Wednesday, July 28

My Little Boy Is Growing Up

We had our first "big boy" accident. Doodles fell and cut his gum. Copious amounts of blood oozing from my poor boy's mouth. I suddenly had visions of bruises, scrapes, broken bones, and all the other mishaps that we have ahead of us. Life with an active boy. We were both panicked and screaming and miserable, but now, well, he's fine and I'm kicking myself for not getting pictures.

The Very Model of a Modern Major-Dad

According to everything I read, Doodles is entering that critical point where language development is beginning. "Keep talking to your child, naming and labeling objects and people--the more you do, the faster your child's vocabulary will grow," Baby Center tells me. Listening to music, reading books, and talking in great detail to him ("Mommy's cutting a red tomato for dinner. Do you see the tomato? What color is the tomato? The tomato is red!") is crucial now.

Those who know me wouldn't think this is a problem, as few people can talk as much as I can. But the thing is, Doodles wears me out! I'm exhausted much of the time, and frankly, I just don't feel like talking. I feel like curling up with a hot cup of Darjeeling tea and a good book.

To supplement this oh-so-important development, I've been playing lots of kid music (he's had a steady stream of grown-up music, but if I can't understand the lyrics, how is he going to get anything out of it?). Only I'm a little tired of the kid music we have. So, I went to the library and checked out a recommended C.D., Ben Rudnick's Fun and Games.

The music isn't my favorite. But it's not horrible and "Sally Salamander" is slightly catching. When it's due back, I'll be ready to return it, but I don't cringe when we play it.

Last Sunday, as a family, we were meeting up with folks. We agreed that we'd bring the bagels. We get in the car, and Adam's driving. Ben Rudnick is on the C.D. player, and I request that the volume be turned up, which Adam does, so it can be heard in the back seat. We get to the bagel place, and I run out to buy the bagels. I get back to the car, and I see Adam quickly fumbling with something on the dashboard. He sits back like he wasn't doing anything, and when I get into the car, "Macaroni and Cheese" is playing.

"Did you change the music while I was gone?"

"Of course!" he responds defensively, as if he knows that he probably shouldn't have, but hasn't a clue why he shouldn't have. I was gone a mere five minutes. Five minutes he couldn't tolerate the music that I've been playing pretty much nonstop for my Doodles (babies, I've read, find comfort in repetition). Five measely minutes.

Does he think I have that music on for my health? Does he think I like it? Am I the only one reading these stupid parenting e-mails? I can't wait till Doodles is old enough for me to play Liz Phair. If I played it now, don't you know that his first words would be "Mamamamama! F**k and run!"

Which isn't completely true. Because I'm pretty sure he already uttered his first word. He's back on his food strike and yesterday when I tried to give him some of his formerly-favorite peas, he distinctly said--yet while managing to keep his lips sealed--"Nonononononono!" That's my boy!

Veggies Are for Wimps

carnivores of the world, unite!

Ghost Town

The DNC hasn't effected me much. My plan was to simply avoid the city, but apparently, everyone has that plan, and all reports say that Boston is deserted. All of eastern Massachusetts, it seems, is either on vacation or working from home.

I wish I could give you my opinion on what's going on at the convention, but you know that my news intake has hit an all-time low when I get most of my information from The Daily Show. All I can tell is: "The Kerry/Edwards plan for America's future kicked off in Boston lacking only Kerry, Edwards, or a plan for America's future."

Seriously, I actually did get to read a headline yesterday before Doodles shredded my paper. Unfortunately, the faster he gets, the less of the paper I actually get to.

Make Way for the Doodle Duckling

Doodles is into ducks. Whenever he can, he has a rubber duck in his mouth. So, naturally, I'm looking for ducks for him for his birthday (yes, I'm thinking about his birthday. It's not completely unreasonable. He's been eleven months old for almost a week now). I was actually thinking of making a rubber ducky cake, but I've decided that's a bit out of my skill set. Or rather, it's not out of my skill set, but out of my desire set. In my searches, though, I found Duck Planet. Wow. Someone can actually rival Doodles in his ducky obsession. Actually, this site didn't grab me until I saw the Squeaker Game. A classic. I have to say, my Duckitude Score is low. And you?

Wednesday, July 21

"I Said Cabbage!"

I was going to write a nice long blog tonight, but I discovered that there's a whole series two of "Angry Kid".  Blog or Angry Kid? If you even need to ask, then you don't know me.

Veggie Fruit Fruit Veggie Veggie Fruit Fruit

Well, except without the fruit fruit. We joined a veggie co-op. I thought you might like to see what we got this week. Okay, so maybe you don't care, but it's the picture I've decided to share with you this week, so here it is:

It's All a Matter of Time

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives." --Annie Dillard

Grant, who is a new father himself, wonders about the percentage of my time working versus the percentage of my time spent mothering (or "mommying" as he wrote). While I'm not going to give him the requested chi square (which I learned tonight rhymes with pi, not me, which should also give you an idea of how well I understand what it is; I read a definition of it--"Chi square is a non-parametric test of statistical significance for bivariate tabular analysis"--and I still don't know what it is), it is something I think about.

