Crazed In the Kitchen: 2013   

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Daylight Savings, I Am The Boss Of You

All parents know that Daylight Savings Time is evil, evil, evil. “Spring Forward” is confusing and a pain, and “Fall Back?” Well, “Fall Back” makes me straight up angry.

To me, “Fall Back” is like a crappy ex-boyfriend who seemed great for a while, but then turned out to be a low-life cheating jerk. Think about it. For decades of my life, “Fall Back” wooed me with sweet talk and gifts: “Hey, girl! How about an extra hour of sleep?” he said. Or, “Look! I got you an extra hour to party with your friends! Let’s go to Taco Bell!”

Yes, turning the clock back on a Saturday night was awesome and had no downside.  It was Ryan
Gosling in “The Notebook” or George Clooney in, well…anything.
I really thought we were gonna make it, "Fall Back."

But then. Then, things changed. Then I had kids, and “Fall Back” couldn’t stand the pressure. Overnight, “Fall Back” changed. He turned into James Spader in “Pretty in Pink.” Or that guy Joe in “Say Anything.” (Remember? “Joe lies! Joe lies! Joe lies…when he cries.”)

Yes, “Fall Back” betrayed me, and hard. Because my kids couldn’t care less about sleeping late. Every year on the Sunday after “Fall Back,” they wake up ungodly early. Instead of an extra hour of sleep or partying, I get an extra hour of whining and sibling rivalry. Instead of more time in my cozy bed or having beers with friends, I got more time to clean up Legos or pour endless bowls of Cheerios.

The thing is, I love my kids and I love spending time with them. They don’t actually whine and fight all that much, and I clean Legos and pour Cheerios daily with no major issues. But I still associate
“Fall Back” with more sleep or more fun, and now that those things have been snatched away from me…I’m bitter.

That is, I WAS bitter. But now? Now I’m waving my glass of wine in the air and singing Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” with my girlfriends. Because this year I finally found a way to beat “Fall Back,” even though I have small children. I OWN “Fall Back” now, and I’m going to share my secret with you.

Yeah, he looks good but...evil.
The key to getting revenge on that scoundrel “Fall Back” is simple: pretend it’s not happening. Normally, I’d set all my clocks back an hour before I went to bed on Saturday night: This year I didn’t. When I heard my boys singing their usual good morning song the next morning (“Vagina! Vagina! Beautiful vagina!”), the clock said 6:30, as usual. No biggie.

We went about our day pretty much as normal, except that I pushed back our meal times a bit. Then, I got to be an absolute hero that evening when I told my boys I was going to let them stay up late to read some extra stories. “Hooray for Mommy! She’s the best!” they crowed, and I played along—tucking them in at “7:30,” a half-hour past their regular bedtime.

Except it wasn’t actually 7:30, was it?

Oh no, it wasn’t. As soon as their heads hit their pillows, I ran around the house and set the clocks back an hour and lo and behold…


I finally got revenge on that a-hole “Fall Back.”

Now, this plan is not without its possible pitfalls. If you had to be somewhere at a certain time during the day, you’d have to keep in mind that the rest of the world was an hour earlier than you. And yes, the kids will probably be up earlier than usual tomorrow morning. But here’s the thing—tomorrow is MONDAY and that’s a whole different ball game than Sunday. My ornery 5-year-old will be his kindergarten teacher’s problem for a good part of the day, and my younger kids and I will have our usual Monday activities to keep us busy.

So, yeah, the wheels might fall off come bedtime, and I expect a meltdown or two, but the important thing is that I WIN AT DAYLIGHT SAVINGS AGAIN. I got my extra hour, and I showed that no-good cheating scoundrel “Fall Back” that I Will Survive.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

See? I TOLD You There Are Chupacabras Living In Our Backyard

Hmph. Maybe now they will believe me.

And by “they,” I mean, of course, “my husband.” My normally quite rational, logical husband, who refuses to look at the evidence and surmise, as I have, that there are chupacabras living in our backyard.

Or, if not chupacabraS, then at least *a* chupacabra.

I first learned the monsters lived in our backyard about a year ago, which I wrote about here.

Since my discovery, I’ve had to make some changes in my life. I have learned that if I only venture into the backyard during daylight hours, when the beasties are asleep or hiding, I can pretend that we live in a relatively safe urban environment (the helicopters hovering overhead notwithstanding).

You know—it ain’t just a river in Egypt, and all that.

But yesterday afternoon, my blissful bubble of denial was popped.

I stepped out onto the sunny back stoop, heading to the garage to do laundry. And I immediately noticed that something weird had appeared in our backyard overnight.

It was an almost-perfect circle of white and gray seagull feathers.

And not just a few feathers. A WHOLE BIRD’S worth of feathers. In a one-foot-diameter circle in the middle of our backyard.

I knew this was not good news. I knew that there was not some naked and embarrassed seagull shivering in a tree somewhere regretting the last night’s drunken avian adventures.

And I knew that there must be more than just feathers in that circle, and that I was just too far away to see what. I was going to have to assess the damage and decide how to clean it up.

So, imagine my surprise when I reached the circle of feathers and found…just feathers.

No corpse. No skeleton. No guts. Nothing. Just feathers.

Now you tell me that’s not the sign of a chupacabra. Anything else that eats seagulls would have left
more…leftovers, right?

Of course, you’re probably thinking of the more usual urban predators. I thought that too. I thought, despite the weird circle pattern and the lack of bones and such, that maybe a cat or a hawk had just chosen our backyard to feast.

But then I remembered the bird feeder.

A few months ago, I bought a simple, plastic, tube-shaped bird feeder and hung it with twine from a tree in our backyard. My boys and I enjoyed watching the birds it attracted along with the neighborhood squirrels, who couldn’t quite work out how to climb down the twine and get at the birdseed. “What a good mom I am,” I thought more than once. “Look at me providing this educational experience for my children.”

Little did I know that I was actually putting their precious lives in danger by attracting a dangerous mythical creature to our backyard.

Because, one day, the bird feeder fell out of the tree.

