Saturday, November 29, 2008

John Mayer Better Wonder More...

I think John Mayer is amazing, lyrically brilliant. He is a must-have staple for road trips and it should be a law that his music is played over and over in coffee shops on both the East and West coasts. I have never been to a concert, but if I ever get to go, I hope it’s to one of his…or Alison Krauss and Robert Plant…but I digress…

Anyway, even with all the accolades I could shower on this young man (young, ugh) who is definitely wise (lyrically, I must stress) beyond his Hollywood tainted years, there is one song I always skip. I don’t think I have even heard it all the way through but more than once or twice, not by choice (ok coffee shops, I can’t dictate ALL the rules), and the song is, “Your Body is a Wonderland.”

I have to admit pictures of theme parks spring into my mind, not any kind we could take the family to, but this song bugs me mostly because he claims it is written about one of his ex girlfriends (ewww). For some reason this information grosses me out in the same way that you get grossed out when you find out how you came to be on this planet, and that it involved your mom and dad, doing things…

So I really don’t want to know about her wonderland-ness, and actually I don’t think he goes into detail like he is capable of doing (I vaguely remember something about bubble gum, and his hands, which is not her body…hmmmm), so that is good. But really, this ex girlfriend was/is a young, childless freak-of-nature so, with his talent and take on life, I think he should rewrite the song once he gets married, and his wife pushes out a few or ten kids, then I want to hear the song.

See, you can’t hear a song like this, or a title like that, as a mom, and not change it to “Your Body is a Topographical Relief Map”, it’s just too easy a jump, unless you’re Brooke Burke. Something has to be wrong with her, like, she has to shave her back every day or she suffers from explosive gas or something…

OK OK…let me run through the disclaimer that yes, I am thankful for my body and that everything works and it allowed me to have two beautiful children and all that…BUT, this is about the topographical relief part…and it is graphic, and there is no relief, should you decide to keep reading…

I remember a story I read some time ago about a mom, who had twins, dressing in a locker room after a swim at the local pool. Two teenagers were standing in their bras and undies in front of the mirror, scrutinizing every “flaw” they saw and lamenting their misfortune of disfigurement. The mom couldn’t take it anymore and with only her towel on, walked over and flashed the girls in an attempt to make them “thankful” for what they had and DIDN’T have. The girls were horrified, and she said she was pretty sure they would never have kids after that experience.

I have now been both of those people, the teen that saw imaginary flaws and now the mom who has these “battle scars” that I try to wear proudly at the pool. Do any of you have any of these?

-Flesh-colored corduroy shorts that are actually my thighs.

-Lumps and bumps that have been coined, “cellulite”, a term that is not actually scientifically recognized, so I don’t’ recognize it either.

-Scars. No one has to see my c-section scar, but let me just say this second one is SO much better than the first, which looked like a worm crawling across my lower stomach.

-Other scars. I have to mention all my gouges from mole removals, because these are still big and purple, which contrast greatly with my legs, which are the color of death…

-Minimal muscle tone. OK this is purely my fault, but if I washed my hair more, which would make me do more squats and hold a heavy dryer, I’d have cleaner hair, shapelier thighs and maybe some tricep definition…

-“Cankles” So…I am not 100% sure I have these because my legs don’t often see the light of day. I actually think my ankles are for someone with a size 9 shoe, when I wear a 7 ½…

-The “girls” up top. Mine were always "small and humble", as I think Shakira once said of her’s, but at least they used to stay in place. Now, they are slightly bigger, but they certainly have no elastic integrity, and I am pretty sure they could fit into any mold I placed them into and they would fill in all the crevices. I think they are going to be perfect for mammograms.

-My neck. I am nearing 35 at an alarming rate, and my neck is like, “I am SO THERE!” This, of all my vain concerns, scares me the most. I think necks are so ugly when they are “old” and there’s not much you can do about it, like grow a beard or wear turtlenecks everyday. I slather all kinds of stuff on it, but I already have to two “collapsed veins” so I know it’s all downhill from here.

