August 31, 2009


Last week, I felt a little raw. Worn. Beat-up. I know that I come as a little judgmental because I am a little judgmental. X and I have worked our asses off for everything we have, it is difficult for me not to judge. I am thinking over some of the comments from last week and would like to write about them. But, today? I will be focusing on frothy, fun stuff. Things that need a straw and a pink umbrella stuck in them.

First, I have a post up on my review site, Queen of the Free Bees. I took a kick-ass, awesome home repair class over the weekend where we installed new light fixtures, outlets, repaired holes and hung towel rods. Check out the review and receive a discount on a class of your own. Now, I need a pretty, new drill. Fortunately, I can purchase one and my husband will never notice.

And this: If the following photo does not make you smile or laugh, then you need to put out a Craigslist search in a quest for a new soul. Seriously, are you a vampire? Even a shape-shifter would chuckle, at least.

We went to the Kansas City Zoo and surprise! I took pictures! I have to wonder what my children will think of the 50 million pictures I have taken over the years at all of these zoos, parks and nature centers. Far, far in the future, when the trees and fauna have all shriveled up, when everything is lit with florescent lighting, trimmed in man-made materials and we are all wearing silver suits and bubble helmets. And no eyebrows. Because eyebrows are the de facto fashion faux pas in the future, of course.

Hold My Hand, Arun.

They say you can see our souls in our eyes.
They would be correct.

Humidity is Not Her Friend.

Speaking of perspective, Arun has been taking my camera and playing with it. I enjoy seeing his world, for a change. Some of his favorite things:



Green Alligator

August 28, 2009



I regret my post this morning.

I felt okay for about a grand total of 30 minutes. It was very cathartic to let loose a string of nasty, bitter invectives. Truly, it was.

Then, I trotted off for a lovely playdate at a nature center with two lovely gals. We watched our lovely children prance around, playing with sticks and enjoying the outside. It was lovely.

But, I increasingly began to feel uncomfortable with what I had written today. By the time I pulled in the driveway, I felt downright miserable that I had totally pooped all over my pretty space here. I am surprised the herd of sheep has not wandered over to a new pasture.

Obviously, I need to get a thicker skin and not care when folks bag a major corporation on Twitter.

Obviously, I need to get a thicker skin and not care when someone calls a circumcision a "tradition" and then proceeds to compare it to other traditions such as honor killings, foot bindings, war and even corporal punishment.

Obviously, I need to get a thicker skin and not care when folks spend their money foolishly, then proceed to cry foul and blame the economy.

Obviously, I need to rethink my Google Reader subscriptions.


I am going to cook a delightful meal tonight using as many delectable August tomatoes possible (Northern-style chicken masala, spicy tomato dhal and a tomato pachadi) Then, I will go to the gym, crank up the iPod and clear my head on the elliptical. Then, I will come home and relax with my family and some knitting.

I wish you all well.

Excuse me, I need to go bang my head on the nearest wall.

Ranting. The Diet Version.

If you are a blogger with over a million followers on Twitter? I will hold you to a higher standard when you make blanket accusations towards people - corporations or individuals. If you are Dooce? That standard will even be a little bit higher. You are a professional with an incredible amount of influence. Use your powers for good. (Sidenote: Sundry puts it all in perspective. As a former customer service representative myself, stories like these chap my hide. Look forward to a lengthier writing in the next week or so. Over the years, I have had some incredibly positive experiences in customer service and I believe it is because of the way I approach the PERSON on the other line.)

If you use the word "science" in your blog header? I will be disappointed when you write loose, thinly-veiled posts purporting to be a "discussion" when really, you are only writing it to support something in which you already believe and therefore, do not welcome comments to the contrary. And yes, when I write a tongue-in-cheek, devil's advocate comment, I will be a little pissed when others act like I am a moron because I dared to disagree. And yes, I will be tempted to unsubscribe, but I really do love me a delicious, hypocritical trainwreck.

If you consistently make poor financial choices , then are shocked when you have no money? If you choose to leave a job and put your health insurance at risk? I will begin to lose sympathy for you. Years and years and years of reading and hearing about all of your purchases of expensive goods, vacations home improvements and personal services will not help your case. Listen, X and I live an incredibly risky life because he is an entrepreneur - our health care costs are the definition of insanity. But we make financial choices in line with that lifestyle choice. This is why I do not complain. My insurance does not include maternity, so guess what, folks? We use BIRTH CONTROL. Shocking, yet true. I guess this could circle back up to my paragraph on Financial Choices. And no, this is not about a particular blogger or person - this is about at least ten folks that I can list off immediately who are blaming the economy for their woes, yet have complained about money for as long as I have known or read them. Listen up, your blog documents your lifestyle, why are you shocked when folks judge you harshly?

