Thursday, January 28, 2010

I would call this a stream of consciousness, but it's probably more like a trickle.

Dude, you guys, I met a blogger in real life. And I got all socially awkward all over her, which is really, really a bummer because she's a mom of a kid in Harry's preschool class, so I can't just be like "Oh well. We'll probably not run into each other again" because we will. (And I am rarely at my best at preschool drop off-- usually sweaty, no makeup, in cropped sweats, carrying too much stuff, and fragile seconds away from losing it all over my kids, so I guess approaching someone with a blog business card is kind of low on my list of worries) I may or may not have given her my blogger business card from BlogHer. (May have).

But seriously. I never meet bloggers in real life except for that one awesome weekend in Chicago, so I just got excited.

Anywho, the blog is in my sidebar: Mom Appeal, and it's awesome. Check it out!

Harry and I did SO MUCH COOKING yesterday.

First brownies (TJ's truffle brownies-- love them). Harry did an excellent job dumping the mix in the bowl, but he required a bit of a vacuum because he was covered in brownie dust. Which is a lot like pixie dust only it is delicious and makes you too fat to fly.

He poured in the melted butter and did such a good job cracking two eggs that he said, 'Wow. I cracked those eggs just like I was a person." Indeed. He whisked everything together and used a spatula to slap the mix into a greased (and coco-sprinkled) baking dish.

I left him standing by the mixing bowl for 2 seconds while I bent down to pop the brownies in the oven.

When I stood up, I saw this:

A quick wipe up, and we were onto preparing green beans that we ate last night.

Harry enjoyed washing them

and snapping them. Although, he didn't snap for long, launching instead into some elaborate fantasy where the little beans inside the big beans were his babies, but then he ate the babies. I don't know. It was weird.

He always likes to spin the salad. Always. So does Jack. They will drop whatever they are doing to come spin salad, the little weirdos.

After brownies, beans, and salad, Harry helped me coat my cupcake pan with lard (yum, lard), and he nestled 2 frozen dough balls in each cup. He said they were snuggling. Then we smeared lard (yum, lard) on some Press 'n Seal wrap, covered our snuggling balls, and let them rise on the counter for 5 hours. Harry and Jack are suckers for rolls and butter with dinner.

Then Harry scampered away to "play guys" leaving me to cook 2 kinds of chicken breasts (BBQ and cheese-and-asparagus-stuffed), blanch a bunch of veggies for dipping, chop more veggies for Harry's spun salad, and make a box of TJ's cornbread stuffing, which smells great and I hope tastes half as good as it smells. I try to make 2 meals on Wednesdays-- one to eat on Wednesday, and one to microwave and eat on Thursday. The nights that Ben and I both get home from work at the same time are terrible unless food is immediately (like 7 minutes or less) ready to serve. Ugh.

Any tips for smoothing the dinnertime rush if both parents WOH?

When Jack woke up, the three of us made a pilgrimage to our holy land, stopping at the snack bar for mango smoothies and a muffin.

We also had to go to the super hero aisle just to stare at crap. Boy was that fun. Then I made the kids go to the bedding aisle and stare at crap because I noticed a giant sale sign out of the corner of my eye and wanted to see if my fears were confirmed. They were. All of our bedding is half off about 2 days after the price-adjustment window expired. **Grumble, grumble**

The reason we went to Target was to grab snacks for preschool because it's Harry's turn to bring snack next. I HATE the snack policy at his school because we can only buy food from the approved snack list, and none of the food on the list (with the exception of fruit and veggies) is what I buy for or feed to my kids. Juice? Nope, not usually, and when we do buy it, it's not the kind on the list. Crackers with hydrogenated oil or chemicals I can't pronounce? Not usually. Applesauce whose second freaking ingredient in HFCS? No. I need to stop complaining about it when Harry is in earshot, though, because he showed Ben the snack we bought and said, "Really dada. Who feeds this to their kids?"

