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

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

 

A life of shits and giggles

I'm blogging from bed, a highly unusual--but not entirely unpleasant--experience for me.

I'm just so dang tired. I was up early with Thomas, who has been waking up at dawn lately. Yuck. I'd ignore him, except that he's learned to cry, "Mama! Mama! MaaaaMaaaa!" in his cute little plaintive wail, and really, how can a mama resist? So I was up at 6:50 and thus began my day filled with... well, filled with shits and giggles.

I returned some phone calls, took the kids to get their hair cut, went grocery shopping, had a picnic in the car (I thought a picnic on the Bay would be neat, but it turned out to be cold and windy. We enjoyed the blue skies, water, and view of San Francisco from the warm interior of the car.), hung out at a playground, took some pictures, made a fabulous dinner for a friend who just had a baby (Barbequed Tri Tip, Rice, Beans, Salad with avocado and tomato, Tortillas, and Chocolate biscuit cookies), delivered the meal to my friend, found out Mike left work early and bought a new car, drove the kids to the car dealer thinking I was needed to sign some paperwork, ended up being not needed, made a long story short, ate dinner at Burger King, and drove home with two cranky kids whose diapers needed to be changed.

Now you understand why I'm tired. Or do you? Eh, I'm too tired to care.

But let me entertain you with two short videos I took during dinner. The camera shaking is me trying to stifle my giggles. See! Shits and giggles. Life is good.





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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

 

Confessions of a recovering tanorexic

I managed to escape the horror of teenagehood without suffering from an eating disorder. Don't worry; I had plenty of other problems. For one thing, I was a tanorexic.


Here's a picture of me and my sister Barb on a beach in Santa Cruz. I think this was summer 1986 although it might have been summer 1985. (Barb, do you remember??) My sister is the one wearing the Exodus shirt. I'm on the left holding the can of Tecate beer. (I told you I had plenty of other problems.) We were 17.

I was big into tanning when I was in high school. In my mind, tanning solved all of my problems; it cleared up my acne and made me look thin and healthy. I was all about the tanning. I timed my tanning sessions and made sure I spent equal time on my back and on my stomach. When I was on my stomach, I made sure to turn my face one way and then the other, to get the sides of my face. I paid careful attention to how I held my arms, to avoid white (un-tanned) undersides. On the weekends and during the summer I spent most afternoons in the sun. When I read the sun was at it's hottest during the hours of 10 and 2, guess what time I made sure I was out there tanning?

I continued to be all about the tanning until I went goth. Goth is about staying away from the sun, usually because you slept all day and partied all night, watching movies like "Cat People" and taking Ecstasy. And deeper things, too, although I never bothered to figure out what. I didn't feel comfortable as a goth, maybe because I never felt comfortable wearing white face powder and I couldn't pull off the Siouxsie Sioux look. Here's a picture from early 1988 of me (left) and my step sister Karen. I was 19.


I spent my entire twenties locked in an office building in San Francisco. No risk of sun exposure there. Those years probably saved my life, but now that I'm a playground mommy in a sunny suburb, I'm being visited by my old archnemesis: tanorexia.

Curse you, tanorexia!

I was thinking about tanning today while I put on my 40 SPF sunscreen and again while I slathered on my Dove self tanning lotion. I thought about tanning A LOT a couple of years ago when an ex co-worker died from melanoma. She was in her early thirties.

I'm writing this post to remind myself that I look just fine without a tan and that tanning will kill me. Because even though I know the risks associated with overexposure to the sun, I still like the way it feels on my skin, and I still like the way my skin looks when it's some color other than pasty white.

Sigh. It seems silly to call it tanorexia, but when an individual (let's call her my "friend") continues to do what she knows could kill her, what else should you call it?

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Monday, May 29, 2006

 

All I really need to know I learned from cleaning my closet



  • Break a big job down into smaller jobs.
  • You don't need an engineering degree to put together a shelving unit from Target.
  • You need a Phillips head screwdriver to put together a shelving unit from Target.
  • Shelving units from Target are awesome.
  • Clothes from Target are less awesome after you bring them home.
  • Don't buy clothes on impulse from Target.
  • Don't buy clothes without trying them on.
  • Don't buy clothes that need alterations unless you actually have a seamstress or the time and talent to do it yourself.
  • There's no such thing as a free T-shirt.
  • Stick to the colors that look good on you, not the colors that look good on the model in the magazine.
  • Only wear clothes that make you look and feel fabulous, whatever "fabulous" means to you.
  • Be honest with yourself about who you are.
  • Be honest with yourself about your lifestyle.
  • Don't buy something just because it's on sale or marked down so low the store is practically giving it away.
  • An inexpensive article of clothing is no longer inexpensive if you consider the time and energy it takes you to buy it, bring it home, put it on a hanger, try it on, decide it looks like crap on you, bag it up, and give it away.
  • Saving clothes that are too big for you "just in case" is a waste of space.
  • Saving clothes that are too small for you because you certainly are going to fit into them some day is a waste of space.
  • Anything you haven't worn in a year (or more), you will never wear again.
  • Styles change.
  • Giving things away feels good.
  • Once you've given something away, you will never think about it again.
  • Other people will actually wear those clothes you never wear.
  • Nobody needs more black sweatpants than there are days in the week.
  • If you can't reach things on a shelf, buy a footstool.
  • If cleaning your closet gives you a headache, take two aspirin and try again in the morning.
  • Nothing feels better than opening the door to your closet and being able to see your clothes.



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Sunday, May 28, 2006

 

Play-Doh you didn't

Emily says No to Play-Doh perfume

Play-Doh is turning 50! What started out as wallpaper cleaner, Play-Doh now enjoys the notoriety of National Play-Doh Day (September 18th).

You go, Doh.

Play-Doh is certainly a celebrity, and, like all celebrities, has its own scent. That's right. Eau de Play-Doh is available online and will be coming this summer to a Sephora near you. For $19, you can smell like you're three years old. That's... neat.

I find the thought of Play-Doh perfume offensive, but I definitely give Play-Doh itself the mom's seal of approval. In fact, let me tell you newbie moms right now: Accept no substitutes! Only the real Play-Doh has the right consistency, and I find it the easiest to clean up from the rug and floor. Don't get Fake-Doh at the dollar store. Trust me; I speak with the voice of experience. Oh, and here's a link to the official directions on how to remove Play-Doh from carpet, upholstery, or fabric. Just in case.

Happy birthday, Play-Doh.

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Friday, May 26, 2006

 

When I was twelve

me before braces

Andi Buchanan is some kind of writing super woman. She's now working on a compilation of stories written by women about the year they were twelve. She told me about it so I went to her site (When I Was Twelve) and decided to submit my story.

Writing my story was difficult.

First I had to do some math. What year was I twelve? Then I had to think real hard. What grade was I in when I was twelve? Where did I live when I was twelve? What was my life like when I was twelve? These aren't questions that Andi asked me, but they are questions that I asked myself when I was trying to think about what I was doing during that pivotal year between little girl and woman, when I was trying to write something that appropriately told the story of that time in my life.

This is what I wrote and submitted to her site. If you go to When I Was Twelve, you will not find this story. I do not know if it's because she is completely behind with her updates or if it's because she thinks what I wrote is horrible and stupid.

