Monthly Archives: June 2012

Finding the Humor

I was talking on the phone today with my best friend, sharing stories of harried days full of “mommymommymommy” and “ehhh ehhh ehhh” and waaaahoo’s up the wa-hoos.  It was nice.  I’m not alone in the world – I’m not the only mother who sometimes thinks her life has been invaded by aliens.  Tyrannical aliens.  Tyrannical aliens who poop a lot.

But I digress…

The point is, she shared a funny story with me from a comedian who has kids.  It goes more or less like this:

Having children you have to look for your breaks where you can get them.  One of the best is when you go someplace in the car.  First you strap in one child – and shut the door.  Then you strap in the other child – and shut the door.  And then for those 30 seconds it takes to walk around the car, pure silence.  It’s like, “Ohh yeah.”

I laughed before she had even gotten to the punchline because I already knew it.   And maybe that’s why I called my best friend from my driveway as I watched the house, bracing myself for the onslaught that awaited me.  Because every once in a while, you just gotta step into the silence and say, “Ohh yeah.”

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I growled at my daughter yesterday.  I mean like literally, growled.  She wasn’t even fazed.  All I can assume is that growling is just one more weird thing mommy does.

Motherhood.  Nobody warns you how hard it will be.  The lack of sleep.  The physical pain.  The endless bounty of patience required.  Our society, unlike many others, is so incredibly disconnected from what it takes to raise a child.  There are no discussions regarding what birth will be like, what nursing looks like, what methods of parenting seem to squelch minor uprisings.  Everything is done behind closed doors until it’s time for you to do it yourself.

I’m in a baby group.  I call it the ‘Follow Your Spirit Guide’ baby group because that’s what it seemed like after my time in the ‘Fancy’ baby group.  The Fancy baby group was full of fancy mothers who seemed determined to have their babies sleeping through the night and solving calculus problem by 4 months.  Needless to say, in the Follow Your Spirit Guide group, kindness and empathy were the themes of the day.  I listen to my child, I commiserate about much it sucks to not play with clay when it’s time to eat dinner, and I tell her I’m sorry when I lose my cool and growl.  We kiss and make up and I promise to try harder the next day.  Which I do.  But then something inevitably hits the fan and I find myself twenty leagues under the sea and without a sniff of oxygen.

And to think I’m not getting paid to do this.  Dismantling a bomb seems less exigent.

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Cop Shows: the Hardcore Version

About ten years ago I watched the fist season of a show called The Wire.  It was on HBO and it just about gave me nightmares it was so real.  No high heels and bronzing powder for these characters – it was inner city Baltimore straight to bloodstream.  My boyfriend (2001-2003) and I watched it with his roommate and a few other friends.  Until the relationship went south, I was hooked.

Ten years passed and I was off the Hardcore Cop Juice until recently.  Curious about the original BBC version of Prime Suspect after the US version starring Maria Bello tanked, I began watching the series late-night thanks to Netflix.  One word: gruesome.  The BBC filmed Prime Suspect quite unusually: each season is made up of only 2 episodes and each episode is much like a full-length movie.  So you’ve got 4 hours (mas or menos) of show per season in two chunks that follow Detective Chief Inspector Hellen Mirren as she solves (mas or menos) a case.  Season one got me hooked.  Season two freaked me out.  Season three disturbed me so much I had to stop.  I couldn’t swallow the depravity; too real, too monstrous, too horrific.

And that’s when I hopped the fence to my next BBC hit, Luther.  First of all, Idris Elba is not only super easy on the eyes, but he is just so darn lovable.  I was rooting for the guy from the start…okay well not the start start because that was a bit jarring, but pretty soon thereafter.  Thanks to my rampant insomnia, I watched both seasons in record time and am now eagerly awaiting the 3rd season.  BBC, you have knocked it out of the park once again.  While not quite as scary as Prime Suspect, Luther reminds me a great deal of The Wire.  Gritty, bloody, and often quite creepy, Luther takes a look at wacka-doos in  current time London.  Eek is all I can say.  Eek with a side of whoa.

Anyway, I’m moving on from hardcore into something softer.  My skin just can’t take the shock of police work anymore.  I’m aging dreadfully from all this murder and mayhem.

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In some magazine (that my mother probably gave me to read because it had an article about colon cancer/healthy vegetables/tricks for removing dirt stains), I read an interview with Tina Fey.  In the interview the interviewer asks Fey what media outlets she reads religiously.  Her answer?