At the time, I was pretty sure the a-hole squirrels chewed through the twine. Makes sense, right? My husband picked it up and put it on our back stoop, figuring we’d re-hang it the next day.

But the next day? The next day, we found the bird feeder in the middle of the yard. Something had dragged it off the stoop and had feasted on the remaining birdseed.

My poor, naïve husband blamed the squirrels again. I, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure. I mean, how strong ARE these squirrels? Are they working together? Have they evolved to the point where they have started to use tools?
No. Of course not. Clearly, the chupacabra was back. But, because I am a good wife I smiled and nodded at my delusional husband and placed the bird feeder on top of the water heater, whose top stands about 5 feet off the ground. I still thought I’d fill it up and re-hang it.

Yeah, right.

Because the next day??? The next day, the birdfeeder was back in the middle of the yard. SOMETHING had climbed the smooth-sided aluminum box that houses our water heater, grabbed the birdfeeder, dragged it out to the yard, licked it clean and then—adding insult to injury—chewed a big hole in it, rendering it useless.

I threw the dumb birdfeeder away, thinking optimistically that at least the chupacabra would leave us alone now that there was no food left in our backyard.

Which brings us back to yesterday and the circle of feathers.

And the fact that I am currently accepting any and all suggestions for chupacabra extermination.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thanks to CNN, I have rage in me

Thanks to CNN, I have rage in me. And not just a little rage. A whole lot of white-hot, burning, what-the-hell-is-humanity-coming-to rage.

Of course, it’s not CNN’s fault. They just report the news, after all. It’s what’s happening in the news these days that has made me so completely irate.

Here’s what I mean:

Everyday I check my CNN app. I’ve been thankful to have it when big news stories were breaking—like the Trayvon Martin decision and the royal baby’s birth. (Hey, shut up. It was big news for some of us.) But lately, the news I’ve been reading on my CNN app is at best making me want to stick my fingers in my ears and yell “LA LA LA! I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” and is at worst filling me with the aforementioned white-hot burning rage.

Mostly, it’s the rage.

For example, here is a screenshot of what I saw on my phone today:

From top to bottom, here’s what we have: victim blaming, rapist sympathy, blatant ignorance, the New York Times, and homophobia.

I didn’t read the New York Times article, and I don’t think it would make me mad. So let’s not worry about that one.

But let’s go ahead and talk about the others.

First of all, let’s talk about “Girl raped, kills self; rapist gets 30 days.” Let’s talk about that one. Because, seriously, WHAT IN THE ACTUAL F*CK CAN BE GOING ON IN OUR COUNTRY THAT THIS CAN HAPPEN?

Here’s the gist of this disturbing story: A 49-year-old high school teacher entered into a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old student.

Wait a minute. Stop. That right there seems to me to be all you need to know, right? An adult in a position of power had sex with a child. A CHILD. Doesn’t seem that complicated to me.

Sadly, there’s more: The teacher was charged and as the case progressed, the victim committed suicide—apparently at least in part because of the emotional fallout she suffered from the assault and its aftermath.

Please please please get the full details at CNN, but after some ups and downs, the case came before a judge on Monday. Prosecutors asked for a 20-year sentence for the teacher, who had previously admitted to one of the rape charges. The judge sentenced him to 15 years in prison.

Seems like the least he could do, right?

But then? THEN? Then he suspended all but 30 days of the sentence.

That’s right. The 49-year-old male teacher who had sex with his 14-year-old student will spend just 30 days in jail. Because the judge said that, in taped interviews, the girl seemed “older than her chronological age” and seemed to have had “as much control of the situation” as her teacher did.

I. Can’t. Even.

As tragic as it is that the girl took her own life, it really shouldn’t matter to the case. Even if she had overcome this awful period of her life—gone on to college, fallen in love, married, built a career, had children—even THEN it wouldn’t change the facts of the case. She was raped. Her rapist should be punished, severely. And 30 days in jail does NOT count as “severely.” Not even close.

(And if it turns out that we can be judged not by our chronological age but by the age we act, then I should either be able to shop at Forever 21 again or qualify for an AARP discount at the movies, depending on the day. But neither is actually possible, because my chronological age is forty and that’s the ONLY AGE I HAVE!)

*Blogger takes a deep cleansing breath and starts to let go of the rage…*

*But then she looks at this picture again*

What else do we have here? For one, the Hannah Anderson article. In it, the sister of the 40-year-old man who allegedly kidnapped 16-year-old Hannah has said that the girl was “trouble,” and that she believes her brother is, in fact, the victim.

I. Just. Can’t.

It does seem that there are undisclosed details of this case that may explain more about the relationship between these two and what happened, and I can’t blame DiMaggio’s sister for demanding more information from the authorities. But to me it boils down to this: She is 16. He was 40. Unless she willingly went camping in the Idaho wilderness with him (while wearing pajama pants, no less), then SHE is the victim.

That one makes me mad, but we’ll just have to wait and see how angry I feel when all the details of the case finally emerge.

What’s next? How about this: Nine children and seven adults, all of whom have ties to a Texas mega-church that preaches against immunization, have been stricken by measles. Many of them had never been immunized. The church’s senior pastor said this about their stand against immunizations: “The concerns we have had are primarily with very young children who have family history of autism and with bundling too many immunizations at one time."

Just. Please. Stop.

Then go ahead and read this here article HERE that says, once again, that there are no scientifically proven ties between vaccines and autism.

Finally, we have the Cory Booker story. Booker is the mayor of Newark, NJ, and is running for the state’s U.S. Senate seat. Apparently, there are people out there who wonder whether Booker is straight or gay. Booker told The Washington Post this week that he responds to questions about his sexuality by saying, in essence, “Who cares?” NOT “I’m straight, but who cares?” and NOT “I’m gay, but who cares?” Just plain old, “Who cares?” I love this, because by answering the question he’d be implying that his sexual orientation somehow mattered and had some bearing on his ability to govern. And, of course, it doesn’t.

Well, wait a minute. That’s not rage. Where’s the rage?

