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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Child Photography

Everyone is sick here (except for me), but that didn't stop them from playing photographer yesterday.

As it's been a while since I've posted their pictures, I thought you might like a peek. This time is different because the child being photographed is being posed and ordered around by the photographer.

They started in the living room.

Then moved on to close ups.

After that, they moved it to the bedroom where they practiced "sad."

Loving the eye-cross. Very effective emoting, Dulce.

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Recipe Monday - Traditional Apple Pie

(Now, keep in mind, my pie looks like this because I'm bad at fitting top crusts, and my husband turned the oven off halfway through baking, by accident. Yours will look much better. This is the best-tasting apple pie recipe I've made.)

5 Tart Peeled Apples
1 Cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Cider Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

Slice your apples.
Mix sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt and vinegar in a large bowl.
Mix the apples in with the rest of the ingredients.

Shape your pie crust into the bottom of the pie tin. (Any crust recipe you like. I use the just-add-water kind because I think it tastes just as good, but next time I'm going to try to make my own.) Poke holes in it with a fork.

Put the apples in the pie. Top with some butter.

Roll out the rest of the pie crust and top it. (Here's where I failed. Not enough dough left, but almost.)

Bake the pie at 400 degrees for about an hour. Voila!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Toddler Tricks - 77: Getting Away from the Kids

Problem: You've been staying at home with your little ones and they're rather attached to you, to put it mildly. But sometimes you have to do things like go to the doctor, or to the gym, or they get old enough where preschool would do them some good. You need them to stop clinging to your ankles and screaming like you're running them over with a bulldozer.

Solution: There is none. If you're here, it's already too late. Okay, not really, but parents of babies, take note: Leave your children on a regular basis. I'm serious. It seems fine at the time, you think they'll understand later when you have to leave them for a bit, but if you don't get them accustomed to it when they're smaller, it's hell. It could be hell anyway, depending on your kid. It's hardly ever easy, especially if they're used to seeing you all the time.

But for us, for my family, it's on the pathetic side. Here I have two three and a half year old who absolutely throw holy hell when I attempt to leave or do anything without them. They have never even been alone with their father since we moved to Florida two years ago. And now, they won't accept it.

If you're in my position, you have to take a firm stance. Understand that they don't know what they are talking about. You're not really breaking their hearts. They're not really that scared. They're just doing that thing they do where little things become wicked important just because. Think of yourself as the pink socks. They couldn't care less, really, whether or not they're wearing the pink socks in the big scheme of things, but at the time, they will roll around in a puddle for thirty minutes because you put them in the blue. Same thing. Just do it. Just go. It's going to suck. But it's never going to suck any less. The longer you put it off, the worse it gets.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Alternate Dimension of the SAHM

It's 8 a.m., and I'm telling my girls that they can switch jackets after lunch if they hate the ones they're wearing so much. I'm arguing with them over who changed out of their nighties first yesterday and whose turn it is to go first today. I'm explaining to them that the toilet flushes at the same speed for both of them.

It's 10 a.m., and I'm trying not to lose my mind over the fact that at 3 and a half, these girls refuse to feed themselves. One of them is sitting in front of the television with a full cup of yogurt just going to waste. The other has painted the couch in the stuff. I contemplate yelling at them and calling them names. But I don't.

It's 10:30 a.m., and I'm trying to explain to them that they can't have candy because they didn't eat their yogurt. I'm wasting too many words. I'm getting met with frustration, antics and yelling. Doesn't matter. No candy.

It's 12 p.m., and we try again with oatmeal. There's no television this time because their reason for not eating their yogurt was that they were trying to watch the video and they couldn't eat and watch at the same time. This does not go over well. The oatmeal joins the yogurt on the couch. Some of it goes down their shirts for good measure. I mull over allowing it to stay in there all day as natural consequence, plus, isn't oatmeal good for the skin? I wash it off and hand-feed them half of the cereal that's left.

It's 1 p.m., and I go back and forth with them about who picks out the stories today. Everything is so intensely important. Then I reason with them about who puts their diaper on first, going back to who put their clothes on first this morning.

It's 3 p.m., and I give them a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It's the only thing they'll eat without a fight. I try to referee as they fight over who gets which chair.

It's 4 p.m., and I'm trying to dry a stuffed bear with a dish towel because one of them has cried on the animal in a fit of rage and is now utterly surprised that it's wet and uncomfortable.

