Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Tooth Fairy and Other Lies

My five-year-old lost her first tooth last week. She literally lost it, didn't even know it was gone. She came over to tell me something and I thought she looked funny. She opened wide and the tooth was gone -- I don't think she even knew it. Don't know where it went -- maybe she swallowed it. It was very One Morning in Maine, except we don't live in Maine and it happened inside the house.

I told my friends. One of them asked what the tooth fairy brought. Um, nothing. Suzanne never mentioned the tooth fairy, so I didn't raise the issue.

Here's my problem. Years ago at a playgroup, the butcher's wife mentioned how Santa Claus is the first time many parents purposefully lie to their kids. For some reason, this really struck me. Since then, I haven't played up Santa Claus, she gets enough of it from our culture. We've read books about the historical Santa Claus but I don't really get into the nitty gritty of telling her he's real or unreal, but none of her presents are from Santa -- they come from mom and dad. The same friend who asked about what the tooth fairy brought also asked what Santa brought. She must think I'm a nutcase, maybe thats why she's always so nice to Suzanne.

Anyway, I guess Suzanne hasn't heard much about the tooth fairy -- if she had and had expected a visit, she would have gotten one. But I'm not bringing it up. I'm thinking she's probably headed for therapy and I'm headed for hell.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Deep Thoughts by Starbucks

While riding the Metro train today, I looked at a Starbucks ad for Mint Mocha Chip Frappuccino Coffee. The ad asked:
When Did Our Seasons Become Fiscal Quarters?

Dunno, maybe around the same time that small became tall and large became grande.

P.S. Come see what my friend, Anne, and I are chatting about at chocolate and peanut butter!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

God and Birthday Parties

Oh yeah. I forgot to mention that months ago I was a bit concerned that we didn't have many friends to invite to Suzanne's birthday party. We had lost about 5 families of friends to moves over the last year. I said a little prayer that we might make more friends. I haven't been faithful in prayer recently, and my prayers have been few and far between and usually asking for something.

Be careful what you pray for -- I was sweating the guest list a few weeks ago because we'd met about three new families of friends and had rekindled a friendship with another family. While it was stressful to think of a house filled with kids, it was quite awesome to realize how fortunate we were to have so many people with whom we wanted to share this special day.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Not just for the friends, but for these beautiful, sweet children you've entrusted to my care and for this wonderful man that you've given me as a partner for life.

Guess its about time to get my spiritual life back on track.

Birthday Party Post Mortem -- unclimber version

There is also a version of this post over at chocolate and peanut butter.

I'm a research kind of gal. I love to research, its actualizing things that gives me problems. I looked at many, many books on birthday parties -- themes, games, decorating. I found two books -- one was some book by Family Fun magazine, it had a suggestion for baking cupcakes in ice cream cones (cake cones). It said you can bake them right in the cones, simply add the batter about halfway up the cone and then bake them in muffin tins to hold the cones upright. I did not attempt this feat but may at some future date.

The other book I enjoyed was by the perennial girlfriend, Vicki Iovine (with Peg Rosen, who probably did the writing). This book had lots of great tips, mainly because the authors took a very realistic approach to the whole subject. From this book, I took advice about goody bags and went with a sandpail as the container. I also added stickers, a baby sandpail (an Oriental Trading misrepresentation. Dimensions for sandpails may be up to an inch off and are measured with the handle up, apparently), and a little beachball. Vicki is anti-pinata and spoke my mind when she asked why anyone would blindfold a child, give them a bat, and send them out swinging in the middle of a pack of over-excited kids.

Our party was pretty simple. I'm an 'un' so I'm not into micromanaging things. I'll put craft stuff out, but I don't really want to tell kids what to do with the supplies, I'd rather let them decide. However, I realize this isn't always the best approach, especially at a party where kids might be a bit overwhelmed in a crowd of kids they may or may not know very well. They seemed glad for the distraction and direction. I mentioned over at choc&pb that I put out paper lunch bags, googly eyes and other materials so the kids could make puppets. I'm not sure how many of them actually did that, though I think more did than I had realized. There was also a 'bookmark-making' station where the kids could put stickers on strips of paper. Again, this gave the kids something to do, a pint-sized 'ice-breaker' if you will. I was really hoping for good weather for an outdoor party, so these were pretty lame offerings. There are plenty of craft books, magazines, and website that have cool ideas.

