Monday, January 11, 2010

Help Wanted

Sometimes it feels like the universe is just begging for me to start blogging again... I hope to have more on this tomorrow, but for now please enjoy the following comment I just received on my last blog post:

Hello -
I am a casting for a major cable network and we are currently looking for outgoing and dynamic super moms who can show us how fun, busy, exciting and hectic it is to be an elementary school mom.

We are looking for moms with great personalities that play an active role in their child's education and school activities. We have been talking with the National PTA and they seem very excited about this opportunity.

Please feel free to contact me anytime and feel free to pass my info along to those you see fit.

Thank you!


Are you a super mom to an elementary schooler???

Do you take an active role in your child’s education and extracurricular activities at his/her elementary school?

Is being involved in PTA, PTSA, PTO and/or similar parent groups at the top of your to-do list? Are organizing bake sales, packing lunches, scheduling activities and lobbying for better school facilities part of your hectic day? If so, we may want you for a New Show!

A major cable network is looking for an outgoing and dynamic super mom who can show us how fun, busy, exciting and hectic it is to be an elementary school mom.

If you have a fun, outgoing personality and are immersed in your child's education and school activities, we want to hear from you!

Please email a family photo, names and ages of you and your kids, location and contact info. Tell us about your involvement with your child's school and how your responsibilities make a difference.

Send your information to the Casting Director at:

Monday, October 26, 2009

An Important Announcement - The All New Mommyfesto

I am so ambitious. Not only am I recommitted to blogging, but I am adding two regular features to the blog. The first (which you will notice has already appeared on the right side of your screen) is a monthly poll. I think you'll like it - we all appreciate being validated in our choices, even when they are bad, and taking and watching the poll can offer hard evidence that you are not alone in those choices. The second is still being worked out, but since we're so close I'll tell you anyway. I'm going to add an advice section, an "Ask Mommyfesto" if you will (should you have a better idea for a name, by all means tell me). Just like Ann Landers I'll listen to your parenting problems and tell you exactly what Mommyfesto along with an expert panel (thank you Wiki!) would do in your shoes. File that under "Coming Soon" and send me your questions in the meantime.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Overheard Outside of the Bathroom

Well actually in the front hall (which is where all the elegant people enter our home).

Preschooler (quite excitedly): "Mommy, Mommy, I couldn't get all the poop out when I wiped it so I just put my underwear back on!"

At least there's one problem-solver in this house.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Should I Call the Doctor?

DISCLOSURE: Dear Reader,
I was given the following product by a junior account manager at a marketing or PR firm who saw my blog listed in a mommy blog catalog. You and I both know they didn't bother to read my blog or else I never would have been asked to give my humble endorsement of the product below. In any event, I readily agreed to except their gift and tell my reader what I think of it. For me the biggest thrill in the whole exchange has passed - it was in seeing the FedEx truck pull-up outside my house and having a package handed to me (thereby giving both me and my neighbors the false impression that what I'm up to all day is both urgent and businessy). That said, since my emotional tie to this product was spent upon its delivery, you can trust that the review below is accurate and unbiased.

At this point, I don't think it's overly optimistic to assume that we're in for some serious and definitive changes in our health care system. And while try as I might to follow the discussions on such an important topic I couldn't tell you what exactly those changes would be - even if you promised me two hours in Target without my kids. I am pretty sure that no matter how the government addresses health care in this country, they're not going to change one of my own biggest issues with the system: calling the doctor's office.

As I have mentioned before, I have a sordid past when it comes to calling the pediatrician's office. And while the staff at my kids' doctor's office is by no means judgmental (as far as I can tell) I am acutely aware of just how often I call there and for what purpose. I have always believed that if I played my cards right and resisted calling the office for minor situations, then I would have a much better chance of getting prompt and considered attention when I really needed it. I think this dawned on me when I called in about a bloody lip on my then three year old (now nine year old) daughter. For the curious, the lip was split during a run-in between her face, a blow-pop and a slide...

So if you're also working on the "less is more" doctor-calling philosophy you'll be interested in the following product review (!). Here are two books to check before calling your pediatrician (or you own grown-up doctor). One of the books (DK's Baby & Child Health, edited by Jennifer Shu) I bought on my own; the other (Merck Manual Home Health Handbook), I got for free from the Merck publicist who values my opinion even more than you do. For this review, I checked each of the books for information on the three ailments that have most recently impacted my family: H1N1, plantars warts (I said family, not me), and laryngitis. I also looked up head lice in both books because information on head lice is the true measure of the worthiness of any family health book.

