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not the nanny





Updated: 2017-09-15T05:20:37.233-05:00

 



So Sorry!

2009-04-14T20:47:33.831-05:00

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This was a blog that chronicled my life as a stay-at-home mom of a precocious preschooler and fraternal toddler twins from October 2006 to August 2008. Originally titled "Our Kind of Parenting", the blog began as a great way for me to gripe, but later became an even better way to enjoy the company of like-minded parents.

There are several reasons why I stopped posting. For one, I'm no longer living in a rural, wooded area, where there are more deer than African American mommies like myself (my husband has since taken an academic position at the University of Houston, so we've moved away from isolation in upstate New York). Secondly, I'm no longer a SAHM - my kids are older, and no longer making me wonder how I'd ever make it 'til bedtime (most days). I've traded picking Cheerios up off the floor for writing for a living. And getting paid for it, can you blame me?

That said, I still miss the company of like minded parents, my kind of parents, so I'm very reluctant to shut the blog down - at least not yet. So instead, I'll periodically post links to some of my favorite essays for those who've asked where I've been. And in the meantime, if anyone would like me to recommend a product or service that may appeal to parents like us, do let me know. I'd be happy to post it here.

In the meantime, take care. It's been a wonderful journey.



Double Take

2008-08-27T18:04:39.528-05:00

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If you've been here before, you're well aware that one of my biggest pet-peeves is silly questions about my kids. Well, finally, an amazing site called The Root gave me an opportunity to rant about what it means to have so-called "black and white" twins - and I've got to admit, it felt great.

The best part is that I'm now free to move on and be neurotic about other areas of my life, so stay tuned!



Gotta love Ikea

2008-04-15T08:23:40.438-05:00

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Is it just me?

2008-03-04T18:15:53.879-05:00

My mother always told me not to stare, but I soon realized that’s not always possible. So I decided that at the very least, if one must silently judge another, it absolutely should not be done blatantly. And never, ever, with one’s mouth hanging open. (That’s just rude!) But I guess everybody wasn’t taught that, because this guy at the playground was ogling my kids as if he was a wolf in man's clothing, staring at my children like they were running around in red capes. Instinctively, I peeled myself off the park bench and made it my business to know why. As I got closer, we made eye-contact and I realized he was smiling. Creepy? Yes — but not in the way that made me want to call the police (just yet). “Your children, they are all so...different.” At least his tongue wasn't hanging out.“They are,” I forced politely. My mother also taught me not to talk to strangers, but I’m grown now and I didn’t really appreciate his comments. I resented his taking a moment to point out how his ethnic group was “normal” and mine was “not”.“I might not even know they’re all related, “ he chuckled, as if it was any business of his in the first place.“They’re actually siblings.” I’m sure that whatever attempt I made at smiling back at him was canceled out by the fact that I was bracing myself – hard – for his next question.“What race is the father?”Bingo! “My husband’s mixed, actually…his mom is black and his dad is Irish American.” It came out with a sigh that was barely audible, but I couldn’t have cared less if he’d heard me.“Unbelievable!” he marveled, “All the same dad?”“All the same dad.” I repeated after him, just in case he was actually and undercover casting-agent for Maury Povitch. And then for some reason, I felt the need to keep talking, as if I had to have the last word on a subject that really had no conclusion to begin with. “If you really look at all three of them, they look alike…the twins actually look a lot like both sides of our families.” I was stammering like a Mormon tour guide at a sex toy museum. I hated explaining something so basic to complete strangers, as if my life is actually some great big science experiment.“Twins!” he squealed in amazement. “On top of that, they’re twins?!” He giggled gleefully. “So different and both so unique!”“Thanks.” Of course they are. But not for the reason you think, moron.When I gave birth to two perfect babies with complexions as strikingly different as Hillary and Barack’s, I knew that the world might not instantly see that they’re actually brother and sister. But I never thought that perfect strangers would have the audacity to comment on this difference time and time again. I assumed most people — of any race — already knew that black people weren’t actually “black” and that the range of skin tones within the ethnicity could put Crayola out of business. But ever since day one, from the playground to the pediatrician’s, perfect strangers insisted on piping in: “They look so different!” or “You’d never even know they were related!”. Or other things, like how different their hair textures were. It’s honestly left me often wondering if half the country flunked eighth-grade biology. At the very least eleventh-grade history, when were supposed to have learned about the “peculiar institution” of slavery.Slowly, I began to gather up our belongings. Enough already. I shoved my son’s Curious George ball in my tote bag and started searching for my youngest daughter’s shoe. We might have to leave here without it, I thought, but at least we’ll go home with our dignity. I was so tired of protecting my beloveds from a world that sees them as anomalies, so angry at all of the supposedly educated people who felt the need to make a spectacle of them instead of seeing them for who and what they really are.“It’s so amazing what happens when the races are blended together — yo[...]



