#1 Dad, no scratch that…#1 Husband by Cindy

Somewhere sometime somebody said something like, “Always put your husband first.” Agreed! Easy reply for me because my husband is awesome and totally my best buddy. We are two spooning peas in a lovely king size pod with Egyptian cotton sheets. We only have one TV that we watch together every night once the kids go to bed. Other nights we play darts and act like we’re in college… listening to our music and arguing over song titles… He’s wonderful to me and I know he always puts ME first. So for me, it’s a no brainer. Husband = First Place.

Of course there are exceptions to the rule… like, child falling off bicycle trumps Daddy needing another cold one. Thankfully, we know the difference here at our house.
But husbands SHOULD come first…they were husbands before they were dads (in the majority of cases I know) and will hopefully be husbands after the kids move out. Once our kids move out, we have a master plan of traveling the US in our very own recreational ve-hi-cle. I hope he still likes me by then, cuz I’m really psyched about our trip.
I know I am truly blessed with a great man who thinks I’m funny sometimes. He is what a dad should be to our kids…he plays with them after working out in the elements all day. He tells them stories and reads books and tries our daughter’s homemade cookies. (I use the term “cookies” lightly…I don’t really know what those things were) …and he’s hot, too.
I just wanted to bring this up because I love my husband. No other reason. He’s my husband first and always will be. Oh, and he NEVER, EVER expects the big pork chop at dinner. But I will gladly give it to him every time.


First Time Out of the Box by Cindy

I’m new. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t mean exclusively to blogging…I don’t know what I’m doing in most EVERYthing. I’m a good faker and have a lot of people fooled, but sometimes I get caught. Like the other day when I promised my 3 year old he could have a snack when he woke up from his nap that I never intended on giving him. He was tired and whiny and I just wanted him to stop yelling in my face, so I promised him something to which I would never follow through. All that did was make him cry again – and LOUDER- when he woke up. Big fail on my part.
My daughter who’s 7 catches me all the time. She’s smart, so it’s hard to fake it around her. She’s like a little Catholic school nun. I am afraid to be a bad parent around her. If I do something remotely bad, her innocent almond shaped eyes put me right back into place.

It’s not that I WANT to be bad. I try my best to be good, but like I said I don’t know how sometimes. I can’t blame anyone. I didn’t want anyone to help me when my daughter was born. I had all these ideas when I was pregnant that parenting was going to be an easy challenge…that it would be a change, but not a hard one. That we were going to be this awesome family that all had our own custom surfboards and paddled out every Saturday at 5AM then got pork roll and cheese sandwiches for the ride home.

The rude awakenings started soon after pregnancy…immediately after to be exact. In the hospital after giving birth, my daughter just wouldn’t stop crying. She cried so much that even though the wonderful nurses tried to calm her so I could get some sleep, they had to bring her back to me to nurse every 1/2 hour. No one could calm her except me. The first thought about being a parent was that I was the only one who could soothe my child. So that thought took over. My sister wanted to help…NO! My mom wanted to help…HELL NO! My mother-in-law wanted to help…HELL NO! I love my family, and looking back I feel like such an idiot. Because of the lack of sleep at the time, I felt like everyone who tried to help me was trying to take over my job…the only job I ever wanted in my entire life. I felt like I was stuck on an island with this screaming kid and no one could save me. On the contrary, EVERYone wanted to help, and I just wouldn’t let them. I’m surprised they still even like me at all. I was a big fat bitch.

Now it all bites me in the ass when I do something stupid like yell at my son for asking me the same question over and over. He cries, and then I cry and he ends up asking me the question again. I don’t know what I’m doing. Thankfully these kids ARE smart and they are good teachers. They are my helpers now, and I am learning that help is good. Maybe we’ll be able to break out the surf wax one of these days. I could really go for a pork roll and cheese.


Chippendales? Chip and Dale?


I’ve been up since 6:00 AM since the smallest of the small ones had to go potty and had to tell me about it and then had to crawl in bed with us. I have had two cups of VERY STRONG coffee. I cooked a mean spinach, mushroom, and feta omlet with Food for Life toast. Currently, I’m on a cleaning mission. I finally stopped to open the kitchen window to see two chipmunks playing (very Disney-esque) under the swings in our backyard (birds were tweeting, too!). I yelled to tell the small ones to run and look out the back window at Chip and Dale playing in our very own back yard!

Well, this got me thinking… Which came first: sweet, furry Disney characters or hot, sweaty half-naked, bow-tied men? What if my kids google it someday and some cheeseball ’80s dancer pops up!? Well, the answer is…wait for it…. the Disney characters. They premiered in 1943. The dancers came along in the late ’70s.

Now, you might be wondering, “where is she going with this?” And quite honestly, I have no idea. It was just a caffine induced, cooking/cleaning frenzy, mind racing a mile a minute, moment. “Hey kids, Chip & Dale!”. Chippendale? Wait, how could Disney name characters after strippers? Or, why did strippers name themselves after chubby, furry rodents? Well, now you have it. All of the answers. No need to thank me.