I do. I mean what the hell do I think was in the muffin or the smoothie? Right? Somehow, though, seeing it on a label is worse for me. Which is why we are going to McD's for lunch tomorrow and why I would prefer to pay more tuition and have school provide the snack. DON'T ASK. DON'T TELL. Not good for the military. Good for my food intake.

MOTY strikes again. (yum lard) I know, nonsense, right? But 3 times is funny.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

You don't usually come here for the rhetorical analysis. And tonight will be no different! Live blogging Obama's State of the Union address

Kids in bed. Watching MSNBC for 5 minutes before the speech. I think that Keith Olberman and Chris Matthews are giving this speech a weird frame. To say that the zeitgeist of our time is people versus big corporations is misleading at best.

Also, Keith's tie is super shiny, and I think Obama still makes Chris tingly.

Switching to Brian Williams in HD. Note, HD might not be the best thing for Brian Williams.

WIlliams' frame: the MA election and angry voters "outside Washington"

Ben just laughed at "First Lady's box." Of course he did.

Lots of plaid suits in the chamber tonight. What gives?

Andrea Mitchell, again with the "angry public" theme.

Still love the "Madame Speaker," but the sgt. at arms kind of jumped the gun, eh?

Obama is wearing a lot of makeup tonight, no? Maybe it's the HD.

Andrea Mitchell: There you see the First Lady's Box

Ben: **uncontrolled laughter**

I am going to start carrying all my documents in giant envelopes. Super cool.

Such a stark contrast from the last president in terms of manifest destiny. I like.

Like the storm metaphor.

Woo-hoo Galesburg! Central Illinois!! Oh wait. He's saying my homeland is a devastated hellhole.

"Numbing weight of our politics"

shared anxieties, shared aspirations

"stubborn resilience in the face of adversity"

"great decency" -- what does this mean? Why is this word all over the place-- decency, decent, etc.

"Tonight, I'd like to talk about how together, we can deliver on that promise" Speechies-- a thesis!

Yes! The banks caused the crisis! This is great!

I can't stop looking at the thing on Joe Biden's forehead.

Again with the bank bonuses and the construction of banks v. taxpayers. Do you like this? Is it helpful?

Not a big fan of the specific examples of Stimulus Act benificiaries. They seem fake, generic-- need some statstics to support them, perhaps?

infrastructure spending? I LOVE INFRASTRUCTURE SPENDING!

Clean energy-- let's unpack this a bit, huh?

"I want a jobs bill..." that was totally his Andrew Shepard moment.

Really? Giant applause for "second place is the first loser?"

Spoke to soon-- the "serious" section is waaaaay more Andrew Shepard

zOMG-- he IS unpacking clean energy-- do you think he reads Harry Times? No, probably not because we are pretty anti-nuke, anti- drilling around here.

Burn! Climate change is real!

Ahhhh, education. The gateway to pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. Urgh.

Ah shit. Is that loan thing retroactive??

What costs should universities cut, pray tell? Exorbitant graduate student salaries? Use of colored paper in the copy room?

What about all the people who are underwater on their mortgages but can still afford them? Can you help us, too? Also, what definition of "middle class" are you working with? Because I think your cut off for "middle class" is too low.

Oh what a shitty platform for the first lady. It's the highway beautification of the 21st century. (not that the issue isn't important. It's just so... I don't know.. LITERACY or something. unless she nails food companies poisoning our kids with HFCS and hydrogenated oils to the wall. then, awesome).

"SHE GETS EMBARRASSED." really did he just say that?

Very paternalistic with the cash strapped family/ veto threat section.

"On my watch" / "when I took office" I like this

Woo-hoo! Executive order! Want to know more about them? Readthis bookby a political science professor I had at UW.

Wouldn't it be cool if people started using posts from the earmarks website instead of "texts from last night" as facebook statuses?

See? Obama never thought he was "The One." Take that, end-of-days-ers

Actually? He's not talking to both parties about grudges and withholding. He's talking to Joe Lieberman.

