What is that on the baby?

Some of you have asked what was all over the baby -- finger paint. Yes, finger paint.

Friday, December 25, 2009

And It's a Wrap!

Christmas is over, and everyone is happy!

We were worried because last night my 2 year old turned into the scrooge. First, we spent the early evening trying to get her to help decorate the tree: "no, no Christma tree. No." Before bed, we asked if she wanted to put out cookies and milk for santa: "No, no cookies for Santa." Then, while tucking her in, daddy explained how Santa would come and leave presents: "No. No Santa comes. No presents. No Christmas. No." We were confused.

My daughter woke later than everyone else this morning (6:00 AM), which was a good sign that she was sleeping off sickness. When I went to get her, I reminded her about Santa: "No. No Santa in the pink house. Pink house is Daddy's, NOT SANTA'S!" Apparently in her mind, a visit from Santa is like a home invasion. Luckily, the wonderfully decorated tree and assembled baby carriage took the sting out of Santa's violation of our home. My perfect husband and I stayed up very late preparing for their special morning, and I might have lost it if she couldn't be just a little appreciative.  But no worries! She was my charmingly brilliant redheaded wonder all day.

Potty training, while being of secondary concern, surprisingly stayed on track for the day. Peanut had one accident, but otherwise used the potty all day. And the accident happened during the present opening frenzy, which is understandable. She loved her presents and could often be seen just gazing wide-eyed at the tree. It was amazing. Then my dear brother and his adorably round wife arrived and our little family opened gifts, told stories, and just loved each other. Things couldn't have been better.

My darling son only tried to kill himself 6 ways: choking (his MO), scaling down the sofa face first (a frequent stunt), pulling the tree down (festively dare-devilish) , eating mysterious inedibles (related to choking, but unique), provoking the dog (my personal fav), and wedging himself under the rocking recliner (awesomely scary). Well, 7 if you count deep-throating a drumstick, which is somewhere between eating inedibles and choking. Funny now, but then? Not so much...

He also bonded with my brother, his uncle and namesake. This was an important moment because my brother has trouble with babies -- he thinks they all hate him. In fairness, may do. This is because he's tall, loud and authoritative (think cop). However, he's expecting his first baby in February, and he's nervous. Not in a cold sweats, nightmare kind of way -- but more in a clumsy, my own baby won't like me until (s)he's older kind of way. I hope this morning was a confidence booster because he is going to be a wonderful father.

I just want to say out loud (figuratively) how much I need my family. I've always prided myself on not needing anyone, and now I do. I need all of you -- my perfect husband, my redheaded wonder, my beautiful daredevil, my dear brother, my adorable sister-in-law, the angel in waiting, and the "Aunties." I'm thankful that you've shown me what family is and that you are mine. I love you. You are my Christmas miracle, now and forever.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Welcome, Christmas...

So Thanksgiving is over, Chanukkah is over, The Pumpkin Man's birthday is over, it's finally time for Christmas. I'm not ready -- literally and figuratively.

Thanksgiving sucked. I had the swine and was awake for about 5 hours total, not consecutively. I was in bed more often than not over the long weekend, and sick for a week afterward. This set me back unimaginably for the holiday season. I was counting on that time to find the decorations for the upcoming festivities. Didn't happen. In fact, two weeks later it still hadn't happened.

Chanukkah was a bust. When I finally went to the basement to find the decorations, of course the missing box was the one with the menorah in it. So we had to go out and buy one on the night before. We ended up with two ugly-ass ceramic menorahs, and I still haven't found our pretty brass one. On top of that, we couldn't find candles anywhere. We went to six stores with huge holiday displays and no Chanukkah candles, NONE. Seriously? It isn't exactly an obscure holiday. Whatever. We ended up with 3 different kinds of birthday candles instead. Nice, huh?

The Pumpkin Man's birthday went off okay. My brother wasn't there because I'm sick again and his wife is eight months pregnant. His absence made for a weird black hole feeling in me, but no one else seemed terribly phased. My boy had his first cake, which he seemed to enjoy squishing more than eating (however, he eat it heartily today). He got lots of toys and some nice clothes. Everyone had the same idea of bringing Peanut a gift so she'd feel included, so she had a mini-birthday. Oh and my grandmother-in-law criticized my baby for thumb sucking and squeezed her breasts at him saying, "my kids had these and they were happy..." Hello, Nutjob.

Today we went for the tree. It smells great in my house. I love the smell of Christmas, but I still wish I had a fire -- maybe someday I'll have a house with a fireplace. That's one of the few things I wish my children could have that I had, roaring fire with my grandmother's homemade stockings hanging on the mantle. I only have mine left, green red and white crochet squares with jingle bells.

What is it about Christmas that makes us nostalgic? I'm sitting here thinking about things I haven't thought about in years. Last year at this time it was also snowing, but I was in the hospital having just given birth less than 24 hours before. I vacillated between crying in sadness because it was the first time I'd been separated overnight from my little girl since she's been born, and crying with joy over my perfect, perfect little boy. Either way, there were a lot of hormones and tears. This year my baby is becoming a toddler and my toddler is becoming a little girl. And here I am crying again. Is it weird that these thoughts make me melancholy? I don't think I'm ready...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cheaters Never Win? Don't Be So Sure...

Most anyone reading this knows I teach English in a district high school in a major city. What you may or may not know is that I teach mostly sophomores because I  have a good history of standardized test scores and I actually enjoy 10th grade. Most people don't, so I had some leverage to get a treat class. As a concession to my sacrifice, I've also been given a 12th grade creative writing elective. It's wonderful, but I do tend to spoil that class. There are occasional days of sitting around, chatting about school, becoming adults, working, and whatnot. This NEVER happens in my sophomore classes.