If you think that X and I are living high on the hog? Think again. Everyone makes certain decisions on how to slice their financial pie. Our decisions and priorities may differ than yours, but that does not mean we are not struggling, too.

That'll do, pig. This ranty, critical imposter is out of topics. What would you love to talk about?

August 27, 2009

Let me be clear. Crystal Light clear.
Cripes, now I am thirsty, too.

Thank you for all the words of wisdom on my Birthday party post yesterday. And I would like to stress that I do appreciate and listen to the Kid Free folks. Why would I not? After all, everyone was a kid at some point in his/her life, right?

I should note that Arun is crazy about his cousins and even the so-called "distant" one (they go to school together.) Cousins alone will come to 5 kids. And when I asked Arun who he wanted to invite? He exclaimed, "Everybody!" Obviously, we are working on that.

Believe it or not, I really do not go crazy over the birthday party thing now. Oh sure, his 1st birthday party saw a bit of action, but now? I do not do party favors and I have always requested no gifts. I buy cupcakes and ice cream - invite some kids to come hang out and have fun for two hours. That is it. That first year, I did an activity, but at the nature center, they will do an animal demonstration, so entertainment is taken care of now. The nature center costs $60 and again, that is a steal in my book since it will be less stress for me. Besides, it helps the nature center out - the same center that we use for free all year round.

I see us throwing one blow-out birthday parties for each kid. I was thinking something special for the 10th birthday. Maybe. Just one party, that might be appreciated, one party where they can go crazy. Maybe. Eh. I will probably change my mind.

What I have noticed is this - when I host a party at home for my kids, I spend the entire time beforehand running around, desperately trying to clean and get ready. Then, during the party, I am playing hostess. I want to spend time with my kids at their birthday parties while they still actually want me around. Know what I mean?

Of course, you do.

August 26, 2009

I am crabby.
Hey! Crabcakes sound good right now.

I am grumpy these days. Downright cross. Absolutely irritable.

I have composed no less than three different rants, none of which I feel comfortable even posting. Sigh. It sucks self-censoring, but I fear those posts will come across as passive-aggressive, judgmental and just plain mean-spirited. Perhaps because those posts were passive-aggressive, judgmental and just plain mean-spirited.


So..... I will talk about Arun's birthday party instead. While pregnant, viewing with an anxious eye the the calendar with October 15th boldly circled, I had grand, soft-focus visions of doing a Halloween costume party for my bundle of boy every year for his birthday. He would head off into his adulthood with cozy memories of his Halloween party. His life would be perfect, all because he got a perfect Halloween party every single year of his perfect childhood. I would be heralded for the centuries with my mad mothering skillz. An icon to be held up for the mothering ages. The End.

However. It occurred to me that perhaps, I should ask Arun if he would like a costume party. Maybe, he would prefer another party? That features animals? At a nearby nature center?

Why yes! Yes, he would. And so, it shall be. The reservation has been made and it was actually quite affordable. Not hosting at my house with 15 screaming kids? Well worth the money, anyway.

Thus, begins the complicated process of who to invite. I have so many friends with children. And now, Arun has friends of his own. And cousins. Not just first cousins, but "grandchildren of my dad's cousin" type of cousins with whom he plays. And then there are the siblings of his friends.

How does this birthday party invite thing work? What are the rules? Will I ruin my child's chance at entrance into high society if I get it wrong? Egads.

August 24, 2009

Fear Not

First and foremost! D. Jain is the winner of the Contest of Favorite Things in Celebration of Paper (and 5 Years of Blogging!) Congratulations, my fellow gal pal in the Sisterhood of the Masala Marriage. Thank you to everyone who shared his/her favorite things. Your comments made my week and it was all I could do to stop blogging about even more of my favorite things when all of you kept spurring more memories for me. It has been such an incredible 5 years of blogging - THANK YOU for celebrating it with me. I love you, man. And now? I will stop with The Weepy.

Last week, I took Team Chaos to the Henry Doorly zoo in Omaha, Nebraska yesterday. The zoo, in a word? Under-appreciated. Awesome. Affordable. Okay, that was more than a word. No worries, I will not charge you for the bonus words.

Over the years, as a nature buff, I have done my fair share of zoos, nature centers, natural history museums, fancy botanical gardens, aquariums and insect/butterfly pavilions across the USA, coast to coast. I was absolutely impressed with the Omaha Zoo and we will definitely be making a yearly appearance from now on. It was well worth the drive (6 hours round trip) and expense, which I was able to get down to about $200:

Meals - packed crackers, sandwiches and protein-rich snacks such as peanuts and Horizon individual milks, which do not need to be refrigerated. Ultimately, I had to purchase very few meals.

