Monday, December 29, 2008

A Night at the Movies

Happy holidays everyone!

I am having a fantastic holiday season. I am very fortunate to get off from work the week between Christmas and New Years, so I am having a great time just lounging around, watching movies, taking a nap every day and doing fun things. Pure heaven. I hope you are all having a nice holiday season too.

On Saturday night, hubby and me went to see the film Doubt (good film, by the way). Before the movie, we stopped at the concession counter to get some popcorn and a soda. There was a family of 4 ahead of us and it seemed like it took forever for them to get served. We stood there impatiently as the mom pointed at this candy and that candy (one for each kid), added a soda and then a gigantic popcorn. When all was said and done, I looked at the cash register and the total was $44.00!!! For concessions! This does not include the movie tickets (which are $9.75 now). So add it up: 4 tickets at $9.75/piece is $39.00 PLUS the $44.00 in concessions, for a grand total of $83.00. For a 2-hour family outing at the movies!

Hubby and I just looked at each and said "yep, another reason we're glad we don't have kids." I mean, honestly - how in the world do people afford it? Here I was, cringing at paying $11.00 on our concessions (which, in my opinion, is outrageous for a soda and a popcorn) and these people were not blinking an eye at $44.00.

Maybe I am cheap, but I was watching this mother order all these $4 boxes of candy and I was thinking - why don't you just bring your own? I mean, they are easy enough to toss in your handbag and you can get the same boxes of candy for $.89 at the drugstore. I guess people enjoy throwing money away. Either that, or they are doing their share to kick-start the economy.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Hear Ye, Hear Ye Childfreedom Readers!

I am pleased to announce that a Childfreedom t-shirt is in the works! I have a couple of inspired ideas I am working on, but in order to finalize the design and type of shirt I will put the design on, I need to know how many male versus female readers I have.

If you would please take a moment and vote on the poll on the upper right, it would be most helpful.

More to come...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Invasion of the Parking Spot Snatchers (and the return of Daisy Duke)

Yesterday, for the first time, my blog was invaded by a storm of angry moms. It was like a swarm of locusts rolled in. You probably missed the excitement because they invaded a very old post of mine - The Stork Spot. Go ahead, read the post and the comments. I'll wait.

When readers post a comment on my blog, I receive an e-mail notifying me of the comment so I can read it and either approve or disapprove it (it's a very rare comment that I don't approve). So when a notification came that there was a comment on The Stork Spot I thought hm, that's interesting. That's a pretty old post. And then a second comment arrived, and a third, and a fourth. It occured to me that these moms must be coming from somewhere. I mean, as proud as I am of this blog, I would be a fool to think that it's going to attract a gigantic audience of moms.

And then I remembered -I have SiteMeter! I can track the referring source of my visitors. So I did. And suprise of all surprises, they were coming from a parenthood blog/website called ParentCenter.

Apparently, a blogger/mom on ParentCenter is upset with Target because she was not properly accommodated with a primo parking spot and had to schlep from the back of the lot like the rest of us lowly, non-maternal citizens. So she started poking around the internet to find information on Stork Parking and shock of all shocks - she discovered that not everybody thinks pregnant women and women with children are entitled to special parking spots. In fact, she discovered that there is actually an anti-Stork Parking "movement" and cited my Stork Spot post as articulating its sentiments the most clearly. (I didn't realize I was part of a movement, but okay, I'm in).

Anyway, I find the comments very revealing because they shed light on exactly the rampant pronatalist attitudes that are the focus of this blog - the unblinking attitude among most people that of course moms should get special privileges. Why? Because they are moms, you moron! Bow down! They work hard. They are uncomfortable. They brought us into the world. We owe them. Humanity would not exist without them. Coddle them! They are entitled.

A mom is uncomfortable. Get her seat. A mom is shopping. Give her your cart. A mom needs to park. Give her a spot right up front. A mom needs to leave work early to take care of her kids - stay late and pick up her slack. A mother is coming. Roll down the red carpet. Just read the comments on the ParentCenter site. They are all in favor of the Stork Spot. Can you imagine!? Moms in favor of moms getting special parking spots. Yeah, I guess if primo Childfree parking spots suddenly started appearing in shopping centers across the nation, I'd be in favor of them too.

Of course, the moms reading my Stork Spot post think I am a big meanie and are horrified at my "hatefulness". What they cannot understand is that what motivates me is not hate. It's disgust with the unfairness and imbalance that exists in our pronatalist child/family/mom-centered culture where a woman makes one decision (i.e to breed) and suddenly she is catered to like Queen Elizabeth. Stork Parking is just the tip of the iceberg. Don't get me started on all the other stuff - tax breaks, family-friendly this, family-friendly that, special accommodations in the workplace, and on and on. And the entitlement. Good God. That's what gets me the most.

I know I am not towing the American line by refusing to bow down to the sacred cow. I know moms brought us into the world, but you know what? Our world is in pretty bad shape precisely because too many moms brought too many of us into the world. Maybe it's time they stop assuming that they are all doing us a favor each time they pop another one out.

It thrills me that my little blog has shaken things up a bit. We need some shaking up! Roughly 40% of American women do not have children and a good percentage of those are childfree by choice. Despite the message that is beaten into our heads to the contrary, "woman" is no longer synonymous with "mother". We are not a minority whose needs and feelings should be ignored and invalidated and I am proud to be among the many brave souls whose voices are finally starting to be heard.

(P.S. to Angry Moms - I'm still zipping into those Stork Spots like Daisy Duke. Betcha can't catch me! "Yeeeee haw!")

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mom's Letter to Santa

This is one of those internet things that gets passed around. As they say, the best humor is the humor that rings true.

"Dear Santa, I've been a good mom all year. I've fed, cleaned and cuddled my children on demand, visited the doctor's office more than my doctor and sold sixty-two cases of candy bars to raise money to plant a shade tree on the school playground. I was hoping you could spread my list out over several Christmases, since I had to write this letter with my son's red crayon, on the back of a receipt in the laundry room between cycles, and who knows when I'll find anymore free time in the next 18 years.

Here are my Christmas wishes:

I'd like a pair of legs that don't ache (in any color, except purple, which I already have) and arms that don't hurt or flap in the breeze, but are strong enough to pull my screaming child out of the candy aisle in the grocery store.

I'd also like a waist, since I lost mine somewhere.

If you're hauling big ticket items this year I'd like fingerprint resistant windows and a radio that only plays adult music, a television that doesn't broadcast any programs containing talking animals, and a refrigerator with a secret compartment behind the crisper where I can hide to talk on the phone.

On the practical side, I could use a talking doll that says, "Yes, Mommy" to boost my parental confidence, along with two kids who don't fight and three pairs of jeans that will zip all the way up without the use of power tools.

I could also use a recording of Tibetan monks chanting "Don't eat in the living room" and "Take your hands off your brother," because my voice seems to be just out of my children's hearing range and can only be heard by the dog. If it's too late to find any of these products, I'd settle for enough time to brush my teeth and comb my hair in the same morning, or the luxury of eating food warmer than room temperature without it being served in a Styrofoam container.

If you don't mind, I could also use a few Christmas miracles to brighten the holiday season. Would it be too much trouble to declare ketchup a vegetable? It will clear my conscience immensely.

It would be helpful if you could coerce my children to help around the house without demanding payment as if they were the bosses of an organized crime family.

Well, Santa, the buzzer on the dryer is calling and my son saw my feet under the laundry room door. I think he wants his crayon back. Have a safe trip and remember to leave your wet boots by the door and come in and dry off so you don't catch cold.

Help yourself to cookies on the table but don't eat too many or leave crumbs on the carpet.