Now knowing Fey (as I do), she could have been totally joshing with us…but I don’t think so.  In fact, I have made it a mission for the past 2 months to check out every single day (if I can remember where I’ve put the computer on 2 hours of sleep).  And you know what, I like it.  The author, Michael K is biting and not afraid to call it like it is.  He’s funny, shocking, and very very gay.  Unlike the more famous PerezHilton though, he doesn’t post pictures of himself, post about what he’s doing to pimp money or post BS articles about his celebu-friends.  In fact, in this 2009 article he even calls Lady (I can do no wrong) Gaga, Lady Caca.  I love it.

So the moral of the story is, if you’re awake and breastfeeding at 4 o’clock in the morning for an hour, check out  You just might find you like it too.

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The Good Men Project

In a belated-homage to Father’s Day I am attaching an article that someone sent to me.  It’s taken word-for-word from The Good Men Project, a website with wonderful information for mothers and fathers alike:

Rules For Dads Raising Daughters 

by Marcus Williams and Joanna Schroeder

All daddies with little girls want to raise them “right”, but how the heck are they supposed to know what that means?

If you spend any time on the Internet these days, you’ll quickly learn that pithy numbered lists are the path to enlightenment. It is in that spirit that we have collaborated to develop this list of rules that are guaranteed to guide fathers in the correct way to raise their daughters. This wisdom is universal, proven, and failsafe. *

*Not really.

Marcus is raising two toddler daughters, and Joanna is a daughter (in addition to being a mother) so we feel we have at least as good a chance as anyone at enlightening others. We are colleagues and friends, and while we find we disagree on many things, one area in which we often find common ground is in raising kids.

We agreed on many of these rules, though some only made it in when the other one wasn’t looking. For the tl;dr [too long, didn’t read] demographic, here’s the list in a nutshell:

