Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Yep, this is my life (part 3)

The Napless Nap
On Saturday afternoon I tried reinstituting The Nap because the night before we had all enjoyed a late and raucous evening watching “Shark Boy and Lava Girl” (a campy movie my kids loved).

Thinking all he needed was a little encouragement I laid down with Zack trying to psych him to sleep. But my eyelids were so heavy they became blinking hazards and when I did manage to open them my eyes would cross. I’m sure my wiz kid was onto me. I'm sure he was thinking to himself, She’s almost out. Just a li-ttle bit longer and I. will. be. free.

Fifteen minutes later I awoke in a panic. His bed was empty and I couldn’t hear him nearby. Knowing that without anyone standing between him and the great beyond (the Hub was running errands and my other two were playing in the backyard) I ran to the front. He was sitting on the street corner in his diaper and a t-shirt, his Elmo trick or treat bucket full of Disney Cars in his lap. My heart was in my throat seeing how absolutely adorable, and snatchable, he was.

The ways in which I am blessed could be listed on a scroll of paper that wraps around the moon twice.

The Library Brawl
Now this wouldn’t be on my moon list, but it tops the list of things I’ll laugh about later.

After finding Zack on the corner and determining that there would be no Saturday naps, I rounded everyone up for a trip to the library. By that time it was about 3:30 and we were all feeling the napless strain. But we pressed onward with excitement (our library has a fish pond inside—a must-see each time we enter). Kaleb found a Spiderman comic, Zack found both an Elmo movie and a picture book and Leah danced through the isles in an elaborate Easter dress and her clicky church shoes. Zack went to share his spoils with Leah who, seeing his enthusiasm, must have thought he was coming to pummel her with both. She ran from him squealing, her clicky shoes especially loud in the easy reader section. Zack thought it was game and tried even harder to catch her. By the time I reached them they were in a pile on the floor; Zack had fistfuls of Leah’s hair, and Leah was in full-freak mode with her head back, her mouth open and..nothing. That is, until she caught her breath.

Everyone in the children section watched as I pulled Leah and Zack to their feet, slung the book bag over my shoulder and proceeded to checkout.

My children had just participated in their first public brawl. And I’m choosing to blame it on The Nap Crusade. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it…

And so ends this sad little series, “Yep, this is my life.” Just a sampling of events that happened at my house over one weekend.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Yep, this is my life (part 2)

All my kids show signs of being good swimmers. Good listeners? Not so much. In fact, in their mid-session report cards for swimming lessons issued just today, all my kids were told they needed to work on their listening skills. Backstroke? Nope. Going under water? Nope. Diving into the deep end? Nope. They need to PAY ATTENTION. If you’re curious, no, this wasn’t news to me. Although I did need teenage swim instructors to help me feel as tall as, say, Dora the Explorer’s backside. But, heh, that’s a topic for another post. So on with the second installment for (cue the music) “Yep, this is my life.”

On Friday, after swimming lessons, I had this silly thought, and it went something like this: I know how to help my inattentive little swimmers be on-task during their lessons. Give them the chance to play in the pool, unchecked, for a good two hours. That was my reasoning for attending Family Swim last Friday night. Sounds good, right? You would think.

I’ve already explained that Zack is a swim glutton. Show the kid 3 feet of water and he can’t get enough. His favorite thing to do is climb the stairs and jump into the pool, over and over again. And each time he does I’m guessing he takes in about one liter of chlorinated water. A stomach can’t like that. Even a swim glutton’s stomach.

Well, because this isn’t the first time we’ve had an “incident” at a public swimming pool, I was on the lookout for all the signs, the first of which is usually a shoulder shrug accompanied by the arched tongue. And there it was. I plucked Zack up at the waist, face-out, and carried him from the pool just in time for him to hurl on the top step. Not much, but enough to gross out the 15-year old lifeguard. While Zack rinsed off in the shower, I cleaned up as much as I could with a handful of paper towels before the lifeguard with a power hose came to spray the vomit residue into a drain (By the way, if I ever design and build my own home, all the rooms with have cement floors with big drains smack dab in the middle. Instead of a central vacuum system, I’ll have a central power-hose system. Oh, I get giddy just thinking about it.)

At this point we’re only 20 minutes into family swim. A smart woman would’ve packed it up and left. But we’d paid about ten bucks for two hours and I planned to get our money’s worth. Besides, how much could a three-year old’s stomach hold, really. Confident he was finished we re-entered the pool. Yes, the lifeguard gave us a look, but I didn’t care. Caution be damned. We was swimmin’.

And then another shoulder shrug accompanied by the ever-icky tongue arch. Only this time we were deep in the shallow end and I didn’t quite make it to the steps. In fact, we didn’t quite make it to the edge. Zack hurled into the overflow—you know, that stepy thingy all around the pool where water laps up and drains out? Better than IN the pool, right?

The youngling lifeguard didn’t think so. Her entire face puckered. And she had to call in reinforcements. So an older, more seasoned lifeguard came with the sanitary gloves and scooped Zack’s half-digested dinner into the garbage before spraying the residue down the drain. A hundred apologies would have gotten me nowhere. There was lots of talk at the Aquatic Center that night, and it was all about us.

