Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Worst Parenting Advise

On the other extreme here is some of the worst parenting advise I got.

Drop a couple of cheerios into the toilet and ask your potty training son to aim for the cheerios. Sounds reasonably clever. They say that men will aim for things in a potty, they even use the idea in public urinals to keep men from peeing everywhere (why is this necessary?) . I tried it, what a mistake. My son was so unable to hit his target and in his attempt to he pee ended up everywhere but the ceiling. No joke. This was from a parents magazine.

Wake your new born baby up every 2 hours during the day to feed so they will be plenty full all night and sleep for you. Again sounds fiendishly clever. This was from the pediatrician we had at the time. He is no longer our pediatrician. Our son was so tired he couldn't nurse properly at night and got up every 30 mins to snack but fell asleep before he was full up. Disaster for the exhausted new parents. And lets face it, if it was that easy to get a new born to sleep we would have sorted it out several millennia ago.

There are plenty of disaster gems. Anyone care to share

Best Parental Advice

So the last blog gave me an idea. You, our readers (what 3 or 4 of you), I hope, will add some of the best advice you have heard as you navigate this morass called parenting.

Best two bits of advice that I got:

My mom told me that when I was little and getting to potty training age, the pediatrician told her to not worry or think about potty training until three. So, I took her advice, quit worrying about my son and trying to get him to use the potty before three. He decided 3 weeks before his third birthday (at my parents' house for Thanksgiving, no less) that he would get up on his own and go use the potty that we had brought (good thing). I thought, well, if this isn't a sign, I don't know what is. We went out right away and got fun Bob the Builder undies. He had accidents the first week, then was dry during the day the whole second week. We'd still put pull ups on him at night, but the night before his third birthday, he asked to wear his underpants. I put extra sheets and plastic on his bed, wholly expecting an accident, but he woke up dry and we haven't looked back since. My daughter was a whole other story and even with the three advice, it was a whole different challenge. Never let anyone tell you that girls are easier than boys to potty train.

I read this at Parent Center.com, I think. When you have a picky eater, it is best to make meals with at least one thing you know they will eat, whether main dish, vegetable, or fruit and the rest of the meal is there to offer them. We had many a meal where they would only eat the one thing and it is heartwrenching when you don't know if they are really full or just trying to avoid the food. Both my son and daughter have gone to physical extremes of gagging on the food. My son, at about 3, threw it up once. So we have picky eaters. It was a long hard slog, but the fruits of our labors are coming to bear. My son now eats Indian chicken, tacos and nachos like they're going out of style and is much better at saying he'll try something to see how it is. His example is giving his sister something to strive for and she will now surprise us by saying she'll try something. It's not where I wish it would be, but it is getting so much better. I figure by the time my daughter is eight we'll be in a groove where all foods at the table will land on the plate and be eaten up.

So, dear reader, what is some of the best advice you feel you've received, where was it from and how did it work for you?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Long Time No Squeak

For a variety of reasons I have not been able to blog recently. However, I spotted this article today and thought I really should share it. It is almost porn for parents. Now I have your attention!

It is about the rules pediatricians break with their own children. Pediatricians Confessions. Of course we all suspected that our pediatricians didn't follow the book. But it is still interesting to read what rules went out the window. Of course it is really nice when pediatricians have had experience with some of the same problems we mere mortals have. They can give better advice and be less judgmental.

Of course my present pediatrician has no children and I really do think he is brilliant. So having children is not a prerequisite to being a sensible and good pediatrician.

I have to say I think my favorite story is the one at the end of the article. The mother and doctor in question only realized that maybe her 4 yr old son didn't need a sippy cup any longer when he brought her the gallon of milk, the cup, lid and valve and asked her to fill it.

I guess they all are just human, may be educated and human but still human.

Four year old kindergarten

Yup, you read that right. Four-year-old kindergarten. It's here, and I'm afraid it's here to stay.

Kindergarten, I grew up with the half-day kindergarten. Boy, have the times changed. I had morning kindergarten when I was 5 years old. I went in the morning, we did story time on the rug, letters and numbers at tables, a little free play time in the space in the room for free play and even had some recess. I remember I liked it. I met my best friend for all of elementary school there. I think I must have learned plenty, because I did fine in school.

