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Read all about the adventures of the Tsao Family during the summer of 2012

Sunday, April 30, 2006

 

Where Jon Stewart parks his stroller


Stroller Parking
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
We had brunch at one of our favorite Manhattan restaurants: Bubby's. I took this photo to prove that Manhattanites do procreate, that some Manhattan restaurants do cater to kids, and that parents in Manhattan prefer the best strollers that money can buy.

Minutes after I took this photo, the door to Bubby's opened and out walked... Jon Stewart! He was carrying his son, and his beautiful wife was carrying their new baby in a cool front pack. The Bugaboo on the far right belongs to the Stewart family.

Just in case you were wondering how people in New York can afford these strollers...

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Saturday, April 29, 2006

 

A room with a view


View of 8th Ave. from apartment
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
7:00 AM. View from our apartment window before taking off to go to the ASJA Writers Conference.

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Deep in the heart of Chelsea


Exit at Curbside
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
We made it! We are here at our undislosed vacation destination. One six hour plane ride down, one to go.

Because Mike and I are ferocious multi taskers as well as people who regularly blur the boundaries between work and life, this is a working vacation for both of us. Today and tomorrow I am attending the ASJA (American Society of Journalists and Authors) Writers Conference and next week Mike will go to work at the Google New York office.

Oops. Now you know where we are: Manhattan.

Yes, we just went to Manhattan last September and now we're back. We like it here. We still have the double dang double stroller, which prohibits mommy from entering quaint storefronts and spending lots of money, but that's probably a good thing. This time we're staying in Chelsea, which is basically the Castro of Manhattan. We're in an apartment I like so much I started saying things like, "So how much would this place cost to buy?..."

We did our usual travelling routine, waking up at the crack of dawn and taking the first flight out of SFO. The kids were about as well behaved as a one-year-old and a two-year-old can be, probably better. I'm happy they don't have ear pain when we travel. I remember having horrible earaches when I took planes as a youngster. We brought them crayons and washable markers and Play-Doh for the plane. Oh, and movies on the laptop, although they weren't so interested in sitting still. No big crying fits or "massive blowouts" (technical diaper-related term) so life was good. Basically, the plane ride was yesterday and I now have forgotten how much it hurt. Kind of like how I've forgotten about the pain of childbirth. (Sorry, this is a mommyblog.)

We had an insane amount of stuff to get through security since Mike had two laptops and I had one. Oh, and I'm totally bragging when I write that. A three laptop family! We're so wired we'd probably go insane if we travelled to some place that didn't have Interweb access. The first thing we did when we entered the apartment was search for the router. Found it! Interweb access was established. Life was good.

Last night we had dinner at Dallas, a barbeque joint in Chelsea. And mama, that joint was jumpin'! We ate ourselves into a painful state. We started with two Texas size drinks; I had a pina colada and Mike had... some fruit margarita thing. They came with test tubes stuck in them filled with extra rum as well as plastic dolphins, which Emily correctly identified. (Where does she learn this stuff? Am I a better mom than I think or should I thank TV?) The kids had orange juice and Thomas learned how to sip from a straw! Very exciting. Then we had a gigantic plate of veggie tempura. As his entree, Mike had the biggest chili corn dog you've ever seen, prompting some "only in Chelsea" jokes. We're bad. I had fried shrimp and baby back ribs. With rice. And cornbread. And the rice had green onion sprinkled on it. It's kind of hurting me just to think about it.

At the restaurant, I was reminded of why I love New York City: the people. There were black folk, white folk, straight, gay, Haitian, Mexican, so many different types and colors and styles of people all laughing and joking and drinking fishbowl sized drinks. The energy was amazing. There was no way the kids could compete with that so they just sat rather quietly, ate their food, and drank their orange juice. It was one of the more successful night out with kids we've had in a while.

I'm writing this from the Grand Hyatt Hotel next to Grand Central Station. I'm on my second cup of conference coffee and life certainly is grand. I'm a tad tired from the time change and sleeping in a strange bed, but I'll live. Okay, I should go to the bathroom and go find a seat. More on the conference and all of that work-related stuff later.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

 

BlogHer-y goodness

BlogHer

I'm taking a break from packing to dash off this entry. Yes, you read right. I'm packing. I've had enough of this place. Ha ha! Of course the kids are coming with me. Are you kidding? I can't even go to the bathroom without those two following me. The old man's coming, too. Where are we going? Well... I'll let you know when we get there. Maybe I'll copy Karen Walrond and make you guess.

Until you hear from me again, here are some BlogHer tidbits to keep you busy. Because I know you're looking for something to do.

(That's a joke.)

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Need a miracle? The Mommybloggers are sending a blogger (male or female) to BlogHer!

Here's what they say:
All entries need to be received by May 10th, 2006. The entire process is simple and shouldn't be too time consuming for a blogger. This is what we need from you:

Your name:

Your email address:

Your URL:

A brief (500 words or less) essay telling us why you want to go and/or what you hope to get out of the conference. This year's conference theme is "How is your blog changing your world?" You, of course, don't have to write about that, but it would be interesting to hear how your blog HAS changed your world. We are basing this on why you want to go not on why you cannot go. We just want to hear from you about why you want to be a part of BlogHer this year. Pretty easy, huh!

To find out more, check out the Mommyblogger site.

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What? You don't read my writing on the BlogHer site religiously? Shame on you! The Weimaraner dressed up as an old woman has turned away folks for less than that! Here's what you're missing:

Embarking on an Oxymoron

With this Ring, I Thee Blog

Leahpeah: Intrepid Internet Interviewer

Lactating Blogger says Boob to Fred Meyer

Rebel Dad Starts a Daddy War to End the Mommy Wars

Cream Crackered Socal Mom Blogs about British TV

Hoppin' Down the Bunny Trail with Agnostic Mom

It's Not an Honor to be Suckered

Hack my Mommy Brain

For Those About to Rock-n-Romp

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

 

Thirty four months. And counting.

Dear Emily, Emily, Emily, Emily, Emily,

Thirty four months ago today you exited my womb and entered our family. With your birth, you gave me something that I never before had.

Cleavage.



You also gave me a reason to quit my job and start living life in the stroller lane. Some days I find it exhausting and other days I find it exhilarating. But soon you'll be too big to ride in a stroller and this fall you'll be starting preschool. Right now as I look at you sitting on the couch watching Dora, I can't believe how grown-up you are becoming. Every day I notice that you're a little bit taller, and that your face has a little less baby fat, and that your attitude is... well, let's just say that your attitude is growing in direct relationship to your ability to know exactly when I've left the room so that you can climb on the counter to nab a cookie.

Emily, here is an example of how you and I communicate. This actual exchange took place two seconds ago:

"Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama."
"Mmmmm."
"Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Emily bagel, Emily bagel!"
"How do you ask?"
"Mama, Emily bagel, please. Okay!"
I hand you half a bagel, which you hold up to your ear.
"Hello, hello, yes, I see."
"Mama, mama, look! It's a telephone!"
"Is it a bagel or a telephone?"
"A bagel!"

Daddy hates it when you repeat his name five times. He thinks he has you trained to say his name only once. "Daddy." I have chosen to fight lose other battles. Plus he's wrong. You still say, "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy," at the beginning of every sentence. You love your dad and that makes me very happy. He loves you, too, although last night he did not allow you to watch any TV before bed because he caught you playing in the toilet. Again. You didn't seem to mind, though, because he still let you sit next to him on the couch while he read his book and you chatted and sucked on raisins.

Emily, you have this interesting habit of sucking on your food. It's cute and--at the same time--disturbing. However, it seems to soothe you and since you no longer drink out of a bottle or use a pacifier, I am okay with your attempt at seeking inner peace from the juice of raisins. Besides, I don't really have a choice in the matter. (See reference to attitude above.)