The moral of this story? As to the upchucking tendencies of a toddler in a public swimming pool: vomit once, shame on Mother Nature; vomit twice, shame on Mommy Nincompoop.

The latter? Ahem. That would be me.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Yep, this is my life (part 1)

It’s been one of those weeks where everyday I have a new you-won’t-believe-this story for my mother. When I say to my sister, “Do you want another reason to procrastinate childbirth?” When I consider gawking at my own children like they’re complete strangers (elbowing the person next to me, “Can you believe that? Where is their mother?!”). And because I have so much to share, I’m going to reveal these little gems in a series called (cue the music) “Yep, this is my life…” Here’s the first installment.

We are currently going napless at the Belknap home for completely valid reasons I no longer remember (for more information on the napping dilemma, visit Jennifer at Playgroups Are No Place for Children). And I’m sure my napless crusade started this insane chain of events that has given me so much to blog about.

It all started Thursday night. It was the end of a successfully napless day, meaning that neither of my nap-friendly children had fallen asleep on the stairs or in the hallway in the late afternoon. It also meant that all of my children were overtired AND hyper. As I cleaned up after dinner they wrestled in the playroom. I didn’t hear the water running in the downstairs bathroom until it was too late.

While I loaded the dishwasher, Zack clogged the bathroom sink with toilet paper and turned the water on. He also turned the shower on and left the curtain wide open. For good measure he stripped naked and left the room.

By the time I got there, I didn’t just step into the bathroom, I splashed into the bathroom. The water was nearly an inch deep and cascading out the bathroom and onto the playroom carpet. It took five large bath towels to clean up. And when I left the bathroom to toss the towels into the laundry? There was a whole carton (new, by the way) of wet wipes strewn across the playroom floor. Zack, stark naked, looked up at me, his two little fists full of wet wipes. “I sorry, Mom,” he said.

And then, while Zack sat on timeout, naked, I picked up wet wipes. And before the timer had beeped, Zack spilled a glass of juice on the floor (for those of you who can't believe one little boy could be responsible for all this, please refer to "DestructoBoy," a post that dumbfounded some of my mother's friends).

“I sorry, Mom,” he said again.

The moral of this story? A mother will withstand nearly anything to get her kids asleep by 8:30. And yes, there were all asleep by 8:30.

Join me again for the next installment (here’s a teaser for you: it involves vomiting in a public swimming pool. Can’t wait, can you.)

Blindsided by Parenthood...

This week's column was a rerun of one of my previous posts (Your Six Year Old: Loving and Defiant), so I didn't think to post it. But just so you don't think I've stopped that other gig, here it is.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Balcony Parenting

The Idaho Falls Aquatic Center has out-parented me. And don’t get me wrong; I’m not complaining. In fact, I’ll be implementing some of their techniques shortly. But first, a little back-story.

All three of my children are taking swimming lessons. Last year, my youngest Zack, was old enough to take a Mommy/Tot class at the local swimming pool where we lived in Utah. He hated it. While all the other toddlers complaisantly bobbed in the water with doting parents, my child would have none of it. For the length of his lesson I would stand in the shallow end while he would climb the stairs, jump into the water, climb, jump, climb, jump, until someone blew the whistle to cue the blessed end of swimming lessons (because surprisingly, standing idly in my swimming suit before watchful parents and teenage lifeguards is not my idea of a good time).

Now you’ve already heard a handful of Zack stories and can imagine my trepidation at registering him for a parentless class this summer. Not only that, but the Aquatic Center strongly discourages parents from watching lessons poolside. They ask you to observe from a balcony above the pool, complete with plate-glass windows--far from being able to swoop in and carry a belligerent child to a private time-out.

Swimming Lessons, Day One: Zack follows his sister to their class and sits, complaisantly, on the steps. He listens intently, looking at his teacher with complete adoration as only a toddler with a mini-crush can. He follows instructions and is bursting with swimming enthusiasm. And each time he enters the water his roadrunner feet pedal like crazy and he circles the shallow end like a little propeller. I’m completely enthralled; for me this is better than cable television.

Swimming Lessons, Day Four: Zack has his first blip. Tired of waiting for his turn to tour the shallow end on a floatation device pulled by his teacher, he stands at the top of the steps and jumps all the way into the water. His teacher directs him to sit in timeout at the base of the lifeguard chair. And Zack sits there sweetly until she calls him back to class: the model of obedience.

So what’s the Aquatic Center doing that I’m not? I’ve considered installing a balcony with plate glass windows in my home where I can parent (and nap) from a distance, because apparently my children are capable of making good choices in my absence. They fair nicely without me sitting on the edge of my seat, coaching their every move.

So these past few weeks I’ve learned a lot about taking a more hands-off approach in mothering my children, thanks in part to Jenny’s post called “Deep Reflections on a Wading Pool” and Sheri’s called “Playgroup Posturing.” As a result I’ve decided that from now on I’ll be doing more Balcony-Parenting, sans balcony. And don’t worry, I won’t be leaving my children home alone while I attend pottery classes and eat lunch at the Olive Garden. But I am going to back off a little and allow my children to make their choices and then either enjoy the blissful consequences of their good ones or recover from their bad ones. With the caveat that I can always swoop in when I choose.