**Okay, so, this is like 6 minutes ago, but given its placement in the speech, does anyone else feel like Obama IS in fact walking away from healthcare?**

Just saying no isn't leadership-- harsh and awesome.

Oh shit! I forgot Al Franken was a senator. I was all, "How the hell did HE get in there?"

Love how he can stifle and encourage applause with one raised finger.

Russia! Arms treaty!! Let's fight the cold war again (to the tune of "Time Warp" from Rocky Horror)

Yay repeal of don't ask don't tell (although the joint chiefs looks a bit sour), but hold up on the equal pay talk. It's not that simple. There's work to be done first to ensure that women get an equal day to work and get to do work that's equally valued.

A really good bookend. I'm buying the change isn't easy/success isn't certain theme.

"fundamental decency" that word again-- I don't like it.

A Kennedy-esque finish, no?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Even the wienermobile pisses me off

I mean seriously. I have to leave work and pick Harry up today, and I like to park on the street in the morning, and HOW MANY EFFING SPACES DOES THE EFFING WIENERMOBILE NEED TO OCCUPY???

Have you ever had one of those mornings where everything makes you angry?

I have had rage bells going off inside my head since my alarm tinkled at 5:18. Even a scalding shower and two back-to-back cups of near-boiling coffee didn't help me.

My bad mood was impervious even to the silly face.

Everything Ben or the kids said to me made me scream with rage (silently) before I could squeeze some serviceably nice words through my lips. I even went into my closet, shut the door, buried my face in my bathrobe and yelled "I'm trying to get dressed! I don't care where your wawa baba is! Aughhhh!"

The thing is, I work late on Monday and early, long, and late today, so I HAD to be nice to my family, whom I barely see at the beginning of the week. I don't want mom to be a stompy little ball of mostly absent rage. QUALITY TIME, PEOPLE is the mantra of the guilty, overtaxed WOHM, and it is my mantra, too.

I am, though, an open book. Every feeling I experience flickers on my face. I am no good at masking moods. But really, some things are better bottled. Who gets mad at the wienermobile?

Harry's all, WTF, man? Chill out, dude. It's cool. And he's probably right.

Okay, so let's think of things that don't fill me with rage right now...

The kids slept 12 hours in their own beds
Ben and I finally watched Sunday's Big Love last night, and it was awesome
I am wearing $7 ballet flats from Target, and I don't *think* they look like $7 shoes. But they might, actually.
I have a new Us Weekly and a new parenting magazine to read at the gym tonight

4 teeny little details-- it's a start, right?

Tell me, what are you NOT mad about today?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Greetings from 3:38 am

It's a time of day I don't usually see. And you know what? I don't feel like I am missing anything. Except, you know, the obvious. Sleep.

Ben and Harry are camped out on the couch watching Monsters Inc because Harry apparently does not sleep anymore after 12:45 am. Neat. Best. Phase. Yet.

Jack is eating a bowl of Life Cereal square by square and drinking some milk. He's been in our bed since 11:50, making intermittent kissing noises and saying love you. Only thats not true. He's been smacking his lips together and saying hungry, but it took me almost 4 hours to translate Jackanese to English because it's the middle of the night. My eureka moment came when I remembered he refused all nourishment except cups of water and half a ZBar after 1 pm yesterday. I'd be hungry, too.

Good night?

Saturday, January 23, 2010


I should never have been such a smug asshole about how my little breast fed babies were never sick because this winter they have been sick sick sicky sick and sick some more.

Right now? This guy?

Has received his second clinical diagnosis of swine flu from the same after-hours, urgent care PA-C. He is going on day #3 of a 102+ degree fever. (His pediatrician, who told us NOT t take the Tamiflu that urgent care sent us home with, said it's definitely a virus-- duh-- but he doesn't know if it's the flu, but it could be despite 2 swine flu vaccines and a seasonal flu shot. He elected not to swab Jack, so we'll likely not know for sure anyway. Also, Tamiflu: is it something you have to pay for? Because our urgent care clinic just hands it out for free like candy that probably won't make you better but will likely make you vomit-- normal or not normal?)