When we moved to our state, we found our new district had all day kindergarten. I hadn't encountered that before. I was very leary of it. I couldn't understand why kindergarteners should need a full day. My oldest didn't have issues with it, he did fine with the lunches and all that. I was shocked that they had kindergarteners writing full sentences and stories. And I thought, "Great, is this what No Child Left Behind is bringing us?" I'm still not sold on the full day of kindergarten. My youngest is getting better at the hot lunches and dealing with it better, but I keep wondering if she had only had half day kindergarten and got into that routine, would she have done better with the lunch situation next year? She was in preschool two mornings a week for two years, so the routine of school was handled pretty well, with story time, songs and games.

So, not yet sold on the full day of kindergarten requirement, our district just started four year old kindergarten. They don't have room in their buildings, so they created a partnership with the area preschools to hold all the four year olds for this program. It is offered free to all four year olds in our district boundaries. I've been at PTO meetings last year at our elementary school, and they've talked about it then. One of the arguments is that it will get kids ready for kindergarten.

Ok, stop, hold it there, isn't kindergarten supposed to be the year that kids are helped to get ready for the rest of elementary school? Isn't kindergarten the year when those teachers take all those kids and help sort them into a more even playing field with social skill work, playing with others work, and learning to be a student work? Hmmm...but, on thinking about it, wasn't my kindergarteners already pushed to write full sentences (before you freak, they don't have to be perfect in spelling and punctuation, but still)? I am concerned, because, after reading parenting books and websites, I've seen it again and again, that young children learn through PLAY. So, why is the school routine being pushed so early? It seems like play time is being diminished.

So then, at these last year PTO meetings, the school district line is that not all kids have access to preschool or have parents that have all the skills to teach their children to function in our school society. Ok, fair enough, then let's call a spade, a spade and say that we are doing this because we need to bring those on the lower socio-economic rungs up to a more level playing field. And to make it fair, they will offer it to all students. But instead of telling me this is good for everyone, could you please be honest and say that it's for those people who don't have my background? And then, this begs a bigger question, besides making the school districts carry the burden of trying help students achieve more than their socio-economic status would normally allow, why isn't the whole of society working harder to solve the problems of the poor and disadvantaged? Yeah, don't get me started.

Then, at this month's PTO meeting, the principal mentioned that the school district, because it is getting state funding for the four year old kindergarten, will be operating with a surplus. Something like a $700,000 surplus.

Ok, now that's a good thing. Though, where did this surplus come from? Are we getting more money from the state than we are spending on 4K? And how could that be ok with the state? I don't know all those details, and I keep thinking that maybe I should be attending school board meetings. Perhaps getting the local paper (have I mentioned that I'm cheap) to understand this more. But, I won't knock the surplus, because that means my school district has some back up funds in these economic times. But, again, then, let's call a spade, a spade. We do 4K because it is good economic sense, but maybe it might not be the best for our 4 year old kids. Though, I think it will be more of a win-win situation. I just wish that they wouldn't sit there and pretend it is all about the kids, because it's not. That has been the impression I have gotten from the main arguments.

I'm still not sold on more school structure for our younger students. But I don't think it is a horrible thing. I'm sort of down the middle, because I will concede that the school district having more money at its disposal without raising local taxes. Though, it is taxpayer money one way or another and we pay one way or another. So, while I am glad that my tax money is going to help people who might be at a disadvantage economically and couldn't send their kid to preschool like we did, I wish our local governments would be more honest about the fact that we pay one way or another through various taxes for these programs. And if we didn't help these students to succeed, we might be paying for them with tax money to hold them in prisons or through welfare.

It is all very tricky and I don't have any answers. But, questions are a good start.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Wine palette

I am not a wine snob. Never have been. I don't know much about them, though I keep trying to find out more. The best I can say is that I do like wine, but I like it cheap.

Sadly, probably my first experience with wine was Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill in college. College students don't have a lot of money, and, as everyone knows, their use of drinking is not focused on the purely social or the palette pleasing characteristics.

I also lived in England for a bit, and, besides tea, I got a chance to sample wines with dinner. I still didn't know a whole lot and would drink whatever was set on the table. I think I learned I don't like dry whites that well.

