Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year New You

As tradition goes, everyone talks about resolutions they will make to ring in the new year. This got me thinking about how and why this tradition started. I found a list of what different countries do to welcome in the new year. I particularly like the Peruvian grape tradition. Oh and I may take a cue from the Chinese and hide the knives too.

AUSTRIA - The suckling pig is the symbol for good luck for the new year. It's served on a table decorated with tiny edible pigs. Dessert often consists of green peppermint ice cream in the shape of a four-leaf clover.

ENGLAND - The British place their fortunes for the coming year in the hands of their first guest. They believe the first visitor of each year should be male and bearing gifts. Traditional gifts are coal for the fire, a loaf for the table and a drink for the master. For good luck, the guest should enter through the front door and leave through the back. Guests who are empty-handed or unwanted are not allowed to enter first.

WALES - At the first toll of midnight, the back door is opened and then shut to release the old year and lock out all of its bad luck. Then at the twelfth stroke of the clock, the front door is opened and the New Year is welcomed with all of its luck.

HAITI - In Haiti, New Year's Day is a sign of the year to come. Haitians wear new clothing and exchange gifts in the hope that it will bode well for the new year.

SICILY - An old Sicilian tradition says good luck will come to those who eat lasagna on New Year's Day, but woe if you dine on macaroni, for any other noodle will bring bad luck.

SPAIN - In Spain, when the clock strikes midnight, the Spanish eat 12 grapes, one with every toll, to bring good luck for the 12 months ahead.

PERU - The Peruvian New Year's custom is a spin on the Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes at the turn of the year. But in Peru, a 13th grape must be eaten to assure good luck.

GREECE - A special New Year's bread is baked with a coin buried in the dough. The first slice is for the Christ child, the second for the father of the household and the third slice is for the house. If the third slice holds the coin, spring will come early that year.

JAPAN - The Japanese decorate their homes in tribute to lucky gods. One tradition, kadomatsu, consists of a pine branch symbolizing longevity, a bamboo stalk symbolizing prosperity, and a plum blossom showing nobility.

CHINA - For the Chinese New Year, every front door is adorned with a fresh coat of red paint, red being a symbol of good luck and happiness. Although the whole family prepares a feast for the New Year, all knives are put away for 24 hours to keep anyone from cutting themselves, which is thought to cut the family's good luck for the next year.

UNITED STATES - The kiss shared at the stroke of midnight in the United States is derived from masked balls that have been common throughout history. As tradition has it, the masks symbolize evil spirits from the old year and the kiss is the purification into the new year.

NORWAY - Norwegians make rice pudding at New Year's and hide one whole almond within. Guaranteed wealth goes to the person whose serving holds the lucky almond.

I stopped making resolutions years ago. It's always the same. Lose weight, save money, exercise. I think this year I will do the opposite. Buck tradition. What will you do?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I'm a Faux SAHM this week

For one week I get to live the life of a SAHM. Maddox is out of daycare, I'm off work and school, and the husband is bringing home the bacon (mmm, bacon).

The benefits are plenty: Wake-up slowly, albeit still at the crack of dawn since my internal clock is forever adjusted that way, get Mad out of bed, make some breakfast, mope around, take a shower. We have actually been to the library already twice this week. Yes, the library. That free public entertainment institution. Mad and I got library cards and I even checked out two kid books. We attended a story time, had relaxing lunches together, hung out with another SAHM. And it's only Tuesday.

Of course I did attend to other things like taking in dry cleaning and doing laundry. I even swept the floor, but this life is pretty nice. I admit I actually watched Bridezillas when Maddox was napping yesterday. I think after about a week I may start going a little stir crazy, but I'm enjoying it for now.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Winter Wonderland

We're about to leave for Lake Tahoe for the Holidays. I'm very happy we are not getting on a plane or traversing across the continents this year. Although, I would simply love to be with family, the travel part of the equation always, truly, sucks. The lines at the airport, the delayed take-offs, the stuffy, stale air inside the plane, the time changes and jet lag. We get to leave that all behind and head to the Mountains for a wonderful White Christmas.

