Monday, December 21, 2009

Thou Shalt Steal

Imagine you head to church on the Sunday before Christmas, expecting to hear a sermon on the birth of Christ or charitable giving or loving your neighbors. You sing a hymn, say a prayer, and then the priest opens his Bible, turns to Exodus 20, and says, "Thou shalt steal!"

You might think the universe had warped into the Twilight Zone, but this is exactly what happened to a group of churchgoers in England last Sunday. The Reverend Tim Jones told his congregation of (surely stunned) parishioners that, in these tough economic times, "...my advice as a Christian priest is to shoplift."

Yes, you read that right. Father Robin Hood says, "My advice does not contradict the Bible's eighth commandment because God's love for the poor and despised outweighs the property rights of the rich,"; i.e., if you are starving, stealing doesn't count, especially if you take things from someone who already has plenty.

Or something like that.

Just make sure you only steal from "large national businesses", says Reverend Jones, because ultimately the costs will passed on to other customers. Avoid the small, family-owned businesses if you can.

For those of you who are getting your knickers in a twist, Rev. Jones thinks you should get over yourselves. After all, according to him, shoplifting is preferable to other acts of desperation like burglary or prostitution. And we wouldn't want people resorting to those things, now would we?

Well, of course not. But for heaven's sake (literally), how can this man not see that stealing is the absolute wrong way to go about meeting the needs of one's family? Where is Jones's sermon asking his congregation to open their hearts and wallets to help those who are destitute? Where is his advice to volunteer at soup kitchens, to help the unemployed find jobs, to offer their homes to the homeless? In other words, to engage in Christlike service?

I guess it's just easier to pass the buck. Rev. Jones wouldn't want his parishioners to feel compelled to sacrifice their own time or resources, so he advises the poor to run to the nearest faceless retail giant and take what they need. No one has to extend themselves to others, and no one (supposedly) gets hurt.

If Reverend Jones really thinks stealing is the best way to take care of oneself, I'm surprised he didn't offer a reformed version of the nativity as part of his sermon, telling his parishioners that the shepherds should have ditched their humble life among the sheep and run off with the gold, frankincense and myrrh. After all, the wise men were rich and didn't need it, and surely baby Jesus had no need for bottles of expensive perfume.

Now that would have been a Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snow Day

We had all sorts things we planned to do today. Instead, we are hunkered down in our house, sipping hot chocolate, playing Candy Land, and exclaiming over the huge amounts of snow outside (record snowfall!). David and Michael did venture out to shovel the front walk a couple of times (much to Michael's delight, as you can see), but that has been the extent of our outdoor activity today.



I think tomorrow a snowman might be in order.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

An Open Letter

Dear Population of the World (Especially Hollywood):

Stop taking nude photos and videos of yourself to give to your honey. Just stop it. Even if you intended them to be private, they will surface eventually. Especially if you email them.

Sincerely,

Annoyed

Seriously, I can't even count the number of news articles that appear on a daily basis about some celebrity/beauty pageant contestant/government official who decided to strip down to her birthday suit and mark the occasion with a photo or video. Then, when the picture or video makes its internet debut, the celebrity/beauty pageant contestant/government official has to be all, like, "That was supposed to be private! I feel so violated and betrayed... blah blah blah."

Of course, according to the latest celebrity to be caught posing in her all-together, Rihanna, (who says the leaking of her nudie photos was "the worst thing that could possibly ever happen to [her]" and that she was so "humiliated" and "embarrassed" by the ordeal) added that she thinks everyone should take nude pictures of themselves: "if you don't send your boyfriend naked pictures, then I feel bad for him."

Hmmmm...

The irony of her humiliation (and that of many other celebs as well, especially those who enjoy filming sex scenes in hopes of becoming "serious" actors) is that when I googled the quote to find a reliable source to verify its authenticity, one magazine came up with the quote and an almost-nude professional picture of Rihanna. Seriously, but for a few well-placed, double-sided-sticky-taped pieces of fabric, she was, for all intents and purposes, totally naked.

Not sure why one photo is so "humiliating" and another is "art" but whatever.

That's Hollywood for you.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Anyone Seen My Marbles?

I think I've officially lost my mind. I know this, because in running errands a few days ago, I knew I needed to pick up stamps. I also needed to mail some packages at the post office. After the usual Target run I thought, "I should stop at Costco before I go to the post office so that I can get stamps."

I was about two seconds from pulling into the Costco parking lot when I decided I only had enough energy for one more errand. Post office in, Costco out. Only after I had mailed my packages and the clerk asked, "Do you need stamps?" did the lightbulb blink on.

I can't believe I almost made an extra stop at Costco for stamps when I was on my way to the post office of all places!

Do they make a multi-vitamin for stupidity? I know there are vitamins out there to help with memory, but frankly, there is only one way to explain this episode:

I am an idiot.

I won't tell you about the batch of cookies I burned or the load of laundry I left gathering mildew in the washer for two days.

Before this week, the last case of brain absenteeism occurred a month ago when we ordered a wallpaper border for the nursery. "Two rolls will be plenty," we thought. Only after the border had arrived did we think it might be smart to measure the room. Verdict? One more length of border, please, plus processing charges. Sigh. But, the border is now up, our marriage survived the experience intact (though we mutually agreed never to hang actual wallpaper), I only had to sit down for half an hour afterwards, and hey, the nursery looks cute.

I went to bed last night hoping this new week wouldn't include quite so much brainlessness on my part. Then, when I woke up this morning and fished for my glasses on the nightstand, I couldn't find them. That's when I realized I could actually see what time it was without putting my nose to the alarm clock.

Yup, I forgot to take out my contacts last night.

At least I didn't forget to brush my teeth.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Three!

Michael turned three last weekend! He is now one year older and one year wiser. Well, maybe wiser isn't the right word. Perhaps one year more smart-alecky or mischievous. But we love him to pieces, nonetheless.

Happy Birthday, Michael! from Bonnie on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Never Fear, Dennis Rodman is Here!

Unless you never turn on the news or read the paper, you've probably heard by now that golf great Tiger Woods is in a little hot water. More like a lot of hot water - say, the kind you'd find in a jacuzzi. Sprinkle in a dozen or so skanky barbie doll impersonators who each claim to have had, um, alone time, with the married Woods and you start to get a better idea.

I'm sure Tiger's wife is not pleased with all these goings on, but he may not have to worry about holding onto his wallet in the inevitable divorce proceedings. After all, according to that bastion of Hollywood morality, Dennis Rodman, Tiger "didn't do anything wrong...".

Allow me to rewind. Woods has an entire cheerleading squad claiming to have had affairs with him - a charge he hasn't denied - and yet, according to Rodman, it's no big deal?

Hmmm... let me check my sin-o-meter again. Adultery... ding ding ding! Yup, still wrong.

Rodman continues his defense of Woods, saying, "Once your life is under a microscope everyone wants to look at you and just nitpick everything you do so bad.” Well, that may be true, but we are not talking about a choice to eat non-organic cereal here. We are talking about a guy cheating on his wife multiple times with multiple women.

It's not nitpicky to expect better behavior from someone who is well-known and looked up to as a role model.

I mean, we might expect this sort of thing from Dennis Rodman, but Tiger Woods? Come on, dude. We're disappointed in you.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Baby Planners

I am in full procrastination mode, avoiding the onerous task of finishing our annual Christmas letter. Right now I'm thinking of bagging the whole thing and sending out some Fourth of July greetings next summer. But since I just purchased a roll of 100 stamps, I suppose it would be wise use them before the cost of postage triples six months from now and I'm stuck attaching 75 one cent stamps to each envelope.

I admit, it does seem rather ironic that I am procrastinating writing one thing by writing another. But this is fun, not work, and as we all know, fun should always come before work. (Right, Mom?)

Since I'm currently in the market for baby products, news articles related to car seats and strollers generally catch my eye. I usually come away from such articles thinking, "$800 for a stroller? Really? These people are morons." But now, I realize the people who buy $800 strollers have nothing on the people who hire someone to do the purchasing for them.

Apparently, enlisting the services of a "Baby Planner" is the thing to do when you are expecting a little bundle of joy. One mother who subscribes to the service (which can cost up to $150 an hour) justified it by saying, "Everybody has different opinions. Then you ask your friends and they have different opinions." Ergo, hire an expert.

Um, I hate to break it to you, lady, but your baby planner will have yet another opinion, most likely steering you toward the most expensive things on the market. But, as a bonus, she will install your car seat for you if you don't have time (the lack of which seems to be the motivating force behind many parents seeking the help of baby planners).

