Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Philosophy, Schmilosophy

Recently I've become more and more alarmed at the idea of "parenting philosophies".

It started when I read this article. And then I read several more articles on the same site. The more I read the more I realized that this author was out of her mind.

(For those of you too lazy to click and want a summary, this blog is about someone who embraces the ideas of Magda Gerber. The first link is all about how parents that use pacifiers are selfish and stifling their children.)

I feel as if the problem with any parenting philosophy is that people adopt it then carry it out to an extreme level. Magda Gerber's theories aren't all that crazy. I believe that you should talk to babies and not only use baby talk. But I don't think my daughter is going to be psychologically stunted because I treat her, well, like a baby.

Attachment parenting
is the same way. There are some good theories in it but I've seen mommies take it over-the-top. I like babywearing but sometimes I like using the stroller. Mo-mo slept in our room until she seemed ready for her crib at 3 months. And I don't think she's going to be worse off than another baby who was raised using solely attachment parenting theories because we made those decisions.

The problem with moms that adopt a parenting philosophy: they seem to think, "Huh. Here's a good idea. EVERY SINGLE ASPECT OF THIS MUST BE EXACTLY RIGHT FOR MY CHILD, THUS PEOPLE WHO DO ANYTHING DIFFERENT MUST BE WRONG. And their poor child will grow up stunted and disturbed."

If I had to define my parenting philosophy, it would be this:

1) I don't have a parenting philosophy because my daughter has been alive for less than a year and it would be incredibly arrogant to assume that I have all the answers.

Ha ha! Of course I'm kidding. I do have all of the answers.

1) Be flexible
Don't follow every single piece of advice blindly. Just because parts of a (sigh) "philosophy" fit you and your child, doesn't mean all of it will. You are allowed to pick and choose. I won't tell the philosophy police, I promise.

2) Avoid extremes.
Moderation is key. I've read about parents who never tell their child that he/she is smart and only praise their hard work because XYZ study recommended it. Or parents that never tell their child that she's pretty, rather saying that her outfit is nice so as not to focus too much on looks. Or never let their child eat anything with sugar.

You know what? Your kid isn't going to become shallow if you tell her once in awhile that she's pretty. He's not going to be lazy just because you sometimes praise his intelligence. She's not going to be obese because you let her eat a cupcake on a Saturday afternoon.

Relax. Never say never. And pass me a cupcake.

3) Just because it's right for you, doesn't mean it's right for everyone.
I'm looking at you Mrs. Judgypants. You know who you are.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Reason #523 why I probably shouldn't be allowed to have kids

Me: You know what's a fun word? Hobo.

Batman: Hobo?

Me: Yeah, you know--homeless guys with sticks and bindles. It's kind of strange that kids dress up like hobos for Halloween. "Look ma, I'm impoverished!"

(awkward silence)

Me: I think Mo-mo's next word should be hobo.

Batman: So that would make the words she knows....mama, dada, hi, duck and....hobo?

Me: But we'd have to teach it so that she'd say it angrily. So that it would seem like she's calling people hobos. When she doesn't get what she wants she'd yell out, "HOBO!"

(awkward silence as I contemplate how to do this.)

Me: I know! Instead of saying "no", we'll say "hobo" from now on. That way she'll start shaking her head and saying "hobo". But we have to start now. And we have to be consistent.

Batman: .....No.

Me: Don't you mean "hobo"?

Author's note: Humor does not equal reality. You probably shouldn't teach your children to say things just for your own amusement, especially in the wrong context.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Progress report

I'm doing pretty good with my "101 things in 1001" days list (see sidebar for a link to the complete list.) So far I have I've blogged about twelve of them.

I've also recently done:

12. Take a water babies class with Mo-mo

The first class was last week. I forgot to take pictures, I'll take some tomorrow and post them soon. Mo-mo was unsure of what she thought of it and had a furrowed brow the entire time.

82. Keep a food diary for a week

What I've found out: I eat a ton of saturated fat. And I need to start eating breakfast because I don't snack as often when I do.

So I've crossed off 14 items in 125 days. I'm tempted to make a chart to show my progress but perhaps my love of graphs should be kept to myself.

The next two months are crazy--there are about eight different goals (most revolving around events or graduation) that I hope to accomplish.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Mommy Envy: The First Birthday

Do you want to know one of the negative aspects of being connected to other moms online? Mommy envy. This ugly green-eyed monster rears its head from time to time.

Huh. Envy has bad posture. I never knew that.

I just have to keep reminding myself that I live in the real world. Not in Lollipop Bizarro Land where money grows on trees. Which is where other moms must live.

Now I want some candy.

The latest object of my mommy envy? First birthday plans.

I love having parties. I make some cheese dip, grab some trays of cold cuts and beer from the supermarket, and if I'm feeling domestic I'll make some cookies. People come over (usually board games are involved) and have a good time. Wham, bam, thank you ma'am, it's easy-peasy.

