Wow.

November 15, 2016

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Soooo…it’s been quite a week. Anybody else make the mistake of taking their daughter voting last week? “Nevermind! Turns out the country is a lot more sexist that we thought.” Whew! Glad I’m not the only one who screwed that up.

My 9 year-old cried bewildered tears Wednesday. This was a very black and white issue for her, and she is a sensitive soul. Naturally, I felt like crap for having exposed her to needless sadness. I just really, really thought she would value being able to tell her kids that she was there, for this important day. She pushed the button. Yes, I’m that idealistic. Wednesday morning we explained that, though it seems like people liked the bully more than the smart girl, there are many other things going on, and she was safe. I wish every mom could have been able to say that, Wednesday morning.

Policy, anti-establishment sentiment, those damn emails – these were all cited as justifications to vote for Donald Trump. Unfortunately, the multitudes cared more about those justifications than about saying “NO” to racism, sexism and a whole host of other crap we shouldn’t allow out of basic human decency. The prevalence of that mindset was not something I could previously conceive of in my NPR-listening, blue state-living, white, middle-class, privileged bubble. I didn’t realize that so many people actually thought policy was more important than people. Holy crap, America.

Thinking as a parent, since this is a parenting blog (most of the time), I’m offering the following: No, Clinton was not an ideal candidate with an ideal track record. There are NONE OF THOSE. They don’t exist. Ok, maybe Justin Trudeau. #dreamy The problem is that in this election we have journeyed past politics. We are now disassembling basic morality for our children. Think about what we teach kids: You treat people the way you want to be treated. You take care of people. You welcome new friends. Your body is yours alone, it is a good thing, and it should be respected. How about the one preschool teachers keep on repeat, all day: “Keep your hands to yourself!” Dear Donald, “grabbing” means you are doing it wrong. 

Not to mention the tired old slogan, “Girls can do anything boys can do.” *sigh* Hang on, girls. Change comes slow, but it does come. Look at where we started.

Speaking of girls, as Clinton was on Wednesday: “And — and to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.” Forget the sadness that we have to state that at all. “Valuable” is my favorite word, here. I’m still more of a believer in the social commentary and symbolism of this election than in specifically electing Hillary Clinton – remember, I just wanted a girl to win, for once. I just thought this was immensely cool to hear. They knew, she knew, that little girls had serious stock in this election. And she asked them to hang on, too.

You know what else was cool? A friend of a friend of mine made a beautiful design of the above quote, and posted it on Facebook. I shared it, and the designer was kind enough to send me the high resolution version. I grabbed a frame, and this actually cheered my kid up. She moved a My Little Pony art project off the wall to make room for this! This was important stuff!!

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Thank you to Nataliemcguiredesign.com for this lovely print. You do good work, girl!

Moving forward, I’m choosing to be hopeful and expect the best from people, including President-Elect Trump and his future cabinet appointees. I’m going to repeat the closing of my previous post. I’m praying it’s still true, though now it refers to a different “someone”. We’ve done enough of tearing people down. It’s my fervent hope as a mom and teacher that tomorrow our nation will raise up someone who will makes it their job to raise up others.

Also, I’m posting a link to a wonderful article containing the names of non-profits. If you liked this post, chances are you will find one whose ideals you agree with. If you’re feeling powerless in the wake of last week, and looking for something to do to feel more empowered, donating to any of these amazing charities is a great way to feel like you, too, are valuable.

Click here for the list of charities. Thank you.

 

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Alice and Sexy Cheeseburger

October 17, 2016

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This ad just makes me sad. I can’t find it on Youtube, but ispot has it up here.  I’ll break it down for you. (Sorry about the play buttons in the middle up of the photos – I screen-capped the video.) Don’t mind me including my own voice-over.

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“OMG, aren’t we totes adorbs as Sexy Queen of Hearts, Sexy Mad Hatter and Sexy…Jenny, what are you, a Red Riding Hood/Wolf hybrid? Whatevs, we’re cute.”

