Tuesday, September 30, 2008

In Which I Experiment With Spray Tan

As I've mentioned on Facebook, I went to a spa today to get a spray tan.

Let me back up...  My sister is getting married in 3 weeks and I have been really bad about using sunscreen since, oh, forever...  And so I am striped.  Random farmers keep coming up to me and saying, "Nice tan, there.  Are you in corn or soy?  How many acres?"  And of course Megan chose strapless dresses.  So, I need to even myself up a bitlot.

However, I am frightened of the whole tanning bed scene.  For one thing, it sounds hot, and I don't do hot.  What if I sweat?  Do I have to clean the puddle of sweat out of the bed, or does someone else do that?  Do I tip the sweat cleaner?  Will the pool of sweat magnify the UV rays and, like an ant under a magnifying glass, cause my butt to burn?  For another, it'll probably just make the darker spots darker, and that's not going to work because I'll just be a darker shade of striped.  For a third, you have to wait for it to wear off, and I don't want to wait.  I don't wait well.  Especially when I'm orange.

So, spray tanning seemed like a logical solution.  Of course, all I could think about was this:

(Oh, Friends, how I miss you...)

So I went today to do a little fact finding while the kids were with Allison (and I was supposed to be at work).

The salon/spa place was really nice and clean, in spite of the fact that it's in kind of a crappy old 70s era strip mall.  The girl was really nice.  I explained my concerns.

"It only lasts 4 to 7 days," she said.

"See, I have kind of ridiculous luck, and I know that if I do it for the first time 3 days before the wedding, I will either end up orange or I will break out in hives.  If I break out in hives, I'll have to take Benedryl, but then I'll hit the open bar and I'll end up passed out under the cake table or something..."

But I didn't want to pay the $40 fee twice!  I didn't even spray tan before my OWN wedding!

So, I talked her into just doing a test spray on my stomach, so I could see if I like the color and whether or not I break out in hives or welts or horrible, oozing boils from whatever magic solution they put in the air brush gun thingie.

I am such an optimist.

The girl agreed to take me back into the room to do my little demo tan on my stomach.  She tells me to get undressed, and then she'll come back in and do the airbrushing by hand.  I must have looked at her like, "Huh?" because I was still thinking about Ross ("I'm an 8!"  "Mississippilly?"), and she explained that they do it all by hand.  There's no anonymous room with a booth.  There's just this tiny little perfectly bodied college girl, and me.

In my granny panties.

Because you KNOW that I didn't plan ahead to do this.  Oh no.  I was wearing my Hanes Her Ways that are older than both of my children.


The door into the room where she took me was directly behind the giant plate glass window, and if you had stood at the front desk and merely glanced to the right, or if you'd happened to be walking by at just at the right time, you would've seen me.  In my granny panties.  And nothing more.

So what's the protocol, here?  I'm not really a spa girl.  I've gone ONCE before, when my friends chipped in to get me a gift certificate for my birthday, and there was a lot less nudity.  There was no airbrushing.

The only thing I could come up with, short of hiding in the closet and then popping out and yelling "Surprise!" when she got back, was to stand inside the door and to the side, so that I wasn't immediately visible to everyone on State Road 52 when she opened the door.  She came in (after about an hour and a half, they always give me about ten times more time to undress than I need...  Whether I'm at the spa or the doctor or whatever...  What are other people doing in there for 20 minutes?  Am I supposed to be doing something that I'm not?) and looked at me like I was a little stupid.

"I was afraid if I stood anywhere else I might flash your UPS guy or something," I stammered.

She was so sweet.  She didn't laugh at me until after I left.

So she takes me in this shower, basically, and warns me that the airbrushing machine is a little loud.  She tells me that it might feel cold.

Since the salon was about 40 degrees inside, I kind of expected that.

The actual spraying tickled like crazy.  Amazingly, I neither broke out in hives nor turned orange.  It's actually a very subtle color.  So crazy, it just might work! 

Then after a few awkward moments when I wasn't sure where to put my arms, or my boobs, she turned on the fan and left me to dry.

At least she wasn't there to watch me as I tried jogging in place (still only in my granny panties, of course) to keep warm as the fan dried me off.  There was probably a hidden camera - look for video on YouTube.  I was just beginning to wonder if they trained aesthetiticians in how to treat frostbite, when she came in and told me that I was probably dry enough and that I could get dressed and come out.

Finally warmish, I was standing at the desk making an appointment for a facial this weekend, and for a Level 1 Spray Tan (all over!) on the Thursday before the wedding, when guess who walked in?  The UPS GUY!  And I started cracking up, because it takes a while for the nervous laughter thing to wear off with me, and stammering about how he almost saw me naked, and he looked at me like I had completely lost my mind, and left.

All of this is what led to my Facebook status, earlier today, which was:

"Amy just went and got her first spray tan, on her tummy.  My stretch marks now look so sexy!"

In my next life, I want to be a man.

Maybe It's In My Other Pants

We lost $1000 yesterday.


I hear a lot of people, especially people who are my age and younger, talking about this "economic crisis" and freaking out. While I am not an economist, or a financial expert, or, well, I'm not anyone... I'd like to add my advice to the chorus of advice out there, for you to consider as you're making financial plans for your family. (Especially for the people who may be coming over here via MotherTalkers! HI!)

So, here's my advice:


If you're looking at your Roth IRA or your 401K and you're seeing red (literally and figuratively!) don't panic. You haven't actually "lost" any money. That's only the amount that you would lose if you chose to sell out of the market at this very minute. It's not real money (whether it's low or high) unless you sell.

For most of us who have young families, we're going to be ok. Actually, we're going to be better than ok if we can afford to invest now, while the market is low. If shares of Company X were at $100 yesterday, and now they're at $50, chances are pretty decent that over time they're going to come back up to $100 or better - so buy them now and you can cash in when things come up.

They will come back up. Everything is a cycle. By the time we're ready to retire, the financial world will be a totally different one than it is today. Do not panic and sell everything. You'll make things worse for your family, and if we all did this it would be just like a run on the bank, and make things worse for everyone.

Get professional advice.

Now would be a really good time to make an appointment with a professional financial planner (get referrals, I have a good one if you're local to me), to talk about your portfolio. Make sure you're diversified - in other words, you don't have all your eggs in one basket. You want to take a certain amount of risk with your money, and put a certain amount of it in secure investments, and the percentages depend on your age. Now that things are beginning to get scary, you may want your money to be more readily available than it would be in a Roth IRA or a 401K, so talk to your professional planner about what kinds of investments might be more liquid (readily available) than others, and where your money should be.

Keep on top of your payments.

All of us need to work on paying down debt. Call your credit card companies and see if you can negotiate a lower rate. They'd rather get some money from you than none. I just opened a renewal for one of our business cards that cut our credit line in half, and we didn't do anything wrong! We always pay our full balance on time each month. Lenders are going to be looking for any excuse to cut your credit, so make sure that you aren't giving them any by being late.

And for God's sake, pay your mortgage!

Talk to your parents.

If you have living parents who are in their 50s, 60s, or older, you're going to want to talk to them frankly about their financial health. What changes are they going to have to make as a result of the problems on Wall Street? Have they been living off of dividends from their investments? Do they have a financial planner? Can you go with them to meet with the planner to see what's up? Now is a good time to be really open and honest about their financial picture - not because you want to make sure your inheritance is secure (hahaha... Like any of us are going to inherit anything now!), but because you want to make sure that they can afford their retirement. Do they need to get a job so that they can avoid dipping into their investments while things are low? Do they need to sell their house and move to a smaller, more affordable place? What about a reverse mortgage? Talk about these things honestly and openly with your parents (or with your adult children, if you're a parent) and get professional advice if you can.

