on the DVR, after having watched an episode once, are any and all sexy scenes involving Sheriff Eric Northman. Yum. While I don't usually like blonde pretty boys (I know, that sounds like saying you don't like chocolate), I find Eric so delicious in certain scenarios. Like the final scene in Sookie's bedroom. I especially liked how the 'Sookie is dreaming of Eric' music was playing - neat trick. Not a dream. Please let the next episode pick up right where this one left off!

One more thought. Am I the only one who thinks some of these actors are looking a little too gaunt these days? Eric, Beel, and Pam are all looking much skinnier than last season, and I think the weight loss is making their faces look slightly older. Nice for a change that it's not only the female actors who are too damn skinny.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

2 to Read, 2 to See

I've always wished I were a better writer. I'm a decent talker though, and I think in my professional life that has made up for my less-than-stellar writing skillz. Anyway, I read a couple of extremely well-written and thought-provoking blog posts this week that I would like you and all your amazing, talented friends to go ahead and read, too:


Those are my "2 to read," now I give you "2 to see." So I've been to the movies a lot lately - that's what happens when work appointments cancel and I'm in a random city in the middle of the day with time to kill before another meeting. I head off to a matinee. The result is that for the first time in a loooong time, I have seen most of the movies that are currently playing in mainstream American movie theaters right now. Here are my 2 favorites:

Bridesmaids. Fucking hilarious. "The Hangover"/a female-driven Judd Apatow-esque comedy for women. Jon Hamm is even in it. Now go see that shit.

Super 8. Like "The Goonies," meets "Independence Day," meets a bunch of kids who like "Night of the Living Dead." I wasn't prepared for the range of emotions this movie would bring out in me. It also did a great job of very, very subtly and deftly upending gender and racial stereotypes.

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Underage Drinking

My 3.5-year-old son recently participated in a weeklong Soccer Camp. We were just extremely thrilled that after having handed over our hard-earned money, our kid actually participated in the camp, instead of sulking and tantruming on the sidelines as he has done during other organized sport activities in the past. Though he still wouldn't wear the shinguards we bought for the occasion, he proudly wore the camp soccer jersey. The pictures are seriously too cute for words. There is something so hilarious and precious about a preschooler in a soccer uniform. I think of the little kid Max from "Old School" who is wearing an orange jersey in every scene of the movie.

During a break after one of the activities, the coach asked the kids if they wanted to drink. DS replied loudly enough for everyone and their parents to hear: "I want a beer." Priceless.

In DD news, after 2 weeks, she is daytime potty-trained for urination - that is, as long as she is naked underneath her dress or long shirt. Yes, I put my daughter in dresses, though in general I try not to be a sexist. What can I say, the dresses make the nudity required for potty-training a bit more socially-acceptable. No need to quickly put a diaper on her when the repairperson comes over.

In other news, I ran my ass off the last 4 days. Something finally clicked. Maybe it was the fact that I had all of the workout clothes and shoes I needed sitting right by my bed when my alarm woke me up early to exercise. How have your runs and workouts been going?

One more thing.... TRUE BLOOD returns this Sunday. And to me, that feels like Xmastime. I thoroughly enjoyed the delicious HBO series "Game of Thrones" Season 1 that just ended, though that genre usually never appeals to me, this one did.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Divorce Always Shocks Me (plus running check-in)

First, running check-in: The truth is, I didn't run at all last week. I have no good excuses except I genuinely hate running. (Please lawd let me find some motivation, and soon.) Did you run last week? What motivated you? I need the recipe for that secret sauce, so please share it!

And now for something completely different. Divorce.

I know something like 50% of all marriages end in divorce. Maybe more. Odds are higher if you marry younger. The addition of kids can really eff things up, too, if you're not careful. So why does the news that someone I know is divorcing still manage to shock me?? I've had a handful of close friends, and too many relative to count, go through divorces. Given the stats, the news shouldn't really come as a surprise. But when I heard that our old friends, A and J have separated, I was really shocked. They have kids who are slightly younger than ours. Ugh.

It was also kind of sad how we initially found out. A keeps a blog and suddenly the title changed to something like "A's journey thru motherhood," and we noticed there were no recent pictures of J, and then there was a post about "J dropped stuff off for me and the kids," and then a few more posts about things that just A and the kids were doing for dinner, etc. Then we finally heard the actual news. Gah - divorce with kids involved just sucks. Hopefully they can keep it amicable. (Funny, I don't think I've ever heard the word "amicable" used in a non-divorce context.)

