Monday, January 31, 2011

whistle while you work!

Seven hours of lecture today. And tomorrow. Coping only way I know how...child labor.

Ulterior motive:

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Happy Weekend

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Princesses revisited, again, and yet again

Obviously visiting the heart of princessdom (All employees! call all the little girls Princess) presented an interesting issue for me. I am feeling ever more strongly that this is just a pipeline for all the things I've always had a hard time with about how our culture deals with girls. I heard the author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter on the radio this morning and I could have written that book.

My approach with Dylan is a mishmash of casual indifference, letting her have small victories (if she sensed how much I cared about this she would hone in like some kind of...honing thing), substituting better things to think about, and refusing on bigger stuff (many of the girls at Disney World wander around in princess dresses and it was not happening).

This is so difficult to address because any given piece of it seems (and IS) relatively innocuous and there is SO MUCH PRESSURE from peers, from teachers, from tv, movies, and family to participate. In fact I think she ONLY cares about some of this stuff to impress her friends and otherwise is sort of indifferent. But in total it is completely unacceptable. Someone brought up how sometimes the movie characters are okay role models (especially with American Girl dolls also), but they both make shopping and consumption inseparable from being a girl and having interesting experiences (and PINK! but I'm considering that more of a symptom than anything else. I've had a hard time figuring out how to reasonably say she can't pick things in the color she wants). Those princesses are skinny and gorgeous and often not wearing a lot of clothing. It pushes girls to daydream about their weddings and their boyfriends and there may not be anything so terrible about that per se, but little boys sure aren't encouraged to daydream about those things--they're supposed to be off having adventures (full disclosure: we sing "A doll, a doll, Ollie wants a doll" with some frequency since he's rather attached to Dylan's baby dolls).

I heard the author of a new book about The Feminine Mystique on Fresh Air last night, and she summed up how these issues look for young women today: 1) teenagers and college girls are encouraged to achieve as much as they can in sports and academics, but they are expected to be hot while they do it, and 2) mothers of young children are being fed these expectations that that are able to and responsible for making every moment of their children's lives a teachable, meaningful experience, while also having interesting successful careers. It reminds me so much of all those really smart girls at Princeton who dressed up and drank heavily 2-3 nights a week and spent tons of time and money trying to be really hot all the time and then called it a choice.

Dylan asked me yesterday if we could toilet train Ollie soon so he could get Iron Man and Spiderman underwear. I said NO and later, but that I could look for some for her (she's in a class with a herd of five-year-old boys at the moment) and she was sort of shyly excited. You know I don't love VIOLENT SWAGGERING role models or wanting to be like all the other kids all the time either but I guess anything that's not pink feels like a victory. I just want her to be able to do her own thing, you know?

I never thought I'd be a Won't somebody think of the children? kind of parent, but there you have it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

we're back!...and we were gone...and i'll let you guess where

Actually, I'll let Ollie tell you. Here he is in a rare moment of freedom.
This is a more typical scenario, with the crib jammed into the bathroom. He earned his confinement, I will tell you what.

And, how big a pain is Ollie on a plane? THIS BIG.
Speaking of confinement, here is Aaron regarding the scenery on our bus from the airport. There will be NO VIEWING OF THE OUTSIDE WORLD during the promotional video, please.
And there's this one. She was...pleased.

She spent today rapidly alternating between excitement about bragging to her friends and wishing she was still on the trip. By the end of the day she was firmly in the "Are you sure we had to come home?" camp.

She is also, at this point, justifiably confused about what is and is not real.
She has not only seen Mary Poppins the movie, but also gone to the Broadway show and let me read her the 200-page book over the past couple weeks. A lengthy conversation with the woman herself is not helping matters, you know?
Aaron's mom kindly let us go out. Every single night. We should probably try to get out more, is one thing. I'm sure you all were thinking the same.
The arcade had a Deal or No Deal game where you could actually win tickets. So we did.
We got to know the hotel bartender. He made fun of us a lot, for some reason. I asked if I could have a Bailey's and he blinked at me for a solid three minutes and then said, "I can try."Aaron was involved in an unfortunate incident during a laser fight to save...some good thing from some bad thing? Seems to be how most of the story lines go? And this one was Toy Story?I assure you that we were not posing for this. I won, for the record. Aaron is also a winner, of course. Just for playing! And losing! To me!

We figured Ollie was going to be mostly a liability for all this, which of course he was, but I was surprised at how much he enjoyed some stuff. Hippos. He likes hippos. He also thought meeting the characters was great. Here he is plunging his fingers into Donald's luscious underbelly.

Minnie took a shine to the boy, and he kept trying to get back to her, long after we had been shuttled along to the next magical moment.

I think this picture should be called "Day 4."
Aaron, pale and glassy eyed, Dylan feral, me taking pictures, and Ollie crying accusingly in my direction.

Dylan liked the rides way more than I expected. The last day she and I sprinted around the Magic Kingdom and got in four last ones in about an hour. I didn't notice a lot of other mothers sprinting around with their young children in strollers, but maybe because I was going too fast?

And, as in any Disney adventure, there were some lessons learned.

1) Tigger jammies: may seem cute. That is incorrect because however cute they are to the naked eye, "MOMMY LOOK AT ME JUMP I AM TIGGER BOUNCE BOUNCE BOUNCE" negates any cuteness in the 30 seconds before bedtime.

2) Hair trigger motion sickness and an enduring love of roller coasters is a TERRIBLE COMBINATION.

