Saturday, August 10, 2013

Back to School

I saw this blog, by Glennon Melton of Momastery, and I felt compelled to respond to the ridiculous comments left by so many careless readers, and, I fear, non-reflective parents.

Thank you, Glennon, for voicing the importance of the school experience for middle class children. You see, I'm a high school teacher by trade. (Top 2% in US, great school, great rep, no, this doesn't reflect the general attitude of the school or district, blah, blah, blah.) And, I have been, for going-on eleven years. Now that my daughter is (almost) ready for preschool, I have realized a number of things about "education" here in America.

Namely, I have learned:
-Our (probably upper) middle class kids are going to succeed even if we don't encourage it.
-Our (probably upper) middle class kids are going to be mean to another kid at some point even if we don't encourage it.
-Our (probably upper) middle class kids MUST be held accountable for their relationships if they are to be successful beyond the status quo. After all, it's not what you know, but whom.

The comments on Melton's post were mostly positive, but there were a few cutthroat "Why aren't you more concerned about their well-being... blah blah blah" posts than sits well with me. What the hell is wrong with people?!

The reason schools exist is to prepared our babies for the future. The future is NOT about competition through academics. It IS about intra- and inter- personal relationships. Get a grip. Your uber-competitive kid with all the right math skills is going to flounder when he or she finds that he/she is a complete asshole with no personal life to speak of.

If you truly want your kid to succeed in life, maybe try stepping out of the arbitrary construct you've created for yourself. Or, in other words step outside of that box you're living in. None of us, myself the least, are "right" most of the time (if any of it). Allow for failure, but strive for exceptional success in our child's peer-to-peer interactions, and keep in mind: we must exist in the world they create, in only a few years.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

So Much Funniness!

I cannot get enough of these "Convos with my Two Year Old" webisodes. Maybe it's because my little one is nearing the terrible twos, maybe it's because the man playing a two year old little girl makes my husband's "jealousy" so much easier to understand, and maybe it's just because they make me laugh. I encourage you to check them out!

How ridiculous must it have been to film this?!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Married by 24.

I am thirty one. Today is my seventh wedding anniversary-- yep, we're kicking off our seventh year of marriage. And, our thirteenth year of dating. Woot woot!

Better yet (and i suppose I hope no younger persons are reading this as they prep for marriage) we celebrated this day and evening with a trip to a local Mexican Restaurant for breakfast (delicious chilaquiles!), a trip to the park so out daughter could "SLIDE!", a three hour long nap time for my groom and our daughter, a dinner of takeout Italian (only to be interrupted by his car randomly breaking down), and some typical (however charming) bedtime antics from our (almost) 20mo old daughter.

 Now, the two of us are sitting on the couch as he mixes music for my sister's wedding (he's a really awesome amateur DJ who needs to go pro... in my opinion) and I'm writing about it. Ugh. Our anniversary outings have become embarrassingly less exciting over the past seven years, and I would love to take you on a little trip down memory lane to exemplify the nature of said trips:

2013, Year 7 - Our Home.

2012, Year 6 - San Diego, specifically the location of our post wedding-night (we later went to Australia on a 'belated' honeymoon').

2011, Year 5 - Iceland... Not to say that this was the most enjoyable trip (I was 5mos pregnant in a country known for its Vodka and Hot Springs... and my husband wasn't incredibly supportive in an emotional capacity for the duration of said pregnancy.)

2010, Year 4 - Las Vegas! This year was generally one of our better years of marriage. By the end of the year we had been to Vegas six times... and we went six more the next year. We found we had something new in common that year.

2009, Year 3 - Paris (specifically the "Tour Eiffel"-- in between London, Rome and Florence). We were young, childless, and in the city of love. Neither of us prefer Paris (thanks to that visit)... but so few people get to boast of spending their third wedding anniversary atop the Eiffel Tower as they sip (cheap) wine and literally look down upon the city.

2008, Years 2 - Glasgow (in the midst of a trip through Ireland and Scotland) This trip was likely the kick-off to our friendship as it currently stands. This was one of our earlier trips that was solely 'us' and we sort of discovered our standing as one another's best friend (at least in most capacities... I still don't deal well with flatulence) and we truly loved the United Kingdom.

2007, Years 1 - New Zealand (the entire North Island) was one of our less than desirable trips. While we loved the country, we were in a car most of the time, it was typically overcast (not good for my self-diagnosed SADD), we found ourselves in a fairly conservative part of the world over the Easter Holiday (nothing was open), and we were arguing for many reasons. Nevertheless, we were in NZ!