Happy Holidays Everyone! Be safe, be kind and be slick.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The "No" Period

Much like Picasso's Blue Period, Maddox is going through the "No" Period. Children have many periods, or as some call them, stages. I prefer to call it a period. It's a time of expression, discovery, and for the parents... annoyance.

Pretty much anything you ask of Maddox the answer is inevitably "No". Even if it's something he wants or would like to do, it's still "No". Would you like Milk? No, Can you put away your toys? No, Want a lollipop? No. A hug, please a hug, NO!!!

The thing about periods or stages, is that they don't last. We know that. But while you're in it, that little fact doesn't seem to render itself in clarity. You get frustrated, annoyed and feel like this is the way your life will be forever. I'm anticipating Christmas morning when asked if he'd like to open his gifts. If his reply is still "no" I'll have the video recorder on and document the momentous occasion. Then I will replay it every year hereafter as he begs to open his gifts.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Stop asking dammit!

The biggest question I get asked almost on a daily basis is, "When are you having another child?", or some version of that question. Now, let's look into the past a bit. When you're single, it's "When will you find a boyfriend?". When you're dating it's "When will you marry?". When you marry it's "When will you have a baby?". And once you finally do all these things they ask...they have more... "When will you have another baby?". Haven't I given you enough? Haven't I answered your every question with a positive?

Oh and it doesn't stop there. After confirming that, yes we will probably have another at some point, I get the follow-up, "Well the second child is always the tough one". Hmm, let's think about this for a second. You're prodding me on my personal decisions throughout my coupling years, yet you follow it up with the fact that after all that work, my world is going to come to a crash when I have another child? I even had a few friends say that if they had their second child first, they would have never had another. Well isn't that just great. Hey Maddox, you won't mind being an only child will you?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Stranger in the Red Hat

Parents all over the country torture their little ones by placing them on the lap of stranger with a red suit and a funny beard for a photo op every Christmas. We drill into our children not to talk to strangers yet we hand them over to this man we've never met just for a photo. I took a cue from my friend this year that said the picture is no good if they're not crying. That's right... they must be crying or it's just not the classic Santa photo. We subjected Maddox to two sittings with Santa. One at his daycare and one at the mall. Both times he cried. I thought we were doing good at the mall when he gave Santa a knuckle bump, but the moment we set him on the lap, crying ensued. Above I present to you the classic Santa Photo. Worth every over-priced penny.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Slick Find of the Week

If you're looking for a gift for that movie lover in your life, look no further then Toxic Teddy! Toxic Teddy plays the parts of your favorite movies. Above is Teddy in Jaws.

And my favorite, The Shining:

Perfect gift I say!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dads are the new Moms

Are the new generation of dads getting the short end of the stick? Back in the day, the typical family roles were, as we all know, dad goes to work and brings home the bacon, mom stays home and takes care of the kids and the housework and kids, well they're just the kids. As generations pass, dad's have been taking a bigger role in the parenting aspect of the family. Sure, dads have been helping out for some time, but now more then ever the split is more 50/50. In some households the bulk of the childcare lands in the father's lap. There are more stay at home dads then ever. A study done last year from the US Census says there are 159,000 stay-at-home dads, or 2.7 percent of the country's stay-at-home parents are the dads -- almost triple the percentage from a decade ago. Talk about a sea change.

In my house the roles are pretty 50/50. When we first had Maddox and I went back to work full time, we shared in every responsibility. We shared duties on almost every aspect of raising Maddox. Now that I work less, I do tend to do a little more of the share. I say it's leaning about 60/40 at the moment. But every so often I wonder if dads want the 1950s style of life. Come home from work promptly at 5:15pm, dinner on the table, kids clean, quiet and well behaved. After dinner head to the TV or newspaper (or Internet) while mom cleans the kitchen, cleans the kids, puts the kids to bed. Then comes to the bed and still has the energy to make more babies. Almost seems like and ideal situation. Now men are supposed to chip in, do their share, work and take care of the kids.