Two days a week, Doodles goes to day care. The day care day runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., however, I can't remember the last time we got there before 8:30 a.m. We leave the house around 8:15, walk to day care, and then I get him settled in (make his bed, put away his bottles and food, fill out the daily sheet). I play with him for a few minutes and then turn him over to the teachers, who jump right in to distract Doodles, as he's been having some serious separation anxiety. I then tend to wait in the hall until the crying subsides. I'm happy to say, it's never more than a minute and a half. Finally, I walk home. So right there, my day never starts very early.

In theory, these are my days to work. Work means reading books for review, writing reviews (I tend to always have a book review in the works), working on the occasional assignment from The Arlington Advocate, making phone calls for my volunteer work, co-editing the Arlington Family Connection newsletter, and working on my own writing.

In actuality, the first thing I do is catch up on all the e-mails I haven't answered in the past week. Often I don't get through them all. Then, frequently, I have crap to do. Little things that I wanted to get done during Doodles's nap time, but since he's been napping for a mere thirty-five or forty-five minutes at a time, I simply can't get done. Things such as calling contractors (we're hoping to do some renovations), finding Doodles a new doctor (can you believe the nerve of Harvard Healthcare? Kicking us out just because Adam graduated), rearranging cabinets so the cleaning products are out of Doodles's new, mobile, all-reaching grasp. Tiny, little things that just suck up time.

I do manage to get the majority of work done on those two days. I'd say I get a solid four or five hours of work done before I have to walk down to pick Doodles up. And on the days when it's just me and Doodles, I generally resign myself to not getting any substantial work done. I can read the books I'm reviewing during his nap time, but it's generally not long enough to sink into any writing. I'm sure if I were more dedicated, I would take those small snatches of time and make masterpieces. But I don't.

So what happens is I spend my nights staying up late finishing books and writing (and blogging, for that matter). But the actual question was about the percentage of my time working versus the percentage of my time spent mothering. This is a trick question. Because, really, I spend 100 percent of my time mothering. Whether I'm with Doodles or not, everything I do is about him (including working, which is a sanity saver). And I'd say I spend about 15 percent of my time working.

Sometimes I think I'd like to be doing more work. I haven't been actively seeking work--and I've been turning some down--because it's difficult making time for it. Other times I think I should do less work, and spend more hands-on time with Doodles. This compromise, though, works for both of us. Despite the minor separation anxiety, Doodles appears to have a great time at day care. Whenever I go to pick him up, he's happily enmeshed in some toy or poking at one of the other children. He's a little poker. And I'm keeping my clips current and having a bit of intellectual stimulation in between Ben Rudnick songs, diaper changes, and playgroups.

Wednesday, July 14

Every Picture Tells a Story

I really don't have much to say today, so I'll let Doodles tell his own story:i can get the cheerios myself, mom

Baseball Been a Berry Berry Good to Me

Normally I average around 70 hits a day (hello, my loyal 70 hits!). So far today I've had 397 hits. Why? Because one clever little monkey on Adam's Sons of Sam Horn board found my posting about Adam posting in their message board (hmm, that was a little convoluted) and had a field day with it (hence the comments on that post). I'd post the thread, except it's on their super-secret password-protected site. So for those visitors from SOSH, I post this for you: When's Randy Johnson coming? And how sweet is it that Roger Clemens got shelled in what should be his last All-Star game start. Serves that fat hick right. And by the way... dead.

I now return to my regularly scheduled blog.


As Adam says, Doodles is now as smart as a puppy. He also has similar interests. Doodles will eat food (as long as it's Cheerios and Veggie Booty) off the floor. He loves to try and pull the toilet paper off the roll. He responds to simple commands (such as "Splash, Doodles!" in the tub). He rips up newspapers and magazines. He finds a toy and singlemindedly mouths it until it's completely slobbered upon, and when he loses interest, he tosses it aside without a thought. Doggies like to swim; Doodles likes to swim. He even sort of barks like a puppy. If puppies spent their days trying to stand on their hind legs, the comparison would be complete. So I guess Doodles has one over the dogs.

Taking Requests

I've got writer's block of the blog. I need new topics to blog about. Any ideas?

Wednesday, July 7

Every Child a Stoner Child

This is the only scenario I can imagine: a group of TV creatives sat around a conference table, their careers at stake. The networks needed something new, something to compete with The O.C. and The Simple Life. Something to grab that 18 to 24 market. As the TV men (and they must be men because women would be smarter) drank their Chai Creme Frapachinos, they contemplated what the 18 to 24 set does.

"Summer time is approaching," they must have thought. "What do these kids do over the summer? Who can we best sell our Doritos and Oreos and Mountain Dew to? Ah, the crowd that has the munchies! Let's make stoner TV!"

Now, being respectable TV men, they weren't sure what stoner TV would be like. So one evening they dropped a copious amount of acid and went to work. "There should be these space creatures!" one would have said.

