On Her Flying Trapeze

Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Supertaster – Hero or Handicapped

Dan does not like to eat certain things, things that contain flavors, or as he calls them “tongue scorching flavonoids of misery and possible death.” (He has never actually said that with his lips. It’s more in the facial region of expressivity.)

I grew up having jalapeno-eating contests with my dad and drinking Tabasco sauce by the spoonful, like any normal child. Dan, on the other hand, shies away from many of the simple culinary pleasures of life.

Besides bypassing “cranky” foods (Laylee’s word for anything from Altoids to salsa), he also gives the thumbs down on squash, mushrooms, several sea-foods, pig’s feet and anything low-fat.

Until recently I have thought he was a bit of a wimp in the eating department, a strange departure from his usual manly, Rambo-like nature. Then I heard about supertasterSupertasters.

Supertasters are people with an unusually large number of taste buds on their tongue. They truly, physiologically “can’t take the heat.” He has not been officially diagnosed with this… disorder?... but I feel confident that if I blew up that picture and a picture of my tongue, he’d have a veritable gold-mine of the little buds in comparison to me.

The word Supertaster sounds like a heroic power, like he should be able to taste and enjoy food more fully than the average citizen. But in reality, it causes him to miss out on so much of life. He is literally crippled by his over-active taste buds, unable to perform even the most basic nutritional tasks, such as feeding himself Brussels sprouts. We weep for him.

But now the question arises – is he a super hero or just a poor handicapped guy forever doomed to eat bland versions of Thai food that could have been scrumptious, given the proper peppers and spices?

If he’s a super hero, hooray! Having a plethora of extra body parts beats the ability to eat scores of malted milk balls any day (until now, he considered this to be his only claim to super-herodom).

If he’s simply handicapped, then we should get one of those blue stickers for our car so that my super-power will grow to the point that parking spaces really can become the complete focus of this blog. How nice it would be if I never had to think of anything to write again. Every day I'd just post a picture of Vinny, parked in the special wife-to-the-severely-tongue-impaired parking spot at Fred Meyer and call it good.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Tinker-Bell Princess

Yesterday we had another hair-cutting extravaganza, my first since the mullet incident. At this point the layers have grown out to a length I am more comfortable with and I have learned to listen to my stylist when she tells me a particular cut might end up looking like a mullet. She KNOWS.

I just got a trim but Laylee got the real fun. We decided to give her a fun summer hair-cut. We went with a Julia Roberts in Hook pixie-cut. She was amazingly calm through the razor cut and very excited to tell daddy that she looked like a pixie-fairy-princess girl.
I love the way it turned out but considering her age and lack of womanly curvage, it’s a given that she will be mistaken for a boy at times. I spent the afternoon talking about how she looks like Tinker-bell and what a cute fairy she is.

hair7Then Dad gets home.

Dan: Wow. You got a new hair-do!
Laylee: Yeah!
Dan: What kind of hair-do is it?
Laylee (very excited): It’s a BOY haircut!

At which point, Magoo waved his sweet little girly-finger-wiggling wave from the high chair and I busted up laughing. So our daughter is excited that she could pass for a boy and our son waves "hello" like Paris Hilton. Yippee!

hair poofAnd then in a moment of uncanny timing, a gift arrived in the mail today for Laylee from Peter and Heidi of the Tutu Boutique. Our little princess fairy pixie Tinker-bell got to wear the poofiest, most gorgeous dress-up item she’s ever had on her body and remind herself that she's still a girly girl.

A while back I mentioned their business on the site because I like them, expecting nothing in return. Then they sent this “poof” and a fun princess crown and shirt to thank me for the mention. How sweet is that?

Take that High-End-Children’s-Clothes-Store-Employee-Who-Thought-Laylee-Was-A-Boy-Today. Heads up: if you want to earn a big sales commission from me, upon finding out that my child is female, please do not ask me if she cut her hair herself.

Policy note – I have recently been getting offers of free products or discounts to promote things on my blog. I want to make it clear that I would be happy to do reviews but I will be totally honest, even if you send me free stuff, so be warned. You may not like what I have to say. I don’t want people wondering if I’m getting something free in return when I mention a book or product so I promise to always let you know. And again… the honesty.

One last thing. I thought you’d like to see this. Taken this afternoon. Yes, the force is still strong with me.

hair parking

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Show and Tell

Today Blackbird is asking to see the street where we live. So here we go. This is one of my favorite shots of our street:

my street

Then there's this:

bambi walk

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This is technically across the street from my house, a little walking trail. Laylee calls it the Bambi forest because we’ve seen deer there. One of our friends lives on the other side of the Bambi forest, so this is the way we walk to play dates.

I never want to move from this location. Hopefully by the time we outgrow our condo, we will be able to pass a city ordinance, allowing us to demolish it and build a bigger house in its place… assuming the neighbors don't mind.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

On Waiting

I spend a lot of my time waiting. I wait for Laylee to go to the bathroom, for the water to boil, for the doctor to “see me now.” I wait.

My grandma spent 20 years waiting, waiting to die, waiting to be with her Joseph again. His name was constantly in her mind and on her lips. She sure loved and adored him. Especially in her later years of dementia, she called for him constantly and begged to go herself and be with him. She waited.

aunt jFor the past few days our family has been waiting. We’ve been waiting for our aunt and dear friend J to leave this world so we could all start waiting to see her again. As of a couple of hours ago, the waiting is over and now it begins again.

Her husband can wait to learn what “normal” is without her. Her children, including a son still in grade school, can wait for the urge to call out for their mother to subside. Her granddaughter doesn’t know she’s waiting yet. She will learn.