3) You may think you can get away with a flight without someone mentioning the baby's ears, but that is also incorrect. They will shout it at you, as you are walking off the plane. Try a bottle during takeoff and landing!!!

4) Watching fireworks from your hotel room is awesome.

5) Having the fireworks be an hour after the kid's bedtime is less awesome because she's knows they're coming. Oh yes she does.

6) I am estimating a minimum of two years before I can handle this again. Besides the constant corralling of the children, it is tiring to be me in such situations because whatever reservations I might have about Disney I MUST DO ALL THE THINGS.

Have a magical evening, one and all!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

walk this way

It warmed up to like, 35 degrees one day this week before plunging us back into the frigid icebox of cold frozen January ice time. We were giddy with all the warmth, so we let Ollie walk to daycare.

Dylan coached him every step of the way. Every other step she ushered him into the street, but the idea was nice.

Now he gets SO MAD when I won't let him walk, even though he would be an Ollie-sicle if we let him stay out that long at these temperatures.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Do you have ANY IDEA how long it takes us to get out the door these days

Not to mention actually achieving a destination

This was functional, but Ollie later lodged a formal complaint with the management about how it emphasized his neckfat in a less than flattering manner.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

As promised: sledding

This does not capture how awesome it was. I later built a second jump in the middle, and the top part was so high Dylan couldn't climb up it without help. She was really landing hard by the end as it got faster and faster, but she claimed to like it.

Two Thumbs Up

I need to catch up on reviewing all the things that people are clamoring for me to give opinions on!*

Yaktrax. Snuffy and I just had an excellent run thanks to them.

The Monster at the End of This Book iPad app. It's obviously an excellent book to begin with, but the app is really cool, with a lot of interaction and great animation. Dylan wants to read it every morning.

Chicken Soup with Lemon and Bulgur recipe from the NYTimes last week. My soups NEVER come out, but I had some bulgur I wanted to use and I got some fake chicken and I thought it turned out well--filling, but light, with a good, not too lemony flavor.

The Nike+ GPS iPhone running app. I've been using it for runs, walks, and cross country ski excursions. It makes a cool route map of where you go and it shows you your pace along the route and it tells you when you reach each mile. Sometimes it makes Tracy Jordan and Lance Armstrong say encouraging things to you.**

Breakfast at our favorite place AND
Carhartts with tie dye (outfit by Dylan)
Demerits to Ollie for attempting to go home with the people next to us. Additional demerits for eying their food so longingly that they were actually tempted to feed him.

Star stickers. If you're like us, these are a vital tool in making major life decisions.

Awesome front-yard sledding courses with lots of terrain. Four-year-olds don't weight anything, so they are a pleasure to design for. Video to follow once Aaron's phone comes home from work, if it turned out okay.

Kitchen elves.

*Not true.

**I should probably develop a Resolution to stop swooning about how apps enhance my life. I just have some vague sense that a geeky threshold has been crossed.

Monday, January 17, 2011

loaded question

"Mommy, we learned about Martin Luther King, Jr today. And something bad happened to him?"


They did a segment on using only one segment of a round trip flight on Marketplace Money. I apologize! You were all correct to be concerned! It's true that you can get away with it if it's the last leg, but otherwise I guess they're huge jerks about it. The guy they had on the show skipped the first leg (even I thought that would be a bad idea), and they wanted to make him 1) pay a $150 change fee, 2) pay the difference between his ticket and a one way ticket, AND 3) buy a new ticket. He negotiated them down from a couple of those, but that was their first reaction. They said that the airline still owns the ticket even after you buy it, and there aren't that many other similar situations with other products and services.


We have a little county rope tow, with $8 lift tickets, so Dylan and I did a little more of this over the weekend:
I should have been a little more concerned by the sign in the lodge that said "icy rope is not sufficient cause for a refund."

This is a not a rope tow with "seats" or "handles." This is a rope. That is icy. But not in a refund-causing kind of way. They had to stop it for us because I lost traction halfway up and the rope just slid through my fingers and the people behind us caught up to us. To make up for all the delays, what with a whole hill full of total beginners valiantly, yet unsuccessfully, trying to make it up the rope tow, they run it REALLY FAST. Dylan, at least, was unfazed.

The upside is that if you do manage to make it to the top, the hill is your own. The other upside is that she has a great feel for it and is getting better really fast, so we both had a great time. I wouldn't say "stopping" is a strong point, but she can really turn and she was this time very responsive to what I was saying, unlike THE REST OF HER LIFE.


Our household was running on a one-hour delay this morning, which was a funny coincidence because daycare had been evacuated because of a gas leak during the relevant hour. As we walked up this morning we saw line after line of kids trooping back across the street into the building. Dylan was SO MAD to have missed the fun since they brought over a TV to pass the time. I never get tired of how they pile a bunch of babies in a crib and roll them around. I was dropping Ollie off just as they were rolling in his classmates and he thought it was awesome too. He's been crying when I drop him off since New Year's, but today he just toddled around giggling.The child is a fool.
And a terrible lifeguard, by the by.

Also, I know it wasn't clear from the video, but he shuts his own self in the cabinet. At first he climbed in when I had some pots out, but now he shoves himself in there even when it's not empty. Dylan's always egging him on. "Ollie! Don't you want to go back in there? Go on, now."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

children having children

quick dance break

and a quick pry the bandaids off, wad them up, and hand them to me break