For heaven's sake, if you don't have time to pick out a car seat or do a little research among your friends and family, just what are you going to do once Junior arrives? Of course, actual parenting is a non-issue for many of these people, I'm sure - that's what the nanny is for. (Another little Baby Planner bonus - she will do the nanny interviewing for you. No need to inspect your child's primary caregiver personally!)

The thing is that babies really don't need a lot. They certainly don't need enough things to warrant hiring a professional to procure everything for them. Food, clothing, diapers, a car seat, and somewhere to sleep - that about covers it. Parents will figure out what else they need or want as they go along. Half the stuff these baby planning experts want you to buy before the birth of your child are not even necessary until the kid is 6 months old, anyway. You do not need to have your high chair set up before you bring your baby home from the hospital.

Besides, why would you want to take the expensive suggestions of a "professional" over the advice of a friend who has actually had a baby or two? A fancy stroller may be good in theory, but in reality it will probably be a pain in the neck (and the wallet), and a friend who has been through a stroller or two could give you that advice for free.

The only possible explanation I can come up with for this ridiculousness is that parents have stopped thinking of babies as children and started thinking of them as trophies whose sole purpose in life is to make their parents look good. If that is the case, hiring a baby planner is just another way to get a head start on that trophy spit-shine.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to spend $800 on a Bugaboo stroller. Only the best for my children.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Addiction Label

There are all sorts of things one can be addicted to - smoking, alcohol, drugs, pornography. There's a "sickness" for everything nowadays. Caught in a tight spot with a credit card company? Blame your addiction to spending and declare bankruptcy. Say something racist to a police officer? There's always alcohol addiction to pin it on.

This is not to minimize the devastation brought about by true addictions, but when the repentance for every sin is to make a trite apology and then run off to rehab for a few weeks, or to label bad behavior as a sickness to shift the blame away from one's own actions, then it's a problem. Calling something an addiction does not absolve one of personal responsibility.

But, in today's blame culture, where seemingly everything can be forgiven just by saying, "I'm addicted", why not shout your sins from the rooftops? If everyone understands that you just couldn't help yourself and offers sympathy to soothe your guilty conscience, why not share your dirty laundry with the world?

I'm not sure if salving her wounds with the excuse of addiction was the motivation for Irene Vilar to write a memoir about her experiences, but whatever her reasoning may be, her story is one so horrifying and so disgusting that any reasonable person should shrink from pardoning her actions.

Between the ages of 16 and 33, Ms. Vilar terminated fifteen pregnancies. That's fifteen human lives destroyed at the rate of nearly one a year. She blames it on the fact that her husband at the time did not want children, and, unable to stop herself from experiencing the thrill of conceiving and its attendant possibility of motherhood, she "forgot" her birth control pills again and again. But, as the tendrils of post-conception fear wrapped their way around her heart, soon the reality of the situation would settle upon her and, in panic, she would seek out an abortion.

"Of course, this did not mean I wanted to do it again and again," she says. "A druggie also wants to stop every time."

Well, that may be true. But we are not talking about a needle and some heroin here. We are talking about human beings with beating hearts being sucked away to make room for their mother's next conception "high". I don't care what your stance on abortion is or whether or not you think it should be legal. The fact is that this story should disgust everyone, NARAL-ite or not. It is a tragedy that the sacredness of human life has been diminished to such depths that it is acceptable to participate so cavalierly in its destruction. But, even more tragic, is the fact that labeling that destruction as an addiction allowed someone to write blamelessly about it afterwards.

When a label can excuse even the taking of human life, truly, we could not sink any lower.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Let the Baking Begin

It is Thanksgiving week, which means it's time to start baking! Today is roll-making day. Luckily, I didn't have to do all the work myself. Michael was more than willing to pitch in.


The process went something like this:

I pour warm water in the mixing bowl. Michael adds one tablespoon of yeast. I stop him just before he adds another tablespoon. I turn my back for 2.5 seconds and then catch him dipping a measuring cup in the bowl. I clean off the cup and find he has opened the salt and is attempting to measure it. I divert utter disaster while he opens the eggs. I manage to grab an egg before it dives into the bowl. Meanwhile, the butter on the stove is popping. I pour in the milk and remove it from the heat. Michael whines because he didn't get to put the milk in himself.

Batch two - Michael wants to open the stick of butter. I let him peel off the wrapper while I turn to measure the milk. Michael says, "Mmmmm! That's tasty!" and I see that he has taken a bite out of the butter. He gets upset because I won't let him crack an egg. I distract him by letting him turn on the mixer, which he does - full blast.

Batch three - He insists on cracking an egg himself. I allow him to try. He smashes the entire thing in his hand. I manage to catch most of the shell in my hand before it falls in the bowl. He whines because his hand is messy. We wash our hands.

Now it's time for flour. Michael counts the cups with me. Half of the second cup goes on the floor. My brain short-circuits and I can't remember what cup we were on. Luckily, Michael remembers. Ten seconds later his hand is in the flour bin and he is covered from head to toe in white dust. "I got some on my pants!" he says.

After three batches of roll dough Michael is ready for a break. I have the thought that I should take a picture of the mess, but Michael photogenically has his finger up his nose. I send him to watch "Toy Story" and just try to avoid stepping in the pile of flour on the floor while I make the fourth batch.

We'll see how the rolling and freezing process goes this afternoon. I can't wait till Wednesday - pie making day!... Michael and a cup of shortening.

Now that will be fun.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Paris


The trip to Paris was by speed train, but I missed the whole thing since I was asleep - not a bad way to travel. Our hotel was a cute little French-looking building with a bathtub built for people without hips. And no shower curtain. They did place a small piece of glass near the tap as a barrier, but it was about as effective at holding back water as a toothpick would be at stopping Niagara Falls. This meant our towels had double duty of drying us and the floor, so we had them replaced daily. I felt slightly guilty for it, but David eased my concerns when he said, "I'm not going to be environmentally conscious if they're going to be stupid."

Can't argue with that.

Paris was so French and romantic and all the things you would imagine Paris to be. We walked by the Eiffel Tower every day, eschewed sit-down restaurants in favor of crepes, chicken sandwiches, and hot dogs in baguettes, and stopped in little pastry shops to try the work-of-art desserts like this one, which we devoured with the handle of a bottle opener, having no other utensils in our hotel room:


The French seem to enjoy stairs, and we climbed many of them. 200+ stairs to the top of the Pantheon, 200+ stairs to Sacre Coeur, and very nearly 200+ stairs to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. Luckily, at the last minute David spotted an elevator for the use of disabled persons, so I put on my best puppy dog face and made sure to stick my stomach out as far as possible, and voila! We were in!

The French populace wins a combined Oblivious Award for the fact that they all like to stand in doorways and block aisles and seem to have deaf ears when it comes to the phrase, "Excusez moi." One woman even sat down underneath David right as he was lowering his body into a seat on the metro. You snooze, you lose, I guess.
Arc de Triomphe


Sacre Coeur

Versailles


12 days and 900 pictures after we left Virginia, we came home to find Michael hadn't been too traumatized by our absence (although he is rather clingy now and asks, "You're not leaving me?" any time we need to leave the house). That's good, because in ten years we are totally doing this again - Italy, get ready!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

London at a Glance


David and I recently returned from a completely fabulous vacation to London and Paris. It was everything one would hope eight years of planning and saving would be - practically perfect in every way.

We had been a little (um, okay, VERY) apprehensive about leaving Michael for so long. But apparently we had prepared him well with our talk of airplanes and trips and the fact that he would be staying with friends for twelve days. We left him without so much as a tear on his part - just a hug and a wave as he said, "Have a good trip, Mama! I miss you!" Of course, we might be able to chalk that up to the fact that he wasn't actually sure it was his mother leaving him, since my new haircut the day before had caused him to ask David, "Daddy, what happened to Mommy?"

The plane ride was peaceful and uneventful, and was only marred at the very end by some woman telling David she was surprised they had let me on the plane. Honestly, what is meant by such a comment? Is there any way it could be construed as being well-intentioned or even concerned? Doubtful, seeing as the only possible interpretation seems to be, "You're wife is a whale!"

London was pretty much exactly as I imagined it would be, except that fish and chips consisted of a giant battered fish and not a plate of frozen fish sticks, an image I had long maintained in my mind. The Brits win the award for Worst Food I've Ever Eaten - a terrible hamburger that I couldn't take more than two bites of, and the worst onion soup known to man. But what can you expect from people who like to enhance their dishes with a side of "mushy peas"?