Anyway, during one of these chat sessions, it came out that their honors/AP class group is the craziest group of cheaters ever to walk the halls of our high school. This clutch of cheaters includes some of the top 10 kids in the school, including the would be valedictorian and salutatorian. They started telling me that they cheated here, and they cheated there. Nothing unusual at first, but it just kept getting worse. I'll give you some examples. Mind you, all of these have been successful  to some degree.

Here are a few of their more innovative schemes:

1. They dig through the recycling bins and mailboxes looking for discarded copies of their teachers tests, and hang around the copy room in hopes that teachers will forget the master copy in the machine.

2. They google questions from their AP exams on their phones. They also record themselves slowly reading chapters of textbooks into their phones, download them to their IPODs and play them during their tests while pretending to listen to music.

3. They have elaborate hand signals (a virtual sign language) for cheating.

4. They use their phones as calculators because our school doesn't have enough for every class -- but they text each other the answers. Those classes with calculators store info in them directly.

5. They write cheat sheets in places that teachers can't ask to check or would never think to check -- high up on a thigh under a skirt, and on each other's backs.

6. They do the traditional note passing, but also engage in more elaborate plans with cheat sheets in odd places and a Q & A session on the bathroom wall.

7. Of course they plagiarize from the internet, which is fairly easy to catch. But they also write each others papers and take each others tests.

8. They steal tests and trade or sell them to other classes or absent students.

9. They try to hack into their teachers' email, and know that their math teacher puts his test in his mailbox the night before to xerox it in the morning.

10. They managed to cheat on a real standardized test and were working on a system for the SAT.

Anyway 2 days after my students boasted, they got busted when a kid in their math class ratted them out. She said she earned her F in calculus and would be damned if other kids were getting A's by cheating and bragging about it. Now, the class has to take tests in the cafeteria, monitored by the administration. They actually had the balls to bitch -- "they're treating us all like we're guilty." I find this hysterical.

Damn straight we're treating you all like you're guilty. First, most of you are. Secondly, if you aren't the circumstances of your test shouldn't matter. Thirdly, you sound even more guilty when you complain that the school is doing something to stop the cheating. And lastly, stop whining -- as you would text:"U R BUS-TED." BWHAHAHAHAHAHA!

These Kids Are Crazy!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday, Bloody Sunday...

As most of you know, I live in the land of role reversal -- except on Sundays. Sunday is my day to stay at home with the kids while HM goes to make the ice. Today started out great. The kids were in good moods, both slept a little later than usual (6:00 instead of 5:30), and breakfast of really good bagels and cream cheese are always a crowd pleaser. The Peanut ate a little more than a 1/2 of a bagel, while her younger brother ate a whole one and a banana. We all watched a little Dora than played on the floor for a while. The peanut went pee-pee in the potty (Yay!). The Pumpkin Man tried a sippy cup. We sang Christmas carols (We wish you a merry very Christmas) and danced, Then Pumpkin Man went down for nap rather easily, and Peanut and I began our "project."

Every weekend I try to do something artsy with the peanut. Daddy is a little intimidated by art projects, so he does crayons and some paint, but he usually leaves the crazy stuff to me (like the Thanksgiving turkey hats ). Today's project was a multistep job. We're making our own Christmas ornaments. Cooking the dough was scary because Peanut wanted to stir the pot. I let her, but open flame and 2 1/2 year olds? Scary. The dough dried out more quickly than it should have. The baby woke up in the middle of it all and had to join us at the table. He wouldn't believe that the dough was disgusting, so he kept trying it and yelling about how yucky it tasted. All in all, it went fine. We'll have to see how the ornaments dry, but the process (while terribly messy) was fun for everybody. Cleanup went smoothly thanks to the handvac that scares everyone and makes them cry (including our 70 lb. Boxer).

Then all hell broke loose. The Pumpkin Man's bottle leaked all over me. The Peanut flipped out because I wasn't getting her a snack fast enough and the DVR started her show almost at the end. HM called to tell me he killed the Zamboni. The cat threw up on the floor and the dog knocked over the ornaments in a mad dash for the cat vomit. Seriously, this all happened in about 5 minutes. I yelled at everyone -- and hung up on HM. I fixed everything, and called HM back. Then while talking to him, my darling son, the Pumpkin Man attacked me because I wouldn't give him the same snack his sister had. Peanut was enjoying a Nutty Buddy , which has peanut butter -- a no-no until the Pumpkin Man is older. So, he pinched my arm, threw himself into my lap and bit me in the thigh. I kid you not.

Lunch did not go very well. Let's just say we all needed a change of clothes and sponge bath, and I doubt the Pumpkin Man has a peanut allergy. But right now, everything is peaceful. The Pumpkin Man is crawling around with an animal cracker hanging out of his mouth, and the Peanut is trying to poop in the potty, while explaining that "you have to push, push. Oh yes!" to her little brother. Only 2 hours to go!

UPDATE: Shortly after blogging, my sweet little girl had an attack of constipation that resulted in hugs, tears and poopy smears down the front of my pants. She ended up in an emergency bath to calm the cramps and her brother just HAD to join her. After the bath, I had nothing (because it was an emergency, remember). So I played goalie with the Pumpkin Man -- who was determined to scale down the staircase wet, naked and face first -- while searching for a third set of clothes for both babies in the 'clean clothes basket" in the hallway. Meanwhile, the Peanut huddled beside the radiator for warmth: "Uhm, Mommy? I have boogies." "You have boogies?" "No, no. The towel has my boogies." I turn to see bright red blood smeared all over her face. Damn my husband and his freaking sinuses.

