Tag Archives: funny

What Lauren Learned About Identity & Work via a Craft Disaster (aka “Do it, start it, FUCK THIS IT’S NOT WORKING!”)

It’s time for me to ‘fess up: I did not do the Pinterest challenge assigned to me by Renee, the winner of the Pin Us To It prize at our 4K giveaway.

Now, I bet some of our newer readers, brought here by our connections to other post-academic blogs, are thinking “WTF is this Pinning shit?” So before I launch into a discussion of my crafting experience, let me say this about Mama Nervosa: it’s a non-niche blog. We don’t just write about being ex-grad students, or just write about being feminists, or just write about being Moms, or just write about secretly reading super goofy quasi-pornographic YA lit in sixth grade. We write about all of our experiences, and some of those experiences include stuff that’s very typically feminine or maternal. We simply aren’t interested in fracturing our identities into separate blogs or saying that how we feel about ourselves as brainy feminist women has nothing to do with being mothers or crafting disaster-ers. I’ll try to make some connections between this craft experience and some of the stuff I’ve been thinking as I quit grad school towards the end of the post, so stay with me!

From our inception as a blog, we’ve been preoccupied with Pinterest and lifestyle blogs because they’re such an integral part of the online mommying world (read this recent article from Jezebel for a taste of it). Jen is pretty ok with Pinterest: she recognizes its flaws, but overall, her experience with Pinterest is positive. I… let’s just say I feel differently. Continue reading

Little Victories, Big Celebrations: Parenthood, Praise, and Why I Will Never Be A Tiger Mom.

At 10:45 last night my girls were still wide awake, buzzing with excitement from the ballet recital. They had been in bed for an hour and a half. And by in bed, I mean, climbing the bunk bed ladder to exchange stuffed animals, going back and forth to the bathroom to get drinks of water, spilling the water on their nightstand, running down the hallway to report various concerns and misdeeds to me, and playing with their collection of stuffed birds that whistle and chirp authentic birdsongs when you squeeze them.

It’s been a momentous week here: field day, the last day of preschool, first haircut, dress rehearsal, and then the recital Saturday. We successfully managed teacher gifts and extra babysitting hours and  tricycle races and costumes with very large tutus. I am so proud of them. Of all of us, really.

Lucy zooming around the bend in the tricycle races.

I realize that for people who are not parents, these are exactly the sort of accomplishments that seem silly.

Continue reading

Like a Sloth on a Turtle with Wheels, Updated

Update: Dorothy LOVES riding a tagalong bike!

After many tears and much heartbreak in our driveway this spring, I am beyond thrilled to update this post with this photo:

We bought the tagalong for her birthday after showing her many happy photos on the interwebs of children riding along merrily behind their parents. My hope was that if she were in a situation where speed was mandatory but she was completely safe, she would have a breakthrough of sorts. AND IT WORKED!

Granted, when we first hooked up the tagalong in the driveway she ran and hid and cried. But Lucy, our resident Danger Mouse, was eager to hop on. And as Lucy and T rode back and forth in front of the house, D gradually came out of hiding, and looked on with decreasing trepidation and increasing envy. “I want to ride,” she yelled in frustration. “It’s MY present!”

Et voila.

We put on her helmet, helped her up, T rode over a couple lawns to keep the pace slow, and then off they went. She actually shrieked with joy.

And just as we hoped, she has approached her scooter and a bike with training wheels with significantly more confidence and fewer tears. It’s not like she’s going to enter the 2013 X Games, but she has definitely increased her speed from sloth to, let’s say, capybara. I’ll keep you posted on her progress this summer.

Original post beyond the jump.

Continue reading

Fresh Beats, Gators, Surrender

So I didn’t do much (okay, any) writing last week. But I promise, I wasn’t slacking!

What I did:

1.)    turned in my grades

2.)    spent 2 days in professional development seminars

3.)    went to my nephew’s track meet

4.)    planted lime basil seeds

5.)    hung out with my sister and her new baby

6.)    cheered for the otters at the zoo

7.)    cheered for Margeaux when she stood up for the first time

8.)    bought a new round squishy ottoman so Margeaux has a safe place to stand up

9.)    taught D and Lucy how to use a lint brush so they can clean the cat hair off the new ottoman

10.) chased the cat around to squirt peroxide on his gross open wounds twice a day

11.) vowed to never let the cat outside again Continue reading

Youth Group: A Tulsa Memoir Part 4

This is part 4 of my series about growing up in Oklahoma. Read parts 1, 2, and 3. I’ll actually be visiting the old homestead next week to see my HS BFF before she moves to Texas and hang with my AWESOME SISTER, so the timing is good. I’m kind of knee-deep in portfolio grading, so hang tight for more non-memoir, normal, regular stuff to resume when FINALS WEEK IS OVERRRR.

It wasn’t just the crazy weather and freakish, Martian landscape that weirded me out about my new home. It was also church.