In five days we managed to fit in everything we hoped to do with plenty of time for relaxation on the side. We saw everything from Westminster Abbey to the Tower of London and took advantage of every audio tour and nearly every place to sit. We saw "The Mousetrap", the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, and watched with fascination as a formally dressed butler walked the dining table at Windsor Castle in his stockinged feet, shifting golden candlesticks and vases to create perfect symmetry.

Tower Bridge


Checking in with the Ministry of Magic:


And, because no trip to London is complete without it, the obligatory picture with a Beefeater:

Next up: Paris.

Oo la la!

Nothing Much

David and I haven't had much going on lately - just a move and 12 days in Europe. You know, the usual.

But now that we have (somewhat) settled in and I can actually see the keyboard through the piles of junk on the desk, I thought I would say hello.

Actually, our piles are relatively few at the moment. This was greatly helped by David having an additional week off work and taking a trip to Salvation Army to unload ourselves of huge amounts of stuff. Living in a hotel for a year certainly teaches you what you can and cannot live without. And somehow it gave me the courage to admit to myself that I will never, ever fit into that adorable yellow skirt from Ann Taylor Loft again, so I might as well pass it on to someone whose hips have not expanded to twin capacity.

So, here we are, back in suburbia, swooning over little things like having a garbage disposal and being able to open the fridge and the dishwasher at the same time. And having a Wegmans. This week I bought boneless chicken breasts for $1.97/lb.!

Now that is something to celebrate.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Last One

What better way to enjoy our last Saturday in New York City than with a creme brulee donut, complete with burnt sugar topping?


A handful of rides on the subway (for the transportation-obsessed among us)?


The view from the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art:



And a relaxing family rowboat ride in Central Park, counting ducks and scouting for turtles, and taking in beautiful scenery like this:


We ended the day with a walk through Central Park and a divine cookie at Levain Bakery. Well, I'm not sure it actually counted as a cookie; more like an inch and-a-half thick piece of chocolate chip insanity that we couldn't even finish. We would have taken a picture, but the sugar-induced coma that immediately followed the first bite made us forget ourselves.

Thanks, New York, for another great day.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A World Gone Mad

This morning I checked my calendar to see if it was April 1st, since the news headline that greeted me on my homepage was "Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize". Pardon me, but huh? For what? Brokering a peace deal over a tense tea party between Sasha and Malia?

I'm so confused. I mean, up to this point I was under the impression you actually had to do something to win this prize. Although, I suppose if the only qualification is that you not be George W. Bush, Obama had it in the bag.

(Somewhere Bill Clinton just put his fist through a wall).

Sadly, this is only one of many evidences I've received today that the world has gone mad. This afternoon as I was walking home from the grocery store, I ended up behind three guys, one of whom was describing some boyfriend-material he'd recently met. As he described the man, one of the other guys piped up, "He sounds so familiar. I wonder if I [had sex with] him?"

Nice.

So I crossed the street and settled into pace in front of a platonic couple who were having a conversation about cheaters. "That's why I'm not married anymore," said the man, "because my wife cheated on me." He almost had my sympathy until he added, "But she was cheating on her boyfriend when I met her, so I guess that's just her." Um, sounds like all that needs to be said to this man is "duh".

Of course, if you've been watching the news, you should know by now that cheating is no big deal, especially if your name is David Letterman and you've been bed-hopping with your employees. And as long as we are talking about things that aren't a big deal, neither is rape, with the small proviso that you are a big-time award-winning movie director. It doesn't even matter if the victim was thirteen at the time. All's fair in sex and Hollywood.

Oh well, who has time to be concerned over such things when we could be busy slobbering over the "accomplishments" of our president?

Stop the world, I want to get off.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Halfway Point

After a near constant stream of visitors over the past three weeks, we have our apartment to ourselves again. Visitors are lots of fun, but so is lounging around in my bathrobe until 10 a.m., so it's nice to balance the scales a bit.

We have less than two weeks left here in NYC. The weather has turned and reminded me that I actually do enjoy the city when it's not sweltering outside and I don't feel nauseated every time I get a whiff of rotting garbage or burnt pretzels. David and I are trying to soak up every last bit of city life we can, including all the treats that will be unattainable once we leave. We have told Michael we are going to move back to our Virginia house and that he will have to say goodbye to all the taxis and trains (which confuses him about as much as telling him he's going to get a brother and a sister) but luckily for him, we will be buying a "fast car" to satisfy his appetite for all things transportation.

I am twenty weeks along (more than halfway!), but have been surprised by some pregnancy symptoms that didn't appear until at least seven months with Michael. Then I compared a twenty week picture from each pregnancy and it became obvious why I'm already feeling pressure in my lungs.

Behold, twenty weeks with Michael, barely into maternity pants:


And twenty weeks with the twins:


Dude.

I will now be taking guesses on how many more weeks I have until a whale sling becomes necessary to move me from place to place. Actually, I have felt very well, all things considered, and have nothing to complain about. But I am immensely relieved to be heading back to suburbia where I can drive a car instead of hauling Michael's stroller up seven flights up subway stairs any time I need to go somewhere.

Anyway, I suppose I should take my bathrobe off and run a brush through my hair so I can go buy some laundry detergent, which we (of course) ran out of two weeks before heading home. Unfortunately, we can't survive without it, otherwise it would join the list of other things I'm going to stretch till our departure - like the remaining teaspoon of dish soap and the last roll of paper towels.

Of course, I ate the last piece of chocolate in the cupboard yesterday, so if I wanted to be consistent about my rationing and sacrifice, I wouldn't buy any more.

Luckily for me, consistency was never my strong point.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Man Boobs

Years ago I worked in a corporate office where we hardly ever saw the owner of the company, but one day the big cheese himself was coming in to crack the whip on us peons. My boss helpfully informed me how to recognize him: "He's the one with man boobs," she said. I giggled, quite sure she was exaggerating. But I stopped giggling when I met him and had to will my eyes to look up instead of down. I felt a little bad for him (you know, as bad as one can feel for a man whose cup size surpasses her own), and then I ate a brownie after lunch because I felt sure I needed a little extra fat to pad my own sad excuse for cleavage.

But, B-cup or not, he seemed masculine in every other respect. And I'm quite sure he had no plans to put his unfortunate assets to use. It's too bad the same cannot be said for the latest loon in the news, Swedish father Ragnar Bengtsson, who is determined to pump his breasts until they produce enough milk to breastfeed his future children.

Raise your hand if you just said, "Eeeeewwwwww!"

Bengtsson has no plans to use any type of hormonal therapy, but an endocrinologist at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm says it might be possible for him to produce a "drop or two" of milk after three or four months of pumping.

The full-time student is willing to pay the price for a chance at producing those little droplets even if it means pulling out the breast pump in the middle of a classroom lecture. "...it doesn't bother me if it makes people uncomfortable. If they have issues with it that's their problem," he says.

Yeah, it's just so petty and judgmental to get upset about the whirring of a breast pump drowning out a lecture on the theory of relativity, never mind having to avert your eyes as the guy next to you is using machinery to suck his nipples all the way to Alaska.

Of course, Bengtsson could just take the Karolinska endocrinologist's advice to offer his milkless breast to any of his future offspring: "Men don't need to strive to produce milk but they should take the opportunity to get closer to their child by offering them their breasts in the same way as women," she said.

And I thought that whole breastfeeding doll thing was weird.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I'm So Confused...


Mom and Dad keep talking about Mommy having two babies in her tummy. I'm not really sure what that means. Do I have two babies in my tummy? Maybe that's why I'm so hungry all the time, because I have to feed two babies too. I ate two hot dogs and a whole apple for lunch and was still hungry afterwards. And I keep waking up too early because I am so ready for breakfast.

Anyway, Mommy went to the doctor today and before she left she said the doctor would tell her if the babies were boys or girls. I know Mommy is a girl and Daddy and I are boys, but with some people it's really hard to tell just by looking at them. I'm not sure how the doctor could tell what the babies are when they are still inside Mommy's tummy. How do they see in there? I looked for a window on Mommy's tummy, but I didn't see one. This is all so confusing.

When Mommy got home from the doctor she had pictures of the babies! I wonder if she can put a camera in her belly button? Maybe I should try that. I love to play with my belly button. And the camera. The pictures are kind of funny though. I think they look like the TV screen when I hit the wrong button and it gets all fuzzy. But Mommy says the pictures are good enough to tell that I am going to have one brother and one sister!

Does anyone know what a sister is?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

On Race and Idiocy

Former President Jimmy Carter has condemned Rep. Joe Wilson's recent outburst ("You lie!") during President Obama's speech as being motivated by racism: “I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he is African-American," said Carter, adding, "Racism ... still exists and I think it has bubbled up to the surface because of a belief among many white people, not just in the south but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It’s an abominable circumstance and grieves me and concerns me very deeply."

