Dangerous Names

So I kind of have baby on the brain lately. I think I probably made my husband stop breathing with that statement, but mostly it is just because I have quite a few friends who are pregnant right now. Bringing new life into the world is filled with all kinds of land mines of excitement and frustration. And picking a name for your new bundle is just one of them.

You know how some names seem to have certain connotations to them? Come on, don’t act all I don’t judge a book by its cover on me. Whether name profiling is right or wrong (okay, it’s most definitely wrong), you know that if you hear of a kid named Bear Blu that his mother is most likely a celebrity, and also likely to chew up her child’s food for him and then spit it into his mouth.

That is why naming a child can be such a stressful thing. I was reminded of this during a conversation with a friend of mine who is expecting her third child. She and her husband seem to be at a standstill in the naming process, mostly because they have trouble agreeing on names that they both like. I can empathize. My husband and I had very few names we agreed upon. In fact, it’s a good thing we have one girl and one boy, because those two names were pretty much the only ones we both liked. If a baby #3 ever comes along, in short…we’re screwed.

In talking with my friend, I also realized that maybe part of the reason choosing a name is so hard is because men and women seem to have different tastes in names. Especially girl names. Let’s just say that both of our husbands had female name choices that hold those certain connotations I was talking about earlier.

When I became pregnant the first time, Kurt and I each made a list of names we liked, then compared. One of the names that he really liked was Brandy, and when I showed my immediate distaste for it, he just couldn’t understand why. Really? Seriously? What’s the

Which one is named Sr. Brandy?

first thing that comes to mind when you hear that name? My answer: dancer (and not the kind you pay a lot of money to go see…well, maybe you do. It’s just all in singles). Considering that Kurt has made it definitively clear that his ultimate goal for his daughter is that she enter the convent in her teens, I was flabbergasted that he would want to name her Brandy…and that he didn’t like my suggestion of Mary because it was “too plain.” Helloooooo…Mary practically begs to have a Sister placed before it and something like Frances put after it. Mary is a surefire nun name! But Kurt still defended Brandy, saying he liked the name because of the totally rockin’ song by Looking Glass:

I’ll give it to him. I love the song. However, even the song is about a girl who hangs around sailors all the time and thinks it is okay to stay with a guy who would rather get his jollies out at sea than give her the time of day. Needless to say, we found the very acceptable compromise of Grace. And it’s a good thing, because at the age of five, she once said something on the playground that could have been worrisome otherwise. She was sliding down the fireman’s pole and yelled, “Dad, I have really good pole moves! You should see them sometime. Really. I’m really good on the pole.” Knowing that her name means “blessing and virtue” helped me laugh off this comment. Had her name been Brandy, it could have been very ominous.

So, to all my round-bellied friends and anyone else with a bun in the oven, good luck dodging the land mines of dangerous names.

Milk Diaries by Maggie SingletonOh, and while you’re in the market for all things baby-related, check out a brand new book by my good friend and fantastic writer, Maggie Singleton. It’s called Milk Diaries: A Compilation of Practical, Encouraging Advice from the “Real” Breastfeeding Experts. She has gathered stories from many moms about their experiences breastfeeding, and it is better than any breastfeeding book I ever read as a new mom. And you can also check my own contribution in there, “The Lactation Consultant from the Black Lagoon.” Happy reading…and feeding!

A Re-Post for the King of Pop’s Birthday: Four Score and Seven Lies Ago

I just realized today is Michael Jackson’s birthday, so I figured it would be a good time to repost this piece from last year. It somehow seems appropriate on many levels considering the season we are in. Happy Birthday, MJ! I’m sure my daughter and I will play a little “Michael Jackson: The  Experience” dancing game on the Xbox today in your honor. 

michael jackson
Don’t you see the family resemblance?

