Monday, February 28, 2011

Nearly Toothless Matthew

I went to bed last night with a smile on my face. Then I dreamed I was failing a test in differential calculus. (I woke up humming Gilbert and Sullivan's "Modern Major General". Apparently my dreams are very well acquainted with matters mathematical). The dream topic was rather surprising. I assumed I would dream about melting faces and breast implants after having watched part of the Annual Hollywood Botox Convention last night. (Seriously, what happened to Billy Crystal's face? I'm willing to subscribe to a theory that his body was sent to the ceremony courtesy of Madame Tussaud's).

I should have known that a math-related dream was a bad omen.

It all started this morning when Matthew face-planted with a sippie cup in his mouth and managed to turn one of his front teeth completely sideways. A stellar beginning to a day, if there ever was one. This meant I had to arrange an emergency visit with a pediatric dentist, which is tricky when one doesn't actually have a pediatric dentist lined up. But, I managed to find a dentist willing to see him, and, after a bevy of phone calls to arrange for childcare and a screaming-bloody-murder dental appointment, we now get to play the waiting game for a week to see if the tooth will have to be yanked or not.

Poor little Matthew. He looks like he is auditioning to join the British Book of Smiles. His little mouth is so swollen and his twisted tooth so tragic-looking that I have to resist the urge to kiss him every time I'm within three feet of him. Which has pretty much been all day, considering he is now a permanent fixture of my leg when he is not whining in my arms.

Michael has joined in the whine-fest (he was already in full mope mode owing to his father disappearing into tax season, but he decided to up the ante after all the attention Matthew was getting), so, after what has been a long day for all of us, I bribed him with the chance to play with my phone and gave the babies full access to the cupboard of DVDS so that I could take fifteen minutes for some sanity blogging. The house is a mess, my bed isn't made, and I am resisting the urge to eat an entire bag of Doritos for dinner and call it good.

Or maybe a 5 or 6 Cadbury Eggs. Surely there is some nutritional value tucked into the middle of those.

Is it bedtime yet?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

And the Oscar Should Go To...

It's Award Season again, which means Hollywood is flush with the self-congratulatory high that comes from attending 57 award shows. Seriously, I've lost track of how many ceremonies there are these days. How many times does one set of people need to to be recognized for the same accomplishments?

Apparently that number is ad infinitum, if you are talking specifically about Whoopi Goldberg.

Ms. Goldberg found herself in a regular snit recently over the content of a New York Times article that discussed some of her fellow black academy award winners without making mention of her Oscar-winning turn in "Ghost" or of her nomination for "The Color Purple".

"I have been dismissed and erased by the New York Times film critics, who should know better... This is not hidden information... this is sloppy journalism. People in Somalia know [about my Oscar win]. People in China know," she said.

Well, I read the offending article, and it appears Ms. Snit needs to up her reading comprehension skills. While it's true that the writers did not mention her win, they were not purporting to make any sort of comprehensive list of black academy award winners. They mention some by name, but the point of the article is the lack of black nominees this year (and, in true conspiracy style, what sort of ominous prejudice this reveals in Hollywood).

Frankly, the gripe that there are too many white actors nominated is annoying. I thought we were talking about the "best" actors, not the best black or best Hispanic or best gay or religious (ha ha - do those exist?) actors. As film critics who are looking for the elusive "postracial" Hollywood, they seem to be missing the point. Shouldn't the awards go to the best actors, regardless of race?

If the point of the article had been that (fill-in-the-blank) black actor was snubbed and should have received a nomination, or even that more leading roles should go to black actors, fine. That's an article that may be worth writing. But when the whole gripe consists of "There are too many white nominees this year" without a single hint as to what is wrong with that beyond a few generic hurt feelings on behalf of black Americans, that is ridiculous.

As for Ms. Goldberg, yes, a handful of people in Somalia and China may know about her Oscar win, but the fact is that most of them probably don't care. She shouldn't read deliberate offenses into things where there isn't even a hint of a slight. Not even Einstein, whose contributions to the world were surely more important than Ms. Goldberg's contributions to acting, needs to be mentioned in every single paper on the Theory of Relativity.

And as for a postracial world, I think that's what Martin Luther King, Jr. was hoping for when he talked about his children being judged by the content of their character instead of the color of their skin.

