Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Skinnier Than Thou

It's Halloween tomorrow!  In the words of Garfield, "Candy, candy, candy, candy, candy!"

But gone is the era of the rare annoying neighbor who would give you an apple and a spool of dental floss.  Now, along with schools that feel compelled to send home fat-kid letters, we have people who have taken it upon themselves to hand out obesity notices to dressed up tots hoping for a Snickers bar.

Yes, pudgy trick-or-treaters who have the misfortune of landing on the doorstep of "Cheryl" in Fargo, North Dakota will receive a little fat shaming to suck down with their tootsie rolls.

"Your child is, in my opinion, moderately obese and should not be consuming sugar and treats to the extent of some children this season," she writes in a handout for overweight trick-or-treaters.  "My hope is that you will step up as a parent and ration this Halloween candy and not allow your child to continue these unhealthy eating habits."  

Um, lady, you, in my opinion, are outrageously rude and should not be answering the door for trick-or-treaters this season (or ever).  My hope is that you will step up as a human being and not allow your big fat mouth to continue these damaging speaking habits.  

In other words, "Bite me."

This lady isn't concerned about health.  If she were, she wouldn't be passing out candy to little ghosts and goblins whose BMI does not set off her obesity alarm.  Memo to Cheryl:  If a pillow case full of candy is unhealthy for one child, it's unhealthy for all of them, overweight or not.

But this isn't about health, this is about a woman who likes to think her pant size makes her a superior person.  This is about a woman whose own insecurity reaches so far that she thinks she has to shame children on Halloween so that she can feel better about herself.

So, for Cheryl, and all the little skinnies out there who like the taste of superiority that comes from wearing a size 2, or who enjoy looking down their noses at the size 18 pulling through the McDonald's drive-thru and offering Chicken McNuggets to her toddlers, I'm going to let you in on a little secret.  Are you ready...?

Okay, here it is.  Psssst:  Overweight people know they are overweight.

I know.  It's shocking.  I mean, why on earth would fat people want to leave their houses?  They must not own any mirrors or they would know they need to eat less and exercise more.  WE NEED TO TELL THEM THEY ARE FAT!  WE ARE DOING THEM A SERVICE!

Look, even children are aware of how their size compares to that of other kids their age.  They are aware, often painfully, of areas where they don't measure up (or, in this case, measure over).  And their parents, who, for the most part, are also aware, don't need a snooty woman to shame their children in front of their friends under the guise of encouraging "healthier" choices.

There's only one person who deserves shaming here, Cheryl, but it's not them.  

It's you.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

You Know What They Say...

Work hard:


Play hard:


Sleep hard:


Wait a second...

Yes, that is every single lego we own dumped out on the floor (when it came time for clean-up we used a snow shovel).  And yes, she really is sound asleep.

Ow.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Clarifications For Future Therapists

For my birthday Michael made me a card out of perler beads.  It says "I LOVE MOM."

Looking at it from the back it says "EVOL I MOM."  Honestly, a better summary of me I could not have written myself.  At least judging by the way my kids keep crying every time I so much as look at them.

We've had so much wailing lately.  And pouting.  And sulking.  Coincidentally, I've been spending a lot of time with my hand in the candy bowl that is stationed high on our closet shelf.  David tied it up in a plastic sack so I wouldn't spend all the days till Halloween eating candy for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but little does he know that there is a hand-size hole right where the knot is, which means that four or five times a day my fingers find their way in.  (My hands are like "Thing" in the Addams family.  I can be cleaning the kitchen and yet they still find their way into the closet).

But seriously, my children are so sensitive lately.  We're practically drowning in tears around here.

Just last week we were all snuggled on the couch to watch a family movie.  When it ended, David and I sent the kids upstairs to get their jammies on and took advantage of our momentary childlessness to steal a few kisses.  All of a sudden something shifted on the stairs, and we burst out laughing when we discovered that Leah was watching us, wide-eyed, through the stair railing.  As we laughed, she turned and continued up out of our view.  Thirty seconds later she was sitting on the floor just beyond the stairs, crying her eyes out and wailing through sobs, "Don't laugh at me!  It's not nice to laugh at me!"

(Also heard this week?  "You're not being nice to me!" and, my personal favorite, "You don't love me!" -- said after I scolded her for biting her brother.  You're right, Leah...  If I loved you, I would let you bite your brother).

Michael and Matthew have also gotten in on the crying-because-Mom-and-Dad-are-laughing act, with the most notable incident being Michael bawling because David and I started grinning and giggling at each other when Michael began singing little French songs as he set the table for dinner.  No matter what we said, we could not convince him that we were laughing because he was SO.  DANG.  CUTE.

And Matthew... sigh.  Living in the same house as his arch nemesis is not easy.   Yesterday started with  "I don't like Michael!" and ended with "I don't want Michael to talk to me."  When Michael finished his dinner and was excused to play legos, Matthew went about eating his meal silently.  But then Michael called to us from his bedroom and Matthew dropped his fork, assumed an indignant scowl, and refused to keep eating.  "Matthew, what's the matter?" we asked.

"Michael TALKED to me," he said.

We couldn't help it.  We burst out laughing.  Not at him of course.  Because of him.

There's a difference.  We swear.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Trivializing Cancer

It happens every year in October.  Along with the explosion of pink products and inexplicable calls for saving the tatas by going bra-free for a day (how on earth does this raise awareness of anything except for the fact that nipples should not be made available for public viewing?), the Facebook games start.

You've seen them.  Last year it was "I'm eight weeks and craving skittles."  This year it's "I'm going to Rome for 15 months!"

And you know what these women say when their post starts getting flooded with anxious questions ("You're moving??  I need details!!")?  "I'll message you."  Because this is a secret game for women to giggle about behind their keyboards (we can't let the men know what we're up to!).  And because nothing helps raise awareness of breast cancer like NOT SAYING ANYTHING ABOUT BREAST CANCER.

Last year I remember sitting at my computer and shaking my head in disbelief as I read one of those candy-craving posts -- you see, the woman who posted it had been trying to have a baby for years, so you can imagine the shock and surprise her relatives got when she made an "announcement."

"OH MY GOSH!!  YOU'RE PREGNANT!  SOOOOO HAPPY FOR YOU!  #crying"

Er, no, just trying to "raise awareness" by playing with everyone's emotions.  Sorry.

I don't mean to be harsh, but ladies, where do we get off thinking this kind of thing is okay?  These Facebook games do nothing -- I repeat -- NOTHING to raise awareness of breast cancer.  They just confuse and manipulate and disappoint.  And not only that, they trivialize the seriousness of the disease by turning it into nothing more than a cutesy game.

I'm not sure why it is that, of all cancers, breast cancer is the only one to get this cutesy treatment -- after all, there is no "Save the poopers!" campaign for colon cancer and no calls to "Love your prostate" by being screened for the disease on your birthday -- but pinkifying this awful disease hasn't done us any favors.  Instead it has numbed our sense of its seriousness, thinking that we can play games and joke around and flaunt our boobies, and that somehow this is helping the cause.

Cancer is a terrible disease.  Terrible.  It ravages bodies and steals lives.  And the only treatments for it are hell on earth.  So you want to raise awareness?  Donate money to cancer research.  Support a friend in the fight for her life.  Encourage your sisters to get a mammogram.  Honor cancer survivors in your family and your community. 

But stop with the games.

Because when we trivialize cancer, nobody wins.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Potty Tales

We were at Costco last night to look for a belt and check out the explosion of Christmas toys and decorations (because nothing says October like Santa Claus).  $50 later (we simply can't make it out of Costco without buying more than we intended to get) we were in line to check out and Leah announced that she desperately needed to use the restroom, which, according to the laws of twinhood, caused Matthew to realize that he also desperately needed to use the restroom.

So I headed off to the potties with the three-year-olds while David handled our impulse buys.

Matthew finished up his restroom needs before Leah, so I helped him wash his hands and directed him to the Dyson hand dryer to entertain himself (it's like skydiving for little hands) while I helped Leah take care of the rather dramatic aftermath of her toilet usage.  

