Re-launched, but still slightly under construction. :-)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Don't Worry; Be Frugal

Friday, July 30, 2010 By

When I started this new job, I knew there would be nearly two months between my last paycheck at my old job, and my first paycheck at my new. Yikes. How to get through that without dipping into savings?

The answer was really pretty simple: Stop spending so dang much.

It's easy, when working in sales, to get into a habit of client lunches and new shoes. It eats up a lot of money.

So I've worked on finding the best ways to save money. My mom's birthday, for example, is in July. And while we could have given her more chicken-themed gifts to place around the house, what she really needed was a new computer.

Gah! There was no way.

After some research, and a site that lists Overstock Coupons, we came up with a unit with a 3 GHz processor, 1.8 GB of RAM, and a 40 GB hard drive for $150, preloaded with Windows 7. With a 2-year warranty, shipping and handling, the total came to $203. Split between me and my sister, it was affordable.

After that experience - not that I've ever been wasteful with money - I learned a hard lesson about paying full price for retail. In short, there's really no reason to do it. So I'm going to set up a side bar with links to frugal living sites. And as I've already started blogging about great products, I'll also start including great deals. I hope that you take advantage of them all!

I Thought She'd Been Watching 'Miami Vice'

Friday, July 30, 2010 By

We're in the car, coming back from the park. Emerson and Zequan are in the back seat, playing action figures, and pretending to be "bampires."

"Hey, man, do you know where I can buy some coke?" Emmie asks, through plastic fangs.

"No, dude."

My head spins around so fast that it keeps going, and I have to wait until it stops to be able to observe them.

"Well, I really need some coke," Emmie's action figure complains.

"Um, Em?" I ask, cheerfully cautious. "Whatcha playing?"

"We're playing bampire store," she answers.

"Aaaaannnnd... you're looking for some coke?" I ask.

"OH!" she facepalms herself. "I meant DIET Coke!"

In that case, pick me up a two-liter.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Parenting Tactics Sometimes Backfire

Thursday, July 29, 2010 By

Emmie and Zequan are playing catch in the house. They are not yet old enough to have caught that Brady Bunch episode, so I have to bring on the Stern Face.

"That throw came very close to hitting this lamp or knocking over my lemonade. What's a better idea than throwing a ball in the house?" I ask. I'll take rolling the ball, playing outside, or finding something less annoying to do. Alas, their five-year-old brains do not work that way. What's better than throwing a ball?

"KICKING!" Emmie shouts, and before I can yell "noooo..." in slow motion, the ball rockets off her foot, hits the ceiling fan, ricochets off the blades and hits... my lemonade. I squawk. They freeze. A heartbeat of silence. Then I whip my Angry Face towards them...

... and they scatter! They haul ass in a coordinated flanking maneuver that would have made Sun Tzu proud. One goes right, through the office. One goes left, through the kitchen. The back door slams. I am alone...

... with my laughter.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Myrtle is a Weird Name for a Beach

As it turns out, my husband's vacation does not roll over each year. Silly, foolish mortal. So he has two weeks of vacation to take this year. I'm trying to figure out where the three of us could have some fun together.

We visited Myrtle Beach once, and spent all of our time lazing around in the sand. This time, I might like to stay in a Myrtle Beach hotel with more amenities. Myrtle is a weird name for a beach without a population of turtles, by the way.

Has anyone ever stayed at I was attracted to the fact that the property has three pools, two lazy rivers, and five hot tubs. What is it about a lazy river that people like so much? I mean, it's basically a pool that tells YOU where to go. You know what attracted me to this property? It has a POOL BAR. Yes. Please to combine swimming and vodka, k thx. And also, it has golf. My husband and I are not big golfers, but I think the experience could be therapeutic, yes? No? What was that? Golf clubs make great head injuries? I did not know this! Anyway, I was looking for Myrtle Beach vacation deals and came across these. Let me know if you have any feedback on this resort!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Reflections of Summer

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 By

Yeah, it looks dorky. But I use one of those thermal reflective thingies that go in your car windshield.

"Mama? Why you got a sillber fing in you window?" Emmie asked me.

"It keeps the car from getting too hot," I replied.


"It pushes the sun's light and heat away from the car window," I tried to explain.

She frowned: "But do it get dark wif no sun?"

I grinned: "No. The light gets in other ways."

"But how can you see?"

I laughed: "I don't drive with it, honey. I take it out. It's just for when it's sitting still."

"Ohhh," she giggled. "I was finking it was for dribe-ing!"