Holiday cards…ho ho grr? By Jamie Pie

Holy crap! I have been on about four MASSIVE group Facebook inboxes requesting addresses for holiday card mailings. The few smaller ones I can handle. They were helpful in that I needed the other three people’s addresses.

BUT the massive group ones have been a smidge more exhausting. I now have about 60% of all addresses in the United States. I know about .0002% of those people.  If I were rich I’d send them all really bizarre holiday cards with awkward family photos on them.

In defense of those who send the mass group inboxes – of course you do. How long would it take to write one letter, hit send. New message. Write content. Hit send. 100 times! For the sender, the most efficient way to go is the massive group email.

Facebook is revamping with a newer, bigger, better conglomernetwork. While they’re incorporating their own email system into their social network, maybe they can work something out in the way of a “reply all”  vs. “reply solely to the sender” option.

Facebook is on a roll. Not only was  Zuckerberg lauded Time’s Man of the Year (side note: Reynolds was named People’s Sexiest Man Alive.Duh.) and CEO of a privately owned company that is expected to generate $2 billion in revenue for 2010, he is CEO of No. 1 Place To Work by glassdoor.com. Homeboy can certainly figure this out, no?

And if he does, I promise to send him a holiday card.


Vanity’s Proving Ground*

Blake Lively

My Dream Hair, Miami Vice Style

I hate my hair. There, I said it.

I am not a particularly vain person. It’s nice to get dressed up every so often, put on makeup and cute painful shoes but generally I can’t be bothered. My job history is a testimony to my willingness to only work at places with a casual dress code. I wear makeup maybe once a week, but I am a sucker for lipsticks and glosses and I own about 94 of them.

My hair doesn’t play well with this equation. It is extremely high maintenance. Left to its own devices it is about 143% grey and frizzier than Barbara Streisand’s hairdo in “The Way We Were” (at the end, the “your girl is lovely, Hubble” part, not the “K-k-k-Katie” part). When damp the front curls into tight corkscrews but for some reason the back didn’t get that memo and remains stubbornly, lifelessly straight. It might be some kind of manifestation of my mercurial nature, like a personality mullet.

I have spent god only knows how many hours and how much money on coloring my hair, with everything from drugstore dye (much better results than you would think, especially Feria) to single process color to highlights and of course single process with high- and low-lights, which was meant to bring more “depth” to my color but I think was really meant to lighten my wallet. Between cutting, coloring, hair dryers, straightening irons and products, I estimate that I probably spend about $1200 a year on my hair. That’s more than a month of my daughter’s daycare. That’s 4 monthly car payments. A Coach bag. The annual tax bill on a condo I own.

And then there’s the time- getting my hair done is an extravaganza that once took 5 hours, but is usually somewhere in the 2-3 hour range. I have taken this Friday off to get a cut and color and go Christmas shopping. I try to view it as a little luxury for me- some time by myself, a little pampering- but honestly I would rather take a 3 hour nap or do dinner and a movie with my friends. With 2 small kids and a full-time job, 3 hours to devote to anything is a lot. I don’t think I see my husband for 3 hours total during the week. Yet my (delightful) hairdresser Dan gets 3 hours of uninterrupted Siobhan time every 3 months. I like to think he looks forward to it but he’s gay so our dates can only be so fulfilling.

A few months ago I got a half-off coupon for something called a Brazilian Blowout, a de-frizzing treatment that I was skeptical about but I thought I’d try given how cheap it was. I am not kidding when I say it has changed my life. I have true wash-and-wear hair now. I haven’t touched my flatiron since Labor Day Weekend. What used to be a 20 minute nightmare of mixing the right combination of product, blow-drying, then flat-ironing now takes 5. I don’t have to blow-dry if I don’t feel like it or don’t have the time. I used to see rain falling outside my window or the hellish August humidity forecast for DC and fight the urge to just shave my head. Now I feel like the Breck girl when I step on the office elevator on a rainy day. Of course this magical treatment has now been shown to consist of more formaldehyde than your standard neighborhood morgue, but I don’t care. My brain could use some preserving anyway.

I last got my hair colored at the beginning of October. I am thankful that I am tall and so the number of people who can clearly see the skunk-like stripe of silver extending a good inch from either side of my part is minimal. The blowout is starting to wear off (it lasts from 12-16 weeks) and I have another coupon that I will be using.

Maybe I am vain after all.

SiobhanPie

*Google It. You’ll feel smarter.


Dear Erica Jong: I can bring home the bacon and fry it up too by Elizabeth Ragavanis

Am I mistaken, or did Erica Jong just tell me I *can’t* actually bring home the bacon and also fry it up in a pan?  Jong’s article, The Madness of Motherhood, posits that attentive parenting, the kind involving breastfeeding, making my own babyfood, and environmental awareness, keeps mothers like me “imprisoned.”