Face it, if they can't take care of themselves, then their care is going to fall to you and your siblings, so make sure that if that's the case, you're planning for that scenario, too. Is your house accessible? Could you make it more accessible for an older person than it is? Are you going to need to move if Mom and Dad come to live with you in a few years? Start thinking about these things now, to avoid surprises in the future.

Take care of your kids.

Every single parent out there needs to have life insurance and a will. Period. BJ's life insurance is only about $90 a quarter - or $360 a year, and if something happens to him (God forbid) we'll be covered. I have less coverage, but it's even cheaper. Again, talk to a financial adviser about what you need to do to protect your family in case of the worst, and be a grown up and do it.

Write a will and name a guardian for your dependent kids. It doesn't cost much to have it done. Then put all of this - your will, your insurance info, etc. in a fireproof safe somewhere in your house. You'll sleep better. Trust me.

Do not take on additional debt right now.

Don't buy anything on credit. Don't refinance your house. Don't change anything for a while, until things stabilize and we know what's going to happen. If you have debt, as I said above, try to pay it down as quickly as possible. Don't dig yourself a deeper hole.

What am I forgetting? What are you doing to get your financial house in order?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Look-Alike Dolls, Creepy or Cute?

I got a very compelling catalog from a company called My Twinn (I HATE intentional misspellings!). For the low-low-low price of almost $200 (eep!) they will make a doll that looks just like your kid.

I thought that Mary Grace was just at the right age for such a thing, so I "constructed" her online, right down to the freckle underneath her right eye, and told BJ, "Hey, I found Mary Grace's Christmas gift!" via chat...

His reply: Creepy!

I assured him that it wasn't for him, and he said, "Yeah, but I still have to live in the same house with it!"

So, Brilliant and Beloved Readers, what say you?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Potty Follies - What Would You Do?

So, Mary Grace has been potty trained since her birthday (August 10). We still use diapers overnight and at nap time, but she's doing great otherwise.

Until today.

We were a little under the weather yesterday, which caused us to miss a birthday party (boo!!), but today the girls were ready to roll, and stir crazy from spending a whole day in the house. We took off for the Feast of the Hunter's Moon with Grandma Susan.

The girls were so good, they were just delightful and had a really good time (so did Grandma Susan and I!). Except for the potty...

The latrine.

I had the port-a-potty in the car, and before we walked from the parking lot to the festival grounds I asked MG if she needed to use it, but she was too excited to get to the festival (she'd been talking about it all day yesterday) so we didn't. We had only been there for half an hour or so when she said, "Mommy, I need to go potty."

The nearest potty was a latrine. It was a commode over a hole, basically, and it was filthy. And it reeked. And I knew my fastidious little girl, who has loved to wash her hands since she was tiny, who hates being sticky, who wouldn't even go in sand until after her second birthday because it felt dirty, was NOT going to handle it well. I just knew.

Instead of having her sit on the seat (ACK!) I tried holding her in my arms, with one arm behind her back and one under her knees, and holding her over the commode, but that didn't work. She couldn't relax. She was screaming, "No Mommy, it's filthy! It's yucky! I don't want to pee!!!" In desperation, I tried letting her sit on the seat (there is not enough Lysol in the universe...) but she leaped off of it like it was on fire.

I couldn't stand the odor anymore, myself, and there were other families with young children waiting, so we bailed on the latrine. I saw some Port-A-Potties (the big blue ones, not like the little potty chair in my car) but I knew that wouldn't work any better. I could've left Claire (who was asleep in the stroller) with Grandma Susan, and tried to run back to the car, but I knew she wouldn't make it. We were too far away from the car.

There were too many people to pull up a bush.

So, I did the only thing I could think of at the time. I put one of Claire's diapers on her. I told her that it was a special circumstance, and that it was ok to pee in Claire's diaper. She wouldn't, at first, but eventually desperation took over and she did.

My poor kid.

What should I have done differently? Forced her to use the latrine? Should I have taken her back to the car? Should I have carried her potty chair with us? I don't want to have to skip this sort of thing until the kids are old enough to hold their breath and pee, but this is the first outdoor festival we've tried since we potty trained her. Would you have put a diaper on her, too, if you'd been me?

It's a Major Award!

I have finally arrived! I have been given a blogging award by my lovely friend at Have the T-Shirt! There are complicated rules with these blogging awards, so I'm going to do my best to get it right:

1. The winner can (and should, really) put the logo on his/her blog.

2. The winner must link to the person from whom they received their award.

3. The winner must nominate at least 7 other blogs for an award.

4. The winner must place links to those blogs on their own blog.

5. The winner must leave a message on the blogs of the people they’ve nominated.

Oh my, so many rules! And I read so many wonderful blogs! Should I pass this honor on to the established bloggers that we all read, or should I point you in the direction of some new bloggers - friends of mine in real life? I think we'll go with my real life blogging friends...

1. Jenny at Untrained Monkeys - Jenny and I met our freshman year of high school, which means we've known each other for 18 years. That blows my mind. In addition to being a mommy of two gorgeous, active kids, and a blogger, she's a photographer and a state trooper. Jenny writes about whatever happens to be on her mind, the same way I do, and even if you haven't known her for almost two decades, she is someone worth reading about. And her pictures (especially the ones of my kids!) are gorgeous!

2. Becky at Sailing Is Funnest and I Miss the North - You thought I was old having known Jenny for 18 years - I've known Becky for 25 years! She moved onto my block way back in the 80s, and was walking down the street with her dad when I invited her to come play in my sandbox. Becky writes about current events, politics, her life, and her friends. I love how the internet brings those of us who have lost touch back together.

3. Erin at Life of a Spaceman - Erin's married to Matt, and Matt and BJ went to school together, so we've known him for at least 8 years, and we've known Erin since a little after they started dating. Now they live in Florida with their sweet daughter, Katelynn, and they both write about their life. Matt just started a new blog about politics, but I'm pretty sure it's password protected.

4. Heather at Little Fiddly Bits - Heather and I have known each other via our husbands for about 8 years, too. In addition to being the mother of the darling Amelia, Heather is an artist. She does all kinds of things I wish I could do, and writes and posts pictures about her creative antics. I wish she'd post some of her wedding pictures, because they did a whole Renaissance theme, including big poofy dresses, mead from Oliver Winery to drink, and period music. It was really something, and I still remember it all these years later.

5. Brandi at Under the Big Top - Brandi and I met sophomore year of high school, so 17 years ago (eep!) and lost touch after high school, but reconnected recently on Facebook. She has FOUR kids, and somehow finds time to write about them, which amazes me. She just started writing this month, and I'm excited to see where it takes her.

