Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Times I wish I'd had my camera with me

Seen while driving by the local trailer park:
A man, who was very large even by the kindest of standards, was driving around the parking lot with his very large arm hanging out the window. He was holding a leash. His dog, on the other end of the leash, was getting a walk. The man was not.
And in other news:
I read in the paper the other day that social scientists have decided that all the emphasis on self esteem in elementary schools has been to the students' detriment. My favorite part of the whole article was the new song some kindergartens are teaching, to the tune of Frere Jacque (I think that's Brother Jackie, but forgive me my spelling, I didn't take French): "I am special, I am special, Look at me! Look at me!"
I think I'd be annoyed to hear my kid singing that. But at least now it's stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

Friday, February 23, 2007

women, guilt, and sharing at-home parenting

Or: oh no--not this again, prrrof.

Originally when we two sisters started this blog, one thing that fascinated us was our ability to both feel guilt over what we were or were not doing with parenting and work. Staying home meant worrying about not working; working meant feeling like a far less than perfect mom because, after all, really good moms choose to stay home with their kids (when they can).

This came up again for me this week because a small work trip is going to take me out of town for a few days longer than I'd anticipated next month, and it sent me reeling. My colleague asked me why it was bothering me (in a genuine, honest way); he noted that his father had traveled quite a bit when he was a kid. Of course, it made me anxious me to think about being gone because I'll desperately miss my kids and dh--but the kids will have their grandparents here and their dad, of course, who is with them two days a week anyway. So it's not like they're not used to him. What bothered me most, though, was thinking that other women -- women I admire and appreciate and respect -- might in turn be thinking in their heads, "Wow--I can't *imagine* leaving my kids for 6 days. What kind of mom is she?" Now, mind you, this comes solely from the voices in my own head. No one has *ever* said anything negative to me about working, and I'm surrounded by many close friends who are amazing stay-at-home-moms. The judgment I'm hearing, then, is all from within. It's a cultural message I've somehow absorbed well.

So that's the guilt part. It's subsided recently, but came bubbling up again over this upcoming trip. The flip side of the coin is what attempting to share responsibilities mostly equally--or somewhat equally--has done for our little family and dh and I's relationship.* I stumbled on this site tonight, and it helps me name what we're trying to do. I think my dh is even more unusual than I am -- and those of you who know us might say we're both wierd! -- but, beyond working enough to make our monthly bills and provide as well for our family as we can, neither of us cares who actually makes more, and both of us are committed to ensuring that we're both home with our kids as much as we can be. That means, of course, that we have combinations of one parent home and day care. It also means that I have more time with the kids in the summers, and dh has more with them right now.

It's not perfect, and it doesn't take away the (totally internalized) pressure I feel that a good mom= a stay-at-home-mom. But, I do so highly value that each of us knows what it's like to be home with two funny, goofy, whiny, messy kids all day, and both of us know what it's like to feel the pressure of a paycheck. Whoever's home cooks, so sometimes we have less-than-inspired meals (by either of us). We certainly don't divide everything down the middle; dh does nearly everything pertaining to the cars and the bills, and I do the weekly laundry because I like things folded nicely. The kids get to see us both doing lots of housework, having lots of playtime with them, and going off to work. All in all, it's an arrangement that works for us, and works well. Would it work for everyone? No. I do wish, though, that there was more recognition that sharing both bread making and winning can be a feasible, realistic choice for families.

*This is NOT a judgment of husbands who are sole breadwinners. Nor of moms who are at-home moms. I am absolutely *for* each family's right -- and obligation -- to make thoughtful choices about what's best for each particular situation. Just so you know.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

My Funny Valentine

(Aside to p:So the pencils are back, sister of mine. So sorry... I guess that's what happens when I'm left turning the wheel of technology.)