When I was in the first grade, I told everyone that Michael Jackson was my cousin. Before you get too excited, that statement is unequivocally false. I have no idea why I said it. Could I have already felt the push to be cool even as a fledgling student? Anyway, an immediate divide occurred among my classmates: my supporters versus my non-supporters. Heated debates on the playground raged as to whether a black person and a white person could be related. At this point, I am sure I felt pretty caught in the lie, and I fessed up to the truth. Surprisingly, I was not shunned as a crooked liar for those next eight years that I coexisted with these children. Some, even in the face of defeat, continued to argue in my favor that I could be Michael Jackson’s cousin if we traced my family tree back far enough.

Does the story sound familiar? I think it does. We hear it all the time. Nixon, Clinton, Blagojevich, Spitzer, Craig, Edwards, and most recently Weiner. A politician lies (which means he’s breathing – hehe), the country goes at each other’s throats trying to prove their side is right, the politician admits to the lie, some people argue that the lie is irrelevant anyway, and eventually we all move on. All the while, real problems go unsolved.

abraham lincoln

It will be a rare occurrence that I blog about politics…unless it is a rant against the politics keeping The Monkees out of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (I told you they would pop up now and again – see my page “Why I Like Bananas“). I do not care much for politics. In my opinion, politics are what is wrong with government. Too much “my side is right,” not enough, “let’s see if we can compromise.” Too much abuse of power, not enough empowering the country. Too much feeling I am above the law, not enough making laws that will help our people. It’s enough to cause disillusion. And that’s about where I am at with the whole thing; I have a feeling a good portion of the country is behind me.

I am aware there are people who will chide me for my apathy. I know I should care more. I know I should read more newspapers and less Sandra Boynton. I know I should watch more CNN and watch less Real Housewives. I know I should, but I don’t. I am glad there are people out there still passionate about politics, because we obviously need someone to run this country. I just wish more of the sincere, level-headed citizens of that passionate crop were the ones elevated to office: more Atticus Finches and less Svengalis. Perhaps there will come a time when I find the desire to change a crooked system. After all, my mom, who I pretty much never heard utter even the word “politics” growing up, has now become seriously active in a political campaign. Her kids all moved out, and she decided it was time to put her mark on the larger world. Maybe that will happen to me…maybe.

In the meantime, I will likely tune out when the news anchor reports on the latest politician caught in a scandal. I will get a queasy feeling when I hear a Democrat and Republican calling each other idiots for having a difference of opinion. And I will head to the polls only to stare at the ballot and sigh, because I don’t like any of my choices.

Now I think I might go listen to “Christ for President” by Wilco and ponder what life would be like with Atticus Finch as president…and Michael Jackson as my cousin.

I Like Chicks

No, I haven’t switched teams. And really, it’s just one chick. And he’s a dude.

bob and tom showI’m talking about Chick McGee, member of the Marconi award-winning Bob & Tom Show which airs every weekday morning on over 150 radio stations nationwide…and the person my husband wants to be when he grows up.

No lie. My husband has a pretty serious man crush on Chick, which is possibly only rivaled by his deep affection for Alton Brown of Good Eats on Food Network. I am fairly certain the only reason my husband joined Twitter was so he could follow Chick and be privy to whatever hilarity the radio personality could cram into 140 characters. (I’m not judging, mind you…since I joined Twitter only after realizing Micky Dolenz of The Monkees had joined and was tweeting pictures of himself barbecuing meat.) And while driving through the hometown of The Bob and Tom Show during a road trip last summer, I swear on my life that these words were uttered by my 6’6 tank of a husband as we passed a gas station: “I bet Chick McGee has filled up his car there (sigh).” Okay, I may have used a little creative license adding the (sigh) at the end, but you get the picture.

