Geek. Pirate. Mom

The Life and Times of Whitney Drake

Archive for October, 2010

Parental phobias, Mom Cliques, and 3 year olds.

Marissa Jaret Winokur is now blogging for People.com, and posted a story about mean moms and a low moment when she accidently locked her son in her car.

I can sympathize. As soon as my kids were born, my biggest fear was locking them in the car. I would triple check to make sure the keys were in the diaper bag. Now that they’re bigger and we have the child locks activated, I know it’s worse- since they’d know they were stuck inside the car. So I don’t leave the front seat without my keys in my hand. I can understand her frustration and panic- while I have tend to have a cool head in those sort of situations… it is easy to think of all those horror stories about kids dying in cars and panic.

Now, the one thing that I sort of agree with- but not her words precisely, are the way that some moms watch and judge. Just yesterday, I had a moment where I knew that eyes of judging mothers were on me. Every day after school, the boys climb aboard a little wooden trolley outside the school. They’ve become pretty well trained, and the play for a minute, then we go. Only today, the youngest one decided to exercise his 3 year old stubbornness, and sat down just out of my reach. If I’d walk to the otherside, he’d scoot away and say no. This went on for a bit, and I tried the old “Goodbye, then” bit- only the oldest one raised too much of a fuss to really start to walk away.

Meanwhile, the mothers just watched. It would have taken a moment for one of them to walk over and help me corner him. But, no. Instead, they just watched. Ultimately the Oldest Kidlet helped me and we walked back to the car, while I (loudly) informed the littlest one that when we got home we wouldn’t finish the movie we’d been watching- instead we would all have lunch and then I’d pick the entertainment.

So what didn’t I agree with? Marissa said that it was the mothers who wore the skinny jeans and took twice daily showers who judged her, since she was wearing workout clothes. I hate to break it to her- but no matter what, at school, there will always be someone who judges you. At my son’s school, most of the mothers wear nice workout clothes (that they like never actually work out in). I wear skinny jeans, and usually something cute with a bit too much eye makeup. Not because I want to impress anyone, but because it’s just who I am. I won’t even get into the fact that they look at my little Saturn with a bit of disgust.

Not that I think she’ll ever read this, but Marissa. Honestly, it doesn’t matter if you’re put together or not- there’ll always be someone who’s watching and quietly judging. While friends are supportive no matter what- once we step on school grounds, it’s as though we’re back in school ourselves. Cliques everywhere. The moms who actually work out hang together. The ones with designer shades and Acuras all stand together. The only thing you can do is be yourself and ignore the nonsense- the same way we used to in school.

There’s being nice, and there’s sexism.

Earlier this week, Kate Beaton (of Hark, A Vagrant) tweeted that she wanted to address readers who tried to compliment her with some sort of sexual comment attached. The tamest example of this being “I want to have your babies.” Immediately Twitter exploded with people telling her she was wrong, some women agreed with her and she even clarified that she had posted a tame example. Some men agreed with her as well.

Someone posted a blog rebuttal, which she linked because she was trying to stimulate a discussion. Which was mostly people saying she was overreacting. Let me rephrase that sentence- it was mostly men saying that. This comic might be the best way to summarize what happened.

Read More…

This is Halloween…

…or at least the Halloween Costume Parade. Remember those? I loved walking through all the classrooms, and showing off my outfit.

Well, yesterday was the oldest kidlet’s turn. The Preschool had a big day planned. The costume parade followed by a Halloween party of epic proportions. The parents were all assigned things to bring. Because I noticed the sign up sheet late, I brought strawberries. Ooooo.

Now, when the boys were out with the in-laws, they spotted the Halloween costumes as Costco and quickly convinced my in-laws to buy them costumes. The in-laws did so, and smartly hid them away from where the boys would see them. My mother-in-law and I had even hatched a great plan to make the day easy for me to handle. She stayed home for the first part of the day, and kept the little one home with her. I’d get to take the oldest one to school, take video of the parade and get some pictures.

As I was sneaking the costume out of the closet, the little one saw it. I was worried he’d want to go with me, and that’d involve packing snacks and all the other paraphenalia you need for a 3 year old with serious allergies. Not to mention, get him dressed, finish getting the Oldest Kidlet dressed- all with 5 minutes before we had to leave.

Instead, I gave him the sword from his costume, and he went back to the movie he was watching. Crisis averted.

Dressed the oldest kidlet in his costume, and I took the obligatory pictures. At first, he didn’t want to wear the helmet- but once we told him it looked good, he wouldn’t take it off. Honestly. We got to school, and his teacher asked if he wanted to take it off. “No, Miss K—, it looks pretty.”