Right as I managed to get poop on my hand, Matthew somehow cracked his head on a sink and cut both the back and front of his ear in totally unrelated places (I haven't quite figured out the contortions involved in that one yet...).  I knew it was bad because I heard the crack a full 10 seconds before the scream escaped his lips, and yet I could only perform a one-handed comforting because my other hand had poop on it.

"Errr, son, I'm sorry that you appear to have gravely injured yourself, but can you hold on a second while I wash the poop off my hand...?"

Meanwhile, as Matthew continued to scream like he was being burned at the stake, Leah was in the stall with door open and bum in the air...  I was waiting for Child Protective Services to walk in and go "We'll be taking those children now, ma'am."

Sigh.

It took awhile, but once everyone was washed and calmed and not actively bleeding, we headed to the car.  On the way out of the store Leah looked at the less-than-fit people getting their receipt checked and announced loudly to everyone within a thirty mile radius, "Mommy, those people have BIG tummies!"

Next time it's David's turn to take Matthew and Leah to the potty.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Kid Logic

The Scene:

The family is gathered in the kitchen.  Dad is scooping ice cream and passing a bowl to each child.  Once everyone is settled in with their bowl and spoon, Mom decides this would be a good time to sneak off to the bathroom.  After all, everyone is in the kitchen eating ice cream.  Surely no one will have a reason to follow her.

Mom shuts, but doesn't lock the bathroom door because, again, everyone is in the kitchen eating ice cream.  30 seconds tick by, and ten little toes appear beneath the crack of the bathroom door.  The handle turns, and a small face pokes into the bathroom.

MATTHEW:  Mom, I want more ice cream!

ME:  Matthew, for heaven's sake, I'm going to the bathroom.

MATTHEW:  But I want more ice cream!

ME:  Matthew, your dad is IN THE KITCHEN with the ICE CREAM.  If you want more, go ask him.

MATTHEW:  Oh.  Okay.

For the life of me, I cannot understand this.  Yes, Matthew has the most active Search and Bother radar of all my children, but still, how does this thought process work?  Let's see, Dad is standing in the kitchen with the ice cream... I think I'll go find Mom in the bathroom and ask her to get me some more...

Huh?

If nothing else, you'd think that by now he would have figured out that Dad is ten times more likely than Mom is to scoop out second helpings of ice cream...

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Kindness Principle

If browsing news articles on the internet has taught me anything, it's this: the devil knows how to work both sides of the fence.

Rare is the article with a comment section free from personal and venomous attacks against people who may have a different point of view.  If I had a nickel for every nasty word spewed at Mormons (and other Christian faiths) when it comes to the issue of homosexuality I'd be able to pay off the National Debt by now.  Even if I removed all other derogatory words from the equation and stuck solely with "bigot" I'd be flying with my own fleet of private jets by Tuesday.

But, Mormons and their fellow Christians aren't innocent either.  One quick glance at an article on gay marriage is enough to make you want to stuff all the believers in a soundproof room for the rest of eternity. (You know how the scripture goes:  "Love thy neighbor as thyself, unless thy neighbor is gay.  In that case tell him emphatically that God hates him and condemn him to burn in hell.")

It doesn't matter what the issue is -- religion, abortion, homosexuality, infertility, depression, physical fitness -- everyone has opinion.  But here's the thing:  Almost everyone is wrong.

I'm not talking about religions or doctrines or dogmas.  I'm talking about the way we treat each other.

We have no idea what people have been through in their lives.  We have no idea how difficult it is for the recovering alcoholic to go out to dinner with his clients and stay sober.  We have no idea how hard it is for the overweight person to say no to a cookie, or the anorexic person to say yes to a salad.  We have no idea how long the gay teenager wrestled with feelings of worthlessness and unworthiness before he came out of the closet.  We have no idea of the fear and desperation that were involved in deciding to have an abortion.  We have no idea of the wrenching emotional struggle a couple went through before they decided to try IVF.  We have no idea.

So why do we we continually think that we know the hearts and minds of our fellow human beings well enough that we can cloak ourselves in self-righteousness and condemn them for their actions?  And even worse, why do we insist that the God who created them -- the God who is their literal Father just as He is ours -- must not love them as much as He loves us?

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf (an Apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) said:

"This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following:
Stop it!
It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children. God is our Father. We are His children. We are all brothers and sisters. I don’t know exactly how to articulate this point of not judging others with sufficient eloquence, passion, and persuasion to make it stick. I can quote scripture, I can try to expound doctrine, and I will even quote a bumper sticker I recently saw. It was attached to the back of a car whose driver appeared to be a little rough around the edges, but the words on the sticker taught an insightful lesson. It read, “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.”
We must recognize that we are all imperfect—that we are beggars before God. Haven’t we all, at one time or another, meekly approached the mercy seat and pleaded for grace? Haven’t we wished with all the energy of our souls for mercy—to be forgiven for the mistakes we have made and the sins we have committed?
Because we all depend on the mercy of God, how can we deny to others any measure of the grace we so desperately desire for ourselves? My beloved brothers and sisters, should we not forgive as we wish to be forgiven?"
True Christianity isn't words, it's actions.  It's following Christ.  It's doing what He would do and saying what He would say.  It's showing kindness to everyone you meet, whether you agree with their life choices or not, because our actions speak louder than our words.

And when it comes to showing who we truly are and what we truly believe, nothing speaks louder than kindness.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Obligatory "I've Been Busy" Post

I know I've been a bit behind on posting, but my husband finally came home from work ya'll, and he's way more fun than blogging.  I've also been hosting various relatives and revving up for Halloween (I get into holidays) and I have a few other projects going.  Which is weird, because I'm not so much the project sort as the completely-and-totally-lazy sort.

But here it is, Wednesday morning, and I'm blogging.  What do I have to say for myself?

I'm listening to Christmas music.

It's not my fault, okay?  The Piano Guys posted samples of their upcoming Christmas album and I CAN'T HELP CLICKING.  I love me some Piano Guys.

What else do I have to say for myself?  It's 9 a.m. and I'm still wearing my bathrobe.  Which is awesome because the pest control guy just knocked on my door and there is nothing I like more than showing my true sloth colors to total strangers.

At least I've started a load of laundry (er, thought about starting a load of laundry...) and decided what I want to make for dinner.

And lest you think I'm completely ignoring my kids, they are happily chasing each other around the living room with glow-in-the-dark skeletons and yelling, "Zzzoooooommmbieee!"  If I were to get in the middle of their game it would just be mean.

Besides, I just spent the last 5 minutes brushing and braiding the hair of Leah's My Little Ponies.  That is true parental love right there.  (Seriously, have you ever tried to detangle pony hair?  Pulling honey out of a beehive with your bare hands would be easier).

I have 80 posts in my things-to-write-about queue.  80.  Plus a really great story about an irrational librarian and another about a smoke alarm that decided 1:30 in the morning was a good time to gripe about low batteries.  (Things that make David swear: car problems and smoke alarms yelling  "Fire!!  Fire!!" and "Carbon monoxide detected!" right outside the bedrooms of your sleeping children as you try to wrangle with the stupid 9V batteries. Why do these things never run out of batteries at 3 p.m.?)

But, I suppose I should take a shower or something.  That way at least I won't look lazy if someone else knocks on my door.

Gotta keep up appearances...

Monday, September 23, 2013

Life with Allergies

Last week we were out shopping and decided to try a new hamburger place.  When we got there David asked for the allergy information (Matthew has a bunch of food allergies, including eggs).  Going over the list we discovered that the french fries contained eggs (what the...?) but the hamburger buns didn't.  However, since they were called "Egg buns" on the menu, we thought we better clarify.

David:  The allergy information says these buns don't have eggs in them, but why are they called "egg" buns if they don't contain eggs?

Worker:  Oh, it's because they brush the tops of the buns with egg whites before they bake them.  It makes them shiny!

David:  So they do have eggs in them.

Worker:  Oh no, they don't have eggs in them.

David:  But they brush the tops with egg whites!  Why isn't that listed in the allergy information?

Worker:  They don't have eggs in them.  They just brush the tops with egg whites.

David: *facepalm*

Never mind that incorrect allergy information could kill someone... I'm more concerned that this girl actually has a license to drive.  On the road.  Next to other cars.

