ok, ok. stop yelling at me. i know my stuff is ancient. i've been working on building a new blog. and life has intervened, and i haven't had a chance to put it all together.

but i will.

(and i promise i will ditch the ouchy-on-the-eye red and pink motif.)
  • Current Music
    "watching the wheels" - john lennon

who's afraid of victoria's secret?

a lot of local parents are up in arms about a skimpy victoria's secret window. i, on the other hand, am way more offended by violence than i am over a few mannequins dressed up in sexy lingerie.


when i mentioned how BC was freaked out when she saw the gun display in a walmart -- and that said display pissed me off far more than any sexy window display would, a parent on my favorite list, DCUM, mentioned how the book "Freakonomics" mentions that kids are more in danger of drowning in pools than they are of getting shot. That well may be, but regarding "Freakonomics" - yes, plenty of children drown in pools, and I sometimes wish my children had a little more of a healthy respect for the fact that a pool is a great place to play as long as certain safety precautions are in effect (such as a grownup must be watching you, etc.) But a pool in and of itself isn't something with a purpose to kill. There are no purposes for a gun other than to shoot at something - you don't make crafts with them, play with them, make hats, brooches, pteradactyls, etc. Yes, I know there are sports people out there who think that shooting at clay pigeons is a great activity. But, for the most part, anytime someone shoots at something, there is the opportunity there to actually kill or hurt something or someone -- certainly one careless miss at the clay pigeon shooting fest and you might bean someone in the eye or butt, perhaps. (And please, for the love of the Diety of your choice, I am NOT trying to incite an argument about whether it is your constitutional right to bear arms. THAT is a windmill I only tilt at in smaller forums ;-)

My daughter does not watch television news. We have shielded her, rightly or wrongly, from pretty much everything we think we can up to this point. Hurricane Katrina, which we felt she was old enough to understand, is something we have talked about at length, as we knew she would hear about now that she is at elementary school, and we thought could provide some very teachable and interesting discussions about people and economics and disasters. When my kids see a pool, however dangerous that pool is, they don't immediately tense up in horror. But when my daughter sees a gun (and I hope to G-d she never sees too many in real life), she knows it is something that can kill her. I'd certainly prefer this attitude than the attitude that unfortunately kills or maims many children each year when they accidentally come upon some unsecured firearm and start to play with it.

So, as you can gather, I am one of those people who is far more concerned about the violence kids see in their games, their TV shows, their lives. That being said, I think it is my job as a parent to moderate my kids' interactions with these and all other things, as much as I can. As they grow older, I will have fewer and fewer opportunities to monitor/moderate what my kids experience. By that time, I will have hopefully done some serious parenting and talked extensively about sex, drugs, violence, and, of course, rock and roll (for example, in my house, Celine Dion is considered a sign of the coming of the Apocalypse ;-) I don't believe my opinion should dictate what Victoria's Secret shows in their window. (I certainly can't tell WalMart not to sell guns, at least not in this political climate, and those have a greater chance of harming someone than does a thong, however painful the latter can be in practice.) As a consumer, I have the choice to avoid the store and not patronize the company if I don't like what they're doing. But hello, they are selling lingerie. There have always been mannequins dressed up in little teeny tiny nothings as long as I can remember (and I remember as a child in the late 1970s seeing the Frederick's of Hollywood store in the Ocean County Mall with a mannequin in some skimpy boa number. Mostly, it inspired giggles and a conversation with my mom.)

If nothing else, maybe this is a wakeup call for many of us to think carefully about our conversations with our children about sex and sexuality. I am very uncomfortable with some of the comments in newspapers made about the "sluttiness" of these mannequins, as if women shouldn't feel comfortable expressing their sexuality for fear of being branded as "bad" women. I'd be lying through my teeth if I said I was jumping up and down in anticipation about talking to my daughter about what some consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes; but if my girl decides to ask me about it, I am going to do my best to put things in context as I think appropriate. Obviously, we all have different ideas about what is appropriate about sex and sexuality and need to convey our ideals to our kids for their thinking pleasure. For my part, I want my daughter to see that the world is a big place full of diversity and wonder. And while I don't want her baring her middriff in elementary school at the moment, I want her to also know that one day, when she is a grownup, she can make choices about all that she wants to do -- and that there may be consequences for her choices, but that she needs to make the best choices for herself, the right choices that let her be true to her feelings, her community, and her world.
  • Current Music
    azucar! - celia cruz

i don't get it. but what the hell.