Next year, I am declaring, the spell of the progressively lamer anniversary MUST be dealt with. No longer can I deal with the doldrums of this monotony! Thus, I believe a separate savings account may need to be created all in the name of an AMAZING anniversary in 2014!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Sweetest Little Words

ll children grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, 'Oh, why can't you remain like this for ever!' This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. 
~J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

I read this quote today on this blog, and I couldn't help but feel a pang of nostalgia over the things my daughter has already lost to her babyhood as she barrels through toddlerdom and into the world of the child. Even things like learning the "correct" words and names for things-- like our dog who is now, once again just "Monstro", no more of the short lived but oh-so-sweet "Monji" that was our daughter's word for her beloved dog until last Sunday. (Consequently, although we had considered the sweetness of her toddler neologisms, the sentiment is more truly embodied in this blog.) 

Though I am struck by the simplistic beauty of JM Barrie's words on childhood, because the words are attributed to Peter Pan, I am also struck by other, more frustrating, words. Those of my mother. In the nineties when the movie Hook finally came out on VHS my mother bought a copy for our household. Every morning, as toddlers do, my baby sister (then, close to two) would view the film on a loop as the rest of us rushed to get ready for school thirty minutes away (we were chronically late, thanks to my mother allowing me to be her alarm clock) and work (much closer to home, my mom worked as a teller at a local bank-- something her mother had also done, and something I don't believe she enjoyed at all). 

But during those mornings, my little sister (we're seven years apart) would sit and dazedly stare into the 20" tube television as she watched the story of a grown boy as he attempted to save his children from the evils of Neverland, and in doing so rekindles the amazement and wonder of Neverland through child's eyes-- anyone remember the "Bangarang!" scene? Or, the feast?

The scenes that always stood out to my mother were Peter's scenes with Wendy, now referred to as "Granny Wendy" by Peter's own children (the adult Peter marries Wendy's daughter after deciding he too, wants to "grow up"). Frankly, I believe it was the power of naming that drew my mother to those particular scenes, and a stunted adulthood that drew her to the film itself. It was around this time my mother decided she would eventually be called "Granny Wendy" by her own grandchildren, my nine year old self thought this was wonderful. 

Fast forward eighteen years and my daughter was born. A week after her birth my father met with me to discuss my mother's hurt feelings. Hormonal, emotional, and a new mother, I obliged my walking a mile to the nearest coffee shop for what I thought would be some sort of health talk (my father is a known hypochondriac in our family) or at worst a serious talk about my mental and emotional health (I, like many of my family members, am prone to depression and my parents and husband were all on high alert in regard to my emotional state post-partum). 

At the time, the bombshell was much worse for a daughter who had, until then been a true "golden child" (or at least had been treated like one). It was at that moment, my dad-- in an effort to finally be supportive of his wife-- told me amongst other things that my husband is an arrogant, disrespectful asshole; and, that because of my husband's general failure as person, let alone as husband and son-in-law, my mother was so deeply hurt that she couldn't even bring herself to wear the locket he had made for her, inscribed with the words (from a country song) "I'm somebody's Granny". 

 Now, a year and a half (or so) later-- a period of time filled with plenty of therapy, spats, and even an embarrassing Facebook post from my mother, I'm still angry and saddened by all of this. Words cannot be undone, and my mother has made it clear that she sees no way in which any of this is her "fault". So, I am left with the task of forgiving and possibly being the bigger person.

But, no matter how I choose, I am still saddened by Barrie's words at the top of this post. Because, they truly are sweet little words that are utterly ripe with meaning and reflection that a mother understands best. They are words that I wish I could bring to my mother and happily, if nostalgically, revel in their sweetness. Unfortunately, I feel like I am left with only the opportunity to grieve over our relationship and reflect upon ways to find it within myself to be ultimately understanding and loving in the face of criticism and blame.   

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Family Playdates

Meeting up with my (closest-in-age and location) cousin has become an unexpected treat of late. We are a little more than a year apart in age, and growing up we seemed to be worlds apart in some respects even though we only lived about twenty miles from each other. For a number of years I refused to speak with much of my extended family. After the death of my grandmother, a woman with whom I was extremely close, I found myself angry at a creator who could allow her such pain, and I felt no connection with the people that were once her immediate family. After having my own child, I felt a need to reconnect with certain people for a variety of reasons, ranging from my own issues with my parents, to my need for my child to feel connected to extended family even when I didn't share the feeling of connection.

In many ways, my cousin has had a miserably tough life. She is truly what one would refer to as a "survivor" and sometimes her weariness shows through in those quiet moments of reflection. This is a woman who, as a teenager, experienced a traffic accident that left her with a broken neck-- and since she was in the middle of nowhere in what may or may not have been a stolen car, she hiked (yes, with the broken neck) to the nearest place with a telephone. She's a woman who has custody of her eight-year-old daughter from a previous relationship with an emotionally abusive man, and a woman who gave birth to another beautiful baby girl nine months ago.