As a kid, no one talked to me about religion before. I mean, not even my parents openly articulated our belief system to me: I intuited, through the skills of reading and intense listening, that we were Catholic (off and on), believed in (a?) God, and therefore in Heaven. For a brief period, when we lived in South Bend, we attended church services regularly, and I even became familiar with a few hymns. But, in a very Midwestern way, religion wasn’t openly discussed or acknowledged. We absorbed it by osmosis and it was made somehow clear that religion was something you worked out through practice and a lot of sideways glancing, mumbling, and copying the people in the pew in front of you. Church was really more of something you “did,” not a group of people you knew, or a “belief.”

When we moved there, at age 11, I was a bit startled that it was a general getting-to-know-you kind of thing in Tulsa. “Where do you go to church?” or, even more strange to my ears, “Do you have a church home?” This was often the second or third question asked of me when I met someone new. Because I was completely naïve about religion in general, and about conservative, Protestant branches of Christianity in specific, I had no idea that telling people I was Catholic was akin to saying I was a Satanist. I immediately marked myself as someone in need of saving. Early in seventh grade, several of the nicest people in the world invited me to a Christian Student Bible Meeting Fellowship Fun Group, and I accepted. I mean, I was desperate for friends and I was a bit of a goody-goody. Christian kids were probably nice, right? Continue reading

Muppet Babies and the Do No Harm Theory of Children’s Television Viewing

This week, we are talking about watching TV with our kids. You will find that Jen and I are rather unabashedly pro-TV. Read on for Muppets, Dora, Kipper and more.

Lauren: I’m here and ready whenever you are.

Dude, 3 more hits and today ties our busiest day so far!

Jennifer: My kids are watching Dora the Explorer, and Tyler has pledged to supervise toothbrushing. I’m in!

8:12 PM Lauren: Sweet!

What time is it where you live??

Jennifer: It’s 9:15. Normally they are in bed by now, but dinner was late so we pushed bedtime back rather than fight over changing the routine.

8:13 PM Lauren: WOW

If my kids aren’t in bed by 8:15 I’m like WTF YOU PEOPLE ARE CRAZY

Summer is definitely bumping everything back for us.

Jennifer: But yours get up early. Mine will sleep till 9 tomorrow morning.

Lauren: I was watching Dora the ‘Plowah with Holly at 5:15 today.

8:14 PM In the MORNING, I mean.

Jennifer: I do not know how you do it. Usually Margeaux wakes up around then, and I just bring her back to bed with me.

Lauren: She won’t accept ANY substitute! And she won’t stay in bed or stay asleep. She just starts whining “wanna get uuuuuup”

8:15 PM Jennifer: Yikes. we have had our share of sleep struggles, but I feel like that would have pushed me over the edge.

8:16 PM Although for a while around age 2 D was having nightmares and would demand to watch Wonder Pets in the middle of the night.

Lauren: I’m inured to it. It’s debilitating at times for sure, but Robin sleeps pretty well at 4, so I have hope that things will settle down, you know, in a few years.



Our fave show for toddlers is a British show called Kipper

8:17 PM It’s completely lowkey and not remotely annoying. Robin was OBSESSED with it, but Holly has zero interest (she is all about Dora).


Jennifer: I’ve never seen Kipper!

Lauren: Oh, dude. It’s so good.

Jennifer: We still love Wonder Pets. Also this new show, Doc McStuffins.

Lauren: My kids did not get Wonder Pets. They’re like, wtf.

I do not know of this Doc McStuffins.

8:18 PM We only watch tv streaming on Netflix so we are always about 5 years behind any tv trend and completely dependent on their selection (hence the absence of Disney in our lives).

Jennifer: Doc McStuffins is a 6 year old Af. Am. girl. Her mom is a doctor, and she cures her dolls/toys/stuffed animals of various ailments that she makes up funny names for.

8:19 PM Lauren: Oh dude, that sounds awesome!

Jennifer: My girls have started saying, “What’s the diagnosis?” when they play with their dolls.

Lauren: Robin is OBSESSED with anatomy right now, she would love a show about doctor stuff.

Jennifer: Disney Channel.

Lauren: Fuckin’ Disney.

8:20 PM Jennifer: Maybe you could get it on DVD?

She has a stay at home dad, which is also cool.

Lauren: That is really great.

Maybe someday it will trickle down to Netflix availability.

Jennifer: Someday… and in the meantime you have Kipper.

8:21 PM So what are your tv rules?

Lauren: The rules I wish I enforced, you mean?

Jennifer: HA!


Lauren: If I’m following the rules, they can watch one show in the morning and one show when they get home from daycare while I cook dinner.

8:22 PM The rules we always stick to is, no TV during meals, and no TV after dinner.

Any day Holly wakes up at 5 am I pretty much will allow anything if she just lets me sit and zone out.