Today a raisin dropped on the floor and I said to you, "Please pick up that grape." To which you replied, "It's a raisin." To which I said "Ah ha! I'll have you know that raisins are really grapes that have been dried!" But I knew that at that moment that you were right and that I was wrong and that you had totally called me on my utter stupidity. At that moment I witnessed just a brief taste of what our future together holds as you get smarter and smarter and I become more and more senile.

And I was very proud of you. And of me.



Love, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

 

An x-ray of a girl

April 26, 1988
Chico, California

Sitting in Siena and drinking coffee, waiting for the time when I have to go to rehearsals. I blew my theatre test in a big way today. That really sucked but I deserved it because I didn't study for it. I think I was expecting a miracle but--alas--it didn't happen. Finished "Hell's Angels" and am starting on "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance." They must tie in some way. This might seem lame, but I think I'm really beginning to like P. While I'm doing spot(light) tonight I'm going to try and figure out why. Then afterwards I'm going to write it down and try to decipher it. Slow Down is what I keep telling myself. Don't rush into things. Take one day at a time.

I think this photo was taken the same day I wrote this. In my lap I am holding the notebook I wrote this in and my Intro to Theatre study notes. I was on my way out of class and heading over to Cafe Siena when my friend (the woman on the right) stopped me and my other friend (the man on the left) to take this picture. I don't remember her name. She may have had a tiny crush on me. The guy on the left was really a friend of a friend, a musician. Don't remember his name either. I'm amazed I remember my own name. I should have named this post a freeze frame of friends and failure and forgotten names.



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Monday, April 24, 2006

 

Berkeley Cybersalon: The connection between geeks and Asperger's

Last night I attended a Berkeley Cybersalon. Described as "an open forum for the discussion of technology and culture" by its founder Sylvia Paull, April's salon featured a discussion of the relationship between Asperger's Syndrome and software engineers, and "what is normal in a society that is constantly transforming itself."

On the panel were Steve Silberman, Wired reporter and author of the December 2001 Wired magazine article "The Geek Syndrome;" Ellen Ullman, author of Close to the Machine: Technophilia and Its Discontents;" Judith Grether, principal investigator for the California Center for Autism and Developmental Disability Research and Epidemiology; psychotherapist and educator Annette Blackman, who coaches young adults with Asperger’s; and Philip Rosedale, founder and CEO of Linden Labs, which produces the popular multiplayer fantasy game, Second Life.

I found the event interesting and the discussion lively. Here are my notes from the evening.

Steve Silberman opened the discussion with a brief synopsis and history of his article. He noted that he wrote it five years ago but that he still gets email about it regularly.

Silberman can't say for sure if there's an epidemic of autism in Silicon Valley; he's not a doctor. He suggested that it might be an epidemic of discovery. The fact that autism is a spectrum disorder means the continuum stretches to normality. Are we all on it?

Ellen Ullman iterated she is not an expert on Autism or Asperger's. However, she thinks that Autism and Asperger's are not on a continuum and that there's a discontinuity, a break. As far as a prevalence of Asperger's among programmers or geeks, Ullman suggested that programmers have much more formal interactions with other people: "I am checking my parameters and they appear to be within legal limits." As formally-oriented people, programmers simply trust programs more than other human beings.

Paull suggested that Ullman's character Ethan Levin in her book The Bug has Asperger's; Ullman said no.

Philip Rosedale talked about Second Life and described it as a metaverse (instead of a universe). He explained that the complexity of the code used to create Second Life is going to make the intersection between the geeky programmers and the programming interesting. Within the Second Life metaverse there is an island inhabited solely by adults with Asperger's. Rosedale describes how anecdotally (the experiment can't be described as scientific) these individuals have said that their safe interactions using Second Life--their lowered barrier to interactions--have helped them with their interactions in the real world.

Judith Grether mentioned that we might be pathologizing a certain type of life or a certain type of personality, although she was quick to note that she says this not as an epidemiologist.

Grether has not seen a diminishing in returns since the mercury has been removed from vaccines. Their research shows that Autism (including Asperger's) is found in 6-7 kids per 1000, no matter if they studied an area with a cluster of cases (e.g., Silicon Valley) or any opportunistic area that was easily accessible to their researchers. In other words, is this the baseline? Maybe more kids diagnosed now because there are the services available to those with the diagnosis.

Autism is not the result of a genetic mutation. There's no data to support that Silicon Valley is a hot bed for Autism. She personally doesn't think it's vaccine related.

Silberman spoke and said that blaming it on vaccines is easy because that means blaming the big bad pharmaceutical companies. Also, Autism tends to reveal itself around age 2 or 3, which also happens to coincide with vaccinations. However, he doesn't think it's vaccine related either.

Discussion
An audience member wanted to know if the panel though Autism was curable or if the diagnosis was reversible either through chelation or behavior therapy intervention. Grether noted that a lot of taxpayer dollars are going towards behavioral interventions and that early intervention is a good thing.

Silberman isn't into talk of a cure. Is it something to cure or is it something to live with? He prefers the term neurodiversity, or re-thinking what "normal" means. He used the example of highly intelligent adults that he knows who were previously medicated in childhood for ADHD.

In Silberman's purely un-scientific observations, Autism is caused by the orchestrated action of multiple genes.

Another audience member brought up toxins and mentioned two groups: EWG (Environmental Working Group) and Body Burden (bodyburden.org) for information about toxins in our homes, bodies, breastmilk, etc. [I would also add check out MOMS at www.safemilk.org for specific information about toxins such as jet fuel found in breastmilk.]

Someone questioned what will happen when these younger kids with Autism and Asperger's get older. Grether noted that there's a study by (a parent associated with?) the Mind Institute that estimates the burden on taxpayers as more children are diagnosed and as these children get older. The numbers are huge and they're an additional incentive to figure something out, e.g., find the cause and/or a cure.

Both Silberman and Ullman believe that if you medicate, cure, or otherwise weed out these high functioning Autistics or those with Asperger's, than the world will no longer contain the machines and computer programs that are now so prevalent in our lives.

Panelist Annette Blackman came late to the discussion and added that she hosts a support group for adults with Asperger's called CREW. It stands for how are you doing in your Community, your Recreation, your Education, and your Work. She said the support group provided a safe place for these individuals, many of whom are profoundly depressed.

Paull advises that a podcast of the evening will soon be available on AfterTV.

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Mary's footloose and kid-free nachos

Sunday Mike took both of the kids out for a couple of hours so that I could write uninterrupted. The house was so quiet I could hear the ticking of the clock. I can't remember the last time I was alone in my house. I didn't even remember we had a clock that made a ticking noise. It was strange and lovely and I got lots of good writing done. I could hear myself think!

For lunch I made a big plate of crazy kid-free nachos and ate them while hunched over the computer. Heaven! Here's the recipe. I don't recommend these unless you like crazy taste combinations and your fussy eaters are somewhere off premises.

Mary's kid-free nachos

2 or 3 large handfuls of tortilla chips. I like white corn restaurant-style.
1/4 to 1/2 cup whole black beans, cooked
1 to 2 handfuls shredded Mexican cheese blend
1/4 to 1/2 cup classic macaroni salad
5 tablespoons salsa
5 teaspoons soft goat's milk cheese. I used roasted garlic and basil flavor.

  • Spread tortilla chips on large dinner plate.
  • Sprinkle chips with shredded cheese.
  • Add your beans.
  • Microwave for 1 minute.
  • Scoop pasta salad on chips, cheese, and beans.
  • Place scoops of salsa in an attractive, balanced arrangement.
  • Place scoops of goat's milk cheese wherever the salsa is not.

Enjoy without children.

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Friday, April 21, 2006

 

Love. Shoes. Music. Baby?

What a morning. I've started taking Emily and Thomas to a wonderful music class taught by WoolfCamp cupcake maker extraordanaire Gwendomama.

If refusing to enter the rec center, crying almost the entire class while moaning, "mama! mama!" and refusing to participate are any indication, Emily hates it.

We will continue to go.