It's 5 p.m., the girls are irate that I will not put a video on for them. I put on songs instead. They've had enough TV today. They cry for 45 minutes. I think maybe they're right, I mean, they really don't want to listen to music. I wait. Five minutes later they've decided they won't win this one and they're dancing their fool heads off.

It's 6:30 p.m., and they're arguing with me about the virtues of eating ice cream before dinner. I take them far too seriously, but in the end I decide that they're mistaken. Ice cream before dinner is a bad idea. This decision doesn't help the atmosphere in the house.

It's 7:30 p.m., and they should be starving. They eat all their broccoli. They say their chicken fingers are too hard to eat. My husband believes them. I do not. They've got all their teeth, and I've seen the marks those teeth can leave on their sister's skin when they're mad. They are three. They can bite off a piece of chicken finger.

It's 8 p.m., and they finally get their ice cream, even though they didn't eat all their dinner. They're lucky they have such a kind daddy.


My life is a circus. Having two three-year olds as my only companions skews my view of how life works. They're so convincing, and now that they can hold conversations that actually mean something, I forget that their logic hasn't caught up with their mouths.

I treat them as if they know what they are talking about. As if they give the right weight to the right priorities. Suddenly the kind of shoes they're wearing really is as important as the errand we're running. My emphasis meter is all messed up. I don't even know what's real anymore. And they never knew.

I have to take a step back and remember that as fervently as they feel about any given detail at any given time, they actually don't really mean it. They don't know what they want. They're making it up as they go along. And since they have no reference point, they just assign arbitrary importance to any random thing.

And I'll believe them. Unless I catch myself.

Parenting is hard.


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Thursday, January 26, 2012

What Is Up with Sizing?

I don't know what size I am.

This is not because I've changed size. I've been the same weight and shape, basically, since my teens.

Now, I started out in a size 10-12, but I wore my clothing much looser back then (per the fashion), and it was a revelation to me that I was actually an 8. And I'll believe it (why not?). I'll believe that I've been an 8 this whole time. Sure.

That's basically what I've been wearing since I found that the size fits me.

But then you get the stretch material. In stretch material, I can pull off a 6. Because of the forgiving material, I don't bulge, and the way the fabric fits, it acts like a little makeshift corset, toning and curving, not squishing and jamming.

Yay! I've gone from a size 12 to a size 6, just by wearing differently styled clothing. Amazing.

And I'll take it. Why not?

What I won't accept, what I cannot accept is that I am a size 2. That I am an extra small. What the hell? That's not even complimentary, that's just confusing.

Last summer, my husband bought me a pair of white shorts and a little black dress from White / Black. He checked my closet for appropriate sizing and bought me size 10 shorts and a large dress.

They fell off. Literally fell off.

He was so disappointed.

So, I went back to the store to exchange them. I tried the 8. Then the 6. Then the 4. Then the 2. I'm a 2.

The dress? I tried the medium. Then the small. I got the small, and it's still too big. But I just could not imagine that I would be an extra small. I should have gotten the extra small.


I'm five-foot, nine-inches tall. I weigh 145 pounds. I have 42-inch hips.

I think this gives a fairly accurate representation of my size.

This has nothing to do with self-image or confidence. I'm happy with myself. That doesn't change the fact that I am not a size two, and I'm not an extra small.

Vanity sizing is out of control. I mean, I know you can just try stuff on, but wouldn't it be nice to kind of have a range and not have to eyeball it and then be completely wrong? It's harder for me because with twins, I'm either shopping with them or during nap time, so sometimes I don't try things on at all. I just accept that I'll probably have to bring them back.

I'm thinking about this because I went shopping last week and got a skirt and a pair of shorts. They had two sizes on them. In Australia, they were a 12. In the United States, they were an 8. And I was confused. I ended up getting them, after asking the associate if the 8 was a true 8. She said yes, that the clothes there fit her in her normal size.


They're too big. By far. And that's strange to me. Because with my hip size, I simply should not be smaller than an 8, unless we're going to redo the whole system.

Simply put, if I'm an extra small at Black / White, what the hell are the 50 percent of the people who are smaller than me wearing? Do they have to go to children's sizes? Negatives? Nano sizes?

I guess I should just relax about the whole thing and enjoy my new status as fashion-model size.