Yours Always, MOM"

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Joy of Nieces and Nephews

Our nieces and nephew were over last weekend and we had a blast with them. They are 7, 6 and 4 (2 boys and a girl) and we love them to pieces. Every month or two, we take them for a day and plan a fun day with them. This time we had a Christmas-themed day. We baked and decorated gingerbread men. We also watched some animated Christmas shows (the traditional ones like Frosty, Rudolf, the Grinch) and afterwards, took a drive a local garden center that puts up a big animated Christmas display every year and walked through their animated village, which was magical. In the car, we listened to Christmas music and sang along. Then, we headed back to our house and had dinner together. Off in the distance we heard the sound of a firetruck and before we knew it, Santa was driving by our house in a lit-up firetruck handing out candy canes to all the kids. The kids were in their glory and the excitement was infectious. Of course, we made a big deal of the whole thing ("Is there a fire in the neighborhood?" "Doesn't Santa sometimes ride on a firetruck? Could it BE?"), which only got them more revved up.
The entire day was so much fun from beginning to end and it put me completely into the Christmas spirit.

After we dropped them off and were driving home, I was marvelling at how two people who love kids so much want absolutely no part of having their own. People ask us this all the time - "you are SO GOOD with kids! But you don't want any??!!???" And I think I finally came up with an analogy that sheds light on this.

For us, having kids is like going to Manhattan. Hubby and me love taking day trips to Manhattan and always have such a great time. We board a train with our friends and we all sit together and laugh and talk. And the entire time we are in Manhattan we always have such a fun itinerary of things to do. The sights, sounds and excitement are exciting and so stimulating. We are on the go. The noise, the chaos, the frenetic tension of having to stay on your toes and the unpredictability is such a jolt.

It's also incredibly exhausting.

I can honestly say that when the day in Manhattan is over, the sense of relief I feel in arriving home to my quiet suburban home and collapsing into my peaceful bed is indescribable. As great as Manhattan is, for us it would be hell to live there. It's too noisy. It's too chaotic. It's too overwhelming. It's too BIG. It's too man-made. There's too much going on. It's too unpredictable. It's too expensive. There's no quiet. There's no peace. There's no time to just be. Does that mean it's not wonderful? No. It is, but in small doses.

The same goes for kids. I truly believe that one of the main reasons we are so good with kids and what makes our times with them so joyful is that they are novel. Our normally zenlike home home goes from zero to sixty on the chaos scale as soon as they walk in the door. And it zooms right back from sixty to zero the second they leave. We like it when they arrive, and we like it when they go home.

When we are with them, we are laughing and entertaining and hugging and kissing them and chasing them and delighting in them. Our time with them is pure joy. But this joy and excitement exists precisely because we AREN'T parents. Parents may love their kids like nobody's business, but from my perspective, most of them are not really joyful in parenting. They are too jaded and tired. For us, every little thing the kids do and say is amusing, adorable and a revelation about how they are growing and changing. But for parents, the kids' antics are not novel or exciting at all. Most of the time they are too exhausted to play with them - they are too busy caring for them and correcting them to have the time or energy to play with them. Often when they do play with them, they appear to be going through the motions.

For us, storytime is a chance to delight and entertain them. For the parents, storytime is a tool to get them into bed so they can finally have some peace and quiet. From our perspective, there's just a huge imbalance in the cost/benefit analysis.

As an aunt and uncle, we get the absolute best of parenting without the worst. We get the arms around our necks and the I love yous that melt our hearts. We get to watch them jump up and down with excitement upon arriving on our doorstep. We get to share with them, and give to them, teach them and entertain them. We get to experience the excitement of being a child again through their innocent eyes. We get to enjoy the holidays with them. We get to influence them in a meaningful way precisely because we are not their parents. We get to watch them grow and change and learn and we imagine the adults they will grow into.

What we don't get are the endless hours of thankless and endless labor, sacrifice, expense and aggravation that go along with having kids. After a day of love, kisses and fun exhaustion, we can hand them back and save up our energy for next time. And when next time comes, we'll be recharged and ready for them with the same excitement, joy and love that they have grown to expect from us. We do not disappoint!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Observations of a Happy Mom

I walking again today with my coworker, Sandy. She's the person I wrote about last week who's a new mom. When we walk, we talk and vent about a lot of things - as I've mentioned, our mothers and other stuff. Today we were talking about motherhood in general. She's one of these rare mothers who is just bubbling over with joy at being a mom. She genuinely loves it and I can see that she is just delighted with her new role in life. I know one other mother who is this way - one of my best friends, Sarah. Other than Sandy and Sarah, I can honestly say I don't really know any mothers who seem truly joyful in their role. In fact, I've met many who have told me if they had to do it over, they wouldn't do it again.

Anyway, although Sandy is bubbling over with happiness about motherhood, she is also very supportive of people who chose not to procreate. She completely understands it and feels each person should live whatever life makes her the happiest. It angers her when she hears people judge childfree people harshly. She realizes that while motherhood is great for her, it's not something everyone should aspire to. Because of this, we are very comfortable talking openly with each other about these kinds of topics.

During our walk today, she said something interesting. She told me that of all the mothers she knows, she is the only one who is happy being a mom. She said that all the women she knows who are mothers are clearly not happy in their role as mothers. In fact, she told me that their unhappiness is so palpable that she often feels critically judged by them for being too happy. They treat her with suspicion for being happy and enjoying motherhood. Sandy wonders if some of them are jealous and it hurts her that they cannot share in or enjoy her happiness, but rather feel resentful of it.

I thought it was interesting that a happy mom shared my perception. I too have noticed that most women I know who are mothers do not seem happy in their role -in fact this is a big reason I chose not to have kids. They will tell you they love being a mom, but I am never able to actually observe joy and happiness when I watch them interact with their children. I have written about this in this blog. I have at times wondered if my perception of mothers as unhappy was colored by my own negatively-tinged childfree perception of motherhood. But here was a happy mother telling me that she has made the same observation that most women are not happy being mothers, so maybe my perception is not so off-base after all.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Rendell - Put a Sock in It (and you too, Campbell Brown)

During a news conference yesterday, Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania commented that Arizona Governor, Janet Napolitano is a good choice for Homeland Security Secretary. Here's what he said:

"Janet's perfect for that job. Because for that job, you have to have no life. Janet has no family. Perfect. She can devote, literally, 19-20 hours a day to it."

As would be expected, the media is jumping all over the remark as sexist, which it probably is. I mean, it's doubtful he would have made the same comment about a Joe Napolitano. Can you imagine him saying, "Joe's perfect for the job. He has no family so he has no life."

Setting sexism aside, though, this comment is insulting on another entirely different level, and one which the media would never pick up on. It is insulting to childless and childfree people. Excuse me, Mr. Rendell - so you are saying that we childfree people have NO LIFE? Um, I beg to differ. In fact, I would argue that we have MORE of a life than most people who are saddled with kids.

Oh but that's right -this is America and the only pursuit that constitutes a life is having children. Nothing else qualifies. It doesn't matter if a person pursues higher education, is engaged in the community, maintains meaningful relationships, travels, is engaged in creative projects, does volunteer work, is a devoted spouse, friend, son or daughter, aunt or uncle, sister or brother, employee or Governor of Arizona. The only people who have a life are people with "families", right?

(Oh, and just to be clear, when he says "family", we can be pretty sure he is not talking about a husband, wife and 3 cats.)

Take a moment to watch Rendell in action and then listen to Campbell Brown rip him a new one.

P.S. to Campbell Brown: You rail against Rendell for "perpetuating stereotypes about women", and in the same breath categorize women into 2 categories - "mothers" and "single women". Tell me, Campbell - oh, Champion of Womens' Issues - which of those all-encompassing categories do I fit in?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Quiet (and tasty) Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving was a little different for us. Since I am estranged from my mom, we didn't attend the big family affair at my parents' house but instead had a quiet Thanksgiving at home, just the two of us.

I decided to make the best of the situation and have a full-blown Thanksgiving feast just for hubby and me. I cooked everything over a 4 day period, so as not to wear myself too thin doing everything in one day. It was actually really nice to have a quiet day at home. Because I have nothing else to write about today, I thought you might enjoy seeing my creations (have I told you I LOVE to cook?).