  • Joanna says dads should be girly with their daughters.
  • Marcus says dads should be manly with their daughters.
  • It’s okay to be both.
1. Tell her she’s pretty, but tell her other good things about herself more.
It’s not that telling a girl she’s pretty is bad. It’s not. The point is that it shouldn’t be the only kind of compliment she gets, so she doesn’t feel that only her appearance matters. Compliment her intelligence, her resourcefulness, her imagination, her hard work, and her strength. Don’t pretend that her looks will never matter, but teach her not to judge herself or let herself be judged only on looks.
2. Teach her that handymen don’t have to be men.
Checklist of things to teach her: routine car maintenance, how to stop a toilet from overflowing, how to set a mousetrap, how to use the fuse box, how to turn off the water main. (Marcus’s note to self — learn to maintain car, fix a toilet, use the fuse box, and find the water main.) There’s nothing wrong with needing help to get things done, but self-reliance and confidence are handy if you need to change a tire, fix a toilet, or even squish a bug without needing a rescuer to do it for you.
3. Let her play in the mud.
No need to fill their sandbox with only sugar and spice. Mix in some snips and snails and puppy dog tails, too. Be cautious, however, about giving her any nicknames like “Sugar” or “Spice” while she plays in the mud, as it could lead to some uncomfortable career choices down the road.
4. Remember that the way you talk about and treat women will have a lasting impact.
Your daughter will pick up on generalizations you make about women, whether positive or negative. Intentionally or not, you shape her identity about what it is to be a woman, and how to expect to be treated for being one. Say positive things about women without pedastalizing. If you can’t be nice, at least be respectful and steer clear of the B-word, C-word, and other words for putting down her entire gender. All this goes double for talking about her mother.
5. Teach her the correct names for her genitals, and use them matter-of-factly.
If she wants to say wee-wee, that’s fine, but make sure that as she grows up, she knows her vulva from her vagina. And whatever you do … don’t call it a front-butt.
6. Indulge her imagination.
You be the kitty, she’ll be the mommy, then she’ll be the kitty and you’ll be the baby kitty. It’s going to get boring for you, but it’s good for her. Keep doing it. Meow some more. Don’t forget to hiss.
7. Cry when the family pet dies.
You don’t have to weep if you hated the critter, but the point is to show that it’s okay for men to feel and express emotions when they come up, even hard ones like sadness and grief. Sometimes the most comforting thing you can do with a difficult emotion is to share it.
Pro tip: If she wants to schedule a memorial service for the pet you hated, try to schedule it right after you’ve watched “Brian’s Song”.
8. Teach her honesty and integrity in relationships by demonstrating them in yours.
“Honesty and integrity in relationships” doesn’t mean blind devotion. It means living a life consistent with the values you hold dear, and helping the people you love to live consistent with theirs.
Live the integrity you hope she’ll choose for herself.
9. Read her books with great heroes — both boy and girl heroes.
Books with girl heroes are harder to find, but they’re out there. You can find a lot of recommendations at A Mighty Girl. Also, make up stories on the spot –they don’t have to be perfect –starring her as the conquering hero battling the dragon or saving all the kittens in a big thunderstorm.
10. Teach her that she has power over her own body and sexuality.
From when she’s small, tell her that her body belongs to her, and she is the boss of it. As she gets older, teach her that her body isn’t to be used in the effort to win love or approval, or to manipulate others. Teach her that sex is beautiful, and that choices to have and not have sex both carry power and integrity, as long as she is true to herself.
Allow her to talk to you about sex without getting squicked, but also leave room for her to have private conversations about sex and sexuality with other people.
11. Teach her about male sexuality without fear-mongering.
It’s tempting to tell her that boys are bad, that sex is evil and that guys only want one thing …
But we know from the last 50 years of Sex Education that this tactic simply doesn’t work, and it damages both boys and girls in the process. Girls learn to fear boys and see them as one-dimensional, or they learn that their parents have been lying all along.
Teach her that respect is key, and both boys and girls deserve it and are able to give it.
12. Share music with each other.
Play your favorite music and tell her why it’s great. Let her do the same for you. Teach her why the bridge in the middle of Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic” is so crucial and really try to understand what’s so great about One Direction (and then enlighten us when you figure it out).
Teach her the courtesy of headphones and the wisdom of volume control.
13. Dress like a princess if she asks you to … And let her dress like a Power Ranger if she wants.
Yeah, it sucks a little playing dress-up for those of us not theatrically-inclined, but it makes a child feel important when you play the way she wants to play.
Also, playing ‘like a girl’ won’t make you one and playing ‘like a boy’ won’t make her one. So have fun with both.
14. Go with her to the nail salon and each of you get a pedicure.
No, you don’t have to get polish! Just enjoy the time with your daughter and the accompanying foot massage. (Unless you have an aversion to emery boards like Marcus does.)
15. Include her in your favorite hobbies.
Share with her the things you love, like watching Motocross, cooking dinner or playing the guitar.
Take her with you sometimes when you go to the bowling alley, or for a hike on your favorite trail. Go watch surfers in the ocean. Explain exactly what’s happening. Let her get bored after ten or fifteen minutes and then go do what she wants to do for a while.
16. Let her put on shows for you. Then put on a silly show for her.
It doesn’t take much—a goofy tap dance, armpit farts, standing on one foot—to make a little girl laugh.
17. Let her choose any color she wants for one wall in her room.
Yes, any. Then let her help you paint it. We recommend a very sturdy drop-cloth.
18. Roughhouse with her.
You won’t break her, and rough play is good for teaching confidence and resilience.
19. Inspire her with women role models who excel in traditionally male-dominated fields or activities.
She’s not going to grow up to be an NFL linebacker, but don’t crush aspirations before they begin by telling her what she can’t be because she’s a girl. The few things she can’t do will become obvious on their own, and the rest become possible if she’s allowed to dream and has role models who achieved great things without a penis.
20. Don’t shame her for what she wants to wear — but exercise the power to modify.
This one gets trickier with age, but most wardrobe choices by a toddler or little girl can be made to work. If a skirt is too short, leggings are great. If she picks a Spiderman tee for a wedding, try letting her wear it under a dressy top. If you have to overrule her choice, be pragmatic, not judgmental. (We couldn’t agree on the right approach to this once your daughter hits puberty, so you’re on your own.)
21. Look her in the eyes and have a real conversation at least once every single day that you’re together.
Even if it’s just about My Little Pony or Justin Bieber.
22. As she gets older, tell her the truth about drugs. Don’t use scare tactics, be honest.
Drugs are scary enough without exaggerating. But saying, “If you try drugs, you’ll die (or end up homeless, or become a prostitute, etc)” and having that as your “Drug Talk” will fail. Why? Because she will quickly learn that smoking pot doesn’t kill you—either from watching her friends or doing it herself.
Instead, try something along the lines of, “Using most drugs is like Russian Roulette… Five out of six times a person may be fine. But you never know if you’re going to end up as that one person who won’t be okay.”
23. Teach her that “No” means “No”, for both herself and others.
Teach her physical boundaries. Teach her how to say no directly, and that her no is to be respected, and that she shouldn’t be afraid or embarrassed to protect her body.
Make it clear that when someone — a little brother, a friend, or a parent — says no, that she is to respect that … including with boys.
24. Allow her to be girly if that’s her thing, but don’t force her to be if she’s not.
Let her wear dresses whenever she wants, but don’t force her to. Don’t buy everything in pink—unless she’s crazy for the color pink. If she loves Spiderman, go with that until she’s tired of it.
25. If she’s still little enough, hold her until she falls asleep sometimes.
You’ll miss it when you can’t.