-My face. Now my face is a different story. On a good, rested day I can still pass for a chick in my 20’s. But, the main reason why this is so is because I still have ZITS! Like, a TON of zits! Nothing aggravates me more! I went through high school with porcelain skin and became a woman with adult acne. I call myself “lava face” because it seems as one big zit rises up, pops, and goes away, another one bubbles up right in its place. It is a constant battle to rid my face of these things, and I am hoping my 40’s will be such a hormonal turnaround that they go away FOREVER. Is it really that bad, you ask? Well, when your kids ask you if you have the Chicken Pox…yeah, I think it is…

-And lastly my hair. This is a cruel joke my follicles are playing on me, because the gray hairs that are sprouting are not willing to wear any hair dye I slap on my head. I am not ready to have gray hair in any way shape or form, so I am going to have to try some experiments, short of plucking them out, to get them covered and out of my visage…

So, John, while you are awesome, and I love your music, you have a lot of life-learnin’ to do, and I hope you will still be singing this song to your wife, with the same earnest sentiment, in about 15 years…

Friday, November 28, 2008

When Will Baby Do Something?

I really am blessed. I have an awesome husband who works extremely hard, and yet through all of his pursuits and responsibilities he strives to make me and the kids the priority in his life. Since we met he was the one that always wanted kids, and it took a while for me to warm up to the idea. Of course, now, I can say having children is the most fulfilling purpose in my life.

And, even though I am not a “baby” person by nature, I was totally gaga over my kids. As a stay-at-home mama I was in their face 24/7 (most often with a video or digital camera), babbling with, playing with, cooing with or holding them. That constant involvement, I would say, is part of the reason I had to implement my creative cleaning strategies I wrote about all those posts ago…

Not to say that Josh wasn’t into the kids when they were babies (see pic above where he tried to teach Jacob to play guitar at 5 months old!), he was just as overwhelmed with love as I was. But, after Jacob was about three months old, and some of the novelty had worn off, and Josh was tired of holding the video camera to film Jacob sleeping, he eventually muttered the same words most fathers blurt out without thinking; “he’s great and all, but, when is he gonna do something?”

Do something? Dooooo something? What did he mean? In my sleep-deprived world, Jacob was doing a lot of things! Here are some the things that Jacob was “doing”:

-Waking every two hours

-Eating every two hours

-Pooping every two hours

-Crying if one of these things wasn’t attended to, every two hours

-Hitting himself in the head with his rattle

-Smiling, whether he meant to or not

-Kicking his legs faster than a wind-up water toy (I have hours of film on this, believe me)

-Cooing and gurgling, which put together is “coorgling”

That was a lot to me! Of course, Josh wasn’t needed for the nursing part, which made his tending to the other every-two-hour events unnecessary as well...AND I should mention that during this time he was working full-time AND going to school. Needless to say he missed out on a bit of this "doing" stuff and mostly got to hold Jacob while he was sleeping or spitting up after being fed. So, I can understand his question, I suppose...

But no, at the time I got irritated. What did Josh want a three-month-old to do? Talk politics? Crawl over to the remote and pitch it to him? Change the oil in the car? Fix the trim in the kitchen??(that's "post-baby blues" talkin' right there!) I realize this is an issue because men really need to be stimulated with lots of action, like monster trucks, things that explode, boxing, and any activity that involves mud. Fortunately, the milestones of rolling over, sitting up, crawling, and then WALKING AT NINE MONTHS OLD satisfied Josh, for a while.

But once Jacob finally stopped wailing every time we were in the car, and we got some peace and quite in the terribly confined space, Josh just had to utter another utterance that really bit him in the butt (and the bite was so big that it came over and bit ME in the butt!). He said, “so, when is he gonna start talking? He really needs to talk more.”

More. Moooooooooooooooooooore…now, I have to admit, Jacob was sort of a slow-starter in the talking department and we were kinda hoping he would talk more. But now, at age 7, we are often looking for a “mute” button somewhere on his back. Now getting in the car is not just cumbersome, but is often seen as a form of torture, especially for any friends that make the (one-time) mistake of carpooling with us. In fact, I think we almost lost a friend on a twenty-minute drive recently because Jacob forgot to ever take a breath. By lost I don’t mean that our friend jumped out of the car and sustained massive injuries that sent him to the ER, but in that for a while he seriously considered if he and he wife should continue any sort of friendship with our family.