For people who say they are looking forward to that day, these New York Times critics are still awfully stuck on skin color.

And Ms. Goldberg is awfully stuck on herself.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Let's Talk About Sex

Because what could be more fun than discussing sex on a blog I know my mother-in-law reads?

I kid, I kid. (Incidentally, I don't think my in-laws knew I had a sense of humor until about a year ago).

Really, I'm just looking to increase my comments. Things have been rather depressing in that department lately, and what gets people more worked up than talking about sex? (Wait, I know this one. There was this time I wrote about vaccinations and discovered that half of my friends suffer from acute vaccine paranoia. That was enlightening).

Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yes. Sex.

It appears that, when it comes to this most intimate of activities, people have completely lost their minds.

I know this because of people like "Confused," who wrote in to Ask Amy for advice:

Dear Amy:

My first real relationship was when I was 18.

The relationship got serious quickly, but I still made him wait several months before sleeping with him.

Now I'm 22 and on the brink of a new relationship.

I'm wondering, is it a sign of immaturity if I make a guy wait a longer time than the couple of dates they're used to waiting now?

I know it's all about "when I feel ready," but do men find it respectable when a girl makes them wait, or does it seem as if she's taking a relationship too seriously and therefore acting immature about it?

— Confused


Let me see if I've got this straight; by this logic, having indiscriminate sex with some guy you just met in a bar = mature. But getting to know a man before letting him get to know what's in your pants = taking a relationship too seriously.

I'm sorry, but what in the world?!

This is something I will never understand about today's attitudes toward sex. How did we ever get to a point where a woman would take her clothes off for a man she's barely met (particularly because of some warped desire to be thought of as mature or respectable)? How did we get to thinking that sex is nothing more than a meaningless exchange of bodily fluids, completely detached from love or emotion? For heaven's sake, sex is an activity that is well-known to result in things like babies (tethering two people together for life, whether they like or not) and infectious (even fatal) diseases. And, yet, a woman is willing to hop into bed with someone she wouldn't even trust to wash his hands after using the restroom, just so he won't think she is immature?


I guess this is what happens when we take the most meaningful things and make them meaningless:

We start looking for meaning in all the wrong places.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Study of the Obvious

You know those ridiculous studies scientists come out with periodically? ("New Research Shows Men and Women are Different!")

Here's a new one to add to the Obvious Files:

Putting calories on menus doesn't affect kids' food choices.

Wow, you could have knocked me over with a feather.

Here's a little something I've learned all on my own, without the aid of studies and bored researchers: Children and teenagers make food choices based on taste because they couldn't give a flying fig about calorie content or a healthy diet. Secondarily, they make food choices based on price - how else do you explain Taco Bell? Eating their tacos is like ingesting industrial strength food substitute, and yet, they're cheap and oddly satisfying, so I'm still drawn to them.

Yes, I realize I'm glossing over the lettuce-leaf-obsessed cheerleaders who eschew sugar and fat, but I would say most teens do not dive into salads out of any sort of desire for better health. The desire for popularity and size zero jeans is the driving force there.

As for the average teen, why should he care about calories? Teenagers are immortal. Death is, like, light years away (even 60 sounds like veritable geezer age to a teenager). If not to ward off an untimely death, what sort of motivation remains to eat healthy foods over a Snickers bar, especially when one can subsist on a diet of vending machine food and slurpees without any noticeable ill effects?

Luckily, this is why nature gave us these clever little inventions called "parents" - to make sure there is broccoli on the table, milk in the fridge, and that fast food restaurants come around on an infrequent basis. After all, what child is going to say, without parental prodding, "Mom, can we have brussel sprouts and fish tonight instead of pizza?"

Little kids are not going to eat peas for the health benefit. They are going to eat them because their mother says "You cannot leave this table until you eat your vegetables." And, when confronted with a menu at a restaurant, a teenager is not going to opt for carrot sticks when a burger and fries are readily available, regardless of how many calories are packed in to that quarter pounder.

Next up: "Scientists discover kids don't like cleaning their bedrooms."

