Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Cheer

There are tons of things I've wanted to blog about in the past month but spreading holiday cheer takes precedence over all.

I'm actually relieved that this is my son's last year at a church based preschool. I adore the people but readings from The Legend of the Candy Cane, we could do with out.

I'm very careful to give unbiased answers, stressing that *I* believe such & such and that ultimately I don't know certain things. And that as he gets older he can decide for himself. But I think I've got a budding skeptic on my hands as his few church experiences, while perfectly mild and kid centric, have left him stone cold. After being told Dad & I got married because we were in love, and that part of that love was based on the joy of shared activities, Thelonious had a eureka moment. He declared that his wife would not go to church because there is no way he's going back when he's an adult.

Because life is nothing if not surprising, he'll probably end up a fundamentalist.

***

I thought that I'd be pregnant to end the year but I've got to get a pap smear & pelvic before we go full steam ahead on that endeavor. I'm not going to get all Wetlands on you but suffice it to say things are off. Hopefully it will be something minor so I'm trying not to stress out about it.

***

I think that I've got an appropriately action packed winter break planned for the kiddos. Structured activities every other day, with plenty of sun & fresh air planned if the weather permits. We might cap it off with a trip to Disney, either way we'll make the trip to Florida the first week of January.

***

I'm hoping that 2010 brings me a baby, a fabulous new house and most importantly continued health & happiness in my current home.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Problem with Fantastic Mr. Fox

is that my son barely registers its existence. I'm sure it boils down to money but the world of Thelonious is awash in Planet 51 ads & promos.

I like Wes Anderson but my husband is a much bigger fan. I've already staked out my kids flick for the holidays and its Disney's The Princess and The Frog. Jim thought he had his all figured out as well but our son has other ideas. When I suggested watching Planet 51 on dvd at a later date and going to see Mr. Fox in the theater, he pointed out that he could do that. But that he would do it in the opposite order.

Poor Jim.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

I've been out of touch with the few NYC natural birthing advocates that I know so this news reached me late. It still makes me incredibly sad. Poor women deserve choices, whether it be to continue with a pregnancy or where and how to give birth.

Given the tough economic times, I know that there are many short term fixes that are being made to save money. Even if in the long term they make no sense.

Many local teens have benefitted from Jane Fonda's foundation dedicated to childbirth education. I hope they continue to spread the good news, now more then ever.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

True Jackson's Face


Since Disney, Nickelodeon and the like aren't paying my kids to advertise their questionable programming, I don't buy them character or franchise laden clothing. I conveniently over look the High School Musical pajamas & the occasional Star Wars t-shirt they've gotten as gifts. Which of course become their all time favorite pieces of clothing.

But our move to Florida will put us in a decidedly different demographic. To battle the overwhelmingly white world we'll soon be inhabiting, I've been searching for clothing adorned with brown people. My daughter looks a lot more like Selena Gomez then KeKe Palmer but that's beside the point. I would be devastated if either of my kids came to embrace their light, bright almost white phenotypes as a superior form of beauty.

So I was thrilled to learn that True Jackson has a line of clothing at WalMart, putting aside all of the inherent issues about WalMart patronage. The thrill was gone when I discovered that none of the merchandise contains the image of brown skinned True. Granted, it's the first Nick live action series to have a clothing launch. It's not as if the channel has Disney dollars but I was still disappointed. So I'll skip putting this gif up and just give the Mouse some more money.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

UnFriending People

I do it all the time on Facebook.

I initiate very few friend requests and accept all that come my way. If elementary school classmates who would like to catch up after 20+ years contact me, I'm all ears. I spent 6 years with the same cast of 24 characters, so it's pretty easy to recall who is who. But I actually would like to have some sort of interaction with you. No matter how brief or fleeting. My family makes the majority of my FB friend list, so what I would like them to know en masse is obviously different then what I would tell people who I haven't seen in decades. I'm sure eventually there will be somesort of tiered system, with friendship catergories.

In the meantime I'm not an investigative reporter, I don't want to piece your life together from wall posts. And if you don't have the time to tell me what's going on with you that's fine too. Contact me when you have a minute. In the meantime, I'm content to cull my list so that I have some idea as to who knows what about me. This blog might be public, but if a tree falls and no one is there to hear it does it make a sound?

In addition to being the private sort, I'm nosey as all hell so I've delighted in the "where are the now" edition of my life via FB. Years have passed but with a few notable exceptions there haven't been many "wtf happened to _____" moments.

Safe in the knowledge that you did in fact end up a Real Housewife of NJ, an investment banker or an attorney, I wish you all the best. And UnFriend you...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Princess Tiana has Arrived!

At 35, I'm too old to have felt the power of the Disney Princess machine. During my princess impressionable years the movies were still being pulled from the vault every several years. I didn't have access to Sleeping Beauty until I was in middle school.

But that doesn't mean that I'm not looking forward to The Princess & The Frog. Mirette and I have had a standing date for two years to see it on opening day.

I hope I don't embarrass her by crying!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Awkward Pause

Our trip to Florida was overwhelmingly positive. The elementary school seemed great, the principle gave me a tour and pointed out the ethnic, cultural & religious diversity of the student body. Routine statement or special notation for one of the few black parents? Probably the latter but I appreciated the sentiment. The local parks & recreation facilities well maintained and active.

We were able to meet a couple of my message board friends and that went really well too. One has a daughter a year older than Mirette, and it seemed like they have the potential to become friends. The mom is a natural birther & breast feeder which I didn't know until we met in person, so needless to say we got on like a house afire.

The black woman I met was sweet and we'll probably meet again but she gave me a jaw dropping moment. Her is mom biracial, her dad black and we met on a SAHM of color board


She nonchalantly said that she hoped her daughter would have "good hair" like my kids. I felt like I was in a time warp or speaking to a 70 year old woman. I honestly had no idea that there were black women who still dropped that phrase in casual conversation. How we really feel about natural hair vs processed hair is another story. But I guess that I've been fraternizing with the black granola set too long. Even my grandmothers know its not considered an acceptable thought, much less one expressed out loud.

Etiquette aside, I just felt sad. Sad that she hated her own hair so much & sad that her adoration of "good hair" was going to impact her daughter's perception of beauty & self worth. I did give a short little speech about loving the hair you've got, embracing the naps, black hair is problematic when we try and make it something it's not etc etc etc but it was falling on deaf ears. But it underscored the need to actively work against such ideas in my family, because the world at large still has a lot of catching up to do...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Head Start

I really needed to see this. I instantly recognized two of the centers in the article from my childhood neighborhood and several were not familiar but the streets were.

My mission to find the perfect elementary school in Florida had reached a fever pitch. I've found a promising school with a gifted program, so now all my energy can be channeled into obsessing over whether or not they will "do well" on a psych education evaluation. I'm confident that I'm not transmitting my sense of desperation to the kids about the test, I haven't even mentioned it and probably won't until the night before their appointment.

But my state of mind was given a serious jolt of reality by the Slate piece on inner city day cares. The bright, cheery reasonably well staffed institutions, on tree lined streets surrounded by well maintained homes have little in common with the choices my mother had for me as I entered elementary school. My own IQ test almost 30 years ago ensured that I would be placed in a school a couple of miles away but infinitely different from my zoned elementary school. I would remain in the Astor Program until middle school, and that experience was largely positive. But not without its pitfalls.