And now, every once in a while, Josh talks about wanting another baby. When I hear THAT utterance, I immediately walk upstairs into my kids’ room and grab Audrey’s baby doll. I then stomp over to him and drop it in his lap and say, “this is as good as it's gonna get honey. I am tired of lactating and you have no time to hold a video camera for hours on end right now."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Suzy Homemaker's Gingerbread House

Suzy Homemaker, I am not. Sure, sometimes I seem to get my act together, and do something domestically and creatively spectacular, and I sometimes even manage to have a few people witness it. Like my kids’ castle cake in the picture above, for example. That was a glorious experiment that went terribly right, but, by all accounts, should have gone terribly wrong. I looked up a few things, and went on a whim on a few things, and managed to make this cake…Really, the most amazing thing about it was I was SICK! No, not like deranged sick (that’s for a different post) but like, “put me in a NyQuil commercial immediately!” sick. It only added to the glorious-ness of the whole thing, because I made it through the cake making and party by total determination. I was not about to let my kids down. OK, lots of cold medicine helped too.

So, when delusions of grandeur actually produce positive results, you end up having more grandeur-ous delusions and think you can do anything. That’s what happened with our gingerbread houses last year.

OK, so the store-bought houses are like 9 bucks, candy included, I now consider that a bargain, even when buying two. Yeah, store-bought houses lack complete character and eliminate opportunities for creative contingency plans, but hey, you open them up, put them together and viola! you have a gingerbread house.

Well, in the spirit of saving money, and pushing my domestic skills to their limit, I decided I would make gingerbread houses completely from scratch. I was inspired by a good friend that managed to make about 12 small home-made houses and invite all the kids over for a party, which was a successful blast. I figured, if she could make 12 and still have all her fingers and cognitive abilities, heck, I could make two! (yes, she is amazing that way)

When I looked up recipes for home-made gingerbread, I quickly realized the recipe alone was more expensive than the pre-made houses. Ingredients like cream, 12 eggs, and vanilla extract did not need to be wasted in items that were going to be handled by booger-tainted hands. That’s when I had the super amazingly intelligent idea to make a simple play dough recipe that had a bunch of cinnamon dumped in it. Please make note of this idea, because it WAS a good one. Yes, Kim had a rational and practical thought. Good. Good. Goodness…and that’s where it ends.

I made a ton of this dough. Flour, water, salt and cinnamon. I then followed the template directions I found on the Internet for the expensive recipe. With a ruler in hand, paper, and conjured-up drafting skills I acquired in 7th grade, I drew up templates that could make houses for Barbies to play in. But, hey, it’s the Internet, and I was sure this site was fully reliable, right? I thought that maybe they would shrink in the oven. Take note; this is the first mistake Kim made: gingerbread house templates were TOO BIG.

Then it was time to roll out the dough! Each side of the houses were 7 ½ inches tall, and the sides for the roof were nearly the same. The directions on the site gave the approximate width I was to roll out the dough, but I quickly realized that trying to lift and move these “walls” from where I cut them to baking sheets would be nearly impossible. So, I decided they would just need to be thicker. Take note; second mistake Kim made: gingerbread house walls were TOO THICK!

Somehow, I got a rhythm going of rolling out and transferring walls, floors, roofs, and chimneys from table to the bottoms of cookie sheets, and amazingly they kept their form. Folks, this was like, 18 pieces of gingerbread, GIANT pieces. I was covered in flour and the house REEKED of cinnamon. Now for big, big mistake number 3: we had 45 minutes to get to our friend’s house with the baked pieces, because it took me THREE HOURS just to get the dough rolled and cut out and transferred! Oh, and by they way, the walls did not shrink in the oven, no, they instead poofed out into 9 inch tall pieces. Kim did not make mock-ups beforehand, and on Decoration Day did not have ENOUGH TIME.

My husband, always smart enough to stay away and not comment, stood idly by as I tried to bake these pieces and convince myself that we would make it in time for this event my kids had been waiting for, for weeks. For an instant I thought we should run to Rite Aid and get the pre-made sets, but, I decided I was in for the long haul. I thought if I believed it would work, it would.

We finally arrived (late) at our friend’s house, with my home-made piping equipment, frosting, gingerbread slabs and quaint and quirky candy. My friend’s boxed house was sitting on the table. For a minute I felt like an idiot, and I immediately started babbling about how this was just an attempt to save money and I wasn’t really like this, all "creative" and stuff. Thankfully, this all became quite apparent at the end of the night.

What I can tell you is I have GREAT pictures of my kids putting together their ginormous houses. For a while their friend was quite jealous of the size and scale of our houses. But, once the candy was flowing from table to mouths and to houses, all was forgotten and a frenzy of sugar consumption and architectural genius ran amok.