Here's what was on the menu:

Green bean salad with roasted peppers, julienned mushrooms and slivered almonds (from the LeBec Fin Cookbook)

Tofurkey with roasted vegetables and mushroom gravy

"Sausage" bread stuffing (I substituted vegetarian sausage) - recipe from the Pillsbury Cookbook

Sweet Potato Bake (from Paula Deen's Christmas Cookbook)

Classic Macaroni and Cheese (from my favorite cookbook, The New Best Recipe by Cooks Illustrated)

Apple Pie (from The New Best Recipe Cookbook)

Pumpkin Pie (from The New Best Recipe Cookbook)

(Needless to say we won't need to cook for the next week. )

After dinner chill.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cutting the Cord

In a woman's life there are some things that are practically guaranteed. Having a conflicted relationship with mom is one of them.

I mentioned a few posts back that my mother and me are estranged, which is nothing new since we go through estrangements at least once every couple of years. This one's pretty serious and complicated, though - so complicated that I have told my mother I believe we need to go into therapy together to work out our problems and learn how to communicate effectively with each other (she refuses, of course, lest she wouldn't be my mother).

Anyway, the other day I was taking a walk at lunch time with a co-worker. She's a new mom (her baby is about 1 year old) and we got to talking about our mothers. Turns out she has a very similar conflicted and dysfunctional relationship with her mother and as we traded stories about our latest upheavals, we realized how similar our situations are.

Here's the difference, though. Because I don't have children, my break from my mother is clean. When I need to be estranged from my mom - when her toxicity and emotional abuse are more than I can take - I can truly be away from her. My friend, on the other hand, is bound to her mother by her child. No matter what kind of problem she has with mother, she still must make it work - at least on the surface - so that her child's relationship with grandmom is not compromised.

I have siblings who have children and they are tethered to my mom. They rely on her for babysitting (she's their daycare center) so no matter what dysfunctional B.S. my mother heaps upon them, their mouths must stay zipped, lest they lose all the granny benefits.

Granted, this benefit of being able to be fully estranged from a parent isn't the type of childfree benefit one might shout from the rooftops. After all, it's not a joy to be estranged from mom and certainly not what I would prefer. But sometimes it is needed, like now. And if I had a child, I guarantee you I would be this.much.closer to snapping.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Friday, November 7, 2008

Our New First Family

Three things I want to say about our new first family:

1. This is the cutest first family EVER.

2. I am SO proud of our country.

3. What the heck is Michelle wearing?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Selfish Saints

Now that I am completely (and sadly) out of vacation mode and have slipped fully back into my curmudgeonly American persona, it's time for another rant! (Hurray! Admit it, your life has been lacking without them).

As you know, there are many things that perplex and fascinate me about the subject of parenting and motherhood and which I like to complain about in this blog - our media's fixation on celebrity breeding; noisy, obnoxious parents polluting our environment with their self-absorbed entitlement. The usual suspects. There's another topic, though, that I haven't touched on too much and it deserves some attention - the engrained, persistent notion of motherhood as sainthood.

To be a mother in our culture (and in most cultures) is to wear a badge of the highest honor. To become a mother is to receive instant esteem in our culture. Motherhood is equated with (among other things) goodness, virtue, selflessness, sacrifice, femininity, wholesomeness, and even patriotism. A woman becomes pregnant and the seas part - she is an instant celebrity - parties are thrown, she is showered with gifts and heaped with praise about how beautiful, how glowing, how magnificent and miraculous she is. She becomes an instant lifetime member of the Mom Club - a group whose members fawn over each other and hang on each other's every word. No wonder so many women can't wait to be mothers!

It doesn't stop there. For the rest of her life, she will have special stature. She will have a special holiday just for her and will be held in high regard simply because she reproduced. She will always be held up as the example of caring, compassion and selflessness. Her status as mother will be such a badge of honor that for the rest of her life she will be known as a mother first before anything else. She will find tons of validation and support everywhere she looks as her choice to reproduce is celebrated in every facet of culture, community, religion and the media. For crying out loud - she will even get her own premium parking spot. Never will her role be questioned or criticised, for motherhood is the sacred cow that is never spoken of in any terms other than those of reverence and endearment (well, except maybe on childfree blogs).

Well, I would like to take this opportunity to challenge the foundation of this mythology about motherhood. My argument? Mothers cannot be saints because they are selfish.

It begins with the decision to reproduce and bear biological children rather than opting to adopt one of the millions of homeless and orphaned children waiting for a home - orphans whose adoption would not only be a great benefit to the children, but to our environment, since the more children who are adopted (and the fewer who are newly bred), the lower the world's population and the less negative impact on the environment. After all, there is a direct connection between world population and the looming destruction of the planet. Global warming is a testament to this.

Women (and men) decide to have children for a plethora of reasons and most of those reasons are selfish. They want a little being who will love them more than anyone. Selfish. They hope for a little "mini me" who will (hopefully) reflect themselves back like a mirror - a little carbon copy of themselves. Egotistical and selfish. They want someone to carry on their name. Egotistical. They want to relive their childhood because they really don't enjoy being adults. Selfish. Their lives are empty and meaningless and reproducing is a quick remedy which requires little thought, talent or consideration. Lazy and selfish. They hope to have someone to take care of them in old age. Selfish. They long for the acceptance and status that comes with parenthood. Selfish. They want their lives to be full of activity and excitement. Selfish. They love the idea of family and all the warm, fuzzy notions that accompany it - holidays with a big family around the table, vacations to Disney World, traditions like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Selfish. Shall I go on?

Claiming that a parent or mother is selfless is akin to saying that I am generous because I pay my mortgage. I chose to purchase my home, therefore I am responsible for paying my mortgage. Paying my mortgage makes me responsible, not generous. Likewise, people who choose to bring children into the world and then exert all of their time, effort and money to care for them are not selfless. They are responsible. And sadly, many parents cannot even lay claim to being responsible (the aforementioned orphans are a testament to this). There is a clear distinction between selflessness and responsibility and it's a distinction that has to be made.

I am tired of hearing childfree folks referred to as selfish (not only by parents, but often by themselves). I am tired of parents (and especially mothers) getting all this phoney worship for being selfless when their motivations to live the way they do are no less selfish than mine. We all choose to live the life that we think will make us the happiest and for this we are all inherently selfish. It's not necessarily a bad thing to be selfish, but we need to get real about what selfishness and selflessness are and who possesses these traits (we all do) and we also need to get real about who is a saint (none of us).

Monday, November 3, 2008

Absence Makes Your Heart Grow Fonder

Dear Friends,

I apologize for my absence, but hubby and I have been on vacation for ten days at the most beautiful place in Mexico - a beach cabana with no phone, no t.v., no computer, no electricity - just a beautiful turquoise sea, sand, sun, a soft breeze and a hammock, which is pretty much where I was planted most of the vacation. I didn't think about work, or politics or even what to write about in this blog. There were no aggravating families or children anywhere to be found. I am sure you will forgive my absence when you watch this video which I took during one of my many hammock sessions.

Once I am fully back in the "real world" (so-called), I'll be back with more of my usual rantings.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Waiting Game

I got an e-mail the other day from a former co-worker. You may remember her from this post. She left about a year ago to become a stay-at-home mom. Anyway, she sent me a link to her new family web site which, of course, mostly focuses on the new baby. Anyway, this kinda gave me a chuckle. On the home page of the web site, it says:

Welcome to the website of Sandy, John & Madison Cahill. Sandy & John met in 2002, and married in 2003. We purchased a house a couple years ago and have just welcomed our daughter, Madison Lynn Cahill. Before Madison arrived, our life was full of traveling, enjoying good food and wine, and spending time with family and friends. Now we’re waiting to see what exciting adventures will come with our new addition.