Now that's scary.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Of All the Luck

I am not a lucky person.  It's not that I never win things, it's that when I win things it's stuff like "Someone needs to clean up the port-a-potties at Girls Camp and that person is... Bonnie."  (One of the few things I've actually had my name drawn out of a bag for).  If our government ever starts instituting the Hunger Games I'm going to have to hitch a ride out of the country faster than you can say, "despot."

But when it comes to good things, I never win.  Case in point, today at Kohl's I presented a coupon for 20% off my purchase.  The cashier handed me a stack of scratch-off cards and said, "Here, see if one of these will get you 30% off."

I pulled out a nickel and scratched.  And scratched.  And scratched.  15% off, 15% off, 15% off...  You see where this is going.  A wad of ten used scratch-off cards later and I had only gone downhill from my original coupon.

Finally the cashier said, "Look, if you can win me in Rock, Paper, Scissors, I'll give you 30% off."

I had Michael play instead.  I'm not dumb.

(Although, seriously, if that's all it takes, just give me the dang 30% off!)

This comes directly on the heels of last Friday.  Now, I'm not superstitious.  I'll step on cracks and walk under ladders and open umbrellas inside.  But I admit that it did give me pause when I confiscated a handheld mirror from Leah and promptly dropped it on the bathroom floor, where it shattered.

"Do you think it's bad luck to break a mirror on Friday the 13th?" I asked David.

Four hours later I was awakened by Matthew's screaming.  I stumbled into his bedroom without my glasses on (read: totally blind) and managed not to step on any toys as I made my way toward his bed.  "Matthew, what's the matter?" I asked... right as my left hand came to rest in a gigantic pile of vomit.

"I barfed!" he wailed.

Yes, thank you.  Noted.

I took him straight to the shower where he screamed his way through a quick scrubdown.  Then I handed him to David for re-jammy-ing and snuggling and spent the next hour cleaning vomit-covered bedding and clothing and wondering if it was my stomach that was going to be next in line for the toilet.

Thankfully, it appeared to be a fluke because he was fine the next day and there has been no puking since then.

Of course, by saying so I've probably jinxed myself.  I know I said I'm not superstitious, but seriously...

Will throwing salt over my left shoulder fix that?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Truth and Lies

Michael:  Mom, why is your stomach so fat?
Me:  Michael, that's not a very nice thing to ask someone.
Michael:  But it is fat!
Me:  I know, but it's not very nice to tell someone their stomach is fat.
Michael:  But your stomach IS fat!!

This insistence on truth-telling is brought to you by the kid who tried to cheat me at Clue.

"Michael, cheating is LYING."

"It is?  Oh, I didn't know that."

Considering we've had the cheating-is-lying discussion about 300 times now, I think our lack of progress in this matter can only have one explanation:

I only think I am speaking English.

Even Leah and Matthew are discovering that there is a whole world of things that they can lie about.  Luckily, I have eyes on the back of my head.  Also a sixth-sense that a hand-in-the-cookie-jar expression and guilty whistling means they are hiding contraband behind their backs.

Matthew is my biggest klepto.  He regularly comes home from friends' houses and preschool with treasures stashed in his pockets.  If we have stolen something from you, I apologize.  Sometimes it takes me awhile to discover a pilfered toy and drag him over to return it.  His partner-in-crime is also discovering the benefits of stealing.  She's a regular Selina Kyle - coming home with gawdy rings and sparkly bracelets and acting for all the world like someone gave them to her.

Sigh.

I would like to say that I've gotten the problem under control after holding several Family Home Evenings on the subject, but I'll be honest, the best FHE we've had in recent weeks was the one that consisted mostly of time-outs and discussion of not using potty words and I ate frozen custard straight from the carton after the kids went to bed.

You might say I'm a little burned out.  And by that I mean if you try to come in my kitchen after you're supposed to be in bed, I will attack you with a flame thrower.

But good luck getting into my kitchen at the moment anyway.  I'm having my carpets cleaned today, which meant I greeted David when he walked in the door last night (er, this morning) at 12:45 AM and said, "Wanna help me move some furniture into the kitchen?"

I'm such a nice wife.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

I Choose You

"Too many believe that love is a condition. . . something that happens to you. They disassociate love from the mind and, therefore, from agency. In commanding us to love, the Lord refers to something much deeper than romance—a love that is the most profound form of loyalty. He is teaching us that love is something more than feelings of the heart; it is also a covenant we keep with soul and mind."  --  Elder Lynn Robbins 

Yesterday afternoon I was digging through old boxes of books in the storage room -- books that had been packed in boxes 6 moves ago; books I intended to put on a bookshelf once we finally decided to get "grown-up furniture" in our living room.  Playing over my computer speakers as I worked was one of the latest songs from Sara Bareilles - "I Choose You".

I must have listened to this song (and the entire album it comes on) at least 75 times.  I'm constantly drawn back to it, I think because its message is so rare these days, and it hits on a truth that most people refuse to acknowledge:

Love is a choice.

My whole heart will be yours forever
This is a beautiful start 
To a lifelong love letter
Tell the world that we finally got it all right
I choose you
I will become yours and you will become mine
I choose you

My heart broke a little the first time I had to explain the concept of divorce to my son.  We were driving home from a playdate and he wanted to know why his friend's parents weren't living in the same house anymore.  "Sometimes adults decide that they don't want to be married to each other anymore," I said, adding assurances that his parents would never get divorced and that we would always love each other.

I watched his face in the rearview mirror as his eyes filled with a pensiveness I had never seen there before.  "That's a sad choice," he said.

It struck me as very profound - my preschooler could see what many adults cannot (or refuse to):  Divorce is a sad choice.  In many cases, the saddest possible choice.

This is not meant as a slam against anyone who has been divorced -- sometimes the dissolution of a marriage is absolutely justified, and we shouldn't judge each other in this regard.  But what if we all woke up each morning, even when -- especially when -- we're in the midst of marital problems, even when we've had a raging fight with our spouse, even when we feel our hearts sinking as if there is no hope for our relationship, and, instead of telling ourselves that our own happiness takes precedence over everything ("I choose me"), we said, "I choose you."?

No marriage is perfect because no person is perfect.  But love is a choice.  Loving the person you married is a choice.  So start now.  Choose your spouse.  Choose to love him with all of your heart.

See how beautiful it can be.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tales From the Treadmill

Yesterday I dutifully hopped on the treadmill for my morning workout.  "I'm making progress!" I thought, cheerfully.  "I'm not actively dying!"  So I decided to take some advice from a runner friend and change up my routine a bit, trying for a brisk 15-minute walk followed by a solid ten-minute run.

Two minutes into the jog, plates of brownies started flashing before my eyes and I started panicking that I hadn't told my relatives where my will is located.  Two minutes and thirty seconds in my lungs were on fire and I vowed never to step foot on a treadmill again.  I mean, seriously, if THIS is what two months of regular workouts gets me, what's the dang point?  Pass me a candy bar!

Then, just as I was stepping off the treadmill in a defeated slump, grumbling to myself and planning to eat pie for breakfast, I noticed I had accidentally hit the "incline" button when I was trying to set my pace.  I had been running uphill the whole time!  This meant two things:  1- My body is not as out-of-shape as I thought it was, and 2 - My brain needs some help.

Ah, well... it's like they say: you can't have everything.

But since I'm not sure what the point of having "everything" is anyway, I think I'm okay with that.  Or at least I would be if we weren't having our family pictures taken at the end of this month.  I'm ashamed to admit it -- generally I try not to be all body focused -- but I've stood in front of the mirror at least twice in the past week trying to figure out the best angle to hide my double chin.

The good news is, I found it! If I turn my head just so, I will totally be able to remove it with Photoshop! (Sooo much easier than trying to remove it with Treadmill).  I mean, what is digital photography for if not to allow us to remove all the imperfections that make us who we are?

Ha!  I'm kidding, I'm kidding!

Sort of...

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Miley Cyrus: The Tip of the Iceberg

*Warning --  This post contains mature content*

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard by now that former Disney Darling, Miley Cyrus, just expanded her repertoire to include a nationally televised performance that was two tiny pieces of flesh-colored vinyl away from being fully X-rated.