Now I wait for someone to find a cure for cancer. My mother-in-law refused to wait. From the minute Aunt J was diagnosed, Pam has been searching tirelessly for some little-know cure, calling specialists all over the country.

I wait for understanding. Every person I have loved who has been diagnosed with this disease has been taken by it. Every one was a wife, a mother and a much-needed friend. In a way I feel like I’m just waiting for the next person to go.

When I tried to explain death to Laylee, who is still waiting for me to stop crying, I told her that we knew Aunt J’s spirit had left her body but that she is with Heavenly Father now. She is no longer in pain and she is happy. I told her we were still sad because many of us on earth will miss her.

People always talk about the deceased person being happier where they are. I wonder, does their heart ache for their loved ones the way we ache for them?

Laylee asked if we could please please go see Heavenly Father too. She did specify that if she goes, she wants Dad, Mom and Magoo to go with her.

No waiting for any of us. It sounds like a plan.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Before the Blog - Part 2

While I was busy predicting the outcomes of hockey games, teasing my younger brother and worrying about the competence of my mom’s obstetrician, Dan had weightier matters on his mind, like food, kick soccer and how glue works.

Dan shared this with me after we were married and I found it so hilarious that I had him read it to me in the hospital when I was giving birth to Laylee. Here is a small sampling from his elementary school journal:

September 14, 1988
Today I had a pretty good day today. At recess I played kick soccer. My team won. Yesterday i[n] the lunchroom some girls partly unscrewed it so if someone used it, it would spill. Then a kid from another lunch table came and took the ketchup to use it. He came back with ketchup all over his hand!

September 15, 1988
Today, I had a pretty good day. We played kick soccer again and Tony argued with everything…We had spaghetti for lunch today.

September 23, 1988
Today we changed the day around. Math was first… Today at lunch we had coco milk rolls, fruit and some kind of pasta thing with lettuce. We played kick soccer again today. Last night we made bread and peach pie filling. It was good!

September 27, 1988
Today everything went pretty normal. Today we had burritos for lunch.

October 4, 1988
Today we had chicken nuggets for lunch… Kickball was boring at lunch.

November 8, 1988
Last night I figured out why things stick (I think). First of all why does wood fibers or anything for that matter? Of course we all know that it’s all the atomic energy acting upon themselves and others. They (atoms) also work with magnetic forces. Now, I think glue works because it is neutral or else it’s energy can adapt so that it sticks to other particles. So that’s all about particles and whatnot. By the way, we moved our desks into twos. I think Bush will win.

“Today was a pretty good day today” is now a common phrase around our house. I think we should also end all conversations with the phrase, “So that’s all about particles and whatnot.” Yes, I would have married him just for the journals. Do you know how much it hurts to laugh when you’re having a major contraction? Yeah, me too.

Tip Tuesday – Birthday Parties

I keep getting spam email that says they have “just the thing to make your girl happy.” I almost want to click on the link. Maybe they have a good deal on My Little Ponies or Popsicles or people who push swings REALLY HIGH.

Another thing that makes my girl Laylee happy is a good birthday celebration. She throws several a week for various friends, real and imaginary. Every day used to be Ducky’s birthday but now the celebrations are spread between Laylee, Babs, “The Other Snow White,” and any of her other favorite friends. Somehow, it never gets to be my birthday. Hmmm… I may have to look into this. Perhaps the Daring Family has also stumbled upon the elixir of life and ageless beauty. I will keep you informed.

Besides me, it seems that nearly everyone has a birthday sometime or other. What are your great suggests for birthday celebrations? These can be kids’ birthday parties or you can branch out to include us older folks.

This Tip Tuesday was inspired by Lei and Mir. Lei posted about a great party a while back and Mir got me thinking about alternative birthday ideas. I love her perspective and the thoughtful way she teaches her children about charity and service, even on a day that’s traditionally all about the birth-ed one.

For the most part, I am a huge fan of a home party with a theme. One I’m thinking of doing comes from my Post Partum Dr who, when we got sick of talking about my brain chemistry, gave me some advice about child rearing. He’s a big proponent of make believe and allowing children to have a magical childhood where they are encouraged to believe in things that they can’t see that just might be true.

He told me about a fairy birthday party he had for his tween daughter. (No, as far as I know they didn’t eat any beef at the party, but I do want to point out that I am now listed as the 2nd result on google when you search for the words “beef” and “tweens.” My wildest dreams are coming true through this very blog.) They went out into the forest and found sticks and twigs to make tiny fairy houses in the woods. They told fairy stories from American folklore and even the most cynical in the bunch left with a spark of magic in their imaginations. I love that idea.

Another great idea that seems even greater now that I have kids is to send your mother a gift on your birthday. She's the one who really deserves it.

Now you go.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Sleepy Little Chauvinist

Until recently, Magoo has woken up every night of his life at least once to nurse. Sheesh! What a BABY! When I couldn’t nurse him for a few days, we decided that Dan should be the one to get up with him in the night and offer a bottle.

The first night Dan was supposed to get up with him, Magoo slept 13 hours through the night with nary a peep. He has not woken up since. Well, that didn’t sound right. He wakes up every morning. He just doesn’t wake up in the night anymore.

On the one hand, it makes me think that he must really like me and only wants to get up if he thinks I’ll be there for some cuddlin’. On the other hand, I wonder if I’m raising a little chauvinist who thinks men should not be troubled with unmanly things such as child-care and feeding.

Further evidence of this theory is found here. When Dan tries to feed him, he falls instantly into a narcoleptic state.

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I let Chris in on my little secret for getting your baby to drop the late night feeding and it appears to have worked for her too. I’m thinking of conducting a seminar or writing a book on the subject.


After reading this, Dan informed me that Magoo HAS woken up a few times in the night since Daddy took over the graveyard shift. How was I supposed to know? I was asleep.