We hope you enjoy the photo galleries of our family!
Is it me, or do you find it funny that she actually listed all the fun things they used to do before they had the baby - as though she is saying, "this is what our life was like back when we had a life"? And now they are waiting for exciting adventures to come? It's been a year since they had the adventures or excitement yet?

I just hope the adventures they eventually have with the baby will be as exciting as the travelling, dining out and the socializing they used to do. I don't know...somehow I can't see Chuck E. Cheese holding a candle to all of that.

A Little Monday Humor

I've been a little off-topic on my blog recently - I hope you're enjoying some of the fun stuff. Think of it as a little break from my usual ranting and raving.

Anyway, being that it's Monday, I think we can all use a good laugh, so turn up the volume and enjoy this - one of the funniest skits I have ever seen on SNL. Amy Poehler rocks!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I want my ChildfreeeeeTV!

In case you haven't noticed, I have added a new feature to my blog - something I call


This is my personal version of MTV. Think of it as MTV back when MTV actually was GOOD (you know, back when they actually played music videos).

ChildfreeTV features many of my favorite songs, in video form. Totally off-topic from the childfree issue, but a lot of fun nonetheless!


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Overwhelmed Parents Dump their Kids

Apparently, parenthood is so overwhelming for some people that they are dumping their kids at Nebraska hospitals. You see, like most states, Nebraska has the Safe Haven Law which allows parents to abandon their unwanted children at a hospital, no questions asked. Unlike other states, however, Nebraska does not have restrictions on the ages of the abandoned children, so although the Safe Haven Law was generally intended as a protection for newborns born to unwed teen mothers who are prone to dumping them in trashcans, Nebraska's law has opened the floodgates to all overwhelmed parents. As you will hear in this report, over half of the kids abandoned at Nebraska hospitals are teens and some of those kids are driven across state lines to be dumped in Nebraska.

Ah, parenthood. The ultimate of life's fulfilment and joy.


If you'd like to read more about regretful parents, click here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Just Because...

This is off-topic but I can't resist.


Friday, October 3, 2008

The Politics of Pretty Palin

My apologies to those of you who detest politics. I know my posts have been politically-focused lately but how can I help it? The freaking circus has come to town and I admit - I am transfixed.

The media was all over Sarah Palin the other day as she stepped off the McCain-Palin jet on her way back from her 3-day cram session for the debate. And, so as not disappoint all the hockey moms out there, she looked positively glamorous as she exited the plane like a graceful filly, long flowing hair whipping in the wind, adoring family in tow, and of course, baby in her arms.

When the debate was finally over and everyone took a collective sigh of relief that Sarah Palin didn't make an ass of herself, the Palin family descended onto the stage - all 200 of them. Despite the multitude of available family hands to hold the baby (including a pregnant 17 year old daughter who certainly can use the practice), I thought it was interesting that Sarah Palin, the Vice Presidential candidate who certainly had other things to occupy herself at that moment, immediately whisked the baby into her arms and paraded him all around the stage while the closing credits rolled. Talk about a photo op. Call me cynical, but I couldn't help but think that Palin is milking the "mom-of-a-special-needs-baby" and "mother-of-five-running-for-Vice-President" thing for all it is worth. As she strolled around the stage, nuzzling her adorable special-needs baby and patting his back, she conveyed to everyone that despite her elevated role in politics, she is still a conservative and knows her place. She hasn't forgotten what's really her most important role. I could almost envision all the haggard mothers at home, staring into their televisions, bleary eyes wet with admiration, projecting themselves onto that stage and imagining that they too can be someone big and important; that even with a truckload of kids, the moms of the world can rise up, wipe the bags from under their eyes, slip into a designer suit and do it all. Maybe it is possible. Just look at Sarah. And I can also see droves of women voting for McCain because they admire Sarah, the pretty, polished and powerful Supermom.

And this is what truly frightens me - that a large segment of Americans choose the leaders of our fine country based solely on sheer narcissism - "I want a candidate who is like ME, ME, ME. I want a candidate who lives like me, looks like me, talks like me, who swigs down a 6-pack like me, who cheuffers her kids around in a mini-van like me, who says cutesy things like "dog gone it" while wearing the same shade of L'Oreal lipstick as me."

As evidence of this, when W. was running for office, many Americans said they were going to vote for him because they could see themselves having a beer with the guy. Well, the past 8 years have proven that these people are morons. Here's what I say: I want my President and Vice President to be smarter than me, more knowledgeable than me, more disciplined than me, more articulate than me, more educated than me, more experienced than me, more accomplished than me and yes, even more elite than me. It's okay. Really. If I want to swig a 6-pack down with a bunch of schlubs, I can do that at the local bar. I don't need a presidential or vice presidential drinking buddy.

And now, a lighthearted look at the debate from our friends at SNL:

Monday, September 29, 2008

Mommy Mooseburger Strikes Again

Tina Fey does such a mean impression of Sarah Palin. A must see!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ongoing House-Showing Saga

Well, it happened again. We had a real estate showing of our house, and a young couple came with 3 little kids. One was a baby, one was about 4 and the other was 5. The baby was the most well-behaved of the three. The father carried her the entire time and she was dead silent. The 4 year old and the 5 year old, however, were completely out of control, running all over the house, chasing the cats, climbing on the furniture, rolling around on our floors, grabbing our exercise equipment and anything else they could get their hands on. The mother and father were wrestling with them the entire time, pulling them off our furniture, trying to get them to behave.

What amazes me about these situations is not that the kids are acting the way they are - they are kids, afterall. I don't fault them for being excited. It's that the parents bring their kids with them to a real estate showing. What are they thinking? Can't they get a babysitter for an hour? I mean, they come for a showing and spend the entire 40 minutes wrestling their kids off the cats and furniture. Their attention is not on the showing. They can barely focus on what they are seeing. It's irritating for us because we're trying to give them a tour and tell them about the various features of the house, and we can barely get through one room or one sentence before all hell is breaking loose.

I hope we sell our house soon because I don't know how many more of these showings I can stomach.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Shallow Celebucommentary

After several serious, thoughtful posts, I think we're all due for a dose of shallowness, so let us turn our focus to the celebrity world for a moment, shall we?

To all the people who think they are just SO goodlooking that they simply MUST pass on their genes (it would be a crime not to!), please keep this in mind.

You can be as drop-dead gorgeous as this couple:

And have a baby that looks like this:

Maybe that's why Halle and Gabriel aren't smiling anymore? (Or maybe it's just parenting in general that has them down.)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

God Bless Mr. Peanut

Here is just one of a million examples of why the childfree life reigns supreme. Imagine for a moment that you are a parent and are "blessed" with a child who happens to have an allergy to peanuts. Sounds like a minor thing, right? Think again. Here is what you would be dealing with (this was posted on a discussion board I visit where someone had asked for a recommendation on peanut-free schools):

"Parents with Children of the Allergy World:

Pick your school then- Have a 504 Plan meeting with the following people at the same time: Principle, District Nurse, School Nurse, students Teacher and the Food Service Workers.

Have the Allergy Test results, a letter from the doctor as to how severe the allergy is and what the doctor wants done with the medicines.

You will need to have the teacher (depending on the school and age of the child) get a fanny pack with the students name: allergy: and medical alert signage on it. This fanny pack can be woren by the student during switching classes, bathroom runs etc. If they go out to PE with the teacher, than the teacher wears it. The monitors on the playground should also have fanny packs with the students medicines (epi and benadryl on them) because there is no time to run the student to the office while the reaction occurs. The nurse should have meds also locked at their station.

There needs to be a drill plan: Our children's teachers (at each grade level all of the teachers on the campus should know the plan) have peanut-drills like fire drills. If a reaction occurs in the classroom or while in the custody of the teacher w/ the class then the teacher simply says "PEANUT DRILL !!!" and the class immedicately goes to the nearest classroom (with a teacher) and says the same thing...PEANUT DRILL - that teacher then knows that the class will be with her until the situation is over and she is released. The teacher will phone, radio or send a student(s) to the office to let the nurse know to call 911.

