Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Baby Centerpieces

Our all-natural, fully interactive baby centerpieces come in a variety of styles and sizes.
These centerpieces brighten up any table, whether you are celebrating a holiday or major event, or simply wish to bring a certain Je ne sais quoi* your dinner table.
So for your next dinner party, wedding, anniversary, or birthday, why not have a centerpiece your guests will never forget? (Because they'll be attempting to keep it from hurting itself with tableware or by plunging itself off the table.)
And don't forget, you can also get the optional toddler chair bouquet, which ships separately.

*Literally translated as "I don't know WHAT the child is doing."

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Why Enunciation is Important

LO has been singing The Wheels on the Bus quite a bit lately. (It was part of his transportation and vehicle unit at preschool.)

This morning, as he "helped" me make the bed, I asked if he wanted to sing. We quickly exhausted the details of the infamous bus that I knew:

Wheels that go round and round
A driver that goes "Move on back."
People that go up and down
A baby that goes "Wah wah wah" with accompanying crying motions.
A mom that goes "Shh shh shh."

So I asked LO, "Who else is on the bus?"

"The whore on the bus," he replied.

"The whore?" I repeated.

He began to sing: "The whore on the bus goes..."

And at that interesting juncture, he lost interest.

"Say whaaaaaaa?"

Thursday, March 13, 2014

LOisms I Don't Want to Forget

Now that LO has discovered the joys of the English language, rather than attempting mastery of it, he is working on improving our mother tongue.

The following are several of LO's best uses of English:
  1. Who's that? Meaning: At what am I currently pointing, Mother? I am asking, not because I do not know, but because I enjoy our little interplay here. Common usage: When reading The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss (which is what LO calls the book--The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss, because authorship is important), he will ask me "Who's that?" of every object that the Cat balances upon himself while playing Up-Up-Up with a Fish.
  2. No NOT! Meaning: That is absolutely counter to my preferences and I simply will not stand for it! Common Usage: Me: "LO, it's time for your bath." LO: (running) "No NOT!" Additional information: This phrase is often paired with a "these are not the droids you're looking for" hand wave. (Between the wave and the usage of 90s era Wayne's Worldisms, it's clear that LO has his finger on the pulse of his parents' pop culture.)
  3. He's cross. Meaning: He looks mad. Etymology: LO has watched far more Thomas and Friends than is healthy, and he has taken in many Thomasisms. This is the funniest/most British. Common usage: "Mom, the fish cross!" in reference to the fish in The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss.
  4. My hurts! Meaning: Some portion of my anatomy is hurting because of a minor and/or imaginary flesh wound. For reasons known only to myself, I do not specify which portion of my anatomy with my words, and instead hold said portion aloft while repeating "My hurts!" Additional information: My hurts are healed via Mom kisses, which means Mom has a super power.
  5. Happy to sleep. Meaning: Sleeping. Common usage: LO: "Mom, where is BB?" Me: "Oh, he's upstairs." LO: "BB happy to sleep?"
"That's right. I've made English better. You're welcome."

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Responding to Criticism

Earlier today, I received the following comment on my post KardashiAAAAAARGH:

"Stumbled upon your blog when looking for dinosaur cakes... read your first latest post how you didn't enjoy being judged for being a stay at home mom - yet, here you are judging somebody else? Think about it... just sayin'"

In irritation, I deleted the comment and went about my merry way.

Except I didn't.

I kept thinking about how my annoyance at Kim Kardashian reportedly losing 50 pounds in her first four months post-partum was so clearly different from Amy Glass (aka Chrissy Stockton) saying that SAHMs are unexceptional, average, and unimportant.

So, new reader Ariane, I thought about it, and here are my thoughts:

1. Kim Kardashian is not only a public figure, but a public figure who has invited our scrutiny into every facet of her life. I, and other young women staying home with their children, are just trying to live our lives. Ms. Kardashian, by courting publicity, has also asked for judgment of her actions by anyone and everyone. Moms staying home with their children have done nothing to get Amy Glass's notice or vitriol.

2. Ms. Glass decided to judge an entire swath of the population because she saw their choice--to stay home and raise children, which, like laundry, MUST BE DONE by someone--as completely invalid. I judged Kim Kardashian because her unnecessary focus on her body does harm to herself, her bond with her child, her child, and our society. (To be fair, I've since seen further information that made it clear that Kim K did not actually lose 50 pounds in 4 months, and the bikini photo on the cover of the magazine I saw was from before Kim had North. So clearly some of my irritation with her was misplaced and should have directed at the media that places such unrealistic expectations on women).