President Obama has since said that he doesn't believe Wilson's statement was motivated by racism, but that hasn't stopped people from throwing a fit over it - especially congress.

I agree with President Carter's assertion that "The president is not only the head of government, he is the head of state. And no matter who he is or how much we disagree with his policies, the president should be treated with respect." But it's funny how disingenuous these little statements of presidential support seem after eight years of Bush-trashing. No one seemed to be getting upset over Bush being called a liar over and over and over again. A religious nut. A dictator. A Nazi. Whatever. Since he was evil incarnate, no one seemed to care.

But if you have an honest disagreement with Obama, you are called a racist. It's the same problem with the gay marriage issue. If you oppose gay marriage you are a bigot - no ifs, ands or buts. Is this truly the way to have good and reasonable discussions of policy or law? If anyone who has an opposing opinion is demonized, how are we supposed make informed decisions? There are two sides to every story.

I don't recommend going about sharing your opinion the way Congressman Wilson did, but I can understand the pent-up frustration that led to his outburst. So why can't we acknowledge that his actions were inappropriate, let him apologize, and leave it at that?

The interesting thing since this Joe Wilson flap is the idiot behavior of Kanye West at the MTV Video Music Awards. Apparently Kanye (you remember Kanye, don't you?) was so perturbed over singer Taylor Swift winning Female Video of the Year over Beyonce's "Single Ladies" that he waltzed up to the stage and stole the microphone right out of Ms. Swift's hand as she was giving her acceptance speech. He then told the crowd that Beyonce's video deserved to win, leaving poor Taylor to stand there in stunned humiliation as the cameras panned away.

But, since Kanye West is black and Taylor Swift is white, everyone rightly assumed that he is just a jerk with a god complex who thinks his opinion is more important than anyone else's. No one reads into it any further than that (nor should they).

But, if you reversed the race of the two performing artists, can you imagine the outcry that would ensue? Headlines would scream, "Racist Outburst at the VMAs!" The entire world would be sent to sensitivity training and the jerk who caused the interruption in the first place would be demonized right off the billboard charts, having forever branded himself as a racist.

Instead, we roll our eyes and say, well, Kanye is Kanye. He is a jerk. End of story.

So, in the same vein, why can't we say that Joe Wilson's comment was inappropriate and leave it at that?

Great damage is done when honest disagreements of policy are branded as racist, sexist, or bigoted. Fear of a ruined reputation prevents good and decent people from voicing their opinions, standing up for their values, and challenging corruption and greed.

And no one wins when that happens.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Invasion of the Belly Touchers

Up until last week my belly was only big enough to draw cursory glances from other women, but it has now grown to the point that it is starting to exhibit that inexplicable magnetic pull that tempts the hands of strangers.

For the life of me, I do not understand this. I've met maybe one woman in my entire life who didn't mind strangers patting her stomach, but everyone else I know has expressed annoyance over this little side-effect of pregnancy. And yet, it's always women (and mostly women who have children) who are the the culprits, which just doesn't make any sense. If you didn't like it when someone did it to you, why do you insist on doing it to other women?

What in the world possesses someone to pat the belly of a woman they've never even met?

And as long as we're talking about invasions of privacy, why do people like to comment on and ask questions about things they have no earthly business knowing? Like whether or not you are going to try to breastfeed twins, or if you have a weak cervix that would require bedrest, or as the pregnancy progresses, how far you've dilated or why you haven't had that baby yet, seeing as you look like you were due three months ago.

Strangers shouldn't even get to those questions, not only out of politeness and a little respect for privacy, but because they should never, ever assume you are pregnant in the first place. Unless you are busy knitting baby booties, reading a book of baby names, talking about your due date and the crib you just ordered, and wearing a shirt that says, "I'm expecting", no one should ever comment on your possible bundle of joy for the simple reason that it may turn out to be a bundle of haagen daaz bars that settled just south of your belly button. And even if all those pregnancy indicators are in place, unless the woman shouts that she is in labor and needs your assistance, don't say anything. Even then it's best to wait until the baby's head is out before you comment on her pregnancy, just to be safe.

There are also certain words that should never be used to describe someone's pregnancy belly, the most annoying being "HUGE!" The laws of femininity don't change when a woman becomes pregnant and eliminate her desire to be told she is beautiful or looking fit. She is not fair game for comments that that she is going to "pop" or "explode" or that she "must be due any minute".

Just this week I had someone mention my increasing "girth". One random word and I went from feeling cute to feeling like an overstuffed whale.

But at least the person didn't touch my belly.

Whales get pretty cranky when they're touched.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Things You Don't Want to Know

This evening I handed Michael his toothbrush and turned to the sink to wash my hands, assuming he would suck the berry-flavored toothpaste while he waited for me to help him polish his fangs. I dried my hands and rotated to face him only to discover he was thoughtfully dipping his toothbrush in the toilet.

That's when I decided we'd had enough teeth brushing for one night and opted to put him in bed.

But then I wondered, has he done this before? Has his toothbrush taken a nightly bath in the potty without my realizing it?

I think I can safely say that I don't want to know.

It's sort of like when you find a stray sippie cup wedged behind the couch or under a bed and think, "Please don't be milk. Please don't be milk." And then you opt to just throw the thing in the trash rather than risk being hit with the smell of rotten dairy and having to use a butter knife to chisel out the lumpy blob of cottage cheese at the bottom.

So many things you don't want to know about involve food - like what's in it. Even though I love ranch dressing I just can't stand to think about the jar full of mayonnaise that went into it. And New York City has an irritating habit of rubbing ingredient lists and calories in your face while you eat. For some reason they just don't seem to get that I automatically assume a plate piled high with french fries, cheese, and bacon is absolutely terrible for me.

The same way I assume that whatever my son picked up off a city sidewalk is disgusting, dirty, and possibly contagious - which is exactly why I carry around hand sanitizer and dispense it like there's no tomorrow. Unfortunately my vigilant sanitation patrols don't stop him from licking a subway pole or the bottom of his shoe now and then - and I really don't want to know what those tasted like.

Or what that sticky stuff in the back of my refrigerator is... spilled lemonade? Rotten tomato? A strange chemical reaction between pickle juice and karo syrup?

That's why I just shut the fridge and back away slowly.

Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Open Marriage

A moment of silence, please... Hugh Hefner's marriage is officially over. Well, he says it was actually over ten years ago, but he stayed married to his wife "because of the children". But now that the little tykes have hit the magical age of 18, it's time to end the charade and get back to the gaggle of girlfriends he's been living with for the past decade (not to mention the constant supply of oversized breasts and undersized bikinis in his playboy mansion).

I'm so glad he stuck it out all those years for the sake of his children - great example, Hef! Way to honor those marital vows!

I think society is in serious trouble, not only from those who wish to redefine marriage as being a right for any two (or more) people who love each other, but from those who treat marriage as nothing more than a legal arrangment with no actual commitment or fidelity required. I just read an article this morning about an online dating site for married folks who are looking for a little bit more. Their motto? "Life is short. Have an affair."

Lovely. That handbasket we're traveling in is starting to get mighty hot.

I keep running into information like this hoping it is somehow out of the ordinary and that there are only a few misguided adults who subscribe to these disgusting theories. But the more I hear and the more I see, this sort of thinking is no longer outside the mainstream - it's edging toward the middle and gaining ground fast.

Just yesterday David was checking out the info on one of his facebook friends and discovered that the guy was in an "open relationship" with his significant other. I'm not sure what exactly is meant by that, but if it's anything like the "open" marriage of the Italian Premier and his wife, the guy has no shame.

Of course, the wife half of the Italian marriage-in-name-only pairing is finally fed up with her husband's wandering ways after 19 years of misguided tolerance for his behavior. Apparently he finally embarrassed her by stepping out with some teenage bimbo at a party when he was supposed to be on a business trip. How dare he?! He could have at least gone for a thirty-year-old in a business suit!

But the idea of open marriage is becoming all the rage, apparently. Maria Princeton, a businesswoman who is in a "very happy marriage" of 25 years with her husband, George, says they have an "amicable arrangement" that allows her to enjoy a little hanky panky on the side. "I'm a class act in infidelity," she says. (Is there such a thing?) She says George is fine with her taking lovers, as she made it very clear from the beginning that she would do whatever she darn well pleased when it came to extramarital sex. She then waxes romantic about how wonderful her husband is and how well their relationship works.