"No, no," says another, "not space creatures. They should be 'five magical atoms of power, light and fun!'"

"Excellent," says another. "And they should live in pods that whirl in an iridescent glow of rainbow light!"

"And they should dance!" adds yet another. "Hypnotic trance-like dancing to hypnotic trance music."

"People can play with different household items, doing weird things with them."

"Yes, yes, yes!" another says and they begin developing this far-out show. Psychedelic lights. Bright colors. The atoms of light.

So finally the show was done. And as networks everywhere must do, they tested their show. Nothing like a focus group to tell you what you're supposed to think. Gathering a roomful of potheads, the network execs excitedly screened their new offering. Ah, the lights. Ah, the music. Ah, the dancing. Ah, the atoms of power, light, and fun. And you know what happened? Those potheads freaked out. Screaming, pulling hair, shaking violently. They just couldn't take it. This show was way, way, way too out there for them.

The TV men began to freak. They accidentally out stoned the stoners. This show had to work. Their careers were on the line.

"So what do we do?" cried one in panic. "Who will watch our show?"

They huddled together and tried to salvage what they could. Their budget was nearly depleted so few changes could be made. They tossed ideas back and forth. Could it be the next Friends? Just add some twentysomethings. Maybe they should make it a reality show. Add in a live behind-the-scenes camera. Maybe it could become the next Law and Order ripoff. A few cops, a morgue, a little blood. Unfortunately, all of this was too expensive.

"What can we afford?" one asked.

"We can't even afford minimum wage. All we can afford is kids. Really, really young kids."

Eyes lit up. The "ding ding ding" was practically audible.

"Kids, hmmmm?"

In a matter of days the potheads were replaced with the under four set. Everything else--the psychedelic lights, the trance music, the weird storylines and odd narrator--remained the same. Even the name, Boohbah, still worked. Pop it on PBS, and the TV execs knew they'd hit paydirt.

Okay, so maybe that's not really how the show came about. But I can't figure out any other reasonable explanation for this show. Doodles loves the show. Again, he only watches TV in about ten minutes spurts on those days when I'm just beat (which tends to be those rainy days when we're cooped up and I've exhausted every song and toy I can think of), so it's not like he watches it daily or even weekly. But when it does come on, his eyes get that zoned out look that wouldn't be out of place at a college dorm at 2 a.m. on a Saturday night.

I wish I could do this show justice in my description, but I simply can't. It must be watched to be believed. However, if you're over the age of two, you may want to get yourself into an "alternative" state first. It won't make any sense otherwise.

We'll Be Back After This Commercial Message

Doodles and I were on one of our many walks, when I noticed that someone was throwing out a stack of National Geographic magazines. As Doodles loves to read magazines (in other words, flip pages and tear out random sections), I grabbed one for him to look at. It didn't seem like a very old issue--it's from June 1973. I remember June 1973. Okay, not specifically and not well, but June 1973 doesn't feel that long ago. Until the other afternoon when Doodles became obsessed with the rattle on his stacker and yet didn't want me more than three feet away. With nothing else in range, I grabbed his magazine and leafed through it. After reading the ads, I concur, 1973 was an age ago.

For starters there was the Ma Bell ad (not that any company name was given--just the little bell logo) advertising how cheap a three-minute station-to-station call between the U.S. and any number of countries is. 1) It wasn't cheap. $6.75 to France. $9 to Japan. 2) Station to station? Does anyone even remember those calls? Those were just the plain old pick-up-the-phone call as opposed to person-to-person calls where the operator asked for the specific person you wanted to speak to and if he wasn't there, you didn't pay for the call. More things--along with rotary dials, turntables, and typewriters--that Doodles will have no knowledge of when he grows up.

What if you wanted a new car in 1973? Well, a Chevrolet Caprice Estate Wagon might fit the bill. Pure luxury. Doesn't get any finer. "Roomy all-vinyl interiors, molded full-foam seats, new soft rim steering wheel are all standard." Plus, they "improved its flow-through power ventilation and provided an electrically powered clock." An electrically powered clock! Where can I get one of these babies?

Of course, there was one ad that even I didn't understand. It was about "how Western Union is improving the nation's communications." Sure, I know what a telegram is, even though I've never seen one in action outside black-and-white movies. But what the heck is a Mailgram? They explain it, and I still don't quite get it: "It works this way: you phone your message to Western Union, toll-free, and our computer instantly transmits it to a U.S. Post Office nearest its destination. Your Mailgram is put into a distinctive blue and white envelope an delivered by regular letter carrier." If you're at the phone to call in the message, why can't you simply call the person you want to give the message to? Is there something here I'm missing? (Side note: you can still send a telegram. Who knew? There's something very sad to me about Western Union holding on to the whole telegram thing. How many telegrams are really sent a year these days?)

It's interesting to me; I have the TV on mindlessly in the background while I write this. What commercials are we going to look back on and laugh at the datedness of or at the supposed advancements that will seem so minor by the time Doodles is an adult?