Here it is: Booker’s rival, Republican Steve Lonagan, thinks Booker’s remarks are “weird.” He says, “As a guy, I personally like being a guy. I don’t know if you saw the stories last year. They’ve been out for quite a bit about how [Booker] likes to go out at three o’clock in the morning for a manicure and pedicure,” a practice that Lonagan called a “fetish.”

Please. Make. All. Of. This. Stop.

So, a man is gay because he gets manis and pedis? Wait…not just gay, but a fetishist??? AND the fact that Cory Booker gets manis and pedis is A) newsworthy to some people, and B) relevant to his ability to govern?


Well, Booker may not always comment on his sexuality, but he has fully admitted to getting manis and pedis. And he has said that both are great but pedis, especially, are “transformative.”

Well, duh. But this is still NOT NEWS and still DOES NOT SPEAK TO HIS ABILITY TO GOVERN.


Oh, crap. I just thought of something. If a man who gets manicures must be gay, then a woman who never gets manicures must also be gay, right?

Shhhh…no one tell my husband our marriage is a sham. My ragged fingernails are proof.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Gee, thanks, Miley Cyrus, for leading me down a twerking internet rabbit hole last night

So, look.  I didn’t watch the Video Music Awards. I didn’t even know they were on yesterday until I got on Facebook. I wasn’t even aware that MTV still gave video awards—I thought they had given up on videos altogether.

But then, like I said, I got on facebook, and I was bombarded with “news” of Miley Cyrus’s bizarre performance at the VMAs. My friend Meredith over at the awesome blog Pile of Babies posted a link to a series of gifs on Buzzfeed taken from the performance—check it out HERE. Go on. It’s important—people are talking about this sh*t everywhere.

See? Obviously, I was totally confused. I mean, WTF is going on here??? Dancing teddy bears? Lots of twerking and scary tongue-wagging? Assaulting Robin Thicke? Why, Miley? WHY???
What. Am. I. Watching?
It seemed altogether too weird to be random, and that bothered me. There must be an explanation for all of this absurdity. But it was 9:30 pm and I’m 40 and I had an early morning coming up, not to mention children who feel sleep is for the weak. The smart choice would have been to say “screw it” and go to bed.

But I am not always that smart.

AND I have a degree in journalism. That means I’ve been trained to be compulsive about tracking stuff down at times like these. Is there a helicopter circling our neighborhood? Sorry kids—you’re on your own for lunch. Mommy’s stalking the local news sites to find out what’s going on.

Also? I probably need to read more books and stay off the internet after 8 pm.

Yeah, Smith family. I'm with you.
Anyway, regardless of the late hour, I went ahead and Googled Miss Miley. I’m not sure I’ll ever understand what she’s all about—I’m probably just too old—but her VMA performance began to make a little (just a little!) more sense when I saw the video for her latest hit. I’m not even going to post it here—it’s inane—but it includes twerking, dancing teddy bears, and Miley’s unnaturally long tongue, just like her VMA performance.

Great. Mystery solved. Time to close the laptop and go to bed, right?

Nope. Not yet. As usual, with answers come more questions.

Now I was confused about twerking. I thought I knew what it was—kind of sticking out your booty and shaking it around while you dance. I don’t do it—someone could get hurt and I don’t think our rental insurance covers stuff like that. But why is Miley getting all the credit for this “new” dance craze? Am I crazy, or has Beyonce been doing this for YEARS? I mean, my husband and I called that move “Doing The Beyonce” until the term “twerking” came along. (My husband won’t twerk for you, but I’ve seen him do it. It’s awesome/terrifying. Truly.)

Well, now I had to Google Beyonce. And twerking. And “Beyonce twerking.”

And what did I find?

I found crap. Loads and loads of internet crap. I know it was a LOT of crap, because I spent a LOT of time looking through it all. I went to bed late, didn’t get enough sleep, and was tired and foggy all day today.

But it was TOTALLY WORTH IT. Because I found these two things.

The first is an SNL spoof of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” video, starring Beyonce and the amazing Justin Timberlake. Watch it! It’s awesome:

Justin Timberlake parodies Beyonce by LeNouvelObservateur

(I have a weird crush on JT in that I don’t really like his music and I don’t actually find him all that physically attractive, but I love how he’s willing to make an ass of himself in the name of entertainment.)

The second great thing I found is this video by some guy named Flula. It is the best thing I have seen on the internet maybe ever, and I watch a lot of videos of baby sloths. It’s hard to beat baby sloths on the awesomeness scale, but this guy does it. Check it out:

So, I guess I have to thank Miley Cyrus. Her special brand of cray-cray led me to my new internet obsession: that guy Flula. He has 178 videos on youtube, you guys. I’m off to watch them all. It’s only 10 pm, after all.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

I Feel Sorry For My Son's Teacher

It’s Back-to-School time, and although our school year hasn’t quite started here, I already feel sorry for my son’s teacher. Here’s why:

For the past couple of years, I’ve been able to ignore the Back-to-School frenzy that seizes the country this time of year. My oldest was in year-round preschool and the only “supplies” we were asked to bring were paper towel rolls and empty milk jugs for art projects, and extra underwear for, well…you know. 

Milk jug Easter Bunny. Duh.
This year, though, I’m in it. My oldest starts Kindergarten next week and we are ALL ABOUT back-to-school here. We’ve been talking about raising your hand and being nice to your friends. We’ve been working to master the essential skill of wiping one’s own butt. My son picked out a Star Wars backpack and some new T-shirts, while I stocked up on Kleenex, chardonnay, and Xanax.

That’s not just me, right?

Academically, he’s ready, too. He’s got mad math skills, thanks to his dad’s genes, and he’s learning how to read and write. See? Here’s a little note he left us taped to the microwave. I do believe that this is the first complete sentence he has ever written.

It says, "NO GO IN BUTT"
We are so proud.

Anyway, I’m not sure his Kindergarten teacher will appreciate all the time he has spent learning to write words like “butt,” “poop,” “pee,” and “fart.” She might even ask me why on earth I taught him how to spell those words.

And though what I’ll be thinking is, “Hey, it kept him quiet for a few minutes,” what I’ll say is something like, “Well, I wanted to encourage his emergent literacy skills while also reinforcing his fine motor skills and letter-sound associations.”