But! Don't let my insecurities stop you from sharing with her your story. It felt good to go back in time and think about what was going on in my mind back then. It might make you feel good, too.

When I was twelve

When I was twelve, the year was 1980 and I was living in Austin, Texas. After my mom married my step dad, we moved from Illinois to Texas and I became a Texan. Except I never really was a Texan because I said "pop" when other people said "soda."

When I was twelve, I got my first zit. I remember it was on my forehead, by my eyebrow. I thought it was huge and that everybody was staring at it. When I was twelve, I felt awkward and uncomfortable in my body, but I didn't think I was fat. I didn't think I needed to diet. When I was twelve, I had a positive body image, although I didn't realize it at the time.

When I was twelve, I had braces, and I wore Lee jeans and Nike tennis shoes. That was the uniform of a Jr. High student in Texas in the early 80's. When I was twelve, I got a subscription to Seventeen Magazine for Christmas. I started experimenting with make-up and wishing I had better clothes, like real Izod shirts and Jordache jeans. I started curling my hair when I was twelve and obsessing over the fact that my hair wouldn't feather "right." When I was twelve, I thought that I needed to try harder if I wanted to be noticed by boys.

When I was twelve, I desperately wanted to be noticed by boys. I wanted boys to like me. I don't remember wanting any particular boy to like me; I think any boy would have been okay. When I was twelve, I hadn't yet kissed a boy with my tongue. I would be thirteen when that happened. When I was twelve, I wanted a boyfriend. Bad.

When I was twelve, my favorite album was AC/DC's "Back in Black." But I liked songs on FM radio, too. Songs like "Kiss on My List" by Hall & Oates and "Xanadu" by Olivia Newton-John. When I was twelve, I discovered that music was an emotional experience. When I wasn't reading, I was listening to music in my room. Often, I was doing both. Often, I got in trouble for playing my music too loud. "Down or off!" was a phrase yelled regularly in my house.

When I was twelve, I was in 7th grade. I wasn't popular, but I had friends. I took the bus to school and I remember thinking that my Jr. High was very far away from my house. One time the "weird girl" from school sat in the row in front of me and I saw a cockroach crawl in and out of her ratted hair. But I didn't say anything or make fun of her. When I was twelve, I was sensitive to other people's feelings. I still am.

The day I turned thirteen I got my period. When I was twelve, I was a girl; when I turned thirteen, I became a woman.

me with braces


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Thursday, May 25, 2006

 

I'm gonna do it 'til I'm satisfied. Or a size 8.

Remember yesterday's To Do List? Well, I got a lot of it done. Hurrah! And that includes running two miles, which Grace prodded me about in a comment on Flickr.

I have to admit that I'm only halfway through organizing the master bedroom closet. I also didn't exactly get around to cleaning up the back patio. But of course I ran my two miles! Are you kidding? Running is my drug. If my kids were old enough to watch TV without supervision and I had more time to devote to longer runs, I totally would train for a marathon. In fact, I'm enviously watching Grace as she prepares for the New York City Marathon in November. Go, Grace, go!

Sometimes I find it ironic that at the ripe old age of 37 I am a runner, when at the young hip age of 17 refusing to run in P.E. class almost cost me my graduation from high school. Wait, is that ironic? Maybe it just means that I was a loser in high school. Or that my ass now is bigger than my ego was then.

I didn't know much back then, but now I know that running helps to clear my head. I can leave this house in the worst mood ever, go on a run, and return in love with life and even my husband. It's like a drug, I tell ya! The housewife's ecstasy!

There are two other reasons I like to run: I like what it does to my energy level and I like what it does to my hips and ass. You know how I'm cleaning and organizing my closet? Well, it's because half my clothes don't fit me anymore; I'm finally down to the weight I was when I got pregnant with Thomas. (Yes, he is a year and a half old. Shut up.) All I know is that losing weight after the second baby is much more difficult than it is after the first. Although in my case, stress was a big factor in my overeating. Sometimes life just got crazy when I had a toddler and a newborn both needing something from me, or crying, or crying about needing something from me. Temporary insanity would cause my head to spin around like Linda Blair's in The Exorcist and inevitably, my gaze would land on my ever-faithful friend, my cookie jar.

If I have a third child, I'm thinking the name "Milano" would be appropriate.

A couple of weeks ago, there was an article in Scientific American that revealed:
"Married mothers who also hold jobs, despite having to juggle career and home, enjoy better health than their underemployed or childless peers. Data from a long-term study launched in the U.K. in 1946 shows that such working moms are the least likely to be obese by middle age and the most likely to report generally good health."

Ack! As a SAHM, I hated reading that. Other bloggers who stay home with their kids found the news unsettling, too.

And in my case, it's just not true. Okay, so I may have had a slightly co-dependent relationship with the cookie jar, but I'm over that now. At 37, I'm healthier now than I was in my twenties. I'm certainly healthier now than I was six or seven years ago, when I was drinking, cursing, and carousing a lot. I don't drink every night anymore; instead, I run.

I highly recommend the drug of running. It's good for your head, your hips, and your heart. And I need a healthy heart because as a "mature mother," my main goal is to live to see this little girl grow up.



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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

 

Goodbye, field trip. Hello, chores.

When the To Do List starts spilling over to the second page, it's time to get busy.

To Do List for May 24, 2006. Written in my trusty Moleskine notebook, natch.

Moleskine in action


Here's the "Three Generations" pic referenced in second bullet point. This is my father-in-law, my husband, and my son, who carries on the family name. I know, I know, patriarchy, blah blah blah. I still think it's kind of neat from a family history perspective. My son is named after his great-grandfather, who no longer is with us. Photo by Jennie. (Who, by the way, is going to BlogHer with me! Woo Hoo!)



Off to address envelopes...

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

 

Have I ever told you that I'm an online poker widow?

Mike Tsao says: I know what I want for Father's Day
Mary Tsao says: What?!
Mike Tsao says: http://www.pokerstars.com/blog_tournament/
Mike Tsao says: They scheduled it on Fathers Day; I would like to play
Mary Tsao says: So you want permission to ignore your family for 4 hours?
Mary Tsao says: I see

Need further proof? Go read these posts, then come back and tell me what they mean. Good luck.

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

 

A night of narcissistic pleasure and the subsequent blogging about it


Ayelet Waldman and Liz Henry
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
Last night I hung out with Ep, Squid, and Liz at Writers With Drinks.

Ayelet Waldman was one of the writers who gave a reading. I was so excited to get to meet her! We did chat for a bit before she took the stage. I asked her what it was that she had done to piss off all the moms in Berekeley (something I had heard from a friend who lives in Berkeley), and she told me she actually had pissed off all of the moms in America by writing an essay in which she admitted to loving her husband more than her kids. OH MY GOD! I actually think that's a pretty healthy attitude to have and I told her as much.

At Writers With Drinks, Ayelet read an essay she had written for Salon called Living out loud -- online. It's about her conflicted emotions about blogging and her decision finally to give it up. It's also about how she blogged about suicide, and how she realized that it was the wrong way to ask for help.