Remember those shoes I bought that were the wrong size? I think they fit me! Well, one pair does. The other pair is kind of odd and when I wear them I drag my feet (to avoid the shoes falling off) and shuffle around like a teenager at the mall, which, in my case, is neither cool nor hip. Here I am modelling both the shoes that fit as well as my newly painted toes, thereby completing my "look" of a pampered suburban housewife.

Link love time

Chris Heuer and Kristie Wells are bringing BrainJams to New Orleans and taking the divine Ms. Grace with them. Can't wait to see what emerges from their conversations.

Berkeley Cybersalon is hosting a panel on Asperger's: The Geek Syndrome this Sunday evening. I met Cybersalon coordinator Sylvia Paull this past week and she's a no-nonsense powerhouse. I'm planning on attending this event. Let me know if you want to join me.

I also met Salon writer Katharine Mieszkowski this week and she recommended Salon's new anthology Maybe Baby. According to Salon, the book is based on a popular series they ran in 2003 and contains "28 personal essays by parents and nonparents exploring how and why they decided whether to have children." Daddy Types likes it because it features writing by dads, too.

Tomorrow we're barbequing and going to the Maker Faire. Have a beautiful weekend, Internet homies!







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Thursday, April 20, 2006

 

It was 20 years ago today

They found me.

The Acalanes High School Class of 1986 20 Year Reunion Committee found me.

Probably through this damn blog.

Anyway, they reminded me that this year will commemorate 20 years since I graduated from Acalanes High School. And that I am old and decrepit.



This is a picture of me and tripper Dave at our Senior Ball held at the Gift Center in San Francisco. Wow. I'd love to tell you the story of that night, if only I could remember it. I don't even remember his last name. Can you say short term memory loss? Except 20 years now makes it a long term memory loss.

Dear Interweb, what should I do? Should I go to this party where the dress code is listed as from Casual to Dazzle? I only went to this school for one year and I was a complete social outcast who hung out with the other social outcasts: the stoners. In the place where the social outcasts hang: the smoking section. Mike definitely does not want to go to this party and I have not kept up a friendship with anybody I knew from that year.

It seems an obvious decision that I simply throw this invitation away and publicly scorn such ordeals on my blog, and yet I hesitate. Part of me wants to go to this thing and prove that I actually made something of myself (if you can call it that.) From stoner to... suburban housewife!

Hmmm.

Wait. Isn't this almost the plot of "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion" minus the scoliosis and with a husband and kids?

I'm feeling sorry for myself right now.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

 

Life-work balance and the working mom

[This is an article I wrote for my Mothers Club's newsletter. I've omitted names here since the moms presenting weren't aware there was a Citizen Journalist in their midst.]


If you are a full-time or part-time working mom--whether you work in the home or out of the home--you realize what a balancing act it is to juggle the demands of family and job while also attempting to find time for yourself.

How do working moms find this elusive life-work balance?

The April general meeting of the Mothers Club featured a panel of five women who represent a broad spectrum of moms. One mom left a high-powered law career to stay home full-time with her son. One mom quit her demanding job as a software project manager after the birth of her first child and started her own e-commerce business working part-time in her home. Another mom decided that being at home full-time left her wanting something more and now she works part-time out of the home. The fourth mom works full-time in the home and employs a nanny to care for her son three days a week. And the fifth mom works full-time out of the home as an in-house corporate attorney.

Mom #1: Full-time SAHM
Attempting to do it all yet failing to succeed at anything is how this woman describes her efforts to work full-time out of the home after the birth of her second child. She attempted to maintain a part-time law practice, but it simply didn't work out. With the support of her husband, she quit her job and now she's a stay at home mom.

She says her relationships with her husband, stepdaughter, daughter, and two-year-old son have improved dramatically since she quit her job and she's very fulfilled with her new life, more than she ever was when she was working as an attorney.

However, she knows that her mom and Gloria Steinem disapprove of her choice and she sometimes feels she's letting down the feminist sisterhood. She also mentioned that it is a financial hardship (i.e., they spend more than they earn), but that she and her husband consider it as much of an investment as a mortgage.

Mom #2: Part-time WAHM

This mom gave four pieces of advice for other moms and would-be moms:

1. Don't presuppose you will know how you're going to feel after you have a baby. Tell your job that you'll be back after maternity leave, but mentally leave your options open. Once the baby's born, some women realize that they can't imagine going back to work. Others can't wait. You won't know how you'll feel until you have the baby.

2. The idea that you can "have it all" is BS. With any path comes sacrifice.

3. If you work from home, you need daycare or someone watching your kids.

4. It doesn't get easier as your kids get older. It changes, but there still are many demands on your time as a mom.

Mom #3: Part-time work outside the home

This mom thought she could maintain her career as a lighting designer but realized after the birth of her first child that her job was less flexible than she thought. There simply was no support for a working mom who couldn't work 70 hour weeks. She quit and enjoyed being a stay at home mom until the birth of her second child when she felt herself going a little stir-crazy. She was at home 24/7 with two kids and her husband was out of town on business for extended periods of time. To save her sanity, she now works part-time out of the home for her father-in-law's company.

Her job is flexible, but she admits that the administrative work she now does isn't quite as challenging or fulfilling as her work as a lighting designer. She hopes to one day return to her previous career but she's not sure if she'll be able to (because she’s been out of the industry) and she's frightened by that possibility.

Mom #4: Full-time WAHM
Mom #4 is the sole proprietor of her own marketing communications business and she was very positive about the opportunities for woman to continue or to create their careers without giving up their home life. The trick to doing this successfully is to evaluate which skills and tasks from your current job can be most easily done as work for hire.

She previously worked as the vice president of corporation communications in a software company that was acquired. Rather than move to the acquiring company, she carved out a piece of her marketing communications / PR job (the writing portion) and now she sets her own rules and is her own boss. Many of her clients are contacts from her previous job. She feels like she works for a company because she's usually one of a team of people working on a project; the team aspect is something she likes and is glad she still has.

She does admit that there are downsides to working at home. When the nanny leaves for the day, she has to stop working whether she's finished her work or not. Often she works at night when her toddler is in bed.

She emphasized that for her, freelancing is more lucrative than corporate work.

Mom #5: Full-time work outside the home
This mom is a full-time attorney. She previously was an associate in a firm, but "that was insane." Now she works as in-house corporate counsel for a large company. She works full-time in part because she feels that if she opts out she won't be able to opt back in. "The law passes you by" is the perception of employers who employ attorneys. She also works for her own personal security. She doesn't ever want to end up a woman without options. She admits to putting up with a crazy lifestyle, but says that she loves her job and that helps. If she hated it, it would be different. She also agreed that the support of her husband and the flexibility of his job were important factors in allowing her continued success in her career.

She would love to go part-time when her kids (she's pregnant with #2) get older. She feels right now with a foot in both worlds, that she has best of both. Although she laughs when she says her life "lacks finesse" and is "a work in progress."

Discussion
After the five moms spoke about their lives and the choices they had made, the audience of about twenty moms asked questions. Many of them also spoke about what was most frustrating to them as they attempted to balance motherhood with work.

I asked about what the working moms did when their children were sick. The mom who worked outside the home (and the ones that used to) admitted to lying to their employers about sick days. A working mom never uses her sick child as the reason she's taking a sick day; she reports that she is sick instead.

When the full-time SAHM was an associate at a law firm, she would use an expensive emergency nanny service. She felt horrible leaving her sick daughter with a nanny whom she didn't even know just to avoid calling in sick, and financially she knew she was breaking even that day, just to keep her job.

There was talk of discrimination in the workplace against moms and pregnant women. Much of this discrimination is by other women--even other moms. One woman spoke of talk in the workplace regarding a woman who was on maternity leave with her second child: She's having another kid.

The working moms recommended compartmentalizing, multitasking, and efficiency (e.g., no chit chat around the water cooler or random web surfing) as ways to get your work done when overtime is not a possibility because you have to pick up your kid from daycare or the nanny is scheduled to leave at 4:00 sharp.

Several women from the audience said that their moms, too, disapproved of their decision to quit their jobs and stay home with their children.