Harry is currently enjoying his second double ear infection of the season (third of his life), and he puked amoxicillin all over the living room just a few minutes ago. We went to bed at 11 and were woken up by Harry at 12:45. He remained wide awake for 4 hours, complaining intermittently of ear pain, but we thought he was just being a pain in the ass because he took a 2 hour couch nap, and he told today's urgent care PA-C that his parents weren't very nice to him in the middle of the night. (Ben blamed me for the couch nap and elected me Prime Minister of Harryland last night while he and Jack slept in our bed until after 8) (Jack until 9:30, actually).

Now that I have changed my puked on clothes and scrubbed the floor on my hands and knees, I am off to cajole Harry into trying those meds again, which should surely be an easy sell, right? Right? RIGHT??

Fucking karma.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Jack's speech language pathologist is lovely and bubbly and smart. She is only 2 years out of grad school, and she loves her job-- even all the miles she logs in her SUV shuttling back and forth between houses and daycare centers all over town. She really likes kids, too, like screechy Harry, who apparently wanted to tell her every word her knows as fast as he can. He kept assuring her that Jack is just a baby and he's learning to talk, but it's taking him awhile. Then he recited the plot of the most recent super hero cartoon he watched ("The Fantastic Four," the one where Incredible Hulk makes a guest appearance as part of a Nick Toons Hulkathon, in case you were wondering.) Then he and Jack waged a screaming war over crayons. I turned on the TV in a desperate attempt to occupy him so I could talk to the SLP, and he passed out on the couch clutching Spiderman in one hand and a wooden guy who came with the train table in the other. Phew!

This appointment-- our first with Jack's actual therapist who plans to come to our house every week-- was actually our fourth overall appointment. I called for services in November, after Jack's 18-month well baby appointment in October when Ben and I (mostly me) told the pediatrician that we were concerned that Jack had barely any words and only seemed to be able to make a couple of consonant sounds. The doc said he didn't think Jack had a delay, but we might want to call our state's Birth to 3 program because he could have an oral motor difficulty that was making it hard for him to enunciate.

We met with a very nice intake worker before Thanksgiving, and she was the first person to tell me there's a technical term for what Jack does when he eats-- stuffing, which is exactly like it sounds. He shoves tons of food in his little cheeks, sometimes making himself vomit at the table. This has only happened a handful of times, but still. Ew. Jack only had a couple of words at this point. He said dada, which meant mama or dada, and he said na, which meant either yes or no, depending on its accompanying head movement.

In early December, we met with an early education specialist and a gross motor specialist, who observed Jack a bit and talked to Ben and me a lot about Jack's communication and eating behavior. By this point, Jack had added "Yeah," and "Mih (meaning either milk or more) to his repertoire, bringing his total 4 words with 6 meanings, a low number but not a low enough number to qualify for services because children in our state must demonstrate a 25% delay. What made Jack eligible for services was his sensory motor mouth issues. He didn't like slimy foods, stuffed food in his cheeks, and didn't seem to be using his tongue to push food or drink to the back of his mouth.

Right before Christmas, our service coordinator and the early education specialist came back to meet with me and discuss a service plan, and yesterday, we met our SLP. In this intervening time, Ben and I had a few disagreements about whether or not Jack actually needed speech therapy. Ben thought that I overstated Jack's issues-- especially the feeding issues-- and he was concerned that I wanted speech therapy because it was trendy. He also suggested that because no one had really watched Jack communicate-- they had just listened to us describe Jack's communication and eating skills-- his qualification for services might have been incorrect. I was really defensive when presented with these arguments and insisted that Jack needed help, and we went round and round. Blah, blah, blah.

