Bored Housewives Network

Getting through the day, one bonbon at a time.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Thank somewhere or other for little girls

Today my daughter Finn informed me that she hates the way I walk. "Why do you have to wiggle your bum like that? It's embarrassing."

Of course, she said this in front of a group of people as we stood at the bus stop. My first reaction was to get very mad, but people were watching. So, I smiled sweetly and asked her what she meant by that because that's what you're supposed to do if you're a good mother - encourage your precious little gift to express herself.

"You walk like a sexy lady. You should walk more like me." She then stomped around a little bit to demonstate. "See? That's not all sexy."

I had to hand it to her - she definitely didn't look sexy. With the stiff walk, the blond hair and blue eyes and very severe expression you had more of a Hitler Youth air about her. An older gent smiled at her and then looked at me shaking his head with obvious amusement. Finn sensed a grown-up ally and so upped her game. She sashayed around the bus stop bench, playing to the crowd and trilling, "Ooh look at me! I'm mommy and I like to wiggle my bum!" Several people laughed outright.

I explained to her (in a commendably even tone) that when girls become women their hips change a bit and they walk with a more circular motion. That it has nothing to do with being sexy and that it isn't very nice to make fun of someone for the way they walk.

"Oh mom, shaking your bum is not a disability."

Then the bus came. We boarded and she immediately forgot the whole conversation. I was denied the rebuttal I had yet to come up with. She was pointing out a dog on the street and a woman with the same handbag as me. I was destroyed, humilated and really, really annoyed and she was chirping away and holding my hand, happy as a lark.

Little girls are scary creatures.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Ask a Bored Housewife: What to Do When Hosting Overly Rowdy Young Guests

Dear Bored Housewives,

This weekend, my husband and I sponsored a going away party for some friends. We invited our circle of mutual friends and their children (approx. 30 adults and 10 kids/babies) for coffee and dessert. It was a laid back Sunday evening, nothing fancy.

Among our guests were three couples with a total of five 3- and 5-year-old boys between them. Said boys immediately began jumping up and down on our sectional sofa and pulling it apart. First graders were running around ON the couch. They were standing on the back, jumping off, then scrabbling up and over. Repeatedly. Couch cushions were placed in the middle of the floor to make a fort.

Setting aside my momentary embarrassment at the unexpected exposure of a forgotten hair clip, stray piece of popcorn and other detritus that collects under a couch's cushions, I was stunned that these kids would treat someone else's property that way. I'm fairly laid back about these things, and do not generally overreact to incidental property damage (earlier in the evening I watched a favorite vase fall and shatter due to a guest's enormous handbag and didn't blink -- these things happen) so please believe that I do not exaggerate when I say that my couch is destroyed. Cushions sag, springs audibly creak, one leg is cracked, and the hardwood floor beneath is scratched.

Aside from that, the jumping, whooping and wrestling kept the other guests from being able to sit in that room, or maintain a conversation over the din. The three mothers were sitting directly across from the couch in the only other available chairs in that room, watching bemusedly as their kids ruined my couch, and offered a half-hearted, "Sorry about this..." while my husband was literally lifting the section pieces back into place multiple times during the course of the evening. These are women who are intelligent professionals who generally appear to have their lives in hand. I've been to their homes and spent time with their kids, who are normally fairly well behaved, and have never seen this crazed behavior.

Neither my husband nor I made any overt comments (i.e. "Get the hell off the couch!") to the boys or their mothers (or fathers -- who were not in the room) but did comment pointedly that the boys were "spirited" and mused that they must really like the cookies. As a parent, I would have picked up on this hint, and done something about my child's rowdy behavior, but I am not unsympathetic to the fact that sometimes children just don't act they way you want them to in public. What puzzles me is that these women didn't even try to control their kids. They didn't split them up, give them a warning, or issue a lackluster "Honey, no." They didn't even make them take their shoes off!

My question is this:

Where do I draw the line between not wanting to make comment on a friend's lack of parental control, and protecting my couch from sofacide? Am I crazy for being angry at these moms who blithely murmured, "Sorry for tearing up your house" as they sailed out the door to go home? Did holding my tongue serve as tacit permission for the kids to act that way? My husband and I have crossed them off our list of people to invite into our home, unless we're having a strictly backyard affair, but we entertain a lot and I'd like to know what I could/should say if this situation comes up in the future. Thanks.

