January 2009 Archives


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A second before he threw that at Ewan's head Comforting Ewan after that last shot
As it's our first big snow of the year, we've (and by WE I mean THEY; I hate snow, cold, and wet) been outside for most of the past two days. Liam is a kind child but when he has a snowball in his hands he grows a set of horns, evidenced above. (He's telling his baby brother sorry in that second one.)


I look at Liam and think my word, he looks so much like his father. Had I not gone through a 13-hour labor, I'd believe that Chris underwent a quasi-mitosis while I was asleep and voila! A son!

The other day Liam played bingo in his Spanish class and he saw that his friend Emma was valiantly trying to hide her tears brought on by not winning a single game. He was apparently one piece away from winning but he walked over to her and quietly offered her one of his game pieces anyway and told her that it was okay, here, he hopes she wins this next round. He had no idea that his teachers were watching him with tears in their eyes; one of them stole away to tell me what he did as I sat with other moms watching our younger children play.

Stories like that are what stop me from tearing my hair out during the times he sasses me, balks at doing his history homework, or says that he likes that Green Day song on the radio, can I please turn it up?

I'm learning that parenting isn't about immediate results, it's about planting the seeds and watching what develops over time, especially those times when they're not under your supervision. Instead of water, patience and nurture help those seeds to grow and achieving the right balance is the ultimate trial of parenthood. Everyday I say a prayer and cross my finders that I'm up to it.     

Cozy little dinner party topics

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My latest episode with Momversation comes right on the heels of the circumcision debate - both of our boys are circumcised and as I've said, and I'm quoting myself, we do not regret our decision or reasons for doing so; nor do I think our decision is open to debate anymore than that of not circumcising. I have too much respect for the arduous journey others take in approaching this decision to go criticizing them for it - much less assume that it was a choice fueled by ignorance.

We're all trying to do the best for our children and I don't think that it's prudent for anyone to assume that they've acquired a level of intimacy with someone that would justify telling them how to care for their child.

Extend that to homeschooling, which is what this video is about. I recount what will be a familiar experience to some of you as I wrote about it earlier - the lady in the store who got all up in my bidness about why my kids weren't in school on a weekday. There is a lot edited out to fit within the time frame for these episodes (especially with me on this subject; my first video was around eight minutes) and iIt's pretty impossible to cover all the bases of such a complex issue ( I talked about expense, some requirements, etc.) but I thought we all did well. I was more interested in hearing what the other ladies' responses would be as I've addressed the topic repeatedly here. The only thing to which I would take a slight exception is this: "On the other hand, homeschooled students can miss out on social and academic opportunities." I completely disagree and discussed why here. (Giyen's class picture totally nails it, too, doesn't it?)

We have a lock on our bedroom door and we make use of it but for whatever reason we didn't this morning. All I know is that when I realized that the door wasn't locked, the action of that thought was like a beacon to the children playing upstairs and I heard the very flat footsteps of a seven-year-old boy coming down the hall. Chris and I reacted like two teenagers caught by their parents and there was a flurry of blankets everywhere and our booming voices shouting GO BACK UPSTAIRS NOWNOWNOWNOWNOW and during it all I caught a very cheeky-looking Liam peering around the doorjamb at us and shouting "I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING!" before running down the hall and upstairs to tell his brother.

And I was all, no, you don't know what's going on because if you did you would've just DIED TEN HORRIBLE DEATHS from embarrassment right there in the hallway.

As it is, I am dying ten horrible deaths right now. I looked at Chris as we hurriedly acted like hey! No big deal! and said "Ohmygawd! WE ARE OUR PARENTS." I then rattled off a plan of action: "You have to talk to him, you, the boy," I told Chris as I fell over the bedside table while pulling on sweats. "We're also going to put bells on those damn kids so we know where they are at all times."

I remember walking in on my parents one day and to this day I have no idea what was going on except the first time I saw Cirque du Soleil on TV it vaguely reminded me of something I saw on that dark day of which we do not speak. If you think it may be traumatic for the other parties for me to recount it on my website fear not: it is not near as traumatizing as that one morning when I whistled a tune while I made my hard-working parents jelly and toast, barged into their room without knocking (my bad, my bad, my bad), and dropped the plate of toast on the floor while screaming because just, ohmygawd. Was he attacking her? Were they hurt? I did not know. I did know that I've seen National Geographic and I've seen the rhinos and monkeys and other creatures doing their thing and let me say that it in NO WAY prepares you for seeing what I saw. I'd heard things before at night but surmised that there were either monsters attacking them (in which case I was too scared to help) or that they were just reassembling their bedroom furniture.  