Jennifer: That all seems very reasonable.

8:23 PM We almost always do tv as part of the evening routine- tv, brush teeth, go potty, stories, songs, bed.

Lauren: I read in a sleep book that TV right before bed makes their brains all crazy

And since sleep is the holy grail in this house, I banned TV after dinner time.

8:24 PM Jennifer: Yeah, it’s probably bad for their brains.

Lauren: We typically play for 15-30 min with Brian when he gets home, which is typically during dinner

So it’s dinner, play, bath, stories, tooth brush, bed.

8:25 PM But TV is def part of our morning routine.

8:26 PM Jennifer: It’s just such an easy way to fill those little gaps of time when I need to be productive and I need them to not destroy anything.

Lauren: Yep

Jennifer: Because free play and art make messes. And that’s fine, but there are limits to when I can deal with messes.

Lauren: For me it’s essential if dishes are to be done or dinner to be made when we get home in the afternoon.

8:27 PM Jennifer: And honestly? I don’t feel as guilty as I think I’m supposed to. They have definitely learned stuff from watching tv.

Lauren: Otherwise I’m interrupted every 5 minutes with needs for shoes, toys, coats, a drink of water, etc etc

Jennifer: Mine do things like play “shirt store” and take all the shirst out of all the drawers.

8:28 PM Lauren: HA!

In moderation, I don’t sweat it.

But, I don’t like the way it dominates our home time

Jennifer: Do they ask for it?

Lauren: And I worry that my kids will be unmotivated blobs like I was as a kid, and I really don’t want to encourage that.

Jennifer: Or is that you find yourself offering it more than you want to?

Lauren: Which is why I really WANT to enforce those rules.

Oh yes.

8:29 PM I find myself saying yes a lot.

I find myself offering out of desperation more than I’d like to.

8:30 PM Jennifer: Dorothy didn’t watch tv (except what we were watching) until I lost my job and unexpectedly became a stay at home mom.

Lauren: The amount of TV we watch is inversely proportional to the amount of sleep I’m getting, let me put it that way.

And I don’t get much sleep.

8:31 PM Jennifer: She was about 1, and I was pregnant, and until that shift to being home I didn’t realize how many hours there are in a day spent entirely at home. And so I began to fill a couple of those hours with Elmo, and we haven’t looked back.

Lauren: Yeah

Jennifer: Yes– I feel you on the more tv when I’m tired.

Lauren: That’s almost exactly the same thing that happened with us.

We didn’t watch kid shows until Robin hit about 14 months and I was pregnant with Holly and then it was all Kipper and Yo Gabba Gabba and Curious George.

8:32 PM Jennifer: Maybe their brains are fried on the inside from all my lax parenting.

But from what I can see, they are doing just fine.

8:33 PM Wonder Pets at 2 am and all.

Lauren: I worry about it when school comes around.

My kids will never be watching whatever shows are cool.

8:34 PM PLUS it seems like gender becomes a real issue as you move into school-age/tween shows.

So I start getting all lecturey and annoyed.

Jennifer: What do you think about gender in the preschool age shows? I know you hate Angelina Ballerina.

8:35 PM Lauren: I hate Angelina for reasons that go beyond gender.

I hate Angelina because the entire construct is completely idiotic, and I find her whiny and annoying, and the more I watch it the more problems I find with it, so it makes me grumpy.

8:36 PM As far as gender goes, Angelina does feature boys who dance, and girls who enjoy dance other than pretty ballerina dancing.

And technically the mice represent different races, so that’s good (I GUESS).

Jennifer: I’m fascinated by the way kids tv shows make the animals different races.

8:37 PM I can’t decide if I think it’s useful or ridiculous.

Lauren: Yes, it’s pretty interesting to parse. Angelina attends some absurd dance school with only five students and each student is from a different country.

It feels tokenish?

I mean, take a really flat show concept with no real narrative

Add stock characters

8:38 PM Does it really matter if Marco is a South American mouse?

Wouldn’t it be just as meh if he was a white mouse with no accent?

Jennifer: Dorothy sometimes makes up nonsense words and claims she’s speaking Chinese, like Kai-Lan.

8:39 PM Lauren: Robin insists that the word “crotch” is Spanish.

I definitely attribute Dora and other shows for my girls’ awesome counting and Spanish speaking.

Jennifer: Ha!


8:40 PM Lauren: Often, Robin and Holly play a game where they have to say abre or cierra to get through.

That’s all Dora.

8:41 PM Jennifer: My girls definitely incorporate the basic Spanish into their games. Although I think the Spanish is easier to understand on Handy Manny. And I like that the voice is Fez from that 70s Show. But alas, my girls will. not. watch Handy Manny.

8:42 PM Lauren: We don’t allow Phineas and Ferb anymore because of the sexism.

It’s a shame, because otherwise we enjoy that show as a family. But we can’t get past how sucky Candace is.