This woman (and anyone in an "open relationship") is delusional, and I highly doubt that her husband truly has no issues with her sexcapades. Sex involves more than bodies, whether Ms. Princeton likes to admit it or not. There are emotional and spiritual aspects to sex that you just can't get away from, no matter how hard you might try to convince yourself they don't exist. You simply can't have a sexual relationship with another person without profoundly damaging your relationship with your spouse, regardless of whether he seems to be going along with it. Someone is always going to be left hurting.

Ms. Princeton thinks an open marriage is the answer because "fairy tales of undying love and sexual and emotional union that lasts for a whole life time [are] really unrealistic." Well, I have news for her: the fairy tales aren't unrealistic at all; they just require commitment, trust, complete and total fidelity, and selflessness - all things she has proven to be incapable of when it comes to her own marriage.

No matter how much time Ms. Princeton may spend trying to convince herself otherwise, her "open marriage" is one fairy tale that can never have a happy ending.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Lessons of the Beach

David was able to take the day off Saturday, so we hopped a train from Penn Station and went to the beach. Michael was thrilled to ride a "big" train, and thanked the gentleman who sold us our tickets, adding, "I'm so proud of you!" just for good measure. (Nothing like a little job-well-done validation from a two-year-old).

The train trip was only about 40 minutes, and Michael spent the entire time glued to the window pointing out other trains and cars and airplanes as they flew by. When we arrived at the beach and Michael saw the huge ocean spread out before him, he tried to run through the sand as fast as his little feet would carry him, though not before we could slather him with sunscreen and give him several lectures about staying safe.

Fortunately for us, he remained cautious about the waves the entire day and would only venture into the surf if he was holding tightly to one of our hands. As I had visions of our little daredevil fish getting sucked away by a giant wave as he dived into the ocean by himself, this uncharacteristic hesitation was fine by me. We spent hours playing in the waves and building sand castles, and Michael was able to splash to his heart's content. We did bring a camera but never pulled it out, as I'm not one for interrupting family fun to make a record of it (especially when there are water and sand and other camera-ruining elements involved).

Not only was it a day of family fun, it was a learning experience as well. Here are the top ten things we learned at the beach:

10. It is impossible to have a classy tattoo.

9. It is easy to tell fake boobs from real ones.

8. If you must adjust your bikini every time a wave hits, your swimsuit is the wrong size or the wrong fit.

7. Baby oil and old man is a frightening combination.

6. If your skin looks burnt to a crisp and has moved beyond "sun-kissed" to "leathery", you need some sunscreen in your life. And probably a dermatologist on call.

5. Any woman who has a child needs a little support in her swimsuit. Any woman who has a grandchild needs some sort of lifting apparatus in hers.

4. Stretch marks should never see the light of day.

3. For every woman who looks good in a bikini, there are 50 others who do not. Of those 50, at least 40 should never even look at a bikini, let alone wear one.

2. Thong-style speedos are just as scary looking as they sound.

1. As gross as a tight little speedo is, even more disgusting is a too-large speedo that allows a plentiful cross breeze to travel underneath the fabric and blind unwitting passers-by with the view.

Ah, lessons of life that one could really live without.

But mostly, what we learned is that it is nice to exchange some of that city grit in our hair for some sand and a couple of seashells, spend time with family, and arrive home exhausted and sore (and leaving a trail of sand behind us).

Oh, and we also learned to make sure you cover every bit of exposed skin with sunscreen, otherwise you'll end up with a lovely red stripe on your back where the sunscreen missed, and thighs so sore you'll never be able to walk again.

Small lessons, but important ones. Who knew there was so much to be learned from a visit to the beach?

Halloween Blues

David and I have a habit of overbooking the month of October every year. Some of it is our fault and some of it isn't, but I have been "determined" to go to a corn maze every year for the last 6 years, and it has never happened. We always have visitors or travel or something that makes it impossible to find our way through a dried-out corn field and then sit down and candy apples or carve pumpkins for an afternoon.

This year is no different - busy season ends October 15th, we move back to Virginia that weekend, and then David and I are jetting off on vacation immediately after. I am looking forward to all of this immensely except one tiny little thing:

We will miss the entire Halloween season. I love Halloween and look forward to it all year. This year my decorations won't even see the light of day, and it's not like I can meander around Target on a daily basis for the first half of the month to soak in the smell of costumes and candy corn. It also means no Halloween party this year, which I am very sad about. I have tried and tried to finagle my calendar to make it work, but no such luck. The only way a party would work is to throw it in November. (Which begs the question, on a scale of 1 to 10, how lame is it to throw a Halloween party in November? Okay, okay, I already know the answer).

And we will have to send Michael trick-or-treating without us, for the second year in a row. (It's part of our campaign to win "Parents of the Year").

Oh, well, I suppose giving up Halloween is a small price to pay for a totally awesome second honeymoon. And maybe this means I can justify throwing that Christmas party I've always wanted to have...

But most of all I just hate to deprive our friends the privilege of seeing David dressed up like this:


Granny at her very best, don't you think?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

How to Ruin a Child

I've known many parents who give their kids way too much stuff - too many toys and gifts - but I've never heard of someone as ridiculous as Alison Mackay, who has been lavishing designer clothes and toys on her daughter, Brogan, since the now-eleven-year-old came home from the hospital (from whence she departed in Baby Dior, of course).

Among the items this spoiled-rotten tween receives on a regular basis are the latest designer handbags and shoes. Says her mother, "She has 35 pairs of designer shoes and because her feet are still growing, sometimes she only wears them once before they’re too small. When I see the bin-liners full of shoes, ready to take to the charity shop, I do think 'What a waste.'"

And yet, Alison Mackay can't help herself: "I can’t go into a shop without buying Brogan something. She enjoys being pampered because it makes her feel grown up."

Well, of course she enjoys being pampered. What child doesn't? But that doesn't mean it is wise to cater to her every whim.

You might be thinking that perhaps Brogan's parents just have more money than sense, but they are not rich at all. In fact, they spend half of their £30,000 annual income on Brogan. Yes, you read that right. HALF of their income goes to pampering this girl (who actually has a very unpampered little sister, if you can believe it. But her mother brushes the unfairness issue aside, saying that youngest child, Carys, has no interest in designer clothes). You'd think the father might be a little annoyed by this, but no. According to Alison, "Stephen doesn’t mind and just says 'Oh let her have it.' We have no savings, but he believes in living for the day."

In addition to all the clothes, shoes, handbags, and designer dolls (£400 apiece!), Brogan's parents give her a credit card with up to £400 a month so she can "learn the value of money". I'm sorry, but it is impossible to learn the value of money when someone just hands you a wad of cash without requiring anything of you. Brogan doesn't even have to iron her own clothes because Alison is "frightened to let her near the iron in case she burns herself". Yeah, that would be the worst thing that could happen to this girl. (Her ironing is done professionally, once a week).

"I try to tell her that money doesn’t grown on trees," says Alison. "A friend of hers recently got a job doing a paper round and I suggested to Brogan she might like to do the same, but she just said 'No chance'."

Well, of course she doesn't want to work! Who would want to work with this type of upbringing? When Mum and Dad bring everything to you on a silver platter, why should you lift your royal little fingers to help yourself? There's no need!

Brogan is going to grow up to be a pathetic adult who couldn't help herself if her life depended on it. And, while Mrs. Mackay might worry about that every now and then, she has no one to blame but herself.

After all, she is the one who created this monster.

Is There an Adult in the Building?

I get really sick of adults acting like scared kindergartners when it comes to correcting the behavior of other peoples' children. Adults no longer act like adults, they act like kids. (I suppose this is the reason why their children do not have any respect for other adults and why they behave like snotty little brats who think the universe revolves around them).

Last week I took Michael up to Toys R Us to see the dinosaur and play with the giant train set. There were a dozen children clamoring to play with the trains, a handful of which did not have cars to run on the track. This would have been fine, but there were two kids with more than one train car whose parents didn't think it necessary that they share with the other kids and made no attempt to intervene.

Then, at one point, a little boy (20-months-ish) stole a train car from another kid and attached it to his own car. The mother of the thievery victim ran over, distressed, and asked the child if he would give it back. Of course the answer was, "No!" The mother was paralyzed and looked to the other parents for help, all of whom just stood there at a loss as to what to do. I said, "Just take it back from him!" which prompted everyone to look at me as if I had just walked out of a mental institution. "I'm tired of adults not acting like adults," I mumbled under my breath, and rounded the table to snatch the train car out of the kid's hand myself. But just then a store employee appeared, having been hastened over to resolve the situation. She ended up doing the exact thing I would have done and told the kid she was taking his train, and pulled it out of his hand. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. I rolled my eyes.

For heaven's sake, the thief wasn't even two. Are we adults or are we adults? Just inform the kid the train car isn't his and take it back.