My plan for my daughter's first birthday: Go to a party store. Spend $20 on paper plates and utensils, maybe a buy a couple of balloons and a banner. Make a cake. Grill some hamburgers and hot dogs. Have about ten family and friends attend. Have fun.

Apparently I've been throwing parties incorrectly this entire time. I was unaware that parties require themes, matching place settings, multiple centerpieces. Elaborate favors. Theme based food. Matching cupcake liners. These two blogs in particular, the celebration shoppe and the hostess with the mostess make me feel...well, slightly inadequate. But I can't stop looking through them. They're like crack but instead of making you turn tricks on a street corner for your next fix they make you question your worth as a mother and leave you coveting things that you really can't afford and don't need. So it's exactly like crack minus the hooking.

It isn't just party blogs that are way over the top. On the mommy boards that I frequent I get to hear of parents renting out halls. 100+ guests. Renting an inflatable bouncy machine. Petting zoos, $10 worth of stuff in favor bags, clowns, magicians. All for the FIRST birthday party.

I understand getting more elaborate when your child is older but he or she isn't going to remember their first birthday. It seems slightly excessive to spend over $100 on it.

I think what bothers me more than the money is the amount of frustration it represents. There is no way in hell that these parties are easy to throw together. Every little detail shows hours of work and effort. I imagine all of the Bree Van de Camp moms of the world who have a heart attack if something is out of place.

These are parties for CHILDREN, my friends. Your child should have fun at their own party instead of having you trail behind them saying "No, don't touch that. No, don't play with that." Note to all: If you don't enjoy the party you're throwing because you worry too much, you're doing it wrong.

Yes. I'm also jealous of those gorgeous parties. I consider throwing one myself. Then I tally up how much time and money it would take to do something that awesome. Then I think that a backyard bbq sounds like a fabulous idea.

There are definitely some happy mediums. My cousin throws pretty awesome birthday parties for her children and doesn't spend a butt-load of money. She also happens to be supermom. In honor of her and the other mom's who have nice parties without being outrageous, I've decided to have a first birthday theme for Mo-mo: butterflies. Or maybe cupcakes. (Yes, cupcakes is an actual theme, not just a food choice.)

All I know for sure is that she's going to have fun, I'm going to have fun, and Batman will have fun. There will be cake and grilled meat. And really, that's all one needs in a first birthday.

There is also a 95% chance that Mo-mo needs this dress. And matching cupcake liners.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Ten Mommy/Facebook Commandments

So you're a mom now. You're excited about your little bundle of joy and want to share every detail about him or her with the entire world. The problem: you may be oversharing. I've decided to post 10 easy rules about how to use social networking sites without annoying all of your friends. Most of these are inspired by this blog.

1. Don't post photos of poop, placenta, vomit, or your child's bits. The first three are just gross and disturbing and the last is for modesty's sake (and for preventing those pics from being seen by creepy pedophiles).

2. Don't get into details about poop or spit-up. You will have multiple conversations with your significant other about the consistency, color, and timing of your child's bodily functions. But the rest of the world does not care.

3. Don't let yourself get lost in your baby's life. While being a mom is tons of work and incredibly important, your friends want to know how YOU are doing. Comment on what you thought about this week's Lost. About a good dinner you enjoyed. About how you stubbed your toe.

4. Some details about your baby are (gasp) kind of boring. There are maybe three people that want the intricate specific details about your baby's life. Your baby said his/her first word? That's cool, share it. Your baby ate peas today? Not so interesting or particularly important.

5. Don't be a photo glutton. Make a 365 blog if you take that many photos. Don't post album after album of the exact same photo taken at a slightly different angle. Your baby is darling, but we don't need 40 identical photos to confirm that.

6. Don't mommyjack. Mommyjacking is when you turn the topic of every conversation into a complaint about being a mom. Your single friend complains about how tired she is because she stayed up late partying? "I wish I could party like that, you should try staying up with a BABY." Your friend is worried about her sick dog? "Just wait until you have a BABY then you'll know what worrying is." This behavior is rude and unnecessary.

7. The occasional vent is okay, the perpetual whine is not. Being a mom is hard work. If every single day you are posting about how difficult it is, how tired you are, and how you need a break--perhaps it is time to call Grandma and Grandpa, a friend, your husband, and take that break.

8. Breastfeeding is beautiful, natural, and a wonderful bonding experience for both you and your baby. But your old college roommates do not want to hear about your chapped nipples or clogged ducts. Find a mommy message board, go to a La Leche League meeting--there are more appropriate venues to discuss breastfeeding woes and get support for any problems you have.

