Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
As I started to calculate, I realized that I had not left the house without both children in tow since the evening of MAY TWELFTH, when I left them with a baby-sitter after putting them to bed, so you never feel like you can stay out as long as when your spouse is home. Yes, that is almost two solid weeks of having children soldered to my person. No wonder I was ready to get the heck out of dodge!
I buzzed by the post office to drop the invites for Charlie's first birthday party next week and the birthday gift for my sister...whose birthday was March 6th. Yes, I'm wicked lame. On to CVS to brood over Golden or Double Stuffed? Cakesters or Double Stuffed? Obligitory package of cookies for the meeting purchased I had run out of errands and decided to just sit in the lobby of the meeting site and work on a pair of socks.
Oh, did I mention that we meet at a nursing home? With an alzheimer unit? I felt like I fit right in, knitting my socks and rockin' the "Baby, Baby" and "El Shaddai" (which, coincidentally my mother has made known she must have played at her funeral...whatev'.)
It was about halfway through the album as I was singing along (in my head) that I wondered why I knew all the words so well. Oh yeah! It's because my older sister went through a freaky sign language phase where she and one of her girlfriends would translate killer songs like Richard Marx' Hold On To The Night (with tres dramatic hand gestures, naturellement) and an equally cool Amy Grant song. Because you have to play snippets of the song over, and over, and over, ahahahahand over again in order to get the 'choreography' right, we all got to Hold On a little longer. She even performed them as a 'talent'. Probably in her Wham! shirt.
Kind of like when you'd get the tape that didn't have the lyrics printed inside so you'd hit play, pause (scribble), rewind a little; repeat as necessary.
I called Sherri from the old folks' home to remind her of this phase in her life, but had to be content with leaving a message. When I called back later, she said she was ignoring it. Whatev'. And this is the same sister who chided me for learning German in college because it "wasn't applicable." Yeah, because non-deaf people use sign language to talk to each other all the time! Guess Baby A will have a jump start on "All Done!" and "More" because Mommy used to be in Happy Hands.
If you're not laughing, I guess it's just an in-joke. Or you just need to get a sense of humor.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
rating: 5 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed this book. I've read several Jodi Picoult books, and my favorites have been Nineteen Minutes, Salem Falls, Harvesting the Heart and My Sister's Keeper.
I had read Nineteen Minutes as my first intro to Ms. Picoult, so was excited to see the return (or origination of) Jordan McCafferty and Selena.
In this book Jack is a Columbia educated History PhD who was teaching and coaching soccer at an all-girls prep school when he's falsely accused of having a sexual relationship with one of his players after her father finds a diary full of sexually explicit entries featuring Jack, and a package of birth control pills. Excited by the idea that they could be true, she quickly falls into the role of victim, and it's too late to turn back.
The book opens as Jack is released from his eight-month jail sentence and vows to start over again. When he reaches the sleepy town of Salem Falls, things fall into place for him, and he tried to do everything right, including notifying the Detective of his residence in accordance with his obligation to report as a sex offender.
From there, word spreads and a modern-day witch hunt ensues. Throw in four teen-aged Wiccan girls, and the half-truths, mis-representations and false accusations build. It was really interesting to me to see how easily a false allegation can get out of control, but I thought she also did a very good job of not minimalizing the trauma or rape, or of making it sound like there were a large percentage of allegations that ended up being false.
There was one relationship dynamic which was really not addressed that I picked up on right away (between Gilly and her father, Pharmaceutical giant Amos Duncan). I don't know if it's because of my former job, or if there was just some really obvious foreshadowing, but I was a little disappointed that the "could be a relative" DNA issue wasn't picked up on by the defense attorney, the DA's office or any of the law enforcement. I know that in that line of work, we're all cynical enough to explore that angle if things don't fit. I don't like including spoilers in my review, but I had to include this because I kept waiting for that to be the answer of the missing DNA link, and it never happened. The "dynamic" (Read: ABUSE) isn't out-right identified until the last line of the book, so all you cheaters who like to read the last page or last chapter first, you'll already know.
View all my reviews.
In late 2006, his trike got stolen and a group of college students and a bike store got together a benefit called "Hey! That's My Trike!" (a cover of Ethan Hawke's band Hey, that's my bike! in Reality Bites?) in order to replace his trike so he could keep on truckin'.