Because in parenting there should always be a swooping clause. A swooping clause and a flotation device.

Blogher Envy

Wow. It’s quiet around here. In fact, I think there’s an echo.

Boundless bloggers have left the blogosphere to attend Blogher (say that five times fast). Although, I’m sure they’ll be back for a bit after they check into their hotels. And maybe again, here and there, between conference sessions. And then again before they go out tonight. And tomorrow night. To PARTEH like rock-bloggers! (Or Mommy Bloggers sans children.) *sigh* Can you tell I’m jealous? very. very. jealous.

Oh, well. Maybe next year.

Speaking of Blogher, you’ve probably noticed the Blogher ads in the margin over there. I hope it doesn’t offend anyone. I’m a freelance writer who doesn't want to write newsletters and copyedit brochures forever. Not that I’m delusional enough to think the ads are going to make me rich; but I’m hoping that this blog (through the great and wondrous Blogher network) will promote my column which will in turn promote the blog, which will promote the column, etc. Until I achieve world domination.

So don’t mind the ads (Unless you’re interested. In that case, click away).

And now, back to our originally scheduled post. Just kidding. I got nothin’. (Unless you want to read the training manual on color cosmetics I’m currently copyediting?)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Binky Purse and a Lost Lightning McQueen

Have you ever had one of those moments when you would do anything to keep the peace, to stop the crying, to keep your children from killing each other, to keep from killing your children? (figuratively speaking, of course!) Well, I have. And last night was one of them.

Zack was a titch sick and overtired from a long day of summer play sans nap. And when he realized that his Lightning McQueen, the Disney Cars matchbox, was lost, he lost it. Now some kids have blankies, lovies, stuffed animals, and even binkies. Zack has Lightning McQueen, and we’ve probably bought and lost five thus far, all to keep the peace. And those odd times when Lightning doesn’t make it with Zack to the end of the day, I can say, “We’ll find him tomorrow, Son,” and he will, begrudgingly, go to sleep. Not last night.

First Zack fell to the floor and thrashed, crying until he nearly hyperventilated. And then, for 30 minutes, he screamed until his sister and brother started to yell, “Mom, make him stop. We can’t sleep!”

Now I know Dr. Phil would have advised me to let Zack cry it out. Because how long could it take, really, for a three-year old to cry himself to sleep? Hours. Possibly days. So at that moment I would have done anything to end the hysteria and get my sick and tired boy to sleep. I would have fed him marshmallows and kool-aid if it would have helped. I would have promised him a Hummer for his 16th birthday. I would have stripped to my skivvies, painted a face on my belly, and danced on his dresser. But none of those would have worked. Lightning McQueen was all he wanted.

That’s when I remembered a post I once read by Heather B. called "I've been handbagged..." that told of a toddler attached to a purse full of binkies (13, to be exact). After a visit with family, they realized that the binky purse had been left behind. Unfortunately the family lived a ways away and they were nearly home when they made the discovery. Scratch that—when their daughter made the discovery. What followed was a binky debacle that included a meltdown of dizzying proportions and a quick run to a 24-hour drug store for an overpriced purse and 8 packages of binkies. Anything to keep the peace. Ever been there?

So it’s ten o’clock and I’ve reached that point where I’d do just about anything. But I’m certain my Lightning McQueen options are limited. I had to go to three stores before finding the last one, and two of those stores would now be closed. (Note to self: in this case a purse full of Lightning McQueens may be a good idea).

Instead I ran through the last few hours of Zack’s day to determine where, exactly, Lightning McQueen could be. Then I remembered; before dinner sometime he had carried a bucketful of cars to the neighbor’s house to play. I don’t remember seeing Lightning after that.

So call it what you will, tantrum-induced delirium or the urge to follow my mother’s frantic advice, I had become desperate. I was in a dark, dark place, people. So at ten o’clock last night I sent my oldest son to the neighbor’s house in attempts to retrieve Lightning McQueen (I know, it’s shameful. I sent my son to do my dirty work). It’s 10 o’clock, remember, and as soon as Kaleb knocks on the door (by the way, I’m cowering in the garage, watching) I realize their house is pretty dark. Sleeping dark. I try to call him back, stepping from the shadows as I do. In that exact moment the dad answers the door, in boxers and a t-shirt.

We woke up the parents. They woke up their children. And together they searched their playroom for the missing Lightning McQueen. Not only that, but they apologized to Zack (who was, at that point, alternately crying and hiccupping) for not being able to find him. I know, these people must be sainted before the week’s end. Okay, okay--and shame on us for waking them up.

So after all that, I carried Zack to his bed where he finally fell asleep. Yet again proving that Dr. Phil deserves to be as rich as he is (facetious people. I’m being facetious.) Also proving that sometimes temporary insanity is a good defense for bad parenting. And also also proving that parents can choose to be extremely sympathetic when they see another parent reach that breaking point.

Thanks, neighbors.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I got me some bling!

Lucky me! I got some bling. Kristie over at Slacker-Moms-R-Us, who I adore, just gave me this rockin’ girl blogger award—my very first.