Sign me,
I don't live at Gymboree for a reason

Ooh, that's a juicy one to start the week. What do you make of this, O Wise BHNers?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Full Regimen

I've been absent for a bit because i'm currently feeling in-between mommy worlds. My little Henry just turned 11 months old and isn't crawling yet. He's also not standing, cruising, or pulling-up unless you really, really encourage him. My Pediatrician referred him to our state Early Intervention service when he was 9 months old and after a few weeks of scheduling wait, he was triple-teamed by a physical therapist, developmental therapist, and nutritionist. A few weeks later he received an assessment from an occupational therapist as well. He's now on a regimen of weekly PT visit and monthly developmental therapy and nutrionist's visits.

Because of all this we're not quite fitting in with the "my baby's in the range of normal" parents anymore and thankfully, because Henry's gross motor delays aren't huge, i don't feel completely comfortable in spaces designed for kids with delays.

All of this delay business has highlighted the emotional strain of parenting in a way that i hadn't yet realized. Foremost i worry about Henry. I want him to be able to have the mobility he wants, to not have movement be uncomfortable, and to not already be "checking" himself before he even turns one. From there, my emotions are like the swirly-paint masterpieces i created as a child. I'm grieving for the perfect vision I had of Henry and how he's not quite meeting it. I'm feeling selfish that even some small part of me is disappointed in him. I feel unhappy that he "can't be like all the other babies" and guilty that his delays are much milder than most and i'm still a basketcase. That leads to worry that i'm kidding myself-- that he's really much worse than i think. This is when i generally get tired and realize i need to go do something else and take my mind of all of this.

So i will. We're in the process of buying and selling our condo and moving into a new single-family house. This is completely exciting and exhausting, so at least i have ready diversions.

Linky goodness

Lately I have been blogging about my girl turning 11 months old, another meme (that I tagged you all with but forgot to tell you--sorry!), having a daughter who looks more like her dad than like me, crazy hippie music, and my wish to have more patience.

Why getting a new babysitter is not unlike going into pon'farr

Our first week with our new babysitter has come to its conclusion, and the conclusion is: two thumbs way up!

Even though my maternity leave doesn't end for another three weeks, I wanted to make the transition as easy and unstressful as possible for both me and Sam. Despite wanting a decent buffer period, however, I still procrastinated way too long before looking for childcare. I won't list my reasons for procrastinating -- most of them founded in anxiety -- because I'm sure almost all of you have been there or are there right now, so I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. But still. Anxiety. Gut-wrenching, waking-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-in-a-panic anxiety. It blows.

As I'm finding with so many things to do with parenting, the anticipation was much worse than the actuality. (Heeey... maybe being a parent will teach me Valuable Life Lessons! There's a thought!) When I realized I couldn't stall any longer, I posted my ad in a couple of places, and good old Craigslist delivered. Despite my somewhat vaguely worded requirements, I received a dozen or so responses and my spotty faith in humanity was restored when none of them were overtly nutbars. I did the back-and-forth email thing with a few people, did a couple of phone interviews, and -- praise the lord -- hit paydirt with the first person I interviewed in my home. Somebody pinch me! This must be a dream!

The main reason I like her is, not to put too fine a point on it, because she's a lot like me. More than ten years younger, yes, but still quite similar. Because as I mentioned to Kris once, all we want for our babies is a caregiver who can provide them with almost exactly the same brand of love and care we do... but of course without them ever winning our babies' affections as thoroughly as we have. Is that so unreasonable, I ask you?

Happy ending aside, this process has made me mentally revisit every conflicted-mom-and-nanny op-ed piece Salon has ever published and made me -- once again -- realize that when it comes to pregnancy and parenthood, I'm not the special, adorably unique creature I once thought I was. Those Salon moms and I? We have a lot in common. And now I want to go back and track down every person who's ever written a letter to Salon in response to those stories, letters reviling these moms and suggesting that they keep their "trivial", "privileged", "middle-class" problems to themselves, and I want to write them each a letter telling them to shut the fuck up.

I mean, seriously, anyone who thinks that the fears and concerns and psychological upheaval surrounding entrusting your tiny, innocent, trusting child to the care of another human being are trivial? Well, that person has probably never been a mom. When it comes to this issue, there is stuff going on in my mind and body that are beyond all ability to reason with, starting with, oh, the fact that every primitive instinct I have is constantly yelling at full volume, "KEEP BABY NEAR AT ALL TIMES!" To get to the point where I can blithely (or, let's be honest, fake blithely) say to another person, "Oh, sure, why don't you just put Sam in his stroller and go to the park. Have fun!" requires me to program over some pretty powerful biological imperatives. This has been a tough pill to swallow. Before I got pregnant, I didn't even realize I had biological imperatives. I thought those were things other people struggled with, while I, on the other hand, had nothing but cool Vulcan logic on my side. It's been humbling, let me tell you. When it comes to Sam's wellbeing, I'm still a lot like a Vulcan... at pon'farr.*

But as I mentioned, I'm really happy with Sam's new friend. She's sweet and calm and creative and fun. I can tell that he likes her a lot, which I reassure her of frequently, since he still tends to seek me out every twenty minutes or so. That's cool. It's a process, building this new relationship, both for me and for Sam. But we'll get there, and maybe we'll even learn a few more Valuable Life Lessons along the way.