If You're Happy...

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Simple Pleasures of a Saturday

I keep another blog on the website of a local newspaper. The paper requires commenters to register with their site in order to leave comments. I haven’t been writing there for long and let’s just say I get very few comments… pretty much zilch.

I was excited to see that I’d gotten a comment on yesterday’s post, a repost from my DYM archives, entitled “Conversating.”

The commenter had this to say:
"conversating" is not a word. perhaps you meant "conversing."

I retorted wittily:
Perhaps I make up words on my blog at all times.

So, I’ma guessin’ when yer a “citizen journalist” for a major noozlepaper, yer not appost to be amakin’ up yerz own wordslies. I’ll keep that in mind. Strangely, I’m still happy to have received the comment.

Other highlights of my weekend so far:

Heavy Drinking
saturday soySince Magoo’s intervention at Miss Karli’s house a couple of weeks ago to confront him about his serious drinking problem, he’s made great strides and has fallen back off the wagon as we’d hoped. He’s back in the sauce, so to speak, guzzling mommy-milk, water, diluted juice and his new favorite – soy milk, or as Laylee calls it – sorry milk.

saturday sale
The semi-annual community garage sale was this weekend and I scored a few sweet deals, including several $1 pairs of Stride Rite sneakers for Magoo (I shouldn’t even be typing this. I think the people at Stride Rite are militantly opposed to this kind of podia-pediatric travesty. You must never, never reuse a pair of children’s shoes, lest your child end up with gimpy-malformed-stepatitis.), a VHS copy of Snow White which Laylee has never seen before (Funny, eh? Since she thinks that’s her name and the name of her 16 year-old imaginary sister) and a whole ton of “bestselling” books to trade in for the ones I really want on Frugal Reader. Yippee!

The Undead
The potted plant Dan brought me on my day of sadness, rage and attempted sewing machinicide is still alive and there are even a few baby gerbers popping up for some extra spring sunshine.

saturday not dead

A Debt Repaid
saturday thanksForgiveness and healing can now begin. Today I received, via the United States Postal Service, a long awaited note of apology and a check to repay me for a night out on the town with my friend Ceci 7 years ago. The bitterness was so very very hard for me to bear and I am so glad that she decided to come clean and send me the money she owed me for taking her out to dinner when she drove down from Canada to visit me for the weekend when I was a college student SEVEN YEARS AGO. Are you kidding me? Dude! I bought you a burrito. You drove down from CANADA to see me! I laughed out loud when I read her note of apology. Ceci – if you’re reading this, you make me smile. If you’re not reading this:
(In case you’re wondering, I’m keeping the money. It’s going into my “Send Daring to Blogher Blog-a-thon Fund.” More on the SDBBF to come.)

Square Waffles
Dad and Laylee made dinner tonight and we learned two things:
1. I buy too many Eggos – Laylee is so impressed at the sight of SQUARE waffles.

saturday waffles

It takes two drops of red food coloring to make bath-time a magical experience.

saturday pink

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Supper Swapping

As many of you know, I am part of a dinner co-op. I love cooking…once a week… and I love free stuff. So when Susan Thacker asked to send me a copy of her cookbook Supper Swapping so that I could review it on my blog, I was excited and a little nervous. I knew it was my bloggeristic duty to give it an honest review, whether I liked the book or not.

The book gives tips and instructions for trading dinners with friends and neighbors, something I could give a testimonial about any day of the week. I’ve been trading dinners for over a year and if I had to go back to cooking every single day, I think I’d have some sort of breakdown. Besides saving us time and money, sharing meals gives our families a real sense of community.

In Supper Swapping, Susan lays out the basics for trading dinners and also includes fun little suggestions to make cooking more enjoyable, like choosing theme music to go with the style of food you’re preparing. She also gives tips on how to save money on your shopping and stock your pantry.

Most of this information was not revolutionary to me at this point in my “supper swapping” career, although I think it would have been helpful back when I was just getting started. I also have to admit that I’m really excited to play music from "La Traviata" next time I make spaghetti and meatballs.

What I love about Supper Swapping is that it’s a little book packed with amazing recipes. Thacker contacted dozens of top-notch chefs and sorted through their best recipes, choosing those that would be easy enough to be reproduced by the masses (read this: daring-young-wanna-be-master-chefs) but still restaurant quality, delicio-so and nutritionally dense. I have made seven of the 100+ recipes from the book, all either for company or for my dinner co-op, and each one was met with overwhelming approval by everyone. This is definitely a book I would choose for my collection.

If you'd like to learn more about her book, you can check it out on the Supper Swapping website. Recipes we loved and will make again include:

-Creole Sauce served over rice (from Charleston Restaurant, named by Zagat as 2003's most popular Baltimore restaurant)
-California Spinach Salad with homemade Vinaigrette Dressing
-Corn and Black Bean Salsa (delicious and healthful, more like a salad than a salsa)
-Chicken Enchiladas (the best recipe for these I've found)
-Chicken or Salmon with Buttery Cilantro Ginger Sauce (We've tried both and people have begged for the recipe.)
-Amazing Chocolate Pudding (heaven in a glass cup)


Now a few notes on how my dinner co-op works:

-Four families are members of the group, each with 1 or 2 children.
-We consider 3 adult-sized servings of a main course to be a complete dinner.
-Each family makes their own vegetables, desserts, and sides (unless the sides are semi-mandatory. Ex. We would never just bring over 3 pieces of meat or fish. A side dish is required for things like pot roast, BBQ chicken or grilled salmon.)
-Each family has 4 square pyrex pans with rubber lids and 4 large disposable tupperwares. This way, we never worry about who has which dishes. They just rotate through the group.
-Mondays through Thursdays are our cooking days. Since our children are small, we often have leftovers for lunch the next day and often for Friday night dinner as well.
-We each have a set dinner night so I can plan to always have Wednesday as my cooking day.
-Everyone sends 6 meal choices at the beginning of a cycle and I work them into a 6-week calendar so we all know what meal is coming each day and can plan vegetables to go along with it.
-On my day to cook, I have to have the food ready and delivered with re-heating instructions by 5:00pm. On my nights off, the food magically appears on my doorstep.
-You are not required to be home for the drop-off but can leave a milk-box or cooler out for the food to be kept in until you get home.
-This is one of the best time and money saving decisions I’ve ever made for my family.
-We eat better every night because the person cooking has to do it so rarely that they make something really special when it’s their night to cook.

