Sunday, December 28, 2008
Things that Work:
  • Portable DVD players and video games
  • Modeling clay
  • Fresh toys
  • Audio books (esp. good for traveling when out-numbered by your B.O.J.)
  • Crayons or other supplies (washable or invisible ink recommended); Don't forget the paper
  • Lots of snacks continuously and shamelessly flowing like wine
  • Wine itself or other intoxicant, if possible and not prohibited by law
  • Bribes (Remember to following appropriate conditions for bribery as outlined earlier.)
Things that Don't Work:
  • Telling them to "be quiet!"
  • Asking them to "take a nap!"
  • Less than one seat-degree of separation
  • Showing them where you are on the digital flight map (esp. true on a 14-hour flight)
  • Lego
  • Dancing in the aisles
  • Trips to the bathroom where the scary potty is
Hope this helps.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
This year we decided to celebrate Christmas a day early, on Christmas Eve, because the kids and I are taking a very long international flight back to the States on the 26th and I was hoping that the kids would rest better on Christmas Day in preparation for the trip. We even asked Santa as his "home visit" on Sunday if he would mind going out of his way to deliver early this year. (Extra cookies and Bailey's on-the- house! Oh, and carrots for our reindeer friends.)

Let's just say it seemed like a good idea.

In order to go with this plan, we ended up basically skipping Christmas Eve and, for the most part, it was a huge disaster. While the kids were excited as they would normally be on Christmas, we ended up so tired, frustrated, and generally unfulfilled that we decided just to have Christmas dinner where it belongs, on Christmas Day.

I didn't really realize how important having Christmas Eve was until I skipped it.

Not particularly ironically, like laboring for a child, there is natural progression from December 23rd to the 24th to the 25th to the 26th. We all know that the 23rd is business. The nesting/tying up lose ends time; the 25th is the arrival, the celebration; and, the 26th is the complete crash from all the excitment and peace is (somewhat) restored as life moves on. But the power of the 24th is underestimated. At least by me. Afterall, there's no baby without the birth, right?

By skipping the 24th, I realize I completely and utterly missed the blessed serenity of Christmas Eve. I'm not a classically religious person, so this really surprised me. There is truly a magical mystery to the waiting and the hopefulness of Christmas Eve. It is probably the one time of the year that I really find peace in church whereas I usually tend to find the "darkness" of church a bit overwhelming. I love wrapping presents and I like to wait to do it all on Christmas Eve. I love having family rituals at the end of the day of Christmas Eve. Overall, I love the sense of optimism that warms everyone on Christmas Eve.

And this year I missed it all. But I will not let the lesson go to waste. If anything, I think I just learned that I would rather spend a year in the serenity of Christmas Eve, than even 10 minutes of Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas! Joy to the World!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I just wanted to chime in on this because I'm getting pretty annoyed at all the marketing out there that talks about the 12 days of Christmas being BEFORE Christmas. I even unsubscribed to a newsletter that I get because I got daily e-mails numbered according to the 12 days of Christmas even though we're not there yet! For some reason, this really irritated me as it is a major mistake and if you are going to attempt to brainwash me, at least get the topical accuracy correct.

So for the record....

The Twelve Days of Christmas are the 12 days starting on December 26th, the first day of Christmas. In "early Christian tradition", the Christmas tree is put up immediately before the 12 days and is taken down at the end of 12 days.

January 6th is Epiphany, a season on the Christian church calendar that signifies the arrival of the Three Kings to witness Jesus' birth and the subsequent spreading of the "Good News".

Don't get me started!!!
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Have you ever noticed that when your child is terribly ill, they are so nice? And when they are just getting better (not necessarily fully healthy), they are so mean? It's like the conscience, the essence of being, lies somewhere between healthy and ill. Too sick to be mean. Not well enough to be nice.
It's Pictures with Santa time again. I dread this particular Act of Commercial Christmas (even though I do enjoy many others.) Every year we have the "do we take the kids to see Santa?" discussion. Invariably, we decide that we should probably just go ahead and do it because if we don't, we have to worry that we've ruined our children's cultural experience of Christmas and denied them an important right of passage.

So we wipe the gunk from their faces, prep them for the experience, and dive in. We wait in line as we watch other children go kicking and screaming to Santa's lap all the while reassuring our children that Santa is really just as jolly as a bowl full of jelly.

And, finally, when we get there, we are pressed into paying for these odd photos capturing odd moments. Fear. Panic. Uncomfortable contact with a mysterious, mythical stranger (that, as parents, we would normally not approve of). Caught on film for an eternity and, in the digital age, distributed world-wide.

I don't know too many people who really enjoyed their trip to Santa's lap as a child and not many parents who can say their children didn't cry, at least when they were too little to hide their emotions. I'm definitely more a fan of the idea of Santa than the living breathing one at the photo op myself. Sometimes real magic is best not seen.

Now, excuse me while I go post our Santa photos on my website.
Monday, December 8, 2008
When I reflect back on my years of parenting, as I know I will, I think I will refer to them as my "Laundry Years". For some reason, it wasn't so bad with one child. I could handle it. When my daughter popped splendidly in to the world, everything changed. Not a day goes by that I don't have at least two loads of laundry to wash, dry, and fold. Ah, the memories give me chills.

For example, there was the time that I successfully wash, dried, and folded an entire week's worth of laundry in one day. And, then there was the time that I had to come dripping wet from the shower in to the living room just to find a clean, dried (but not yet folded) towel. What blissful times those were.

Other times, I will remember my daughter standing excitedly on a pile of warm, fresh-from-the-dryer laundry only to pee on the whole pile. (Yes, she took her diaper off.) Or the time when both my kids vomited so many in one 8-hour period that every single sheet, towel, blanket, and cloth diaper needed to be washed. It took me nearly three weeks to wash all them all. Then there was the time, recently, when I washed (or as he says, murdered) my husband's new cell phone. Good times. Good times.

No matter what events are happening in my life, laundry is predominant and undying. When will it end?
Sunday, December 7, 2008
1. Any non-washable drawing/art untensil (use Washable art supplies or Color Wonder markers instead)
2. Non-submersible electronics, such as telephones and cameras
3. Super glue
4. Electric hair clippers or razors (Either you'll think you can cut their hair or they will.)
5. Snow globes
6. Anything else you might care about
Saturday, December 6, 2008
1. Magic Eraser (You'd be surprise how simple your life becomes with one of these in your purse.)
2. Two pieces of long-lasting candy or lollipops (You need two in case one gets dropped on the ground.)
3. A clean pair of underwear (No explanation required.)
4. Shout wipes or similar
5. A juice box with straw ("I'm thirsty!!!!!!!")
6. Baby wipes (Duh!)
1. They know how to say "no". Pleasing is not a top priority so they always get to accomplish all the things on their lists: drawing on the walls, playing in the dirt, running around screaming, etc.
2. They know what they like. (Even if it changes from second to second.)
3. They know when to act like they love you. (Call it self-preservation if you must, but it is effective and pretty darn cute, too.)
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Today the Ambassadors of Son and Daugher met for a conference concerning the virtues of sharing. The goal was to come to an agreement on whose is toy is whose in the hopes of reconcilliation on the issue for a future treaty. Unfortunately, initial talks broke down when Ambassador Son reclaimed some territory that he said was his and Ambassador Daughter demonstrated her disappointment by launching a full scale attack. Peace talks could not be re-established, but after hours of deliberation both parties agreed to reconvene in 18 years to see if there was any change in the current policy.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Despite the lingering "growing boy" odor, the frustrating build-up of trash and food debris, several cups half-filled with old milk, and the significant peril of a major Lego injury, cleaning Jack's room is one of the more fun cleaning jobs in my house. This is not just because Jack comes flying in to his room and proclaims how he loves his room looking like "this!", but it is truly a fascinating (and sometimes joyous) experience.