3. I took umbrage at a troll who threw bombs at something that is important to me, and then hid behind the half-baked excuse that "I think of all my opinions as in transit. None of them are destinations." But taking umbrage at Amy Glass does not mean that I abdicate my prerogative to judge others for decisions they make that are truly harmful. To me, that is like saying I can't judge a family for whipping their child with a belt, or using prayer instead of doctors for curable illnesses, or pushing their child into show business, just because I didn't like someone else judging me for staying home with my boys.

I own my decision to stay home with my kids, just like I own my judgment of Kim Kardashian's conflation of fame and beauty with worth. She is doing harm to her own family and others, and I judge her for it. And that's okay with me.

4. Finally, mea culpa, a little bit. Ariane, you did me a favor in forcing me to re-read my post about Kim Kardashian. As much as I am perfectly comfortable with judging her, I did see that I was also remarkably snarky about aspects of her person, looks, and life that have nothing to do with harmful choices. I probably shouldn't have done that. Growing up, my mom taught me to be a mensch, and kindness was so important to my dad that he had his financial planning company add it as a fourth guiding principle.

You are right to point out that I was not being particularly kind or mensch-like to Kim Kardashian, who despite all of her fame, is still a real person with real feelings who does not deserve snarkiness. Being bitchy might be fun and funny, but it is not who I was raised to be--nor is it something I want to model for my sons.

So, while I still completely stand behind my judgment of Kim Kardashian's harmful self-exploitation of her looks, I should be more circumspect regarding the parts of her life about which my opinion does not matter.

I hope this makes things clearer.

This Is Why We Couldn't Wait For Him To Talk

LO has been saying unbearably cute things lately.

A couple of weeks ago, J was holding LO and BB on his lap one day and LO patted his little brother on the head and said, "Look at beautiful BB!"
Yesterday, I started making an omelet for breakfast. LO likes helping me cook, and he especially likes eggs because he knows that you crack them. (He is NOT happy with me when I'm making hard-boiled eggs). He cracked the first egg into the bowl (that is, he very gently hit it against the side of the bowl and then had me finish cracking it for him), and then told me "You do it," with the second egg. After adding it to the bowl, he told me "Good job, Mom!!"

I'm working on teaching LO to make his bed every morning when he wakes up. Yesterday was a particularly hectic morning, and we forgot about it. Last night, when J put LO to bed, apparently LO was quite unhappy about his unmade bed: "It's broken, Daddy! Fix it!"

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

An Open Letter to Amy Glass

This morning, I stumbled upon this post by Amy Glass: I Look Down on Young Women With Husbands and Kids and I'm Not Sorry. In this short piece, Ms. Glass spews quite a bit of venom about how women who stay home with kids are unexceptional, average, and unimportant.


Obviously it hurts to have one's life choices so harshly judged. But what I find even more troubling is the fact that Ms. Glass refers to herself as a feminist in this article. And I find that troubling because she has fallen victim to the misogynistic assumption that any task primarily performed by women must by definition be an unimportant task.

According to Ms. Glass (and hundreds of years of patriarchy), childcare, cleaning, nursing, managing a household, (non-restaurant) cooking, and laundry are unimportant tasks that no man would consider to be a real accomplishment. She specifically states that "doing laundry will never be as important as being a doctor or an engineer or building a business."

There's a false equivalency there. If no one did laundry, then doctors, engineers, and business owners would not be able to work. In particular, without laundry, doctors would be unable to prevent infections or save lives. If you look at it objectively, clean laundry allows us to live in the modern world. If you asked a doctor who is trying to save lives in war time or after a natural disaster, s/he would tell you that there is nothing more important than that kind of cleanliness--and the people who ensure it.

Ms. Glass is able to judge and denigrate the people who do the basic, boring, repetitive tasks that make the backbone of our society because there is someone out there to do these tasks. There are sanitation workers and household cleaners and bedpan emptiers and stay-at-home mothers and fathers who are doing the work that she considers to be beneath her. But without those workers, we would all live in filth and there would be no generation to come after us. Ignoring these facts is classist and misogynistic.

What Ms. Glass does not seem to understand is that there is dignity in all work. Not just in being "exceptional," which is what she believes that we should all strive for. Exceptional people and accomplishments are built on the backs of all those who do the basic work of living that must be done. It seems awfully mean-spirited to spit on those people doing the dignified work that is laundry and childcare.

In some ways, I can understand where Ms. Glass is coming from. For much of my life, I, too, have dreamed of being exceptional in the way that she defines it. I wanted my name to be known for something incredible that I had done. I feared living an average life.

As a teenager, I thought that being exceptional meant being famous, so I hoped to become so. In college, I revised my dream to being acclaimed for expertise in my field. In my twenties, I decided I wanted my writing to make me a household name.