Tickets - we have a zoo membership in Kansas City which made our entrance fee into the Omaha zoo a measly $9. A bargain.

Hotel - I used Priceline and found a clean, safe spot in Council Bluffs Iowa for $50. It was less than 10 minutes from the hotel.

While some of the exhibits were not impressive (the bear and cat enclosures were pretty dated and I am spoiled with Kansas City's commitment to "natural environments") the sheer breadth and variety of their collections was amazing. And the cave and swamp exhibits were absolutely stunning. Hundreds of fruit bats flying around, separated from you only by some netting? Walking across a complex network of bridges in a humid, dark swamp with loads of crocs and alligators lurking? Incredible. Additionally, the Desert Dome, penguin exhibit, the aquarium and Insect/Butterfly pavilion did not disappoint. It was well worth the trip for all of it.

I also had a Parenting Moment while at the Omaha zoo.

First, I should explain, I have some issues surrounding heights. I do not like things that hang by cables or leave my feet dangling. I do not like ladders, elevators, sky lifts, Ferris Wheels and the St. Louis Arch. My recurring nightmare that I have had regularly for over 20 years is one that involves renegade elevators. However! I enjoy heights themselves and I like flying. For example, I loved, loved being at the top of the Empire State Building but the elevator ride completely terrified me. And yes, flying itself does make me nervous, but I chalk it up to the price I need to pay for being so deliciously high up in the sky.

The Omaha zoo has this thing called a Skyfari which is essentially a chairlift across the damned zoo and offers spectacular views, for which, as noted, I am a complete chump. And I knew my kids would think it was fun - again, insert "chump".

We started off on that thing and I immediately felt a rising dough of panic in my stomach. Ugh. I contemplated getting off at the halfway point and hoofing it back to the starting point to retrieve the stroller. I simply could not imagine surviving the entire ride.

But Team Chaos? They were so quiet. Enthralled. And every time they moved or wiggled for a better view, I wanted to screech at them "Stop moving! I am scared!"

But, I did not shriek. I knew that telling them I was distressed would make them frightened. So I swallowed my angst and we kept going....... going....... going. As we neared the end of the ride, I was doing a little better. The glow in their faces, the exhilaration in their eyes, the animated chatter about all the things they were seeing?? It was totally worth suppressing my own fears for that.

I see all too often parents who instill their own fears into their children, ultimately stunting their child's personal growth and preventing them from having a complete set of life experiences.

I do not want to be that parent.

August 23, 2009

Do you want to date my avatar?

I don't normally do videos, but dude - this was worth it. Found this via Average Jane and Spyder.

Reminds of me of the guy I used to date who played D&D with his roommates. Their dog was named Hagar and he had an appropriate costume as well. Folks, we are talking viking helmets.

Please tell me I am not the only one to have ever dated a guy who owned dice with more than 6 sides.


August 17, 2009

What Would Bindi Do?

Please do not forget to enter my old-fashioned giveaway celebrating PAPER, the nefarious enemy of trees everywhere. Comments are open on that post until this Thursday, August 20th, until Midnight - tell me a few of your favorite things.

Update: The winner is D. Jain! Congratulations, my fellow gal pal in the Sisterhood of the Masala Marriage. Heh. Shoot me an email to cagey333ATgmailDOTcom for details. Thank you to everyone who shared his/her favorite things. Your comments made my week and it was all I could do to stop blogging about even more of my favorite things because all of you kept spurring more memories for me. It has been such an incredible 5 years of blogging - THANK YOU for helping me celebrate. I love you, man. And now? I will stop with The Weepy.

Arun has recently become enamored of a wee lassie from Australia. You may know her as Steve Irwin's daughter, in our home, she is known simply as "Bindi". And for a little boy who is obsessed with animals, Bindi is living the dream. Arun is very curious about this girl, loves watching her show on the Discovery Kids channel and asks many questions about her - What is her favorite dinosaur? Where does she live? Does Bindi like lemonade? He also knows that her daddy died and he talks about that, too. Instead of Santa, I use little Bindi as an example to be upheld. (For the official record of records, Bindi eats her veggies, is always sweet to her sibling, says "please" and "thank you", wipes her butt appropriately and treats her cats and dogs with the pinnacle of kindness and generosity. Ahem.)

One of my favorite things about being a parent is sharing my love for animals, nature and science with my kids. I took all the science courses available in my high school and was a member of the Science Club. When I took my last biology class at in college, I was pretty sad about it and confused. I knew at that point, I was going into the business school and that it would be my last science class. I will never forget that hesitation as I went to pick up something from the biology lab, knowing that it would my last time there. I loved, loved science (biology, in particular) but had no earthly idea how to make a career of it. While there is no point to having regrets, I do wonder how my life might have been different had I selected a career path in which I was truly passionate.