I know I wouldn't be able to do it by myself. Raising a child takes a village as the old saying goes. Which I guess says a lot. Back in the 1950s most people lived in the towns they grew up in and had plenty of extended family at their beck and call. Now with so many people living far from family, it takes both parents to share the load. I don't have a Grandma waiting patiently by the phone for my call to come watch Maddox. If we want to go out or see a movie we need to pay a sitter. I still do wonder though if every so often dads want to live in the 50s. This equality stuff can stink sometimes.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Time, Time, Time, look what's become of me

As most parents know, timing and schedule are a big part of being a parent. Or as we like to call it in our house...your MOJO. MOJO is, according to Wikipedia, a magical charm. Sacha and I use this term to describe what we have or what we lost in regards to the flow of a given day.

With a child it's all about schedules. When they eat, nap, snack, take a bath and go to bed is a wonderfully orchestrated flow and when everything works out perfectly and your Mojo is on, then you can bet on a perfect day. The problem is, those days can get whipped into a new dimension if any part of your perfect plan has a kink. Now the kinks are usually caused by others. I know this may seem egotistical but we mother's know time. We know schedules. The girl at the check out counter does not. Or all those people trying to get through the toll booth on the Bay Bridge do not. The man in the bathroom at the mall does not. And even your precious little child does not. The rest of the world just doesn't comply to the rules.

I always have the day's schedule ingrained in my head, especially on weekends. Leave the house before 10am to get errands and lunch in by 12 and back to the house by 12:30 for nap. After nap we have about two to three more hours of time to schedule activities, errands or park visits before dinner. After dinner we have about more one hour of play time before bath time then bedtime. If you don't have this schedule down you could face a melt down of gigantic proportions and who wants that? So, each day you strive to keep to schedule. Keep on point. This may seem rather stressful, but again, if the Mojo is flowing, everybody is happy.

I attribute my ability to schedule the day from my years of working in television. As a producer you are in charge of the shoot schedules, edit schedules and talent schedules. If you don't have the Mojo working for you it could result in loss of money, overtime pay, cranky TV hosts and even crankier bosses. I bring these skills into my parenting life.

Another aspect of parent timekeeping is the new found glory of waking up early and being out of the house at the crack of dawn. OK, maybe not the crack of dawn but before 10am and for most non-child people that is the crack of dawn. See, the benefit of the pre-10am hours is that the rest of the world is still in bed, meaning no lines at the grocery stores, no wait at brunch spots and nearly empty museums and zoos. We love it. We practically get the Zoo to ourselves if we get there right at 10. As we leave the Zoo around 12 noon and look at the line of people wrapped around the parking lot to get in, we chuckle to ourselves. If they only knew. Now that I think of it, forget I said anything. I need to keep this secret to myself.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

O' Tannenbaum

There's just something about a Christmas Tree. It brings that warm feeling into the house. When I was young we would switch between a real or a fake each year. I always opt for the real tree now that I'm an adult and have my own home. The smell, the feel. Nothing beats it. Decorating a tree is half the fun. This year it was done with a few friends, holiday music and plenty of wine. Always plenty of wine.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Feeling dirty?

This is the perfect gift!

Hand Soap from

Creepy or Cool?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Homeless are the New Parents

The other day as we were walking back from the park a homeless man gave me a parenting tip. Now I can't quite quote him word for word but it was something about my son regretting that when he's older or that he'll have problems or something. The "that" he was referring to was the thumb-sucking.

I think Maddox was about 7 months or so when he found his thumb. He mostly sucks when he's holding some sort of stuffed animal or fuzzy blanket. He never really liked pacifiers so the thumb is his comforting tool.

There's two schools of thought on the thumb-sucking and pacifier debate. Well... in parenting there's multiple schools of thought on EVERYTHING, but we won't go there.

Some say thumb-sucking is better than a pacifier because who wants to see a 2+ year old with a pacifier? Others say you can take away a pacifier, but you can't take away a thumb. I always thought I'd let the thumb-sucking slide until he was 2. Well, 2 is around the corner. And homeless men are starting to notice! I've occasionally pulled the thumb out but the other one goes right in. I'm dreading confronting the thumb thing head on. Can I wait? My husband said he sucked his thumb until he was 9. Is that bad? Maybe I should find that homeless man and ask more advice.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Mom Spit for sale

Well here's a business idea...bottle it! After reading Boing Boing today I found this little nugget of a product that is sure to be a hit, Mom Spit. It's a no-rinse cleanser for hands, face, etc. This is one of those "Why didn't I think of that?"