(Nope. It's just for lookin' smoooooooth.)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Flat Earth Theory

Monday, July 26, 2010 By

I don't spend a lot of time actively promoting my blog. It's linked automatically to my social network, so that's something I have to think about, oh... never. I make a few bucks a month from the ads stuck on the sides, and I cash it in at Christmas each year. It might be enough to buy a cake from Very Vera. But I checked my Google Analytics recently and saw my distribution of readership - it's kind of cool! Below is a grainy map.

Dark green = most read. Light green = regularly read. Yellow = Momnesia who?

United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Spain, Colombia, Mexico, Germany, Iran, Sweden, Lithuania, India, Netherlands, Serbia, Austria, Ireland, France, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Peru, Taiwan, New Zealand, Chile, Puerto Rico, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Portugal, Japan, Brazil, Ukraine, and Hungary.

Well, if that just isn't the coolest.

So to all my new friends across the Internets, I'd like to say, "Thanks for reading!" Gracias por lectura! Vielen Dank für Vorlesung! شكرا على القراءة  ! مطالعه څخه مننه! Vi tackas för läsa! पढने के लिए आपका धन्यवाद! Dank u voor lezing! Merci pour la lecture!  متشکرم برای خواندن !読んで頂きありがとうございます! Obrigado para leitura! Hvala na čitanje! اپ کا شکریہ. پڑھنے کے لئے! and Köszönjük, hogy a leolvasás!

A heartfelt apology to Lithuania and Iran. I couldn't find a translation in Lithuanian or Farsi. But one assumes you can at least read English as well as I read Spanish - which is to say, enough to get to the bathroom and find food - or you wouldn't be visiting this spot.

See you soon!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Note to You, Mom

Saturday, July 24, 2010 By

At Brookfield Park, watched a woman smack her 18-month-old on the behind five times, hard enough to almost knock him down. He had repeatedly asked her for grapes. When she told him that there weren't any, he stomped his little foot once and frowned. That's when she hit him.

"I'm not going to put up with temper tantrums today!" she shouted in his face.

Ma'am, if you could just learn ONE parenting technique, it would be awesome. Just one. Implement it consistently. I promise that your life will be easier. And I won't want to grab YOU by the arm and see how you feel when I hit you in the butt five times.

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Friday, July 23, 2010

They Could at Least Stash a Prize Inside

Friday, July 23, 2010 By

How many of you are aware that there is a Journal of Electronic Packaging? No? No one? Me, neither. But I suggest that we all familiarize ourselves with it long enough to drop a letter to the editor. Because it's not enough that I have to use a hacksaw and blowtorch to open the hard-shell anti-theft packaging for my electronics. Now they have begun wrapping AAA batteries individually. And that is just going too far!

(Okay, not a very clear shot. But, look, mom! I have fingernails!)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

No, Scott Hasn't Been Slapping My Face

Thursday, July 22, 2010 By

I'm rather vocal when I like a product. I'm especially vocal when I like a product and it's CHEAP. So I'm going to start doing more product reviews, in order to be helpful to people. And because sometimes I have nothing to talk about. Hello, space filler.

One of the things I wanted to mention is specific to those with rosacea. I'm a pasty white girl, and my rosacea saves money on blush. Unfortunately, it costs me more in skin care products, most of which have little effect. Note: this post isn't about "cheap," unless we can cut through buying all the other stuff that doesn't work, which is what I've been doing for a couple of years. I've wasted a lot of money that way, and I'd like to save some others the same fate.

So, getting to what worked for me:  Ahhh, Aveeno. This skin care has come a long way from its days of selling oatmeal-infused bath additives for weird skin rashes, and such. (note: it may be the one old commercial that is not currently available on YouTube) Aveeno has gone from chicken-pox/poison-ivy cures and turned into a natural-care line with some surprisingly good products.

Case in point: Stress from a new job and too much of the summer sun had turned my rosacea-smeared cheeks into a boiling, burning, puffy, disgusting mess. It got to the point that I was laying on the couch twice a day with a bag of frozen peas across my face. My cheeks had run up the redness scale from Fashion Faux Pas: Lay off the Blush to Danger! About to Blow! ... it was real sexy, let me tell ya.

I had been using Neutrogena's redness-reducing green stuff in a pump bottle. It was fine for a couple of times a week. But since it contains salicylic acid, it was too irritating for my face, sometimes. Desperate for relief, after a month of cold showers and frozen-pea-brains, I picked up the Aveeno Ultra Calming Moisturizing Cream Cleanser and Daily Moisturizer. Within a week, the rosacea had become manageable again.