I have probably been drinking wine with the intention of having it enhance a meal for about 11 or 12 years now. During our honeymoon, we had a Spanish cider that was fantastic and Mr. Wild and I, both novices to the wine industry, were interested in finding our wine palettes.

When Mr. Wild and I were in grad school, I think we started to try to appreciate wine for its intended craftsmanship. Unfortunately, we still were looking for cheap. This was in the days before $2 buck Chuck, but there were alternatives, and we also didn't drink wine as often as we do now. Wine with Kraft mac and cheese just doesn't quite work either. (Though I think I have some friends who could pair mac and cheese with something)

When we moved to the Chicago area, we did make an attempt at broadening our palettes. At the very least, we have discovered that we both like German makes of wine. I find it a bit amusing because Mr. Wild has some German in his family tree. I think our favorite is a spaetlese or a spaetlese riesling.

We thought we were being big wig wine lovers when we had a wine tasting in our home. They were good wines and it really did expose us to a lot of different ones. We found we liked a German Dornfelder, the only red my husband has ever liked. But we cannot remember the winery who made it, and have not found another bottled Dornfelder that we liked. Another really good one was a Gewurztraminer. It was spicy and goes well with spicy Indian food we enjoy eating. The wines ordered from the wine tasting were a bit on the pricey side, and we never ordered again. This was the point where we both knew that he liked German wines, almost exclusively.

We had friends in the area that I would say have a much more sophisticated palette than us. They are slightly older, so I would say maybe more practiced. At their house I got to appreciate their reds--shiraz and merlot--and we tried more Australian wines as well. I've come to like the blends by Rosemount Estates. We liked the traminer reisling that was made by this company, the first time we tried it was in visiting England, but soon found it was also imported to the States. I liked some of the red blends.

We do actually like Australian wines as well, mostly because we can get them cheap. My most recent favorite is Alice White's Lexia. I seriously picked it out because of the Alice. But come to find the wine is made of the Muscat grape, which was also what made up the only sparkling wine we've really liked, Muscato D'Asti. As my husband says, the Coca Cola generation has had our palette ruined and we prefer sweet wines.

My palette might be a bit wider. I am willing to try reds, especially if my friends are drinking them. I suddenly found I liked cabernet sauvignons during my Jane Austen night. But, I won't buy any for myself, because I know Mr. Wild won't drink it with me.

I think what I've learned about wines is that I drink what I like and to keep trying new things. Red wine with dark chocolate can be tasty. So, I am still looking, but I could never do wine reviews. All the looking up of these links for today's post though has taught me more about the wines we do like, and I can kind of see why. Still, I prefer wines that are under $10 and I don't care to spend any more than that, even if there's something that is so incredibly fantastic.

Unless maybe for a special occasion.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Where's my voice?

Been a long time since I've blogged, but I haven't been able to find something interesting to write about, so I am writing about not writing.

I have ideas at the back of my head. I'm kicking myself for missing two Mondays of Monday night memories. But I just can't get myself to sit and write. Things are busy at home and work.

I had a good week last week, but busy, busy, it seemed. My husband made some awesome potato leek soup.

I went shopping Tuesday night, I think.

Wednesday Mr. Wild had his D&D night, so I spent it with the kids, but after they were in bed, I got all crazy and made a PowerPoint on clothing during the Jane Austen era.

Thursday was Cub Scouts, parent-teacher conferences, and my Jane Austen night with the ladies. Surprised them with my pseudo-Early Republic outfit with a hair do and in the rain no-less. And dazzled with my formal presentation on gorgeous Early Republic/Empire/Regncy dresses.

Friday was Mr. Wild's birthday dinner (I got stuffed on enchiladas with mole sauce) and a very lackluster James Bond movie. It was sad not having the theme music cue up EVER in the movie. It was not my James Bond. Give me Pierce Brosnan back!

Saturday, I realized I hadn't had a breather to sit and talk with my kids. We talked about their parent teacher conferences and what was going well (and maybe not so well). A friend I made at my work, who left only a year after we both started, came over for dinner one last time before she moves to Chicago. It was fun to talk Facebook, her new beau, her new upcoming job, and the election. And excellent dinner fixings--chicken in the crock pot with Italian dressing, green bean casserole (you know the one, is there any other?), squash casserole, crusty bread and carrot cake for dessert. And Lexia, a white wine by Alice White.

