Monday, July 09, 2007

'At Least My Mom Works!'

Nothing new to report outside of the summertime routine -- swim lessons, baseball times two sons and hunting for paid writing gigs. And swallowing bitter pills.

Tomorrow I take the kids on our city's Pacific version of the city bus, the Aqualink. For three bucks a pop, we get a postcard view of the harbor and an hour-long float around The Queen Mary and environs. 'Should be enough eye candy to keep the kids out of each other's faces.

At night I'll escape to the cafe to "work," something a few of my friends can't believe I do. Seems they can't take me seriously as an independent contractor and mom. I have to be one or the other.

Is the stay-home mom role I've played for nearly seven years throwing the haters off? Does my long run as a stay-home mom make my search for paid work less valid? Am I a less skilled worker now than before I bred? Do my emptied breasts and stretch marked belly make me less valuable in the writer's market?

Like taking care of my children isn't "work" enough in the first place, never mind paid work.

"What? You can't talk because you have to work? What work? Are you serious?"

How about this one from The Lawyer's guy friend: "At least my mom goes to work!" Yeah, all day. And she sees you for just long enough to feed you, bathe you and kiss you good night.

Just because I don't report to a dull office to write articles doesn't mean I'm screwing off at the cafe. That I should take your kid with me so you can go see a movie.

Don't I work?


Friday, July 06, 2007

Bitching About the Beach

We’re heading to a beautiful Southern California beach this morning and my kids don’t want to go. “No beach!” were the first two words Cheeks uttered this morning when I crawled up to the top bunk to wake him.

“Yeah. Me no beach too,” The Lawyer said in the God-awful baby speak he picked up from fellow kindergarten kids last school year.

“We all beach NOW,” I growled. (Suddenly I’m a baby talk accomplice. Whatever works.)

What kind of kids need to be begged to go to the beach for the day? Unappreciative spoiled ones. Overscheduled ones. Tired ones. Ones who know they’ll be dragged later today from swimming at the beach to swimming half-asleep and still sandy at the private pool where they take lessons. Ones who are still groggy from staying up late on the Fourth of July.

Will I back down and cancel my beach going plans? No way. After inhaling my trough of coffee drowned in almond-vanilla creamer I’ll pack all four of us up, tuning out the kids’ whiny butts all the while.

The first mini-wave they catch will hush their complaints anyway. Besides, are all these “play dates,” beach or not, really about them? Aren’t we moms just desperate for some adult conversation. Isn’t that what “play dates,” even the sandy ones, are all about?

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Soy Burgers Suck

It’s the Fourth of July, probably the biggest day for grilling of the whole year, and I don’t eat meat, at least for now.

I haven’t eaten a single animal product (outside of cheese and milk) for about four weeks. Why? Do I think it’s cruel to eat dead animals? No. Do I have a moral issue with carnivores? No. Do I have issues with cholesterol? Yes. Do I have body image issues? Absolutely. Name one woman in her thirties who doesn’t. Name a woman who doesn’t at any age, actually.

So, there you have it. The real reasons I’m going vegetarian have less to do with ethics and more to do with vanity than anything else. I admit that my sudden vegetarianism is a thin veil for weight loss, a last ditch effort not to have to take up running again, not to get off my ass several fast miles a week like I used to.

Also, my annual check-up is scheduled for later this month, my birth month (DOB 7.20.75), and I owe my doctor a lower cholesterol count from last year’s check-up. I’m expecting an earful, plus a possible prescription for cholesterol lowering meds, like the ones my mother has taken since her 30s. Something tells me my last minute vegetarian cholesterol pullout tactics won’t make my doctor’s cut. The same goes for when I admit that I’ve completely abandoned running, yoga and even walking around the block.

Party tents are popping up all along the block. Coolers are being filled with ice. My neighbor painted her fingernails red, white and blue, her annual tradition. Soon she’ll make a vodka run for her patriotic colored Jell-O shots. When’s the last time I had a Jell-O shot? I feel old.

I just got back from that same neighbor’s house. I took a break from refereeing the kids with their older friend who slept over last night. Anyway, at my neighbor’s I helped skewer marinated beef between pineapple wedges, red onions and bell peppers. Ironic. The new vegetarian dips her hands in meat on the biggest BBQ day of the year (and finds herself tempted). The teriyaki marinade smelled so good.

The Lawyer asked me why “their side of the street” looks so fun, with all of its tents, grills and American flags flying high. “Why aren’t we having people over? Why can’t we have a barbecue?”

Because we just had one last night and Daddy doesn’t feel like it today.

“Man, we’re so boring sometimes,” The Lawyer shrugged.

Yeah. I agree. I wish we were having a big party today too. And, frankly I’m bored.