You must let the OFFICE know that you want the nurse to ride with the student unless you are there, especially with the student also has asthma, because there are medications that contain peanut that are used for breathing treatments: DuoNeb, Atrovent, Ipratropiumbromide, Comivent,etc.

Field Trips the cafeteria packs lunches for the students that way the lunches are ham sandwiches for something other than PB&J. You can also provide the snacks for the students as a gesture for all of their help.

We also have hand sanitizer in the classroom after recesses and lunch. If the teacher says there is time- they wash their hands. This is actually beneficial to all of the students. The attendance rate went up over 50 % in our childrens classes because the kids were so clean, they weren't spreading germs all the time. The teacher like the fact that she got to take a vacation instead of using her time for sick days.

The biggest thing is to make sure that the school is educated and will know who your child is and where they are at all times. There are teaching tools for K-8 and up like Alexander the Elephant who is allergic to peanuts.

Also, just to let you...allergy testing can be confusing too. You can have a positive reaction one year and two years later be negative, this is a false reading. The peanut nut allergy is one that you have for a lifetime. It grows with intensity with each reaction. That is why it is so necessary to learn all you can, and educate everyone you talk to. The allergy shots just introduce the peanut protein- they are life-threatening reactions waiting to happen. Trust me.

IF the school doesn't want to do their part change schools or get an attorney. YOU are your child's advocate- it will be hard to start, but well worth it.

Good Luck !!!! Everything will be fine....have a safe nut-free day!

Don't forget to have peanut-free fundraiser with the PTA: there are cookie dough, and lots of others.

Trace Atkins is the Honorary Chairman for the 2008 in San Diego,CA because his child has the allergy. Join the walk in your area and find others who can support you. ~ God Bless."

God bless is right. She will need God's blessings to deal with this all this bullshit. Can you imagine? And this is just one of thousands of burdens parents deal with every day just for the joy of having kids. Thanks, but no thanks. I'll stick with my monthly outings with my nieces and nephews and leave Peanutgate to the blessed ones.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Dear Moms

In the event there are any moms reading my blog (I know, probably a longshot, but you never know), I have an important message for you today.

Dear Moms,

An important election is coming this November. All I ask of you is that when you cast your vote for President and Vice President that you make your choice based on issues and on which candidates will move our country in a positive direction, not on whether a candidate looks like you, drives the same mini-van as you, is a soccer mom like you , reminds you of someone you've met at the church bake sale or someone you'd like to hang out with, or has a vagina like you.

We women have to demonstrate that we are much smarter than we are being given credit for and that we are not gullible. We know what a feminist is and we can see through a politician who masquerades as one. We know which politicians will work for the advancement of women and protect our rights. We take offense at the idea that all women are the same and one is easily substituted for another - that any woman will do. We look forward to the day when a woman will occupy the highest offices in our government, but we realize the cost to all women if we put someone in office who will amount to a female verson of W.

Sorry to be up on my political horse today but some pleas just have to be made.



Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Joe Shmoe

I sometimes like to watch Morning Joe on MSNBC in the mornings. It's a political talk show and I like the fact that they are usually pretty good at arguing all sides of an issue (liberal and conservative). This morning they were talking about Sarah Palin and the controversy over whether it was appropriate for her to accept the Vice Presidential nomination given the fact that she has 5 children. The discussion went in directions you might expect, with much of the discussion centered on the question of whether the criticism of Palin's decision to be V.P. (given that she has 5 kids to take care of) is "sexist", given that we would never question a male candidate over such a thing.

Toward the end of their discussion a couple of the commentators began lamenting about how difficult it is in our culture for women to live a full life and to balance everything - with the competing demands work and children pulling them in different directions. This is where the discussion began to get under my skin, because they kept referring to these problems as women's problems. Women struggle with balance. Women struggle with career vs. children. Women feel pulled in different directions and it's so hard for women to do it all.

This discussion illustrated exactly what I wrote about in my last post - that woman is equated with mother. What they should have said is that it is difficult for mothers to live a full life and to balance everything - that mothers struggle with balance; that mothers struggle with career versus children. The underlying assumption in their discussion, of course, is that all women are mothers, therefore, all women have difficulties with balance and competing demands pulling them in multiple directions. The fact is, this is a problem for women who choose to be mothers, not for all women.

Most women (including myself) lead busy lives, but I can tell you that my life is not one of push/pull, of feeling torn between my career and my family, of juggling overwhelming and competing demands and feel guilty about undertaking endeavors outside the home. My family consists of my husband and my cats, neither of which are tethered to me like balls and chains and the former of which can easily care for himself and the latter in my absence without suffering long-term damage. I have no difficulties at all leading a fulfilling life and undertaking any endeavor I choose with ease and without guilt.

So Morning Joe, I implore you to stop lumping all women into the same category. Yes, we all have vaginas, but we do not all use them for pumping out balls and chains.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Woman, thy Role is Mother (first and foremost)

Did you ever notice that if anything unusual or special happens to a woman who happens to be a mother, the fact of her being a mother is always pointed out? It doesn't matter at all whether her being a mother is relevant. Just watch the news. If a woman is arrested, the story is "Mom Arrested for Robbery". If a female politician takes the stage to make a big speech, invariably she mentions that she is a mother within the first 2 sentences of the speech. When a woman is being given an award - even if the award has nothing at all to do with childrearing or motherhood - her role as mother will be pointed out right away: "And the Nobel Prize for Advances in Nuclear Physics goes to Mary Jones - world class scientist and MOTHER OF THREE!" When John McCain picked his female, gun-toting, animal-slaying, mooseburger-eating, "feminist"-against-womens'-rights running mate last week, we heard ad nauseum about her being a mother of 5 (one with down's syndrome, God bless her!) and a "soccer mom", as though this critical, must-know information would push us off the fence and send us racing to the voting booth to keep those wonderful Republicans in office. When Dara Torres won the silver medal in the Olympics a couple weeks ago at age 41, the fact that she is a mother was mentioned almost as frequently as the fact that she was age 41 and winning an Olympic medal.

Here is my question. How the fuck is being a mother relevant to any of this? A woman is arrested. Aside from being a mother, this woman is also likely many other things - a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, an employee, a niece, a granddaughter and the list goes on and on - everyone in her life will be negatively impacted by her arrest. Mother is not her only role. When a man is arrested we never see a similar headline, "Dad is Arrested for Robbery". When a male athlete wins a medal at the Olympics, all we hear about is how well he competed - no mention of how many rugrats he has at home or that he is a "daddy of three". When a male politician is chosen as a political running mate, nobody is talking about how many of his kids are retarded or how many kids he is cheuffering in his mini-van to soccer games.

No, the simple fact is - nobody gives a shit if a man is a dad but we simply MUST know if a woman is a mother.

And why? Because our culture defines womanhood as motherhood. Woman = Mother. The terms are interchangable and the link is continually reinforced. A woman is a mother first and maybe some other things on the side. The message is continually pounded into a woman's head that motherhood is the most important thing she does, the most rewarding part of her life and we must constantly be reassured of this if we are to accept a woman in any other role.

Motherhood is not only equated with womanhood, it is also equated with success and goodness. That's why women like Dara Torres, Hillary Clinton, McCain's Republinazi running mate and every other uber high-profile woman out there wear their motherhood badge of honor like a Wonder Woman costume - and it's also the reason the news media salivates over mothers who are arrested or have other embarrassing scandals befall them. The contrast between the entrenched idea of woman=mother=goodness and the reality of woman=mother=mug shot jailbird may shatter our idea of mother as angelic superwoman momentarily, but it sure makes for some irresistable must-see t.v.!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

Childfree Folks in the Flesh

To all my childfree cyberspace friends,

Do you ever wonder what it would be like to meet childfree folks in person? Wouldn't it be great to have a circle of friends who you could hang out with who not only understand your choice to be childfree but are childfree themselves?