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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Survival of the Fittest

Yesterday was a rough day. I didn't even get a chance to bore you with a blog. I spent the whole day writing an ebook for a nameless employer for which I will get no credit and very little money. Welcome to the new Internet opportunities.

The poor kids were out of their minds with boredom, but what could I do? I was on deadline.

As I expected, they soon began to misbehave, and when you've got two three year olds, misbehaving means fighting. Usually I step in quite quickly, but as we were home and I was busy, I just let them go, in an experiment of sorts.

It's amazing how long children can fight, and I mean viciously fight, over nothing. They don't even remember the topic after the first two minutes. And they screech and scream and push and bite (usually they don't. Yesterday was...special).

And I got to thinking, what if I just never stepped in? What if I let them go? Would they eventually straighten themselves out and come to a compromise? Would one of them severely injure the other? Would they both survive? Would they get bored of it and just stop?

They don't even know themselves, having never been allowed to just fight it out to the end. In fact, after a few minutes, they came out to me all confused.

"Mama? We fighting."

I look up, harried and dismayed.

"I know, I heard."

"Well...we fighting."

As if they didn't know what step came next in the fight sequence. The only step in their repertoire being that mommy steps in and tells them that good girls don't fight like that.

So, I helped them out.

"Good girls don't fight like that. Please don't bite your sister."

And their day resumed. But what if I didn't? What if it were to become survival of the fittest? Would they band together or fall apart?


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Monday, January 23, 2012

Recipe Monday - A Winter Burger

You don't need a grill for these spicy, curry burgers, and they're perfect for a wintertime yen for barbecue.

Now these are thick and small in circumference because when you broil burgers, you're that much more likely to dry them out. But if you've got more confidence in your broiler skills than I have in mine, go ahead and flatten them out more.

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons mixed curry powder or 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (if for some reason you don't like curry.)
  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Mix all ingredients together.
  3. Shape into small patties and put on broiler rack.
  4. Cook patties at 8 minutes each side.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Toddler Tricks - 76: Cake and Marker

Problem: It's someone's birthday, and you want to make a sheet cake, but you can never get it out of the pan without cracking it or crumbling it in some way.

Solution: Aluminum foil. If you line the pan with aluminum foil, not only will you be able to remove it easily, you'll also have a plate-of-sorts that fits the cake perfectly.



Solution: Mine were washable markers, and baby wipes worked like a charm! I was also told make-up remover, oil-based soap, green tea soap from Trader Joe's, and baby oil for the really tough ones. Of course, you could always soak them in the bath, too, but sometimes, well, marker is tough.

Friday, January 20, 2012

What Insults Really Mean

"Mama, you stinky."

"I'm stinky? No, I'm not stinky. I smell good."

"No! You stinky! You stinky, huh!"

My daughter then proceeds to walk outside and hang out on our porch for twenty minutes to a half hour.

This was yesterday.

When she came back in, she finally admitted that she was just upset that Nana was gone. I wasn't really stinky at all.

You see, I'm stinky a lot.

I'm stinky when they don't have the kind of juice they want. I'm stinky when I have to work instead of take them to the park. I'm stinky when I answer a question wrong. I'm just stinky a lot.

I don't know where they picked the insult up. We do use the word stinky, when we need a shower or when the girls need a bath. It's helped us to get through to them, that, yes, people must bathe. I think the girls have extended the change they see in a showered mom or dad into any change they would like to occur. So that me coming down in different clothes with wet hair doesn't matter any more because that's not the change they're looking for. They're looking for some circumstance to change, and they haven't grasped that a shower only changes another, very specific, circumstance.

Regardless, I'm getting awfully tired of being called stinky.


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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Who's in Charge Here? Mark your Territory

My kids are being awful. It's a problem. It's doubly a problem because my mother is visiting and I want them to be good. Every time she comes or we go to visit her, I think, well, they've been such good girls for so long now, surely they'll be good in front of her, too, and she'll finally see what a good mom I am.


It's like whenever they see her, they release the fire of a million tantrums. Anything and everything is a reason to cry, scream and slam doors. I'm so embarrassed. And I started wondering why. And, as usual, it's mostly my fault.

First of all, my mom was a great mom. She knows what she's doing. She also has a very strong presence. But, being the great mom she is, she understates herself incredibly when she's here. So that she'll make a soft, small, totally reasonable suggestion, and I'll immediately think, well, that makes sense. I'm doing it wrong. Completely forgetting that there is good reason why we do it my way, or even if there isn't a good reason, that my girls are used to one set thing and another change on top of visitors will put them over the edge. This happens every ten minutes or so and always ends in tears.