Ladies First

2008-02-03T23:02:17.106-05:00

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Why Michelle Obama's the woman (and Soledad O'Brien is, too).



Um, no thanks.

2008-02-03T14:28:46.987-05:00

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I've never liked Oreos. Or many tv personalities. But at the same time, I kinda like seeing newscasters shed their game faces to make a joke, even a halfway crass one. As much as I want to scream "Stop laughing and get back to work!", there's a certain comfort in knowing that beyond all of that plasticine facade, there's actually a real, live, human being back there (that with any luck, I'll never have to meet in real life).



Double their pleasure

2008-02-01T15:44:42.761-05:00

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Speculation is swirling around the billowy, tie-died, frock Angelina Jolie recently rocked at the Screen Actors Guild Awards: was it actually hiding a twin pregnancy ? Judging from the bump the actress/activist was reportedly barely able to conceal, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Why on earth would anyone as svelte as Jolie – someone who’d probably look amazing in a plain, burlap sack, dammit – choose to roll up on the red carpet wearing something so shamelessly shapeless? In all fairness, the silk number was actually quite lovely; I wouldn't mind wearing it myself. If I was pregnant. So my guess is that it's a twofer: twin pregnancies usually show early. Way early. Before the end of my first trimester, my own dynamic duo had already made their presence known. Week eleven, my husband stared at my formerly flat belly quizzically ("Uh, hon...are there two in there?"). By the time I was five months along, a carousel conductor in Ocean City, New Jersey nearly turned me away from boarding his merry-go-round with my three-year-old for fear a baby would drop out as I was climbing off a horse.

Of course the jury’s still out on this one, but we’ll soon know the truth (one source says Jolie plans to sell the information and donate the proceeds to charity). Until then, the internet remains rife with wild guesses on whether or not the hotter-than-thou couple is actually knocked up. And fussing about whether they even need any more kids in the first place. Most of the poop-slinging is coming from people who will never change a baby Jolie-Pitt’s diaper, but insist on staying right up in their behinds, with comments like: "Kids aren't high-end accessories" I'd have to agree...beyond being rather expensive and very cute, kids and Gucci handbags don't really go together. And then, of course, this one: “How greedy…look what they’re doing to the environment!”

Nice try. I have a hard time buying the “population overgrowth” argument, especially with Brad working so tirelessly to rebuild a sustainable New Orleans . I mean come on, they're even planning to adopt a cute Katrina orphan to go with it.



Along for the ride

2007-07-13T22:21:46.516-05:00

It doesn't take much for a parent to get thrown off an airplane these days. Just recently, an Atlanta mom and tot got booted from an Oklahoma bound flight because her three-year-old son insisted on repeating "Bye-bye plane!" before take off. He wasn’t having a meltdown or anything, he just wouldn’t stop talking. Is it her fault the kid is precocious? You’d think there’d be a warning on the Brainy Baby DVDs.Whatever the case, if that's how airlines roll (fly?) these days, I’m definitely in trouble. Each of my kids has the gift of gab and there's not a damn thing I can do about it. My oldest came out of the womb reciting Langston Hughes poetry. Her younger siblings, while currently only fluent in toddlerspeak (or pigeon English, Farsi or Mandarin, depending on the day) are quickly working their way up the precocious scale as well. I’ll admit it’s (mostly) adorable, but I can totally see how someone sitting near us on a plane might be tempted to reach for their stun gun. My kids aren’t the only little ones that won’t stop talking, Manhattan’s got thousands just like them (they’re thick on the Upper West Side but you really can find them all over). So maybe it's time that airlines try and make flights more kid friendly (not banning sippy cups might be a start ) and begin thinking of ways to keep every passenger — including parents — sane. Instead of glaring at children while the plane taxis before takeoff, flight attendants could give out crayons. And would it kill them to provide some stickers? At the very least, the latest B-movie — that no one under seventy is interested in seeing anyway — could be replaced by pixar hits that both parents and their offspring can enjoy (there’s only so much Sandra Bullock one can take).In my mythical friendly skies, there'd be a "kiddie class"— sectioned off by a curtain (that’s preferably sound proof). Nursing moms could feed without wondering if Barbara Walters is going to lean over and say something she could have saved for The View. Chatty toddlers could chat, fussy babies could fuss and whiny children whine while we enjoy some chardonnay. All moms would get complimentary neck and shoulder massages as the kids watch Dan Zanes videos. And let’s not forget the free juice boxes.But alas, genteel breeders, the entire world does not cater to the needs of the sophisticated, young family . We should probably just shut up and be thankful for Baby Loves Disco and Ikea. Of course we could complain, but it would be pointless (and besides, if everything was designed for the 21st century family…what would be left to complain about?). By the time the airlines give us a break, our kids will be way past the pull-up stage, anyway. At that point, we’ll be back to our old jet-setting ways, skipping off to the south of France while the tweens are off at summer camp. Yeah, as it turns out there’s not only life before the kids, but after them, too. Unfortunately, we can’t get there with frequent flier miles…but I’ve heard it’s worth the trip.On Friday my posts also appear as an online column for Time Out New York Kids. Visit them at Time Out New York Kids for more city-specific parenting tips and diversions. The regular column is called Not the Nanny, which pretty much answers the crazy looks I sometimes receive when I'm out and about with my rosy-cheeked son.[...]