*In case I'm the only nerd in the house, "pon'farr" is the time of mating, when the stoically logical Vulcans pay for their rigid control by experiencing a period of total emotional abandon. It gets pretty messy.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

a date with my daughter

The Bee and I went out to dinner tonight. This morning, the plan was for the whole family to go out to dinner, but then the Potato decided not to nap. And an un-napped two-year-old is not something I will inflict on myself in a restaurant, much less on total strangers. So he stayed home with his dad (sobbing all the while, I hear), and she and I went out to Friendly's. On the way out the door, she grabbed her journal (which she just brought home from school) and said, "if it's boring and we have to wait, I'll read to you from my journal."

My heart gave a little pitter-pat.

I don't remember if I had a journal when I was in first grade, but in all the time I can remember having a journal, I would never have read it to my mom.

We got there, and sure enough, it was packed, so we had to wait a while for our food. And she read her journal entries to me. It was a big insight for me into how early a writer's self-criticism begins, as she would skip over certain entries to get to "the good ones" or say things like "this one is boring."

It was also greatly affirming, as my daughter basically journals about the same kinds of things that I do (books she's reading, things she's looking forward to, visits with her grandparents), and while I'm not really surprised about that, I found myself thinking, "hey, that could be an entry on my blog, if it was more than four sentences long." And the most rewarding of all? She brought this journal home because it was full, and they had to get a new one (and journal version 2 evidently has entries that take up four pages!).

My work here, apparently, is done.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Bicycle! Bicycle!

My daughter Finn is eight. I know I've told you all this before, but have I told you that she is eight and she can't ride a bike? As the weather gets warmer bike season looms. I tried to teach her last summer. It did not go well. I am impatient and she is so over-the-top cautious that it's almost laughable... if you're not the one hunched over tiny handlebars, pushing a 60 pound child, that is.

She is tall for her age and insists on training wheels. My dad had to customize her bike to accomodate the extra wheels. Kind of like "Pimp My Ride" but totally uncool. She pedals so slowly that small pebbles actually send her sprawling due to lack of momentum. She howls and cries and screams up and down the street. People look at me like I'm a bad mother - just because I walk a little bit ahead of her and kind of, sort of try to look like I'm just out for a stroll and not with the wailing nightmare on wheels trailng a half-block behind me.

This whole bike-riding thing makes me a bad mother. You know at the end of one particularly bad "session" I actually threatened the poor child? I told her that if she didn't at least try to pedal down the block that I would give her bike to her 2nd grade nemesis, Kiana. I got really into it, embellishing my plan with gusto. I would invite Kiana over for grilled cheese sandwiches (Finn's favourite food) and then bring out the bike. I would hand it over to her and let her know that it is hers for the taking since Finn couldn't even be bothered to try to ride it. I am a monster. But she pedaled that bloody bike half-way down the block - until she encountered a hair-line crack in the cement. Game over.

So, yeah, summer's coming. My darling little contrarian has set her sights on a cool banana-seat bike she spied in a bike shop window. She wants streamers on the handle bars and a bell. I will buy it for her, because every kid should get excited about a new bike. And maybe this year she will figure it out. Maybe I will be able to teach her instead of terrorizing her. And we'll go on long rides together around the seawall - me looking over my shoulder smiling benignly and she grinning adoringly up at me, skinny little legs pumping, the wind in her hair (the little bits that stick out of her helmet, of course) ... Or, you know, maybe Big Sisters covers this sort of thing...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

My fellow BHNer went to New York and all I got was this lousy blog post

Yo, BHNers! Here you can read about my trip to New York. Highlights include cake, wrestling, macaroni, and poop.

I know--I really know how to sell the sizzle, right?

(I just attended a moms' night out at which I consumed a very full glass of pinot grigio. Please pardon my tipsy blogging.)