… Off to the café to work on an article. Thankful to have paying work.

Later I’ll take the kids door to door along our street’s block party. We’ll walk to the stand outside the neighborhood 7-Eleven for fireworks and blow cheap stuff up for kicks.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Alarming Potty Industry Extremes

I ran across an unsettling potty training/bedwetting product catalog in the "sick room" at our pediatrician's office today. (Oh yeah - All three kids are full-on boog-if-ied, and Pigtails has a double dose ear infection. That's $20 X 3 in co-pays and $90 in anitbiotics. So much for the antibody bennies' of extended breastfeeding.)

I wonder if you can read these creepy Potty MD product descriptions without feeling pity for the children who are persuaded/forced/made to use them, like I instantly felt. Whatever happened to potty training when the child exhibits signs that she's ready (like pissing on the new neighbors brand new carpet, like Pigtails, perhaps)? I feel guilty linking to Potty MD, and potentially driving business their way, but, c'mon, some of the available (and best-selling, mind you) "bladder habit" gear is unthinkable, at least to me.

Take a gander at this without cringing if you can:
Urine and Bowel Monitoring System
"Allows parents to evaluate and monitor their child's potty habits. Great for both urine and stool problems that commonly contribute to urinary frequency, holding, accidents and bedwetting. A very inexpensive way to understand your child's habits. It includes a urine collection device, bladder and bowel diary, instructions, and a school note to allow for frequent bathroom visits."

"Understand your child's habits." Hmm. How about "freakishly OBSESS on your child's elimination habits"? The only time my "stuff" was measured on the way out was when I was hospitalized at 12 for a severe flu the doctors suspected was Leukemia. Can someone explain to me how a monitoring system such as this is beneficial for potty training and/or bedwetting kids? Seriously, am I simply not getting it?

WET-STOP2 by PottyMD
"...It is a quality bedwetting alarm manufactured for the best results. Buzzer attaches near the child's ear using a unique and easy magnetic device (no safety pins or fasteners). The sensor clips into the undergarment at any specified location. No sewing and no pads required. Comfortable and lightweight design. Alarm sounds with the first few drops of urine. Remember alarms are successful, but they are even more successful when you follow PottyMD advice on working on daytime potty habits along with using an alarm."

I just about flipped. A potty alarm? You've got to be kidding? Obviously this product is designed to curb bedwetting, probably in older children, but sticking a buzzing alarm in your kid's ear and clipping a sensor to his scivvies ... Isn't that a bit extreme? Gawd. Poor kid. Think of the boundary violation and "private part" privacy "issues" he might develop.

Nite Train-R Wet Call
"A great bed wetting pad and alarm system. The bed pad avoids wiring on your child and clipping a sensor to your child's undergarment. The alarm is positioned near the child and it is loud. Works very well."

I'm sorry but a mattress pad equipped with a "loud" alarm that jars a child awake in the midst of an accident seems cruel to me. I could be totally off, though. I'm fortunate not to have any bedwetters so far, knock on wood. I wonder, though, if I did, would I resort to desperate measures like wired underwear attachments, ear buzzers and alarm equipped bed padding? Sounds more like freaky-deeky S&M gear to me.

What do you think?


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I Miss Newborns (But Not Bad Enough to Have More of Them)

My son held my thumb until he fell asleep tonight as though he were a newborn. He surprised me by reaching his hand up to meet mine during a rare bedtime head-to-toe relaxation exercise.

Since The Lawyer was only two, we've used the same yoga meditation CD to help him wind down. I hope the astral background music and the narrator's hypnotic voice also ease his recurrent night terrors.

My little first-born, now big enough to play baseball wearing a real uniform on a real team with real rules and real fast pitches on a real field, gripped my thumb so tight tonight, just as he did when he arrived Feb. 15, 2001, filled with epidural fluids and a lusty spirit, naturally endowed with that amazing reflex, the Plantar grasp.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Not Your Madre's Kindergarten

My confidence in The Lawyer's charter elementary school is renewed. The Hubster and I hooked up with the sitter this morning to head downtown and watch The Lawyer show off his new Spanish, math, science, computer and reading skills at his SLC (student led conference). SLCs essentially replace report cards and grades at this school, the subject of a future post, a very positive one.

Kindergarten sure has changed since I learned to color inside the lines beneath the wooden pointer authority of Sister Bernadette in 1980. The Lawyer figures sums in ways I couldn't have imagined, in modes I didn't know until he showed me today, all without the monotonous drill and kill (and without the plus, minus and multiplication symbols I’ve always loathed). I wish I could explain his school’s multidisciplinary word problem-style matemáticas methodology in a way that makes perfect sense, but I'm still trying to wrap my own numbers impaired mind around it. The Lawyer’s results, most often correct, looked more like Algebra than the simple addition that I recall from first or second grade. Also, his teachers encourage him to collaborate with students he's partnered with for each problem. Where most traditional teachers might call that cheating, The Lawyer's educators call it teamwork. I love it.