6. Kim at The Darwin Exception - Kim and I met online probably 8 or 9, years ago when I worked at IndyNet and had WAY too much free time to dork around online because I didn't have any work to do during the 8 hours a day I had to be there. And she is hilarious. She lives in this backwards town in New York State, and writes about all of the colorful characters who live there, too. She's also extremely involved in Court TV, to the point of being a contributor to a book about one trial, was it Scott Peterson? I forget... But if you like Court TV or watching infamous trials, you really should read Kim's coverage, because it is more detailed than any I've ever read. One of these days I'll write about the time I sent the SWAT team to Kim's house (back when she lived in Florida) because I thought her husband had killed her. It's a hoot. (We haven't met in real life, but we've spoken on the phone and she's sent my kids presents, so I'm going to bend my own rules and include her. If I ever make it to New York, she's the first person on my list to visit!)

7. Last but not least, there's Michelle at The Kidd Korner - I can't remember when Michelle and I met, exactly, but it's been several years. She's the person who gave us the awesome train table that's in our living room! Her son B outgrew it. It's a favorite of the kids who come over to visit, and my kids of course. Michelle writes about her son and their activities. He's a big boy, so reading her blog gives me a taste of what my kids are going to be like in 5 years, and how very busy we will be!

I have to say that Jenny, Erin, Heather, Brandi, and Michelle's blogs are dear to my heart, because they started blogging after reading my humble little blog, here. It's humbling to inspire people to find their own voice, and to be able to express themselves in this unique way. I hope that they love it as much as I do.

When I began blogging, it was a way for me to keep our family (which is ginormous, including steps I once counted that I have 26 aunts and uncles) connected to my kids. It was also a way for me to keep a baby book for my kids (God knows that I'm never going to find time to do a proper paper baby book with snipped locks of hair and baby teeth in an envelope - I just don't have the skillz). In the year and a half that I've been writing, though, it has become so much more. There are so many women and men in the blogosphere who I count among my friends. There are dozens of wonderful blogs that I read every day - the list (which I desperately need to update) is there on the right. It truly is a community, and I am honored and blessed to be a part of it.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Claire is Too Cute

I've been neglecting the whole "babies" aspect of Prettybabies a bit lately... I have, though, been storing up a list of cute new things Claire is saying to share with you.

Claire says:

I see you!
I want that!
Papa (Grandpa)
Ma-aah! (Max)
Pink (she doesn't know what they are, but she can say them)
Snack! (Yesterday she got into the cabinet, got out the Teddy Grahams, brought the box to me and yelled "Snack!" I love it when they get to the age that they can ask for what they want!)
Several letters as someone else sings the alphabet song, the most understandable being Y & Z
Of course, the ubiquitous, "Noooooooooo!"
Sit down
She sings along with songs we listen to, especially doing the big chords by saying, "Dun dun dun," in key. This happens a lot when we're listening to Wicked. I can't describe it any better, hope you know what I mean....
Nie nie (Night night!)

She's learning words at a rate of one or two a day. It's fun to watch. I love this age. What's hard to believe is that Claire's the age Mary Grace was when Claire was born. How did I manage a newborn with a kid like this running around? Wow. No wonder that whole year is a blur.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Bailout, revisited (The Personal is Political)

For a little one paragraph post, my post on the Bailout sure got a lot of comments! Well, a lot for me, anyway. Real bloggers would scoff at 10 comments...

Anyway, I don't think the financial crisis is any one person's fault, even the president, although a whole lot of other badness can be laid right at his feet. I read a really terrific article on Mental Floss about what got us into this mess. You'll notice that the Deregulatory Financial Modernization Act of 1999 was a contributing factor. 1999 was during the 106th Congress. The majority? Republicans.

But a lot of the other folks who were responsible (and I will freely admit that none of them had crystal balls) were unelected officials (Alan Greenspan , the SEC).

I think a lot of the blame can be placed on our culture... The way we think we "deserve" to own a home, two cars, a flat screen TV, 11 computers... The way we've been brainwashed to think that our worth as human beings is linked to the value of our stuff. If you haven't watched The Story of Stuff yet, you really need to go watch it right now. So who brainwashed us? Corporations, advertising agencies, people selling stuff, people with enough money to make and sell stuff. Who has money, generally? Republicans.

But, Democrat or Republican or Independent or Libertarian, we share the blame. We are the ones who ran up our credit cards, "leveraged" the equity in our houses so we could buy more stuff, take nicer vacations, drive nicer cars, etc. No one held a gun to our heads.

Having bought a house, though, I know how complicated it is. You get a real estate agent not so that you have someone to show you around a house, but so that you have someone to help you navigate the paperwork avalanche that you have to complete in order to become a homeowner. You (try to) find someone you trust, who won't let you get screwed over, and who will explain what you need to know about real estate in order to complete the transaction.

These people profit from selling houses, of course, and therefore, the more people they can get into houses, the more money they'll make. So, when the interest rate was really low, and banks were coming out with these goofy mortgages that made it possible for people who had no financial business owning a house (poor people, people without enough income to pay not only the mortgage but the maintenance, upkeep, etc.), the real estate agents and bankers and mortgage brokers of the world said, "Great! Now people who couldn't own a house 5 years ago can get approved for financing! Score! Let's go sell, sell, sell!"

And they did. All of a sudden people could get interest only mortgages (your monthly payment is only a fraction of what it would be if you were paying Principal - the money that your house actually costs, plus Interest - the money that the bank gets for loaning you the Principal to begin with, if you only pay the interest). "Here, have the house of your dreams, and your payment will only be $800 for a $200,000 house... for now. Don't worry about that line in there about how your payment will be Principal AND Interest in a few years... You'll work it out later!"

And people bought and bought and bought, and the housing industry went nuts. (I don't think the real estate agents and mortgage brokers did this maliciously - I think most of them really thought they were helping people. I don't think they understood the big picture at the time, either).

But, like ALL things, the economy is a cycle. What goes up must come down. It's the law. So all the people who got these interest only mortgages a few years ago started to lose their homes to foreclosure when, suddenly, their payments jumped up by 50-100% or more. Suddenly they had to pay Principal AND Interest, and unfortunately most of their incomes didn't increase by 50-100% in the same time period!

Suddenly, all these people are getting foreclosed, and the companies that owned the insurance policies that guaranteed that the banks that loaned them the principal in the first place (securities) are having to pay out, and out, and out... And investors stopped investing in the companies that owned the insurance policies, because they couldn't make any money if the insurance companies kept paying out and out, and, no one could get mortgage insurance anymore, and banks no longer had money to lend because they already had all their money out and tied up in mortgages that weren't being paid off. If that $1000 a month that I pay isn't coming in, the bank can't loan it to someone else.

Think of it this way. Imagine everyone in your town has the same car insurance company. If one person gets in a wreck, the premiums that the rest of the policy holders pay every month goes to pay the cost of that wreck. But what happens if everyone wrecks at once?

With these goofy mortgages all coming due at one time, everyone wrecked at once (or enough people wrecked at once that the amount owed was greater than the amount coming in).

Should we have seen it coming? Well, I did. No, really. When we bought our house in 2003 we were offered one of those goofy mortgages, and we could've bought a MUCH nicer house if we had gotten one. But I made the real estate agent and the mortgage broker explain it to us several times, until I understood what in the hell they were talking about, and I said, "That sounds like a profoundly bad idea... We want a 30 year fixed mortgage." Our payment will always be $1000 a month, no matter what. Over time, the actual cost of the mortgage will get lower as inflation gets higher. In 25 years, our $1000 a month will seem like nothing. You won't be able to rent for less.