The Merck Manual is strictly for grown-ups, yes it discusses things that impact children, that happen to children, but it is in no way written for anyone under eighteen to read. It's a resource for parents (whereas I could give my fourth grader the DK book to look at if she were doing a report on strep throat or first aid). The book's H1NI section is quite good, it's long enough and gives more information than let's say the local county board of heath website. The sections on warts and laryngitis are too general to be of much help. The head lice section is pretty good though, its straightforward rather then alarmist and what's best is it doesn't make you feel any guilt for choosing chemical lice treatments over homeopathic ones. Merck's deficit for me is that it doesn't have enough pictures. No matter how good the text is in any medical book, you need pictures. Without pictures, the description of almost any ailment is easily interchanged with several others. If I can look at a picture of what's growing on the bottom of someone's foot, I can know in an instant what to do about it, whether to head for the drugstore or to call the doctor. Text alone doesn't give me that clear option.

Pictures are where the DK Baby & Child Health excels, they've got great pictures of rashes, infections, and even emergencies. And they've got great diagnosis charts too. The problem with those is that most end up in the same final box, "call your doctor." This book is by no means definitive, but it's a great starting point. I should note however, that the head lice section is not very good at all. But I'm ok with that because I now have the Merck Manual.

Bring It!

The free stuff that is. You may remember that some people in this blogging family take issue with bloggers receiving free stuff to review. And you may also remember that I handily dismissed any arguments against freebies for bored bloggers hooked on mail in a previous post (I could use some more soap Rand, as I'm still figuring out how I feel about it).

While free stuff has long been a staple of the blogging community (it's the SWAG for the stay-at-home set), the government has finally decided that giving people things and asking them to write about them (kindly) is somehow warping favorably the reputation of those things among consumers. In the name of consumer protection, the FTC is instituting a whole new and improved set of rules and regulations about blogging on behalf of products and more important, penalizing bloggers who fail to disclose that they might be getting something from the company whose product they have written about.

While I had heard these rumors for quite awhile, I never checked into them until today. A quick internet search led me to the rules and to this video clip explaining how the rules will impact bloggers. As far as I can tell, I mean according to Mary Engle who is on-top over at the FTC, as long as I tell you that I got something for free, I am free to discuss it as I see fit in my blog. Lucky for me, I've always played by that rule. But just to be safe I will from now on be employing the following disclosure near the top of every product review.

DISCLOSURE: Dear Reader (note that's singular, I'm a realist),
I was given the following product by a junior account manager at a marketing or PR firm who saw my blog listed in a mommy blog catalogue. You and I both know they didn't read my blog or else I never would have been asked to give my humble endorsement of the product below. In any event, I readily agreed to except their gift and tell my reader what I think of it. For me the biggest thrill in the whole exchange has passed - it was in seeing the FedEx truck pull up outside my house and having a package handed to me (thereby giving both me and my neighbors the false impression that what I'm up to all day is both urgent and businessy). That said, since my emotional tie to this product was spent upon its delivery you can trust that the review below is accurate and unbiased.

How's that work for you Mary Engle?

And for those PR/Marketing types out there, don't hesitate to contact me - we do (or pretend to do) all things that mommies do...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Overheard in the Bathroom

So it's been months since the last post and even longer since I've posted with any regularity. I've been meaning to do it, but... Anyway, for reasons I'll explain later, it's time to resurrect the blog. To do that, I turned to a website my girlfriend just told me about for inspiration. That site is overheard in new york - a catalogue of comments and conversations overheard on the streets of new york (they also have an overheard at the office and an overheard at the beach version). It's mostly funny although it does feel a little contrived at times (but when you're messing around on the computer at eight o'clock p.m. - because you don't want to go downstairs and find out about the mess your kids just made in the playroom that you cleaned from nine to eleven a.m. - it's not staged enough to bother you). The best of craig's list can also be perfect in this situation. Inspired by the notion of blogging as simply reporting/recording the conversations of parenthood, I decided to share the following:

Sunday night, 8 p.m., just outside the bathroom door
Me: Xavier, please get in the bath tub
no response
Me: Xavier, I really want you to get in the bath tub.
no response
Me: Now!
no response
Me: You need to take a bath, what is going on in there?
no response
Me: Please... get... in... the... tub
Polly (the three year old): Xavier just get in the fucking bathtub.
Me: Polly, go to your room.
Xavier: Why? What'd she say? Mom, what did she do?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Get Out of My Car! And Go Get Some Ice Cream...

