Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Defending Octomom (?!)

I know, what in the world?  Bonnie is defending the infamous Nadya Suleman -- the single, jobless woman who used government assistance checks to spring for fertility treatments that resulted in 14 fatherless babies being born to her?

Well, I am defending her, but not because she deserves it.  Because parents everywhere deserve it. 

If you are a longtime follower of my blog, you already know that I think Ms. Suleman is a despicable, lying, selfish excuse for a human being, so I don't need to go over that again. (If you missed them the first time, you can read past posts about her here and here).  But Ms. Suleman has found herself in the news again thanks to her hairdresser, who felt Ms. Suleman's kids were living in "squalor" and reported her to the authorities.  An investigation resulted in "shocking" photos of her children doing such horrifying things as using training potties in the backyard and wandering around dirty without any pants on.  Pictures also showed a bedroom covered in laundry, mattresses on the floor, and graffiti on the walls.

The cherry on top?  A picture showing how she had locked her kids in their room by propping a chair against the door so they couldn't get out.

Poor form?  Maybe.  But before you get all indignant, I'd just like to share one small statistic with you:  99.9% of reasonable parents have, or will at some point, lock a child in his or her room.  It's called time-out -- you know, that method of discipline that pediatricians tell you is preferable to spanking?  And it's not wrong.   

Now, I can't say whether Ms. Suleman locked her children in their room for minutes or hours, but the mere existence of a photo that suggests she locked some of her children in their room for some period of time is not anything to get in a huff about.  Not only have I locked all three of my children in their rooms before, I have locked them out of rooms as well.  This is a child protection technique known as "Mom needs to be in the bathroom by herself for five minutes or she is going to murder someone."  And it's okay.

I looked at the rest of the pictures and can only conclude thus:  they show a house that looks exactly how you would expect a house with 14 children, 8 of them toddlers, to look.

So there is laundry all over the floor in one room.  Of course there is.  There are 14 kids in the house and only one mother.  So a bunch of kids are running around without pants on - if she is potty training (as is implied due to the fact that there are training potties scattered about and the kids are 3ish-years old, prime potty-training age) then it would make sense that there would be naked bums running around.  This is exactly how I potty train -- I let my kids play naked and the potty follows them everywhere.  Once they are doing well enough to not pee in their underwear every time I turn around, I let them run around in undies without any pants on.  And if I had a private, fenced-in backyard, you can bet that at some point a potty would follow them outside.

Yes, her kids are dirty.  Of course they are.  They are kids.  Mine, in particular, are experts at filth.  Give them thirty seconds and they would be able to make a mess out of anythingThat's what kids do.  They also like to draw on the walls and, believe it or not, sleep on the floor.  This is not a hardship and doesn't harm them.

As for what moms do, sometimes I let my laundry pile sit for a week.  Sometimes my kids draw and paint all over the walls and it's a few days before I take a magic eraser to their artwork.  Sometimes there are training potties outside.  Sometimes I lock my kids in their rooms for a few minutes.  Sometimes I don't pick up all the toys at the end of the day.  Sometimes I don't sweep, mop, or do the dishes.  Sometimes my kids run around without clothes on.  And sometimes all of those things come together in one spectacular day. 

I do not like Nadya Suleman, but disliking someone is not justification for condemning them on account of a few pictures that could have come straight out of any frazzled mom's home.  We love to jump to conclusions when presented with evidence, however slight, that confirms our prejudices, but that doesn't mean that we are right.

For once, Ms. Suleman, I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Summer PSA

As we are now heading into the summer months, I figured it was time for a re-post of my summer fashion tips to help you look your best:

Stretch pants look good on no one. I don't care if you are a size two - they do not look good on you. And it doesn't matter how comfortable they are - no one wants a close up of your lumpy thighs. If you feel you simply cannot live without stretch pants, buy them in black and choose a brightly colored shirt so our eyes will be drawn mercifully up instead of down.

Nothing ruins a flirty, feminine outfit like a big snake tattoo. It is best to avoid permanent inking altogether (because aging skin and gravity will not be kind to that dolphin swimming just above your butt crack) but if you just can't resist the urge to stamp yourself with iron-clad proof of your stupidity, keep it small, and keep it covered.

A woman does not exist whose breasts are perky enough to go bra-free. If you are ever tempted to leave the house without a little support, install a full-length mirror on your front door with phrases like, "Feeling saggy today, are we?" and "Boobs like bras, not tube tops".

And speaking of tube tops, they are not their own support system. While it is best to avoid this fashion altogether, if you must wear one, find yourself a strapless bra to help things from migrating too far south. Better yet, find a cute little jacket to go over the top.

While wandering around without a bra is not attractive, neither is the other extreme of wearing push-up waterbra contraptions that squish your breasts into your three-sizes-too-small shirt. I hate to tell you, but this technique does not make your decolletage look any bigger. It just makes your boobs look as if they are struggling to come up for air.