Today I am writing to pass on a wonderful discovery: If you are not familiar with Meetup, it is a web site whose sole mission is to bring together like-minded people by interest. And surprise of all surprises - "childfree" is one of the interests. Sign on and type "childfree" in the "topic or interest" box, type in your zip code and if you're lucky, a local childfree Meetup group will pop up which you can join (I did!) And then you can go out and meet other childfree people in the flesh and have all kinds of fun and interesting adventures together - none of which revolve around kids!

If there's no childfree Meetup group in your area, you can start one.

It's a beautiful thing!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What Does it Mean to be an "American"?

Last night, as I was watching Michelle Obama give her speech at the Democratic Convention, I was really impressed with her message and also with the eloquence and heart-touching quality she possesses. I mean, few people can give her husband a run for the money in the speech department, but Michelle certainly can. In fact, as I was watching her speak, I envisioned her as a future president of our country. She has that elusive, inspiring presidential manner that exudes integrity and intelligence and makes you want her to represent your country. She makes me feel proud to be an American.

But before we get too carried away, let's step out of the rose garden for one moment, shall we? As much as I adore Michelle, there was one part of her speech that I thought would be interesting to discuss critically as it is relevant to the subjects we like to discuss here.

Referring to her daughters, Michelle Obama said:

I think about how one day, they'll have families of their own. And one day, they — and your sons and daughters — will tell their own children about what we did together in this election. They'll tell them how this time, we listened to our hopes, instead of our fears. How this time, we decided to stop doubting and to start dreaming.
My question to Michelle is - how do you know your daughters will have children of their own one day? Isn't that presumptuous? Maybe they will not choose to have children. Maybe they will be (gasp!) childfree. Maybe they will choose to do other things with their lives. Maybe they will set out to do wonderful things because it will benefit all of humanity, not only their own offspring.

Politicians, like the rest of society, assume and promote the idea that being an American means having kids. They are always yapping about "single mothers" and "hard-working families" and people struggling to feed their kids, and struggling to get healthcare for their kids, and on and on and on for their kids. Well, there are plenty of hard-working Americans whose lives do not revolve around caring for children, but who also are struggling, and they deserve to be acknowledged. In this economy, I don't know one person who isn't feeling the squeeze. We are all struggling to get by, to pay our bills, to pay for groceries, to get quality healthcare, kids or no kids, and it would nice if all Americans were cared about, praised and catered too to the degree that "families" are.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Moms who Want Out

Yesterday I caught a bit of the Dr. Phil show (I have to admit this show is a guilty pleasure of mine). Well guess what the show was about yesterday? Mothers who want out!

"Tired of Being a Mom

Motherhood isn't always about the good times, like baking brownies and having game night with the family. Dr. Phil talks to women who say they can’t cope with their children, and they’re running out of resources. Robyn adopted her 10-year-old daughter, Alyssa, six years ago from the Ukraine and says she actually has thoughts of sending the girl back. Robyn says that Alyssa hasn’t bonded with her and doesn’t know how to love anyone. She says her daughter screams, cries, yells and even threatened to kill herself! Robyn’s husband, Joe, can’t imagine living without his adoptive daughter and intends to stand by his commitment to her. What's the real reason Robyn never bonded with Alyssa? Then, Cyndi says if she’d known her 12-year-old son, Alex, had autism and Down syndrome, she may not have brought him into the world. She says he hits himself, screams, grunts at the top of his lungs and wears two pairs of diapers at a time because he’s not potty trained. Her husband, Ulis, says he doesn’t find it difficult to care for Alex, but Cyndi says she’s exhausted and overwhelmed. Should the boy be institutionalized? Find out what Dr. Phil thinks. Plus, meet a mom with four kids who’s already left home twice. Now she’s scared she may leave again — this time for good. "
Click here to watch a clip.

The interview that was the most interesting to me was the last interview with Charity, the mom of 4 kids who is so overwhelmed, she has left the family twice and is contemplating leaving for good. This interview was the most interesting to me because this woman's children are "normal" and her situation isn't extreme or unique. This is a woman who is honest about motherhood - that it is not what she expected, that she was fed messages about how wonderful motherhood would be and it's not, she expresses regret over what she could have done with her life is she wasn't saddled down with all these kids, that her entire life consists of chasing after her kids and constant chaos and yelling and screaming. Honestly, it was quite shocking to hear a mother saying all this stuff on national t.v. because motherhood is the sacred cow in our culture and here's someone who's telling it like it really is.

Anyway, Dr. Phil's sage advice to her can be summarized as "get over yourself" and "take some time for yourself every once in awhile". Yeah, I am sure that will fix the problem. The only real "fix" for this problem is not having kids in the first place and this would have been the perfect opportunity for Dr. Phil to talk about the fact that motherhood is a DECISION and a CHOICE and not all women should have kids. Motherhood is not the utopian wellspring of happiness it is portrayed to be.

Unfortunately for Charity, we cannot turn back the clock and undo choices like having kids. This woman made her bed and sadly, she's lying in it.

Read more about Charity's interview here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Perhaps Childfreedom is Catching On?

From News:

More women are having fewer children, if at all

More women in their early 40s are childless, and those who are having children are having fewer than ever before, the Census Bureau said Monday.

In the last 30 years, the number of women age 40 to 44 with no children has doubled, from 10 percent to 20 percent. And those who are mothers have an average of 1.9 children each, more than one child fewer than women of the same age in 1976.

The report, Fertility of American Women: 2006, is the first from the Census Bureau to use data from an annual survey of 76 million women, ages 15 to 50, allowing a state-by-state comparison of fertility patterns. About 4.2 million women participating in the survey, which was conducted from January through December 2006, had had a child in the previous year. The statistics could be used by state agencies to provide maternal care services, the report said.

The survey found that in 2006 women with graduate or professional degrees recorded the most births of all educational levels. About 36 percent of women who gave birth in the previous 12 months were separated, divorced, widowed or unmarried.

Unemployed women had about twice as many babies as working women, although women in the labor force accounted for the majority — 57 percent — of recent births. Only a quarter of all women who had a child over the past year were living below the poverty level.

Coupled with fertility data collected biannually, the report also revealed longer term trends, including how second-generation Hispanic women are having fewer babies than their foreign-born grandmothers and first-generation American mothers.

Differences among states also emerged. California, Nevada, Texas, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, New York and New Jersey had a greater percentage of foreign-born women who became mothers in 2006. A bigger share of women in the Southeast and Southwest who gave birth in the year prior to the survey did so in poverty.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Kids Gone Wild

One of the things I frequently wonder about parents is this: why do people have children and then not teach them how to behave? By "behave", I am not talking about subjective things that people may disagree on like whether a child should address an adult by "Mr." or "Mrs." or by their first name. I am talking about obvious things that should be common standards of behavior for every civilized person.

For example, today hubby and I were out running errands and we decided to eat at The Cheesecake Factory. Thinking back, this was probably a mistake since having a meal at The Cheesecake Factory tends to be akin to going to a three-ring circus, but nevertheless...

We sat down and began perusing the menu when a young family was seated next to us - a mother, father and a little girl, probably two years old. With the exception of about 5-10 minutes, the ENTIRE hour they were there the little girl STOOD on the chair. Not once did either of her parents instruct her to SIT down. They just let her stand as they went about eating their dinner. She was standing and looking over the divider at other people, climbing on the chair and being a general annoyance. For the 5-10 minutes that she actually sat, she did so with her feet on the table. When her feet were not on the table, she was kicking her mother in the boobs. Not once was the little girl instructed in anyway to behave any differently than she was behaving. She was never told to sit. She was never told to take her feet off the table. She was never even told to stop kicking her mother's boobs.