(In the first video, the poster said that the 'shooter' is Louie's room-mate)
And here's an article from The Boston Globe about the fundraiser, and Louie with comments by members of the community:
Local cyclist Mike Lewis, reflecting as he stopped by the bike shop on a recent afternoon, said even his headphones could not drown out the warning cry of the iconic tricyclist as he was walking on Newbury Street last month.
"All of the sudden, I saw a pair of orange flags sticking out over the heads of the people walking and everybody kind of leaning back and getting out of the way, and here he comes," he said. "It makes you smile and it makes you laugh, because it's Louie."
Who says cities are cold, impersonal places?
Friday, May 22, 2009
Thursday, May 21, 2009
If you've ever wandered up and down, up and down, and up and down the toy aisles again at Target or other department stores, you know what I mean when I talk about the agony that is selection. Considering everything from age-approriateness (is 3+ really okay for a 2 year old, or too boring for a 5 year old?) to whether or not it will foster development, it's a jungle out there
There are tons of books and websites out there to help you on your way, but the most foolproof ones I've found are The Baby Gizmo (which I've posted about before) and Ebeanstalk.
Ebeanstalk is dedicated to a baby's development. And we select the best baby toys matched to a baby's development. To see great information on how a baby grows up, check out the info on our baby toys page.
Because I've got a slew of showers, new babies and, of course, C's first birthday, I thought I'd post some pointers found on their site.
Picking toys for a baby is not as simple as it sounds. Here are some quick baby facts:
- Toys for a newborn baby: A newborn baby is briefly looking at objects and attempting to imitate facial expressions. They can follow objects with their eyes and usually quiet down, when they are picked up.
- Toys for a three month old: They will enjoy ‘frolic play', reaching for objects and will repeat enjoyable activities. Believe it or not, they will respond to ‘no' (about half the time) and will start babbling.
- Toys for a six month old: They'll search for hidden objects (object permanence). They'll reach for themselves in the mirror, play peekaboo, crumple paper, roll from their stomach to their back and even respond to their name.
- Toys for a nine month old: They are pushing toy cars, playing pat-a-cake and looking for hidden sounds. The baby toys they are playing with are also getting more fun.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Yep, I ventured into the city for my first time, and decided to do it solo with both kids. I wish I could say that hilarity ensued and there were so many misadventures I have to break it into multiple posts but sadly, for a city with such a reputation for crazies and congestion, my day-trip went off without a hitch. I was frankly far more impressed by the purple mowhawk-sporting punk rocker that was walking a rooster on a leash in Eugene, OR when I was 12, but that's just me. This could have a lot to do with the fact that we were on the Upper East Side, too, though.
I was helped greatly by Alex's husband who basically created a tailored list of directions for me to drive to Yonkers and then take the train to Grand Central Station; complete with a list of terms that would 'immediately and irrevocably alienate me from all New Yorkers', and a brief but concise explanation of the street/avenue orientation of Manhattan that came in handy more than once.
I was meeting my sister-in-law LuLu, who was visiting "the city" (should that be spelled like a proper name, as in discussing Him?) from Oregon and had joked that I should get in the car with the kids and meet her for lunch. "Umm...okay." I think she thought I'd just laugh it off, but people don't quite get the level of my unrequited "NYC as seen on SATC" obsession.
The utter lack of freaky people, wall-to-wall noisy pedestrians and situations in which I felt uncomfortable was a little disappointing, but I got over it. H was a trouper as we walked for almost four hours, which is really about twenty-four in pre-schooler time. I borrowed an Ergo carrier (definitely going to invest in one now!) from a friend and had H on the red-neck
We ate lunch outside near Grand Central, then got on the subway and explored Central Park, capping off our stay with Tasti D-Lite which I have to say, as a soft-serve fan, was mighty tasty indeed.
Seriously, the biggest people watching shocker I have to report was when I deduced that the lovely girl sitting across from us on the train back to Yonkers was quite possibly a "dancer/entertainer"...and I don't mean at the Met.
What first appeared to be dewy, glowing skin under the harsh lights of the tunnel was revealed in the sunlight of Harlem to be body glitter over a fake-n-bake tan. The phone conversation in which she proclaimed to a friend to have "went in, made some money, and bounced" and that her plans for the rest of the day were "Heading to Westchester...but don't worry, I'm bringing us back some 'presents'...you'll see tomorrow..." as she smiled coyly and sipped from the pink straw in her clear plastic cup. The cup she'd filled with wine from a small bottle in her purse after wryly proclaiming to me while flouncing in the seat "Long day!" further served to prove my suspicion. But she was nice to, and tolerant of, my kids and I really don't ask for much more than that.