Because of this, my girls begin to sense that I'm not really in charge and I've been fooling them all these years. And it's kind of true. When my mom is here, I don't feel like I'm in charge. I still feel like her kid. She's a better mom than I am in my opinion, and I want to do things her way. But it doesn't work. And with my kids thinking that maybe what I say isn't set in stone after all, and no one really knows who is in charge, well, being three, they decide that they are in charge. Disaster.

So now I've got my mom trying to help me, offering suggestions, not because she thinks I'm doing it wrong, but because she's an extra set of hands and could help if we just changed certain things just slightly. Then I've got my kids ordering me around and being total jerks, just to see if it works and if I'm going to put them in their place. And my entire homelife is falling down around my ears, right in front of my mother in a poignant display of the exact opposite thing I wanted to happen.

My girls need routine and structure like people need air to breathe. It's actually a fault, although most times it makes my life easier. The smallest things...Nana cut someone's grape in half instead of giving them the whole one, Nana sat on the bed to read the story when usually we sit on the floor, Nana put a towel on someone's lap while they ate a grapefruit slice when Mommy doesn't do that. Each of these things ended in tears.

And my mom is trying to help me, she's not forcing these things. Who would ever guess that cutting a grape would be the-end-of-the-world big deal? She just didn't know.

And I don't help, since I'm stressed out over making the trip a good experience for them (which is laughable). The trip is good for them because they get to see the kids, hellions or not, so I'm lucky in that way. But I still snap and strain, and God why can't I even flip pancakes right when my mom is here?

Someday I will get this grandparent-visit thing right. Today was not that day.


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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The War on the War

Last night I ended up having a conversation with a good friend of mine about only children. Did you know that even today, they feel judged and ostracized for their parents' reproductive choices? It's not just "onlies." Children are judged all the time based on their parents. Are their parents too young? Are they too old? Were their parents married when they were born? Are they married now?

How any of these things have to do with the actual children involved, I'll never know. It's all part of the generalization culture in  which we immerse ourselves, usually unknowingly.

And whenever I end up attacking an article, my arguments always take on the same refrain. It's understandable that the people on the other side of these unfair judgments should be upset, but does that mean they should strike back, not at their aggressors, but at others in their same group?

Take this Salon article, for instance. In it, Mary Elizabeth Williams argues that only children are the subject of ridicule and false assumptions, contempt and judgment throughout their entire lives. I can't refute that. I wasn't an only child, nor do I have an only child, so I'll never know or understand where she is coming from, and I've no right to comment. I can only say that the statement surprised me. I never noticed only children getting the short stick while I was growing up. Until we were eight, my best friend was an only child. I bet she has some stories to tell, but I can assure you that she got made fun of more for being "rich" than anything else. Isn't that completely ridiculous? Let me expand: we were lucky enough to live in one of the wealthiest towns in the wealthiest state in the nation, growing up. And people were making fun of someone for their parents being able to provide a wealthy lifestyle for their child? Ask her today, she'll tell you...I've rarely seen her as ruffled even as an adult than when someone mentions her family's supposed wealth. (By the way, they're not Richie Rich rich. They were simply well off, comfortable, well bred human beings.)

Point being, children are judged for stupid details they don't have any control over all the time. As one of those groups, as an "only," you'd think Williams would be calling to the other groups in a positive effort to stop all this nonsense.

But no. Instead she hacks away at those other ostracized groups, showing how 'normal' only children are in comparison. She complains that no one ever calls the youngest in a family really immature. Yes, they do. I've heard that a million times. Certainly as many times as I've heard about "onlies" being spoiled. Ask my brother; he's the youngest. He'll tell you.

I'm the oldest (which wasn't mentioned in the article.) I can't tell you how many times I've heard that my bossy personality gave my sibling status away. Even from teachers and other authority figures. "Oh, you're the oldest. Yeah, that figures. No, in a good way!" Oh, okay.

More importantly, and the only reason I'm writing this response is that she called my kids dicks. Okay, not really, but she did say this:

"It’s one of the standard responses we “onlies” get — near strangers denigrating us because of our parents’ reproductive habits. Nobody ever says, “Youngest of four? So you’re really immature, right?” or “You’re a twin? Wow, you must be a total dick.”"