As the future Mrs. Hemsworth gyrated and thrusted her way through a performance that would have felt dirty at a strip club, she was joined on stage by Robin Thicke, who sang his mega-hit "Blurred Lines" and didn't seem the least bit bothered by the fact that a 20-year-old was honing her lap dance skills on him.

I only watched ten seconds of the performance in a news clip on CNN, but that was enough to stop me from ever picking up a giant foam finger without using tongs.

And yet, I find it telling that in the news and social media explosion that occurred during and after the performance, there was complete radio silence about the relevant fact that Ms. Cyrus was humping her way through a song about men "smacking a****" of "hot b******", men propositioning women to "get nasty" and guys so... er... well-endowed that they could "tear your a** in two."

Sounds like Miley was just playing along.

Yes, she should be ashamed of her disgusting performance, but you know what?  She is a product of a culture and industry that degrades women and devalues sex to the point that it is nothing more than a commodity to be bought and sold.  So who can blame her for thinking she had some selling to do?

I'm much more bothered by the fact that Robin Thicke's depraved and offensive song is celebrated and fawned over.  Why, as women, do we ignore this sort of thing?  Why do we decry a performance like that of Ms. Cyrus and refuse to see that we are partly to blame by downloading "Blurred Lines" from I-tunes?

Miley Cyrus isn't the disease, she's a symptom of the disease.

The simple fact is that anything that degrades women also degrades men, and anything that degrades men also degrades women.  We diminish ourselves when we engage in any sort of demeaning behavior toward the opposite sex.

In the case of "Blurred Lines," women, we deserve better than this.  Miley Cyrus deserves better than this.  And men, you know better than this.  So let's quit attacking the tip of the iceberg.

It's time to work on what lies beneath.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Pictures and Kisses

You know those Moms who post first-day-of-school Facebook statuses like, "All my kids are in school. :(  I miss them already!"?

I am not one of those moms.

I am literally counting down the minutes until I have my first ever all-my-kids-are-in-school, two-hours-and-fifteen-minutes to go somewhere -- ANYWHERE -- without helpers.  I am so excited that I think Christmas morning is going to feel pretty anticlimactic by comparison.

It's not that I don't love my kids.  I do.  But after two solid months of David being home never, I am ready for a break.  I mean, seriously, God created preschool because he loves me and doesn't want me to murder my children.

Which is exactly the reason I engage in two specific parenting practices:  1 - I kiss each of my kids every night after they're asleep and 2 - When they're doing something cute, I take a picture so I can remember.

For example, last week I was trying to mow the lawn and Matthew kept trying to arrange an extended vacation to the Pearly Gates by riding his scooter in front of passing cars.  After scolding him multiple times, I could still seem him out of the corner of my eye, defiantly inching his wheels onto the road.  I might have been seething more than a bit at his disobedience (and taste for near-death experiences) as I ordered him into the house to get ready for bed.

When I finished the lawn and got inside, I found him on the couch like this, sound asleep.

 
Awww, see?  How can you be mad at a kid who can fall asleep like that?

It even works on the older kids who know just how to get under your skin.  After a day of disobedience so extreme that it should have been considered an Olympic sport, I was at my wit's end when Leah got a bad knee scrape just as I was trying to get the kids in bed, get the kitchen cleaned up, and get the rest of my notes together before I was due to have a Relief Society committee meeting at my house.  Even after the injury had been band-aided and kissed and Leah had been hugged and held, she kept on screaming.  But suddenly it got quiet and I looked up to see Michael snuggling his sister on the couch and comforting her, saying, "It's okay, sweet girl" and "It will feel better soon."


By the time I got over there with the camera they were all smiles, including Matthew, who popped up behind the couch with a big grin just as I snapped the photo.

When David and I snuck into their bedrooms around midnight to give them a peck on the cheek and pull the covers up to their chins, I looked over their angelic little faces and forgot every reason I had ever raised my voice at them.

Pictures and kisses.

It's amazing how they work.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

About That Apple...

You know those car commercials that take place on a cold, snowy Christmas morning -- the ones where an Audi or a Lexus suddenly appears in the driveway wrapped in a gigantic bow?  For some reason, the spouse in these commercials is always delighted.  Thrilled, even! --  "Oh, honey, it's a dream come true that you would buy a really expensive car without talking to me first!"

Which is exactly how I would react.  Except that I would be really angry and say something like, "You better drive that thing back to the car dealer faster than I can run, because if I catch up with you, you are going to need medical care."  Even if we were sitting on piles of money and could afford 30 brand new cars, I would still be majorly ticked off if my husband bought one without discussing it with me.  Married people, they should discuss things.

Which is why I got the itch in Sunday School recently to raise my hand amidst all the glowing comments about Eve and her "bravery" and "wisdom" in eating the forbidden fruit and say, "Don't you think she should have discussed it with her husband first?"  I mean, no matter how much foresight Eve may have had, no matter how convinced she may have felt that eating the fruit was the right thing to do (though, frankly, "the serpent beguiled me" doesn't exactly sound like "I know what I'm doing here."), the fact remains that she did something that would drastically affect her husband, their marriage, and their family -- forever -- WITHOUT DISCUSSING IT WITH HIM.

"Adam, honey, guess what?  I ate this fruit and now I'm going to be kicked out of the only home we've ever known and consigned to a life of sorrow and pain and hardship.  I hope you're okay with that, because if you want to stay with me, you have to eat the fruit, too!"

Honestly, it doesn't matter how right a decision turns out to be if the way you go about making it is all wrong.  You don't get to do whatever you want to do (or even what you think is "best") without taking your spouse into consideration.

This doesn't mean you need to talk about every little thing (obviously).  A dollar for a candy bar is probably immaterial and it's not like you need to call up your spouse any time you want to go out for lunch or get your hair cut (unless doing so would be a burden on the family finances - in which case you do need to run it by your spouse first) but you don't get to make the decision to have a baby or take a job or buy a house without some serious discussion.  You don't get to make life-changing or bank-breaking or debt-incurring choices without asking for input and approval from your spouse.

If you're truly a team, you both need access to -- and equal say in -- the game plan.  Especially when it concerns those life-altering apples.

Otherwise they might come back to bite you.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

It's Hard Out There For a Dad

It's tough to be a dad these days.  No matter how hard you work or how hard you try, you log onto Facebook and see something like this:


Now, before I say anything about how much I despise these little girls rule, boys drool placards (as if you didn't already know), first I have to address the most pressing problem:  If you're going to say something, say it correctly.  It's "me neither."  Ugh.  Sorry to be picky, but the grammar in these memes makes me want to strangle people.  (Which is actually quite fitting, since the sentiments expressed also make me want to strangle people).

You see, I have a serious problem with women who go around wearing their motherhood like it's part of some blue-ribbon contest in which they are the prize apple pie.  Fathers work hard too, ladies.  Just because their job descriptions are different does not mean their work is easier or less deserving of empathy or praise.  And just because they don't perform many of the night-feeding and diaper-changing and puke-cleaning duties that are tackled by the mother, it doesn't mean they aren't contributing to the family, and it certainly doesn't mean they are lazy.   (I know of a woman who spent 30 years complaining that her husband never contributed to the family (because he didn't help with the house or kids) before it finally dawned on her that going to work every day, whether he liked it or not, actually was contributing to the family.  *facepalm*)

While it's true that many men find it easier to relax than their wives do if there is still work to be done, I seriously doubt this meme is the result of a man who sat on the couch all evening in some sort of clueless stupor while his wife scrubbed the floors.  More likely, it is the result of a man who had a long day at work, came home, and decided to put his feet up even though his wife was up to her elbows in dishwater.  Then, instead of sitting down with him to relax for a few minutes or asking nicely if he would be willing to help her get the rest of the dishes taken care of (remember, he doesn't read minds!), she gets all peeved because she's working and he's relaxing and grrrrr how can he be so oblivious???