And that’s when she might start to tremble with fear. Because, guess what?

I’m a teacher, too.

Which makes my son a teacher’s worst nightmare: Another teacher’s kid.

Though I’m taking a break from the game right now, I spent 11 years as an elementary school teacher—so I know all about how classrooms work. Even “better,” I spent a good many of those teaching years coaching and mentoring other teachers, so I’m really experienced at evaluating other teachers’ techniques.

And by “evaluating,” I mean, of course, “judging.”

As a mom, I’ve really really really tried hard to keep my professional opinions to myself when my sons have been in various classes. I gritted my teeth and smiled at the 19-year-old Gymboree teacher who spoke to the kids in that fakey-fake sing-song voice some grown-ups use. I bit my tongue hard when an “Art for Tots” teacher told my 3-year-old not to use that color on that picture. It took every ounce of self-control I had not to offer “constructive criticism” to the swim lesson teacher who offered my injured son a piece of gum rather than a band-aid for his bleeding toe. “ARE YOU NUTS???” I screamed in my head each time. “What kind of a teacher are you????”

And, though we are lucky to live in a good school district with great teachers, I know there will be times this year when I will question my son’s teacher’s judgment.

But, for the most part, I will keep my mouth shut.

I will do that because…I’ve been there. Almost every year of my teaching career so far, I’ve had another teacher’s kid in my class. At first it intimidated me to know that another, more experienced teacher was looking over the homework I sent home and quizzing her child about the day’s activities. I calmed down about it as I became more experienced myself, but I still got a little nervous for those parent-teacher conferences.

And the fact that I’ve been there is good news for both me and my son’s teacher. I know what it’s like to be in a classroom full of young kids all day. I know what a teacher means when she says with a forced smile, “This is a really energetic group of students!” I know how hard it is to effectively teach a group of students who are all Kindergarteners by name but whose skills may span several grade levels. I know to help my son take care of his homework folder and notebook because there’s a good chance his teacher spent her own hard-earned money to buy it. I know how hard she works every day…and many evenings…and most weekends…and for a good part of the summer, too.

So, next week I will send my boy off to Kindergarten. I may cry a bit, and I’m sure I’ll worry a lot. And, yeah, I’ll probably look long and hard at the homework he brings home each day. But, unless a major problem arises, I’ll let the teacher do her job—without my advice.

If you're a teacher, you'll love this. Check it out:

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Be Careful What You Wish For...You Might Get Pregnant

This post is the latest in my "Way-Back Wednesday" series (on the third Wednesday of each month, I revisit one of my favorite posts from the past). Enjoy!

I realized yesterday, thanks to a handy iphone pregnancy app, that I am now 38 weeks pregnant. This came as a bit of a shock, because, of course, it means that technically I could have this baby at any time. Like, even tomorrow. TOMORROW.

(OK, yes. I admit it: I am kind of a bad mom for needing a pregnancy app to tell me how far along I am. With my two previous pregnancies I knew to the day where I was in my gestation. What can I say? I'm older this time around, and I have a 3-year-old and 5-year-old to keep track of. Not my fault. Well, mostly not my fault.)

So. The baby could come at any time. I should be worried, because we are not ready. AT ALL. I haven't retrieved our bassinet from my friend who has been using it, the crib mattress is currently on the floor ready to catch my 3-year-old the next time he falls out of his bed, and I haven't boiled the
nipples for any of our bottles. (And before you get snippy about the fact that this baby will probably be fed formula from early on in his/her life, read THIS.)

So, yeah, if the baby were born tomorrow, we'd have some scrambling to do.

However, I'm not worried. My oldest son came at 41 weeks, and my younger son took even longer than that to be fully cooked. Odds are we have three more weeks. PLENTY of time to get that infant car seat installed. LOTS of time to pick a name. SCADS of time to replace all the newborn clothes I gave away three years ago. No problem! And after all, this is my last pregnancy (for REALS this time) and I want to enjoy it for as long as I can.

On the other hand...I haven't been enjoying it quite so much this time.

While this pregnancy has been easy compared to some women's pregnancies, it's been a rough-ish few months for me. It started when I got shingles, which I really thought was an old person's disease. (It's not.) Then the baby was breech for a while and my dreams of a natural, probably-unmedicated birth were put on hold until he/she got with the program and turned around. Recently, I spent a week with a terrible cold, and just when it started to clear up...I got pink eye, which I really thought was a young person's disease. (It's not.)

I figured the worst was over until I experienced something I'd never heard of before: an ocular migraine. Basically, your vision gets all screwy for 30 minutes or so, and your kids get to watch extra tv while you panic and call Labor and Delivery because you're certain you have a tumor or a stroke or something. If you're lucky like me, you get a wonderful midwife on the phone who explains what's happening and as if by magic your vision returns to normal pretty much instantly. So. Much. Fun.

But, despite those discomforts, I'm pretty excited to meet our baby. I'm excited to start calling it "him" or "her" instead of "it." I'm excited to start learning his/her personality. (Though I just know already that he/she will be a good sleeper. I SAID, I KNOW IT.) I'm excited to see my 3-year-old become a big brother. I know there are sleepless nights and poop-soaked days ahead of me, but I'm ready. I still have doubts about how I will handle being a mom of three, but I figure we'll all muddle through it somehow. It won't be perfect, and at times it will probably be a big ole mess, but we'll figure it out.

So, given all that, I thought this month I'd revisit the blog post that started it all...

Dead Womb Walking?

I wrote it back before I got pregnant, when I was still trying to figure out if we should have a 3rd baby. Enjoy it!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Don't Tell Me What to Feed My Baby!

Not long ago on my blog, I shared my indecision about trying for a third child. Despite the lack of sleep, I always look back on my boys’ baby years fondly; the late-night snuggles, the milestones, learning our new family member’s personality. But there is one part of those baby years that brings back more bad memories than good:


Now, don’t get me wrong. I am absolutely pro-breastfeeding. I believe women should be able to nurse their babies pretty much whenever, wherever they want to without any objection from anyone.