Jong comes down especially hard on attachment parenting, popularized by Doctors William and Martha Sears.  With all due respect to Jong, who is an accomplished author and feminist icon, I wonder if she has actually read the Sears’ parenting books.  Attachment parenting is not, as Jong implies, the all-consuming sacrifice of a parent’s life for the sake of the center-of-the-universe child.  It is simply parenting that is sensitive to and available to the child’s needs.

I’m a fan of the Sears’ philosophy.  I responded when the baby cried, carried him quite a lot, and nursed him for over a year (at which point we were both ready to stop.)  As a nursing mother, I found it easier for him to sleep in my bed for the first few months.  And yes, I made my own baby food, not exclusively, but most of the time. (Making baby food is not rocket science.  Take a ripe pear or banana, mash.  Or overcook some of the noodles you are having for dinner, and serve.)

I didn’t go on whirlwind book tours, but I certainly didn’t feel imprisoned.  As a matter of fact, I studied law during this time, at a top-tier law school.  I graduated and passed the bar in two different states.  I made choices about what was best for my baby and for the environment, but by no means did I find it necessary to sacrifice everything.

Rather, I chose attachment parenting partly because I think parents are not paying sufficient attention to their child’s needs.  In spite of a mountain of evidence connecting excessive television to distinct harm to children, parents disregard the AAP’s recommendation of limiting viewing time.  Frequently, the reason given is that we have too much to do and need the TV to keep the kids busy (and I’ve been guilty of that myself.)  Child development researchers are becoming concerned about the amount of time parents spend on the internet or looking at their Blackberry during interactions with their children.

Helicopter parenting is actually another, albeit less obvious, example of ignoring a child’s needs, not being hyper-attentive to them as Jong suggests.  Helicopter parenting is the micromanagement of a child’s entire life well into young adulthood.  It often leaves a child incapable of managing her own life.  Inadvertently, the helicopter parent puts her own need for control and connection, her need to be needed, over the child’s need for independence and autonomy.

Not so long ago, feminists argued that motherhood and professional accomplishment should not be mutually exclusive, and they fought for affordable childcare, equal pay, and other advances that would make it possible for women to be both provider and parent.  Some of us do both, and put a great deal of effort into achieving a balance between the two.  There are also women who want to be a mother first and foremost. There are women who do not want to be mothers at all.  Jong forgets that these are all valid choices, and our mutual adversaries are those who limit women’s choices by telling us what we must or must not do.

Being a mother should not restrict me from being a professional, but the opposite is also true.   Not all of us have a famous literary career to compete with our child-rearing time, and some of us view child-rearing as work that is as valuable as any other, including writing.  While attachment parenting may not suit Jong, some women, including me, feel creative and empowered by the work we do raising our kids.

I agree with Jong’s ultimate conclusion, that motherhood is malleable. As parenting blogger Liz Gumbinner of Mom101 said, quoting her mother, “Every decision you make as a parent is right, and every decision you make as a parent is wrong.” In reality, doing the best we can is enough.  As Jong points out, there are too many messages about what a mother must always or must never do.

But oddly, I think Jong is contributing to that with her combative essay pitting engaged parenting against self-actualization for women.  It is almost as if she is suggesting that it is not possible for me to be an attentive parent and environmentally conscious if I expect to achieve anything outside of my role as a mother.  My law degree, my attachment-parented child, and I beg to differ.

(Check out this vintage commercial for another woman who can “bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan.”)


Why can’t I sleep? I’m a good mom, right? by Eileen Farley

I really hope people think I’m a good mom. Why can’t I sleep? I’m a good mom, right?

This has been a constant thought in my head over the past few days. I feel like every time a thought escapes my attention, it turns to my previous post about yelling. I AM a good mom. My kids tell me so. My husband tells me so. And, above all, my mom tells me so. But, I want to be a better mom.

So what am I going to do about that? Well, I have been eating more. Let me finish. I find with my children, they can get, oh…insane when their blood sugar dips. I had an epiphany. Maybe, just maybe, I’m at my weakest yelling point when my blood sugar dips. So, following my trainer’s advice, I’m eating more frequently during the day. I’ve added a bigger, high protein/low fat breakfast and healthy snacks during the day. There is definitely a correlation, because I feel more in control when my tummy is full. Hunger leads to yelling. Proven.

What am I going to do about that #2 – keep ’em busy!  When the munchkins get bored, they get annoyed.  When they get annoyed, they get cranky. So, I’ve been keeping them occupied at all times. We’ve been doing lots of arts and crafts. They’ve been helping me clean (he he he…suckers), they help me rake leaves, they help me stir things when I’m cooking. And when all else fails, I give them a bath. It soothes babies, right? And who doesn’t love playing in the water?

We all lose our patience, it’s human nature.  If we didn’t, we’d all go mad. Serenity now, insanity later. But I feel better at then end of my day. I feel good, no, GREAT when my kids are happy!  And happy kids make for a happy mommy. That’s a vicious circle I don’t mind being in.

When they are good together, that time is precious, priceless. There is no yelling, no hitting, no being fresh. It’s just two pals, getting along and doing whatever it is they are doing. Those are the days I find peace.