I couldn’t believe it! The darned things were standing! They were amazing! Sure, I had no idea how we were gonna get them home but WOW! I was snapping pictures faster than the paparazzi taking pix of post-baby celebs. Complements abounded, and I was sure I had just started an amazing tradition of me making fabulous houses every year for the kids to decorate while enveloped in the wonderful aroma of cinnamon, something I would even do for my grandkids one day.

Once the kids bounded off to play and the houses stood by, I noticed one of the roof sides was, caving, and sliding. Oh, no problem I thought, as I continued to chat while slathering on some more frosting. Now, remember, it takes kids all of what, 3 minutes to decorate a house, right? That was hardly enough time for me to realize that the “baked” walls were in fact NOT baked hard and dry like they should have been, and thus the weight of the candy was now causing the soft house walls to cave in. From here, a complete mess ensued. All four of us parents were huddled around MY kids’ houses, like doctors in an ER, trying desperately to reassemble the houses before my kids came out and saw the carnage. The more we tried, the worse it became. We were covered in frosting and exhausted before we decided it was simply time to give up. When the kids came back out and saw what had happened, they actually weren’t as disturbed as I was. Their friend was quite satisfied that his little house still stood, and I was able to lay the Suzy Homemaker title down, right into the box that held the pieces of gingerbread houses that we took home, and threw out. The kits are already on my floor, waiting to be made this year.

so much easier to bring home this way...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Chasing an 8-Month-Old

I am so sick of celebrity moms. Why do I read People Magazine on-line? Why? What is wrong with me? Seriously, do I have NOTHING better to do with my life?

OK for now I will put the self-loathing aside and ponder the mystery of celebrity moms (this could be PMS talking so, excuse me while I rant).

If I have to read another article about how these women stay fit by skipping meals and “chasing their 8-month-old around” I am going to explode into tiny pieces all over my apartment living room. OK, so I don’t HAVE to read the articles, but, are you kidding me? I not only chase, I follow, lead, tend to, wrestle with AND clean up after two kids everyday. I should then be the skinniest, fittest person on the planet! We ALL should be! Who doesn’t chase their kid(s) around? What mom gets breakfast, let a lone a full meal, at ANY time? And yeah, chasing an 8-month-old around…well, none of them have been delusional enough to actually say that in a sentence about a baby that is still crawling, maybe they mean they’re chasing their target weight on treadmills. Besides, I am sure their publicists are checking every word that comes out of their food-deprived mouths, BUT there have been about three celebs now that have babies, about that age, that have blurted out that they keep in shape by chasing their kid around...even though the baby is, yeah, an 8-month-old. Do you all remember having an 8- month-old? Was he flying around the house at mock-2 speeds? Was baby a blur for over half of the day because he was whipping around the house, not because you were sleep deprived? Did you resort to nets and traps just to catch him? Were you truly chasing him so much that you said, “wow! Forget exercising today! I chased my 8-month-old ALL DAY and I think I burned 1850 calories (because they fly through the house at such high velocities that you must be in the best shape to keep up). Thank goodness I don’t need any food to keep going!!”

For the ones that are honest, I give kudos, as they admit they have that baby, hire 800 nannies, and then work out three hours a day while being served 2 ounces of poached salmon and spinach three times a day by their personal chef! My “mommy ritual”? I stagger (because staggering burns more calories than walking) out of bed, make my coffee, and eat a cookie. Where is my nanny?

Anyway, whether it is the hard work and help, or the constant chasing for those who have the cyclone babies, they in fact lose all their baby weight in three weeks just in time for their papped, “postbaby” awards shows, movie premieres, or charity events. And, just in case they don’t, airbrushing and Photo-shopped photos take care of those last few pounds, and stretch marks, and (GASP!) cellulite. But while chomping at the bit for their first mommy-baby magazine cover, what do they ALL inevitably end up saying anyway? “Oh, you know, I just keep in shape by chasing my kid around all day.”


Photo from archives, post baby bodies...ugh...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Under the Microscope, Everything is a Monster

A few weeks ago I was sitting, enjoying my morning coffee, kids were sitting, watching the latest exciting episode of Sesame Street, when suddenly Audrey screamed with Jacob joining in, “BUG BUG BUG BUG!”

Most of the time I tell them to squish it and be done with it, but for some reason I got up from my comfy coffee station to check it out. Sure enough, there was a small brown bug on her pants. I went to remove this little critter, and it jumped! Jumping spider? No…I finally caught the thing and became even more alarmed; it was a FLEA!