Poor, miserable, formula-fed baby
But that’s not all I believe. See, I tried my damnedest to breastfeed my first son. But, after a few weeks, the kid wasn’t gaining weight. In fact, he had started to LOSE weight. After a frantic trip to the pediatrician, hours of pumping at all times of day and night, and more money than I care to think about spent on a lactation consultant, we came to realize something: I couldn’t effectively feed my baby with my breasts. (And believe me, when a lactation consultant tells you to give up breastfeeding, you know your tatas just don’t have the goods.)

I cannot tell you how horrible I felt in those first few weeks that we started feeding Matthew formula. I just knew that I had failed as a woman and a mother. It seemed that every time I logged onto my online new mother’s support group, or got on facebook, or even just opened my favorite gossip magazine, I was hit over the head with the message: BREAST IS BEST! FORMULA IS EVIL! YOU ARE A BAD MOM IF YOU DON’T BREASTFEED YOUR BABY!  (You know what’s really evil? Supermodel Gisele Bundchen spouting crap about how breastfeeding should be a “law.”)

This attitude has got to stop. Yes, breast milk is best for babies. There is no denying that. But we are so lucky to live in a time where technology has provided us with a substitute for breast milk that is almost just as good. Not only is it almost as good, it is a nutritious, healthy, perfectly FINE way to feed babies. My boys both thrived on formula—they hit their milestones right on time, they had matching height and weight percentiles, they are intelligent, caring, wonderful little human beings. If I hadn’t had formula to feed them (or a live-in wet nurse, I guess), they literally would not have survived their infancies.

People have asked me, “But, didn’t you miss the bonding breastfeeding provides?” After I take a few deep breaths and convince myself not to punch them in the throat, I explain that bottle-feeding can be just as bonding as breastfeeding. I’ve done both: I know that I can snuggle, kiss, and gaze at my baby if there’s a boob OR a bottle in his mouth. (I can also watch “Grey’s Anatomy” either way, and I did that sometimes, too.) And guess what? If I want the ever-important “skin-to-skin contact” that breastfeeding provides babies and mothers? I can take my shirt off and rock that bottle with the twins hanging free and loose. Been there, done that (lucky for everyone, only in the privacy of my own home).
What can I say? I guess it's all the formula we fed him.

New mothers choose formula for a host of different reasons. Some, like me, can’t breastfeed. Some have to go back to work and can’t fit pumping in to their schedules. Some find breastfeeding painful or uncomfortable. Some need more than 3-4 hours of sleep in a row. Some just plain don’t like it. But guess what? None of that matters. We should support mothers who FEED THEIR BABIES, which, as it turns out, is pretty much all mothers.

We need to stop shaming mothers for choosing formula over breast milk and focus on other things that actually have a major impact on babies’ lives. Let’s put our time and energy into educating parents about SIDS, for example. Babies DIE from SIDS. Or how about helping new parents learn about car seat safety? Babies in improperly installed car seats can DIE in an auto accident. DRINKING FORMULA DOES NOT KILL BABIES.

The thing is, I am all for supporting new moms who want to breastfeed. I am even all for encouraging reluctant moms to give it a try. I think new moms should have easy access to help and advice from experts who can make those first few weeks of breastfeeding, which are often the hardest, easier. I don’t think hospitals should send home formula samples unless parents ask for them, and I don’t think maternity ward nurses should feed babies formula without their parents’ consent. But I also think women should not be made to feel embarrassed or ashamed if they choose formula.

So, yes, I am pro-breastfeeding. But I am also pro-formula feeding. In fact, I like to say that I am PRO-FEEDING. Feed your babies. Feed them something that will allow them to grow and thrive, like breast milk or formula. And the next time you see a woman with a new baby at the pediatrician’s office, preschool drop-off, or, God help her, the grocery store, give her a smile. Tell her that her baby is beautiful. Tell her she is doing a great job. Because chances are good that she is feeding her baby…probably many times a day and at least once or twice at night. And THAT’S all that matters.

This essay was originally published on November 14, 2012, as one of my entries in the Blogger Idol contest. You can see the original post, along with the judges' comments, HERE.

Friday, April 19, 2013

I'm Pregnant and Nesting...Sort Of

This post is the latest in my "Way-Back Wednesday" series (on the third Wednesday of each month, I revisit one of my favorite posts from the past). Enjoy!

It's been a long 34 weeks...
It occurred to me recently that I never officially announced my pregnancy here on my blog. So, let's get that out of the way:


But before you start oohing and aahing and wishing me a happy and healthy nine months, you should know something. I'm not just pregnant. I'm SUPER pregnant. Like, light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel, can't-see-my-feet, 34-weeks-along pregnant. I just kind of forgot to announce it before now. Blame it on hormones.

Anyway, like a waddling, heavy-breathing, not-really-all-that-effective ninja, I've sneaked along to that point in pregnancy where the nesting instinct starts to kick in. I want to dig out the bottles and the baby clothes and set up the all-important baby swing. I want to install the infant car seat and get the Boppy out of storage. I want to set up the baby's room so it actually looks a little like a baby's room and less like the play room that it currently is.

But I can't. I just can't get it done.

Sure, there are the usual deterrents. My two young boys, for one, who will go from happily playing together to trying to kill each other the minute they see me engage in any activity that doesn't involve them. My current physical state doesn't help, either. I'm big, I'm tired, and I spend a lot of time limping around holding on to my butt thanks to what I'm told is a pinched sciatic nerve.

And sometimes this happens.
But the biggest obstacle to me getting everything ready for our new little one is an even more daunting problem: Our house is a godawful mess. It's not that it's dirty, exactly, (as long as you don't look inside the microwave) it's just, well, cluttered. We have a lot of stuff, and no matter how often I put it away it ends up all over. All over the dining room table, all over the living room floor, even all over the tiny counter next to the bathroom sink (WHY do I find Hot Wheels there every morning? WHY?)

So, this time around my nesting process includes what I'm calling "pre-nesting:" the sorting, organizing, and purging I have to do so I can actually nest. Since I'm actually at the "pre-pre-nesting" phase (the one where you look around and think about everything that has to be done then sit down and check facebook), I've been reminded of this post a lot lately:

I Don't Think We Could Charge For Admission...

