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November 2007

Working Mom Guilt

I have no doubt that the right decision for me was to be a working mom. I believe staying at home or working is intensely personal decision for a woman. And that's for those of us that actually have a choice, because for some women the choice to work or not is made for them by their family's financial situation. Some woman can't afford to stay home, others can't afford to work. For those lucky mom's who get to make a choice for themselves, it's not always easy. Staying home is an enormous concession and a lot of work. You can easily be cut off from all adult contact and feel your brain reverting back to childhood, since you spend most, if not all of your time, with your kids. It can also be terribly depressing. You work all day long caring for the kids, cooking, cleaning, running errands and at the end of the day the house is still a mess, the kids still need more caring for, you're exhausted and know that tomorrow will bring more of the same. Perhaps not all moms feel this way about staying at home, but at the end of the six weeks I stayed home with each kid, I was joyous about heading back to the office. I'd have put my head in the oven long ago if I hadn't.

Of all the theories and reasons I've heard that goes into a woman's decision to work or stay home, the one that has stayed with me and made the most sense to me is this explanation that Polly told me she had read. Women who had a happy childhood try to recreate that for their kids, those who had an unhappy one try to create a different one for their kids. So if your mom stayed home and you had a happy childhood, you're going to want to stay home. If your mom worked and you had a happy childhood, you're going to work. And so on and so forth.

But that's neither here nor there today. I brought my kids to the dentist today and they both have cavities and plaque and I'm feeling terribly guilty. Like if I stayed home more, wasn't so tired at night, I'd be more vigilant that they were brushing and brushing well. Yeah, I know, I'm probably being neurotic. LT has a cavity in between his two front teeth. They tell me his teeth are too tightly packed together for his age and I need to start flossing him. Anyone out there tried to floss a three-year-old? I'm a bit terrified. Anyway, I'm going to buy some new tooth brushes, probably electric, and some flossers and Act Fluoride rinse, and hopefully all will be well with the world again. I had done electric with Trouble before but was warned it might be too big for his mouth. Well, that was years ago and I think we're giving it another whirl. The reality probably is that my husband and I both have cavity prone teeth and our kids are likely screwed regardless. So I'm trying to reason my guilt away. But it's irrational and it just won't listen.

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LT: or, I didn't know frat boys were born that way

It never ceases to amaze me how different my two little boys are. They're both a heap of trouble, don't get me wrong. But they are very different. Trouble is fair skinned, with dirty blonde hair and blue eyes like his mom. LT is darker complected, has brown eyes and dark brown hair. People who don't know us well are always surprised that they're brothers. Half the time I can see them debating on asking me if they have the same father. They do. One got the French and Italian genes, the other the Irish and Swedish. And they're both as handsome as they can be, not that I'm biased or anything.

Now Trouble's personality was not that surprising to me. He's your Type A, anal retentive, you can see the future lawyer or CEO now, kind of kid. That said, he's also a little boy and as such, is wild and crazy. He's also a complete clown and loves an audience.

His brother is a whole other story. When LT was about six months old, I had him in the tub lying on his stomach in about three inches of water. Blackstone and I were both in the bathroom with him, and he was putting his face down in the water, then lifting his head up and letting out a loud, guttural yell. He did this repeatedly until he put his face down too quickly and hit his face on the bottom of the tub. He brought his head back up and hesitated for a moment. He had split his bottom lip open and was bleeding. Then he smiled, plunged his face back in the water and kept going.

I turned to Blackstone and said, "I didn't know frat boys were born that way."

I always tell this story when describing LT to people. He is a rough and tumble, man's man and has been since the day he was born. I hear him yelling, "Eat it! Eat it!"  to his older brother and laughing, and there's a part of me that can see him eighteen years from now yelling, "Drink! Drink!" (At least I hope it's eighteen years from now.)

Other parents and grandparents love to give parenting advice. They told me I had to be careful having two boys, that the older did not beat on the younger. Ha. Ha. That's never been the problem in my house. LT gave Trouble his first bloody nose right about the time he turned two. Trouble grabbed the tricycle LT had been riding, LT went to get back on it, had a fit his brother had taken it and started punching him in the face. He was, of course, punished. But Trouble beating on his little brother, yeah right.

Perhaps there's something I can do to stop the inevitable from happening. I never could stand jocks or frat boys, and there's certainly no example of this for him to follow in the house. He likes the models in the lingerie catalogs too. He kisses the girls. What three-year-old does that? Aren't girls supposed to be icky? Our nanny asked LT if the girls in the catalog were pretty. He said yes, but they didn't have any breasts. Oh, good God, I'm in so much trouble.