One more thing, completely unrelated to any of the above... I read this insightful article by Michelle Goldberg today called "The Return of Back-Alley Abortions," about the success of the anti-choice movement at the state level, and how right now, in the good old U.S.A., there are women facing jail time for self-inducing an abortion. Highly recommended, very depressing reading. Why this kind of horrifying news doesn't get people fired up about the next election cycle is totally beyond me.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Professional Pictures

One thing I try to be proactive about is taking lots of pictures of the family. Including some photos where I'm actually in the picture, too. Mothers don't seem to make it into a lot of kid pictures these days, which is a shame. (Yes, I can understand the most likely reasons.) But, as DH and I both wish we had more photos of our mothers and grandmothers in their prime, I make sure we often put ourselves in the picture... and hold our chins up, and then photoshop out our acne and eye crinkles.

When I was pregnant with my first child, we bought one of those fancy-schmancy SLR digital cameras. It pretty much does all the work for us, and I love it. As long as we have it on one of the correct automatic settings for the given light conditions (i.e. set on the mountain or flower icon when we're outdoors, etc) it takes great pictures.

My stumbling block is how to stay on top of organizing all of these fantastic family photos. (BTW, this is one chore DH definitely ain't doing, and I can't say I blame him. He does all the grocery shopping and cooking, so I don't feel any major inequity.) Anyway, I know we need to print hard copies of the photos we want to save lest a computer malfunction cause us to lose everything - so I do that, and now have a crapload of 4x6's that probably need to go into books.

I'm also a big fan of occasionally getting professional photographs taken. "Natural light photography" and "photojournalistic-style photography" describes the style that I really like. The pictures have a timeless quality. However, I've noticed that members of the older generations in our family definitely prefer the traditional, posed photographs taken in a studio with the subjects sitting in front of a solid-color muslin panel or plain white background. And, if you head to a big box store, they are much cheaper to come by. So we do both. The photos hanging in frames at our house and in our offices are all the photojournalistic-style ones, and the photos hanging in frames at my parents' house and in their offices are all the traditional, posed ones. Go figure.

How are you photographing your family these days? Do you have a handle on saving photographs for posterity?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hysteria's Roots

From what I've been hearing about it, Asti Hustvedt's new book, Medical Muses, totally intrigues me. She studies the issue of hysteria, the now-defunct disease, and links it to "being a woman in an era that strictly limited female roles:"

"I set out to write a nonhysterical book about hysteria, to ground my work in something real. At first I found it unfathomable that these women really were suffering from the spectacular forms of illness recorded by their doctors, an illness that no longer exists. But now I believe that Blanche, Augustine, and Genevieve were indeed ill. They suffered from chronic debilitating symptoms. To what degree their disease was socially determined and to what degree it was physically determined is impossible to say. If they showed up at a hospital today, suffering from the same symptoms, they would probably be diagnosed with schizophrenia or conversion disorder or bipolar disorder. They would undoubtedly be diagnosed with eating disorders because they had bouts of willful starving and vomiting. However, if these women were alive today, they might not have become ill to begin with and no doubt would suffer from other symptoms."

Interesting. I also note that Hustvedt's book has been roundly criticized by the chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) community for asserting that CFS, along with anorexia, bulimia, self-mutilation, and multiple-personality disorder, is among a "crop of bizarre new illnesses" that, like hysteria, "stubbornly resist biological explanation."

Her stance reminds me of a brilliant former women's studies and biology professor of mine who was adamant that there's no such thing as "premenstrual syndrome," and that PMS is a patriarchal social construct. She'd say: "They should call it menstrual syndrome, it would be a lot more accurate."

Such assertions are no doubt threatening, and hard to swallow, if you're pretty damn positive your own lived experiences of things like PMS, CFS, and fibromyalgia are real, painful, and debilitating.

Friday, June 3, 2011

So I Ran, and Little Updates

It's Friday, and I'm feeling a little down this morning. Not sure why. It could have something to do with the fact that Yelly Mama already made one appearance at 7:30am as we waited for Sweet Lifesaving Babysitter to arrive. Some days, I just can't seem to manage the kind of consistent parenting behaviors to which I aspire. I need a better action plan for the next time my 20- month-old (today!) daughter starts beating the ever living shit out of her 3.5 year-old big brother. When they fight physically, I tend to yell and try pulling them apart. Ugh. Probably not the best response. Suggestions welcome. Honestly, I wasn't expecting these fights to start happening until they were older; and I certainly wasn't expecting my daughter to be attacking my son physically at least once a day. Is it effed up that I'm kind of proud of her for being so powerful and so tough? Wait, don't answer that.

