Friday, June 30, 2006

Don't mess with mama

shhh dad's working

I am watching the fallout from Linda R. Hirshman's December American Prospect piece, "Homeward Bound," and her reaction essay that followed in the Washington Post June 18th, "Mommy Rage: Unleashing the Wrath of Stay-at-home Moms," with the kind of shame I'd feel if I were rubber-necking at a train wreck: The better part of me wants to look straight ahead and move along as the traffic patrol instructs, but the part that wins out slows down to gawk at the mayhem.

I suppose the most surprising aspect for me -- if it's even true at all -- is that Ms. Hirshman claims to have been surprised by the backlash. She writes:

"I had wandered, it seems, into ground zero of the Mommy Wars. Although I was aware of the stories about women quitting, I did not know what a minefield the subject was. Specifically, I did not know that you can say almost anything about how great it is for a woman to give up her job; standing up for staying at work is the big taboo."

How could a self-described social philospher studying mothers NOT know that they would be as protective as a cornered mama bear? How could she NOT know they would be offended at the accusation they had no value unless they were receiving a paycheck?

Unlike her assertions, I don't think her initial piece actually stood up for the working woman as much as it belittled those who, she claimed, were wasting their educations and their lives, not to mention undermining the progress of feminism, by staying home.

After Ms. Hirshman goes on to catagorize her most vitriolic opponents as fundamentalist religious zealots, and demeans internet diarists who are blogging in droves in defiance of her assessment of the state of feminism by implying they have too much time on their hands, she retorically wonders why the women she was championing -- the woman leaving home to go out into the workplace, valiantly toiling away and making in-roads for the common good of all women -- weren't rallying around her side. Her answer: They were too busy working.

It's too bad another possibility escapes her: This pink-suited army in the professional trenches would rather be home with their kids than grinding away at the office for the benefit of stockholders or insurance companies or ad revenues.

She is asking why would an educated women choose to stay home if not for fear that the big, bad public schools will teach their children about Evolution as if it were SCIENCE? Why else would they willingly relegate themselves to the jobs of unpaid cooks, janitors, chaeuffers and recreational attendants? Why aren't they forging new business inroads for their children and their children's children with their degrees and doctorates from the board rooms instead of the playrooms and the bathrooms? She seems to be assuming that the greater good can only come from on high.

Perhaps what she should be asking is WHY are we GOING to work?

My guess is that many of her supposed allys are working not for the personal satisfaction of climbing the corporate ladder and being remembered in history, but for necessisities (or at least what they think are necessisties) such as healthcare, heating oil or retirement plans.

My guess is that many of her rally 'round the flag girls would give up the rat race in a New York minute if they could. There's no love out there from the bosslady. Women on the rise, or so it seems, don't always make it easier for the women coming up.

Personally, I could easily get by on 12 hours a week of professional satisfaction and the rest enjoying the small window of life I am alotted with my family if I wasn't the one providing my family's quality healthcare. My regret would't be wishing I'd spent more time at the office, I assure you.

It also seems to me that Ms. Hirshman has no interested in the women who care for the children of the affluent; in fact she doesn't seem to consider society at-large at all. She is looking at only one small piece of the puzzle. Our culture is increasingly isolationist in temperment. We are told, and we believe, that the individual is more important than the group. Personal accountability is revered above all else. Let's remember also as we move from the greater good to the needs of the individual, we are always looking out for ourselves first. For a growing number of women who don't want to be merely shadows in their kids lives, they're giving up the glory of earning only 75 cents for every dollar a man makes.

Perhaps it's time to realize that we are all coggs in a much bigger wheel. And we are all vitally important whether we stay at home or not. We need to balance one another, even if only precariously.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

And now, the good news ...

Young Wesley
Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
Annabel has a new cousin. Wesley Owen , born to Halley and Bill just after noon on June 28. He weighed 7 lbs 2 oz and, as you can see, he's just happy as pie.

So, without further ado ...

Welcome to the family young Wesley. We apologize in advance for all the bad jokes and indecisive moments you will witness from here on in. But you are one of us now, and I'm sure in time you will understand. Someday. With perhaps some nice refreshing adult beverage.

With much love and happiness,

Your east-coast cousins.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Words fail me

I woke up at 6 a.m. and switched on the news. Murder in Chatham. Double homicide. Son-in-law in custody. Parents dead inside the house.

I held my breath. The victims were not identified, but it doesn't matter. Anytime there is heartbreak in my backyard I am heartsick. I don't live in that town, nor have I ever, but more than any other place, for some reason, Chatham holds both my heart and my gratitude.

Any tragedy there is mine, too.

At 7 a.m. the phone is ringing. Not unusual. It could be any number of people calling: Lori to make sure I remember to bring juice; my father asking me if Annabel had a good night ...

"I really don't know how to say this," my mother's voice stammers. "I guess I just have to come right out and say it: there's been a murder."

She tells me all she knows, and then there is silence.

Death is not something I am unfamiliar with; five friends and countless relatives, both young and old. "Murder," however, is something that just hits you in the chest like a fist.

Turns out the victims were the son and daughter-in-law of a dear neighbor of my parents. The kind of family that is close and loving and courageous. I vividly remember this couple from my childhood, when they were younger than I am now and in love with each other and their two beautiful little girls.

I've spend all day today thinking about how I've never seen the man without a smile. In fact, he was a guy who, during his 17th summer, carried a baby racoon around in his shirt pocket, feeding it from an eye-dropper. As I listened to stories of his continued generosity throughout the day -- stories parceled out of the telephone and media chatter -- it was abundantly clear neither he nor his wife had changed these many years later.

I don't know what or how to think. I don't know how to make anything better or safer or sane.

But right now, at this very moment, I really wish someone had the answer.


mama I don't feel so good
Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
What's happening at the other mom's house

Today she took time out to talk to me on the phone,

though, I don't think she could hear me ...

You at work?
You at work, mama?
You at work?
Ma. You at work?

ma ... ma?"

"I need some poop juice. I don't feel good in my diaper."

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A little matter of experience and interpretation

Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
"Mama, don't push me," she says sternly as I interrupt her latest version of KING OF THE MOUNTAIN (my shoulders being the mountain this time) by putting her back on solid ground. "I didn't push you," I tell her, "I helped you repel down the foothills."

She clamors up my chest and over my shoulders again, this time all slit-eyed and daring me to thwart her plans. I drag her halfway down the mommy mountain, roll her over my knees and prop her back up into a sitting position, all the while she clings to two fistfuls of my uncombed hair. This time, however, her tone changes: 'NOOOOO, I wanna stay wit you, mama. I wanna stay wit yooooooou!'

Lately, I've noticed, she's been playing this game more and more. "But I wan YOU, mama" has become her mantra, especially when mama wants to be left in peace.