As a mommyblogger, she was interviewed by the New York Times for a January 2005 article about parents who blog that also featured Heather Armstrong from Dooce and Eden Kennedy from Fussy. Of the interview she gave for the Times, Ayelet writes in her essay:

A couple of weeks before, I was interviewed about my blog by a reporter for the New York Times. I tend to approach giving interviews with the same sense of circumspection and restraint as I approach my writing. That is to say, virtually none. When asked what I made of blogs like my own, blogs written by parents about their children, I said, "A blog like this is narcissism in its most obscene flowering." I uttered those words lightly, almost but not quite in jest, but I believed them.


I think she may have a point and yet, that's also what I love about my blog. There's so little in my life as a mom--a selfless person in the service of small children who demand juice almost incessantly--that is about me, that can be called narcissistic. I need this blog to convey ideas and images and thoughts that are important to me.

I'm sorry Ayelet gave up her blog, but I understand why she did. I think most of us who blog wonder on a regular basis if this is really how we want to be spending our time or if there will be repercussions in the future to the blogging we're doing in the present.

Don't we?

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Saturday, May 20, 2006

 

Slip sliding away

Thomas (17 months) and Emily (35 months) at the park today.



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Friday, May 19, 2006

 

Everything's gone green

First, I saw this Better off Red collage on Amberbamberboo. Then I saw this Purple in London collage on Cotton-Pickin' Days. Then I went around my house taking photographs of all the green things I could find.

This is what I made. Click on the image to see the individual photos in Flickr.

Green Mosaic

I like the color green. To me, it represents growth, change, and movement. Spring is a good time to contemplate and fall in love with the color green.

What I like the most about this collage is that the items pictured here are straight out of my everyday life. I probably took over sixty photos of green items, and when I had to delete a bunch to get down to these thirty, it was hard. Not because I was deleting good photos, per se, but because I was deleting things that are personal to me: T's shoes, my vase, Emily's pants. It was surprisingly difficult to edit out those photos, as if I was removing the actual items from my life.

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The most amazing definition of a hippie ever

Beth Winegarner in the Peninsula edition of the Examiner wrote a piece about two local hippies who made good: Tyler Macniven and B.J. Averell, winners of the "Amazing Race."

In response to the question of whether or not he and Averell really are hippies, Macniven replies:

If the definition is someone who has long hair and is having more fun than you are -- then yes.


Right on.

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

 

Scooba my world

Hurrah! The newsletter is at the printer, and my BlogHer post is written. (Elizabeth, I wrote about you!) And I just filled my wine glass. Life is good.

Now I am ready to share with you the most remarkable invention ever: the Scooba Floor Washing Robot. [Note: I was not paid to write this endorsement. However, if you are from the iRobot corporation, I am almost out of the small bottle of Clorox floor washing soap that came with my purchase of the Scooba Floor Washing Robot. If you would like to send me some more, let's talk. Thank you.]

I'm tired and I have a burning desire to go watch TV, so this post mostly will be in pictures. I'm sure you don't mind.

First, there was the box:

Scooba, the floor washing robot


And then there was the Quick Start Guide! Be still my beating heart! (Yes, I am a former technical writer. Shush.)

A Quick Start Guide!


Behold the glory of that which is the Easy Bake Oven for those of us in the housewife set:

It's like Christmas in May


Here I am Reading The F-in Manual (RTFM):

RTFM means Read The F-in Manual


Now I am preparing to pour the Clorox soap (you have to use this special soap or it doesn't clean right.) that the Scooba will use to turn my floors from dull to diamond-like:

Pouring the soap. Careful!


At this point my husband got bored of taking pictures. Some other stuff happened, but I am going to skip straight to the good part: the Scooba in action!

The Scooba in action


What's that? You can't tell it's "in action?" Well, check out this video:



(Although I have to say that this guy's video is a lot better than mine, and he documents his preschooler's reaction to the Scooba, too.)

The proof is in the pudding that's no longer on the floor:

Waking up to a clean floor


And in the end there was a happy housewife who loves robots:

I love Robots


The End.

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Strawberry fields, not Heather, forever

Hmmm. Now I'm wondering if the lack of a "wife" in Paul McCartney's Superbowl American Express commercial was because this was imminent.

Four years, one kid, zero prenup: I think Heather will have no problem coming up with a new definition of forever.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

 

Chatting about books with Sonia Manzano

This has been one of those will this day ever be over? days. It started out early--6:30 AM--when Thomas woke up, and it didn't end until 7:00 PM, when Thomas went to sleep. Mike had to work late so today was an all-Mommy day. My head hurts. Thomas's fever last week was certainly related to the fact he now has two new cuspids on top, and I can only hope his constant Mr. Crankypants behavior this week is because he's cutting the bottom two.

All I know for sure is that his favorite word is no, but that he prefers to pronounce it nnnnooooooooo. That combined with his Jekyll and Hyde personality (He wants to be picked up. No! He wants to be put down. No! Pick him up. No! It's really his diaper that needs to be changed, but! He doesn't want his diaper changed! Nnnnooooooo!!!) makes me very happy that right now he's sleeping like an angel if an angel sleeps on his stomach with his butt in the air and his arms curled underneath his chest.

This cup of milky, sugary hot tea that I'm drinking is yummy.

My day also included a fun-filled Wednesday Field Trip to the Oakland Zoo. Flamingos! Giraffes! Trains! And Emily asking repeatedly, "What's that, Mommy? What's that, Mommy?" which made me happy.

Excited. I think.


Back to the story at hand... This morning I was happy to be a part of a conference call with an organization called First Book. "First Book is a national nonprofit organization with a single mission: to give children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books."

For their latest campaign featuring Sonia Manzano (aka: Maria) from Sesame Street, they're asking bloggers to help spread the word about their mission and their Cheerios® Spoonfuls of Stories® partnership and program.

So precisely at 10:00 AM my time, 1:00 PM New York time, I dialed the number and hoped like hell that the bowls of cheerios and full juice cups and stash of washable markers that I had given the kids was going to be enough to keep them quiet while I pretended to be important. Conference calls. I've actually been on several of them lately and they're nightmares. Kids and mommies on important phone calls just don't mix.

This call was automatically muted (Thank God!) so I got to listen and learn about the fact that the single factor in determining if a child will be a reader is the number of books in a child's home, and Sonia Manzano and Kyle Zimmer, the president of First Book, didn't have to hear Thomas go, "nnnnooooooooo," like he did on more than one occasion during the thirty minute call.

I also learned that First Book has distributed 43 million books to children in the years it has been doing this. Wow! That impressed me.

After a brief introduction, Kyle Zimmer handed over the call to Sonia, who seemed every bit as warm and wonderful as her character on Sesame Street. She spoke about how she learned to read in school with the Dick and Jane books, but that she was on the subway when she realized that she could read the ads and that reading was something you could do outside of school.

Sonia admits that they didn't have books in her home when she was growing up, but she remembers a teacher reading Charlotte's Web to the class and also her own reading of Fifteen by Beverly Cleary. She thinks reading brings people together, and that wanting to read as a kid is what inspired her to be a writer today.