By now you've probably heard plenty about Madlyn Primoff, the New York mother who, after listening to her tween daughters fight in the backseat, finally decided to drive in peace and kicked both girls out of the car. Primoff ended up in jail charged with child endangerment and with a temporary order barring her from seeing her daughters. Primoff, a lawyer, clearly has the mind of a legal genius!

If you were particularly outraged by this story and upset by Primoff's treatment of her daughters, you probably don't have children. Or you write for a mainstream publication and need to take the opportunity to elevate your own parenting skills in contrast to Primoff's. Or your children are still small and are cute and cuddly enough to counterbalance their bad behavior by eliciting parental reactions of guilt rather than sheer anger. Not so with a tween. Preadolescents and adolescents are defined by awkwardness -physical, social, and emotional - and within the company of their parents, this awkwardness often morphs into downright nasty, disgusting behavior - the very behavior that might trigger a parent to eject their ungrateful tween from the car three miles from home.

I would guess that many parents were less outraged and more relieved by Primoff's arrest. Most parents can completely identify with the Primoff's snap. In fact, many like parenting blogger mad black grandmother, might see Primoff's decision to throw her kids out of the car as a fair lesson in actions and consequences, a relatively safe way to get her girls attention. The relief that these parents might feel when they hear Primoff's story is two part. First, most parents will be relieved to find out that other parents are experiencing the daily rage, disappointment and bewilderment that comes with parenting children of all ages and pre-grown-ups in particular. Second, they might be relieved that their own struggles with these emotions haven't gotten them arrested.

If you don't have kids (why in the world would you be reading this?) you might think that I'm going a little too easy on Primoff. Let me be clear, I'm not condoning her behavior, I'm just saying I understand it's origins. And my sympathy for Primoff is based on the facts of the incident. Primoff told her kids to walk in the middle of the afternoon on a comparatively nice day. The hardships incurred by walking three miles are relatively few. She didn't drop them off in the middle of the street but in a parking lot. Her older daughter managed to get back onto the car, the ten year old was somehow left behind. Admittedly, this twist bewilders me. The ten year old then found a sympathetic stranger (called a "good Samaritan" in one news cast) who first took the kid to get ice cream and then dropped her off at the local police station. When Primoff went to find the girl, she was forced to call the police to lay claim to her child and subsequently be arrested.

In none of these facts do I see anything that tells me that the either of her children were at risk for anything more than learning a lesson. Except that now the lesson has been warped from "be respectful to your mother and each other (especially in the car)" or "don't piss your mom off while she's driving" to "go ahead and make mommy mad, she'll get in trouble not you" and "even if my mom is mean, someone will buy me ice cream."

Yes, that's irritation with the "good Samaritan" you sense from me. I do feel like that adult facilitated Primoff's troubles. I'm not blaming her or saying that Primoff didn't get herself into this mess. But taking the kid to get ice cream and the to the police? What about the option where you ask the "abandoned" child what her home phone number is and call her parent directly. Remember this child is ten not four. I'm not saying that intervening adults should return children to their parents bar none, I'm simply suggesting that this "Samaritan" could have applied some fact analysis to the situation. Did the well heeled child look undernourished, generally mistreated, abused? I understand that you can't always tell these things, but you can't just disavow them altogether. If you do, then a stop at the ice cream shop has no place in your rescue plan for the child. If you truly believe that a youth is at risk in their home, contacting the authorities, not ordering a twist cone, should be your first move.

And what of Primoff? Well aside from jail time, legal fees and notoriety, the fallout for her rash decision is going to be pretty ugly. After all, while her kids may now know for sure that she really is crazy enough to follow through on her threats, they'll also know that her hands are quite literally tied in all parenting matters. These kids hopped out of the car and into the driver's seat when it comes to the decisions informing their childhood. I can only imagine the damage that will be done by the total dissolution of Primoff's parenting credibility. On the upside though, Primoff's pretty much done with handling any carpooling and hosting anymore slumber parties.