It's positively heartbreaking. It makes me ashamed to think about all the times I haven't been fully present with her because I am lost in my own inner world. I know that it won't be long until she doesn't want me within sight distance, let alone acting as the chair (or the mountain) beneath her.

However much I want to eat my toast or drink my coffee in peace right now is how much I'll want her to be her raucous little-girl self later, times two.

This morning, as we have the past four mornings, we trundled out of the house forgetting rain gear. We were late again, which meant no sit-down breakfast. A cup of "hot milk," an apple and a bag full of cereal were packed to go. I strap her into the car, hand her the breakfast and go back for her "um-bella," which she insists on propping above her head as we drive so she can munch on her "seer-we-wool" and stay dry, because it's "rainy out, mama."

I wonder, as we are driving along, if anyone will notice the car seat adorned with a blue and yellow-polka-dotted umbrella bobbing along with the unheard rhythm of The Wiggles. I wonder, if I were still the me of my previous life -- the childless life that seems as if it took place 100 years ago -- and I saw this traveling circus drive by, would I laugh or shrug or roll my eyes?

I contemplate the phenomenon of such annoyances, the behaviors I would have once called bratty and reserved for other people's children, but I can't sustain the notion for too long anymore. And, the fact is, I really don't care what other people think. I am just glad to be shown the error of my youthful ways. I'm glad to be laughing now.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Google has made me illiterate (in German)

As one might do from time to time, I peruse the data that shows how people happen on my ramblings. It's a sneaky little spy trick enabled by Site Meter, and it tells me, among other things, that some of you are looking for the "Perfect Frame for your Husband's 50th Birthday." To my horror, however, it turns out some folks have attempted to translate my writing into other languages. After translating the translation back, I have come to the stunning conclusion that I am illiterate. Some of you reading in English may have known this all along.

So, without further incoherant babbling, this is what some poor soul in Germany thinks I wrote in this essay over at Exiled in Toyland

Ow! OW! OWWWW!" My married man is dancing, again kreischend and around the house in a cloth. "you know that we should keep a Discokugel for the shower real, if you on practicing your movements verse-eat are" I explain to him, without looking above from my play "of the grocer's shop memory" with Ittybit at all. (we are at the part, in which them try to cause me to give however, my acquires straight rejects its $49 for two boxes of teigwaren and of cardboard Huehnerbruehe as at the MATERIAL market to in-sag), it weights that it believes like something, which bites it. I think that he is fair a phantom pass, until he hurls down the cloth and stomps on him. It searches carefully by the trampled Terrycloth and extracts a flatpressed wasp. Proof, according to its side of history that the carnivorous insect in a clean cloth, which was it from the laundry basket pulled already folded however not already away set. I am not safe I can of more local lives with the wilderness bear, which moves away each time by our house the change of season. Additionally to the occasional in free dwelling neighbourhood cat, which forms its way at home despite the presence of two loveable however loud of dogs, I waited attendance of confused Raccoons, blows and way rail of birds to be mentioned in order discombobulated houseguests as, spiders of all multiplicity freeloading not; Continuous screws I cannot mark; Lady hears nicely is, those in the small numbers, but terrifying in the swarms off; and ants, which fly. Each year gets a new mark of troubles. The wasps, although, have inside for good moved. I place before me that she thought wasp out "condominimums" behind the walls in the roof rafters establishes. On the sun portal in the evenings, I watch out sip my coffee and its enormous body wheedle in and from the bright attachments. I am that they study the verges, thus it the magic of the photocopy to their even more than modest place of residence to surely get can. I cannot begin me, of these creatures as everything else to think as villainous. Particularly if Ittybit comes, constantly to me of playroom the same portal and it weights that there is a "slow-acting, slow-acting, furchtsames ' more piiider on its duck. And away, "peas, nut/mother, det, ask me it." There I go investigating - prepared completely to shift long legs of a dad or any other general hausspinne and to explain family the slogan: Spiders are our friends - I stop intermediary thoughts, if I see that, what creeps on the gigantic filled animal a wasp is. I more shudder at the picture, which whirls Stingers into my head of this tariff-long monster, which drives it, is in knees of their bee. I sweep it above in my arms and explain to her everything when, which had her right to call me for assistance. While the married man studies the stickers its accumulation insect extermination means, carefully decide which poison materials he ready unleash in the world, around ours of newest troubles to be cleaned is, rush I to the judgement. "this times, we to Disco,", I and I announce run to the bathroom for my no name box of the hair spray, rusty from 12 years from styling neglect and shower steam. "welcomes to the eighties, waspers; I hope that you like extra influence."

So, for those who have red through this and required Anvils, pleas assept me sincerust 'I'm sorrys.'

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Hateful things ...

ode to Annie Leibovitz

I almost choked on my Guinness when I checked my rss reader and discovered that Mom-101 had tagged me (in the nicest non-tagging way, of course) with a meme about hateful things, because (and this is the part where I nearly spewed stout all over my keyboard) I am so "upbeat" all the time.

If only t'wer true.

For those of you who really don't know me, let me assure you it's the antidepressants writing, which leads me to my first hateful thing:

1). I hate Zoloft. And previously I hated Prozac more. They make me groggy and tired, and worried about never being normal again. I hate having to rely on a inhibitor to stop being inhibited. Why can't a strong cup of black coffee do the trick?

2). Citydiots. Yes, I live in the country week-round. I haven't been to the city (where you important people live during the work-a-day week) since I was pregnant. And NO, I am not going grocery shopping on weekdays just so you don't have to wait in line. I've got one word for you: ZABAR'S. ... And by the way, if you tell me one more time that YOU bring the culture here and WE should be grateful, I will let the air out of your tires and fill your car with fertilizer.

3). Sunny days. Not kidding. I would rather spend the entire day in a downpour than in the sun. I don't think there is enough sunscreen in the world to make me think otherwise. In fact they'd have to bottle something called LIQUID SHIRT to make me go outdoors between the hours of 10 and 2.

4). Watermelon. Truly. I don't understand its popularity. It's mealy and it has seeds. If you eat too close to the rind you are in for a bitter surprise and its tender meat really ain't that sweet. Why would anyone eat it when there's such a thing as cantalope?

5). Cosmopolitans. I watched Sex & The City. I even liked it the last three seasons, but damn. No matter how I try I just can't get this drink past my lips. Jed loves them. LOVES THEM. But if I'm going to drink one someone had better give me two margaritas first, you know, so I can be good and liquored-up.

6).Grocery shopping. While you may refer to # 2 here for a reason, a larger and more compelling one is an intricate game of hide and seek the managers have been playing with me for years. It has made me believe that the market higher-ups consider their stores to be DISNEYLAND. Let me assure you, dear manager, there is NOTHING amusing about searching fruitlessly for the BEER aisle or the NATURAL FOODS section because YOU moved it ... each month ... since I've been shopping here. So quit it already, okay!