See, what you pay in Principal is what you've accumulated in equity - or how much of your house you actually own. If you have an interest only mortgage for 5 years, during that time you haven't actually bought ANY of your house - you've just paid a fee to the bank for the privilege of using their money. They still own 100% of your house! But 5 years into my 30 year fixed mortgage, I own all of my doorknobs and faucets, and I can get a home EQUITY loan - that is guaranteed because I have EQUITY in my house, or if I sell I get to keep that equity.

Now, not being an economist, I didn't see how having thousands of these mortgages around and coming due at once would affect the larger economy, but I knew that it was a bad idea for us. We bought a crappy little house that we could afford on my income alone (because we were starting the business back then, and we didn't know if it would fly - get it, rocket business? Fly? I crack myself up). We figured we'd fix it up and sell it at a profit eventually, and then buy our "forever house."

Many, many people, though, weren't as smart as we were (and I say that with complete sympathy and not an ounce of smugness) and they went for these "once in a lifetime" mortgages, and now we're all screwed.

But I don't think we're all screwed forever, just for a little while. For the next few years it's going to be hard to get loans. It's going to be hard to send kids to college, buy houses and cars, and finance luxuries. We're going to have to re-learn how to live in a cash economy - where you can only buy what you can afford to pay for right now. There won't be any credit for most people to acquire. No one will lend you anything. Like the people who lived through the Great Depression, we're going to learn how to save money to buy the things we want and need, rather than buying them now and paying later.

I actually think that part is going to be good for us, as a society.

The trouble is businesses. Businesses run on credit. If NASA comes to us and says, "We want a rocket," they expect us to make the rocket, deliver it, and get paid within 30 - 90 days. In order to do that, we have to get credit from the bank so we can buy all the pieces to put it together and pay all the people to put it together and then pay the people while we're waiting to get NASA's money.

If our business can't get that credit, we can't do the work, and NASA will go find another business that can.

Then we have to lay off everyone who works for us, and they have to go work somewhere else.

Now, imagine that happening to every small business in the country. Did you know that small businesses employ over 90% of the workers in this country?


Then big companies start closing because they can't get any small companies to do the work for them.


Where have we been going for money? China. Who just said they wouldn't loan us any more money? China.


How are we going to get out of it? I don't know. I know it's going to take time. I'm not sure if the bailout will help or not. I am not an economist. I think that the PrettyBaby family is well positioned to be ok during this. We already have all the debt we need, we're not sending anyone to college in the next 10 years, and we aren't retiring any time soon. If people like us can invest (buy low!) we'll be in great shape when we do retire (sell high!). I worry about people who have to send their kids to college, buy a new house, or retire in the next couple years. I worry about people who are already retired. I think they're going to be in trouble.

The idea of the bailout is that the federal government is going to buy up all that bad debt (the mortgage securities) so that mortgage companies and banks can continue to lend money to people and businesses, so that we don't get into a situation where no one can get credit so no one can do work now and get paid later and everyone ends up having to close their businesses. Make sense?

In that sense, I think the bailout is probably a decent idea. I don't think we should just write these companies a blank check, though. As Clinton said on the Daily Show, I think we need to do it in such a way that the American Taxpayers see a profit on this investment in a few years, the way we did when he invested in Mexico.

I think we need to be patient and smart, and we need to learn a new way of operating in our personal financial lives. The personal is, after all, political. I think we need to get George W. Bush out of office, and I think he needs to be held accountable for the things he's done at Gitmo and in Iraq. I think we have a lot of hard work to do as a country, and I hope that in November we choose a leader who is capable of navigating our ship through the difficult years ahead. I hope that after tonight's debate, and the next few debates before the election, we can figure out which candidate will be that leader.

What do YOU think?

Two Quick Links

If this isn't the most beautiful, moving, wonderful, playful, "awww" evoking baby picture I've ever seen, I don't know what is. Click around her whole blog, because she's really good. Great ideas. Wow.

Second, did you hear about the preemie who weighs less than a can of pop? Yeah. A micropreemie was born to a mother who had preeclampsia. 10 ounces.

Gotta go, Claire's freaking out. The chili was awesome, by the way!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I Gots to Get Paid

You might notice a new ad on my humble little page here.  It's called YouData.  Click on the link over there (under "followers").  Don't be scared.  You can make money.  I can make money.  We can all make money together.  Isn't that a great idea?  Think of it as a little high tech tip jar, and if you like what you read here, click it!  If not, leave a comment.  That seems to be a popular activity these days.  Hee...

I've been signed up (as a viewer, not a blogger) for about 24 hours, I've watched 6 little ads, targeted to people like me, and I've already made $1.50.  If I do that every day for a year, we'll be able to afford Max's surgery in... 6 years.  Ok, need a new plan for that one.  But seriously, I need a new roof, and new carpet, and I have to repair my home security system's knee, and You, Adored Reader, can be a part of all that by simply clicking a couple times, watching ads, and getting paid yourself.  You can also give some or all of the money you receive for ad watching to charity.  How nice is that?

So give it a click and sign up.  Then, when you're here anyway, you can click and make a little change for yourself.  Maybe support your Starbucks habit or fund your kids' 529 accounts.  And if everyone who stumbles through my little corner of the web hits it every day, you can make a big change for the PrettyBabies.  

You know I love you, and I'd do this for free, right?

(You need a PayPal account, by the way).

I do love you.  Thanks!


I am UberMom today. The kids are up, dressed, fed, and at the library with Allison. Dinner is in the crock pot. I am up, dressed, fed, and at work.

You know how some days just come together and you feel like you're on top of your game? That's how I feel right now. All the plates are in the air and spinning. I've got it going on. My socks even match!

So, I won't be answering the phone today, because I don't want the other shoe to drop. Just leave a message or send an e-mail and I'll get back to you tomorrow, when everything hits the fan again and I'm standing waist-deep in broken china. How's that for mixed metaphors?

I'll address all the political junk later today (scroll down and read the comments on my last post, if you don't have any idea what I'm talking about), but for now, I'm at work, making the world safe for rockets, one check at a time.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bail ME Out

Hey George W. - We've made some bad financial decisions over the last several years, too.  It happens, in spite of our best intentions.  And we've got a leaking roof and a dog that needs expensive surgery and bills to pay...  Can I get a no-strings-attached check for the $8000-$20000 of my family's money that you are planning to give to Wall Street?  That would really help.  Kthxbai!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

WFMW: The Port-a-Potty

Jenny is really going to think I'm insane for this one...

Mary Grace has recently learned to use the "big girl potty" and has graduated from the little plastic potty to the real toilet much faster than I thought she would.  She hasn't, however, learned to tell me well in advance of when she needs to go, so when she says, "Mommy, I need to go potty," she really means, "right now!!!"

Since we spend a lot of time driving to and from Grammaland, when she figured out the real toilet, I took her little plastic potty chair and put it in the van in a box, along with toilet paper, wipes, plastic bags, and every other thing in the universe that lives in my van (some people have storage units, some have sheds...  everything we own is in my van).

When we're on the road, and she has to go right now, I don't have to worry about finding a place to stop, I can just pull off at the nearest exit, find a parking lot, and let her go in her potty chair in the back of the van.  Then I can clean it up using a combination of TP and wipes and plastic bags, depending on the situation, and away we go!  

This worked extremely well last time we went north, when her sister was asleep in the car.  I didn't want to wake her up to take her inside the gas station with us, I couldn't leave her sleeping in the car, and MG doesn't have the skills to "hold it" yet.  Everyone wins.