My cousin is a wonderful mother who is aware she made plenty of mistakes and strives to be a better mother through taking ownership of those mistakes and doing it better the next time. She's a woman who sadly suffered a miscarriage not long ago, when the fetus was ten weeks along-- and had a heartbeat two days prior.

My cousin is a person who lived rough-and-tumble. She's the oldest of five siblings with a mother who was married many times throughout her childhood. She's a person who shared a mudroom with her younger brother as a makeshift bedroom, and someone who struggles daily with what role her immediate family should take within her adult life, and the lives of her children.

My cousin is someone who unknowingly makes me feel guilty for so many things beyond my control-- for having two, married, and loving (if at times misguided) parents. Spending time with this amazing woman I get to call my cousin makes me feel like I am not as grateful as I should be for my life as an adult who is educated, in a loving marriage, as an educated woman with a career -- and options should anything every happen to the little world I have created for myself.

Nevertheless, my cousin is now someone who I am learning to value as a woman I now have the opportunity to refer to as my friend. She is a wonderful mother who worries over every moment of her daughters' lives, and who looks forward to possibly bringing more children into a loving and stable environment-- one unlike the ones she experienced for much of her life. She's someone who is determined to make a life for herself and for her daughters, one in which she (and they) have "options" and a home full of love-- no matter what happens to the little world she has created for herself.

I never realized the power a person might have as they re-enter my life, and not only am I thankful to my cousin for allowing me the opportunity to value her as an adult friend, but I am thankful to my daughter for providing me the impetus to reintroduce people into my life that I otherwise would likely not.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Childlike Frustration

I feel frustrated, upset, and conflicted.

Once upon a time, about six or seven years ago, I was witness to a wonderful parenting moment that has helped to shape my entire parenting philosophy. Family friends were staying at my home when their three year old began throwing magnetic balls across our family room, in the path of his, then five month old sister.

Having been raised in a home where that sort of action merited yelling and spanking, I braced myself for a scene. What I witnessed was a scene, though far from the one I expected. This little boy's mother, a woman I am honored to know, asked her bouncing boy to come over to her. She quietly (almost whispering), and calmly-- ever so calmly-- explained to her boy that his actions were not acceptable and that he was to pick-up every tiny metal ball so his mother could pack them away since he had abused his privilege of playing with said toy. He obliged, she thanked him, and the day proceeded.

Fast forward seven-ish years and I am the proud mama of a giggling girl (who also likes to scream at inopportune times). My husband and I have agreed that spanking is not our preference, and we are in the muddy midst of figuring out how to best discipline our outgoing, rambunctious, and quite honestly spoiled little girl.

So, while recently traveling with my dear girl, my mother was witness to my attempt at consistency while remaining calm, and she informed me that she believed I need to "be more stern" with my 19mo old daughter because, if I'm not going to spank her, she needs to hear the difference between my teaching voice versus my disciplinary voice, or so my mother says. And, after my mother cited two specific incidents, I am torn in how I should take my mother's critique.

I admit: my biggest issue with the entire situation is the fact that my mother doesn't approve, and I realize I should probably just put on my big-girl pants and figure out what I actually believe. Unfortunately, even after nineteen months of struggle, I still seek out my own parents' approval in much that I do.

So, the first example of my parental shortcoming was that of my daughter screaming in a restaurant, to which I tried (and miserably failed) to redirect my kid's attention. The screaming ended in us finally leaving. And, I fully admit I allowed the behavior. However, I am frustrated by the example because of the circumstances. My kid was tired, I didn't want to take her to the restaurant because I knew she'd misbehave, my mom decided we should go anyway (we were all on the way to the airport, 70 miles away), and NO one had slept well the night before (for a myriad of reasons). I feel like this was a low blow, to take us at our worst, one small moment, and comment on my entire parenting style. However, I can (to a certain extent) see the error of my ways and I would at least do some of this differently in the future.

The second example is what really pisses me off, because I actually feel like I did a great job of maintaining my cool while also choosing a punishment that fit the crime (and was appropriate for a 19mo old). My daughter chewed up leftovers from the scream-filled lunch, spit them into her hand, and threw them on the floor. My response was to (I felt sternly) tell her the behavior was unacceptable, and insist that she pick-up every piece she spit-out (as I pointed them out) and put it in my hand (so I could throw them away). My mom basically said I shouldn't do the work/punishment for my kid.

It's a lose-lose situation. I'm frustrated. I am sure my mother is frustrated; but, when do us kids become adults?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Things I Thought I'd Never Say to my 19mo old...

1) Get off the colander. It is not a step stool.

2) Thank you for the kiss, and the strawberries (or other food product) in my hair.