Back when I was in kindergarten we went to school for two or three hours, not a full six, and we didn't even touch math. And we definietely didn’t have time for electives like computers and Web site design, organic gardening, photography, baking, etc. We were too busy singing our ABCs and memorizing the Lord's Prayer. We even confessed our “sins,” as if we'd even committed any by the tender age of five. Does calling your sister a "jerk off" before knowing what jerking off is count as a sin? If so, then send me some BBQ sauce pronto.

The Lawyer beamed with pride when we went up the three flights to the rooftop container garden where his class’ organic flowers, fruits and veggies are thriving against a sweltering urban skyline. He showed us his oil pastel garden journal, where he tracks the progress of his strawberries, corn and sunflowers. We should start a journal for our backyard garden before our pumpkin patch eclipses the entire plot and burps something creepy at the kids, like "feed me, Seymore," or "Behold the Great Pumpkin!" Talk about the stuff of nightmares. (Speaking of nightmares, expect future posts on The Lawyer's persistent night terrors.)

Did you know that a motherboard in Spanish is called a tarjeta madre? The Laywer told us. That sounds so nanner, nanner ... but I'm running out of writing juice here, so bear with me. He showed me and his proud papa around a gutted computer completely in Spanish. He also taught us about the life cycle of bees, also in mostly Spanish, and mixed us some "bee bread" made out of crumbled graham crackers and honey. Surprisingly, I didn't have to spit it in my purse. When The Lawyer wasn't looking I took a second Dixie cup of the stuff. I hope there’s not some kid crying about a missing batch of “bee bread” in that sweet smelling science classroom. Oops.

We listened patiently and in awe as our six-year-old son read us four books back to back, with minimal help. My husband suddenly erupted at one point, yelling "CHEATER!" at top volume. I was mortified. "We're supposed to be encouraging him, not criticizing," I admonished him under my breath.

"I was just kidding," The Hubster said, checking his Blackberry momentarily for an email from his boss. “It just seems like he’s memorized this stuff. That’s all. Lighten up.”

My eyes bulged. I shot him a look straight from el diablo himself. Sister Bernadette would have vomited like Linda Blair for sure.

"Put that thing away," I snapped. "This is The Lawyer's time. It's really important. And it’s called SIGHT READING! Haven’t you heard of it?! And he’s also sounding it out. I can see him doing it."

The Hubster itched his face with his middle finger. Mature. Nice. Thanks.

"This is the last time I'll come to one of these SLCs with YOU!" he whispered, thankfully out of The Lawyer’s view.


Nice. So our son's shining moment was dulled by his bickering parents. I don't think he caught on. Either way, by the end, when we met with each of The Lawyer's teachers to discuss his “marked” improvement from last semester and "co-create" his first-grade goals (academic and social) with him, all was kosher and calm again, minus irritating, rude Blackberry interruptions. Am I the only one who wants to step on her husband's friggin' Blackberry at least once a day? How about flushing it down the toilet or spilling coffee all over it? Dumb old-fashioned fantasies ...

So much more to “share,” as they say at The Lawyer’s school, but rushing off to swimming, then baseball practice...


Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Birthday Party (Downsized)

Cheeks fourth birthday party is five hours from now and the house is its usual Saturday morning disaster zone.

Today, instead of dumping 500 bucks on a cute-til-you-puke themed celebration, as I have nearly every year since multiplying, I will offer Cheeks' 13 or so pint-sized partygoers cake and refreshments, two decent-sized kid pools and a Slip 'N Slide. You can't go wrong with water and kids. They'll be entertained for hours, as long as no one really drops the kids off at the pool like the last time we broke out the inflat-a-pool for the masses.

I wish I had something witty or funny or insightful to blog this morning. But I'm dry, like my stash of freshly cleaned beach towels, at least for now. Not much to give here. Sorry. I've got to feed the masses, pack them for The Lawyer's baseball game and send them off with Daddy, snacks, sunblock coverage and all. Then I have the house to MYSELF to clean and prep for Cheeks' water play ho-down. Or maybe I'll just blow the whole thing off and get lost on the Internet.

Oh, by the way, yesterday I pretended to get hurt on The Lawyer's Razor scooter and faked Amnesia. The kids totally fell for it. Am I a jerk or what?

Not my best post but ... hey ... I'd rather be real than fabricated ...

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