Enjoy! And step carefully on your way out!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Pregnancy and Grief, Or How To Get Nothing Done

This post is the latest in my "Way-Back Wednesday" series (on the third Wednesday of each month, I revisit one of my favorite posts from the past). Enjoy!

You know those days where you have to keep reminding yourself how much you love your spouse, or you'll end up killing them?

I think my husband is having one of those days.

Oh well, at least Ryan gets me.
I have to admit, I've been a bit of a mess lately. I'm 30 weeks pregnant, so, thanks to hormones, my mind and body don't always feel like they are totally under my control. (This explains why I frequently walk like an old lady and sometimes call my kids by the cat's name.) We also happen to have a lot going on right now, including buying a bigger car, filing our taxes, dealing with an incompetent cable/internet company (I'm looking at you, AT&T U-Verse), and preparing for an upcoming family trip. I'd say I was juggling a lot of balls, but that would only be true if "juggling" meant "kicking around a bunch of balls and occasionally maybe throwing one up in the air and hoping it doesn't hit anyone in the eye."

It's a lot to handle under normal circumstances, but unfortunately there's even more: Late last week, my beloved great-aunt Ruthie--whom I have always considered a third grandma--died unexpectedly.

So, on top of the day-to-day absurdities of everyday life (seriously, AT&T? Thirty-five minutes on the phone to resolve NOTHING?), I have been flooded with grief and memories of my Aunt Ruthie. And, because my Aunt Ruthie and my mom were so close, I am also being flooded with memories of my mom. I am missing both of them so much right now it sometimes physically hurts. And the juggling thing? Those balls have rolled under the couch and are collecting dust and cat hair.

I haven't written much about my Aunt Ruthie on my blog, but back in October I wrote about my memories of my mom and our frequent trips to visit my grandma (Aunt Ruthie's sister). So while I get a broom and attempt to knock those balls out from under the couch so I can get them back up in the air again, go ahead and revisit this:

Arizona Memories, Or How I Learned My Grandma Is A Stone-Cold Killer

And while you're here, I'd appreciate any ideas you have on how I can apologize to my husband for my sub-par juggling skills. It'll get better...probably.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Mommy? No! I Am...VAGINA PERSON!

You are a poopy stinky butt!

Well, not YOU, exactly. Really, more like everyone. Everyone is a poopy, stinky butt.

According to my four-year-old, that is.

The Stinker has entered a lovely phase—The Potty Talk phase. Sometime in the last few months, he discovered that toilet talk is not just regular funny, like he thought it was before. Toilet talk, it turns out, is over-the-top, spit-milk-through-your-nose, fall-on-the-floor-with-your-friends-laughing funny.
Do you know how hard it was to find an appropriate picture for this post?

My first response to the potty talk was a huge mistake: I told him to stop it. Talk about adding fuel to the fire! Now poop is hilarious AND Mommy doesn’t much like it! Let’s just say the resulting verbal poo-splosion was epic. If he wasn’t talking about poop, pee, or penises it was only because he was cackling maniacally at his own genius.

But then, things got even worse. He took it up a notch: He discovered the word “Vagina.” And oooooohhhhh does my boy love to say “vagina.” He uses it creatively, throughout the day, in a wide variety of situations. For example: I am no longer “Mommy”—I am “Vagina Person.” As in, “HEY! VAGINA PERSON! LOOK! THIS STORE SELLS HOT WHEELS!! CAN I HAVE ONE, VAGINA PERSON?? CAN I? CAN I???” Another fun example: He made up a Vagina song, which he then taught to his younger brother. It goes like this: “Vagina! Vagina! Beautiful vagina! Vagina! Vagina! Let’s talk about vagina!” They like to march around the house singing it when the UPS guy stops by to drop off a package or when I’m on the phone with the pediatrician’s office.

The good news is that I have managed to contain the madness:  He doesn’t break out the potty talk at preschool, according to his teacher (that was a fun conversation). But the effort to hold in all those “vaginas” and other potty words during school hours is apparently monumental—as soon as I close the car door at pick-up time, he lets loose with a violent stream of 4-year-old profanity that sends his brother into fits of giggles and makes me want to bang my head against the steering wheel until I no longer care.

The other good news, I guess, is that neither of my boys has managed to pick up any “real” profanity…yet. They truly believe that the worst word on earth is “stupid” and I hope to keep it that way for as long as I can. Because I can just imagine the day that they discover actual curse words—it will be like a whole new world has opened before them. A world filled with ways to embarrass and humiliate Mommy. A world strewn with shocked and horrified grandparents and teachers. A world where Mommy can no longer go to Target without suffering the judgmental stares of her fellow shoppers.

And a world without Target is not a world I want to live in.

Vagina Person
(No joke: Do a Google image search of "vagina person" and about 5 photos from my blog come up, including this one. OF ME.)

(Oh, but also? You probably don't want to do a Google image search of "vagina person." Trust me on this one.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sorry Kids, Mommy's Outta Here

This post is the second in my "Way-Back Wednesday" series (on the third Wednesday of each month, I revisit one of my favorite posts from the past). Enjoy! 

Sorry Kids, Mommy’s Outta Here
That’s right. I’m packing my bags. Leaving my family behind. In just two days, I. Am. Out. Of. Here.

Ok, truth be told, I’m only going to be gone for 3 days—and then I am most definitely, almost probably, coming back. I’m heading out for a girls’ weekend with my six college besties, and I can’t decide if I’m more excited for the actual weekend or for the airport and plane ride experiences.

Sad, isn’t it? I mean, you know you’re a mom of young kids when a trip to the airport and a 3-hour flight BY YOURSELF feels like a spa day. I’m already dreaming of it: Getting through security will be a breeze with no car seat, no stroller, no sullen preschoolers who refuse to answer the TSA agent when asked for their names. After security, I’ll stroll to my gate, maybe stopping at Starbucks or McDonalds for goodies—that I won’t have to share!—and then by a book shop for trashy magazines. And boarding will be lovely: I’ll just waltz to my seat and plop down to enjoy my snacks and gossip rags at will.