I went to a nearby Starbucks to get some caffeine. Unfortunately, this one was in a grocery store. I don’t know what it is, but I never seem to have luck with those Starbucks. My drink orders are usually wrong, or I have to explain something. My drink order- “a grande chai latte with an extra pump of chai.” What can I say? When I make them at home, I make them strong. (For those wondering- when you get them at a Starbucks, there’s usually a little water in the cup in addition to the chai mix and milk) They looked at me like they couldn’t understand me. “Did she say foam,” one of them asked the other. “No, she said an extra pump.” Then to me, he said. “I’m not sure what that means.”

So I smiled, and patiently replied, “You know how you put in a certain amount of pumps of the chai mix? You just put in one extra.” So they made me my drink and I left. I went back to the school, grabbed my tripod and went to the preschool yard to stake out a spot where I could film the whole thing. I wound up with a spot a little in a sun, and then dealt with a bunch of rude parents who tried to get in front of my camera. Finally, I brokered a deal. I wasn’t going to film all the classes, so as long as they let me have a clear shot for my son’s, we were fine.

Out he walked… and no smile at all. He was serious and all about walking around the courtyard and doing everything he was asked. (Of course, we just got back his school picture, and it’s serious as well) Highlights of the costume parade- it’s a Lutheran run school, so having them play the Time Warp to get the crowd warmed up was pretty funny. There was a kid dressed as a pokéball, one of the few completely homemade costumes. And it was nice to see that my son’s class was the only class where all the kids marched, and nobody cried. (Also, they got to march to the Ghostbusters theme, which was another bonus)

Afterwards, the kids all did a preschool-wide dance and everyone went back to their classrooms for snack. I had to work to get the kidlet out of his costume and into regular clothes. In the end, it was the idea that he might get it dirty while playing outside that got him to change.

It was a great day, and ultimately, he had a great time. But boy, I was exhausted by the end of it!

Post-party hangover – no alcohol necessary

Not the literal kind. We had a birthday party on Sunday and I didn’t get much sleep the night before hand, so I was drained yesterday. The boys were wound up as only children with brand new toys can be.

Just in time for Halloween, Kate Beaton of Hark, a Vagrant has her take on Dracula. Hilarious stuff. Dracula was always one of my favorite books and I wish for a movie that accurately captures the story. A play, too. Most do strange things to the plot.

Back to the birthday party- this was for the little guy, and had been delayed a week since last weekend I was laid up with a migraine. When I’d bought ingredients to make gluten-free desserts for the little guy, I was missing one component for my flour mix. And because the little guy usually turns up his nose at anything I’ve baked, we bought a cake for the rest of us and I put a candle in something that I knew he’d love. A bowl of sticky, white rice.

He wasn’t very happy when it came time to blow out the candle- not because of the candle (which used to be the case with his big brother), but because he’d been happily playing in the dirt in the backyard. So while the adults served themselves dessert, we opened up presents and voila! he was a happy child again. He even oooh-ed and aaahh-ed over each gift.

He got some new toy horses, some new Thomas the Tank engine cars, a Hot Wheels set and a Disney’s Cars playset. The real winner seems to be the Hot Wheels track which is all about crashing cars. But we’ve spent (we being the adults) a fair amount of time trying to set it up so they won’t crash right away and testing which cars stay in the longest.

Of the cars we own, the winner is… the Mach 5! From the Speed Racer line of cars. So glad that we wound up with a ton of those, because everyone wanted to put in their own Mach 5 to the race. So, Go Speed Racer Go!

Which reminds me- I have a habit of falling in love with movies that didn’t do all that well in the box office. Like, Speed Racer. No, it isn’t the original cartoon. Yes, it’s bright. But you know what? It is one of the most beautiful movies I’ve seen in awhile- beautiful in a way that just doesn’t apply to most movies.

The Wakowskis wanted to create a movie that seemed like a comic book come to life, and they did! You can practically feel the panels moving right in front of you. Not only that, they fully visualized what a world would be like that revolved around automobile racing- and it’s fun! So if you passed on it when it was in the theaters, try it out! Just have a pair of sunglasses handy- if you’re not prepared, it’s awfully bright. (And if your kids really love it, don’t mention that there was a line of cars- otherwise, you’ll be scouring eBay and Amazon for the cars like I did)

My own interactive theater

I am a theater geek. I’ve pretty much always trotted out my inner freak- whether it was dressing up as a Jedi at Disneyland (and being told by security that my plastic lightsaber counted as a weapon and would have to go), and well, doing “The Time Warp” for my high school drama club’s end of year banquet. I was Columbia.

So why do I mention this? Obviously, Rocky Horror Picture Show is famous for its midnight showings- where the audience brings props, recites lines, etc, etc, etc.

I find myself living something similar. Not with Rocky. While I think it’s perfectly acceptable for teens to experience RHPS, I’m not sure I’ll do anything other than play the Time Warp for my kids.