Sunday, I made the kids the awesome pumpkin waffles found earlier on this blog. They are a hit and are going to be a featured hit with my soon to be nine year old's birthday sleep over. Oh, no, we're stepping into the land of sleepovers. Yikes. I also spent Sunday finding my voice elsewhere.

So, I guess I've been busy. That and more stupid television watching than I care to admit. I need another good book, but Mr. Wild didn't bring me back the last installment of the Twilight series. I've read spoilers, so I know what to expect, but we won't go back to who we really think Bella should be with. I do have Mansfield Park on my night stand, I need to get back to the classics.

Ah, but now off to do some work I put off way too long.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

And now for something completely different

I enjoy Cake Wrecks (see our side list for that blog) and it led me to this new to me blog:

Fail Blog

I am laughing so much, I am almost crying. Hope it brightens your day too.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Totally misread

I guess I wasn't clear in my last blog. I don't feel that Edward and Bella would truly last, because I don't feel that deeper connection that she seems to have with Jacob. To me, the connection is deeper when you can laugh at yourselves and each other, have a great time, relax, be yourself and, at the same time, be electrified by each other.

Bella, to me, is so much more relaxed and herself with Jacob. Besides, I still can't stand it how much control Edward has over her life. Couched in the fact that he's trying to protect her, but I've heard about relationships like that and they can be bad. Maybe I'm too modern, I don't feel I need a man to protect me and that's what I don't like about the story.

So, I still don't believe Edward is the right one, because, I believe the connection to Jacob is stronger. Yes, he's less "dangerous," and, maybe on the surface, the "safe" choice, but personally, I cannot see anything that tells me she is connected to Edward in a deeper way. Maybe the author just did a better job of describing the relationship between Bella and Jacob. I think a relationship born of friendship or developing into a strong friendship is stronger, deeper, and, if she had let Jacob actually into her life as a suitor, more passionate. But she's never going to know, is she?

That's just how I see it, so I find it to be tragic.

So, nyah. I'm still all for Team Jacob. Stinking bloodsuckers.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Defending Passion

Oh girl come on, passion not lasting? And I can not let you describe motherhood that way, or being over thirty that way. I find it hard to believe you really think that. I get that you like Jacob better but the safe choice is not always the right choice, it can also be the boring choice. Lack of passion can result in lack of interest. And no offense to all you parents but my personal experience is that parents do not know what life partner will most make their child happy. They may like a safe option but safety does not always equal marital felicity. I know from your feelings on Jane Austen you are no Charlotte Lucas.

Now Bella does love Jacob but she is just in love with Edward more. Way more. There is some passion with Jacob too but Edward sings to her heart in a way no one else can. They ultimately complete each other. Both are lost without the other. She may say she doesn't like flashy things but if she didn't like them a little she would not have been attracted to Edward in the first place. Like all interesting characters she is a self contradiction. Also Bella and Edward have mutual taste in music and art and literature that will sustain them if they ever get tired of making out.

And lets face it passion is everything-from the thirty something mother of three. Passion built the Taj Mahal, wrote the most gripping and most disturbing stories, destroyed lives and saved others. Passion is what makes your heart stop with a glance. Passion is what carries you through premarital hell and post children exhaustion (oh and D&D obsessions). Passion is what fucks people up for sure, and yes many passionate beginnings burn out but many burn bright and smolder forever.

And don't even pretend you and Mr Wild were/are not passionate. I've heard your "when you first meet" story many times and it is told with passion. You were not just friends that became lovers, the spark was there at the beginning.

No I'm all for passion, definitely makes a good read. What I am not for is being told Edward is gorgeous constantly. Once per book really is enough for me.


