Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More Pictures!

18 Month Pictures

I can't believe Lily is 18 months old already! Well, she's actually almost 19 months old but I've been busy! Here are some pics from her big Year-and-a-Half birthday for your viewing pleasure...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Here she is...

A couple of summers ago, Husband and I met up for lunch in Farmington Hills, where he works as a not-so-nerdy engineer. I was driving him back to the office and was stopped at a traffic light when I glanced in my rear view mirror. There was a young bleach-blonde girl in a purple PT Cruiser looking in her rear view mirror, applying make-up. I rolled my eyes at her obsession with her appearance, and thought about the media's influence on young women, self-objectification, and all sorts of other smart, scholarly things that constantly fill my incredible machine-like brain. The light turned green and the car jerked forward suddenly. Husband looked at me, assuming that I stalled the car. I, on the other hand, knew immediately that the make-up maven had rear-ended us. I pointed to the right, indicating that she follow us to the side of the road. "She hit us!" I growled to Husband. I pulled over, got out of the car, and watched the bleach-haired bobble head walk toward me, her hands covering her lipstick laden mouth. "I'm sooo s-s-s-sorry," she stammered, her hands visibly shaking. "You really need to watch where the hell you are going, instead of putting on make-up!" I stated, furious. Husband surveyed the car and, noting no damage, told me to calm down. Oh, I was perfectly calm. Calm and very angry. "Give me your name and insurance information," I ordered the girl, who looked all of seventeen. She opened her purse and dug around in her wallet, clearly terrified. "Here," she squeaked, holding a card in her hand. I looked down at her Blue Cross Blue Shield card. "No! Your car insurance!" I yelled, stunned at her stupidity. She walked to her car and after a minute or so returned with the correct insurance card. I wrote down her name and insurance information, wagged my finger at her one last time, and got back in the car to take Husband back to work.

Fast forward to last summer. I was in Farmington Hills at Jungle Java, waiting for my friend to round up her kids so we could leave. I was standing by the door, Lily in my arms, when I looked down at a newspaper stand. I couldn't believe it. The bleach-blonde bobble head was smiling up at me, her picture plastered under the headline 'Miss Michigan Crowned...blah blah blah'. Yep, we got rear-ended by Miss Michigan.

Fast forward to this past winter. I was flipping through The Guide when I saw a very intriguing listing--Miss America:Reality Check. Hmmmm, I thought. I wonder if the bobble-head will be on tv. Yep. There she was, coiffed hair, blue swimsuit, Michigan sash, fake eyelashes and all. The premise of Miss America:Reality Check was that Miss America needed a make-over. Here's the description from TLC...
For the first time in history, all 52 women competing for the Miss America 2008 title, live under one roof to undo everything they have learned about pageant basics. The goal is to determine if their smarts, attitudes and looks hold up in contemporary society. The women participate in an intense set of events and challenges designed to prepare them for the finale: a renewed, modern competition that will redefine what it takes to be Miss America.

Yeah, so Miss America was going to be smart, talented, modern and non-plastic looking, I thought. Awesome! Certainly the girl who thought her medical insurance card would be helpful to me after she rear-ended us due to her obsession with her lacquered face couldn't possibly be a contender in such a competition. So I proceeded to watch Miss America:Reality Check (admittedly, this was not difficult, given my fascination with train-wreckish reality tv shows). She wasn't on the reality show much. Apparently she wasn't too interesting to the editors who instead focused on the homely, outspoken girl from Alaska or the brave girl from some southern state who refused to style her hair without her "ratting comb". After the reality show was over, the Miss America pageant aired live. I watched in horror as Miss Michigan survived cut after cut. I cringed while I listened to her sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" in the talent competition and was certain that she had blown it and was about to be axed. I heard her profound answer to her interview question how "respect keeps marriages together" and thought she was looking at a fourth runner up spot at best. Nope. As last year's winner placed the crown on her (bobble) head, I realized that not only were we rear-ended by Miss America, but that we live in a world where women's obsession with looks trumps their intelligence, and plastic-faced, fake eyelashed idiots win every time. As a parent of a little girl who will grow to be a woman before I know it, I can only hope that I can help her build a coat of armor that will prevent her from being permeated by the media's idea of an "ideal" woman, and that she will grow up strong, confident, and smart enough to know that if she rear-ends someone it will be because she was distracted by a super interesting story on NPR, and she'll need her car insurance card, not Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Packing up and moving out

Well, I'm happy (and somewhat sad) to say that Incompetent pulled through--we sold our house. We have exactly three weeks and two days to pack up all of our worldly possessions and move. Where are we moving, you ask? That's a topic for another its time to focus on the fact that I've been buried in a sea of cardboard boxes, packing tape, and five years worth of crap that we've seemed to accumulate while trying to occupy an 18 month old (let's just say she's had her Sesa fix a little more often lately!). And where is Husband through all of this? New Zealand. Skiing. Yep, that's right. I'm sorting through 50 pairs of jeans and attempting to fit martini glasses into a box made for white wine glasses while Husband is in "the most beautiful place on the planet, baby! Let's move here!!!". Now, to be fair, Husband is technically in New Zealand on a work trip, but that really doesn't make me feel any better when packing up 19 boxes of books. Not fun. In addition, I am attempting to schedule contractors to take care of the few things that we need to have done per the home inspector prior to closing. The most fun I've had this week is spending hours in the blazing sun digging out the ginormous flower boxes that the previous owner's son decided to place right up next to the house when building the deck. Apparently dirt next to the foundation of a house isn't a good idea. Umm, duh. Given the quality of the flower boxes and the deck itself, I'd say the previous owner's son wasn't playing with a full deck (pun intended).