P.S. While I'm feeling pulled in a million directions, I should mention it is one week until my baby, the Pumpkin Man, turns one -- Chanukkah, a birthday, and Christmas. Oh My! I guess I'd better see the wizard...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Honestly, Sometimes Girls are Just Bitches for No Good Reason

So, most of you know I work in a high school. I teach English in a large urban school to poor, inner-city kids of color who are -- hmmm, how to phrase this -- largely disenfranchised with the educational system.  And this year I agreed to give up my juniors and seniors to take on the sophomores and prepare them for MCAS. Before you ask, yes I am that crazy. Honestly, I really enjoy teenagers, especially sophomores. Everything is so dramatic and all of the imagined insults and minor tragedies are wonderfully overblown. Sure tears are plentiful, but so are laughs, and my days are never boring. I love my job. Next to my family, it is the only other thing in my life that makes me feel whole and fulfilled. But sometimes...

Sometimes. I have this class of complete maladjusts. Seriously, they have no idea what a real student looks like. Daily, I have to ask them not to get up and wander aimlessly around the room just because the story we are reading "is boring," or drift out of the room "to get something" from some vague presence in the halls. They repeatedly have to be reminded not to drum on the tables, slap each other in the head, throw wadded up paper across the room, and/or fart on each other. Oh, and the swearing. They curse like profanity was the "Blue Light Special" at KMART and they're all stocked up for the season.

Anyway, I have one student, let's call her Angie, who has serious issues. She is a sophomore for the third time this year, but this is her first time with me. When we tested all the kids at the beginning of the year, she scored at a 2nd grade reading level, so I knew my regular Ed college prep class was going to be tough for her. I was warned by several of my colleagues that this kid is a monster. Still, up until today she had never been a problem. It had gotten to the point where Angie was often the best behaved kid in the class. My friends would shake their heads and say, "Damn, you know it's a bad class when Angie is a star." Still, I couldn't fathom who they were talking about; my Angie was a darling.

Then it happened -- Angie lost her shit. It began when she walked in and before she even sat down, loudly announced the she hated my "fucking class." I walked over and quietly reminded her that she may hate class because she'd been absent and was feeling frustrated, but that she did not hate me and she owed me the respect of not speaking that way in my room or my presence. She agreed, smiled and earnestly apologized. Everything was fine.

As class went on, she took out her cell phone and started texting. My student teacher asked her (very nicely) to put her phone away and join the class. She ignored him. He repeated himself, and she told him that she didn't understand the lesson and his questions were "fucking stupid" anyway. At this point, they were in a pissing contest and I had to step in. I told her to give me her phone. She refused. I told her she had to give me the phone or leave the room. She said she'd leave. I told her that if she chose to leave, she'd better go directly to the principal. And then she completely blew: "No! No! I'm not giving you my Fucking phone, and I'm not going to Mrs. Fucking _____. I'M FUCKING OUT. FUCK THIS." Then she proceeded to slam open the door and storm out of the room with all the grace and class of an elephant stampede. Nice.

Just to be a bitch, I snidely called out behind her -- "Okay Angie, you have a nice day" and shut the door on her shrill, indignant whine that I would dare to mock her. I know, I know. I'm the adult. Whatever. If you say you wouldn't have taken a shot at her, you're a liar. And really, compared to what I'd like to have done, a little sarcasm was kind.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday, Poopy Sunday

As some of you know, my husband drives a Zamboni for grocery money. So, today is my day to watch the kids alone. Usually, I really enjoy this opportunity for quality time with the babies for most of the morning, but around hour 6 or 7 I start to watch the clock as the kids' charms wear quite thin. Truth be told, the kids are ready for a nap and I am ready for a valium. Sadly, neither ever happens.

Anyway, my other half leaves at 6:00 AM, and usually the kids and I are already up. However we went to a Christmas party last night and everybody was up pretty late, so we got up at about 7:00. It was pretty nice to sleep in. Normally our days start at 5:30, weekend or weekday. Once w were up, the Pumpkin Man had a diaper change and a feeding, and I called daddy to say good morning. By the time I was done on the phone, Peanut was awake and joined us for a breakfast of Trader Joe's yogurt and bananas.

Then we watched Max and Ruby and Dora, until I noticed my daughter picking up something with a piece of tissue. I thought she was mimicking Dora's star catching, but no. When I asked her, she informed me that she was "cleaning up the poop." Now, I was nervous. We are working on potty training and she had been sans diaper for about an hour. I asked her if she pooped on the floor. She told me, "No, no. It's Ruby's poop. Poop that Ruby threw up." At this point I have no idea if she means Max and Ruby or our dog Ruby, But the image of anyone vomiting poop is more than I can bear on a belly full of yogurt and banana. All I know is I'm not going to look for it, so, I let the matter drop. Hopefully, if the dog is vomiting poop, Daddy will find it before the Pumpkin Man.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Max and Ruby

I know everybody posts about Max and Ruby and their mysterious missing parents. I know this because I became deeply concerned about those two little anthropomorphized bunnies, so I tried to find out about their parents. Near as I can tell, they are raising themselves. Apparently, other than one picture of parents on the wall above the sofa, no one has seen their parents. Most people hypothesize that the parents have passed on. Although some people guess that something more sinister is at work, and one blogger even ventured that grandma is a very old mother.