So this got me thinking: at what age will this girl learn that when eating dinner, she should sit at the table - not stand, that her feet go on the floor and not on the table and not on her tablemates' breasts? And the bigger question is - who will teach her these things (since it clearly will not be her parents)? Will it be her teachers once she enters school who will be saddled with the responsibility? Or the minister at church? Or perfect strangers in restaurants who have less restraint than hubby and me? Or will she just grow up to be like a chimpanzee...jumping and climbing, eating with her hands, smearing shit all over the place, screeching and having sex while swinging off trees?

On a womens' discussion board I frequent, one of the women posted a thread entitled, "I don't normally do this, but..." It read:

Today I was in the grocery store and I was walking by the bakery dept. and there was a mother with 4 children standing there and they were staring at the doughnuts and the mom kept asking the kids what kind they wanted. The kids started opening the little bin doors and taste testing the doughnuts - a little glob of frosting here, a little pinch of doughnut there. The mom said NOTHING about the fact these kids were playing with all this food. She just kept asking them what kind they wanted. Finally she grabbed a few doughnuts and started to leave. I said, "Lady, you might want to also buy the doughnuts your kids were playing with because nobody's going to want them after your kids have been playing with them." She, of course, told me to mind my own business in a not-so-friendly way. I told her I would be happy to mind my own business if she would mind her own children.

Now, I don't want to sound like an old curmudgeon - I'm really not that old - but IN MY DAY parents actually raised their children and taught them right from wrong and instructed their children in manners and proper behavior. You would never see a kid sticking his fingers into doughnuts in a case, or standing on his chair at a restaurant table and if you did see such a thing, it would only be for a brief moment because the parent would immediately jump in and correct the kid.

Americans in our current age are just so uncooth and unmannerly. There is no civility anymore. Children are ill-behaved and ill-mannered because they learn from their ill-mannered parents who just don't give a shit. They don't care who their kids are bothering, offending, annoying and contaminating. Through their lack of action, they teach their kids not to care about or have consideration for others. Our society has turned into a kindergarchy where kids rule the world while dim-witted, slack-jawed grown-ups tune out.

The scary thing about all this is that these ill-mannered, uncaring chimpanzees are going to one day run society when we're elderly and vulnerable. Better keep a cyanide pill tucked away someplace handy.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Fine, Freaky Celebs

There are some topics that I just can't stop myself from writing about over and over again because they perpetually fascinate me. Let's see...there's the "obnoxious parents with kids disrupting peaceful environments" (God knows how I love to harp on that topic) and my other favorite, the "media obsession with celebuspawn". Well, given that the Messiahs of all celebrities, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, just added yet 2 more anklebiters to their brood, I thought I would write about them today.

First, let me say that I realize that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are freakishly good-looking. They are the kind of people you just look and say, "how on earth is it possible for any person to be that gorgeous, let alone TWO people in one household?" Their gorgeousness is blinding. It makes sense, then, that the public is curious about what their spawn would look like. After all, as far as babies go, they just don't come any cuter than little Shiloh. I mean, just LOOK at this kid.

Having said that, let's get real here. A newborn baby isn't all that interesting to look at and it's pretty much impossible to tell the degree to which a newborn will eventually become a freak of nature in the looks department. With the exception of possibly hair and skin color, newborn babies pretty much look alike and are non-descript. Take the aforementioned gorgeous Shiloh. Here she is on her first People magazine cover when she was a newborn.

I would argue that she is no more gorgeous as a newborn than any other baby I've seen. In fact, if I was to be completely objective, I'd say that I was more gorgeous as a newborn!

While we're on the subject of freakish celebs, have you heard the rumor about little Suri Cruise (the daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes)? For years, rumors have circulated that Tom Cruise is gay and his marriage to Katie Holmes is an arranged sham. Most people know that Tom Cruise is a rabid Scientologist. The rumor about Suri is that she was conceived via invitro fertilization using the frozen sperm of late founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard.

Wait - before you laugh too hard, take a look at little Suri and tell me which man she most resembles.

Still laughing?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

House of Terrors

I'll tell you. Sometimes I really wonder about people. Seriously.

Our house is currently on the market and we recently starting giving showings to prospective buyers. We recently had had 2 showings in one afternoon, the second of which was a young couple (probably in their early 30s). LOVELY couple - very friendly and very effusive about the house. But WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? They brought along their 2 overly-spirited children, aged 2 and 4.

Needless to say, the entire showing was pure chaos. These children, while certainly very cute (physically-speaking) were not the kind of kids a couple should bring to any civilized interaction requiring any amount of contemplation or serious adult discussion. As soon as the family entered our house, the kids made a bee-line for our cats, who froze in terror at the sight of them, and started chasing them around the house. The degree of zeal exhibited by the 2 year old boy toward our cats was excessive to a degree that I began to get a bit nervous. After all, one of our cats is 20 years old (God forbid - they might give him a heart attack) so I picked him up and carried him while we gave the showing, to protect him from the over-zealous kids.

The family was at our house for about 45 minutes and honestly, I wonder if the adults were really able to absorb the showing at all and take in anything they saw. They spent the entire 45 minutes, grabbing their kids (to keep them from the cats, from the valuables, from the furniture, off the stairs), chasing after them, trying to calm the 2 year old down (who was growing impatient with the whole process and started to throw a temper tantrum). As we walked through the house with them, pointing out the various features of our lovely abode, we could barely get their attention. The husband had flung the tantrum-throwing 2 year old over his shoulder while he flailed and kicked. The wife, was dragging the 4 year old girl through the house as she tried to pull herself loose from her mother's death grip. I could see that they weren't looking at the things we were showing them. They were saying "ooh" and "ahh" and "oh, isn't that nice" but their eyes were not focused on anything we were showing them. They were completely distracted and consumed with their kids. As each minute passed, the level of stress intensified and as we progressed through the house, their attention span grew shorter and shorter and they seemed more and more rushed, as though their was a ticking timebomb that was about to go off and they had to escape the house before that happened.

And the kicker? The man's mother lives one town over. They could have easily dropped the kids off there before they came for the showing. At one point the woman even said, "it probably would have been better if we didn't bring the kids". No shit, Sherlock.

I have a theory about people with kids. I think there's a part of them that thrives on chaos. I think the chaos creates a perception of excitement and drama that gives them the illusion that they have a life. In fact, I think many people have kids because they have no life. They need something to give their lives meaning and make them feel important, so they have kids. And then, once they have them, they drag the little anklebiters all over creation kicking and screaming, subjecting innocent bystanders (like hubby, me and our poor terrorized cats) to their obnoxious behavior.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Dear Prudence

Something interesting today from in their "Dear Prudence" column:

Dear Prudence,

A year ago, I volunteered to have my family over to celebrate my niece's 4th birthday. Her birthday was on a Thursday, and the party was to be on the following Sunday. On Friday I received an irate e-mail from my sister because I hadn't called my niece on her actual birthday. She then called me at work and berated me for being so thoughtless and told me how upset my niece had been. I actually cried at my desk. After I was able to compose myself, I called my niece fully prepared to grovel for forgiveness. But as one would expect from a 4-year-old, when I apologized for not calling, she simply said, "OK" and was excited when I told her we were having ice cream with her cake on Sunday. At this point, my guilt turned to anger because I'd agonized over hurting my niece, but it seemed my sister was projecting her own issues. I love my sister dearly, so this has made me second-guess myself and question whether I am a bad sister and aunt. Am I thoughtless, or does my sister have "the world revolves around me and my children" syndrome?