The first task is to open the window and remove all offending items (trash, cups, dirty laundry, etc). Once that is complete, I can move on to the fun part....seeing what the toys are up to.

Everywhere I turn, I find toys in various staged scenes. GI Joe fighting with a Transformer or dinosaur. Playmobil knights defending their castle which is being invaded by Ben 10 aliens. A piece of paper with a lake drawn on it with Lightening McQueen and Mater going for a swim. Lego Indiana Jones in an intergalactic battle with Darth Vadar. Stickers placed in strategic locations on the walls. Books open for reference. Blanket tents. Yarn zip wires strung across the furniture for the GI Joes and Luke Skywalkers. Secret hide outs. Rocks. Sticks. Straws.

I'm guessing cleaning his room will not always be this fun. However, when I do it now, I actually feel like we might be doing ok. He's got a great imagination. Keeps himself busy and engaged. And, most of all, his play seems happy.

I really wish there was a good way to capture the feeling of discovering the scenes acted out in the privacy of his own room at 5:30 in the morning, but I don't want him to know I'm watching. He might stop. I'll just have to settle for the memory on this one.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
I was thinking that there is definitely a different level of appreciation in our house in regards to the kids. It isn't that we don't both appreciate or find joy in them, but my theory is that primary care givers get a greater variety in the quality of parent-child interaction. (E.g the primary care giver gets more of the crappy hours, therefore less of the joy.) Not only that but the "lesser around" primary care giver gets the ardent farewells and the joyous returns each day and the novelty of the time together.

The big problem is that this stinks! I don't like to be frustrated, loud, and grumpy about the kiddos. I don't want to complain or be negative about them. I love them limitlessly and don't want to feel any negativity around them. But all good things are hard earned, I guess.

Who appreciates the kids more in your house? Is this just my household or am I experiencing normal parental angst?
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Being a child is hard. There's so much to learn and the bar is set quite high. It's no surprise really that few of us come out of childhood unscathed and I'm wondering if it has something to do with the strange, paradoxical expectation that we want our children to be both normal and unique. Interestingly, the trip through adulthood seems to be about fighting this paradox as well. Some of us want to be more "normal" while others of us want to be more "unique".

We spend a lot of time as parents asking ourselves, each other, our doctors, our teachers, and everyone in between if a behavior is "normal". Along side that is the hope and expectation that our children are treated as unique individuals and identified as special amongst their peers. For example, we want our "normal" children to get "straight As" in school. Is that possible? By definition, an "A" is awarded to excellent work. Not "normal" work.

Not that this is a news flash, but we live in a VERY competitive culture. The normal/unique paradox is almost the catalyst of this cultural issue. It is the classic battle between nature and nurture. The drive to survive and blend-in against the social expectation that we are more than we may be able to be. Living constantly in the disappointment of ourselves. It's no wonder self-esteem in children is at an all-time low. It makes me wonder if "acting out" a way to satisfy this mysterious expectation.

And what about all those children who can never be "normal"...those who are living a more dramatically unique life because they were given to us that way? How do they fit in to this picture?

I honestly don't know what the solution is, if there even is one. I'm just troubled by the issue and wanted to shine some light on it. As a typical parent, of course I want my child to be normal in "all the right ways" and unique in "all the right ways", but more than anything I'd like to find a way to reconcile the conflict. It's may easier if we're normal, but can be more fun if we're unique.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I'll just start by saying I have my moments. In these moments (which are few and far between....right?) I've been known to drop a few etymological bombs, especially in those moments of extreme parental exhaustion or frustration.

The problem is that my 5-year old was also dropping the same bombs. Perfectly targeted, I might add. (He's nothing if he's not smart! I'm so proud.)

Surprisingly, this does not always make for a good laugh (especially when they are used appropriately), so I was trying to figure out a way to undo the 5-years of programming that I mistakenly instilled in my beautiful, young son. I'd tried a few things....not reacting, ignoring, time outs, rationalizing, yelling (minus the bombs), etc...but with no success.

But one evening, I was half-watching an odd TV show called "Dexter" where the main character is basically a sociopathic serial killer whose day job is a crime scene technician. (As you can imagine, he's quite good.) There was a brief scene in the show that tickled my consciousness.

A young "tween" boy swore in front of the sociopath, Dexter, (while he was pretending to be normal with the boy). Dexter responded by saying, "Hey, grown-up words are for grown-ups. OK?" To which the boy readily agreed and they moved on.

I rolled my eyes, chuckled at the simplicity of it, said "if it were only so simple," and, then, I, too, moved on.

So, a few days later, I overheard my son giving my 2-year old daughter an Etymology lesson and reflexively spouted the only phrase I could think of to make it stop: "Grown-up words are for grown-ups." My son paused, said "OK", and moved on.

That was the last time he dropped any bombs of any significance. Once I caught a potential bomb being released and mentioned the "grown-up words for grown-ups" platitude and it stopped. Immediately.

Go figure. Thanks, Dexter.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008

After weeks of struggling with this project, I've finally committed to a working job description for mothering. Surprisingly it is very, very simple. Interestingly enough, taking this journey has also shed a tiny bit of light on my husband's commitment to his job which I generally respect, but, frankly, I have always found hard to understand.

I decided to limit my work to mothering only so my description does not include the significant part of my life dedicated my to marriage. I think caring for my spouse and caring for my kids may appear similar on the surface, but are in fact very different. (And I'm guessing that is a bone of contention is most marriages.)

So here goes:

To be a mother requires a commitment to equal parts nurturing, protecting, and defending the body and soul of my children with unconditional love at all times.