Between our initial meeting when Jack had 2 words and our meeting with the evaluators when he had 5-ish words and now, Jack had the language explosion we were told to expect (told by friends, parents, our doctor, everybody we expressed concern to, really). Still, though, it didn't seem to me like he said all that much, and he still doesn't speak clearly or say the ending syllables of most words (which the SLP told me yesterday is actually not a big deal, not a developmental red flag, and not out of the ordinary until the age of 3 and a half.) Jack also started eating more foods. Eggs, watermelon, honey dew, cantaloupe, mango, oranges-- all of which are slime city.

Yesterday, the SLP, looking over her notes, said to me, "So, he only has 5 words, and he's 22 months. He should have between 30 and 50 words."

"Uh," I said. "He has a few more than 5 words now." I promised her I would make a list of all his words when I had some down time that night.

She launched in to an explanation of how in 90% of the houses she visits, parents set kids up not to talk by responding quickly to nonverbal cues so that the child doesn't become frustrated. She noticed Jack trying to climb into his booster seat and told me that in a situation like that, I should say, "What do you want, Jack?" even though I know what he wants. Asking him puts the onus on him and gives him the power to use words or signs (she showed me a ton of simple signs to use, as well). He said, "Uh," and I helped him up. This happened a few more times. Instead of leaving his cup where he could reach it, she said, I should put it out of his reach so he would have the opportunity to tell me what he wanted. When I give him a snack, I should only give him a little bit, so that he has the opportunity to tell me "more" or "all done," in words or signs. Such common-sense things that I never thought of because I am busy and distracted and want to do what needs to be done as quickly and efficiently as possible. So, it's all my fault, basically.

Nurture Shock, which takes as its premise the fact that we are raising our kids super wrong and there's scientific evidence to prove it, (and is a great book and written in such a way as to NOT make you feel defensive at all, mainly because the author always uses his own experiences doing it wrong with his own son, who is only 5) has a chapter on language development that cemented my suspicion that Jack's style of communication is all my fault. The author sites studies that prove that mothers who respond-- verbally or nonverbally-- to their babies' babble have babies who talk waaaaaaaaay better than their peers for years. Mothers who were too busy or distracted to respond as often to baby talk have babies who are bad talkers. When I read this, part of me thought, "Ah, to be a man who can wield the calculating objectivity of science and toss around a word like mother without ever considering its weight." But most of me just thought, "Shit. I should have paid more attention to Jack." A teeny part of me (and Ben said he also though this) thought, "I wonder if parents of colicky infants are more likely to be low responders?" This makes sense because we kind of tuned out his noises for awhile there after the crying mercifully stopped. If he wasn't screaming, we were NOT going to mess that up with interaction, you know?

After the monsters were asleep last night, Ben and I sat down and compiled a list of Jack's words, keeping in mind that normally developing toddlers have 30-50 words. Here are Jack's:

Monster (raaaaa, with arms outstretched)
Buzz (Zhuh)
Woody (Woo-wy)
Zurg (Zhuh Dada, which is really funny b/c Zurg says to Buzz "I am your father")
Water (water)
Bottle (baba)
Wash (wawawa)
Candy (nandeh)
Pizza (za)
Zbar (bar)
Nose (nuh)
Hello (heyo)
Brother (brurer)
Zip (zzzzzz)
Harry (sort of-- he says Rarry or Hay, but usually just says brother)
Big Boy
I Want
Bye Bye
Snow (no)
Yes (yeah)
Sponge Bob (buh-buh)
Little Bear (buh-buh)
Car (vroom)
Train (vroom)
Hungry (gungy)
Monkey (ooh-ooh ee-ee)
Banana (nana)
Dinosaur (rar)
Lion (rar)
Juice (jish)
More (muh)
Milk (mih)
Waffle (wawal)
Bagel (babl)
Elevator (evtr)
Dog (woof woof)
Cat (really high pitched shrieking noise)
On (ah)
Up (uh)
Down (da)

That's 67 if you count sound effects and 59 if you don't.

He combines these words, too. For instance, he might say, when asked who he'd like to have read to him at bedtime, "Not Mama. I want my Dada." He says "I want" various things, mostly food items. I think, though, that for him "I want" is one word. He has no concept of want without I or of I without want. Or he might ask before dinner, "Wawa oo-oo-ee-ee big boy?" which loosely translates into "May I have water in my big boy monkey cup?"