What?? A flea?? We don't have pets! To be sure, I squashed all of the evil life out of it, and stuck it under Jacob’s high powered microscope. With the help of the Internet, I was able to identify that yes, it was in fact a flea. Suddenly, I noticed BITES all over ME, and, worst of all, we now had The Plague.

See, after beginning the onslaught of tearing apart my house to clean it and remove every possible threat of a manifestation (thank goodness we don’t have pets ‘cause it would have been thrown out with the rest of the stuff I got rid of!) I surmised that this beast came from another beast, the ones I was feeding outside, the squirrels. Two days before they were cute “pets” we fed, that would entertain us by jumping on and running around on the screen door. Now, they were RODENTS with virulent diseases, and since I was the only one with about 30 bites, I was doomed to be hit with The Plague first.

I write all this to simply say, I am one of those hyper-excited moms that sees every small thing as a monster. The flea was pretty benign in my fingers, but under that microscope it was a fanged, spike-clad vampire, with spindly legs and an alien head full of PLAGUE! And pretty much, I am fine with experiencing life until it gets in my face; Plague, rabies, and West Nile Virus are just the teeny, itty-bitty tip of the iceberg of things I have recently thought we have been exposed to, things that hand sanitizer does nothing to and all start with, "cold-like symptoms".

After going to the CDC website and finding that Plague only happens in wild creatures in the western US, I was sure I would survive the flea assault and was able to relax and focus on getting my house cleaned up, evicting the squirrels, and filling my Purel bottles to battle the more common viruses, like the puke flu and the seasonal flu.

See, it wasn’t until I had kids, got pregnant actually, that suddenly the whole world became one big virus-y germ that I had to defeat. I am not sure why…well, maybe it was experiences like these…

-Watching doctors/nurses put on gloves, then touch doorknobs, pens, chairs, themselves, RIGHT BEFORE wanting to check my cervix (please change your gloves…um, NOW!!)**

-Seeing blood on the floor of my hospital room…knowing it wasn’t mine…

-Taking new baby ANYWHERE and watching people sniff, wipe their nose, and then touch ANYTHING

-The friend/family member that visits, hugs, kisses, talks for an hour with you and baby and then says something like, “man, I have been puking/running a fever/suffering "the runs" all week!"

-Teaching Sunday School and seeing what the average 4-year-old can do to themselves and to the bathroom when left to do the job themselves...

-Reading news articles, while I am TRYING to relax, with headlines like, “Grocery Stores are the Dirtiest Places in the World”, “CDC Predicts Worst Flu-Season Ever”, “Bed Bugs on the Rise and in a Hotel Near You”, “Is Your Drinking Water Really Safe?”, “Mad Cow Disease…” any article with that beginning…doesn’t matter…

-Finding my then crawling baby girl with a piece of green poop in her mouth, which she found behind the recliner, left there by our Chihuahua...(coincidence?? Paco did NOT like the kids...)

-Having our condo flood three times with water from city pipes, to which the guys who came out to clean it up said, “I wouldn’t be walking around in that, it’s sh** water!” We had to throw TONS of stuff away and leave our house for two days…sigh…

But, the hyper-sensitivity REALLY kicks in once baby really does get sick! That first illness is always the worst. Even if it is just a cold, the fact that they can’t breathe, and can’t sleep, is enough to cause you to curse everyone you came in contact with that could have done this to you and your baby! Not only is it torture to watch your baby suffer and not be able to do anything about it, you can’t really go anywhere or do anything but bother the triage nurse on duty for your Doc’s after hours call line. Yeah, they got to know me well…

As soon as Jacob turned 4 months old, we seemed to be sick with a cold every month, along with the annual Fall Puke Flu, and the Spring Roseola, followed by the Summer favorite, Hand-Foot-and Mouth Disease (which I got two times with them. It was PAINFUL!) Audrey was able to somehow acquire the Rotavirus right before her 1st birthday, and after puking up blood, she was admitted overnight in the hospital, mostly because I became hysterical. We were “quarantined” in a special room for the night, because we were “so contagious” but maybe really because I was hysterical. But AGAIN…gloves were touching US, the contagious ones, and then doorknobs, pens, etc…

It’s just, as a mom, you have this instinctual desire to control and protect. Sometimes it presents in different ways, whether it be illness, education or social acceptance. Something triggers our predisposition and it explodes into a life-long struggle to overcome.