7.) Lamb. This is something that crept up on me because for years I thought I liked lamb. I had it once at a party and it was A-MAZING. So whenever it's on a menu I have a tendancy to order it only to realize, once the plate is slid under my salivatin' chin, "oh, yeah, I'm not too jazzed about lamb."

8). Liam Neeson. I'm sure If I met him he'd be a nice guy, charming and the like. But seriously, since the movie "Nell," I can't watch his work. Any of it. Even the stuff I liked beforehand.

9). "Schindler's List." I hated this movie, but I couldn't admit it because of its subject matter. (Really, you can't disparage a movie dipicting a story of such historic importance, can you?) And no, it wasn't because Liam Neeson portrayed Oskar Schindler (although that didn't help). I don't want movies to BEAT ME OVER THE HEAD with the message. Mr. Spielberg, I have a brain. I am capable of using it on occasion.

10). Low-test transport. I hate automatic transmissions even MORE than decaffeinated coffee. Driving to work, somedays, with my low-test sedan and my low-test joe, I worry about left-leg atrophy and if I'll ever enjoy being behind the wheel again. It's enough to make you take Zoloft.

And that, dear friends, concludes this listed rant. I'm not going to tag anyone specifically, but if any of you out there in the ethosphere feel like taking this torch I'll happily link to your charred remains.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Shhh, I got a seektet ...


Dear Annabel,

It's time you know, you've joined an exclusive club begun in the 60s and 70s and culminated in a little place called Bethel, NY. (Oh sure, there are some people who think "Woodstock" happened in Woodstock, but I assure you, the legendary music festival took place on Max Yasgur's farm in Bethel). And the group to which you may now claim membership consists of an entire populace that can't be trusted because of their age -- over 30.

In your case, the number denotes only 30 months, but that's beside the point.

It is my contention that you are crafty beyond your (two +) years.

Case in point:

"Mommy, wah you wan, A o B?"

Ah ... let's see. I'll take A.

"Ok. ... wah do you wan NOooow?"

Hmmmm. I guess I'll take B.

"NO. We don't half any Bs."

If we are to truely keep track, I would mention that you are currently unable to successfully dress yourself in any article of clothing. You have, however, attempted to jam socks on your feet and put your pants on your head. (You can blame your father for that last fiasco, although he has routinely encouraged you to put my panties around your neck, which you have been successful in doing for some months now).

You still love to sing "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes (Knees and Toes)" but you are also capable of identifying, by name, your hands, elbows, hair, and bum as well your eyes and ears and mouth and nose. You are becoming interested in my breasts as more than just a place to jam your hands when you seek extra comfort, but I'm waiting to explain the whole "vagoo" thing until I've been good and drunk for a few weeks. (Sorry).

While I am trying to lose my balance to innebriation, you are finding yours much more easily these days, especially when standing on one foot, by the simple art of practice. Just last week you even let go of my hand to perform a tightrope act on top of the dugout bench at the Little League Field. You looked adorable with your arms outstretched.

Yesterday, you made it clear that you would no longer be using the "Baby Poddy," because, after all, you are a big girl now and big girls use the big girl potty. I know this will be too much information for some, but with your perched on the potty like a right parrot, repeating everything I said while you were waiting for the "POO to tum," I took a picture. I couldn't help myself because it seemed somehow like a milestone, something for the record book.

These days, I can't wait until I get home to see your sweet cheeks and feel your little arms wrap tight around my neck. I can't wait to hear the fanciful stories you are creating in volume. It seems we are living on our own Fibber Island, and, I have to admit, I've never had more fun.

Love and zerberts,

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The shameful economics of love

tuming for a ride?
Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
Crane Truck: $35,000

Diesel: $3.10 per gallon

Miles Per Gallon: Six

Miles to Yaya's house: 16 (round trip)

Look on Ittybit's face when she's strapped into the carseat: PRICELESS!

Of course, the interest rates will be MURDER.



fred & madge
Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
What's happening at the other mom's house ...

Meet Fred and Madge. They are bunnies.
"Hi Fred, how are you?"
Pretty good.
"Hi Madge, how are you?"
Pretty good.
Uh-oh, I sorry, Yaya. I brokt the rabbits.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

There's going to be heartbreak ... and I'm not ready


"I'm ANN-A-BEL. You wanna see ney to me?" Ittybit asks the fresh-faced blonde, four or so years her senior, whose mom is also pushing down on the opposite end of a teeter-totter two rows away from us.

I hold my breath as the girl's expression turns blank.

"I don't know what she's saying," she says to her mother. "What is she saying?"

"She wants you to sit next to her," I explain, translating more from ittybit's face, as she's been staring at her teeter-totter acquaintance since the girl's arrival, than her words.

For a while the little girl obliges and trails after my alpha-toddler, moms in tow. From the springy toys to the big slide, the girl is a trouper.

And then Ittybit's little being is inhabited by Simon Legree: "You see on the pey-gyn and I see on the doe-ag, otay? No, no, no, no. I see on the pey-gyn you see on the doe-ag. Now we see on the motor-cycle. You see on the aero-pain. Let's do over to the side. No, no, no here. Up here. I tan't doooo that. Help."

I can see it in the pretty girl's eyes: The novelty of having a toddler friend has grown old. She's looking for an exit. As Annabel took some time to pick up rocks, the girl and her mom slipped away unnoticed.

And so it begins; the floundering of forging new friendships.

At this stage, I know it hurts me more than Annabel, but I can't help it. No one wants to see their kids get rejected. I guide her through the procedure, anyway, even though I'm certain she won't understand. I explain that she has to ASK people if they WANT to do something, and that she has to understand that it's OK if they don't want to do what she wants to do - it's not a reflection on either of you. It's just the way things are.

Of course, after I'd finished my speech she asked me where they went.

"They went to the potty, baby."

"I wanna doe to the poddy, too."

Although I wanted to say 'no, we have to go home,' in order to avoid a real, honest to goodness rejection, I didn't want to thwart the progress of her intestinal interests.

Off we went to the toilets.

As we approached the green cement building that housed the porcelain thrones, the little girl and her mother emerged. As they walked past us, Annabel turned her head and waved at her new friend.

"Bye-bye. I hafta doe to the poddy. Bye. See you LAY-TER."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

It's all fun and games until someone loses a pie

I am at work, twiddling my thumbs as I wait for the IT guy to come and fix our massive headache often referred to simply as "the system," so I thought instead of dwelling on the sour bile of this madness, I'd share some toothsome treats instead.

We made this together, and it really was quite delightful.