Color me surprised. I had no idea that twins were considered dicks. And since I'd never heard of that until now, and it's Williams purporting that twins are thought of in that manner, then the illogical conclusion is that Williams thinks my children are dicks. What the hell?

But, that's not what she said, so I accept my defensive overreaction and move on.

The main problem with this column is that it does exactly what it's fighting against. It takes anecdotes and singular experiences from the author's life and builds them up into sweeping generalizations that are simply not true.

"I love my two girls, and can’t imagine either of their lives without their touching sisterly bond. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to nod my head in quiet assent when some yahoo goes on about that “helicopter mom” of one who doesn’t “get it” about what parenting is really like, or how “entitled” her kid is. I’ve seen your children too, folks. They’re all pretty equally cranked up."

Helicopter moms come in all shapes and sizes and have any number of children. Children can be entitled whether there is one or twelve of them. So, other than this one instance, where whomever she's talking about really is being a jerk, are these types of judgments really strewn around just about parents of only children?

And why add in that last line about the other kids? Doesn't really fit with the tone or message, does it?

Interestingly, after spending many, many paragraphs stating that "onlies" are just like everyone else, Williams then says this:

"It’s true that we onlies are a different breed. My girlfriend with three sisters will never understand my horror around peeing in front of other people. It’s not an accident that I work in solitude."

Okay, so are you the same as everyone else, different but just as good as everyone else, or a totally different breed with quirks that even you attribute to the fact that you had no siblings growing up?

Because I have to be honest, I'd not have thought that things like peeing without other people around (although as a mom of toddlers that's a luxury I no longer have), and liking to work in solitude had anything to do with being an only child. Maybe some people from bigger families like those things too, for opposite reasons. Or maybe some only children like working in groups.

Lastly, this quote from her friend really irked me:

"Sharing? Do you know how much easier it is to share as an adult when you didn’t have to protect what’s yours as a little kid? …  It’s easier to give away a big slice of pie when you’ve had all that extra pie to yourself for so long.”

I hate to be a stickler, but I'd need to see some research on the actions of children versus the actions of their adult self to even remotely believe that holds water. Her theory about extra pie rubs me the wrong way. I just don't think that's true for everyone, or even the majority.

As my friend, an only child who liked the article said, "Why do we have to be judged based on how many siblings we have at all. Can't we just all agree that some people are shitty and others aren't?" Cassie, by the way, writes an excellent blog herself, found here at Mama Phrass.

Exactly right. Some people, for a variety of reasons, not just one, are just bad people, and others, for a variety of reasons, not just one, are good people.

So, why do the ones being judged by others always fight it by judging right back?


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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What I Learned from the Pediatric Dentist

Walking into the dental office at 11:15 a.m. for an 11:15 appointment was a mistake. The dental service we are using allows you to fill out all the paperwork on the computer ahead of time, which is what I thought I did. At the time I thought, isn't this what the registrars are for? But in this day and age of do-it-yourself everything, I guessed it was just another  casualty.

Because of this I was put in a sour mood right off the bat when a team of no less than four receptionists told me I'd filled out the forms wrong, and could I please go over to the self-service computer and redo them. Okay, sure. But what a waste of my time. Also, I already gave you this information on the phone, and I filled it out online, so I'm sorry if seeing you chilling while I do all this for a third time left me a bit peevish.

Anyway, I did my best not to take it out on them. I've been a registrar (admittedly when registrars still had to do some work), and I know how much it sucks. It really does.

They brought us to the back office immediately and tried to put the girls in separate rooms, telling me I could go in between. That went over like a lead balloon, with Lilly immediately dissolving into tears and clinging to Dulce for dear life. It's scary at the dentist. She didn't want to go it alone. I understood. I thought we'd all be together and they'd go one after the other.

After the mini-tantrum, they led us into a room with two chairs and sat the girls down side by side. Why didn't they do that in the first place?

The visit went well. I learned they'll need braces at age 12, but what kid doesn't these days?

Here are some things I found out that may be of help to someone out there:

1) Yes, you're supposed to teach your children to brush their teeth, but you're not supposed to actually let them do it. That makes sense. I taught the kids how to do it, and then, when I was satisfied with their attempts, I let them do it by themselves. End of story. Apparently I'm supposed to follow up after them. I should have known that, but I didn't. Maybe you didn't either. (The dentist said get in there and scrub like you're cleaning a toilet bowl. I may have used different words, to be honest.)