Keep on moving

2007-07-01T09:31:42.634-05:00

Sorry for the scanty blog posts - we're in the process of moving to Houston. Parting is such sweet sorrow - it hit me when we had our farewell party last night with about thirty of the friends we've made in the past four years here. It's the people that really make a place special, you know? But it's time to go. The cost of real estate in Texas is reason enough! And Mr. J's new job, which is actually pretty exciting and will free up a lot more of his time for writing.

So anyway...a short detour in Philly to see family will happen before we finally arrive in the bayou (All they've had is rain lately! Hope that stops). Please bear with me, I'll be back in full effect within weeks. So will Mr. J, for those of you who visit his online lounge.

A side note, my regular Time Out Kids essay will be posted on Monday. The theme: Do toddlers really need pilates?

Thanks for your support, your input and bearing with me. Talk to you soon.



Content of their character

2007-06-25T00:50:10.353-05:00

Now that Tiger Woods is a dad, golf aficionados might wonder what princess Sam’s arrival might do to her old man’s game. Baby-boomers might wonder why the couple chose to name their daughter the tomboy-chic “Sam” instead of the time-tested “Samantha”. Others may wonder if Tiger’s wife Elin’s credentials as a former nanny means she’ll still need one of her own. But as a mom who’s doing her best to raise kids who take pride in their heritage, I’m wondering how the PGA champ plans to approach his daughter when it comes to the matter of race. My query is far from unfounded. It’s no secret that Tiger Woods has a history of dodging phone calls from the NAACP requesting his support, of laughing off fried chicken jokes made by other golfers at his expense and publicly admitting to Oprah Winfrey that he’s not black or Asian, but ”Cablinasian”, meaning Caucasian, black, Indian and Asian, (despite the fact that neither of his parents were white). By this point, his publicists know better than to return phone calls asking the American Express spokesman to speak at Black History Month events. Either way, I hope Tiger will prepare his daughter for the fact that despite however famous a person is or how wealthy they are, race still matters in America. I hope he’ll brace Sam Alexis for the fact that there may come a time when she hears a racially tainted joke uttered at the lunch table of whatever prestigious private school he and Elin choose to send her to. Or better yet, that there may come a time when she has an experience similar to my own, some twenty-odd years ago on the schoolyard:"Come to me, blackie!" I was mortified as I stood there in pigtails, watching Doug Cohn beckon me with his chubby little finger. My only comeback was to tell Lise Toplin, the safety guard (oooh, a big fifth grader!), who whinily told him to "Stop being mean."Later, Doug ended up in my eleventh grade Sociology class. Regularly, as the teacher was explaining things like propaganda and the media. I felt Doug’s eyes on me. He wasn't waiting for the right time to ask me to shine his shoes, he clearly wanted more than that. By then there’d been plenty of time for new stereotypes about black females to plant themselves I his brain. It was the good thing that sociology class was at the end of the day. That way, if I felt the urge to run right home and take a shower, I could.I think the best way to teach children about racism is to approach it in a similar manner to how one might begin talking to one’s child about other things that may (or may not) make a parent feel a little uncomfortable to discuss, like sex and death. Both topics are big issues, but also ones that will come up in a child's life whether we want them to or not. Like the birds and the bees, I think there are some things that kids should learn from their parents before they get misinformation from somewhere else.Not unlike the facts of life, my husband and I take each of our daughter's questions about racism as they come. Then we try to break it down to a level she can relate to, given her age (five). A preschooler might want to know things like why MLK had to fight for freedom in the first place, but the answer doesn't need to be a lecture on the atrocities of slavery or a detailed account of lynchings in the Jim Crow south. That will come later. For now, we talk about how black people weren't allowed to eat in the same restaurants as white people or drink from the same fountains. How that would make a person feel (if they weren't white)? Is that fair? Preschoolers love to talk about what is and isn't fair, so at this point, discussing race has basically been a piece of cake.We’re also careful not to dwell on the fact that in America, our ethnic group has been considered inferior, because we don't want them to[...]