 

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“OMG WHAT is that Alice chick wearing? She looks… Like she works… At the deli.”
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“OMG u guys we can NOT let her trick or treat with us, she is blowing our whole “Sexy Literary Character” vibe.”
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“OMG she’s transforming! Is that the new Bright Idea Illuminating Stick from NYX Cosmetics?”
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“OMG! That satin bustier = totes adorbs!”

 

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“OMG u guys, we r🔥!”

Yes, these are (very young) adults and not teenage girls. However, teens are going to see this ad and assume it’s for them. They just are. Just like when we started reading Seventeen magazine at 13. Or was I the only one sneaking peeks at that at the dentist’s office?

Yes, this is a commercial for a costume store. Of course they’re going to show homemade costumes in an unfavorable light. They want you to plunk down $40 for an Alice in Sluttyland outfit, not make it at home!

Yes, Sexy Witch, Sexy Cop, and Sexy Pirate are your results when Googling Women’s costumes. Actually, I Googled “top women’s costumes” and got Sexy Cleopatra, Sexy Oktoberfest Girl, and – no lie – Sexy Freddy Krueger.

But: I do not like this ad, Party City. Besides perpetuating the Sexy Halloween epidemic, it’s just mean. I want to hug poor Alice. She does not deserve ostracization just because of a half-assed outfit. Actually, let me rephrase that: She does not deserve ostracization JUST BECAUSE SHE DOES NOT HAVE HALF HER ASS HANGING OUT. This makes me sad. It also makes me really, really proud that my daughters are going as Hermione Granger and a werewolf.  However, the sexy costumes are here to stay. So, in the spirit of embracing modern Halloween…

Submitted for your approval: My favorite “Sexy Halloween Costumes That Didn’t Need to Be Sexified”.  I will take votes as to which one I should buy and wear while I walk my kids around in suburbia.

deviledeggs
“Sexy Deviled Eggs”

 

cheeseburger
‘Sexy Cheeseburger”

 

dorothy
“Sexy Dorothy Fish from Elmo’s World”

 

yoda
“Sexy Yoda”

 

olaf
“Sexy Olaf”

And, sorry, but you can’t un-see this one…

trump
“Sexy Donald Trump”

I’ll take your votes in the comments.

Also, if your kid is going as something you’re particularly proud of this year, share it here! 

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12 Things I Want My Daughters To Know

October 2, 2016

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  1. Your intelligence should be ever-expanded with quality books, education, and conversation. Don’t stop seeking them out.
  2. I really don’t care if you don’t take a jacket. You’re not going to die of exposure in New Jersey. Just don’t be the girl who doesn’t take a jacket and then whines about the cold. She’s annoying.
  3. Focus on what you want your life to look like, not your body. Your body is a freakin’ beautiful miracle. Go do cool things without worrying how you look.
  4. If you stop laughing about stuff I’m pretty sure you die of boredom. So there’s that.
  5. Four hours into a night out, you probably won’t care what shoes you wore. But, you will care if you can’t walk. Or dance. Choose the shoes carefully.
  6. You’re both smart girls, but kindness is your highest goal. I care much more that you would invite the loner kid to sit with you at lunch than I do about you getting into the “right” college.
  7. There is no “right” anything, while we’re on that subject – not clothes, friends, college, house, career, nadda. There is only what’s right for your situation. But, Mom and Dad get to help you with that situation, so NO, you’re not wearing that skirt.
  8. To quote the internet, “Life is too short for fake butter, cheese, or people”. Steer clear of all three. Actually Cheese Whiz definitely has its place…
  9. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to try it, and think long and hard before you quit. This does not apply to certain controlled substances.
  10. Make-up can be washed off. Haircuts will grow out. Tattoos are forever. Just saying.
  11. If someone does something that hurts you, try to understand them. It doesn’t make them right, but you’ll probably find that their actions aren’t about you in the first place.
  12. Your dad and I always, always love you.
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Advice, Gosh Darn It