Ask a Bored Housewife: How to Find a Reasonably Fabulous Baby Gift

Dear Bored Housewives,

I am apparently entering that phase of life that comes before 'aged' but after 'childhood' called 'everyone is having babies'. My boyfriend's best friend is expecting a little girl with his fiancée, their first child. Mom is 24 and Dad is 28 and they are both very, very excited (and so are we!).

We have already decided on the requisite knitted baby gifts to be made (assorted bibs with creative and funny patterns if we can find them) but we would like to include some other interesting gift for these new parents to be at their upcoming baby shower. I'd like something to offset the homemade knitted bits, and I'm wondering what was the best or most unusual or most useful baby gift you received? Or gave? Or wish you had received?

We are loving the student life right now but are hoping to invest in the little bundle as much as our budget will allow, which sadly means no space-age carseats but could include a reasonably fabulous item.

Thank you all very kindly.

I Had Better Get Used to This

Hmm... very good question. It's made me realize how little I remember about what I used or needed most with a newborn!

Poor Puppies

Hi All. Nile has started to get really rough & (sometimes downright mean) with our pets .. we have a cat & 2 small dogs who are all very good natured, but none are used to the type of abuse that Nile is doling out - tail pulling, ear yanking, smacking in the head, screaming in their faces - i'm beginning to worry that one of them might swipe at or snap at him. i don't know what to do apart from chant "Gentle" over & over again (which doesn't seem to have any effect whatsoever). has anyone else gone through this? any tips? help!

New Orleans Public Library Seeking Book Donations

I got this via email, and am cross-posting here and on my own blog:

The New Orleans Public Library is asking for any and all hardcover and paperback books for people of all ages in an effort to restock the shelves after Katrina. The staff will assess which titles will be designated for its collections. The rest will be distributed to destitute families or sold for library fundraising.

Please send your books to:

Rica A. Trigs
Public Relations
New Orleans Public Library
219 Loyola Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70112
ETA--a commenter on my blog says she checked, and they cannot be sent book rate, because only first class mail or better (UPS, DHL, FedEx) are being delivered in New Orleans. Sorry for the confusion.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Lunchbox Angst

Sam isn't even one year old, and I already feel guilty about the inferior lunches I'll be sending him to school with.

I've already told Anne-Marie that I once had a bout of insomnia when Sam was about four months old, due to the fact that I realized I had NO IDEA what I was going to pack for his school lunches... a bout of insomnia that was only alleviated when I got out of bed, brainstormed a list of lunch options, and wrote it down. I've since lost the list.

I have an uneasy relationship with school lunches. I was the world's pickiest eater when I was a kid. I didn't realize until I was, oh, twenty-eight years old, that my pickiness was due to the fact that my mother was a terrible cook (except for desserts; my mom is a grand champeen baker).

Here was a stereotypical lunch for the Wee Doppelganger:
  • one sandwich, the contents of which I forget and which are destined to remain shrouded in mystery
  • one home-baked dessert (i.e. cookies -- always packed in threes, which to this day remains the quantity in which I consume cookies -- or cake or pie or tarts)
  • one store-brand granola bar
  • one apple
Most days, everything went in the garbage... except for the dessert, of course. When I think about the thousands of mom-hours spent packing those disrespected lunches, it makes me want to cry. And yes, it's selfish crying. Because the thought that I could spend thousands of mom-hours packing sad little abandoned lunches breaks my heart. Because, dudes, I hate to cook, yo.

Does anyone other than me worry about stuff like this? For you moms of older kids, how do you figure out what your kids will want to eat during the day? Do you have to come up with a brand-new lunch concept EVERY SINGLE DAY? How do you keep sandwiches from getting nasty? Is there a fruit other than the apple that travels well? How much bloody Tupperware do you have to invest in to keep this particular ship afloat? If you make crappy lunches but are really good at making little drawings and notes on post-its that you tuck INTO the lunchbox, do you get any points for that at all? Or are those embarrassing, and if so, at what age does this embarrassment commence?

Oh, and this woman here? With her perfect, home-made, nutritionally balanced, creative, cutely packaged vegan lunchboxes and her little kid who loves them and actually eats them... I kind of hate her a little bit. Sad, huh?

Friday, March 10, 2006

Ask a Bored Housewife: A How-To Guide for Conception

Dear Bored Housewives,

For anyone who had difficulty conceiving, I'd love to hear tips for success. What's odd in our case is that this is (will be) our second. With number one, we conceived the first month. Now we've been trying for a good year and a half to no avail...

A Special Person

Ah, if only we could control conception. Or can we? Have at 'er, BHNers.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Body Talk

My hormones are talking to me. Has anyone else been feeling this way? I feel like it's waaaaay too soon!