Now that I'm midway through my thirties, I still dream of having professional success that makes me renowned. But I've realized that my dream of fame, acclaim, and renown does not define whether or not I've had a successful life. Being exceptional offers a remarkably narrow vision of success--and defining success in such a way necessarily means that very few people can achieve it.

It also ignores so much of what life is. Yes, I will spend a great deal of my life working. But even if I were working a traditional job right now, more of my life overall would be spent in accomplishing the basic tasks of daily living. Changing diapers, wiping noses, reading Dr. Seuss, cleaning floors, making dinners, and, yes, doing laundry. I embrace the opportunity to complete those tasks, even though they can be boring, repetitive, and even soul-sucking.

I've come to realize that my fear of being average and my dream of being exceptional ultimately come from a fear of death. Because if I am exceptional, I will be remembered outside of my family, and I put off the inevitable day when I am completely forgotten. Someone will remember the famous writer Emily Guy Birken years after I and my children and my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren are gone.

But that kind of "memory" will not take into account the full fabric of my life: the way I sing to my baby while I change his diaper, the dinners I cook, the sympathetic ear I lend to my husband after a hard day, the snuggles I give my kids, the endless loads of laundry I wash, dry, sort, fold, and put away. Those are the real me, no matter what I do professionally. It may not be "exceptional" in the way that Ms. Glass defines it, but it is my full and real life. And it's a successful life, whether I do make a mark on the larger world or am simply the mom who stays home with her kids. Because either way, I have been important.

So Ms. Glass, I would ask you to revise your understanding of success and accomplishment. Please remember that there is meaning and dignity in the work that you choose not to do. Remember that just because not all work is lauded or paid does not mean that such work is worthless. Remember that being exceptional is exceedingly rare and don't beat yourself or others up for not getting there.

Remember that being average is a valid path to an important and successful life.
Pictured: What average looks like.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Unstoppable Force and the Immovable Object

Although, to be honest, we both look like immovable objects, don't we?
Over the past five days, I have discovered that the quickest way to feel completely and utterly incompetent is to attempt to once-and-for-all potty train a stubborn cuss toddler who happens to be my son.

Things started out with promise. LO was excited to start wearing his underpants all the time. He recognized that this was an exciting step in his journey to grown-uptitude. He liked that I bought him juice boxes that were all his own. We got started on Saturday with a great deal of hope and a grand plan.

Then, I discovered within myself an as yet quiescent propensity to nag. (I will admit that J might very well disagree with this assessment).

In any case, over the course of one day, LO went from being eager to try his skill to saying "Mo-om! Stop it. Stop IT!" the moment the word potty passed through my lips.

It's amazing how quickly you can go from being the kind of mother who tries at all times to be respectful of her child's autonomy, to a drill sergeant pee-checker who views her kid as some sort of stumbling block in the way of checking off items on a to-do list.


I now completely understand why potty training is so fraught and such a source of dread for parents.

So, I'm trying to back off from LO. I have no idea how successful I've been. Just when I think I'm suppressing the urge to nag, I'll realize I've prompted the poor kid four times in 10 minutes.

The thing is, I remember how very much I hated it when grownups would insist that I use the bathroom before leaving the house. Like they knew me better than I did. And had I not been such a rule-follower and people pleaser, I might very well have simply ignored those suggestions as a child the way LO has been ignoring me.

So, here we are. The unstoppable force, who cannot control her nagging tongue, and the immovable object, who would rather need multiple changes a day than succumb to irritating authority.

Mr. Rogers used to say, "Remember, you were once a child, too." This has been on my mind of late (and is often something I think about before posting on topics such as this one). Normally, this is an easy thing for me to remember.

For instance, earlier this week, J needed to reinstall LO's carseat in his car before school on a morning when they were already running a little behind. I let LO sit in the driver's seat and "drive" while J and I wrestled with the car seat. Once it was set, I needed to get LO into the seat--but he wasn't done driving.

Even though I gave him a one minute head's up prior to when he'd have to finish his game, he screamed and kicked when I picked him up and started buckling him into his seat.

So, I held him for a moment and told him it really was sad and unfair that he couldn't finish playing. Then I asked him what his favorite part of driving was. He calmed down, let me buckle him in, and enjoyed telling me what he liked best about the steering wheel and the gear shifter and the hazard lights.

That was easy because I know exactly how I would feel if some giant came along and picked me up and took me elsewhere just as I was in the middle doing something. I would have a monumental flip-out and rail at the unfairness of might making right. After all, I was a child once, too.

But when it comes to something as potentially embarrassing to both of us as potty training, I have a much harder time remembering what it was like to be the immovable object. I don't know how to stop that irresistible force within myself, and I'm afraid that I'm not doing as right by my kid as I could.

Because if you can't have an existential crisis over excrement, what can you have one over?