Raising Boys (A Dad’s Advice for Moms)

by Tom Matlack

Let’s get one thing clear from the get go: moms are generally better parents than dads. And that goes double for me. I’ve had three kids across two marriages and I am undoubtedly the weak link. My 17-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son trust their step-mom more than they trust me, which proves that I married well but am still getting the hang of being a dad. Most of us are.

That said, there are a few subtle nuances that I have picked up along the way as a dad that might come in handy for moms raising boys.

Ladies, here are some things to think about with your boys:

  • Think caveman. Adult women have thousands of emotional states, as do girls like my daughter. Boys, on the other hand, tend to feel one of three: mad, sad, happy. Don’t project your complex emotional life on your son. His issue of the moment might not be that complicated. He wants to eat, poop, or run. On a really bad day he wants his toy back after some other kid took it from him. He doesn’t want to stare out the window and have lengthy discussions about the meaning of life, as my eight-year-old daughter often did.
  • Watch his body not his mouth. Again, like adult men, the clues to how your son is doing will show up first in his body language. Jumping up and down with six-inch vertical leaps is the natural state of being and is good. Slumped shoulders are bad. Yelling is good. Quiet needs attention.
  • When in doubt, hug. Boys will often have a much harder time than girls verbalizing their problems. My 5-year-old son will sometimes burst out into tears after seemingly trivial events. I know there is something deeper going on, but I am not going to get it out of him, at least not at that moment (whereas my daughter would not only tell me what went wrong but in no uncertain terms why it was my fault, which was generally true enough). So the solution is physical not verbal. I spend a lot of time just hugging my boys. I usually have no idea why. But as a default cure-all, it seems to work wonders. A minute later they are all patched up and ready to rumble again. This even works pretty well with my 14-year-old, who is a 6-foot-tall linebacker at Boston College High School.
  • Yes, it really is all about poop. Girls potty train 6 to 9 months before boys, but once boys make it onto the throne, there is no stopping them. Moving their bowels is pretty much the highlight of their day (true confession: it still is for me, too), and they are going to want to talk about it. Bathroom time is a participatory sport. My five-year-old likes to head to the bathroom just as the family is sitting down to dinner, sometimesduring dinner. It’s the first time he has been still long enough to realize he has to go. And he wants me to come with him, not just to assist in the wipe but to have a leisurely conversation about the status of his poop. As much as I found this inconvenient at first, now I just go with it. Quality time is quality time.
  • Batman lives forever. Boys, even at a young age, realize the importance of super powers. They want to be good and believe in the existence of ultimate good in the world. Boys sort out their identities in relation to the mythical characters they hear about. My son is obsessed with Batman. He wears a full costume, even through the airport and down Madison Avenue. What amazes me even more than his dedication to the superhero is how the guard at LaGuardia or the guy hanging off the back of a garbage truck sees him and shouts, “Batman!” My boy nods his head just slightly, acknowledging his public before moving onto the important work at hand, like going to kindergarten.
  • Pointless physical activity is perfect. My brother and I once convinced his two sons and my older boy, when they were all around the age of 10, that they really needed to build a structure out of rocks. The rocks were on one side of a beach, but the perfect spot where the structure had to be built, according to our sage advice, was on the other side of the beach. Each stone weighed between ten and thirty pounds. The boys started moving the boulders one by one, working together to lift the heaviest ones. My brother and I set up our beach chairs midway from the rock pile to building site. We read the paper most of the morning while the boys tired themselves out moving rocks and then assembling a tremendous cathedral. By lunch they were tired and happy, and my brother and I had enjoyed a peaceful morning.
  • Winning does matter, but less than you think. Boys — perhaps even more than girls — put themselves under extreme pressure to perform in school, in sports, and in social situations. They talk about it less, so the sting of failure can run even more deeply than with girls. With boys it’s important to emphasize the lessons to be gained from failure, instead of trying to win at all costs, and to emphasize the development of the whole boy. Too often in our culture, boys are pushed to become one-dimensional robots. Goodness isn’t about winning at youth soccer or having the most friends or being the smartest kid in class; it’s also about being kind. That’s something as a mom that you can particularly help your son understand.
  • Clothes matter. I know there are way more options for dressing little girls than little boys, so the tendency might be to just throw jeans and a t-shirt on your son and forget about it. But you better make sure they are the right jeans and the right t-shirt. The only consistent battle I have had with my sons is over what they wear. It matters way more to them than I ever would have imagined. They want to look cool; they want to be comfortable (pants that are tight but not too tight, warm and yet breathable). I do draw the line with clothes that have already been worn two days in a row, but I don’t discount the importance of fashion to my kindergartener.
  • Crowds, not so much. I have noticed that my daughter lights up when she enters a crowd, whether family or strangers. Mass humanity is something that gives her energy. With my boys, and, frankly, for me too, it’s the opposite. They get shy and tend to hide behind my legs. I try to protect them from these situations and not push them beyond their limitations.
  • Bedtime is sacred. Because boys are so active, it’s hard to get them to sit still. The best time of day is the ten minutes before they go to sleep. Crawl into bed with them, read books, and hold them while they fall off to sleep. If you don’t believe in God, you will once you have lain next to your overactive son while his body goes limp next to you, and he ever so faintly begins to snore.