Grimey Shower Curtain

Dearest Bored Housewives,

How does one get a grimey clear plastic shower curtain to look clean & new again? Can I put it in the washing machine?

How do you spell "grimey" anyway? Grimey? Grimy?)

Your advice is much appreciated!

White Garbage Bags

My daughter once referred to some rowdy rough boys as "White Garbage Bags". The poor child meant to say "white trash". Now, this isn't exactly a nice sentiment coming from a young girl, but then again, if you'd seen these boys...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Happy International Women's Day

Here's a post I wrote on my conflicted feelings, this IWD. I'm especially curious in how my Canadian sisters are feeling about these issues.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Fresh meat! Fresh meat!

Let's give a warm BHN welcome to our newest member, Karen!

You want to talk about auspicious beginnings? I first encountered Karen's excellent blog, verbatim, when I did a Google search on the phrase "toilet blog" (I had my reasons at the time) and found a joke entry -- or at least I assumed it was a joke -- written from the perspective of a toilet. Clearly, Karen has "BHN material" written all over her. I've been enjoying her site on a daily basis ever since then, and to tell you the truth, I feel kind of stupid for taking so long to think about inviting her to join us.

She's a seasoned mom, editor, reader, foodie, and a heck of a funny writer... in short, a woman after my own heart. But enough out of me. I'll let Karen take over with her own introduction, if she cares to. Welcome, Karen!

Ask a Bored Housewife: The Social Life of Babies

I just reached into the ol' mailbag and pulled out this missive:
Dear fellow bored housewives,

I am the mother of a reasonably happy, 5-month-old baby girl. I stay at home with her, and we do a fair job of getting out and about, even in the chilly Chicago winter. I'd love to hear your opinions, though, on "socializing" babies. How often do your babies see other babies? Is there an observable difference between social and (anti-? a-? non-?) social babies? Do you think pre-school is the appropriate place to make the transition to social creature, or should steps be taken before that?

Gwen is our first baby and the first born among all of our clinging-to-urban-hipster-life friends, and our families are several hundred miles away, so we don't have a readily available baby-socializing circle. We do go to a music class for babies every Friday at the Old Town School of Folk Music, which is fun, but more so for me, I think. So, whatever thoughts, anecdotes, opinions, etc. you'd care to share, I'd love to read.

Thanks so much,
Longtime Reader, First-Time Questioner

I reckon everyone will have something to say about this one. I'm especially looking forward to hearing from the BHNers who have older kids. Is socialization of babies under two really necessary?

Keep the great questions coming, folks. Just email us... and remember, no question too big, too small, or too goofy.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The sad & unrecognized passing of Day 100

Hey, ladies. I've been so out of the loop lately! I have been browsing all the postings here, but haven't been at all motivated to write in mine. But, today, I did. It's been about five weeks, and in that time was... The sad & unrecognized passing of Day 100

Sunday, March 05, 2006

In the beginning...

I swore I'd write up A's birth story before she was a year old, and by golly, I have!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Ask a Bored Housewife: How the Hell Do You Get a Kid into a Baby Bjorn, Anyway?

Fresh from the mailroom:
Dear Bored Housewives,

I saw a mom carrying a kid in a Baby Bjorn on the train today. How the hell do you get a kid into one of those, anyway? Does it involve welding? Because it kind of looks like it does. Have any of you tried this thing? How does it compare to other child-carrying equipment, like Snuglis and strollers and, um... backpacks with air-holes?

A Clueless Childless Person
Oho, if you thought everyone got all fired up about the carseat letter, I bet that will pale in comparison to this. Be prepared for a LOT of information, childfree people. Don't forget to take notes. There'll be a test later.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ask a Bored Housewife: The Dreaded SUV

Another letter!
Dear Bored Housewives,

I really love my two-door 2005 Honda Accord, that has leather seats and sport-stylin' good looks. It is the only car my wife and I use (we live downtown and parking spaces alone cost $20,000 to buy, let alone the cost of insurance for another car) and I made my final payment on it last month. I love my car. So, here is the rub: my wife and I are planning on procreating soon, and she is full convinced that we'll need to rid ourselves of my first baby (um, the car) and get some kind of four-door suburban blandmobile. I say that people all over the world drive two-door cars and have babies, and we can make do.

In 2006, is it possible to have a baby and transport it in a two-door car? Is my wife going to win this and make me buy a Ford?


Take it away, BHNers!

Did you know you're a dot-mom?

I had a little free time on my hands, so I thought I'd invent some new internet jargon.