Afterwards my parents did what any good parents would do: they left me and my step-sister in the living room under the guise of "watching a movie" while they did yardwork. Nay, it was no movie; it was a documentary about how babies are born. It complimented their weird fascination with documentaries; once my step-dad told us that he rented us a cool movie which ended up being a James Brown documentary. I don't know, either.

I've really tried hard to be the cool parent, the one who's all "Oh, totally! Yeah! Babies come from sex!" Liam asked me once where babies came from when Chris was at work. I totally froze and punked out. "Um ... from ... God?" I replied. It was the easiest answer ever and it satisifed his curiosity thus, I was scot-free for a little while longer. YAY CHRISTIANITY. 

But today. When he shouted "I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING!" as he ran down the hall; I have never been so embarrassed in all my life and it is my nature to embarass myself routinely. Chris went up to talk to him and, to save the rest of my self-worth with careful vagueness, I would just like to say thank you to my obstructionist comforter and quilt, praise jeebus. Liam didn't really know and he believes that it was just a WWE event. Ohmyword I am stopping now.

Please for the love of all things holy, commiserate with me. If you were ever in this situation, what did you do? If you are a parent to me this does not include you because I am an admitted prude who likes to pretend that you still don't know about any of this SO ROLL WITH IT. Chris and I are preparing our Powerpoint presentation entitled "Birds and Bees" for Liam. I realize that as soon as he knows Ewan will know and Ewan never shuts his mouth so we're in for so much fun. Somewhere my mother is laughing like Squidward while mumbling "PAYBACK." 

Sweet sound of silence


Today I'm attending to my inbox (I have over 300 recent, unread messages), a few deadlines, and my boys. We're doing today's lessons from a nest of quilts in the living room floor. I need the quiet.

*Back on Monday.


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Tomorrow morning the Quaker people (the company) are coming to my house as they are sponsoring an inaugural viewing party which I am hosting. Every time I say this people are all "WTF? You?" And I'm all "Oh, you think that because I'm of a different political persuasion it means I am incapable of showing the kind of support you showed our last president when he took office."


Fifteen bloggers across the country were asked to host viewing parties and I've invited a few close like-minded friends to watch the festivities, wave farewell to Bush and remember his eight years of service, and usher in a new era. I try not to light this place up with the same level of political discourse that I am paid to do elsewhere, but I do want to take a moment to say that political differences should not be dividing issues amongst people and I always feel badly for those who are unable to connect with others on a deeper level and thus shun anyone who doesn't agree with them lockstep. There is so much to life and to people in general; we all have the same goals just different means. That's diversity. Please remember that this week.

Liam knows what's going on tomorrow and in the past couple of weeks he's grown ridiculously interested in presidential history. One evening I let him watch a documentary on George Washington, who Liam thought was cool because of his blue coat, and he's been all about GW ever since, reading several YA books about him, including a new one he started late yesterday afternoon. He'd asked me why people were talking about Lincoln and I couldn't get him away from reading about Washington and the revolutionaries long enough to properly answer.

**I'll be on NBC affiliate KSDK Channel 5 at 5 and 6:30 p.m. tonight; a reporter, Ryan Dean, came to the party and filmed and interviewed a few of us. (Good on KSDK and Dean for a balanced report.)

*** I've uploaded photos to Flickr. I love this photo of Kristie holding baby Natalie. All she's missing is a cape:
Chris, Kelli, baby Natalie, Kristie watching history

****Michelle and Kelli both posted about the day.

Censoring your blog

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My second Momversation video for this week centers on blog censorship. I first started blogging in 2001 and I did an anonymous group blog on pop-culture and politics. I started writing about motherhood in 2003, semi-anonymously, and when the link started going around I deleted most everything and began anew, this time using my name.

It was omitted for timeliness in the video, how I've defined and redefined boundaries here before and I've always been carefully vague whenever writing about my life. Regardless, you can't help it when people look for offense in your words and since responses to such have been wildly disproportionate in the past, I am incredibly more mindful of this when writing so as to shield my family from uncomfortable circumstances. Like Rebecca, I so understand those who do remain anonymous, who don't post photos, names, etc. 

(We also address the criticism from those who say we're "exploiting" our kids. I accidentally got myself worked up over that one.) 

Do you have boundaries for your website? Have you ever had any uncomfortable experiences?

Plastic surgery: pro or con?