Baby in the air

2007-06-08T21:12:51.074-05:00

All knocked up with no place to go. That basically sums up my general disposition during the last trimester of both pregnancies. As much as I wanted to set foot on a plane and see the world, I was on house arrest by doctor’s orders, stuck at home, staring at my belly, guessing who’s coming to dinner. It wasn’t anything serious, but both times, my OB suggested I think twice before traveling anywhere. My first pregnancy was perfect with the exception of a benign, but excruciating condition that prevented me from being in a close friend's island wedding (to this day, five years later, I still don't think the bride has forgiven me). The second, a twin pregnancy that left me looking full-term somewhere around month five, I was too huge to even take my two-year-old on a merry-go-round without the operator grilling me about my due date. A week later, when I asked my doctor what he thought of my bright idea to jet off and meet my husband who was teaching at a summer writer’s workshop, he just looked at my belly and laughed. The only thing worse than being extremely pregnant is being extremely pregnant and exceptionally bored. Even if the nursery's not finished, there's only but so much nesting a gestating woman is capable of before losing her hormone-marinated mind. That’s why I refuse to badmouth the woman who recently boarded a Delta airplane pregnant and ended up giving birth before landing. Many criticized her for setting foot on the plane in the first place, but honestly, who can blame her? Life must go on, whether one already has kids with or just happens to be “with child”. In fact, as a parent of small children who’s terrified of flying (with them), I’m almost willing to pay someone to have a baby while my family takes our first flight as a fivesome this summer. I actually think a parent flying with small kids would be crazy not to welcome a (non-terrorism related) mid-flight commotion that isn’t caused by their own offspring. Please, somebody distract the entire plane from listening to my youngest daughter squeal because she wants the Pirates Booty that I forgot to pack. Save the woman behind us from being distracted from her knitting because my preverbal son keeps flirting with her. Prevent the entire economy class from listening to my oldest serenade them because she's decided she's the newest member of the Cheetah Girls. Keep me from wanting to hit my husband over the head with my Skip Hop bag because he’s listening to his ipod and reading a comic book through all of this, pretending he doesn’t even know us. I'm not adverse to anyone who wants to help make sure my kids don't get our entire family thrown off the plane. To jet-setting parents of half-pints, a laboring mother on board is like a get out of jail free card.So bring me your tired, your poor pregnant women who can’t stand the idea of putting their lives on hold while waiting for their special deliveries to arrive. We’ll make a seat for you in first class. Don’t even worry about the other passengers. In the rare event you’re your water breaks somewhere between the plastic cups being taken away and Zoolander being shown, your dignity will fly right out the passenger seat window anyway. You’ll care less about the nauseous businessman two rows in front of you, the flight attendant who’s too freaked out to serve pretzels because she’s hiding in the bathroom, or the baby boomer shouting “that’s not how I did it!” from the back. Just know that no matter how stir-crazy you happen to be right now, or how gargantuan you insist you are, making the decision to fly in the third trimester isn’t anything to take lightly. It’s a lot different than wondering if a glass of merlot has a higher alcohol content than a glass of shiraz and if just one teeny glass [...]



Is there a problem?

2007-06-07T15:52:06.866-05:00

(image) Racism is often treated as a "black subject", but we know it's everybody's issue. Being white shouldn't make a person exempt from having to consider race and racism in their everyday lives. Any a parent who want to raise well-adjusted children should probably be thinking about these kind of things. I was reminded of this as I was going through some of J-Jo's papers from nursery school. So much of it brought back certain memories, like:

...the day I brought J-Jo to school a few minutes late and Headteacher beckoned (only) to J-Jo and chimed: "Hurry up, we're taking about Africa!" (emphasis on the word "Africa!")

...or the day that we told Headteacher we were keeping J-Jo out of school one afternoon to take her to see a replica of the Amistad, which was temporarily docked at a harbor nearby.

Mrs. Headteacher: "Do you feel she's ready for the subject of slavery?"

Mrs. J: "She's known about slavery since she was two." In a general sense, but it's true.

Mrs. Headteacher: "Let us know if there's anything we can do here to help her with that."

Mrs. J: Uh, thanks.

What I wanted to say: "You all pretend like the holidays aren't even happening because you're afraid of offending people. Do you really think I expect you to teach my child about slavery? Do ya really think I'd TRUST you to?"