So, yeah, while Pete is hanging out with the hobbits in the picturesque land where the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed, I'm just having a keen time hauling 200 pounds of magazines out to the curb for recycling, wrestling with my grandmother's overgrown rosebush so I can take it with us when we go, and staring incredulously at the sheer volume of baby stuff that has taken over our basement. Fun stuff.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Parenting:The Game Show

I'll admit it, I've been known to be somewhat of a braggart when it comes to my child (and many, many other things in my life, come to think of it. They are all worthy of braggarting, though, I promise...). Lily's been crawling since 6 months, 1 week old. Lily knows how to count to ten. Lily knows 50+ words. Lily's the most gorgeous child in the universe. Blah, blah, blah. My work friends, with whom I eat lunch nearly daily during the school year, never fail to razz me about my deluded perception of my child. I can always count on them to not-so-gently yank me back to reality when I start talking about how Lily can make an elephant sound better than a real elephant. "Wow! She's soooooo gifted!" they'll say, rolling their eyes at each other between bites of tuna noodle casserole or left over LaShish (mmmmmm, LaShish). Now I think that this type of bragging is perfectly normal and perfectly fine, and I think if you are a parent and claim that you've never engaged in this type of behavior you are FOS (google it if you don't know what it means), but lately I've noticed a different type of bragging that can only be described as Parenting:The Game Show.

Parenting:The Game Show works like this...the contestants (the parents) take turns verbally sharing special tidbits about their child's development that they are pretty sure the other contestants' children have not yet mastered until one parent is completely satisfied that their own child is indeed superior to every other child in the group, all while seeming modest and non-braggarty. Parenting:The Game Show is played in a variety of settings, including, but not limited to: playgrounds, play dates, classes geared towards children, "play-cafes" (again, google is your friend), fast-food restaurants, libraries, stores, public restrooms, school lobbies, etc. etc.

Here is a typical round of Parenting:The Game Show.

Contestant 1: How's Nevaeh sleeping these days?

Contestant 2: Great! She's in her toddler bed now! No more crib! How about Isabella?

Contestant 1: She's been out of her crib for months! Her ped said that she could have slept in a twin bed from day one, but we didn't want her to feel different from all the other children. We really wanted her to have the crib experience, you know?!? (laughing)

Contestant 3: Yeah, I know what you mean about wanting them to be like normal kids. Our Spencer can identify twelve different species of penguins by call alone, but we tell him that other kids may be embarrassed if they don't know that much about penguins, so he should be sensitive to their "special needs".

Contestant 1: Oh, and don't get me started about choosing a school. I mean, I just don't know if the schools in our neighborhood are really equipped to teach someone with such advanced knowledge as Isabella. Some of the childen in that school have never even been given an IQ test!

Contestant 2: But are IQ tests even valid? I really think Nevenah was bored during her testing because she only scored 4 standard deviations above the mean. According to that, she's only smarter than 99% of children her age. Of course at some point you have to wonder if she's just smarter than the people who came up with the test!

Contestant 3: Wow! Nevaeh's really bright! I think Spencer is the only child who scored higher than her!

Notice the constant one-upping, the criticisms masked as compliments, the false show of sympathy for those that are less accomplished. I've seen way too many episodes of Parenting:The Game Show. I think I'll go back to my regularly scheduled programming--So You Think You Can Dance, The Bachelorette, The Real know, the really high quality stuff.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Oh the Nostalgia...

So every fourth of July since I was little, LO-town (my hometown) hosts an event of pure magic and wonder--a carnival downtown and fireworks over the lake. I remember my grandma taking my sister and me, dressed in matching sunsuits, to the carnival summer after summer. We'd ride the "small rides" as my dad had outlawed the bigger ones for fear that the gentleman that had put the ride together had thrown back one too many the night before and missed an essential bolt of some sort (insert eye-roll here). We'd also get some sort of forbidden treat like cotton candy or a snowcone. Later, we'd stay up late, twirl sparklers through the air, and watch the fireworks from my grandparents' house on the lake. It was amazing.