The small, progressive private school my children currently attend has the resources and staff to individualize the curriculum to each child's specific needs. It is ideal in many ways. But the demands of most public schools don't make that feasible. So I'll pack the kids up to "talk to a fun teacher" and not sweat the outcome. I vividly recall the day of my test, what I wore, specific questions etc. It was a day that literally changed my life. I have no doubt that my parents, my mother in particular would have come up with another option had that Astor Program not panned out. But whether or not my kids test well, their zoned school will be a viable alternative. Which was not a luxury my parents had.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Regretsy.com

I should be above caring but I still hope this woman's items end up on regretsy.com. Though I won't go as far as nominating her. I don't think...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Staying Quiet

I've gone the "we're not religious" route when explaining to various people why we won't be enrolling our kids in any Christian centric private school when we move to Florida. I feel like saying anything else might be construed as confrontational, which is obviously my baggage to deal with. If pressed I'd elaborate as opposed to lie but so far it hasn't come up.

Fortunately I don't think our lack of faith will be an issue. For all the smack that I talk about our soon to be locale, you can actually buy alcohol there on Sundays.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Florida: The Last Resort

Having visited my FIL many times over the years that he has lived in Florida, I am all too familiar with the type of person who packs up and moves there with the hope that sunshine solves problems. Tired of winter, they fully believe that a permanent vacation lifestyle awaits them once they cross the border.

These people run the gamut from unskilled laborers to blue collar workers with the occassional misguided professional thrown in. These folks are often shocked that their problems follow them. That a laid back work ethic-i.e. no work ethic at all- ultimately won't serve them any better in Florida then it did in their original location. 

Trolling message boards has given me a behind the scenes look into how some make the big move. Basing the availability of plumbing jobs on the number of plumbers listed in the phone book. Not being concerned with an elementary school because their child is only four and won't be going to school until next year. 

For the record there are a number of current residents on these boards who try to talk some sense into their potential neighbors. Often times the voice of reason will be accused of being a naysayer and not wanting to share life in paradise. Given this economy, how anyone in their right mind relocates anywhere with children in tow with nothing but airline tickets and moving expenses is thoroughly beyond my comphresion. 

As is often true in life, the most active/vocal participants on these boards are also the most crazy. So it can take a little while to find birds of my feather but I am making headway in the potential friend department. Stop the presses, I might even have a black friend ! She's a Navy wife who'll be on the move at some point but, if there's one there might be others.

I've also found a schooling option we could be happy with, I'll know for sure after our visit in a couple of weeks.

All in all, things are shaping up ok. Even if technically Florida is a last resort for us as well!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Illegal Enterprise

Explaining that my husband is taking over his family's business interests has proven to be comical. Since they are not singular brick and mortar concerns but a collection of ventures including but not limited to real estate, construction and a car dealership, it sounds really dubious. Like drug running, mobbed up dubious.

Especially when I add that his dad will be splitting his time between the States and The Bahamas.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Promising Correspondence

Sounds like something two star crossed young lovers have at the beginning of a Merchant/Ivory period piece but it applies here as well.

I've bumped into a fair number of homeschoolers and private schoolers as I scour message boards dedicated to the citizens of our soon to be locale. Neither option interests me in the slightest, with homeschool ahead in the if hell freezes over category. What is especially interesting is the tone with which the private schoolers write about their children's academic institutions. Hushed and reverential, its private school with a capitol "P".

Color me unimpressed.

The state of Florida school system has a lot wrong with it but your church putting up a billboard, charging tuition and calling itself a school doesn't mean its an institute of higher learning.

I shouldn't disparage places I haven't physically visited but my online research about some of the curriculums made me laugh out loud.

Enough with that and on to the positive.

I've met a potential friend. A real, live person with a child at the elementary school that is at the top of my list for the kiddos to attend.

Hopefully both our schedules will allow us to meet up when we visit next month.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Lord Help Me

Which despite the previous post isn't wholly ironic.

Armed with some spare time, thanks to the crappy weather we are having here in the south east, I decided to peruse the internet in hopes of finding some local info before we began house hunting in earnest.

Well, the messages boards that I have stumbled onto thus far have confirmed my worst fears about our soon to be hometown. Pregnate as an alternate spelling I can handle. Mothers against immigration reform as a handle means we're not going to be friends. With a platform that expressly seeks immediate removal of all "illegals", regardless of their circumstance means I hate you.

I know full well what I'm getting myself into. Younger people (which currently means under 40 to me, but given the demographic I'll soon find myself in, might mean under 65) with interests and viewpoints similar to mine are going to be few and far between. I've put out the siren call to all of the blogs and message boards that I frequent in the hopes that I find one soul mate.

In the meantime I'll start planning the order of my relatives visits. My FIL keeps a condo for out of town guests but rarely, as in once a year, has any. Me and my clan will be happy to fill that gap. You know our circumstances would have to be greatly improved in order for me to move even further away from NYC...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Blac Femme's Blog

Over at Blac Femme's blog (I can't seem to get the hang of the cedilla under the c) I did a little Q & A.

Religion isn't really a factor in our day to day life so I rarely write about it here but it was nice to get a chance to contemplate some "big picture" issues.

Friday, September 11, 2009

95% White

This week has had more than it's share of family drama and chaos which I won't deal with in too much detail. Long story short, I heard from my sister for the first time in three years, Jim had a major falling out with his mother and we will definitely be moving not to intown Atlanta but to a beach town in Central Florida. Neither of these incidents are related but they all came about within the span of 48 hours so I'm a little punch drunk from all the emotional highs and lows.

Emotions are entirely too raw as far as the situation with my sister goes. After leaving a message that would be stunning in both content and tone if it came from anyone but her, she has yet to return my call. I'm pretty sure it will be another 3 years before I hear from her again.

Because my SIL and BIL love themselves the internets, I will be cautious and keep details vague in the off chance they "find" me. To be honest I don't care what they think but at some point we will resume cordial relations with my MIL so full disclosure is the not the best policy in this situation.

What I can speak of at length is our relocation. Jim is a free lance writer which means sometimes we have a little money and sometimes we are broke. His parents gave him a trust that enabled him to get a nice a start in life, and they continue to supplement things quite a bit. But some months are leaner than others.

For years Jim's dad has asked him to come down and help him with his financial holdings. With flexible hours and an understanding boss he could continue to write with the luxury of steady income. I'm very aware that this sounds like an easy decision but living in Central FL has never appealed to either of us. Once again I realize that people move for financial situations everyday, for jobs they hate, to cities they loathe. Having your father essentially tell you to come help him count his money, manage his investments and deal with his small business enterprises so he can spend more time in the Bahamas, is a job offer a great many folks would like to have.

The main impediment has always been the lack of true ethnic diversity in that part of FL. From what I can tell the population is very segregated and I've never wanted to be the only parent of color in the class much less the entire grade.

But I think that financial freedom, in particular the ability to travel extensively and to see members of my family (afore mentioned sister not included I'm very close the my people and flying to see them "just because" is something we haven't been able to afford in years) outweighs that very legitimate concern.

More importantly I want another baby, two in fact. Moving to a smaller house or condo in Atlanta was not going to be conducive to that. To combat living in a neighborhood that is 95% white, I'll just breed my own little tribe of children of color.