In spite of what many wives seem to think, the ability of their husbands to sit down and relax when the stove isn't sparkling clean is not some sort of neanderthal flaw, nor is it proof that women are holy angels whose only defect comes in being bonded to someone with Y chromosomes.  For heaven's sake, ladies, quit being so self-righteous!

Recognize that if your husband comes home from work and plops down on the couch with an exhausted sigh, it's not necessarily out of some kind of willful disregard for how busy you are or how dirty the kitchen is (frankly, he probably doesn't even care how dirty the kitchen is).  He's just tired and needs time to recharge - just like you do.  Instead of getting in a snit, show him some sympathy.  Be a little more understanding.  The nicer you are, the more understanding he will be when you need a break.  Believe me when I say that a woman who is kind and empathetic to her husband will find that he is willing to do anything for her.

He might even help with those dishes now and then...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Random Thoughts

I was going to write a real post based on real news articles and everything, but it's been a frustrating day and the kids were so crazy at bedtime that I went kind of kali-ma and threatened to start ripping hearts out of chests.  So instead of writing I've spent the last hour video hopping on youtube, hoping to find a clip that would make my blood pressure go down.

Eventually, I landed on this one.  It makes my brain hurt.  Literally hurt.  How is this even possible?  She's playing "Flight of the Bumblebee" in OCTAVES.  I'm seriously still sitting here with my mouth hanging open and I stopped watching it five minutes ago.  I mean, I know I should have practiced the piano more, but I think even if I practiced 95 hours a day I'd never be that good.

Anyway...  Since it's been ages since the last Random Thoughts post and I don't have the brain power to put together more than two sentences per subject, behold, my randomly firing synapses:

Tonight I got a text from someone that said, "I am so crabby and I hate everyone.  Except you.  You are reasonable."  Best. Text. Ever.

Can't all stores put the date at the top of the receipt?  It takes me five minutes to find the date every time I'm entering things into Quicken.

I do not understand "security" these days.  I can call a company and they won't give me a single piece of information because I'm not "David."  They won't even let me send them money.  However, I can use all the information I have to log on their website and do whatever I want with the account.  Is there really a point to this charade?

I love pull-ups.  I love washing machines.  I do not love finding pull-ups in washing machines.

Sunday afternoon I had two pans of brownies in my house.  This made me a little panicked so I gave them all away except for one little brownie.  Then I woke up Monday morning and remembered I only had one little brownie to eat.  Saddest morning ever.

Why is it that kids who are potty training freak out if you flush the toilet for them, but once they've got the whole big-kid thing down they NEVER flush the toilet?  I think it's been over a year since anyone voluntarily flushed the toilet in our house.

Today Michael asked me, "What are hard times?"  At first I thought he was being all deep and philosophical, but, after some probing to find out why he was asking, it turned out he just wanted to learn his times tables.  I immediately revamped the way I would respond to the question, "How are babies born?"

I wish companies would quit miniaturizing their packaging and instead just raise their prices.  I want my half-gallon of ice cream back!

Recently I got a migraine and, while I was busy smashing my head between pillows, my kids left a ticking metronome in the hall outside my bedroom.  Someday, when they have children of their own, this is going to come back to bite them.

I hate Amazon reviewers who give products a one-star rating for things like, "It arrived late" or "The packaging was damaged" or -- my favorite -- "I haven't received this product yet."  These people should not be allowed to vote.  Or get on the internet.  Or reproduce.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Ding Dong, the Fish is Dead!

I am not a pet person.

I used to be, but that was before I had three goats children who I'm required by law to take with me any time I go somewhere.  Honestly, by the time we get home from the grocery store and someone spills a gallon of milk I'm like NO PETS.  EVER.  Not even cute little kittens who will die if we don't take them in.

So I don't know what I was thinking when I let my kids bring home three little goldfish from a party.  But I did, so we had three of the most bored goldfish ever swimming around in a triangular vase (I wasn't willing to spring for a bowl).  And then I started having worried mommy feelings for these fish.  They would creep in when I least expected it and suddenly I was washing their vase every day because I didn't want them to be uncomfortable.

Seriously, I didn't want goldfish to be uncomfortable.

This is what pets do to you -- even slimy little goldfish you can't hold or pet -- they sneak in and make you care about them.  And then you are stuck looking after them while your kids go about their lives ignoring them.  Your kids don't even care about the fish at all until little Nemo dies and you find your daughter digging next to the raspberries because she wants to see her buried fish again.  Then you feel bad for her and have delusional thoughts like, "Maybe we should get another fish."

The problem with that is that fish are just gateway pets.  Once you get one you'll find yourself allowing thoughts of hamsters and bunnies and purse-sized doggies.

Thankfully, all three fish are dead now and I'm back to my senses after Matthew and Leah's quiet time project reminded me that I don't need any more living creatures to look after.


That's play-doh wrapped up in about three dollars worth of scotch tape, in case you couldn't tell.  (I knew I should have been suspicious when I couldn't find the tape dispenser!)

I didn't take a picture of my carpet because it made me twitch a little bit.  Let's just say that play-doh is officially banned from our house until the kids are 45.

Maybe by then I'll be willing to consider another fish...

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Edition 3.1

I ran a 5K on Saturday.  For reals.  (I'm serious!  Stop laughing.  And stop checking the url!  It really is me blogging).

Okay, okay, I didn't so much "run" as "not die" but considering that my bucket list consists of things like "Drink out of a chocolate river, Augustus Gloop style" you should be impressed.  I didn't even come in last.

And I have proof that I finished!  See?


The most unflattering picture of me, ever, crossing the... what the??? The START line?  Dang it!

David was a nice boy and agreed to stay with me for the entire race even though I know he wanted to run faster.  He even tried to keep me going with some talk about hard things being good for us until I told him to quit being so inspirational.

Honestly, I thought I would be able to run more than I did, but I had a rude awakening when I discovered that my treadmill had not adequately prepared me for a race that was 50% uphill.  My marathoner brother and sister-in-law kept trying to make me feel better by telling me it was a really tough course, but that's just because they are nice people.  Also because I leave chocolate mints on their pillows when they come to visit.

But, the fact remains, I did it.  I survived.  I not only ran in an actual race, I ran in a race where missionaries handed out water cups and a bagpiper serenaded us from atop a hillside.  How many of you can say that?

Plus, I only limped around like an old lady for two days afterward and now I have a really cool medal that I can wear on special occasions hang on my wall keep in a box.

Hmmm.  Come to think of it, why did I do this again?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Truth About Beauty

What do you think of when you look at this picture?

I'll tell you what I thought the first time I looked at it (hint:  It wasn't "Oh, what a cute picture!")  For a split second I looked at it and thought, "Wow, my butt looks big!"  

And then I cringed.  Not because of my pant size, but because it seemed tragic to look at a picture of my beautiful, happy family and think, "Man, my rear end is huge!"

Coincidentally, the same day this picture was taken, this article was published, in which U.K. Women's Minister, Jo Swinson, encourages parents not to tell their children they are beautiful:  “I know as an aunt, you fall into the trap of turning to your niece and saying, 'you look beautiful’ — because of course all children do look beautiful — but if the message they get is that is what’s important and that is what gets praise, then that’s not necessarily the most positive message you want them to hear.”

This is not the first time I've read something like this, and I'm sure it won't be the last.  In the last year alone I've come across dozens of articles that chastise parents for telling their daughters they are beautiful instead of focusing on the more important things like intelligence and work ethic.  (These days "smart" is de rigueur.  "Smart" and "capable."  They don't need this "beautiful" stuff).

And then, in the midst of my musings on the subject, a duchess gave birth to the future King of England and everyone slunk out of their holes to weigh in (pardon the pun) on the new mother's post-pregnancy belly.  Less than 24 hours after she delivered the future monarch, news outlets across the globe couldn't think of anything better to do than to comment on Her Royal Highness's "mummy tummy." 

This is the world we're living in.  A world that's full of derision for anything less than bodily perfection, a world where IT MAKES THE NEWS because the future Queen of England appeared with a rounded stomach less than a day after giving birth.  And, in this world, we think that the best way to boost our daughters' self esteem -- the best way to make sure they achieve their potential in life -- is not to tell them they are beautiful?

I'm sorry, but this is madness!