All of the working moms--whether full-time or part-time--advised the audience that letting go of the myth of the "perfect mommy" was the first step in achieving any kind of life-work balance.

We ended the evening with the idea that nothing's permanent. Therefore, if you are now a SAHM, consider the idea you might one day go back to work and consider what you can do to keep your foot in the door when you're home. Examples include reading trade journals from your previous career, doing volunteer work, maintaining old work contacts, and networking with other moms.

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J A Konrath is one funny dude

Mystery writer J A Konrath (Whiskey Sour, Bloody Mary, Rusty Nail) has a very informative blog he calls A Newbie's Guide to Publishing.

From yesterday's post Writing Full Time: The Good and the Bad:

Good: You get to write for a living.

Bad: Writing is a small part of being a writer, and many other things actually take up most of your time.

Good: You can work when you want to.

Bad: It's hard to force yourself to work when you're in your own house with all your cool stuff, like the Internet and DVDs and books and video games.

Good: You don't need to dress for work.

Bad: Three days without bathing and even the dogs will avoid you.

Good: You get to see your name in print.

Bad: Your name is sometimes followed by "predictable, hackneyed, cliched, and formulaic."

There's more, too! Go check him out. He's one funny dude who also happens to know something about writing and the writer's life.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

 

MWTR Blog Tour: Bye-Bye Boardroom by Rachel Hamman

A last minute revision to the to do list! I almost forgot that today I'm a stop on the Mom Writer's Talk Radio Blog Tour.

Disclaimer: I have not read this book. The information contained in this post came from the press release or other marketing materials. However, the book does sound interesting as well as funny. I'll have to add it to my Amazon shopping cart so it can make its way to the top of the stack of twelve books that currently reside on my nightstand.

Sigh. So many books, so little time...


Bye-Bye Boardroom: Confessions From A New Breed Of Stay At Home Moms
By Rachel Hamman
Capital Books, 2006; $16.95

THE AUTHOR
Rachel Hamman is not your ordinary soccer mom. She has been named one of the Most Remarkable Women by Barbara Walter’s ABC show, "The View." Rachel has been featured in Glamour Magazine for her philanthropic advances and has also been recognized for her ongoing community endeavors by being tapped as one of the "Eckerd 100 Outstanding National Volunteers."

It is Rachel’s current position, however, that is her most challenging and provides her with the bulk of her material. She is a happily married stay-at-home mom with two, beautiful children. Her dreams for the future are to keep others around her laughing and to have her children grow into motivated, competent adults who require as little therapy as possible.

THE BOOK
Bye-Bye Boardroom, written in diary format, provides insights into the hearts and minds of almost 30 women who left the comfort of corner offices for the chaotic and most challenging positions of their lives–-becoming full-time, stay-at-home moms.

Bye-Bye Boardroom enables women considering leaving a career to be full-time mothers to catch a glimpse of what is in store for them and how to cope with the change. Women who already are stay-at-home moms (whether full or part time) will be entertained by the tales of other women like themselves and realize that they are not alone in this journey.

By reading Bye-Bye Boardroom men will gain a better understanding of what their spouses are facing during this huge, lifestyle transition.

Bye-Bye Boardroom features personal stories from 28 women from 14 states and the Republic of Germany.

THE BUZZ
"Trading in my leather briefcase for a SUV with a collapsible third row, giving up power lunches for a family pass to the zoo, packing up the zippy Ann Taylor coordinates for wash and wear cotton separates...Giving up my career to stay at home to raise my kids wasn't the end of my life...it was the beginning of it." --Mary Susan Buhner, Stay-At-Home Mom; Fishers, Indiana

"The “What to Expect" series of books can't touch this. These are the real-life stories and dramas of everyday parenting no one ever tells you about. If you're a new stay-at-home mom or planning on becoming one, you'll need to read this. And don't say we didn't warn you!" --Christine Velez-Botthof, Stay-At-Home Mom; Birmingham, Alabama

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Tuesday morning to do list

It feels good to make a list. It will feel better when everything's done. Check!

  • Hope that Rosa doesn't call in sick Update: She's here! All's right in my world!
  • Understand blogging a to do list is a form of procrastination.
  • Clean physical space. The things piled on my desk are bothering me. Is it garbage or does something important lurk underneath the articles clipped from magazines and the stacks of books?
  • Read Grace's emails about daycare for BlogHer Conference. Provide thoughtful feedback.
  • Drink more water.
  • Write blog entry about Mothers Club meeting on life-work balance. Omit names of speakers for sake of privacy. The information might be important to other moms or dads who are struggling with this issue.
  • Revise blog entry for inclusion in May Mothers Club newsletter. Include names.
  • Check email. Waste time. Drink some water. Pee.
  • Go running.
  • Eat lunch.
  • Read Rebel Dad's archives for his history with Leslie Morgan Steiner and his disgust with her use of the term "mommy wars."
  • Contemplate questions posed by Julie Klam in her "Women Who Blog" article in Glamour Magazine. As a blogger am I a self-absorbed exhibitionist? A groovy free spirit? Or just plain bored?
  • Read Parent Bloggers Face Off between Rebel Dad and LMS on the Washington Post website.
  • Write post for BlogHer site about Rebel Dad's face off with LMS on the Washington Post website. Evaluate his position as both a stay at home dad as well as a blogger in calling attention to what he feels is wrong about the title of the book and the fact she's inclined to bring back/re-initiate the mommy wars in order to ... sell books? push her own agenda? feel good about her decisions? promote her career? provide a forum in which women can tell their stories? all of the above? Question whether the face off helped to answer the questions of how to find life-work balance.
  • Drink water. Pee. Shower?
  • While researching the mommy wars from the SAHD's perspective and writing the BlogHer post, take notes for my review of Steiner's book Mommy Wars: Stay-at-Home and Career Moms Face Off on Their Choices, Their Lives, Their Families.
  • Start rough draft of book review. At least get my thoughts down on paper.
  • Work on May newsletter -or- procrastinate working on it until tomorrow.
  • Wish there were more hours in the day.
  • Blame the Patriarchy.


***
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Monday, April 17, 2006

 

Six. Six. Six!

The Six Weird/Interesting Things You Don't Know About Me Meme

Sweatspants Mom (She only looks looks like she's wearing her pajamas) tagged me for a meme, and now the truth must be told: There is nothing weird or interesting about me. Sigh. I knew you'd find this out sooner or later. Judgement day is upon me, people.

1. Every time I hear the number six, I think of Iron Maiden. Speaking of Judgement Day... 666! The number of the beast! Hell and fire was spawned to be released! Ah, 9th grade. Good times. That's some serious brainwashing, however.

2. I match my underwear to my outfits. I don't know why I do this; it's not like I was brought up to match any items of clothing... at all. And yet I now consider which top and bottom I've picked out when I go to get a pair of undies out of the drawer. Sometimes I will pick out an outfit (with matching undies), get dressed, decide I don't like the outfit, and change my undies just to match my new outfit. If I don't do this, I feel like something's wrong. I'm sure this is OCD or something. Although I have to say the undies don't have to match; they just have to coordinate.

3. I have double jointed fingers. I can do this weird thing with my index and middle finger of each hand. I call it "finger splits." It freaked out quite a number of people in jr. high and high school. It maybe even freaked out people in college. It's maybe even freaking people out right this minute! I can only hope.

4. I speed read. It's hard for me to explain how I do this, but I basically don't read every word on a page. I don't know why I do this. I think it's because I devoured books as an escape mechanism when I was little and I raced through them to get to the (usually happy) ending. I haven't spent the time to figure out if I skip words or sentences--probably both--but the ability to speed read is both a blessing and a curse. It allows me to read entire books very quickly yet I sometimes miss important points in passages of prose.

5. One of my boyfriends was a girlfriend. For a period of two weeks in 1989, I dabbled in the fine art of loving a woman. I decided I preferred men. But have you seen Alicia Keys on Sesame Street? DAMN. I thought Elmo's hair was going to catch on fire when she was teaching him the benefits of moving your body fast or slow. I might reconsider my sexuality if Alicia Keys wanted to teach me the benefits of moving my body fast or slow.