The author says that she doesn't include parents because she wants kids to learn to solve their own problems without running to their parents. Apparently, she wants all the kids out there to be able to solve the commonplace childhood problems of food shopping, preparing holiday meals, baking elaborate desserts, and  throwing Halloween parties without needing adult help. Yeah, okay -- whatever. This author seems a little squirrelly to me.

Regardless of where people fall in the great parent debate, most people agree on one point. They all hate Ruby. Most people talk about how bossy she is, and how she controls everything Max does. They talk about her being uptight and OCD, and say she is mean to Max who is more of a free spirit. My own husband worries that Ruby, who is my daughter's current idol, is a bad influence on the Peanut mainly because the Peanut doesn't need any encouragement in the bossy department.

I personally feel really bad for Ruby. She tries really hard to raise Max right. I figure her irresponsible parents are off getting wasted while Ruby is left to hold down the fort.  It isn't easy to be a seven year old mom. Max is sweet, but he's a little devious. If you look at his facial expressions, you'll realize that he knows exactly how to push his poor sister's buttons. She cooks, she cleans, she bathes and dresses Max, she shops, she plays with her brother, she obvioulsy loves him; she is a good girl.

I'm just saying, people should cut poor Ruby a break.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


So I officially have the swine. Yup. Sucks to be me. I've been out of work for 2 days and I'll be out again tomorrow. I can't go back until 24 hours after the fever is broken without Tylenol. So far, that hasn't happened. I thought I was in the clear from 12ish this afternoon until about 7:00 tonight. But, now it's back. Still, other than the cough, I feel a good bit better. Maybe I be back to work by Thursday or Friday.

I called the woman who teaches next to me. She told me that my second period was nuts. I'm not surprised. They are nuts when I'm there. It takes every ounce of my teacherly being to keep them under control and productive in small spurts. Everyone knows this class is demented. The science teacher in my cluster calls them the worst class ever. The math teacher just shakes his head and calls them crazy. I've called home 50 times in that class, and 1st term just ended. So, it seems par for the course that they'd be psycho when I was out. Why no one thought they'd need some special attention is beyond me, but whatever. At this point, they are not my problem.

This painful, barking, hacking, seal-cough is my problem.  I think I hear the codeine calling...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sick of Being Sick

So, I'm sick. I've probably got the freaking Swine, and I am so frustrated I can't stand myself anymore. I HATE being sick. I come from a long line of women who see medical intervention as weakness and despise weakness -- my 56 year old aunt went to work on a broken foot for a week before she finally got an x-ray, and another aunt actually had her vagina literally fall out before she went to the doctor. Seriously, we have issues.

Anyway, I got sick on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, but I was only a little achy and tired and I had to go to work because it was parent/teachers day. By Wednesday I was fairly ill, but I didn't want to waste a sick day on a 1/2 day, and I was worried about my students making it to the pep-rally if I wasn't eagle-eyeing them, and I was worried about staffing because many of my colleagues had departed for the holiday and I really like my bosses, so I didn't want to screw them over. In other words, in the early phases of this thing I pushed through like it wasn't really happening.

By Thanksgiving I was all done. I think I spent about 7 hours of the day awake, and not in a row. My poor husband cleaned the house, prepared dinner, watched the babies, and made me tea whenever I was awake. And I grumbled. I suck as a patient. I love, love, love my husband -- but I hate myself when I'm sick. I'm snappy and rude; basically, I'm a b#tch. Luckily for him, I was mostly asleep.

Now, it's Sunday night. I'm still sick. In fact, I might even be sicker. I've had a low-grade fever for days, sore throat, headaches, body aches, diarrhea, sneezing, congestion, and nausea for days. Nice, huh? Doesn't it sound totally sexy? I bet you wish you were me. Well, now I also have the world's most annoying, painful cough. It seems I'm also hyperbolic when I'm sick (but also when I'm well, so whatever).

So with the intermittent fever and cough, it seems I'll be on lockdown again tomorrow. Basically, I've spent a 4 1/2 day holiday sick as F#@k. This is not new for me. I often get sick over long weekends and Holidays. It is massively aggravating. The only time I went out all weekend was to sit in the car while my family went into Trader Joes. I needed to go out for the ride, but we didn't want to get the stares from the people like I'm carrying the flipping plague. And trust me, at this point I agree with them.

My husband tells me that the mind-over-matter stuff is BS, and that studies show you can't put off being sick. So I asked him, "If this is true, why do I always (and I mean always -- people remark on it) get sick on vacations and holidays?" His response? Bad luck. Oh, so the idea that my body subconsciously waits until it can relax to get sick is unscientific, but bad luck is scientific? Bad luck -- really, honey?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

People Who Can't Do, Can't Teach.

I'm sorry I've been MIA for so long, but I've been reacclimating to work and  starting potty training with my 2.5 year old. Ugh.

So here's my latest rant: Why do people feel like they have to defend cops and firemen but openly attack teachers? Seriously, I want to know.

I love cops; my brother is a cop. I love firemen; my closest childhood friend is a fireman. I love soldiers; both my brother and my friend were soldiers. I love teachers; I am a teacher. Having said that (cue music: "three of these things" -- Sesame Street) ...

My brother and my friend agree with me when I say three of these groups need no defense, while the one group that actually needs support is often derided and dismissed.

