Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Trouble with Narwhals

Sam has recently gotten a little obsessed with narwhals. I know, that's super weird, right?
But, there's one in Elf, and Sam is obsessed with Elf.
Every so often (and usually for no clear reason) she says "Bye, Buddy! Hope you find your dad!--Thanks, Mr. Narwhal!" until she finally realized she didn't know what a narwhal was and started asking about it. So we had a chat about narwhals. It mainly consisted of me telling her they were whales with a horn on their head like a unicorn, and they lived near the North Pole. Who am I kidding? That was the entirety of the conversation--like I know anything else about narwhals and am going to look it up for my billionth Sam question of the day. Honestly, until I looked them up on wikipedia for this post, I didn't even know if they were real or fictional (you know, like unicorns are fictional--bring on the fantasy fan hatred!).
At breakfast today, after yet another random Elf moment, Sam turned to me and said "Mom, do you know what the problem with narwhals is?"
No, I didn't. Really, I couldn't think of one single "problem" with narwhals. Shocking, but I don't think much about narwhals at all. They're probably endangered though, the cooler looking stuff is, it seems it's much more likely to be endangered...
She continued, "I bet when people are in the water, they stay away from narwhals, because they think the horn on their heads is just a big stick that a whale's going to use to poke them."
Aaaaahhh, yes. That is the trouble with narwhals. I bet they get confused with angry stick-toting whales all the time, and let's be honest, who wouldn't give one of those a wide berth? I know I would.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cousins, cousins, everywhere

Today on the way to school, Sam wanted to talk about cousins.
"Mom, I have a lot of cousins. I have, like, SEVEN cousins!"
"Actually, Sam, you have almost 16 cousins."

"Whoa." Whoa is right. That's with only 4 of the 8 kids in Daniel's family having kids thus far. The oldest of the whole batch turned seven this summer. We are having a population explosion. There are currently no cousins on my side of the family.

"Is my cousin Karianna getting a baby soon?"
"Yes, she's getting a brother in about three weeks. Then you will have 16 cousins."
"Okay. So, is she getting two babies?"
"No, Sam, she's just getting one."
"Didn't my other cousin get two babies?"
"Yes, Sam. Your cousin Makayla got twin sisters a few months ago--that's two babies. Remember, Amber and Chloe are her sisters too and Amber's about your age." We went to visit them when the twins were born.
"Oh, yes, that's right! Hey, mom, you know what else Amber and Chloe's got?"
"What, Sam?"
"A LOT of princess stuff and a princess room. It's awesome. I love it."

Babies are all well and good, but she has her priorities. Besides, she's already got "a lot" of cousins, what the Samiverse needs now is more princess stuff.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Why are we SHOUTING?

Saturday night, Daniel offered to take the kids Christmas shopping (for me, yay!) so I could go work out at the gym. I thought this was a great idea after being cooped up with my sick children all week, and now that they were better, I was enjoying a big chunk of Saturday freedom (Daniel also did soccer duty and I got to go solo to a baby shower, seriously, I can not remember the last time I had a whole day to myself like that).
I went to get in the car on the driveway, and I see the door in the garage crack open and a little triangle of light. I was being followed. I knew Daniel was upstairs feeding Peyton, so that meant...
Yep, it was Sam, and she was yelling for me. I was afraid if I ignored her and drove away, she would follow me out of the house and wander into the street, or get scared in the dark garage if I closed the door on her. So I did what any lazy, but not psychopathic person would do, and yelled back "WHAAAAT?"
"Oh." Then after a few moments' pause, "WHAT'S A GYM?"
Since she's small, and the "big car" was still in the garage, I couldn't actually see her, so it was like having a conversation with a disembodied voice into the void.
"OKAY, THEN. BYE, MOM!" And the crack of light was gone.
Yep. There you have it folks. Parenting at its finest. Weirdest shouted conversation I've ever had. My apologies to the neighbors.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Barbie and Me