—Dreading Birthdays

Dear Dreading,

Your situation could be Exhibit A for the thesis of Joseph Epstein's essay in the Weekly Standard, in which he wrote, "In America we are currently living in a Kindergarchy, under rule by children. … Children have gone from background to foreground figures in domestic life, with more and more attention centered on them, their upbringing, their small accomplishments. ... Such has been the weight of all this concern about children that it has exercised a subtle but pervasive tyranny of its own." So, break free of your chains! The fact that you were enlisted a year in advance to host a birthday party for a 4-year-old tells me that unless your sister gets some perspective, by the time this kid is 14, she's going to be a monster. Make a vow that no matter how wacky and demanding your sister gets, you will be an appropriately loving aunt to your niece, but not a sycophantic courtier at her tiny throne.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

E.T. on the Beach

Have you ever seen an ugly baby? Ugly as in fugly? Picture this. You are sitting on the beach and in front of you is a family of 4. One of the family members is about 18 months old and looks like a cross between Jerry Stiller, ET and Mr. T. (I know this is hard to imagine, but indulge me here). He is squat in shape, has a big head full of frizzy reddish hair, a heavy brow that creates a permanent scowl, a unibrow, a crooked mouth with protruding lips and large ears that stick straight out.

Well, we saw this baby on the beach not long ago and for an entire day, as we chilled and enjoyed the beautiful beach day, I found myself in a state simultaneous awe and pity over the ugliness of this child. I didn't think it possible for a baby to be this ugly. It was jarring enough that I actually whispered to my husband, asking him if he noticed. "Yeah, I was thinking the same thing".

(Sadly, these are the types of things that occupy us when we are on the beach.)

Fast forward to 2 weeks later. It's another beautiful, sunny summer day and we decide to head to the beach again, only this time - we go to a different beach town. Variety is the spice of life! We drag our overloaded beach cart down the sand - umbrellas, chairs, towels, books, sunscreen, cooler and the kitchen sink, and plant ourselves in a nice open spot.

About an hour later, I glance up from my book and look to our right and guess who I see? The ugly baby! He's back! Believe me, there is no mistaking this child. He and his family are sitting 10 feet from us! Now I ask...what are the odds that the same strangers would be sitting within feet of us on 2 different beaches, many miles apart, in 2 different towns, on 2 days weeks apart?

This story isn't really about the CF issue, really. I just thought it was entertaining to share but I guess it does give you one more item to add to your list of reasons not to have kids: you can get one that is so butt ugly he scares the bejesus out of perfect strangers on the beach.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

OK! Feels the Heat

It looks like we are not the only ones who think OK! Mag's treatment of Jamie Lynn Spears' teen pregnancy was a disgrace. In this Newsweek interview with the mag's editor, OK! defends itself against the outcry that their article on Jamie Lynn glamorizes teen pregnancy.

And just how does OK! defend this drivel? Here are the relevant quotes from Newsweek's interview with OK!'s editor:

On whether their article glamorizes teen pregnancy:

I think what we've done successfully in this story is point out that Jamie Lynn is an exceptional situation where she's a young girl but she's already made a handsome living. She's not worried about paying her electricity bill. I think we talk to her about going back to work and what that would be like. I don't think we pretend for one minute that this story is anything but what it is and I hope what we've done is reflected the reality of the story in a fair way. We didn't go down there to slap this girl on the wrist and tell her off.
On the message their article sends to teenaged readers:

I think it's a very sensitive subject. I can totally understand why people have concerns about it. I can tell you too it's nothing Jamie Lynn hasn't had to deal with herself on a daily basis. This young girl has made some very hard choices ... She can only talk about her own circumstances but she certainly is not a spokesperson for teen pregnancy. I think what we try to do in this story really carefully is say that this is Jamie Lynn's story. This is not a girl at a high school story. This is a story about Jamie Lynn and her exceptional story in really, really unique circumstances and how she's making decisions. That's what this is about. We don't set out to be the moral authority. We try to present the facts and let our readers decide.

So what do you think of this defense?

I will tell you what I think. First of all, where in the Jamie Lynn article does OK! emphasize that her situation is exceptional because she's a girl who makes a handsome living? I missed that part. Where in the article do they talk about what it would be like if she went back to work? Where do they "reflect the reality of the story in a fair way"? I missed that part too. Is presenting unmarried, teen pregnancy as a blissful experience of puppies and rainbows a fair portrayal of reality? Is that what they mean by "presenting the facts"?

OK! Mag give us a break. Your objective is to make big bucks, period. If in the process you contribute to the overblown media obsession with pregnancy and childbearing, it's no skin off your back. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, but don't give us lame explanations that make no sense whatsoever.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

What's Wrong with this Picture?

Okay, people, I know I pick on OK! Magazine a lot but honestly, how can I help it? This rag deserves it like no other and gives me plenty of fodder for this blog. Just check out their latest installment of celebrity baby/mommy obsessing featuring the deliriously happy, beautiful and glowing, unmarried, 17-year-old Jamie Spears with her new bastard child. As you read the article, ask yourself these questions: what message does this article (and photos) send to teenage girls about unmarried, teenage pregnancy? How is pregnancy and childbirth portrayed? Do you think it's a realistic portrayal? (Pay particular attention to the sections I highlighted in blue italics).


Since giving birth on June 19 to baby girl Maddie Briann Aldridge, Jamie Lynn Spears has taken to doing what any good first time mom would do — making sure her brand new daughter has everything she needs.

And, in an exclusive interview and photoshoot, the younger sister of Britney Spears tells OK! that being away from the shining lights of Hollywood is making it all easier to learn the ins and outs of first-time motherhood. "Around here, everyone has the same focus," Jamie Lynn tells OK!. "The focus is family, and that's a good way to live."

The 17-year-old actress opens up to OK! about everything — from taking parenting classes to life inside the new home she shares with Maddie and boyfriend Casey Aldridge, to her first experience with labor pains."They'd told me it would be an eight- to 12-hour labor, and I was ready to have the baby in three to four hours," Jamie Lynn tells OK!. "I had a perfect pregnancy and a perfect delivery. I was very blessed."

While the former Zoey 101 star and her fiancé have not yet set a date for their wedding, the couple remains closer than ever. Jamie Lynn, who tells OK! that while her labor was induced, she gave birth naturally and without complications, says that Casey was the one person she wanted in the delivery room with her.

"Once I got in there, my doctor was just so calm and so good it was not bad at all," she says. "I was just talking to Casey. And you know what's so weird? I was asking him if he was okay. He was like, 'Yeah.' We were both so excited."

A baby nursery is set up for little Maddie at the other end of the house, but for now her proud parents like having her next to them at night, so she sleeps in a bassinet in the same room as Jamie Lynn and Casey.

"She is very good," says Jamie Lynn. "She'll feed every two or three hours. When she wakes up in the middle of the night, I'll feed her and she goes right back to sleep. There's no screaming and crying."

The proud mama continues, "We get up in the morning, and she gets her little bath. Then I get my bath. We have a routine, and I love routines. I've worked one out with her, and we're happy going about our little life."

So by way of summary: Jamie Lynn, despite being an unmarried teenager - essentially a child herself - is a "good mom", whose focus is exactly where it should be - on family. Her life is the picture of perfection - a perfect pregancy, and childbirth was a piece of cake - a real breeze with no complications and - an "exciting" affair with no drugs required! Best of all, she is gloriously happy with the baby's father and having a child has brought them closer together than ever. Most amazingly, she has one of the only babies known to man that never screams or cries! It's almost as though Jamie Lynne has a fairy godmother who waved a magic wand over her head and sprinkled her with fairy dust!

Fairy dust indeed! The editors of this rag should be thrown in prison for the messages they are conveying to young girls and for spinning such a disgrace into an exciting "world exclusive". It is exactly these messages that result in a society where young girls are making pregnancy pacts and becoming pregnant in droves - celebrating unwed, underaged motherhood. Maybe I am showing my age, but it wasn't that long ago that it was a disgrace for an unwed teen to become pregnant and it was something one tried to avoid at all costs. Pregnancy was something to fear and worry about. It was the enemy. Becoming of age, getting an education and getting married were the normal order of events before considering having children. Now, unmarried, pregnant teens like Jamie Spears are held up as examples of perfection in girlhood!

Well, all I can say is - THANK GOD I don't have any children. Especially girls.