8:43 PM Jennifer: We have never watched it- the girls havent really shown an interest.

Lauren: That show would be great if you were raising boys.

It’s all about intelligence and seizing the day, some of the guys are nerdy and some aren’t, it’s based on cooperation and not competition, etc.

But their older sister is this vapid idiot who obsesses over either catching her brothers breaking the rules, or what her boyfriend thinks about her.

8:44 PM She has no interests, identity, or purpose beyond those things. She’s completely uninteresting.

Jennifer: Ugh.

Lauren: The music is awesome and it’s really funny. And it’s sexist so we can’t watch it.

So now we watch Spongebob, which only has ONE female character, a Texan squirrel.

8:45 PM Jennifer: Sandy!

Lauren: Sandy’s kinda hardcore

Jennifer: My sister used to watch SpongeBob when the show first started– she was in college.

Lauren: It really has a universal appeal.

8:46 PM Jennifer: My personal favorite Spongebob episode is the one where the jellyfish are having that crazy party at his house and they’re blasting the music and he can’t sleep.

Lauren: HAha

Our favorite is the Krusty Krab Pizza episode.

8:47 PM Jennifer: My girls aren’t really into Spongebob yet.

They like Cat in the Hat.

Lauren: Holly calls him Spongebob Snowpants.

We did Cat in the Hat for a long time.

It’s okay

I mean, I don’t think it’s brilliant, but I like it. Seems like they air the same eps over and over again so we got bored with it.

8:48 PM Jennifer: Yes- and it borders on too factual/educational for Lucy, who prefers Dora and UmiZoomi above all others.

8:49 PM Lauren: We have played Umizoomi games but we have not seen the show. This is the magical skirt show, right?

Jennifer: Yes. Geo uses his shape belt to build things, and Milli can measure things with her ponytails and change the pattern on her dress to fill in missing parts of patterns.

8:50 PM Lauren: NO. Her ponytail??

Jennifer: Yes. They turn into measuring tapes.

Lauren: Speaking of hair, how do you feel about the final episode of Dora, where she goes from being our androgynous explorer to a fairy princess?

8:51 PM Jennifer: It drives me nuts.

And really, I blame Diego.

Because until the Diego spin off, Dora was not explicitly a girls show.

Lauren: I think Diego was intended to be for older kids, but it ended up being the boy show.

8:52 PM Which is irritating, because S1 and S2 — even S3! — Dora is so gender neutral and friendly to all little ones.

8:54 PM Jennifer: My girls will watch Diego too. But with both Dora and Diego the shouting makes me crazy. WHY DO THEY HAVE TO SHOUT ALL THE TIME?

I know some people are really freaked out that Dora has no parents, but it doesn’t bother me.

Lauren: Yeah, the volume and repitition is a little rough.

8:55 PM I think it’s FANTASTIC that Dora goes out on her own with a map to solve problems.

Oh my God, if my girls can do that, I will succeed as a mother.

I mean she’s basically a Girl Scout!

Jennifer: I feel the same way.

8:56 PM Lauren: Here, you’ll love this:

Jennifer: and honestly, even though my kids are constantly supervised, they are so much more invested in each other and their games and pretend worlds that I think sometimes they see me as sort of a distant, supervisory, non-entity.

In that sense, shows like Max and Ruby and Dora, where the parents aren’t around, probably feel truer to how they exeprience their world.

Lauren: When I was a kid, my Mom kicked us out of the house and was like “see you at dinner”

8:57 PM We wandered all over our neighborhood, within the established parameters.

And that was that. She didn’t even keep the door open to hear us.

Jennifer: HA! (cereal guy)

Lauren: Right: I mean, I agree some of the scenarios are far-fetched/odd, but I think it’s probably right to acknowledge that kids are the center of their own world

8:58 PM And parents move in and out of that world. We don’t have to be the focus or the bosses all the time.

8:59 PM Jennifer: Definitely. I don’t want to play shirt store. And I’m sort of glad they don’t need me to.

Lauren: Right.

I guess I think it’s interesting that we expect shows to pass on messages to our kids, and in some ways reflect reality, but also be wildly interesting and entertaining.

9:00 PM AND educational.

Jennifer: It’s a lot to ask. Definitely more than I ask of the tv shows I watch.

Dancing with the Stars is definitely not meeting all those criteria.

9:01 PM Lauren: Right. I remember one of the folks discussing this with us on facebook said that if a show didn’t have a “purpose” then her kids probably shouldn’t be watching it.

Jennifer: Maybe Project Runway does?

Lauren: Creativity! Sewing! Bitchiness!!

Jennifer: Although, I’m not sure I agree that all kids tv needs purpose.

9:02 PM It can’t be harmful. But it’s okay with me if it’s not super educational.

Barbie Mermaid movie falls into that category.

Or Fresh Beat Band.

Lauren: Right, I remember several people agreeing with you that “do no harm” is ok.