No one attacks firemen. Firemen are the quintessential American heroes. Really, how can you attack this guy? I realize that he may not be a real fireman, but this is the image right? Or maybe this is just a present to the ladies who read my blog.

But really, isn't this what you assume is in those Firemen Charity Calendars? This is what I picture. Maybe I should buy one this year. It would be a write-off maybe?

Even if it isn't...

Sorry for going off track. I was distracted. Now, back to my point.

No one is currently going on record as anti-soldier. Anti-war? Yes. Anti-soldier? No. This is of course not historically true, but Vietnam wasn't that long ago and we seem to have rightly learned that valuable lesson as a society.

Few people attack the police, and they are largely disenfranchised groups with little to no voice, and cops have much more power in our society than most people realize. State troopers are like the cops in the movie Demolition Man in that generally everyone does what they say and trusts their word on its face, most of us treat them like they are incapable of doing the wrong thing even though we intellectually know they are only human.

Lots and lots of people attack teachers. We are called money hungry -- but on average we earn far less than most people with as much schooling as we must have. We are called glorified babysitters -- despite the fact that everything we do is grounded in research and designed to stimulate the growth and development of the human mind. We are called lazy -- yet I do far more work on weekends and evenings than most of the other professionals I know. We are treated like school marms with antiquated notions -- however, we are mandated to keep up with current research like any skilled professional.

All this and we are expected to live the private lives of nuns, while constantly being sent the message that anyone could do what we do. On the next snow day, when you are trapped inside with your kid (probably cursing the school's snow policy) remember that I do this every day. But I do it with 30 kids who aren't mine. Still think my job is so easy? As the Price Is Right used to say, "C'mon down!"

And in closing,  I'd like to say thanks, America. No, really... thanks for all your support.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Great Massachusetts H1N1 Debacle

So, I'm chagrined and angry. Not annoyed, or irritated, or even irked. I'm actually red-in-the-face embarrassed and pissed off. My state has decided to include prisoners in the high risk category for H1N1. Finding out exactly what this means is tough because the statehouse is saying one thing and the press has been saying another. However, if I were to be totally honest, I don't really care for what either source is saying. I want our babies and pregnant women vaccinated before the shots go out to prisons. End of conversation. 

Here is a copy of what I sent to the statehouse:

I believe that the press regarding prisoners getting the H1N1 vaccine before other people is generally inflated, and I don't want to sound like chicken little crying about a falling sky, but I have first hand knowledge that we are having a problem getting the vaccine to all of the high risk patients in the general public that are electing to vaccinate. I have a problem with vaccinating any inmates while babies and pregnant women wait for their shots.

While I understand the rationale behind offering the vaccine to prisoners because it is a closed system, I think this should take a back seat until all babies, children and pregnant women receive their doses. I don't want riots in the prisons, or infected ex-inmates infecting the general population. And I'm not a blood thirsty vigilante who wants prisoners to suffer. I just want pregnant women and children to get access to the vaccine first.

As of now, this is NOT the case. I have 2 children under 3 (one is a 9 month old baby), and I am being told that no one has the vaccine right now. When I called about the shot (pediatricians won't call patients because this vaccine is in such great demand that they never get enough for the people on their waiting lists, so you apparently have to get lucky and call on the right day) I was told that they ran out of it in a matter of hours. The women I work with, all highly educated school teachers and nurses, are also having no luck vaccinating their children. My sister in law, a pregnant pharmacist, can't find the vaccine for herself.

I'm glad that "tens of thousands of H1N1 vaccine doses" were sent "to hundreds of medical sites around the state," but it was clearly not enough to cover even the highest priority of the high risk groups. Shouldn't we address this problem before we start discussing who to give this elusive vaccine to next?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dear Jane,

I totally feel you. My two year old threw herself onto the middle couch cushion in a completely hideous temper tantrum. Unfortunately, my laptop was on the cushion and she smacked her face right into it. My baby's first shiner. Then this evening she was so tired that she tried to sit down on the bathroom floor while I was brushing my teeth, smacking her mouth on the edge of the tub -- add a fat lip. What a weekend! And all on my watch.

Despite my husband's assurances, I can't help but feel like there must have been something I could have done. In addition to feeling like the worst parent ever, I had to bring her to ice skating lessons this morning. Every hockey parent in the rink is looking at me like I'm some kind of barbarian (irony not lost). And of course my lovely, sweet, darling cousin -- warm and trusting at 24 -- took a ton of pictures and posted them on facebook. Never even thinking about what she looks like in them, or what I look like in them. It didn't dawn on her that people might think the worst. 

There's my baby girl -- sitting on a bench in the rink lobby (which is totally indistinguishable from any institutional setting with scarred wooden benches bolted to the floor and grey concrete block walls in the background), stuffing vending machine animal crackers in her mouth, and looking like she's been out boozing hard all night and needs to be bailed out of jail. "They try to make me go to rehab, but I say no, no, no..."

I haven't had to take her out with the black eye and fat lip, yet. Wish me luck, or better yet -- leave me the contact for a good lawyer.

Is Elmo Really Anti-Reading?

I've been watching Sesame Street with my daughter for about a year. I grew up in a very different era of Sesame Street -- Mr. Hooper was alive and well, Snuffy was only seen by Big Bird (so, he may or may not have been imaginary), Maria was young and hot (she's still hot, btw), and Ruth Buzzi was on Laugh-In repeats. Oh, and Elmo didn't exist.