Well, good luck and happy Supper Swapping. I hope you’ll join us.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Black Pathers of Suburbia

Am I the only person who thinks it's hilarious that the white 2-3 year old soccer team in my neighborhood just named themselves "The Black Panthers"?

Every time I think about it, I can't help laughing.

They like panthers... and they like black... and power.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Cool 2 B Real

The title of this post is inspired by my second favorite website marketing beef to tweens as a hot commodity. Okay, it’s really my first favorite website hawking beef to tweens. Okay, I think it’s the only one. But that doesn’t matter. All I’m hoping for with this intro is to become the number one google search result for “beef and tweens.” That would be really… something.

Today I want to say "it’s cool to be real." It’s okay to experience “negative” emotions, to feel hurt, betrayed, alone, abandoned, afraid or even angry. I hear so many women (myself included) expressing raw, heartfelt emotions and then apologizing for them or brushing them aside as a product of weakness, hormones, or some flaw of personality.

sad babyAs a new mom, I became friends with an amazing girl. She is beautiful, kind, loving, positive and strong. We had children close in age and got together quite often for playdates, even when our first-borns were too young to drool in unison, let alone play together. During these times we would talk about our lives, share pleasant stories about mutual acquaintances and talk about how wonderful and glorious motherhood was.

After countless visits with this friend, there remained a wall between us that I felt could not be penetrated. I enjoyed our excursions together and came to the conclusion that for some inexplicable reason, we would never be truly close. Then one day, she confided in me that the past several months had been extremely hard for her. Although our children were almost a year old, her daughter was still rarely sleeping for more than 2 hours at a time without waking up. She was worn out and fed up and very cautiously expressed her feelings of frustration.

I was stunned and felt suddenly closer to her than I had ever felt. I finally saw past her perfect veneer to someone with doubts, fears and frustrations.

She quickly apologized for speaking negatively of her child. She thought it was inappropriate to express those feelings out loud, while I was thinking how refreshing it was to know that I wasn’t the only one who was struggling. I now see that conversation as a turning point in our friendship, a moment that has allowed us to grow closer and form a more solid connection.

I have friends who have been betrayed but apologize for feelings of resentment, friends who have suffered real loss but apologize for feelings of sadness, friends who have been marginalized or berated by someone they trusted but apologize for feeling angry or confused.

I’m not advocating wallowing in pools of self-pity or refusing to take control of your life. What I’m suggesting is that it's okay to just feel and be, to linger for a moment and experience emotions that are real and poignant before we pshaw them away, fix our mascara and put on our “happy face.”

Repressing feelings, discrediting them or imagining them into oblivion to avoid the appearance of weakness does nothing but magnify the emotions and cause problems down the line.

I learned early on in my mothering that I did not want to marginalize my children’s feelings. I would catch myself saying, “You’re not sad!” when I felt that Laylee was crying “for no reason.” It took a while to realize that if she’s feeling it, it’s a real emotion, whether I can personally identify with it or not. Some of the things her little heart breaks over seem downright silly to me, but if I tell her she has no right to be sad or afraid, will she feel that she can confide in me as she grows up to be one of those beef-eating, junior-high-struggling tweens?


Our relationships grow stronger when we allow each other to see inside our quiet hurts and to “bear one another’s burdens that they may be light.” It’s cool to be real, and hey – beef has a lot of protein and whatnot.

Tip Tuesday – Growing Family Logistics

So our family is growing. Now that the supply of Cadbury mini-eggs has been exhausted, we should be shrinking back down to our normal sizes in a couple of weeks. But we’re not talking about the size of individual family members today and no, I’m not pregnant Mom. I promise never to announce an impending grandchild via my blog.

We have two wonderful kids and although we’re not sure how far down this road of parentude we’re gonna travel, or at what speed, we know that there are more children in our future. When we got married, people were constantly asking us how many kids we wanted to have. Dan and I started to routinely answer, “Fourteen,” just to shut them up. We really do love kids though and want to have “as many as we can handle.”

Originally I think that meant, “as many as we can afford,” but now it’s come to mean so much more. How many kids can we care for emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally? We’re not sure. Somewhere between 3 and 100. After Laylee, the number was closer to 100. After Magoo and the trauma my body experienced, that number began to dip.

One of my readers, who doesn’t have a blog, is having her second child and lives in a 2-bedroom home. She asked me for tips on logistics for raising multiple children at the same time. She specifically wanted to know what to do for sleeping arrangements.

My tips for raising several children at the same time (2 counts as several, right? And let’s not forget the millions of tiny children within my ovaries that make their presence known monthly.) are these:

-Try to use the right name with the right kid. I’ve heard that it helps them feel loved or something. If you can’t do this, at least try to use a name appropriate for their gender. If you can’t remember that much, all children can be called “little dude” in a pinch.