Supposedly, the stuff contains extract of feverfew, which is related to chamomile. And I don't really care. It not only has brought my cheeks back to semi-normal, it successfully treated my weird left elbow, which is almost always painfully dry. I have no explanation for my elbow, people, I just like to share my body odd.

Anyway, this product may not be for everyone. But it worked for me when I remember to use it twice a day, morning and night. And when I stay out of the sun. Which I should do anyway.

Happy summer skin, everyone!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Who Says No Prayer in School?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 By

Emmie watched her first episodes of Ren & Stimpy this week (thanks, Netflix Instant for the Wii). I had forgotten how disgusting it was. Sugar-coated milk?! [gag]

But it has some important lessons for kids, too, about friendship, jealousy, cleanliness, and the History Eraser Button (hint: don't push it). One lesson particularly resonated with Emerson. As we were going to sleep tonight, she in the top bunk and I in the wonky bottom bunk, she suddenly gasped.

"Mama! I forgot! Rem an' Stippy sayed we got to say our prayers!"

"Oh, okay... you go ahead," I said.

"Okay, mama," she folded her hands and closed her eyes. "I pludgeallegiance to da flag ub da united stays ub america. An' to da repuggic, ub witches dance, one nayshun, unner God, inde... inde... indebbissible, wif liberdy + just us for all. Amen."


Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

For Your Eyes Only

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 By

I'm rather vocal when I like a product. I'm especially vocal when I like a product and it's CHEAP. So I'm going to start doing more product reviews, in order to be helpful to people.

Here's a product that works, and is also cheap. What, you say? Eyeglasses aren't cheap, and that's why you're still wearing your Sophia Petrillos, circa "The Golden Girls?"

[facepalm] Do not do this to yourself!
Here's something you don't know about eyeglasses: Wherever you buy them, no matter what company name is on the store front, you're usually purchasing from a company that has a near monopoly on the eyewear marketplace: Luxxotica. They own LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Sears Optical, Target Optical, K-Mart Optical, Sunglass Hut, Budget Eyewear, Pearle Opticians, Cole Vision, and more. They also own EyeMed Vision Care, one of the largest vision insurance providers in the United States. And they make and market the brands Arnette, Killer Loop, Luxottica, Persol, Ray-Ban, Revo, Sferoflex, Vogue, Adrienne Vittadini, Anne Klein, Brooks Brothers, Bvlgari, Byblos, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, D&G, Donna Karan, DKNY, Genny, Miu Miu, Moschino, Prada, Ralph Lauren, Salvatore Ferragamo, Sergio Tacchini, Versace, Versus. They're in the process of buying Oakley, too.

My next-to-last pair of eye glasses cost $300, not including the eye exam. They didn't turn out to be the right prescription, and Sears Optical wouldn't fix them. Fast forward. Burned by the cost and the customer service, I decide to give it the old Clark Howard go. After listening to his show one day (I love you, Clark!), I gave Zenni Optical a shot.

I'm not going to talk about their philosophy, their market rank, or anything else about the company. Because I'm not a cult member. Here's all you need to know: $40 for an eye exam, $30 for a pair of glasses, including shipping. And the best pair of glasses I've ever had in my life. In fact, I went back and bought a second pair.

This is the pair I'm going to buy later. Ooooh, sparkley! Neil Diamond will be calling.

Is there a drawback? Yes. You'll also have to ask your optician to write out the name of the measurements on your prescription. And you will have to wait two weeks for your glasses to come in. You will also have to ask your optician for your pupillary distance (PD). And they do not want to give it to you. Because even though it can be argued that it is a part of your prescription, and that the FDA says you are entitled to one complete, legible copy of your prescription each year for free, their bottom line is affected if you don't choose to purchase your eyeglasses from them. And I'm really sorry about that. But If it's a difference of $200, I'm going to go to the competitor. That's the free market economy. To find your own PD, which is what I did, simply pick up a ruler. Stare at a fixed point for 10 seconds, while a partner measure - and re-measures for accuracy - the distance from the center of one pupil to the center of the other, in millimeters. That's your PD.

There are plenty of good companies in town that do a great job. And they're locally-owned and operated. I support them. I recommend using MCGHealth's Eye Care Associates. After all, they're not just practitioners. They also teach their craft to a new generation. Their off-site clinic is on Washington Rd. They also have a clinic in the hospital. But if it comes down to a cost issue, you can still get your Sofia Petrillos at Zenni Optical. If you must.