Body and soul encompasses:

  • Self-esteem and emotional health (including fostering independence,
    connectedness, confidence, and sensitivity)
  • Physical health (including nutrition, wellness, and hygiene)
  • Intellectual health and development (including fostering problems solving and creativity)
  • Social conscience and moral health
  • Social skill development
  • And probably many other components along the way.
Monday, November 17, 2008
One of the worst parts multi-child parenting is conversations like this:

ME: (on the phone) "Yes, I need to make a peds appointment, please?"
SON: "Mommy, where's my cat?"
ME: "Mason 1111....Jack, over there. And, in the future please refer to my new law before asking me to find something again....fever.....cough.....snotty nose"
SON: "Mom-mee! She's not there!"
ME: "...5 days...101...Jack, you didn't look."
SON: "Emma! You took my cat! Where is she?!"
DAUGHTER: Scream...Punch...Crying
SON: "Mommy! Emma punched me."
ME: "9:20....Jack, you yelled at her....Emma, no punching. Time out!....15 minutes early, ok...."
SON: "Mommy, my cat?!"
DAUGHTER: "I'm thirsty!"
ME: "Is that with the pediatrician?...Jack! Over there!...Hold on, Emma...No, leave your diaper on!"
SON: "Emma! Give me my cat! Mommy, Emma threw my cat!"
DAUGHTER: "I want juice!!!!!"
ME: "Jack, quiet. She is giving it to you!...Emma, say 'please!'...No! Not on the floor! Use the potty...Thanks. Have a nice day."
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
And the winner is Emma...103.9! A close race, but the victor is the 2-year old with an immune system of a 82-year old.

The first place prize is a gold-plated sippy cup trophey with an 6 oz. bottle of Children's Motrin. Photos will be held in the winner's crib.
Friday, November 7, 2008
It is after seconds of careful consideration that I am hearby submitting my resignation as the Household Lost Object Locator. I have decided that I am no longer qualified for the aforementioned position and am going to seek employment doing something more closely related to my skills, perhaps Laundry Sock Locator or TV Remote Supervisor.

I'm hoping that my resignation will help motivate our Household Congress to approve my proposed Object Orientation Law which works to address the common household problem of missing items.

Phrases banned by the new law include:

  • Do you know where
  • I can't find my....
  • But I looked for it!
  • I don't know where I saw it last.
  • Any another other similar or relating phraseology

Behaviors banned by the new law include:

  • Sulking
  • Crying
  • Whining
  • Moaning
  • Tantruming
  • Wandering around looking lost

Thank you for the opportunity to serve. I will be happy to provide limited on-the-job training to any person hired to fill the position.

Monday, November 3, 2008
As I prepare to have my life disturbed by these words yet again, my anxiety level begins to rise. Not only do these words mean that parenting is about to get harder due to distrupted sleep and family routines, but also they are a reminder than I'm basically unfit. Physically and mentally.

It's like I'm the target of some psychotic cosmic joke (or should I say nightmare) in which I'm living in a Cult for the Unfit where the loud speakers constantly remind you that you need to exercise, exercise, exercise.

If I'm lucky enough to sleep through the noise, I'm rarely lucky enough to ignore the message that it pumps in to my psyche. Many a time I've woken-up in a cold, anxious sweat with an overwhelming urge to get straight to the gym...only to realize that the gym is closed for an exercsie!!!!!!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Apparently, I have raised my children in to a bloodline of which they were not born. They have recently decided that they are royalty and I, their lowly mother, am their serf. (Or indentured servant, at best.)

Typically, my son has the day shift and my daughter has reign over the nights. This means that they are both well rested to get the most out of my day. I, on the other hand, flirt with the ability to function most days.

However, in the land of serfdom, I try to remember that these days will end. Perhaps in a royal wedding. Perhaps in a bloddy revolt. Either way, I plan to pay my debts to my earn my freedom.

I serve at the pleasure of the King, uh, I mean, my kids.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008

“Wash the plate not because it’s dirty nor because you’re told to wash it, but because you love the person who’ll use it next.”

– Mother Teresa

Monday, October 27, 2008
After spending a hunk of the morning with 2 gals decontaminating the playgroup toys against the Hand, Foot, and Mouth plague that is running rampant here, I thought it might be useful to have a quick brief on how to contain illness in the jet setting preschool populus.

In short, you can't! But it's always fun trying....your options are:

1. Have an argument about washing hands at least 6 times a day
2. Have an argument about not putting the aforementioned hands in the mouth at least 6 times a day
3. Have an argument about taking Tylenol 6 times a day when the previously mentioned options don't work.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Nothing newsworthy to report really. Just didn't want anyone to get worried...yeah, right. Stop snickering.

Still alive. (I think I'm glad for that.) Still have a headache. Which reminds me...still have 2 kids. (They don't have headaches.)

Still don't know my place. (Probably glad for that, too.) Makes it easier when I get in trouble which would probably happen less if I knew my place. When I find it, I'll let you know. Probably has something to do with that pesky job description.

Did I tell you...I'm thinking of hiring a life coach? (Since they don't really make clones of the right things yet.)
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
The dishwasher is huge problem in our house. It works great, but for some reason we produce so many dishes and cups and glasses and utensils that running it once a day just doesn't cut it.

As I've never really had this problem before, I think it has something to do with the fact that we don't have garbage disposals here so when a meal is finished the trash can has to have enough room in it for any waste. If not, the trash has to go out first. If the kids are around, that may have to wait until I can safely take the bag to the chute. (I'm still not that excited about leaving my kids alone in the apartment even for the two minutes it would take to do this job. I'm panicky that way.)

Anyway, the bottom line is I always have a massive stack of plates, etc, waiting to be washed. I feel like I load and unload the dishwasher at least twice a day and still have plates to clean.

A few weeks ago I was talking to another mother (of 3, including twins) who happens to have an immaculate house. It is truly perfect! She was telling me that her oldest daughter is responsible for taking care of the dishes after dinner and that, to make this job easier for her, they routinely use paper plates.

I have to admit I was shocked. What about the environment? What about manners? What about simple common decency? I'm from a "proper plates" kind of family. This was not an easy idea to absorb.

Turns out I'm a snob when it comes to plates. I think my husband already knew that, but I wasn't ready to admit it. If I bring home take-out, mine has to go on a plate. I will not eat it out of the container. My husband, on the other hand, has no qualms.

Well, to make a short story even longer, the past few months have been especially hard with our hefty work schedules and taking care of the kids. My household management has hit an all time low and I was desperate for anything that would help me catch-up.

That's when I recalled my friend's method of plate management. So I decided to "suck it up" and give it a try. We bought a stack of disposable plates and bowls. I ran the dishwasher endlessly for an entire day to clean out the pile and start fresh. Then I started using the disposables for breakfasts, lunches, and generally (but not always) for dinner.

Amazingly enough, we are finally on top of the plates problem. It pretty much instantly has gone away and I've been able to turn my attention to more pressing matters, the living room and the general mess piling up on all available surfaces.

I don't foresee using paper plates forever. I just can't. I like the formality of putting a meal that I made on "nice" plates. However, giving myself a break from my own rigidity has really been a breath of fresh air.

Down with plates! Up with people!
Monday, October 20, 2008
When I was pregnant with Emma I was not able to make it back to my hometown for a baby shower and because we move a lot I didn’t know too many people where I lived. A friend solved this problem for me with a really creative surprise baby shower that would work very well from Korea.

She sent an invitation to a surprise “Long Distance” baby shower to my friends and family asking them to send photos of themselves to her with their shower gift prior to the shower. Then, she hosted a small lunch with me and my few local friends and family and included the photos and gifts from my long distance guests. She took photos of me opening the gifts with their photos and sent them to me and the long distance participant.