So the Dish Fairy has left. As has the Laundry Fairy and the Constant 3-yr old Entertainment Fairy. For those of you with no kids, that means my mom has left. We had a great week, and I actually did take the time she was here to do a few things that are impossible to do with a velcro baby as I have (ie prune rosebushes and take out tomato plants which should have been removed 6 or 9 months ago and go out to dinner with my husband). So onward we forge, with only one mom, one dad, and two kids to manage this homestead. Can we do it? Watch this space, you'll be the first to find out.
I can't post this without wishing my funny valentine a big HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY. This week our itty bitty baby turned 1. It seems unbelieveable that just a year ago he was tiny, weak and so vulerable. Now he's taking his first few steps, saying "hi" (or so I think) and rapidly growing out of babyhood. Sigh. Just a few moments and it's all over.
For me it's easy to dwell on how challenging these years can be, so draining physically... and yet it really is all over so fast. I'm sure my mom wonders where the years went, how we grew up so fast, and how it is that now we're the parents. I'm sure that's news to no one, it only seems more relevant as I get older (maybe I'm a slow learner).
The thing that really gets me is just how much I love my kiddos. I was never a babysitter or a lover of all things baby-ish, but for these two boys, I would do anything. Anything. I would lay down my life, change my life's plans, and mostly I'd do anything to take away the things that could hurt them. For now, that's mostly looking out for things they could trip on or flying objects that could make contact with their skulls. It's hard for me to imagine parenting later on, when life hurls things I can't intercept, especially when those things make contact with their hearts. I wonder if the hardest part about parenting is letting them go and letting them learn the lessons that life has to teach them. For now, I think the biggest thing I'm ready for is someone falling off of his bike. Thank goodness they don't actually grow up overnight.

So, Happy Birthday, Boy #2! In just 12 short months, he went from this:
... to this:
Happy birthday to my sweet, sweet baby! We love you!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

A word from the fashion police

Without starting this blog down the political road, I cannot further repress my feelings regarding Hillary. The Rodham Clinton one, that is. At the gym today I noticed Fox News doing a really great job informing the American public once again. After hours of coverage of Anna Nicole Smith's recent demise, they shifted gears. Off to the Presidential races, with Ms. R-C in the lead. And what, dear 24-hour-new-channel-that-informs-too-many-people-in-this-country, did you focus on? Her clothes. ARRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Seriously. They took their investigative reporting skills to the street and asked people what they thought of her current state of fashion. (Refresh my memory, did anyone give two hoots if Bill was wearing a hip tie or a turtleneck under his sportcoat during his races?) This educational segment was done because, of course, it's Fashion Week in NYC. What a great segue, talking to designers and regular folks about politics, and wrapping politics into fashion. Makes me nauseous.
Watch this space, because I guarantee you, many people will say, "I'd be completely 100% fine with a female president if I felt like she was the right one." They are lying. Instead of looking at her policies and abilities, they spend hours of their lives focused on whether or not she should give up the pantsuit. If there were two white dudes looking to be neck and neck in a political race, there would be no discussion about their suits. None. As there shouldn't be.
I'm going to go ahead and shimmy on out the limb I'm so often on and draw a comparison. If it's that important to education the public about a woman dresses, what will ever be said about Barak Obama? Is it important to educate us on his ability to shoot hoops? No WAY would even Fox News make a segment about whether Obama should work on his inside shot or his 3-pointer, because everyone knows that's not only ridiculous, it's demeaning, not to mention stereotypical and a lot of other things.
But for some reason, it's fine to do that with regard to a woman. She looks like your average professional woman who doesn't have a lot of discretion in how she dresses just like most professional suit-wearing men. But why, in the midst of people signing up for the presidential race, are we focusing on that?
And don't come at me with the whole "It's just Hillary, people want to talk about her because she's so polarizing." Not true. Look what happened when Condoleeza Rice wore high heeled boots and a black knee length skirt in Germany. The press went crazy. And you know what? She looked great. But in the end, I have no idea what that German meeting was for. I do know that being a woman and in a place of power, it must be assumed that you are eye candy. And if you aren't, you should be. There's no other word, it's ridiculous.
We are increasingly a nation of contradictions. This weeks' Newsweek has a whole article about how pre-teens idolize Britney and Paris, et al., who are basically scantily clad young women with money and fame. The gist of the article is, "Mommas, don't let your babies grow up to dress (and act) like these ladies." Then over in the adult news, we're completely comfortable criticizing a national leader (who makes important decisions) because of how she dresses. They didn't share one word of a speech Hillary was giving in New Hampshire, not one word of her responses to questions, just a thorough, in-depth conversation about her clothes.
I, for one, am not falling for it. Pro-Hillary or not, women and men of this country should expect more out of the folks who are supposed to provide us with information that helps us make informed decisions. Or maybe that isn't a reporter's job anymore. Maybe that is considered ridiculous.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Cool things I've been enjoying online

I'm not a total techie--not by far--but a few different circumstances this week have sent me to some sites that I'm having a lot of fun with. I may be the last person in the world to know about these funky spots; if so, don't ruin my joy. Pretend you've never heard of these either.

Stumble upon is where it all begins--a very fun way to search around:

Then there are these fun ones:
Librarian Chick
Media Convert (this one is an easier way to take screen shots)