My kids are both crazy about animals, which thrills me to no end. Sure, we have trains, cars, dolls and all of the other Manacles of Required Gender Specification, but my kids gravitate towards the animals (for now?) And lately, Arun has been exploring general science and is asking tons of questions: Why does it rain? Why does it snow? Why do we have bones? Can we take our bones out? Why do we poop? Where does the sun go at night? Why do we eat food? Where does the food go? Why is the moon bigger now? Did it grow? Why is it orange? Why is it following us?? He is learning the differences between mammals and reptiles. The differences between birth and eggs. He sees that monkeys and apes are similar to humans, we have began discussing evolution.

And I am learning new things, too. I did not know that much about dinosaurs, reptiles, amphibians. Now, I know more about them than I ever could have imagined. I also never dreamed that not only would I own one tarantula, but that I would become an invertebrate enthusiast myself and manage to sneak in a second one in as well.

No, I am not complaining. Now, excuse while I run out to buy the Planet Earth series. It is for the children, of course.

This parenting gig is hard.

Gratuitous Simian Snappage

Deanna Rose Farm

Natural History Museum

Baby Jays

August 14, 2009

Favorite Favorites

I had no idea how much I would enjoy reading all of your favorites. Sure, I had fun writing my things down because I am all about me, me, me around here. But your favorites made me remember more of mine. And so, I am going to indulge my ego with some babbling blather about me.

Besides, I would like to end the week on a positive note - I have noticed that I am still a little shaky after having lost the Arun the other night. Yesterday, I lost Anjali for about all of 30 seconds while at a busy crowded mall (Crown Center!) and thought I was going to vomit afterward.

So! More favorites! I am closing comments on this post - please keep commenting on yesterday's post because it will be easier for me to keep track on that post. I am nothing if not lazy.

Also - is this where I mention this is a fabulous opportunity to de-lurk? No offense to lurking, if that's your thing. I mean, I love myself a good lurker, who does not?

And yes, you can comment again for an extra chance to win a spectacular array of old-fashioned, paper-based prizes! They are vintage, no? And no, I am not surprised in the least at the dearth of comments for a prize pack that does not include a damned single thing which requires batteries.

Perhaps, I should throw in a booklight for good measure?


I wish I could have afforded more things for the giveaway, because I would have certainly included a copy of the Sound of Music, one of my all-time favorite movies. It was my first record album, my first CD purchased and my first DVD purchased.

I also wish I could have figured out a way to ship chips n' salsa. Hands down, this is my absolute favorite comfort food from childhood. When my parents were married, eating at the Aztec Inn in Lawrence was our special family outing. To this day, when I am having a hard day or am feeling down, I crave a spicy salsa so badly, my stomach hurts.

My favorite authors are John Irving, Jane Austen and Margaret Atwood - my life's goal is to read everything they have written. And yes, I did forget to include Pride and Prejudice as a favorite book. D'oh.

My favorite word is obsequious - it's the 18th century way to say "kiss-ass". Which I learned while reading Pride and Prejudice.

My favorite writing instruments are the Uniball Signo RT (pen) and the Pentel Twist-Erase (0.9)(pencil).

My favorite game of chance is craps and I love betting 6 the "hard way" because my favorite number is 3.

My favorite television shows are House Hunters International on HGTV and the Antiques Roadshow on PBS.

My favorite blog is Throwing Things. Hands down. I have been reading since early 2003 and they helped keep me up to date on things when I was in the early, hazy throes of newborn baby demands with both of my children. I knew that if I just scanned Throwing Things every day, I would be up on what was breaking - news, sports, politics, television, music and general pop culture. They have some of the very best, thoughtful, interesting commenters out there in the blogging world. And even when folks disagree, they are still respectful to each other. A lesson many blogs could do well to learn.

The floor? Is back to you - comments are welcome here.

August 13, 2009

My Favorite Things

Update: The winner is D. Jain! Congratulations, my fellow gal pal in the Sisterhood of the Masala Marriage. Heh. Shoot me an email to cagey333ATgmailDOTcom for details. Thank you to everyone who shared his/her favorite things. Your comments made my week and it was all I could do to stop blogging about even more of my favorite things because all of you kept spurring more memories for me. It has been such an incredible 5 years of blogging - THANK YOU. I love you, man. And now? I will stop with The Weepy.

One consistent theme I have held here in the past 5 years is that I love me a good book. And since having children, I have even less tolerance for a bad one. Before I had children, I would plod through a boring read, the goal was just to finish. Now? If I am a quarter to half way through a book and I still cannot "get" it, then I put it away and move along.