Oh well. It's over now. J-Jo graduated two weeks ago (in the form of a picnic, no cap and gowns up here). Next year, she'll be at a progressive charter school in Houston that's a lot more diverse. I know J-Jo will miss the friends she's made here, though. I will too. They're all sweet kids who I've watched grow from babies to toddlers to sassy-mouthed little kids right along with my own (not too thrilled about that sassy part). And I know she'll miss the little white schoolhouse and its intimate little yard. But I gotta admit, I'm still reeling from this upstate nursery school experience. While it was great in certain ways — the healthy snacks, organic "birthday muffins" instead of cupcakes, the fact that their learning was play-based — I can't say I'll actually miss it.



And just where do you think you're going?

2007-06-03T17:33:31.413-05:00

Ever been to a graduation where somebody's family acted a fool? I have. Thank God it wasn't my own.

Anybody who's witnessed what I reference knows the cringe factor here. Overzealous whooping and hollering is just not cute in certain settings. Those with home training (and you know who you are) know full well that at certain dignified, stoic events...weddings, baptisms, graduations there's a certain amount of decorum expected, no? Naturally heads are going to turn when all of the sudden, a name of a graduating senior is announced and an entire section — Uncle Jimmie, cousin Skeeter, Big Momma and ten more — decide to stand up and raise the roof. Almost as if they earned the diploma themselves, just for showing up.

But should that mean that the graduating senior should be penalized by
not receiving their diplomas, based on the reaction of their family members? According to the officials of Galesburg High School, the answer is yes. And as if that isn't punishment enough, the seniors — including those with honors — are expected to do several hours of "community service" (ie. filing, answering phones, and other menial tasks for the School Board) before they get their actual diploma.

From AP:

The principal, Principal Tom Chiles, said administrators who monitored the more than 2,000-seat auditorium reported only disruptions they considered "significant," and all turned in the same five names.

"Race had absolutely nothing to do with it whatsoever," Chiles said. "It is the amount of disruption at the time of the incident."

I would buy that if four out of the five students punished weren't black, and the other wasn't hispanic. And if I was certain there had been equal repercussions for other seniors, and their shenanigans.

Some people might need etiquette lessons, but what's wrong with being happy? And should any of us really be held accountable for our, how do I say, more eccentric family members? As much as I cringe at Al Sharpton jumping into the mix any time anything even remotely racial occurs anywhere in the U.S., I sure hope he's on his way out to Galesburg, Illinois right now.

What do you all think?



Mass MOCA

2008-09-25T12:39:27.573-05:00

Don't ask me who the crazy looking guy on the wall is, just trust me, this place is amazing. I'm still catching my breath after a whirlwind weekend visit to Mass MOCA in North Adams, MA (about two hours and some change from here). I was a studio art major in college and although my medium is now words, I have a sincere passion for high art and an extraordinary amount of respect for those who create it. Walking though contemporary art galleries is one of my favorite things to do in life and just setting foot in the museum's gift shop is damn near transcendental. So needless to say, mommy was one happy camper.If asked whose work I admire the most, that of Ellen Gallagher and my former classmates (well almost classmates, they went to Morehouse), Kojo Griffin and Sanford Biggers would come to mind most easily, but there are a ton of contemporary artists I jock. I could care less about a painting matching my couch, I'm most impressed by the concept. The artist in the main gallery had an amazing usage of color and exploration of light. But my favorite part was J-Jo standing in front of an installation that was comprised of about 44 fans stacked on top of eachother, blowing at different times: "Fans are not art mommy, they're for blowing air." She was all over the Ugly Dolls, though:Road trips like this one have me almost wishing we weren't getting ready to leave the northeast at the end of this summer. Yes, you heard me right, the J Family will soon be leaving upstate New York, due to Mr. J's new tenure-track gig. I'm ecstatic for my honey, but hate moving, so I'll leave the details to him (for those of you who haven't already heard).For now, a few more shots from Mass MOCA, starring the J Trio:A stranger offered J-Jo the purple balloon (at least it wasn't candy).Check out the trees hanging from above.J-Jo reminds me how much creativity I've lost in the third floor art studio dedicated entirely to kids.Blowing off some steam before the ride home. Better there than in the car, bugging out all the way through the Berkshires![...]






How to Be a Playa (or just accused of it)

2007-05-21T23:39:30.258-05:00

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No sooner than Michelle Obama announces that she's leaving her job to hit the ground running on her hubby's campaign trail, she's accused of having a chip on her exfoliated shoulder. A new website, Jezebel (from the good folks who bring you Gawker), speculates that said chip is because old boy "messed up".