We only use it on long trips, but it stays out there, anyway, because I don't have room in my bathroom or garage for it.  So, having a Port-a-Potty works for me!  Check with Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer for more WFMW fun.  And be sure to scroll down to the next post to read about the Nie Nie Auction that's going on today (9/24/08).

Nie Nie Auction

So, I haven't said anything about it because most of you who read this blog read it because you know me in real life, not because you're part of the whole "Mommyblogosphere" - whatever that is...  But I wanted to let you know about a cool project I kind of got involved with...

A while back, in August, a Mommyblogger named Nie Nie (Stephanie) and her husband were in a small plane crash in Arizona, which left them both critically injured and the pilot dead.  They have terrible burns, and are in medically induced comas.  Their four children are staying with relatives.

Stephanie's sister, Courtney, and a bunch of other Mommybloggers have organized an auction to benefit the young couple and their family.  The proceeds will go directly to the family to help with medical bills, child care, lost income, etc.

I donated some of my silhouettes, like the ones I did for Mother's Day, to be custom made for whoever purchases them.

Since I worked today, I totally flaked out and forgot that today was the day of the auction.  Therefore, I don't know if my silhouettes were sold today or if they'll be sold tomorrow.  I really feel like a doofus for missing it.  Hopefully I won't screw this up any further.

So, if you're interested in getting involved and helping a young family in crisis, or if you need a silhouette (or another cool Christmas gift, handmade, etc.) you might stop by the auction tomorrow at 10 am to see what's available.

I am not a huge participant in the "Mommyblogosphere" - bloggers like Dooce make $40,000 a month on ad revenue.  I've made a lifetime total of about $100 in a year plus of blogging.  Granted, I'm not in it for the money...  Most of us aren't.  We're in it for the community.  It's like a virtual playgroup, where we can bitch and moan and fight and complain and support each other and give advice and really come together when it matters.  The longer I do this, the more I realize that it's not about hits and traffic, it's about community - just like any other group that exists, whether online or in real life.  Because real people sit at these keyboards, this is real life, and when it counts, we've got each others' backs.  We all share the common bond of parenthood, and a love of writing or photography or both, and we're all a bunch of geeks.  But we're a kind bunch of geeks, and it's a nice place to be.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Phoning it in

So I'm tired of bitching about my sick kids and talking about boobies. You guys write this one...

In honor of Megan and Trey's upcoming wedding, I want to know - what was the worst wedding gift you have ever received?

Feel free to comment anonymously!

Monday, and I have become THAT mom

Mary Grace was fine all day yesterday and seemed fine this morning, so we went to gymnastics.  On the way there she was singing, "I love open gym, I love the trampoline, I love the pit..." which was cute.  I knew Claire had a runny nose, but if I kept them home for every runny nose, we would never leave the house.  Well, this afternoon we got home (after a disappointing trip to Toys R Them - the birthday party is Saturday not today) and I realized that MG had a fever.  I have a bunch of garbage thermometers that I don't trust, but she's reading between 100 and 103 depending on which one I use and how hard I hold her arm down.

So, not only did I (knowingly) take a sick kid to gymnastics, I (unknowingly) took a second sick kid to gymnastics.  I am the mom that I curse at under my breath.

She seems fine, though.  Kids are weird with fevers.  A lot of times they can have a really high one and not care.  But we're taking it easy for the rest of the day.  I have dispatched Daddy to the store for juice, Benedryl, bread, and other essentials.  

We're pretty much going to be sick from now until April, so I'm just not going to spaz about it this year.  They're old enough that it's just inconvenient, not heartbreaking and scary, when they have little colds and whatnot.

Claire got Benedryl and put down for nap, because I've wiped her nose 10,000 times today.  Any excuse to give them Benedryl, really.  Even if I'd only wiped it 9,999 times, I'd still dope her up.  Mommy needs a break.

In other important blog news, I want to remind all of you that even though you read this and you feel like you've talked to me, you have not actually talked to me.  You know what's going on here (or the 1% of it that I blog) and you hear my voice in your head, but I have no idea what's going on with you.  I'm stuck in this house with sick kids, so call me, for Pete's sake!  Or show up (with your SARS mask and rubber gloves).  Bring wine.  If we drink enough, we'll kill all the germs before they can take hold!

(I got your voicemail, Amanda, this is not aimed at you.  I'll call you...  You're still at work, though.)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Virus Cometh

My poor baby (Mary Grace) has been puking and feverish all day.  She's begging for toast, but she just threw up, and as badly as I want to give it to her, I know that she isn't ready to keep it down.  I gave her a sucker, instead, which lasted all of 60 seconds...  Then she went right back to begging for toast.


I hate it when they're sick.  Luckily BJ took Claire out for the evening, so I can focus on making my big girl feel better.  Send healthy vibes our way.

Illnesses like this make me feel so grateful that our kids are healthy, though.  I just don't know how other parents manage major illnesses.  If the flu is this hard, how hard must it be when they have....  I don't even dare think it.  The possibilities are too scary.  Is it weird to be grateful for the flu, because it reminds you how good you normally have it?  If so, I guess I'm weird.

Back to the trenches.  I'll keep ya posted.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Shutterfly ROCKS

I just got a $50+ leather 8x10 photo book for less than half price ($24 and change) using coupon codes at Shutterfly...  And folks, I have ordered and/or been given several photo books from Shutterfly, and they are extremely high quality keepsakes (especially for persons like myself who are, shall we say, scrapbooking impaired).

The coupon codes were 69AUTUMN and 68AUTUMN (but I hear they expire tonight, so sorry, you don't have much time to use them).  The first is for $10 off, and the second is for free shipping.

Y'all, if you aren't Googling "coupon code {storename}" every single time you shop online, you are wasting a ton of money.  A TON.  Get in the habit of Googling before you buy.  "Coupon Code Shutterfly" comes up with thousands of hits, and if you're patient and willing to try a few losers before you find a winner, you can save huge money.  Huge!

Go forth, and shop some more!

(I put together a photo book of pictures from our August trip to Washington DC, by the way.)
((Their new photo book editing software makes it really easy and, dare I say it?, FUN to create photo books)).
(((I am not getting paid to endorse Shutterfly, or receiving coupons or anything like that... I just really love to share good stuff I find on the web with my beloved blogdience))).
((((Blog-audience.  It's late.  I'm making up words now.  And grossly abusing parentheses)))).

For those of you who are tired of hearing about my boobage

Since I know that most of my audience doesn't want to hear me go on endlessly about my breasts, I want to give you this visual:

I just fished a popcorn kernel out of Mary Grace's nose with tweezers.  While she was screaming.  I said, "Look, we either do this here or we go to the hospital!"  Luckily, she was screaming hard enough that she pushed it out (rather than sucking it up into her sinusses), and it was pretty easy to grab.

Motherhood.  So f**king glamorous.