Summer Strawberry Toddler

  • Step one: Mom, drink something quick and alcoholic. A shot of tequila works nicely.
  • Step two: Gather supplies. You will need 8 large strawberries - 2 for eating and 6 for slicing. One ready-made pie crust (who needs all that work when Betty Crocker can do it for you)? One tablespoon of sugar. A sharp knife. A tartlet pan.
  • Step four: Slice the 6 strawberries, while diverting toddler's attention with the 2 "decoy" berries.
  • Step five: Put tartlet pan down on center of crust and cut a large circle with knife. Line pan with center part of crust material.
  • Step six: Instruct toddler to dump berries into pan. ... She may do so ONE AT A TIME ...... S-L-O-W-L-Y, so try and be patient.
  • Step seven: Put drop-cloth on floor then hand toddler a tablespoon and the sugar bowl. (Word to the wise: do this project with only a small smackerell of sugar clinging to the bottom of the bowl. Even a small amount of the sweet stuff strewn on the floor will make you feel like your walking on a beach, only without the nice surroundings and the calm push of rhythmic waves).
  • Step nine: Slice narrow strips of crust from remnants and weave them across top of pie. Some toddlers will make curly-que designs while throwing them at the dog.
  • Step 10: Hand kid the leftover leftovers to play with since you forgot to preheat the oven to 350 degrees (hotter if your oven sucks).
  • Step 11: Remove dough pieces from the dog's back and TAKE THE KNIFE AWAY FROM THE TODDLER and put it in the dishwasher already. Sheesh.
  • Step 12: When is that oven going to heat up, damnit? Tap foot while clicking oven light on and off, over and over, showing your creamy OCD center.
  • Step 13: Make a second pie, you have time and a leftover pie crust anyway, not to mention there's sugar all over the floor, so the mess is no longer an obstacle. *Use your hands to rip pie crusts and mash strawberries so you won't be tempted to use the knife (now safely in the dishwasher) on your throat.
  • Step 14: Put pies in oven and bake about 20 minutes or until the crusts are a golden brown, (or longer if your oven sucks).
  • Step 15: Save one of the pies for daddy because toddler will demand "ICE PEEM" after feeding her lopsided, gnawed-on portion to the dog.

At least it looked pretty, huh?

And as luck would have it, you will be spared the rundown on the clean-up procedures. the "system" is working again ... for now.

What's happening at the other mom's house ...

She's like a kitten ... I can prove it.

Today was a playpen kinda day, starting at 10:30 a.m.

"Can I go to seep, now? Peas? Peas, can I?"

"Well, it's a little early ... but Ok ..."

10:45 a.m.
Do you think she's asleep? No, she's standing on her head, she's shaking out her blankets, she's doing her normal pre-sleeping activities like house cleaning.

11 a.m.
I couldn't believe it. She was OUT COLD. ... Of course when she wakes up she'll do it all over again: her pre- and post-sleeping activities.

Monday, June 19, 2006

When the road ahead is long and doesn't always lead where you wanted to go ...

heres looking at you

Dear Annabel,

I just wanted to appologize to you for yesterday.

On a day when we should have been celebrating your big 3-0 (30 months, that is) in grand style -- perhaps at a waterpark or at the very least, which was my solid intension, in the sweltering yoga studio with your very best friend having a kazoo parade for two -- we spent the day lost in the hills of Dutchess County, grooving to the Black-Eyed Peas as I prayed silently that the car didn't break down in the 96-degree heat leaving us stranded and melting.

The day had such promise even though it was shaded with gloom from the get-go.

We got out of the house before the sun filled it with hot, sticky badness, and headed off for some "Goodwill hunting." You needed t-shirts but we left with some things you wanted, too, such as a tiny-tot parisol and two "Band in a Bucket" playsets -- one for you and one for your best bud.

Wishing for rain and a parade to march through the dining room, you and I shared a meal of chicken nuggets and bottled water under the protective shelter of your new umbrella -- Superstitions be damned.

I called Ama to see if she was OK. You spoke to her for a little while and told her not to be sad. (In addition to your dad being away on this Father's Day, my dad was spending his day with Auntie Mimi, who had to be hospitalized that morning for a big-bad-bug that's wreaking havoc on her intensital tract. ... I'll leave it at that.) After you said goodbye, we headed off to our Sunday yoga class. You were excited.

Note to your older self: You might want to remind me to consult a MAP the next time we take an unfamiliar route.

I thought I knew what I was doing. I thought I knew the roads. (Thought being the problematic word here.) So for an hour we drove through some beautiful landscape; the kind of scenery that even makes atheists say it must be "God's Country."

You pointed out cows when you saw them and marveled at the big blue roof of a sky. You didn't even mind that there wasn't rain for your new "umbella."

The further I drove the more familiar things seemed, and yet it was all unfamiliar, too. I missed the turn we should have taken somewhere and found myself two states away from our appointed destination.

I phoned our friends to tell them of our dilemma and you listened calmly. You told me it was alright that I told them not to wait for us. You just demanded more "Peas in the Pod ... Hang Loo-ose!" before you, fell into a deep and binky-less sleep.

When you awoke, we were at a gas station in Litchfield, and I was asking a laughing man in a purple t-shirt if I head toward Sharon will I wind up in Gt. Barrington? Nope. When all the numbers were sorted out (44 to 41 to 23 to 7) and I had the "Ahhhhh ... Now-I-get-it" moment, your little voice came at me with a question, alerting me to your wakefulness.


"He was telling me how to get there, baby."

"Oh. But they won't be there anymore-a."

You were right, of course. They weren't there. The guilt in me decided park the car and stretch our legs into the direction of the nearest toystore. I rationalized that we could get some little nothing to cheer up Mimi.

You played with Thomas the Train for an hour while I searched the shop for the perfect thing, which turned out to be a this crafty doo-dad I fully expected to send me over the edge. (As I can not craft my way out of a paper bag).

After we paid for the kit and you happily toted it out of the store (sans bag), who could blame you for not wanting to get back into the car?

Wasn't it lucky that we parked in a perfect place for lolling? Wasn't it fortunate that we had a little patch of grass and a big shade tree right in front of parking spot so we could work on our project for Mimi?

I mention this because had I not stopped and sat in that place, had I listened to my better judgement and not opened up that pink box with its bazillion tiny pieces, I might never have known of your uncanny ablity to sort among those tiny little beads, smaller than seasame seeds, and hand me the desired color, time after time, for nearly an hour.

On the way home, you pointed to every large brick building, asking if that's the "hos-si-spill" where Mimi is. "She's not very good, so we maked her a special! I wanna see her," you'd tell me.

You don't have any idea how lovely and amazing you are right now, my little bean, but rest assured that we do, and I can guarantee we'll never tire of reminding you.

Happy half-way birthday, little one. Thanks for being you.


What's happening at the other mom's house ...

swimpoo ... Swimpoo ... an idea that's time has come.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Some guys ...

You know the guy who everyone likes? The guy who somehow, quietly, knows everybody on Earth? When you are with him in public, you can't go twelve feet without stopping to talk to someone or two?

I'm sure you've heard of him. He's the guy who believes hard work is always rewarded, even if the prize isn't what you had bargained for.