The main decision-in addition to the actual house hunting- is when. In an ideal world we should have come to this conclusion last spring, before the new school term started. But we didn't and I can't imagine pulling either of them out before the end of April. Thelonius is thrilled to have his own little friends for the first time. With a birthday in November he's already planning his party. In addition to the emotional turmoil associated with changing schools mid term, we've already paid Mirette's tuition in full, $9,000 (and we're receiving sizable financial aid) which is non refundable. My FIL, who paid the bulk of said tuition, said he doesn't care about the money he just wants us there as of yesterday...

Real estate wise we are in a good place because the worth of our home has held steady in comparison to a home in Florida. The same could not be said of our home as compared to a house in Atlanta proper.

There is a historically black college not far from the town we will probably live in. I'm not sure exactly how to make that connection, going to a residence hall and introducing myself as new local desperate to meet other black folks might get me a visit with campus security.

The upside is a fantastic, academically challenging school district whose HS is consistently in Newsweek's top 100. The beach and having access to pools virtually year round might make up for the atrocious summers and lack of seasons.

So in short I might be living in a sea green house after all.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

These Are the People in my Neighborhood

Actually this occurred in an adjacent suburb, but it did remind me of an incident that I'm not too proud of.

Several years ago I owned a small store, which eventually folded, leaving me with a mountain of debt and heightened my general disdain for the public at large.

One rainy afternoon, a grandmotherly type entered with a small boy of 4 or 5. I think that she was the guardian of the child, too much time has passed for me to remember the exact nature of their relationship. What I won't forget is that on her way out, he committed some minor infraction that caused her to spank him in the door way of my shop.

I froze. I don't believe in spanking my children under any circumstances and have read many positive ways to gently intercede if you are so inclined while witnessing a public display of corporal punishment. But in that instance all I could think about was that this woman was a potential repeat customer and I didn't want to alienate her in any way, shape or form.

I am so ashamed that I said nothing. And to be clear it was a couple of quick swats on the butt not an ass whipping of any sort. The woman was much older than me and presumably quite set in her child rearing ways but I'll always feel guilt that I didn't say something.

As for the child slapper in Stone Mountain, he's all types of deranged. Unfortunately this random story will not prompt frustrated parents to seek other forms of coping with their children.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Boys, Arts & Crafts

If you've come because you've googled the above go here.

Kimmy C dropped by to let me know that she will be highlighting crafts that are boy friendly.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Teens & Twitter

It's always nice when The NY Times corroborates your own personal findings. That's a joke btw. But this past summer I caught up with a portion of the dozen or so cousins I have who are under 21 and not one of them twittered. Several are on Facebook, so I'm there now more because of them. Maybe as they age, they'll utilize twitter or the next big new thing and I'll follow suit.

Friday, August 21, 2009

TV Talk

I've got some hometown pride that this season's edition of Top Chef has three Atlanta chefs in the mix. I haven't had the pleasure of dining at any of the three restaurants since the contestants have begun their culinary reigns there. The Woodfire Grill under it's original ownership was fantastic and I've heard nothing but good things about the present chef and episode challenge winner Kevin Gillepsie. The Voltaggio brothers scare me, though I will admit that in my prior life I slept with many Patrick Bateman's in training.

Lindsay Lohan's turn as a guest judge on Lifetime's Project Runway (where I am forced to acknowledge the existence of Sherri Shepherd, my ff button isn't fast enough to obscure her image completely) labeled her as an actress/ designer. Obviously that was always a generous description but the year that this season spent in litigation limbo makes references to her "line" all the more ludicrous. I was just hoping that production kept recovering meth addict Johnny and Ms. Lohan far away from each other. And I think Lindsay's animosity toward Ari was in direct relation to her resemblance to a certain someone.

Presbyterian Pre-School

Starting Monday my son son will attend Pre K at the same wonderful Presbyterian affiliated preschool that gave his sister such a great start a couple of years ago.

The teachers are wonderful, the staff helpful and if the core values of the curriculum conflicted with our families to a great degree, then we would not have enrolled either of the kids there.

Let's just hope I don't burst into flames ala a True Blood vampire while reading a Bible Story to the class.

Monday, August 17, 2009

To My Fellow Black Falcons Fans

I understand your pain. Really, I do. My household is in possession of no fewer than a dozen items of Mike Vick paraphernalia. We were all on the No 7 bandwagon. From my newborn baby to my senior Grandparents-watching four states away-but rooting for my Falcons because you were assured some excitement when he took the field. Cringed every time one of his good old boy detractors got some local sports radio time to bemoan the loss of the right rhymes-with-white way to play. The same sort of sports fan who is absolutely, positively certain that Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire are steroid free, while wondering why Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa are not serving jail time for perjury.

Not that there were not plenty of legitimate criticisms of the way Ron Mexico handled himself on and off the field.

Until the bitter end, I didn't want to believe the animal cruelty allegations. Not because I thought Vick was above such things ( I grew up in Brooklyn and on several occasions had people ask my 12 year old pony tail wearing self if I wanted to arrange dog fights with our family's Great Danes) but because I thought if he was involved, surely he had enough sense to properly cover his tracks. But his bottom bitch sang and he's broke and fresh out the pen.

I understand the defiant anger. With incarceration rates among black men being what they are, what chance does anyone coming put of prison have to rehabilitate their lives, if he is barred from playing football, which is the rallying cry of so many people. The idea that he has committed offenses that should put him outside the realm of civilized society ( a direct quote- if I wanted to engage in on line fisticuffs I'd put a link) makes me laugh. The black twitterverse was abuzz this past weekend with the idea that Vick has paid his dues to society, when will the human torturers get what they deserve?

Having said all that, Michael Vick is a man who aided and abetted in the torture of animals, threw away a 135 million dollar contract, embarrassed his employer on a national stage and royally screwed our football team. Let's wish him well, because though I didn't need salon to tell me- forgiveness is healthy... Those who have served time should be given the opportunity at full re entry into society, it should be our collective goal. And those who eat meat, especially those of us who don't always consume cows who are hand fed wheatgrass or chickens who roam the plains all days should think long and hard about what cruelty to animals means.

But forgiveness doesn't mean that we have to give him martyr like status. Let's let go of the ghost and leave the Michael Vick Philadelphia Eagles jerseys home come December 6th.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Marriott Co

I absolutely, positively love the Marriott Hotel Chain.

The Brooklyn outpost was the first new hotel built there in decades. It was my home away from home when my eventual husband and I began our long distance relationship. And it continued to provide us with a place to stay after my relocation during our many visits back to the BK to see my family.

As we crossed the country and the globe it became our go to brand and with few exceptions we haven't stayed at another hotel chain during our nine years together.

Our travel has been curtailed significantly in the past couple of years but we will be making a trip to see my extended family in November. I hadn't booked the trip yet and after reading this article I'm glad that I hadn't.

I will continue to follow the story but as a decent human being and more specifically a woman with two children under the age of seven, I don't think there is a lot that they can do to redeem themselves in my eyes...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Facebook Faux Pas

When will people learn that your social networking sites and your business/professional/
however-the-hell-you-plan-on-making-money life should not mix?

This is one exhibit amongst a million.

And for that matter your social networking sites shouldn't mix with your personal life if you're going to talk banal shit about a children's birthday party...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Foodie Road Trips

With the kiddos at my parents house for the week, I'm going to indulge in all of the out of the way places that we've been trying to get to but never find the time for.