Saving the best for last, I debated about this one's retelling but in the spirit of fairness here goes...I didn't want Charlie to feel left out in later tales of humiliation, so I decided to get uncontrollable diarrhea about an hour and a half into the trip(what?! I'm an anxious driver when the destination is unfamiliar, so I can't have breakfast and consume lots of caffeine!), during which he had to be on my lap in the bathroom, as I was without aforementioned stroller. (note to self; okay to still bring stroller in the car).
Yep, same thing that happened with H when he Charlie's age...only that time, I was at the sketchville rest area at Dead Man's Pass, not a clean and comfy gas station in Connecticut. But, Potayto Potahto.
Now that I've got my first city-bound trip under my belt, I'm thirsty for more. Going with a 'non-tourist attraction' agenda probably helped in the stress-level, as there were no rushes or deadlines (other than just leaving the city by mid-afternoon, which turned into early evening; read: rush-hour). Also, a trip sans kids and into Greenwich Village may up the SJP sighting quotient, no? And they really do strut around the city in those fabulous shoes!
Friday, May 15, 2009
Of course, that wasn't the end, it was followed up by "What kind of boobs do you have, Mom?" "Um, I don't know, what kind of boobs do you think I have?" Yes, I understand that open-ended questions of this nature are just an opening for an answer you don't want to hear, but I'm just trying to prep myself for a lifetime of questions by my sons that may get awkward.
"I think your boobs are the GIANT kind." Well, had I been in
The other day, he was asking J when he would be able to drink beer. J answered that it was only for adults. Without missing a beat H replied "When I get hair on my penis?" J is very modest, so this caused deep blushing on his part while I laughed out loud.
H is obsessed with "being a Mommy", which I can't really fault since I'm the one he's around all the time, and he doesn't yet quite understand the gender assigned to the role (oh yeah, and I'm wicked cool.) After establishing the development needed for him to drink beer, H said "I'm going to streeeeeeeeeetch really big and get hair on my penis to be a grown-up Daddy, and then I'm gonna streeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeetch again and turn into a Mommy!" Hmm...so is this a commentary on my size relative to J's? He is more trim, but we're not exactly Jack Sprat and his wife. Maybe it's just that my presence is very large and in-charge?
Confused about whether or not the sentiment should hurt my feelings, I still couldn't help but laugh so I'm sure there will be loads more inappropriate conversations. The presenter from Planned Parenthood talked to us about being open about sex from an early age with kids, but there's no way I'm broaching puberty with H yet. Oi, I don't know if I'm ready for all this boy talk. I was ready for pads, periods and hormonal rages, but what do I do with these little Y chromosomes running all around me? I guess I have a few years to keep figuring it out...
Thursday, May 14, 2009
I think that I felt good that I'm already doing a lot of the things they suggested to do my part, although there is so much more I could be doing, I feel good at what I currently am.
Example: I no longer drive an extra 20-30 minutes so that H will fall asleep in the car on our way home from the morning's activities...I just go home and cross my fingers that he'll take a nap there. So far, it's just resulted in an earlier bedtime. Progress, no?
I think the thing that struck me the most is that of all of our technological advances, why don't we have cars that are able to get the gas mileage of almost every other developed nation? I think the thing that will have to happen is to start giving tax penalties to people who purchase a huge vehicles without having an actual function for it. I'm not talking about the family of 4+ that has a full or mid-size SUV or van, or the rural person who owns a truck. I'm thinking of the more egregious craziness known as The Hummer (which, incidentally came out at the same time GM pulled the electric car and the State of California was sued for demanding higher efficiency cars). It always makes me chuckle a little to see the 'off-road' demo section at a Hummer dealership because, really, when do these guys ever take their Hummers off-road? But I digress...
When I see the tiny little hybrid or electric cars, all I can think of is "They wouldn't stand a chance (in an accident)." Until the majority of the cars on the road are smaller, I don't think I'd feel safe in a tiny little car whose parts are made of lighter and lighter materials in order to boost gas mileage with reduced environmental impact. I know that's talking out both sides of my mouth, but the tiny hybrid car will most likely be my last step in eco-friendliness. Reduce the number of miles I drive that aren't 'necessary'? Sure. Reduce my safety and that of my children on the road...no thanks.
The sad thing is, I know that I'm not the only person who feels that way, but who's going to take the first steps to downsizing their space on the road? It's like we're all just eighth-grade boys kind of waiting for the other person to make the first move...put your arm around her already!