Sonia has written a children's book titled No Dogs Allowed, and No Dogs Allowed -- The Musical is set to open in Miami in June. Sonia has info about this on her blog. She also has a new book coming out in May. It's still untitled, but she said that it is based on a story from her life. When she was little, she went to visit an aunt who was about to have a baby. While Maria was with her, she imagined herself as a superhero who would be the one to alert the neighborhood to the new baby. Of course, Maria went home for dinner and the baby didn't come that day, but it sounds like a great story that should certainly appeal to kids.

After she spoke for a bit, they took questions from the conference call participants, and the first blogger who asked a question was none other than Susie Sunshine from The Underpaid Kept Woman! She asked why it was that the original actors are all still on Sesame Street. Sonia said that the actors have all stayed with the show because they have great chemistry, truly care for each other, and they have been allowed to grow and age with the show.

Another caller asked about how to educate children to diversity. Sonia suggested that parents introduce things multicultural in their children's lives. For example, books, art, posters, people, sports figures, actors, etc.

An educator wanted to know how you can encourage parents who don't themselves read to read to their kids instead of putting them in front of the TV. Sonia thought they might respond to the suggestion they tell oral stories. They also may need to be introduced to age-appropriate books. She suggested a book One Minute Fairy Tales.

Another caller (I think this was another blogger, but I'm not certain) asked if Sonia raised her daughter bilingual. Sonia replied that yes, she tried, but that it was hard. The Spanish speaking people in her life (mom, nanny) would tend to speak English to her daughter, even when she told them to speak Spanish. She suggested immersion school programs, taking your child on vacation to a Spanish speaking country, and buying books in Spanish.

We ended the call with Sonia reiterating that her favorite first book was Charlotte's Web. She knew that if Charlotte could deal with whiny Wilbur, she could deal with anything. (Hey, that's exactly how I feel about dealing with whiny Thomas!) If you're interested, a podcast of the call is available on the First Book blog.

I wish my day were over now, but it isn't. I have to go work on the newsletter for my Mothers Club. Yes, it's that time of the month again. But let me just tell you that I have used the Scooba (Chris, you've got to get one!) and it's revolutionary. I'll tell you all about it tomorrow, I promise.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

 

DOPA is the new crack

And we all know that crack is whack, right?

I'm about to run off to dinner with friends, but I wanted to tell you about my latest BlogHer post. It's about some new legislation Congressperson Fitzpatrick (R-Pa) is calling the Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA).

As someone who knows a bit about online social networks, I think this legislation is both crack and whack. I encourage you to go read my post, check out danah boyd's post and Liz Ditz's post, then go to Will Richardson's wiki and draft a letter to your Representative*. I did.

As I told Liz, I particularly like what what Will Richardson wrote: "this bill will simply delete our ability to effectively prepare our students for a life that will more and more be intertwined with the Web." In other words, this legislation is not the answer. What is? How about parents being educated about online social communities and understanding their importance to the youth of today? It's simply a different world than the one we grew up in; let's try and get used to it.

Gotta run, but look for Scooba posting tomorrow (I love robots!) as well as the details of my conference call with... Maria from Sesame Street (aka Sonia Manzano)! Details tomorrow...

*On the flip side, leave a comment telling me I'm full of crack. Let's start a discussion!

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Sunday, May 14, 2006

 

I survived Mother's Day 2006

Without even telling Mike what it was that I wanted, I got it: two days of a little me time, a little family time, and a lot of drinks. Also, a present. Are you ready for this? For Mother's Day 2006, Mike got me...a Scooba!

2006: The year of the Scooba

I am such a housewife.

Yesterday, I went to brunch with friends from my Moms Club. Good company, good food, excellent champagne. I could have gone straight home after brunch completely satisfied and happy.

Except I didn't. Instead, I stopped off at the mall and got all kinds of cute new clothes to wear to... Disneyland! (I talked Mike into it; we're going in early June.) Or the park. Or Target. Or wherever. Do you know how nice it was to go shopping alone? I actually went to three stores and tried stuff on at each store. And in one store I waited in a long line and nobody was crying or pulling at my skirt. It was weird. But good.

Last night, we went out to dinner at our local Chevy's. I had a great conversation with a new mom while we were waiting for our table. She had 12-week old identical twin girls. It was the third time she and her husband had gone out to dinner together since the babies were born. She was nice to talk to, and (and!) she gave me a coupon for 1/2 off our second entree and wished me a Happy Mother's Day. I was feeling the mom-to-mom love.

Because we saved so much on our second entree, we could afford to get me the muy grande margarita. Here I am wasting away again in Margaritaville:

The mom

This morning, Mike woke up with Thomas without me having to nudge him off the bed. I was able to lounge around until 8:30, which is ninety minutes longer than I usually get to sleep; it was great. Then Mike woke me up with homemade french toast, sausages, and strawberries cut into hearts. Awwww. Also a glass of mimosa, although I waited until I had brushed my teeth before taking a sip. I haven't rolled out of bed and immediately started drinking in quite some time. No, really.

After breakfast, Mike and Thomas decided they were tired from all of that hard work. When I came out of my office after checking my email, I found a mess waiting for me in the kitchen:

Mother's Day carnage

And these two curled up in bed:

Cooking is hard work

That's when I remembered there is no rest for the mother, even on Mother's Day. But the cleanup wasn't too bad, and the rest of the day we puttered around the house and the yard. In the afternoon, Mike took both of the kids to Home Depot and Trader Joe's while I stayed home and enjoyed the silence. That was nice.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go figure out what I have to do to "make mopping a distant memory." Look for Scooba blogging soon!

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Support your mother


The Mommybloggers are at it again! This time with a Mother's Day Q & A Cage Match featuring dozens of mommybloggers. Go check out the funny things moms have written about being a mommy (or a mom or a mother or a mama.)

When the mommybloggers asked me was who was my mothering role model, it made me pause. When I was growing up, I was lucky enough to have five mothers. I count all--my mom, my grandma, my aunt Davida, my aunt Mary, my aunt Paula--as my mothering role models.

Here are some old photos I dug up from the early 1970s. This was a special time in my childhood, when innocence reigned supreme. These pictures represent my coming into consciousness as a person. My earliest memories are from when I was four or five, around 1973. Click on the collage to see all the photos in Flickr.

I hope you all are having a wonderful Mother's Day, no matter if you're a soon-to-be mom, a new mom, an old mom, a surrogate mom, or a mom to a small, furry creature.

Happy Mother's Day!

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Saturday, May 13, 2006

 

Will you be having kids with that, mom?

As countdown to Mother's Day continues, bloggers everywhere are contemplating what would happen if mommy was president, what Mother's Day means to them, and how they feel about their own moms.

Two posts that resonated with me were ones written by Jenn Satterwhite from Mommy Needs Coffee and Rebecca Eckler from Nine Pound Dictator.

On the one hand, Jenn writes about her memories of Mother's Day and the traditions she's created with her own children. Figured prominently is the annual ritual of breakfast in bed:

"Now, it is my daughter who rushes into my room full of giggles and hugs. It is Gabriella who fights to get the primo spot directly beside me. Eager for our very own post breakfast snuggle nap. As I wrap my arms around her and she lays her head on my chest, I always smile. Remembering when it was me in her spot and my Mom’s arms around me. The tradition had passed down to the two of us."