We live near one of the most ethnically diverse corridors in the country with all sorts of good cheap eats fifteen minutes away.

Banh mi,Vietnamese baguettes packed with pickled vegetables and assorted meats (colonialism can make for good food) were first up and as delicious as I had expected. There is another place in the same plaza that's known for it's pho, so we might go there as well.

I hope to sample a new (to me ) dim sum place, Korean barbecue, arepas and tamales before the kids come home and I have to share.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Checking In

I knew I would blog considerably less during the summer but even I'm shocked at how little I've managed to say. Of course there was the undisclosed writing project (which, if I give the details of will doom it, because that's obviously how things work) and a lot more traveling through July than I had originally planned.

I'm seriously considering getting a masters in library science, right at the time when many libraries-including ours- are cutting staff and hours. I'm beyond fortunate that my father in law will pay for it and by the time I actually complete the degree things may be on the upswing. Anyway I'm glad that I have the option, should I choose to use it...

I've started using Twitter. I don't post anything (because I fail to see how the excitement of my day-two for one strawberries at the Farmers Market- interests anyone) but love following B/C list celebrities, who are all sorts of crazy.

I know all bloggers are constantly amused by where their traffic comes from and I'm no different. Lots of Aleksander Skarsgard fans, at least 4 a day find themselves here. I wanted to do a public service for all the people who come here looking for boy friendly arts and crafts projects but time hasn't allowed that.

Off tomorrow for the longest of our summer adventures, a 13 hour car trip. We are at the point where the kids are good travelers, they only ask "are we there yet?" every couple of hours as opposed to every 20 minutes. And even better we will be coming home with out them so whatever they are up to tomorrow, I can take solace in knowing I'm returning home to peace and quiet.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Soledad O'Brien

We are about to start traveling on Saturday for the better part of a month, so needless to say life is hectic around these parts.

But I would be remiss if I didn't weigh in on one tiny bit of the saga that has become Michael Jackson death.

Prior to the memorial service Soledad O'Brien was making some point and proceeded to exclaim Michael Jackson's children "white, white, white!" I'm pretty sure I could bold face that and accurately express her impassioned voice but maybe I'm projecting, so I won't.

It would have been a shameful statement had she whispered it.

Whether or not his three children are genetically MJ's is of zero concern to me. But as a woman who is of a similar complection to MJ's original skin tone with biological children who share certain phenotypes with his kids, that sentiment raises my hackles. Listen closely: Looking at people is not a concrete way of determining their ancestry.

It's disheartening to know that a national tv anchor joins ranks with the woman who cut my son's hair, a random woman on the train and the countless others I've encountered while raising children who according to them, "don't look like you."

As someone who is of a multi racial background herself, Soledad O'Brien should know better than to arbitrarily declare who other people are. I had no intention of watching Black in America 2, but now I will actively avoid it.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sandra Day O'Connor





Sandra Day O'Connor has written a children's book. I personally would have loved to read the tale of a young girl's journey from a ranch to the Supreme Court but this book is about finding the perfect pet.

I've never been a huge Day O'Connor fan but having the likes of Sarah Palin front and center make me wishful for her brand of conservatism.

My husband can't wait for us to return it to the library...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Neglect

I'm working on a writing project that has taken up all of my blogging time.

I'm hopeful that it goes somewhere but it's been a fun process none the less.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Beauty Parlor & A Baby Raid Vest

Over six years ago I decided to cease using chemical relaxers to straighten my hair. My once mandatory hair salon appointments (peer-pressured in middle school to stop using the term "beauty parlor", I still refer to it as such in my head) became superfluous.

I've been fortunate to have found a couple of great natural hair stylists but I don't cozy up in their chairs every six weeks, like I did when I was addicted to creamy crack.

To satisfy my longing for the shop and all its adjacent drama, I've taken to watching Tears, Shears and Beauty. Because it's a BETJ show the production values contribute to the excitement. You never know when the sound will dip or go out entirely, giving way to a silent montage that was obviously supposed to contain a voiceover.

While I've never had a stylist who had her own matinee idol poster, or been tended to by a man in an oversized belt cinched to approximate a corset, much of what goes on in this show feels awfully familiar.

By swimming in the shallow end of the TV viewing pond I've become aware of Jason Griggers. A blonde, diminutive white man who is the self described Rosa Parks of black hair care. I'm always antsy when people start comparing their struggles to slavery and the civil rights movement. But I can tell you that prior to my exposure to Mr. Griggers, there is no scenario I could envision in which I would allow a white man full reign over my hair. So I don't doubt that he earned his professional respect the hard way. I'm sure his appearance in Chris Rock's documentary Good Hair will be one of the highlights.

All of the stylists employ model/dancers, choreographers, and clothing designers when they participate in hair shows. Google led me to one designers website, where on the home page a toddler sported a camouflage vest. Which I eventually discovered was a baby nylon raid vest.

The site assures that it is only a fashion statement.

In the off chance that a person affiliated with Antonio Ansaldi finds their way here, is this a best seller? Inquiring minds want to know.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pool Pass

I complain quite a bit about my current location and am eagerly awaiting a move. Some of it is deserving, while sprawl is considered a dirty word in certain quarters, we have a Sultan of Sprawl. But my county is also home to a wonderful parks and recreation department. There are a variety of pool and water park like centers that are not very far from our home and are inexpensive, relative to other kid centric attractions.

We are incredibly fortunate that my children have always had easy access to the water which has fostered their love of swimming. Something I also grew up with, but don't take for granted. (What is inexpensive to us is not feasible for lots of parents.)

Aside from lessons at the YMCA, we've primarily spent our time in private pools. This is the first summer that it has made logistical sense to purchase a pass and visit the various locations in our parks system.

Reading an amusing anecdote at Motherhooduncensored made me think about the various dynamics that come into play when you are visiting a public or semi public pool. Blogger Kristin Chase details an outing in which she was forced (by virtue of other parent's negligence) to police her subdivision's baby pool from rambunctious "big" kids.

An absolute aversion to crowds and a flexible agenda means that we are able to attend lots of events with the bare minimum of interactions with other people and their bad ass kids. Even given my knack for scheduling that's not happening at any kind of watering hole during a southern summer.

My general policy is never, ever to confront other people's children. After removing my offspring from any potential danger, I normally ask who is accompanying the future juvenile offender and go from there. Growing up in ungentrified Brooklyn where don't start nothing, won't be nothing was often heard, I'm not at all averse to necessary confrontations.

But I'm often the only black parent in attendance and have no desire to become one of two stereotypes, the angry black bitch or the mammy. Spending any sizable portion of time altering your behavior to avoid other people's racist baggage is foolish, but excluding my in laws, I rarely eat either fried chicken or watermelon in "mixed" company. And I don't reprimand, scold or otherwise mix it up with small kids of any color.

I'm sure this policy will be pushed to the limit while pool side this summer.

Traditional Catholics and My Grandparents

discussed as two separate topics.

I always find something of interest at Daisy's blog but I wanted to comment on two recent posts in particular.

The first was a look at Sedevacantists, a splinter group of traditional catholicism, most famously associated with both Mel Gibson and his father.