3) It's okay, the floor will dry after we clean it... but the next time you have to go pee pee and don't have any pants on, tell mommy when you feel like you have to go and I will get you to a toilet.

4) Please set your big wheels on the ground.

5) Please don't stand in my frying pan.

6) You may only pick your nose in the bathroom or in your room; otherwise, please don't pick your nose in public.

7) Please don't show your boobies in public.

8) The doggy doesn't like it when you: sit on her, take her food, eat her food, pull her ears, stick your finger in her eye... etc.

9) Get off the coffee table. You're not allowed to stand on tables. Or dance on them. Don't dance on the coffee table!

10) If you're going to put your fish in the frying pan on the floor then you have to let the dog have some too.

11) What does a hyena say? No, that sounds more like a velociraptor... do the hyena sound.

12) Just wait until mommy pays for the internet service so we can look at Facebook pictures of Daddy... so you don't scream on the plane.

13) Say "bye bye toilet paper and pee pee!" No, you may not use toilet paper unless you go pee pee. I'm sorry, but you didn't go pee pee again yet.

14) Let daddy (or mommy) go potty by himself (or herself).

15) No, you are not allowed to brush your teeth more than two times a day. I'm sorry if you want to, but you're going to have to wait until this evening.

16) We do not chew our food up and spit it out on the airport floor. That is not acceptable. You have to pick up ALL of the chicken you spit out on the airport floor.

17) Go put the can opener back. Take the can opener back to Daddy. Go trade Daddy for some [fresh, uncooked] spinach.

18) Don't touch the oven. Yes, it's hot. Thank you for closing the oven. Yes, it's hot. Good job.

19)  Stop paying with the fireplace. Look! You can watch babies again. Your fingers are going to get squished.

20) Stop licking the butter out of the Tupperware.

21) Please take your hand out of your pants; if you have an itchy butt we will go change your diaper.

22) Stop banging the window with the tongs. And put the garlic press back in the drawer.

23) We have to ask people if we can touch their dogs. You may not just go and touch someone's dog without asking permission. I don't care if their dog wants to give you kisses. Stop kissing the dog, we have to ask permission.

24) No, that's not a doggy, that's a bear... horse... cat... goat... fish...

25) I am turning off the Rick Ross (or any other YMCB of choice) if you don't put your shirt back down.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

I'm so lucky...

Actually I truly am... I'm not even being sarcastic (yet).

I was watching "Celebrity Wife Swap" -- featuring Coolio and Mark McGrath when I realized my husband may (as a father) just be a cross between Mark McGrath and Hank Baskett Jr. (That's totally a compliment to those guys-- and mine, but it was an interesting realization, nevertheless.) 

Nevertheless, this is my moment to admit: I am terrified of potty-training my daughter. The stupidest (and, admittedly most embarrassing) part is that I did no more than show her a DVD (Elmo's Potty Time) to initiate the process-- she did the rest herself. 

And yet, I'm dragging my feet and it makes me feel like a terrible mother. Will my daughter's future be jeopardized by my willingness to let her stew in her own diapers  after the age of 18mos? (She was 19 mos as of yesterday, so I suppose it's all over now...)

The kids is LITERALLY potty-training herself (I realize this may sound like bragging, but please believe me when I say it's an admission of guilt and laziness). She strips down and screams for the "potty" when she's gotta go in the evenings --and as long as we  follow suit she "goes" in the potty. 

BUT. This means my life is going to get more difficult. Yet again. 

It turns out the rhyme is VERY incorrect. 

First comes LOVE (okay, this is TOTALLY true in my case). My mom always thought it was weird because I had a decidedly "business-like" attitude toward my romantic relationships. And yet, I believe I've experienced more happiness in my 31 years than she has in 52. Boo-yah? Still, I truly loved my husband before we were engaged/married/with child. And it was FAB.

Then comes marriage. Ahhhhh. Our marriage ceremony (and resultant reception) was perfecto. I laughed. He tried not to because he was all worried. We didn't each other as well then as we do now. (Now I know not only that he was thinking of movies, but the ones he was most likely running through his mind as we wed. Then, I knew he was not laughing nervously-- like moi.) Though we had our fair share of bumps and hills through the first years of marriage we eventually made it to our year of perfection. A year if perfection my husband thinks we may never again achieve. However, I know that can;t be true since neither one of us considers divorce a true option unless the other falls out of (true) love... and by that I mean decides to be a complete asshole. (Which could totally happen on either end, but I prefer to believe it will not.)

Then comes baby. After just about a year, a lot of worry on my part, and a few fertility tests... we conceived a beautiful, funny, incredibly and utterly OBSTINATE, girl-child. She's awesome, and amazing. And, she changed our lives forever. Only not in the way you normally hear. In fact, three specific ways she's changed our agenda:

#1 - Our child is a total cock-block. She's amazing and all of the things attached, but in terms of being a champion of our parental relationship: she is no such thing (just ask the husband when he's at home). 

