Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Weird World of Shampoo

For lack of better reading material in the shower, my eyes are usually drawn to the back of whatever shampoo bottle is camping out on the eye-level shelf. I've learned a lot about hair care products in my back-of-the-bottle readings over the years. The shampoo in my shower at home, for example, is 100% vegan and gluten-free. Phew. I'm doing my part to stop global warming! (Or whatever environmentally correct thing it is we're supposed to be doing). Save the icebergs! Put phosphates back in dishwasher detergent!! No wait, wrong cause.

Mostly shampoo marketing just leaves me bewildered. Like the shampoo I recently bought while traveling. It's "self-targeting". That's good. It could be really awkward if it was "neighbor-targeting". "So, Bill, seen any improvement with your hair thickness since I've been using that new shampoo? It's supposed to be 'neighbor-targeting!'"

And speaking of hair thickness, apparently what my wispy locks need is a little pick-me-up from my sister-in-law's shampoo. Nine out of 10 people who use that product "perceive" a thickening effect. If that isn't a convincing testimonial, I don't know what is.

Body wash with jojoba. Conditioner with avocado oil. Cocoa butter. (Mmmm... cocoa butter). Does anyone buy shampoo specifically because it's made out of poppy-seed extract and raspberry juice? Or are we just hungry all the time so we go for whatever shampoo we feel we could survive on after a natural disaster?

Because, seriously, I could go for something involving cocoa butter and raspberry juice.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Life as an Adverb Q & A

How do you find time to blog?

What, am I supposed to be paying attention to my kids or something?

Where do you find such weird things to write about?

I find some articles on my own, but my family and friends send me articles to write about as well.

What are your favorite things to write about?

I like to write about a bit of everything, but I have a particular fondness for calling people idiots.

You're pretty judgmental. Don't you think you should be less hard on people?

Would you actually read this blog if all I ever said was, "All views are equally valid."? Bleh.

Why don't you post more pictures of your kids?

If a picture is worth a thousand words and you multiply that by two or three pictures per post, doesn't that seem a little wordy to you?

How often would you blog if you had unlimited free time?

Probably every day. And yet I still have nightmares about A.P. English. Go figure.

You blog a lot about marriage. If you could give one piece of marriage advice, what would it be?

For heaven's sake, just be nice to each other.

If you could take over the government, what is the first thing you would do?

I'd get rid of the dumb mandate that we all have to use energy efficient light bulbs (that cost ten times as much and work half as well, and, in my experience, last a fraction as long) and phosphate-free dishwasher detergent (that doesn't work at all). Also Obamacare. In that order.

If you could rid the playground of one menace, what would it be?

Wood chips. Gah! Who ever thought it was a good idea to stock a playground full of ready-made slivers that little kids can throw in each others' eyes?

You've said that the phrase you hear most these days is, "You sure have your hands full." What phrase do you hear yourself saying the most?

"Michael, stop bothering/sitting on/torturing the babies."

What day are you looking forward to most?

April 15th.

What are you going to blog about next?

Upcoming topics include conspiracy theories, dieting, marital affairs, and probably barf or boobs. Those seem to come up a lot these days.

Feel free to leave me a comment with any burning questions you may have for a future LIFE AS AN ADVERB Q & A. (These should not be confused with questions about burning, which are better directed to your local fire department or your personal physician).

