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Showing posts from 2008

These are the moments we'll remember, Christmas edition

A week has passed since my last post, and I'm pleased to say, I've got my holiday mojo back. How can I not be bubbling over with Christmas cheer, with a 3-and-a-half-year-old running around the house singing Santa Claus Is Coming to Town and We "Miss" You a Merry Christmas? Christmas with a child is like nothing I'd ever imagined -- as is everything, really. The world just looks better when you look through your child's eyes, period. (And let me tell you, I am squeezing my son even tighter this week.)

There's a great little commentary piece in this week's Time magazine -- which happens to be the Person of the Year issue, and one of my favorite reads every year -- about the importance of traditions, old and new. The word tradition typically means rites or rituals that families carry out year after year for generations. Traditions are anchors -- they keep us grounded and fill our memory banks. But sometimes traditions get stale -- or worse, we feel sad w…

The Christmas blahs

I had great intentions for this blog this month. Really upbeat and positive intentions: I'd planned on writing about all my favorite holiday things -- baking cookies with my little one, picking out and trimming the perfect Christmas tree, wrapping gifts with a bottle of wine in front of the fire -- but so far the month has gotten away from me. (As I'm sure it has for you, so you probably haven't even had time to stop here and notice the lack of posting going on.) I love Christmas, especially now that I have a small child to share the wonder with. But it's a difficult time for me, as it is for most of us I'm sure, because every now and then I'm just knocked down by a wave of melancholy -- I think of my mom or my grandparents or the Christmases of my childhood, and even though they're all good memories, there are holes there now.

I've been trying hard, really hard, to keep the melancholy at bay this year. After all, I want Christmas to be as fun and excit…

Plan B is the president

OK, so as you know, I've been trying hard to avoid watching the news. But I do occasionally listen to the radio (local Delaware news stations hardly count as news, though) and I get my daily skim-dose of Yahoo news and CNN.com. So I know a little bit about what's going on in the world, even though it's still all pretty bleak.

Here's a little something that caught me up this morning, from an AP story about the Senate's rejection of the "Big 3" bailout:
"Due to this colossal failure by the U.S. Senate, now it's up to the president and the Treasury secretary," Bernero said Friday on CBS' "Early Show." "Working Americans will appreciate the president stepping in — and pull us back from the precipice, pull us back from the economic cliff."Lawmakers, who aren't scheduled to return to legislative work until early January, were looking to the president, as well."Plan B is the president," said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mi…

Today's fabulous website

I just discovered a really great website for you to browse when you need a break: 1001 Rules for My Unborn Son.

I especially love the following:
Rule #293 Don't shout out requests at rock shows. (Please, no more "Watchtower!" from the cheap seats.)

Rule #282 Never swing at the first pitch. But don't be afraid to strike out. No man bats 1,000. (Great advice I received from my own dad, and it can be applied to pretty much every life situation.)

Rule #249 Identify your most commonly used word or phrase, and eliminate it. (Where do I start?)

Rule #239 Never post a photo online you wouldn't feel comfortable showing your mother, your boss, or the dean of admissions. (Amen!)

Rule #213 Go barefoot. It toughens the feet.

Rule #206 Never turn down a girl's invitation to dance. (Hear that, all your 8th-grade boys?)

Rule #189 Learn to drive a stick shift. (I still put my foot on the imaginary clutch.)

Rule #148 When handling a frog, be gentle.

Rule #120 Spend time with your mother…

Contemplating Santa Claus

Sweet Boy sat on Santa's lap in the mall on Friday. For the first time. Willingly. And with a smile on his face. This is pretty big, when we consider that when he was 1 he screamed bloody murder at the sight of Santa, and when he was 2, he stepped just close enough to snatch the candy cane from Santa's hand then run back between my legs. (Even bigger is the sad fact that I missed his first chat with Santa because I was standing in line at Starbucks, waiting for my SIL's fancy coffee concoction while she wandered over and introduced my child to Santa without either of his parents nearby. But I probably shouldn't go there...at least I have the souvenir photo, right?)

This may be the first year that Sweet Boy is truly aware of Santa. He still hasn't quite grasped the whole Santa-brings-me-toys concept yet -- which is great, don't get me wrong -- and every time we ask him what he wants from Santa, he tells us something different. (And he told Santa on Friday that he…

If you can't say anything nice, part 2

Because I'm a glutton for punishment, I went back to the grocery market yesterday for the last few items on my Thanksgiving recipe list. (Even though everybody knows you don't go anywhere near a grocery market two days before Thanksgiving!) Different market than the one mentioned the other day, and this time I had Sweet Boy with me (he usually keeps me on my toes, which means we move faster through the store, thereby spending less money -- which was not actually the case on this day, but let's move on).