Life is too damned short to read a bad book.

Over the years, some of my favorite reads have included the following: The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood, A Prayer for Owen Meanyis by John Irving, The Year of Silence by Madison Smartt Bell and Island by Charles Abbott, Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (Sidenote: Am I the only one who is excited, yet trepid about the forthcoming movie? What if it is everything the book was? What if it is not? Ack.)

However, my favorite book of all is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I have written about my love for this book before:
I have read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn about 5 times now, but each time is a different experience. Recently, I went through it and was blown away by how much of the mother's story resonated with me. It was like reading a new book because now that I am a mother myself, I understood Katie Nolan's perspective as she desperately tried to care for her children the best she knew how. In previous readings, I thought she was so unfair to Francie.
I was also published in a haiku thingie in the online edition of USA Today in the subject of "Favorite Book":

Francie thirsts for truth

as the tree grows in Brooklyn

against all the odds.

And I have also written what makes a book one of my favorites:
What is a Favorite Read? It is difficult to explain what that should invoke - I suppose it is different for everyone, right? For me, a Favorite Read should continue to contribute something with each additional reading. It should not only just make me think, dammit. It should make me uncomfortable. It should encourage me to mentally re-adjust my attitudes.

So, as promised. I am doing a small giveaway of some of my favorites - a sparkly, brand-new copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Some coffee-themed bookmarks which are two of my favorite things in one! A copy of US Magazine and Brain,Child, both of which I have subscriptions. They are my yin and yang of magazines but they both serve an important purpose (Note: US Magazine will purchased hot off the newstand right before I ship!) A Posh Pocket book of Sudoku which I love so much I want to eat - working a puzzle daily helps calm me, for some reason. And of course, some Choxie chocolate. No splainin' is necessary on the chocolate, right?

And sunflower seeds. Ah, my seeds...... One of my most cherished childhood memories is that of going to the library on Saturday mornings and picking out books for the week. Then, I would go to the corner drugstore, get a malt at the counter and buy some sunflower seeds. I would spend the afternoon reading my book, eating sunflower seeds and drinking orange juice. And to this day, that is still one of the things that brings me down to my zen zone - a bowl of seeds and a good read. Naptime, babysitting time, Miller time. I try to have a handful of seeds and some reading nearly every day if I can fit it in.

Also, I apologize for the size of this giveaway. The cream colored pony would not fit, the snow kept melting, and it is against the law to ship girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes.

I paid for all of these goodies. No sponsors or any of that silly stuff and I have completely blown any revenues I would have made for 2009, but no matter. I wanted to share some of my favorite things with you as a "thank you". A thank you for listening to me for 5 years. A thank you for listening to all my rants and raves. Or, Rancid Raves, if you will.

Thank you.

What gets you going again when the dog bites?

If you would like to enter, please leave a comment telling me your favorite things which have stood with you through the years. I will close the giveaway on Thursday, August 20th at Midnight and will announce the winner on Friday, August 21st.

August 12, 2009

Show me the money.
Pssst! It's in my mouth.

Update: With my permission, Lenore took this story, edited it and put it on her site. Now, it is all sparkly and pretty! I wish I could always have an editor. Would that not make blogging just grand?? Yes. Yes, it would.

I have made no secret of my love for Lenore Skenazy and her site, Free-Range Kids. I believe wholeheartedly in her message: "Children, like chickens, deserve a life outside the cage. The overprotected life is stunting and stifling, not to mention boring for all concerned."

I had to reach deep inside of my heart last night for that message.

Last night, I went to Tonganoxie to attend the Leavenworth County Fair with my sister and her kids. It was the typical fair scene - flashing lights worthy of a seizure, cheap stuffed animals hanging by their necks, chaotic noises of bells, buzzers and carnival music, the smell of grease lingering with the heavy scent of livestock. The fair.

It is a fair that was the highlight of my summers for the 7 years I lived in Tonganoxie and it was the place in town to be for that entire week. Because everyone was at the frocking fair- even that cute boy you spied from a neighboring town in that track meet last spring would be there. You begged your mom to make sure that your new school clothes were bought before the fair, so that you could wear them to the fair. THE FAIR. Ah, yes! This was a place with which I was so familiar and comfortable.

And none of that mattered one damned bit when Arun went missing. He was with my sister and headed towards me, but at some point disappeared. He was gone, it was dark and the population of folks seemed to be multiplying before my very eyes.

When my kids break dishes or create messes, I completely freak out. However, when my kids are in serious trouble, it is as if I enter some sort of tunnel of time dimensional warpitude and nothing else matters. Nothing. Everything around me becomes a hazy blur as I concentrate on my task at hand.