For a person raised with the most fleeting nod toward Christianity and currently practicing no religion at all, I know a surprising amount about traditional Catholicism. Some of that is due to an academic background in art history with a special interest in Baroque and Mannerism. Most of it stems from my romantic entanglements with not one but two conservative Catholics. (Who should not be entirely conflated with Sedevacantists, who are a special breed of extremist.)

Their religious outlook did not prevent either man from engaging in pre marital relations. One is currently involved in politics (tangentially as far as my internet sleuthing can tell, but not for lack of ambition) espousing the same pro family, pro business, pro law and order mantra that he began perfecting over 20 years ago. I was underaged, so the five year age difference between us combined with his love of illegal gambling meant that he most definitely did not practice what he preached.

My second trad-Catholic boyfriend was Irish born and vehemently opposed to abortion. And birth control, which wasn't going to fly with me. But not surprisingly had resulted in unwanted pregnancies with previous partners. Both of those women choose to terminate and he was very adamant that any child we conceived could be taken to Ireland and raised by his adoring mother. That was not a plan even remotely under consideration but I'm sheepish to admit that I easily dismissed a multitude of flaws for torrid sexual encounters. Hindsight is 20/20 so it's easy to speculate now on his weeping, wailing, dark moods and erratic behavior, but fortunately for me he ended the relationship and I went on my merry bachelorette way. The internet is absolutely of no help "catching up" with him. His very Irish name is shared by about a billion men and a million bars. So I'll just picture him happy, with a half dozen children in Maspeth.

I have no way of knowing what choices these men are currently making in their private lives. But my dealings with them made the seeming hypocrisy of Mel Gibson's life all too familiar.

Ageism, primarily as it relates to blogs was the other topic Daisy discussed that I found fascinating.

I have four healthy, active, emotionally and intellectually engaged grandparents who have formed the cornerstone of who I am as a person. My soon to be 75 year old maternal grandmother is my best friend. My mother's religious conversion over a decade ago fundamentally (pun intended) changed how we relate to one another. An unexpected development wrought with difficulties that has ultimately landed us in a decent space but one that is very different than the one I had expected while growing up. My bond with her mother is the one constant link that I can chart wholly unaltered from the day I entered the universe.

I can't imagine how narrow my world would be without the relationships I have developed with people of all ages both on line and in real life.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sports Talk

I think of myself as a dedicated tennis fan, especially given the state of the sports popularity here in the US. But then I will peruse my tennis boards and encounter people who are literally going through the 5 stages of grief due to Rafa Nadal's elimination from Roland Garros and realize everything is relative.

I hope Federer wins but I won't be losing sleep or my appetite if he doesn't.

And I feel ahead of the curve since Deadspin wasn't aware of Jim Goldstein until very recently.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Abortion Clinic

I've never had an abortion. I've never had an unwanted pregnancy or even a pregnancy scare. A fanatical adherence to birth control with a generous helping of good luck means that my three pregnancy test experiences have been like advertisements, filled with smiles, warm hugs and the good kind of tears.

The women I've known who have terminated pregnancies cross all party lines. A teen aged family member, a twenty something college friend, a mentor at the end of a troubled 20 year marriage. For a number of reasons, most of them logistic, I had never accompanied someone to a clinic for what is the most common surgery in America.

After learning I was pregnant with my first child, I planned a midwife attended home birth. Things were going smoothly until some light spotting began. To make a long story short, the quickest, cheapest option for an ultrasound and blood work was a clinic that also provided abortion care.

In a different sort of America, a wide array of reproductive and gynecological services would be provided under one roof. But that's not always the current reality.

Upon arriving at the facility I was met by a handful of protesters, quietly standing with their placards as close as the law allowed. No baby faced cherubs sporting graphic pictures were present, just a handful of graying older men.

I was an anomaly for reasons only I and the staff knew but also because I was the only patient in the waiting room who was alone. An object of kind but persistent curiosity, I was relieved when the tests came back indicating all was going fine with my pregnancy.

Elated that my planned parenthood was right on track, I left the clinic and was met by a rousing chorus of "SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!"

My husband is not pleased that I'm thinking of volunteering with a reproductive rights organization. This is a conversation that we've visited in passing through out the years. But my son's enrollment in a half day preschool will free up some of my time, so it's become a more urgent discussion. It's not ideologically based (long before he met me he donated money to a number of pro-choice causes) but a practical concern for my safety that is the cause for his concern.

We are fortunate not to have a lot of "wedge" issues in our marriage. Jim's desire to please and at times appease me is legendary. So for him to have reservations about something I feel strongly about is uncommon. Rare enough that when it happens, I'm usually content to see his side of things and let it go.

Ever optimistic, I'm confident that his fears will be placated.

Because I can't let the rhythmic chants that serenaded me and my unborn child go.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Dr. George Tiller

With both of my children in school come August, I will have have some spare time to devote to a charitable cause. If all goes as planned, we'll be moving and I'll be pregnant sometime this fall so seeking even a part time salaried position is not really feasible.

I've worked and volunteered with some really amazing organizations through out the years. Most of the advocacy work that I've done was while I lived in New York. I've donated some money to a few non profits since I moved south of the Mason-Dixon but unfortunately have not developed any relationships with the people doing the vital and hard work.

With so many worthwhile causes I feel passionately about, it's been difficult to find the right one for right now. But the atrocious murder of Dr. George Tiller has me leaning towards a reproductive rights organization. John Colle's Balloon Juice has a testimony in the comments section from the partner of one of Dr. Tiller's patients that may be illuminating for those unaware of doctor's work.


May Dr. Tiller rest in peace.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

What is their Nationality?

Dear Stylist at GreatClips,

I really appreciate the modified Caesar hair cut you gave my son. I was dubious when you proposed it but mad props to you (do the kids say that? or is it as antiquated as bling?) because it's short and suits his face.

We're in agreement that my kids are gorgeous. And yes, people pay money for their bouncy curls and the wide strips of blonde nestled through out my daughter's chestnut colored hair.

Our perfectly innocuous interaction was almost over when you had to go and spoil it by asking "What nationality are they?"


As a nod to your attempt at politeness, I decided to simply ignore you. Gathered my thoroughly American children and went on our merry way.


Boys Don't do Arts and Crafts II

At least once a day someone finds their way here because of this post.

Unfortunately, it's of no help to them. I'm just grousing about my difficulty in finding simple or ready made gender neutral arts and crafts projects.

In the interest of community service, I'm going to look around, put a list together and give the people what they want.

So if you're reading this and have some ideas, sites etc, please share them. You'll be doing lots of people a favor!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Window Water Baby Moving

Glenn Kenny's talk of possibly viewing Stan Brakhage's autopsy movie reminded me that I've never viewed his Window Water Baby Moving.

This film is a powerful touchstone for many of the parents who gave birth at home in the 1960's. Whether or not it's singularly responsible for allowing fathers into hospital birthing rooms is probably debatable but it definitely didn't hurt the cause.

Jim grudgingly acquiesced to my requests that he view an array of birthing films the first time around. If his memory is to be believed one such video involved a legion of Soviet era water babies, some born into the Black Sea, who executed perfect push ups shortly after birth.

On the precipice of a third pregnancy, he's earned his natural birthing dad stripes.

I'll be watching this one alone.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

School's Out

My daughter's first full year of school has ended and we are both the better for it. For five years our state of constant companionship was primarily bliss filled. But I understood her desire to have a life outside of my sphere of influence and to experience events solely through her own filter. Home birthing circles are ripe with home schoolers but I never viewed that particular path as one that would serve either of us well.