How is it that we have frightened ourselves into thinking that "You are beautiful" or "You look beautiful" translate into "Looks are the most important thing."?  How have we twisted these words so much that we think we are doing our daughters a favor by not using them?  

Well, I'm here to tell you that these words are vital for our daughters to hear.  They are vital for our girlfriends and mothers and grandmothers to hear.  Because as much as we like to pretend otherwise, most women need to be told they are beautiful more than they need to be told they are smart.  (You don't believe me?  How many women do you know who complain that their husbands never tell them they are intelligent?)

Problems with body image and poor self-esteem aren't caused by telling our daughters they are beautiful; they are caused by living in a world that makes them feel like they must meet an impossible standard before they can be considered as such.  

My daughter will spend her entire life in this world, and it will tell her that she is not beautiful, that she is not valued, that she does not have infinite worth; it will denigrate her body and discourage her spirit.  Which is why, every single day, I will tell her she is beautiful.  Every single day I will tell her she is loved.

And when she's grown and looking at a picture like mine, I hope she sees the truth -- because the truth isn't ugly, it's beautiful.

And so is she.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Differences in Black and White (Er, Pink and Purple)

I bet you can't guess which twin created which picture:


This is why I laugh at people who insist that preferences for certain toys or colors are the result of socialization.  Honestly, Leah is so girly that I imagine she envisions the first commandment as being the brainchild of a sparkly princess draped in a pink and purple gown who solemnly intones, "Thou shalt have no other colors before me."

As for Matthew, he appears to be taking after his father and brother in organizational and spatial skills.  He can put together a 100 piece puzzle all by himself and gets very bothered if something is in the wrong place.  (And yet, five days worth of clothing all over the floor does not seem to bother him.  Go figure).

But, being as smart as he is, he's figured out the best way to handle his chores:

"Matthew, is your room clean?"

"Um, yep!"

"Is it clean enough for me to check?"

"Um, nope!"

"Is your bed made?"

"Leah is doing it for me!"

Ah.

Like I said, he's a smart one.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Why I Haven't Been Blogging (Plus, a Schedule!)

Michael is on year-round school, which means we only had four weeks in which to pack all of our summer fun.  This also means that time was short for the average summer dose of pinching, hitting, whining, screaming, poking each other's eyeballs, and slamming our little sister's fingers in the door, so we had to make sure we spent plenty of time each day acting like boogerheads .  And by "we" I mean "Michael."  Also Matthew.

Sigh.

Let's just say that I wasn't one of those mothers who sauntered to the bus stop yesterday singing "Sunrise, Sunset."  I did take some pictures, though.  Right after I said, "Don't let the door hit you on the way out!"  (What?  I said it with a smile!)


Isn't he a cute little first grader?

And speaking of cute, in just over a month these little whirlwinds...



...will be spending four hours a week in preschool.  Four hours!  Do you know much stuff I could get done in four uninterrupted hours??  That is so much time for couch sitting!

No, seriously.  I lost my ability to focus on significant projects after I served in the children's organization at church for four years and developed a problem getting anything done without stopping periodically to sing "Once There Was a Snowman"  Add six-and-a-half years of stay-at-home mothering to the mix and it's a wonder I have enough brain power to get to the bathroom without calling someone just to say, "I like cookies!"

Which is a good reason to call people, don't get me wrong.  But mostly I reserve making phone calls for when I need my kids to come find me, because the sound of dialing is like a siren song -- I hit "Talk" and all of them come running.  It's okay, though, I can do anything while talking on the phone.  Recently I even blew up a pool while I was chatting with my sister.  "Sorry for the loud breathing," I said, "I'm blowing up a pool."

"You shouldn't say that," she said with exaggerated paranoia in her voice.  "The NSA is probably listening to this phone call and now they're going to show up at your door with handcuffs."

"Hey NSA, if you're tapping this phone call, we're about to start talking about our periods," I said.

That'll show 'em.

As for this blog, it deserves a little more attention.  My things-to-write-about queue is bursting at the seams, and with the demise of Google Reader (Why?!!!!) I feel like this blog deserves a schedule so that my  Favorite Aunt Rebecca can know when to expect new content and won't demote me to Least Favorite Niece at the next family reunion.  So look for new posts on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Yes, I realize it's Friday today, but hey, I started this post on a Thursday and once there was a snowman, tall, tall, tall...

Ahem, where was I?

Oh yes, Tuesdays and Thursdays.  This is not to say I won't ever post on other days, but you can definitely look for new content at least twice a week.  And if you find an article or some other item you'd like me to write about, let me know -- I take suggestions and questions.  If you send me something that really intrigues me I might even bump it to the top of my queue.  Or get off the couch.

Stranger things have happened...

Monday, July 8, 2013

Ten Commandments for the Bride-to-Be

What would wedding season be without a little dose of Bridezilla?

Writing to the Huffington Post, a reader tells of attending a wedding of a "not close" friend and giving a $100 cash gift only to be berated by the bride for being so "cheap":

"Just for the cocktail and reception alone the cost per plate is $200" the bride whined.  "Mike and I both have already paid for everything else including decor, photography, attire etc and didn't expect we had to cover that huge amount for reception as well."

Oh, you poor thing!  I just hate it when I'm expected to pay for my own party instead of lining up my guests and soaking them for cash.

P.S.  If you're reading this blog post, you owe me $29.95.

Honestly, I'm not sure how God withstands the urge to throw a lightning bolt at this greedy little snot.  So help me, if any of my children ever act like this I'm going to ship them to the slums in India and not let them come back until the only thing that comes out of their mouths is "Thank you" and "What can I do to help?"

How on earth did weddings go from being a simple celebration of a marriage to a $28,000 (the average cost of a wedding these days) bride-led circus complete with fireworks and trained bridesmaids?  People, you can buy a car for $28,000.  Or make a down payment on a home.  Or get an education or fill a savings account or do any number of more prudent things.  And you want to spend it all on ONE party and ONE day?

*hyperventilates into a brown paper bag*

Not that I'm saying there is anything wrong with having a party.  If you can afford it and want to do it, then go ahead.  But, if you cannot afford to have a big party, you should hold off on the ice sculptures and the live music.  And the last thing you should do is have a $200/plate dinner and demand that your guests cover the cost.

But since this bit of common sense seems to have flown out of the atmosphere in search of more intelligent life, I present to you Ten Commandments for the Bride-to-be:

1.  Thou shalt not be a snot.

If you are not mature enough to be gracious to your friends and family, you are not mature enough to get married.  You must behave kindly to everyone, including your mother-in-law, your husband, and your bridesmaids.  And, if you have one, your caterer, your photographer, and the nice ladies who will clean up after you.

2.  Thou shalt not spend more than you can afford.

If you cannot afford the "dream" wedding you want, do not act like you can.  If you think a marriage cannot begin without an extravagant party, you need to re-examine your priorities.

3.  Thou shalt not demand that guests or members of the wedding party spend more than they can (or want to) afford.

Unless you want to pay for each and every one of your guests to attend your wedding off the coast of Bora Bora, do not have a destination wedding that requires guests to use their precious vacation time and limited budget to travel somewhere they do not want to go to see you do something that you could have done at the local courthouse.  Do not demand specific gifts ("cash only" or "donations" for the honeymoon) or any gifts at all, for that matter.  Do not demand that the bridesmaid who is working the night shift at McDonald's shell out for a Vera Wang gown and Jimmy Choo shoes.  Do not demand that guests reimburse you for the cost of your selfish extravagance.

4.  Thou shalt not go into debt for any part of the wedding (including the ring).

Reasonable debts:  House, car, education.  Unreasonable debts:  Huge parties, designer dresses, gigantic diamonds.  A note to future husbands:  If your fiancee expects a huge ring she knows you cannot afford and demands that you go into debt or work for three years straight just to pay for it, run away fast.  This is not the kind of woman you want to be married to.  

5.  Thou shalt remember that bridesmaids are friends, not servants.

If you are treating your Maid of Honor like she deserves to be shackled to your to-do list and will only be let go on good behavior, knock it off.  She is doing you a favor.  Be grateful.