6. I own four pairs of leather pants and two motorcycle jackets. These are the last vestiges of my bad mama motorcycling life BK. Before Kids. I still miss my motorcycle that I sold two years ago. *sniff* Maybe I'll buy another motorcycle someday. Right when it's sure to embarrass my teenage kids to death.

If this meme hasn't already.

***
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Monday morning mommy musings




Three little words I dread hearing
I do myself!

I am one major cleanup away from my official attitude towards Play Doh becoming
Bad

My version of Bring Your Child to Work Day
Put Your Child to Work Day





***
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Sunday, April 16, 2006

 

I'm dreaming of a Heineken Premium Light Lager Christmas

Mir from Would Could Shoulda was bragging a while back about some fancy beer she had gotten from some guy named Charlie. I left her a comment about how all I ever get is books, and her friend Charlie emailed me and guess what? A Fed Ex package arrived Friday afternoon filled with beer! Okay, it was just one bottle, but it was in a pretty case and it was just what the doctor ordered.

The timing of the beer for which I sold my soul was apt; my babies (I can call them that until they're thirty) had just opened a wooden pizza that Mike had bought Emily when she was six months old but which I had been keeping all wrapped up nicely on a shelf in hopes that the little smarties wouldn't figure out that it could be opened. Ha ha. I was adding "pick up hundreds of wooden mushrooms" to my list of things to do when the Fed Ex truck arrived.

I decided that my bottle of Heineken Premium Light Lager would go best with sausage pizza. And hey, those kids aren't the only ones in this family who can put toppings on pie, ya know? So I got me one of those Boboli-like ready made pizza crusts. I say "Boboli-like" because I bought an overpriced organic model at Whole Foods made by Alvarado St. Bakery. Even though I scorn, it was worth the money, easy to make and yummy, too.

Here's the recipe (if you can call it that):
Mary's Sausage Pizza

1/2 cup marinara sauce
2 or 3 handfuls shredded mozzarella cheese
3 hot turkey link sausages
1 Alvarado St. Bakery California Style Pizza Bread (or Boboli)


  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Squeeze turkey sausage meat out of casings and fry in pan.
  • Meanwhile, spread marinara sauce on Pizza Bread. Leave 1/4 inch around edge sauce-free.
  • Put cheese on top of sauce.
  • When sausage is cooked, place artfully on top of cheese.
  • Cook in preheated oven for 10 minutes.

Serve with Heineken Premium Light Lager.

Here's what the folks at my house who are old enough to drink are saying about Heineken Premium Light Lager:

Mike: "Tastes exactly the same to me."

Me: "I could see chasing the first sip with a thousand more."

Yes, even though this beer has Light in its name, it has a taste reminiscent of good ol' Heineken, a taste reminiscent of ball games and frat parties and other places where I've drunk my weight in beer.

It's probably a good thing Charlie sent me only one of them.

***
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Saturday, April 15, 2006

 

My Literary Mama debut

I'm so excited! A review I wrote for Heidi Raykeil's book Confessions of a Naughty Mommy: How I Found My Lost Libido was accepted by the literary mamas over at Literary Mama and now it's live! Click on this link to check it out.

I like the review I wrote for Raykeil's book and I believe it follows the suggestions for writing a supportive yet critical review given by Charlie Anders in her post What is the purpose of criticism? (Thanks to Badgermama for pointing out Charlie's post.)

Charlie writes:
What is the purpose of criticism? Is it a battering ram against the locked munitions factory of art? Or is it the dollop of vaseline that precedes the rectal thermometer of judgment? Is the critic your psychotic bartender who pours noxious liqueurs into your gin & tonic for your own good, because the nosebleed will prove educational?

I wrote the review of Naughty Mommy before I read Charlie's post, but her post was a great reminder for me of how I can provide both positive as well as critical feedback and how I can do it without my personal likes and dislikes getting in the way of my objectivity.

In other words, I believe I could have been a tad kinder in my review of Sansone's book Woman First, Family Always. This book wasn't for me, but that doesn't mean it couldn't be for you. And without being a psychotic bartender, I could have written a critique that allowed me to sleep at night and you to make up your own mind about whether or not you wanted to spend your hard-earned allowance on Sansone's book. I strive to do better next time.

But in the meantime, I'm gloating over my LM post. I'm a literary mama! Me! From stumbling on the site shortly after the birth of Emily and finding solace in the honest writing it offered to now being a writer whose work is featured on the site. Wow. That's cool. (And thanks to Jennie for helping with the editing of my initial submission!)

***
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Friday, April 14, 2006

 

What's in your mom bag?

A purse or handbag is often fashionably-designed, and is used to hold a number of items such as a wallet, keys, tissues, makeup, a hairbrush, pepper spray and/or a gun. -Wikipedia

Recently I've taken one small step towards reclaiming my non-mom self.

I've started carrying a gun purse.

And I don't mean a fashionable diaper bag that somebody might actually mistake for a purse. No, I mean a purse. A little bag that is fashionably-designed and that holds my wallet and my M*A*C lipstick.

I present to you my purse. Cute, huh? Not too big, not too tiny. Just right. You like it? Thanks! I designed it myself.

If you are a suburban housewife like I am, then you have been to all kinds of parties: Tupperware, Pampered Chef, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Discovery Toys, Pleasure Parties... The list goes on and on. Recently, I was invited to yet another party, but this one was put on by 1154 Lill Studio, a handbag company out of Chicago that also does in-home parties.

At the party, I picked out which purse design worked best for me, then I chose the fabrics. They took my order and my money (it wasn't cheap -- around $100), and I received my custom-made purse less than four weeks later.

I was slightly concerned about the cost since I could get four purses for that price if I went to TJ Maxx or ten purses for that price if I went to a thrift store or heck, twenty five purses for that price if I went to estate sales, but I was stoked that I didn't have to buy $100 worth of plastic kitchen goods or make-up that I neither wanted nor needed.

Also, on my Mom's Weekend Away last month, one of the moms complimented me on my purse and said she thought it was a Kate Spade. Kate Spade, people! It was nice of her to say that. And worth $100 for me to hear it.

What's my point?

Today I realized that my purse had become heavier than Thomas and I decided it was time for a Super Fling Boogie. Krisco told us what was in her purse a couple of weeks ago, so I thought I would do the same.

The contents of my purse:

  • Subscription card for Ladybug magazine (Recommended by Squid.)
  • Email address of website designer (From Jennie L.)
  • Advil left over from Vegas
  • DKNY sunglasses bought at TJ Maxx
  • Packet of Y and Rec center membership cards (Moms carry cards for the entire family)
  • Spare barrett
  • M*A*C lipstick (shade AA4 - Capricious)
  • Moleskine notebook
  • 3 Uniball micro pens (The favored pen of both me and Josh Kornbluth)
  • Copyman invoice that I need to mail to Moms Club treasurer
  • Lucky money envelope with spending cash
  • Black leather wallet
  • Huggies travel wipes
  • House key and old car key
  • Non-key key for Prius
  • Cel phone
  • Gum: Trident Splash, Peppermint Vanilla flavor
  • Empty bag of Flavor Blasted Goldfish, Xplosive Pizza flavor
  • 2 dimes and 7 pennies
  • 4 pieces of miscellaneous, unidentifiable garbage
  • Receipts from: Kid's Korner II, Little Cousins Children's Resale Shop, Trader Joe's, Ethel M Chocolates, Whole Foods, Monte Carlo Resort and Casino, City of San Mateo Park and Rec Dept.

There you have it. Unfortunately, most of the above stuff went straight back in the purse with the exception of the garbage, the receipts, and the Huggies wipes. This is my PURSE, dang it! Not my dang diaper bag!

Tune in later to read the post where I deeply regret removing the wipes.