So given my husband’s somewhat unrequited bromance with Chick, and being someone who understands the endorphin rush of a realized dream, I find what happened a few days ago to be fan-friggin-tastic. I am still not sure exactly how this all materialized, but somehow my husband was chosen to be one of a few “Chickmunks” (as fans of Chick are known) to call in and chat with the one and only Chick on an episode of his new podcast called Off the AirI have yet to hear his fifteen minutes of fame, but when I asked my husband how it went afterwards, he said something along the lines of, “You know how it goes. I had a million things to say and questions to ask, but I mostly just ended up talking to him about Imo’s Pizza.” Oh, I know how it goes. We all remember my encounter with Andy Cohen and my homemade Real Housewives of St. Louis shirt complete with Imo’s Pizza logo. Still, I could tell he was on a high.

So that pretty much covers why my husband likes Chick…but why do I like him, you say? Well first, I think it’s pretty cool that he invited his loyal listeners to call in and be a part of his podcast. It shows the marks of good character, and that he is someone who appreciates the people who appreciate him. That can’t be said of everyone who holds a celebrity status.

chick mcgee
That’s one good lookin’ Chick

Oh, and there’s this other really cool thing he did. HE POSTED A LINK TO THIS VERY BLOG ON HIS WEBSITE! Yeah, that’s what I said. This measly, little, needle in a haystack blog. Granted, I owe a big thanks to my husband for even thinking to give some mad props to his wife’s online ramblings amidst what was surely a riveting discussion about thin crust and provel cheese. But Chick didn’t have to actually check out my blog, and he certainly didn’t have to promote it on his site. (Again, his website is Off the Air with Chick McGee. If you click on the “Listener Link of the Moment” under the Episode #5 – Chick’s Favorite New Comedian entry, it will bring you right back HERE…so I guess you can really just take the shortcut and stay here. OR you can go to his site, download his podcast, and have yourself some giggles. Chick would probably appreciate that.) I’m not sure that most of Chick’s listeners are necessarily part of the “mommy blog” demographic, but hopefully they have wives or girlfriends who are…or are the type of people who still enjoy reading about poop, inappropriate actions, the bird and the bees, and creepy cartoon characters. Wait, maybe it is the same demographic…

So Chick, thanks for giving a girl from the small town of WordPress.com a chance in the big city of ChickMcGee.com. If it turns out to be my big break (at the time of this post, you have driven…wait for it…24 HITS to my blog!), we MIGHT just name our next child after you…or at the very least, our next dog. (Though I am not guaranteeing that there will be a “next” of either of those.) If not, I know my husband will still hang on your every tweet. Either way, we may have to have a Fat Kid Weekend in your honor.

Happy “Cuss Counting.”

**Update: You can now listen to my hubby Kurt on the Chick McGee “Off the Air” Podcast!! You can almost hear how excited he is in his voice! Go to www.chickmcgee.com and download Episode #6:Twitter House Party. Kurt’s call starts at the 30:20 mark. He actually did a pretty good job! And Chick confesses his love for St. Louis. Super cool all around!

Thank God for the Caramel Apples

As I pushed my wobbling cart through the sliding doors of Walmart yesterday, the heavens opened and a phosphorescent glow pulsated from the display that stood to greet me…

happy apples caramel apples

YES!!!! The caramel apples have arrived! “Happy Apples” indeed! As you can see, I was very quick to snap up a package and place them directly in the front seat of my basket, a place reserved only for the most precious items: your baby, your purse, and your Happy Apples.

I love caramel apples. I crave the combination of sweet, salty, and tart, and how the juicy crispness of the apple mixes in my mouth with the smooth, sticky caramel and tiny crunch of the peanuts. From the moment they populate the seasonal display at the grocery store to the depressing day they disappear from the produce section, I will add a package of Happy Apples to my cart almost every week. And I ALWAYS buy the four pack, never the singles…usually with the intention that I will share them with the kids. But usually I end up hiding them in the back of the refrigerator and hoarding them all for myself.  At the very least, I snag two of the four: one for Grace, one for Michael, two for Mommy. None for Daddy. He knows better than to get between this woman and her Happy Apples.