There was also free-play outside with bubbles and sidewalk chalk and wagon rides and an open playhouse in the backyard. We had the obligatory cake and 'frost your own' cupcakes (I ran out of time making the frosting and didn't have time to frost them). I completely forgot about ice cream -- I forgot to buy it even though I had meant to and I never even noticed until an hour after the party ended. Suzanne still hasn't noticed the absence of ice cream.

Good things about the party:
--frost your own cupcakes. This was a hit, probably because kids love being given choices (chocolate or vanilla frosting) and responsibility (I can spread that myself). And they love sugar. Note to self: have a bigger area and seating for all the kids next year. Expansion possibilities: decorate your own cupcake with decorator icing in tubes, sprinkles or other candies.

--snack bags. At Michael's, I had bought some colorful mini paper bags. I filled these with popcorn and thought this worked out well for a snack as opposed to having large bowls filled with munchies. Each child was able to grab a bag and go off wherever while still munching the snack (i.e. it got them out of my kitchen). I'll have to remember this for future parties.

--kids love crafts and flock to them, but I think they also like some direction. Next year, find a cool (time-consuming) craft and get all the supplies necessary.

--DH being the MC of games

-- DD was happy with party

Bad things about the party:
--confusion for mom -- part of this was the unpredicatable weather, was this an indoor or outdoor party? Better preparation would cut down on confusion.

--flustered mom moving furniture to make room causing 2 1/2 year old to fall and bleed. Ice fixes everything but I'm still upset.

--dead time after the cake. This would have been an ideal time for present-opening, but I can't handle the consumer frenzy and confusion. She opened her gifts after the party, quietly, enjoying each of them as long as she wanted without being urged to 'hurry up' and open more. Also, the peacefulness of the activity allowed me time to write down what gift came from whom and note anything cute Suzanne might have said that I can include in the thank-you note.

The after-cake dead time would have been a good time to play a game but the MC was still busy icing and calming the bloody 2 year-old. Also, the kids had scattered around the house. Dunno, I'm all for quiet times to sit and hang out and talk, but maybe thats not a good thing at a child's birthday party.

Ideas for next year:
--off-site party, perhaps on a cruise ship to the bahamas

--additional 'make your own' station for the parents with various kinds of alcohol, mixers, shot glasses, and those shaker things.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Finding Truth over at Kwakersaur

My good friend David over at kwakersaur has the following quote at the bottom of his blog main page screen:

Perfection is a crime against nature and an affront to God. The call of God is a call to reaching out to one another. The demand for perfection is the call of the Enemy.

He says it far more simply and clearly than I ever have. I believe a corollary to this is that competition is antithetical to seeking God. Sure there is plenty of competition in the natural world, but competing over grades, money, possessions, and status is not part of the natural world. It seems so many people become focused on competition that they don't even enjoy the fruits of their labor or the challenge of bettering themselves. Along the way, they've alienated themselves from others, and I believe, from God and themselves.

My view is utilitarian -- if you feel like you're better than me because you've 'achieved' more than me, perhaps I am doing God's work by helping you feel better about yourself. It doesn't do me any harm.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

What's A Homeschooler To Do?

I'm thinking of enrolling Suzanne in a co-op at the local megachurch, of which I am not a member.

I'm an unschooler at heart and its working well so far, but Suzanne really likes the structure of "class" and enjoys Sunday school. I think she'd enjoy being in the co-op and since she would be starting kindergarten this Fall if she were attending school, it would be something for her to be excited about starting.