Creating a Dialogue

It wasn't a drive by! It was probably one of my relatives, actually. I totally suspected one of my uncles (who I dare not name), until our AC asserted her femininity. Therefore, in the interest of greater understanding, creating an open dialogue, and presenting all sides of what can be a very touchy debate, I bring you, part 2:

I didn't mean to get you all riled up, I just believe that a women should be covered while breastfeeding...and I am a woman. You do not have to use a flannel blanket or sit in your car, but it would be nice if you used a light cloth or something as it does make some people uncomfortable. Also, I saw in your post that you still allow one of your children to "noodle" if she falls down, is unhappy, etc. This is not a healty coping mechanism for her to learn. Sometimes a child must learn to get up, brush themselves off, cry a little bit, and move on. It's ok for a child to be upset. It's part of growing up. I know that is hard for a mother of a young child to comprehend as she doesn't want to lose her "babies," but down the line what is going to happen down the line? If she doesn't get into that Ivy League college that she applied for are you going to let her breastfeed to soothe her? I am sure you are a fabulous mother and I am sure your kids love you to death...I just have some opinions just like the next person. 
Hoo, boy!

Let's take this one point at a time...
I didn't mean to get you all riled up, I just believe that a women should be covered while breastfeeding...and I am a woman.
That's not what you said.  You said it should be illegal.  As in, I'm in public nursing my child, and you see me and call the cops, and they come and cuff me and take me to jail, and obviously my baby isn't going to go to jail with me, so you separate us and put her in foster care or something.  That's what would happen if it were "illegal."  It's a far cry from being covered while nursing.

However, as someone who believes that hyperbole is the best thing EVER!, I understand that while you may have said "illegal" it probably isn't what you truly meant.  Still, I think words have power, and sometimes it's important to think things through to their logical conclusion (mom in jail, nursing pair separated, traumatized baby, strain on the already overburdened legal system, etc. etc.).

You say you are a woman (on the internet, no one knows).  Have you ever breastfed a child?  If you had, you would know that this:
You do not have to use a flannel blanket or sit in your car, but it would be nice if you used a light cloth or something as it does make some people uncomfortable.
...is ridiculous.  

As I said in my other post, any baby over about 3 weeks is going to pull your "light cloth" right off of her head.  If I were her, I would too!  Next time you eat lunch in public, try doing it with a pillowcase over your head, and see how comfortable and inconspicuous you feel.
Also, I saw in your post that you still allow one of your children to "noodle" if she falls down, is unhappy, etc. This is not a healty coping mechanism for her to learn. 
Are you a shrink?  A specialist in childhood development?  A doctor, even?  Because I would like to see credentials, or at the very least some kind of cite from a reputable publication (like a medical journal) that says allowing my child to nurse for comfort is teaching her an unhealthy coping mechanism.

Have you spent any significant time with a child under, say, 2 years old?  They're not really all that reasonable or rational.  They're pretty basic, actually.  They have needs, and when they need they expect the adult in charge to fill that need right now.  They don't think, "Gosh, it's nice that Mom nurses me, this is how I cope with adversity!  Thank God I never need to learn another coping mechanism!"  They think, "Phew!  Mom's still here and taking care of me.  I feel better right now."  They live very much "in the moment."

You have to remember that I already have one child who I nursed until 28 months old, and who has been weaned since December, and who is doing all kinds of wonderful things.  If you had suggested a couple years ago that I might be stunting her emotional growth, I might have thought, "Am I?  Holy crap, I never thought of that!" and panicked over it for the next week or so.  But I have proof that one can "noodle" a child on demand, even for non-nutritive purposes, and still have her turn out happy, healthy, well-adjusted, and able to cope with all sorts of disappointment without turning to my boobs.  Therefore, I am confident that Claire will, too.  And believe me, there will be much rejoicing when that day comes.

Your argument about not getting into an Ivy League college (as IF my brilliant kids won't get into any school they like!) is the same as saying, "You can't let that baby use diapers!  What are you going to do, send her to Harvard in Depends?"  Babies are at a developmental stage where they NEED to nurse/use diapers.  College students are past that age.  It's disingenuous to suggest that what I'm doing with my kids today will be what I'm doing with them 15 or 17 years from now.  It's really a foolish argument.  
Sometimes a child must learn to get up, brush themselves off, cry a little bit, and move on. It's ok for a child to be upset. It's part of growing up. 
You assume that I nurse them every single time they cry until the day they're weaned.  That couldn't be further from the truth.  If Claire gets in trouble for biting (something that has been happening often, lately, because she's at that age...), I will reprimand her, and she will cry, and I don't nurse her to make her feel better.  If she could talk she would say, "Believe me, I get up and brush myself off and cry a little bit and move on every day!  I have an older sister, for Pete's sake, and the bruises to prove it!"
I know that is hard for a mother of a young child to comprehend as she doesn't want to lose her "babies," but down the line what is going to happen down the line?
First of all, I can't WAIT to lose my babies.  Well, not literally lose them, but I'm excited about them growing up.  Babies are a lot of freaking work, and while they may be cute, cuddly, etc. they also cry a lot, don't sleep enough, can't communicate well...  I mean, it's like living with a very short Hitler who only speaks German (or jibberish) and who has a complete heart-rending meltdown every time you dare to defy him.  Good Lord, I can't wait until they're 4 and 6, or 5 and 7, and we can do more fun things (travel, theater, etc.) and we can go entire weeks without any crying.  I know a lot of mommies have a hard time with the idea of their "babies" growing up, but I am not one.

And since Mary Grace is already weaned, I can tell you with confidence that down the line, they're both going to be just fine.  Awesome, even.  Happy, well-adjusted, well-bonded, confident, smart, healthy, ear-infection free children.  

You might remember that the overarching point of the post where I mentioned "noodling" was, "OMG, Brandi, wean him now while you have the chance!!"
If she doesn't get into that Ivy League college that she applied for are you going to let her breastfeed to soothe her? I am sure you are a fabulous mother and I am sure your kids love you to death...I just have some opinions just like the next person. 
Yeah, I already addressed the college bit.

I'm really happy that you came back to clarify your position.  I hope that you'll continue to read and comment, even if we don't see eye to eye on every issue.  And I hope that my explanations have helped you to understand what goes on in a nursing relationship, and why nursing in public is a basic human right that should not be denied to any nursing pair.

Edited to add:  Be sure to read the comments!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Oooohhh! Them's Fightin' Words!

An Anonymous Coward writes:
As long as we are agreeing on things as a culture, can we make breastfeeding in public places illegal as well? 
Oh hai! You must be new around here.

Please allow me to educate you on the reasons why breastfeeding is (and should be, and should remain) legal in public.

1)  Breasts are for feeding, their function is not to be a sexual object.

I know it's hard to believe, in our modern culture, but the female breast actually has a higher purpose.  It is not a mere object to be oogled and drooled upon by those who are attracted to the female body.  My children are mammals, and are meant to feed from my breasts, just as baby cows are meant to feed at their mother cow's teats.  It's part of what separates animals from reptiles and birds and other non-lactating species.  Unless you are willing to chew up and partially digest worms and then regurgitate them into your offspring's mouth, or take this sort of risk with your baby, you're pretty much stuck with the boobies.

But western culture has so fetishized the female breast that it has become taboo to show it doing what it was created (or evolved, if you prefer) to do in the first place.  Oh, irony...

Explain to me why this:

is ok (to show on television to millions of viewers, no less), but this:

(private moment between a mother and her child which can easily be ignored by passers by if they don't like it) is offensive?

So, basically, what I'm saying is that if you don't support nursing in public, you're a pervert.  Get your mind out of the gutter and your head out of the 19th century, for God's sake.

2)  Breastfeeding is a public health issue.