What I’m talking about is virtually everything else. My children have amazing memories when it comes to television shows. One viewing of a Backyardigans episode and they’re busy reenacting plots and looking for props to act it out. Or in the case of their current obsession, after a few viewings of Princess and the Frog, they’ve come up with their whole show.

It began with the littlest one laughing any time someone was frightened. Then whenever Naveen had a ukelele, he picked up their Backyardigans guitar and would pretend like he was playing it. He recites dialogue along with his favorite scenes. The older one sings along with some of the songs, and now… I’m in on it.

I won’t pretend that I don’t find Disney Villains more interesting than the heroes, usually. And given my knowledge of the occult, it should be a given that Facilier (aka the Shadowman) is very interesting indeed. The oldest kid has memorized most of “Friends on the Other Side.” The little one sings along with the “Are you Ready”s. They dance along to it, and once they realized that Mommy can sing- I was upped from being Tiana’s voice to also singing Facilier’s part. Apparently I need to brush up on my dancing, because they want me to dance Facilier’s part, too.

It’s also an art show, too. Having discovered that I can draw Disney characters (proof coming soon), they ask me to draw various characters. Of course, this afternoon took the cake. I was asked to draw Facilier’s demise (which shouldn’t be a spoiler even if you haven’t seen the movie- it’s a Disney movie. The villains tend not to survive). Then later, the little one started to BUM BUM BUM the music for “Friends on the Other Side” and the other one wanted to reenact the demise.

Yes, my kids are strange. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Quick before I forget: Stroller Recall

There’ve been a lot of recalls lately, but this one involves strollers. And some older strollers, too. Graco’s recalling 2 million Quattro and Metrolite strollers for strangulation hazards. Basically, the food tray was up high enough that if a child slid under it, that their head could become stuck.

Four children died. But not recently- we’re talking between 2003 and 2005. The strollers that are being recalled were sold between November 2000 and December 2007. Check your stroller, and find the model number- here’s more information on the recall and affected models. The link also has a phone number you can call to get a repair kit to make your stroller safe. (It should be noted that this isn’t an issue if you keep your child strapped in and monitor them)

It’s very disappointing though that it took 5 years from the most recent death for Graco to issue this recall. My oldest son was born in 2005- and you can bet that if I had known about this and their lack of recall, I probably would have bought a stroller that wasn’t manufactured by them.

It’s raining!

Enjoy a picture of our wet lawn. Taken so that you cannot see the intersection I live near. Mwahahaha.

We began our week with grey. Not a bright grey, but the lovely dark grey that promises rain. This is immensely helpful when getting over a migraine. Those bright overcast days we get in Southern California are horrible for me, and I find that I wear my sunglasses everywhere. Just like my mom, who also gets migraines.

Oh mom. Because of you, I will forever think of our family when I hear “I wear my sunglasses at night.” Of course, I still look like I’m 16, and that’s all because of you- so I can’t really complain.

I love the rain. There is nothing more relaxing to me than the sound of rain, nor anything as wonderful as how clean everything smells while it’s raining and just after it’s rained. More than once, I was working and a co-worker would tell me it was raining so that he could laugh at me frantically saving documents so that I could run outside to feel the rain on my face before the “storm” moved on. (For those not from Southern California, usually our storms are little patches of cloud where it rains- so it’s not unheard of for the much talked about storm that’s coming to only hit a small portion of the area and even then for just a few minutes. But it’ll get coverage on television. I guarantee right now all the local news are on STORMWATCH 2010 with a bunch of rookie reporters sent across the Southland, standing where it isn’t raining, but wearing slickers.)

My boys love the rain, too. Despite the fact that he won’t step in the sprinklers no matter how hot it might be, the littlest one will jump in puddles, stand under where the water drips from an awning and will tilt his little face up to catch the drops of water. Today both have lamented that I wouldn’t let them play in the rain. We weren’t talking about playing in the backyard in our driveway. No, they wanted to play on the wooden trolley in front of their school. Where the ground is usually muddy anyways, but especially muddy when it’s raining. And the steps would be wet and slippery.

I know they love the rain. But just imagining them playing on it was giving me visions of a trip to the Emergency Room. Not my idea of a swell day.

Migraine City.

I get migraines. My mom gets them, too.

The night before my wedding? I was curled up in a teeny ball because I had one, and right now I’m stuck in my bed with one. I’m sitting here with low light (a candle) and the brightness on the laptop cranked down.

I just wanted to put it on record that my husband (aka TheBoy) is amazing. I called him, freaking out because naturally, one never knows if these things linger- and there’s a birthday party tomorrow. He reassured me that he’ll make the food if he has to. I told my mother in law, who before shooing me back upstairs told me that they could cancel the party if I wanted. I said no, and she told me that they’d buy a cake to serve and we’d make a little cake out of rice for the little guy to eat, and for us to put a candle in.