6.  Thou shalt focus on things that matter.

It doesn't matter if someone wears tennis shoes to your wedding.  It doesn't matter if the florist used the wrong flower.  It doesn't matter if someone stepped on your dress.  What matters is that you are getting married.  All the other stuff is just fluff.

7.  Thou shalt remember that it is not "your" day.

Remember that guy... the one you are vowing to love forever?  He's kind of important.  Treat him that way.  Respect his opinion and value his input.  You are in this together -- don't forget to act like it.

8.  Thou shalt remember that the marriage is more important than the wedding.

The point of this whole thing is to get married, NOT to throw oneself an I'm-the-center-of-the-universe-worship-me party.  I have read countless stories of brides who felt their marriage (and in some cases, their life) was ruined because one little day did not go perfectly as planned.  It is only ONE day.  As far as marriage goes, the wedding day means nothing.  The marriage means everything.      

9.  Thou shalt have an attitude of gratitude.

If someone gives you three pennies and a used postage stamp, your job is not only to write a gracious thank you note (promptly!), but to be grateful.  The gift doesn't matter.  Your attitude does.

10.  Thou shalt treat your husband the way he deserves to be treated.

Marriage vows mean something.  The way you treat your husband means something.  Don't treat him like a child.  Don't make fun of him.  Don't kick him around like he's some kind of pet whose ears you only scratch when you want something.  Honor and cherish and respect him.  Show him you love him more than anyone in the world.  He is the most important person in your life.

Never forget it.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

History and Paula Deen

Butter lovin', down-home cookin' chef, Paula Deen, has been thrown out on her frying pan by The Food Network, and as other companies continue to line up to sever their roasting ties with Her Royal Fryness, she has been appearing on national television to spout tearful mea culpas and beg for forgiveness.  Her mistake?  Not having 2013 sensibilities back in 1960.

Seriously.

Ms. Deen, in answering questions as part of a legal deposition involving a current lawsuit, admitted that she had, in the past, used the N-word, but that it had been a "very long time" since she had done so and that she doesn't condone racism in any form.

Now, I'm not in any way excusing racism (we are all children of God and should treat each other as such.  The end.), but let's be reasonable here.  Paula Deen grew up in the South in the 1950's and 60's.  As much as we like to hope that our grandparents and great-grandparents lived some sort of sugar-coated existence in which they never gave in to racist thought or speech, those were different times.  She was growing up when schools were segregated and drinking fountains were separate, for heaven's sake.  Is it really fair to expect that she would have made it out of grade school never having uttered a single racist word?

I mean, I can honestly say that I have never called anyone the N-word, but I grew up in the Mountain West in the 1980's.  I mostly stuck to calling people Stupid Head and Booger Face until my dad laid down the law that my brothers and I couldn't call anyone a name that wasn't found in the scriptures and we resorted to calling each other "Moron" and "Nimrod" instead.  (We were soooo clever).

I simply do not understand why we continually insist on wearing modern eyeglasses to judge past generations.  Is it a terrible thing to spout racist epithets?  Absolutely.  But should someone who used the word "nigger" in 1965 in segregated Georgia be judged by the same standard as they would be today?  Absolutely not.

Should we judge George Washington to be a horrible person because he owned slaves at a time when it was  a common and expected practice?  Should we judge the accomplishments of Christopher Columbus to have been unlaudable because he enslaved and brought disease to Native Americans at a time when other cultures were thought to be "savages"?  We are fools if we expect those who lacked the knowledge and understanding we have now to have lived their lives as we do.

We will all, at some point, do something we are not proud of.  Let's learn from our mistakes and change the things we need to change instead of declaring anyone who has ever made a mistake to be past redemption.  Part of learning from the past is moving forward with greater wisdom and compassion.

In the case of Paula Deen, let's put down our stones and have some.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Beauty and the Preach

Girls like pretty things.

My three-year-old daughter is currently obsessed with the sparkly variety of pretty things.  She has a pink sparkly headband that hasn't left her head in weeks (not even to sleep).  She has pink sparkly flip flops and loves to have her fingernails painted sparkly purple.  The other day she handed me a fistful of purple and pink crayons and said, "Look, Mommy, a rainbow!"  When she chooses her own outfits they consist of pink, hot pink and purple.  The two blue shirts she will wear are only acceptable because they are adorned by Hello Kitty and Cinderella.

I don't take her to the store and direct her toward the pink things or shoo her down the princess aisle -- she has dozens of outfits that have nothing to do with pink and plenty of toys that easily cross the gender divide -- and it's not that I am setting some sort of ultra-girly example by prancing around in pepto-bismol-colored tulle and giggling like a princess.  And yet, three minutes after she was born she was like, "Mommy, pretty necklace!"  She is only three and she is counting down the days till she can get her ears pierced.  All that sparkly, fuzzy, pink, twirly, girly pretty stuff?  She LOVES it.

And if she had a choice between a "pretty" princess doll with a big fluffy skirt and a strong, bow-wielding Plain Jane, you know which one she would choose?  The pretty one.  Even if she liked the movie starring the plain one.

So I am a little surprised by all the hand-wringing (including a petition to "Keep Merida Brave" that has nearly 250,000 signatures) over Disney's decision to glam up Princess Merida as part of her transition into the Disney Princess line.  (Even Cinderella and Snow White had modernizing makeovers a few years ago, and yet no one threw a fit over that).

I know it's not politically correct to say so and we're all supposed to be encouraging our tiny daughters to play with the average-looking Merida as some sort of ode to feminism and girl power, but just because we are adults who have left behind our childhood fantasies does not mean we need to demand that our daughters see Merida the way we do.  Leah won't intrepret a change in Merida's appearance as evidence that the Scottish firecracker is somehow lacking unless I tell her she should be viewing it that way.  All she'll see is that Merida became a beautiful princess -- a girl who went from duckling to swan -- just as every girl hopes she will also do.

Yes, we should be teaching our daughters that they are beautiful just the way they are, that being smart and hardworking is more important than being pretty or popular.  But these little girls will have plenty of years to appreciate Merida for her strong will and her fearlessness.  For now, they just like pretty things.  They like to dream about being beautiful themselves.  They like to fantasize about living Happily Ever After with Prince Charming.  They like to twirl around in ball gowns and imagine that they, too, will blossom from duckling to swan.  This is not something that needs to be whitewashed out of them like it's some kind of shameful step backwards.

I find it particularly telling that Brave's writer and co-director, Brenda Chapman, says she created a stronger, more average-looking princess so that "mothers wouldn't be pulling their hair out when their little girls were trying to dress or act like this princess."  You see, in creating Merida she wasn't trying to please the little girls; she was trying to please their mothers.

Well, while there are certainly girls of all ages who will appreciate Merida's skill with a bow and arrow, most little girls are not looking for a Joan of Arc to lead them into battle.  They're not looking for a princess who can hit a bullseye better than the men.  They are looking for a fantasy princess in a beautiful dress.  Why?  Because they already believe they can do battle.  They already believe they can hit a bullseye better than the men.

So it makes sense that Disney, when marketing to little girls, would decide to give Merida a makeover to turn her into a fantasy princess rather than just the normal-looking princess-who-can-beat-the-boys.  Disney is not marketing to the mothers; it is marketing to the little girls.  Little girls who already know they are smart and capable...

... and who want to be beautiful, too.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Lights Are On But Nobody's Home

Our kids are constantly leaving the lights on.  This used to bother me until we discovered that our homebuilder installed light sockets that require expensive "energy saving" special-order bulbs which cost $15 a piece.  Technically this is supposed to save us money because each bulb is supposed to last 12 years.  In reality, they last about 12 minutes.

Seriously, when we asked someone at the specialty light store what the deal was with them burning out so fast he told us that the company who makes them certifies their lifespan by turning them on and leaving them on for 12 years.  "It's the turning them on and off that causes them to burn out," he said.  "It's better to turn them on in the morning and leave them on all day."