Not that they actually know anything. But according to the gals over there, Mrs. O's comments about "he's just a man" and her referring to him as the "the brother" somehow indicate that she got played. They go on to rant about how it was a City Hall aide and how "he's supposed to be all fresh and clean". No proof or anything, just a silly, speculative, rant passed off as snarky humor. For the record, even if it makes white people uncomfortable, calling someone "the brother" (even if it is one's husband) is not a diss. Especially when, in context, it is to say "The brother is smart", as Mrs.O actually did recently (to an all black crowd).

If the jezebels at Jezebel would slow their roll a minute — and put down their assumptions that all black men are dogs...no comment on politicians in general — before jumping to conclusions, they'd have realized that Michelle Obama is 100% behind her honey. And for better or for worse, that's really all that matters. This is a serious presidential candidate we're talking about, ladies, not you're effing ex-boyfriend. Save the cheap shots for someone else.



Sparkling Wiggle (say that ten times fast)

2007-05-19T20:31:34.029-05:00

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Nice try, racist morons, but black people are pretty used to this kind of thing by now. That's not to say it's okay for parents to make fools out of their children by "innocently" taping them making unintentional racist slurs and broadcasting it on YouTube for the world to see. I'm just not worried about your kid sitting next to mine in AP classes, spewing racial epithets at her or anything. At the rate you all are going, she'll be lucky if she makes it past fifth grade.

So I'm just going to go about my life as you all go about yours. Where do you live, Anchorage? If you ever make it back to civilization, say in your retirement or something, maybe I'll run into you when we're taking our black grandkids to the park. Don't worry, I might be a little bitter in my old age, but I won't bite.



In Excess

2007-05-19T15:42:27.477-05:00

I can’t imagine my life without children. That said, there are certain things about having them I could easily live without. At the top of the list: toys. The ones I trip over constantly, that get played with for five—make that two—minutes before being discarded like last week's Times. Toys that make repetitive, annoying noises. Toys that do nothing to enhance the visual appeal of a room. That’s mean, right? Where do I get off being so superficial, selecting their diversions based on looks or their sound? Isn’t it more important that the children are happy, stimulated and fulfilled, regardless of the packaging the aforementioned entertainment comes in? I don’t think so.The worst part about it is that my children barely even notice when plush animals and plastic playthings disappear because they’re bored with the toys they have anyway. Within what seems like a matter of days, they outgrow and abandon them faster than the small town girl who gets dumped by her high school sweetheart after putting his butt through med school.Provided they even want to play with toys at all. My oldest would much rather play games on the computer, my younger daughter would much rather get her cute, chubby fingers on some crayons and proceed to add her personal touch to anything within arm’s length (except paper). And my son just wants to eat. So when I finally realized that collectively, my kids’ M.O. involved dumping their toys out of the various baskets that pepper their playroom and our home before abandoning them, something clicked. Loud. I could very well maximize my time and productivity—rather greatly, I might add—by eliminating at least half of the random things that piss me off.I began with the Happy Meal toys because these weren’t even supposed to be here in the first place. My kids practically live on Yo Baby yogurt and Annie’s Mac and Cheese, not Chicken McNuggets and fries. But on certain occasions, I backslide. I’m not proud of it; it’s just the truth. It’s way too easy to give into the Golden Arches when daddy’s working late, my back is killing me and just the idea of slaving over a hot stove would be the final, rusty nail in my coffin. That said, I hate Happy Meals and the associated accoutrements. I resent the fact that they linger around the house, in all of their tacky, plastic glory, evoking my guilty feelings for even going there. So into the trash they go.Next up, the noisemakers. I swear the people who design them hate their parents, but is that really our fault? Rowdy toys are not my friends. I don’t really care if their intention is to “teach” something. They make computers for that. And that Fisher Price tea set, the one whose little teapot makes muzak every time you touch it can go, too. Along with the toys that player-hate me for having an adult life. The ones that, without any prompting at all, decide to pipe in with their two cents after hours, once the kids are asleep and I’ve wound down with a glass of merlot and my husband’s putting on the Barry White. Noisy toys are just evil.Maybe if the majority of the toys we had actually got any play, I’d feel differently. But it took me three kids and (at least) thirty trips to the Salvation Army to realize that when it comes to toys, most kids are cads. To this day, my five-year-old only consistently only “plays” with one thing, and that’s Zozo, a stuffed bunny she named at age two that my dad’s friend picked up for her at Harrod’s when she was born. Sure, Zozo’s fur is matted, his (her?) green, grosgrain ribbon is missing from around the neck and it smells[...]