If you would wear something on your wedding night, it is not appropriate for public viewing.

Avoid short skirts. If you feel you must show off your thighs, make sure your skirt is long enough that no one can ascertain whether or not you forgot to wear your underthings.

Vinyl, leather, and other reflective materials do not produce flattering pants. No matter how small your legs are, they will look three sizes bigger in these types of fabrics. It is best to avoid them altogether.

Wear the proper size of clothing so your fat rolls do not look as if they are trying to escape their denim prison.

Any extra skin resting on top of your waistline should be covered. No one wants to become acquainted with your stretch marks or c-section scars.

Repeat after me: underwear is not outerwear.

For every inch you've added to your hips since your eighteenth birthday, add an inch in length to your shorts.

Contrary to very popular belief, breasts do not need to be aired out. A light covering provides plenty of breathing room and greatly lowers the risk of wardrobe malfunctions.

Wearing kitten heels to Disneyland does not make you look sexy. It makes you look stupid. This also applies to sightseeing tourists and hikers in national parks.

Friday, April 20, 2012

By the Numbers: Fitness Edition

When you're out of shape it isn't always easy to quantify just how badly.  Even stepping on a scale isn't necessarily an indicator of how long you could, say, outrun an axe-wielding maniac (which my sister suggested is the only legitimate reason for engaging in such an exercise).  I certainly couldn't last -- not even if the axe-wielding maniac were a tortoise with one good foot. 

How do I know this?  I stepped on my (severely under-utilized) treadmill yesterday. 

Speed:  5 mph
Time it took for my calves and feet to start cramping up: 1 minute, 30 seconds
Time it took to start feeling like I was going to throw up: 2 minutes
Total time I spent on the treadmill: 20 minutes
Total time I spent running on the treadmill: 6 minutes.  Okay, maybe it was 5 and a half.
Level of gratitude I felt when Michael woke up early and started crying because he couldn't find me, giving me an excuse to stop exercising (scale of 1-10): 10
Time I spent cuddling with him before jumping in the shower: 10 minutes
Number of extra calories I got to eat because I exercised: 90
The amount of food those calories amounted to: diddly squat
Times I wanted to bury my face in a bag of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups: 6
Times I logged onto Facebook and wanted to punch someone for saying how much they LOVE to wake up at the crack of dawn and exercise: 16.  Um, I mean 3.  (Give me a break, I'm not that bad.  I would never log onto Facebook 16 times in one day).
Times I laughed at my sister saying, "The human body is not meant to run, but to sit on the couch with its hand in a bag of cosmic Cheetos.":  about 35
Times I thought "Mmmmm.... Cheetos": 35
Times I thought about what I was going to eat next: That depends - how many minutes are there in a day?
Number of my kids who asked for Craisins during snack time: 3
Number of calories in 1/3 cup of Craisins: 130
Number of calories that should be in 1/3 cup of Craisins: 5
Chance that I'm going to waste that many calories on Craisins when I could eat Cheetos instead: 0
"Healthy" treats I bought at the grocery store: 2
Number of magazine covers in the check-out line that showed some celebrity saying, "How I got in shape!": 7
Number of those celebrities who were equipped with a personal trainer, a cook, a maid, and a nanny:  7
Chance that Mariah Carey's latest magazine cover was not heavily photoshopped: 0

(Incidentally, the three scariest words in Hollywood are "stretch marks" and "sagging."  Which is kind of funny, considering that stretch marks and sagging are exactly what happens to actual humans when they have babies).

Number of stretch marks I have: I am a stretch mark. 

Did I mention Mariah Carey's cover shot was photoshopped?  Well it was.  No one has twins and then a few months later looks like they've never even heard of babies, let alone carried two of them at once.  Sorry, I'm not buying it.

No really, I'm not buying the magazine.

Mariah Carey irritates me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Why Leah Won't Be Allowed to Date Until She's 25

Teenage romance:

Capulets:  We hate the Montagues!
Montagues:  We hate the Capulets!
Romeo, a Montague:  I'm so depressed.  Maybe I'll go to a ball.  (sees Juliet at the ball)
Romeo:  Behold, what yonder hot pre-pubescent girl is that?  Would that I were a glove upon that hand, that I might be better looking than the one she has on.
Juliet, a Capulet: Oooh, Romeo, wherefore art thou so adorable, Romeo? (Juliet swoons right off the balcony)
Capulets:  We hate the Montagues!
Montagues:  We hate the Capulets!
Romeo:  Juliet, let's get married even though our families hateth each other, we've only known each other for three minutes, and our combined ages would not make us old enough to vote...eth.
Juliet, to her nurse (using a squeegee on the glass so that the light can through yonder window break):  Squeeeeeee!  I'm getting married!  But my family won't like that, so I think I'll pretend to be dead so I can escape with that guy I just met.  You know the one I'm talking about...?  The guy with the thing for balconies...?
Nurse:  Romeo?
Juliet:  Yes!  Romeo.  How could I forget?  (runs off to pretend to be dead).
Romeo:  Juliet is dead?!  Oh, cruel world!  How could you take her from me before I found out what her middle name is?!  (takes poison and keels over)
Juliet:  (wakes up)  Romeo, you're dead?  Why didn't you text me first?!  (stabs herself in the chest)