9:03 PM I think this is where I tend to push certain shows and discourage others (ANGELINA) — because I think ok, fine, if you want to watch a show because it’s fun, which is fine, a least make it one with a decent narrative, or decent music, or humor, or something.

9:04 PM How about The Princess and the Frog or Gabba or Spongebob, and NOT the skinny new My Little Ponies?

Jennifer: Have you heard about the bros who like My Little Ponies?

Lauren: No

9:05 PM Jennifer: Let me see if I can find a link. They’re guys who are obsessed with MLP.

Lauren: I do find that, as a Mom, I am surprised at how much I enjoy watching my children enjoy something like a TV show.

9:06 PM We went a little wild with the Dora swag for Holly’s birthday because she just gets SO EXCITED to wear anything with Dora.


9:07 PM Lauren: Wow, that’s really interesting. I’ve watched it and I don’t find it that riveting.

Jennifer: Me either.

We watched the Muppet movie last weekend, and we were thrilled that Dorothy loved it so much.

Lauren: Nice!

9:08 PM Jennifer: Maybe partly because we have childhood connections to it.

Lauren: We had a phase where Robin was into Muppets Take Manhattan: that was awesome.

My girls love the Chipmunk movies.

Jennifer: And partly because it was so hilarious to watch her encounter the Muppets for the first time and try and make sense of them. When Beaker came on, she actually said “Why does that skinny oval keep saying MEEP MEEP MEEP?”

Lauren: (Which I also have some gender problems with, esp. the newer one, but that’s a battle for another time.)

9:09 PM Jennifer: We haven’t seen the Chipmunks.

Lauren: I spent last summer showing my girls episodes of Muppet Babies on youtube while I made lunch

That was pretty great. Muppet Babies is awesome.

9:10 PM Chipmunks are def. a “do no harm” kind of show. The music is pretty good, though!

9:11 PM Jennifer: I think the honest truth is that I like tv, T likes tv, our kids like tv, and I’m more invested in raising media savvy kids than kids who aren’t exposed to tv.

Lauren: To be fair, I should hate Muppet Babies because Piggy is such a psycho. Damn you, nostalgia!!

We live TV, too.

9:12 PM Jennifer: I haven’t watched Muppet Babies since childhood, but I’m totally going to watch it with the girls tomorrow now that I’m thinking about it.

Lauren: And, I do use shows as opportunities to have actual conversations with my kids about choices, bodies, stereotypes, feelings, etc.

(It’s as good as you remember it.)

9:13 PM In fact, the other day, Brian and I were saying that we need to start talking to the girls about commercials. We never see them, which we think is AWESOME and IDEAL, but we want them to know what they are before they start encountering them later on.

Jennifer: This was the first Christmas where the girls realized that the things they see in commercials are actually real things in the world.

Lauren: We plan on telling them that commercials are lies/tricks. It sounds extreme but it’s also kinda true.

9:14 PM Jennifer: My mom definitely told me that Magic Shell and the Easy Bake Oven were lies. Why she chose those products I’ll never know.

9:15 PM Lauren: HAha

That’s interesting

Jennifer: The girls got Stompeez for Chirstmas. Because they were obsessed with the commercial.

Lauren: My parents never talked to us about commercials. I was a total dupe for that stuff.

I want my kids to have robust skepticism when it comes to consumerism.

Are those the weird slippers?

Jennifer: Yup. We have a rabbit pair and a cat pair.

They were definitely overpriced. But kind of adorable.

9:16 PM Lauren: We saw that commercial while visiting my inlaws at Thanksgiving and Robin was really interested.

Jennifer: I felt like they fell into a sort of Do No Harm category.

9:17 PM Lauren: Sure. Animal slippers? Do not harm.

Barbie I’m not sure about.

Jennifer: Better than Bratz dolls.

Lauren: Bratz I’m adamantly opposed to

Haha — great minds.

Jennifer: Ha!

Lauren: Robin got a My Little Pony doll in a kid’s meal last week

9:18 PM And every time I see it I’m like “wow, that pony doesn’t look like a real horse, look how thin and unhealthy this body is, look at the way the nose is too small for her to eat” etc etc etc

Jennifer: We have some My Little Ponies, and some Barbies, and some princess dolls, and some Groovy Girls.

Lauren: Robin’s all EYEROLL on me.

Jennifer: I told Dorothy that Bratz wore too much make up.,

9:19 PM In general, my toy policy is like my tv policy: moderation in all things.

Lauren: I just don’t get the appeal of Barbies. I had ONE Barbie as a kid, and I ended up giving it to the boy next door, who LOVED Barbies.

I got bored brushing her hair.

Jennifer: Ours have snarly hair.

Lauren: I will definitely allow my kids to get the Katniss Barbie!

My friend Steph and her sister did amazing stories with Barbie. So did Pamie at pamie.com. If my kids did that, I’d be cool with Barbie.