But then the real magic will begin.

The plane ride.

Here’s what I WON’T be doing during my flight:
  • Reading “Little Critter” books out loud.
  • Eating smashed PB&J sandwiches and soggy cucumber slices.
  • Learning how to play the “Elmo’s ABCs” app on the iPad so I can help my kids with it.
  • Watching “Cars 2” for the 93587935798357th time.
  • Holding someone else’s barf bag.
Here’s what I probably WILL be doing during my flight:
  • Reading something—ANYTHING—for grown-ups.
  • Eating whatever delicious goodies I could find in the terminal without worrying about modeling good habits for my fellow travelers.
  • Smashing my 4-year-old’s high scores on my iphone’s “Angry Birds” app.
  • Watching a PG-13 or even (gasp!) R-rated movie.
  • Politely ignoring pretty much everyone around me as much as possible.

So, as I pack my one incredibly small suitcase and my definitely-not-a-diaper-bag purse, I leave you with this link to celebrate this month’s “Way-Back Wednesday.”
It’s about a trip I took with my kids that went horribly, messily wrong. And it explains why I now carry large ziplock plastic bags with us whenever we all set foot on a plane together. Because those tiny airplane motion-sickness bags?


By the way, if you’re looking for even more Crazed goofiness, I’ve been featured on a couple of other blogs recently. Check them out:

Last January, my friend Daddy Knows Less let me rant about childless people who think they know everything about parenting. (And yes, I was one of them once.)

And then, earlier this month my friend Martinis and Minivans interviewed me for her "Inside the Blogger's Studio" feature. Read it to find out what hilarious lie I told my kids to get them to eat their veggies.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Pinterest + Preschoolers = PAIN

Well, I may be the last on earth to do it, but I was finally hit by the Pinterest Plague. I bit the bullet a week ago and signed up. And now? Now, I have plans.

Big Plans.

Home decorating plans. Cleaning-my-house plans. Making-darling-and-incredibly-thoughtful-Valentines-Day-crafts-for-my-husband plans.

Lots and lots and lots and lots of plans.

For now I’m still in the research phase of most of these plans. It could take weeks, months, even YEARS for me to gather the necessary photos, infographics, and how-to lists needed in order to effectively put these plans in motion. That’s ok. I don’t have a lot of time to distress and paint old wooden frames at this point anyway.

But I did find one thing on Pinterest that I decided to try right away: an incredibly cute, easy Valentine’s Day craft for kids. Here’s the photo I found and the link to the website:
Click here for the original post
So cute and easy, right? My four-year-old son had a playdate with his best little girl friend coming up, so I decided to take on my first Pinterest Parenting moment and bust out this craft for them.

Well, as I should have expected, things did not go exactly as planned.

I got the kids started, and they were very excited. For about 30 seconds. Then, some things started happening.

First, they asked for other art supplies—markers, stickers, ribbons, stuff like that. Stuff that was NOT mentioned on Pinterest when I found this activity. I had misgivings—WE WERE DOING A PINTEREST CRAFT, not improvising some random art project like preschool hippies!! But I don’t like tempering a child’s natural creativity in general, so I went with it.

Next, they started experimenting. My son became fascinated with a glob of glue from his glue stick and began poking at it. Then he scribbled on it with a marker, yelling, “I’m dying it!! I’m dying the glue!” Then he used the marker to draw on his hair. Again.

Of course, distractions were inevitable. I’m not sure how jumping up and down, flapping one’s arms and shouting, “Look! Look at me! I’m flying! LOOK AT ME!!!” is part of anyone’s artistic process, but there was my son doing just that. His friend was unfazed and, after watching his antics for a minute or two, went back to using her rebel art supplies to do non-Pinterest-endorsed activities like coloring on top of stickers.

Finally, they finished their Valentines. Here are the results:
My son's valentine
His friend's valentine
Um, yeah. This would be MY valentine. Mommy, FTW!

At this point, my son’s friend became inspired and hid herself away in another room to make a “secret valentine.” When she emerged, she handed my son this:
Well, my little guy thought this whole secret valentine thing was a great idea, so he hid HIMSELF away in the other room to make one for her. When he emerged, he gave her this:
Apparently, my son’s “POOP” valentine somehow reminded the kids that playing with underpants is always a fun game, so they moved on from art supplies to that. To my son, the Underpants Game just means wearing underpants on your head and body and throwing them around the house. Like this:
He takes after his father.
So he wasn’t quite sure how to respond to his girl friend’s suggestion that they use the underpants for a more practical, organized activity: to make a treasure trail (duh). So then I found this in our bathroom:
I love how they are evenly spaced.
There’s really nowhere to go but down after fun like that, is there? Thankfully, my friend showed up to claim her daughter right about then, so we’ll never know what might have happened next.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Can Southern California Recover from this "Arctic Blast?"

This post is the first in my new series, "Way-Back Wednesday." On the third Wednesday of each month, I'll revisit one of my favorite posts from the past. Considering that I've been blogging for a whole year now, I figure I've got about 3 months before I run out of "old" material. Then I guess I'll have to institute "What's-Happening-Today Wednesday," which, technically, will just be another new blog post. But, as my husband likes to say, that's Future Molly's problem. Present Molly likes "Way-Back Wednesday," and is proud to present the first in the series....
Can Southern California Recover from this "Arctic Blast?"
We've had quite the cold snap here in Southern California this past week. Daytime temps have been stuck in the 50's, and nighttime temps have fallen into the *GASP* 30's! OK, upper 30's, but still. We don't see 30 degree-weather very often around here, so the response has been somewhat close to panic. ESPECIALLY from the local news media. Check this out to see what I mean:

In light of this emergency, my family has had to take some extreme measures. First, we have had to figure out once and for all how to work this, our heater:
Cat photo bomb
Yes, that vent you see bears the sole responsibility for heating our whole house. For our part, this involves a complex schedule of opening and closing various bedroom and hallway doors so that the thermostat, in the living room, gets some heat and the boys, in their bedroom, get some heat, and that we, in our bedroom, are kept cat-free (thanks to my cold-hearted husband). Sadly, Hubby and I have to choose between heat and being cat-free, so I am sleeping under, I don't know, maybe EIGHT blankets at night these days.