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I Could Skip the Eating and the Praying

It seems everyone and their mother are reading Eat, Pray, Love lately. And I do mean that literally. My mother wants my copy when I'm done. And I hear most people raving about it. I'm not raving. Isn't a spiritual journey somewhat tainted when you're paid to write about it beforehand?

There were parts that I liked. I appreciated that this woman going through a horrible and trying time in her life was making an attempt to pull her life back together. She was making an effort. I give her credit for that. But I just couldn't relate. If my marriage went the unfortunate way of divorce, I doubt I could afford to spend six months in Italy. Nor, I'm sure, could I afford the house she lived in while she was married. We just don't live in the same class, or possibly the same world, the author and I. I also have kids, so the freedom to travel for a year on my own and discover myself is not in the realm of possibility for the next 15 years or so. Of course all that's beside the point, because I have no desire to embark on a journey of self discovery. I want to travel and see more of the world, but with my husband and kids, or at least my husband. Not that I'd be afraid to travel on my own, perhaps if I was a single woman, or wanted to be single. No doubt I might be a single woman once I returned, if I took off for a year on my own.

It is postulated during Gilbert's journey that when it comes to meditation and enlightenment, people fall into one of three categories and I'm paraphrasing - those blind and closed to enlightenment, those who have been enlightened, and those who need to "have the veil lifted." Gilbert falls into the third category and I suppose by the end of her journey she has reached enlightenment or is in the process of getting there. She certainly seems more at peace with herself, so I guess it worked for her. It makes me wonder, though. I don't, as Curls (one of the members of my book club) aptly put it, have this itchiness that the author feels. So when it comes to searching for enlightenment, then I'm either enlightened or close minded. I don't feel all that enlightened and the idea that I'm closed minded is insulting. Though I suppose if the old Irish guy sitting by his fire can be at peace and enlightened, perhaps that's where I'm at. I am rather at peace in my life. Not that my life is peaceful. I'm a working mother of two boys. As long as no one's been to the ER, it's a relatively peaceful day in my world. But I am rather at peace with the life I have chosen and made for myself.

I do love Ketut's explanation of meditating and rising the seven levels to heaven and down the seven levels to hell. Gilbert seemed a bit befuddled by his explanation that everything is circular, so whether you go up or down, you still arrive at the same place. And if heaven is love, then that makes hell also love. The difference is not where you end up, but the path you take in getting there. This makes so much sense to me. This is my kind of religion. I tried explaining it to Blackstone. He didn't quite follow me.

"How can you go up and down and arrive at the same place?" he wanted to know.

Because it's circular, that's how. And I suppose you could try to look at it literally like a circle, but that's not the point. It's abstract. I suppose it requires that you have faith. I can have faith that love is what makes the world go round, that regardless whether your path is one of happiness and faith or one of sorrow and misery, in the end all that is left is love.

Blackstone wanted to know if I was going to start meditating now. The answer is emphatically, no. I enjoy yoga, but have no patience to sit and concentrate on my breathing as the minutes go by. How enlightened can I possibly be?

P.S. Click here to read Bookgirl's review. We didn't have the same take on the book.

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Gobble, Gobble

I received the following email from my sister. It's my first time hosting Thanksgiving dinner. I think she's a afraid I'm going to f*#% it up.

Turkey/Whole bird, stuffed

Weight: 24 lbs. (24 servings)  :: Thaw Time: 5 days
Oven Temp: 325F
Roasting Time: 5 hours 15 mins to 5 hours 30 mins    + 15 min. standing time
Roasting Schedule
Start Time: 8:30 AM
End Time: 1:45 PM
Standing Time: 15 min.
Serving Time: 2:00 PM
Thawing Instructions
Never thaw poultry on the counter at room temperature. The best way to thaw poultry is in the refrigerator. You will need to plan ahead and allow approximately 24 hours for every five pounds of weight. Place the poultry in the original wrapping, on a shallow baking sheet or tray in the refrigerator. Thaw for the time given. (If you need to thaw the poultry more quickly, you may thaw it in cold water, in the original wrapping. The water should be changed every 30 minutes. Allow approximately 30 minutes per pound, if thawing poultry in cold water.)
Roasting Instructions
Rinse bird thoroughly on outside as well as inside the body and neck cavities. Pat dry with paper towels. If desired sprinkle inside of body cavity with salt. Lightly spoon stuffing into neck and body cavities. Pull neck skin to back and fasten with a skewer. If a band of skin crosses tail, tuck drumsticks under band. If there is no band, tie drumsticks to tail using 100-percent-cotton kitchen string. Twist wing tips under the back. Place bird, breast side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan; brush with cooking oil. Insert an oven-going meat thermometer into center of one of the inside thigh muscles. The thermometer should not touch bone. Cover with foil, leaving air space between bird and foil. Lightly press the foil to the ends of drumsticks and neck to enclose bird. Roast in 325 degree F oven for time specified. Uncover bird the last 45 minutes of roasting. Two-thirds through roasting time, cut band of skin or string between drumsticks. Continue roasting until meat thermometer registers 180 degrees F (check temperature of thigh in several places).Center of stuffing should register 165 degrees F. Remove bird from oven; cover with foil. Let stand 15 minutes before carving.
What do you think?