9:20 PM Jennifer: My girls mostly use them in pretend games which typically involve someone being stranded and someone else rescuing them. Or someone being hurt and someone else being the doctor.

And they put on dance shows.

But our dinosaurs put on dance shows too.

9:21 PM And honestly, all of that is part of why I feel like tv hasn’t fried their brains. They pretend avidly. ‘

Lauren: Right

9:22 PM I think that if we use TV to start conversations and ask a lot of questions, then it can be ok.

I never want them to accept it at face value. But otherwise, I can be ok with it.

9:23 PM Jennifer: I have actually banned some pretend games (fork people and crayon people). I think tv can be good in lots of ways: to start conversations, to ask questions, to relax when we need our bodies and minds to wind down after a long day.

9:24 PM I like to snuggle up on the couch with popcorn and chocolate milk.

Lauren: Definitely: and I look forward to sharing certain shows with the girls when I’m older.

Mystery series, like I watched with my sister and Mom. Buffy.

9:25 PM Jennifer: Project Runway. Amazing Race. Possibly The Cosby Show.


9:26 PM Lauren: When we visited my inlaws at Thanksgiving, we all enjoyed watching Dancing With the Stars together

I thought that was pretty cool!


9:27 PM Jennifer: Right? I want my girls to at least consider growing up to be Scully.

Lauren: She’s a skeptic

I like that

And Mulder, so cute.

Jennifer: I KNOW.

Lauren: Scully’s cute, too, for that matter.

Jennifer: Yup.

9:28 PM So: I think we are definitely pro-tv. People might hate on us for this.

Lauren: Yeah, I can imagine some people I really admire being like OMGBADMOMMY.

9:30 PM Jennifer: Me too.

Lauren: I don’t know; I keep reading about Moms hating on each other on the internet and I’m just not sure how to avoid that.

I mean, there may be no way to avoid controversy.

9:31 PM Jennifer: Let’s get Ashley Judd to say something about it.

She’s freaking amazing.

Lauren: Totally! And hey, she’s on TV.

Jennifer: Perfect.

9:32 PM Lauren: From our facebook convo, we know that this is something a lot of parents are thinking about

9:33 PM Jennifer: But I think a lot of this comes back to your most recent post: I am not a perfect mom. But I am trying very hard to be the best mom I can be, in the way that is specific to my own pleasures and quirks.

Lauren: And people have divided opinions about what’s appropriate, etc.

I neither think watching TV will ruin my children, nor do I think NOT watching TV will automatically make them good people/better people.

9:34 PM Jennifer: Right.

9:35 PM Plus, the Muppet Babies is just too awesome to deny.

Lauren: I’m sure there are lots of kids who do not watch TV or watch limited TV, and still suck.

Muppet Babies is so. Good.

9:36 PM So when you post this, you’ll have to find lots of Muppet Babies pictures

Because MB worship is what this has boiled down to. 😉

Jennifer: I see nothing wrong with that.

9:37 PM Lauren: Well, it’s my bedtime, since I get up at the asscrack of dawn.

Jennifer: May you dream sweet, muppety dreams.

9:38 PM Lauren: That would be awesome.

Have fun revisiting M. Babies tomorrow!

Jennifer: Can’t wait! TTYL!

Lauren: TTYL!

What do you think about kids watching TV? What are your house rules? Anything we missed when it comes to feminist shows, especially for little ones?

If these issues interest you, definitely check out Peggy Orenstein’s awesome blog and books, as well as the essential resource Pigtail Pals.

Feist on Sesame Street was an early, televised ray of hope when Dorothy was a baby.

Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood does good advocacy work on these issues, though I don’t think Lauren and I are signing up for screen free week.

Geena Davis has run the numbers on girls and women being underrepresented in the media.

This is not what the picture on Pinterest looked like

I left my parents’ house about 10 pm on Easter, and I was back there at 10 am this morning to drop off my girls so I could head in to work and tackle the mountain of essays and annotated bibliography drafts that my students are expecting me to return this week.

I had every intention of whipping out a cute little post yesterday about celebrating Easter with fancy dresses and Peeps, maybe laced with a little complexity about what it means for my kids to grow up not knowing or understanding very many Biblical traditions and whether I ought to be worried about that.

Here’s how I thought my morning was going to go:

Wake up, drink coffee, make sticky buns from Pinterest recipe, chill out while girls play with Easter basket goodies and eat jellybeans.

Write a quick post about Easter while T assembles girls’ new bunk beds.

Turn on music, pack the diaper bag and the supplies for D’s birthday party. Figure out how to get the candy and tattoos and headbands into the princess piñata. (Yesterday’s holiday gathering was a combo Easter/birthday celebration.)

Make the Pinterest pasta recipe I offered to bring to my mom’s for dinner. Feed the girls something relatively healthy to offset the jellybeans.