2) You're supposed to be flossing their teeth. At three. I will try. I cannot promise anything, but this just seems like it's got disaster written all over it.

3) No sippy cups for anything but water. This was a revelation. This spells the end of sippies for us. Because my kids only use sippy cups when what they are drinking will stain or mess up my couches and furniture. Why would I bother giving them water in sippy cups? Sippy cups are for juice and the occasional chocolate milk. So, now they're basically useless.

4) It doesn't matter if they suck their thumbs. The dentist recommends going full-throttle with getting them to quit it at 5 and a half. So, at least I can cross that off my list.

5) Kids are supposed to get x-rays. At three. Of their baby teeth. Really?  I said no. We are apparently expected to go every six months, so I'll do some research and get them next time if they really help. I have a fear that ties back to my own childhood. I remember my mother railing against x-rays, afraid of what, I'll never know, but I'm now afraid of it too.

6) Just because you have dental insurance doesn't mean you aren't paying for all of it. $348 out of my bank account later and we were allowed to leave. Apparently my insurance will send me a partial refund.  I'm just thrilled.

But at least the girls did great and thought it was fun!


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Monday, January 16, 2012

Recipe Monday - White Wine Steak Sauce

Sippy cups not included.

2 T-Bone steaks
Montreal Steak Seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. butter
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 c. Chardonnay
4 Tbsp. heavy cream
1 tsp. dried parsley


In a medium skillet, melt butter. When foamy, add sliced mushrooms. Simmer over medium heat until almost all water is gone. Add wine, and simmer on medium/low until reduced to about a cup. Add cream, and reduce heat to low. Stir to combine. Keep on low heat, stirring occasionally. 

In the meantime, set oven to broil.

Grill/broil steaks for 4-5 minutes per side for medium/rare. (This also depends on how close your steaks are to the heat source. Ours, in the broiler, were only about 1 1/2 inches away). Add to cooking time for steaks cooked more well-done. Remove from broiler/grill, let sit a minute, and top with sauce. Serve steaks immediately.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Moment of the Week - 75: Potty Concert

When it's time for nighttime potty, we'll do anything to keep them going. Even put on a concert!


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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Toddler Tricks - 75: Remind Me

Problem: You've told your children you'd do something, and you didn't get a chance to do it. They remember and ask about it, probably none too nicely. Either it's something you really didn't want to do at that time, or you legitimately forgot about it, and now it's too late. Yet you've got a kid or two incensed that you 'went back on your word.'

Solution: (And this has been a lifesaver these last few weeks) Act as if it's a big deal to you, too, and that you are also disappointed. Then ask them to remind you later, or the next day so that this doesn't happen again. It's all about intent and power.

By doing saying you forgot and being mildly upset about it, you take yourself out of the bad-guy position. You didn't do it on purpose (and you'd be amazed at how forgiving toddlers and preschoolers are) and you are going to make amends. You didn't say no, you simply forgot. Your intentions, in their eyes, are good.

By asking them to remind you, you give them the power they are so desperately seeking at this age. It now becomes up to them to make it happen in the future. And this cycle can go on for a while. If they forget the next day, but remember in the evening when it's too late, you can say again: "Oh, no! We did forget! You'll definitely have to remind me tomorrow. Can you remind me?" And they'll be all about it.

Now, instead of you having all the power and blocking them from doing something fun or getting something good, you've shown them that you're on their side and given them the power to make what they want a reality. All they have to do is remind you at a reasonable time.

This is the most amazing discovery that I have made in my children's third year of life.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Learning to Lie

"Mama, I don't have any blueberries left. I ate them all."

"Oh, really, do you want more?"

As my daughter dissolves into giggles, I realize I've fallen prey to yet another toddler lie. The toddler lie is adorable, but it comes loaded. What do you do with the toddler lie?

"Mama, I didn't just go poop in the potty?"

"Well, that's so strange, since I can smell you from way over here."

Another giggle fit. Lying is hilarious fun, isn't it?

"Mama, I can't find my cookie!"

"Isn't it behind your back?"

"No." She pushes out one empty hand. "See?"

"Oh, what about your other hand?"

The first hand goes behind the back, she switches, then thrusts the other hand at me. "See?"

"I do see. Maybe I should check, myself."

"No!" Giggle fit.