April 22, 2015

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Last week at an indoor water park, I lost the giant black mumu very stylish cover-up that I had just purchased. I put the cover-up down on a railing, went to do something with my younger kid, came back, and it was GONE. *horror*. My flip flops were still there. This was not acceptable. I was now essentially walking around naked, as far as the self-conscious chick in my head was concerned. I will find you, and I will kill you, mumu thief.  I can act like I’m all cool and comfortable, but no matter what witty banter (ha) is coming out of my mouth at a pool-related gathering, my brain is going “Don’t look at my thighs. Don’t look at my arms. AHHHHH stop looking at meeeeeee!” *die*

My husband tells me that I have the worst self-esteem he’s ever seen. And not just about body image. The funny part is that most people think I’m pretty confident. (No, friend. No. It’s all in how you fake it.) Wait that sounded wrong…

Crap. Do you still like me?

**********

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I would advise my girls to love and value themselves, no matter what.

Cheeeeeezzzzy. But really: If you’ve got that down, you’ve got a lot. And you wouldn’t have to go out the next day and replace a giant black mumu.

Kids are not born comparing their bodies to perfection and finding them ugly. While I would like my kids to pull up their pants because nobody wants to see their impression of a plumber, I don’t want them thinking their body shouldn’t be seen in the daylight. I want them to enjoy the pool.  I shouldn’t feel that way either. Girls, you’re all kinds of beautiful.

It goes beyond body image, too. If a kid that my daughter approaches at the playground walks away from her, I want her to know that it’s not because there’s something wrong with her; he just didn’t want to play right then. He probably just doesn’t want to play Mario-meets-My Little Pony-meets-Monster High. And neither do I. Girls, you are good to be around and people like you.

If somebody doesn’t text them back or return their call or pick up their Facetime chat (or God knows what technology is being used by the time I consent to buying them a phone) I want them to understand that it probably isn’t because they’re not important enough to that person. That person is probably busy right now, and wrapped up in their own stuff, unrelated to how much they like them. Girls, you’re enough, and you’re valued.

I want to advise them to take a defeat as a challenge to work harder and a rejection as a sign, not that they weren’t worthy, but that there is something better out there. It’s not that you’re ugly, fat, dumb, boring, unimportant, un-valued, or whatever else that negative biotch in your head tells you. Girls, if you wake up every day being able to tell yourself that the world is a better place because you’re in it, then you won’t need anybody’s attention or affirmation, and that is freedom. Girls, I’ll let you know when Mommy gets there. It’s something we’re all working on. 

There is a lot of “BAD” that can happen to a kid, as he or she grows. But a kid who has a healthy amount of self-worth will hopefully duck and weave when those poor choices come at them swinging. Personally I think I did ok, if I say so myself, and I was (am) a secret self-doubter, always.

So if I had to pick one piece of advice to give my children, that would be it.

Yes, this is basically Stuart Smalley. What? That was a very good era for SNL…

unnamed

 

If you could give your kids one piece of advice, what would it be? No really, I’m curious, and I bet it’s pretty cool advice. Some smart people read this blog…

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Sometimes you’re the example…

October 21, 2014

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…and sometimes you’re the cautionary tale.

Follow My Example:

Jersey suburbanites that we are, we pride ourselves on dragging bringing the kids along on outings in the city of Philadelphia.  We feel it is an important center of American history and culture for the area, and they should experience this vibrant, growing metropolis. And Mommy and Daddy like the food and bars.

On one of our visits there this past summer, we took a stroll in China Town, enjoyed eating our way through the variety of fresh and ethnic foods at the Reading Terminal Market, hung around and rode the carousel in Franklin Square park, and viewed Independence mall…from the lovely beer garden across the street. What? They’ll go see the history stuff in 5th grade anyway.  The restaurant had a bocci court that was a perfect mini-playground – they could draw pictures in the dirt! Then we got ice cream at the Franklin Fountain, because children who let you do all that for 8 hours straight without a care in the world get rewarded with tons of ice cream.  It’s the law. We did remember to order them food at the beer garden, and I’m pretty sure it was deep-fried. Hubby’s sister and her boyfriend, who live in town, met us and we took turns with the occasional bathroom trips. We were at one place just eating, drinking, talking, and watching the kids play in the dirt, for over 4 hours. We tipped very well there.