***
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Thursday, April 13, 2006

 

Tots on a Tear: Palo Alto Junior Museum

Yesterday the kids and I went on a field trip to the Palo Alto Junior Museum followed by lunch at Hobee's. It was a nice outing. And by nice I mean uneventful. And by uneventful I mean nobody made a poopy diaper that was more than I could handle, had to be carried kicking and screaming out of the museum, or disrupted lunch in a manner not conducive to me enjoying my double latte.

All in all, a splendid afternoon that made me realize having kids is a very nice thing. Click on the picture collage below to go to Flickr and see how much fun we had.


The Palo Alto Junior Museum is a toddler-friendly mini version of the Exploratorium. I love it. It's not a very big place, but it's clean and keeps the kids entertained on a rainy day. It's nice on a sunny day, too. There's an attached mini zoo that has loud ducks and other animals my kids are still too young to care about. Oh, and it's located next to a playground with areas suitable for picnicking.

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Book review: Woman First, Family Always by Kathryn Sansone

Woman First, Family Always
Kathryn Sansone
Meredith Books, 2006; $24.95

I'll be honest with you. If I had walked into a bookstore and saw Kathryn Sansone's book Woman First, Family Always sitting on the table, I might have picked it up. I might have been attracted to the author's cover photo and her pretty hair, her bright smile, and her boyish hips. I might have been intrigued to peek inside after reading on the book's cover that it contained "real-life wisdom from a mother of ten."

But I don't go into many bookstores these days. Small children and shelves of books don't mix unless your goal is to remove the books from the shelves and put them on the floor. Instead of going to bookstores, I sit at home and blog about my tortured life as a mother of two small children. And for some reason, somebody involved with the marketing of Woman First, Family Always decided that I would be a likely candidate for reading and blogging about Sansone's book.

And so here I am.

Sansone's book was a non-challenging read. I've probably spent more time writing this review than I did reading her book. As a wife and mother of ten children, Sansone has some "simple words of wisdom" that she decided to share with the rest of us moms who are struggling to figure out this whole mothering thing.

Sansone has three core wisdoms:

  • She is not supermom
  • She is important as a woman first and then as a wife and a mother
  • She must make time to nourish her spiritual center

She writes:

"A woman must be aware of herself and her own needs so she can be aware of the needs of her family. If you give too much of yourself away in the process of being a parent, you'll probably end up feeling stressed and resentful."

In the world according to Sansone, to nurture ourselves we should avoid "people who live in a cloud of negative energy," "stay positive one day at a time," and "be a strong woman with a soft heart." To nurture our marriage, we should "encourage growth and independence," weed out seeds of distrust," and "stay sexy" in our minds and bodies. To raise happy and healthy kids, we should "organize their physical space," "create bedtime routines," and "set up a healthy food attitude."

Woman First, Family Always is filled with impersonal anecdotal evidence Sansone uses to illustrate her suggestions for taking care of self, marriage, and kids. If she writes about her children, she does not refer to them by name. Maybe that's because there are too many for the reader to keep track of, but a personal story loses something in the telling when one of the characters is named "baby number one."

While some of Sansone's advice is good, some is just plain impractical. I found myself wondering if she follows her own advice. For example, she suggests leaving a big bowl of cut fruit (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, bananas, oranges, and pinapple) out on the counter for kids to snack on throughout the day. How does a woman with ten children who works out daily and who is writing a book also find the time to cut gigantic bowls of fresh fruit every day?

Sansone never fully reveals how she does it all and that's too bad. I felt her book lacked the actual real-life wisdom that it takes to stay sane and sexy after giving birth ten times. As I read through her book, I kept coming back to her picture and to the pictures of her kids. Is she really this happy? Is her life really this simple? Are her beliefs and actions really this cut and dried? And what about her kids? Can they possibly be getting enough attention in a family of ten?

In general, Sansone's wisdoms tend towards the simplistic and the superficial and they don't take into account the complexities of human nature, either our own or other people's. I worry that Sansone--who claims she is not a supermom--is inadvertantly setting women up to feel like they themselves are failures because they don't do a fraction of what she does and they have far fewer kids.

It's possible that Sansone didn't mean to take complex ideas and turn them simple. Maybe for her, life is less complicated and more straightforward than it is for the rest of us. I have often wondered how women with big families do it. After reading Sansone's book, I still wonder. If I took Sansone's advice at face value, I would be left believing that women who are doing it and doing it well--as Sansone seems to be--are simple creatures. For Sansone, life is like a light switch: on or off. If you subscribe or want to subscribe to the "just do it" theories of internal happiness, marital bliss, and raising children, let me know and I'll send you my copy of her book.

***
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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

 

Keeping up with the Jetsons

Good-bye gas-guzzling big 'ol SUV.

*Sniff*

Hello, car of the future!



Now with kids!



Introducing the 2006 Toyota Prius with Hybrid Synergy Drive®. Can you say 40 miles to the gallon? Sweet.

***
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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

 

Flashback to Easters past

For fun, I thought I'd share some baby photos of me and my sister. Did you know that I have a twin sister? Her name is Barb and she lives in Illinois. She is my only biological sibling, but I also have a stepsister.












The photo on the left was taken in April 1969. We are 8 months old and obviously very cute with bows in our hair and brand new shoes. The woman holding us is my mother. She was 23 years old. I am the baby on the left.

The photo on the right was taken in April 1970. We are 1 year and 8 months old and still very cute with color coordinated wool coats and hats. This photo was taken on our front porch in Oak Park, Illinois. It's cold out; there's snow on the ground and the trees have no leaves. Brrrr. I am the toddler on the left.

***
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Housework and the stay at home parent

A semi-scientific study on the effect of housework on the happiness of a homemaker.

Introduction
Materials and Methods
Results
Analysis
Discussion

INTRODUCTION
Several weeks ago, my sister-in-law told me that she thought I liked housework. Later, I thought about her statement and questioned whether or not it was true. I believe she thinks I like housework because I have a clean house. My belief is that while I like a clean house, I dislike the work it takes to make and keep it clean. In general, I also resent the time it takes me to clean the house although I have no idea exactly how much time I spend cleaning.

In this study, I track my chores and keep an inventory of my mood to answer three questions:

  1. Do I enjoy (am I happy) doing housework?
  2. If I do not enjoy (am not happy) doing housework, why?
  3. How much time do I spend doing housework?

I hope that by better understanding my housework habits and moods while cleaning the house, I can become a happy homemaker by avoiding the housecleaning times or chores that put me in a bad mood.

MATERIALS AND METHODS
For seven days (Monday, 4/3/2006 - Sunday, 4/9/2006), I recorded the following information:

  • Chore(s)
  • Time
  • Mood

I recorded the information in a spiral bound notebook kept on my kitchen counter. Each day I started a new page with three columns: Chore(s), Time, Mood.

Under the Chore(s) column, I used a bulleted list to keep track of all chores performed. For the purposes of this experiment, household chores include cleaning, cooking, and miscellaneous work related to the kids, e.g., dressing them, filling juice cups, making snacks. I included changing diapers if the task fell within a group of other chores. Otherwise, I did not bother to record it as a separate task.

Under the Time column, I recorded a start time and an end time for each group of chores performed. I did not record the time spent on any individual chore.

Under the Mood column, I noted my starting mood as well as any change in mood. I used five classifications of mood: happy, indifferent, sad, irritated, angry. I noted if there was a reason for the mood or the change in mood.

RESULTS
Day 1: Monday, 4/3/2006
Time
8:30 - 9:30
60 minutes

Chores

  • Made the bed
  • Picked up playroom
  • Put away guest bedding
  • Put away clean clothes
  • Cleaned bathroom floor
  • Started load of laundry
  • Moved wet load to dryer
  • Made breakfast and juice cups for kids
  • Made coffee and breakfast for myself
  • Cleaned kitchen after breakfast

Mood
Indifferent in the beginning to angry at the end when I realized that I hadn't even had a sip of coffee yet but I had filled four juice cups (two for each kid).