He's the guy who you tell your troubles to and before you know it he's on the phone, calling in a favor.

He likes to think the best of everyone, except the President (these last few years, anyway).

He still lights up at the thought of Lionel Trains, childhood memories and just about any funny story you tell him.

He's the guy who will wolf down a egg-sodden slice of burnt French toast -- even though eggs make him queasy -- just because you, child, made it for him.

He's the guy who remembers that you wanted that fancy pocket knife when you were seven years old and gives it to you at your college graduation with note saying: "I think now you're old enough to have it."

He's the guy who worries about your troubles, and acts on your behalf without you even knowing it.

He's the guy who walks you down the aisle, if you're lucky, and dotes on the grandkids with a kind of enjoyment you've never seen, nor thought humanly possible.

This particular guy, I am lucky to say, is MY DAD.

revolving doors


And as luck would have it, the stars aligned and I Married a Guy just like him.

warren street

- Happy Fathers' Day to my two favorite guys.

Friday, June 16, 2006


A little proof she sees things a little differently than ...
well ... some of the rest of us.

Where's his head?

After the librarian demonstrated the craft project the storytime kids were going to do for Father's Day, and everyone had eagerly gotten to work, Annabel just stood there looking a little confused.

"Where's the head?"

"I wanna head, peas."

Aw, it's okay Annabel, he doesn't need his head.

Sorry, dads. It was just too easy, I couldn't resist.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

It's been nice knowin' ya. We're going to Hell to spend our 'mondey'

We're RICH!!!! Thanks to Nordensved

Since Annabel started playing grocery store in our cupboards I've thought about getting realistic-looking play money, but I only found uninspiring (and quite honestly, anemic looking) counterfeit currency. In place of more flashy cash, we've been making our own bills out of junk mail.

But now that an "imaginary" friend from the Internets, also known as the Atomic mama Nicole Nordensved, sent us a boatload of 10,000 dollarsies we're planning on retiring to New Zealand and forgetting we ever knew you little people. Junk mail be damned. This illegal tender is so cool it's hot. Like from hell hot.

In fact, Annabel was so thrilled to receive the package that she spent more than an hour rolling her sweaty self in the ill-gotten gains. She kept saying "more bills, more bills, more bills!" At least now she can pay them!

The wonderful card that came with the play dough indicated Atomic had wrestled a choice between "Heaven Bank Notes," and "Hell Bank Notes" and had intended to get the ones from above but grabed the cash from down under. ... ah well. Hell money, in my opinion, is WAY more useful for our purposes. ... Mwa- a- a- a- ah.

The best part, of course, is that when Ittybit's done playing with this stuff in a few years it can be recycled. Only, instead of the junk mail recycling procedure we've been use to, I'm planning papering the bathroom walls with it. You know, it's just that cool.

Thanks Nicole.

For those of you folks interested in the "real" history of this Chinese "spirit money," check out this, this, and this.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

What passes for rational thought at 8 a.m. (When the mouse is away): Ice cream is good for you. It has milk.

cruncy cone

Slipping into a morning routine, for me, is a little like trying to hobble around in ill-fitting shoes. You always get tripped up by something unexpected. The only thing I can count on, it seems, is that nothing ever goes as planned.

If I am alone, the television gets turned on first thing. I know Clifford will help me get ready and keep her calm while I make breakfast and pack lunches.

I usually start our morning drill by offering her suggested meals. Waffles? "No." Pancakes? "No." Good Eggs? "No. No. No." How about some cereal? You like cereal. ... No.

"I'm fine. Don't want brefast, mama. Jus milsh, shank you."

Oh, alright. You'll eat when you get hungry.

When Clifford ends our out-of-the-house day begins. We usually gather our many bags and head for the stairs. Except today when I click off the television, she heads for the kitchen and starts to climb up to the counter.

"Can I have some seer-we-wool?" She asks.

"Sure, honey. We'll have to take it with us, though," I say as I open the cabinet and reach for the box of rice squares. But in my way, and in full view of my little boss lady, is the box of sugared ice cream cones. I try to shield it from her view but it's too late. She's seen it and now wants ice cream.

"We don't have ice cream for breakfast," I lie. (Of course we do, sometimes. Especially when dad's not looking. Don't you?)


"No. I am making you a bag of cereal for the road. Then we are marching down those stairs, young lady, and getting in that car."

I don't even want to describe what happened next. Suffice it to say, we got down the stairs and into the car. And tonight I'll be washing the car seat.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

He's my NEW best friend ...

Her new best friend

" ... as long as he doesn't take too much of Yaya's attention, touch any of my toys or play with anything that looks even remotely interesting for any length of time. Of course if he finds some dumb piece of plastic that I had previously overlooked, and he refuses to hand it over as SOON as I demand it, well ... he's toast. Oh, and, I'll take that snack, too. SHANK YOU."

A-Yeah ... I'd look scared, too.

Monday, June 12, 2006

I think I will be drinking more, thanks to public radio

Who's the adult?
Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
On my way to work this morning I was listening to our local public radio station, and caught the tail-end of a Roundtable chat with Mike Levine, executive editor of the Times Herald Record

The newspaper is working on a special report about the shifting makeup of its community -- specifically, the observation that youth services are becoming the cultural center that all things revolve around. The suspicion leads them to believe their's is not the only community affected by such kidifications.

In a nutshell, it seems that the story will be tackling how parents are so involved with PARENTING (as a verb) that kids just can't be kids.

One of the most argued points is the prevalence of organized play. Whereas at one time little "John" and "Jane" could go down the street on their own, find a pick-up baseball game and have 78 at-bats and the relative privacy of only a handful of same-age players watching as they make colossal errors; now "Ethan" and "Madison" climb in mom and dad's mini van wearing their starched uniforms, drive three miles to the league field (drawn with precision chalk lines) and sit on a bench waiting for their three turns at bat only to have three hundred parents watch them strike out each time.

I know we're going to have trouble with this.

As a new parent, who has "drunk the Kool-Aid" offered by every slick magazine telling us how to be Good Parents and enjoy our children, I have to admit this broadcast left me reeling. Just yesterday, the Husband and I had our usual is this "good or bad" talk, when he asked me where ittybit was and I told him "she's in her room, playing with her doll."

"How is that going to affect her socialization skills?" he worried. "She's social enough," I assured him. "She needs to have a private life, too. ... She has to learn to amuse herself."

This debate on parenting seems to have been raging for more than two decades. And, while I think there are numerous factors in play, including perceptions that our world is no longer safe, there's really no single place we can point to and say AH-HA!

MORE pederasts, AH-HA!
MORE crime, AH-HA!
MORE self-help, AH-HA!
MORE media coverage, AH-HA!
MORE things to buy, AH-HA!
MORE self-imposed guilt and stress, AH-HA!
MORE single parents splitting their time with the kids, AH-HA!
MORE working moms, AH-HA!
MORE stay-at-home dads, AH-HA!