I will always be incredibly grateful to the diverse, progressive private school that has become her home away from home. The faculty and staff competent and caring, the parents involved and helpful (barring this notable exception) a wonderful place through and through.

Today's eighth grade graduation ceremony, filled with children and families who have attended the school from pre K on, was touching. The powerful sense of a community's good will, something I hate to say I'm normally quite immune to, had me wavering on our decision to place both of our children in public school for the 2010 school year. The thought of teenaged Mirette, going forth into the world after being nourished for eight more years there, with this much love propelling her onward, was tear inducing. But my desire to enlarge our biological family makes the decision to forfeit this extended one a foregone conclusion. Given our income putting two children through private school is ambitious, four foolish.

Unfortunately the public schools we have our eye on are as academically sound but not nearly as ethnically or culturally diverse. In many ways I think I'll have to work harder to broaden my children's horizons in terms of wealth and class. Gotta love the irony.

Someone's in the Kitchen

Summer hasn't stopped me from making an assortment of soups and stews. The freezer is chock full and I'll have an immediate answer when the carnivorous vultures I live with ask what's for dinner.

Soups are hard to mess up and it's one of the few things I can make that will look exactly like it does in the cook book.

My copy of The Food Network Guide Making it Easy is missing pages and the ones that remain are barely hanging in there. So I was pleased to find it on line. I've used it every day for the past month. My low rent version of Julie/Julia project.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sports Talk



I'm in tennis heaven.

It's too early in the season for the Mets to break my heart.

The NBA playoffs games have actually been amazing.

And despite what Dos Equis thinks my vote for the most interesting man in the world, (excluding my darling husband of course) Jim Goldstein is court side once again.

Instantly recognizable to any hard core basketball fan, the internet has provided me with a wealth of information about this colorful mega millionaire.

  • His house was featured in Charlie's Angels and The Big Lebowski
  • He refuses to disclose the exact source of his immense wealth
  • The above outfit is very representative of his wardrobe
Apparently he's pretty low key but this superfan needs an advertising campaign stat.

No Kids Allowed

When issued an invitation, I never assume that it extends to my children. My family and close friends find their antics infinitely delightful but I don't feel the need to foist their company on individuals who have requested my presence.

Years ago, single and childless, I was held captive to a toddler's Mary Poppins sketch. Her parents were friends of a friend, who later "complained" that I wasn't quite as animated and risque as my friends had described. I'm not in the habit of introducing myself and launching into ribald anecdotes, even less so with the romper room set in attendance.

That evening underscored what I already knew, kids can be charming but it helps if you already have some sort of vested interest in their parents.

Having children doesn't eclipse every other element of my identity. And while I don't agree with some of the blanket sentiments held by Katie Roiphe in her "Get your kid off your Facebook" essay, I understand some of the frustration. Relating and communicating with people outside of my maternal persona is a very vital part of my life. I believe the inclusion of children at events where adults are trying to get to know one another stunts that process.

Securing childcare isn't always easy. But there are a multitude of parent-child centric activities that will prevent you from becoming a shut in. I'd prefer a hermits life then to attend most of them but that's a discussion for another day...

In short, just because no one objects when you bring your kids doesn't always make it a good idea.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sex 2.0

I'm happy that I recently came across blogger and Sex 2.0 founder Amber Rhea.

I heard some really great things about the events and am always interested in different perspectives on how social media and sex interconnect. Something besides the inane and obvious.

So Amber, thanks for the link and for keeping me better informed about local goings on!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Liberty University



Has decided to disband it's nascent Democratic club.

Give me a cause I believe in and I'll jiffy up a placard in no time, but I'm always at a loss as to why folks try and fight these particular battles in these particular places. Be it this case or the boy barred from going to the "dancing" prom.

It goes without saying that the story is different for public institutions using public funds. I'm also glad that various law suits brought The Boy Scouts of America's policies regarding religion and homosexuality to the national forefront so that people can make informed decisions about their son's participation.

You could have a lengthy debate on the depth and breadth of ideological diversity on any university campus. But it seems particularly misguided to look for it at Liberty University, Bob Jones University or the like.

Book Talk




Cormac McCarthy vs Lisa Kleypas.

Reading After Ethan left me wrung out emotionally and I needed some decidedly lighter fare. And by lighter fare I mean on the bodice ripping end of the literary pool. Jim has tried valiantly to shame me out of my romance novel love, but like my attachment to celebrity gossip, it's here to stay.

Gone are the days that I can drop a shit load of money on possibly mediocre books. Even going to the library expends precious time and gas money. I need literal bangs for my buck. Thankfully there are a multitude of websites to help me through the various authors and genres that have popped up since I last seriously strolled the romance aisles.

Filled with derision Jim will occasionally flip through one and use his best duke, viscount or secretly-a-wealthy-industrialist voice and give a line reading. Which most people who know us would find both funny and bewildering because his public persona is quiet and laid back.

After one such episode of comic relief, he realized that Sugar Daddy and Blue Eyed Devil (despite my defiant stance with Jim, I was beyond mortified when an errant book caused the alarm to go off in the library and I had to show the kindly Wilford Brimley-esque librarian my haul. Which included Your Scandalous Ways, Lord Sin, and What A Scoundrel Wants. The New Yorker and The Atlantic did little to hide them or my embarrassment) were part of a Texas series which I believe are slated to become a trilogy.

"Oh, it's your version of The Border Trilogy," snarked the love of my life.

Let the record show I'm also currently working on Nine Lives:Death and Life in New Orleans and The Wagner Clan. And I've never finished a McCarthy book.

Cindy McCain

This is the most animated, genuine picture I have ever seen of Cindy McCain. During the campaign I had numerous mean spirited conversations with my Grandmother about her face, our assumptions about her Stepford wife like personality.

But by all accounts she was not just the money but the steam behind John McCain's initial political runs. A New Yorker article detailed a young, ambitious and hard working spouse that seemed at odds with her carefully projected 2008 demeanor.

The camera shots from the Republican National Convention that showed her cradling the youngest Palin left me cold. No great surprise since I'm an unabashed lefty. But this image of her at The Naval Academy graduation of her son, resonates with me. A moment of pure maternal love, making her both human and slightly likeable.

But I've always been blinded by a great hat.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sriracha Revealed




I rarely cook with Huy Fong's Sriracha sauce but I eat it via my husband's dishes a couple of times a week. Fish sauce and/or sriracha are his go-to staples.

I'll have to let him know he has plenty of company.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hotel Art



I've long complained that for a city of its size my adopted hometown has a miniscule number of artists and writers per capita. And that smaller places such as Asheville NC were home to more vibrant artistic communities.


We've still got to conquer a metro wide identity crisis and a forty year old tragedy, but I'll happily take these baby steps.

Someone's in the Kitchen

I've come to the conclusion that my decision to stop baking isn't helping me fight the battle of the bulge. As long as I'm still snacking on sweets, I might as well up the quality. After all I'm more talented than the Keebler elves and Little Debbie combined.

Now that the kids are old enough to appreciate my culinary chops and help eat the goods (bundt cakes for 2 is not a good idea) I've dusted off my favorite utensils and am recipe hunting.

Thanks to shani-o at PostBourgie.com I discovered the fabulous Desert Candy.