So. Erm. I don't know.

What I do know? We had so much fun at Jack's Little Gym recital yeserday

Is this not the face of fun?

We were supposed to be sitting down, but those other grubby kids stole all the polka dots we were told to sit on

Jack was very seriously waiting for his teacher to say "Show time," which was the cue to do some money jumps on the spring board.

Launching into a forward roll

A mid-bounce shot

The bar is not Jack's favorite activity

I love all of these pictures of Jack and his baby friends getting and proudly inspecting their ribbons (while the Star Spangled Banner played-- how funny is that?) I also never noticed before that this class is all boys.

Then Jack came home and drank a glass of cookie

Seriously, a glass of cookie

What about chatty Harry, you ask? He is all about commercials these days. He wants whatever he sees. Yesterday, he asked me about some Sketchers high tops that he claimed only came in girl colors, but he wondered if I could find them in boy colors online. Moments later, he was lusting after some grease-cutting kitchen spray with the fervor of a Cold War era housewife. This morning, he enjoyed a healthy breakfast en route to nursery school.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Rant Before Reading

These are the books I just picked up from the library.

To say that I am excited about reading them would be like saying Jack makes a teeny bit of a mess when he eats pudding.

I have strong feelings on the subject of motherhood. When I started writing my dissertation, I thought abortion was my personal hot-button issue, but by the time the project was complete, discussions of abortion took up maybe 30 out of 300 pages. Maybe. Instead, I wrote word after word, sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph, and end note after end note about mothers. Real mothers, the women who begged Margaret Sanger for birth control, or lobbied to keep day nurseries open so they could keep working after World War II soldiers came home, or suffered from the "problem with no name" that Betty Friedan diagnosed in the 1960s; idealized mother images, shadowy figures in Planned Parenthood's organizational literature who obediently saw their doctors for prenatal care and diaphragms, learned how to space their children so that childbirth would no longer kill them, and realized that sacrifice, piety, hard work, and deference to experts were secrets to happiness in their homes; and of course potential mothers, all women, all female fetuses and toddlers and preschoolers and grade school girls and awkward middle-schoolers and teens and married women, all socialized from the moment their sex was known to care to nurture to breed. Even childless women in the literature were defined by their negative motherhood.

It's a leap, of course, and one that I did not have enough textual support for, really, to claim that Planned Parenthood discourse was a neat little microcosm of larger America. Of course the campaigns the organization ran, the ideologies it deployed, the idealized mother figures it used were influenced by culture, by context, by the political landscape, but as the fabulous historians on my dissertation committee reminded me, the relationship between rhetoric and reality was not as linear as I wanted it to be.

Still, what I took from my study was this: we are seriously f*cked up when it comes to motherhood in America. Let's face it, it is increasingly less common that families can live comfortably on one income (wages have simply not kept pace with productivity since the 1980s-- thanks Reaganomics). There are more and more 2-income families, but the rhetoric of motherhood, parenthood, family hasn't changed. We still pay lip service to the value of the SAHM, but we (the social we, the federal we) aren't putting our money where our mouths are. This is where my argument starts to become discombobulated, where I know how close I stand to this critical problem (and I am forever grateful to the professor my first year at PhD school who had us read Michael Walzer, who argues that critical distance can be measured in inches and helps to sort out the problem of prophecy, as it were) because the money issue introduces a problem that Friedan famously, disastrously skirted. It's a status symbol of sorts to stay home with your kids. Oh come on now, of course it is. It announces to everyone, "I don't HAVE to work. I choose to stay home. Money, you see, is not an issue." Which, in turn, makes working moms take one of two really shitty positions. You can say, "Screw it. I need the money. I have to work. But oh god I wish I were home with my kids," neatly devaluing the 40 or more hours a week you spend engaged in outside-the-home activity. Or you can say "I work, but it's not like I HAVE to,", tripping all over yourself to reassure everyone that you have the LUXURY (the financial luxury) of choice, but you chose work and that doesn't make you as much of a shitbag as it sounds at first breath because you are really fulfilled by your career, but you have to stop short of insulting women who don't work in order to justify yourself and it's not because women are catty or because you are jealous; it's because our culture makes moms feel like shit no matter what.