Still, as parents in a society that hammers us with being proactive and keeping ourselves safe at all costs, how will we buck this new instinct to retreat into our little family cocoons?

Recently, I was driving down a country road I hadn't been on since I was about 12 and riding my bike to a friend's house. It was a five-mile journey filled with twists and turns, limited sight distances and cars traveling too fast on curves. I couldn't breathe thinking about my own child and how I would NEVER want her to ride alone on this or any other road like it. EVER. I couldn't believe how MY mother had allowed me to ride it alone. Do I not trust her, drivers? Will I be teaching her to be independent and confident or fearful and inept?

But it's more than our own fears that motivates us, according to this editors' assessment. It's also a need to parent. The need to BE the Super Parent all the self-help manuals suggest we can be. To make every single, precious moment as packed with quality as we can manage.To be our kids' cheerleaders, and best buds on the weekends. To be there for every bump, scrape and bad day. To celebrate the good days, and give the high-fives and erase all the BAD parents from the face of the Earth with our Good Parenting Accomplishments.

What this suggests is that parents are going into our children's world more and more, and abandoning the adult one.

As the radio conversation continued, I couldn't help but have that awful feeling of an unwanted truth. We are a nation of consumers, and we are now consuming our kids. This can't be a good thing. ... can it?

Good or bad, the Times Herald Record is looking for thoughts from outside its readership area, specifically if you see the same type of cultural shift happening in your neck of the woods. If you have the time, you might want to drop Mr. Levine a line at I know I can't wait to hear what you all have to say.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

There's lots to see and do

in emma's room

Don't grow up too soon, okay?

That's the thought that kept going through my mind as we made our way three towns over and to the left this morning. A party in honor of The World Cup was getting underway and we had baked a pie for the occasion. All my happy thoughts of drinking beer and eating thick slices of stawberry rhubarb vanished as soon as the tiny voice strapped into the car seat behind me started to prattle off excitely about a party that she was invited to attend, too.

"OK, guys. I'm shinking of sumpting ... ah. Nevermind."

"Oh, look. Amnials."

"Monkeys? in the Farmie? I don't shink so, daddy. ... O-e-O-i-U."

It was all so amazing to me. Just a few months ago I wondered if she'd EVER speak more than the first syllable of any word. This constantly flowing stream of thought was pouring out faster than I could commit them to memory.

Until she said this:

"Schwan? Who else is doing to be there at the PAR-TEE?"

I shivered. We've been teaching her to say our names, her name, and the name of the town we live in (you know, just in case she needs to go out for a six-pack one day and gets too drunk to find her way back) but I never expected her to call me anything other than Mama, Mommy, Ma or even the person-i-live-with-who-is-so-stupid-i-don't-know-how-she-finds-her-car-in-the-parking-lot (that last one I expect will come out in about 14 years or so).

When she skipped upstairs with the "big" girls at the party, making bracelets and looking at all sorts of pre-teen treasures with their indulgence, I felt the toddler slip away from me a little.

I know I call her a "teenager," especially when she asks for "hot milk" and "fie mo minues" before I pluck her out of bed and plop her at the breakfast table, but I really wish time would slow down a bit ... just enough for me to catch up.

It all reminds me of one of my FAVORITE stranger-mommy moment: A woman at an outdoor shopping plaza, trying to get her spirited toddler to slow down. I was nowhere near becoming a mom back then, but, like the rest of the onlooking judges, I could plainly see her little bumpkin was headed for a doosie of a fall.

The mom just smiled and said: "Honey, if you slow down you'll see more things."

Even though I want to reach out and grab my little bumpkin, and keep her from falling into this trap of growing up, I can't. I just have to try and point out some of the things she'll miss when she's not looking.

Friday, June 09, 2006

You are full of ...

leader follows
Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
Before you answer, read the following ...

The average human body contains enough sulfur to kill all fleas on an average dog, carbon to make 900 pencils, potassium to fire a toy cannon, fat to make seven bars of soap, phosphorus to make 2,200 match heads, and water to fill a ten gallon tank.

I found this factoid here and immediately thought: 'WOW, this would make a great children's book.'

How frightening is that? (I guess I won't be quitting my day job any time soon.)

What's happening at the other mom's house ...

It is quite possible, considering today's Yaya Report, that we are raising a bully.

A little background ...
Over the weekend, Annabel's yoga buddy, Maya, gave her a Happy Meal, complete with Toy Troll from the venerable MickeyDs. She was estatic. It was a toy to covet.
Soon, she was trying to wheedle Maya's toy away from her when her big-hearted friend wasn't looking. Oh sure, she pretended it was all in the name of consideration, using as her ruse (or cover) the phallacy that she was actually bringing the doll back to its rightful owner. ... I knew better.

Flash forward ...

For the past few days, for some mysterious reason, Troll has been personna-non-grata. Annabel played with Pooh, the kittens and dogs, the Playmobils and virtually every humanoid and non-humanoid plaything she could get her mitts on. Everything, that is, except THE TROLL.

The need for intervention ...

Lori, trying to show Ittybit the error of her ways, took the Troll under her wing and gave it a voice. When they played "House," the crazy, redheaded bridge dweller came a-knocking with Lori's help. Annabel let her in, finally, but when Lori's back was turned, out she was put as if she were the trash. Eventually, Annabel abandoned the House and got out the "Schewl Bus." Soon everyone got a chance to get onboard. Everyone except for you-know-who.

LORI: Why can't Troll go on the school bus?
ITTYBIT: There's no room.
LORI: But Kitty and Doggie are on the bus, and you said before NO PETS!
ITTYBIT: Oh (takes K and D off the bus).
LORI: OK. Now there's room on the bus for Troll. Can she go on the bus?
ITTYBIT: No. You Cain't GO on the bus.


The moral of the story ...

LORI: Somebody's always got to be the bad guy, I guess. Otherwise there wouldn't be much of a story. ... Come to think of it, I wasn't too nice to my trolls, either.

Rest assured, we'll be working on an affirmative action for trolls.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Superstitious minds

salt gurl

I am Irish, which by heritage, according to my mother, means I am
genetically predisposed to believe in superstition.

I can tell you, with only a modicum of shame, that I don't walk under
ladders, I am careful when handling mirrors and always - ALWAYS - throw salt over my should should any spill unexpectedly from the shaker.

I've probably already mentioned it here somewhere, but I don't care,
I'll blame "mommy brain" for the repeatition. Shortly after Annabel was
born a bird somehow got into the house.

I was recovering from the abdominal surgery of a C-section, and was
laying on the couch with the kiwi, as we called her back then, when a
blur of gray and feathers flew past us.

My heart sank.

For those of you unaware of the omen: A bird in the house is a sign of a death. If a robin flies into a room through a window, death will shortly follow.