I really thought this was a nice, meaningful way to help me connect with everyone who was so far away. In the military life, our families and friends are so spread out that we sometimes feel so disconnected from them at the most important times. So, keep this in mind if you have a pregnant military friend. Perhaps you can help make her day, too.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Over the past 2 years I've become a certified expert at dealing with a puking child (even 2 children and 1 parent, me, vomiting simultaneously, while other parent, Robert, was TDY, which was particularly fun). I know that this is not a pleasant topic, but I have developed a process that might be helpful next time your child gets a stomach bug.

One thing I have noticed is that these bugs are pretty short lived. Vomiting tends to occur (in my house anyway) only about 2-3 times with the occasional recurrance the next day.

Unfortunately, there is no good way to predict the first explosion which makes the first clean-up a bit of a challenge. (Any suggestions on that are welcome, however.)

In a crib:
  • Remove clothing while child is in crib so as not to contaminate the rest of the room
  • Remove child and clean-up child
  • Lie child on a towel on the floor with pillow and blanket (if alone) or have partner hold child if you are the designated "cleaner upper"
  • Remove bedding and place in washer with powder, but do not run it yet! This will not be your first trip to the laundry room. No need to waste water!
  • Replace waterproof matress cover
  • Put towel over mattress cover (bring a stack in the room while you are at it)
  • Put crib sheet on top of towel (the towel will help reduce the number of waterproof matress pads you need. Usually, you'll have more sheets on-hand that matress covers.)
  • If there is a pillow, wrap pillow in large towel
  • Return child to bed
  • Place empty landry hamper outside bedroom door.
  • Go to bed, but don't go to sleep. Within about 10-20 minutes you'll be needed for Round 2.
  • When Round 2 comes (and it will), remove clothes and clean-up child, as before
  • Place child on floor in safe location, as before
  • Remove crib sheet and any soiled towels and place them in the empty hamper outside the bedroom door.
  • Place fresh towels on bed and pillow and put on a fresh crib sheet.
  • Return child to crib (probably with drink)
  • Take hamper of soiled linens to washer and this time you can probably safely run the machine. You don't want to leave the nasty items too long and you'll probably have to wash everything at least twice.
  • Return hamper to outside bedroom door for Round 3.
  • Got to bed, sleep lightly until 5:45 when you will finally pass out exahausted only to be wakened at 6:05 by your suddenly healthy little one who is raring to go.

In a bed:

This process is similar than in a crib, but requires more urgency as the potential damage can be more widespread. Be sure to brief your child on what he/she must do it he/she ever feels sick in the night.

The following instructions can be helpful:
  • Call loudly for help-do not try to self-manage the situation
  • Do not stand up (sit only)
  • Do not walk unless absolutely necessary or you have enough warning to make it to the toilet
  • Do not vomit on pillow
  • Do not vomit on floor
  • Do not vomit on favorite lovey or use the Clone Theory of lovey management
  • Do not vomit on cat (or dog) (Learned the hard way, folks!)
Your responsibilities are:
  • Respond immediately and with haste
  • Be sure to respond to the scene clearly giving instructions that are loud enough to hear (e.g. "Do NOT stand-up" or "Do NOT puke on the cat.")
  • Perform the same procedures required for children in the crib including the use of towels, hampers, washing machine, etc.
I hope this is helpful. I'll be sure to update the blog if I learn any new techniques tonight.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Here's one of my favorite recipes. Believe it or not, the kids really love it. Serve with rice and a complimentary veggie. (Still working on my job description...but it's going to be brilliant. Something about soap operas, Dr. Phil, and bonbons.)

Roast Pork with Vinegar and Bay Leaves (Serves 6)

2 tbs butter
1 tbs vegetable oil
2 lbs pork loin
1 tsp black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
½ cup red wine vinegar

Put butter and oil in heavy pan. Medium high heat. When butter foam subsides put meat in fat side down. Brown deeply all over. Turn when necessary (turn heat down a bit if butter starts going dark brown).

Add salt, sprinkling on all sides. Lightly crush peppercorns. Add to pot with bay leaves and vingegar. Scrape browning residues from pot. Do not let vinegar simmer long enough to evaporate. Turn heat to low. Cover pot tightly. Cook turning occasionally, until tender. Add 2-3 tbs water to replenish liquid if necessary.

Transfer to cutting board to settle for a few minutes, Slice 3/8 inch thick. Arrange on platter.

Tip pot. Spoon off most fat and all bay leaves. Add 2 tbs water. Turn to high and scrape residues away from pot while water boils away. Pour juices over pork. Serve.
Monday, October 13, 2008
If you clicked, I think it's time we had a talk. Time for a reality check. I realize I'm about to hop on for a ride on my high horse, but hang with me. Maybe I have a point. Maybe I'll just irritate you more than usual, but I will acknowledge that I'm not perfect at this either.

I was at Toys R Us the other day and ended up wandering my way past a completely empty merchandise wall. Totally, completely, and utterly empty. There was a slightly intense woman standing in front of the racks on her cell phone discussing the Zhu Zhu Pet situation with someone. She was visibly traumatized by the fact that the shelves were completely empty. The anxiety in her voice spoke a thousand words.

Obviously, this is a multi-layer problem. Starting with if you think that purchasing these creepy little simulated rats will make you the hero of the season for the low price of your moral fortitude and your mighty inflated dollar, then you are actually probably right. (Believe me, I know. I have 6 years of chasing the toy dragon and it does make them happy. In fact, sometimes deliriously happy....temporarily.)

The problem is it doesn't make me happy. For many reasons:

  1. I hate losing my spine and selling out to commercial trends. I do and I hate myself even more every time.
  2. My kids don't need another thing. At all. And the toys typically don't come close to the hype and expectation so there is a long way to fall.
  3. I hate to see these obnoxious eBayers sweeping the shelves of merchandise and then reselling it for exorbitant prices. I've witnessed some of the aforementioned profiters actually push little children out of the way so they can have first dibs. They are ruthless and do not deserve my mightyly inflated dollar.
  4. Every time I drive my kids to school and see the lunchroom packed with kids who are just happy to have their tummies filled with the free breakfast the school provides, it makes me feel physically sick. I get to go home. Sometimes, they do not. Zhu Zhu Pets are not on their wish list this season and, if they are, I bet they don't dare to tell anyone.
So, I try to start every discussion of current toy trends with a "I will never buy you that toy unless it is regular price and I have the money" statement. That way the expectations are dashed from the beginning and ultimately, I win. I either get the toy for a reasonable price ($9.99 in the case of Zhu Zhu Pets) or I don't disappoint them because I didn't. In addition, I hope that one day they will realize that although I'm not very good with money and I do buy too many toys, that I have attempted to provide them with a basic financial lesson and hopefully, a moral one as well.

Oh, and, by the way, I am on the lookout for normally priced Zhu Zhus. I'm not crazy, but I'm also not expecting to find them.
Five o'clock Sunday can only be described as the worst hour of the week. This is when your time slowly transitions into someone elses' time. The pace is picking up and your life on someone elses' agenda (school, work, kids, etc.) is about to break loose again.