In Who Killed the Electric Car, one of the interviewees made a great statement rebutting the concerns that the Electric cars were so much more expensive, stating that there are no boundaries in the air from a poor community to a rich one. So, even if the more affluent people are the ones able to afford the cars, it will have a positive effect on everyone.
Hey, all you Richie Riches...would you mind buying a Prius instead of a Hummer? Thanks! Okay, problem solved. So, can I can keep driving the Freestyle guilt-free now?
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
I was ecstatic when I saw that my High School's field (listed under Union High School-Old Field, Union, OR) had made the final cut and is now a contender for the final 30 that will be renovated! You can vote once a day, every single day until May 31st. Vote, and vote often! If a field in your community has not been selected, I would love for you to put your support toward my hometown.
rating: 4 of 5 stars
I was so excited when I walked past the poster in the theatre that was advertising the new Emma McLaughlin/Nicola Krauss book. I loved The Nanny Diaries and Citizen Girl, and couldn't wait to see what their next joint venture would bring!
I picked it up at the library on Monday and by last night, it was done. They have such a spot-on way of describing everything from current society to 80's-90's culture, and their human interactions are so realistic you feel like you could be reading about someone you know. If you've not yet read their other books, do it. Now.
View all my reviews.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
My newest find was passed to me by my friend, Maggie; Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty.
Sloppy Firsts: A Novel by Megan McCafferty
rating: 5 of 5 stars
I didn't even have time to move this book from "to-read" to "currently reading" because I banged it out in a day. Then I immediately went online to request the next four from the library, in addition to her collection of essays 'Sweet Sixteen'. McCafferty has nailed the 'youth lit that will have every thirty year old woman reading the book start to finish in a day' genre, and I can't wait to follow the adventures of the "Notso" Darling, Jessica all the way to what will have to be her triumphant emergence into full-on womanhood.
I feel she could be talking about teens today, and was shocked when I stopped to calculate that Y2K was almost a DECADE ago! However, the time factor also allows me to more closely relate to the characters since I was only a sophomore in college then and high school was not quite so far removed.
For all you ladies that loved Sweet Valley High...get ready to fall in love with the series that kicks Francine Pascal's ass!
View all my reviews.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
My weekly email from BabyCenter had a section with recommendations for family-friendly vegetarian cookbooks. I picked a couple that I'll be adding to my collection and listed them here for you. My sister, Sherri, is a huge fan of The Moosewood Cookbook, so I knew this one would be good. Even more, though, I like that it's designed to cook with your kids, adding in the math and science education that comes from culinary experience. Since H won't be going to pre-school, I'm always on the look-out for ways that I can 'home school' so he's ready for Kindergarten (I was shocked at the list of things kids need to demonstrate knowledge in for entry to K at a 'normal' level...aren't they supposed to learn to read in school?!) without feeling like I'm adding a bunch of new tasks to my plate; I've already got enough irons in the fire!
Without further ado, here's the list:
Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes: A Cookbook for Preschoolers & Up
By Mollie Katzen and Ann L. Henderson (1994, Tricycle Press, $17. Reading level: Ages 4 to 8)
Vegetarian foodie Mollie Katzen (author of The Moosewood Cookbook) and educator Ann Henderson have teamed up to create a kid-friendly, nutritionally mindful, and parent-perfect book. Each of the 19 recipes starts with individual instructions for both the adult and child, is illustrated with cute animals, and includes insider reviews from kids who have tried the recipes. Children will love the easy-to-follow step-by-step illustrations, and parents will like that science and math lessons are covertly woven into assignments for mixing and measuring.
Feeding the Healthy Vegetarian Family
By Ken Haedrich (1998, Bantam Books, $16. Reading level: Adult)
Vegetarian father-of-four, Ken Haedrich dishes out more than 250 kid-tested, meat-free recipes that can be prepared in short order, taste good, use easy-to-find ingredients, and are healthy. The book is sprinkled with family anecdotes, sections just for the kids, and tips for enjoying vegetarian meals without feeling deprived.
Better Than Peanut Butter & Jelly: Quick Vegetarian Meals Your Kids Will Love!