"Breast is best!"  Right?  We hear all the time about how important it is to breastfeed children, and yet our culture is totally UNsupportive of the breastfeeding mother.  "Nurse your child - but don't let anyone see you doing it!" is basically what the culture dictates.  So, nursing mothers are supposed to, what, hide in their homes for the first 6 months of their childrens' lives?  That may be possible with the first baby, but once you have a second or a third child, things just need to get done, and Mama's the one who has to do them, whether the baby is going to need feeding between now and the end of the grocery store run or not.  (And don't EVEN get me started on how un-pro-breastfeeding this business of having a 6 week maternity leave is.  Our society makes it virtually impossible for women to successfully breastfeed.  Most women are just getting the hang of it at 6 weeks.)

Most anti-breastfeeding-in-public people don't truly understand how often a breastfed baby must eat.  They eat every 3 - 4 hours, folks, day AND night.  Around the clock.  And sometimes they need to eat more often, especially if they're in an unfamiliar environment.  In addition to the obvious nutrition, they experience closeness and comfort at the breast that allows them to feel safe and secure (in other words, not to cry) in new situations.

Breastfed babies are healthier.  They have fewer transmitted diseases (colds and flu) and fewer ear infections.  Not only do they contribute to the public health by not spreading disease, they actually contribute to the greater good by keeping health costs lower.  If my breastfed kid goes to the doctor twice a year for illness, while your worm or formula fed kid goes 4 times a year, who is the greater burden on the system?  It is in everyone's best interests if as many mothers nurse as possible, and one of the main barriers to breastfeeding is the fear of nursing in public - brought on by pinheads like our Anonymous Coward - who dare to give the hairy eyeball to women who are doing what God/nature intended with their mammary glands in public, rather than locking themselves in the house until the child is weaned (for the record, if I never left the house with a nursing child, I would've been locked in this house since August of 2005, and I would most certainly be postal by now).

3)  Breastfeeding in public (as opposed to a restroom or a hot car) is a hygiene issue.

So, let's say that I've run out of food entirely, and in spite of the fact that I don't want to offend your delicate eyes with my unsightly mammaries in public, I am forced to leave my house with my children to find food, and I run the risk that my child might need to eat while we are gone.  

A lot of anti-public breastfeeding advocates suggest that women breastfeed in a public restroom if they need to feed their babies while in public.  I'm sorry, but until YOU are willing to eat YOUR lunch in a filthy public restroom, I will not force my child to eat her lunch there, either.  I also refuse to take my child to a hot, stuffy car to nurse her, when the two of us would be much more comfortable discreetly nursing on a chair or a bench inside the store (or mall, or doctor's office, or whatever).  Why should I suffocate because you're a Puritan who can't avert his eyes from something private?  

I can just hear the Anonymous Coward saying, "Just give him a bottle!"   Easier said than done, kemosabe.  Yes, many women are able to pump breast milk.  I am not.  Many children will allow their parents/caregivers to give them a bottle.  Mine will not.  They want their milk straight from the source.  So, you either get to hear my hungry kid wail all the way through the grocery store (which I'm not going to do, by the way, I'm just outlining the options, here), or you get to man up and avert your eyes so I can feed her and create some peace and harmony for all of us.  Since I'm not going to take an opinion poll every time my kid gets hungry, you're just going to have to cope.

Of course, now that my kids are older, we can make it through a trip to the store/gymnastics class/a museum/etc. without nursing.  But if Claire falls and gets hurt, or is overstimulated, or is tired, nursing will calm her right down, immediately.  I am not going to deny my child what she needs because some adult in the vicinity may or may not have a problem with public breastfeeding. 

Another thing the anti-breastfeeding crowd always says is, "COVER UP!"  Um....  No.  First of all, if it's 100 degrees outside, I'm not going to stick my baby under a flannel blanket just so YOU will be comfortable.  The comfort of my child comes first, and since I'm the one doing the nursing, I'm going to decide whether or not to cover up.  Second, after about 3 weeks old, the baby is going to pull any cover off that you try to put on, and you'll probably end up seeing more nipple as I'm wrestling to keep her covered than you would if I just hiked up my shirt and went for it.  Besides, when you cover with a blanket or nursing cover, you might as well have a big neon sign over your head that says, "HI, I'M BREASTFEEDING OVER HERE!"  I'll bet that I've nursed my kids 100 times without anyone noticing what I was doing (especially when they fit in my sling.  I really miss the sling).

4)  Breastfeeding is not dirty.

Whenever these debates come up, people say, "Urinating is natural, too, but we don't just let people do it whenever and wherever they happen to be."  I'm sorry, but if you can't tell the difference between breastfeeding and urinating, you're too stupid to read my blog, please go away.

5)  If you don't like it, don't look.

Just as no one tied me up and forced me to watch Britney slut it up on the VMAs, no one is tying you up and forcing you to watch me nurse my kid.  If you don't like it, don't look.  It couldn't be any more simple.

We are all subjected to things which may not suit our individual tastes on a daily basis.  Some of the things I have to look at that offend me include:

But hey, we live in a free society (at least, for now) and if you want to pierce yourself, tattoo yourself, stretch yourself, or be evil, there isn't much I can do except look away and make different choices for myself.

6)  "But it makes me uncomfortable!"

This is actually the one response from the anti-BF crowd that I have some sympathy for.  Of course it makes you uncomfortable, that's because not enough women are doing it.  It's not commonplace, and so it feels weird to you when you realize that a woman in your vicinity is breastfeeding.  You're not sure whether or not you should look at her.  You don't know whether or not to acknowledge what she's doing if (God forbid) you have to talk to her.  You are uncomfortable because you're being faced with a new or novel stimulus, and you're not sure what to do with yourself, so you'd prefer that no one breastfeed in public, ever, so that you don't have to figure out what the appropriate response is.

You're probably also the type of guy who avoids all doors because you're not sure if you're still supposed to hold them open for women or not, and you don't want to offend anyone by opening the door (perhaps suggesting that she is not capable of managing the door herself) or by not opening the door (mannerless clod!).

It reminds me of one time at the mall, I was nursing MG and I was new to it, and I was all ready for a big showdown as soon as the opportunity presented itself.  A very old man approached me, making direct eye contact.  "Here it comes," I thought smugly, "I'm going to give him a piece of my mind when he tells me I shouldn't be...." and that thought was totally derailed when he smiled sweetly and said, "Bless you, little mother, bless you."  It was the sweetest moment.

As sweet as it was, though, you don't have to go around blessing mothers.  You can simply smile and nod.  We lactators prefer if you do not stare, but most of us will happily answer questions if you have them (questions like, "How old is your baby?" or "Is this your first?" not "Are you going to be doing that long, it's really gross..." and "Can't you afford formula?").  You don't have to pretend that we don't exist.  You can talk to us like regular people - after all, our brains don't shut down when we nurse our kids.  You really ought not stare at a woman's breasts, whether she is currently engaged in nursing a child or not, just FYI.  

I see other women nursing in public so rarely, that I often say, "Good for you!" or give a little thumbs up when I see a Mom nursing in a public area.  

If you happen to be in a position of some authority, say as a flight attendant, or a manager in a restaurant, and someone complains to you about a mother who is nursing in your area of authority, please do not confront the nursing mother.  She is not the one with the problem - it is the person who is complaining.  If the person who is complaining can't avert his eyes, then kindly and quietly (so as not to humiliate the nursing mother, who is probably already on edge, having dealt with pinheads since her child was born...) offer to move the offended party to an area where he will no longer be subjected to the sight of the nursing pair.  It's quite simple.  And for God's sake, do not offer the nursing mother some filthy, germ-covered, hasn't-been-washed-in-10-years blanket to cover up with.  If I wanted to cover up, I would've brought a blanket, thank you very much.