There are tons of great things to try there. I'm a big fan of citrus flavored icings that pack a big bite, so I've made those earl grey cupcakes with pink grapefruit, raspberry and blackberry frosting in addition to the standard lemon butter creme.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Wife with Brown Skin


My son and I are in the midst of a particularly lovely stretch in our relationship. Dozens of hugs and kisses "just because", endless conversations, it's as if we've just fallen in love. But rest assured we're not veering into spanking the monkey territory.

At 4, he's a full fledged character, perfectly capable of driving me insane, but lately we've reached an accord. I'm desperate to hang onto it for all of the obvious reasons.

Born in late November, he was and will always be my turkey baby, though his dimpled butterball sweetness is giving way to a trim waist and angular limbs.

August marks his first year of school and the end of our leisurely weekday mornings. A couple of days ago the conversation turned to what kind of woman would become my daughter in law. Thelonious has always insisted that he will have a wife, even when I give the proper progressive parent speech about life long bachelorhood or partnership with a man.

I asked what the wife would look like, prompting him with a series of questions about her personality. Purposefully avoiding any mention of the future bride's skin color.

Which is odd because race is part and parcel of our lives as an inter racial family. I don't hesitate to bring it up, whether it be to celebrate, impart difficult information, whatever the context of the situation calls for.

But I held my breath when Thelonious demanded that I ask him what color skin his wife will have. In a later conversation my husband suggested I should have responded that it doesn't matter. And of course it doesn't.

And yet...

My heart swelled and soared when my son proclaimed that he wants a wife with brown skin, just like mine.

I know there are people in multi cultural/ethnic relationships who struggle with class, privilege and race issues. My husband and I have plenty of gender based baggage to sort through but I honestly cannot think of a time when I have ever felt that my blackness (or his whiteness) created a sizable chasm.

I feel at home with Jim's extended family. My in laws, born shortly after the depression in Ohio and Kentucky have treated me like a beloved daughter from the day I met them. Visiting them doesn't require dodging racial land mines, they taught their son equality and respect for all people and practiced what they preached long before I joined the family landscape.

But I would be less than truthful if I didn't admit that the thought of a black, brown, or darker than a paper bag daughter in law doesn't fill me with glee. As if being something other than white will bind her and by extension my son closer to me.

Then I think of my sister's rancorous dealings with her first mother in law, my own mother's tenuous relationship with my brother's wife (all black on black crimes) and the various black women who I have loathed during the course of my life...

Given my own family tree, with it various shades, from deep ebony to peach, I knew that there was a good chance that my children would not inherit my medium brown skin tone when I married my transparent American born Euro blend husband. And they are light, bright, damn near white.

By procreating with Jim, I've achieved "the pretty mixed babies" that are the desired offspring for many of the misguided guests who used to populate The Ricki Lake show and now find airtime on Tyra.

But I've always loved my skin. Well suited for any color of clothing, smooth and rich. Radiating warmth during winter months, transformed by the sun in the summer to a darker hue with interesting undertones as varied as my moods.

So even though what I want most of for both of my children is the deep bottomless ocean kind of love I share with their father, I wouldn't mind if it came in a mahogany or ebony package.

Movie Talk


The NBA playoffs and clay court tennis (not to mention raising children and keeping some semblance of a home) have severely interfered with my movie watching.

I haven't seen many Maurice Pialat films but am trying to rectify that. I found Van Gogh incredibly compelling, in no small part because of it's multi layered portrayals of the many women both in and around the artist's milieu.

I've had his A nos amours for entirely too long. If Sandrine Bonnaire's gaze on the cover is any indication, this depiction of teen aged female sexuality will be something that will resonate with me as well.

Having recently turned 35, I'm now closer to being a mother to a teen than one myself. Not to mention my mom was my age when I was 15. I think my birthday combined with internet "sightings" of my first sexual partners, have made me nostalgic for blow jobs on mall parking decks and other more unsavory misdemeanors of my youth.

I think I'm going to get Smooth Talk and make it a troubled teen double bill while Jim makes his way through the The Vengeance Trilogy. Again.

While patiently awaiting Shutter Island and chomping at the bit for Silence, Jim is revisiting some of his favorite moments with Scorsese. Like clockwork, his Marty jones always surfaces hardest halfway between releases. He finally found American Boy: A Profile of Steven Prince, a doc he's seen but has wanted to introduce me to for a while. Thankfully talk from about a year ago that Scorsese was scaling back have proven to be wholly untrue. I can't imagine the film marathon my dedicated husband will go on after the director's death.

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

I'm late to the party but I just love this site.

It's been around for years, and even have a book and I've been ignorant of their very existence.

Better late than never, I share the funniest thing I've read all week.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Book Talk

I just finished After Etan and it was as emotionally exhausting as you would expect.

I had just learned to read when Etan Patz went missing and up until I got this book I always framed his plight thru the prism of a child. How scared he must have been, could this happen to me? Though growing up in ungentrified Brooklyn after the black out of 1977 , white flight and a host of other urban ills had made leaving her young children unattended an untenable position for my mother.

So she cocooned us, spinning threads primarily of love but the laced with a smattering of fear. And like all ministers of information couldn't prevent bits of unacceptable truths from seeping thru. The headlines forever lodged in my subconscious, squelching any inclination I might have had to wander off.

I debated long and hard about what I wanted from this book. What thirty year old ghosts I hoped to exhume and subdue... My 4 year old's examination of the book, with its iconic photo of Patz on the cover, prompted heartbreaking questions about the fate of this photogenic boy. How had a family managed to carve out an existence under the weight of such a tragedy?

The short and cliched answer happens to be true, through resiliency. To protect the privacy of the daughter in particular, not much is said about the Patz family's surviving children. The parents have remained married, seemingly in love. Have carried on with their respective careers while the father continues to seek justice from the courts and answers from the jailed pedophile he believes killed his son. But they've never moved and they've changed their phone number.

This week's kid lit includes the second Ivy and Bean book and The Boy Who Loved Words. The Year I didn't Go To School is one of our all time favorites so we love anything written or illustrated by Giselle Potter.

Friday, May 15, 2009

As Seen on TV

My progressive parent bona fides are severely compromised because my kids watch TV.

Which wasn't an issue until my tomato loving son viewed The Topsy Turvy upside down tomato planter commercial.

Still not a problem, we've avoided the perfect pancake maker and a host of other crappy goods because I've perfected my pre school friendly advertising-is-evil screed.

Thelonious gets a gleam in his eye when talking about tomatoes that makes me vaguely uncomfortable. And my mother in law is not one to deny her grandson his passion, so we are now the owners of the contraption pictured above.

There is no place to hang it, various animals will probably eat them, if they grow at all, but we are going to give it a go.

I really wish that he would have asked her for this instead

Friday, May 8, 2009

Pump Free



After reading Unbuttoned: Women open up about the Pleasures, Pains and Politics of Breastfeeding my thoughts turned to my primary preoccupation of 2003-2006, lactating.

I don't take the ease with which I was able to breast feed for granted. I had a midwife attended home birth, no immediate plans to return to the work place and a supportive husband who was happy to handle the hum drum details of life while I fed our daughter. I am very aware that I was able to make choices that enabled me to have the breast feeding relationship I desired, not every one is as privileged.