On a related note, I'm really proud of the emotional restraint and the budding logic that DS has shown lately when dealing with DD's and other kids' tantrum-y aggressions. "Use your words!" and "Hands are not for hitting" are two of the gems he's recited recently when his sister crossed boundaries on him. His friend, A, is a girl a few months older who he played with this weekend. There came a point on the playground when I was about to intervene as I saw and heard A hit DS in the face with a plastic jumprope - but before I could, he totally regulated: "Say you're sorry and give me that jump rope NOW!!" -- and she acquiesced! "Hey, A, we don't hit people with jump ropes."... "Ok, I'm really glad you said sorry. Let's shake hands, and go play." Voila! Problem solved without any adult intervention. Go, DS!

Yesterday, DD was particularly vehement about not wearing her disposable diapers (per her lifetime hatred of diaper changes). We also have a bunch of all-in-one cotton and plastic training pants that we used to potty train DS at age 2.5 (because in our experience, pull-ups are expensive, are seen by the kid as identical to diapers, and don't allow the child to feel actual wetness - so we only used pull-ups at night). She has been wearing the all-in-one training pants during the day lately - but yesterday she didn't want to wear those either. So we let her run around half naked, and made the extra effort to take her to the bathroom with us and showed her how we use it. We've had potty chairs that convert to kid step stools in each bathroom of the house since before her birth, so she's been sitting on them from time to time. Until yesterday it had never been her own idea.

Finally, for the very first time, DD went into the bathroom all by herself, grabbed one square of toilet paper, sat on the potty, and urinated. Then she yelled "PEE!!!" and called one of us in to show us. Then she did it again 2 more times that day. Pretty cool that she is showing such a keen interest before age 2. (Suck on that, Brazelton.)

I've already mentioned my favorite potty book that I recommend to everyone and their mother who asks what method we used, but it bears mentioning again: "Diaper Free Before 3" by Jill M. Lekovic. Worth its weight in gold, although it may not be as valuable to you if you are grappling with a 3.5+ year old's power struggles. I love it because it is not one of those silly, ubiquitous guides about "how to train a kid in 48 hours by giving them craploads of sugar!" (N.B. I know of one kid IRL who 'trained in one day' and he was almost 4, and there were no candy or presents involved; only a calm, 'Start Using The Potty Today, or We're Leaving You At An Orphanage'-type of heartfelt, parent-child discussion.)

Lekovic's method involves getting started with "potty learning" when the kid is 1, by having a potty chair in the house, suggesting they sit on it occasionally, reading books while they sit on it, plus using nudity, cloth underpants and training pants to let them feel wetness, etc. It worked well for us, and we were particularly in awe of it because it doesn't involve bribery with gifts, and/or using food as a reward or punishment - tools that I personally never want to include as part of my parenting.

Ok, RUNNING UPDATE. Let's hear how you ran this week. I'll go first.

Goal: run 3 miles each day, 3 mornings this week. Actual: ran 5 miles, only 1 day this week. What effed me up: Overslept one day, and had a work project I needed to spend extra time on one of the other days, and it cut into my running time. Now you go.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hypothetical: Does Aggressive = Winner?

Hypothetical question du jour : In general, do you believe aggressive, in-your-face, lawsuit-threatening, "win" at all cost-ers really get what they want more often than people blessed with more calm, reasonable, and empathetic personalities?

Hypothetical Scenario (actually, a quasi-real life example involving an acquaintance of mine) - Father begins process of divorcing Mother, then quickly shacks up with Mother's 6-year-old son's public school Teacher. The Child starts having problems at school (natch) regarding his Teacher, who is well-intentioned when she makes it clear she wants to be his new Mommy. Father wants Child to have Teacher for every grade of his elementary schooling (as is the practice at this particular public school), so Father basically threatens the Principal to make sure he maintains the status quo and doesn't reassign the Child to a different teacher. When Mother meets with Principal, he dismisses her concerns that the current arrangement is harming Child emotionally and causing Child to act out, and he refuses her request to have Child reassigned to another teacher. Principal tells Mother she "had better not make any scenes at the school or disrespect Child's teacher in any way, or Mother would have to be banned from school property."

Mother tells hush the following: "I just feel so disrespected, I mean, I have volunteered countless hours at the school and I'm the friggin' PTA President! I've never threatened anybody in my whole life! Where does Principal get off talking to me that way, making it seem like I'm the problem?! It's like he's scared of my Ex and feels like he can just walk all over me, and he shows no concern for my son's well-being."

Is there a moral to this story? Don't make babies with an aggressive dick? Don't volunteer so selflessly for the PTA, lest the Principal consider you "the help" and refuse to take you seriously when push comes to shove? Don't meet with the Principal without a more powerful ally/recording device/written record of the conversation present? Know the school district's actual policies backwards and forwards before you meet?

Please to discuss.