-On a more serious note, I will address the sleep issue. I would suggest having the baby bunk in with Mom and Dad (in a separate bed or cradle if you’re a non-co-sleeper like myself) for the first several months until Little Dude Senior is old enough to sleep in a “big-boy bed.” Then put the two kids in the same room but put down the one who has the hardest time falling asleep first.

Someone who has actually done this and made it work, please help me out here.

What other tips do you have for big families, meaning families with more than one child? How do you work meal times, chores, the morning rush, driving them around, homework, etc? Do you have any tips for us new moms?

If you’re a newbie like me and a know-it-all who thinks they’ve got it all figured out, we’d love to hear your theories too. We may laugh at your glib inexperienced neonate hypotheses but at least we’ll be entertained, and isn’t that what this blog is all about – learning, sharing and opening ourselves to ridicule in a public forum? That’s why I come here every day.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter - With a Strobe Light

easter3Well, not much to say here. Easter was far less bitter than the days leading up to it. This is remarkable since I decided to take a second whack at creating a lovely gown for myself which also ended up in miserable failure. Dan says Laylee will love using it as a dress-up dress, so some good came out of it. I ended up wearing a skirt I made last summer and the world is still spinning.

easter4Laylee’s dress turned out cute, as dresses sewn for adorable children often do. The bunny-man was good to us, bringing me a book of Shel Silverstein poems which Laylee has claimed as her own.

“You hafta SHARE! Please.”

The church service was beautiful, the beauty exaggerated by the fact that I was sitting on the stand with the choir and actually had the chance to pay attention for once…and the fact that it was not my three-year-old who pulled the fire alarm during the choir’s stirring rendition of the closing song, “I Know that My Redeemer Lives.” It was much more exciting with the strobe lights and sirens.

We all love the song so much that we just kept singing away while the congregation mumbled nervously, trying to decide whether it would be rude to flee the building when the choir wouldn’t shut the heck up.

When we found out who the culprit was, I was not surprised. That’s just the kind of thing you’d expect from a child raised by parents who grew up in a nudist colony. *wink*

In other news, the weird things meme is circulating again and although I have been tagged before, I have to mention my recent tag by Peter, a man who’s blog, like his business is called The Tutu Boutique and who listed crying during reality TV shows as one of his weird qualities. Dude. His blog is pink. He sells tutus and princess things. Check him out. He cracks me up.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Rage Against the Machine

Rally ‘round your family,
With a pocket fulla shells.
And something about a FIST FULLA STEEL!

Not Rage fans? Okay. Never mind. Me neither. We’re more into Raffi now. Rally round your family with a Robin in the Rain. But Robin in the Rain and Baby Beluga won’t make very good background music for my next project.

I’ve decided to smash my sewing machine and serger with a large rusty mallet, cremate their remains and sprinkle the ashes all over the desks of the good people at Butterick!

Who makes a pattern that doesn’t give measurements for sizing?
Who makes a pattern with pleats, a full lining, and an invisible zipper that suggests using sheer fabric?
Who makes a pattern for a butt-ugly sausage wrapper and markets it as instructions for a beautiful dress?
Who thinks that the average woman has breasts that sit above her armpits?

I have never claimed to have a perfect body but I am not:
A) Morbidly obese…yet. (I am currently self-medicating with the Cadbury Mini-Eggs Dan brought home to me along with beautiful I’m-sorry-you-are-a-sewing-failure potted Gerber Daisies.)
B) Freakishly tall (5’6” doesn’t count, does it?).
C) Sagging to the point of needing reality-TV-worthy plastic surgery.
D)10 sizes larger in dresses than I am in pants and shirts.
E)Ever sewing for myself again.

Today has been my sewing nightmare, the likes of which I have not seen since I started sewing 20 years ago. Today is a day that would have junior high HomeEc teachers running for their lives. I swear I ripped out more seams than I sewed. I’m not sure how that’s possible but I’d advise you not to question my logic at this moment. I am currently holding a large rusty mallet, okay?

Today is a day in which I pulled a major pectoral muscle just trying to get out of the straight-jacket I like to call “my Easter dress.” Karli advised me to try icing it before I go into the ER again.

All of its lovely pieces are going into a baggie in the garage where they will await the day that I lose half my body weight , chop several inches off my staggering circus-freak height and get one of those crazy bras that bring my cleavage up to chin-level.

Now I have some demolition* to take care of. Peace out.

*Disclaimer – No equipment will actually be harmed in the process of rage and destruction I am about to embark upon. I love my Babylock and old-school sewing machine with a great love.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Since People at My Church are so Square…

…They don’t want us to go naked on Easter Sunday and our dresses currently look like this:

my dress

laylee dress

I may not be blogging for a couple of days.

Have a great Good Friday!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Food helps You Grow and Gives You Energy

Unless you are a car or an imaginary sister friend named “The Other Snow White.” If you are a car, you can eat gas for energy but you will never grow any bigger. If you are an imaginary sister friend named “The Other Snow White” you will always stay too small to go on play dates and your job will be to stay home and keep the house safe from Monsters, except the nice monsters because they’re allowed to come in the house and stay in it if they WANT!

I just thought you’d like to know a little bit about how food works.

Food goes down and down and down your throat and then says “AAAHHHHH! I’m going down!” and then it turns into pee and comes out your BUM.

If I eat my food all gone, I will grow up into a Grammy.

If Laylee eats her food all gone, she will grow up into a Mom and a Kathryn.

If Magoo eats all his food all gone, he will grow up into a Laylee.

What will Daddy grow into? Apparently like the car and “The Other Snow White, and the Beast if he lets the last petal fall, he will be doomed to remain a Daddy for all time.

When I become a Grammy and Laylee becomes a Kathryn, she would like a new Mommy because she wants to always always have a Mommy. She is accepting applications. Only apply if you’re willing to stop eating so you will NEVER grow big like a Grammy.