So we're wandering through the produce section in search of decent looking shallots (which I buy, like, twice a year, so it takes me a while to even find them), Sweet Boy driving the car at the front of the cart, which means I'm steering awkwardly though the jam-packed aisles, apologizing left and right as I knock down displays and bang into shins. Along comes this kind-eyed old woman, beaming a smile at my boy. She looks at me and says, "What a lovely child. Go…

Boy trouble-free (for now)

So many of you responded to my Boy Troubles post last week, I felt I should post an update. Although it's only been a week since my discussion with the preschool director, I have noticed some extremely positive changes in the before- and after-care set-up. When I drop the kiddo off in the morning, there are teachers positioned throughout the gym playing games or putting together puzzles or just generally keeping the kids busy. And I haven't yet seen any little boys in timeout. Then, in the afternoons, the administrator has been in the gym with the kids, which seems to keep the caregivers on their toes. While I realize that these are just the first steps, I'm feeling much better about the situation. And even more important, Sweet Boy seems really happy this week, too. So something's going right over there.

I did learn an important lesson last week, though. It's crucial to speak up every time something bothers me in matters of preschool and childcare. I think so many …

Time to give thanks

This is my favorite week of the whole year, every year. Since I was a child, I looked forward to Thanksgiving more than any other day. When I was a kid, it was a day that the whole family came together, from far and wide, and gathered at my grandparents' tiny Long Island home. My family would get on the road at 4am so we could be in the kitchen eating Entemann's coffee cake with Grampa while Gramma put the bird in the oven. As we got older (and bigger), we'd all pack around that dining room table, shoulder to shoulder (and sometimes arm over the shoulder of the person next to you -- we're all pretty big folks, uncles and cousins all over 6 feet tall), and laugh and joke and eat. Then we'd all lay around the living room watching football and moaning about our full bellies. These were some of my favorite days, and still top the list of my favorite childhood memories.

Now Thanksgiving is smaller in scope; we've all grown up and grown away from each other. But it…

If you can't say something nice...

OK. I want you to take a minute to describe this scene. Picture this:

I'm in the local grocery market, where weird things always happen. I have a coupon in my pocket for the free turkey I've earned by spending so much friggin' money on groceries. So I'm looking in the freezer case for the largest bird for my buck, so to speak. I'm bent over, no gloves, elbow deep in a freezer, wrestling with these giant frozen turkeys, and an old moustachioed woman with a Russian accent is talking my ear off. She's leaning her tushy on the edge of the freezer waiting for the butcher to cut a fresh turkey in half for her -- which is something I've never even imagined could be done! -- and she's telling me all about why, how, and where she'll be celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday. Because I'm all for a little friendliness between strangers, I listen as I continue to wrangle my turkey from the case.

So, a couple minutes pass, my hands are starting to sting from the…

Boy troubles

Sweet Boy is in a preschool class this year of 15 kids, 12 of whom are boys. This statement strikes fear in the hearts of most human adults. He's been with most of these kids for two years now, and although he'll tell you all the other 14 children in this class are his best friends, we have always had trouble with hitting. Sweet Boy hits other children, and other children hit him. It's hard for me to know who usually instigates -- I know my son is not a blameless, beatific bearer of beatings -- but I know him well enough to know that he'll play nicely until someone doesn't play nicely with him...and then it's on! Poor D. learned the hard way today when he took a puzzle piece from Sweet Boy and whacked him with it. This left my little guy with a good ding on his forehead, but apparently Sweet Boy has a mean left hook, which left D. with a bloodied nose. (Yeah, you shoulda seen the other guy.)

But I'll back it up a minute. This morning when I got to the gym to…

My news boycott

Today's major declaration: No more listening to/watching/reading the news this week. It is depressing and horrible and anxiety inducing, and I am done with it!

After last week's election rush, and the Phillies' World Series rush the week before that, it seems like everything on the local and world news is back to the sky-is-falling focus: giant companies failing, jobless rates rising, more suicide bombings in the Middle East. It's all just sucktastic.

So instead I'll stick to Curious George and the Food Network on TV and crappy pop stations on the radio. Bring on the Beyonce and the mindless call-ins from girls who don't like their Gap store coworkers! As for online, I'll continue to read my favorite blogs, because these are all written by sensible people whom I like, but I'll just skim past any news headlines for a little while, if that's OK with you.

And I just might start sticking my fingers in my ears during any work meeting or conversation in whic…

Mom, the Un-Awesome Playmate

"Play with meeee!"