So, to share the love, I award the following fellow bloggers o’mine!

Erin from Life in theNuthouse. Yes, she’s my sister-in-law, but she’s also a great blogger and an even more amazing mom. (Her kids are darn cute, too!)

Rachel from Like a Star. Her site is just cool. She posts great pictures and is in-the-know about cool stuff.

GustoGirl from Do it with Gusto! Rachel and GustoGirl are sisters, and great ones at that. I like GustoGirl because she can be funny, tender, and forever grateful. Her blog is good for me.

Amy from Mr. Smith Goes to Dehli. Because how adventurous do you have to be to pack up seven kids and moved to India?! Now she’s sharing her experiences with the blogosphere, and it’s very interesting!

And Stacey from Snickollet who lost her husband to cancer just a few months ago and is now a single mom of beautiful twins who are just one year old. She's upbeat, positive, and inspiring.

There you go, just five of the bloggers who rock my world.

And speaking of rockin’ girl bloggers, my mom created her own blog just last night. She’s a little nervous, so give her some love over at Grandma’s Got It in the Bag!

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Year of the Turtle, or more aptly titled “Wherein Spiderman’s Head Winds up in My Pocket”

Spiderman has been decapitated in my home. Three times. And I know because I am the resident scavenger, picking things up from the floor and, if they’re small enough, carrying them in my pockets until I reach a garbage can.

The Hub ran over one Spiderman action figure in the driveway and that’s where the first head was discovered. I was surprised to find yet another one in the playroom. And just this weekend I found a fairly large head in our laundry shoot. I should be concerned; what with three kids I’m raising to be strong, respectful, and not prone to decapitate…things. But I must admit this is a good omen for me. Because after four years of Spiderman obsession, I’m hoping this means his reign is finally coming to an end.

Kaleb began his love affair with the webbed one some four years ago, when he was about two and a half. I’m not even sure when and how he was first introduced to him. The Hub and I hadn’t talked about Spiderman. We had never even watched the movie. And with Noggin and PBS being the only channels we frequented back then, I don’t even think he saw one Spiderman commercial.

But regardless, Spiderman infiltrated our lives and consumed Kaleb’s every waking (and often sleeping) moment. I have purchased three Spiderman costumes for Halloween, made three Spiderman birthday cakes, sung the Spiderman theme song until I was close to swinging from the rafters myself, and have gotten enough Spiderman accessories to pay for Stan Lee’s cleaning service (okay, so I’ve probably just giving his maid a tip, but heh, that’s a lot when you consider how rich the Sultan of Comics must be).

But then TMNT came along and ever since Kaleb’s been trying on a new obsession: turtles. And not just any turtles, but Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (all named after Renaissance artists. Fancy.). They have scaly skin, they’re cultured, and they fight crime. Could a 6-year old hope for a better obsession?

For a couple weeks he would inform anyone interested that he was “trying to forget Spiderman.” It was like a bad breakup. Every time you mentioned Spiderman he would cover his eyes, shielding himself from Spidey’s mighty influence. “I’m trying to think about turtles now,” he would say, strong and resolute. What a noble boy.

And like any good mother, sick to death of Spiderman and ready for anything different (even if it included B-grade movies with a quartet of spongy characters), I supported this new “love” interest. I took him to the movie, I purchased the action figures (along with a host of loved ones—I salute your support) and learned a new theme song. Heroes in a half shell. Turtle power! Yes, folks, this is what motherhood is really about.

And we’re nearly there. Spiderman is a casual interest now and even the little guy pretends to be Rafael, waving thick sticks like fist daggers. Ahhh. It does a mama proud.

So good-bye, Spidey Sense. Farewell, blue and red. Sionara, that flicky wrist move that indicates web-shooting. Out with the spider and in with the turtle. Because the Belknap Family is doing its part to bring Cowagunga back.

Friday, July 20, 2007

I cracked eBay

That’s right. I learned its secret, and from my own mother. Here’s a conversation I had with her on Sunday:

Mom: Guess what I won?
Shauna: Won? Wow! The lottery?
Mom (laughs): No. I won a new Sizzix [die-cuts for the die-hard scrapbooker]. In a cool font [she says because I know she already has a handful of cool Sizzix already].
Shauna: Where’d you win it?
Mom: eBay.

Now, lest I misunderstand, eBay doesn’t sponsor contests, right? So I said as much to my mother, clarifying that she did indeed PAY for this cool “prize.”

Mom: Well, yeh. It’s $42 with shipping and handling, but I got it and no one else did!

This is the second time my mother has won something on eBay, and I’m going to have to listen closely the next time she talks about QVC, because I’m pretty sure she’s won stuff there too.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


It’s been a tough week. A week where I talk to my children from between clenched teeth and lock myself in the bathroom so I can count to ten. every. day. So I’ve been thinking a lot about HALT.

Snickollet’s recent post about the AA slogan HALT, the four emotions known to trigger destructive behavior, has been helpful. Sometimes, and I hope I’m not the only mommy out there who does this, my reaction to my children’s behavior is disproportionate to what they’ve actually done. And usually, my extreme response has more to do with my own emotions than with their behavior. This slogan tells you not to let yourself get too:
So I’ve been taking inventory of my triggers and have found that HALT just doesn’t cut it for me. Yeh, yeh, I know. They’re all on the list, but I need a much longer word to keep my emotions in check.