I have explained that I will always always be her mom, even when I become a Grammy, but she wants a backup plan.

Side-note: If your Magoo bobs around like a human bobble-head while you're trying to feed him this morning and you accidentally jam a spoonful of YoBaby organic banana flavored whole milk yogurt into his right eye, it will not give him energy or increased growth potential. It will just make him turn red, smear the yogurt deeper into his eye socket and cry, hypothetically speaking.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Tip Tuesday Bonus – Keeping Easter

Yesterday Karen was asking for suggestions of how to teach your kids the real meaning of Easter.

When we were little, my mom taught us the Easter story using scriptures from the New Testament, along with visual aids inside plastic Easter eggs. Gabriela details it on her blog.

I always make “hot cross buns” on Good Friday. They are actually two Rhodes Rolls, dipped in melted butter and rolled in cinnamon sugar, baked and then painted with a cross of cream cheese frosting. True hot cross buns don’t seem remotely appealing to me and the ones I make give us the chance to eat something yummy, while teaching the kids about the crucifixion and atonement.

Nettie from Singing a Verse of My Song has some cute suggestions too.

What have you got for us?

Tip Tuesday – Potty Training

pottyNo, this is not about getting your post-pregnancy body back in shape. Today we’re talking about a little training for the kidlets.

I’m pretty excited that I shan’t be needing this advice again for another year and a half or so. In fact, I may decide not to potty train Magoo at all. When he turns 6 or 7, I’m sure his friends will make fun of him until he figures out what’s up.

For me, potty training Laylee has been a wild ride. It’s taken us over a year and she is finally about 90% trained during the day. Pull-ups are worn at night, except when they’re not.

Our main problem was that we tried to force it before she was ready. We got the book, courtesy of Grammy. We did all the steps but she just couldn’t make it happen. She really had no idea when the pee was coming.

Me: So, where do we do our pee pee?
Me: That’s right. Are you dry?
Laylee: YES!
Me: Great.
Laylee: Oh NO! WAHHHHH!

Big puddle.

So my main advice is - don’t attempt it before they’re ready and don’t turn it into a battle. Go at their pace and have patience that they’ll figure it out sometime before Junior High.

One of my favorite young mom friends told me that she just made it a game. Let’s see how long we can keep a pull-up dry today. When it got wet, oh well, the diaper came back out. Eventually when they could keep it dry for a good chunk of the day, they got to try it with real underwear. She said this worked great and they had very few accidents by the time they transitioned to the real deal.

My main regrets come from the times I made Laylee feel guilt or shame for her accidents. She was little and she was learning how her body worked. Once I stopped chastising and started commiserating with her and cheering her on to do better next time, we started to see real progress.

I’d love to hear any fabulous suggestions you have.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Updated Weaner

Thank you for your great suggestions and encouragement over the last couple of days.

My main concern right now is not that Magoo stay hydrated, although that would be nice. I’m just really worried about him getting all the right baby nutrients found in breast milk and formula. I know breast is supposed to be best, but even formula cans claim to contain all sorts of lipids, proteins, and prilohuktazines to promote brain, eye and armpit development and who knows what else.

DHA, ARA and NRA – I’m pretty sure those are not contained in the watered down cranberry juice we’ve managed to get him to drink. Dan says, “Who needs special brain-developing formula? I’m playing BEETHOVEN for him whilst feeding him goldfish crackers. What more could his brain need?”

I do see his point, especially since “fish” are so high in those Omega-3s, right?

sippyAnywho… Magoo has started licking and even drinking occasionally from a valveless sippy cup (a suggestion from momof3busyboys and Maine Mom), although all he’ll take is juice. His neck, chest and stomach are VERY hydrated and his body seems moderately so. I consulted with our pediatric nurse about how much "special milk" he still needs and we are getting the pumped breast milk in him by liquiding down all of his baby food.

I even created a breast milk fruit smoothie yesterday that he drank with much glee. Tomorrow, Karli has offered to have him over to her house for a change of scenery and something she calls “Operation: Drink Something Please.”

We’re hoping that he’ll discover that drinking is cool at a friend’s house…now…not so much when he gets to high school…

Friday, April 07, 2006

Tales of an Emergency Weaner

Alternate title, courtesy of Magoo: WAAAHHH!!!!!! (English translation: It’s Hard out Here for a Starving Melon-Head)

Dude, my appendages cannot take it anymore. If breasts were bike tires, these puppies would already be in a landfill somewhere or hanging up in some hippy commune as an art project, they’re so full of puncture wounds.

At least if a rubber tire is punctured repeatedly, the worst that can happen is a spectacular bike wreck. The tires won’t become diseased and spread up through the spokes, killing the entire BMX.

Well, enough about me. How’s your anatomy doing today? Good? Okay great. Back to me.

This is the second round of major damage the sweet little piranha has caused to my person and I’m in moderate to serious pain. This pain turns to annoyance. This annoyance makes everything seem more annoying and that makes me a very lame mama to two small people who deserve better.

Magoo will be one in just over a month and this morning when I woke up hurting again, Dan and I decided it was time to wean – today.

black eyeThere are a couple of problems with this scenario. First, Magoo fell down and blammed his eye about 10 minutes after we made the decision to wean him. He now has a growing black eye which makes his crying and reaching for me all the more pathetic. Laylee took this picture of him, her first photographic effort. Quite impressive, no?

Secondly, the little muffin-head does not drink any liquid, including breast milk, if he’s not drinking it directly from my body. He’s sort of like an albino vampire in that respect. We’re worried he’ll shrivel up like a little black-eyed-peasin (like a Craisin - what Ocean Spray would market him as, if he dried up completely and were packaged and sold on grocery store shelves).