LJ Interests meme results

  1. ab fab:
    who doesn't love jennifer saunders?
  2. bob marley:
    ya mon
  3. d.w. read:
    arthur's infinitely more interesting sister
  4. etmology:
  5. jimi hendrix:
    jim.jim.jim. jimi hendrix.
  6. matisse:
    i love him. especially his poems.
  7. nirvana:
    courtney love is just jealous.
  8. richard barone:
    nj unsung singer.
  9. saint-saens:
    ah. carnival of the animals.
  10. timothy leary:
    coulda met him, but my mom said no.

Enter your LJ user name, and 10 interests will be selected from your interest list.

old syd

today, i discovered syd barrett. i mean, really discovered him. the first time i heard him, i was a freshman in college (murph, you were there -- remember john barrett and syd barrett??) and i laughed at the guy who made me listen to him. (i had never been wasted - maybe that had something to do with it?) but today, i listened to stuff from the madcap laughs. it is so unravelled and raw - how did i miss this all these years? it isn't slick. it is so much FUN. people take music too seriously. i guess this reminds me that music is fun, it's psychotic, it's dark and silly all at once.

lord, i would love to find syd barrett and talk with him now. i wonder if he knows who he is.
  • Current Music
    "terrapin" - syd barrett

Car Seats, Shmar Seats

at the top of his little lungs, my two year old Hellboy likes to let anyone who will listen know: "nobody walks in L.A.!" (that song, among others, is on one of our no-way-in-hell-are-we-listening-to-barney-or-other-crap-while-we-sit-in-dc-traffic mixes.)

if he keeps up the good work, though, he'll be walking all over DC.

we're driving down the NJ Turnpike monday, keeping up with traffic ;-), and BC exclaims, "mama, he's undone his carseat!" sure enough, i look behind me, and he has done the unthinkable -- he has unlocked the top part of his 5 point carseat and is smiling with wild abandon. yep, all those weeks of pushing the thing has finally paid off. needless to say, I nearly had heart failure in the left lane. When i finally found a reststop where i could put aforementioned seatbelt back on the dude (and threaten him with removal of his beloved Percy from the Thomas the Tank Engine Crew should he do this again), it occured to me that perhaps there are ways of ensuring this doesn't happen again. (Sure enough, when we drove into MD, he did it again. Percy was out of there.) yes, I know I have to teach Mr. Toddler that these things just are verboten. Discipline, discipline, yeah yeah yeah. But this is not one of those cases where I want to actually take any chances.

maybe we'll just stay home until he's 10.
  • Current Music
    "walking in l.a."

70 things i've learned from my mother

my mom turns 70 this month. i'll write later about the exciting experience of schlepping two children under 6 up to NJ on a summer weekend by myself; but in the meantime, i wanted to share what i wrote for my mom's 70th birthday party. i read it aloud just before we cut the cake. no one in my family seems to want to put out a hit on me, so i figure it wasn't too incriminating ;-)