The second adjustment we have had to make has been to our clothing choices. My boys had to trade their light hoodies for fleece jackets on our bike rides around the neighborhood. My poor 2-year-old abandoned his barefoot lifestyle and took to actually wearing socks inside the house. And while my 4-year-old STILL refuses to wear jammies to bed, he has been donning them as soon as he gets up each morning rather than wearing nothing but underpants, as is his usual style.

Yes, it has been a week of sacrifice and hardship for us here in Southern California.

So, for my first "Way-Back Wednesday," I've decided to revisit a post I wrote around Christmastime a year ago about my problems adjusting to winters in a warm-weather locale. I grew up in Chicago, so every year at Christmas I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone when I see Christmas lights wrapped artfully around palm trees, shining their twinkling lights on lush, green lawns. To see what I mean, check out my post...

A So-Cal Christmas

And, while I appreciate your worry and concern, know that we here in Southern California are going to be OK. Temperatures should be in the mid- to upper-70's by the weekend, my kids will enjoy their friend's birthday party in a local park, and the fleece jackets will be stored safely in the hall closet for the next few years.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

How My Dead Cat And My 4-Year-Old Saved Christmas

I have to admit, Christmas is sort of a bummer for me. Thirteen years ago, one of my grandfathers died on Christmas Day, and then four years ago my mom died just a few weeks before Christmas. The most wonderful time of the year? Eh.

But this year, I had to rally my Christmas spirit. See, I now have not one but TWO young sons who believe in Santa Claus and who have fully embraced the spirit of the season. (That is, if by “spirit of the season” you mean “getting presents, eating junk food, and losing your shit at increasing volumes every day for the three weeks preceding Christmas.”) So I couldn’t really half-ass it like I have in the past.

But I knew I couldn’t make Christmas really wonderful for my kids if I was mostly faking my own joy of the season. So I thought a bit about what I could do to make me feel jollier over the holidays. And I came up with a great idea:

This year, for the first time, we would get a CHRISTMAS TREE!

Now, please understand, I am not such a Grinch that I have denied my children the delight of having a full-sized, decorated Christmas tree simply because I didn’t want one. The problem always lay with one of my cats. He was a voracious plant-eater—anything plant or even vaguely plant-like was delicious to him. And since plants violently disagreed with his digestive system, we had banned them from our house, including Christmas trees.

Tiny tree, post-Santa garbage collection
To compensate, we bought a 2-foot fake tree that we decorated then placed on a table and surrounded with whatever we could find that would block the cat’s access to it. Toys, books, empty cereal boxes, water bottles—it was like a yearly game of Tetris as we tried to cover every square inch of space around our midget tree with clutter and garbage so that the cat couldn’t get at it.

Ahhhh, clutter and garbage...the true spirit of Christmas.

Each year, I looked at our sad little garbage tree and wished we could have a big happy tree. I didn’t want my kids to grow up thinking it was normal for Santa to haul out the trash under the tree and leave presents in its place. I wanted a proper Christmas tree, and this year I was going to have one.

(As for the tree-eating cat? Well, it turns out that was a good news, bad news situation. The good news was the cat wasn’t eating plants any more. The bad news was that was because he died back in August.)

So, in an unusual fit of holiday cheer, I packed both kids up in the car and headed to Target to buy a big, beautiful, gloriously pre-lit fake tree.

At the store, we snagged one of the snazzy carts that have the little trailer behind it with two kid seats. This meant both of my kids were strapped in and contained—a definite plus in a crowded pre-holiday Target. But it also almost doubled the length of my cart—a definite minus in a crowded pre-holiday Target. But then, in a true Christmas miracle, we easily found the tree section, picked the kind of tree we wanted (7 ½ feet tall!!), and found a Target employee to load the enormous tree box into our cart.

But as we headed for the checkout lanes to pay, I realized we had two problems.

Add 70 lbs of kids and a huge Xmas tree...
One, my extra-long cart was now about two feet longer—thanks to the huge box sticking out of the end of it. Doing a simple left turn required about 72 adjustments and took at least 2 minutes. It was going to take FOREVER to get to the checkout lanes.
But it turns out that was a good thing, because it gave me some extra time to figure out how I was going to solve problem number two: fitting two kids in car seats, one driver, and one enormous Christmas tree box into my Honda Civic.

I called my husband, thinking he could bring the second car around to take the tree home. No answer. After a few more fruitless calls I realized I was on my own. I paid for the tree and slowly, slowly wheeled us all out to the car.

With the kids safely strapped in their seats, I got started. Despite a valiant effort, the trunk was a no go. The box was going to somehow have to fit in the car with us. I got to work adjusting the front seats—pushing them back and reclining them as far as I could without crushing my kids. I took off both the headrests, and I pushed and pulled that tree box until it was almost, ALMOST all the way in the car.

But not quite.

The box and I had reached a détente. It needed one little push from the passenger side, but if I let go of it and left my spot on the driver’s side it would slide out of the car. And I wasn’t sure I could recreate the exact sequence of maneuvers that had gotten us so close to victory. I felt my newfound Christmas spirit slipping away as I imagined wheeling the kids and the tree back into Target to return it. I sighed and muttered to myself, “If I just had someone to give it a tiny push….”

From the back seat, my 4-year-old piped up, “I can help, Mommy! I’ll use all my strongth power!”

I smiled at “strongth power” and realized he was right. He could help me. My baby wasn’t such a baby anymore—he was pretty strong and, just as important, he could unbuckle his own car seat. He popped out of the car, got behind the box, and gave it his biggest push. Lo and behold, it slid just far enough in that we could close the passenger door. We jumped up and down in the parking lot, high-fiving and screaming “STRONGTH POWER!” while my 2-year-old applauded in the car.

We survived the trip home, and I used some of my own strongth power to put the tree together. And then, for the first time, we got out the BIG box of ornaments, and decorated our full-size Christmas tree.
And it may just stay up until Valentines Day