I can't really blame hormones for the panic that followed. I ran
(holding my steri-strips and all) to find Jed. I can't believe he
understood a word I was jammering about until he saw for himself the tiny starling that had made its way inside.

"We have to get this bird out of the house unharmed," I cried, desperate to back ourselves out of this very bad thing that had happened. I surmised that a bird in the house was one thing, and bad enough as it was, a dead bird in the house would be a thousand times worse.

Somehow, Jed managed to accomplish the task, telling me all the while not to panic.

So with that bit of background in mind I must ask why then, yesterday, did I allow a pink (breast cancer-fundraising no less) umbrella be opened and held overhead inside the kitchen? I mean is there a person alive who does not know that opening an umbrella inside the house means bad luck ... and worse luck if it's held over their head?

All I can guess is I must be slipping, or perhaps my horizons are opening up or my blood is being thinned of its celtic origins by the delight of a toddler unencumbered as yet by such tales.

As she danced around the kitchen island swirling the pastel-colored bumpershoot, I paid no attention. It was Jed who took it away and told her that there would be none of that indoors.

So outside we went, she and I, for a walk in the rain to test out the new umbrella.

As luck would have it, It stopped raining.

What's happening at the other mom's house ...

A telephonic transcript

"Hello, mom? (Holding the reciever to the back of her head) Mama? (a bit louder) ... two and three and purple and baby found sumpin' ... MAMA?!! you there?"

Lori tries to adjust the receiver so the earpiece is somewhere near her ear. ... she backs away, holds up her index finger and gives her a stern look.

"One minute, peas. ... Okay? Just one minute. ... OKAY?"

*** picture a little girl face all grown up.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Let's call the whole thing off, OK?

I've been reading a lot about the so-called "Mommy Wars" lately.

Most interesting to me was a review in the Atlantic Monthly (which in my humble and unlearned opinion has been treading water since it made the move from Boston to D.C.) by Sandra Tsing Loh entitled "Rhymes with Rich." on "The Mommy Wars: Stay-at-Home and Career Moms Face Off on Their Choices, Their Lives, Their Families," a collection of essays edited by Leslie Morgan Steiner.

In it Tsing Loh (I love saying her name as I type) mints the term "Aflufemza," wherein the problems that come with affluence are recast as the stuggles of feminism.

Basically, it calls out women from both camps -- the SAHMs and the Career Women, all of whom were highly educated and often writers for prestigous journals and publishing firms -- and castigates them for being rich and having choices yet still complaining as if they were women who are really struggling with the daily trials of life.

The piece singles out several silently egregious exerpts wherein writers bemoned their lots:

In the "Mommy Wars," Sara Nelson of Publishers Weekly describes her battle so:

"About half of the mothers of kids in Charley's class are working at least part-time. There's Maria, who designs handbags; Lauren, who works in advertising; Paulette, who writes children's books. The mother of Charley's friend Nick is an independent management consultant. And for the most part - and I gather this is unusual in the fiercely competitive world of New York private schools - there's little conflict between the employed mothers and the ones who stay home. ...

Still, there is some tension bubbling under the surface. One morning one of the stay-at-home mothers referred to herself, quite pointedly, as a 'full-time mom.' Those three words made my blood boil. I've been a mother every second of every day for the past ten and a half years, whether I'm researching an article or pushing a swing. Would anyone dare to suggest that a woman who worked in a factory, or as a cop or a firefighter - a woman who worked at least partly so that her children could have food and shoes and the occasional trip to Toys 'R' Us - was any less a mother than my school acquaintance, who'd had the privilege to opt out of the workforce?"

Tsing Loh's response:
"No, but apparently someone would dare to suggest that elective employment in the upper reaches of the publishing world is on a par with wage slavery and required-second-salary public-sector work. Which got me thinking how wonderfully refreshing it would be for Nelson to transfer Charley right away into a racially and socioeconomically mixed New York public school, with the children of mothers who actually are the factory workers and cops and firefighters she so admires."

I think the point Tsing Loh makes is interesting, however, in that these woman -- who have the microphone as well as the means to hire baby nurses and nannies, and get the best of everything for their children, instead of likening their struggles to those of women who are in abusive relationships or struggling to put food on the table or fearing that when they send their kids into the Classroom they may wind up picking them up from the Emergency Room -- are squandering their ability to make a real and substanative difference.

I know a lot of affluent people believe that just because they are well off doesn't mean their kids should suffer the dangers of low-performing schools just to make a point. Yet, perhaps, the point they are missing - the point we are all missing - is that if they stayed and used their voices and their influnce to improve those schools (arguably for their own children's sake) they could make a significant and tangible difference for all children.

If there is such a thing as Mommy Wars, perhaps it's time to call a truce. What is it solving anyway? It seems to me, at least, that it's a battle we are fighting in our own minds. A skirmish to ease our fears and feelings of inadequacy. There's more to us than that, isn't there?

What's happening at the other mom's house ...

hmmm ... what are they trying to tell me?

I can't believe this ... Really. Really.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A visit from Beelzebub

show me the lurve
Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
06.06.06 ... the number of the beast ...

Ok, so it's 2,000 years late, you know some demons like to be fashionable.

Ours certainly does. So much so that it makes me pine for the days when I could dress her in anything I wanted and there wouldn't be so much as a peep out of her little rosebud lips let alone a low gravely roar destined to erupt into a bone-chilling scream if she-who-must-be-appeased is not.

Oh, how I wasted my opportunities all those months by just throwing on whatever was next in the pile of clean zips. It is my penance, I suppose, that she carries on like a flailing banshee every time I try and exchange her worn purple shorts and too-small purple onsie (her absolute favorite ensemble) for a stylish girly outfit I myself would never wear but LOVE, nonetheless.

The first time I witnessed what I thought of as a tantrum, I laughed hysterically. For a split second, her body pulsed with 10,000 volts of excess energy and her fists pummeled the air with every ounce of her weight. In no time it was over. From the perspective of a new mother marveling at the size and shapes of the residue in her diaper, I can assure you, it was the cutest thing ever.

Of course I knew they'd grow in magnitude these emotional shock waves, but I thought my Richter scale of tolerance would grow, too.

I never expected to be holding her bedroom door closed while she stood on the other side, trying to rip it off its hinges in a fruitless effort to knock time off her "Time Out." What else could I do? The figurative door had already closed on any "time off for good behavior" once she'd climbed out of the crib, opened the door and ran to the television room, not once but THREE TIMES.

So after a loud, mother-daughter standoff (probably not our first, but definitely the most climactic to date) she finally got off to a fretful sleep without the usually pleasantries. I wondered what I was going to wake up to this morning; the day of the proverbial BEAST.

It sounded a little like the tinkling of windchimes in the cool, just-about-summer air:

"Oh, hi mommy. You see this? It's my binks. I'm AWAKED now. I'd yike some hot milk, peas."

What's happening at the other mom's house

Oh, my. It would appear Annabel has gone deaf.