These are the glasses I hope Emmie chooses, when she needs them. CUTE! $19!
Take a look at what some eyecare professionals (who do not work for MCG Eye Care Associates) are saying. Do they have our best interests at heart? Go here:

Right way, wrong number

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 By

My personal cell phone rings.

"Stacey Hudson, how may I help you?"

"Oh... uh... I think I have the wrong number," a woman stammers.

"Are you trying to reach [name]?"


"Well, now I just feel bad about myself."

"Oh, I'm so sorry," she says, and she sounds sincere.

"Don't you want to talk to me?"

"I'm, uh, trying to reach Knology customer service."

"I can help you with that."

"... um... Do you work for Knology?"




Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sleep Talking

Tuesday, July 20, 2010 By

Scott has a history of talking all kinds of bullcorn in his sleep. Like here. And here. It just never stops.

"Scott. Roll over, please."


"... Scott. Honey, roll over. I'm falling off the bed."








"Okay, really, will you roll over, please?"







"Will you please -"

"What is the demonstratory evidence?"

"... What?"

"I am not convinced that is the case. I want to see... demonstratory... evidentiary..."

"Yeah, I hear you. Uh... I guess we'll just have to wait for court?"


And he still didn't roll over.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Parenting: You're Doing it Wrong, Part IV

Monday, July 19, 2010 By

This the last part of a four-part rant. Read the previous post here.

Well, I have one thing to say to the mom who crossed the street to avoid me at First Friday this month:
Suck it.

Oh, yeah, you heard me. You and your superior attitude can suck it.

My child is not perfectly dressed in an outfit that costs more than my car, because when it is a casual event I let her dress herself – and she cannot yet read a price tag, nor does she (yet) equate the cost of one's clothing with her personal worth. I'm sure high school (and your kids) will take care of that, but whatever. Dressed thusly, she can do as she pleases without worrying about ruining clothes out of which she will have grown in six months. She is five years old, and has better sense than you. So suck it.

My child’s hair is not perfectly coiffed – and, in fact, is not even brushed – because that’s the way she likes it and because it does not matter. Is she going to work? Her hair is wild, it’s natural and it is scalp-pulling-bow free. She is in no pain, and is free to run, jump, skip, hop, sing, dance and behave as a five-year-old should, without inhibition. She is five years old and has more fun than you and your child combined. So suck it.

My child was not in church on Sunday. Nor will she be. Because despite your conviction that my innocent five-year-old – who regularly discusses Jesus with her six-year-old cousin in conversations I keep meaning to video – will be burning in eternal hellfire because every inch of her has not yet been baptized, I believe that good spiritual training begins with her parents. And we’re teaching her to be generous, to be thankful, to use humor wisely (something I have yet to learn), to be responsible for her actions, to name and to manage her emotions, and to think critically about her beliefs. I also come from a religious background that requires a person to understand what it is that his or her church believes in order to join it. I still believe that. And yet, despite her lack of church attendance, my child is five years old, and displays more kindness and neighborly love than you can muster. So suck it.

And let’s face it: at heart, it’s not really about parenting choices, now, is it? It’s about maintaining control over other people. It’s about utilizing social pressures to force conformity to your world view. For argument’s sake, let’s say that your world view is the absolute truth. In that case, how will a child with no contact with your world view know how “right” you are? How can you lead by example, if you choose not to exemplify your beliefs to anyone who does not share them?

There aren’t that many things worse, in my mind, than treating children this way. When you shun a child based on a mother’s or father’s reasonable but different parenting choices, you have violated what I believe to be a spiritual mandate to care for the weak, the defenseless, and the young. In your zest to establish yourself as the “right” kind of parent and member of the community, you have forgotten the basis of all world religions, of most professional codes, of the Hippocratic Oath: do no harm to your fellow man (and your fellow woman and child).
Other than perpetrating violence or causing mass harm, there aren’t many other ways to mess up to society than when you treat a child badly. Because those children grow up to be adults who act on the treatment that they received during their childhoods – and emotionally fragile children can grow up and perpetuate violence and mass harm.
 And every time women disrespect the reasonable – although perhaps not popular – choices that other women make as mothers, we do something that is worse than buying into a weird, Anglo version of nuveau riche marianismo. We do something worse than just hurt another woman’s feelings. We do something worse than fail to allow critical thought to establish the status quo, as opposed to weak-minded social pressures and “Mean Girl” tactics.