Of course, my observation that all adults act like children was cemented a few minutes later when Michael's age got the better of him and he pushed a kid out of his way. The kid fell over and cried. I picked up Michael and told him he couldn't play with the trains anymore because he had pushed another kid, and then made him apologize to the little boy, and to the boy's mom. Then I apologized to her myself. She totally ignored me and wouldn't acknowledge the fact that I was talking to her, let alone accept either mine or Michael's apologies. She just complained loudly to her neighbor (while I was talking) that my child had pushed hers and acted as if it was some sort of unforgivable crime.

And I won't even mention my experience at the park the day before when I got a snotty, "You're not the boss of me!" in response to correcting a misbehaving girl (who was at least ten years old). I ended up leaving instead of seeking out the mother to discipline her daughter because my experience with NYC moms is that they don't care if their kids play by the rules, either. As I left the park I saw a woman standing next to the girl (I can only assume her mother) actively encouraging her rule-breaking behavior.

Aaargh. I'm not sure who needs a spanking more - the adults or the kids.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Announcement

I have had a lot of confused comments from people wondering how they missed the announcement that we are expecting twins. Well, it was rather sneaky of me, I admit. The news is tucked at the end of this post.

(In case you are just catching on, surprise! We are having twins!)

I am due in February, but look about 5 or 6 months pregnant. Seriously. It's a little scary. I may need a crane to haul me around at the end.

Anyway, we are thrilled about our coming additions! Michael is still blissfully unaware of how much his life is going to change, but we are having him practice being soft with his "baby" - a singing gloworm. The gloworm still gets thrown and stomped on pretty much every day, but give us a few more months and we just might be able to convince him to at least support its neck while he holds it upside down.

But, in spite of his wild boy ways, the first thing he did with the gloworm when we gave it to him was hug it and give it a kiss. So maybe he's ready to be a big brother after all.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What Did You Learn Today, Dear?

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has published some new guidelines for sexuality education. I read them today because I was disturbed enough by the news headlines regarding them that I figured it warranted spending an hour of my time to read the original document. And now I'm in the market for some small pills to keep Michael little, because yikes!

UNESCO states that these guidelines have been published because "getting the right information that is scientifically accurate, non-judgmental, age-appropriate and complete, at an early age, is something to which all children and young people are entitled. In the absence of this, children and young people will often receive conflicting and sometimes damaging messages from their peers, the media or other sources. Good quality sexuality education balances this through the provision of correct information and an emphasis on values."

It's intended purpose is to "assist schools in the development and implementation of sexuality education programs" and UNESCO insists throughout that the guidelines are "age-appropriate". So what kind of age-appropriate material are we talking about here? (I have taken these discussion topics word for word from their publication, which you can read here if you so desire):

Discussion topics for 5-8 year olds:

* The difference between consensual sexual activity and forced sex
* Touching and rubbing one's genitals is called masturbation
* Masturbation is not harmful, but should be done in private
* How HIV and other STIs are spread

Ages 9-12:

* Specific means of preventing unintended pregnancy
* Many boys and girls begin to masturbate during puberty
* Definition and function of orgasm
* Options available to teenagers who are unintentionally pregnant

Ages 12-15

* Gender stereotyping in pornography
* People do not choose their sexual orientation or gender identity
* Masturbation is a safe and valid expression of sexuality
* Definitions of gender identity and sexual orientation

Ages 15-18

* Advocacy to promote the right to safe abortion
* Sexual activity can provide pleasure
* Sexual behaviors can be pleasurable and without risk of unintended pregnancy and STIs, including HIV

There is a whole lot of blather about "values" and "personal beliefs" scattered throughout, which seems like it has been thrown in there to quiet those who might be up in arms over their five-year-olds being taught how to masturbate. I mean, what good is discussing one's personal values in class if they have already been thoroughly trashed by "scientifically accurate, non-judgmental" lessons on what is normal and appropriate? And how could any person think it's appropriate to discuss gender stereotyping in pornography with 12-year-olds or give explicit details on sexually transmitted diseases to a class full of kindergartners?

They say that they are hoping to prevent children from being confused by damaging messages coming from the media, their peers, or other sources. You mean "other sources" like this publication from UNESCO? What makes them think the messages they are sending are not damaging? How are they excused from responsibility for what they are telling these young people?

I recognize that not all parents are responsible enough to talk to their children about sexuality, but pulling the rug out from under parents who do want to discuss these types of serious topics with their children (at an appropriate age and time) is simply inexcusable.

Sigh. Who knew I was going to have to send Michael to kindergarten with earplugs?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Black Day for the English Language

When I was growing up, there was a girl in my church congregation who used to raise her hand in a self-righteous huff any time some scriptural reference was made to "man" or "mankind". Why doesn't it ever say "woman", she wanted to know, and why is God so sexist? She remained unmoved by the explanation that "man" or "mankind" meant everyone, women included, and spent her teen years constantly miffed at this supposed slight toward females.

Of course, this was also the girl who walked out of our high school's production of Hello Dolly when the men gathered around to sing "It Takes A Woman", because it sounded all anti-feminist. Never mind that the song is meant to be a joke and makes fun of the men singing it more than it does the women they are singing about.

But, it seems this girl might now have some allies in various institutions in Europe, which are banning certain phrases and words that might be considered insensitive or offensive. Like "right-hand man" or "gentleman's agreement", which could be offensive to women on account of not being inclusive of two X-chromosomes. Also out are "racist" phrases like "black mark" and "whiter than white". Even the "black sheep" of the family is getting kicked out of the room. Because any time you use a color word in a phrase it could be offensive to people of certain ethnicities, especially ethnic minorities. Except you can't say "ethnic minorities", either, because the phrase might imply that someone is less important than someone else.

Oh, please. I swear people just don't have enough to do nowadays so they get bored and start thinking of things they can be offended about. Then they send out memos and start making rules about ridiculous things like perceived racism or sexism in everyday phrases. I mean, "whiter than white" has nothing to with skin color; it just means "clean". There is no reason to read into it any further than that.

Ironically, I'm sure these speech guidelines contain no provisions for truly offensive words like those pesky four-letter ones, especially of the "F" variety. Who has time to get offended over things that are actually offensive when there are so many innocuous phrases over which to throw a fit?

I'm searching for a phrase... what is it? Oh yes, "straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel".

Can I say that? Is that offensive to camels?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Word Associations

You know those people who cause one specific word to pop into your head every time you think of them? For example, when I think of Nelly Furtado I immediately think "nasal". Honestly, if I sang through my nose as much as she does I'd have chronic sinus trouble.

So, yesterday I found it slightly amusing as I passed by Susan Sarandon on my way to church (my first bona fide celebrity sighting, if you can believe it) and immediately thought "bug-eyed". Call me shallow, but I just don't think it is attractive the way her eyeballs bulge from her head.

It's funny the words I associate with other things as well. If someone said "elevator" most people would probably respond with something logical like "hotel" or "work", but me, I'd say, "pee". Hopefully that's just a temporary New York thing though. The true surprise is when an elevator doesn't smell like pee. That's always a welcome change.

Even Michael gets in on the word game. If anyone ever mentions his daddy, Michael says "work" - the sad truth of tax season. Any time David leaves the house for any reason Michael pipes up, "Daddy's going to work." Poor kid. October 15th is less than two months away, Michael.

Of course, his mom-related word associations at the moment consist of "sleepy", "head hurts" and "doesn't feel good". And any time I leave the room he says, "Mommy's going potty."

Frankly, it is a pretty accurate summary of our lives at the moment - Dad goes to work and Mom goes potty all day.

Yes, we are just that exciting. You might even say Overlys = exciting. Or boring. One of the two.

Take your pick.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wimpy, Wimpy, Wimpy

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! Except in the case of some ridiculous parents who are screaming because of ice cream. In fact, some mothers are so irate about the ice cream man trying to sell a treat to their little darlings, they are working to have the evil vendors done away with completely.

New York city mother, Vicki Sell, is leading the charge to get unlicensed ice cream vendors kicked out of Harmony Playground in Brooklyn. Now, lest you think she is a just a concerned citizen who is doing it merely out of a sense of moral obligation, the legality issue has nothing to do with it. She is equally "irate" (her word) about the licensed vendors like Mr. Softee, but has no ground to stand on when it comes to getting them booted from the area, so she is focused on getting the unlicensed ones removed instead.

"It's really predatory of them..." she says of the vendors selling frozen treats in the park. Yes, how terrible that someone might try to sell a lemon icy to a child in a playground. The nerve! How can anyone come out of this situation unscathed?!