Monday, March 14, 2011

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Matthew: Hi, everyone!
Leah: Hey, how come you get to go first?
Matthew: Because I am two minutes older, and therefore, wiser and infinitely cooler.
Leah: As if. You may be cool, but I can get anything I want just by batting my eyelashes.
Matthew: So? I can scream ten times as loud as you can.
Leah: Good point. In that case, go ahead.
Matthew: Ahem. As I was saying... Hi everyone! It's so nice to actually be able to touch the keyboard. I have been eyeing this thing for months!
Leah: I know, Mom never lets us get near it. She won't let me suck on scissors or batteries, either, even though Michael tries to sneak them to me sometimes.
Matthew: Yeah, Michael can be annoying, but he is convenient to have around when you want some contraband.
Leah: Where is he, anyway?
Matthew: He's playing the Wii. It's quiet time and Mom thinks we're napping, so let's not give ourselves away, okay?
Leah: Ooohhh, hold on. I just found a piece of leftover lunch on the floor.
Matthew: Want some milk to wash it down?
Leah: No, I'm fine.
Matthew: Good, because I was just showing you the sippy cup to let you know I had it. I wasn't really going to give it to you.
Leah: Figures. In that case, I do want some. (Steals the cup and whacks Matthew on the head for good measure).
Matthew: Owww, Leah!
Leah: Ssshh! Don't give us away, remember?
Matthew: So what should we say?
Leah: I don't know. Life is pretty good as long as I have my blankie or a tag to hold while I suck my thumb.
Matthew: Yeah, what is up with you and tags? I saw you holding Mom's bra by the tag the other day.
Leah: It's soft, okay?
Matthew: You realize you are setting yourself up for some serious blackmail pictures, don't you?
Leah: Oh, like mom would ever post that one. She told me she doesn't want anyone to know she has to shop for bras in the teen section.
Matthew: When did she say that?
Leah: It was girl talk. You weren't invited.
Matthew: Women.
Leah: Well, what do you like to do?
Matthew: I like Mom to hold me all day.
Leah: Besides that, I mean.
Matthew: The walker is pretty fun. And I like to crawl around and explore.
Leah: Yeah, the kitchen cupboards are the best. I've been hiding all the pan lids under the stove.
Matthew: Is that where they are? Mom was looking for those.
Leah: Yeah, it's fun when she tears apart the kitchen looking for something. I hid some of her curlers under the rug the other day.
Matthew: Hey, what is that shiny thing?
Leah: Ooohh, shiny thing?! Where?!
Matthew: (Yanks the hair clip out of Leah's hair). Later! (he crawls off).
Leah: Hey, give it back!
Matthew: (giggles)
Leah: I guess I'll have to finish this later. (sighs). Brothers.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mother Knows Best

Yesterday I was at the dentist's office with Matthew (displaying his new ragamuffin smile above) and Leah (who came along as decoration) when the dentist noticed Leah happily sucking away on her thumb. Matthew is a thumb-sucker as well, so the sight of two babies doing it at once was too much for the tooth man. "All right, Mom," he said, "you really need to get them to stop doing that now that they're a year old."

This is when my eyes glazed over and I nodded and smiled and said things like "Oh, really?" "Mmmm hmmmm." "Good idea" and "I'd never thought of that before." Confession: I had no idea what he was saying. And I didn't care. Because, frankly, I'd rather throw myself over a bridge than wean my babies from their one reliable self-comfort mechanism. They are only 13 months old, for heaven's sake. And in case anyone hasn't noticed, there are two of them, which makes the ability to self-comfort that much more important. The thumb-sucking has been my salvation - not only has it saved me from having to take up swearing (curse words are obligatory when one is crawling under the crib at 3 a.m. looking for the %$#$@!# pacifier, especially when one whacks one's head on the crib rails and wakes up the other baby), it is probably the only reason I am sane right now. Really.

Besides, I think the whole thumb-sucking thing is sort of adorable. (By saying that I'm not waiving my rights to pull my hair out when they want to suck their thumbs on their way out the door to college. But for now, I have no problem with it).

It's funny how every medical professional has his little idiosyncrasies. The dentist wants the babies to quit sucking their thumbs now. My old pediatrician said it was fine as long as they stop before their permanent teeth come in. My new pediatrician didn't even notice the thumb sucking, but congratulated me on advancing the babies to sippy cups, which my old pediatrician informed me was a mistake that would result in my children never being able to drink out of real cups. He thought the transition should be directly from breast to cup, without deference to living room carpets and car upholstery. (Apparently someone needs to inform him about the millions of children who have gone from sippy cup to regular cup just fine).

After our dentist adventures (so far so good on keeping the tooth, by the way), I took Matthew for a little extra torture and had his blood drawn to check for allergies. He's had fairly severe reactions to eggs and peanut butter (hives and vomiting), foods which my current pediatrician informed me I should never have given him before he was a year old. My old pediatrician said 9 months and a friend's pediatrician said, "Whenever you want to start with eggs and peanut butter is fine. There's a lot of evidence that delaying introduction of allergenic foods causes more allergies than it prevents." Go figure. What was I saying about idiosyncrasies?).

It's a wonder the human race continues to survive. Especially my kids. I mean, I don't even read to them while I am nursing.

There goes their chance at Harvard.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Random Thoughts

How is it that Brits are so adept at American accents (to the point that you don't even realize they are not Americans - Christian Bale as Batman, for example or Hugh Laurie as House), while American actors attempting British accents sound like they are participating in a bad high school play? (Kevin Costner and Drew Barrymore, I'm talking to you).

I hate it when women don't include their maiden names on their Facebook profiles. It makes it impossible to find an old friend when you have no clue what her married name is.