It has come to my attention that my revulsion of all things Barbie is "too harsh." Okay, I'll give you that I dismiss Barbies pretty out of hand, under the assumption that not much has changed since the 80's--when I had a handful of Barbies that lived naked under my bed and never got played with.  I hated those stupid minuscule snaps, and didn't really see the point of playing with people who seemed to do nothing but get dressed in insane clothes with ridiculously small enclosures. And even as a kid, I thought their boobs were ridiculous. Apparently, Barbie has changed, physically, as well as her message. I was told that Barbie taught girls they could be whatever they wanted, and therefore I shouldn't discourage Sam from having them in our home.
**(For the record, Sam has exactly one Barbie, someone gave it to her. She plays with it on occasion, but I have no desire to buy more dolls or accessories. Sam has Disney princess dolls that are basically Barbies, and that is as far as I'm willing to go.  Plus, the princesses don't look quite as sexualized.)
Hey, if I've been wrong about the blonde bombshell, I'm willing to readjust. So, I took a stroll down the Barbie aisle for the first time in, well, multiple decades.
Amongst all the "Fashionista" Barbies (and Kens!) that I found somewhat discouraging, I finally found something that looked promising. I found a section of Barbies called "I can be..." This is where they have different uniforms of different jobs that Barbie can do! Maybe I was wrong about Barbie, maybe she does have some substance about her these days...
Then I looked at the package.  Personally, I've never seen a cop (female or otherwise) whose "uniform" consists of a mini skirt and a badge just to the right of her cleavage. Maybe I just live in the wrong precinct? Thumbs down for cop Barbie in my book. She's supposed to teach girls they can be policewomen, not that they can be strippers whose costumes resemble cops uniforms.
But, there's also "firefighter" Barbies! Female firefighters are pretty tough chicks, this must be empowering, right? Glad to report, no mini skirt here--which would look pretty silly in a burning building. Firefighter Barbie wears black leggings, and a belted red jacket that pretty much looks like a mini dress over black tights. In other words, nothing strong, flame resistant, or empowering here. Still looks like the "adult" section of the Halloween store.  Looks more like she'd be getting sprayed with a hose in a frat house wet T-shirt competition than using one to douse a burning building.  Forget running into a burning building with feet like that! In a word, skankalicious.
The third career in the set was "pet doctor" Barbie. I kid you not, her lab coat said "Pet Doctor Barbie."  If I had a pet, I'm not sure I would take them to someone who thought the term "vet" or heaven forbid "veterinarian," was too confusing and referred to themselves as a "pet doctor," but that's just me being picky. I mean, my daughter is three, and she could grasp the concept that a doctor for doggies and kitties is called a "vet" so I would assume that the target demographic for all things Barbie could also understand the term "vet," but who am I to question Mattel? I'm also a little disturbed that in the picture, her clothing seemed designed so that the lab coat looked like she had nothing on underneath it. I haven't spent a day surrounded by sick animals and their bodily fluids, but I'm guessing something about the environment makes you want to leave the mini skirts and high heels at home. Unless you're hoping that the guy who just watched you put down his beloved golden retriever is going to be looking for consolation from a hot "pet doctor."
So, yes, Barbie does tell girls they can be whatever they want--as long as they look incredibly sexy while doing it.
Frankly, I don't see this as a step forward. Fifty years ago, Barbie told women and girls they should reach an unattainable physical ideal and look like Barbie, to get Ken and the dream house.  Today, she still shows an unattainable physical ideal, but now, girls also need to be strong enough to do masculine jobs, smart enough to have advanced professional degrees, and rich enough to still have the dream house (and RV, and convertible...).  So promoting an impossible self-image, plus the pressure for worldly achievement is a move in the right direction? 
So to the people who tell me Barbie taught them to be whatever they wanted--I say maybe for you that's so. If you were raised in a home where you were told by your mother that you are capable of anything, maybe slapping a mini skirt, a badge, and a plastic taser on your Barbie doll felt empowering instead of intimidating. Maybe if you are raising your girls that appearance is unimportant, and they understand that Barbie is a fun toy, and not the norm or the ideal, they are harmless.
In the world we live in today, however, where too many women are trying themselves to be the next "Real Housewife" of [insert city here], and their daughters are seeing them chasing a fruitless pursuit of Kim Kardashian's butt, Pamela Anderson's boobs, and Angelina Jolie's lips, I have to ask if many girls out there are getting the balanced message? If incredible women I know personally, who are strong mothers, great wives, wonderful employees, highly educated, taught of their infinite worth by a religion that literally believes there is divinity in each of us, are considering tummy tucks, boob jobs, and other plastic surgery to feel "fulfilled," I have to ask myself if it really was harmless?