On the other hand, Rebecca Eckler, author of Knocked Up : Confessions of a Hip Mother-to-be questions if breakfast in bed is what moms really want:

"Mother's Day is tricky. As mother's, we all want to be not only celebrated on this one day a year, but spoiled silly. And, then, in an effort to be spoiled silly, our husbands will make "breakfast in bed" for us with the kids. And we all know how this story ends...with mommies cleaning up the kitchen...and the trail of pancake mix...and the spilled orange juice on the steps up to the bedroom."

Rebecca asks the question, "Do you think Mother's Day for you would be a happier occassion with or without your child?" For Jenn, Mother's Day is all about spending time with her children, but what about for you? What are your plans and do they include your kids? For you, is Mother's Day a chance to spend quality time with your kids or a chance to spend time alone, recharging your batteries at a day spa?

For the record, I want a day that I don't have to plan, and I don't know what Mike's planning for tomorrow. When I asked, he answered, "None of your business." I took that as a good sign.

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Friday, May 12, 2006

 

Thank you, Troll Baby Graphics!

Many of you have noticed that Mom Writes has a new look. Isn't it exciting? Gone are the eye-numbing pink and the generic Blogger template. Here are the nice, clean background and the dark type. Here are the beautiful graphic and the soothing blue links. To me, this template says: the sky's the limit. I hope you agree. When Lisa Stone complimented me on my template, I told her I had caught myself matching my outfits to it. That's normal, right?

What's that? You want a new template you can match with your outfits, too? Cool! Then I suggest you check out Karen Rani and Troll Baby Graphics. Karen's easy to work with and obviously brilliant. If you need further proof, go check out her personal blog Troll Baby. Pretty sweet, huh?

P.S. While I have been known to blog for free beer, I paid Karen for the opportunity to write this testimonial. And it was worth every penny. The beers (wine, margaritas, etc.) we will be drinking together at BlogHer? Those will merely be to celebrate our mutual respect and admiration for one another.

P.P.S. No, I am not drunk now.

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

 

What a lovely way to burn

Our little Thomas isn't feeling well and there's no sight as sad as that of a sick baby. He was fine at 10:00 this morning when Rosa showed up, but sick with a fever by the time I got home at noon. It's nothing serious--possibly teething-related--and he's responding well to Ibuprofen, but he seems so miserable! I have to admit, though, that it's kind of nice to have a little baby snuggled up on your chest. [note to self: DON'T GET ANY IDEAS ABOUT HAVING ANOTHER ONE.] At any rate, I was snuggling with T on the couch and I could tell Mike wanted in on the action because he casually said, "I can lie down with him if you want a break..." So I was nice and I let him have some sick baby snuggle time. Aren't my guys cute?

Yesterday was what I'm officially calling Wednesday Field Trip day. For our field trip yesterday, the kids and I went to Happy Hollow Park and Zoo in San Jose. We had a great time. I was in a good mood because I had managed to post my review of Why Babies Do That before leaving the house; the kids were in a good mood simply because we were leaving the house.

Kitty kitty meow

If you grew up in San Jose or the Valley, you probably are familiar with Happy Hollow, which has been in existence since the early 1960s. It's a nice place to take kids, especially toddlers and pre-tweens. I like the mid-week, non-summer visits best of all; the park has other people in it, but it isn't painfully crowded. Yesterday, I realized halfway to San Jose that I had forgotten the stroller (doh!) so the fact that for $3.50 I was able to rent a Radio Flyer wagon at the park made me especially like the place.

I'm still catching up on paperwork and blog reading from last week's vacation. Even though I posted pictures and blogged short posts while I was away, I didn't do much else on the computer. So if something happened in your life while I was away and you can't believe that I haven't commented on it, I'm sorry! [And congratulations to Artsy-Craftsy Babe, who gave birth to little Ava Rose on May 1. She's such a cutie!]

Emily's 3rd birthday is in June and I'm contemplating a late May/early June visit to Disneyland. I mentioned the idea to Mike and he didn't immediately balk so I'm off to research hotels and tickets and character breakfasts. I hope it's not too late to make reservations.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

 

Further proof that every mom is a supermom


SuperMom Trading Card
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
Supermom Helene from Adventures in Parenthood is asking that all supermoms (that means you) make a supermom trading card like the one shown here, which was made by yours truly. She has a goal of 100 supermom trading cards flaunted all over the Interweb by Mother's Day 2006. And she has only 90 cards to go! I'm going to blog about this tomorrow on BlogHer and highlight all of the moms who have participated so far. If you'd like to be included, go make your trading card now! It's easy. Helene's instructions are here. Be sure and mark your card with the Flickr tag smtradecard so that it will be added to the gallery. To see all of the cards in the gallery, go here.

From the Make Blog: Cardboard box baby stroller.

Via BoingBoing: Women can tell if men like babies by seeing pix of their faces.

Via DotDoms: It's true. Men do less housework than women.

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Baby Blog Book Tour: Why Babies Do That by Jennifer Margulis

Why Babies Do That: Baffling Baby Behavior Explained
Jennifer Margulis
Willow Creek Press, 2005; $15.95

I'm so excited today to be blogging about Jennifer Margulis's recent addition to the world of baby books: Why Babies Do That: Baffling Baby Behavior Explained.

Jennifer is the author of Toddler: Real-life Stories of Those Fickle, Irrational, Urgent, Tiny People We Love, a mom to three kids, and an editor for Literary Mama. Her work has appeared in Ms. Magazine; World Pulse Magazine; Parenting; Newsday; Mothering; Brain, Child; and more.

Now, I will have you know that I personally know Ms. Margulis and once in an email she told me that I was "beautiful," but the fact that she is a literary celebrity who gives good compliment did not taint or in any way influence how I feel about her book. (The framed picture of Jennifer I keep on my nightstand? That's another story.)

Besides being beautiful, I'm no dummy, and I understand there's no such thing as a dumb question. Yet, when I was sitting at home on my hemorrhoid pillow with itty bitty, newborn Emily, I often felt that all of my questions about her behavior were just that: dumb. I certainly thought that when I looked around at other moms who seemed to know it all and who had no questions, dumb or otherwise. One "dumb" question I had was why Emily said dada before she said mama. Did it mean she loved him more? How could that be when I was the one who fed her, changed her, bathed her, and had sacrificed my perky breasts for her? When I asked a mom friend about this, she gave me a look that suggested it was the dumbest question she had ever heard. In retrospect, I know why she gave me that look. It's obvious she had no idea how to answer my question. She probably was just as baffled as I was.

The moral of this story is don't be like me. If you are pregnant or at home pinned to a glider with a newborn, do yourself a favor, go online shopping, and get yourself a copy of Why Babies Do That. Jennifer knows parents have questions and she gives you the answers in a way that won't make you feel dumb for asking. After you read this book, your baffling baby will baffle you no more.

Let me give you some examples of questions new parents have but are afraid to ask. Notice Jennifer's kind and gentle yet authoritative answers.

Frantic new mom: Why does my baby have zits?!?!
Baby acne is one of those tragedies that affect most babies but that leave a hormonal postpartum mom thinking that surely, her baby must be the only one on the planet who looks like a pimply teenager. Why had nobody warned you about this?