Put on fancy dresses, go to my mom’s. Arrive 2 pm for appetizers, followed by birthday gifts, piñata, dinner, cake, maybe a kids’ movie while the adults clean up and pack the cars.

Note that this is not an ambitious plan. I did not plan to write a novel, or run a marathon, or sew the Easter dresses by hand. Nothing about this should have been beyond our reach.

Here’s how my day actually went:

Wake up with headache. Drink coffee. Take more than the recommended dose of ibuprofen.

Attempt to make sticky buns. While sticky buns are in the oven, clean dusty pile of books, stuffed animals, ancient fruit snacks, polly pocket heads, and underpants out from under toddler bed.

Take sticky buns out of oven. Sticky buns stick to bundt pan. Shake the pan violently until sticky buns tumble out in an unattractive pile still attached to pan by thick, stringy caramel-like substance. Scrape goo out of pan and use it to make large, birds’ nest-esque sculpture on top of sticky bun mountain. This is not what the pictures looked like on Pinterest. Offer unattractive sticky bun bird nest mountain to T and his brother, who are assembling the bunk beds.

Head still hurts. Sticky buns taste ok, in a chewy way. Bunk beds look awesome. Finally, a success!

Then comes the part where in everybody (okay, mostly just me) runs around frantically becoming increasingly cranky because even though there absolutely should be more than enough time, there is NEVER ENOUGH TIME. T and I spend 2 hours attempting to get children bathed, dressed, fed, supplies and bags and car packed. He keeps turning on music and I get irritated and turn it off. I hand out frozen GoGurt and chocolate granola bars for “healthy” lunch. Decide to bake the pasta at my mom’s. Arrive late anyway, with enough food and clothing to stay for a week.

Fast forward to this morning for the workday version of the same scenario, and substitute battle over brushing hair for battle with sticky buns.

I am still trying to figure out how to stop the madness. End of semester papers are piling up, my garden is desperate for attention, the sink is full of dishes, the My Little Ponies all have snarly hair, we only have enough clean underpants to get through till tomorrow, everything that I think will take 15 minutes takes an hour and everything that I think will take an hour takes 3 hours and I cannot seem to get anywhere on time ever and the stress builds until I am completely unable to differentiate between necessary tasks and tasks like brushing the My Little Ponies’ hair.

I have tried all the parenting advice tips about laying out the clothes the night before and repacking the bags when you come home instead of when you’re leaving and eating the same foods for breakfast every morning (because choosing breakfast is what slows me down?) and empowering them with chore charts and cute illustrated reminders about brushing their teeth.  None of those things work in my house.

If I have done everything perfectly and we are on track to leave 15 minutes early, someone will start a fistfight about who gets to sit in the brown car seat and we will arrive late and bloody. Or the van will unexpectedly be out of gas. Or the dog will escape. It’s always something.

I know other parents do this and the stakes are much higher: I can show up at my mom’s with girls in pajamas, hair uncombed, clamoring for pancakes. Clearly this is not an option for those of you who have to get kids to school or a more legit day care scenario. So I’m dying to know: how do you do it?

Also, the only thing my kids know about Easter is that there’s a bunny. Should I be worried about that?

Like a Sloth on a Turtle with Wheels, Updated

Update: Dorothy LOVES riding a tagalong bike!

After many tears and much heartbreak in our driveway this spring, I am beyond thrilled to update this post with this photo:

We bought the tagalong for her birthday after showing her many happy photos on the interwebs of children riding along merrily behind their parents. My hope was that if she were in a situation where speed was mandatory but she was completely safe, she would have a breakthrough of sorts. AND IT WORKED!

Granted, when we first hooked up the tagalong in the driveway she ran and hid and cried. But Lucy, our resident Danger Mouse, was eager to hop on. And as Lucy and T rode back and forth in front of the house, D gradually came out of hiding, and looked on with decreasing trepidation and increasing envy. “I want to ride,” she yelled in frustration. “It’s MY present!”

Et voila.

We put on her helmet, helped her up, T rode over a couple lawns to keep the pace slow, and then off they went. She actually shrieked with joy.

And just as we hoped, she has approached her scooter and a bike with training wheels with significantly more confidence and fewer tears. It’s not like she’s going to enter the 2013 X Games, but she has definitely increased her speed from sloth to, let’s say, capybara. I’ll keep you posted on her progress this summer.

Original post beyond the jump.

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Birth Day (Happy!)

My oldest turns 5 today. Unbelievable. I had no idea what I was in for.

Although all the photographic evidence suggests she slept adorably, and often, I remember the hard, sleepless reality of those first few months. I went back to work full time when she was 5 weeks old. I fell asleep at my desk more than once. I forgot my social security number at the bank and wept softly while the teller stared.

“I just had a baby,” I sobbed, “and I am just so tired.”