HAILT. First I have to add “Ill,” because when I’m sick, Pleasant Mama is no where in sight. The other day I woke up with a migraine and it was all I could do to get my kids ready for swimming lessons, barking orders while reclining on the couch, avoiding bright lights and trying to hold my lunch (or dinner, from the night before).

SHAILT. Stress wigs me out. And it seems to be my greatest trigger. When I have a tight deadline or am worried about finances, all a kid has to do is drink from the milk jug (yes, Kaleb, I know it was you!) and my right eye starts twitching, real crazy-lady like.

SHAILUT. I know, it’s really not a word, but we’ll go with it for now. And I’ve added ”ugly.” Because, come on girls, we all know that it’s difficult to be pleasant when it’s nearly lunch, you’re still not dressed, smelling ripe,and the UPS guy wants you to sign for a package. Your kids are acting like he’s Santa, and the youngest, with just a diaper on, escapes the house and makes it halfway down the block before you catch him. With all the neighborhood as your witness (Okay, so maybe some of that is based on personal experience.) Deep cleansing breath.

SWAT HILU. And I’ve added “What the…” because sometimes that’s all you can say when you see what your children have done (Okay, so there are times when their extreme behavior is proportionate to my extreme reaction). And there’s a much more interesting word combination in there somewhere, but my mother’s reading this blog, and I want to maintain my PG rating.

So there you have it. My own personal triggers, and it amounts to one Scrabbleable word and a Hawaiian turtle (yes, I googled it).

The morale of this blog is, as long as I’m aware of what I’m feeling, I can better manage it.

Now excuse me while I retreat to the bathroom so I can count to one thousand.

Ladies, what are your triggers? Do share. We’re all friends here.

Waxing Nostalgic

For the last week or so I've been thinking back fondly on my college experience in Hawaii (this dates me, I know). I absolutely loved the time I spent at BYU-Hawaii, and one of the best jobs I ever had was at the Polynesian Culture Center as a Japanese tourguide right next door. Thanks to the Pinks and Blues Girls, Thursday is the perfect day for me to wax nostalgic. Here's a picture of me with some of the other tourguides (I'm on the very left).

And here I am leading a canoe tour.

Once, while taking a very unimpressed group of tourists, I tried to loosen things up by sharing one of my more successful Japanese jokes. As we neared the bridge I said, "And the greeting word for this bridge is ALOOOOOOhashi [the Japanese word for bridge]." At this point I was supposed to remain standing and nearly hit the back of my head on the bridge while all the tourists warned me of the impending work-related injury. This particular group could have care less whether or not I hit my head and so I misjudged the bridge and actually did nearly knock myself from the canoe trying to get a laugh. Of which, I got nothin'. Except from the canoe-pusher at the back--he nearly fell off the canoe himself. Laughing.

Oh, how I LOVED Hawaii. *sigh*

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Monday, July 16, 2007

Why I’m a Bad Mother: Reason #10,572

My children have learned how to tell time. I know, I know. They’re brilliant. And they owe it all to me.

So let me explain how it works. I’ll say, “You can play video games for 30 minutes,” and Kaleb will say, “That’s one cartoon, right?” Or if I say, “You can play at the neighbor’s house for an hour and a half,” Leah will say, “That’s as long as one movie.” Yes, folks, my children measure time by segments of television viewing. And their skills are advanced. For instance, Kaleb knows that an hour and a half is equal to three cartoons or one movie, and two hours is equal to approximately one movie plus a cartoon. That’s at least fifth-grade math, wouldn’t you say? Wunderkind.

But least you think their brilliance ends there I must expound. Until about two months ago, Zack’s color mastery hinged on the Disney Cars characters. If you pointed to the color red, Zack would call it ‘Itning A-Queen.’ Blue was ‘Doc,’ green was ‘Chick,’ and purple was ‘Ramone.’ Yellow, orange, and brown didn’t even exist because, as far as Zack knew, there were no cars in the movie of those colors.

What would the American Association of Pediatrics say? They’re currently in the process of revoking my SuperMom status. I know, it’s a shame. But I’ll sacrifice a lot for my children’s education.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Panic Attack

Not only is my 6-year old loving and defiant, but he has a loose tooth, and at swimming lessons today he jumped from the diving board into the deep end of the pool without hesitation. These last couple weeks I feel like I’m riding in a flimsy go-cart with no brakes down a steep hill. My son is growing up too fast! I’m dizzy with it all. You’ve seen those Nationwide commercials: life comes at you fast. I’m afraid that come tomorrow morning my son will emerge from his bedroom full-grown, complete with body odor and chest hair.

Somebody tell me, how do I make it stop????

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Hoochie Wear

Okay, so last week I wrote a column on how clothing manufacturers think little girls and their parents like hoochie-wear. I was a little nervous about running a piece that was more opinion than humor. I shouldn’t have worried. The paper didn’t end up running the column; my editor said that while she liked the piece, she likes my funny stuff better. So it looks like my station as humor columnist is secure. My future writing social commentary, not so much.