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I had a lot of fun taping this particular episode of Momversation (also featuring the lovely Mindy and Daphne) because I find it hysterical, the whole idea of youth-worship. Also! I drew you a diagram! Several things that you don't know based on this video alone (because, obviously, timeliness! They can't be three hours long):

- The women in my family are, ahem, um, well-endowed. All I'm going to say is that all the women in my family were jocks in school and we all required at least two sports bras just to reign it all in. In the past I wanted a reduction. After having children I've learned that motherhood can sometimes shrink things, so it's all good. Sweet jeebus I feel uncomfortable now so MOVING ON.

- Really, I would never get a facelift, Botox, eye thingermajibbers, a tummy tuck, lipo, or any of that jazz. It's just not me, plus, I am terrified at the sight of my own blood and, as I said in a part of the video that was cut out, I pass out every single time I've given blood, I've passed out just at my weekly pregnancy exams (though, if you me had to go through what we do, you'd pass out, too). So I would not take well to the needles, knives, or blood. While I wouldn't do it, I wouldn't get in someone else's business and tell them that they couldn't.

- In another edited-out bit, I explained that unless I have enough money to wipe my butt with dollar bills or swim around in it like Scrooge McDuck, it ain't happening.

- I think there is a wondrous inner strength in aging on your own terms and bucking against Hollywood's warped definition of beauty. The women who do that: Sophia Loren, Jamie Lee Curtis, Diana Ross, etc. are a million times more beautiful to me.

- Chris finds me attractive even when I wake up with my hair a knotted mess, sticking every which way. I'm content with how I look, he's content with how I look, so in my opinion, there's no one else I care to impress.

Of course if my chestal region becomes such that I have to tuck them into my Converse, well, maybe a little something here or there to wind them back up to at least my stomach. Otherwise, I'd rather spend my money on yarn and Apple products. What do you think?

P.S. In the beginning you can hear me mention Jocelyn Wildenstein. I Googled her for you.

The only cure is more Poladroid

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Red light church

I haven't been sleeping well lately because I cannot stop the hamster wheel that is my brain from revolving inside my skull. We have a lot going on at the moment which is stressful and when I'm stressed my brain kicks into overdrive and devises various ways for remedying that stress. Thus, the hamster. Of all things. Moving on.  

I love old Polaroids. The memories of my youth are fuzzy and oddly colorized, just like the Polaroids that my grandma had in her photo album. Sometimes I want to climb into those photos. There's something about that instant development, how it freezes the "now" while you're still in it. Now that they're no longer making the (expensive) film, Polaroid's days are numbered. Almost. A new software called Poladroid allows you to take existing photos, drag them over to the Poladroid camera icon, and essentially create Polaroids of your own. FOR FREE. I am addicted, as you've probably noticed in the past few days. The software was Mac-only at first and I waited patiently for the PC version and [cue sopranos!] it arrived a week ago. The downside is that Poladroids are spreading all over the internet which might take away some of the specialness of the nostalgia a bit but I adore it so much I don't care. It even makes the coveted Polaroid click-whurr sound. Loves!

If you post Poladroids on your site do leave me a link in the comments? I'm nosy and want to see!

The Homeschool Diary

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Secondhand book

I've created a new addition to this website and if you look at the page links over in the far right sidebar you'll see it. I frequently receive questions about homeschooling and I'm always happy to share information about curriculum, etc. so I decided to create a microblog, so to speak, of links to resources, photos, and other small things related to homeschooling. I plan to update it daily, save for weekends and holidays, and will be chronicling a lot of our everyday homeschooling experiences on it.

The book in the photo above was purchased at a secondhand store, a regular activity that may be adversely affected considering recent legislation. FUN! Apparently Herr Uncle Sam doesn't care if YOU or I eat lead. Just the kids. I feel so unloved. More on this later.  

Odds and ends

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1. I've loved reading your comments on public smoking bans below. I was a little sketchy about hitting "publish" on that one because I know many smokers are quite vigilant about their smoking. I do hope people realize it's not about taking anyone's rights away, but rather ensuring the right for others to not smoke via secondhand fumes.

2. My latest homeschooling column is up now over at Imperfect Parent, wherein I answer the most oft-asked question: "What about their socialization?" Definitive reading on the subject.

3. I cannot stop playing this song. I love everything about it; it shares this murky aesthetic with Jesca Hoop which I find very appealing:

On a smoke-free St. Louis

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Over the Christmas holidays we got together with family, as people are prone to to during that time of year, for a meal at an area restaurant after church. It was Chris's family, and I can safely say that they are louder than my family which is a near impossible task as my family will laugh riotously for hours on end at fart jokes. I have video for blackmail, even. Yes, myself included, whatever. I have two young boys: if you can't beat them, join them.