When we shun another child because of a mother’s choices, we devalue children. We judge their worth at an age when their worth is universal. Their worth is without measure. Their worth is divine.

And your worth, as a mother, is also divine. And that is why it is so important to lead by example; and for our children to see us actively practice charity, generosity, and kindness. Now, this post doesn't demonstrate that. I am aware of that, and I am aware that this last part of my rant is not a lead-by-example moment. But, then again, my child can only read three-letter words. So I don't think it will move her backwards too far.

I hope that bitchy mothers, somewhere, read this. I hope they slap the sneers off of their own faces, take a second look at the child of a "bad" mother, and invite that child into their homes. It's a rewarding experience, to have a positive impact on a child's life - as my husband and I have experienced.

Oh, yes, there are mothers whom we judge.

We just don't take it out on their children.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Parenting: You're Doing it Wrong, Part III

Sunday, July 18, 2010 By

This is part three of a four-part rant. Read the previous post here.

And then there are the small things that no one articulates; the things that one parent chooses that make another parent uncomfortable. That personal discomfort – despite the fact that they are incapable of logically explaining its basis – is enough for them to judge you a bad parent. It’s like the statement: “I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.” I know women who have stopped returning my telephone calls and e-mails because they disagree with my choices as a parent.
For example, my daughter is anti-clothes – and I get it. It is 101 degrees out there, people, and she’s five years old. So she really likes to run around in nothing but her panties. And I don’t care. If she’s going outside, I ask her to put on a shirt and shorts, but at least a shirt.
People (and some family members) who cannot articulate their thinking – beyond saying “It’s inappropriate” – have repeatedly tried to clothe her, over her very vociferous protests. They shoot me dirty looks and ask me to help them. I do not help them. We are not breaking any laws. And they are stepping into my arena as a parent.
See, they think I do not care. They think I am not paying attention. They think I am making a silly or even a dangerous choice. But they never entertain that their own notions may be inappropriate. Because in this case what they’re doing is sexualizing pre-pubescent children. I think that’s inappropriate. There are psychologists and sociologists who say that we all have it wrong, but that’s an uncomfortable discussion for another day.
Nonetheless, I am a dangerous idiot, according to them. And they do not shirk their supposed responsibility to tell me all about it. I have been chastised. And I have been openly ridiculed.

While I am not an expert, I am also not a dangerous idiot. I do still have my textbooks from Child & Adolescent Psychology classes – and I frequently refer to them when trying to figure out some oddball behavior of my daughter’s. I am Red Cross certified – or was; I’ve let it lapse – in CPR, First Aid, and Babysitting; and I taught swimming lessons for a Red Cross instructor, too. I reported for a parenting magazine for five years, which means that I spoke to both parents and experts on the major parenting issues of the day. I’ve been through “crisis counselor” training at a Georgia university, and I come from a family of educators who have deep academic and experiential knowledge of child behavior, learning and teaching techniques.
In short, I think I’m slightly better prepared than the average parent to tackle the daily and lifelong struggle to raise a moral, ethical, hard-working, polite, mentally stable, merit-oriented and educated girl, in direct contradiction to what pop culture demands that she be – stupid, slutty and attention-whoring.
Yet, despite my best efforts, I am the frequent victim of the Mommy Militia. You know… the ladies who look you and your child up and down like they smell something bad; the ladies who pat their child’s bow-riddled hair to soothe themselves and remind themselves that their child at least looks perfect; the ladies who wear oddly similar uniforms of particular brand names, similar hair cuts and dye jobs, and who visit geographically identical vacation destinations. These robotic women have never heard the phrase “in-group bias” in their lives, but actively seek it out and perpetrate it every day. The kind of women who ask me, “What does your husband do?” And yet they have no concern about what it is that I do.

 And despite the fact that my child rocks, and that I am a little bit awesome, too, a mother crossed the street at July's First Friday to avoid me. Had Emerson been with us, she'd have run delightedly to hug and engage this woman's two children. And the woman would have been cold to her (she's done it before), brushed her off, and hurried on her way. But I was alone. And she avoided me because she does not approve of me.

Well, I have one thing to say to that woman.

Read the next part tomorrow...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Parenting: You're Doing it Wrong, Part II

Saturday, July 17, 2010 By

This is part two of a four-part series. Read the previous post here.