#2 - My husband loves our daughter, and tells me about it now... because he didn't quite love her in the same way when she was born. (Refer to #1.)

#3 - Our baby is an attention-whore. I love her, she's the fuit of my womb, but she sucks all of the attention either one of us has to give right out of our very beings. Ugh! The first time the husband came home to us and didn't say hi to me first I freaked out. Now I realize it's part of her evil plan to divide and conquer (I now do it too!)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Sometimes Special Sucks

Sometimes "special" sucks. And, sometimes normal sucks. And, other times everything just sucks. Special is (almost always) more difficult, but non-special also entails screaming through Target (because you're DONE), abandoned shopping carts, and overall FRUSTRATION-- until it feels like you're going to burst.

Unless you're blessed enough to have a child deemed special, because then you realize that non-special-ready-to-burst was NOTHING compared to what is in store for you when you're home.

Parents of "special" kids are obviously embracing their "situation"-- I think and wish we'd all just say it like it is: parenting is difficult for most ALL people, our kids are awesome little wonders of the world --and awful little terrors-- all at once.

However: leaving a shopping cart full of carefully selected snacks, meals, and other health foods makes ANYONE a pretty darn awesome parent in my book. Mostly because if my non-special DD and I were in Target with the author of the afore-linked piece when your child decided things weren't kosher, my kid would be of the first to pick up-- and capitalize upon-- the other child's situation (i.e. ots of whining, crying, and kicking and screaming).

If anything: no matter the diagnoses, kids are kids are kids (to a certain, lengthy, extent).

Thank you to the afore-linked poster for teaching your kid(s) {special or not} to be thoughtful of those around them. Even when it frustrates you!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day! Or, There's Something Seriously Wrong with Me

The Season of Love was recently upon us, and with it is my daughter's first experience in a school-type setting. Nope, she's not in preschool just yet... only a community-sponsored "parent-and-me" activity, one day a week, at the community center, and she attends with her dad. (My husband SWEARS he wants to go... I'm taking him at his word.)

Because she's in this class, I am not-so-suddenly realizing how ever-present my own parental-issues are. Fortunately for me, they are presenting themselves in the form of a craft activity my kid enjoyed. Unfortunately for me, I got to finish the craft activity as I realized the reason why I had begun it in the first place.

It all began last Monday when my husband ended up being relieved later than normal, he works at a fire station and isn't allowed to leave until the next guy clocks in. And, since my husband works about ninety minutes from our home, this meant he wasn't going to make it home until after 10am; thus, after the start of the class.

So, I dragged the kid and myself through a (not) short run/jog and then over to the community center. My time management has only sucked even worse since my daughter was born, so not only were we late, but I was still in running clothes.

Upon arriving we saw a friend (yay!) and finally settled in after figuring out what was going on. And, things were going just fine-- in fact, they were fine the entire time I was there. My husband eventually arrived in time for me to get home and change for work and even get to work a tad early. However, before the husband arrived the "teacher" let everyone know that we were/are welcome to bring Valentine's, of the paper variety, to the proceeding class.

Come Sunday, the evening before class, and the wheels in my head are turning. After dedicating plenty of nights to Pinterest, I knew exactly what we would do to make sure my kid wouldn't be the only one left out of the Valentine exchange... and that's when I got all metacognitive on myself. But, I maintained and headed upstairs to grab some card-stock.

I then fished some cardboard tubes out of the trash-- this is full-blown SAHM status in my book-- and I proceeded to make a heart shaped stamp. I also grabbed some of the finger paint I had picked up at the dollar store the other day and gave my 18mo old a lesson about how to stamp hearts on the card stock. She, being quite the little crafter herself, caught on quite quickly and I only had to write "Happy Valentine's!" sixteen times before we were all done.

It was when I found myself writing the same phrase sixteen times over that I finally came to the realization that:

a) I did this so my kid wouldn't feel left out, like I did so many times.

b) My daughter isn't going to feel left out for multiple reasons including (but not limited to): her dad will make sure she doesn't feel left out (he's the BEST at that!), she's NOT me (and doesn't have my hang-ups-- I hope), and last of all: she's not developmentally ready to feel left out by something so arbitrary (and really kind of stupid).

So, this Valentine's Day I am thankful for my two VIVs (very important valentines) because they give me the opportunity to remember that not every kid is like me, and my husband and I are not necessarily going to make the same decisions our parents did-- we get the opportunity to screw our kid up in an entirely new and exciting way!

Happy Valentine's to you and yours, sixteen times over!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Parenting and Religion Take 2

Today I came across a CNN "iReport" post about raising kids as Atheists and I read some of the comments. Which were, in my opinion, ridiculous.