But even more than eating them, I love caramel apples because of what their arrival signals: the best part of the year. It whispers to me that autumn is on the heels of summer, meaning jeans and sweaters, all things pumpkin, and a lot more evenings of eating dinner on the deck enjoying beautiful weather. And Halloween. I am addicted to Halloween. Let us also not forget that the advent of caramel apples also means the advent of school. Ah, school. Otherwise known as a stay-at-home mom’s vacation.

Don’t get me wrong; I really do love having my kids home for the summer. And we had a good one this year full of relatively outburst-free outings, a lot of pool visits, and “hey let’s go do this today,” just because we could. Sending Grace and Michael back to school is always tinged with some sadness for me because, more than any other time, it hits me square in the face how quickly my kids are growing. How all my attempts to hold onto their childhoods are in vain, and soon they will be packing up their cars to move to their own apartments instead of packing up their backpacks to head off to just another day of school.

So yesterday was the perfect day for the Happy Apples to arrive, because yesterday was Michael’s first day of school. Grace started last week, and yesterday marked the day where I dropped off both kids and then had the nagging feeling that I was forgetting something. And this could very well be Michael’s last year of preschool (provided we don’t hold him back due to his late birthday), so yesterday also quite possibly marked the beginning of the end of an era in my parenting life. Whoa. I just got a little lump in my throat even typing that. But there the Happy Apples were…to make it all better…

…and to remind me that now that school is back in session, I have an ample amount of kid-free time to devour the entire four-pack without them even knowing.

Dr. Spock, Freud, and Grade School Soccer

Both of my kids started soccer this past week. Naturally, that got me thinking deep philosophical thoughts about life and parenting. That’s normal, right?

The world of children’s sports is one of those arenas that tests my parenting skills. I have some really strong feelings about the ways in which we school our kids in competition, and I have also found that involving my own children in sports has led to the surfacing of some lingering insecurities over never being “a cool jock” in the days of my youth. Neither of these are things I want to project onto my kids. But I have to admit, it was hard to quell the emotion I felt at Grace’s first soccer game the other day when I watched her sit on the bench for over half of the game.

I will be the first to admit I have absolutely NO delusions about Grace’s talent as a soccer player. She is not the fastest runner, she needs a heap of lessons on how to be more aggressive, she’s much better at looking like she’s doing something on the field than actually doing something on the field, and she is likely spending most of her time admiring the other teams’ hair ribbons than paying attention to the goings-on of the game. But her team is not playing for Olympic gold, where the best players should be the only ones playing. They are simply in a second grade soccer tournament.

My friend Nicole wrote a really great post about participation trophies, and how it seems we have created a climate for kids where they get rewarded for just showing up, not for actually being good at something. I couldn’t agree more, and even commented, “Kids need to experience failure so they don’t go out into the world thinking they will win at everything…and this is the perfect time for them to experience failure because we are right there to help them through it.” (I know, feel free to award me with my child expert degree.) So after feeling a little upset that Grace seemed to have landed the role as team bench warmer, the thought crossed my mind that maybe I was being hypocritical. Everyone can’t be the star after all.

good sportsmanship sign in Metropolis, Illinois

And then I remembered a photo of a sign posted at a Metropolis, Illinois little league field that made its way around Facebook earlier this summer. Maybe we shouldn’t be giving out consolation rewards to our kids when they don’t win, but we also need to teach them that winning isn’t everything. My husband and I aren’t seeking out uber-competitive select sporting teams for our kids to play on. We sign them up to play on their school-sponsored teams, where everyone can be on the team regardless of skill, where they can build camaraderie with their friends and learn about teamwork, and where they can actually have a chance to play and build some skills in the sport. Oh yeah, and where they can have fun. These words are spoken at LOT at our house: “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose. It only matters if you have fun.”

So there I was, agonizing over the fear that my child was getting cheated out of a fun soccer experience all because she is not the best player. As the game came to an end (we lost, by the way), I was trying to think of what to say to Grace when she asked why she did not get to play as much as the other kids. But she never asked that question. Instead, this is what she said to me:

“Well, we didn’t win. But I had fun anyway.”