By now, you'd think I'd have found some solutions for the 5 O'Clock Sunday Blues, but I haven't. It infects our house like the hours after eating bad tuna. Slightly uncomfortable at first, but then, suddenly, an all out war on our senses, our bodies, our minds.

Oddly enough, Monday morning is not so bad. It as though once you'd made it to Monday, Friday is on the radar again and it will all be ok. If I could just get through Sunday, the week would actually be ok.
Friday, October 10, 2008
I don't spank but I'm not 'above it' and I don't judge people that do.

--Lauren N. on "Across the Pond"

In case you don't read all the blogs linked through my page, I just saw this on Lauren's blog and I think it is a great piece of parenting philosophy. The ramifications are endless!
While you are working on your motherhood job description (I really want them folks! I need help!!!!!)...

On a new note, I need recipes!!!!!!! (Brooke, you've inspired me to ask since you're good at posting recipes.)

Since we moved here Emma has put huge dietary limitations on the whole family (not her fault-she's got food allergies). We're so bored with food and if you can help, please do.

Here's the catch. I'm looking for recipes that don't have:
  • Beef
  • Milk/Milk Products
  • Egg Whites (I have "egg replacer" if needed)
  • Soy
  • Wheat (I can use rice flour if substitutes would work)
  • Nuts (No nuts!!! Very dangerous)
  • Shellfish (Also, very dangerous)
  • Cherries
  • Strawberries
We eat a lot of:
  • Chicken
  • Rice
  • Pork and Ham
  • Fruits (No cherries or strawberries, though)
  • Veggies

We love everything, so if you've got any good ones, please pass them on. Just post them in the comments so everyone else can use them. If your recipe is close to "Emma Safe", post-it. I can usually figure out substitutes.

Thursday, October 9, 2008
I was talking to someone today about the stresses of manging motherhood, spousehood, and jobhood here with the crazy "OPS" tempo we've got. (Yes, I didn't even really have the term "OPS tempo" in my vocabulary until I came here. Also, true with "exercise", "NEO", "DEROS", "Wing", "Squadron" (limited use only), "ROKAF", "DO", "PACAF", "CONUS", "hop", "housing", "SOFA", "MPS", "MPF", "AAFES", "DECA", "DODS", "CDC", "PDE", and many, more.)

Anyway, I here's the questions of the day. Take a minute to write yourself a job description. This should be your ideal job description, not the actual one. What should your job as a stay-at-home mom include?

If it helps, you can write both the ideal and the actual just to identify the areas that are "falling short". Consider where your responsibilities fall as to motherhood, your spouse, household maintenance (laundry, cleaning, cooking, tidying, etc). Also, include what you would prefer to do with your rare spare time in the day compared with how you actually spend this time.

I'm thinking I need to do some rebalancing so I'm try to write my own and I'm hoping yours will help me. Think of this as your community service for today. :0)
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
I know. I know. I should know better, but I'm not too sharp. Sometimes I just have the judgement of a 3 year old in a toy store combined with a verbal impulse control disorder. I'm going to shamefully recount this story as another lesson learned the hard way. I know it's not so bright, but don't judge. Just absorb so you are not as tacky as me.

When I picked Emma up from her lovely part-time child care provider today, she very politely asked me if I knew Emma has a bruise on her bum. I'm presuming that she noticed it upon lovingly freshening up my daughter's less pleasant end.

I did happen to know that she has a bruise on her tooshie after sitting firmly on a toy in the bath the other day, but instead of responding appropriately, I'm extremely embarassed to say that I joked that it was where I regularly beat her.

Please don't groan. It's a bad habit to try to make light of uncomfortable situations (especially "uncomfortable for me" stuations!). Problem is, I don't really do it well. So, you can see what got me there.

Anyway, I think we left it ok, but now I have to behave because I really don't want anyone to think I'm irresponsible.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Multitasking in my household typically means that nothing gets completely done. Ever. Laundry is half folded. Dishwasher is half unloaded. Bathroom is half clean. Kids are half dressed. Hair is half dry. Meals are half eaten. E-mails are half written. Half must be a magical number in the cosmic schema because it is a recurrent theme at my house.

If I apply this elusive rule of 1/2 to every other aspect of my life, it explains a lot. I get paid 1/2 of what I'm worth for most things. My car usually only has a 1/2 tank of gas. I'm 1/2 way around the world from the place I consider home. I can only remember the names of 1/2 the people I know.

But let's remember one important part of the magic of 1/2....your cup can be 1/2 empty, or, as I need to try to remember to see mine, it can be 1/2 full. The laundry is after all 1/2 folded, the bathroom is 1/2 clean, the kids are 1/2 dressed. And (if you are lucky enough to be in the right half), I remembered your name. Thank you!
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Let me just say this has been an extremely trying week. I hope that helps explain the depths of my angst from yesterday and I've been trying to come up with a way to make peace with "my public"...small as you may be....Anna.....

Bottom line: My brain is fried (not like chicken, but like ocre, Blachhhh!!!). So I'm going to have to delve in to some simpler resources to perk myself up. Most of you have seen this.....Anna....and I'm just going to steal it (with a few minor revisions) and hope for better inspiration later.

An 11-Lesson Curriculum For New Parents:

Thinking of Having Kids? Do this 11 step program first!

Lesson 1:
Objective: Prework & Course Preparation

1. Go to the grocery store. (Leave early, arrive late.)
2. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office.
3. Go home.
4. Pick up the paper.
5. Read it for the last time.

Lesson 2:
Objective: Critical topical research

Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who already are parents and berate them about their...

1. Methods of discipline.
2. Lack of patience.
3. Appallingly low tolerance levels.
4. Allowing their children to run wild.
5. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's breastfeeding, sleep habits, toilet training, table manners, and overall behavior.

Enjoy it because it will be the last time in your life you will have all the answers.

Lesson 3:
Objective: Physical Conditioning

A really good way to discover how the nights might feel...

1. Get home from work and immediately begin walking around the living room from 5PM to 10PM carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 pounds, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious sound) playing loudly. (Eat cold food with one hand for dinner)
2. At 10PM, put the bag down gently, set the alarm for midnight, and go to sleep.
3. Get up at 12 and walk around the living room again, with the bag,until 1AM.
4. Set the alarm for 3AM.
5. As you can't get back to sleep, get up at 2AM and make a drink and watch an infomercial.
6. Go to bed at 2:45AM.
7. Get up at 3AM when the alarm goes off.
8. Sing songs quietly in the dark until 4AM.
9. Get up. Make breakfast. Get ready for work and go to work (work hard and be productive)Repeat steps 1-9 each night. Keep this up for 3-5 years. Look cheerful and together.

Lesson 4:
Objective: Hygiene

Can you stand the mess children make? To find out...

1. Smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains.
2. Hide a piece of raw chicken behind the stereo and leave it there all summer.
3. Stick your fingers in the flower bed.
4. Then rub them on the clean walls.
5. Take your favorite book, photo album, etc. Wreck it.
6. Spill milk on your new pillows. Cover the stains with crayons. How does that look?

Lesson 5:
Objective: Fashion

Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems.

1. Buy an octopus and a small bag made out of loose mesh.
2. Attempt to put the octopus into the bag so that none of the arms hangout. Time allowed for this - all morning.