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I have used this picture before, but I was so damn proud of my kids that day, it may go in the Christmas card. 

Everywhere we went, people in their mid-to-late 30’s smiled indulgently at us and our adorable children. I could tell they thought we made it look so easy to enjoy your children and still enjoy yourself. We probably inspired a couple girlfriends to ask their men where this whole relationship was going because…babies!

Husband and I felt very smart for having the kind of easy-going (HA) children who are agreeable (HAHA) enough to take anywhere. What excellent examples of parenting life we had set for those around us.

Caution, hazards ahead:

Then one recent Friday, our favorite Mexican place in Jersey was inexplicably closed. We decided this meant we had to hop on the train and visit hubby’s sister in the Philly, at her restaurant. The kidlets had had a day off of school that day for teacher in-service, and had gone out to lunch with their Nana to Friendly’s. We forgot that this meant they had recently gorged themselves, and then eaten ice cream sundaes bigger than their heads, because that is what you do at Friendly’s.

Our bigger kid said on the train that she didn’t feel so good. Her tummy hurt.  We pretty much wrote her off, because frankly, the bigger kid is a hypochondriac.

We ordered them two kid-friendly meals off the kid-friendly menu at their Aunt’s restaurant. We proceeded to order drinks and food and kick back because of course, it was going to be another care-free night in the city like so many we have had before.

…Ha.

First, neither child would eat their food. Sometimes the little one just doesn’t eat, period.  The fact that she had the most perfect chicken fingers known to man in front of her had no effect on that situation. “Not eating” for the big one (who is usually a vacuum) meant eating only half of her local-cow’s-milk-cheese quesadilla. This should have been our sign to turn back…NOW. Sadly, I had started the meal with a double ‘Fiddich, and I wasn’t going to win any awards for keen Mommy observations at the time.

We then went walking in Rittenhouse Square park. It was after dark, but it was a crisp autumn evening, and friendly people and doggies were everywhere. We met a family by the fountain with two chatty little boys. We decided to go to the book store across the street next, and find one new book for each of us. Then maybe some dessert? Where would you like to g  – WHAT? The big one says she has to WHAT?

We found a trash can. It was kind of tall for her – an iron, city park trash can. She aimed as best she could and got it on her clothes anyway. Joy. I pictured how lovely that smell would be on the ride home, and we made a B-line for the book store. For a bathroom, not for books. Really.

After stopping to puke a couple more times we made it into the store (a narrow, 3-story Barnes & Noble which was at once soothingly familiar and confusing as Hell because the bathrooms are usually in the same place in all the suburban stores).  We had to drag a screaming, clawing 4 year-old onto the escalator, because said 4 year-old has a long list of things she’s deathly afraid of and these apparent death traps are near the top of that list. We also had the fun of wondering what happens when you puke on the steps of an escalator, but thankfully never had to find out. The older kid reached the top floor and made a run for it into the restroom stall –  past people who were waiting in line. There she got on her hands and knees on the floor (that last sentence alone made my germophobe mom friends wanna puke, themselves), and wretched for a good 10 minutes. Good times. Other people came and went from the rest room. I couldn’t close the stall door, because the kiddo’s body was right there, so I just had to rub her back and apologetically wave people past. And hold back her hair. Gee, I hope we can bond like this when she’s much older, too…

frathouse

Now, get this: We actually believed that, after that puking spell, she was done. I know, right? So naive.  Well she said she was, so we could continue on our carefree evening, beginning with the quest to buy everyone a new book, as a treat. I think the big one bucked up because she really, really wanted the newest My Little Pony novel. By the time everyone else had picked their book but me, the big kid was heading for yet another too-tall trash can, this one by the front door of the Barnes & Noble.  Right next to the poor security guard, right where everybody was coming and going, our kid was puking. At that point I just got in line to pay for their books. What? Where were we gonna go? She was still puking! Might as well leave with some reading material.  Notice that it was Mommy, not the kid who probably just ate too much soft serve at the previous meal, who didn’t get something new to read?  Boo, mom life.