Mark my words.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How to Ruin Valentine's Day

I'm not one of those tyrannical women who demands her husband must acknowledge Valentine's day by breaking the bank on diamonds or fancy hotel rooms, but neither am I one who prefers the day to pass by unnoticed in some sort of self-righteous snub toward greeting card companies and chocolate makers.

I like Valentine's Day. I like having extra reasons to tell my husband how amazing he is. Because, in case I haven't mentioned it lately, he is AMAZING. And though we generally take the low-key route for the holiday (ordering take-out for the whole family instead of heading out by ourselves, for example), we always have a lovely time. This year did not disappoint. It was wonderful.

Plus, my husband did not name a cockroach after me, which he could have paid $10 to do. Bonus points for David.

I have no idea what would possess a man to have a Madagascar hissing cockroach named after his sweetie pie. Imagine her horror when he says, "I had something named for you..." - she's thinking he's going to pull out a map of the heavens to show her her very own star - and then he hands her a picture of a disgusting roach.

Um, Happy Valentine's Day?

I don't care if the $10 donation goes to the Wildlife Conservation Society. I don't care if some lunatic out there thinks cockroaches are cute. And I don't care that the Bronx Zoo says nothing could be more romantic than naming the creepiest of crawlies after the love of your life because, "Nothing says forever like a cockroach."

These people are out of their minds.

And soon to be out of girlfriends.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Weighty Obsession

As I was having a Hall Chat with a friend at church on Sunday, a third woman joined our conversation. She gave birth to her first baby 10 weeks ago and has the type of body that looks as though it has never even thought about having a baby, let alone given birth to one a mere two months ago. In one of the first sentences out of her mouth she lamented that she was never going to lose all the weight from her pregnancy (two months afterward. Seriously) and then she turned to another woman in the hall and said, enviously, "You are so skinny!"

I've heard this one before: Tales From a Size Nothing.

Honestly, what is the deal with women and their body obsession? If we obsessed about our intellect half as much as we do about our dress size, think of all the fascinating discussions we could have - maybe we could talk about Henry VIII or the latest NASA mission, or the political developments in Egypt or the last book we read that didn't have anything to do with how imperfect we are.

Instead we go to Relief Society breakfasts where the menu consists of pumpkin flax and bran muffins (I am not making that up. That is honestly what we are eating at our annual RS Birthday bash in March. It sort of makes me want to kill myself).

I'm not saying we shouldn't be concerned about being healthy. We should, and personally, I am really trying to eat better and get in shape. (I suppose this is not a good time to confess I ate a Snickers bar with my breakfast...) But, it is not healthy in any way, shape or form to lift one's skin with two of one's magical fat-detecting fingers and say, "I'm sooo fat." Especially when you A) just gave birth, B) are a size 2 or C) all of the above.

Oh, I know. When a woman says, "I'm fat", what she means is, "Tell me I'm not fat." Which is why it is only the people who are decidedly not fat who sit around and moan about how huge they are. I mean, when was the last time you saw a group of plus-size women gabbing about their horrific swimsuit-buying experience? Pretty much never. No need to point out the elephants in the room. Elephants, you see, are surprisingly self-aware.

And nothing annoys an elephant more than having to tell a beanpole how skinny she is.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


David and I have been watching "Prison Break" after the kids are in bed. It is a real roller coaster of a show, and every time we finish watching an episode I can see this little argument going on in David's brain about how late it is versus how much he wants to watch the next episode (the peril of being able to stream TV shows on Netflix). It's been fun, but the problem is that the show leaves me so tense that it takes a good hour afterward for my heart to recover from the adrenalin overload. So, while David is snoring within two minutes of his head hitting the pillow, I have been adding to my sleep deficit.

That, and the fact that Matthew started yelling for me at 3 a.m. (which I couldn't ignore, seeing as he had gone to bed with a fever), convinced me that my little quiet time indulgence today would be to settle down in my bed with a book. It didn't take long for me to nod off. And it didn't take long for Michael to wake me up.

The first time he came into my room I was so soundly asleep that having a conversation with him was like slogging through wet concrete. "What do you need, Michael?"

"A treat!"

"Not right now. This is quiet time and I'm having a rest, so you need to find something else to do."

Three minutes later he was back, whispering in a matter-of-fact tone at my bedside:

"It's your fault I ate all the orange chips, Mom, because you left them out on the counter."