Let me explain. I’m sure that sounds harsh and a little cruel to do to a kid on their birthday- but I’ve made all sorts of allergen-free cakes that everyone else deemed wonderful, and he wouldn’t eat. He’s not a fan of baked goods at all. It was just the one thing she could think of that we know he’ll eat that we could stick a candle in.

Now that I’ve shared how awesome my husband and mother in law are, I’m going lie down again. Boy does this bite.

Beds, Party Planning and… I’m sure I forgot something.

This was meant to post yesterday, but didn’t. Oops.

I admit it- I am horrible when it comes to planning parties for the little guy. He has some major food allergies, but isn’t anaphylactic. So I tend to just make him one thing and another for everyone else. Since I’m going to start experimenting more with allergen free baking, that will likely change in the future.

We’ve had two nights with the boys in their new beds (pictures forthcoming) and things have gone well. I didn’t expect the oldest to have a problem- since he was going from a toddler bed to a twin sized bed. The little one? He was still in a crib. So every night I’ve put him to bed, I’ve had to lay in bed with him and let him get used to the space around him.

The first morning, he stayed in bed as though he were still in his crib. (Yes, he was almost 3 and in a crib, and still didn’t climb out of it. His big brother was barely a year old and climbed out all the time.) Now, this morning, he didn’t leave the room but did get out of bed to grab some books- and climbed right back up into bed to look at them.

I have been having some serious cases of the forgets. I did a load of towels yesterday and completely forgot to take them upstairs. I’d see them and think, I’ll take them upstairs the next time I go up, and then… I’d forget.

Preschool isn’t helping matters. Yesterday I realized that I had one day to get some orders for the school’s fundraiser (to get new bark for the play yard, as well as some new curriculum materials). So I badgered the family to each pick out a few things, and got the order in on time.

Today was the preschool’s pumpkin patch day- where the kids all get to pick a pumpkin from the school’s “patch.” I didn’t get to watch the festivities, but they had Halloween cookies for snack and had apple cider. The oldest kidlet was so proud of the pumpkin he picked. Though I sort of cringed when I saw it- no stem, and there’s a crack in the top. But he’s in love with it. Which is what matters. This weekend we’re going to carve it so that it looks like Jack Skellington. His request.

Brigadoon and the Birthday Blues

The weather today is warm, but this is what we woke up to. Thick thick fog. The Oldest Kidlet had a hard time understanding why we couldn’t see the hills- though I wish I could have gotten a picture of the deer up in the fog. That was cool.

But it was beautifully foggy- where you could see a little bit in front of you, but everything else vanishes. Bits of buildings, and plants appear as you drive. When I was little, my sister and I used to call them Brigadoon days, after the movie/musical. (If you haven’t seen it, check it out. It’s quite a treat.) I snapped the picture after dropping off the Oldest Kidlet, pulling over to the side of the pretty empty road and putting on my blinkers for the few seconds it took to take.

Yesterday was the Little Kidlet’s birthday. He’s 3! We had a nice low key day- his party is this weekend. However, there is one thing that has given me the blues- it’s that inevitably, birthday kids are on their worst behavior around their birthday. I’m not sure if it’s growing pains, or something psychological with knowing that it’s a special day. My little mellow kid? Did nothing but provoke fights with his brother yesterday, and then today threw a never ending tantrum.

First he didn’t want to go pick up his brother. But he didn’t want to stay home with my mother-in-law, either. So I put him in the car. He was mad that I wouldn’t let him take his ball in to pick up his brother. Then he was mad that I wouldn’t let him steal another kid’s schoolwork, and after I explained it wasn’t the Oldest Kidlet’s, threw a fit that I wouldn’t let him hold THOSE papers.

There’s a little wooden trolley outside the school that the preschoolers all seem to stop at. Oldest Kidlet hopped up while the little guy obsessed over the papers I was holding in my hand. The oldest one hopped off the trolley, ready to go home and that’s when the little guy realized he’d missed his window to play. I carried him to the car, and he cried. Flipped out. So much that he wore himself out and fell asleep on the 15 minute drive home.

Thankfully he’s in a better mood right now.

My parents are dropping by with the beds that they made for the boys today. My little guys are graduating to twin sized beds! Of course, this means I’m sure to have a few nights were both boys are getting up… but I’m so excited for them! I’ll make sure I get plenty of pictures- and maybe even some of their room, since I’m going to finally paint the murals on the walls. But as a teaser- the beds are knock-offs of Pottery Barn Teen’s Store-It Bed. My parents found a pattern for it, and made it- for a fraction of the cost from Pottery Barn Teen (Each bed would be $599, not including tax and S&H).

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