Thirdly, I love nursing. With Laylee, weaning was a very gradual process until at 14 months she just didn’t wake up in the night for her one remaining feeding and we were done. I cried. I think if I didn’t know we would have more children, I would have cried for weeks.

Breastfeeding is not always easy. I had to pump and bottle feed for the first 4 months of Laylee’s life because nursing hurt so bad. After I saw a good lactation consultant and was able to heal, it was smooth sailing for the next 10 months. With Magoo, it started easy as pie (with the help of a good lactation consultant) but has become increasingly difficult with each little spike that sprouts from his gums.

So now I cry when I do nurse him and I cry when I think about stopping. I’m just a big boob. (no pun intended)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Circumlocution and a Chicken Popsicle

Thanks for all your great parenting advice and encouragement on my “Bumps” post.

Since typing that, we’ve made a few changes, including adding small morning chores, keeping our parental cools a bit cooler and letting her make “becisions” more frequently when the outcome doesn’t really matter in the long run.

Example: Yesterday she started to throw a complete cow when she noticed I had put a “princess panty” (pull-up) in her “underwear door.”

Me (feeling defensive, like I needed to show her who was boss): That’s where they go because I put them there.
Me (realizing that this is a stupid argument, it appears to be a core value issue to my child, and there is no need to get all all “Brown vs. the Board of Education” about segregation in the “panty door”): Okay. Let’s talk about this. What things do you think should go in the panty drawer?
Laylee (sniffing): Only REAL panties can go in the panty door. They can’t touch the princess panties!
Me: Okay, let’s find a place for the princess panties.
Laylee (smiling): O-KAY!

We are continuing to make it clear that it’s not okay to be disrespectful to your parents, including but not limited to dancing around naked with the lights on at 11:00pm and then making a big mess on the floor when you’ve removed your own pull-ups.

Example: The new rule is that if she removes her pull-ups in the night, she has to wear them all day the next day, even (gasp!) if she’s going over to a friend’s house. Pull-ups at a play date?! The horror! We’ve gone two nights accident-free.

We’re also “encouraging” her to take a more active role in things like getting herself dressed and using the potty so she can feel a sense of accomplishment. At this point she seems to feel more angry than accomplished some of the time but she’s totally capable of doing these things.

Example: I told Laylee to find some real panties when she woke up.
Laylee: No. I can’t FIND them!
Me: I think you can. They’re in your drawer.
Laylee (in a super-whiney voice): But I want the ones with the pointy pointy things on the top (This means lace. This is where the post title comes from. When I told Dan this story, he said, “There is nothing cuter than a three-year-old circumlocuting," which I know is a lie. Me in giant fleece footy pajamas is at least that cute.)
Me: You can do it. I’m sure you can.
Laylee: No, I CAN’T!
Me: Try.
After much whining and slamming of drawers, she emerged with the coveted underclothes. She was grinning from ear to ear.
Me: You found them yourself?! How does that make you feel?
Laylee: PROUD!

As far as the food battles go, we did stop fighting them, according to Dr. Nelsen’s suggestions. For breakfast and lunch I give Laylee two choices and she picks once but if she “becides” she doesn’t like it half-way through, then she’s done.

For dinner, I decide what we’re having and then let her choose which food items she’ll eat. The first night she ate only bread and got hungry later. We said, “You should have eaten more dinner.” The second night, she ate TWO HELPINGS of the green (spinach) mashed potatoes on her own, and then she ate some chicken when I explained how cool it was to stick it on the end of your fork like a popsicle and bite chunks out of it.

Things like “advanced” table manners and forced vegetables (of the non-concealed variety) will come after she’s turned 5, I think…

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

On Target

Two things:

1. My special powers are still strong and vital. I had a bit of a lapse there for a while but recently pulled off THIS:


and THIS:


The second one may not look that great, but at the historic first Costco ever built in the world, during rush hour, this is an AMAZING spot. Cower before my staggering awesome-nossity.

2. If you have recently misplaced a pair of black leather boots, please contact the Daring Young Family Search and Rescue Team at 1-800-SORRY-ABOUT-YOUR-TOES.


(Please do not call that number. I just tried it and it's a real phone number of some company. That's what I get for trying to be hilarious! :))

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Some Bumps in the Road

becidedOkay, Dawg. I’m watching American Idol as I type this. I think this is the 7th episode I’ve watched this season. I’m sort of an “idle” Idol fan. If I happen to be avoiding certain growing mounds of festering house chores on any given Tuesday night or I’ve spent so much time “parenting” my 3-year-old that my brain is rattling around loose in my head, I turn on the tube.

Maybe it’s just cathartic to watch someone else get ripped on. I don’t know. We’ve been having a few parenting “issues” lately. Every time we think we’ve got things pretty much figured out, Laylee throws us another curve ball. If nothing else, parenting is making us humble.

Okay. American Idol is over and there’s nothing not-icky on TV so I can continue to type this. First, I must say that Katharine McPhee was hands down the best performer tonight. I don’t know what type of crazy corned-beef hash-pipe they’re passing around at that judges table.

So, the parenting. Laylee’s been getting more confident in her ability to exert her own authority and only do something if SHE “becides” it’s a good idea. Our instincts are to get all authoritarian-I’m-the-boss-of-you on her and verbalize her into submission.

However, our advanced verbal skills are no match for her lungs, stubbornness and flailing appendages. How do you “make” someone go to sleep (in a “they”-won’t-take-your-kids-away-from-you sort of way)?

I spoke with a family therapist who is a follower of Adlerian parenting philosophies and he suggests not fighting back unless what they’re doing is a real hazard, thus taking the “sails out of their wind” when they have nothing to push against.