But here it is, blogworld—“Hoochie Wear” for your consumption. Proof that I am, indeed, a prude.

Just yesterday I was filling our pool with water when my four-year old daughter said, “Mom, someday can I wear sunglasses and sit by a swimming pool.”

“Why would you do that?” I asked, well aware that she had watched “Sandlot” just a little too closely.

“That’s what grownup girls do. I saw it on TV.”

“Well, I hope you swim more than you sit,” I said, and left it at that.

It’s only been the last couple months that I’ve noticed how sensitive my daughter is to the media and how it portrays women and young girls. The line between the two has blurred a lot since I was her age. It’s disconcerting. The swimming pool exchange was innocuous, but I know the older she gets the more problematic this issue will become.

This week I went to WalMart to buy her an extra swimming suit. She’ll be starting lessons next week and because I’m no laundry maven I knew she would need to alternate swimwear. Admittedly I was a little late in the season, but in the girls section I could only find one one-piece swimsuit. Of course it was in multiple sizes, but there was just one style to choose from. Everything else was two-piece (in multiple sizes AND styles). I’ll admit, when it comes to my daughter’s wardrobe I’m ultra-conservative. As long as I’m paying for her clothing, it will cover her belly, thank you very much. Needless to say, I was disappointed in WalMart’s scarce selection.

Shauna, Puh-lease, you beg. That’s what you’re worried about? Two-piece swimsuits? Well, yes and no. I’ve had that same experience countless times trying to find modest clothes for my young daughter. And in my mind’s eye, I’m shopping for the four-year old and the 16-year old Leah, because I know that what she shows off today will be difficult to cover-up tomorrow; simply put, I don’t want a bikini battle when she’s strong enough to win me in arm-wrestling.

What frustrates me most is that many clothing manufacturers (for the four and the 16-year olds) think we want to dress our daughters in hoochie-wear. Here’s a not-so-mild example. In 2002 Abercrombie and Finch released a line of thongs that would fit girls 7 to 12 years old. Thongs! In children’s sizes. On the front were the phrases “eye candy” and “wink wink.” Spokesperson for Abercrombie waved away criticism and said, “It’s cute and fun and sweet.”

Lest we believe that this type of merchandising doesn’t happen in conservative Idaho Falls, consider this: Upon shopping at the local Ross Dress for Less, my husband found a 6X t-shirt (a size typical for 6-year old girls) that read “Porn Star.”

Now I wouldn’t buy that shirt, nor would many of you reading this today. But the fact that someone made the shirt expecting people to buy it troubles me. The fact that a lot of the clothing available for young girls today is fast-tracking them to sexy also troubles me. What doesn’t trouble me? The fact that consumers can change everything. So I won’t settle for a bikini just because that’s all I’m offered. I’ll patronize the stores that sell clothing I believe is appropriate for my girl. And I’ll make it clear that regardless of what’s on the rack, we always have a choice, and in exercising that choice we’re telling clothing manufacturers what is and isn’t acceptable.

Throwback Thursday

After wanting to participate in Pink and Blues Girls' Throwback Thursday for awhile, I finally found my old pictures. Yeh!

My mom was a single mom for a couple years, so for awhile it was just me and her. Here's a picture of us when I was three.

And then again at my second birthday. Wasn't Mom a hottie? (You're still a looker, Mom!)

And here I am, all dressed up with nowhere to go (except, maybe, a cowboy-themed pj party).

Mom, thanks for being amazing, now and then. I love you!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Your Six-Year Old: Loving and Defiant

That’s the title of a book I just ordered through the Paperback Exchange because parenthood has blindsided me yet again.

It happened first with breastfeeding. All I ever heard was that it was healthy for my newborn and a great opportunity for us to bond. No one ever told me that for the first six weeks my breasts would burn like fire and feel like I was carrying twice my newborn’s bodyweight from a hammock attached to my nipples. I’m just saying, a little warning would have been nice.

And then there was all that hype was about the terrible two’s. Imagine my surprise when my three-year old son began acting even more terrible after his third birthday. When I mention it now everyone says, “Oh, three is definitely harder than two, especially with boys…” Do we need to hold a press conference or something so we can all agree to a moniker change? For simplicity’s sake, the Terrible Two’s can stay, but maybe we should expand a bit: the Even-Worse Three’s, the Horrible Three’s, or the Threatening Three’s (in order to maintain alliteration). But let’s do something to warn all those unsuspecting mothers around the globe anxiously awaiting third birthdays. We owe it to them.

Now my oldest is six and, as far as I can tell, six seems twice as bad three. His aversion for me is apparent since he has no problem shouting any variation of the following when he doesn’t get his way: “You’re mean, Mom!” “You hate me, Mom.” “You want me to be sad, Mom.” And my least favorite, “I hate you, Mom” which he reserves for the severest occasions. Now you can say all you want about three, but at least then I was still the center of his stratosphere. I didn’t appreciate just how sacred that was. Now I am a gnat on the periphery. And a very loathsome one at that.