Rachael Reiley, another distraught mother agrees: "As a new mother people coach you on potty training and what to feed your child. But the ice cream truck, nobody ever mentions that."

Well, allow me to offer some "coaching" to Ms. Reiley and her idiot counterparts. When confronted with this situation, here is what to do... ready? Okay, here it is: say "no".

Gasp, choke, swoon...

Still there? Did I lose you?

Really, that's all it takes. Just a firm "no". If your child throws a fit you can threaten him: "If you don't stop crying right now, we will go home", or "If you don't stop this instant you will lose your (fill in the blank with favorite toy or privilege)". Take your pick. But do not give in to the begging or the "it's not fair" speeches. And don't blame the problem on the ice cream guy. Ice cream is not the problem.

Wimpy parenting is.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Bit Much

You know those people who can ignore a bag of Snickers bars in the cupboard or leftover pie in the fridge? I've never understood them. I've also never understood the people who decline dessert because they aren't "hungry". What does hunger have to do with anything? You eat a piece of chocolate cake because it's chocolate cake! If you're hungry, that's when you eat four pieces. But you don't pass it up because you are "full". Who doesn't have room for dessert?

So I guess I should have been pleased to read my doctor-recommended food quantity suggestions for a twin pregnancy: 3 large meals a day and 4 substantial snacks. The definition of a snack? A tuna fish sandwich and full glass of milk. Which, um, sounds like a meal to me. By the time I finished reading the guidelines, which suggested, among other things - 16 8 oz. glasses of water a day and a full quart of milk (whole milk is preferred, but if you don't like whole milk it suggests a milkshake every day), two servings of red meat and a veritable pharmacy of multivitamins and supplements, I had to turn to the front cover to make sure I hadn't picked up "A Blue Whale's Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy" by mistake. Seriously. Even I, a girl who has no issues with fattening food ruining my waistline (a plate full of bacon is worth a little belt expansion, I say), cannot fathom making a dent in such a mountain of food.

So I skipped to the next section and found out that I should be taking a two-hour nap in the morning, a two-hour rest period in the afternoon, and another nap after dinner. Are you kidding me? Who has time for that? And who really needs to sleep that much, for crying out loud? If I napped for six hours a day I'd be up all night. (Which might explain why I'd need to nap so much the next day... It's funny when doctors have to come up with a cure for the last thing they cured, like dosing your kid up on vitamin D so you can slather him with sunscreen every time he puts a toe out the door).

I mean, growing two babies is rather taxing at times, I admit. But for heaven's sake, gluttony and sloth don't sound like the best path to a healthy delivery. Sure, I'll have a nap if I need one, and I'll eat when I'm hungry. And I'll take my vitamins. But eating full-on meals seven times a day? That's just insane!

Except for the milkshake thing. I mean, well, it is doctor's orders.

Friday, August 14, 2009

King Michael

Making meals is always a chore, but I have a particular dislike for lunch. I think it should be banned on account of being the most annoying meal of the day. This is why lunches around here generally consist of such gourmet fare as tortillas and cheese, macaroni, or a can of spaghettios. I will throw in an apple or a handful of baby carrots as penance for the fake food, but anything beyond that is just too much work.

So yesterday, when I knew I had dinner leftovers waiting for me in the fridge (a rarity during tax season, since the lunch blahs generally extend to dinnertime when David is not home to eat), I decided it was worthy of a small celebration. So Michael and I ate our leftover chicken and rice on the couch instead of at the table. Well, I sat on the couch. He snuggled himself underneath one of the couch cushions and demanded that I spoon-feed him on demand. "More! More!" he ordered in a kingly fashion (due to his upside-down position and wide-open mouth, it did feel rather like I was feeding grapes to Caesar). But since he was devouring the broccoli and chicken without complaint, I laughed instead of demanding that he sit up like a normal person.


He is still on a kingly kick this morning, having just yelled from his throne (where he is taking in an episode of Little Einsteins), "I want orange juice, Mom!" I did insist that he change his tone and ask politely for a drink ("May I have...?" is just so much nicer than "I want!") but since he just ran back to his former position and demanded that I join him this instant, I'm not sure the lesson is really sinking in.

Ah, well, I suppose I can indulge his royal demands for now. After all, his reign will only last till February, at which time he is expected to be dethroned by not one, but two royal hopefuls.

This could get interesting...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Start Hovering... or Else!

I think one of the main causes of "helicopter" parenting is that people simply aren't having very many kids. They only have one or two, so there are no older kids to keep an eye on the younger ones, and the parents think they must watch little junior every second or he will be molested or killed the minute he walks out the door.

Well, this is too bad, really, because it's terribly boring to have to follow your eight-year-old kid with neosporin and pepper spray any time he wants to go to the playground.

Or, as some mothers suggest in today's Dear Abby, you should even be following your seven-year-old son into the men's restroom, because you never know what kind of creep could be hanging out in stall number one.

Oh, for heaven's sake. Send your poor boy to the bathroom by himself. There is no need to hover and ask, "Are you being molested, darling?" as your son makes use of the facilities. Teach him to yell for help if he's in a distressing situation and call that good. You can stand outside the door and wait for him, but it is simply ridiculous and intrusive to insist, as one mother does, that her son talk to her the entire time he's peeing, to let her know he's okay.

Of course, while I am not the hovering sort, I do get a little paranoid that I should hover more - not because I think Michael needs to be watched every second of the day, but because it is inevitable that the one time I leave him on the sidewalk in his stroller while I pick up the dry-cleaning, even if he is in my view the entire time, will be the time a police officer drives by and arrests me for child endangerment. (Which has actually happened to more than one woman while running errands, ridiculously enough).

Even this story annoys me. A babysitter tasked with taking care of a one-year-old fell asleep on the couch while she was supposed to be watching the little tyke. The kid took that as an invitation to escape the house and hang out in the road, which earned his babysitter a felony charge and a little jail time.

Now, is it wise to fall asleep while you are supposed to be keeping an eye on a toddler? No. But does this mean no mom should ever be allowed a nap for fear of facing felony charges? Kids have been escaping houses since the dawn of time. Just be grateful the neighbors found the kid and lock your front door next time. But there is really no need to involve the police unless the woman was passed out drunk on the couch or something.

As the mother of an escape artist myself, I have to say that Michael is equally adept at mischief whether I am awake or not. Luckily, we currently have a chain on our front door, but if we didn't, I have no doubt he would often be hanging out in the lobby or taking a ride down the trash chute. All it would take is two minutes for me to go to the bathroom by myself and he would be halfway to the train station.

We shouldn't make parents live in fear of giving their children a little latitude when it comes to playtime. And we shouldn't punish them with felonies for falling asleep on the couch.

It's no wonder people are paranoid nowadays.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

We Have a Winner!

David surprised us by coming home in time for dinner last night. We celebrated by ordering pizza and shoving a quick Family Home Evening in the narrow time-slot between dinner and Michael's bedtime. This consisted of about ten minutes of watching Michael run himself into a sweaty oblivion, leaping off couches and demanding, "Watch me, Daddy!", a quick song, and a thirty second lesson on baptism, since Michael was too caught up in the forthcoming hide and seek activity to hold still and look at pictures of Jesus.

So we played a few rounds until Michael went off to hide by himself and David and I went into his bedroom to count. When we shut the door we discovered a doorknob-sized hole in the wall, the obvious result of a broken doorstop and a tantrum-throwing little boy, who shall remain nameless. Sigh.

So we ended the hide and seek game and decided to draw a name out of a bowl for our "Life as an Adverb" book giveaway instead. Michael was tasked with pulling a name since he is the most impartial judge, seeing as he can't read and therefore can't cheat.

And the winner is... Deonne! Congratulations! (I'll email you shortly).

Michael enjoyed choosing a winner so much he continued to draw out names and "read" them. ("This one says 'Clara'," he would say).

Thanks to everyone who participated!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dignity. Always Dignity.

Motherhood is often so undignified, which actually seems appropriate when you consider what an undignified process childbirth is - you are splayed out on a bed with a constant army of nosy doctors wanting to stick their fingers in your nether regions, and you end the whole thing covered in every body fluid imaginable and with no part of your body having been unseen or unexamined - classy.

So I guess it makes sense that the embarrassment doesn't stop there. You start motherhood with an infant who likes to do nothing but expel nasty fluids all over you, and then he graduates to putting his hands down your shirt or undressing you to find a meal. Then he learns to walk and follows you into the bathroom, which gets even better once he learns to talk and announces to your guests that "Mommy is pooping! Push your bum, Mommy!"

I suppose the only proper thing left to do is to take a bow when you exit the bathroom.