I requested the largest bag they had for our three small books, for vomit-security, and we started walking back to the train station. We figured this was a safer option than hailing a taxi for the kid who sometimes gets carsick for no reason anyway. No puking in taxis; is just not good karma. So, polite child that she is, she just puked right there on the sidewalk. Oh, and in the bag. And on her clothes. And in front of onlookers, who gave us giant-eyed, accusing stares, us as if we’d dragged a child carrying the plague out for a fun night on the town. Good times, I’m tellin’ ya.

We made it back to the station and boarded our train home to New Jersey, and the big one did not throw up on the trip once! Gold star, baby. Both kids quickly passed out, and I got to relate the story of the Barnes & Noble bathroom floor to hubby. However, walking down the narrow steps of the train station at around 10PM, the poor kid let loose again – with passengers behind her in line on the narrow stairs. We were kind of helpless – we couldn’t move her, because of the narrowness of the stairwell, they couldn’t move around us very well, and OH! Have I mentioned how my body reacts when another person vomits? I can’t help it; I have to fight hard not to be part of the “fun”, let’s put it that way. GOOD. TIMES. Great times, for the people trying to squeeze past the actively vomiting child and her parents (and one sleepy preschooler who really had no idea where she was, at that point).

And the next day? Yeah, she was fine. Maybe she’d caught a little bug, or ate too much at Friendly’s. She always was a reflux/throw-up kid.

Hubby and I are heading out this weekend sans kids because we totally get a do-over after all those “good times”.

I am sure that anybody who ran across us that night got set back a couple years in the family planning department.  I think I saw one of them run straight to the CVS to buy condoms. 

Sometimes you’re the awesome parents. And sometimes…well, you’re just that type of reminder.

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Now Hear This: “All About That Bass” and Other Self-Esteem Anthems

August 24, 2014

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As one of those rare music teachers who doesn’t yet hate music, I’m kind of into analyzing some songs. Very little of that material would count towards my graduate credits, sadly. I’ll be doing a recurring series here called “Now Hear This”.  Here’s #1, a little summer earworm. You’re welcome.

First, a head’s up: this video and song are not exactly suitable for younger children. Neither is anything else on this blog, because of slightly colorful language and the revealing too many secrets. The song uses a little language, some visual Katy Perry tributes.  Just a warning, in case you’re not into that kind of thing. Or if you are.

By the time this post is published, this song will be close to three months old and therefore, Jurassic news. But we haven’t had a good Fat Chick Anthem in a while. And we fat chicks need all the anthems we can get. In the footsteps of other self-esteem songs, like “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilara and “Video” by India Arie, we have here a celebration of one’s own body and self-image. If you have never played “Video” for your daughters, do it today. And sons.  The song was released on June 2, 2014. It debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 list on July 26, 2014 and has been doing quite well since, peaking at #4.  The video is adorable, and to me seems reminiscent of the cover of Dionne Warwick’s”Wishin’ and Hopin’ that opened the film “My Best Friend’s Wedding”, in 1997. Remember that? Here you go.

Side note about “Wishin’ and Hopin”: In its original 1963 form, the song sweetly told us to “Wear your hair just for him”, and other submissive pre-feminist garbage. Remember this song now? I have no idea how that was to be interpreted in 1963. However, the fact that the covering artist in the ’97 version is Ani DiFranco, in all her feminist-icon and therefore beautifully ironic glory, makes this version a self-esteem anthem as well. And fun video to watch. 

Read More…

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