Right.  Leave the energy saving lights on 24 hours a day.  *Saves info in the Environmentally-friendly Ideas Gone Awry file.*

But the good news is that with the time I save not having to nag my kids to turn off the lights, I can focus on more important things -- like nagging them to shut the dang door!  (Seriously, my front lawn is probably more air conditioned than my house).  Unfortunately, since they can only focus on one thing at a time and then only in 3 second increments, they can't remember to shut the door and flush the toilet in the same day.  Or turn off the faucet after washing their hands (or, frankly, to wash their hands)  Heck, they have a hard time making it all the way to their bedroom to get their jammies on because they get distracted ("Squirrel!")   by the path of board books they made down the hall so they stop to read some, and then it reminds them they wanted to play legos, and then that reminds them that they wanted to smack their siblings. Because there's always a reason to smack your siblings.

So we're working on it.  I'm even stepping up my training program from covering just the basics like flushing toilets and shutting doors to coaching Michael on how to answer the phone.  So far it's going really well.  At first the phone would ring and he would pick it up and just stand there like it was 1775 and he was having a strange dream.  Now sometimes he'll sneeze on it before he tosses it to me like it's a hot potato.

Progress.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Rage Against the Machine

Samsung has a message to share:

Men are stupid, gross, uncouth, unkempt, and basically incapable of stringing two grunts together without a fart or burp in between.

But neverfear, with the help of a Samsung Evolution Kit, a grunting, drooling neanderthal becomes the ultimate in female fantasy - a husband skating around the house in a fit of extreme multi-tasking that starts with whipping up a gourmet dessert and ends with a glass of champagne and a romantic flute serenade.  (All while his wife is filing her nails, of course).



In the end, the wife is brought back to reality by the sound of her husband's gaseous emissions.  "At least Samsung TVs are Evolutionary" the commercial tells us sympathetically, as the wife looks on in disgust.

Yes, I suppose it's too much to hope for that a man could ever evolve past burping and scratching and wiping his greasy hands on the couch cushions...  Ah, well.  At least we have our TVs...

Well, in my house, those TVs are never going to be Samsung's.

This kind of advertising is INFURIATING.  My husband is NOT a caveman.  He is NOT an idiot.  He is NOT disgusting and uncivilized.  He is one of the most amazing people I've ever met!  If I did not think so, I would not have married him.  This commercial is incredibly offensive, not only to him, but to my father and my brothers and my sons.  To all the men who have taught me and been my friend and influenced my life for good.

Where do we get off treating men this way?!  This garbage needs to stop!

When you love your husband you don't mock his gender.  You don't treat him like he is stupid.  You don't denigrate his masculinity or his different approach to life.  And you don't gather with your girlfriends to tear him down or laugh at commercials that reduce him to a pathetic neanderthal.

If you love him, it's time to start acting like it.  And the first thing you can do is take out the trash.

Sorry, Samsung.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Things That Need to Stop

Use of the terms "preggo," "preggers" and "knocked up."  Ick.

Show-and-tell based on the Letter of the Week.  Michael took a plastic banana to school today because the letter was Y and bananas are yellow.  Don't ask me about the week when the letter was X.

Names that look like they were randomly drawn out of a Scrabble bag.

People who say things on Facebook like "Re-post if you are against child abuse" or "Re-post if you hate cancer."  People, everyone is against child abuse and no one likes cancer.  Stop being so annoying.

Wedding invitations that say things like "Our friendship has blossomed into love and marriage."  Blech.  We know.  You don't need to announce it.

Referring to a child as an "accident" or a "mistake."  I don't care if the pregnancy wasn't planned and I don't care if you think it's a funny joke.  No child should be made to feel like either of these things.

Overuse of the words "luxury" and "artisanal."

DVDs that take 25 minutes to get to the menu screen.

People who post on Facebook every time they exercise.

Multi-level marketing.  All of it.

Wedding invitations that say "Registered at..." right on the invitation.

Strangers and casual acquaintances who ask questions about my family planning.

Games that don't fit in their boxes (Hungry Hungry Hippos, I'm talking to you).  Also, the game box redesign that made it so the Monopoly money doesn't fit in its tray.

Misuse of apostrophes (grape's, anyone?) and the wrong usage of you're/your, their/they're/there and it's/its.

People who say, "I could care less."  It's couldn't, people.  Couldn't, couldn't, couldn't.

Homework for kids in elementary school.  Especially homework that is for the "kids" but isn't do-able by anyone without a master's degree in diorama-making.

And last, but not least, referring to husbands as "children."  But you already know that, don't you?

Don't you?

If not, you should visit my blog more often.

What things would you like to stop?

Monday, May 13, 2013

More Than Words

Yesterday morning I told Michael what I really wanted for Mother's Day:

"I want you to stop calling people 'goo goo eyeballs' and 'hot dog.'"

It may not sound like much, but believe me, after the sixty millionth time your son responds to you by saying, "Okay, goo goo eyeballs," you'll be ready to poke a stick in his eye.  (I'm pretty sure when the admissions clerk looks over my paperwork to enter the loony bin, the cause of breakdown will be listed as, "Her son called her 'goo goo eyeballs' one too many times.")

Did my request work?  Yep.  For about 7.2 seconds.  Longest span of time so far.

But, Michael did manage to make me a really sweet card at school that had cute little fill-in-the-blank spots for information about me.  Well, mostly cute.  One of the spots said -- I am not making this up -- "My mom weighs..."  Um, hello, this is a Mother's Day card - don't you think that handing sticks of emotional dynamite to a batch of kindergartners is a risky enterprise?  (Luckily, Michael filled it in with "100 lbs." and not, "I don't know, how much does a blue whale weigh?" but I have a feeling I owe the teacher a thank you card for that one).

David made breakfast and gave me a really sweet gift, and I got a giant homemade card from the kids that said "We love you THIS MUCH..."  Which, apparently, is enough love for them to give me hugs and kisses, but not enough to stop them from climbing in my bed at 5 a.m.  Or to stop Matthew from following his Search and Bother radar to find me in the bathroom so he could ask me to cuddle.  (Uh, son, do I look a little busy to you...?)

For dinner I wanted to attempt a new pizza recipe which required cooking the individual-sized pizzas one at a time.  I saved mine for last, and somehow in the transfer between counter and oven, folded the whole thing over on itself and dumped half of it on the oven door, which caused a little panic.  Partly because I was afraid I was going to burn my hands off, and partly because my beautiful dinner had become a pile of slop withering on the oven door.  I admit it, I said a bad word.

As David scraped smoking pizza guts off the oven door he said,  "It wouldn't be Mother's Day if there weren't some swearing."

"For my Mother's Day present I want you to never mention this again," I replied.

He returned to the table and all of fifteen seconds ticked by before he added, "I can't remember the last time I heard you swear."

So much for my request...

But what are mistakes for if not to learn from them?  I've totally learned from mine:

Next year I'm not making dinner.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Where There's a Will There's a Wrong Way

Will Smith is a "cool" dad when it comes to disciplining his children.

"We don't do punishment..." he says.  "...You can do anything you want as long as you can explain to me why that was the right thing to do for your life."

Ummmm... what?

Mr. Smith, have you actually met any children?  I mean, I know you have a few of your own, but have you actually paid attention to them?  Because my children can justify anything as being the "right thing to do for their life."  And when I say "anything", I mean pretty much everything -- from lying to cheating to stabbing someone with a fork.

Kids need boundaries.  This doesn't mean you need to make rules about absolutely everything or go around doling out punishments 24 hours a day, but giving them a free pass on everything from spoiled princess behavior to illegal activity as long as they can spout justifications like a practiced lawyer is not just short-sighted, it's S-T-U-P-I-D.

Come on Mr. Smith, we have to live with these people when  you're done with them.

Yes, you have to figure out what works for your kids and it's not always punishment.  But sometimes it is punishment.  Because children don't come to earth as polished little angels who have complete control over their impulses.  You have to teach them how to contain themselves -- their impulses and urges -- because what they want isn't always right -- for themselves or others.

No man is an island.  And no man is the entire universe, either.  Give your kids some control over their own lives, yes, but don't hand them the launch codes when they are five-years-old and say, "As long as you can justify it."

Part of parenting is teaching, and part of teaching is correcting.  You'd be wise to remember that before you hand your kids the trigger, Mr. Smith.

Otherwise, don't be surprised when everything blows up.