LORI: "Annabel, we don't color on the couch. We only color on the coloring book. ...

.... Anna-Bel? Are you listening to me?"

Or maybe she's just practicing to be an attorney

ANNABEL: "I'm yus cheuking to see if it works."

Of course, she might also be a private eye

LORI: "Oh, you're listening now, aren't you? Now that I'm talking to your mom on the phone, huh? Yeah, I can see you're little wheels turning up there: 'Un-oh, your telling mom all that stuff?' Yep. She's watching me like a hawk right now. Guilty conscience."

Monday, June 05, 2006

I am still recovering from the weekend's excitement

hey, i wanna push the buttons

Our town has been atwitter about the Hannaford Supermarket opening on Route 9 since rumors of its impending pounding of the bucolic landscape started fluttering around these here parts a few years ago. There have been fights over traffic patterns, roundabouts and the furtherance of suburban sprawl. Endless letters to the editor and editorials pro and con. But to be quite honest, we were as ready for a good supermarket that was clean and offered a healthy selection of organic comestibles as an evangelical for the second coming. "If they are willing to bag groceries," I said, "we are willing to let sprawl be damned."

So, when it opened its doors officially Saturday morning, Jed was there (we needed milk) salivating to get a look around. He happily reported back that the evil, unnamed grocery-with-no-previous-competition's parking lot was empty. Better still, he gushed upon his return, despite the megalith's market being packed to the rafters with shoppers he still made it through the line in two minutes (yes, dear folks, he timed it).

So by Sunday he was ready for the BIG SHOP. And off we went as a family for a big adventure at the supermarket.

Stop me when this gets pathetic. ...

Too late, huh?


What's happening at the other mom's house: Road Trip

Lori: "If we go to E's house you have to leave when I tell you to, OK? If you say no, we won't be able to go back there."

Annabel: "OK."

Gets there and plays for a while. ...

Annabel: "I want to go home now."

Lori: "Are you sure?"

Annabel: "Yeah, I go home now."

on the walk home ...

Annabel: "Yaya ... I didn't say no."

Thinking about it for a while ...

Lori: "That's right, you didn't. You are so good. We can go back there whenever you want, you sweet and precious boo."

Friday, June 02, 2006

Witness zombification

cathode rae

"Well, to begin with, nobody, and I mean nobody, can talk a junkie out of using. You can talk to 'em for years but sooner or later they're gonna get ahold of something. Maybe it's not dope. Maybe it's booze, maybe it's glue, maybe it's gasoline. Maybe it's a gunshot to the head. But something. Something to relieve the pressures of their everyday life, like having to tie their shoes.
... All these kids, they're all TV babies."

- Drugstore Cowboy

For this interest of historic accuracy, I must admit this photograph, by all rights, should have me seated behind the glowing rays of the cathode tube just to the left of our ittybitty TV baby.

It's not a pretty picture, and something of which neither of us is proud.

Babies, all the books say, should NEVER watch TV before they are two. NEVER!!!! And we introduced her WAY too early. Her first friend was Elmo (who she quickly jilted for Ernie).

Sure, there are a lot of hazards one might surmise that might come from television viewing; the least of which include eye strain and an insufferable urge to pester parental units into purchasing a veritable fortune of otherwise forgettable merchandise.

There's THIS frightening problem, made even more fearsome because the study shows that 85 percent of the parents whose children were injured in this manner didn't know it was a common occurrence.

But let's face it, few of us are worried about a 40-lb hunk of plastic, metal and glass flattening our kids. We're concerned with whether television viewing will lower their IQs while increasing their wastelines and violent tendencies.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, however, we're also worried about whether we'll have to miss Sopranos because of Sesame Street.

This just makes me want to throw out our TVs ... All seven of them.

Jed puts his adult television addiction squarely on the shoulders of his mother, or more accurately his upbringing, which forbade television viewing early on and restricted it later in his development. Yet, he is proud of his resourcefulness in overcoming the boundaries keeping him from pre-teen zombification -- ruses which included writing a paper on "Why he should be allowed to watch television for the good of his education" and fashioning a replacement cable when his mother removed (and hid) the power cord while she was at work.

I, on the other hand, hail from a family of television connoisseurs -- hearty people who relished every second of "Barney Miller," "St. Elsewhere" and "My So Called Life." Our television was on non-stop whether anyone was watching or not. Oddly enough, television doesn't often hold my interest. I find myself turning it on as background noise so I can safely get lost in the warm glow of my computer. (However, unlike my husband, I don't credit my parents with my predilections.)

The truth is, neither of us is good at pulling away from any form of media once our interest is caught.

... But we're working on it, I promise.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Veruca grew up to be a very lovely woman, right?

I dread explaining this one ...
Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
Last night as we sat around the television watching Wallace and Grommit's "Amazing Adventures" for the 400th time, Annabel's primary interest turned to "mountain climbing."

Or more accurately, clamoring up to the back of the couch and announcing: "I'm a mountain, mommy. I'm weary, weary TALL!"

I know she was wired, perhaps overtired, and as she continued to treat the couch like a playground I sat there like a drone, thinking WWLS (What would Lori say). And then she toppled head over heels, tumbling over throw pillows to land on the floor, miraculously, feet first.

I ignored Jed's glare as I waited for her reaction. I thought any second she'd be bawling her eyes out with the shock and indignity of falling unexpectedly. But I was wrong, she climbed back up to the top and yelled, "Look at meeeee, I'm Willy Wonka," referring, no doubt, to the part of the movie where Gene Wilder fakes infirmity and performs a flip after a near pratfall.

And then the UNTHINKABLE happened. (There's MORE you ask?)

Oh yes, it's not enough that she's allowed to run roughshod over the furniture, or that she's commited movies to memory, she's also chosen favorite characters and songs that make us cringe.

She confirmed a parent's worst fear when she climbed back up to the top of the couch, threw back her head and belted out,
"Don't. Care. How. ... I want it NOW."

What's happening at the other mom's house

A subliminal game for parents ...

Originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Remember playing that juvenile game of adding "in bed," to the end of every fortune plucked from the cellophane-wrapped cookie that is read aloud? Now I'm kind of doing the same thing in parenthood, only sadly what's in parentheses isn't as funny. Here's an example:

Forever we've been battling personal hygeine wars with the chicklet. Nail clipping among the least reported here on Ittybits & Pieces, but nevertheless a problem of insurmountable proportions (for me). I have to thank Lori profusely for clipping her nails lo these couple-a years since her birth (because I suck as a parent and can't manage to do it myself). I'm not sure how you do it, but now I know: You have exponentially more imagination and communicative powers than I.

Never in a million years would I have thought to go through a ritual as girly as a manicure to interest her in the must-do task. (I knew I should have been born a girl!)

I don't even have to say "use your powers for good," Lori, because I know you wouldn't think of doing anything else.