So how much lying is allowed before you have to have 'the talk?' How much of it is fun and games? How much of it is their brains growing, their minds expanding to capture new thoughts and ideas? How much of it is creativity that ought not be stifled? Where is the line?

I don't know. Right now, it's all harmless fun, and I play along. I'll let you know if this was a mistake in ten years.


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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Why Do Women Need Fat?

First off, how exciting is it that we need fat? Super exciting.

The lower body fat that we all have in vast amount (around the world), feeds our babies' brains. This is, by far, the most interesting fact in the book I just read, entitled, Why Women Need Fat, by William D. Lassek, M.D., and Steven J. C. Gaulin, Ph.D.

I told my husband about it like this:

"Hey, honey, you know how you loved my butt when we were dating, and even moreso when I got pregnant, and then it went away a bit?"

"Yeah," he said. "Shame about that."

"Well, that's because it went into making the twins' brains!"

He laughed. "Buttheads," he said affectionately.

But it's true. The DHA used to line our heavier, bigger human brains is stored in our lower body fat as women.

The book is an intense journey through time and culture, purporting several ideas about corn oil, the changed American diet, genetics, and daily habits, showing how they relate to weight.

There is a villain. Dr. Ancel Keys, the doctor who falsely attributed increased heart disease to our fat consumption. The two authors suggest that animal fats are actually much better for us, drawing their conclusions on anthropological studies and history of human weights throughout the ages. In celebration, the night I read that chapter, I cooked our dinner in bacon grease. It was delicious, by the way.

And after you've immersed yourself in hundreds of pages talking about how small-waisted women are amazingly awesome and our brains are programmed to prefer them for childbirth reasons, and how Omega-6 is a bad guy on par with, say, Dr. Evil, there is a great section at the end that allows you to calculate your own "natural weight," an idea of the authors that shows that while women shouldn't try to melt off the pounds incredibly quickly through dieting, they could lower their weights gradually down to a certain set point. But don't stop at the first few graphs if you use this. Do all the exercises. Otherwise you're not getting the full picture of yourself that the authors had intended.

All that said, while there is a lot of really interesting information in the book, hunger studies, brain studies, talks of the hypothalamus and circadian rhythms, these are all just theories. Just theories being put forth as fact, as one would expect from an alternative diet book that expected to sell.

Now, I have no problem that these are two men telling all women how they can eat and lose weight. I don't care that they are super-psyched about women with tiny waists and large hips, but I do care about the way they present their information.

Just be aware of where their statistics are coming from when you read through. Take what you like and leave the rest. In some instances, they'll reference Americans in comparison with the Japanese, in some they reference the French, or the Swedes, or our ancestors, or Australians, Italians, Playboy Playmates or any other random group of people. But never at the same time. I assume they are taking the studies that back up their theories and leaving the others. So that you are surrounded with an eclectic array of advice.

Eat more dark chocolate like the French, more fish like the Japanese, and less corn-fed produce, like our ancestors did. I like my information to line up cohesively, so all of these incomplete and different studies being thrown at me in a stew of "lose weight like this" was hard for me to swallow.

Still, the main crux of this book, the Omega-3 versus Omega-6 battle was spellbinding, even if beaten to death by the end. They wanted to make sure we got it, I guess. Omega-3 good. Omega-6 bad. Got it. Really, I do.

The subtitle of the book is "How "Healthy" Food Makes Us Gain Excess Weight and the Surprising Solution to Losing It Forever."

While there is a lot of new and surprising theory, idea and research in this book,  I would not say that the solution to losing the fat forever is surprising at all, given the literature coming out all over the place purporting the same thing: eat less human-made, processed food. Eat more organic, natural and naturally-fed food. This is not shocking, but rather the way diet trends have been leaning for the past few years.

The best pieces of the text, in my opinion are the anthropological studies and conclusions, but that's to be expected since I don't really care about losing weight and my unused major in college was evolutionary biology.

For the dieting woman, there are some key aspects of this book that will make you pay attention. Particularly how and why dieting affects the body and why it makes you fatter. I was happy to hear it, too, because I hate dieting.

If you want to learn more about this book and the theories it's putting forth, join me in a book club discussion going on right now at BlogHer, just click here

This has been a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Seems Legit

I just came off my third telemarketing phone call today. No, I do not want to further my college education at this point. No, I don't need my kitchen redone. No, I'm not interested in Netflix. We've got one.