I thought about pointing out the questionable logic of his statement, but I was too tired. Instead I said, "Michael, go away."

Two minutes after that:

"I want to watch a movie."

Resigned to the fact that abandonment of my warm comforter was imminent, I said, "Okay. Give me ten minutes and I'll come put a movie on for you," hoping that would be enough time to shove the concrete out of my brain.

One minute later my door opened again and he was standing two inches from my face.

"I just can't leave you alone, Mom," he said.

No kidding.

So, I threw back the covers, turned on "The Princess and the Frog", and now I'm avoiding the daily afternoon kitchen clean-up. It is extra messy since the babies got ahold of a box of cereal and are alternately shoving fistfuls in their mouths and spreading it over the entire floor.

I would interfere, but it is my policy not to mess with happy babies unless they are in immediate danger.

Besides, they both have poopy diapers and who wants to mess with that?

Monday, February 7, 2011

The World According to Michael

It's been a long time since I posted. I've been busy taking care of my brother and sister and trying to conquer Donkey Kong. It is super hard. I keep trying to get my mom to help me but she says it makes her dizzy, so she doesn't like to play. I'm not sure what the problem is with being dizzy. I love that feeling. Especially when the ceiling starts spinning!

Life is pretty good here in Utah, but I miss Virginia. I keep asking my mom when we are going to move back. She says we aren't, but the way she says it I can tell she's kind of sad about it. I miss Samara and my other friends. I'm going to marry Samara when she is a mom and I am a dad. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Yes, we do have daily conversations about the fact that parenthood comes after marriage). And then I can have my own babies and I'll get to be the boss of me. Then I can stay up late and I won't have to do anything I don't want to do. I'm really excited to be a grown-up so I only have to do things I want to do. Last night Mom was sweeping the floor and she mumbled something about how she was sick of cleaning up food. I said, "Then don't clean it up, Mom." Duh. I mean, it's not like anyone is making her do it. It is so weird that she likes to clean so much. She is always doing it. I think sweeping must be her favorite thing, she does it about 90 times every day. She doesn't like to mop, though. She only does that when our feet start sticking to the floor.

I am four years old now, and that means I get four of everything. Or so I tell my mom. She says this might be a fine philosophy for now, but it could prove problematic when I turn 55. I'm not sure what "problematic" means, but honestly, what could be bad about having 55 cookies for dessert? That sounds like fun!

I love being a big brother! It is really fun now that the babies can follow me everywhere. I like Leah the best, but Matthew is pretty fun, too. I like to make them laugh, but I don't like it when they cry. When Matthew starts screaming I tell Mom we need a baby-calm-down-inator. She says that is a great idea, and that I should invent one. I'm working on something with my legos and train tracks, but no breakthroughs yet.

Mom says I'm a really good helper, and I like to make her happy by throwing away dirty diapers without her asking me to. Sometimes when I do something that really surprises her she gets this sappy look on her face and gives me a big hug or lets me put coins in my jar. When she does something good I make sure to tell her I'm so proud of her, too. Especially when she does something good on Super Mario. She is really good at that game.

Mom says she doesn't understand me sometimes. I'm not sure why. When I told her I wanted her to play a game with me because my feet were cold she looked very confused, as if it didn't make sense. It's the same look she gives me when I say I need a snack because I'm tired. Just what is so confusing about that?

Well, I've got to go because Mom says it's time for her to take a shower, and she lets me play with her phone while she takes a shower. It rocks! Angry Birds, here I come!

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Other Sisters

Yesterday I was chatting with my eldest (I don't really like that word. It makes her sound old, when in reality she doesn't look a day over 30) sister when we got to talking about the two sisters who are nestled between us in age.

"You realize both of our sisters are becoming famous, don't you?" she said.

"I know. We're the untalented ones."

"Suzie gets 100,000 hits on her blog each month. And Stephanie just got nominated for her third Whitney Award."

"Yeah, well, I thought about taking a nap today."

"I just ate a whole bag of mint milano cookies."

"Mmmm... cookies."

"Mmmm... nap."

Hard to see why we're not up there with the big guns, isn't it?

But, in honesty, it got me thinking about talents. I mean, there's talent, and there's talent.