Lesson 6:
Objective: Consumer preparedness

Forget the BMW and buy a mini-van. And don't think that you can leave it out in the driveway spotless and shining. Family cars don't look like that.

1. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment. Leave it there.
2. Get a dime. Stick it in the CD player.
3. Take a family size package of chocolate cookies. Mash them into the back seat. Sprinkle cheerios all over the floor, then smash them with your foot.
4. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car.

Lesson 7:
Objective: Event planning

Go to the local grocery store. (Leave early, arrive late.) Take with you the closest thing you can find to a pre-school child. (A full-grown goat is an excellent choice). If you intend to have more than one child, then definitely take more than one goat. Buy your week's groceries without letting the goats out of your sight. Pay for everything the goat eats or destroys. Until you can easily accomplish this, do not even contemplate having children.

Lesson 8:
Objective: Survival techniques and dietary concerns

1. Hollow out a melon.
2. Make a small hole in the side.
3. Suspend it from the ceiling and swing it from side to side.
4. Now get a bowl of soggy Cheerios and attempt to spoon them into the swaying melon by pretending to be an airplane.
5. Continue until half the Cheerios are gone.
6. Tip half of what's left into your lap. The other half, just throw up in the air.

You are now ready to feed a nine-month-old baby.

Lesson 9:
Objective: Cultural literacy

Learn the names of every character from Sesame Street, Barney, Disney, the Teletubbies, and Pokemon. Watch nothing else on TV but PBS, the Disney channel or Noggin for at least five years. (I know, you're thinking "What's Noggin?") Exactly the point.

Lesson 10:
Objective: Trip preparation

Make a recording of Fran Drescher saying 'mommy' repeatedly. (Important: no more than a four second delay between each 'mommy'; occasional crescendo to the level of a supersonic jet is required). Play this tape in your car everywhere you go for the next four years.

You are now ready to take a long trip with a toddler.

Lesson 11:
Objective: Carrying a conversation

Start talking to an adult of your choice. Have someone else continually tug on your skirt hem, shirt- sleeve, or elbow while playing the 'mommy' tape made from Lesson 10.

You are now ready to have a conversation with an adult while there is a child in the room.

Phone conversations require an advanced level of training and should not be attempted without a minimum of 5 years of experience.

Recommended Reading:
  • Every book on sleep training on the market
  • "Parenting for Dummies" or "Idiot's Guide to Parenting"-your choice
  • Toy R Us Christmas toy catalog (found in your local newspaper, seasonally, or at a TRU store near you)
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Please forgive the heated post. I get testy about this topic.....If you don't feel like hearing me rant, just skip it. You'll probably end up happier for it. I'll try something more fun tomorrow.

Did it ever occur to anyone that using PC language is like identifying that you see something in a negatively stereotyped way, but are putting a pretty name to it? Saying something using PC jargon does not take away the problem that you are seeing differences through the eyes of someone who doesn't celebrate differences. We may as well use any of the horrible demeaning things that people say when they don't care otherwise as, for some people, PC language is just relabeling. It means that some people can say mean, non-well intentioned things under the guise of saying the right thing.

Shouldn't we be working to elevate attitudes not just language? Won't language follow suit if we elevate our attitudues? A more difficult, but more effective approach might be to ask someone why they said the wrong thing? Get the person to identify why they use those words they do and what it says about them and their world.

It also makes it very hard for the well intentioned folks out there who have no desire to say the wrong thing because it makes saying the wrong this so easy to do. I try to make an extra effort to be considerate, thoughtful, and friendly in my life and I don't want to mess that up by saying the wrong thing because I've not got the current turn-of-phrase that demonstrates my caring.

The language of PC has infiltrated eduction, too. It's like teaching phonics as the only method to learning to read. Phonics is a good tool to have, but should not a sole method of teaching someone how to read. Reading is much more complex than that and phonics cannot reach every child.

Schools don't know how to deal with the PC movement. Again, they really want to do the right thing and be good advocates of their community and its ideals, but by doing so they are culturally stripping our children's lives of meaningful social activity and dialogue. Even worse, teachers are not taught how to have these meaningful life lessons, but rather, are advised to avoid them with diversion and indirectness. If a child asks a question, there should be answers. School is a place for that type of interaction.

For example, if I'm a Christian and I want to call Christmas "Christmas", I should be able to do that. After all, it is my holiday and if someone isn't Christian, it shouldn't matter 'cause they wouldn't be celebrating this holiday anyway! I am part of a whole and Christmas is part of who I am as I function within that whole.

It's probably fair to have a "holiday season" at school that includes whatever needs to be included. I don't think anyone who celebrates Christmas would really feel that concerned if other holidays are discussed, too. Or, perhaps I'm wrong, but that would say a lot, too. I do think it would be sad to eliminate holidays at school because they are part of our cultural identity. Can we use it as a forum for education instead?

Primarily, we also need to look at whether we are celebrating difference or simply identifying difference. If we want children to grow up celebrating differences, then we should do just that. We shouldn't be looking for ways to neutralize language to the point that it has the reverse effect.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
As much as I hate to admit it, I'm a destination-oriented person. While this sounds good on a resume, I'm starting to realize how much I'm missing on the way. Hopefully, I'm evolving.

My 2-year old is turning into a tyrant about wanting to walk EVERYWHERE and it's been making me nuts, including today as we were taking about 45 minutes to walk from our apartment to the pool (a 10 minute walk, max).

Now, I know this is not a new thought, but I realized about 35 minutes in to the journey that Emma was getting a lot more out of life that I was. Bugs. Birds. Sticks. Shadows. Trees. Spiders. Dragonflies.

All I was thinking about was getting to the pool so we could leave in time to buy milk, then get home for dinner, bath, and bed. I had no great plans after that other than to crash after a particularly trying day.

I suddenly noticed that the things that had been making me crazy all day long could be easily acceptable if I appreciated the journey more.

Parenting (and many other parts of life) is this way, we have landmarks in our mind....sleeping through the night, sitting, crawling, walking, talking, preschool, Kindergarten, middle school, graduation, college, marriage, children, etc. Whew! What a lot of expectations we have. What a boring life. We hit the same landmarks eventually.
If we look at the destinations only, the only thing we have to note is the difference in timing. "Jack walked at 15 months." "Emma walked at 18 months." "Jack slept through at 3 months." "Emma still won't sleep through at 2." Suddenly, this breeds an odd off-shoot of competition, comparison, and unease. Yuck! What an absolutely horrible way to live.

So, I'm going to make a better effort to appreciate the journey AND the destination. Sadly, I'm pretty set in my ways, but they say that knowing makes all the difference and I hope that will be true in this case.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
I keep meaning to mention this. I don't know if any of you have this problem (and I'm sure it doesn't come up much in polite company), but if you do, I have a clean-up hint that might be useful.

If your soon-to-be-potty trained child likes to take his/her diaper off to run around only to lay waste (if you know what I mean) to your carpets, a useful clean-up tool is Pet Stain Remover (any brand, your choice).