I am not an Atheist, I refer to myself as a non-denominational Christian. But, even that vague and encompassing Christian term doesn't truly encapsulate my personal religious beliefs, I'll suffice it to say I do believe "God" is the best earthly but of language I can use to refer to the beyond-my-earthly-understanding concept that coheres our Universe as it is humanly understood-- at least when I speak to others. My husband is less willing to label his beliefs as Christian or God-fearing in any way. I don't believe he quite considers himself Atheist, but we haven't discussed religion for awhile so I may be incorrectly summarizing his (equally complex and well-founded) beliefs.

Nevertheless, we both (as many people in our generation) believe religion and spirituality are quite different from one another and can and should be separated in most situations. My husband is also of the thinking that church is useless, but as I previously discussed, I like it for all of the non-socialization-related aspects and I fully intend to introduce our daughter to religion (along with other cultural literacy). As parents we agree religion is not to be approached lightly or flippantly and must be tackled with a critical and fairly-open mind.

Anyway, back to my point about this CNN post. Some people freaked out and tagged it as inappropriate, a ton of people challenged a few points in the piece, and other people thanked the blogger for sharing her beliefs and parenting philosophy because so few people of that mindset feel comfortable to do so. Imagine that.

I was drawn to the piece after seeing it referenced and discussed on a mom-blog I regularly read and I am glad I read it because it illuminates a few points about religion that I have often considered, discussed, and wondered about-- but usually when driven by emotion. This post logically addresses specific points that are true and reasonable if religion is considered objectively.

TXBlue08 clearly lists her reasoning for believing there is NO God-- and it is admittedly similar to my husband's long list of problems with "God". The best part that I see is this blogger's insistence upon taking religion for what it's worth, and basically turning it on itself. In many ways, especially when considered by today's social norms and standards, God is NOT a great parent or parental role model. He is, as far as us Earth dwellers can surmise, totally illogical; nor, is he fair if we are to understand fairness by its dictionary definition.

Nor, can it be proven in any consistent way, that God protects the innocent. I am sure I need no examples to make sense of this, you need only to click on your local news website to get the latest of horrific news bytes. In fact, this protection of innocents (and their innocence) is on the mind of every parent I have probably ever spoken to. We live in a world where we often feel the need question even those closest to us because of the horror stories we hear from so many people hurt as children.

It can logically be argued that God doesn't actually teach children to be good, but rather incentivizes the idea through a healthy fear of Hell. And, the gospel as it is interpreted by many modern denominations does tend toward narcissistic and often unrealistic beliefs that no matter what one does-- they will be "saved" simply because Jesus "loves" them.

There is however, one sticking point for me. The blogger points to the "fact" that "God" (as understood by modern-day religion) is "not present". And, while I do agree there is no proof that God is literally hanging out in my living room watching Sesame Street with me and the little girl, this aspect of non-belief is as erroneous to me as the literal presence of "God" is in "true" believers.

This point in particular is why I think the vocabulary word "God" is an apt lexical offering for my own belief-- because the lack of an understood presence is no more proof than the lack of a physically understood presence, but if one considers the idea that there IS something beyond what we know and understand-- something that drives, propels, and also impedes us (and everything else)-- and we decide to describe that "thing" as God, one might argue there is indeed a God. (And yes, somebody--a much better philosopher than I-- probably made this point more eloquently. If you know of that person, please let me know. In the meantime I know I need to start reading up on the theological implications of String Theory.)

So, I'm left at-odds with believers and non-believers because I feel that my personal belief rectifies those thoughts in a logical way, but I don't know what to "call" myself.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

War Cry of the One Year Old

Today I was a tad startled by my one year old as I lugged Costco groceries from my car to the garage fridge. For a minute or two, I had been able to hear my little ninja, so I wasn't worried about her getting into anything. Then the moment of silence struck and my stomach did a mini-flip-flop-- Now what?!

Worried that my little one had found her "colo" (crayons) or --even worse, her finger paints, I stealthily peeked into the house through the laundry room door. That's when my worry turned into startle, as my one year old baby girl barreled toward me and the dog, pushing her pink Fisher Price car at literal "ramming speed" as she let out what I can only describe as a toddler war cry. I quickly shut the door and hoped the car would be met by my dryer before it banged into my poor dog (it did, and the dog was able to move out of the way anyhow).

After hearing the bang I made my way past the traffic collision and surveyed the scene of what could now be classified as a hit and run. While checking for damages I pondered the entire event and wondered where my kid actually gets these ideas. She doesn't watch a ton of TV (it's WAY more than the hour or so per week that it was a month ago, but still limited to an episode of sesame four or five times a week) and she has very few playmates that she sees on a regular basis.