My husband calls Elmo "THE RED MENACE," and I can see his point. Since "Street" has become part of our lives again, it has been non-stop Elmo fever. Elmo toys, Elmo dolls (many of whom sing, much to my dismay), Elmo art supplies, Elmo clothes, Elmo juice, Elmo toiletries and ironically Elmo books. Elmo, Elmo, Elmo. Really, he should be registered by the FBI as a cult leader.

Anyway, I digress. It's true that I'm currently suffering from an Elmo overdose, but I still prefer the furry red dude to Barney (who just makes me slightly uncomfortable) or the Teletubbies (who truly bore me to tears). My only real issue with Elmo is that he appears to be against text based reading. In every "Elmo's World" episode, Elmo asks a question. He asks the computer, his "friends," other monsters/puppets, Mr. Noodle, a baby, TV, and even inanimate objects. However, he has never asked a book about it -- and I mean never, not once in the year we've been watching twice daily episodes. Why is this?

From what I can tell, Elmo is a superstar. From what I remember, Sesame Street is educational televison. Why the disconnect? Clearly, the producers of "Street" have to be aware of the drop in literacy among children, and they have to know that Elmo could single handedly change the direction of this statistic. Shame on Sesame Street for this oversight. They really need to step up their game, and use Elmo for a force of good instead of just a marketing tool.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Stinky, Stinky Roo -- The Bog Dog

My dog is gross. She's a 60 pound slob, and she smells like a dead opossum's vagina. I always get a little sick in my throat when I open up the hatch back to move her blanket, which is where she rides to and from her many park adventures with my family. Seriously, it's that bad. It probably isn't her fault; she just happens to love stinky, stagnant water -- the more putrid the better. And somehow my husband and daughter seem happily oblivious to her stench. Last night, she actually kissed my baby girl, my two year old pixie, right on the open mouth as she waggled her bum at my husband's delighted coos. My lovely little angel laughed like the ethereal fairy she is, and I turned my head in disgust.

Don't get me wrong, I generally love animals (even my three ancient cats that throw up everywhere -- but that's another story) and I like her well enough. It's just that she is also very, very stupid. This dog almost failed basic obedience as a puppy because she couldn't figure out what we (and I am including the trainer) were trying to teach her. She just stared at us with her big, sad, saggy face and looked pathetic. She tries hard and she is terribly sweet, but she just doesn't get it. She's always underfoot and getting scolded for accidently bumping the babies or stealing their toys.

Still, she's a lot better than she once was. As a puppy, she would crap in her pen and then run through it, caking poo into her pads and tracking it through the house. Once, she even managed to smear it all over her head, face and teeth. That was a fun bath! Ever floss a dog? As a teenager, she ate everything in my apartment that was made of wicker; then she ate a hole the size of my head in my mattress when we decided to "try her loose." Needless to say, she went back into her crate when we were out. Now, as an adult, she has mellowed out some. We still can't trust her alone for long periods and she certainly can't keep up with my brother's K9 shepherd, but she has made progress.

She'll never be the sharpest crayon in the box and her hygiene leaves plenty to be desired, but she is my huge, goofy, stupid, smelly, drooling cow of a dog. I hate her slobber and her stench, I get frustrated with her slow intellect and her clumsiness, and I get overwhelmed by the size of her personality and her body -- but I love her. I do. Which is why I pretend that I don't know she's been sneaking onto the leather couch while we're all sleeping, and digging for treasure in the kitchen garbage. It is why I exclaim in bewilderment over "accidental" chew marks and blame her gas on my husband. And it is why I only turn my face a little when she lays one of her wet, sloppy"kisses" on me. She may be a big yucky mess, but she's mine.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


So, once upon a time, I had this friend.  I loved her like a sister. She was funny, smart, clever, talented, and an amazingly good time. I already told you what my town was like, and how desperately I needed to escape. Unfortunately, in the course of my escape I left her behind. I went off to college and got caught up with the wild side of that life. I was finding myself while losing myself daily. And she was home. 

She went to school, too. But she commuted, and eventually it was too much for her. She quit and went to work. She moved in with a guy that wasn't good enough for her, and I told her as much. We grew apart. I lost her. But I always figured it was a natural deterioration, sad but nothing personal. Still, I always missed her, and lamented the loss of one of the best relationships of my life.

Then, about 10 years later, we found each other. I don't remember who found who, but that isn't the point. The point is that I found out the absolution of our relationship was very personal. She walked back into my life to prove to me that she had made good choices. She brought her wonderful little baby, who looked just like her baby pictures, and bragged about her life as a mom and a married woman. Then she dropped a bomb on me. She had purposely pulled away from me because I was too judgmental of her mate and the life she had chosen. She felt I didn't support her, and I crushed her by abandoning her. My heart broke. Then she walked back out of my life. 

Now, she's back again. I am uneasy with this reincarnation, but at the same time I want a second chance. I'm afraid that I'll let her down again, but I can't help but reach out. In many ways, she's still one of the smartest, funniest, most clever people I've ever known. And the one afternoon we met for coffee felt so comfortable, like sliding right back into a pair of old jeans. 

Still, is it like this for her? Is she waiting for me to hurt her again? What can we be to each other at this point? How can I navigate a relationship with her if her husband (rightly) hates me? After all, I talked so much smack about him, but in the end I was the one who hurt her. My husband says we can never have what once was. Logically, I know this and emotionally I'm not even sure I'd want it. But still, never? If that's true, what am I doing? And what do I want? 

I invited her to dinner. 