For me, staying away from the Internet (haha! Yeah right…) is the best way to stay sane ('cause hey, I didn’t even mention lead poisoning, sexual predators, the education system or rare and deadly childhood diseases!) and making sure my kids’ hands are clean ALL THE TIME! Our illnesses have decreased dramatically since I started carrying that stuff around, which is amazing because I still haven’t broken my kids of sticking their fingers in their noses and mouths every three seconds.

Now contradictory to all of that, I allowed my kids to get Chicken Pox because I didn’t feel like pumping them with another vaccination. That experience actually helped me, because I for the first time really saw the rhetoric in the news and understood the fear-mongering that lends itself to supporting the pharmaceutical industries. Before the Chicken Pox vaccine came out, it was an illness seen as a “rite of passage”, one that had scars serving as proud battle wounds, a time when kids remembered staying home, getting to watch cartoons and eat ice cream while slathered in pink paste. As soon as they started requiring the vaccine for school admittance, Chicken Pox became a “ preventable yet dangerous childhood virus, that can lead to serious secondary infections and complications such as encephalitis and pneumonia, even death”! (my paraphrase with no citation) So as soon as the first pox popped up on Jacob, those threats swarmed in my head and I thought that I had made a terrible and irresponsible mistake. Actually, Chicken Pox was easier than Roseola!

Not to get on a soapbox or a debate on vaccinations, I am not going there, I am just saying that particular experience is a good one for me to call on in order to not blow every little thing up into a big, scary monster. And while I will always keep the Purel around, I think I will put my fears of Plague and rabies to bed. I might even start feeding the squirrels again!

**This is in fact is a VERY bad habit of a few health professionals I have encountered. They clearly know that gloves protect people, but they seem to sometimes forget the gloves are not there to only protect them. So, stand up for yourselves people! Make sure the next thing they touch after putting on gloves is YOU and nothing else!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Finding Binki

Ok…so some of you use them, some don’t. From the get-go I decided I would be in favor of the Binki, or pacifier as many call it. We all still have some sort of Binki in our lives as adults, think about it: chocolate, Facebook, our favorite PJ’s, scrap booking, coffee…something that just allows us to let out a content sigh once in a while. So, I figured, why not start my kids on their addiction as soon as they pop out of the womb! Oh uh, did I say addiction? Yeah, let’s use that word from now on…

At first it is a mutually beneficial addiction, baby is quiet, mom gets to go through the check out line at the store happy or even out for coffee with a friend! If you’re stuck on a long drive, Binki is there to help. If there is no food around for a while, Binki will ease the wait. If you're going somewhere that you KNOW is nasty, like the Doctor's office or the grocery store, and therefore don’t want your child to ingest any germs by sticking fingers in their mouths, Binki will be there to be the gatekeeper of health!

I say this because when you lose Binki, like around nap time, bed time (even worse) or on an outing (not as bad, but still painful) you will do ANYTHING to get baby his fix! Most truly addicted children will not be satisfied with anything else, except possibly food, but, as we all know, you really can’t stuff food into your kid's face ALL day and night! You know they will even forgo sleep for this thing…so you just gotta have it.

Binkis are like socks, you may have a million of them lying around, but when you need them, they are always no where in sight! And when our Binkis weren’t busy getting lost around the couch, we would find them nowhere near where the kids would be, like behind the TV. I think our Chihuahua would sneak off and hide them, retribution for no loner being the baby of the family.

Oh the nights I spent, down on hands and knees, perspiring, holding a flash light in one hand, looking through every crevice of furniture, while Jacob screamed, hoping to find one of the 30 Binkis we had purchased in the last week.

I would scold myself; why did we do this? Why did we go ahead and decide to get our kids addicted to something at this young age? I remember my poor husband, giving into my pleas and tired of listening to Jacob wail, trudging out into the snow at 9pm to buy new Binkis because we couldn’t find the one Jacob had just an hour before. An hour later he dragged himself into the house with…inferior Binkis! Not to his blame, Jacob’s favorites were not in stock on our side of town, and rather than spend half the night in stores that stay open past 11, this seemed good enough.

Well, of course it wasn’t. Jacob shoved the new plastic Nip of Love into his mouth, only to spit it out like he was expecting a fine Pino Noir and got a boxed blush instead. Crying, squirming and devastated, I got back on all fours and vowed I would dismantle my entire house until I found our son a Binki! Jacob was content to just watch me melt into a pile of sobbing goo…Josh thought I was crazy and it was time for Jacob to just let the thing go. I felt responsible, I felt guilty, but since I was nearing a zombie state, I decided that this night was NOT the night to break the Binki bond!