I am sure you can tell by my increasing defensiveness that I fall into the second camp of working moms. I am so defensive that when people ask me if I work, I make a huge deal about how I am still home with the kids a lot and my husband's hours are flexible and I just got my PhD last May. That last one is especially funny because it has NOTHING to do with the original question, but I just babble it on out there as if it does fit in, as if it explains ANYTHING. Because I can't just say yes and move on-- I feel terrible that I am a mother of 2 small kids and I work outside the home. But here's the catch: I don't like staying home with them. I don't like it. I suck at it if I do it for too long (I mean, 5 weeks off in the winter, a week in the spring, and the whole summer? Plus at least one full day a week-- that's too much time for me to be good. Think about 24/7!) (And? Do you see what I just did there? I tripped all over myself to tell you how much time I do spend with my kids because I feel so guilty for working and feel guiltier for choosing to work and feel guiltier still for liking it so goddamn much.) (And there-- another jab about choice, about how all options being equal, I chose to go to the office-- another little slip of the fingers that illustrates my claim about SAHM as a status symbol).

I almost cried the other day at Harry's swim lessons because I found out that 3 other moms of kids in his class have PhDs are work part time (one at a college and 2, who are psychologists, in private practices). It was wonderful to talk to them about the daily scramble and the conflicts and how not to drown in the dissonance.

The thing that I didn't know when I was childless and scoffed at staying home and at people who think daycares are evil and at husbands who didn't help with everything is this: You love your babies more than anything in the world, and they are tiny and helpless and hypnotically adorable and when they cry, you want to be the one they cry for. Also that breast is best and pumping sucks, so forget help in the middle of the night.

I didn't feel this way because I am a woman and I am "hard wired" or biologically predisposed to feel this way. I do think, however, that women and girls are culturally conditioned to feel this way, to assume the burden of care and to work out elaborate justifications for why they WANT this burden or why they are shirking it. I mean, go to freaking Toys R Us and check out girls' imaginative play toys versus boys' imaginative play toys. It's still pink kitchens and fake make up to rocket ships and chemistry sets.

I am no stranger to creepy message boards and the mommy wars waged on them. I know that SAHMS are made to feel bad for SAH. I know there are terrible arguments about wasting education, etc, designed to make SAHMS ashamed so WOHMS can feel better (and from a historical perspective these arguments are really funny because women were only allowed to be educated in the first place because the founding fathers thought it would make them better mothers, who would, in turn, raise better citizens). I spend most of my days passing for a SAHM. I send my kids to a part day nursery school where almost all of the kids have SAH or WAH moms. I go to the Little Gym, which is all SAHMS and nannies. I run my errands with my kids during the day. Part of this is intentional-- I feel so bad that I don't stay home that I act as if I do. I understand the value of an at-home parent, and Ben and I contort ourselves to be home as often as we can and to give them the opportunities they'd have with a full- time at-home parent because ultimately (and flame away here) I do think it's best for tiny kids to have one-on-one attention in the home (and maybe I have just been duped by en vogue parenting ideology). That's why we have a nanny to care for them when we can't. I like that it is below zero today and I left them barefoot in a warm house playing a board game with someone who loves them. I hate that that someone is not me and that I don't really want it to be. Not today when the adventure of new semester is rolling out fresh in front of me.