Friday, September 25, 2009

House on Mango Street

I feel like Sandra Cisneros as I write this, but my hometown is a tough place to live. I don't want to sound like an NPR douche, but it just doesn't match my values. I think I have to leave, or burn it down, or something. My husband, Homemaker Man, and I bought our house almost 2 years ago. I really wanted to own a home and we don't make much money (with my job as a teacher and his as a homemaker), so we needed to move out of the urbane neighborhoods we'd been living in for almost 20 years. Basically, we couldn't afford to own where we lived.

So... Cue drum roll... I suggested my old city. After all, it is reasonably safe for a working class town, the schools still have strong art and sports programs. The people are hard working, and neighborly. I'd be able to give something back.  And, best of all, we could afford it. Sounds good, right?

My G-D, was I delusional.

Right now, in this moment, I have no idea why I did this. I hated living here as a kid. I hated it so much that I left at 16 on my own, and didn't return until now, in my mid-thirties. There were other factors in my exodus, but hating this town was high on the list. It is provincial, narrow, racist, ignorant, dirty and poor. The local politicians are so ass-backwards that they make the most idiotic, lazy mistakes. The business owners don't invest in their community; they are like absentee landlords. And the citizens don't get actively involved in anything but complaining.  

Everything good about the town (and there are good things) is sucked out by this all-encompassing self-loathing shame that the citizens seem to feel for their community. As a group, they hate change and resist it at all cost, and they fear the unknown.  They hate themselves for still living here, but they hate the thought of leaving. As individuals, they are generous, neighborly and thoughtful. They take pride in their homes and families. They are very difficult people.

My town is the fat paste-eater in preschool. It's the smelly kid in grade school. It's the stupid, white trash bully in middle school. It's the pregnant chick smoking outside of study hall in high school. My town sucks. Why did I move back here?

I am planning my next exodus; it should take about 5 years. Moving with kids is way more complicated. I wish I could just run away again. 

Saturday, August 1, 2009


My husband and I never (and I know everyone says this), never, never fought before the children were born. We knew each other for about 15 years before the birth of our first, were roommates for 14 of those years, and romantically involved for 5. In that time, we had a few fights as roommates over dishes and late bills, we had a fight as friends over wearing headphones during a conversation, and we had a few fights as a couple over not spending enough time together and petty jealousy (mostly mine).

Since the peanut was born 2 years ago, we haven't stopped fighting. It got a little better when peanut was about 1 until the pumpkin man was born, but never really let up. Now, we are at each other's throats again. We still love each other, without a doubt. We still want to be together, and affirm this after every fight. But we are relentless, and we can't seem to give each other a break. 

Seriously, we fight about everything and nothing, from kid stuff: when the diaper pail needs to be changed, how much the peanut ate during the day, how to clean chocolate milk stains, where to put the kiddie pool -- to house stuff: when and how to deal with Kevin and Fat Tony, how much to spend on fish, how much mulch we need, when to get the mail from the box, when to throw food out -- to global issues: the economy, politics, human issues, neighborhood ideology, family crap -- to intimacy: what we share with others, when to have sex, how much we love each other, who is listening to whom, and why we can't communicate.  

I know I love him, and there is no one else for me in this world. I don't want to be in this life, or any other, with anyone else. The thought D-word makes my throat close and chest seize up. I can't breathe without him. He is the center of my world and the anchor of my sanity. I can't remember life without him, and I don't want to. I loved him before I ever met him, and I will love him long after we are gone. Forever, and Forever, and Forever...

Mostly, I think I'm just a bitch and he needs more sleep. Like he says, "we just need to hold on."

Monday, July 27, 2009

Open letter to all the moms that watch me feed my daughter and judge:

Hello, snotty witches.

My babies tend to run small, so a lot of what I planned with my daughter (peanut) became history when she stopped making her weight checks after her first birthday-- not forcing food, offering only whole grains, organics, no sugar or junk, etc... Suddenly, it was McDonalds, trading M&Ms for bites, bribery, sugar, butter, fried food, processed crap, you name it.

Not all babies will eat what they need. I'm sure you are right that most will, but I know first hand that not all will. Once my baby was deemed too thin, I did whatever it took to put weight on her. Let your doctor start talking about tube feedings, developmental delays and genetic testing; let your child be considered borderline "failure to thrive" -- then we'll see how long you can keep singing your holier than thou tune.

I'm sure this wasn't what you meant when you told me that I was spoiling my daughter and giving her bad eating habits, and I know you didn't have this information when you rolled your eyes at me and snickered to your friend behind my back after listening to me beg and negotiate with her to take a few more bites. I just want to point out that there are many roads to good parenting. I'm glad yours is working for you. Now, kindly F-off.


P.S. My children NEVER ate baby food (we made every meal), they don't drink juice and I breastfed peanut for a year and am still going with the pumpkin man. Still feel superior?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Worst label, EVER

My daughter is now 27 months old. At her two year appointment, our pediatrician informed us that she was still "off the chart," which apparently means she weighs less than the entire charted population of American babies. Okay, so I exaggerate, but only a little. Then she busts out with the worst statement I've ever heard. I've heard a lot of bad statements -- "I don't love you anymore," "I don't believe you," "you will not be able to have kids," "she may have trisome 13," "you can't live here anymore," "your father is dead," and the previous title holder: "your mother will live."

So what were these dreaded words? "Failure to thrive."

That's right, folks. the peanut fits the technical definition of "failure to thrive," which basically means she has weighed too little for too long. One possible remedy? Tube feeding while she sleeps. You did read that correctly. They stick a tube down her throat while she sleeps and pump food into her belly. Seriously, can this get worse?