Time
11:45 - 12:05
20 minutes

Chores

  • Made lunch
  • Picked up playroom after playgroup
  • Vacuumed spilled cheerios in hallway and playroom
  • Cleaned kitchen after lunch
  • Unloaded/loaded dishwasher
  • Folded two loads of laundry
  • Started load of laundry
  • Made popcorn for Emily

Mood
Indifferent / Happy
Rejuvenated after conversation with friend at playgroup

Time
2:00 - 2:25
25 minutes

Chores

  • Moved clothes to dryer
  • Put away folded clothes
  • Filled juice cups
  • Picked up spilled popcorn
  • Washed snack dishes

Mood
Indifferent / Angry
While putting away clothes, Emily and Thomas got into my mail, opened a letter that contained photographs, and bent them. Argh.

Time
3:05 - 3:30
25 minutes

Chores

  • Folded and put away last load of laundry
  • Changed poo diaper

Mood
Happy
the kids were behaving and I realized that it's almost time for Mike to get home from work.

Time
4:30 - 5:25
55 minutes

Chores

  • Made dinner
  • Cleaned up art supplies and table for dinner
  • Set table, served food

Mood
Happy
My shift's almost over! The kids are content watching Blue's Clues and I am able to make dinner uninterrupted.

Time
5:35 - 5:50
15 minutes

Chores

  • Cleaned table
  • Did miscellaneous dishes
  • Cleaned sink and stove
  • Cleaned floor under table
  • Started dishwasher

Mood
Happy
Mike did most of the dishes and put the food away. Also he kept the kids busy while I was cleaning the floor.

Time
6:20 - 6:35
15 minutes

Chores

  • Emptied diaper pail
  • Took in garbage can and recycling bins
  • Picked up toys in family room and straightened up couch
  • Picked up kids's rooms
  • Straightened up living room

Mood
Happy
Kids are in the bath, the dishwasher's running, and my chores are done for the day. Hurrah!

Day 2: Tuesday, 4/4/2006
Time
8:00 - 8:45
45 minutes

Chores

  • Made bed
  • Started load of bedding from E & T's beds
  • Got kids dressed
  • Served breakfast of raisins and juice
  • Took out recycling
  • Watered house plants

Mood
Happy / Sad
Rosa was supposed to come at 9 and I was happy getting the house and kids ready for her. Then she called in sick. :(

Time
11:45 - 12:00
15 minutes

Chores

  • Picked up entire tray of silverware that E & T had been playing with earlier.

Mood
Angry
Even though I knew at the time they were playing that I would have to pick it up later, I can't help but feel resentment. When I let my kids do things I don't initially like, I have to work twice as hard later. They play, I pay.

Time
1:45 - 2:15
30 minutes

Chores

  • Made lunch for the kids
  • Cleaned up from lunch
  • Unloaded dishwasher
  • Loaded dishwasher with breakfast and lunch dishes

Mood
Indifferent

Time
6:15 - 6:30
15 minutes

Chores

  • Unloaded dryer
  • Made beds
  • Loaded dishwasher

Mood
Happy
Mike's home!

Time
6:40 - 6:50
10 minutes

Chores

  • Took out kitchen and diaper garbage
  • Straightened up family room and put away toys

Mood
Happy
My (work) day is almost over.

Day 3: Wednesday, 4/5/2006
Time
8:00 - 8:45
45 minutes

Chores

  • Made bed
  • Made coffee and breakfast
  • Cleaned raisins off floor
  • Made second round of waffles
  • Cleaned up from breakfast

Mood
Happy / Irritated
Getting up from eating my breakfast to make another batch of waffles irritated me but both kids were crying (literally) for more food so I felt I had no choice. Being interrupted or being cried at: the situation was unpleasant either way.

Time
9:10 - 9:30
20 minutes

Chores

  • Picked up approx. 100 envelopes of 4 different sizes the kids had scattered all over the floor in my office
  • Changed diapers
  • Got the kids dressed

Mood
Angry
I thought I was enjoying a peaceful uninterrupted time in the bathroom but that was only because the kids were destroying my office. If the kids ever leave me alone, it's because they're in the other room making a mess.

Time
4:00 - 5:00
60 minutes

Chores

  • Emptied dishwasher
  • Loaded dishwasher
  • Filled juice cups (x4)
  • Picked up raisins off floor
  • cleaned off table for dinner
  • Started load of laundry
  • Straightened up and cleaned off counters

Mood
Happy
My (work) day is almost over and tonight I'm taking Emily out to dinner with some mom friends and their kids. I'm looking forward to it.

Time
7:15 - 7:45
30 minutes

Chores

  • Picked up toys and cleaned playroom
  • Took out diapers and garbage
  • Took out recycling
  • Cleaned yet more raisins off floor
  • Put clothes in dryer and started new load
  • Cleaned kitchen

Mood
Happy
Feeling good after dinner with my friends. It's so nice (and easy!) to be out in public with only one kid.

Day 4: Thursday, 4/6/2006
Time
7:35 - 8:45
70 minutes

Chores

  • folded load of clothes and put away
  • Put wet load in dryer
  • Picked up raisins off floor
  • Straightened up couch and replaced dirty afghan
  • Straightened kids's beds
  • Stripped my bed and washed sheets with afghan
  • Changed diapers and dressed kids
  • Made breakfast
  • Cleaned out old food in fridge

Mood
Happy / Indifferent

Time
9:25 - 9:45
20 minutes

Chores

  • Folded dry clothes and put away
  • Loaded and started dishwasher
  • Cleaned kitchen from breakfast

Mood
Happy
Rosa will be here soon and I will get my day off. Plus, I'm meeting friends for coffee and that always lifts my spirits.

Time
4:45 - 5:00
15 minutes

Chores

  • Got dinner ready and served it

Mood
Happy
Rosa made dinner before she left; all I had to do was heat it up.

Time
5:45 - 6:30
45 minutes

Chores

  • Helped Mike clean up kitchen
  • Took out garbage and diapers
  • Cleaned counters, stove, table
  • Vacuumed kitchen and family room
  • Mopped kitchen floor

Mood
Happy / Indifferent
I like a clean floor but I'm not particularly keen on cleaning it.

Day 5: Friday, 4/7/2006
Time
7:15 - 7:45
30 minutes

Chores

  • Made coffee
  • Changed Thomas's diaper
  • Filled 2 juice cups
  • Made breakfast for T: waffle and banana and yogurt
  • Made breakfast for me: hot oat cereal and soy sausages
  • Made breakfast for E: raisins and yogurt
  • Changed Emily's diaper

Mood
Indifferent
Thomas woke up earlier than usual. I'm tired. Emilys woke up later so I had to repeat the chore of making breakfast when she got up.

Time
8:00 - 8:30
30 minutes

Chores

  • Cleaned up from breakfast
  • Loaded and started dishwasher
  • Made bed
  • Cleaned up kids and got them dressed
  • Picked up raisins from floor

Mood
Happy
The chores were planned and weren't interrupting something I was trying to do.

Time
9:00 - 9:15
15 minutes

Chores

  • Vacuumed house
  • Put load of throw rugs in washer

Mood
Happy

Time
3:30 - 5:05
95 minutes

Chores

  • Cleaned playroom and organized toys
  • Separated out baby toys for donation
  • Picked up family room
  • Cleaned table and floor from snacktime
  • Made dinner: stir fry and rice
  • Set table and served dinner

Mood
Indifferent / Happy
Organizing toys is a thankless yet necessary job.

Time
5:30 - 6:30
60 minutes

Chores

  • Emptied dishwasher
  • Cleaned kitchen
  • Loaded dishwasher
  • Took out garbage, recycling, diapers
  • Straightened up family room and picked up toys

Mood
Indifferent / Happy
Chores are all done! TGIF!