So, I leaped into action, handed Anjali over to my sister and told her to stay put with everyone. And then, I methodically and calmly searched for him. March...march....march..... I saw some police officers and made a beeline for them as I calmly told them the situation. After the longest 10 (15?) minutes of my life, someone found Arun. As my sister had stood in place, she told everyone she encountered about Arun being lost and someone brought him back to us.

Arun was not really aware that he was lost - in his mind, he was just hanging out by the super slide. What's the problem, yo? I explained to him what happened and told him to thank the police officers for helping. We also had a very long talk about it on the way home.

The whole experience is still a little surreal to me and I have not cried.

What would I do differently? Last night, I had dressed Arun in a green shirt, but it was a darker green which was so not helpful in a grassy field in the dark. I will definitely do brighter colors next time. And! I will snap a picture of each kid on my cell phone at the beginning of events like this. And! I will be looking into either doing a safety tattoos or a good, old-fashioned sharpie on the forearm. But that is it. Our days of the stroller are ending. I cannot keep my kids confined for much longer and I refuse to be afraid. I refuse.

The entire time I was searching for Arun, I was fighting back the rising panic rumbling in my stomach and that burning sensation on my pride that maybe, just maybe, this might be my You'll Shoot Your Eye Out! Moment. After all, who has posted endlessly about letting our children go? Who has been shamelessly taunting child predators everywhere? Was this the universe's lame attempt at bitch-slapping me?

I kept reminding myself of all of the sensible statistics that I have been reading on Lenore's site and in her book for the past year. I grasped those facts and figures tightly as my talisman while I searched. I knew that realistically, Arun was going to be okay. Afterward, my sister told me she was shocked at how calm I was during and after the whole thing.

I wasn't.

August 11, 2009

To sleep, per chance to dream.

Megan of Velveteen Mind recently wrote a beautiful post about her son going off to kindergarten and that bittersweet act of letting our children go. Sound familiar? Of course, since I had recently written about this just yesterday, I immediately related to the Megan's writing and thought it was eloquently put.

There was, however, one paragraph that I could not wrap my head around:
The easiest way to make life hard on your children is to make it soft for them. This applies far beyond school. It starts much earlier than school, as well. Remember this when you are sleep-training them. (Assuming your goal is not to co-sleep.) Yes, it is easier to just let them sleep with you, but those easy fixes may be doing long-term damage. Sure, you’ll all lose sleep for the few days it takes to establish sleeping in your own beds, but sooner than you’d expect you’ll all be sleeping better.

I have read Megan long enough to know that she was not trying to judgmental. While she had added the caveat "assuming your goal is not co-sleep" it was still frustrating to have co-sleeping compared to making life soft for my children, or taking the easy road in parenting. Caveats or not. I still, to this day, get comments to the effect that I am spoiling my children by co-sleeping with them (similar to the comments I received when I breastfed both of my babies past that Magical Milestone called "12 Months". ) So, yes - this is a topic close to my heart and I did write a guarded comment:
I agree with this post about how making things easier on your kids in the long run is not good for them. Yes! Absolutely! However, co-sleeping is not about making things easier on your kids! Please don't lump co-sleeping into this! Please. It is just a different approach to parenting babies. No, no....I will not hijack your comments on this topic, but I will say this - my husband, born in India, co-slept with his parents, yet managed to leave his home at the age of 18 with just a few rupees in his pockets, never looked back and made a life for him in this country. His mother pushed him his entire childhood towards this goal - all while co-sleeping.

However, my post is not about co-sleeping - longtime readers here know why precisely why I am such an advocate for co-sleeping. I am not rehashing that.

Rather, I wanted to write this particular piece because Megan's post was special in another way - her site is one of the few sites where I feel comfortable leaving a comment that may disagree (however slightly) with something the author has put out there.

In our blogging world, we have a fair amount of groupthink, way too many trolls and vast legions of fans all too willing to take up their torches in defense of their favorite bloggers. As such, I do not often leave comments that could be perceived as contrary - it is risky in this environment. I like my site the way it is - small and comfortable. The last thing I want to do is anger a bigger blogger and her fans. We have seen how that can go down and it is not pretty. I rarely say what I really want to say in the comment sections of posts with which I disagree.

However, Megan has built a site where the commenters are thoughtful and respectful. And they listen, even if they do not always agree. Because of the atmosphere Megan has fostered over there, it is one of the few sites where I even bother to read what others had to say.

If we could only all have that sort of place where discussion was encouraged and not punished.

Am I the only one having trouble finding places where I can actually open my big trap without fear of recourse?