But so many women are so impassioned about their own agendas that they fail to realize that other women are equally impassioned about their agendas for equally relevant reasons. And sometimes, no matter how impassioned a woman is about something (like, a woman who had a $200 breast pump sitting unused in her closet), things just don’t work out the way we hoped. The Tyranny of Motherhood at work. Kick ‘em when they’re down. Maybe they’ll conform out of sheer exhaustion.
Tyranny is a great word for it, actually – from the Latin tyrannus, meaning “illegitimate ruler," the current usage is defined as "arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority.” While the single bitter individual who accosted me at the Ruby Tuesday’s salad bar and the politico who butted into my breasts at California Dreaming might not have the kind of power or authority with which we usually associate tyranny, they do have access to and a certain amount of control over an equally powerful force: the perception of a woman as a good or bad mother.

Now, I like to think of myself as a “bad mutha,” in the way that I also like to think of myself as “superfly.” (Yeah, I just brought that back… for a minute) But I have seen the way that women treat other women whom they perceive as incapable child-rearers, or even just unfashionable child-rearers. I’ve seen them scoff at back-to-school shopping at Wal-Mart. I’ve watched them roll their eyes at less trendy shopping centers – by the way, if you shop in Augusta on Robert C. Daniel Parkway, you’re less cool than those who shop in Mullins Crossing, even though the anchor stores are almost identical (Target, Panera Bread Company, Babies R Us/Buy Buy Baby, Moe’s/Barberitos).
I’ve seen married women shun single moms and their children. Stay-at-home dads are treated as pariahs by play group organizers. I’ve had conversations that turned tense when I mentioned my daughter’s time-outs. There is a pro-spanking brigade that cannot conceive of other disciplinary methods – and while I don’t question their parenting choice (I got plenty of spankings growing up, and I’m fine… well, mostly, but it's nothing to do with the spanking), they feel free to question mine. I’ve read the articles about women shunning a child in their play group once discovering that child remains unvaccinated for chicken pox.

Vaccinations are another hot topic. When I worked at a parenting magazine, there were readers who would argue with our medical columnists about every vaccination out there. Despite the fact that these readers had no medical training, and despite the fact the columnist regularly encouraged parents to make their own choices, no matter what the topic he wrote about. (Side note: I will get comments from a certain subset of the parenting population about this; I will post them in the comments section). But it didn’t have to be vaccinations. It could be seasonal allergies. It could be flu prevention. It could be summer safety tips. Some segment of the population lives at the corner of Snake Oil Street and Road to Wellville, and felt the need to chime in against the greater conspiracies allegedly perpetuated by the medical establishment.
Here’s a hint, people: If you can’t read a research study well enough to analyze the methodologies utilized, then you can’t judge whether or not the study is valid. Also, I don’t want to hear your thoughts on the medical research that is currently accepted by peer-reviewed journals if you don’t know the difference between causality and correlation.

I’ve seen the looks mothers exchange when they hear a child goes to an “unacceptable” school. Locally, I’ve heard – and been on the receiving end of – comments about how a good parent, appropriately concerned about her child’s education, would never consider living in Richmond County, unless her child attends private school. I’ve actually heard women sneer at a perfectly acceptable, high-scoring, AYP-making elementary school as being a “black” school; the Grammy-award-winning fine arts magnet school as a “gay” and “anti-Christian” school; the health sciences high school, where it is possible for a student to graduate high school already certified as an LPN, as a “poor” school.
It’s not enough, gathering from these comments, for a mother to be moral, ethical, professionally respected (or married to a man who is professionally respected), educated, well-mannered, well-dressed and a good friend. It is not enough that a child be well-behaved, of good morals, to hit the normal milestones in childhood, to be a good friend and playmate, and to treat his or her elders with respect. Mothers and children must also be white, heterosexual, evangelical Christians with the appropriate amount of money in the bank.

Paging Dr. Spock! Or Dr. Drew. Heck, I’d take Dr. Laura. I’d take Dr. Seuss! Someone needs help, and it’s not the black, gay, lesbian, poor Jewish families in town – although, at times, they probably would like some help… packing to leave.

Read Part III tomorrow...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Parenting: You're Doing it Wrong, Part I

Friday, July 16, 2010 By

Parenting is complex matter deeply filtered through our own psyches, experiences, dreams and situations. And, as such, not a lot of people can really express their parenting ideology, or style. Authoritarian? Permissive? Democratic? Indulgent? Neglectful? Abusive? Attachment? Nurturant? Slow? Positive? Concerted? There are many more styles of parenting than those to which we've given names. There are styles of which our culture cannot even begin to conceive.
But one thing seems common among parenting ideologies. When it comes to raising our little apples, there are many camps but one message: Your way is wrong.