I don't remember signing up for any of this, but that's the line each caller uses. "We're calling because we received your request for our services."

Oh really?

And I feel bad because it's not their fault. They're just doing their job, and I'm the jerk who gave them my information.

So, today, I've been really nice to them. "Oh, actually, I'm not interested in that at all. You see, what happened was I thought I was going to get a $500 gift card from Victoria's Secret, but that turned out to be a hoax, just to pair me up with you. Sorry to waste your time."

So, yeah, I didn't sign up for any of these services. I clicked no or skip on each sponsor page. Doesn't matter. I gave them my cell phone number. And what kind of 29-year-old woman looks at a Facebook offer like, 'oh, hey, that looks legit?'

You have 90 seconds to like us and sign in and we'll give you a $500 gift card! No, really!

I can only explain it by saying that sometimes we don't do something for so long that we forget why we don't do it. I know better. I've known better since I turned 13 or so. But I forgot. Suddenly, I found myself thinking, well, heck, maybe I never get any of these giveaways because I never sign up for any of them. Why don't I sign up? I should sign up. I'm holding myself back.

Oh, right. No. Don't be like me.


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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Just a Mom? Yes. Just a Mom, Facebook. Just a Mom.

Have you seen the newest Facebook status meant to buoy stay at home moms up and make themselves feel as if they're worth something?

"You're just a mom??

Uhh Yes....I AM A MOM!!! That makes me an alarm clock, cook, maid, waitress, teacher, nurse, handyman, security officer, photographer, counselor, chauffeur, event planner, personal assistant, ATM, & I scare away the boogie man. I don't get Holidays, Sick pay or Days off!! I work through the DAY n NIGHT!!! I am on call 24/7 for the rest of my life. And that's just my First JOB.....Being A MOM!!!! I may not be anything to you but I am EVERYTHING to someone........ Repost if you are a PROUD MOM!!!!"

I'm a proud mom, and no (I'm with you, Kat). No, I will not repost that because it's utter garbage, as per usually found on Facebook. No offense to those who have posted it. I mean, I understand the sentiment, and how often have I, myself, said that we're under-appreciated as a group? I'll say it again.

We are an under-appreciated group. And it is hard to be a full-time, all-the-time mom. I complain about it all the time. But that doesn't make me a photographer or a counselor, does it? Not likely.

Let's go through the grammar because I simply can't move forward until I do. If you are a mom, hell, if you are even a well-educated adult, you'll know that using capital letters to get your point across doesn't work. You'll also know that four exclamation points are no more excited or angry than one. Same for question marks. You're not suddenly more incredulous because you've used two question marks. Ellipses are three periods this. And why would you bother typing out that mammoth paragraph of an update if typing the word "and" is too hard for you? Also, it's Bogeyman. The one place you have to legitimately capitalize, and you miss out. Speaking of, holidays, sick pay and days off are all lowercase. I'm sure there's more, but that's enough grammar snark for now.

I was joking about this status with a childless friend of mine, and I said, listen, being a mom makes me a god, okay? Which is basically what this status is saying. In its attempt to validate a mother's choice to stay home and "do nothing" in society's judgmental eyes, we've grossly overstepped.

My friend asked me to provide the paperwork that authorized me such a position, to which I replied that being a mom makes me harried and disorganized, and while it may make me a maid, that doesn't mean it makes me a good one--which is a key point.

Yes, as stay at home moms we do put bandages on scraped knees. That doesn't make us nurses. We do take pictures of our kids. That doesn't make us photographers (even if we have DSLRs). We do clean up the living room and put the dishes in the wash. That doesn't make us maids. Organizing a playdate for our little ones and driving them there doesn't make us personal assistants, event coordinators or chauffeurs.  And teaching our children basic life skills does not make us teachers.

Do you know what those things make us? They make us moms.

And what's wrong with being moms? What's so awful about this that we feel we need to shout at the world that we are so much more than moms, that we are so much more than everyone else?

Fighting fire with fire rarely works and this is yet another case of it.

If you were truly proud to be a mom, you wouldn't have to validate your choice on Facebook. This status update screams insecurity at me. It's a rightful retaliation of the judgement we as moms face every day, but it's done all wrong.

You don't have to be an ATM, or a handyman, or a waitress to be proud of being a mom.

You can just be a mom. You are everything to your child, like that status says, so you do not need to justify your existence falsely to the world.

You can just be a mom.


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