(You can revoke that child expert degree now.) She didn’t even care that she probably had the least amount of playing time than anyone else on the team. Heck, I don’t think she even noticed. Parenting lesson learned: don’t make an issue out of non-issues.

Man, apparently being second-string on the freshman basketball team stung my subconscious more than I ever thought. This parenting thing is hard. Coach, I think I need a sub.

Addendum: I want to admit I had second thoughts about posting this piece in fear that it would be taken as a bash against Grace’s coach. It is not meant to be. He is a great guy who is volunteering his own time to teach a bunch of little girls how to play soccer. There may have been reasons unknown to me why she didn’t play much; or it could have been an accidental oversight altogether. And considering Grace’s statement after the game, he is obviously making it a fun experience for her so far. As I agonized over whether this would be seen as disrespectful to him (are you starting to understand that I agonize a LOT?), I realized that 1) the whole purpose of this post is to highlight how I was the one who blew the situation out of proportion and 2) I am not writing for the New York Times and have an audience size of about one millionth of theirs. The chances that Grace’s coach, or any other parent from the team, would read this are pretty small. So I need to take my own advice and stop making an issue out of a probable non-issue. Then again, one of my neighbors did happen across my neighbor post a few weeks ago, so just in case….Coach, you’re going a great job 🙂 

The Assault On Dinner Time

This is what happens at my house around 6:05 p.m. just about every day:

Ring Ring

“Hello. This is <insert name> and I am running for <insert office.> Our country…”  Click. 

Seriously? Seriously. This is getting seriously annoying. And it’s only August, people.

family dinnerWhat genius political strategist decided it was a good idea to have their auto-robot callers interrupt the American public’s dinner? These Einsteins are trying to woo my vote by making me listen to their well-rehearsed vapid sound bites when all I want to do is take a bite of my quickly cooling pasta. Didn’t their mothers ever tell them it was rude to call someone at dinner time?

Well, I am going on record to say that I will hereby not vote for any politician who calls and interrupts my dinner. I don’t care what your plan for the economy is or your stance on environmental issues. If you call during dinner time, it is obvious that you hold little respect for the American tradition of families sitting around a table to share the events of their day. It is clear that you put importance of partisan politics and greed over the core values of family, the freedom to assemble, and the right to eat your food while it is hot.

In short, if you call with your campaign slogans at dinner time, then you must hate families…and dinner…and America. So I’m going to vote for the other guy.

Unless he calls me at dinner time, too. Then I’m writing in Nader.

The Role of Christian Grey Will Be Played By…

I did it. Okay, I only half did it. Okay, I only one-quarter did it…because it was about all I could stomach.

fifty shades of greyIn case you are wondering, I’m referring to reading the “why-the-hell-is-this-a-best-selling-book” Fifty Shades of Grey. To be clear, I did not purchase this book for myself; it was purchased for me, without my blessing. And he who shall remain nameless got the mother of all eye rolls when he brought it home for me. At first instead of reading it, I was going to drop it right in the box for Goodwill. Aside from having already heard from practically the whole world how terribly written the book is, I have also never been a fan of the tawdry romance/erotic book genre. But then I decided to give it a shot. I won’t try to make up some excuse as to why I decided to begrudgingly read it (like it would be a good study of the type of writer I do NOT want to be). It’s simple; I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Curiosity killed the cat. In this case, it killed my faith in the publishing industry.

But I gave it the old college try. As I read it each night before bed, my husband would frequently ask, “Have you gotten to any good (wink, wink) parts yet?” My answer was always no. After only getting 128 pages into it (during which I took a brief hiatus to read a rather wonderful book called Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue), my answer is still no…and yes, technically I have gotten to one of the good (wink, wink) parts. Apparently, my idea of a sensual encounter is quite different from author E.L. James’…mostly because mine involves a man who has respect for women. Call me crazy. I’m sure some people would tell me I need to keep reading. But since I am not in school anymore and don’t have any required reading, one of my requirements for taking the time to finish a book is that it doesn’t take more than 128 pages to get good.