Yes, oh yes, it can. The genetic tests have all come back negative so far, and the main contributer to FTT -- go ahead, you'll never guess. Parental neglect. My 2 year old child -- the one who never ate baby food from a jar, the one who slept in my room until she was 8 months old, the one who was breastfed for a year even though it took seven specialists to teach us how, the one who can count to 50 in English and 10 in Spanish, speaks in 4 to 5 word sentences, recognizes all her letters in print, reads 4 sight words and can really, truly count to 4, -- is possibly neglected? I'm feeling dizzy at this point.

So, what do you do when your precious baby is given this label? We celebrated with nuggets and fries from McDonalds.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

This Old House

We suck at home improvement stuff. It doesn't really bother me, but it depresses my husband, Homemaker Man. I figure we'll just hire someone to fix things when we have the money, but he feels like its his "job" to fix stuff around the house. The problem is that we live in a house that was built in the 1800's, so something is always broken or breaking.

This need to master tool use must be a guy thing. I say that knowing my husband isn't normally the type of guy that gets all hung up on stereotypical roles (obviously, since he's a stay at home dad), but for some reason his inability to use tools really gets under his skin.

Homemaker Man had to hang a door on the peanut's room when we moved her out of the nursery into her "big girl" room. It turned into a very long project, and still isn't really done. He measured the door like 6 times and went to home depot to buy a door. Then he hung it and it didn't fit, so he bought a planer and tried to plane it into shape.

I'm not sure if the doorway is crooked or if its my huband, but he must have shaved an inch off the side and bottom. At this point the door still needs a knob and slowly creaks open if you don't jam a sock in it. And I'll just leave it alone because I know I couldn't have done better.

Do you have any idea how long it takes to shave an inch off a door? Sadly, I do.

Swimming vs Drowning

I took the peanut to "family swim" last night by myself! It was totally scary because I had to talk to people I didn't know, she was slippery, wet and way too adventurous: refusing to hold my hand, suddenly plopping down, trying to walk up to her neck, jumping...

Several times I was sure I'd have to call Homemaker Man from the hospital. That would have been quite the conversation. At one point, she suddenly just sits down, so that the water is well over her head (6 to 8 inches). Then everything moves in slow motion: I panic and reach down to grab her. She looks up at me through the water; a cloud of red curls swirling around her heard -- huge green eyes open wide -- and smiles. Yes, smiles underwater. I swear, it was like she was trying to drown herself.

We went to the pool a few time before my pumpkin was born, but Homemaker Man was there and it was easier (she was also much less brave). I can't imagine how stay at home moms manage scary things like water all time. I felt like one of those Dads who takes his kids out on Saturday morning so Mom can sleep... Pathetic.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Phantom Gourmet - AKA - The Food Pimp

So, let me see... Why do I think the Phantom is full of B-O-L-O-G-N-A? 

I've been watching the Phantom since it was a baby. I've tried dozens of restaurants based on his recommendations, and I've loved many of the meals I've eaten. In fact, as college students we would often save up to eat at the local phantom picks.

However, since the deal with Viacom and the move from NE Cable News, the show has never been the same. The first problem is the host, in a word -- dull. After the original host (Billy Costa) left to do his own mediocre show, the youngest Andelman brother began hosting. He seems like an affable guy, but his level of culinary expertise is sadly lacking and his sense of humor is banal. 

Still, the real travesty lies in the show's decision to sell advertising space on the show. Because of this recent management choice, the show spends an inordinate amount of time reviewing small chains like Fireflys and Fuddruckers, having taste tests between Burger King and Wendy's or Hostess and Drakes and reviewing the same restaurants every week: Strega, the Halfway Cafe... 

They never do anything new, and they have lost the soul of the show -- discovering and evaluating local cuisine. I don't need to know about Sal's 80 lb. pizza or the Eagle Deli's burger monstrosity again. Really folks. There is more to New England's food scene than burgers, pizza, huge portions, junk food and pub grub. 

Monday, February 16, 2009

Dreaming of Electric Sheep and High Fructose Corn Syrup

Have you heard what they say about high fructose corn syrup? Apparently it's just corn?

In this era of highly processed foods I generally believe the theory that the more a food resembles its original state the better it is for you, and high fructose corn syrup couldn't look less like corn. Large corporations like Pepsi and Coca Cola started using it as a sweetener because it was cheap, which is almost never good. The product is so cheap that it has become ubiquitous and impossible to "use in moderation," as recommended. And the Corn Refiners Association of America has begun an aggressive campaign to convince consumers that HFCS is natural, which reeks of corporate propaganda. They say HFCS is natural because it comes from corn, a friendly vegetable that we loved as children. However, using the same logic, one would have to conclude that heroin is natural. After all, what could be more harmless than flowers? Foolishness, and highly suspect. 

But here's the kicker, no one seems to know if it is any worse for people than any other sweetener. Original studies showed that HFCS spiked insulin levels and created leptin resistance, which caused obesity, liver damage, and diabetes in rats and people. However, newer studies contain conflicting results. Some seem to reinforce the original findings, while others show that HFCS is no more dangerous than table sugar. I know what you're thinking: "those studies were probably done by the corn people," and you are largely correct -- but not totally. High Fructose Corn Syrup has its share of unbiased, reputable defenders (see the Time magazine article). 

It seems I can't reasonably avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup, and experts say  it may not be all bad anyway. Yet, my intuition and experience tells me that it isn't healthy and I can't use it in moderation because it is everywhere. So I ask you? What's a mom to do? 
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