So I approached this parenting obstacle like I have any other: I googled it. And after sifting through all the listings (the first of which being the behavioral development of the Humpback Whale. No thanks.), I found the following snippet in the description of Your Six-Year Old by Louis Bates Ames:

The six-year-old is a complex child, entirely different from the five-year-old.Though many of the changes are for the good -- Six is growing more mature, more independent, more daring and adventurous -- this is not necessarily an easy time for the little girl or boy. Relationships with mothers are troubled -- most of the time Six adores mother, but whenever things go wrong, it's her fault. It used to be, at Five, that she was the center of the child's universe; now, the child is the center of his own universe.

Again, a little heads-up would’ve been nice.

So my oldest child has reached a development stage that’s taken him further from me than any other. And it’s breaking my heart. In those moments when my Six adores me, I hold him tight, ruffle his hair, and kiss his cheeks, afraid there will soon come a time when he won’t even let me do that. Thankfully there’s a glorious reprieve; at unexpected moments he’ll say, unprompted, “I love you, Mom.” And I swear it’s like the sun is breaking through the clouds to the tune of a hallelujah choir. I don’t mind being knocked from the center of his universe. He can be the sun now, and I’ll take pleasure circling him for the rest of my life.

But he is so grounded for all those other things he said.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Confessions of a Self-Proclaimed House-Frump

Okay. I’ll admit it. I’ve let myself go. Far. I’ve let myself go far into the frump.

At the peak of this slippery slope I was well-intentioned. I had babies attached to my breasts; I was surrounded by little people who loved me with or without good makeup and hair; and the only adults I “interacted” with were guests on Oprah and the Dr. Phil Show.

But my oldest is now six and I must admit that I’ve slid off the slope to land, belly-up, in the frumpy gully. It’s a sad day, folks. Can’t look away though, can you? It’s like a train wreck. With cellulite.

So here I am, a good 40 pounds over my marriage weight, frumpy as hell. I stopped wearing contacts years ago because something about pregnancy and childbirth dried my eyes out. And even after my good pair of glasses broke I didn’t look for something more attractive and less flimsy than the backup pair. My hair is long and limp, when once upon a time, it was highlighted and styled. Gone are the days when I used to “get ready” to go out. Most Sundays I end up at church with wet hair. And don’t even get me started on my wardrobe.

And you’re going public with this, you ask.

Yep. I’m comin’ out!

And this is why. Because I once (once, I said) knew Dr. Phil intimately (and by "intimately" I mean watched him everyday on TV), so I’m well aware that you can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge. This is my first step towards backing away from the frump to take better care of myself.

I think I realized just how frumpy I’d become when Leah informed me that the neighbor girl had said I was a “little fat.” My lovely daughter defended my honor and told me that she had said, in no uncertain terms, that her mommy is NOT fat. Bless her heart. I was flattered that the neighbor girl just said a little.

I submit to you exhibit A, a picture aforementioned neighbor girl drew of me earlier this week:

I’m the red one, by the way. Notice the two-distinct orbs? That would be where I carry the bulk of my weight: the boobs and mid-section (and by mid-section I mean everything between my head and ankles). For a 5-year old this neighbor girl is very perceptive. Although, I must admit, her picture isn’t to scale, for if I looked like that I wouldn’t be frumpy, I’d be Mae West or Marilyn Monroe. And I’d have an extra pair of arms. Or legs. I can’t tell which.

So there you have it—undeniable proof that I’ve let myself go to the dark side (where they have cookies. You’ve seen the t-shirt, right?).

But instead of reprimanding myself for my frumpiness and requiring an immediate diet and exercise regime, in this post I am pledging to take better care of myself. And in honor of Independence Day, I’ve thought of 6 ways to get a little pampering (when you have kids, pampering equates to freedom, right?). And here they are:

1. Watching a movie of my choice, uninterrupted, and all by my lonesome.
2. Shopping, sans chart (sans children).
3. Reading a book (at the moment I’m just 20 pages into Toni Morrison’s Love.)
4. Getting a nice cut and color (and not at Great Clips).
5. Enjoying a long, hot bath (while doing #3).
6. Talking forever with a good friend.

Only recently have I discovered how much better I parent when I take care of myself first (I know, I’m slow). So, in honor of my children, all those I care for, and myself, I pledge to celebrate me this week by getting a nice cut and color. Down with the frump!

Okay. I want to hear it. I know none of you are frumpy like me, but what woman doesn't deserve a little TLC? Are you willing to take the Pamper Pledge right here and now? How will you celebrate yourself this week? Follow through, ladies, I’m looking for follow through (and I know where you blog…)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

My First Meme

Rachel from Like a Star just tagged me with this meme. And it's my very first! So to share the love I'll be tagging Erin from Life in the Nuthouse, Lauren from The Richins, and Midwest Mommy at Mommy from the Midwest.