The other day I sat down at the piano for the first time in months. Within thirty seconds I had two babies banging on the keys and Michael sticking his hands underneath the pedals. You can see why I only lasted half a song.

Something about the way a baby's bum wiggles as he crawls along the floor is so adorable. Put two baby bums together, chasing each other down the hall, and I could die, it's so cute.

Speaking of bums, I do not understand how anyone thinks an adult's behind is good looking. I have never once looked at a man's butt and thought, "Wow, cute buns!" Come on, it's a rear end. Clearly not the best feature on anyone.

I am currently reading Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior. It has made me laugh out loud more than any book I've read in recent years.

The phrase I hear most often these days is, "You sure have your hands full!" At least ten different people say this to me every time I leave the house. I know they aren't trying to annoy me, but it is getting old. I always respond graciously ("Yes, I'm so lucky" or "They are so much fun!") but I'm so sick of hearing it I sort of want to slug the next person who says this to me.

I would also like to slug the person who was behind the saying, "Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels." Right after I eat a whole pan of brownies.

Mmmm... brownies.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Celebration of Selfishness

We live in the age of disposable everything: diapers, cups, grocery bags, relationships, children, responsibility...

If you can name it, you can throw it away. The thing is that it used to be considered despicable to jump the family ship to pursue one's own selfish interests. Now it is something to be celebrated and venerated.

A man who leaves his wife and children for another man is celebrated for having been "true to himself".

A woman who aborts an unwanted pregnancy is venerated for being in control of her body and her future (never mind the body or future of the human being she was instrumental in creating).

And a woman who leaves her husband of 20 years and two young children to pursue self-fulfillment writes an award-nominated book about abandoning her family, appears on national television to share her story, and has no guilt whatsoever about telling the general public (and by extension, her children) that she never wanted kids in the first place.

My, how morally superior we've become.

Of her decision to leave her husband and children, author Rahna Reiko Rizzuto says: "I realized that I had lost myself a little bit and I wanted to give myself more priority."

Well, don't we all? I know of no mother who has any particular fondness for changing diapers or cleaning up barf in the middle of the night, or playing endless rounds of Candyland and watching "Finding Nemo" 100 days in a row, but we do it anyway because we have an understanding that we are working for a greater good, and that putting the needs of family above our own wishes and desires will eventually fulfill us more than selfishness ever could.

Ms. Rizzuto, forgetting that personal fulfillment should never come at the expense of devastating a spouse or children, brushes aside her responsibility to her family, saying, "We have to have the freedom to decide what it is we're going to do and how it is we're going to shape our motherhood, to shape our lives."

Somehow she doesn't understand that she did decide what she wanted to do with her life when she said "I do" to her husband and "Welcome to the world" to her sons. Some responsibilities, like those of parent to child or husband to wife, are permanent, and discarding them in the name of personal fulfillment is about as freeing as locking oneself in a cage.

For Ms. Rizzuto's sake, I hope she realizes how trapped she is before she throws away the key.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fashion Statement

Just call her Baby Gaga.

Milking It

"Breast is best", as you've probably heard about a bazillion times this year. (Even the IRS is getting in on the action, making breastfeeding paraphernalia a medical expense). And, that's just in general. You'd be surprised how often complete strangers have an opinion about how I should should be feeding my children; I've even had people congratulate me for nursing my twins. "Good for you," they say, as if it is any of their business.

Michael, on the other hand, has not been so supportive. The other day he walked in on me nursing both babies at once and said, with a sort of bewildered look in his eye, "That's really weird, Mom." Honestly, he is rather right. I do feel like something of a milk cow when I've got both babies having a snack at the same time.

I do think breastfeeding is a good thing, and I'm very grateful that I've been able to breastfeed my children without any significant problems. That said, I do think we are carrying our breast-milk-as-nectar-of-the-gods thing a little too far.

Exhibit A: a London ice cream parlor is selling ice cream made with human breast milk.* (Because what says "YUM!" more than a treat made from some strange woman's bodily fluids?)


I'm not sure what is more disgusting - that the first batches sold out as soon as the product was launched, or that the owner of the ice cream parlor described the breast milk ice cream as "organic, free-range, and totally natural." I'm so glad to know the breast milk is free-range and that there aren't groups of women sitting in cages armed with nothing but bottled water and a Medela brand breast pump.

I'm not one to say no to a frosty treat, but in this case, I think I'll pass.

*Since I drafted this post, local government officials have removed the ice cream from the shop because of concerns about food safety. Thank heavens.