Naps in the afternoon

NY Times recently reported that naps in the afternoon do better for your mental and physical performance then coffee. Hallelujah! I wonder who will be the first company to incorporate naps into the daily work schedule. I bet Google. They always seem to be one step ahead. And hasn't the Spanish and the Mexicans been doing this for centuries? Siestas in the afternoon? I think we should try it out.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Job vs School thing

After being laid off from yet another job earlier this year, bringing the total to four in the past five years, I was, needless to say, a little depressed. I chose a career that tends to have a more up and down type of path and a lot of people freelance in the television business. I never really considered myself a freelancer though. Every job I took was with the hope that it would last. Most of the companies I worked for hired me as a salaried employee. So with each job I had some sense of security if only for a short while.

Between each lay-off I consistently have the same ideas:

1. Go back to school. I never finished my degree and was able to just work in my chosen field and get experience that way. But going back to school either meant not working at all and going full time or taking classes in the evenings. I just wasn't motivated enough.

2. Start my own business. But what? Cafe, Boutique, Door to Door Salesman? Starting your own business always seemed so idealistic and great on paper, but in reality it's tough, a lot of hard work and you most likely will be in debt for a long time before you make any money.

3. Take a trip. Again, always seemed like a good idea, but I never had the money to go anywhere and of course no money was coming in. Plus, once I was married I couldn't just up and leave my husband for a month.

Then I would get a call for a new job and boom, back at the career and my ideas were now just books collecting dust on my bookshelf.

This past time of being laid-off, now with a child in my life, was the toughest. I just didn't want to look for yet another job. I started going to career counseling that was provided by my previous employer. The counselor was nice and helpful and really kicked my resume up ten notches. But that depression wasn't going away and employers weren't calling. I even cried in her office one day. Yes. Cried. (Which I attribute to being a new mom and the lack of sleep for the past year). You just get this feeling that, god dammit, why doesn't anyone want me? I'm 36 and still looking for a job. It's depressing.

Finally, reality started seeping in even more when most of the jobs I went for required a degree of some sort. Here we go again. That school thing. In my mind I always thought...How does a book degree compare to my 12 years in the trenches? Can a degree holder really be better at the prospective job than I?

My Husband started feeling the pressure too. If he made more money I could just stay home with Maddox and everything would be great. But would it? Could I stay home, day after day? I am a working mom. I would never fit the SAHM profile. I don't think I could hack it. Not the taking care of Maddox part, but the not having a life outside of Momdom. I know, I know, a lot of moms do it and are just as happy as clams. It just isn't me. At least not right now.

Once again like be smacked over the head with a ruler, the school thing is staring me in the face. Could I do it? Could I really go back? I would basically be right back where I was 15 years ago. The studying, the tests, the books... I was on the fence. Then when my husband got offered this new fancy job that would bring in more money we whipped out our calculators to see if we could make this work. Once and for all, I was going to be a student again.

Algebra? History? Yes, it's that kind of school. Since I only took a couple of semesters out of high school, I have a lot of work to do. But, I'm doing it. Yeah, I still work part-time too. I need some kind of income. My husband isn't that rich, but I did it and here I am. A student. At age 36.

Stay tuned for part two of my first semester of school.

Monday, December 1, 2008

I'll never do that...

Yes, I've uttered those words and now I must confess that I'm guilty of doing just THAT. As I'm sure most mom's can attest, there was a time BC.. before child... that you declared you would never do certain things that your mom used to do. Here is my list of things I now do, that I said I wouldn't.

1. Use my saliva to clean my son's face
2. Leave the house without make-up/showering/brushing my teeth
3. Not keep in touch with single childless friends
4. Smell my son's pants to detect poo

Well those are just the few I can think of at the moment. I'm sure there are plenty more that are just such a normal part of my everyday life now, that they don't seem right for this list.