Jennifer's calm reply:
"The definitive answer to why babies get acne is still being debated but most experts agree that it has to do with exposure to a surge of fetal hormones passed through the placenta to the baby before birth and during labor." ... "As strange as all of this is for a new parent, it is perfectly natural."

Frantic new mom: Why does my baby bang his head against the crib?!?!
Before you think that head banging in infancy guarantees a life filled with Metallica concerts and dope smoking, read what Jennifer has to say and stop imagining your child as a juvenile delinquent at the age of 8 months.

Jennifer's calm reply:
"The prevailing theory about why babies bang their heads against the crib is that it's a way to soothe themselves. Like thumb sucking, the rhythmic rocking that accompanies head-banging is lulling to the baby and helps him fall asleep or calm down after being upset."

Other questions she answers include "Why do babies like to play with their own poop? Why do babies learn languages so easily?" and my personal favorite: "Why do babies plaster pasta on their hair and mash bananas into their cheeks?"

Jennifer is not a doctor, but as an experienced parent and writer, her common sense answers reveal that she knows about what she writes. If appropriate, she does indicate when exhibited behavior may require attention from a doctor or other parenting expert.

With photographs by Paul Franz, Why Babies Do That is a great gift idea for a new or expectant mom. But don't let the cute baby on its cover fool you, this book is filled with lots of good information that will certainly make your life easier as you navigate the diaper aisle in Target with your bobble-head, acne-prone bundle of joy.

But here's a warning to new moms: go easy on your uninformed friend when she asks you one of those "dumb" questions as you balance your newborns on your knees during baby yoga class. Like Jennifer does in her book, inform your friend gently and with a touch of humor that most babies--not just her little Aidan--say "da da" before they say "ma ma," and that her baby actually is not saying "daddy," (and thereby proving he loves daddy more than mommy) "but rather saying 'thing' and using the word 'da da' as a generic catch-all."

Like a newborn baby, Jennifer's book is cute and just begging to be picked up. If you're still wondering what to get those new moms or those expectant moms (preggos deserve to celebrate, too!) this Mother's Day, wonder no more. Here's the Amazon link to Why Babies Do That. You can call me beautiful and thank me later.

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

 

Vacation, just when I thought I was over you...

Last night I attended the general meeting of my local mothers club. The topic was one particularly close to my heart these days: travel. Specifically, the joys of traveling with kids. I know. I know that we just got back from a week long vacation in New York, but now I want to go to Mexico. Or Hawaii. Or San Diego. People, I've been bit bad. I'm all itchy with the traveling bug.

The speaker--Kelly Rungh of San Carlos-based travel agency Family Travel--was enthusiastic and knowledgeable. She has two kids of her own and she's taken them all over the world. I came home last night with a humongous stack of glossy travel brochures and the following tips and tricks, which I will share with you now on the off chance you, too, will be hitting the road this summer with your kids in tow.

Tips for traveling with babies and toddlers by plane

  • Children under two don't need their own ticket and can be lap babies, i.e., they must sit on your lap unless there is an open seat available.
  • If child is close to two but you are traveling with him as a lap baby, you may be asked to show proof of age. Bring a birth certificate or immunization record to prove the child is under the age of two.
  • If you buy a ticket for a child under two, you usually can get a half price ticket. Online ticket buying isn't set up for this discount. To get it, find the best online price, then call the airline to buy the tickets.
  • Some airlines don't allow you to have a baby in a Baby Bjorn.
  • Kelly recommends each child have his own seat and babies also be in car seats. They tend to understand that they can't get out of a car seat and also they may sleep more during the flight.
  • Check out the sit 'n' stroll for a combination car seat and stroller designed for travel.
  • Car seats need to be in a window seat, according to airline rules. Remember this when ordering tickets.
  • Take your stroller with you. Bring it to the gate and check it there. It will be waiting for you when you land.
  • Buy little, secret treats for your kids for the plane. Treats could include small toys, playing cards, crayons, notebooks, hot wheels, etc. Wrap them to prolong opening time.
  • Too much sugar is probably a bad idea, but those little dum dum lollipops can go a long way to keep a child happy and occupied.
  • Nurse babies on take-off and landing to prevent ear pain.


International travel

  • All persons, including babies, need a passport to travel internationally.
  • Effective January 1, 2007, all travelers entering or re-entering the United States from any international country (now including the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico and Canada) must present a government-issued passport to clear U.S. Customs. This is a change from prior documentation requirements.
  • For overseas travel, adapt the family to the new time zone.
  • If you have stepchildren, you are required to carry a notarized letter from the other parent authorizing the traveling parent to take the child out of the country. If one parent is deceased, you should carry a certificate of death. This rule is not always enforced, but if it is and you don't have the required paperwork, you could be stuck. Be especially diligent if children have different last names.


General tips

  • You can rent car seats with rental cars for about $6-8/day.
  • Suite style hotel rooms are great for families with kids. Eating breakfast in the room can help start the day on the right foot.
  • Bring masking tape for spontaneous babyproofing. It can be used to cover outlets and sharp edges.
  • Most hotels do have cribs available; however, be aware that a hotel may not be checking for recalls.
  • Put crib in dark corner of room. Consider the bathroom or a large closet for the crib.
  • Ground floor rooms mean no scary balconies or people on the floor below getting annoyed when your kids run around being kids.


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Monday, May 08, 2006

 

Vacation withdrawal and me time

I'm tired and I'm having vacation withdrawal. Even with a computer and the Interweb, life still is different when you're on vacation. For one thing, I spent a lot more time with the kids last week and it felt good. It made me think that maybe my life right now has a tad too much "me" stuff in it. It was nice to take a break from some of the "me" stuff and just relax and have fun with the kids.

It made me realize that I could be doing that every day. Most of the stuff I heap on my plate is elective. If I wanted, my life could be filled with nothing but arts and crafts, road trips, and picnics with the kids.

Am I taking on too much? How could that be when I feel that I say no all of the time to projects that I would love to do? Sigh. I didn't realize that when I made the decision to be a stay-at-home mom, I would have to re-make that decision almost every week. It's hard for me to say no when people email me about work opportunities.

Nanny Rosa comes tomorrow. Maybe having some time to be by myself will give me some perspective and remind me that I actually love, want, and desparately need "me" time and "me" projects.

Emily keeps asking about Rosa; she's looking forward to seeing her tomorrow, too.

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Sunday, May 07, 2006

 

Kids and cupcakes in Gotham



Originally uploaded by marytsao.
We're back home from our trip to New York City, the Big Apple, Manhattan. I miss it already. It was by far the best family vacation we've ever taken, and I want to recommend NYC to other families who are considering one of the more typical vacation destinations. You know. M.I.C...

I'm not sure what your image is of Manhattan, but before I went last year, I remembered it as a dirty, scary, "big" city. It's actually nothing like that, which I've heard from several people is due to former Mayor Giuliani. According to this online biography of Giuliani:

"Under Rudy Giuliani's leadership, New York City has become the best-known example of the resurgence of urban America. From his success at cleaning up Times Square and other public spaces around the City to closing the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, Mayor Giuliani has worked tirelessly to pass New York to the next generation better and more beautiful than it was before he entered office."