So two nights ago when she was dancing naked in the hall with the light on and a washcloth on her head at 11:00pm, we ignored her. At 5:00am, Dan found her out of her pull-ups with a big mess on the floor. I consider that a hazard. She had also stacked up several containers, forming a precarious tower with which to scale her tall dresser. Also a hazard.

Yesterday I started madly reading the first of four books our therapist friend had suggested, Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen. I was seriously nervous that it would be one of those hippy-dippy, positive-at-all-costs, feel-the-love method books. “You just kicked Mommy in the head, darling. What did I do to make you feel that way? Please stop causing Mommy blunt head trauma, sweet little muffin-bum, child of the earth.” I really annoy myself when I speak in third person.

We’re not major authoritarians but we definitely believe that children need limits and we serve them better acting as parents than pretending we’re all just buddies, hanging out in this little frat-condo we’re so lucky to cohabitate.

So far I really like the book, shockingly so. Dr Nelsen talks a lot about showing respect for your children and expecting it in return. She also talks about natural and logical consequences, kindness and firmness at the same time, mutual respect, encouragement, and the role of chores and responsibility from an early age.

One good point she brings up is that traditional “punishment” just makes a child feel resentment, desire for revenge, rebelliousness or retreating with a possible reduction in self-esteem. How do you feel when someone corrects or berates you, showing no kindness or respect? Children feel the same way. They’re human too...well, most of them. SURPRISE!

I also like her because she says that if any of her suggestions go against your parental instincts, don’t do them. I love a parenting book that takes into account that I am a fully developed adult-type person with a brain who has actually met my children and might know what they need. I will keep reading and let you know what I make of it all.

As for this moment, I should probably attempt to clean up some of the dresser drawers and their contents that are currently strewn about my home. I removed the hazardous dresser and tall bookshelf from Laylee’s room and have been shuffling furniture around for the safety of all concerned.

Every surface in my house is covered in books, clothing, the personal effects of several Disney princesses and Desitin…which brings me to a point – American Idol. Isn’t there ANYTHING else on TV right now?

airwalks(For a little fun, I’ve included a picture of the outfit she “becided” to wear to her playdate today. It’s a little too WWF for my personal taste but it did look fairly smashing when she added her bouncy pink Airwalks.)

Tip Tuesday – Family Films

Today’s subject is close to my heart. I love families and I love great films. What I don’t like are huge marketing giants that tell our kids what to watch.

“This is my favorite movie because its main character is on the front of my Cheerios box, my flickering-light running shoes, and tattooed on My Little Pony’s butt,” drone the thousands of mind-numbed media-consuming children-bots.

Today I would love suggestions of hidden treasures, quality children’s or family films that teach, uplift and entertain and have not been marketed down our throats ad nauseam.

When I worked in the media department of a large public library with an amazing film collection, we’d often get questions like – “I’m getting a group together for a family gathering with people from ages 2-80 with various backgrounds and tastes. What movie could we all enjoy together?”

During my job interview, I was asked this question and I think I answered “Babe.” I got the job (Because who doesn’t like a good pig/sheepdog movie with singing mice?), but the truth is, if I knew the real answer to that question, I’d be making way too much money right now to be typing this myself. I’d have “people” to do that for me.

Here are some movies I’ve enjoyed that you may have heard of, but they’re definitely not in the same marketing universe as Finding Nemo or Chronicles of Narnia:

-Silent Films:
Bustor Keaton, some Chaplin, EARLY silent films like the Lumiere Brothers’ Actualities or Trip to the Moon by Méliès

-Animated short films from the National Film Board of Canada:
You do have to be careful and pick those that are appropriate for children, if that’s who'll be watching them. Animated does not equal G-rated. Some favorites are The Man Who Planted Trees, The Sand Castle, The Cat Came Back, The Tender Tale of Cinderella Penguin, Getting Started.

-Animal documentaries that take you right into the world of the animals:
Winged Migration (Perrin 2001) and MicroCosmos (Nuridsany/Pérennou 1996) come to mind.
-Family-friendly foreign films for when your kids are old enough to read (I even have one friend who watches foreign films with her 5-year-old and reads the subtitles to her, although most of these would be more appropriate for older children and teens.):
Not One less (Zhang 1999), Children of Heaven (Majidi 1999), Beauty and the beast (Cocteau 1946), Wings of Desire (Wenders 1987)

-English Language:
The Winslow Boy (Mamet 1999), Whale Rider (Caro 2002), Babe: Pig in the City (Miller 1998), You Can’t Take it with You (Capra 1938), The Secret of Roan Inish (Sayles 1994), Secondhand Lions (McCanlies 2003), Marx Brothers Films(1930's)

What great films have you seen that have not received crazy media attention, or at least not recently? (I’d love to be reminded of great family films from years past.)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

You’re Invited

This has been going on long enough. I think it’s time that we should meet. You didn’t show up at the top of the Space Needle on Valentine’s Day like I’d hoped so Beth, Karen, Karli, Heather and I have been plotting something a little more exotic in hopes of enticing you out of your little computer rooms and nursing loungers.

None of us are gonna be able to make it to the “big show” this summer but we’d still like to get together with a few of our bloggin’ homies. So, if you plan to be in Boise, ID on the evening of Saturday, May 20th and you’d like to join us for some dinner and child-free girl time "Bloggirl" style, email me and let me know so we can reserve a seat for you.

“Idaho?!” you ask. “It can’t be! I LOVE Idaho! I’ve been searching for the perfect opportunity to abandon my family for an evening and spend some quality time in the potato capitol of the US.” Well, call me your fairy-ever-lovin’-godmother. Bring me four mice and a pumpkin because May 20th is your lucky day.