I, like many mothers of young children, hear this approximately 300 times per day. I try to devote as much time as possible to play on the weekends, but playtime during the week is packed into small chunks here and there -- lunchtime or just before bed, most days -- because, let's face it, weekdays are busy with non-play things.

Sweet Boy plays pretty well on his own now, and really he always has. These days he passes the time with trains or cars or his favorite three stuffed animals, Liony the Lion, Ramma Rhino, and Phil (the elephant we brought home from the Philadelphia Zoo this summer). He spends long stretches of time lining up the cars in neat little rows, then crashing them into one other while yelling "Whoa! Whoa!" and laughing like a comic-book villain. Or he builds elaborate train tracks that don't connect so he can run his trains off the edge of the table and marvel at the noises they make as they plummet to the floor. And he lo…

A new day, a new world, it'll be ok

I haven’t written anything substantial in recent days because, well, I’ve been nervous and anxious and so uber-focused on the election that I was, frankly, boring. I bored myself, and I didn’t want to bore you with anymore political stuff. Because really, we’ve all had enough political stuff.

And then, of course, Tuesday happened. Around 10 p.m. Tuesday evening, I cried a great big sobbing-laughing emotion-releasing cry when I realized that Obama would be our next president. Tears of happiness, tears of hope, tears of disbelief, and tears of a tiny bit of sadness that my mom didn’t get to see this happen. I cried throughout Obama’s speech, and all day Wednesday, my eyes teared up and the goosebumps reappeared every time I thought of his words, of this moment in American history, of the magnitude of what lies ahead.

Obama’s anecdote about the 106-year-old woman reminded me of my grandparents. They are in their mid-80s, children of the Great Depression, parents of the 60s revolutionarie…

More evidence that we watch too much TV

Today's the day, right? Did you vote? Did you stand in line? Did you get butterflies in your tummy when they called your name and said "Now voting!"? Did you call all your friends and family and remind them to vote? If you said yes to any of the above, I'm proud of you. And if you didn't there's still time. Please, go vote. I don't care who you pick -- just do it. We are so fortunate to live in a country where our choices matter. Don't take that for granted.

OK, off the soap box. Lighter tidbit:
My son is walking around the house (school is closed because it's a polling place) repeating this mantra: “I’m Barakabama and I approve this mechage.” And then I just turned on the boob tube (because I can’t stay away from the news today, even though I really should) and there was a McCain ad on, and Sweet Boy said “Look, mom, that’s John McCain.”

So either my child is really attentive and smart for a 3-year-old and already aware of his civic responsibility..…

Cute photos to calm pre-election jitters

I'm too nervous about tomorrow's election to write much of anything useful or intelligent.

So, here I'll post some cute little photos of my Sweet Boy in his Halloween costume.

And then I'll stress-eat some more of his candy.

And I'll continue to imagine how the world might be for him if we can innaugurate you-know-who on January 20.



Have you ever seen so many Spideys or Power Rangers gathered in one place?



My boy loves to sing the Black Cat Skat song...









...but he really hates masks (just like his mama!)








Here he's practicing his very cutest
smile and "trick-or-treeeeeat!"











All aboard the Sweet Boy Express...choo-choo!



Pinch me, please -- my Phillies won!

I've been a waste of space this entire week, thank you, Phillies.

I have not been able to focus on much of anything, I have been nervous and jittery, and I have caught myself more than once humming the Rocky theme. Monday evening I finally let myself get excited, only to have my World Series dreams put on hold...and then I spent the entire day Tuesday in a phog (that's right, I did spell it that way!) not sure of what to do with myself during the longest rain delay in baseball history; I was truly unfulfilled, confused, and sad. All I could think was, dammit, this is a Philadelphia team, after all...something bad is surely going to happen at the last minute and knock us all down. Again. Just like always.

But by Wednesday afternoon, I'd regained my mojo and the buzz was back. Forty-six hours after Game 5 was called on account of a seeming monsoon, I (politely) kicked friends and neighbors out of my house -- people who had gathered to talk about books, eat, and drink wine, thr…

Baseball Gods, please have mercy!

Dear Baseball Gods,
Here in the Philadelphia region, we have been very patient Phans. Since the days of Schmidt and Carlton and Matthews, we have suffered through long, torturous seasons in hard plastic seats hundreds of feet from the field in that horrible concrete toilet bowl known as Veterans Stadium. Now we have this fancy, pretty new stadium and we are so grateful. And our team has been pretty good these last few years. We appreciate that, of course.