I'll vouch for that; NYC is clean, nice, and there are tons of things to do there with kids of all ages. My kids and I were busy every day going to parks, playgrounds, and museums--some free and some commercial--and I believe the kids had as much of a good time trolling the city as I did.

Admittedly, much of this trip's success was due to the excellent weather, which was warm and spring-like. Springtime lends an expectant and happy air to a city that suffers through cold and yucky winters. The people on the street were happy and helpful, and the stores were full of merchandise. I believe that cities have attitudes, and the attitude of NYC in the spring is very upbeat and positive.

So here's what I loved during this visit to Manhattan along with what I hated. As a bonus, I give you my review of two cupcake places where anybody who has a kid, is a kid, or is in touch with their inner kid, needs to go. Trust me on this one.

The good

Getting to/from the airport is easy. Cabs and car services are plentiful.

Getting around in town is easy. New York City is a wonderful place to navigate without a car. This works well if you are travelling with small kids. The subway system is great, the buses are plentiful, and the cabs are heaven-sent; to get one, just stand on any corner and wave your hand at any cab whose light is lit. You'll get the hang of it and be flagging down cabs in no time.

NYC also is particularly easy to travel by foot. Just stick the kids into a stroller and go. If you're travelling with kids too old for a stroller but too young to walk long distances, take the subway or the bus, or cab it.

Food and drink are easy to find. For instant gratification, there are street vendors selling food (pretzels, kebobs, nuts, fruit) and cold drinks on almost every corner. For almost instant gratification, every other storefront is a restaurant. There is so much food in this town, the hardest part will be deciding what kind you want to eat.

Playgrounds are plentiful. Even in the heart of Manhattan, there are playgrounds. The nicer ones are where the city has been most recently renovated, but even the older ones have nice structures and sand/water play areas. The city just finished renovating a large playground in Central Park, where the kids and I had a good time before taking a carriage ride.

Everything is for sale. Every street has a Duane Reade pharmacy or a mini market, so if you need diapers, sippy cups, apple juice, or teething gel, no problem; they sell it.

There are lots of things to do. Search the web before you go or pick up a free paper when you're there. goCityKids is a great site for finding things to do with kids. But sometimes the best way to have a great day is just to leave the hotel, pick a direction, and start walking.

Convenience is Queen. Laundromats have same day pick up and delivery. Restaurants deliver. Probably any store in NYC delivers. Take advantage of these things and you will be happy you did. I had our laundry picked up and done while the kids and I went to the Children's Museum of Manhattan. Now that's what I call a vacation!

Celebrities abound! Jon Stewart, David Blaine, Rosie O'Donnell... NYC is crawling with 'em.


The bad

It's expensive. Big city = big city prices. Hotel rooms aren't cheap here. Food can be very expensive to inexpensive. Same with drinks. Same with shopping. I think NYC is probably the most fun if the sky's the limit, but I also believe you can stick to a conservative budget and still have a good time.

Getting around with a double stroller is a pain. Lots of the buildings are old and not designed for the width of a double stroller. This time we used a cheap-o umbrella stroller for Thomas with a BuggyBoard attachment on back for Emily. This set-up wasn't as kind to my back because I had to hunch over the stroller to push it, but it allowed me to see much much more of the inside of NYC stores. I loved it. Repeat: loved it.

Summers are hot, muggy, and dirty. Last year we went in September and it was still summer. The city felt dirty and tired. Or maybe that was just me after pushing my kids around in a double stroller for hours unable to enter any store because of the dang thing.


The cupcakes

Magnolia Bakery. Located on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, this place sells cupcakes and other cake-y items all day long. I think they're open until 11:30 PM, which I find amazing. Their cupcakes are the stuff of legend, and what can I say? They're great. They're crumbly and moist with a gigantic swirl of icing and some sprinkles. You know when you're eating one that it's pure sugar and yet it's not too sweet. A dangerous combination. I especially liked the fact that they are not refrigerated so you get room temperature cupcakes. Don't worry, they don't bother refrigerating them because they sell them so fast there's no need.

Unfortunately, you can expect to wait in line both to get your cupcakes (self serve) and then to pay. Self service anything as well as lines are difficult with impatient toddlers in tow, but those cupcakes are worth it. If you're lucky, they'll have the red velvet ones out. Yum. Pure red cake with white icing goodness. My friend served Magnolia Bakery cupcakes at his wedding. That's how good they are.

Cupcake Cafe. Recommended by Mother Goose Mouse, this place also has delicious cupcakes and cakes. They make a different kind of cupcake than Magnolia Bakery. Their cupcakes are denser with a thick layer of butter cream frosting. They do refrigerate their cupcakes and that was a teeny drawback to me over the Magnolia Bakery cupcakes. But it certainly didn't stop me from cramming one down my throat and wishing I had (or didn't have) the guts to get another one.

The Cupcake Cafe location I went to was on W. 18th Street in Chelsea and was located in a children's bookstore. Bonus! Especially if your child is older. I can't think of a more idyllic afternoon than one spent in a combination cupcake slash book store. Seriously. Unfortunately, my little rug rats don't eat neat and I was petrified they were going to run over to a rack of brand new books and smear icing all over them. We made a quick exit before checking out the bookstore, but we'll definitely go back.

I do hope you'll consider New York City for your next family vacation. And if the NYC tourism board reads this, yes, I am available for a blogging tour. I heart NYC.


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Friday, May 05, 2006

 

From Times Square to big time

You cannot believe how excited I am to reveal that I have crossed the line from celebrity spotter to ... celebrity.

Yes, folks, the kids and I were stopped today during our meanderings through Times Square by a soft voice asking, "Do you want to be on TV? Do you want to be on televion?"

I hesitated. Me? The mom too shy to use the bathroom at the pizza parlor because I knew Rosie O'Donnell was in there and I couldn't bear to be share stall noises with a mega star? Me?

And then I heard the opening bars of the music from The People's Court. Dum Dum Dum Dum. I inched my way closer to the action.

And then the camera picked me up! And then an assistant asked me to move closer! And soon I was watching a video of The People's Court! And realizing that I needed a drink! And then this guy was saying things, and I was thinking, Oh shit. He's soon going to ask me my opinion on something and I can barely follow what he's talking about and I need to look like I'm not a fool, and oh shit. And Emily was pointing at the monitor and tugging at me, and saying, "Mommy, look! There Mommy! There Emily!"

And then Harvey Levin asked me a question and I said,
"Mumble mumble, uh, bleh. Three or four days!" and then he moved to somebody else. And apparently the fact that I could speak was good enough for them and somebody went, "Four, three, two, one!" And then Harvey Levin started talking in a serious TV-quality tone and he asked me the same question again. This time I dropped the mumbling and just said, "Three or four days!" And then the guy next to me said the opposite. And then Harvey Levin said I had cute kids.

And that was it.

I'm waiting for my phone to ring.

The People's Court. May 14th. I'm the harried mom with the tattoo and the tank top and the two cute kids. Look for me!
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Thursday, May 04, 2006

 

Where Rosie O'Donnell eats her pizza


John's of Bleecker Street
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
"Shut up!"

This is what you're going to say to yourself when you find out that tonight I spotted my THIRD non-author celebrity.