Because most of these products are designed to break down the "stink" enzymes related to pet bodily fluids, they can be effective on human bodily fluids, too. Fun Fact!

BTW, I realize many of you know this already. Try not to act smug.
Friday, September 26, 2008
On a warm summer's evenin' on a train bound for nowhere,
I met up with the gambler; we were both too tired to sleep.
So we took turns a-starin' out the window at the darkness
'til boredom overtook us, and he began to speak.

He said, son, I've made a life out of readin' peoples faces,
And knowin' what their cards were by the way they held their eyes.
So if you don't mind my sayin', I can see you're out of aces.
For a taste of your whiskey I'll give you some advice.

So I handed him my bottle and he drank down my last swallow.
Then he bummed a cigarette and asked me for a light.
And the night got deathly quiet, and his face lost all expression.
Said, if youre gonna play the game, boy, ya gotta learn to play it right.

You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
Therell be time enough for countin when the dealin's done.

Now ev'ry gambler knows that the secret to survivin'
Is knowin what to throw away and knowing what to keep.
'cause ev'ry hand's a winner and ev'ry hand's a loser,
And the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep.

So when hed finished speakin, he turned back towards the window,
Crushed out his cigarette and faded off to sleep.
And somewhere in the darkness the gambler, he broke even.
But in his final words I found an ace that I could keep.

You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
First off, the title of this blog is much better than its content (as is largely the case with blogs in general), but if you read on, I hope you will find the content to be liberating.

I'll be the first to admit that my abode is a terrible, terrible mess. (Except for the nearly once a week I can do a pick-up.) I hate cleaning and tidying (tidying more than cleaning, but they are interrelated.) HATE IT! Perhaps more than I hate peanuts. It is tedious, boring, unfulfilling, and tedious, boring, and unfulfilling.

However, I'm starting to understand I am not the only one who lives like I do and I'm trying to liberate myself from the guilt associated with being a poor, unenthusiastic, unorganized housekeeper. It isn't that I don't care for my things and my home. It isn't that I don't appreciate a clean and tidy home, but the battle to keep it so is going to shorten my life. And I appreciate living more than a clean and tidy home.

In my defense, everyone has their thing and so do I. I can't stand dirty sheets. I love "Clean Sheet Night" so much that my sleep is substantially improved when I have clean sheets on the bed. (I am a life-long insomniac.) I can't stand plates and cups left overnight in the living room. (I'd rather them sit by the empty dishwasher!) I really hate dirty floors. Not so much the Cheerios and other dust-bustable food debris, but real sticky, gritty dirt.

Things I don't mind so much though include laundry hampers full of clothes (dirty or clean), dirty dishes in the sink, general clutter, and fingerprints on the TV screen.

For many people, these things could only be resolved by a divorce. Fortunately, I have a patient husband who doesn't necessarily agree with my point of view, but understands that there is more at stake here than just a clean and tidy home.

The funny thing is that before I had kids, I found it largely manageable. I had one room that was not safe to enter under any circumstances, but the rest of the house was tidy and clean. (Except for the occasional unloaded hamper and a disorganized closet or two.) Perhaps because I had a professional life that kept me out of the house which helped keep things tidy and kept my brain busy with other tasks. But when I had kids, I just gave up. Not immediately, mind you. Mostly after having my second child.

I realized that I couldn't possibly keep up so why bother. As I'm cleaning one room, my little tornadoes-Jack and Emma-would be uncleaning the room next door. I realized that there are so many other things I'd rather be doing that keeping up with the stuff I hate doing was killing me.

I'm also realizing that instead of feeling inadequate and guilty about my lack of motivation (and my desire to live a long, healthy life), I should put my self on the frontier of a new cultural revolution. Let's call it "Authentic Living". On my platform of "Authentic Living" I propose that we stand up against the oppression of housekeeping and judgemental living and be free. Free from the expectations of others. Free to maintain our lives the way we see fit. Free to live authentically.

Now I know this is pretty self-involved and selfish. I know that there are generations of proud, hardworking housekeepers behind me who did an excellent job with these things despite limitations such as mine and even despite being a reluctant warrior such as myself. But I do dedicate about 98% of my life to my two small children (the other 2% to Facebook) and I am a fairly busy person with volunteering and what little professional work I can do. The time I do have is precious. I don't want to part with it if I don't really have to. I'm also sure I could probably manage my time better, too, but that's a whole 'nother post. And, finally, as you can tell, I'm pretty insecure about it. Hence, this lengthy justification.

If cleaning floats your boat, great! My life would be much easier if it did mine. (Perhaps you can even give me some tips.) But don't clean and tidy at the expense of living. It's ok not to live in perfect households. Really. Clean and tidy should help you live a better life. Right now, my life is better without it.
If you want your child to be the world's next prodigy, you can't start too soon. All children can be trained to be perfect from an early age really. Here are some tips to making the most of your babies' time.


You can start before birth by playing music through the womb. Mozart is preferred because of his own prodigy status, but as with most things, something is better than nothing. If your personal preference is James Taylor, ABBA, or even Korn, prodigy-hood is still within your grasp. Just don't expect your Little Prodigy to pick things up as quickly as the other prodigies in town. Alternative music does seem to stimulate the mind, but also, strangely, seems to cause alcoholism and drug use. Not always a good, productive combination for your Little Prodigy.

Studies also show that babies can develop a taste for certain foods in the womb (great if you want the child to be a cooking prodigy) and even understand grammatical structure while in utero (great for those "born to be copywriting" prodigies).


There are many activities that you can try as early as Day 1 as long as you remember to pack your portable DVD player, some books, and entry-level flash cards in your bag for the hospital.

Baby Einstein has an excellent series of DVDs available on the black market. These are not the same DVDs that you find in the stores today (which have recently been shown to actually reduce prodigy-like skills in babies). The store versions of Baby Einstein have been "dumbed down" for the general public and are not intended for real prodigy development.

These black market versions are actually proven to be helpful in making sure all the neurons fire as quickly and efficiently as possible. They make use of a specially studied form of suggestive marketing techniques that are shown so quickly they are not discernable by the human eye. Using this method, your baby will learn music on one level, your choice of Spanish, French, Japanese, or Chinese on another, and ballet, tap, and jazz dance on another. Simultaneously. Don't be surprised if you get up for the 3 am feeding to find your Little Prodigy doing "jazz hands" while screaming in the usual way, except with a Chinese accent. No call to the doctor required.

Other great post-birth activities include flash cards (math and language only), sign language (for those silent communicators), baby gyms (make sure to ask if they have a certified Prodigy Development Program, or "PDP", before you sign-up), and piano lessons (certified PDPs have baby grands, perfect for little fingers).

Other studied, but as of yet unproven, options include sports (soccer, basketball, swimming, and gymnastics), art (abstract, impressionist, and realist), and the 6-week Red Cross "Little Life Savers" course (for those children interested in medicine).