Bella:  Who is that hot, strangely sparkly guy?
Edward: (brooding look) I've been stalking you around town and watching you sleep.
Bella:  Oh my gosh!  You are soooo romantic!
Edward:  I'm not sure I can stop myself from killing you.
Bella:  I don't care.  Let's go out in the woods together, by ourselves, and I'll put my throbbing carotid artery right next to your beautiful, pointy teeth.  Don't worry, I won't tell anyone how dumb I am.
Edward:  You smell so delicious.  Way better than that pig I slaughtered for dinner.
Bella:  Oh, Edward, you know I can't resist you when you talk about slaughtering pigs.
Edward: (brooding look) I'm dangerous.
Bella:  I know.  Climb in bed with me.
Edward: What about Jacob? 
Bella: Oh, he's just a boring friend who doesn't want to kill me.  Not like you.  I mean, what passion could there possibly be in a relationship where my life isn't in constant danger?
Edward: Marry me.
Bella: I don't want to make that kind of commitment. How about I become a vampire for eternity instead?

I rest my case.

Monday, April 16, 2012

An Exercise in Futility

I've tried to think of lots of painless ways to lose 20 pounds, but unfortunately it all comes back to lifestyle changes that mean I can't spend the afternoon with my hand in the candy jar.  Ugh.  Self-discipline, who needs it? 

But, as I figure a half-hearted attempt is better than nothing, I went for a run this morning. For five minutes. Maybe it was two, I'm not sure - I was distracted by the urge to throw up all over my husband's shoes, which, fortunately for him, I couldn't reach because he'd outpaced me back when I told him I was going to die if I had to run another step.

That was right after I told him "I hate you so much right now" (he was the one who suggested the exercise) and "How did my heart get a knife?!"  Then we both laughed until we remembered that our laughter was consuming valuable oxygen, which we might need if the paramedics took more than three minutes to get to us.

When we got home he said, "Are you discouraged?"

Hmmm... no.  Discouragement implies that there is still an element of hope.  Frankly, I feel like Jabba the Hut has a better chance of getting in shape than I do.  But seeing as it is 1:51 PM and I have only consumed 330 calories for the day, I can still hold on to the hope that I won't be the fattest one at my family reunion this summer.  I won't be the skinniest, either, but thankfully my motto for the year is "Aim Lower."

Besides, the goal is not to be skinny - it's to be healthy.  But why does everything that is "healthy" taste like celery unless you add something fatty to it?  I mean, seriously, green salad - wah wah.  But green salad with (insert angelic chorus here) bacon and cheese and ranch dressing?  Sign me up for that.

You go into these things thinking you should be eating lots of grains and that orange juice is actually healthy, and then you realize that half a piece of bread is like 50% of your calories for the day and if you drink so much as a teaspoon of OJ your blood sugar will spike so high that not even NASA will be able to find it.

Alas, this is what it means to be in your thirties.  Instead of "pass the cookies" it's "pass on the cookies."

Suddenly I'm missing my teen years.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Proud to Be Bad

I'm a big believer in letting kids suffer the natural consequences of their actions.

This is why mid-February, after telling my son it was cold outside and that he should wear a coat, I -- gasp -- actually let him leave the house without one.  In the middle of winter.  Yes, I knew he was going to get cold.  Yes, I knew I was going to be judged by about 97 grandmas who thought I should "put a coat on that boy."  But, after choosing not to wear a coat and then spending the afternoon running in and out of stores at a chilly 26 degrees, Michael suddenly realized the value of my advice and that he would have been wise to follow it. So much more effective than forcing his arms down the coat sleeves every single time we left the house. 

Besides, contrary to what seems to be the belief of everyone on this planet, no five-year-old is going to freeze to death in the thirty seconds between the heated car and the heated store.

But once I made the mistake of mentioning this philosophy on Facebook and unleashed the furor of a bunch of horrified moms who YELLED at me because letting my kid out of the house without a coat was going to make him SICK and that only a BAD PARENT would ever do such a thing.

So here is my public service announcement for the day:  Being cold for a few minutes of your life will not make you sick.  But having your mother protect you from the consequences of every unwise decision will cause problems for you.