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Three Girls and the City

Spending the weekend in NY was fabulous. I hadn't seen Bookgirl since CA and we were both relieved to see that Liz was not a 6' 2" black man. We probably would have left her at the airport. Liz was equally relieved to discover that Bookgirl and I were not axe murderers, but I'm not sure her husband was convinced because he never stopped texting her. I can't keep Blackstone on the phone for five minutes and he refuses to learn how to text. Most days, I could be well out of the country before he'd realize I was gone. But I'm not going to wish for an attentive husband, because I've quite learned to enjoy that he leaves me be most of the time, except when I'm annoyed that he's not paying any attention to me.

Bookgirl took us to Max Brenner's for brunch, which was an awesome choice. It was like walking into Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or heaven. All the plates come with side dishes of melted chocolate for dipping, there's at least a dozen kinds of hot chocolate, chocolate martinis, and desserts. Good god, we couldn't even get to the desserts, which is why I have to go back.

Bookgirl was a fabulous tour guide. I couldn't even tell you all the places we went - a street fair, Times Square, Central Park, Rockefeller Plaza, the Empire State Building, and dinner at an amazing Mexican restaurant with fabulous margaritas and sangria. I can only imagine that this is where I lost my camera. I'm so irritated with myself. It just couldn't be a fabulous vacation unless I got drunk and lost or broke something, or hit someone. You'd think I'd grow up at some point. Of course, the fact that my alcohol tolerance is lower than it was at fifteen doesn't help matters here. So Liz is the only one with pictures. Come on Liz, share the wealth.

Anyway, lost camera aside, it was a great trip. An absolute blast. Bookgirl is an amazing hostess and it's always a joy to visit with her. Liz is as fun and wonderful as you'd imagine she is from her blog. So sometimes an internet match does live up to its expectations.

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The David Books

We read No, David! by David Shannon for the first time about a year ago. It was just a random book we borrowed from the local library. And boy did Trouble and LT get a complete kick out of it. We read it over and over again. Trouble had it memorized. And then I realized through the Firefly and Scholastic book order forms, that there were more David books. We now own No David!, David Gets in Trouble, and David Goes to School. Both boys love them. Trouble reads them to us now. There are also a few other David books that we haven't read, but I think my boys might be a bit beyond those already.

The David books are simple to read and the illustrations resemble those of a first grader. David hears the word "No!" a lot, which little kids can totally to. He spills his juice, breaks windows, tells fibs, forgets his homework and generally finds himself in trouble all of the time. But in the end, David is a good boy and his parents love him. The books are funny and very endearing. They've become so well-known at our house that when Trouble burped at the dinner table the other night and announced loudly, "Excuse Me!", Blackstone said, "No, David!"

Trouble responded, "I'm not David!" Of course, the jokes on him, because he is David. And so is every other six-year-old boy.

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The Morning After

It's a two cup of coffee kind of morning, but I opted for decaf on the second cup because it's supposed to be better for me or some nonsense. After the last three days spent figuring out how to parse an .asmx file with coldfusion and Halloween festivities, I'm exhausted. Hopefully the Motrin will take the headache away. I'm looking forward to my appointment tomorrow morning with the hairdresser and an afternoon at the bar. One of my co-workers is on to bigger and better things. I wish him well, but have no desire to go work for a big corporation myself at the moment. I'm enjoying working for the little guy who knows my name, my kids' names, and tells me to go home when I'm not feeling well. Maybe I'll opt for the big paycheck with the big corporation eventually, but not now.

Trick-or-treating with the boys and their friends last night was a major success. We now have three gallon size ziploc bags and a gallon size container full of candy. The boys were even treated to a viewing of The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown with their friends once the trick-or-treating was done. And somehow we still managed to get home by nine and have them in bed by nine-thirty. They only had three pieces of candy each, so no horrific sugar highs.

We trick-or-treated at the house of Popeye and Olive Oil. Unfortunately, Popeye wasn't home, but Olive tried to offer the kids spinach instead of candy. She was great. We saw scary witches, lots of ninjas, Glenda the Good Witch of the North, a shark eating a person, and of course Blackstone and I were decked out in our regal attire. We even received a few bows and curtsies from our loyal subjects.

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