The co-op meets once a week for a couple of hours and consists of gym time, story-time, craft time, and a (non-Bible) lesson. From what I've heard, it does not involve Bible verse memorization or anything overtly Christian. The co-op is for Christians and I don't think is open to non-Christians (though I am not sure that they even ask -- I have not been asked though I have a friend in the co-op, so maybe they've asked her about me). This bothers me, but I'm really interested in this program. While I don't agree with excluding non-Christians, should I decline to join the group because of this policy? Wouldn't I then be excluding them? How can one be 'inclusive', which I am, and then exclude someone?

Is it better to avoid people who think like this -- fearing and disliking them? Or is it better to get to know them -- to like them and appreciate them as people and try to understand why they think the way they do?

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Happy Mother's Day

...and to all mothers and mothers-to-be (expecting or otherwise).

And now, a tale of my first Mother's Day... or was it?
[wavy text as we turn the back the clock]

Mother's Day 2000 was on May 14, the latest date possible for Mother's Day, which is the second Sunday of every May. I was very large with my first child and have the pictures to prove it. My due date was May 19 but I had been certain I'd go early -- I was exercising and walking and my OB had pushed my due date back by two weeks early in the pregnancy. Based on my calculations, I was due May 5, based on the initial ultrasound, I was due May 19. Bad luck.

Mother's Day morning, I noticed the absence of any card for me at the breakfast table. I questioned my husband, Tom, about this. "You're not a mother" was his response. For those of you out there unclear on this issue, any pregnant woman is a mother -- especially one that is about to pop. Breakfast was tense that morning. I can't recall whether my husband produced a card that the had bought just in case -- regardless, the damage was done -- I was not a mother in his eyes. I responded later that I must have been a mother because he certainly was a mother f**ker (it was a joke, I find coarse language to be strangely empowering. I'm not the only woman to feel this way. I'm not saying anyone should emulate me.)

We went to church, which was rare for us in those days. As we exited, one extremely kind woman tapped me and wished me a happy Mother's Day. I shot Tom a dirty look.

My husband and I joined my parents and my maternal grandmother for brunch. We discussed Tom's faux pas at breakfast. My father backed him up, asserting that I was not a mother. (For some reason, there are certain men that seem to get a lot of enjoyment out of annoying me. This is not unique to me, I've witnessed Anne's husband bait her. I guess they just like the danger of it all.) My mother, precious angel that she is, had a card for me. She mentioned it was hard for her to pick a card because she didn't know if she should get a mother-to-be card or a mother card, since it was possible I might have had the baby before Mother's Day.

No, really, it gets better. That evening, Tom and I took a long stroll around the neighborhood. We came home and I proceeded to put together a casserole for dinner. Right after I put it in the oven, about 6 pm, I turned around, ready to make some salads. At that point -- whoosh! My water broke unmistakably. I was so excited and scared and freaked. I thought it was mighty convenient that my water didn't break until after I got Tom's dinner made. My OB told me that I was to wait until the contractions came X minutes apart and then head for the hospital. If the contractions never came, we were to go to the hospital around midnight because of concern over infection and that we'd need to get the show on the road.

We went to the hospital and my daughter was born after 9 am on Monday, May 15, thereby insuring that her birthday never fall on Mother's Day, so I can never even say, 'well, if you were born in thus and such a year, it would have been on Mother's Day.'

To this day, my father loves to point out that Tom has celebrated more Father's Days that I have Mother's Days. Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 06, 2005

You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman

This post refers to a review of Unequal Childhoods. Not a book I'd ever read.

I enjoyed Elizabeth's review as I'm sure I'll never read the book -- but it sounds as if Lareau is arrogantly humming the tune "What Do the Simple Folk Do?" If I recall, the singers of that song ended up divorced with the wife nearly burned at the stake -- rescued by the dashing Lancelot but then cutting off her hair and vowing a life of chastity.

Wait, what was the topic?

I suppose the book discusses that the working class may not shuttle their kids around to activities because of the financial restrictions of their economic status. That could be the only reason why parents don't 'do everything possible to give their kid every advantage.' There are those of us who actually choose this way of life. We define 'advantage' differently. To me, the most important 'advantage' is copious time with my children and granting them the freedom to let their imaginations roam and look at the clouds instead of forcing them into an unceasing parade of activities in which they may have little interest. However, there is a big difference between taking a ballet or karate class and having every afternoon and weekend booked with lessons and tutoring and athletics.