My husband and I tend not to be violent at all. (Although the babe did get swatted on the bottom for the first time recently... and I don't think that will ever be happening again since it bothered me more than her!) We watch some violent movies, but none of people throwing themselves at walls (or dryers) that I can recall.

So now, I'm thoroughly confused. Unless my baby and her dad were practicing crashing into walls last night, this kid is just off the wall, and I'm wondering about all of that nature versus nurture business!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Outdoor Landscaping (Quick) Pick-Me-Ups

I'm looking forward to the springtime, mostly because I HATE gloomy, wintry weather, but also because it means we will begin using our backyard again-- for parties! This spring I get to help host a wine-weekend bachelorette for one friend, and a couples shower for my sister. (Yay!)

In preparation for the upcoming celebrations, I am beginning to think of cheap, easy, but striking ways to update our backyard without bugging my husband too much. Of course, Pinterest is my go-to idea source, but HGTV, and a couple other sites have some fabulous ideas too. A few things I'd like to focus on...

1. More Lavendar (and other Herbs)
Photo from

2. Creatively used Wine Barrels
Photo from

3. More Drought Resistant (but lush in appearance) Flora
Picture from

4. Unexpected Pops of Color
Photo from

5. Retrain/Reconfigure my Grapevine Trellis/Screen

So it looks less like this...
Photo from

And HOPEFULLY more like this...just taller
Photo from

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I'm going to take a moment to brag.

Mostly because I am truly amazed by my daughter, I am going to take a moment to unabashedly brag about her. Obviously, most of her accomplishments have very little to do with me (even when I would love to believe otherwise). But, that fact doesn't take away from how amazing she truly is.

Some of the reasons I am so blown away by this girl:

She's recently talk herself to use a spoon-- both correctly and effectively. And, she's working on the use of a fork, which is going impressively well. And, all of this has taken place despite my consistent failure to provide the proper utensils at meal times. She literally has to remind me at each meal, usually as soon as she sees my utensils and points. Thank goodness someone is making sure she meets those developmental milestones.

She is as stubborn as EVER! This morning I asked her if she knew where eggs come from and she looked at me blankly. Then I reminded her they come from chickens and asked her what chickens say, to which she answered "bock bock". Then, I asked her if she could say "chicken" and she looked at me like I was stupid and impatiently said "bock bock". (We've resorted to calling chicken "bock bock" in our household for the last six months, since she started referring to it as such.) She's no dummy, there's no way she's going out of her way to say something new when she gets the same result from the tried and true.

She's teaching herself new words-- even if it means she has to glean them fro television and not from our rather extensive conversations about, well just about everything (refer to post about TV and the word turtle for more on that). Today she has already demonstrated that she can, in fact, say "more" --though she refuses to do so on a daily basis. I asked if she wanted more oatmeal and she responded with "more". New words and healthy breakfast choices! My kids destined for great things.

My baby girl is also becoming an adept socialite. Last night I dropped her off at my parents house so she could spend some time with her aunt, grandmother, and great-aunt. Walking into a rather loud setting was overwhelming at first, but that little booger went straight for her buddy, the dog, and when I arrived later to pick her up (WAY past her bedtime) she had settled in to the point of not wanting to leave. It's better than I can do in most social settings (thank goodness she doesn't have my social abilities, or lack thereof).

Lastly (for this post at least) is my girl's friendliness and polite behavior. She recently learned the word "please", so now when she asks for her "ba" (sippy cup, or really any cup) she says "ba peas". It is the most ridiculously cute thing in the WORLD. Plus, she's getting really great at timing when she says "bye bye" to people. It's pretty awesome to hear her yell "hi" and "bye bye" at people until they respond.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Parenting & Religion

I believe that logically, there must be a universal force greater than that which we do or will ever fully understand. I choose to believe that greater-than-us force is what many people refer to as God.

All of the said, I am and have been working through some turmoil over what to do about my kid's religious education. A long time ago (pre-Baby), I had no desire for her to attend any sort of church services until she wanted to. Then, my Father-in-Law made the best pro-church argument (for a kid) that I had ever heard; in essence he said: if I want my kid to be as knowledgeable as possible about all aspects of the world, I should make a point of introducing him/her to Christianity because it is so proliferate in the Western world and will surely color any child's understanding of their world.

Recently, I brought all of this up to my husband (a member of the Methodist church and regular church attendee until about seventeen) and his immediate response was: "If she's going to church to learn about the Western world, then she needs to go to museums, etc. to learn about it as well." To which I totally agreed, and pointed out that I already try to get her to as many places as possible, but right now there aren't too many museums looking for a one year old to run through the exhibits.