Usually I would finally find one just as I was about to give up, again in a weird place, like behind the TV, or in the toothpaste drawer, or one of Jacob’s puppets. Relieved I would wash it off and stick it right into my son’s mouth. He would go to sleep peacefully only to have it fall out 10 minutes later and sit by his head the whole night, only for it to start all over again the next day.

When it was time, and only a few precious and old Binkis were left, I took a friend’s advice and cut all the nips off every one of those things. That night I placed each one in an area he would be able to find them, one conspicuously in the middle of the living room floor. Upon hearing it was bed time, Jacob toddled over to pick up a Binki, only to have nothing to stick in his mouth. After a few failed attempts and whizzing through all the normal stages of grief, He looked at me strangely, “boken?” he said with big round, tearful eyes.

“Oh my, why, yes it is, Jacob!” I exclaimed in an Oscar-winning performance. He went around and found each one looking exactly like the first, garnering the same pitiful results. In his tiny hands he held all of his broken Binkis. It was time for mom to be strong.

“Well Jacob, they’re all broken.”

“Get more?” He pleaded

“Nope. They don’t make them anymore (a lie that bit me in the butt when Audrey came along) so, I guess you just have to throw them out and be a big boy now!” I squeaked, while Josh held his coat and keys in hand, hoping my friend’s suggestion was going to pay off.

He looked at them one more time, and walked over to the garbage, where he threw them out, all by himself.

Aside from a couple of nights of very light complaining, we never looked back. I was happy to have the Binkis out of my life for the time being, as I spent much less time on the floor, and Josh spent much less time at the store at night.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Things Your Child May Miss Out On if You Decide to Homeschool...

Home schooling your child is a wonderful and rewarding challenge for any parent to consider and face. There are many arguments to both sides of the coin and issues to consider if you choose to home school, none of which I will explore here.

But, we can all agree that the elementary school years are an important part of the molding of and memories made by your child. By not being placed in an environment of one teacher to several children, they will miss out on some fundamental “peer learning” and joint “discovery”. Most of this “peer learning” and “discovery” will take place during craft time, when art tools and materials are abundant, leading with your imagination is encouraged, and the teacher isn’t front and center, eying every move being made. Therefore, you must make sure to simulate these particular milestones in any way you can. You never know when you may need to enroll your child into school and therefore potentially cause unintentional, yet serious, culture shock! Some of the activities I list here may appear hap-hazard and unnecessary, but, are worth considering...maybe you even remember activities such as:

-slathering glue on your hand, letting it dry and then peeling it off.

-stitching your palm shut with needle and thread (yes, I did this, AT SCHOOL!).

-opening and then bending a paperclip in order to make “braces”.

-creating a big ball with rubber cement, the “dangerous” glue.

-eating paper, crayons, or anything on the floor that you are “dared” to eat…

-drinking glue.

-stapling a finger or two.

-plugging up one of the toilets during group potty breaks.

-sticking beans in your ears and nose.

-pinching your nose shut with clothespins, or wearing them as earrings.

-puncturing yourself with a sharp object, such as a compass or sharp pencil.

-taping your eyes shut.

-drawing on any exposed part of the body with permanent marker.

-cutting your hair, or your friend’s hair, with scissors.

That list might seem ridiculous, and actually abusive outside of a classroom, monitored by a parent...of course there is plenty of trouble kids can get in to at home without these particular experiences, but, judge for yourself.

And recess! Let’s not forget recess! I have heard many schools are adopting the ideas of banning tag and really, really, tall metal slides, even dodge ball! So, these particular playground activities can be achieved by your homeschooled child, just as they are in the single, 20-minute recess jaunts most kids get. See that they get to:

-belong to a secret club, and then get kicked out of that secret club.

-chase the opposite sex, catch them, and then hit them.

-be shoved off of every piece of play ground equipment possible.

-fall off of every piece of play ground equipment possible.

-eat anything with 6 legs and wings.

-find an area with standing water to jump in until shoes and socks are soaked.

-run so hard they throw up on the cement because they ate too many tater tots at lunchtime.

If you can think of any more let me know…I am still working on getting my kids to sew their hands shut…

Yes, I am kidding!!!!

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