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 CNN.com 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.


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