In pondering all of this, I just have to conclude that it isn't worth it.  I'll leave those mixed messages in the toy aisle, I don't need to bring them into my home. There's enough out there to devalue our girls,  I'm not going to pay my hard-earned dollars for it to come in a pink plastic package.
Sorry, Barbie. You're not the entire problem, but you're one I just don't need around my three-year old.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

What Not To Wear

We are careening forward in our attempts to be done Christmas shopping by Thanksgiving, mainly because I hate shopping, I hate waiting in lines, I hate crowds, and I hate shopping. Did I mention, I hate shopping?
So anyway, today we decided to make a huge dent in our gift list. In the process, I caught shopping fever.  Daniel wanted to know what kind of clothes I would like so I actually had to look around for clothes for myself. I sucked it up and tried to be a good sport. I walked by all the dresses--it has been years since I bought a dress, but they were just so shiny and pretty.  I found a few that were really beautiful.  Of course, finding dresses for me is some sort of fashion nightmare because I'm right between plus-sized and regular-sized clothes, large chested, extremely pale, self-conscious, and Mormon--which means I hold to certain standards of modesty--nothing above the knee, off the shoulder, or low necked.  I also have a tight budget, and I don't like my legs (see above, especially plus-sized and pale). Yeah, I'd like to see a "What Not To Wear," where they pull off this combination as well, but let's face it, no one would take on this perfect storm of buying obstacles on TV. My dad picks out nearly all my clothes, but we haven't bothered with a dress for a long time--it's just too hard to find ones that fit my modesty standards, apparently people of my size really want to emphasize the cleavage.
I guess in the midst of all the shiny happy dresses on their hangers, I forgot about nearly half of the issues I always encounter buying dresses and felt a glimmer of hope.  Some of these were really pretty--maybe with a cami or t-shirt, I could pull them off...maybe. Besides, I'm tired of dressing as the mayor of Frumpville.  I just want to look pretty for once! I'm a mom, not the patron saint of mom jeans, and it's about time I gave up the title. I'm not even 30, for crying out loud!  Just because it's hard to find things, doesn't mean it's impossible! I can do this!
I found a few beautiful dresses that might fit me, and decided to try them on. Once I took into account size, length, and sleeves, I was actually down to three options. Total. Out of the entire section.  I left Daniel and the kids, tried to look brave and went in fitting room.
I guess it's been a while since I tried on a decent dress, as I nearly got stuck in the first one. It was a no-go on the top, although the skirt part fit fine. I should have expected that, it's happened enough before.
The next one was actually kind of pretty, silver and taffeta, not too dressy, but it took me a while to figure out all the hidden zippers.  Once I got it on, all I could think was, "okay, this could be good, all I need is a cami.  Oh, holy crap, I need some fake tan too, no, that won't cut it...maybe black pantyhose...turn around, and whoa, make that spanx. Maybe double spanx. But, hey, it could happen. We are making progress here!"
I got stuck in the next one too.  It was a wrap dress, and once I figured out where everything stretched around, I was thinking a lot more about spanx. A lot. Why would they make something this size out of a knit so clingy? Plus, I could hear a little voice carrying down the hall saying "Hey, Mom!  Mom, are you in here!?" Clearly, the natives were restless. Getting stuck burned some precious time.
I came out a bit deflated, but not defeated.  Some of these were workable with continued attendance at bootcamp and the right layers of shaping garments, and undershirts, right? I was going to conquer the frump within!
Daniel met me holding a fussing Peyton out at a weird angle and said--"Smell him."
I didn't need to lean in--I could smell him from there.  Plus, I could see where he was leaking poop over the top of his diaper. For the second time today.
Of course, I drew the short straw of taking care of the leaky diaper while Daniel took Sam to the register to check out. At some point I will remember to replace the 3-6 month emergency outfit in the diaper bag with one that actually fits him (and is seasonally appropriate), but today was not that point. Maybe when I get myself painted into a corner twice more, it will finally sink in. I was searching desperately for a bathroom with a changing table and holding my cranky baby's head resting on my shoulder so I wouldn't have to touch his back or bum region, when I heard it.  The unmistakable sound of a burp with a bonus.
Luckily, he didn't completely hose me down with spit-up, but it reminded me that he had done exactly that only a short few hours ago. It also reminded me that there was currently a giant baby puke spot on the red satin skirt I'd bought for my Halloween costume (purchased at Goodwill on the cheap thankfully), which is why I ended up handing out candy in jeans.
Then, I realized what all this was. This was the universe holding a giant flashing sign that read "You look like you swapped clothes with a homeless man for a reason, genius!"
Dry clean only.  What in the world was I thinking?!
I guess I should thank Peyton for pointing out the flaw in my plan before I shelled out the money. Maybe if I work really hard, by the time my children stop making me look like a Jackson Pollock of bodily fluids and smell like fermenting milk, I won't need to double the spanx anymore. Optimism. It's a good thing.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Revelation