I have to say that in 3+ years of nursing, I have only been given a hard time for it ONCE, so the problem isn't as big (at least, not where I am) as it seems.  I think the anti-breastfeeders take advantage of the anonymity of the internet to vent their Puritanical spleens about breastfeeding.  They're too cowardly to say anything in a face to face situation.

Bottom line:  I have a basic human right to nurse my child.  My child has a basic human right to eat.  Our rights are protected by law in almost every state and in almost every country.  If you don't like to watch me breastfeed my child in public, the answer is simple, DON'T WATCH.

New Rule

Can we agree on something, as a culture? Can we agree that there is nothing appropriate about talking on a cell phone while you're in a public restroom, and refrain from doing it? Please? Because it grosses me out.

I have been known to talk on the phone (usually with Mimi) and go to the bathroom at the same time, but only when I'm at home.

There is something so creepy about public bathroom cell phone usage, and I can't put my finger on what it is... Is it that most cell phones have cameras? Is it just that an important privacy boundary is being crossed? Is it that it's ok for someone who is also making bathroom sounds to hear me making bathroom sounds, but once they're opening up a line of communication to the outside world of people who are not currently engaged in making bathroom sounds, some line is crossed?

I don't know, but it completely creeps me out. So please, don't do it. Ever. Public bathrooms should be a cell phone free zone.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Little Miss Malaprop

Friend Julie sent a Tickle Me Elmo (errr... Thanks... I think) and a set of wings and a purple star wand for the girlies in the mail. I opened it, and Claire wanted Elmo and MG wanted the wings, so we ignored the careful labeling. Mary Grace ran around being a "fairy" and doing "magic."

"I tricked the cat, Mommy! I'm going to trick you! Poof!"

(Her usage, while not strictly correct, actually makes a lot of sense, and shows higher-level awareness of grammar and how verbs are formed than she probably should have at age 3.)

I love our doctor!!

So we saw Dr. M today. I love having a doctor who listens and talks to us. I never feel like he's rushing us out of the office. Oh, sure, he could be a little more liberal with the magic pills to cure what ails me (weight loss, etc.) but it's probably in my best long-term interests that he isn't. Claire was a trooper for her shots. Her weight is coming up - she has finally cleared 20 pounds - and she's staying on a nice curve for her height and head circumference. I may have to duct tape her feet together to keep her from climbing on the desk while I'm writing this, but otherwise, she's all good.

Good news - we're done with shots until she's 4!

I walk out of the office after the shots, and there is a guy sitting in the waiting room in chains! Literally!! He had a shaved head and a bunch of tattoos on the back of his neck, and he had his wrists chained together behind his back, and these big white mittens over his hands, and a prison jumpsuit, and chains between his ankles. There were two guards - one male and one female - with him. It was like walking out of a doctor's appointment to see that Hannibal Lechter was the next patient! So, I stopped to make Claire's appointment for her 2 year visit, and wrote "WHAT THE HELL?!?" on one of the reminder cards and handed it to Kathy, who does Dr. M's scheduling. She whispered, "State hospital," to me - as in State Mental Hospital.

Excellent! Not only is there a violent person in the waiting room where I'm standing with my baby, there's a violent CRAZY person who may think that this is his only chance to escape in the waiting room where I'm standing with my baby.

I said to Kathy, "Gee, that's the kind of situation that house calls were made for, don'tcha think?"

She just laughed and said, "Yeah, we'll see you in March, if he doesn't kill us all on the way out."

Exciting stuff, huh?

In other news, the roofers were just here to quote repairs on our family room roof/ceiling. $2500. Ouch. But it could be a lot worse.

Life is really expensive.

I need to get these kids down for nap before their heads explode, then I think I'm going to have some ice cream, because it's good for my sore throat...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Busy little bees

Bad Amy!  Bad!  No cookie!  Where have I been??

I didn't mean to leave you hanging, internet, but my wonderful friend Barbie came to visit yesterday and we were just having so much fun that I couldn't blog.  Then she left and it was bedtime for the kids, except MG put me to bed instead of the other way 'round.  Oops.

I missed you, though, and I just LOVE what you're doing with your hair!  So cute!!  

So what's been going on since I wrote last?  Well, speaking of cute hair, Tina Fey nailed her impression of Sarah Palin.  

Hi-freakin'-larious.  I don't care what your politics are, that was just too funny.  Could she be any more like Palin?  They must have been separated at birth.  (Sorry about the ad. It's from NBC's website, though, so it's all nice and legal.)

Interesting side note, BJ and I were just talking about the sketch, and he had heard on CNN that Palin thought it was funny and that she had been Tina Fey for Halloween one year.  I read somewhere online (of course I can't remember where) that she had watched it on a chartered plane, and the press were watching it and cracking up, but Palin's area in the front of the plane was silent throughout the entire sketch.  You just can't believe anything you hear or read anymore.  I'm not even sure that any of these people are actually running for office...

Speaking of which, if I ever run for anything (HA!) don't let me go on The View.  Those cats have claws!  Rrowr!  I think Bahbah Wahwah is getting a bit senile, though.  "We white folk will take care of you!"????  OMG, Bahbah, that's not even a little bit appropriate.  Sherry was about to die.  But she couldn't say, "Oh no you dih-n't!" because Bahbah is her boss.

Meanwhile, there was a hurricane in Grammaland.  No, it is not typical whatsoever to have hurricanes in Northern Indiana.  I've lived here my entire life, and I have never heard of such a storm.  Reports vary, but I've heard that they got 11.5 inches over 2 days, and another person said that they got 9 inches in one day (and I'm fully aware that both numbers could be correct).  My mom just finished work on her chapel recently - guess she should have been building an ark, instead!  (They had a bit of water in the basement, nothing like my sister, who had 6.5 inches in her basement!!)  Everyone is fine, though, as far as we know, so no one needs to worry.

My Barb (who goes by "Barbara Dahling," and "Air Force Barbie," NOT Bahbah) and I hung out at the mall yesterday (my wedding ring lost a stone, which is no big deal because they're little ones) so I took it to get repaired, then bought those dishtowels and placemats at Kohl's that I wanted.  Then we played at the playplace until the kids started running away from the playplace, then we went out for dinner.  It was nice to get a chance to see her and just hang out and chat.  She lives in Ft. Wayne, so it has been forever since we've had an opportunity to do that.  She's one of those friends who I can just start back up where we left off, even if it has been several months, or even a year.  I love that about her.  Gosh, we've been friends since 1993.  Crazy.

I worked today.  The kids stayed home with Allison.  I'm coming down with a cold, so BJ brought me a cup of hot (decaf) tea with honey, and I'm going to drink it, assure you folks that I am still here and that the FBI didn't come arrest me because of that post the other day, nor did I float away due to unregional weather anomalies, and then I'm going to take several Benedryl and a handfull of ibuprofen and go to bed.

Claire has her 18 month she-used-to-be-well-but-then-you-brought-her-to-the-doctor's-office-so-she'll-be-sick-in-3-days-that'll-be-$20-sucker baby visit tomorrow.  I'm sure I'll have lots to complain about.