By Wendy Muldawer (1997, McBrooks Press, $17. Reading level: Adult)
Yes, whipping up yet another pb&j is an easy way to keep the kids fed, but even the most change-averse child will get sick of the same old thing eventually. This book packs 150 low-fat, low-sugar, kid-friendly recipes, such as Brown Rice Fruit Salad and Cartwheel Carrots, that can be prepared without a lot of hassle. Snack and party ideas are included, as are vegan options.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
I know that my gym membership has been worth it's weight in gold. Even if it's a day that I'm not exercising, I've dropped my kids in the Child Watch while I read a book or knit in the lobby for my allotted 90 minutes. It's just as nice for them to get a break from me, I'm sure, as it is for me to get one from them.
On that note, yesterday I decided to try a new class at the Y. I deposited the kids in the child watch, crossing my fingers that I wouldn't be called out due to Charlie's new found love of crying when put down by the Child Watch folks who can't really sit and hold him the whole time or H's inability to keep his little paws to himself. Mind you, each of the above incident's has only happened once but I had always been very lucky in my kids' willingness to go to, and stay in, the Child Watch while I had my "me time", so I didn't want to be too confident.
I ran into the classroom after taking an extra 10 seconds to top off my water bottle and found that the room was filled with what looked like about 300 women, but was probably closer to 50. The music was already going and the instructor was not your average cute little nymph of a trim fitness guru. This woman was a powerhouse. She was very petite, but had visible muscle definition everywhere. I got into position and started mimicking her crosses and jabs paired with hip turns and heels popping off the floor. 'What's so hard about this? I could do this all day! This will be a great new class!' Because The Contender is probably my favorite reality TV show, I had created an unrealistic image in my mind of what I may look like while performing boxing moves.
"Okay, folks, let's take it up to tempo!" WHAT?! Suddenly it was like kick boxing on crack, which is, I guess, where the turbo part comes in. Once I got my hips to move with the correct arm, I felt like I was in business...but wait, it got harder. I looked around to see if I was the one who had a puddle of sweat (well, not quite literally) and was relieved to see that even the most fit were sporting large sweat stains down the backs of their shirts. And to think I used to look incredulously at J while watching boxing to say 'They're just standing there hugging each other!" Yeah. Because they're exhausted!
By the end when we were doing push-ups in a dozen different positions, I had to grip the edges of my mat in order to keep from sliding around. ewwww. I was so glad I'd taken time to fill up the bottle that I'd already sucked down, and I felt great! I waited out the thirty minutes of Child Watch I had left in order to ease back from Sweaty Betty mode and then went to their respective rooms to collect them.
When I got to Charlie's room they talked about his steps across the room. I pointed a surprised finger at him and said 'Charlie walked three steps?!" When the caretaker excitedly described how he's been holding onto the Exersaucer and then just let go and toddled three steps on his fat little legs before sitting down, all the power from the class left me like a deflating balloon. "Those were his first steps..." The words left my mouth and she looked stricken. I was mainly disappointed because so far I've missed every important milestone by literally being just in the next room.
He rolled over for the first time during the nanosecond that I was using the bathroom during his grandparent's visit in September. Then he crawled when J was home with him and I was blow-drying my hair...now he walks in Child Watch?! Seriously, the kid is taunting me. See, it doesn't matter if your work or stay at home full-time, you'll never be there for every moment. But before I started circling the want-ads, I called to commiserate with my friend Alex who reminded me 'But you're there for everything else.' Oh yeah.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
The first Meetup I joined here was the Hook and Needlers knitting group I talked about earlier...time for me. Then I joined Outdoorsy Families so that we would be forced to get out and be physical instead of solely going to the gym. Then I found a Foodie Meetup...right up my alley. My mother's group decided to host a Meetup page to attract new members so I joined that, and then I joined a second Mamas and Munchkins group so that I'd never have a dull moment!
I literally can look at the calender on any given day and between the groups I'm in and the friends I already have I can pick between multiple things to do every. single. day. Then, of course, the beauty of staying at home with the kids is that, if the fancy strikes me I can, well, stay at home.
H and I have been getting along a lot better for the most part because I think I've just exhausted the fight right out of him. Well, really, I think that he's just as social and busy as I am so I've finally started to fill up his little social butterfly and get out your wiggles cup. We've had something to do each morning this week, with afternoons set aside for nap and quiet time. Hmm. Quiet time. Now there's a joke. Seriously, what Stepford mommy made up that impossible standard to which all other mothers must keep their kids? I don't know about you guys, but H's idea of quiet is to play the xylophone not-quite-as-loudly as normal.
On a side note. I have the most exciting meet-up coming this summer. I got offered plane tickets by my aunt and sister so that I get to go home for the Family