Anyone who knows me knows I love Halloween.  I love decorating, costuming, and for the past three years, making all these things into a theme for the whole family.  (This year was Tangled)
I don't love the candy coatedness of it.
Actually, that's not true.  For many many years I did love the candy best of all, but it's only recently that I realized how much it did not love me back.  Stupid lying candy, pretending to be my friend.
So this year, instead of being jazzed about how much of my favorites Sam hauled in, I was a little bummed to see her come home with a bag that weighed too much for her to carry.  Of course it was full to the brim of stuff way more tempting than what I handed out (since I wasn't stupid enough to buy my favorites two weeks in advance). Daniel was so proud of himself Sam and their trick or treating triumph.  This on top of the fact that we got like 15 trick or treaters, and even though by the time I realized pickings were slim I was handing out entire handfuls to our diminished parade, I'm still left with nearly two Costco-sized bags of candy (both open of course, so someone could sneak treats before the holiday, and therefore unreturnable).  The troops may be getting a donation from us very soon.
I had a few treats yesterday, but I'm trying to leave it at that so I don't go out of control.  So, for today at least, I'm surrounded by my own demons.  They're colorful and sugary and I'm struggling.  I don't like it.  I don't like it at all!
Plus, even though Sam only had like four pieces between yesterday and today, just the sight of all the sugar has her revved up.  She is constantly asking me if she can have a piece (not right now), when she can have it (after lunch), and planning out what she will eat on what days (the grape dum dum is for later today, while the fun dip will be saved for tomorrow).  If I say she can't eat it, she re-sorts it, and re-counts it.  If I hide in my room, she brings up the bag, literally holds it up to my face, and says "Look at all this candy! Doesn't it look tasty?" I kid you not.  What is she, some sort of paid Willy Wonka cult member trying to drag me back into the fold?
Anyway, it's been a battle of wills around these parts.  All the excitement has Sam's obeying worse than usual (although I'm happy to say she hasn't opened a single candy she's been forbidden not to, that's pretty good for three!).  Finally, I got tired of having to ask her at least 10 times to do something.  I'm convinced that her general rule is that Mom isn't serious until she yells, and possibly makes you do a stint in time out.  After that, you can get around to doing whatever she asked you to do.
I just can't take it anymore, so I informed her that for every time after the first time I ask her to do something and it doesn't get done (and I know she heard me), a piece of her precious candy is going in the trash.  And I pick the candy, no unloading the crappy pieces as "punishment."  She wasn't really sure I was serious. I figured if she did continue disobeying, at least the pile is getting smaller, and if she shaped up, great.  I'm certainly no worse off in my candy factory than I was before, but now I'm not dealing with bratty behavior.
We've only sacrificed one fun size Skittles, and Sam has been behaving like an angel ever since.
At long last, after a quarter century of playing their sick little game according to their rules, I have found a way to work Halloween candy to my advantage. No stomachache or self-loathing necessary.
Hello, you little sugary devils, you're at my mercy now!  The tables have turned, and you are working for me! Muah ha ha ha!