Yes, tonight I ate dinner not three tables away from the newest co-host of "The View," mommyblogger extraordinaire, and all around cool woman: Rosie O'Donnell.

"Shut up!"

I am in awe of my own celebrity sighting mojo.

When we walked into the back room of John's Pizza Parlor in Greenwich Village, we parked the stroller and tried to get the kids to sit at the correct table. As I walked to our table, I glanced at the booth to my left and saw... Ms. Rosie! She was with a friend and they were enjoying a pitcher of beer and a pizza. Of course. I played it cool and didn't try and get a picture or autograph. Nor did I gush something inane like, "I like your blog and your Flickr pictures and I think your gay family cruise idea was really swell!"

And yet I do, so maybe I should have said something. Although I also believe that even celebrities deserve the right to eat their thin crust New York pizza and drink their beer in peace.

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Portrait of a travelling mommy in Manhattan


Portrait of a travelling mommy
Originally uploaded by marytsao.

  • Sensible shoes (Merrill's)
  • Comfortable pants made of wonder material (doesn't wrinkle, cupcake icing sponges off easily)
  • Plastic bag containing soiled (pee-soaked) outfit size 18 months
  • Diaper bag with two juice bottle pockets
  • Jean jacket circa 1996 wrapped around waist (helps to hide "cupcake thighs")
  • Camera (constant taking of photos helps to keep mommy's mind off the fact that she'd rather be doing anything besides hanging in Dora's house with a bunch of little brats wee ones)
  • Mommy hair-do created by running fingers through hair while pushing a stroller with one hand
  • Mommy brain tired yet wondering how many blocks one has to walk in order to justify going to yet another cupcake place



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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

 

Where David Blaine parks his bubble


David Blaine
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
Second or possibly fourth celebrity sighting: David Blaine

This one kind of doesn't count because he was was being held captive in a giant plastic bubble when I saw him, but hey, I'll take what I can get, ya know?

So here's the deal. Today the kids and I walked all the way from West 18th Steet to West 83rd Street to visit the Children's Museum of Manhattan. (Pause for a moment to imagine how long it took a mom and two toddlers in a stroller to walk sixty five blocks. If you imagined three hours, you're right.) I knew this David Blaine character was in a bubble in the courtyard of Lincoln Center, but I didn't know exactly where that was or how to get there and blah blah blah. Anyway! As I strode up Broadway, I looked to my left and saw a crowd of people, a bunch of TV trucks, and... a giant plastic bubble! Twas fate, I tell ya.

Unfortunately, that was the most exciting part of the story. Yes, we saw David Blaine floating around in a giant bubble. Today was the third day he was in there; I think he's planning on staying in there a week. I read somewhere that he hadn't eaten for days before getting in there so he's not expecting to do any #2s. He's got a catheter hooked up for the #1s. He's wearing a giant oxygen helmet. And that's pretty much it. I'm not sure what his point is, but publicity must be part of it. This blogger summed it up well:
"There were quite a few people standing around trying to get a glimpse and quite a few news crews trying to get an interview with the people trying to get a glimpse. There was a pretty long line you could wait in to walk up the little ramp to get a closer look. The only problem with that was that the entire time I was there he was doing some sort of interview on the other side of the bubble so really you were just getting a closer look at his back. The problem is you get there and you realize...oh, it's a guy floating in water. Tada?"


After witnessing magician unextraordinaire David Blaine, we ambled over to the Children's Museum, which also was a tad dissapointing. The Discovery Museum in San Jose is better, and that's my not-so-humble West Coast opinion. But CMOM did have a room filled with Dora-themed play structures that the kids loved. Pictures will be up on Flickr tomorrow.

Tomorrow it's all about art at the Rubin Museum and pizza at John's of Bleeker Street, Andi Buchanan's favorite pizza place. Hey, and since Andi did IM (that's Instant Message for those of you over the age 80) me yesterday, you could say that I've actually had three brushes with celebrities in the past four days. Oh, and plus I had lunch with author Jennifer Margulis at the ASJA convention so that's four brushes with celebrities in the past five days.

And, yes, I'm counting!

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Book Review: It's a Girl edited by Andrea Buchanan

The companion book to It's a Boy (Read what I wrote about It's a Boy here), Andrea Buchanan's It's a Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters is a wonderful anthology of well-written essays. If you have a daughter, you'll be struck at how important and satisfying it feels to read what other women think and feel is important about raising daughters.

When I was pregnant with my first child, my husband and I wanted to find out the gender. We both wanted a girl so when the ultrasound technician told us he saw female parts, we were not surprised. At the end of the nine month gestation period, our daughter Emily was born. I didn't approach having a daughter with the trepidation some women do. But I definitely expect different things from my daughter than I do from my son, born 17 months later.

In the Introduction to the book, Andrea writes:

"Working on It's a girl after completing It's a Boy was an interesting project. I began these anthologies in much the same way I approached parenting my daughter and son: with the notion that the two would be quite similar, and that any differences that might emerge could most likely be ascribed to stereotypical gender bias. Instead, just as my children have revealed themselves to be distinctly different from one another in multitudinous ways--some, undeniably, accounted for by gender, but some not--so have these books proven to have distinct themes that I didn't necessarily expect."

What I expect from my daughter--what I strive to teach her--is that she be independent and a free thinker. I don't mind if she likes princesses or Barbie Dolls or wants to be a cheerleader. What I would mind is if she is led to believe by marketing or her peers that she is part of a "weaker" sex. I also hope that she keeps the same positive body image she has now; I love her complete unawareness of how she looks or what she is wearing. What I expect or strive to teach my son are those traits my daughter has--I assume--simply because she is female: tenderness, compassion, empathy.

This book taught me that other mothers have similar sets of ideals for their female offspring. It also taught me that it doesn't matter what you want from your daughter, what you think your daughter will learn from you, or what you try and teach your daughter from the minute she is born into the world. Your daughter is her own person. If you are a hardcore feminist who banned all pink from the house, don't be surprised if that's her favorite color. If you were a cheerleader and you imagine a daughter who follows in your footsteps, don't be surprised if she scorns the pom poms in favor of the football.

In her essay "The Food Rules," Ann Douglas writes honestly and eloquently about how surrendering control was the only thing she could do as she watched her teenage daughter suffer through a eating disorder. Ann writes,

"And ultimately you have to relearn the lesson that you learned back in your child's baby days: that your child's food choices are entirely her own. Whether a bite of food goes in at all or stays down for longer than a minute or two is entirely out of your control. It's only once you surrender that control--and realize that you never had that control in the first place--that you can regain anything that even remotely resembles peace of mind."

I was going to recommend this book as a perfect baby shower gift, but after thinking more about it, I'm not sure if that's true. I believe the time before a mother has a child is one for wondering and dreaming. It's when you can imagine chests of dress up clothes, a girl unaffected by peer pressure, a life lived better than your own. This book is more appropriate as a Mother's Day gift for a close friend who has a daughter, whether that daughter is three or thirty. Maybe even for your own mom, who--I'm guessing--surely suffered as you became your own person and squashed whatever spoken or unspoken dreams she had for you, her daughter. (Dreams, of course, she was more than glad to re-think after you finally gave her that grandchild she always wanted.)

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