It's not fair, I don't think, to plead the fifth on the issue of motherhood in America or to dismiss it, saying something like, "Meh. Everyone makes the choice that's good for her own family." Here's why:

First of all, the notion of choice is misleading here. To say that we choose is a very capitalist and consumerist way to look at the issue. It assumes that we all come to the buffet line with the same size plate, that we are all selecting from the same array of scrumptious choices. That's just not true. Some women aren't choosing at all; they're doing what they have to do; they're selecting the only available road, and then they're being made to talk about it, to think about it, as if they chose it for themselves. Because if it's a choice, we don't need longer maternity and paternity leaves. If it's a choice, we don't need federal infrastructure for equitable, accessible daycare. If it's a choice, then it's not a right, and if it's not a right, then we don't have to help you pump at work, or take your sick kid to the doctor, or be compensated in any way for the work you perform everyday in your home.

Second, what happens inside your house affects what happens inside all of our houses. The choices we make about raising our families are certainly private, but all of these private choices together make up our public notion of family, of motherhood, of social justice. In a very real way, what happens in your house directly affects what happens-- what can happen-- what we can imagine happening-- in my house, in the White House, in every house.

So, that's how I feel BEFORE I read the books above. I'll check back with you after I read them.

Monday, January 18, 2010


I know; I know. I was just telling you how awesome my Lancome Renergie skincare products were. And they were. For approximately 3 weeks until my cycle started to, you know, cycle, and my skin got all red and crappy again. About this time, I ran out of the samples I had been using since Christmas and prepared to go to the Lancome counter and replenish my supply.

That's when I did the math and realized that night cream, day cream, and eye cream would cost more than my auto insurance deductible (it just seemed like a relevant number for comparison's sake). And my skin still looks kind of crappy, though not as crappy as it did when I was using knock-off Aveeno stuff from Target. Knock-off Aveeno? Clearly, my skincare regimen was in sad, sad shape. So today, after doing a bunch of research, I went to Sephora and got the Philosophy stuff pictured above. People like it. It smells good. It's pricey but not that pricey. If I don't like it, I am going to try Aveda, Clinique, and L'Occitane (in that order) before moving on to Lancome again-- which, don't get me wrong, I like Renergie but I don't loooooove it like I did a couple weeks ago. I used to work at a Lancome counter, so I have a soft spot for those products, but I also want to explore my options. Any recs?

I just feel very ugh about my appearance lately. Part of it is that I have gained 2.6 pounds. Part of it is that I changed my bob from graduated to box, and it's a little Super Mario Brothers Goomba at the moment. Part of it is that I have obviously spent the better part of 2010 makeupless and clad in jammies and sweats. But part of it is my skin, the wrinkles around my mouth, and my nose, which seems to be getting kind of bulbous in my old age. So, Hope to the rescue.

I'll keep you posted because I can't talk to Ben about my product angst-- he said to buy whatever I want; don't tell him how much it costs, and don't make him pretend to be interested in it.

Jack's snowman onesie cracked him up all morning.

He couldn't stop staring at it

Harry's Pink Floyd shirt cracked me up.

He asked me all day to get out the easel he got when he turned 2 (that's how he refers to it-- every time). He drew like 3 strokes with a hastily chosen red marker

and then crawled underneath it because it's NOT AN EASEL. IT'S A BAT PLANE, YOU FOOL.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dads Day Out - By H&J's Dad...Also, I am AWESOME

I have commandeered this blog...again...took the boys to the zoo today. Gave Sarah some time feel better...and clean...her free will not by any request...I don't want to sound unappreciative, but I also don't want to sound like I made that b*(#$ clean even though she was sick.

The zoo was awesome we had a great time. I don't think I've ever been to the zoo in the winter...fewer animals...bears hibernating. Biggest surprise was that the penguins and polar bears weren't around, what the hell, but the tigers and camels were out? That made no sense to me or Harry.

It was also empty which was great. The guys could run around (burn off a ton of energy...and calories) and have a zoo all to themselves, don't know why one needs a zoo to themselves, but I will certainly go back again this winter.

And here is me being Awesome!!!! Like, wicked-awesome!!!! I have been expecting an entire blog post from Sarah about my mad-scetchin' skills. But I guess I am just not F$#*ing cool enough for her readership...I digress and disagree.

AWESOME isn't it...