So Stephanie has written a bunch of award-winning novels. Big deal. I can pick up a twenty pound baby off the floor with one hand.

So Suzie writes a popular column for BNET. I can eat a whole bag of fun-size Twix bars and destroy the evidence, all before David gets home from work.

I've even managed to get through airport security with more than 3 ounces of liquid in my purse!

I know, my abilities are simply staggering.

But then, I realized something. One person's talents do not diminish another person's skills. Which is lucky for you. That way you don't have to feel inferior when I'm so on the ball that my Christmas thank yous get sent out in March.

Man, I'm good.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Soulmate Syndrome

Have you ever noticed how many people write in to advice columnists about their marital problems? Whether it's "Considering Divorce" in Alabama or "Unfulfilled Wife" in Texas, many are looking for the go-ahead to unhitch themselves from their balding wagon. "I love my husband and don't want to hurt him," they say, "but this guy at work is my soulmate!"

What does that word mean, anyway? I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone is looking for their "soulmate", as if there is some random Prince Charming wandering aimlessly around the globe until he can just lock eyes (or lips) with his other half and they can ride off in the sunset together.

That little soulmate obsession is how we end up with stories like this one: Married man meets married woman. They strike up a platonic friendship. Their spouses meet and become friends. Pretty soon they are taking family vacations together in one neat little BFF package.

Then, a problem develops. Married man and married woman decide they are in love with each other. So, they do the self-described "honorable" thing - they ditch their respective spouses and break up their families so they can swap till-someone-better-comes-along vows with each other. "We are really proud of our family and proud of the way we handled the situation. There was nothing in the story to be ashamed of," married woman said.

Hmmm, nothing to be ashamed of except the fact that you just destroyed two families so you could enjoy your little piece of selfish pie. Just a small thing, the dissolution of a family. Nothing dishonorable about that.

Here is where the soulmate problem rears its ugly head. Throw that little word around and suddenly it's socially acceptable to say sayonara to your spouse of 15 years. In pursuit of happiness, you know. Because nothing makes someone happy like getting rid of a non-soulmate spouse.

Well, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Marriage is not about finding a soulmate, it's a about becoming a soulmate (one flesh, as it were). This may sound tough, but it's not. Add enough service, compromise, and selflessness to any marriage and voila! Soulmates!

Unfortunately, to most people, marriage is no longer about doing anything but trying to look sexy as your spouse bustles around fulfilling your every fantasy of what a partner should be. It's about ridiculous issues such as whether Dear Husband picks his socks up off the floor or whether he is fully engaged in daily conversations about Cousin Judy's botox catastrophe. Does he change diapers? Bring you flowers? Listen for hours on end as you debate the ins-and-outs of various labor and delivery techniques? If he doesn't, he must not be your soulmate!

Soulmate or not, it has been my experience that most husbands prefer not to engage in protracted discussions about episiotomies and potty training. But women love to chat about that kind of stuff. Get a batch of women together and the conversation will invariably turn to childbirth and bodily fluids. Really. This is what girlfriends used to be for. The problem is that now we're busy trying to turn our husbands into our best girlfriends, all the while telling our best girlfriends what emotionally insensitive clods our husbands are.

I'm not saying our husbands can't be our best friends (they can, and they should be), but if your husband doesn't fit the soulmate mold, perhaps the problem isn't with him.

Maybe it's time to look in the mirror.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

So Mature

I consider myself to be a fairly intelligent person. I read conservative and liberal news websites for fun. I try to stay abreast of current events. And when I go to the library I try to choose at least one book from each of four categories:

Non-fiction (generally about a social or political issue)
Self-improvement (marriage, parenting, etc.)

These are the last five books I've read:

Save the Males: Why Men Matter, Why Women Should Care
Spoken From the Heart (The memoirs of Laura Bush)
Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage
Left to Tell: Discovering God Amid the Rwandan Holocaust

Hmmm... Apparently I really enjoy books with two-part titles. (They were all worthwhile reads, by the way).

But seriously, I try to be well-rounded and informed. And I really dislike the fifteen-minutes-of-fame culture that celebrates crude, rude, and edgy. I don't even like the word "fart".

So why is it that every time I come across news articles about the unfortunately-named seventh planet, I can't help but smirk?

Gah! What am I, twelve?