Anyway, enough of my rant. Let’s get to what this post is really about. A few days ago on Facebook, a friend of mine wondered which actor people would cast as the title character of Christian Grey. Regardless of how bad a book might be, I always find that an intriguing question to ponder. And apparently, my friend was not the only one pondering this, for she later posted an article about fifteen actors who could be good choices for Grey. Some of the notables were anything but unexpected: Hugh Jackman, Robert Pattinson, and Chris Hemsworth, among others.

Now, I know you are all just dying to know who I would choose to play Christian Grey. If you have not read the book, Christian is this incredibly wealthy, incredibly gorgeous, incredibly mysterious man (super creative, right?). I won’t say much more about him lest I spoil something for anyone who still plans to read it…and also because after 128 pages, I don’t know that much more about him myself. However, what I do know is that while Christian is supposed to be some very decadent eye candy, I can never picture him as such because I’m too distracted by the corny, forced, clichéd, and overly dramatic dialogue. Such dialogue deserves an actor who can deliver these lines with the appropriate amount of cheese factor. So here are my top choices:

1. David Caruso Not only does he literally have the “copper locks” that make Christian so irresistible, but think of how awesome that CSI theme song intro would sound during hot and heavy love-making scenes.

2. Jeff Goldblum You know this guy would be down with the freaky ways of Christian Grey. Also, to be honest, Christian’s “fixations” kind of creep me out, and I think Goldblum could convey this very successfully.

3. Drake Hogestyn Those of you who are fans of the soap opera Days of Our Lives know Hogestyn better as “John Black.” Hogestyn almost seems like a no-brainer to play Christian Grey. Being a veteran soap actor has provided him with necessary love scene experience,  the ability to deliver banal and insipid dialogue on an expert level, and the deep, breathy voice punctuated by appropriate dramatic pauses I can only assume would be characteristic of Mr. Grey.

4. Nicolas Cage The king of all cheesy actors. End of story.

Or maybe even more entertaining would be Saturday Night Live’s Adam Samberg impersonating Nicolas Cage in the role of Christian Grey. I would probably pay some money for that.

So that is my list. I highly doubt any of my castings will come to fruition, which is a mighty shame. Then again, maybe if they cast someone like Hugh Jackman in the role, there might actually be a case of a movie being better than the book. It can’t be worse. God help us all if it is.

Oprah Finally Leads Me to an “Aha! Moment”

I have decided to change my opinion of Oprah.

Oprah Winfrey
Yes, Oprah, you can finally come to my party.

If you have read my twenty-five random facts about myself that I posted on the “About This Girl” page, you may have seen that I have this hypothetical party to which I invite celebrities I’m infatuated with. To be clear, the “invitation” consists of me simply saying, “I like him/her. He/She can come to my party.” I have no intention of having said party or expecting any of the guests to show up. Anyway, on the guest list was “Oprah’s best friend Gayle (but not Oprah).” It’s not that I didn’t like Oprah; I’m sure she would be a very polite party guest, and I did for a split second think about hiring her to announce each celebrity as they came in (Jooooel McHAAAAAAAALLLLEEE!). But she always just struck me as a bit too much of a name-dropper (I get it, she’s your “good friend Maya Angelou”), and Gayle just always struck me as the kind of girl who would travel to St. Louis for the sole reason of trying some fried chicken at Sweetie Pie’s. I’m down with that.

However, my view of Oprah changed the other day while watching her special, “Oprah Builds a Network” on the OWN channel. We all know Oprah has done countless works of charity, changed people’s lives all over the world, given people cars…you name it, she’s done it. But on that television special, I saw her do something that immediately made me see that she can literally change a life with the simplest of gestures that come from a place of authenticity. And it was all in a few words she said. She had just arrived someplace and came across a little girl, probably around my daughter’s age. I wish I could remember her exact words, but she looked at the girl and said, completely unprompted, something like, “I didn’t know YOU were going to be here! I had no idea I was going to meet such a beautiful little girl with such beautiful freckles. You have just the perfect amount of freckles.”