1. if you don't know the words to a song, make them up.
2. be consistent. if you've made up the words to a song, sing those made-up words so many times that your children will be very surprised to learn that they aren't the real words to the song.
3. don't sit on public toilet seats.
4. maybe you shouldn't sit on the toilet seats in your friends' houses, either.
5. people who have to show the world how much money they have usually don't really have a lot of money to begin with.
6. your real friends won't care whether you have a lot of money, anyway.
7. don't wear pleated pants. they look good on you only if you are 6 ft tall and weigh 98 pounds. maybe.
8. black is slimming.
9. children are never too old to be worried about by their mothers.
10. mothers are never too young to be worried about by their children.
11. don't sit near the restroom in a restaurant.
12. you can be on a diet for a zillion years and still gain weight.
13. you should still buy yourself clothing, even if you think you might lose weight this time. ("what, you're going to go naked?")
14. smart people visit the library 3 times per week.
15. really smart people do the NY Times Crossword puzzle. in ink.
16. know what you want in the store. go in. buy it. leave.
17. if you really love something and it fits, don't pay attention to the price tag. you'll kick yourself if you walk away from it later.
18. if you're subbing in your child's classroom and she doesn't talk, even when you know she knows the answer, it's probably because she can't decide whether to call you by your given name or call you mommy.
19. girls can do whatever boys do. sometimes, they do it better, even.
20. a good girdle is worth its weight in gold.
21. your kids will be wildly surprised to know that you were young once, and that you rode roller coasters, too.
22. no matter how wonderful your home is, make your kids live away from home when they go to college.
23. if you're going to indulge in extra calories, don't bother with alcohol -- go for the chocolate.
24. when mom says "don't eat the chocolate cake," you must listen.
25. sometimes, you have to be extra brave in front of your children, even if it takes every ounce of energy you have.
26. always enjoy bragging about your children. G-d knows you've earned it.
27. you're never too old or too female to get spam about enlarging your penis.
28. you can always claim to be a NYer, even when you've lived in NJ for about 2/3 of your life.
29. elaine's law: when your child says something wildly offensive, the loudness of his voice will be directly related to the number of people within hearing distance who would find such a statement personally offensive. ("so THIS is the slums!")
30. most family food establishments on route 95 between NJ and Florida are not fit for humans. and, they somehow always manage to seat you near the restroom.
31. that child who barely could save his own life when his bike was being stolen from him now has actually saved others' lives, proving that your kids can and do rise above all expectations.
33. seize the day. your personal warranty may be up sooner than the warranty on your prostheses.
34. when seizing the day, make sure your prostheses don't float to the top of the swimming pool.
35. if said prostheses float to the top of the pool while two of your children are present, have a good laugh about it.
36. home cooked meals? yeah, i can buy them at the deli.
37. sometimes, the child who is most afraid of leaving home is the one who ends up living the furthest away.
38. songs from World War I always make life cheerier. even if they predate you.
39. be nice to your mom. she might just get reincarnated in your grandchild.
40. you never really appreciate your parents until you become one yourself.
41. when making a 2,000 mile roadtrip, always enlist the aid of your sister by making her sit in the middle of the backseat between two of your children. she'll love you for it.
42. never be afraid to try a new career. and try another one. and another one.
43. don't hold grudges.
44. forgive those who hold grudges, even if they don't think they need to be forgiven.
45. you're never too old to make some really good friends.
46. you're never too old to enjoy some good gossip.
47. save up those embarrasing tales of your kids' childhoods. they'll make great icebreakers with the grandkids one day.
48. encourage your kids to reach for the stars. they might actually do it one day.
49. never be afraid to cut off your daughter's boyfriend's tail.
50. it's ok to watch only chick-flicks, mysteries, and Disney movies. the world is scary enough without having to pay to experience the fear.
51. be sure to drive your kids to every function they need to get to. when your kids begin the magical world of carpooling, they will only begin to appreciate what you did and then feel completely inadequate.
52. pay no attention to The Anarchist's Cookbook in your son's room. if he smokes banana peels, he deserves what he gets.
53. always hold the most important phrase in reserve for those crucial disciplinary moments: "wait til your father gets home!"
54. don't bother with corporal punishment. your kids will likely be bigger than you and laugh at you if you try to smack them.
55. got a non-reader in the house? try some Peter Benchley.
56. know where every bathroom is in a 3 mile radius of where you'll be at all times.
57. sometimes, you have to swallow hard and hope that you trained your kids well as you let them go off into uncharted territory.
58. sometimes, your kids get homework that stumps you.
59. develop your medical expertise. you'll need it to diagnose everyone.
60. remember, just because you raised them doesn't mean they'll be at all alike.
61. just because you raised them doesn't mean you'll want to admit to that at times.
62. support your local public library. and support the one in the next county, too.
63. if you get to know your librarians, they'll set aside books that you might like.
64. take your kids to hear famous speakers (like the late bella abzug.) they'll never forget it.
65. make your kids learn to swim.
66. letting your kids watch some TV isn't a crime.
67. you're a good parent. stop worrying about it.
68. forgive yourself. life is too short.
69. help your children love to learn. it is the greatest gift.
70. always be one of the two people your kids can count on to be in their corner, no matter what.
  • Current Music
    "groove is in the heart" - deelite

life-friendly workplaces?

someone wanted to know how you negotiate flex schedules, especially since there may be some generational issues to conquer in terms of workplace perspective (boomers versus gen-xers.) here's my perspective and experience.