Sure, we boo when our Phils lose games in the preseason, but that's because we expect so much from them! But we also cheer. Loudly. I could hear the celebration of the NL Championship in 1993 from central Pennsylvania, for pete's sake. We got so close that year, Baseball Gods, but you did not smile on us then. I still cringe when I think of that meatball that Mitch Williams served up in the bottom of the 9th of game 6...

So many times we've come so close, in all our sports, only to have the ultimate victory pulled away from…

Candy, candy, candy, candy

If you're anything like me, you're psyched for Halloween not just because you get to see your kid glowing and happy in his new James the Red Train costume (which is truly a gooby costume but he's been uber-excited about it since you brought it home in July), nor because there's a chill in the air and the sound of children's laughter wafting through the streets. Oh, and there are jack-o-lanterns to carve and parades to walk in and fabulous photo ops. These are perfectly good reasons to get excited about Halloween, of course.

But if you're like me, you're really psyched for Halloween because your husband will take your sweet child out trolling for free candy! And where will all the free candy go? In the jar in the back of the pantry closet, to be doled out in small portions as "special treats" when the child finishes his veggies.

Right. We all know most of it will go right in my belly.

Halloween is just the start of the eating season around my house. S…

Better luck next year

Drinking cocoa and watching the Macy's Thanksgiving parade, picking out and decorating a Christmas tree, baking Christmas cookies, making Valentine cards, dying Easter eggs, watching 4th of July fireworks, and carving Halloween jack-o-lanterns... These are a few of the holiday traditions I have been excited to do with Sweet Boy, now especially because he is finally old enough that he can do this stuff with us and be excited about it. (My favorite line from this summer was sitting at his first fireworks display, not sure how he would react to the noise, when he turned to me and said "Mommy, this is fantastic!" That's my boy.) I was sure that carving a jack-o-lantern out of the pumpkin he picked would also be fantastic.

Wrong!

Sweet Boy wanted NO PART of this. He was horrified by the idea of putting his hands in the "gloop" as he called it. And note the expression on his face while Big Daddy pretended to eat the pumpkin guts. This kid is not happy!

About two sec…

Primer: Health care

Babble is featuring a great article about health care, its history in the U.S., how we got into the current state of ickiness, and how the major presidential candidates propose to fix things. Read it.

(You'll also learn in this article why Norway tops my list of places to move my family if things don't go well on November 4. Norway = many tall people + socialized health care + "prosperous bastion of welfare capitalism, featuring a combination of free market activity and government intervention" --- wow, sounds pretty good, don't it?)

Someone else wrote eloquently...and I'm just passing it on

I happened across this blog post in some reading yesterday (not really even sure how I landed on it), and although I don't want to get into any kind of abortion debate on this blog because we all have strong feelings about this topic, I feel that this woman writes her feelings so eloquently I have to share it.

Issue aside, McCain's disrespectful handling of this question in last week's debate demonstrated the overall disrespect for women that I'd begun to suspect (and his body language and tone demonstrated his disrespect for his opponent...but that's off-topic). His stance on women's issues -- health and reproductive care, education, women in poverty -- shows over and over his (dis)regard for women in our society. (And we all know now about his first wife and the circumstances that ended their marriage, right? That right there tells me a little bit about his feelings of women's worth.)

His actions in this campaign -- offering his current wife up for a wet t-…

Take me out to the ball game

The Phillies are going to the World Series. This is thrilling. Not really because it means much in the grand scheme of life, mind you. But in this moment in my life, it is huge.

Baseball means different things to different people -- and I think you either love it or you hate it. I mean, really, it's boring and slow. But there is no other game in the world that can change so quickly, in which one small error can be the difference between winning or losing. I don't think there's any other game, either, that carries such nostalgia and sentimentality.

I grew up on baseball. Literally. The whole time I was growing up, my dad was a coach for a nationally ranked high school baseball team. When I was really young, in addition to coaching, my dad played on two softball teams. Looking back from a mom-wife perspective, I'm not sure how my parents remained married -- him off coaching and playing while my mom did all the schlepping of two young children -- but from a kid's perspe…

Paying kids for grades?