So now, I am stuck with the challenge of attending not just a church over the next few months, but one that I can stomach socially and one that she can also be a part of in order to better understand one of the greatest underpinnings of our Western world. Wish me luck?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

TV is a Better Teacher Than I AKA F the AAP

It's a sad day in this household. Today, my little girl taught herself the word turtle after watching a mere five minutes of Nick Junior's The Wonder Pets. What the fuck?

The American Association of Pediatrics claims that it is best for children under age two to be exposed to ZERO hours/minutes/seconds of television per day.

In my attempt to do something (anything) right as a mom, I have drastically limited the amount of television my little girl watches on a daily basis (typically she watches no television when she's alone with mom). Baby girl watches the approximate equivalent of one thirty minute episode of a children's show per week (when she's at home). Okay, sometimes she watches VP debates too...

Yes, I know she watches more when at the gym daycare or with family (our parents and siblings are her primary babysitters for the twenty hours or so we need it each week), but I also know that's limited to when said family members have been utterly tired out by chasing her around/ keeping her out of trouble, so when all is said and done she probably gets an hour per week on average.

Granted, the AAP also goes on to say it's not so much the screen time as the lack of parental/ person-to-person interaction that goes on when you're not hanging out with your kid. When my girl does watch TV, she does so interactively. She dances to the kiddie songs, I ask her if she's "got moves". We recap what's happening in the episode: "Did Ming-Ming find his mommy on Mother's Day?" And, we watch shows limited to what I (or my husband) deem developmentally and educationally appropriate: Wonder Pets teaches teamwork (just listen to the awesome theme song if you don't believe me) and caring for others.


Sesame Street teaches... well, just about everything else. We're extremely luck in knowing that she primarily watches Sesame Street if and when she's with anyone else (she can also say "Elmo"... though, I don't know if there's so much merit in that nowadays given Kevin Clash's past missteps coming to light) and even then, whomever she happens to be watches alongside her.

However, this is not to say you're doing something wrong if your kid watches more TV than mine. This is what happens to work for us. Our little girl is active, she's not what I think of when I think of the stereotypical girl-child, and we wouldn't have it any other way, but that also means she's a mischievous little imp who runs (literally runs) rampant around the house, looking for someone to chase her, or play hide-and-seek.

My point is-- if you're like me and put a ton of stock into scientific research and recommendations made by professional organizations, you're in good company, and there's no reason to stress yourself out about every little thing your kid does that operates outside of that recommendation. My parents allowed me to watch as much TV as I desired from as early as I can remember. Literally, some of my earliest memories involve my mom and I watching M*A*S*H* late at night after my dad went to sleep-- how's that for TV and no set bedtime?

If I don't fuck up in this arena, then I'm destined to elsewhere, at least this seems fairly innocuous. In keeping with my New Year's Resolutions: the secret is moderation (and not freaking out).

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

2013 Resolutions

#1 - Keep working on making my little family my TOP priority.
In the past, I have not made my marriage my top priority in the same way my husband managed to do much earlier on. Instead, I would put other family issues at the top of my concerns. Since our daughter was born, I have really struggled to make a shift that places her well-being in front of all else (even when it means making others unhappy with me) and I definitely believe that putting my marriage before most everything is what will truly be the best for our little girl in the long term. After all, our relationship is the first one she sees as her model for ALL of her future relationships-- we're important in her life! The way her father treats me and the way I in turn, treat him will become the foundation for how she treats others and how she allows others to treat herself in the future.

#2 - Keep up with my exercise regimen, but don't freak out if I miss a day or two (or three or four)!
I did a great job of keeping up with my exercise regimen last year. Even though I went back to work part time in August, the babe and I have a little routine that we've kept to for the most part. So far, I am able to maintain weight that I lost post-baby, and I  get to focus more upon cardiovascular health. In the next month or two, I would really like to work on some strengthening exercises/ training and try out a different group class than the ones I typically attend. I also want to keep the overall focus of my exercise on my mental health-- meaning, if the idea of having to go exercise is starting to stress me out, then I need to reevaluate the regimen in total.

#3 - Continue to keep in mind: the key (to most of my happiness) is moderation and reflection.
Over the past year or two I have come to a realization that moderation has not been a huge part of my life in past years. That makes it difficult to reconcile certain things in life, especially grey areas, and I don't want to allow my life to exist in those extremes. Thus far, I have begun to attempt to remember moderation is important in small things at work, at home, in my marriage, and in my parenting. Although my ninth grade students might disagree, I've (mostly) had a handle on the idea of moderation in the classroom. It's still a struggle in just about every other aspect of my life (reference #1-2 of this list!). My husband is not into moderation either (he's the yin to my yang, I work obsessively, he plays just as obsessively), so we have the discussion about moderation often... and it's a work in progress.

What are your resolutions for the New Year?