It starts with the foods you eat during pregnancy. When I was about 8 months pregnant, I finally gave into my fetish for feta. A woman I had never met actually snatched my salad plate out of my hands.
Nevermind that taking food from a pregnant woman is like pulling a dead gazelle out from under the claws of a starving lioness. This woman had the audacity to hiss at me: “Do you know what you’re doing to your baby?!”
“Do you?” I replied.
She drew in her breath, and stood tall: “You could kill it,” she said.
“How?” I asked.
She didn’t know the science behind it, she admitted. But she knew one thing: certain foods are bad for pregnant women – never mind that women in France don’t start suddenly pasteurizing everything they eat; forget the idea that mothers-to-be in Japan wouldn’t think to cease nomming on sushi. And their infant mortality rates are significantly lower than the U.S. rates. Nonetheless, because I had a scoop of cheese – tasty, tasty cheese – I was a bad mom.
I calmly took my plate back from her and asked her to leave. She gave me a look designed to crush me. It did not work because, although I was not yet a mom, I had already been down in the trenches of the mommy wars for several months. I had lost my appetite, but I refused to give into the Tyranny of Motherhood.

It moves on to the food you eat while breastfeeding – what, you’re not breastfeeding?! My first weekend out of the hospital after having Emerson, my mother took me out to lunch at California Dreaming. A woman I’d never met walked by our table. She saw The Divine Miss Em chilling in her car seat, sucking on a bottle.
“Is that breast milk?” she asked.
“Uhh…” I didn’t know how to respond. “Not at the moment.”
She smiled – if you can call it that – a tight, closed-mouth grimace that never reached her eyes.
“You know, breast milk is the best thing in the world for babies,” she began, as though it was all new information to me.
“Yes, I know,” I replied, calmly. My mother and I exchanged looks: “Who is this woman, and why is she butting into my business?”
“You’re allowed to breastfeed in public,” she said.
“Yes, thank you,” I replied, and then – despite the fact that it was none of this hooker’s flippin’ business – shared my personal disappointment. “But I’m not able to breastfeed.”
“Well!” she scoffed. “Have you even tried?”
“Seriously, go away.”
I think I shocked my mother, who was raised in Birmingham, Ala., in the 50s and 60s. But I just didn’t care. This woman was judging me based on a medical impossibility, which already made me feel like crying. At least let me eat my salad in peace without booby trapping me.

Read Part II tomorrow...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

But They Had Candy

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 By

It seems that Emmie got attached to my old iPod with the cracked screen...

"See, Emmie? All new!" I exclaimed.

"Dey fix it?"

"No, this is a new one."

"What?!" she yelled, and she frowned at me. "You gib dat iPod away to strangers?!"

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Don't Talk About My Colon While I'm in a Comma

Saturday, July 10, 2010 By

At some point, every one of us should have a colonoscopy. And for the same reason that people tell proctology jokes, they laugh about colonoscopies, too.

I called home to check on my (relative who does not want to be named) who had enjoyed a colonoscopy earlier that day. My Dad answered the phone.

"How is (he/she)?"

"Oh, fine. A little groggy. They found one polyp and removed it."

"Oh, nice," I said, grinning at my friend, Mary Ann. "My (relative) had a colonoscopy. Wanna hear about (his/her) polyp?"

"Yeah, sure," she laughed.

"Hey, I can send pictures," dad joked. "And some from mine, too."

"Ooh, I can put them together in little heart shapes in Photoshop for your Christmas cards," I offered.

"Thanks," he joked. "I knew your training would come in handy."

"Hey, I am a highly skilled communications professional. With my experience in publishing, I could make it a book - no, a CHILDREN'S book. We can call it 'You and Your Polyp.'"

My (relative's) birthday is in three weeks. I wonder if I can actually get one together. Does anyone know any words that rhyme with polyp? Trollop, dollop... I think I can make trollip work in conjunction with my (relative), but I don't know if (he/she) will appreciate it.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

The Best Husband Ever

Thursday, July 08, 2010 By

Scott ran to the store to pick up a few things... including certain products of the decidedly feminine kind.

"I guess you're out running errands for your wife," the clerk said.

Scott grinned: "Well, I can assure you these are not for me."

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

A Penny for Your Candy

Summer at the McGowen house meant our annual round of swimming lessons. We drove what seemed like an eternity from our house to a country property in the next county where Mrs. Webb gave Red Cross-certified lessons in her over-large above-ground swimming pool. The installers had plopped the pool down, rather randomly, amidst a peach grove that lead down to a wooded picnic area with a well-worn metal swing set. Some of the corners on that swing set were like razors. I wonder how we didn't sever an artery on that thing.