i'm born in the one year that is smack dab between when folks say boomer-dom ends and gen-xers begin. [so i don't know what you'd call me. a booxer?] anywho, i negotiated a flex schedule in a very family friendly nonprofit with a wonderful boss (no, she doesn't read this, i really think the world of her) who originally wanted my position to be a FT position because i supervise folks. it is r e a l l y challenging to get an employer let you do a PT schedule (HA! 32 hours = PT. that's always made me LOL) when you supervise, so i count myself extremely lucky. (the fact that i have a great staff helps, too ;-)

i work an 80% schedule. what this means is that my salary is prorated, my leave is prorated, my holidays are prorated (yes, i only get 80% pay on all holidays and must make up the time), basically my life at work is prorated. i think i was able to negotiate it because i have such a weird career background (PR + social sciences + tech).

but, when i ran out of sick leave by april 1 of last year because of very sick children in hospitals + near-death siblings in hospitals (you really don't want to know in full, but in short, it was one of those years when you think it won't get any worse and it does, repeatedly), my boss let me dip into annual leave when i needed more sick leave and had none to get. in short, i literally made it out of the annual leave hole last pay period (yes, a year + later). but i was and am wildly grateful for my organization, which had these sorts of rules in place already and for this supportive boss of mine (a parent of teens) who not only provided me with the right information to make things work, but also kept telling me a thousand times, "this will all pass -- it will all get better." i worked my tail off to keep all the proverbial balls in the air -- i guess my boss knew and appreciated that. but everyone should have this experience (not the near-death and sick kids part, of course) -- other nations have more family friendly workplaces and cultures that support people as workers and as family members.

a while back, i remember what i thought was a rather idiotic cat fight pitting parents versus non parents in the workplace -- why do they [parents] get these family benefits that i [single person] will never reap. i remember thinking, you know, it isn't just about parents. single people are part of families. they, too, could benefit from a life-friendly workplace. sure, capitalism is all about making money; but there are plenty of people out there who just aren't finding the balance they require to be productive, period. they're stretched; they're torn; they just don't know how to support themselves, how to contribute in the workplace while making sure their families are in a good place in life.

there's got to be a better way. i think that we need to reframe the issue. when you make it family-friendly, then people somehow subconsciously assume it is a "womens issue." and you know how hard it is to get anyone to care about women's issues. (shoot, we never could pass the freaking ERA!) somehow, we have to make this everyone's issue -- single, married, families -- something that is a life-friendly workplace.

i would love to know how to start.
  • Current Music
    "ballet for a rainy day" - XTC

growin' up

i have to come to grips with the fact that BC wants to listen to ::shudder:: Kelly Clarkson!

one of the counselors at her camp let her listen to her IPod, and BC came home begging me to play some song called "Breakaway" by a Kelly something. i found it on Rhapsody and we listened to it. she already knows most of the words.

why, oh why couldn't my little girl come home singing Gangsta Rap! but no. we have unadulterated schlock.

today, kelly clarkson. tomorrow, celine dion.

::smacking self in head::

cursing and other indoor sports

ah, cursing. let's say that i have a toddler who yells "damn it!" and "crap!", so no one will be nominating me for mother of the year any time soon.

my MIL likes to yell "sugarbeats" and "firetruck" to replace certain naughty words. i don't find much satisfaction in yelling goofy things like that -- when i curse, i am cursing to release something pent-up, and "sugarbeats" doesn't do sh.., er, anything for me.

at the risk of sounding like my parents are the foulest-mouthed people on the planet (i swear -- politely, of course -- they are not), i was raised in a home where the occasional curse word flew. (not the F word, of course, but the "sh" one.) still, because my mom would get cross at me if i uttered something out of line, i never cursed much actually until i went to work for a dot-com-type-place, where everyone else cursed... and my mouth became, well, not pure as the driven snow.

may i humbly recommend cursing in a foreign language? if your kids are going to take the time to figure out what the hell you are saying, i figure its highly educational, at least. me, i curse in yiddish because that's what my grampa did ;-) i'm a little limited to the phrases he yelled out the window while driving, but i find them somehow wildly appropriate and interestingly descriptive. i understand that there are curses in arabic and other languages that do the same thing. so, find another language and curse away.

the caveat, of course, is to not curse around people who speak that language. one of the easy things about cursing in yiddish is that there are (sadly) not many people i run into who know what the hell i'm saying -- although my mom does. (and boy, does she give me a look.)
  • Current Music
    "this party sucks" - the slickee boys