Meet Teddy P. Brains

2007-05-15T23:06:11.173-05:00

(image) After fussing with the remote for a while, J-Jo flung it down on the couch, obviously demoralized. "Whatever happened to Little Bill? I always look for it, but it's never on."

I'd noticed that too...but did my best not to shatter her image of a pollyanna world by telling her what I really thought. I hesitated for a minute, kind of hard pressed to find an answer, but she quickly summed it up for me: "Oh, I know mommy. Maybe it comes on while we're sleeping."

"Maybe". Riiight. Just like "Perspectives" featuring Tim Meadows on the old Saturday Night Live episodes. And every other black talk show on public access tv.

Good thing for Teddy P. Brains. He and Little Bill might look similar on paper, but J-Jo's decided that Teddy's actually the better catch.

In the new 3-D animated children's program, Teddy P. Brains, his cousin Tempest and his dog Dartagnan seek knowledge on their missions back in time, through space and around the world. It begins with Teddy getting a very special present for his kindergarten graduation: a magic diploma that summons a rocket capable of traveling through time and space. Must be nice.

You know something's working when your child and her playdate (who looks just like a character from a Hans Christian Andersen tale) ask to watch a character (who isn't played out on backpacks) over, and over. And over. Again. The animated series targeting 3 to 8 year olds does an incredible job helping kids learn about history and natural science while letting them live vicariously through its protagonists. Smart.



Why God Made Moms

2007-05-11T21:12:09.400-05:00

Answers given by 2nd grade school children to the following questions:

Why did God make mothers?
1. She's the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
2. Mostly to clean the house.
3. To help us out of there when we were getting born.

How did God make mothers?
1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
3. God made my Mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts.

What ingredients are mothers made of?
1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
2. They had to get their start from men's bones. Then they mostly use string, I think.

What kind of little girl was your mom?
1. My Mom has always been my Mom and none of that other stuff.
2. I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
3. They say she used to be nice.

What did Mom need to know about dad before she married him?
1. His last name.
2. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk on beer?
3. Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?

Why did your Mom marry your dad?
1. My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my Mom eats a lot.
2. She got too old to do anything else with him.
3. My grandma says that Mom didn't have her thinking cap on.

Who's the boss at your house?
1. Mom doesn't want to be boss, but she has to because dad's such a goof ball.
2. Mom. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed.
3. I guess Mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.

What does your Mom do in her spare time?
1. Mothers don't do spare time.
2. To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

What would it take to make your Mom perfect?
1. On the inside she's already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
2. Diet. You know, her hair. I'd diet, maybe blue.

If you could change one thing about your Mom, what would it be?
1. She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I'd get rid of that.
2. I'd make my Mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it and not me.
3. I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.



The Little Things

2007-05-11T21:05:48.724-05:00

My firstborn forced me to wonder what I did with all of the hours in a day before giving birth. Once my husband and I got her home from the hospital (elated that they didn't expect us to bring her back) I soon learned that things like taking a five-minute shower was no longer a basic right, it was a privilege. Activities once taken for granted, like spending an entire Saturday morning in bed before heading to brunch by three pm, devoting an entire Sunday to laying on the couch reading the Times or taking my sweet old time in Sephora quickly became things of the past. All indulgences that used to be routine, like shaving my legs, for instance, suddenly felt slightly naughty. Slipping out to the mall child-free evoked even more guilt. A regular trip to the hair salon felt like a full-blown affair.Yet just when it seemed as if those days were here to stay, somehow - almost as if by magic, I swear - they faded into the ether faster than acid washed jeans. I got over feeling guilty about pampering myself and remembered that it was something I not only needed, but also actually deserved. And now that all my children are far past the infancy stage, I can actually leave them with daddy for a few hours while I jet off to loll around in a white robe. I love the idea of a day when all I have to think about is me. What I wouldn’t give to have a hot stone massage, facial and pedicure before rolling out of heaven, I mean, Haven, feeling like whole wheat fettuccini. After taking my sweet old time waiting for the toenail polish to dry, I’d drive home barefoot, climb into bed and doze off for as long as I pleased. Sounds like the perfect Mothers Day, doesn’t it? Of course it does, unless you’re me. Because, believe it or not, all I really want to do this Sunday is hang out with husband and kids. I'm no masochist, really I'm not, but aside from a homemade card, I don’t even want gifts. I’d much rather spend time remembering the real meaning of the Hallmark co-opted holiday through the words that the activist poet Julia Ward Howe penned so long ago about all of the mothers of the world rising up in the name of peace. I want to call my mom, and then my ninety-one year old grandmom to thank them. I want to think about the day my kids were born and then I just want to enjoy them. And then we'll pack up the car and head for the hills for some fun. Up here in the Mid Hudson, there will be plenty of mom-friendly things to get into that are all within a days drive. For one, there are at least a dozen historic mansions all along the Hudson River. Unless you're into antiques it sounds kind of boring...until you actually set foot in one. And there are day trips a plenty: in the time it takes for Dora to come on, followed by Diego we could drive to Dia:Beacon or Great Barrington. And if we're really feeling adventurous (and nobody's too cranky) we could hightail it to North Adams, MA to check out MASS MOCA. And last but not least, thanks to the CIA, there are a myriad of fine places to absolve me of dinner duty.That would really be enough, because as much as I adore Red Envelope, there's nothing that can replace the fact that I already have my gift. I might not be able to go to the bathroom without a small army standing in front of the door as if I’m plotting to escape through the commode, but my children are more than enough (in a good way). Their laughter sounds better than anything I could download onto my ipod. Their eyes sparkle far brighter than any token I could receive in a little blue box. [...]