August 10, 2009

School Daze

5 years ago, I ushered this wee site into the world by questioning the footwear fashion choices of a fellow passenger on a plane. Yes, it is my blogiversary!

At the time I began this blog, I was traveling like crazy while working on the Check 21 Project for the Federal Reserve. Sounds all stuffy and important, but it was really just a long line of dog days strung together. And no social life. Just long, long days of uncooperative people, stubborn computer servers and meals consumed out of vending machines. Then, 5 months later I became pregnant and began the long, slow descent into mommybloggerhood.

Truthfully, I am very teary-eyed about this site. I had no clue that I would get a single reader besides Average Jane, who, without a modicum of doubt, is my Original, Very First Reader Ever as she was the very first recipient of my shiny, new URL after I had tentatively hit "publish".

I normally do not do much on this auspicious date of bloggyhood, but there is something about 5 years that hisses "celebrate, dammit!". And I am not inclined to ignore the voices in my head since they usually mean business. Therefore, I am cobbling together a fewnotmany things to do a smalltinyminiscule giveaway this week in celebration of my Five Grand Years of Boredom and Blather.

I have more on this topic, but will expound on it later.


In the meantime......

Because Jenny asked so sweetly and said "please", I wrote a guest post over at Kansas City Savvy Source on the topic of "preparing your preschooler for school" - it should be up sometime today. I really had to dig way back into my memory on the topic because with Anjali, there has not been as much preparation this time around. After all, this is the same little girl who has been asking to go to school since January. She knows her teacher's name and where her classroom is. Her lunchbox and backpack were purchased in the spring, in preparation for picnics and vacations. And she is persistent in telling Arun that she "will get bigger and go to school with you, too, Ah-woon. "So, yes. In a few short weeks, she will get her heart's desire. She is ready, to be sure.

With Arun, the decision to send him to school was more tenuous. It was harder for me to give him up, he was so small and I felt that I was being lazy by taking him to someone else when I was already at home. However, I knew that I must. With a newborn at home, he needed that social interaction and playgroups just were not enough. And frankly, he has flourished in the school setting and he likes the little routines it provides. And I appreciate having that independent assessment of him that friends and family are all often too hesitant to voice. While we have had no problems reported from his teacher, it still makes me feel easier at heart knowing that a professional is looking out for Arun, too. Someone who interacts with my child on a consistent basis. Someone who is not afraid to voice her concerns.

On a less serious note, school is just damned fun. All the traditional holidays are celebrated and I love seeing the newest construction paper concoction that Arun creates. I love poring over the Scholastic flyer every month with him. I love watching his selection process for show 'n tell - DUDE, that some serious business. I love hearing about his friends. I love Arun teaching me new songs I had never heard before. I love meeting up and chatting with the other parents while we wait for our kids to be let out. Everyone there is so friendly, none of that weird, competitive crap you so often hear about in the school setting. I love the "end of school" parade with the kids riding around on their bikes with streamers and balloons trailing behind.

So free. So very free. A sweet, absolutely precious way to begin our summer.

Yesterday, Arun asked why he was not going to school any longer. I explained that he was only on a break and that in a few weeks, he would be going back when the school opened again. I also told him that Anjali would be attending school with him. "Really??!!", he exclaimed. His face erupted into a big, shiny smile - the thought of Anjali going to school with him absolutely delighted him. As it will her.

And that is what all this school business is really about. Not about my getting a few hours of time alone to aimlessly wander the aisles of Target, but rather, it is about my children expanding their horizons. Damned straight, they are ready.

I hope the world is ready for them.

August 4, 2009

I scream, You Scream.
However, there is no ice cream here.
Besides, ice cream is bad for you.
And so is screaming.

Wow, there a few of us Screamers out there, eh?

CPAMom (whose avatar actually is a scream) said that whispering works really well. And she is right. During the Car Cart Controversy, Arun was not throwing a tantrum. He was standing silently with his eyes welling up - getting ready to throw down his next move which is Complete and Utter Devastation. Which sucks, folks. This kid can unleash a ferocious well of keening that will make a tomcat's ears bleed. This is precisely why I left them in that purgatory between the flowers and produce sections as I desperately tried to get a regular cart. And then I plopped Arun into the basket and whispered a litany of promises - anything to keep him from screaming. Fortunately, the kid is easily bribed with fruit and we walked out of the store with a bag of expensive, out-of-season oranges.

Sadly, I do not always whisper - often, I do what I call a Hollering Hiss. You know the sort - you really wish you could yell, but you do not want to make a scene so you find yourself yelling under your breath. And there was no way I could yell at Arun that day - not with the Village People lurking nearby ready to whish my kid off, so I whispered. And it worked. For once. Huzzah! Oranges for everyone.