Anyway, the restaurant that was chosen by the majority is one that allows smoking inside. It seems weird to me that people can still smoke inside. As this restaurant wasn't particularly big a "non-smoking section" was futile, as are many. You were going to be exposed to smoke nonetheless, regardless whether you were the one creating it. Our party was a large one and the thought was that we'd fill the place up, which we did, save for one table that was later occupied by a small party with children.

Despite having smoked a short time in my younger, childless days (I stopped when I saw what my grandfather underwent when he had a lung removed due to smoking-induced cancer) I am one of those ridiculously annoying nags when it comes to cigarette smoke because hi, my 7-year-old has asthma and someone else's cigarette smoke could provoke in him an asthma attack which ends up costing us $75 in emergency room fees, costs for both the inhaled and oral steroid medication he has to take to help with his recovery, plus doctor's bills. It's happened before. That's what the pro-smoking-in-public people don't tell you about when they talk about their "freedom" to smoke wherever they want; it's free for them, it costs people like us.

So we're all in this restaurant, the only one convenient for everyone that could take us at that time, we're eating our lunch and as I go to take a bite of my chicken sandwich the flavor is marred by the horrid stench of burnt ass emanating from the table next to us - the party with small kids. The smell was even more offensive than the word I just used. I glanced at Liam who was sitting across the room with his cousins; the smoke hadn't become so bad so as to cloud the room ... yet. I stood up, took out his rescue inhaler, and shook it furiously while dramatically fanning the air all around me because I figured that doing so was more polite than cramming the cancer stick down the guy's throat. As he sat next to his toddler. Seriously - WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT, who smokes right around a toddler? While eating? It's like eating a turd with your meal.

Chris's cousin also noticed the smoke and began fanning the air around her toddler and preschooler. Both of our tables were right by the smoker's table. As soon as the smokers got a load of my crazy they politely extinguished their cigarettes and went back to eating. I stopped windmilling my arms and slipped Liam's inhaler back into my purse.

I know some people will think I'm beyond rude for doing what I just told you but seriously - it's thrice as rude to light up a carcinogen and force the people around you to share the habit. Sure, we could leave, but so could they. And as we weren't the ones polluting perfectly good air with a substance that is illegal for minors to purchase but apparently not illegal for them to unwillingly imbibe secondhand, I think the smoking party should leave. I'm also a bit aggravated that I can't do things like take my kid bowling (he's never been) because of cigarette smoke and I shouldn't have to drive nearly an hour out of my way to find a rare smoke-free type of establishment.

There is a movement here in St. Louis to make establishments smoke-free, which I whole-heartedly support. A person has every right to pollute their own home, their own air, their own health; their right ends when their activity encroaches on the health and well-being of others. To simply say that the issue is about individual freedom is both intellectually dishonest and ignores the plethora of evidence proving the dangers of secondhand smoke (not to mention the increase in insurance costs for all) and rights of other individuals. If they want the liability for the health problems that arise - like paying for a little kid's hospital bill, medicine, and suffering as a result of a health issue brought on by their actions - then we can have that discussion.

No one is telling a smoker that they can't smoke, just that they can't compromise the health of others with their smoking.  

I just feel that if you're unable to limit your habit's damage to just yourself, then you maybe should keep it in private. Don't you?

Back to the grind in 2009

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coloring piano

We're getting back into our daily lesson routine after a two week break. Ewan, at his request, started his kindergarten curriculum today. It's a giant game to him; he wants to see how many games he can play and worksheets he can complete in one sitting and I'm all "Dude, that's not the point."

I always feel slightly depressed right around New Year's, mostly because that which I left unresolved in the previous year nags at me. I felt less like that this year because 2008 was a totally heinous year punctuated with bits of goodness. I happily plunged into 2009. I'm not one of those people who makes resolutions (I've an ever-evolving list of things I'd like to accomplish. I just try to not get overwhelmed and do my best each day. Aw. How very NBC "The More You Know" of me) but I jotted down a few to break with tradition:

- Refuse to tolerate people who are intolerable.
- Realize that it's OK to be cynical sometimes.
- Make my Williams Sonoma Peppermint Bark last until February.
- Be selective about those I let into my life.
- Be unashamed about watching Rock of Love: the Tranny-Clown Trainwreck Tour Edition.
- Make my kids fold and put away their own clothes no matter how awful they are at it.
- Resist the urge to go through their drawers while they are outside playing to refold everything they just put away.
- Use desire, not obligation, as motivation.
- Drink my first bottle of Ski.

Thank you to everyone who contributed positivity this year, be it via comments, emails, show calls, friendship, etc. xo

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Dana asks: "Thanksgiving Traditions: Yours or Your Mother's?"