And it's always nice when he comments on your, um, gaseous emissions. Michael has recently graduated from a giggly, "Uh oh, what was that noise?" to "Beautiful poofer, Mommy!" Who knew that my rear end was capable of producing such symphonies?

And, there is really no need for kleenex with small children. You become a human tissue. Not even clothing is necessary for a good nose cleaning. For example, this afternoon Michael walked up to me and wiped his nose all the way down my bare arm. "Michael, did you just wipe your snot on my arm?" I asked. "Yes, Mommy!" he said cheerfully, which is probably more polite than what he said to David this morning when he wiped his nose on Daddy's freshly pressed shirt: "Michael got boogers on it!" Gee, thanks for the parting gift, buddy.

Of course, once a kid learns to talk it is usually equal parts hilarity and embarrassment. Like the time we were riding the subway and a homeless man got on and informed us that we should buy his flowers because he was working instead of selling drugs to our children. Michael piped up, at top voice: "He's not working, Mommy!" A rather astute observation for a two-year-old, but as the entire train turned to look at us, it was an embarrassing one nonetheless.

The good thing is that most of the undignified parts of motherhood are worth a hearty laugh.

Except the times Michael points out my zits and loudly comments on my "owies". But, that's only not funny because I'm annoyed that I still get zits.

I mean, aren't you supposed to grow out of that?

Ungrateful Brats

Entitlement is a strange thing. Back in the good old days people thought they were only entitled to the things they worked their butts off to obtain. Now people go around whipping "rights" out of their pockets and thinking they deserve everything from free health care and good jobs to large inheritances and huge houses. They expect the "government" (ahem, taxpayers) to provide those things for them, even if they don't put a cent toward those things themselves. (Since when do you have a right to anything you refuse to pay for yourself?).

And, so, we get letters like this one to "Dear Abby":

Dear Abby:

My husband's grandson just graduated from the eighth grade. Because he lives in another part of the state we were unable to attend the graduation, but we sent him a graduation card with $5 enclosed.

My husband's daughter called to acknowledge the card "for" her son. Then she asked if my husband was having financial difficulties because he sent only $5 while some of her friends gave her son $50. She said we should have sent more. My husband was so shocked by her insensitivity that he hung up on her.

His daughter did not call or send a card on Father's Day. However, today we received a card from his grandson thanking us for the $5 and saying if we had dug deeper and added $1, he could have bought a slice of pizza.

Abby, how do we respond to these two?

— Hurt Grandparents, Anaheim, Calif.


First of all, I have the nagging feeling that somewhere, somehow, the father of this repulsive woman probably bears some of the responsibility for his daughter turning out so poorly. But that's a subject for another post. What I'm curious about is how a gift went from being something that is unexpectedly given and gratefully received to something that is not only demanded, but expected to meet a certain standard as well.

Why do people feel they are entitled to gifts? Especially money? (I simply hate those money-only baby showers and the like. Asking for money is just so tacky). And why is it that children feel okay about putting their greedy little paws all over their parents' hard earned cash, refusing to show even the tiniest bit of decency by waiting until their dear ones have dearly departed?

What a great lesson this mother is teaching her son: if you think someone is being stingy with his choice of gift, write him a note and say something snotty about how the gift didn't live up to your expectations.

If I were that kid's grandfather I would have to hold myself back from demanding that my $5 be returned so I could give it to someone else who would appreciate it. But, as I think that most gifts should be given with no strings attached - no expectations of a thank you or qualifications as to how the money will be spent or what the gift will be used for, I suppose that wouldn't match my philosophy. Certainly a thank you is nice (and should be offered by any person with an ounce of politeness in her soul), but a screw-you does wonders: it informs you when a person probably doesn't deserve gifts in the future. I mean, who wants to continue giving to an ungrateful brat who turns up his nose at heartfelt generosity? Oh, I know that $5 isn't much, but the fact of the matter is that it was money that had to be earned, and was generously shared.

You know, I always was always flabbergasted by the biblical story of the ten lepers, only one of whom returned to thank the Savior for healing him of his terrible disease. But nowadays, I bet the other nine would come back, not to say thank you, but to complain about not having their male-pattern-baldness remedied as well.

It kind of makes you long for the good old days, doesn't it?

Benefits of Laziness

I have nine blog posts I want to write and I still haven't drawn a name out of a hat to choose a winner for the book contest. I'm so lazy. But, that is good news for you if you haven't entered your name for the drawing and still want to. I'll give you another day to submit a joke on the original post (or just a comment if you can't think of something funny), and then we'll draw a winner tonight after David gets home from work, which probably means you have until about 1 a.m. eastern time. Sigh. Boo on tax season.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What's in a Name?

How much is your name worth? $5? How about $10?

Well, one mom-to-be is hoping a name is worth a lot more than that. She is thinking along the lines of $25,000, but she'll settle for $150. After all, times are tough.

Lavonne Drummond is expecting her seventh child in September, and since money is tight with that many mouths to feed, she is auctioning naming rights for her unborn child on Ebay. She says she'll honor whatever name the highest bidder chooses, and even allow the baby namer to visit the child.

Which means she will have to watch out for people like my husband, who says he would bid $5 just to name the kid "My-Parents-are-Idiots" (though he didn't specify whether the name would be hyphenated). They could call the kid M-pai for short. But, unfortunately for David, the minimum bid is $150, so he will have to fork over a bit more money if he wants to teach the parents a lesson.

He still has time to think about it, however, since as of this writing Mrs. Drummond has yet to receive a single bid for her ridiculous scheme.

Honestly, what kind of person is going to spend money to name someone else's child? And what kind of mother allows this responsibility to be parceled out to the person who can hand over the most Ben Franklins?

I think society, as a whole, has lost their minds when it comes to naming babies. We forget how important a name is and what a profound effect it can have on a child, and instead get caught up in whether it's cute, or unique, or impossible to spell. Then we get names like (and I am not making this up - I read it a few weeks ago on another blog): La-ia. Pronounced "Ladashia", because, of course, the dash isn't silent.

When you choose a name for a child, you have to realize you are naming an actual human being who will have to function every day with the name you attached to him. It is a serious responsibility, and the consequences of making a bad name choice should cause any parent to spend a whole lot of time mulling over the decision.

So, to hand this responsibility to a stranger, who has no connection to or love for your child, is not just bad parenting, it's abusive. I mean, who knows what name that child could end up with?

Poor little "My-Parents-are-Idiots". He's never going to hear the end of that one.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Do Not Hire This Woman

If I were a truly good sibling I would have forwarded this link to my sister, Evil HR Lady, so she could use her HR expertise to dissect it. But, it's been a long time since I called someone an idiot, and the person in this article certainly meets that standard, so I'm using it for my own blog. Sorry, EHRL, I guess I'm just selfish that way. (Kisses!)

27-year-old Trina Thompson recently graduated from New York's Monroe College (a learning institution whose existence I have only read about in subway train ads) with a bachelor's degree in business administration. She has been job hunting since April with no luck and is pretty upset at her state of unemployment. So upset, in fact, that she's suing her alma mater for reimbursement of her tuition ($70,000) and an extra $2000 for her pain and suffering, or whatever.

She is sure that any employer would give their eye teeth to hire a graduate of Monroe College (after all, she had a stellar 2.7 GPA and good attendance record!). So it must be someone else's fault she can't find work. She blames the Office of Career Advancement at the college, which, she says, did not try hard enough to help her get a job.

Whine, whine, whine. Wah wah wah. Did this girl miss the memo that the job search is tough right now? People with bachelors degrees from far more prestigious schools than Monroe College (and picture perfect GPAs) are having trouble finding work. And this woman thinks she's being picked on because her school didn't send her a beautifully wrapped job on a gold platter as a graduation present?

But, but, but, she whines, "It doesn't make any sense: [College graduates] went to school for four years, and then they come out working at McDonald's and Payless. That's not what they planned."

Of course it's not what they planned. People don't usually plan to have trouble finding a job. But the solution for joblessness is not to scare off every employer in the country by suing your school for your job-search-related pain and suffering. That just shows you would be willing to sue your employer for being overworked, or being harassed by not being allowed to have every Tuesday off for your weekly pedicure, or having to sit next to the kitchen garbage can. And heaven forbid an employer would ever need to fire this woman! Hold on to those company profits, folks!

So, I would like to say to this idiot: Get out there and work your butt off to find a job. Spend at least 40 hours a week searching. Send your resume to every company you can think of. Offer to intern for free, if it will allow you to get your foot in the door. And go to a temp agency while you are waiting (often a springboard to a great permanent position), or work at, gasp, McDonald's if you have to.

But stop whining, and stop suing.

And come a little closer, so I can slap you.