Old School Thursday (courtesy of J-Jo)

2007-05-10T08:56:09.816-05:00

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She almost picked ABC, but this one wins this week.

I Want You Back, Jackson Five
(the year was somewhere around the time I was born!)




No Comment

2007-05-08T20:04:50.701-05:00

Sorry about the lack of a comment button on Friday's post (you know I love to hear what y'all think!). For some reason, there was no no way for anyone to leave the comments I look forward to reading over the weekend. I even cut and pasted into a different document (so now it technically says last Thursday), but that didn't help. Anyway, so sorry about that. Hmm, Wordpress is looking more and more appealing to me these days...



The Apology

2007-05-06T21:25:12.277-05:00

Little Marvin: 3
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This Little Marvin vignette is the funniest comeback to the Imus controversy I've ever seen (thanks for finding it, honey!).



The Immunity Challenge

2007-05-04T20:37:28.959-05:00

While I can admit I've finally grown accustomed to country living, there are still certain things I miss about city life. Mostly the cliches that people who live as far as Idaho have heard of, like being able to get a gallon of milk at three am, the first-rate culture and the world class cuisine. You know the rest. But as a parent, I have to come clean about something: I don't miss the germs. I don't long for the days that a trip to my Manhattan cubicle meant being exposed to the virus of the week, the one that even folks in Queens were catching. I couldn't afford it then, but I definitely can't afford it now. Holding on to the lukewarm metal pole on the D train takes on a whole new meaning when you're chiefly responsible for keeping a family of five alive. For some reason, I thought that moving to a rural area would somehow grant our kids instant immunity from a multitude of contagious diseases. But just because the sweetly-scented, mountain air we've got up here could put Glade out of business doesn't mean there's nothing floating in it. It's gorgeous country, but we're not exempt from the less idyllic aspects of everyday life. I guess that explains why the coxsackie virus, also known as the lovely hand-foot-mouth disease, is also the name of a real town just several miles up the road. I'm not even going there. And I'm not sure what the city preschoolers are into, but amongst the preschool set up here, sickness is tres chic. My almost kindergartner is quick to let me know this through her regular updates: "Ella has an ear infection! She has this fabulous pink medicine for it that she gets to bring to school." Even if I remind her that ear infections aren't fun, she persists, starry-eyed: "Okay. Can we paint my room that pink medicine color?" With her pointed, red carpet-style reportage of the pint-sized, A-List infirmed, my girl's well on her way to becoming the next Tanika Ray. She even has the nerve to get upset when she's not invited to the hottest chicken-pox party (I'm not offended in the least). I guess it doesn't help that my husband's career requires regular exposure to coughing college students who survive on Lucky Charms cereal and cigarettes (Dear student: Being nineteen and having your own apartment does not mean you have common sense). Last week, when he was forced to cancel class because he was laid up with strep throat, tonsils the size of red globe grapes, I ran around like a nut, trying to figure out how I could possibly prevent the rest of the house from coming down with it too. And how I could possibly even know if the twins had sore throats when the only language they're fluent in is Toddlerese? Somehow, my honey's illness passed and the remaining eight tonsils in the house were left unscathed. But soon everyone except mommy had a runny nose and our youngest daughter had some suspicious looking goop coming out of her bloodshot eyes. Great. One of the realities of being a mom of three kids is accepting the fact that quite often, for months at a time, somebody is always going to sick. The only upside to this phemonena is that I've developed an accute awareness as to which symptoms to ignore and which are actually worth interrupting our pediatrician for while he's at home on the couch, watching Lost. On the pediatric terror alert scale, I decided the pink eye was probably somewhere around yellow. I knew that meant a trip to the doctor was required. While co[...]