9. Don't complain if you're not getting special treatment. The world is full of mommies and children. You may get glared at when your child is screaming in the grocery store, even if there is nothing you can do about it. People may not get out of the way of your stroller, so you'll politely need to ask them to make room. Neighbors may be mowing their grass while your baby is trying to nap. None of these things are the end of the world, nor should they invoke rage filled rants on Facebook.

10. Be careful about what you post. Identifying information = not a great idea. Keep your Facebook set to private so that only friends can see your photos.

I actually have two Facebook pages, one for myself and one for Mo-Mo. I post a couple of the best photos every month on mine and talk about her when something incredibly exciting happens, like she said "Mama" for the first time. On her site, I post videos, more photos, and less exciting updates like her height/weight statistics or how she reacted to solid food for the first time. I didn't ask anyone to "friend" Mo-Mo but told people about it, so it was up to my friends and relatives to "friend" her.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

(un)Apology for Country Music

Hello. My name is Bee and I like country music.

I've kept this forbidden love hidden since eighth grade. Our social studies teacher gave us an assignment to choose a song with at least four similes and metaphors, play the song for entire class, and describe what those similes and metaphors mean.

In hindsight, this assignment does not belong in the realm of "social studies".

I think the teacher just wanted a) students to think he was cool and b) kill the rest of the school year without actually teaching.

This same teacher was rumored to be an undercover FBI agent. At least every day in the middle of class one student would raise their hand and ask if he was really truly a FBI agent. Because I can keep it secret, I swear.

He'd act annoyed but he secretly loved it.

We had to submit three song ideas and the lyrics. I turned in: Garth Brook's "The Fever", Deana Carter's "Strawberry Wine", (in hindsight: not an appropriate choice as it's about a girl losing her virginity) and "I am the Walrus" by the Beatles. That last one I kind of threw in at the last minute because my brother was convinced he knew the deep hidden meaning of the song.

When I got my proposal back, my teacher had written something snarky, like "Not country music! Anything but country music!"

So I pretended I just submitted country suggestions ironically, did the presentation over "I am the Walrus", got a crappy grade because really there is no good explanation for what the hell it's about (plus Wikipedia wasn't around yet so I couldn't even fake it), didn't get to into honors History my freshman year, and started pretending that I didn't like country music.

It baffled me how other kids effortlessly started learning about "cool" music. My parents listened to country and oldies so I listened to country and oldies. The radio was never turned to anything else so I was never exposed it. In grade school I had heard of New Kids on the Block but didn't know any of their songs.

Freshman year of highschool I borrowed all of my friend's tapes and made copies, started listening to alternative music radio stations, and dated guys who knew about music. I found some more acceptable (in other words, "cooler") music styles that I liked: ska, punk.

I managed to be stunningly musically hip for about two weeks in college. I could b.s. with the best of the hipsters--discuss how this singer started xyz spin-off band, how their second album was unfortunate because their record label was horrible.

Then I realized that it takes a ridulous amoung of effort to be musically hip so I gave up and started listening to whatever caught my fancy on the radio.

I like music with interesting lyrics, especially ones that tell a story. That runs the gamut of country, oldies, musicals, alternative, "emo" (ugh, I hate that word), soft rock, punk, and even some rap. My ipod playlists are varied and eclectic.

"eclectic" may be a code word for pretentious

That being said, I do have three issues with country music.

1. There has been an influx of recent songs about what it means to be country, party in the country, or defining yourself as country. These songs are now boring. Unless you are Gretchen Wilson singing about being a redneck woman, stop singing about this and write something more interesting.

2. I HATE "Eight Second Ride" by Jake Owens. Here are the lyrics to the chorus with my notes in red.

And she said hey boy, do you mind, taking me home tonight?
No woman would ever really say that. I hope.
Because I ain't never seen a country boy with tires on his truck this high
Really? That's your reason for wanting to sleep with him? Wow. Klassy.
I said climb on up but watch the cup that I spit my dip inside
Ew. Ew ew ew ew.
Hold on tight 'cause it's gonna be wilder than any 8 second ride.
You're comparing sex to something that lasts 8 seconds? Perhaps you should look for a more flattering metaphor.

The rest of the song is equally as marvelous.

3. I also hate the song The Christmas Shoes. Words cannot describe how awful and sappy this song is. My dislike for it is so infamous that my dad bought Batman a gag gift of The Christmas Shoes turned into a story book and tried to make us watch the made-for-TV special.

It's awful. You owe yourself to listen to it here if you've never heard it. Hopefully it won't make your head explode.

Despite these complaints, I love country music. Give me some Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Sr., George Strait, Big & Rich and I'm happy. I'm no longer ashamned to admit it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

So I've decided to make this blog a little more anonymous--despite the fact that half of you know me in real life. The internet can be a scary place. Everyone knows about internet stalkers, photos being stolen and used in Prague, and the like. So I've decided to rename my family for online purposes.