I always wonder if the jam-packed schedules have more to do with the parents competing with one another than having to do with nurturing their child's talents. I think there may be a herd mentality, that 'everyone is doing it.' A recent Op-Ed in the Washington Post supports this -- she says twice that she sent her kids to camp for just that reason.

As to 'middle class' naturalists (unschoolers), there is a big divide in philosophy over whether to allow the kids unfettered access to TV, believing (and proving) that the kids moderate themselves eventually, and getting rid of the TV altogether.

Interesting book -- I don't see the need to lump people into groups. I'm uninterested in the demographics and am more likely to wonder what it is about people that makes them choose certain approaches.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

My Fairy-Tale Existence

I have two daughters. Suzanne is nearly 5 and Gabrielle is 2 1/2. Gabrielle is going through an extreme "Mommy phase." She wants me to hold her and carry her much of the time. Her sleep, and mine, is disturbed several times a night as she cries for me. I don't know if she has nightmares, night terrors, or if she just wakes up between sleep cycles and wants me.

Last night, I went into her room to soothe her several times. She continued to cry for me, progressing to screaming for me. We recently moved her from her crib to a toddler bed and she now shares a room with her sister. Toddler beds are short (the crib mattress is used in the bed), low to the ground and have a weight restriction that would prohibit even Elasticgirl from climbing in and cuddling up with her child. Thus, I sat on the floor and leaned over to comfort Gabrielle. Each time I attempted to leave the room, she started to cry. I decided to sleep on the floor next to her and this soothed her enough so that we both eventually drifted to sleep.

Before I fell asleep, I was thinking about how I was curled up on the floor amongst my children sleeping in their beds, a modern day Kinderella.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Born Again

No, its not a religious conversion. If you've been following this blog you know that its been stalled for awhile. In an attempt to emulate the success of the Llamabutchers, I've started blogging with a good friend of mine. My friend Rob over at the butchers noted that he'd started a few blogs on his own but they had died out and it wasn't until he started blogging with his good friend that he was able to get on a roll.

So, come roll with me and my friend Anne over at Chocolate and Peanut Butter.

Weight and Feminist Ire

We love string cheese. Being thrifty (cheap), I buy whatever brand is cheapest based on sales and coupons. Recently, we've been eating Frigo Cheese Heads. The individual packages promote various characters from The Incredibles. Each cheese stick has a different character and interesting factoid about the character's particular talents or attributes -- like some male character who is so cool, he says "Freeze" to the bad guys before he freezes them.

Well, on my cheese stick package, I see a lovely picture of an animated young woman. The accompanying text says:

Elastigirl is 5'8" tall and weighs 125 pounds. Her power is

Why do we get the height and weight of this character? I reviewed the contents of the entire package (and a big package it is) and there is no other height or weight measurement given for any other character, and there are a couple of different packages for each character. We don't need to know her dimensions in order to understand that her superpower is to stretch -- you could do that at any height and weight if you could do it at all.

Who is the target market of this product? Thirty-something moms? Yeah, I'm going to ask my kids if I can go see The Incredibles. I'm thinking its targeted to a younger demographic, one that is perhaps very weight sensitive? [Hello my anger. Breathing in, I smile at you, breathing out, I embrace you.....nope, not working]

I am outraged at this. First of all, I don't think 125 is a reasonable weight for most 5'8" women, its very skinny. I'm an inch shorter and was about that weight right before I got married because I couldn't stand my law school roommate and spent all my time in the gym and eating frozen vegetable stir-fries. While I enjoyed feeling skinny, I knew I looked peaked. One friend of mine figured I was thin because of stress, which I took to mean I didn't look healthy and good. Granted, I was 26 at the time, so its not too off the wall that a teenager might be this skinny. But what about the ones who aren't? I think this package might as well list the urls for the Ana (anorexia) and Mia (bulimia) websites.