1. Were you named after anyone? A girl my mom babysat in high school.
2. When was the last time your cried? Today at the parade when they asked us to show our respect for the 31 soldiers from Idaho who have died in the war.
3. Do you like your handwriting? Yes, although I wish it looked more like my dad’s. I spent hours in high school trying to copy his handwriting that I still think deserves to be a font.
4. What is your favorite lunch meat? Just barely converted from turkey to honey ham
5. Do you have kids? Two boys and one girl (a real sandwich of surprises)
6. If you were another person would you be friends with you? But I’m curious, if I’m someone else who’s playing me?
7. Do you use sarcasm a lot? Oh, yes.
8. Do you still have your tonsils? Yes, again.
9. Would you bungee jump? Uhm. Is there money involved?
10. What is your favorite cereal? Honey Nut Cheerios
11. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? I love flip flops. And I sometimes wear my slippers out in the winter (I even wore them to church once—on accident. Really.).
12. Do you think you are strong? I can lug a 25-pound three-year old around on my hip for awhile. That’s strong, right?
13. What is your favorite ice cream? Good question! Cookie Dough. Cherry Garcia. Pralines and Cream. Oh, and Mint Oreo.
14. What is the first thing you notice about people? Whether or not they smile.
15. Red or Pink? Red.
16. What is the least favorite thing about yourself? Are you trying to make me feel bad? Okay, so physically I hate my post-partum belly. And emotionally I hate that I’m so indecisive at times.
17. Who do you miss the most? My grandma, G.G.
18. What color pants and shoes are you wearing? Jean crop pants and brown flip flops.
19. What was the last thing that you ate? A mini pizza (on an English muffin).
20. What are you listening to right now? The computer my son left running in our spare room. It’s this annoying music from a bug game (in fact, now that you pointed it out I’m going to turn it off...)
21. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Orange. And I wonder what that means?
22. Favorite smells? I love the smell of citrus and apple cinnamon (but not together).
23. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone? My sister, Denise, who lives in Boise.
24. Do you like the person who sent this to you? Of course (she’s one of my favorite bloggers).
25. Favorite sports to watch? Hhhmm. I love watching my son play baseball, but don’t much enjoy watching complete strangers play any sport.
26. Hair color? Very brown.
27. Eye Color? Hazel.
28. Do you wear contacts? No (but very soon…)
29. Favorite Food? Taco Salad is my current favorite.
30. Scary Movies or Happy Endings? Scary movies!
31. Last movie you watched? Zoom: the Academy for Superheros.
32. What color shirt are you wearing? White with a logo.
33. Summer or winter? Summer. Absolutely!
34. Hugs or Kisses? Both, especially when my children volunteer them!
35. Favorite Dessert? Warm brownie with ice cream and fudge.
36. What book are you reading right now? Toni Morrison’s Love
37. What is on your mouse pad? No mouse pad.
38. What did you watch on TV last night? I didn’t watch anything last night.
39. Favorite Sound? Kaleb’s uninhibited laugh when watching movies in packed theaters.
40. Rolling Stones or Beatles? The Beatles.
41. What is the furthest you have been from home? Japan
42. Do you have a special talent? I love to write. Which suddenly makes me realize: I'm not addicted to blogging. I'm practicing. Phew. No 12-step program necessary.
43. Where were you born? Redwood, CA
44. What superpower would you like? The ability to fly. And leap tall building in a single bound. And run faster than my children.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

I'm 60% Blogging Addict

The results are in, and I'm not quite as addicted as I thought (phew!).

60%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

How addicted are you?

My Blog Rating

Okay, so I stumbled on this nifty blog rater on Petroville and had to share. My blog earned the following rating:


Apparently 3 uses of the word "kill" and one use of the word "hurt" warrant parental guidance while viewing my blog. Take note children. Back away from the blog unless your parents are present.

I'll be back soon to share just how addicted to blogging I am (that quiz is currently out of commission).

Manic Monday

Why is it that Mondays always feel like those dreams where you’re running in water? You know the ones, right? You’re waist deep in a river or ocean with a swift undercurrent, and the waves of unfolded laundry, dirty floors, and weekend debris rush towards you? Oh. Is that just me? *sigh*

Come Monday I feel like I have domestic amnesia and exert great effort relearning the daily routine. I grind gears trying to find my way back to the dishwasher. How does this work again? And, Are we out of dishsoap? How long has that been?

Not that my weekends are brimming with so much excitement that they induce these domestic hangovers. Don’t get me wrong, we have fun. On Friday we had a “Party Night” and watched “Zoom: the Academy for Super Heros” while eating popcorn with REAL butter (we spare no expense at the Belknap home). But that was the pinnacle of excitement over here. Oh, and on Sunday I took a nap. See? Not the type of mind-boggling revelry that would require a day or so of recoup. But still, I lag.

And it seems to be contagious. Come Monday my children are completely confused, as if they’ve woken up in the wrong house. They spend a couple hours wandering aimlessly and responding to my every request with a wide-eyed, “Why?” completely baffled that I’m expecting them to get dressed and do chores.

But then, that’s how I feel too, I guess. When I worked full-time I read somewhere that Mondays and Fridays are the most unproductive work days. Makes sense to me. You spend one-full day getting into gear and another day getting out of it.

And true to Monday form, I’m barely posting this on Tuesday. It lounged around on my computer all day yesterday and I just finally decided to finish it up. So here it is. All dressed up with nowhere to go. Or is it a day late and a dollar short? Either way it's my kinda Monday.