I've changed my name to Bee. Simple and easy to remember. Plus it's what Faith called Buffy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer--oops, my nerdiness is showing.

My husband is now Batman. I asked him what he wanted to be named and he voted for Long Dong McGee. He also said that I should be Chesty LaRue (nerd points if you get the reference, double if you wonder why he didn't want to be Max Power). And he wonders why I don't ask for his input. I'm calling him Batman because he spent an entire day when we first started dating insisting that he was really Batman.

the resemblance is uncanny

The baby is Mo-mo. She adores Elmo, especially Elmo's song, and sometimes we call her Elmo. Since we are inherently lazy and can't ever say an entire name, that shortened to Mo-mo.

I'm not going to flip out if I accidentally include my real name in a post, but why make it any easier for the crazies out there?

By the way, if you are a crazy person and are considering stalking me, I have knives. Sharp knives. And guns. Lots of guns.

How to make a container for hair ribbons

I'm coming clean: This is not an original idea. I found it here first. It was quite simple and I really like how it turned out.

You will need: empty formula container, 1 or 2 sheets of scrapbook paper, paint, ruler, scissors, glue, and sealant.

1) Wash and dry the formula container.

2) Measure the container. Cut the scrapbook paper to size and glue.

3) Paint the lid. This took the longest time--it'll take three good coats of acrylic paint to get it all covered. Make sure it's completely dried before starting the next coat, or it'll rub off. I used only two coats, probably should have done the third.

4) Spray the lid and container with the sealant in a well ventilated space.

Here's the finished product, sans headbands.

Here it is filled up with bows and headbands stored on the outside. It turned out great!

Other possibilities: glue ribbons on the edges, cover the top with fabric, modge-podge initials on the lid.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Butterfly House

13. Bring Mo-mo to Faust park to see the Butterfly House and ride the carousel

Another thing crossed off the list!

We didn't get to go to the Faust park carousel because it wasn't opened yet, but the one in Chesterfield mall is quite nice.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Meet the Animals: Part Three

This is Fat Momma.

She does have a proper name--it is technically Isis. But we never call her that.

When we lived in Texas, we (and the rest of the neighborhood) fed outdoor cats. They kept down on the tarantulas, scorpions and snakes. I wish I could have adopted them all--instead, I just satisfied myself with feeding them.

As we got to know the regular cats, we named them. Mostly unofficial, undignified nicknames like Squinty, Ducky, and Bad Momma.

Then Fat Momma, so named because she was scrawny with a huge pregnant cat belly, had kittens in our carport. It was as if she chose us--so we had to adopt her.

We gave her kittens away to a neighbor and she stayed with us. When we lived in Texas, she was still pretty wild. She was an indoor/outdoor cat, sleeping outside and coming in mostly to eat. She did not trust our dogs. She liked being petted but hated to be on the ground when we were walking around--she acted as if she thought she'd get stepped on or kicked.

Moving was pretty hard on her. We had to stage our trek up to St. Louis in segments-- there was no way to get two dogs, two cats, two cars, and all our stuff there in one trip. Fat Momma lived with my mother-in-law for a month or so during the transition. She hid most of the time. Once we became convinced that she had gotten out and were frantically calling to her all around the neighborhood. It turns out that she just was hiding in the basement ceiling.

Fat Momma and my other cat, Anoosh, have slowly forged a truce. They were not fans of each other at first, mainly because Anoosh is unrecognizable to other cats as a cat. Now they'll share a chair and play kitty tag.

Fat Momma is a pretty relaxed cat now. She doesn't go outside anymore and she seems okay with that. She responds to a whistled tune--she always comes to investigate. She loves to sit on laps and get petted. We entice her to cuddle sometimes by petting the air and she'll hurry to us to get those missed pettings. She hates to travel and hides when she sees suitcases but is okay once we get to our destination. She likes toy mice but our dogs tend to steal them.

We call her Fat Mar-mar, Fat Meow-Meow (we've been attempting to move away from Momma because we don't want to confuse Mo-mo), Batman, Tuxedo Cat, Fat Panther, Volumptious (misspelled on purpose) , and even rarely Isis.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Biting off more than I can chew

So I'm working on my next cross stitch project. I've had this one for a couple of years, but in between the stockings and the cat pillows, I haven't been working on it.

I bought it from the website I love this site. It took me days to decide which pattern I wanted, because this is not an ordinary craft project--this was a commitment. I was looking for a something challenging but not the boring, slightly ugly stuff available at all craft stores. As the site says, "This is not your grandmother's cross stitch."

My next project: a rendering of this painting

What I have done thus far: (my toes purposefully included to give you an idea of scale)


My goal is to get 25% of it done within the next two years.

Yeah, I'm a little insane. But in a complex needlework sort of way, which may even be a good thing.