This year Lily was old enough to enjoy the festivities--at least part of them, anyway. Fireworks at 10pm don't really jive with her 8pm bedtime. I was sooo excited to take her to the carnival, and couldn't wait to snap pictures of her on the "small rides", especially the carousel. After her nap, Husband, Lily, my mom and I drove downtown LO-town. As soon as the carnival entered my sight line I was flooded with memories. We parked, strapped Lily in her stroller and with a goofy grin plastered on my face we walked onto the "midway". It was...disgusting. Suddenly, I turned to my mom in horror. "Was it always like this???" I asked her, my face surprisingly ashen in the glow of the afternoon sun. She laughed and replied with a curt, "Yep!" Oh for the love. How could I have been so wrong as a child? How could I have not seen past the dizzying lights, spinning horses, and gigantic stuffed flamingos to see the carnival for what it really was--a nasty, dirty place that smelled of chemical toilets and nast-ass fried food? The people were gross (think mothers with titty tats and menthol cigarettes hanging out of their mouths, dragging kids with Kool-Aid moustaches around), the prizes were speckled with dirt, and there was yellow, police-grade caution tape sectioning off a quarter of the carousel. Yuck. My hopes of a perfect picture of a smiling Lily on a dazzling painted horse were dashed. No child of mine was going to set hide nor hair on a caution taped carousel. Suddenly, I knew exactly why my "over-protective" father had put the cabash on the big rides. The "gentlemen" and "ladies" working at the carnival looked like they were on something a little harsher than a few too many drink-a-roonies.

As I walked through the streets, utterly horrified, wallowing in disappointment, my daughter was pointing frantically at everything, a ginormous grin covering her gorgeous face. She was loving it. We turned a corner and a three-story high slide came into view. Lily tore at her stroller straps, attempting to break free and run, arms flailing, up the rusty metal staircase to the top of the slide to go "Weeeee!" (see Language explosion blog entry). I looked at Husband. Husband looked at me. My mom was smiling and nodding at Lily. I took a deep breath as I watched kid after kid come down the slide, wind in their hair, perma-grins plastered on their faces (I think the Kool-aid 'staches made their smiles stand out even more, but I digress). "I could take her on my lap", Husband croaked, equally as shell-shocked as I. I knelt down to Lily's level. "Do you want to go on the slide with Daddy?", secretly hoping she'd chicken out. "YESSSSSSS!" she replied, elated. So Husband dished out $6 (I did some quick math and had a very fleeting thought at this moment that maybe I made the wrong career choice, cause those peeps are banking!), hoisted Lily out of her stroller, and began walking up the metal staircase, one step at a time. As I stood at the bottom with my mom, watching my daughter and husband slide down the faded green plastic on a burlap sack, I realized that its our duty as parents to allow our children to live in a world of magic and wonder, even though we know as adults that the world can be a nasty place.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hi, my name is Lily, and I'm an Addict.

My daughter is addicted to Sesame Street. Its like kiddie crack. I was so careful about not letting her watch ANY tv for the first year of her life, but then sometime this spring (most likely when she dropped from two naps to one), she had her first glimpse of "Sesa". Then, a friend of Nana and Ota bought Lily an Ernie puppet. Now, just a few short months later, she's officially hooked. Here's what a typical day looks like for my little fiend. Wakes up. Talks in her crib "Mommy? Daddy? Mama? Dada? Abby? Bert? Ernie? Mommy? Daddy? Abby? Abby? Abby?". Pete goes in to get her, changes her diaper. "Mama? Mama? Mommy? Mommy?" He brings her into our room. "Mommy!" Gives me a hug and kiss. "Hi! Sesa? Sesa? Sesa? Sesa? Sesa?" Points to the remote control. "Eh! Eh! Eh! Sesa? Mommy, Sesa?" Mommy and Daddy succumb to the addiction and put on Sesa On Demand (On Demand is like having a coca field in your backyard and a crack lab in your basement). She watches while we attempt to get just a little bit more sleep (our addiction since Lily was born). Later, when we come downstairs, she beelines for her toy bin and gets her Abby, Big Bird and Snuffleupagus dolls and her Bert and Ernie puppets. "Sesa? Sesa? Sesa? Sesa?" Because we're enablers, she then continues her episode from upstairs on the downstairs tv, surrounded by her Sesa dolls and puppets. If we're home all day, she ususally requests Sesa at least 50 more times, and will ususally watch at least one more episode in the late afternoon. So how did we go from zero tv to two hours per day? Much like a crack addict wakes up one day and wonders how his addiction got so out of control, the last few months is a blur of yellow feathers, monster puppets, songs of sunny days, and uni-brows.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Safe Sand? Raising kids in a toxic world.

I never would have thought that as a parent I'd google things like 'safe sand' and receive almost daily emails from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warning of toys that may cause my child bodily harm. Seriously, I don't think parents of us Gen-Xers had to worry about lead-laden Barbies, roofie-laced Rubik's Cubes and G.I. Joe dolls with guns that can actually shoot kids' heads off. So yesterday, in the interest of my daughter and the fact that I don't really want her inhaling sandbox dust that will promote tumor growth in her lungs, I found out that safe sand is sold by a company in California. Its only $60.00 for 50 pounds of the stuff, shipped. Too bad the tiny sandbox I plan on purchasing holds 200 pounds of sand. Hmmmm...should I spend $240 on safe sand for Lily? I guess it just infuriates me that I even have to make such a decision. Next thing we know, we'll all be wearing gas masks and enclose ourselves in big plastic bubbles. Except then we'd find out that our plastic bubbles are made of plastic containing BPA. I think really the only thing that's safe to say is that we're all pretty much gonna be screwed.