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Two Year Old Geniuses

Ok, I am officially a lazy parent who is cursing my child to a life of mediocrity.  Reciting the alphabet forward and backward?  Counting to 1000?  Naming all of the planets?  No wonder these 2 year olds are in Mensa.  I can barely count to 10 let alone name the planets.  When I stumbled upon this article (fine, I admit it, I was googling teaching my child Chinese) I immediately began the flagellation.

Read it for yourself, but I warn you, that Chinese Tiger Mom has nothing on these parents.  One grandmother was showing the child flashcards before he could even speak…and the child responded!  And now he speaks three languages so there you go.

Perhaps if I had just memorized those darn planets things would’ve been different for me.

Mensa welcomes two-year-old into its ranks, second toddler this year  By Eric Pfeiffer

Mensa must be looking for young blood: The high-IQ society has for the second time this year welcomed a member who is just two years old.

The Victoria Times Colonist reports that Anthony Popa Urria is the youngest Canadian ever admitted into Mensa and has an estimated IQ of 154. The toddler can recite the alphabet backward and forward, count to 1,000 and name the planets in the solar system. He is, however, only the second two-year-old admitted to Mensa this year.

In March, Emmelyn Roettger was welcome into Mensa one month shy of her third birthday. She is the youngest U.S. member of the group. Amazingly, doctors at first thought Roettger suffered from autism, because she appeared to avoid eye contact with other individuals.

“It turned out that she just needed glasses!” her mother Michelle Horne, 41, told MSNBC. “It was so obvious that any delays she had were vision-related. From there on out, she just took off.”

In this video, Emmelyn shows off her impressive reading skills:

Popa Urria has incredible comprehension skills of his own, reportedly speaking in three languages (English, Spanish and some Romanian).

“He was very alert since he was about four months old. He was curious, looking around,” his grandmother Felicia told the Times Colonist.

“He wasn’t even speaking yet, but my mom would have three flash cards up and she would say, ‘Pick the letter C,’ and he would point to it,” added his mother, Laura.

Yet despite their similarly high IQ’s, Popa Urria and Roettger’s parents have different educational background. Neither of Roettger’s parents belong to Mensa, and they say they have been very surprised by their daughter’s exceptional development. Meanwhile, Popa Urria’s mother reportedly holds four degrees, including a master’s in economics.

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Adultery: Easy Side Up

Infidelibly Yours?  Betrayals in the Mist?  Or how about just plain old, Illicit Encounters?

If cheating is your game, then Illicit Encounters is the name.  The home page of their website advertises as follows:

Married but Feeling neglected? In need of some excitement?
Illicit Encounters is a discreet & confidential extra-marital dating service for women & men…

I love it.  Who cares about those stupid vows you took way-back-when with that fat cow you now call husband or wife?  Enough is enough of eating vanilla every day.  It’s time for some chocolate two-timing, some rocky road faithlessness or some praline perfidy.  In short, no need to be dodgy about your desire to have an extramarital affair.  Just log on and browse all the men and women who are right there with you.

Dear Smile On Your Face,

I like that your moniker is a black stallion.  Very subtle.  Very sexy.  I’m slightly confused by the first lines of your advert though.

‘A well-educated, intelligent professional, smart, honest, kind, extremely passionate, tactile, loves kissing and above all a gentleman.’

Aren’t we on an illicit encounters website?  A venue so that married people like us can have affairs without having to hang-out in seedy hotel bars?

Super glad you included ‘honest, kind…and above all a gentleman.’  I wouldn’t have my adultery any other way.

Meet you in the lobby of the Hilton at 5…I’ll look for that black stallion t-shirt you mentioned.

xo Sara



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