I am not sure where I am going with any of this.

Oh, speaking of screaming! Yesterday at my mom's house, Anjali was on the porch and began screaming bloody fucking murder. I ran to her and all I could get between the racking sobs was "Dat a BIG bumblebee. Dat bumblebee STICKED me. I don't WIKE bumblebees. Dey are MEAN." We never found an actual sting but obviously, something with wings scared the hell out of her. I may appreciate spiders and creepy crawlies, but I am absolutely terrified beyond reason of stinging/biting insects with wings, so I really felt for her.

Oh, speaking of creepy-crawlies! Over the weekend, Arun, my son, caught the following creepies - a wheel assassin bug, a common toad, lightning bugs and a water spider. Actually, the spider did bite Arun, but it was probably a dry bite since there was little ill effect other than general freaked-outness. I was actually pretty excited that he was able to catch all of those things by himself.

We may live in the suburbs, but I am glad that he has a few places that he can dig around and explore. I have some landscaping that I have given up on and he is allowed to muck and dig around in it. That's my story anyway.

Bush Baby
The other day, I noticed our bush was moving around acting as if it was a Rose of Audrey and not a Sharon. Feed me.

August 3, 2009

Village Idiots

Little did Hillary Clinton know that by making her It Takes a Village speech and writing a damned book about it, she opened a veritable Pandora's box filled to the brim with unsolicited advice for parents. Or even worse, filled with folks ready to crawl out of their rocks, wagging their fingers in unabashed judgment. Folks who feel required to take action when they see something happening with which they disagree. Regardless if it is a mere difference in opinion and a situation in which truly, it is none of their goddamned business.

We go to our grocery store about 2-3 times a week. I have been going to this same store for well over 7 years now. We know many of the employees' names and Arun could probably do a fair amount of the shopping himself. He definitely knows the precise location of his precious apples, Diego yogurt, macaroons, and lobsters.

The other day, we went there and I was going to let the kids walk with me. However, the kids wanted the car cart. You know the car cart, right? The cart that tries to pass itself off as a racecar, but only allows you to walk at the speed of a snail loaded up on Valium? Apparently, while I was out of town, the husband let the kids ride in the car cart. I loathe the car cart - it is unwieldy and we were there just to pick up a few items anyway. We were at the very start of the produce section and I turned around to get a regular cart because I quickly realized that Arun was melting into a puddle of furious goo and was not going to walk as long as there was a precious fucking car cart to be had. When I got the cart and went back to the kids, there was a lady standing near the kids.

And I knew where this was going.

Arun was in tears. Because he was not getting to ride in the car cart. Nothing else.

Kind, Misguided Lady: Are these your children?
Bad Mommy: Yes, they are. I was just getting a cart.
Kind, Misguided Lady: Well, he was SCARED. He's crying.
Bad Mommy: Actually, he is upset because he wants to ride in the car cart.
Kind, Misguided Lady: No, he was SCARED.
Bad Mommy: No, seriously. He just wants to ride in the car cart. We come to this store all the time.
Kind, Misguided Lady: Still, it was SCARY.


While it was great that someone was "looking out" for my kids - Really! Even though they needed no Looking Out For Whatsoever - this lady did not back down. All she had to do was laugh and say "okay". Instead, it was as if she had to prove some point to me. No matter that I was near the front entrance of the store.

It's like the folks who walk on the sidewalk IN MY OWN YARD where my children are playing and ask them, quite pointedly, "Where is your mommy?" even though I am in the driveway or in garage. Or the guy who told my husband "Good thing the cops aren't around." because my son was riding his low-center-of-gravity Big Wheel without a helmet. Or the folks who feel the need to discipline my child while I am in earshot.

Listen up. I am not a great parent, nay, I am average, at best. Anyone who reads my blog and hangs out with me on a daily basis knows that my wee site is just a Best of the Best Sampling of Ye Olde Parenting Methods. In Real Life, I have a short fuse and I am a Screamer. Patience is not my virtue and I am not in contention for any Parenting Awards anytime soon. No, make that "ever".

But I am not a bad parent, per se. And I am honestly trying to do best by my children in line with my life goals for them. Which is quite simply that I want them to be independent and not scared to explore their world. I don't want them to clinging to my pant leg or too scared to talk to strangers.

But my biggest problem is this:
Why can we not just assume that parents are just trying to do their very best?

Yes, yes. I read the headlines - Sucky Parents exist everywhere and knows no socio-economic bounds. However! In my own life, I honestly do not know a bad parent. Sure, I do not agree with 100% with everyone's methods, but I know of no abuse situations and I know that everyone in my life is just trying to their own personal best. Nothing that requires interference on my part.

I would just like the same.