Good luck with your search for the perfect certified PDP. Please let me know if you find any that are not listed.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
...or die trying....
Check out this story that was on today. If I were you, I'd get my resume together for when Ben & Jerry's jumps on this one. Be sure to mention how many ounces you get per breast and how often you can reasonably pump in a 24-hour period. Big money, ladies! Big money!
Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fat chance. Forget it. How many parents really remember what it was like to sleep, let alone dream? Even a terrible nightmare? There is no training for how bad parenting-related sleep deprivation really is. Not only do you have to deal with yourself, but you also have to deal with a baby-not at their best either. It can be pure torture. In my own experience, one of my kids was a good sleeper, but woke up ridiculously early each morning and the other still (at 2) doesn't sleep properly through the night.

The bottom line is that even if your child sleeps, you'll spend much of your time worrying about when they will wake up. The worst advice for new parents..."sleep when the baby sleeps". Don't get used to that idea. At first, you'll try to accomplish household business while the baby sleeps. That will last for a couple of weeks, tops. Then you'll finally decide that you need to sleep, but the second you decide Baby is sleeping and you close your eyes to drift peacefully in to slumber, Baby will decide he/she is hungry or needs a dry diaper. That is nearly the most frustrating thing you will experience as a parent.

It seems the best thing to remember during the trauma that comes from not sleeping is that all kids are different and despite all of the "sleep training" methods out there, there's not too much you can do to make drastic changes. The kids eventually figure it out on their own. (At least, that's what I keep telling myself with my 2-year old who accidentally sleeps through the night periodically.)

Remember, that even the best laid plans should be flexible. What "worked" with your first 11 kids, probably won't work with the 12th. Kids are funny that way. The Cosmos has a great sense of humor as you will soon find out.

If you don't have kids yet, I'd do as much reading as I could before Baby arrives about sleep tricks, sleep habits, and (most importantly) the affects of sleep deprivation. Although much of it won't actually do anything to help, at least you will feel better having some tricks under your sleeve. Tools in your parenting tool box, if you will. Plus, after Baby arrives, you'll have a hard time keeping your eyes open for long enough to read an entire book let alone make sense of it.

As with most random acts of parenting, don't feel guilty about how you handle your own child's sleep. There is no right way as long as it keeps you at least on the brink of sane. Just remember though for each act of parenting there is an equal AND OPPOSITE reaction. Consequences are everything. So if you decide to rock Baby to sleep for the first month, be prepared to rock baby to sleep for the next 6 months or more.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
I occurred to me today after taking my son to the doctor to have the wax cleaned (forcibly) out of his ears, that bribery is a skill that requires particular finesse. As I apologized to the doctor for what I was about to do and whispered in my freaked out son's ear that I would buy him a toy if he let the doctor work, I wondered what the long term consequences of my actions would be.

On one level, I didn't care. I just wanted to end the torture, for everyone. We'd already been there an hour and progress wasn't forth coming. To be fair, my son was actually doing very well until he got tired of the discomfort and the doctor, despite her skill, "nicked" his ear canal. On another level, it worked. Pretty much instantly. It gave everyone something fun to talk about and gave my son something new to focus on. On the final level though, I couldn't help feeling like a parental failure.

However, as I feel this way most of every single day, I rallied and am putting my guilt to work by spreading the Good Word about effective bribery techniques.

In order to properly parent, you must learn some of the basic skills required to master any task (and gain immediate, complete cooperation from your child). Bribery is an entry-level skill for all parents to learn and I think there are a few important things to note about effective bribery:

1. Primarily, when you bribe, you have to make sure you are not setting the stage for future demands. Only offer the bribe in circumstances that you know are unique. (How often does one get their ears cleaned out? Once a year, tops.) Conversely, offering bribes for completing daily actions will only make you poor.

2. In the best case scenario, you have to offer the bribe at a time that makes it appear that you are in control. (For example, if you know you are going to get a shot at the pediatrician, you should start talking the bribe up BEFORE you get to the doctor.) There is no point in offering a bribe once the child is so worked up he/she can't calm down. Also, if you are going to invest in a bribe, in whatever form, you want to get the most bang for your buck. Talk it up!

3, Make sure you can provide the payoff immediately or you will go crazy answering the question of "when" the aforementioned treat will appear.

4. Make sure you are clear that this is a "one time" offer and it will be rescinded if full cooperation is not achieved. Be reasonable, though, don't expect a child not to cry during a shot, just perhaps, not struggle and scream.

5. Finally, don't be ashamed. I don't know a single parent who hasn't bribed in a crisis to get a task completed. If someone says otherwise, they are lying!
If your child has a lovey, be sure to purchase a "lovey clone". Having a clone allows you to wash one while the other is the LOTD (Lovey of the Day). Also, if, heaven forbid, a lovey is lost-no worries! The clone is at your service.

Rotate clones regularly so that they suffer even wear-and-tear. Make sure you carefully conceal the clone that is not the LOTD.

Word of Caution: Don't get too cocky about the system you use for concealing your clone. It is not inconceivable for both clones to accidentally appear in the same place at the same time in the presence of your child. (Another lesson learned the hard way and an interesting problem to handle.)
By now, I'm sure you are all familiar with the current "plastics problem", so I won't bother with that minor detail. The practical side of sippy cups is far more useful.

The main thing to know about sippy cups is that anything left in them for extended periods ends up changing form in to something far less palatable than when it started.

Be sure to empty you car of all sippy cups, especially in warm weather. A daily sweep of the home and car can be helpful in tracking down potential offending items before they offend.

It is also a good idea to write a number on the bottom of all sippy cups so that you can tell if one is missing.

A special note of interest is that juice left in sippy cups will ferment over time.
Monday, September 8, 2008
If a child has an item, such as a small button or large piece of chicken, stuck up either nostril, close the opposing nostril using your finger and tell child to blow hard through their nose. The offending item should, hopefully, shoot across the room and a trip to the emergency room can be averted.

NOTE OF CAUTION: Make sure the child blows as hard as he/she can without inhaling or the item will be sucked further up in to the sinuses. Yes, this lesson was learned the hard way.

If spagetti (or other string-like object) is looped in one nostril and out of the other, have the child gently blow out through the nose while gently, but with consistent pressure, pulling on the object's longest end.

1. Magnets are only dangerous when swallowed in pairs.
2. Never let your child eat crayons (even washable ones) and lick the wall.
3. It's not technically a choking hazard if it can be swallowed.
How many seconds do you wait before you pursue a child who has gone out of sight? Answer: Depends on how many kids you have.

How long can a pacifier be on the ground before it cannot be placed back in a crying child's mouth? Answer: Depends on how good your hearing is.

When is it appropriate to stop a child from quietly drawing on the playground equipment with a crayon? Answer: Depends on if the crayon is washable and if someone is watching attentively (or scowling) to see how you will handle it.

How dirty can a child be before you have to put clean clothes on him/her? Answer: Depends on if you are going somewhere and what time of day it is.

All parenting questions are like this. How many times a day should a child eat? Pee? Poop? Sleep? Wash? Cry? Watch TV? The answer is simple....NO ONE KNOWS! Parenting is the biggest guessing game of life and there is no way to know if you are doing what's right or just what's right now.

So jump on board and have some fun. The parenting cup will always runneth over.

Blog Archive

Get a free hit counter here.