Simply, it made me smile. All Oprah had to say to that little girl was “nice to meet you,” if even that. Instead, she seized that brief moment to build a little girl’s self-esteem, to let her know she is enough to impress even Oprah exactly the way she is. For the rest of her life, that girl can remember the day Oprah Winfrey told her she was beautiful and that she had the perfect amount of freckles. If that doesn’t warrant giving Oprah an invitation to my party, I don’t know what does. I have certainly invited others for much less…like Pee-Wee Herman for teaching me there is no basement in the Alamo.

Being that I have a young girl of my own who has already felt the sting of low self-esteem, I might be hyper-sensitive to this issue. And so are a lot of other people. The assault against the positive self images of girls is a hot button topic. But as much as I agree that something needs to be done, I am often left feeling that so many of these “true beauty” campaigns seem too contrived, too inauthentic, too commercialized. Are girls really going to start feeling better about themselves because a soap company tells them they are beautiful, buttering them up so they will buy their soap? Maybe instead of making a special point to say the average girl is beautiful like some public service announcement, it just needs to become part of our normal rhetoric. And maybe we should throw in some other even more important attributes, like strong, capable, creative, worthy, and intelligent. Then maybe we can continue to raise generations of girls who will feel empowered enough to pursue the roles they choose, and be confident and proud in the choices they make for themselves, whether they want to be a politician or a stay-at-home mom.

Verily magazine
A new promising fashion magazine for women

Eventually, hopefully, the media will catch up. There ARE media sources out there trying to make a change (check out a new magazine called Verily). And I’m not talking about magazines who use one plus-sized model and then make a big deal about how they are using a plus-sized model because they “want to represent real women.” I don’t get that phrase. Does that implicate the other models as unreal women just because they are skinny? And pointing out that you are doing it in the first place automatically implies an inferiority of the plus-sized model AND the women she represents. Like please make sure you realize we are doing this to make you feel better about yourself, otherwise, we wouldn’t likely be doing it. 

In the meantime, we can’t wait for the media. And we shouldn’t be letting the media raise our children anyway.  WE are responsible for making our daughters feel good about themselves, and teaching them to look inside to find their self-worth. Let’s all be a little more like Oprah, saying and doing things to make our daughters feel as though they are enough to impress us just as they are. That’s all Oprah really had to do to impress me.

But if she wants to give me a car too, I wouldn’t stop her.

Fashion-Forward? More Like Backward Fashion

Fact: My husband should never be allowed to dress our children.

Let me give you a few solid reasons why:

1. He once sported the follicle phenomenon known as “a tail.”

2. For an extremely short period of time, his ear was pierced (and still might be today if it were not for the good parenting skills of his mother who must have had the psychic foresight to know I would have never dated a 6’6 man who looked like he should be a member of Wham!)

3. In college, he almost got a tattoo of his fraternity letters on his ankle after having a few too many beers at a Pointfest concert. (His mom was not there this time, but thankfully I was and had the psychic foresight, and sober judgement, to know he would have cursed that tattoo every day of his life after turning thirty.)

4. He wears shirts with holes in the armpits, sweatshirts with shredded sleeves,  and thinks putting on something nice means wearing a shirt of the Hawaiian flavor. And most of the clothes he owns are in this condition because he has had them since college, sometimes high school.