Day 6: Saturday, 8/3/2006
Time
9:00 - 9:15
15 minutes

Chores

  • Made myself breakfast
  • Cleaned up kitchen
  • Loaded and started dishwasher
  • Made bed

Mood
Happy
Sun is shining and I'm about to get my hair cut

Time
3:40 - 5:30
130 minutes

Chores

  • Straightened up bedroom
  • Straightened up family room
  • Set table
  • Put away groceries
  • Made dinner for small dinner party we hosted
  • Served dinner

Mood
Irritated / Happy
Thomas is tired and keeps clutching my leg, preventing me from cleaning up. Argh! Once I had fed him two bananas and put on the TV, he left me alone and I was able to continue with making dinner.

Time
7:00 - 7:30
30 minutes

Chores

  • Finished putting away leftovers
  • Finished cleaning the kitchen (Mike started)
  • Hand washed big pots
  • Finished loading then started the dishwasher

Mood
Happy
I enjoyed chatting with Jennie while cleaning up. It's nice to have company when you're doing chores.

Day 7: Sunday, 4/9/2006
Time
7:55 - 8:40
45 minutes

Chores

  • Started load of laundry
  • Picked up family room; straightened up couch
  • Took out diapers from day before
  • Made Thomas's bed
  • Changed Emily's poopie diaper
  • Made coffee
  • Took out garbage and recycling
  • Re-stocked changing areas with diapers
  • Started Target shopping list
  • Put away dry dishes in drainer
  • Emptied dishwasher
  • Changed T
  • Made T breakfast: banana and toast

Mood
Happy / Irritated / Indifferent
While unloading the dishwasher, I realized E & T were quiet. That's because they were in Mike's office eating candy. I had to stop cleaning in order to punish them and clean up spilled candy.

Time
4:15 - 4:35
20 minutes

Chores

  • Put clothes in dryer
  • Put new load in washer
  • Straightened up kitchen
  • Loaded dishwasher
  • Put away Target buys: diapers, wipes, soap, miscellaneous

Mood
Happy
Laundry basket is empty!

Time
6:00 - 6:40
40 minutes

Chores

  • Cleaned up from dinner
  • Folded laundry
  • Straightened family room
  • Took out diapers
  • Vacuumed family room and kitchen
  • Emptied wastepaper baskets throughout house and took out garbage
  • Took out recycling

Mood
Happy
Chores almost over and the whole night of "my time" is ahead of me!

ANALYSIS
I spent an average of 2 hours and 40 minutes each day doing household chores and other chores related to being home with my kids, e.g., making snacks and getting the kids dressed and changing diapers.

I spent a lot of time picking up raisins off the floor. Doing laundry, cooking, and cleaning the kitchen were my main chores.

I was most often happy when performing my household chores. My second most frequent mood was indifference followed by irritation then anger. I was sad only once when doing my chores.

DISCUSSION
To answer my original three questions:
Do I enjoy (am I happy) doing housework?
The data shows that yes, I typically am happy doing housework. If I am not happy, I usually am indifferent. However, my happiness or indifference is only if I am in control of the housework. In other words, if it is a chore of my choosing (regardless of the actual chore), I don't usually mind doing it.

I also am happy or indifferent doing housework if it means that my work day is soon to come to an end.

If I do not enjoy (am not happy) doing housework, why?
I do not enjoy putting out housework fires or being interrupted from reading or eating or going to the bathroom to perform household chores.

Chores related to children misbehaving tend to irritate me more than predetermined chores.

In these situations, I feel someone else is controlling how I spend my time. It's less the actual work that is irritating me or making me angry than the feeling that I am being forced to do something I do not want to do, i.e., the chore is not one of my choosing.

How much time do I spend doing housework?
As noted above in Analysis, I spend an average of 2 hours and 40 minutes per day-- weekend days included--on household and related chores. This actually is less time than I thought.

If you are contemplating staying at home with your children, you can estimate doing a similar amount of daily housework even if you also employ a housecleaning service once a week or once every two weeks. Most of the chores I did during this week can't be outsourced (unless you hire a housekeeper) and must be performed daily.

It is possible you may spend even more time on household chores than I did. I started this study with a clean home. You may need to spend more time getting your home into a state of cleanliness. This study concerns only maintainence chores, with the exception of approximately 60 minutes that I spent organizing toys. It also does not include chores performed outside the house, in the yard or elsewhere.

This study reminded me that my husband does participate in the household work. Even though I did not record what he does as part of this study, he helps clean the kitchen at night and on the weekends. He gives the kids their nightly bath and puts them to bed. He also is a clean person himself. He understands what a laundry hamper is and he uses it regularly. Because he is not a slob or incapacitated physically, my husband does not contribute to my chore list. This makes me happy.

In general, I am happier about my household chore list and I am less resentful of the time I spend doing my chores now that I have taken this inventory of household chores and my mood and analyzed the data. I can conclude that my sister-in-law was right; I like housework.

***
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Saturday, April 08, 2006

 

Dead lady's stuff finds good home

A couple of weeks ago, Badgerbag wrote about going to an estate sale. I thought about her post today when I saw a sign for an estate sale just a couple of blocks from my house. I was childfree and feeling good having just come out of the beauty parlor (hairdresser?), so I decided to swing by and see what cool old items might catch my eye.

I found three items to buy, which I will share with you now. But first, let me explain that I fancy myself an off-the-wall dresser, although in reality I am not. I love funky vintage clothes, but when it comes time to choose what I will pull over my head after my shower, I usually go for a solid color cotton t-shirt or turtleneck.

With that thought in mind, here are the three things I bought, all of which are interesting and neat and all of which I never will wear. But I will keep them clean and warm and give them a good home. I promise, lady who liked horses and who wore size 4 leather pants from I Magnin and size 6 knee-high suede boots.

Trendy yet retro, vintage silver metallic purse. Cost: $4.


T-shirt that pretty much sums up how I feel. On the good days. Cost: $1.


Soft and special, vintage cashmere sweater in a pleasing shade of poo brown. Cost: $3.


***
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Friday, April 07, 2006

 

Internet bad, kids good

Today was the day I was going to become one of those good mothers and take my kids to a kid-centric music class. Alas, the teacher was sick and class was cancelled. Plan B was going to see Curious George. Mother of the Year, here I come.

Last night I googled local listings for the movie and was happy to see that it was playing in Daly City at 11:25, which is a good time for the kids. I figured for lunch we'd eat popcorns (Emily's word for popcorn) and hot dogs during the movie. If taking my two toddlers to a movie doesn't win me Mother of the Year, encouraging them to eat popcorn and nitrates for lunch surely will.

All was going according to plan until we got to the movie theatre.

"We're not showing Curious George anymore," the girl behind the window told me.
"But, but, I read it on THE INTERNET!" was my lame reply.

I stood there with Emily and Thomas and wondered if Phat Girlz was an appropriate movie for them to see. I decided it was not, and looked around for Plan C.

Plan C was called Fuddruckers.

Since it was only 11:15 the place was empty and the kids and I didn't have to fight crowds of hungry office workers. I got one of the "don't feel sorry for me because I ordered a salad" 1000 calorie salads and the kids each had a hot dog.

Timing or kharma or the alignment of the planets or something must have been right because the kids sat quietly during lunch, Thomas in a high chair and Emily in a booster seat. It was nice. I was enjoying myself when I heard a woman remark, "How well behaved!"

I turned around in my seat trying to see these well behaved people. What do well behaved people look like, anyway? And then it hit me: she was talking about my kids. MY kids!

Excuse me while I gloat and preen even though the whole incident was a fluke.

"Thank you!" I grinned. "Tell the lady thank you, Emily!" Emily scowled at her.

The rest of the day went off without a hitch. We came home after lunch and watched Wallace & Gromit and played make believe and drank juice and colored and ate some cake and cried a little bit. The kids, not me. Me, I was a little high all day from the nice compliment the lady at Fuddruckers had given us. You know, you so often hear about the bad things kids do; it's nice when a person takes the time to point out the good things. Thank you, office lady!

She must have been a mom, too.

And for evidence that Emily does more than scowl and demand raisins, take a minute and check out Em's take on Emily when she met her at WoolfCamplet. It's cute.

***
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