Ok, I've jumped on the Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse bandwagon. It was tough going at first. I didn't think Stephenie Meyer's first couple of books and plot pacing was going to hold me. But, at the end of Twilight, she threw in some exciting sci-fi fantasy action (yeah, a girl can like that stuff, too) and started New Moon with the same kind of excitement and danger. (Clever Stephenie to put the first chapter of the next book at the end of Twilight, I might not have kept going.) But Stephenie's writing has definitely gotten better, and I think Eclipse is when she finally got a good mix of high level excitement and low level description. She threw in a little mystery, too. I can tell she really has matured at the plot pacing in this third book.

I just still can't believe Bella is in love with Edward. I couldn't feel it in the first book, and he left in the second one. I've decided I'm not a passionate romantic, and I don't think relationships can last on that passion. Edward's a gentleman, blah, blah and he's protective, blah, blah, but their relationship is too intense and I don't see them just having fun. (Ok, and I know the fans are going to say, but when are they going to have fun, they just keep getting tangled in all this danger?)

You know what I'm going to say, but I have to say it. Jacob is the better boy for her. Edward, yes, protective, but he orders her around. And she doesn't like it, but she gives him excuses for his behavior. Hmmmm...sounds like a controlling relationship to me. I don't ever feel that she's relaxed and comfortable with him. Her dad hates him, so that makes them tense, she could be attacked by Victoria anytime, so that makes them tense. She's exhausted when he's laying in bed with her and she's either trying very hard to stay awake, or falls exhausted to sleep. Even Edward's family embarrasses her with making a big deal out of everything and being flamboyant and dressy and she's not that kind of girl. I feel totally stressed when reading about her and Edward and their interaction. It just does not feel like something that any girl like Bella would stick around with if it kept being that intense.

Jacob and Bella hang out doing things. They work on the bikes, they walk to the beach, they ride the bikes. They laugh and go to a movie. They are playful, friendly, and sweet. And they don't need to do a ton of cuddling and kissing just yet. He pulls her together when Edward leaves her, and to me, that should count for a lot more. Because Jacob is there for her and will continue to be there for her. That's the impression I get. I kept hoping Jacob would imprint on her, but I knew he wouldn't.

And maybe that's just indicative of my own relationship. My husband was my friend, before I realized it could be passionate, too. He was a friend through all the different guys I dated before I figured out that he was the one. If I had been Bella and finally realized that I was in love with Jacob, I would have had to tell Edward I was sorry, but it wasn't going to work anymore.

So maybe the teenagers all like the passion and how Edward can supress his need to be with her, because he's "so in love," but me, being a thirty something wife and mother of two children, maybe I appreciate that "best friend" more because to me that connection is worth more than a thousand passions. The "best friend" under the passions is what keeps you giggling, feeling young and silly and playful and still passionate about each other.

I'm not sure how Breaking Dawn ends it, but I guess I will read and find out.

Poor Jacob.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Monday Night Memory

My senior year in high school, let's just say I had joined all the geeky groups--Thespians, marching band, swing choir. I had/have many friends from these organizations. And through these groups, I also had lots of different teachers, often fitting personnas for us geeky folks.

Our chorus/swing choir teacher, who, oddly, did not play the piano, was turning 40. As I am getting close to that age, I cannot believe how old I thought he was. Now that I think about it, I am sure he didn't think he was that old.

Anyway, us seniors, being in senioritis mood and all, thought we would thrill him with a birthday surprise. Most of us being part of band, we also got the band director in on it. We all conspired to get into the high school music classroom and the teacher's office and decorate it with black streamers, balloons and posters.

We were in the high school parking lot as night was falling. We were waiting for the band director to show up. I was hanging out in one of my friend's car. She showed us that her car liked to talk instead of beeping at you if you left the door open and we giggled our way through telling the car that the door was not "a jar" but a door. She flipped on the music and Red, Red Wine came on the radio. She stated that she really liked this song. I think it was the first time I had heard it. It was, I believe, the fall of 1988, which was the year of UB40's re-release of the song when it finally hit number one.

We whiled away more time dancing in our seats to the song, other people in the car singing all the words, me finally getting the chorus and singing it with them. It was a good dance song, and if you couldn't tell, I like to dance, considering I was in swing choir (dancing and singing at the same time) and also dance lessons.

The band director showed up and we proceeded, giggling, to fill the music director's office entirely full of black balloons and caking the room with many a black streamer. To overuse the 80s lingo, "It was awesome."