It is my job to make sure my kids grow up to be responsible adults who know how to take care of themselves, and they won't learn how to do that if I take it upon myself to save them from every little consequence of their actions.  Yes, it is my responsibility to make sure my children have coats to wear, and if we're going tubing in the mountains the choice is "wear a coat" or "you don't get to go" -- no in between.  But a little lesson frozen in my five-year-old's mind at 26 degrees in the parking lot goes much further toward producing an independent adult than saying, "Oh, you're cold?  I thought you would be so I put your coat in the car just in case."  Translation: Don't trouble yourself, Mom will solve all of your problems.


This is not to say we should never be compassionate towards our children -- there are times when every parent should pull a spare jacket out of the trunk.  But as parents we are often too compassionate. We hover, we fix, we intervene, we obsess.  We take our kids to school when they miss the bus because of dawdling without any expectation that they will have to compensate us for our trouble.  We swoop in with a coat whenever they get cold rather than letting them be responsible for themselves.  We give them trophies just for breathing, make sure they never lose at anything, and jump in to save them from bad grades. And then we wonder why they move back home at 30, totally unprepared for any real responsibility and completely incapable of handling the least bit of disappointment or discouragement.

So you'll have to forgive me if you see my son without a coat.  I'm trying to be a "bad" parent. 

Please don't interrupt.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Why I Should Have Taken Easter Pictures Before Church

Because this is what happened to Matthew's face during church:

And this is what the kids were like after church:

Ah well, live and learn.

Friday, April 6, 2012

My Aching Brain

Yesterday morning I got slammed with a bad migraine that had me debating whether it would bring more relief to bash my head in with a hammer or a brick.  Since neither of those instruments were handy, I settled for popping a bowl of popcorn as a bribe (at 10:30 in the morning), stacking my children on the couch in front of a movie, and heading to bed so I could smash my head between two pillows.  I told Michael he was in charge, which, admittedly, is sort of like trusting an electric eel to take care of two little goldfish -- goldfish that know how to jump out of their bowls, flush some things down the toilet and then burn down the house to destroy the evidence.

They did pretty well, all things considered. Everyone only paraded into my room about ten times with various complaints, and only one of those times did I have to climb out of bed to stop my toddlers from flooding the bathroom.  But why is it that children need things all the time?   I mean, they want lunch every single day.  Really, can't they just skip a meal now and then? 

After I'd put off Michael's hunger pangs for the ten thousandth time (and after my desperation had provoked me into giving him permission to use a chair to climb up to unlock the pantry and dole out snacks to everyone), I poured my kids a bowl of cereal, took note of the sugar all over the floor and the fact that someone had drawn all over my toaster with a marker, and flinched briefly when I saw the state of my living room.  Then I said, "Michael, come get me when everyone is done eating."  I can't quite remember what happened after that.  I think it's because I might have died a little bit.

Luckily, after lunch comes the glorious time of day when everyone under the age of 30 is required by universal law to GO AWAY.  I plopped Matthew and Leah in their cribs, handed Michael my iphone, and went back to smashing my head between pillows.

Quiet time is the only reason I survived yesterday.  It is the only reason I have survived tax season.  It is the only reason my children have survived tax season.  I am not even exaggerating.

I mean, last week while I was taking a shower (which I should never, ever do because bad, bad things happen when I'm in the shower), Matthew and Leah climbed up on the counter, managed to undo the lock on my spice cupboard, and then proceeded to use an entire bottle of cumin, ginger, and red pepper flakes to perform some sort of rain dance in my kitchen.  Also food coloring.  Lots of food coloring.

(In case you are wondering what sort of emotion I've been feeling most often lately, it's somewhere between loony and  filled with murderous rage).

But, I kept control of myself long enough to dump the Spice Bandits in the bathtub, sneak a piece of Easter candy out of the cupboard without Michael seeing me, and decide I could come to terms with my kitchen smelling like a fifth floor walk-up in Chinatown, as long as it meant I didn't have to clean it up for three hours.

Actually, I cleaned it up less than an hour later, which was much faster than I cleaned up the second flour bombing incident (which happened the day after the first one in spite of my double checking the lock - there's that murderous rage again).  After that one I shut my pantry door and ignored it for seven hours.  Apparently seven hours is how long it takes for my blood pressure to go all the way down, except in cases where a little-girl-who-shall-remain-nameless dipped her feet in her used potty and made little pee footprints all over my living room.  In that instance I think it was about 24 hours.

But, we all survived, and we've learned a few things along the way.  I mean, now Leah knows that it is highly unpleasant to dump half a bottle of red pepper flakes down one's Hello Kitty panties.  Also that Mom will do this weird convulsion thing when it comes to anything involving footprints made out of pee.

And they wonder why I'm so strict about quiet time.