I read an interesting article in the Washington Post this week about a new program that actually gives middle school students a paycheck for achieving good grades and meeting attendance standards:

The District's experimental program to pay 3,300 middle school students for good grades and behavior is filled with valuable life lessons about hard work, thrift and showing up on time, its supporters say.And on yesterday's first payday under the "Capital Gains" plan, kids at the 15 eligible schools cashed in. They earned a total of $137,813 from the initiative, a joint venture of the District and Harvard University. Students can earn a maximum of $100 every two weeks. The average award yesterday was $43.
The article doesn't state what, exactly, the standards are that these kids are aiming toward, but it does say that some of the programs goals have been met -- and the administration anticipates that as the kids realize what exactly they'll be receiving every two…

Top 10 reasons why my neighbor might not be speaking to me

I thought I'd started to develop a nice little friendship with my neighbor. She's really a lovely woman -- smart and funny and friendly. But in the last 6 weeks or so, she has become cold and unfriendly to me. Of course I am too chicken to go bang on her door and say, "What's up?!" so instead my little brain has been turning, guessing as to why she may not want to talk to me anymore:

10. She thinks my husband was serious about attending the kegger her kids might throw while she and her husband were out of town.

9. My cat snuck out and ate the goldfish out of her garden pond.

8. She's switched from regular coffee to decaf...or from decaf to Haterade.

7. She's offended by how horribly I've hacked down the shrubs in my front and side gardens.

6. She saw me running through the house naked that morning a couple weeks back, when I realized all my undies were in the dryer, and now she thinks I'm trying to seduce her husband....or worse, her sons! (Worse still…

Here's a really fun idea for a girls' night in

Dime Night
* Get a box and fill it with the weird little trinkets, strange canned goods, and no-longer-needed items sitting around your house. Great sources include your coat closet, your kid's toy bin, your garage, and your pantry.
* Invite 5-10 of your girlfriends over. Tell them to fill their own boxes with stuff, and bring 'em along with a baggie full of change.
* Sit around drinking wine, eating cheese, gabbing about your kids and your parents and your husbands, and bidding on the items your girlfriends brought over.
* Start the bidding on each item at one dime, and see who can come up with the best marketing campaign for their old hairdryer, the ugly novelty photo frame their MIL gave them, or the pair of St. Paddy's Day socks they grabbed on impulse at RiteAid last year.
* All proceeds go into a pot, and at the end of the night you donate the kitty to your favorite church or charity. Any leftover items can also be donated (or saved for the next yard sale).

This leads to s…

Stay at home Dad

How's this for a dream day: Big Daddy gets Sweet Boy out of bed and on the potty while I go on an early-morning walk with my friend, then they play and read books in bed until I get home and jump into bed with them. Then Big Daddy dresses the boy while I shower and feeds him breakfast while I get dressed. We all drive to preschool together and I wait in the car while the boys saunter into the classroom, stopping occasionally to chat with the mommies he met at the birthday part on Sunday. Big Daddy and I then go out for a cup of coffee and a bagel and sit together reading the paper in the coffee shop for a few minutes like a contended old married couple. Bellies full, he drops me off at home so I can get to work while he runs around town finishing errands. He picks up Sweet Boy from preschool and takes him to lunch. They bring me lunch back to the house and I don't even have to leave my desk, and Big Daddy gets Sweet Boy ready for his nap. He then turns his attention to some …

Obama comes to Mayfair...and we were there!

There are very few people in the world for whom my husband will get out of bed at 5:30 on a Saturday morning. But when I mentioned Friday afternoon that Barack Obama was going to hold a rally outside the Mayfair Diner, which happens to be 3 blocks from his mother's home in the neighborhood he grew up in, Big Daddy didn't even hesitate before saying, "Absolutely, we'll go!"

So I roused Sweet Boy from his angelic (sweaty and drooly) slumber at 6:00 this morning and hustled him into his clothes, telling him we were going for a ride to Nana's house to see a very important and exciting man. And he responded, "Is he gonna bring us breakfast?" Well, no, but I promise you, kiddo, it'll be even better than pancakes.

We got to Mayfair around 7:00 and Sweet Boy and I joined the line of thousands while Big Daddy took the car to his mom's house to park. We didn't see him again until we were through the security gate an hour later because he got swept a…

"Hi, my name is..."

Imagine this scenario: You walk into the library with your child and immediately spot another child from preschool. You say, "Look, honey, there's little Anna! Hi Anna!" And your child runs right over to Anna for a big ol' giggly hug or high five. You look at Anna's mom and smile and exchange pleasantries, and then you walk away telling your child "Say goodbye to Anna and her mommy." You see this woman every day at pick-up and drop-off, and you run into her in the library, grocery market, playground; you've spent hours chatting with her at birthday parties or at the preschool Halloween parade. But do you know her name?

I spend so much energy trying to teach my son to have good manners, to be friendly and outgoing. Every time he encounters a new child, he walks right over and says "I'm Sweet Boy, what's your name?" I'm always so proud of his bravery.

I'm a friendly person, I think. I mean, I have no problem talking to a strang…