Oh, and also because my kids look something like this when he’s in charge of the wardrobe situation (we call it “homeless orphan chic”, and yes, the dirt is usually an added accessory):

Try as I might to instill good fashion sense into Grace and Michael, I fear that my husband’s lack of the fashion gene might have been passed down, or at least severely suppresses any style conscientiousness they may have gotten from me. Especially in Michael’s case. He only ever wants to wear one of two things: what he calls “cool shorts” (which are gym shorts in any form) or his Spiderman costume. Winter, spring, summer and fall, he schleps around in a pair of over-sized yellow rubber boots I got for six dollars at a second-hand shop. And at some point each day, whatever he IS wearing becomes a moot point because he will inevitably end up running around in his underwear (I believe his skivvies made an appearance in an earlier blog post).


And then came the Michael haute couture moment…

The silver lining is that one day, I can use these photos against him as payback. Unless he  turns out to be more like his dad, in which case he will probably still be wearing the same stuff.

I will leave you with the most recent fashion creation of The House of G & M. I find the daring mix of fabrics and color to be both modern and progressive. This is a look for kids on the go, who are off trying to find Big Foot in the backyard while being ready to extinguish spontaneous pretend fires set by super villains, or who need to quickly transform for an elegant dinner out with friends at McDonald’s. Nina Garcia on Project Runway might find it a little too pedestrian, but I see a lot of potential here: 

Please Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Mr. Rogers' NeighborhoodWe have some good neighbors, and we have some bad neighbors. Unfortunately, we said goodbye to some of our good neighbors yesterday as they headed out to make a new home in the Pittsburg area. My kids just lost two playmates, and Kurt and I just lost another couple who we enjoyed, trusted, and could borrow stuff from.

Their house is still on the market (and is quite lovely), so I figured this is my chance to advertise for some new neighbors we would approve of. The last family to move onto our street has been a bit of a disappointment, so we would like to avoid a repeat of that situation. Here are my requirements:

1. Friendly, but not overly friendly. I don’t need to know all your business, and you don’t need to know all of mine. But if we’re both outside, I’d like to have some good casual conversation.

2. Children around my kids’ ages would be a bonus (not a requirement), but only if they aren’t rude and won’t teach my kids any more bad behaviors than they already have. Oh, and only if they come and ask to play at NORMAL playing times, like NOT at dinner time, at the very moment I just got my kids to start cleaning their rooms, or at eight o’clock at night…because we already have neighborhood kids who come at those times. If the children aren’t around my kids’ ages, we would also appreciate a trustworthy, responsible teen who would rather babysit on weekends than get drunk at parties.

3. You must cut your grass and make sure trash ends up in your trash cans, not scattered around your yard. It would also be helpful if you knew the difference between a weed that you should pull and a nice plant that you should let grow so that you don’t let your weeds flourish and all your plants wither to nothing.

4. When it snows, shovel your driveway so that your car doesn’t get stuck trying to back out, and your spinning wheels don’t result in a huge cavernous rut in the grass that is shortly accompanied by tire tracks when you finally decide it’s just easier to drive through the front lawn rather than pull out a shovel and remove some snow.

5. Buy girl scout cookies from my daughter. Our neighbors who just moved were always one of her top customers, so start saving up. She’ll be knocking on your door come February.

6. Always have vegetable oil, milk, and eggs on hand. Because I can sometimes be impulsive in my baking and will often start a recipe before checking to see if I have everything I need. And it’s kind of a pain to run up to the store when I know I can likely find what I need right across the street.

7. Know when “quiet times” are. For example, we would be very happy if you did not pull into your driveway with your music blasting or set off fireworks at two o’clock in the morning, have what can only be described as “car door-slamming parties” in the middle of the night, or decide to finally cut your grass at six o’clock on a Sunday morning.

I think that probably about covers it, and I don’t think any of those are too much to ask. So spread the word (and the requirements, please). I promise we will be very good neighbors in return: we are always happy to lend neighborly help, we organize the block party so you don’t have to, we have been known to invite people over for dinner if we’ve made way too much chili, we won’t let our kids trample your grass or our dog poop in your yard, and if you make the cut you’ll get some pretty delicious and “creatively” decorated cookies at Christmas time.

But I swear, if you don’t keep your grass cut, I WILL complain about you in a blog post.