When the time came to separate from my daughter for a few hours (nothing used to come between me and my hair appointments, another benefit of going natural!) I was confident and eager that one of the several pumps that I had at my disposal would do the job.

Two kinds of Medela, the now defunct Whispers hands Free Pump, one way or another I would have a freezer full of milk in no time.

And each one failed me. As did a couple more that I can't even remember the names of over 6 years later.

I was distraught. I wanted bonding, not a siamese twin like relationship with my first born. Desperation set in and formula was not in the house. But I did have a glass, a tea towel and my hand.

For the better part of three years, I manually expressed hundreds of gallons of milk. With ease and absolutely no trauma to my nipple. I couldn't read while I expressed, or do anything that required my hands but it was speedy and efficient. Exchanging my glass to express directly into a plastic baggie meant that I was not bound by electrical outlets, free to pop off into any private space with a minimum of baggage.

Talking to a neo natal nurse about my "revolutionary" collection method, she didn't know of many women who went this simplified route. She pointed out that not everyone is comfortable enough with their bodies to touch their breasts in such an intimate matter. Which didn't surprise me but did make me sad.

So I'm all for Judith Warner's suggestion to dump the pump. But don't replace it with formula. Express yourself instead.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Horrific

This story out of South Carolina is an outrage, especially since the foster parent was a neo natal nurse.

My paternal grandparents fostered dozens of children over 3 decades, eventually adopting 6 of them. I know that they provided caring environments for children who often had little love in their lives prior to arriving in their home.

Fortunately cases like these are rare considering the number of children in the system but it goes without saying one is too many.

I know that the state of South Carolina is one of the toughest climates to have a home birth in. I hope that they review their foster care parent process with the same zeal that they address out of hospital births and midwives.

Wear, Sell or Donate

Is my mantra as I go from room to room, closet to closet, pursuing one of my favorite pastimes, spring cleaning.

In addition to the normal crap associated with raising two kids, I had entrepreneurial dreams which resulted in a poorly located store, lots of debt and a small apartments worth of merchandise. So we have more than our fair share of stuff to sell at our neighborhood yard sale.

Most of my unsold goods, in addition to various fixtures, racks and shelving, have been housed by my incredibly kind hearted mother in law. She lives alone in a large house with an in law suite, so she's not pressed for space. But it's been years since my store closed, so I'm making one big and final push to empty the space.

I've been a busy bee, making the 60 mile round trip trek to her house to collect things and organize, purging all sorts of ghosts in the process. Enough distance has passed that I can look back at my small business experience with a gallows type humor.

Our family joke has long been that my mother in law was secretly glad to have my stuff in her basement because it prevented my sister in law, her three kids and most importantly her schizophrenic husband (literal diagnosis, not just an affectionate characterization on my part) from staying with her for long periods of time. They technically live in Florida but neither of them works so they regularly road trip with their various un-housebroken pets.

Well, the cat is officially out of the bag. Jim's mom made it known that she would prefer that I keep something, anything, down there so that her house remains cluttered but vermin free.

So I'll head over there again tomorrow but instead of putting things in order, I'll spread what's left around. Empty boxes of hangers on the floor, strew some books around. Stage decorating is a new talent but I always rise to the task!

Insomnia

When I can't sleep, I usually try and do something productive. I don't think fiddling with the fonts and templates of my blog qualify as such.

There are usually 4 or 5 nights during the course of the year when I have trouble going to bed. My relationship with sleep is the antithesis of my husband's, who probably gets 7 nights of uninterrupted slumber a year...

I'm currently having my second period after my miscarriage. The first occurred while we were visiting family in Florida. It was incredibly inconvenient of course, as bleeding on other people's sheets inevitably is, but welcomed because I was glad to be back on gynaecological track.

Having it return in a remote location allowed me some emotional distance.

Something I don't have this time around.

The reproductive sweepstakes have been incredibly kind to me. I've taken three pregnancy tests in my life and the positive results were welcomed every time. My first two pregnancies went on entirely too long, but that was my only substantial complaint. I wanted to breastfeed and did so without a hitch. Able to lactate the way I breathe, without a thought, care or complaint.

But I'm furious at my body. My anger coiled like a hydra, in what I now think of as my polluted womb. Enraged at the betrayal, if only I could banish my body the way I do people who disappoint.

The irony is that as an overweight person, pretty much my entire life, I've always been at peace with my physical self. Given the fact that my mother and sister are both slender, I'm even more of an oddity. I'm not without my issues, and am always trying to get more exercise, make better food choices etc. But the kind of loathing that exists between many women and their bodies (both fat and skinny) has never been a part of my psyche.

Until now...

I find myself jealous of my sister in law. A despicable person through and through but even she managed to have a third baby with no problem. My husband is quick to point out that I don't know what pregnancy losses she may have suffered (I don't just think she's awful, I treat her the way I feel about her, so suffice it to say I'm not privy to her obstetric history) and more importantly it's a sick way to look at things. He thinks I'm being overblown, ridiculous. Believes wholeheartedly that I'll have a fourth pregnancy as uneventful as the first 2.

Of course he's right. But while making the same sad, lonely march to the bathroom at 3am it's hard for me to do anything but cry.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sports Talk

Call me delusional, but I'm hopeful that my birds can soar pass LeBron and company.

Hope the Mets make it a sweep.

And want to thank Jason Whitlock for the following statement:



I had long written him off as irrelevant. Now I can avoid him with a vengeance reserved for misogynists.



HBO




I'd watch Alexander Skarsgard in anything, but it helps that True Blood is generally well written and acted. Not to mention the black characters are interesting as opposed to one dimensional stock types. I'm looking at you NBC's Southland.

Last year I was a little dubious going into the first season of In Treatment. The premise, the dedication required to follow multiple story lines... But I was quickly won over. And like True Blood, the black characters were intriguing, though they've yet to represent other ethnic groups. I'm really looking forward to Glynn Turner's return to the show later on this season, his cameo last year was absolutely amazing. I know it's wishful thinking but I hope that all of the actors from The Wire get equally great roles.



Sunday, May 3, 2009

Zack & Cody vs Mr. Roarke & Tattoo

First world problem alert.

I've been agonizing over the introduction of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody into our lives. Like most household pests they are proving impossible to shake. Dan Savage did a piece for This American Life a couple of years ago that covers all the odious bases of the show.

But then I remembered my child hood obsession with The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. I'm pretty sure that I pretended to have a night cap before bed just like my favorite cruise shippers. My all time favorite episode starred The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.

So if I survived a childhood filled with inane TV so can the kiddos.

Which Cinco de Mayo Celebration was Cancelled?

The one downtown in the city proper, overwhelmingly attended by tourists, conventioneers and condo dwelling city residents? Or the celebration in the heart of one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the country? Where the party goers might have a emotional and historical connection with the day that transcends margarita drinking?


I should point out that I am in favor of anything that brings people downtown. It's abandonment and subsequent revitalization is a complex and constantly shifting tale that I hope ultimately has a successful ending for all demographics involved.

And I support sensible measures that will keep people healthy. The sacrifices the country of Mexico made in the past couple of weeks have been extraordinary and may well prove to be a major factor in keeping us as whole safe.

But there has been a lot of speculation about how H1N1 combined with racism could impact Mexican immigrants in this country. And I don't know enough about this cancellation to use my favorite gif but I can't think of people more deserving of celebration than the Mexican immigrants of Metro Atlanta.