Still, as endless as those nights seem, the time passes quickly.  She talked early and walked late. By her first birthday I was visibly pregnant with our second; my belly grew and grew and still, she crawled, asking or demanding to be carried, rocked, held. Sometimes I would peek around the corner from the kitchen into the living room and see her taking tentative steps. She would sit down immediately if she realized I was watching, refusing all my attempts to praise, encourage, plead with her to please, please, please, start walking.  It was July when she finally walked, and October when Lucy was born. Dorothy sang the Itsy Bitsy Spider and the ABCs in the car on the way home from the hospital.

When D was about 3, she asked what a brain was. Tyler and I tried to explain:

“Your brain is in your head, and it’s in charge of your body. It tells your body how to work, when to breathe, what you’re feeling. And you think with your brain. When you imagine or pretend or think or wonder about something, you’re using your brain.”

“It’s in my head?”


“My brain is in my head?”


“With all the tiny people?”

It was impossible not to laugh. Turns out she already had a very clear idea of what was in her head: lots of tiny people, building houses and playing games.

This was perhaps the most surprising revelation about parenting, more surprising than all the conversations I have had about poop, more surprising than the realization that cosleeping is awesome because it means more sleep for everyone, more surprising than my apparent willingness to cook individual portions of everybody’s favorite foods rather than deal with hunger-induced crankiness:

Whether or not I had thought to tell her what was in her head, she had her own idea of what was going on in there.

Before becoming a parent, I had grand plans for my children. I thought about the books I would read them, the stories I would tell, the transformative experiences I would chaperone them through, the ways I would teach and influence and guide. I had no idea that children are full-on people from the moment they are born.

D is fierce, stubborn, smart, intense, imaginative, thoughtful, empathic. She is afraid to ride her bike and desperate to figure out how to get past her fear. She dresses the dinosaurs up in the My Little Pony skirts for the dinosaur ballet. She sings constantly, songs from my childhood and lately from the Muppets, songs like She’ll be Coming Round the Mountain and A You’re Adorable and You Are My Sunshine and Mana Mana. She screams bloody murder in time out, angry and frustrated not just that she isn’t getting her way but that she is being denied the opportunity to show us all that her way could work if we would just let her be in charge. She throws temper tantrums. She cries at the drop of a hat. She is learning to read, recognizing words and sounding them out, writing her name, her birthday list, little messages I find on folded scraps of paper all over the house. She talks to strangers, telling everyone within earshot how many cats we have, how many days till her birthday, Margueaux’s 2 middle names, her favorite princesses.  

We are celebrating her birthday today with butterflies, puffins (the food, not the bird), a fruit rainbow, chocolate cupcakes, and rainbow sprinkles. I hung paper lanterns and bought her a birthday girl pin and a special cup and a Muppet CD. I’m postponing all the grading, all the laundry, all the email, all the phone calls, all the bills, all the worries. Today is a birth day, a day my heart and soul and body opened up and this amazing gorgeous being emerged.

Happy birthday, D. I hope all the tiny people got together to build you something awesome.



Basil in the backseat

When my oldest daughter was a baby I worked for a local non profit organization that built school gardens and taught kids about the (literal) roots of their food.  We had an opportunity to get free flowers and herbs, but the pickup was on a weekend, and since my staff was composed entirely of AmeriCorps VISTAS who were already overworked and underpaid, I decided to just go get the plants myself, with the baby. How hard could it be?

I had hoped it would be sort of a small affair, leave the baby in the car, toss a couple pots in the back, say a gracious thank you and be on my way. It was not a small affair. Potted plants filled a medium-sized parking lot. A swarm of volunteers from organizations all over town waited for the go ahead to begin loading flats and carts. Dorothy showed no interest in staying her seat and drooling on the mirrors in Hello Bee, Hello Me.

The woman coordinating the event arrived in a beautifully restored 1940s era pickup. She and her children were wearing white button down shirts and over-sized sunglasses. I held Dorothy on my hip. We both looked grungy. As the event got underway, I struggled to carry the plants and the baby but managed to fill the back of my car. There were still rows and rows of beautiful basil plants left, basil I could imagine nestled under the tomatoes in the raised beds at my school gardens. I buckled Dorothy in and started piling basil in around her. I was sweaty, hair in my eyes, Dorothy was beginning to fuss, but I didn’t want to leave without saying thank you. The kind, lovely, stylish organizer was as gracious as one would expect, and in fact offers to help. Her white shirt is still spotless, though I know she’s been carrying plants. “Oh, let me just help you get those to your car and I’ll peek at the baby,” and before I can stop her, she’s swinging open the door to my backseat and peering in through the giant sunglasses. Dorothy is screaming, snot and soil crusted across her face, a basil plant in each angry fist and another hanging out of her mouth. There are no words for this moment. I shut the door, said thanks again, drove away. What can I say? My life is not styled. My shirts are not spotless. My house is too small.  But the basil grew beautifully all summer.