Three kids of three different ages meant at least three hours of lessons - but since our brother was so much younger, it was usually more like five our six hours. Torment for my mother, I'm sure, who always brought a big book for herself, and a cooler of snacks and drinks for everyone. We always made sure to bring our boombox with our Michael Jackson "Thriller" cassette tape. Cause you couldn't go too long without a Moonwalk attempt in the 80s. There was a rule, or something.

If we were well-behaved, the definition of which consisted of basically not drowning, of paying attention in our lessons and of not getting on mom's nerves, she would stop at a dirty old country store on the way back. The only gas station for 20 miles either way, it also had a nice collection of penny candy and gum. Yes, I said penny candy. Mom would give us each a dollar or two and let us have at it.

On July 5, my sister and I drove down the same road with my two nephews and my daughter, after swimming for hours. And even though they hadn't quite met my mother's definition of "well-behaved," we grinned at each other and pulled in.

Now thrice its original size, the store carries ice cream, fireworks, barbecue, pizza, canned goods, beer and wine, cigarettes, fresh tamales and fried chicken. It also has a nice collection of 5-cent candy. Inflation, I suppose, reaches even memories. But five cents is still under the Candy Consumer Price Index.

The kids picked out handsful of candies, lollipops, gum, and sparklers. They begged for Pop-its. I said no. I could envision their beloved Granny shrieking in fear the first time they threw one at her feet. The thought made me laugh. So I bought three boxes. I hope she doesn't kill me later. The total price for all that childish debauchery? $7.45. I should have gotten tamales, too.

They each had a piece of candy in the car, and have a nice hoard to bring along with them when they go to Helen on Wednesday. And, of course, each time we drive down that road after swimming at the park, they will beg us to stop at "the candy store."

But that's okay with me. After all, we did the same to our mother after every swimming lesson, and she's still sane... but I think the Pop-Its might do her in for good.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Fall for a Shooting Star

Wednesday, July 07, 2010 By

Emmie gasps: "Mama! I see a shining star! I'm gonna to make a wish!"


"I wish I had a shiny airplane dat cost no money and dollars."

"Good wish, Doodle."

"Now you make one, mama."

"Ummmm.... I wish I won the lottery."

"What's a lottery?"

"It's the contest where you win all the money and dollars."

She giggles: "I lite dat wish, mama. Now me. I wish my mommy was very, very, very, very smart."

"Hey! I am smart!"

"Not twenny thousand smart!"

"... Well, okay. You got me there."

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Little Pink Houses

Tuesday, July 06, 2010 By

We're riding back from swimming at the club pool. Emmie's usually so animated after these outings, joking from the back seat and sometimes whacking me in the head with her inflatable noodle and then cackling hysterically until I threaten to give the noodle to the next well-behaved child I see.

After a few minutes, she quiets down... and it's too quiet. In the rearview mirror, I see her staring out the window with a frown.

"Whatcha thinking, Doodle?"

She looks at me, guiltily, and sighs heavily: "You not goeend ta like it, Mama, an' I'm sorry."

My stomach drops three stories, but I keep my face placid. "You can tell me anything," I say. "I'm your mommy, and I will always love you."

She looks at me, warily. "Wull, I wish dat we hab da same fambily, but a different house."

"What kind of house do you want?" I ask.

"A pink an' white one."

I grin. This is not the serious issue I feared. She doesn't want a driveway (which we need). She doesn't want grass (which we only have in the front yard; see above driveway issue). She doesn't want a bigger bedroom (which she totally deserves). This problem is manageable.

"Well, what if we painted our own house pink and white?"

Her eyebrows raise in delight. A hopeful grin spread across her face. "Yeah! Dat would be great!"

"Okay. We'll talk to Daddy about it when we get home."

But by then she had forgotten about the idea entirely. Hee! Problem solved.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Hooked on Phonics Worked... Not So Much

Saturday, July 03, 2010 By

Emmie's playing a game that, on one of the stations, asks her to build words on a book by matching foam letters with a drawing. The word she spells is "cape."

"What does that say, Emmie?"

"It says SUPERHERO!"


Seriously, though, this game is totally worth the money - if only because it's the kind of game that parents, honestly, cannot win against their own children. Talk about a confidence booster! She kicks my butt every time. I won't tell you how, exactly, except to say that I am no fan of frogs.